"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
The July issue of Men's Journal has a feature article on Esperanza Fire,
label "the most controversial wildfire tragedy of the new century."
That's a pretty tall claim considering Thirtymile and Cramer, but they may
Van Bateman was the one who took his case to "the courts of public opinion".
Those of us who are still wildland fire managers have the same rights to
defend the duty, respect, and integrity of our profession from those that
have tarnished it so badly by committing arson and making excuses for their
I was told today that the Forest Service will be coming out with an official
statement refuting the accusations of these four retired firefighters in a
very stern and to the point manner. Let's hope the management acts......
I have worked with, and around all four of the folks I mentioned in my
earlier post. Frankly, I could never understand why any of them was in a
position of leadership.... except for their abilities to spread personal
yarns and their obvious personal charisma.
||To Pyro, Lobotomy, Beenthere, Ancient IC, and Old C-Rat,
If you guys are as experienced and noble as you suggest you are, then
you have at one time in your career been in contact with the media.
Knowing that the media takes things out of context and twists the truth to
make a great story, maybe you should just keep your comments to yourself
and let the courts decide this matter. How much of the REAL story do you
really know? My guess would be not much, because all you guys seem to do
spend your time bashing someone you have never even met, based on a USA
today article. How many of those quotes were chopped and taken out of
MAC, almost all, if not all, of these people have worked with Bateman as
an IC on western fires or with him within R3. They have met him and know
him. But you're right about the media chopping up comments and right about
the details. Very few know the details. Ab.
||I guess I'll have to agree with Hotshot Dad,
" Discussion is not necessarily accusation." And I agree that something said
by you or in a discussion might help a future situation.
I'm not sure how long you have been on here, PB, but the ultimate goal of
this site is to foster discussion about wildland fire related topics. Sure
sometimes people will form incorrect or inaccurate ideas based on documents,
however the best way to approach them when this happens is to not be angry.
Use the opportunity to educate in a non-confrontational manner. Instead of
demanding in a demeaning way, keep in mind that you have the opportunity to
educate a captive audience, and use it. I think you will find many ears
around here who are willing to listen and consider the information you
provide - and I've seen a lot of people make 180 degree changes in their
opinions based on discussions.
You have the opportunity to either piss people off or inform them. Keep in
mind that if what you are saying is true, you are more familiar with the
accident and following investigation than people on here. AND that this is
an opportunity to recruit allies and support (and the support generated here
has been responsible for getting rid of senators and drafting new
And in response to someone asking what can be done to avoid this in the
future, your response could be to "not jump to conclusions."
Just My Thoughts
Saw your post yesterday about 'mid-winter lightning strikes, and I have some
personal information to add to this discussion. I've been retired over 10
years, and much about the Forest Service is very different than when I was
I don't know whether the men in the SW had arson on their minds when
igniting those fires, but that is not an acceptable way to reduce unhealthy
fuels in this era.
There are lots of things that were acceptable 30 to 50 years ago that are
totally unacceptable in today's situation. The FS used to perform snow
surveys during the winter and early spring months. During these trips into
snow covered areas, we stuffed toilet paper into the bark crevices of old
snags and set the paper on fire. Our objective was to reduce the number of
lightning fires. There were many old shelters or cabins on unpatented mining
claims, and we had few options for removing them except to burn them. We did
this in the winter, so that explains the 'mid-winter lightning strike. There
was also a lot of effort to fill and obliterate the vertical shafts
associated with mining activity in the central Sierra to prevent "explorers"
from entering these death traps.
Welcome Wasatch. Stories of times gone by - nice. Ab.
We are very excited to support Ken in his next big running and "POWER OF
ONE" endeavor in October. (his proposal: KEN)
I'll be working on getting Ken set up with everything he'll need for his run
- the first big item will be a satellite phone so that he can keep in touch
with the Foundation,
with www.wildlandfire.com, and all our They Said
readers. I hope to be able to volunteer for the run, or go with Ken as his
support (we'll see how this will all work out).
This will be one of our biggest events this year, so we hope folks will be
ready to support Ken and support the wildland community with pledges to keep
Ken going and to ensure that we are ready for everyone that will need us
this fire season. Please keep in mind that this is your Foundation! If you
have ideas for corporate/business donors, etc. to help underwrite or support
this event - bring 'em forward!
We'll keep everyone posted as we get closer to the run.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
||Re hot button issues and discussion:
Discussion is not necessarily
Florida Ranger said may save lives in the future and
we will never know it. I believe he has good
intentions and his experience matters.
The sense of loss from the helicopter crash last year
was widespread. One of my own and his crew were
involved in the equipment recovery from that crash and
their grief was profound. I was a sympathetic ear
after the fact. Our hearts are with the families and
During the course of discussing an event, we may
un-intentionally paint a picture that someone, based
on his/her perspective, will take offense to. For
instance, "Nam" was not rife with hot-dog helicopter
pilots feeding cannon fodder into the field. Thanks
to the superb flying skills of some of those Huey
Drivers in Vietnam, I am sitting here today. Many of
those fine fellows ended up lending their expertise to
the wildland firefighting community.
Let's continue to discuss everything, from all
perspectives and maybe some good will come from it.
Your remarks are to the point and from the heart!!
To often we take our little piece of reality to close to the chest,
believing we understand the situation, without truly understanding the
issues. The wildland fire community is always looking to learn from the
tragic events that occur in this dynamic environment that we chose to work
in. I hope you will, in your own way, pass on the "lessons you learn". Again
you are right, we need to reread any report, be it Krassel, Cramer, 30 Mile,
Storm King, the Dude or the Lost Fire, look at all information available to
us. Do the research, with the understanding we will never know all that
happened in these incidents. And learn what we can from them. I take what I
can from them with the eye to keeping my firefighters safe and to teach them
all that I can in my small way.
We are going thru hard times as Wildfire organizations, holes in the top
leadership, loss of new personnel to other fire organizations, lose of
skilled line supervisors and all the other issues we are facing! We as
individual firefighters and leaders must close rank, lead up best as we can
and prepare the "kids" that will be following us to "drive on" after we pass
from the scene.
PB, are you that kind of firefighter? I think so!
Ab, No More Monikers,. sign me__
Don Svetich, Firefighter USFS
Well put. I, too, have noticed the disconnect and lack of ability
for the Agency Administrators in the Forest Service to relate to anything
going on in the field. It appears that this is just another instance of
This sort of disconnect between Fire & Aviation personnel and the Agency
Administrators is a large contributor to many of the problems in the Forest
Service. I don't think that it is necessarily their fault. How can they
really be expected to lead or direct Fire and Aviation operations from a
distant position like the Ranger, Forest Supervisor, Regional Forester,
Until the Agency can realize the need for a program that has structure from
top to bottom you will continually have a disconnect from the field. You
will see retarded responses to incidents in the field. Knee jerk reactions
and comments are a good sign that the Administration does not know what is
going on in the field and knows much less with what to do about it.
Basically the result is a retarded response, like what the Ranger in Florida
I don't know what will ever be done about this problem if anything.
Maybe another mandatory Aglearn class will fix the problem. Maybe more
Aglearn will make our Forestry Technicians content to be firefighters with
Technician wages. Maybe we can keep trying to go back in time... just close
your eyes or something, maybe make it mandatory.
Right Side -Center
OK, you got me, guys! (Actually didn't score all that well, as we don't
often get handed the nukes and stuff; but I sure didn't dare go ahead and
submit the score!).
Seriously, though, I try very hard not to be critical of the Agencies; don't
feel its my place, now that I'm no longer agency... but I've been doing a
lot of thinking about WHY I've been so outraged by the Bateman case, and
came to the conclusion that just about everybody is represented by these
four guys, and well, that makes this issue fair game, so here goes...
Bateman, I hope you're reading this.
There are so many levels of Wrong in this case, its been difficult to boil
it down. First, there's the ENORMOUS issue of Firefighter Safety; you hung
out those IA resources, just as surely as the sicko who lit Esperanza. Arson
is arson. And if YOU don't know, better than he, exactly what you were
forcing those troops to risk, then, well, how'd you ever make Type 5 IC? Any
doubts on where I stand on that one?
There's the responsibility, both personal, and as a representative of a land
management and (de facto) public safety Agency, to the Public that you're
sworn to protect (or at least, cash your paychecks). In essence, if you are
drawing pay for doing a job, and don't perform to standards, you're stealing
your checks. The public used to trust their Government to protect their
interests; ever wonder why they don't anymore?
There's the issue of critical fire resources being diverted from
availability to your "harmless" fires...
There's the issue of funds diverted from Response budgets to your little
And the Big Bottom Line to all this: TRUST! What ever happened to the 3 core
virtues of Leadership? DUTY, RESPECT, INTEGRITY! Good %$#&@* , man, I've
worked incidents for you! Did it ever occur to you, as an IC, that I gave
over to you, as my IC, a SACRED TRUST that I could bring my crew home
safely? I never blindly trust ANYONE with my crew's safety; they are, after
all, my responsibility, one which I feel very strongly about. But you
certainly have reminded me WHY!
Last season, I had the honor of training and leading a new FEO. We
experienced together one of the most intense seasons I have seen in 33
years. This lad is a 3rd generation wildland firefighter; several years ago,
his father was flown to a burn center with serious injuries received in a
futile attempt to rescue an overrun firefighter. My FEOs mother was
listening on the scanner that day, heard the call for medivac, and had to
wait for news, praying that her husband wasn't the fatality reported over
Late in the season, we were peripherally involved in a burnover event with 6
injured firefighters; Don's mother is a reporter for the local newspaper. We
had no direct contact with our families (no cell service, etc) for the next
2 days. You think maybe his family was a little worried? Van, they TRUSTED
me to take him out, and bring him home intact. You think maybe that isn't a
SACRED trust, and an honor to fulfill? I made mistakes on that fire; I can
tell anyone exactly what they were, what I should have done differently
(which incidentally, would have prevented those 6 injuries... think about
how I feel about that for a second!), and how (and why I know that) my
crew's successful withdrawal was simply a matter of luck. But Don's family
trusts me to take him back out again this year, because they trusted me to
file those RPD slides, allow anyone involved, or qualified, to dissect my
actions/inactions, LEARN, and go on. That meant I had to admit my errors;
not exactly human nature. Its something taught to us, from S130, on. When
did you forget?
A large part of my personal outrage over your irresponsible actions, and
your refusal to accept responsibility, is a result of the new moral/ ethical
dilemma you've created for me, and every other SRB, at a time when seemingly
every part of the fabric of our society is unraveling. Being an effective IC
boils down to one trait: Judgment. That's why we hand over to you, as IC,
and a virtual stranger, the larger responsible for the assignment of our
crews; because someone obviously felt you demonstrated sufficient judgment
to function as a Type I IC. In 3 decades, I have never heard of a crew
refusing to check in to a fire simply because of the IC's name. Well, it may
not be a career- enhancing move, but if I, ever again, pull into one of your
incidents, we're going available!
Lately, it seems as if the one thing we, as firefighters, could count on in
life was the dedication our fellow firefighters had to each other. Your
blatant disregard for the risk you exposed the Troops to has caused a niche
in that trust. I'd think you were a solitary aberration, but evidently,
you've infected at least 3 of your buddies with your attitude...
A fire manager of lukewarm ability I can forgive, as long as they're trying,
and learning. But for a manager of your proven ability to pull a stunt like
this is simply traitorous.
Duty, Respect, and Integrity, Bateman; exactly where did you demonstrate
those virtues as you lighting your fires? Do us all a favor, Van; you and
your buddies need to turn in ALL of your quals!
Every bit of fire I've ever laid down was a result of a positive risk
analysis, so sign me;
||Re Ken's Next Adventure:
In the midst of all the heavy issues,
sadness, disgust, etc, all I have to say is that Melissa should go with
Ken to Egypt as support with one stipulation.
Someone has to take a picture of HER LEGS with the desert in the
background, the pyramids in the background, astride a camel, etc... kinda
Sponge Bob mis-adventures of years gone by or the
Horseshoe Bob Knob Award made famous by Rax or the story of the homeless
Fulton IHC crewbuggy chocks that made the rounds until last hotshot meeting
when they were returned to Ron Bollier (supt of the Fulton IHC).
We could call the series of pics "The travels of Melissa's LEGS" as they
raise funds for the WFF.
Just a thought. <snicker>
Melissa's Legs (biking, from
Ken's 52 mile ultra-run in 2005)
Melissa's calf (a photo that almost got the photographer slapped!)
Burk's and Melissa's Legs (Melissa on the right) from the Eldorado
Hotshots' 52 mile ultra-walk (2006)
||The last week has been one of the toughest in my career.... I hear the
leadership of the Forest Service commenting on the Esperanza Fire while
sitting silent about four former wildland fire managers who admitted they
In case anyone can't remember, 5 Forest Service firefighters lost their
lives as a result of an arson fire. This deafening silence from our Forest
Service leadership makes me sick.
Van Bateman should go to jail for the maximum of his two year agreement (and
the USA Office SHOULD HAVE NEVER accepted a plea agreement and learn from
their mistakes and make him an example for his three buddies).... The other
three former and supposed leaders of the wildland fire program should be
investigated for their statements and confessions for arson and followed.
Van Bateman, Larry Humphrey, Jim Paxon, and Charlie Denton all need to spend
some prison time if they did what they profess to the press. Contrary to
what thet say, they are the exception and not the rule as it pertains to
wildland fire managers and wildland firefighters.
And then I am sickened to the most basic levels when Firehouse.com ... a
national online and print magazine comes out and produces a story with the
headline..... "Retired Arizona Firefighter in Trouble for Unauthorized
Those weren't unauthorized fires........ THEY WERE WILLFUL ARSON......
There wouldn't be this discussion if Van Bateman did the same things as
Raymond Lee Oyler..... but wait..... HE DID!!!!!!!!!!!! He just didn't kill
||In response to Florida Ranger:
Thank you for that almost entirely unhelpful analysis of an event you
clearly know next to nothing about.
I would like to offer up some facts since you seem to have few of your own
on which to go:
First, Quin Stone was not a hot dog pilot. He was not ‘overconfident.’ And
for that matter I wouldn’t call him the life of the party either. He was
humble, quiet, middle-aged, proficient, and introverted. The Krassel
helitack crew, on the other hand, tends to be a vocal, outgoing and
opinionated and spirited group of individuals. They are not a bunch of
frightened kids at the mercy of an ego-driven show-off pilot. This is not
the military and Krassel isn’t Nam, man. Which that means the picture you
paint—a young, inexperienced, hot dog pilot with quiet, young, frightened,
non-vocal passengers—is exactly WRONG.
Secondly, as a crewmember who delivered interviews to the NTSB after the
crash, I can assure you nothing was done to ‘cover up’ for our pilot, or to
cover up anything else for that matter. Krassel folk take a tremendous
amount of pride in the transparency of our program, in admitting our
mistakes, and about all in telling the truth. I take your comment about
covering up (as well as the observation about ‘being responsible for what
happens later’) to be baseless insults of the people and program at Krassel.
Your post made it abundantly clear that you did not know the pilot and his
flying, nor are you familiar with the crew and their vocal habits. You also
made it abundantly clear that lack of knowledge about a subject will temper
your speculation or restrain your conclusions.
Can you sense the heat in my post? It bothers me that people like you, (and
also the person who wrote “I’m curious” which is posted below) can be so
blasé about taking a complex issue like this and reducing it to a few neatly
packaged catchphrases. Perhaps I am not that smart, but to me the whole
issue looks very, very complex. I believe that oversimplification of tragedy
events like mishaps and burnovers, and then reducing them to simple “lessons
learned” is a big part of the safety problem, not the solution. The fact
that you seem to feel comfortable doing so from your armchair, desk or
living room couch is particularly worrisome to me. It’s worrisome because I
might have to work in fire and aviation with you someday.
A poster below asked what we can do to prevent this kind of thing from
happening in the future. Here is my answer: we can stop looking to canned
responses like the trite clichés in your post, we can stop making
speculations that carry our conclusions beyond what the facts will allow, we
can admit that we are all fallible humans subject to error, and we can admit
that we will never know the so-called whole story—in this or any other
situation in our lives.
Before you get too angry and try to put me in my place, please read the
report again. And read the whole thing this time, including the interviews.
Then begin your post with a quote from the NTSB which clearly explains that
hot dogging, showy flying or ego had ANYTHING to do with the crash of
After you do that, I will listen to what you have to say. Until then please
limit your observations on this case to those remarks which bear the
qualities of truth and relevance.
Thanks Pyro, I still think you should keep the moniker.
I scored 96% pure.
In good fun :)
Haw Haw, must read it in the spirit of fun. Also, it needs a
question on proper proportions gas and diesel oil for drip torch fuel. Ab.
I haven’t written here in quite a while. You were asking for input on the
crash of the Contract Helicopter. I spent 22 years in the Army, all in
Aviation. Although I was not a Pilot, I started out as an Areo Scout which
requires you to take flight training in case your Pilot in Command is
killed. I spent my time in Jet Rangers, Hueys, Cobras and Blackhawks. I have
around 2000 hours of flight time. I am also a graduate of the Army Aviation
Accident Course and the Aircraft Accident Scene Investigation Course.
The first thing that caught my eye in the report was the Pilot had only 15
hours of instrument flight time. That doesn’t seem a whole lot for someone
who had 4386 hours of flight time and 1640 hours in aircraft type. But, as
you read the report, something jumps out at me that causes the death of more
military helicopter pilots in peace time than anything else. It is called
“overconfidence”. It is not that the pilot doesn’t have great skills or
can’t fly well. It is the fact that they have such great skills that a lack
of caution begins to happen. The old “watch this” scenario. The report says
there were no witnesses, so we can only speculate that the NTSB report is
their “best guess”. I didn’t know the pilot so I certainly can’t pass
judgment on his abilities or attitude and I pray the families of all
involved receive peace and closure.
Now, for the heart of the matter. There is an old saying that goes like
this, “You are responsible for your own safety.” Whether you are a
crewmember or passenger doesn’t matter, you are all in that aircraft. In the
Army we taught everyone that if you “DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE, SPEAK UP”!!!!!.
That included all the passengers we hauled. On every flight there should be
a passenger briefing given. A part of this briefing everyone should be told
to keep their eyes open for traffic or obstacles and if anything makes them
uncomfortable, speak up loud and clear. If something you deem to be unsafe
is happening, speak up immediately. If the issue continues, you need to
report the incident. If you don’t, you are responsible also for what happens
later. If no one takes your complaint seriously, move it up the ladder to
the next higher authority. If we don’t put the brakes on “Hot Dogging”
sooner or later the odds will catch up. Remember you have a voice, use it.
I never could find the portion of the report about all the interviews. But I
have seen many times in the military where a commander would “cover up” for
a Golden Boy pilot who was not that talented, but he could be the life of
the party. I have seen tree strikes from flying too low, ie.. “Hot Dogging”,
I have also seen Bambi Buckets torn up from dragging them through the trees.
I have also seen media passengers that were flown on bucket drops after a
letter had come out saying no passengers were allowed. All this from one
Pilot, and his commander covered it all up for him. I found out and filed a
safety report. It got lost, so I wrote another and another and moved them up
the chain. The commander was finally relieved. I don’t know what happened to
the pilot, but I hope he isn’t flying anything. Don’t give up if someone
won’t listen to you right away, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You never
know how many lives you may save later down the road.
||It's good to see the NTSB finally release their "probable cause" on the
crash of 5EV. Hopefully the Forest Service report will follow shortly and
not have too much "retracted" from it when it comes out. I have recently
had the opportunity to hear a presentation from one of the FS personnel
that assisted with the investigation and played a major role in developing
the FS report.
The FS report may include some recommendations, one of which applies
directly to Krassel. That recommendation is (in the paraphrased format) to
make sure that we have a flight following log whenever we are flight
following locally, even if it's a 5 minute flight. On the day of the
crash, people were stretched thin and since the flight was short and the
radio was overloaded, one of the helitack was "flight following locally"
with 5EV on Air to Ground, while preparing the next loads to go out. The
other recommendations pertain to the overall aviation program and I will
not comment on them here. You'll have to wait for the report.
The FS Investigator was disappointed that the sleigh ride paragraph was
included by the NTSB in their factual report as he did not feel it had
anything to do with the crash. Unfortunately, it was included and people
seem to have a hard time getting past it. The probable cause stating
"intentional low level flight" says to me that Quin was not accidentally
flying low and nothing more.
If anyone wants to discuss this with me, my phone number is in the
government directory. Call me and tell me who you are and we'll talk. As
for now, I have a helitack program to run and I don't expect to be spending
much time on the computer in the upcoming months. Everyone stay safe and
do our best to have a tragedy free summer.
Krassel Helitack Supervisor
Thanks Doug. Ab.
||Ab, and All;
On to the business at hand... Drove down to my mailbox (northern Humboldt
County, NV) this afternoon about 1400; in the 2 miles, I saw 8 good dust
devils. The 2 biggest covered about 2 acres apiece, and still had rotation
at well over 1000 ft. Within the last 5 days, all green has left the ground
fuels... Nothing unusual for this time of year, here, but it sure was a good
reminder; even as we all deal with all the issues and crap developing, it
seems daily, we still have Season '07 bearing down hard.
Everybody Be Safe out there! As Lobotomy said last year, I'm sick of burying
ht; Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'll buy you a "flosty" if we ever
get the chance.
Ancient IC, Beenthere; You're right; the issue now is the damage done to the
public image of ALL wildland fire! (Most of the public does not/ cannot
differentiate between agencies.). Thank Heaven nobody was hurt on those
fires... But 35 years doesn't make you ancient, just well seasoned!
sign me; Been known as "Pyro"...
||It is extremely disheartening to see how easy it seems to be to these
folks (Van Bateman and crowd) to try and bring everyone down to their level
in an attempt to excuse their criminal actions. Having spent some time in
that Region I can honestly say that NO fire manager I knew, and it was a
number of them, did anything like this. No agency administrator that I
worked with would have condoned this type of behavior. There are a lot of
honest, competent, hard working fire managers in that Region.
These guys need to be publicly condemned for their statements and be held
accountable. Almost the most worrisome is Paxon. Here is someone that has
been showing up on the media explaining fire activities and now he is in the
middle of seeing what he can do to destroy the profession in the eyes of the
public. He needs to completely withdraw into what ever hole he crawled out
of and the media outlets that have used him need to forget he ever existed.
The rest of them need to be publicly stripped of what ever qualifications
they still have.
It almost is as bad to see folks on this web site throwing mud at everyone
in R-3 because of these jerks. Everyone knows that a few idiots don't
represent everyone out there.
I don't see anyone throwing mud at R-3 firefighters. Comments
that have been made about R-3 have come from fire managers who have worked
many years in R-3 and they burning outside Rx is not common practice there.
Ya got'ta admit, we're all saddened and disappointed. We'd all like to find
a logical reason that this whole incident is an error, at least I would.
Paxon did develop into "The Face of Firefighting" during the Rodeo-Chedeski
Fire. He was logical, reassuring, and a good PIO for the public. I'm with
Old Fire Guy who said "Say it ain't so, Joe." Ab.
Firefighter Injured When Brush Truck Flips In Sumter
Sumter County, Fla. -- A firefighter in Sumter County was hurt while
on his way to a wildfire Wednesday afternoon. The brush truck the man
was riding in was responding to a wildfire on County Road 502 when it
flipped on County Road 468, just northeast of Sumterville. A medical
helicopter took the firefighter to the hospital. There was no update on
Some properties just aren't worth saving from wildfires
... Because government doesn't want to restrict private property
rights, restrictions to build in remote areas have not been an issue.
People should be able to use their property within reason, which
includes building and living on it. But the rest of us shouldn't have to
take on the burden of protecting that property if it doesn't make much
sense to do so.
In other words, people who insist on living in wilderness areas instead
of cities and towns where services are more readily available should
expect to file an insurance claim for the complete destruction of their
homes if there is a fire. Similarly, those who choose to live among
wildlife shouldn't blame the bears when they get into the trash can.
They're called wildfires and wildlife for a reason....
||I am an old guy who has 35 years in fire management. I have spent the
last 12 years in Region 3; all of that time as an ICT2, OSC2, DIVS down to
ENGB. I think the disgust associated with the Bateman issue is now being
misdirected; we are preaching to the choir. We need to start letting the
public media know that the majority of the fire management organization does
not condone what Van and the others did; more importantly, we have never
engaged in those practices.
||NOPS staffing up for predicted dry lighting.
Another 1987 year?
Posted more links to fire info related to lightning on the
hotlist forum under discussion. Others with more staffing intel from
other agencies are adding to it. Thanks. Ab.
||Been reading all the posts about the "do-it-yourself" prescribed burning
that has taken place over the years, and wondered if anyone out there is old
enough to remember "Winter Lightning"??
It was a strange phenomenon that occurred in the 1960-70-80's, where
out-of-season lightning storms would happen in December-January-February,
usually when there was a lot of snow on the ground in Oregon, Washington,
Idaho and Montana. It seems that the only damage was that a lot of illegal
miner's cabins on National Forest and BLM land were hit by this "winter
lightning" and burned to the ground.
Doesn't happen too much any more:
must be another effect of Global Warming?
Almost 1 year ago, I set out on a
run through the Mojave Desert to raise
awareness and money for the
Foundation. Fortunately, I had other firefighters there to pick up the
slack for me when it didn't work out as I had hoped. We are all aware of the
good work that the Foundation does for “firefighters” and their families.
Many received the shock and heartache of their lives too many times last
fire season. And we, as a community, were there along with the WFF to pay
tribute, and to help out where we could. That is good, but it is also
important to remember that we can’t “wait” until something bad or tragic
happens to help. Just like we all need to be proactive from a safety
standpoint to protect ourselves and those we have in our charge- we must, as
a group, be proactive to provide support for those “firefighters” and their
families who will stumble during this and, unfortunately, every fire season.
On October 26th, 2007 (the 1 year anniversary) of Mark, Pablo, Jess, Jason
and Daniel’s accident, I will be traveling into the Sahara Desert in Egypt
to start a 7 day, 150 mile stage race through the Valley of the Whales, the
White Desert, and finally the great pyramids of Giza. There will be no
entourage, no fanfare, no fire engine escorts, nor any of Lori’s cookies
(except maybe waiting for me at home???). Here's the website:
http://www.racingtheplanet.com/sahararace/ (Ab note: For those with
slow download speed, a bit slow loading because of images.)
What does the Sahara desert have to do with wildland firefighters? Other
than it’s the hottest place on earth, and there isn’t a whole lot there to
burn……….. probably nothing.
Why this? It’s a reward to myself for going through something this past
And why am I bringing this up now? I don’t know. It’s no secret that morale
now is getting pretty rock bottom. Folks are leaving to go to other agencies
(which, quite frankly, I can’t blame them for), budgets are getting hacked,
patches being ripped off of shoulders, and old buffoons are admitting to
tossing matches into dry brush.
Yep, I was going to wait till a little later in the season, but I talked to
Melissa this morning and we kind of agreed that with all of this other
“stuff” going on, maybe now was a good time. I hope we can motivate the
masses again for this good cause.
Sounds like a great plan. You need to take Melissa along to send
pics and reports to theysaid. We'll eat cookies every day if you want us to,
in solidarity of course! Ab.
||Re Probable Cause Report on the Krassel Helicopter Crash that happened
last year and killed all 4 people on board:
Does anyone have any comments
on the probable cause report for N355EV??
I might be naive, but this seems to indicate some pretty serious issues
which should probably be discussed.
It also seems to contradict what the foreman and others have said never
What could a foreman or manager do to prevent this? How does a crewmember or
passenger know that everything is being done to ensure that certain
controllable unsafe practices never occur?
I posted the narrative on the
hotlist post. Ab.
||I'm posting these 24, 72, final reports, probable cause reports,
links, etc on the
Hotlist Discussion section.
Remember there's a good utility for locating back reports as they
become available at the
Lessons Learned Center.
FYI, the back issues of the WFirefighter Mag were snapped up. Thanks
for your interest, everyone. Ab.
FYI: The NTSB Probable Cause report was released 5/29/07
regarding the N355EV Krassel Helicopter crash last August 13th.
||From: ND Dept of Environment & Natural Resources; NC Division of Forest
Date: May 24, 2007
To: Jim Prevette, Fire Chief
Subject: 24 Hour Preliminary Briefing -Pender County Stag Road Fire
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Location: Pender County
Date of Occurrence: May 23, 2007
Team Leader: Moreland Gueth
Mission: Investigate and report on burn over incident which occurred on the
Stag Road Fire
Activity: Fire control
Number of Injured: 1
Number of Fatalities: 0
Narrative: On May 23, 2007 NC Division of Forest Resources and VFD personnel
initial attacked the Stag Road fire in Pender County. Estimate of size at
initial attack was 5 acres. Two tractor plows were plowing the Charlie
Division in tandem. The lead tractor plow was breaking way for the second
tractor plow, which was plowing. A Strike Team Leader and crewman were
carrying the blackline behind the tractor plows. After backing up to clean
out the fireline, the second forest fire equipment operator (FFEO) resumed
forward progress, and at the same time, the fire flared up briefly and
entered the open tractor cab. The intensity of the flare up forced the FFEO
to jump off of the tractor on the side opposite the fire.
The STL and lead tractor plow FFEO went to the aid of the second FFEO. He
was transported by EMS to New Hanover Memorial Hospital, where he was
examined for injuries. His only injuries were minor burns to the neck, ear
An investigation team has been formed and is investigating the incident.
Further reports will be forthcoming.
CC: Karen Patterson, NCDFR Safety Officer
||Don't have that one GA Peach, but here's a sad notice of a death of a
young FF in a privately owned vehicle (POV).
I hope people drive carefully and wear their seatbelts (don't know if that
was an issue here). Rod
From: George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Roanoke VA
Date: May 25, 2007
Subject: Preliminary (24-hour-after the accident) Briefing -Fatal SUV
To: Regional Forester, R8
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Location: Interstate 40, South of Knoxville, TN at the Paper Mill Exit
Date of occurrence: May 24, 2007
Time of occurrence: Approx. 1700 hours
Mission: Report from fire training in Pearl, Mississippi to Mt. Rogers
RD, Marion Va., George Washington and Jefferson NF
Activity: Driving POV in route to duty station.
Number injured: 1
Number of fatalities: 1
Property damage: Extensive damage to POV. No government property
Narrative: Two summer students from the Southern Region’s 1890 Student
Firefighter Program were traveling May 24, 2007 on I-40, south of Knoxville,
Tennessee when their Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) overturned. The driver of
the SUV was fatally injured and the passenger was taken to the hospital for
minor injuries and observation and released early the next morning. Two Law
Enforcement Officers from the Cherokee NF responded to the accident.
The SUV was traveling on a straight stretch of I-40 at the Paper Mill
exit during rush-hour traffic. The weather at the time was clear skies with
dry conditions. The driver and passenger were in the lead vehicle of a three
vehicle convoy (All POV’s.) carrying six recently hired summer students to
three Ranger Districts on the George Washington and Jefferson NF’s. The
students had just completed 1 ½ weeks of fire training and orientation in
/s/ Maureen T. Hyzer
MAUREEN T. HYZER
cc: George Kulick
Gary W Helmer
Mark A Eaton
||Has anyone see the 24 hour report for the Pender County NC incident?
Burnover on the Stag Road Fire.
Should have been out already.
||I share the same level of sadness and disgust as many others that have
written in concerning the Bateman cult and their attempt to minimize his
crimes with tales of their own illegal actions. Leadership and the actions
of management are a recurring theme on this website, often discussed from a
variety of perspectives.
If ever there was a need for the Forest Service leadership to step up and
defend the integrity of the fire organization it is now. I hope a press
release that covers the isolated nature of those awful remarks is forth
coming and is widely distributed. To allow the illusion that such
irresponsible acts are common place, is one more insult to the men and women
that fill the ranks of the wildland fire community.
PYRO should stay Pyro. That was his job, obviously good at it. You keep your
Military Moniker for life, obviously the same in the WLFF Community; he has
nothing to be ashamed of. Please tell him. He has a skill and he did it as
required. Fight fire with fire, h*ll I was listening to a net scanner
yesterday and they had a just-harvested, wheatfield fire in Kern. Close to a
home, saved it and the IC basically had them burn the whole thing. Easiest
way to stop it, and no call back.
Re the Florida fire picture of the alligator; I have 3 friends in FL and
have requested their attention to that. Would love to see it.
Pyro, thumbs up on your moniker. Ab.
||I'm so sorry to hear of all the challenges facing the wildland
community - be strong, stick together and we'll continue to keep you in
our thoughts and prayers...
SAN ANTONIO FIRE
AFTER ACTION REVIEW
MAY 15, 2007
On May 14, 2007 at approximately 1300, Helicopter 320 was dispatched to
the San Antonio Fire located on the Sierra Vista Ranger District, Coronado
National Forest, for initial attack.
IC requested water drops, H-320 landed at dip site near heel of fire,
HELM and two HECM’s attached bucket and remained at dip site while H-320
provided water drops for IC near head of fire.
What was planned?
HELM instructed crewmembers to suppress fire near the heel that was backing
towards landing/dip site.
What actually happened?
Crewmember was using handtool (swatter/flapper) to suppress fire in short
annual grass using direct tactics. After observing a large clump of tall
bufflegrass ignite next to him, he decided to withdraw. While crewmember was
moving away, the flames reached a height of about 10 feet, leaned over and
contacted the right side of his face. The result was minor burns to his
right ear, cheek and side of nose.
Why did it happen?
Crewmember was knowledgeable of the intensified fire behavior and increased
flame lengths associated with bufflegrass from Safety Alerts and operational
briefings. This aided in his decision to withdraw, but crewmember did not
anticipate a gust or sudden change of wind that probably caused the flame to
What can we do next time?
We learned that indirect suppression tactics need to be applied in taller
grass when using handtools, and the use of a Nomex face/neck shroud would
reduce areas of exposed skin and prevent radiant burns while using direct
Contact Dallas Van Gorden, Helitack Supervisor for more information.
FMO’s at D-4 and D-5 advised on 05/15/07
SAFENET # 739RN7SAFE submitted on 05/16/07
CA-1 case # 204219144 submitted on 05/16/07
I have been reading for a long time but this is my first post. What next.
Now we have admission from retired employees to arson. How much more can we
I have worked as a firefighter for the FS in So. Calf. for 30 years now and
for the first time I am afraid. With all this BS we need to stay focused on
our mission. We are fire professionals and we need to act like it. There is
a lot of complaining about pay, retention, and work related issues. We all
knew what the pay was when we started this job. I am sick of hearing it. If
it is not enough money, then get out. The rest of us need to pick up the
slack and do what we do best. We are doing this job for more than just
money. We all play a part in the big picture. We are the leaders and we need
to stop complaining and bickering and lead.
The 2007 season looks to be worse than any we have faced so far. We need to
be ready and be sure our firefighters are ready, their lives depend on us
and they deserve no less. It is time to get focused on or mission. Let the
law deal with the arsonist.
It is up to us to make the difference and help to bring this agency into a
new era of fire management. We will fight fires the same as they did when
they first started but we need to get the Forest Service out of the dark
ages. Educate your employees. Encourage them to go to school so they can
break through and lead one day. Train them, work them hard and teach them
the Forest Service work ethic. Our young people love this job like we did
when we started. The future of the FS depends on you and your young
employees. We need to focus on them; they will be making the changes of the
We need to support the agency. The last time I checked that is what we get
PAID to do. Like it or not. They do not pay us for our opinion, they pay us
to support and implement the needs of the Agency. It is up to us has
managers to mitigate safety and staffing issues. Like the Q man said, “If
you don’t like it then don’t cash the check”.
I have to say this one last thing, the pay sucks. Get over it or get out.
You knew how much it paid when you started, why do you expect it to change.
Working with the FWFSA is great but keep it out of the work place, it is bad
for morale. Working for the FS is more than just money. You are serving your
country and managing and protecting its greatest asset, natural resources.
Whew, I’m spent. Be safe
Sign me, Sticking it out to the end
||Does anyone have a link to the Florida fire picture of the alligator
snapping at the helicopter bucket?
Sounds like a good one. Ab.
||Bateman was forest service. He was on the Coconino. And Paxon, you said
committed arson crimes too? I know who you are. You were a district ranger
on the Gila, you certainly weren't a firefighter. The biggest fire you've
ever seen was on the head of a match or from the PIO tent in fire camp.
You're just trying to cover for your region 3 good old boys. You should be
in prison too. And Denton, I doubt there are 200 other firefighters who
have done the same thing as you have. Bateman, you are quoted as having
said to investigators, "The line between a good fireman and an arsonist is
a fine line. I did not do this for profit or gain. I have no idea why I
started these fires." That is Pyromania. Your statement also negates your
assertion that you did this for prescribed fire or forest management. I'm
certain you did gain financially too. H-Pay and OT.
I would like to see the U.S. attorney or an Arson Strike Team be formed to
investigate. The forest service MUST begin a criminal investigation into
this firefighter serial arson series. Hopefully, FOX news will pick this up
and move on it. I think it is important to single all of you out, as you
your statements freely and without coercion. It is important to distance
you all from the real and true professional wildland firefighters and to
let the public know that you're just a sick few and there are those who are
diligent and responsible in their wildland fire management duties.
You have all really hurt the wildland fire profession. Will the public or
our own agency ever trust us again? We're having a hard enough time just
trying to staff engines, crews, positions, and maintain the integrity of
our fire management programs.
Battle on Friends,
||The fact that 4 senior members of the Federal Wildland Fire Community
have admitted to numerous incidents of wildland arson is a stunning
revelation. These men need to be punished. These are not children or sickos,
these men were professional Wildland Firefighters who know the risks they
were imposing on the public and the suppression crews. A Fireman who sets
fires is the moral equivalent of a Policeman who steals.
If it was an individual, I would dismiss this case as one misguided soul who
thought he could save the world, but its not. Its two Type 1 IC's and two
other Senior Firefighters, representing different agencies, both BLM and
USFS. That's a very strong indication of cultural rot. It really makes me
wonder what part of their education or training lead them to believe it was
OK to commit a felony to achieve their Fuel Management goals. If these men
committed these acts "for the better good of mankind" then they are the same
as an Eco Terrorist.
It's hard to believe that a man who is a self admitted fire starter would
encourage his crews or his Fire Team to be vigorous in their suppression
In my mind, people who start fires for altruistic purposes are no better
than those who start fires for overtime or for profit. The courts should
bear in mind that Bateman knew better and his punishment should be more
severe than that administered to the general public.
As far as the rest of that bunch of sickos, they should be stripped of their
retirement and every Agency should put them on the No Hire list...the public
doesn't need that kind of help.
||RE: Bateman & Humphrey;
Ab, and all,
I'm gonna change my screen- name. I earned it as lead lighter 30 years
on every crew I've worked on since, as either LL or firing boss. I've
proudly, maybe even a little arrogantly. And for the first time in my adult
this biz at 17), I'm ashamed of the possible association.
Gotta think about this a little, after I calm down from all the outrage.
sign me; safetydave (no more Pyro signatures!)
I am pleased to report that key members of the Senate Committee on Energy &
Natural resources has asked the FWFSA to craft questions they can pose to
Mr. Mark Rey, USDA Undersecretary for the Environment & Natural Resources
during a scheduled June 5th hearing on fire preparedness.
Additionally, the committee has solicited written testimony from the FWFSA
since this particular hearing is not a public one. Our written testimony in
its entirety has been sent to the committee and a copy will shortly appear
in the member's area of the FWFSA website.
Good job, Casey. Ab.
||To Bateman, Humphrey, Denton and Paxon
Starting fires the way Bateman,
Humphrey and Denton say they did is a
crime. It is Arson. It is stupid and it is reckless and irresponsible. No
one wants a crooked Police officer, and no one wants a fire fighter
arsonist. You idiots should spend time in prison.
The main problem here is when you set an arson fire and firefighters
respond with engines, helicopters, airtankers and other equipment, you put
firefighters at great risk. What if there was a vehicle accident or an
aircraft crash while responding to one of your arson fires and firefighters
were killed or injured. What if a firefighter was hit with a snag or killed
in a burnover? Ever hear of the felony murder rule?
I'm sure you saw what happened when an arsonist set the Esperanza fire!
There were five firefighter fatalities. You are just like that individual.
You people are not professional firefighters, you are criminal serial
arsonists. This smells of Region 3 good old boy BS, covering for each
This also highlights the BS attitude that many agency administrators have
that fire is a game or a toy. If individuals in your positions have this
attitude about fire, it is evident that many upper level agency managers
have the same unprofessional and don't care attitudes. This is why forest
service and BLM fire management programs are in trouble today.
This is a terrible criminal scandal that the rest of us will have to pay
for. We are supposed to be protecting the public and doing everything we
can to keep our firefighters safe. It isn't hard to figure out what
they'll think of us now.
The U.S. attorney should open a criminal investigation of past fires in
Region 3 (Arizona and New Mexico) and look into whether any firefighters or
the public was injured or killed because of any arson fires. And if they
can pin one on any of you, you'll pay for it. I bet you individuals think
you're real cute opening your big mouths about your criminal activities. It
will come back to haunt you.
For all of the professional firefighters in your own region, on your own
forests and for the rest of us, SHAME ON YOU!
Battle on Friends,
||I hadn’t thought another good use of the technology would be to track
to the point of origin. It’s going to be difficult to dispute that Bateman’s
wasn’t at the scene of the crime. Every recorded coordinate has a time/date
He doesn't debate that he was there. The evidence is clear.
||Profound sadness from reading the USA Today article IF accurate. One
not to believe everything you see published.
Humphrey....... I've worked with them at some point in the
past 3 decades.
At this morning's "family meeting" we discussed. I made it clear that such
values are not at the heart of what we do. The procedures required for
fuel treatments are in place to ensure the safety of our firefighters and
the public. To circumvent that process is to disregard safety.
"Say it ain't so Joe......"
Old Fire Guy
||There is a previous article here with additional comments by Larry
Larry Humphrey's comments
that starting unauthorized fires is simply skipping a page paperwork
exercise glosses over the purpose of pushing that amount of paper.
Prescribed burns are carried out in hope of meeting specific objectives.
Those objectives are developed with input from fire specialists, biologists,
range, timber, watershed specialists. By starting fires on their own, these
folks are throwing all that out.
More importantly though, by running their own private prescribed burn
programs these folks are stepping over the expertise in their own fire
shops, the GACCs , and possibly NICC. The decision to ignite is based not
only on resource objectives but also on the availability of fire personnel
to manage the burn. By starting unauthorized burns these folks assign to
themselves the right to re-allocate scarce resources. Did other fires go
understaffed due to their actions?
Those thirty pages of paperwork include the burn plan itself. Firefighters
are given the opportunity to learn the terrain, understand their roles,
identify safety zones and escape routes, and consider contingencies prior to
being in harms way. By setting unauthorized burns, these folks have robbed
the responders of that opportunity, putting them immediately in a reactive
All in all, a very bad idea.
Sign me disappointed
||RE: press statements by Humphrey and Van Bateman
Either those two were misquoted or they belong behind bars! As was posted
earlier... ARSON is ARSON!!!...
The statement by Van Bateman that there is a fine line between an arsonist
and firefighter also makes me sick... Maybe in Van Bateman's twisted mind
that statement is perceived as true... In which case they are both
arsonist's posing as a firefighters.
If Humphrey and Van Bateman actually lit unauthorized "rx" burns, they
should both be held accountable.
As Strider said, "He sure has given fire managers a black eye". I am also
curious as to Striders question " Is this some kind of southwestern
mindset?" I also know of no such practice in R5 or any fire managers who
would light "rx" burns without the proper authorities.
As a long time R5 USFS firefighter, I am hoping that the USFS law
enforcement along with the OIG investigate.
||Arson is Arson!
I can't believe that Humphries and the rest of the
good ol boy club would stand by an admitted arsonist and say "I would be
shocked if there's anybody who's spent their career in forest management who
hasn't done this," Humphries is still an IC with Arizona State Lands for the
ORF-Old Retired Farts team.
Agency firefighters are all having a hard enough time with budget cuts,
poor leadership, retention issues, ASC and a host of other things and now to
throw the icing on the cake we are being portrayed as "Arsonists" when these
people just go out into the forests to lite some fire because they think
they are doing the right thing -- do they realize that they are only a few
holes in the cheese from killing someone? Maybe they didn't do it in the
heat of the season but what about vehicle accidents enroute? What about one
falling snag? These people are only a step or two away from being the same
as the guy that set Esperanza and took five of our Brothers!
It's hard enough some days to put on that green uniform that most of us
wear with a sense of pride and duty with that forest badge over our hearts I
feel now that Bateman, Humphrey and the rest have just tarnished that badge
and put some more stains on the shirt and was once a symbol of pride. I hope
something is done to distance these "good arsonists" from the rest of us.
Hang Em High
Bateman and Humphrey did not wear FS green, they were BLM. The public
will not make that distinction. They were Type 1 ICs -- at the level of a
One Star General if they were military. Ab.
||Re: Arson as "prescribed fire"
I told a friend about the Van Bateman story and was told, "Well, he
oughta plead insanity, because that's just plain crazy."
||In the press reports, the statements from Van Bateman and Larry Humphrey
make me sick!!!!
They condone arson.....
Arson is arson anyway you look at it!!!!!
Larry Humphrey..... you should be ashamed of yourself even if you are
retired for your comments...... If the press misquoted you, you better step
up quick. There is no reason to burn the wildlands and put folks at risk.
The bullsh*t that you and Van stated about wildland fire managers was
complete and utter bullsh*t and spread falsehoods about the wildland fire
There is not a professional fire manager in the field who agrees with or
collaborates the bullsh*t from Bateman and Humphrey.....you both should
spend time in jail.
Sign Me/ It makes me sick to be associated with those losers as a fire
||All I can say about Bateman is shame on him. Shame on the others too. I
of any fire managers in R5 and R6 who light fires outside of the legal
follow for Rx.
- Do fuels in the southwest grant that kind of permission?
- Is this some kind of southwestern mindset?
- Is it an oldtimers mindset?
Van was a fine IC and seemed to me to be a fine firefighter, the little I
knew him. He
sure has given fire managers a black eye. Good no one was injured or killed.
There has been talk around Southzone Forests about going to 24hr
staffing. That would cure alot of retention problems and save money in the
long run with the agency. What I have heard is that it costs more to have
extended staffing and 2hr call backs than it would to have 24hr staff. The
schedule that I am hearing is the same as Cal Fire, 3 on 4 off and would
only hire either another Engineer or AFEO and still have your regular FFs.
Have the one Captain. I know if we went that route, the stations would have
to have barracks and (livable barracks) to make it work.
If someone can clarify would be great to know. I know BDF and ANF were
pushing the issue to the higher ups but we'll see what happens.
||Re: Connectivity from remote locations
I know at least on cell
phone/internet service provider, that provides an
emergency response team, available 24/7....... They're available to set up
emergency towers, etc........... They just need to be ordered. Doesn't
help with IA, but it can be useful on large incidents.
I wrote this for our local paper, for California Wildfire Awareness Week.
In light of the just released Esperanza Fire fatality Report, I believe it
is appropriate & necessary to continue making property owners aware that
they have the majority of control in determining whether or not their home
survives a wildfire. Obviously it isn't just Defensible Space, there are
issues of construction standards, roofing, access, water, fire protection,
planning issues, ........ But Defensible Space is critical & they have the
control over whether or not it exist.
The Article can be accessed on our website www.plumasfiresafe.org Under
From Where I Stand"
I remember when the insurance companies didn't feel that claims for homes
lost to wildfires were statistically significant enough to be engaged with
the State & Federal fire agencies in California, when compared to losses
from wind & water. NOW some are considering pulling out of Ca because of
As Gordon Graham, a Risk Management Consultant, says. "If it's predictable,
PC FSC Coordinator
||I have a personal copy of the Esperanza Report...... with two original
signatures of the two key officials who put their "official" stamp on the
"final" report just a few days ago after it was modified for the final time
and it was released to the families and the press.
I wonder if the two who actually signed the Esperanza Report had the same
findings and beliefs as the dozens of others who didn't sign the report but
are referenced on the same page for firefighter safety?.......
I'd bet there are key Lessons Learned that were lost in the process of
agency CYA once again........
||Anyone have a lead on who makes the "last chance belts"
besides the usuals that cost $20+.
||From Firescribe and a number of other contributors: Prescribed fire???
Facing 5 years in prison, fire manager Van Bateman explains why he set
another on Bateman's case:
Veteran firefighters say they set unauthorized blazes
By Dennis Wagner, USA TODAY
PHOENIX — Three veterans of fighting wildfires in the West say they set
scores of unauthorized blazes on public lands during their decades of
Their revelations come as retired Forest Service commander Van Bateman
awaits sentencing June 4 after he pleaded guilty to setting timber on fire
without authorization. The Federal Emergency Management Agency singled out
Bateman as a hero for his work in New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorist
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Bateman's sentence could range from
probation to two years in prison.
Firefighters sometimes set fires to burn out undergrowth in overgrown forest
areas. The intent is to reduce the amount of fuel for fires. Bateman and his
fellow firefighters admitted they sometimes bypassed required procedures.
"I would be shocked if there's anybody who's spent their career in forest
management who hasn't done this," Bateman said. "I was doing my job."
The three wildfire veterans, all of whom are friends and former colleagues
of Bateman, concurred.
Charlie Denton, a 43-year employee of the Forest Service who retired in 2000
as fire operations chief for Arizona and New Mexico, said he set dozens of
fires without approval. "It was with the intent of doing something good," he
said. "I bet I could get a list of 200 people" who did the same.
Larry Humphrey, who retired in 2004 as a fire management supervisor and Type
1 incident commander with the Bureau of Land Management, said it is common
to set small blazes and avoid paperwork and procedures required for
prescribed burns. "If you had to bend the rules a little, you bent the
rules," he said. A Type 1 incident commander is responsible for the largest
fires and national catastrophes. There are 14 such commanders in the nation.
Jim Paxon, who spent 34 years in the Forest Service before retiring in 2003
and who works as a TV news consultant, said, "I've done exactly that. I
can't tell you how many times."
Bateman, a former Type 1 incident commander with the Forest Service, was
sent with his command team to New York City immediately after the Sept. 11
attacks. His flight to New York, which had a military escort, was one of the
few in the sky Sept. 12.
The New York Fire Department assigned him to be planning coordinator for
operations at the World Trade Center, a post he held for the next 35 days.
In 2004, according to court records, Forest Service investigators began to
suspect he was lighting fires, as well as putting them out. According to
those records, a tracking device was placed on his vehicle, and the vehicle
was traced to the ignition point for a blaze in Arizona's Coconino National
Bateman denied responsibility until agents from the Office of the Inspector
General for the Department of Agriculture presented evidence of his
According to a signed statement, Bateman then told investigators, "The line
between a good fireman and an arsonist is a fine line. I did not do this for
profit or gain. I have no idea why I started these fires."
Asked in an interview to explain that statement, Bateman said that although
there are many times he sees a forest area that "needs fire," he does not
always act on it.
He said his statement meant that he didn't know why he started those
particular fires but didn't start other fires.
Joe Walsh, a Forest Service spokesman in Washington, would not comment on
Bateman's prosecution but said the agency "does not condone any actions of
our Forest Service employees that are contrary to law, regulation and
standing policy governing prescribed burns."
In Arizona, Mindee Roth, administrator for the Mogollon Rim Ranger District,
said she is not aware of supervisors igniting the woods without approval.
"That's highly unusual," Roth said. "Those guys are all retired now, and
things have changed. That's not appropriate in this day and age."
Bateman said he lit the fires when conditions were safe and noted that they
burned only 21½ acres. He described his conduct as a policy breech that did
not merit criminal charges.
Kimberly Hare, the federal prosecutor in the case, said Bateman did not make
those arguments when he was interrogated by federal agents. She said he fled
the blazes during peak wildfire season.
"Anyone who sets a wildfire and leaves it unattended is committing what I
think is a criminal action," Hare said. "It's dangerous. It's reckless."
Wagner reports daily for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix.
||We have a Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. The primary purpose of
lessons learned is to improve safe work performance and organizational
learning in interagency wildland fire. The mission statement of the
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center is as follows:
"The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center actively promotes a
culture to enhance and sustain safe and effective work practices in the
entire U.S. wildland fire community. The center provides opportunities
resources to foster collaboration among all fire professionals. We
facilitate their networks, provide access to state of the art learning
tools, and bridge the gap between learning and training."
The lessons learned center is a good opportunity to learn from and to
improve our recognition and awareness of situations and mistakes that have
been made in the past that have led to accidents or tragedies. The agency
administrators do not learn anything from the lessons learned center. These
non-fire experienced administrators who are in positions of management over
fire management programs are doing nothing, and it is getting worse.
All one has to do is read "They Said" any day of the year and you will find
glaring examples of serious organizational problems, personnel problems
(Includes hiring and retention), agency administration incompetence in
leading fire management programs, lack of support, and failure to realize
the complexity of today's fire management programs and responsibilities.
The Forest Service fire management program is really suffering. Much worse
than I ever would have dreamed early in my career. A second year
firefighter knows more about fire management and suppression and safety
than most of the agency administrators.
Wildland fire management is very complex and the challenges are
significant. The dangers and risks to our personnel, our communities, and
to the American people are also very significant. This is not something
inexperienced agency administrators should have anything to do with.
Today's fire management programs must be led by highly experienced fire
management professionals (Firefighters) who have come up through the fire
management ranks. It is not a position that some administrator who has
dabbled in "Fire" just enough to make him or her dangerous has any business
Case in point: A high complexity forest in Region 2: Against all advice
from the District FMO's, the forest supervisor and his management team
have cut all engineers on the engines, the Initial Attack Handcrew
Assistant Captains, the Fire Prevention Officers, the Fire Ecologist, The
Prescribed Fire/ IA Crew, and now they want to take out the ADFMOs. This
particular unit has a high fire load and a heavy prescribed fire work load.
I am not kidding, this is true and it has happened and continues to happen.
What has happened on this unit is people bailing out for better jobs with
appointments and career opportunities. This has left numerous vacancies,
unstaffed fire apparatus, very low morale, loss of fire preparedness and
protection capability, and has drastically reduced the ability of the
districts to implement the safest, most effective and most efficient fire
management program they can.
So who cares about a situation as described above? No one I can find. Not
the line officers, not the region, not the agency and it disgusts me.
Proud to be Green, you said "Get off your butt and do some writing and
get what you need." We've done much, much more than that and we have not
been successful. I'm glad you have, but we have not. Safe coms, letters,
phone calls, stand-up complaints, white papers, discussions, meetings, line
officer discussions. Name it, and we've done it.
I question how in the name of the Forest Service can our own agency
administrators completely take apart a fire program and no one cares but
the guys on the ground? The regional directors here have no fire
suppression experience and certainly no leadership ability. Ruining your
own program and hanging your own people out to dry completely baffles my
mind and goes against everything I have ever learned in my life. But it
happens here, and it is sanctioned and approved here.
So I say that the Forest Service must be done with fire management. The
agency does not support fire management or fire management personnel. If
they did, how could it ever have gotten this bad? The program continues to
suffer and there is no agency leadership willing to stand up and lead.
Strange how silent the agency leadership is. And what about Washington
Office fire management? Strangely quiet. So the old adage "Lead, Follow,
or get out of the Way" certainly seems fitting. We need a guy like Duke
Wayne, or General George S. Patton to get in there and start kicking some
Seriously though, it is my belief that it IS time for a federal wildland
fire department. Our firefighters lives, the American public, and our
communities and resources are far too important for the agency to dinker
around with anymore. We need highly experienced and skilled wildland
firefighters with demonstrated leadership qualities leading the wildland
fire management program.
Casey, thanks for the good work. When you're talking to all those senators
and congressmen in Washington, D.C. tell them about the philosophy behind a
wildland fire department. That's why cities have fire departments and it
is not a branch of the Parks and Recreation Department after the Forest
All wildland firefighters should join the FWFSA. Let's be strong, let's
heard, let's continue to set the example of excellence that we all do.
Battle on Friends,
You said, (and I hope it was tongue firmly in cheek)....
"As far as placing into kits, I think that might be a bit much ( I am
coming in late on this discussion). It would be lots cheaper to maintain
the AED unit by bringing in an Incident medical team or renting one from
a local resource of the incident. At a price of about $1500 each time
and the fact the technology is changing and lastly who is going to
maintain them. This might be a better way to go."
AEDs that you see in most airports and smaller fire and police
departments have come down in cost to around $1000 per unit and are designed
to be used by the layperson without special training. You pay for them once
and the lives they save are rewarded ten times fold.
There are federal laws that require AEDs in certain federal facilities that
the federal land management agencies are blatantly ignoring. Federal
facilities also are also described as "temporarily assembled" work locations
such as fire camps. There is also a conflict about cost containment......
and if you want to contain costs and do what is right for firefighter safety
AND MEET THE LAW....... the incident medical kits AS WELL AS the individual
field units should be carrying AEDs.
For a price comparison for the been counters..... a simple 5 ea. 1-1/2"
gated wyes = 1 AED!!!!!!! Pretty low dollars for the safety provided!!!!
P.S. - AEDs should also be a standard at each and every WCT!!!!
Folks, we can speculate, articulate, and analyze until
we are red. We can, rumor, quote, study, and study
some more. I believe the simple fact; that is the
obvious, is we will never know EXACTLY what happened.
We know what we need to do, we know what we need to
push forward. Let's never forget, but always remember.
It's time to lace our boots, prepare for the worst but
strive for the best. Let's put this speculation, and all of
the rumors to rest and MOVE FORWARD, BUT NEVER
||Any 'ologist that does not pursue training and experience in fire leaves
themself short as
a comprehensive resource manager.
Fire is an integral component throughout
Likewise, a fire professional who does not possess education in the
of vegetation, fire dependent ecosystems etc. can succeed as a firefighter,
but will leave
themself short as a comprehensive fire manager.
Old Fire Guy
||RE: Sleep deprivation
Someone- good point about the heightened awareness. What unfortunately was
not brought to public light in the findings was the cumulative sleep
deprivation. We are not privy short of a FOIA for the actual hours worked
for the previous 4 weeks or more leading up to this tragedy. An hour here, 3
hours there, another hour here...It all adds up to a negative number for the
higher brain functions.
Unequivocally there are differences among individuals when it comes to the
amount of sleep required over a long duration. Some individuals do not
require a full 8 and can function normally on 6 to 7 hours indefinitely.
Others require longer periods of rest.
Military thesis regarding sleep deprivation see:
Van Dongen and colleagues (2003),
sleep restriction was induced in one of three sleep doses: 4, 6, or 8
hours per night. This
restriction was maintained for 14 consecutive days. The participants
were a group of 48
healthy adults, and the experiment was carried out under carefully
conditions. Chronic sleep deprivation of between four and six hours per
night for two
weeks resulted in cognitive performance deficits equivalent to
performance of those
individuals who were totally sleep deprived for 2 to 3 days.
How many hours of OT for the year did the crew have up until that fateful
What's the average for that date 500 hrs? 800? 1200?
Was the crew of E-57 under any sleep deficit for the prior 3 months before
the incident? I don't know but there might be some answers out there
Type 1 Wrench
||Thinking about Esperanza again…
I had a difficult time sleeping at times last night. I kept fading in and
out of a semi-conscious dream I was creating and one my brain was making up
on its own. I was seeing a press conference with all the big wheels from the
appropriate fire service agencies making a statement, then walking off
camera, allowing no questions.
Here’s the text:
“Good afternoon. Since the Esperanza incident where 5 USFS firefighters were
killed we have been discussing an issue within the fire service that we have
decided needs immediate action. We have resolved the following:
- A complete fire risk assessment will be completed for the following
counties: San Diego, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino,
Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Monterey. The California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has already conducted much of
this and the maps are currently in process of being approved.
- The final fire risk assessment maps will be made public (Areas will
be ranked either Low, Medium, High, or Severe Risk).
- Those homes and communities deemed indefensible from a fire
suppression standpoint (Severe Risk) will no longer be offered public
fire protection unless modifications to the site are made to reduce the
designation from Severe to High Risk). In some situations it will be
impossible to mitigate said risks due to topography or important natural
resources. In such cases, the private property owner will be completely
responsible for fire protection beginning January 1, 2008. After January
1, 2008, each community or home that remains under the Severe
designation will be posted as such with a red sign on the property
itself or at the entrance of said development.
- All future development must be constructed in a manner that is fire
safe. This will require a certified firefighter to be involved in ALL
planning decisions on the local level. Without a “fire safe”
certification, the development/owner will be responsible for all fire
protection services. We endorse the concept of designing developments as
“shelter in place” communities as one possible strategy to comply with
- While we acknowledge firefighting is inherently a risky occupation,
we will no longer allow our firefighters to perform fire suppression
activities in areas where RISKS outweigh the BENEFITS.”
At some point we need to insert ourselves into the land planning world
because it is as important as lobbying for adequate pay and proper job
For example, a couple good firefighters (Ken Miller and Ralph Steinoff) are
involved at the top of the planning process in San Diego County. We need to
back them up, convince other counties to do the same, and codify their
objective…to make sure nothing is built again that is a guaranteed death
trap during a wildland fire…for us or the citizens we protect.
Computers in the field
I fear that if our firefighters gain additional high tech gadgets for field
use, especially laptops,
the Agency's "priority" use of such laptops will be to complete AgLearn
it appears that is the priority over preparing for fire season!
If you click on the link below you can view the video clip that aired on CNN
this past Sunday May 27th. The story aired nationally and is 2 minutes and
55 seconds long. It should help clarify some of the question folks may have
about how the technology can be used to make faster, smarter and safer
decisions on the fireline.
Concerning radio technology, I have long wondered why
the Federal Government has not gotten involved with
the big "M". I have always considered their radios to
be the best and I have worked on just about every
brand. They now have some very reasonably priced
radios that I think are reliable. I don't profess to
know the logistics of wildland fire fighting but could
you not use simpler radios and slam-dunk programs as
needed for a particular situation? What am I missing?
Can anyone help me with the Crew names and circumstances that disengaged at
the Butte (Long Tom Complex) entrapment in the 80’s?
I have received valued info from a retired mentor, just looking to expand my
The crews read the weather, disengaged and viewed the entrapment from a
safety zone. I would like to memorialize the info before another generation
passes through our profession.
Your help would be appreciated,
PS: Special thoughts and prayers to all of you and your families that have a
special place in your heart this Memorial Day weekend. I will make sure I
take a moment of silence between the fun to keep all of you and yours in my
I would like to address my comments to the vacation home owners and
foolish sheeple who lurk on this website: No one's life is worth a
bundle of sticks!
I am a civilian 'lurker' on this site simply because a firefighter friend
of mine recommended it to me for up-to-date initial attack information,
since I live in an area that is no stranger to wildfires. I 'lurk' because I
am out of my element and do not feel it is my place to post on a site of
this type, out of respect for the professionals the site is intended for.
I am not an affluent 'vacation home owner,' I am a full-time resident in the
San Bernardino mountains, in a community that was evacuated for the Old Fire
and nervously watched last year's Sawtooth/Millard with a sense of
trepidation, awaiting a replay. I have a modest home that represents
everything I have worked for, everything I own, and everything I probably
ever will own.
But even though my house represents the entirety of my financial assets, it
is my emotional 'safe place,' my home - it is NOT worth any firefighter's
life. Every single mountain resident I know feels precisely the same way.
Our respect, admiration, and gratitude for the work of every firefighter -
muni or wildland - is immense. We are the ones who watch news coverage of a
fire and scream at our televisions - in some irrational notion that you can
hear us - 'get the hell out of there, it's just a house!' when we see you
confronting walls of flames, or watch aircraft flying into the smoke. You
consider it 'doing your job,' we consider your efforts heroic and above and
beyond the call.
Most of the people I know in this area do everything they can to mitigate
the threat to their property in the event of another fire. We know it is not
a question of 'if,' it is 'when.' We understand and implement the
'defensible space' theory as much as we are able in an area where cutting
down a healthy native tree requires permission and something akin to an Act
Of God. In 2003, the Old Fire, we walked away from our homes with whatever
of our 'worldly possessions' we could fit into the back of a SUV, leaving
the fate of our homes, our lifestyle, and our ability to make a living, in
your hands. Yes, we selfishly said prayers for a positive outcome for
ourselves, but we also said prayers for each and every one of you out there
on the fire lines, working on our behalf.
We mountain dwellers sit here as I am doing right now - apprehensively
watching the skies for smoke, dreading the sound of sirens - because this is
a holiday weekend and we are fearful that a careless forest visitor (or
purposeful arsonist) could start another Old, or Sawtooth, or Esparaza. And
we do so placing a heavy burden on you, the firefighters, as we latch onto
the only thing we can, to keep our sanity and continue to reside in this
beautiful area: that you are there to protect us. But we don't want you to
do that at the expense of your life.
Most of the people I know understand, sympathize with, and find it
upsetting, that the agencies who protect our communities (CDF, USFS, County
Fire) are under-funded, under-staffed, without much-needed equipment and
outside resources, and generally governed by bureaucracy that has no real
grasp of what you do in a real fire situation. Our faith is not in the
system, or the organization, it is placed in you, the 'boots on the ground,'
and to re-state: our gratitude for your efforts and your service, and the
sacrifices of your families, is immeasurable.
After the five individuals lost their lives in the Esparanza incident, one
of my first thoughts while watching the news coverage as they showed the
unusual house they died trying to protect, was: the poor homeowner.
Certainly he would have preferred to have still had his 'vacation home'
standing when all was said and done, but I doubt he would have asked anyone
to put their life on the line to save it. He will forever have to live with
the knowledge that five bright, wonderful, young and heroic men cannot go
home to their families because they were trying to save his 'pile of
One can debate all day long whether or not the home should have been built
there to begin with, whether the homeowner had taken the appropriate steps
to mitigate the fire hazard, or whether the responders made proper decisions
in trying to protect the structure. What matters in the end is that five
families have lost loved ones, and I don't know a single person who thinks
that was 'part of the job' or that anyone should make the ultimate sacrifice
to protect real or personal property.
Just would like 'River' and others out there with his views to know that
those of us whom you are protecting do not expect you to - or want you to -
sacrifice either life or limb trying to protect our 'pile of sticks' or our
'stuff.' Living in a mountain community or any other wildland/urban
interface is a choice that we have made, most of us understand and accept
the risks that accompany it, and we do our best to act responsibly and not
create a scenario in which you are called upon to make decisions, or take
actions, that put your lives on the line. Yet you do it on a daily basis,
and for that, you have our utmost respect.
Thank you for everything all of you do - and be safe out there this summer.
Sign me: A Grateful Mountain Resident
Thanks Mountain Resident for putting a "face" on a conscientious
ref advanced tech.
Last year I commented on carrying a map and compass, so that when the gps
failed we can still figure out where we were at. Me thinks, we need to teach
some basic map and compass work to the guys in the field. Maybe some of you
NAM VETS remember the extra load when we started to use covered type radios
in the bush. Extra gear and batteries can kill you.
Ex Old man of the Dept.
I did clear the IQCS preferences, etc and printing went fine for the
Thanks for trying L--C--E-S.
Cool place to get such tips. Thanks to you Abs, too.
My friend Lobotomy: while I can usually understand and respect your
perspectives and commitment to firefighter safety, I am personally insulted
when you paint with a broad brush and post that "I'll be dam*ed if a
Forester is going to keep wildland firefighters safer......".
Forester since 1968, and still an on-the-ground Safety Officer and Ops
Chief, I've committed a significant portion of my fire career to the issue
of firefighter safety. Others have done the same, and continue to do so!
Leslie Anderson at MTDC is a Forester, and so was Art Jukkala back in the
1960-1980 era. The list of Foresters that have been important players in the
realm of firefighter safety is long and distinguished. Does the name of
wildlife biologist Jack Ward Thomas strike a cord? After South Canyon, as
Chief he made a significant difference in the USFS fire safety culture. Does
a Forestry degree remove the experience of working on tankers and pumper
crews (now engines), or supervising a 20 person hand crew? Working as a Crew
Boss, Engine Boss, Sector Boss, Division Boss, Line Boss, and all the
revised ICS names for those positions that I and other Foresters have served
in for many decades?
Like you, I've seen Foresters and other "ologists" that have no clue
about making firefighters safer; I've also seen high school graduate FMOs
and AFMOs that were equally as bad as any Forester!
So Lobotomy, please try in the future to avoid lumping an entire class of
people into your stereotyped model, and recognize us for the individual
skills, experiences and commitment we bring to the fireline in the cause of
Dick, it is not your Forestry degree that keeps firefighters safer. It
is your dedication to firefighter safety and your KSAs and Intelligence
brought to bear on firefighting and doing it safely. I do understand your
outrage at the attack on your Forestry degree, as though someone
slandered your momma.
Lobotomy, quit poking the foresters and other ologists. The ones in
this firefighter community contributing here are some of the very good ones
who have made firefighter safety their life's work. They don't deserve your
constant attack. Put your tool down and walk away. There are clearer ways to
make your points than attacking broad groups of academically educated FS
Torching fir tree! Can't I even take a weekend off without you guys
getting into it? Any more on this between you two, you have each other's
email addys. You also have mine. Ab.
Re: Esperanza Fire
What great timing the USDA Office of Inspector General has. Within days of
the release of the Esperanza report, "rumor" has it that the OIG has
re-initiated their investigation as required by PL 107-203.
Folks in the field are being told to lawyer up or seek representation before
talking with the OIG investigators. At least two folks have received
official subpeonas. Folks are being told to refer the press to Matt.
Folks in the field want to share Lessons Learned but are afraid of the OIG
headhunters..... OIG has a very bad track record with Lessons Learned and
how they treat folks who speak on the record without proper
representation..... (ref. Cramer Fire and Thirty Mile Fire).
I fear that the folks like me who want a Just Cause Culture are being
overridden by folks who want an ounce of blood for their personal pain......
Contrary to what the Chief of the Forest Service says.... wildland
firefighters will not all come home each year after a safe assignment.....
She was never a wildland firefighter and will never understand the true
risks and solutions until her key subordinate substaffs get off their asses
and act like FIRE MANAGERS and listen to the troops who are leading the fire
program from below (LEADING UP and saying BS where it is due when the boss
is missing the mark).
I wish it was so that every wildland firefighter could return home to thier
family, but it just isn't a possibility in the wildland fire profession, or
the greater profession of fire suppression. When you have a HRO..... You
plan and implement the learning processes of HRO's but the land management
agencies fall far short..... All of which the federal land management
agencies seem to have problems with. You understand at the most basic level
that there are risks..... You embrace the risks and go through a risk
management process.... You adapt.... and YOU change whatever process or
procedure needs to be changed to keep your folks safer.... You also look
outwards at all of the processes in the accident causation phase REGARDLESS
of your individual or personal biases and try to fix them.
The possibility of reducing our losses is reliant solely upon learning and
not repeating past failures.
I'll be dam*ed if a botanist, a forester, a hydrologist, a entomologist, or
any other ologist is going to keep wildland firefighters safer........ The
person who is going to keep folks safe on the fireline is a wildland
firefighter who has experience and good situational awareness and is not
tempted by things such as structure protection in areas that have been
deemed to be unsafe.
If folks want to look at accidents after the fact and learn things that will
keep our families and friends safer, then look towards the Lessons Learned
of wildland firefighters and not the AGENCY CYA actions.
The original report WAS SEVERELY modified from the original Lessons Learned
as it was presented by the "folks" who approved the next to last final
product by the CDF and USFS review team..... but that may be just a "rumor".
I'd bet the "rumor" was correct and both CDF and the USFS went into CYA mode
again and "edited" their expert opinions of the accident and the true
Lessons Learned rather than keeping the troops safer...........
You emphasized some good practices that should be followed not only in
wildland fire management but in any area of emergency services where so much
is at stake. When we teach the GPS for Fire Management and ICS course at
various locations throughout the country, it is recommended that the
participants have a good understanding of the basic field observer mapping
skills and ALWAYS carry a paper map as a backup. The chapter on map and
compass from the S-244 Field Observer course is included in the pre-work as
a reference (http://gis.nwcg.gov/training_gps.phpl). As we all know,
anything electronic or mechanical is subject to failure if not maintained or
used properly which includes engines, chainsaws, helicopters, radios and
yes, GPS receivers. Even when the equipment is working there are human
factors that can reduce its performance. I was once totally baffled why I
was getting sufficient signal strength in the back seat of the helo while
parked on the ground but as soon as we lifted off I lost satellite
acquisition. No problem, out came the paper map and when we later mapped it
again with GPS I can proudly state that I was within 75 acres accuracy on a
2500 ac. fire. Turned out that the helitac crew member had fiber taped the
external GPS antenna inside the Plexiglas window upside down! "It fit
better", he later told me. After that incident I painted the word "UP" on
all of my antennas and insisted on taping it to the window myself on all
recon mapping flights. It was amazing that the receiver picked up anything
at all on the ground before the turning rotors blocked what little signal
One of the radio manufacturers has a marketing slogan, "Safety is knowing
where your people are". There are external speaker/microphones that have
built-in GPS chips so additional weight is not a concern. It will transmit
your position each time you key the mic or it can be programmed to transmit
automatically, say, every 2 minutes. If you don't want anyone to know your
location, simply turn it off, but when I'm working a fire I have no
hesitations letting folks know where I am and it helps to maintain LCES.
Reliable technology requires dollars, training, and staffing to make it
work. A GPS transmitter hooked to a digital radio might work well, but who
would be watching to see where the person/resource was?
Tim, you have defined the solution perfectly! Before we issued the rugged
laptops, GPS receivers, digital cameras, GIS software and wireless modem
cards to the BLM crews, they were required to attend training in it's use.
My greatest success story involves one of the engine captains who simply
didn't care to learn or accept the new tools. After I retired, I heard that
he is now the person all the other firefighters call with their questions
and he has become quite proficient at fire mapping and using the notebook in
his engine to obtain and share information. He helped me give a presentation
at the national fire management officers conference in December and he
enlightened everyone how this helps him do a better job. The fire management
officers seemed to be happy that their investment paid off. To answer your
question; dispatchers are currently using the technology for flight
following of air tankers and other resources to determine closest forces for
response. An engine may be going into service after leaving a repair shop,
for example, and be closer to respond to an emergency than another unit. It
is easy to look at a display and see the "common operating picture" of all
your resources; who is assigned, who is available and who in staging. An
Initial Attack Incident Commander can start to formulate strategy by looking
at his laptop display to see who is responding and their direction, ETA, the
kind of resource etc. Here is a link to a good article that describes how
Loma Linda University Hospital enhances situation awareness by using the
It would be cost prohibitive and impractical to think that every firefighter
will carry a GPS-enabled handheld computer on the fireline. I predict that
once it is commonly used and accepted, the Division Supervisors will be
using it to track the progress of their assigned resources as well as the
Information Officers who have a need for up-to-date information about the
status of the fire. The Situation Unit would also benefit from receiving
timely updates from the field and the list goes on.
I can't take credit for my comment about agency administrators being
criminally liable. That was a quote from Ron Rochna, the foam guru in the
early 90's who believed that tactical applications of Class A foam is far
more efficient, smarter and less work for the crews than the use of straight
water. His passion for using a proven, affordable concept was very
contagious and I guess it rubbed off on me.
Many, if not all, rookie smokejumpers have more than the minimum experience
levels. It's good to have variety of experience but hotshot experience is a
big plus.This ensures that you have fought/seen a lot of fire. That way,
rookie training can concentrate on smokejumper skills rather than
firefighting skills. Rookie training last anywhere from 4-6 weeks depending
what base you are at. Each base may have approximately 4-12 openings a year
and may get 50-200 applicants. With that large of a pool of applicants, the
ones with more experience stand out more. Good physical fitness and a
never-give-up attitude are just as important as experience too. Good luck.
Type 1 Wrench,
Good observations. Please read all of the military studies on sleep
deprivation before jumping to conclusions, but your hypothesis is
interesting. I doubt sleep deprivation had anything to do with the decisions
on the Esperanza Fire or any recent fatality fire in the last five
The military studies actually show increased situational awareness in the
first 36 hours of sleep deprivation when stimulated in a combat situation,
and as such would not be a factor in the Esperanza Fire.
Sign me / Someone who studies the research and the findings
Re 401 program
I thought I would add my two cents about the whole 401 program discussion. I
have attended a three classes as part of the UNLV program. Even though I
grumble and groan, its VERY time consuming and frankly stretched my brain, I
simply can't complain about how this is developing me as a professional.
With the basic biology courses I have taken (I have three bachelor degrees
in various fields) I find myself looking about my work environment with
totally different eyes. I look at the surrounding vegetation and have a
better understanding at a biological level of how fire impacts it, the long
term processes involved and potential ways to manipulate this. Now this is
information I can get from all the "old timers" of the area but lets face
it, our profession has more and more interaction with the general public,
other agencies and politicians. I cannot stand in front of these people with
information I believe will be correct but now I have skills to determine
proper scientific sources and how to properly put this information down on
paper or verbalize. As someone on this page previously mentioned I look at
this program as a means for further developing myself. What does it hurt? It
takes time, it can tie you up thus blocking potential fire assignments but
if the government wants to put you through school to help you be a better
firefighter what is the problem?
I think that technology is good to a point, but there are certain pitfalls
associated with it that need to be acknowledged.
- An over-reliance on technology can shackle organizations. One fire I was
on some GPS thingee busted and they could not map the fire using GPS. The
next day at briefing there was no map in the IAP. Nobody on that team
thought about having someone map the fire by flying the fire with a map and
- Technology ain't always what it is cracked up to be. The agency that I
work for used to rely on radios make by B----- K---. They worked fine.
Reliable, easy to operate, field programmable, etc. Somebody somewhere
decided that we need radios with digital capability, even though we are a
long way from going digital. Why!?! Because technology is cool. Our agency
spent millions of dollars to buy the same handheld radios that the Navy
SEALS used, ones made by R----. These radios were not reliable, were not
easy to operate, were not field programmable, but they were a more advanced
technology than what we had been using. Our agency had to turn around and
spend millions of dollars to replace the new radios with ones that worked.
- Reliable technology requires a dollars, training, and staffing to make it
work. A GPS transmitter hooked to a digital radio might work well, but who
would be watching to see where the person/resource was? How often would that
be helpful? Do I really want to have to carry an extra radio and batteries
so that someone can see where I am at? What about the increase in
heat-stress and fatigue associcated with having to pack this extra weight?
(Not to mention the Orwellian aspect to it.)
- "Any agency administrator who refuses to provide these tools to their
employees should be held criminally liable." Those are strong words. If an
agency administrator fails to purchase satellite internet for an engine,
they should go to prison?
Don't get me wrong, I am not anti-technology, but I do think that there
needs to be a balance in the allocation of scarce financial resources. That
balance needs to maximize high quality:
- Employee recruitment and retention.
Bottom line for me is that the guy or gal dragging hose, swinging a tool, or
running a saw is where we need to be concentrating. If technology can help
those folks great. If not, no matter how gee-whiz it is, I don't care.
I have a quick question that I hope you can answer for me regarding
smokejumper recruitment and qualifications. I have been preparing myself for
the past year with the goal of becoming a smokejumper. I know that the basic
qualifications to become a rookie smokejumper are 1 season of wildland
firefighting experience and one season of related work experience, or an
educational substitute with a certain level of college units in a related
field. My question is this, even though these are the minimal requirements,
what kind of experience does the average candidate that is invited to rookie
smoke jumper training actually have under his belt? Are those candidates
that are hired averaging much more experience than the bare minimum
requirements. I am currently working on an aggressive engine crew on the
Angeles NF in southern CA. Is it possible to be hired as a smokejumper with
engine experience, or is hotshot experience the only way to be considered
for smokejumper employment? Any input and advise regarding a realistic plan
and approach as far as the quality and duration of experience needed to
become a smoke jumper would be greatly appreciated.
!$@@+-grrrrrr. Does anyone know how to get AgLearn certificates to
print on a FS computer???
Is the certificate in the form of a PDF file? If it is, try the following…
1. Select print from the tool bar.
2. Select the advanced settings tab at the bottom of the page.
3. Make sure that the box is checked next to “print as image”
4. Try and print
Not sure if this is your issue, but it’s one we had at my
base. Best of luck with GAGlearn. I put my crew through the off line
versions of all the required classes. Thought they were gonna kill me, but
it took a lot less time than sitting 20 guys down 2-3 at a time for no fear,
ethics, security and literacy, performance management, NIMS, reasonable
accommodation, and the privacy act.
To those concerned about using AEDs:
Anyone can use an AED, they are designed for and around anyone to be able to
use one. They are designed to be stupid and simple for any person and even
children to use.
There are types of AEDs that are for use by emergency responders. To use
them there are certifications that must be maintained by the ER person.
Also, in most states there are Good Samaritan laws in place for persons who
are preforming emergency lifesaving first aid to perform at the level of
care they are trained for without threat of legal actions.
As far as placing into kits, I think that might be a bit much ( I am coming
in late on this discussion). It would be lots cheaper to maintain the AED
unit by bringing in an Incident medical team or renting one from a local
resource of the incident. At a price of about $1500 each time and the fact
the technology is changing and lastly who is going to maintain them. This
might be a better way to go.
And if you need to use one because someone just dropped in front of you
certainly do not hesitate to use it. It might save a life because you did
the right thing. The cost of the unit is cheap in comparison to someones
I have been reading your web site for the past few months now since we have
lost our firefighter on October 26. I guess now some of the families are speaking out. I agree the report gives us more questions than answers. My
first response when they told us they are reading us the report first before
the media was, "do we want or can we handle hearing this?" It is human
nature to keep asking more questions than we will ever get answers to, since
the guys who know for sure are not here.
This may not be the "right" thing to say, but I am the most angry with
people who put homes in such a dangerous place and expect our firefighters
to defend them. This is a risk THEY take as home owners . As for the rest of
the report, it is sad, but I do not want to blame or cause anyone else to be
hurt by this, it will do no good. We can only pray and hope things will be
One thing I do want to say is, during all this we have meet some
of the most wonderful loving people in the firefighter community. On our day
at the site it was so gut wrenching, but when I looked up at the faces of
all the firefighters, that broke my heart to, the hurt and pain you guys
feel is so very real. This we will always love you for. This fire season
looks to be bad too, with having had no rain this year, please be safe, and
always keep in prayer.
in disbelief -
Your situation in not unique and your families are not the only ones facing
this "not knowing". Anytime there is a fatality with no witnesses, you will
never truly know what happened. Accident reports come out and only bring up
more questions. I know that I am still trying to figure out what really
happened in John's accident. Reading the accident report told me basically
nothing, that they really didn't know what happened, only what they "think"
As far as closure - you will probably never have it. People talk about it
all the time, yet you ask any family who was at the Family Weekend if they
have closure, and not one of them will say yes. It makes me worry for the 30
mile families who have been pushing the lawsuit of Ellreese. I'm sure that
they think having someone blamed for it will bring them closure, but I fear
that won't be the case. They will still have the anger and bitterness that
seems to be driving them. Nothing will bring back our loved ones, but the
paths we choose after that loss is up to us. I hope that you can find the
strength to take a life altering situation and make it into something
positive. Remember that there are many families that have gone before you on
this journey and many more yet to take it. Use them and their experiences to
help you through this time. We understand and are with you....
Re Esperanza loss:
MM, you said "The truth died...."
I may be delusional but answer me this, how can we be able to recreate
events of other tragedies to the second?
Or pin point scenarios with just a tire tread or drop of blood?
Yet here we have to accept that no one can tell us anymore than what the
last contact was with E57?
I could perhaps watch too much unsolved mysteries or CSI etc.
However, I can't help but feel we at least should be able to have a better
idea what happened during those moments.
I know we cant talk to them, but what does the evidence say -- is that
not truth ?!?
If we can only accept what the living say, then why do we have detectives
and investigators comb through crime scenes/incidents?
I am agitated that we are to accept what we (the families) think may have
happened without the knowledge of "experts" to help explain the evidence.
Hearing about the report, I felt I was going to be getting closure.
However after reading it, I realize it is easier to jump the time line over
an incident than to put anything in writing.
It is my opinion that doing so was a travesty and overwhelmed me, myself,
with the grief of never knowing more.
please sign me
"In disbelief", my heart goes out to all of you families who suffered
such great loss. It goes out to all of us in the community, too who are also
suffering grief over the loss of our fine men.
It is human to want to know everything so as to make sense of, and
ultimately find resolution for, the deaths of our five guys. The truth is
that we will never know what your loved one thought and what caused them to
make the choices they made on that awful morning. Most of us will never have
complete understanding although, as time goes on, we will have greater
Investigators can only say what they know to be true from the evidence
or what they've been told by eyewitnesses in an investigation report. In
this case, it's precious little. CSI makes investigation look simpler and
reveal more than investigators can usually discover in real life. That show
sets us all up for unreasonable expectations. In the absence of hard
forensic evidence, nothing can be said in a report that would be
constructive. Even "human factors" are only speculation since our five guys
Nevertheless, please know Our Five have not died in vain. We will not
allow that. We will always remember. I know right now that's small
consolation to you, whose heart is broken. It's small consolation to me
whose heart is also broken. But we'll all hang in here together and get
through this and get stronger. You're not alone.
May we all find some kind of Peace, even if we don't understand. Ab.
Jack, your email account has a block. I can pass your message on to
another, but you won't get their or my reply if your account bounces our
emails back. Ab.
Thanks wildland fmo, you put my thoughts in the right place as an engineer
and firefighter we all have the responsibility to protect each other and
make the decisions, i hope you didnt think i was shirking that
responsibility because i hold three other peoples' future in my actions and
i take that very seriously. But i am glad we are on the same page.
one more note i would like to add.
This report was not produced by those on scene. Unfortunately we will never
really know what happened that morning. My hope is we all take this to heart
and we all stand together. Yes computer models and everything else look good
but what happened on that scene we cant guess, formulate, or speculate. The
truth died with bdf e 57. god bless every one them. Please feel free to
disagree or agree with me - communication is our best defense maybe we will
all learn and better ourselves, Im tired of seeing our guys get killed.
Thanks for the excellent contribution! I can't wait to re-read
it with more
attention to detail. It's papers like yours that review the human factors
in the context of firefighting that are so valuable at this time in history.
It's clear why we need to have a doctrinal and principles-based process
command and why firefighters need training in recognizing and avoiding
pitfalls in risk assessment and decision making. It's also key to recognize
the human thinking pitfalls are. Thanks for contributing to that
Mike, you rock!
My city fire department recently went to a new foam called "Nova-cool" which
works effectively as both a "Class A" and "Class B" foaming agent. I'm
assured that it also works well in pre-treating structures, but have no
experience as of yet with this application for it. Has anyone used this
particular product for structural protection, and if so, how effective has
-The Brush Coat Medic
To all about the AED
You might want to take a look in the R5 helitenders.
About 6 crews are carrying the AEDs and another 6 are supposed to carry them
this year. You guys need to get on the ball and talk to your equipment group
to get funding, because your groups did not have their acts together; you
have no complaint. The R5 Helitack group had no problem getting those
approved. Don't complain if you don't have one because management will not
approve it. Management will approve it. As long as you do the documentation
and show why you need it, they should... and its use --the last time I
checked-- a first responder skill. Every one in Region 5 should be up on
The only people to blame are us when we don't stand up and get it done.
"Leading up" is the phrase this year, so get off your butt and do some
writing and get what you need. Yes, we spend too much time on the computer,
so what!!!!! This is a government job, get used to it!!!!! It has nothing to
do with management trying to CYA. It is plain and simple, it is us who have
missed the mark, not them.
Proud To Be Green.
You can post the attached paper I prepared for the Serious Accident
Investigation Course, dealing with decision making and judging, if you wish.
An outdated version is posted on the NIFC website. It might help people
analyze the Esperanza Fire and Accident Report. I would add to the comments
today that getting tactical information to the firefighters via new
technologies would be great, but we should also work on getting it to them
in the most cognitive-compatible format, like the Navy has done with its
TADMUS decision support system and critical thinking training, as discussed
in my paper.
WAS HE THINKING.doc>> (4854K doc file)
Thanks Mike. Human factors... it's important to recognize we're not
simply computers. (I updated the link on the Documents Worth Reading page to
point to this newer version.) Ab.
Re: Connectivity from remote locations
You described the conditions very well as they exist now. I’ve have been on
numerous fires where cell phone usage was simply not an option. Most
wireless modems rely on cell tower locations to transfer data through GPRS/EDVO/EDGE
etc. Yes, we are very fortunate in southern CA to have such an extensive
wireless network and I’m glad to see at least two wildland fire agencies
taking advantage of it; many other local departments are implementing their
communication upgrades as well. You’re right; this capability is not
available throughout the whole country. In those areas I have been very
successful in connecting through a SATphone. If you can see the sky, you can
communicate. I know Ab doesn’t like to advertise brand names, but there is
one low orbit provider that I’ve used in the middle of the Mojave Desert all
the way to the Lolo National Forest in Montana with no problem. Of course if
you’re parked next to a three thousand foot rock wall in Yosemite Valley you
may have to move away from the base and get out in the open a little way.
Most of the satellite phone companies also provide a data transfer option on
their devices. Don’t expect a broadband Internet connection, but if you have
a need to upload a fire perimeter shapefile for posting onto GeoMAC, for
example, a 9600 baud rate is sufficient to handle a few kilobytes. Just for
the fun of it, I used to send fire behavior video files directly from the
fireline to GISgirl when she worked in Sacramento. Yeah, it would take at
least 30-45 minutes sometimes to get her a 5 MB movie clip. I would use the
time to hike the line or check on the progress of my strike team. The intent
was to push the limit of what we had available to us at the time and it
The technological advances are getting better and the prices are coming way
down. In 1998 I responded to the Boyer Fire in some place called “Plains
Montana”. I normally don’t carry topographic map data for “Plains Montana”
so as I was driving N/B on I-15 I was connected to an Internet Map Server,
through the SATphone, downloading 1:24,000 scale quads surrounding the area
of the point of origin. I was using one of the older satellite service
providers at the time and the data transfer rate was only 4800 baud then. By
the time I reached the Nevada state, l line I had all the maps, situation
report and current/extended weather forecast for “Plains Montana”. At a
$1.06/min it turned out to be the most expensive fire map I ever made (now
all you have to do is take the time to log onto ftp://ftp.nifc.gov/ before
you leave and you can get all the basedata such as maps, roads, land
ownership, DPA boundaries etc for the 11 western states FOR FREE). I believe
the data use rates have dropped to less than .25/min now but that doesn’t
matter. My life, and the safety of the firefighters I work with, is worth,
$1.06/min or even $5/min.
Before I retired I could do everything mentioned in the questions raised by
JUST DO IT from the front seat of my command vehicle, except for the
real-time video surveillance. The BLM and Riverside County engines are now
equipped to do the same. The USFS Cobra flying around with their video
downlink capability can provide a situational awareness capability we have
always needed. BTW, a major tactical decision to evacuate all the personnel
from a threatened division during the early stages of the 2006 Millard
Complex was based on the video feed supplied by the Cobra to fire officials
in the ICP. The fire blew through the location less than an hour after the
decision was made. Here is a link from the July 13 recon flight
www.wildlandfire.com/pics/millard-sawtooth/real-time-recon.wmv. Kinda of
makes you wonder “what if?” we did that 3 months later during Esperanza
which was located across I-10 within line of site from the Millard Complex
ICP doesn’t it?
Mellie, we can point out the shortcomings of 28.8 kbps modems located in
District Offices to the bureaucrats but it will only fall on deaf ears. If
the #1 casual and contributing factor that lead to the fatalities in
Esperanza was lack of situation awareness, then lets concentrate on
convincing the decisions makers to provide the tools to the engine, helitack
and ground crews who need these devices the most to enhance their ability to
make sound tactical decisions based on what is happening around them. This
is no longer a proof of concept. If it works in the middle of the Mojave
National Preserve and the Lolo National Forest in ”Plains Montana”, it will
Ab, please give my contact information to anyone who is sincerely
interested in learning how this can be implemented in their agency at an
affordable price. Or, better yet have them contact Bob Toups at CALFIRE in
Perris, CA. He loves to talk about the technology as much as I do!
PS – GISgirl can also provide the best CAD system available.
nice article with photos...
Extreme Dry Year Ushers in Dangerous Fire Season (Santa Barbara Co CA)
MARK REY'S "GOOD NEWS"
TO THE SENATE INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
During a hearing before the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee on
Tuesday, USDA Undersecretary Mark Rey offered the members of the
subcommittee "good news" about last year's deadly & record breaking fire
Only 750 structures lost!
Not one word about the lives lost during the season!!
Firefighters of the Forest Service...this is YOUR
leadership. It's time for him to go, not you. Please feel free
to let him know what you think about his "omission."
Don't use your Gov't email address and I'd simply say wildland firefighter,
not your name. He is a vindictive little man.
Mark Rey Needs a new line of
Fire Geek, you said,
This needed intelligence can be shared with everyone through Internet
connectivity anywhere in the country through wireless LAN or SATphones.
May be so, but I wonder... You're familiar with socal. I can tell you
that in remote mountainous wilderness areas of norcal and further north the
connectivity is not there without great cost in time and energy. On the Bar
Complex occasionally firefighters on the mountain tops could get a cell call
out. In valleys I don't think the LAN or SATphones worked. I can tell from
experience that even bag phones powered by our truck battery do not connect
unless they're in the one sweet spot ("Five Waters phone booth spot") on the
meadow. That hasn't changed since the Big Bar Complex in '99. The new dish
for internet is likewise iffy so far. The mountains loom all around. I am
more likely to get the attention of the lookout overhead (especially if I
have everyone in the garden strip) than to count on email. This lack of
connectivity not uncommon in our neck of the wilderness. And getting a tech
to come check any problems, well we might as well be in the USFS with
maintenance techs outsourced to Great Britain or wherever absurd that
SoCal and other high density interface areas across the West have unique
needs. There are also unique opportunities for safety through technology.
(There are also unique opportunities for tragedy if the technology fails.) I
just don't know how fed agencies with 1) such diverse needs depending on
location and 2) a mission/vision for wilderness fire are going to go
for mapping equipment in engines and buggies. (Heck, most Ranger Districts
are still operating at very slow upload/download speeds. Most that I know
are even having a hard time with the online AgLearn training! So much for
going to everything internet for the 21st century. CalFire has similar
problems as I understand it.)
Let's hear it from other remote areas... Is this kind of tech stuff
viable across the board? What are the Pros and the Cons?
PS, did you know 95% of the American population live in cities. It always
amazes me, but I have met young people who have never been out of cities...
For those with dsl, here's a technology reality check. Most FS Ranger
District computers take between 3.5 minutes at 28.8bps and 2 minutes at
56bps to download this page. My computer with dsl takes less than 5 seconds.
It is my fervent hope that the Forest Service does not "regress" in its fire
operations as a result of the Esperanza Report.
I am taking a break from reporters who want to know my take on the report's
conclusion about overconfidence & "excessive motivation" to save homes being
contributing factors to the tragedy and what Tom Harbour's statement about
"we're not going to die for property" actually means to the FS fire program.
If history is any indication, the FS and perhaps CAL-FIRE will succumb to
knee-jerk reactions as a result of pressure the press & politicians put on
them. Politicians too will respond in a reactive manner. Similar to the
knee-jerk reaction to Thirty Mile resulting in PL 107-203. Not a whole lot
of thought but gosh, we're gonna make firefighters more safe...we all know
what 107-203 has done for the wildland firefighting community!
I personally agree that a vacant house in such a location, given the
topography, progress of the fire etc., is not worth risking lives for. If,
under such circumstances there is no life hazard, then move on. However such
a common sense approach does not need to dictate that the FS regress from
employing the best wildland firefighters in the world and its move into the
21st Century as an all-risk firefighting force.
I've told countless press folks that the FWFSA is not going to 2nd guess any
action or command on any fire ground involving a wildfire. We all know
(obviously some US Attorneys don't) that wildfires are far more dynamic and
involve far too many elements to be black & white. This ain't no bedroom
fire in a single family residence!
I have expressed to the press that I totally disagree with the assessment
that overconfidence & excessive motivation contributed to the deaths. By the
way, what the hell is "excessive motivation?" If I were in that situation,
my excessive motivation would be to get the hell out if there was no life
hazard. No, that is not second-guessing, just my opinion.
In responding to the press I have wholeheartedly disagreed with articles
referring to the USDA IG audits & GAO reports that skyrocketing suppression
costs are directly linked to protection of private property. Structure
protection may be a strategy, but I cannot agree with it being a
contributing factor to huge suppression costs.
Those of you in the FWFSA know our take on that issue: If preparedness
resources were funded properly, (i.e. not diverted & siphoned off to pay for
non-fire projects) then federal resources (already inherently less expensive
than nonfederal resources) would be in place to mitigate the impact of urban
interface, drought, etc., and all the other things the non-firefighting
"experts" claim are fueling the skyrocketing costs of suppression.
With all due respect to the IAWF, I cannot agree with a decision to scale
back structure protection other than under certain circumstances where if
there is no life hazard, move on. Taking such a position publicly might
light a fire (no pun intended) under insurance companies, builders, land
owners etc., to do their part in mitigating such tragedies. However a
wholesale termination of structure protection, especially when there are so
many structures already on federal property, would seem to me anyway, to be
a knee-jerk reaction.
My biggest fear is that firefighting agencies will bow to pressure from
those who have absolutely no wildfire experience or expertise. The
land-management agencies have the best wildland firefighters in the world
and in my opinion, to regress under the pressure of non-fire folks would be
a disservice to them and the public.
Just one question for those who have a better insight than I...Granted the
Santa Ana's were picking up by the time of the burnover, but was there any
factor that would have precluded using a spotter aircraft instead of the
engines earlier in the morning to do the structure "triage" & look for life
hazards in the area?
One comment: "Excessive Motivation" is also giving a shout out
via commo to everyone that they better start lighting backfires. ...So many
lives saved by that one action. Ab.
Re: Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) on fires and in "federal
facilities" per "law and federal statute"
The American Heart Association, in collaboration with the American Red
Cross, both tailored their training programs to allow first responder (and
civilian use under Good Samaritan Laws...) use of an AED in prehospital
settings. Both the ARC and AHA training programs have been taught for years
and has been the community standard for AED programs.
Federal law requires AEDs in most federal buildings and in most fire camp
settings while the federal government agencies turn a blind cheek.... While
it may require a medical director for the programs..... BOTH the USDI and
USDA agencies have folks on staff to serve as qualified medical program
directors for the program who are qualified to serve as leads due to their
titles as MDs.......
I'd bet that most federal folks who are opposing AEDs in the national kits
are sitting on their thumbs..... and waiting for another preventable
accident to occur? I hope not...... or they are waiting for someone else to
speak up..... CRM.... Cockpit Resource Management... aka.... Crew Resource
Like Pyro said..... Real world...... real effective..... The AED questions
are a no brainer....... why the discourse from our leaders for such a
simple fix to keep folks safer?
Lead.... follow... or get out of the way
Re: Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) on fires (tongue kinda in
cheek, kinda not)
They probably did a legal consult and were told to not
do it. Firefighters are in shape. They don't have heart attacks. And, if it
was used on a member of the Public and failed, the Fed agency might be held
accountable... Oh no, not ANY fed agency, only the USFS. The USFS would get
the blame. More legally sound not to do anything. The CYA approach?
Re: Esperanza Report Lessons Learned
I wouldn't have expected anything else from a bunch of bureaucrats sitting
in chairs far from the wildland and the communities they are charged to
protect, other than we all knew they would create a new set of "abatement
items" for the troops on the fireline to implement. Most of WO/RO folks
appear to be afraid to engage the public and/or the elected officials about
the complexities of the wildland fire problem, and about the immediate
changes that need to be made for firefighter, community, and resource
The Esperanza Report missed the most significant contributory factors:
(Note: Contributory factors are significant slices in the "Swiss Cheese"
that if plugged could have prevented the accident or significantly changed
I will argue that the below "contributory factors" that were not mentioned
in the report were actually "causal factors" since the very basic premise of
a "causal factor" is that "causal factors" are actual acts, omissions,
and/or factors (latent failures) that if changed would have ensured
that an accident didn't happen in the first place..... If a house wasn't
built there, simply said, firefighters wouldn't have been there protecting
it.... and Mark, Gus, Jason, Danny, and Pablo would all be still here with
us. (Judge for yourself if it is causal or contributory by current accident
investigation standards/protocols...... and then determine why it wasn't
addressed in the CAL FIRE / USFS joint report when it is the very most
basic thing that WOULD have prevented the accident.)
1) Local, state, and federal agencies are not being engaged in proper
approval of single home building locations, as well as complex developments
that are being placed in the wildland urban interface areas that they
2) Local, state, and federal politicians are looking to firefighters for
guidance on safe building standards in the wildland urban interface but
bureaucracies and agency "CYA talking points" are getting in the way.
P.S. - The first hole in this accident causation scenario didn't
lay with the firefighters and families who experienced the losses.... and it
sure as hell won't make firefighters safer by adding another set of
"abatement item" checklists to the troops.... Look elsewhere.... Look at the
root cause of organizational accidents!!!
Re: fire organization
Whatever happened to "complexes" or large fires with
a single name being zoned? Admittedly, I've not been among the big wigs who
decides such things, so it's not an area of expertise for me. But I found
the set up on the Georgia/Florida fires extremely confusing. It seemed like
every day new, additional 209s were being produced for contiguous fires.
(Personally, I agree with the fella who said all of the fires in and around
the swamp should have just been named the Big A$$ Swamp Fire.)
Also, NIMO teams were there, but I have no idea who they were or what they
were actually doing, unless they were looking out for the interest of
specific agencies. (I thought that was what agency reps, liaison officers,
and delegations of authority were supposed to accomplish.) I don't want to
resist change, if it can produce some good, but dang, if I was confused
after nearly 20 years in the wildland fire community, how in the world could
the local fire departments (with very little wildland or large fire
experience) know what to do?
Still Out There as an AD
The NIMO team is us under another name with a slightly
different mission that is not so focused on forest fires, but can be.
Comprised predominantly of excellent fire managers. The beginning of
a fed fire and all risk department? Or harbinger of the future fed fire
I would like to address my comments to the vacation home owners and foolish
who lurk on this website: No one's life is worth a bundle of sticks!
states are "Draught Zone". Unseasonable fires have ravaged many areas east
the Mississippi River and western states are battling fires fanned by nasty
Funding for UI fire protection has been redirected to HLS. Police
yourself and your
Deep pocket law suits indirectly cost each of us as taxpayers money. Worse,
vacationers and rural home owner's choices caused many of the best wildland
heartbreak, injury, and financial devastation. When the professional
disappear, who's gonna save your bacon?
"We breathe enough crap in smoke, and i believe not enough is known about
it, or if it is known - isnt disseminated".
So much for the MTDC "Health Hazards of Smoke" study........
There has been quite a bit posted on They Said about mycosis and the
potential effects on wildland firefighters over the last several years.
Unfortunately, in most cases, the info that is known about this hazard comes
from wildland firefighters who researched it and found the answers
themselves when the MD's couldn't figure out the problem with their
Mycotoxins will be the blinding bullet that explains why wildland
firefighters are so at risk for rare cancers, respiratory and joint
problems, and other "rare" ailments in the future. Coccidioidomycosis is but
one type of mycological infection that wildland firefighters are frequently
exposed to and very limited research has looked at.
Eric, if your MD doesn't find the cause of your repetitive bouts of
pneumonia, ask him to look for two things that are prevalent in the wildland
fire community....... 1) Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) whether it shows
positive in a titer test or not, and then by a lung x-ray if the tests are
non-conclusive... MANY folks who are exposed to Valley Fever show nothing on
an initial titer test but have really ugly lung x-rays that are often
mistaken for "smokers" at the minimum and "lung cancer" at the extreme...
and 2) if not positive for Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis), ask your MD to
test you for exposure to Fusarium Mycotoxin.
In any case, Eric, don't give up....
This has me wondering.
Harbour said the Forest Service wants roles of firefighting agencies clearly
defined with regard to protecting homes and the responsibilities of
homeowners and local government for building in dangerous areas. Just when
did the Forest Service take on such a heavy involvement with structure
defense and responding to medical calls etc?
My understanding is that mandate to the federal wildland fire management
agencies is pretty clear. Prevent resource damage due to wildfire.
And MM said
"As a volunteer, I do have the option to pull my crew and engine out for any
threat to our safety."
As the supervisor of federal wildland firefighting resources, I do not have
an option to pull my people out of unsafe areas. I have a responsibility
to pull them out.
Read the timeline in the esperanza report.
- at 1:43 am BDF dispatch requests the group of engines
- between 3:30 and 4:02 am all engines responded from the ranger
The crew of E-57 may have been off the clock for the required 2-1. But
I'd bet my TP when spiked-out that that crew didn't get a good 8 hours of
sleep that night. When did Mark and the boys get the phone call telling them
to respond to station? 3 a.m.? That would give them 8 hours of sleep if they
went to bed at SEVEN P.M.
So let's say they went to bed at 10pm. That's 5 hours of sleep.
Fatigue, sleep deprivation, and sleep-debt. The brain
functions at its best when it is well rested. Fatigue may occur
independently of sleep deprivation and sleep debt, but these invariably
lead to fatigue. Optimal perception, attention, vigilance, memory, and
reasoning all depend on being well-rested and having an adequate amount
of sleep. (1)
(1) Bonnet MH. Sleep deprivation. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC,
editors. Principles and practice of sleep medicine. Philadelphia:
Saunders; 2000. pp. 53–71
There are also other studies out there that link lateral visual acuity to
sleep deprivation. Tunnel vision sound familiar? Causal Factor #1 in the
report "There was a loss of situational awareness concerning the dangers..."
Pretty hard to have SA when you have blinders on with you head down eating
briars. (thanks dave)
Sleep wasn't an issue?
Implement doctrine, more checklists, and more 10/18's. We'll still keep
killing them off when they are making decisions impaired.
Type 1 Wrench
This is my first posting on They Said, however I have read many of the
postings that my husband, Casey Judd, has printed and have obviously
followed much of what he does with the FWFSA. This is probably very self
serving but I felt I had to write in.
I just wanted to write and offer my biased observations about the effort
Casey puts in to representing federal wildland firefighters and the
commitment he has made on their/your behalf. He'll likely have a fit when he
I watch in awe the commitment and passion he has for federal wildland
firefighters. I have come to share his frustrations with the Forest Service
and those in Congress that just don't get it yet. I have also felt a great
sense of pride while attending congressional events and see the rapport he
has with so many members of Congress and the respect he commands from them.
I've endured many nights with him spending late nights in his office
reading, researching, writing. I have come to know many firefighters, their
spouses and others such as Vicki Minor and have as much affection for them
as Casey does.
The point of this post is that while I watch the tireless efforts he makes,
I can't help but wonder why there are thousands of federal wildland
firefighters across the country who have not joined the FWFSA. 79 cents a
day for the opportunity to join a growing voice in changing the way things
are into the way they ought to be.
I've learned a lot from watching Casey and have seen the growth of the FWFSA
in many areas of the country. I really like the fact that, as an
association, members include firefighters as well as everyone up through the
ranks including fire chiefs. I'm proud to see others like Lori Greeno, Burk
Minor and other non-firefighters show their support by joining.
But this posting is a wish to all federal wildland firefighters: Make a
commitment to your future and join the FWFSA. Funny thing, I just
stopped to read this and I even have started to sound like Casey.
Please lend your voice and advocacy to the FWFSA. Visit their web site and
call Casey if you have questions. He'll talk your ear off.
Thanks Ab for giving this opportunity. I've pondered sending something like
this for a long time but after watching him work late into the night last
night, dealing with the press on Esperanza and writing testimony for a
congressional hearing that took place yesterday, I felt it was time.
Micki Escalante Judd
Well said, Micki. I agree 100%. Thanks for all
your help "for the cause". Ab.
I hope we all look at this report. LEARN take the time to
look at your situation and conditions. My Departments chief strongly voices
his belief that we don't need dead heroes! As a volunteer, I do have the
option to pull my crew and engine out for any threat to our safety. I think
we need more of it. We have been backed into a further increasing danger by
the public and they have the media on their side when property burns,
unfortunately they never ask us --the ones who do this job-- why these
My comments here are in no way negative towards USFS or CALFIRE. As far
as I'm concerned, we are all fire fighters, just different trucks, colors
and orders, but the mission is the same for us all: COME HOME SAFE. As for
the report I read it on CalFire's site. I have more questions now than when
I initially heard of the event.
But please, all of us, it's looking like a big year.
Let's all be here to chat about the big ones come winter. Stay safe
Unless I missed something, I didn’t read anything in the Esperanza report
that said the risk analysis for Poppet Flats and Twin Pines conducted by CDF
in 2002 was never made available to Federal engine crews. I have never left
the CalFIRE Hq. in Perris empty handed. I know from experience that the
Riverside County fire folks, especially BC Bob Toups and Fire GIS
Specialist, Dave Donley are most accommodating in sharing data. All you have
to do is ask. I spoke to a CalFIRE Sacramento Hq. GIS Specialist during the
recent Fire Behavior and Fuels conference and he told me that the CA
Wildfire Risk Information Product (WRIP) will be available soon FOR FREE.
Every acre in CA has been mapped for their hazards, risks and threats to
nearby communities. The demonstration he gave during the conference even
shows areas, on hi-resolution aerial imagery, that have a wildfire potential
within urban areas (like Griffith Park in Los Angeles). This would be
another invaluable source to form tactical decisions based on current
conditions that can be carried on a PDA or laptop and displayed on a map.
Even if you don’t even know how to spell G.I. S. you don’t have to be a
tehno-geek to understand it and access the information. Sanborn Maps has a
very simple and easy to use product called the GEOBOOK which is an intuitive
application that allows an untrained user to review the CA Wildfire Risk
Information with the power of interactive mapping. It’s just like reading a
cookbook, only in a digital format.
In reply to GISgirl's and CT's concerns, Riverside County Fire and the CA
BLM Desert District have the best system set up for mobile GIS and tracking
resources in their rigs. Riverside uses Panasonic Toughbook tablet PC's
which are tied in with their Geospatial Technologies Mapper interface system
and each responding unit can see other units on a map display throughout the
whole county. I was attending the fire readiness review this week with the
CDD and they have the capability of real-time tracking of resources simply
by plugging a digital radio into their laptop or handheld computer. Crews on
the fireline can plug a digital radio into their GPS receiver and transmit
their position every 3 seconds. We started to map fires using this technique
There really is no reason why we can't use the technology to enhance
firefighter safety except for politics, policy and attitude barriers. The
prices are affordable now; heck, you can even map fires and obtain critical
information on GPS-enabled cell phones. This needed intelligence can be
shared with everyone through Internet connectivity anywhere in the country
through wireless LAN or SATphones. I downloaded the entire 118 page
Esperanza investigation report from the front seat of my truck in the middle
of the Mojave National Preserve during the field exercise. Any agency
administrator who refuses to provide these tools to their employees should
be held criminally liable.
Attached are some images from the Fire Readiness Review.
Ab couldn't attach the zip file. If you want it, I'll put you in touch
with Fire Geek.
Esperanza Fire to shape proposed changes
Federal and state officials are now preparing an action plan. Its
release follows Tuesday's report concluding that the crew was killed
while trying to save a lone, vacant house previously designated as
The plan, which could be out as early as today, will consist of
proposed measures to prevent a repeat of the Esperanza deaths. It is
being compiled by an accident review board made up of top officials and
safety workers from Cal Fire and the Forest Service.
It comes amid calls for the Forest Service to significantly curtail
efforts to protect homes in fire-threatened areas.
"We're not going to die for property," said Tom Harbour, Forest Service
director of fire and aviation management.
Harbour said the Forest Service wants roles of firefighting agencies
clearly defined with regard to protecting homes and the responsibilities
of homeowners and local government for building in dangerous areas.
Citing private property rights, Inland officials have long been
reluctant to restrict building in even the most fire-threatened corners
of the region -- places where experts say fire is as inevitable and
impossible to stop as an earthquake along the San Andreas Fault.
But the Esperanza Fire and the deaths that resulted may be pivotal in
bringing about changes in an era of longer and increasingly severe fire
seasons across the West.
Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster said Wednesday that the Esperanza
report highlights the need for changes in county policies that have
allowed residential development in fire-prone areas.
The county should consider ways to begin buying out homes and other
structures in nondefensible areas, Buster said.
"It was well-known that was a firetrap there and it was known a tragedy
like this was a predictable thing," Buster said. "In areas like that, we
should not allow further structures to be built."
Former San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor Gene Zimmerman, who
hired four of the five firefighters killed in the Esperanza Fire, lauded
Buster's statements and said changes are long overdue.
"Agencies need to reduce the value they're placing on structures,"
Zimmerman pointed to a portion of the report revealing that three other
crews also stationed at a home narrowly escaped with their lives after
taking cover inside their firetrucks.
"There were three engines protecting a double-wide trailer," Zimmerman
said. "How much sense does that make?"
(to read the rest, follow the link)
Just Do It,
What if on a wildland fire we treated structures as another fuel type and
did not position our
forces at the head of a brush fire ripping up two canyons toward an
What if we published the "Secret Lists" of structures and homes that have
been identified as
indefensible and let the chips fall where they may, and then paint a big red
X on drive way so
someone won't be tempted to think that it is a good place to deploy
personnel and equipment.
The Octagon house will be, and probably is already being rebuilt. Too bad we
can't say the same
for Mark, his crew and their families.
All the technology in the world is not going to stop firefighters from dying
on wildland fires.
The military has all this technology and we loose soldiers and Marines every
day in Afghanistan and
Granted, we are not battling a thinking adversary when we are working on a
fire but I think my
point is valid. Technology is a wonderful thing, and I will use whatever I
can to increase my SA,
but it will never take the place of having a non-compromising attitude
toward safety and refusing
to take assignments that obviously place personnel in harm's way.
Maybe the thousands of dollars per vehicle would be better spent on fire
proofing our engines so
crews can survive an entrapment when they make a judgment error or find
themselves with no escape
It is bound to happen again and soon, because firefighters are human and
humans make mistakes,
sometimes with the ultimate of consequences.
RE: Fire preplanning not getting out:
In a community where I used to live, the VFD put small, color coded
reflector stickers on mailboxes, or signs leading down into driveways or
roads leading into properties.
A green circle meant all houses on that driveway were defendable,
A yellow circle meant defense was doubtful, or needed work to defend,
A Red circle meant Indefensible, DO NOT TRY TO DEFEND
Every year the VFD would go around and inspect structures, and update these
stickers, (Upgrade, downgrade as needed).
This info was not public, was just used and distributed to local and out of
area fire resources during initial briefings.
This way no one went down a road that led to an indefensible structure.
This sounds mercenary, but it helped keep Fire folks safe, especially when
people did not want to, or could not clear for defensible space. A quick
system that told even out-of-the-area resources where NOT to go in an
Should work other places, too.
What if, on a wildland fire.....
1. All of the overhead on the fire and all suppression resources had real
time information about the exact location of all suppression resources.
2. All of the suppression resources had current information showing fire
pre-plans, structures, defensibility of structures, roads, condition of
roads, and fuel breaks.
3. All of the suppression resources had real time information displaying
weather forecasts, red flag warnings, and fire behavior forecasts.
4. Live video of the fire from an orbiting aircraft was displayed on a
screen in the cabs of vehicles.
Like GISgirl and CT said, most of this technology has been available for
years and can be displayed on a screen in a vehicle. Many fire departments
and law enforcement agencies have implemented information technology systems
that enhance the safety of their employees. Sure, we'll hear that it's
expensive. It will cost a few thousand dollars to install the hardware in
each vehicle. I don't care. Just do it.
And hurting the feelings of home owners who will find out that their house
(that is surrounded by flammable vegetation) is "indefensible" or "difficult
to defend" is less important than the safety of firefighters. Withholding
important information from firefighters is "indefensible". Home owners and
insurance companies need to wake up and smell the coffee.
Just Do It
What a wonderful weekend we had at the Wildland Firefighter Foundations
When the hawk flew over it was as if it was scripted, I think he was just
letting us know that our love ones are ok. We have been to all three and
this year was the most emotional for me. I think it was the beautiful
rituals of the Native Americans that brought so much to the surface. After
almost 13 years one would think we wouldn't have any more tears. It was not
all tears. We laughed, visited and met new families and of course connected
with old friends. The children seemed to have a great deal of fun it is good
for them to come together and meet each other.
To Vicki, Burk, Melissa, Candace and Christa thank you so much. What
would we do without you?
Ken and Kathy
Thanks for writing in you two. The Jägermeister toast ritual, eh? Ab.
Regarding past wildfire accident reports:
“What is conspicuous by its absence in these reports, however, is an
of the values at risk for which these firefighters risked and ultimately
lost their lives.”
Evaluating Risk and Reward Relationships in Wildland Firefighter Safety
I heard last season that in evaluating at least one fire, one fire
manager-line officer team was asked to evaluate with a
WFSA (Wildland Fire Situation Analysis) what it would cost to pay
claims for burned small community properties vs what it would cost to defend
the same properties. That didn't go over big, but I think there will be more
thinking along those lines -- and there should be -- due to rising costs of
firefighting and the rising risks to firefighters. In my opinion, the Public
needs to claim their share of responsibility for living on/in the interface.
For Warren Grove NJ Pine Barrens Fire photos see
Fire 33 and
Engines 16 photo pages. Photos compliments of NJFFS DIV B. Thanks for
the pics, NJFFS DIV B. Ab.|
I was wondering if anybody out there might have a lead on tracking
down some of the older/thin style nomex shirts? I am working on my
last shirt, and would like to get some more.
My dad is trying to get some info on which companies contract their
dozers with CDF and the Forest Service mainly in the socal area. I
wanted to know if anyone here can help me out with that?
Re dust and smoke
Having gotten sick on many fires due to dust and smoke,
I decided to install a Pressurized Cab Filter on my Water Tender Cab. I now
have 2 of them and they filter over 950 CFM of air into the cab so no dust
or smoke can get inside. All areas the dust leaks into has pressurized air
going out and it can't get in the gaps or windows. I also keep a Full Face
Mask with Hepa/Organic Filters for extreme smoke on back burns when you
can't keep out of it. After putting them on the cab I do not get sick from
the dust and it is nice to breath fresh filtered air! Not sure how you can
deal with this problem outside of the trucks but if you have a Engine or
Tender this is the way to go. Here is a
picture of one of the filter systems. This one blows air right next to
my face and the other does the whole cab. This keeps 99% of the dust from
forming on the dash and floors also. They're very easy to build if you do
not want to buy a kit.
Ab & Fire Community,
This last weekend we brought the families of our fallen wildland
firefighters together for the 3rd annual Family Day gathering. It was hosted
by the Native American community. In creating this opportunity, my heart
deeply wanted the kids to leave knowing that we are a community that
cares deeply about the fact that they are growing up without their dads.
The week started with the Native Americans coming and praying in preparation
for the weekend. Among them was a Sun Dancer who had lost two of his kids.
They built a sweat lodge for us -- for healing for the families, for the
honor guards, and for the firefighters.
Over the weekend, in addition to the Foundation, some ceremonies were held
on the grass at NIFC. Many thanks to the all the Directors. Tim Murphy and
wise oldtimer Jack
Wilson came and welcomed the families. It was wonderful to hear and see Tim
and Jack together. Jack also gave us a prayer. The USFS, BLM and CDF Honor
Guards presented the flags. The Umatilla drummers came and brought their
huge drum and song. We had an elder come from Barrow Alaska who sang and
drummed. She came to sing with the us, not to us. She, too,
had lost a granddaughter and a son.…
Teresa Wesley from BIA brought her 6 teenage helpers, who served us well.
Bodie Shaw (Deputy Fire Director of BIA) led the gathered family in a circle
dance, with drum beating, and
shared with us how we are all connected and connected with the earth.
Bodie and his Chief, a Holy Man from the Warm Springs Nation, earlier had
hand carried an invitation to our Family Day to the Secretary of the
Interior, Dirk Kempthorne. He responded with a loving personal letter to our
There was a beautiful medicine wheel ceremony. The center was
made of red roses.
Levi Brinkley's folks.. one of the many Storm King families that
attended, started a new tradition for Family Day: A Jägermeister toast for
our fallen. There were some serious toasters there, and a lot of rosy
This will be too long if I share all that happened this weekend...
But I do want you to know about the kids whose dads do not return.
Let me say in preface... I think the hardest thing I hear at this Foundation is a mother telling
me that her young son will ask, “Why did God take my dad?” ...
Most children try to make sense of their loss and their confusing feelings
and thoughts that come up. Some don't even know that they're feeling grief,
that whatever "bad" they feel is
normal and that things get better with time.
We had a Cree medicine woman come and work with the children. She helped
them find their voice for their own grief. What a miracle for them to be able
to talk about their broken-ness. This is some of what came out of our kids:
- Some shared that they had a premonition.
- Most all of them shared that they were afraid of loosing their mother.
- They talked about what they do when they grieve.
- They were given suggestions for what might help them.
- They cried together.
- They played and laughed together.
There were a pocket full of miracles going on with these firefighter
kids. I know that they left some heavy rocks here that they had been
These kids also know there are other kids like them who are going through
the same stuff, and that there is a larger family out there for them.
Even Lotzi's kids were here healing. Feels good to know that they can draw
strength and understanding they find in moments of collective sharing at
events like this.
There's so much to tell... I could go on and on... I’ll save some for
others, if they want to.
Fire community, I want you all to know
This weekend would not have been
possible with out the YOUR support, our Wildland Fire Community.
From a deep
place within me.. Thank YOU...
Vicki Minor, & Staff & Board
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
PS. Wildland firefighters PLEASE update your beneficiary cards for your
life insurance and other benefits including PSOB even if you do it on a match book cover.
PLEASE, otherwise if something happens to you, instead of peace, there could be war
over who will receive your benefits. Don’t simply tell someone you need to
change the beneficiary on your policies, write it down longhand so it is legally
binding. I know that it doesn't feel good, but $hit happens and unfinished
business like this makes it real stinky.
God speed to all of you. I'm not one who prays in the traditional sense...
but I know there are several little kids out there that are keeping you
covered this fire season....
Re Structure Protection Preplan:
You must all remember that these
“structure protection preplans” are treated as if they are a big secret, and
we do not carry them around on our engines for daily use, they are held in
some secure location to be “handed out” when they are needed and taken back
when done. Not just the Riverside plans: How many of you were “handed” the
San Bernardino mountain plan during the “Old” Fire??
It is thought that any comments in the plans about the neighborhood being
“indefensible” or a “write off” will have political and financial
consequences such as insurance cancellations. I was told once in a certain
neighborhood in the community of Pine Cove not to mark it a write off, but
to simply indicate in the various fields that the protection of the
neighborhood would be “difficult”. I was also told one time when doing
active structure protection in a neighborhood not to mark the house with red
flagging as the locals had figured out what that meant, and we were to use
“white” flagging to indicate a write off.
WE are treating the homeowners with “kid gloves” at a time when it is a
reality to be serious about firefighter safety first. Jimhart is
correct, this is as much a land use issue and a private property issue as it
is a SA or span of control factor.
GISgirl, you make a very good point.
I have worked with US Forest Service crews in Michigan who were using a
lap top computer to see what was out ahead of a fire. They had a program
that combined a satellite image and a mapping program. They could look at
houses on the satellite image and be able to pull up an address and a phone
number from the mapping program - and this was back in 2002.
As anyone who has been involved in big fires or combat knows, things do not
always work the way they should in the confusion of the moment. It is highly
unfortunate that the information on defensible houses in the area of Cabazon
and Twin Pines did not filter down to the folks who needed it most, but is
not surprising in the least. Dealing with a large bureaucracy can be a
problem, and one hand certainly doesn't always know what the other hand is
doing. Not to mention that it often takes way too much time for information
to filter down to the people on the line who could benefit from the
information the most.
It will be interesting to see what develops from the safety review - there
might be a lot of unhappy homeowners who discover that no one will come and
save their house when a fire starts...
AN OPPORTUNITY TO STATE THE FACTS
To All federal wildland firefighters:
An opportunity exists to provide the Associated Press with factual
information regarding staffing reductions; the drain to CAL-FIRE etc., and
remain anonymous. More specifically, information on
preparedness levels now as compared to the 2003 season in which San Diego
and other areas got hammered is critical.
Generally, when the FWFSA is contacted by the press, we like to provide the
information from "in-house" to ensure its accuracy etc. However, there are
many of you out there who are not currently members of the FWFSA who also
should have your voice heard...especially if you are in a position to
provide factual information & evidence as to recruitment & retention;
staffing levels etc.
Specifically, the Associated Press out of San Diego is trying to put a story
together about what so many of us are talking about on They Said. However,
any contacts with this reporter must be made with the
intention to provide accurate data on the subjects. This is not
[emphasis added] a "venting" session or opportunity.
The story should, at the very least, run in the West so it is important for
the reporter to hear from folks in all regions and all land management
agencies who can provide her with verifiable information. This includes
Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona etc.
With such an "open casting call" the FWFSA certainly cannot vouch for all
the information that might be sent to the AP. All we can do is again ask
that you utilize common sense in that this is not a "gripe session" personal
vendetta session, etc.
If you truly have pertinent information that can be used to educate the
public as to the facts about staffing cuts; the diversion of preparedness
funds to non-fire projects; the levels of preparedness versus 2003, I urge
you to contact the following:
350 Camino de la Reina
San Diego, CA 92108
We know the suggestions have been made by higher-ups to "watch what you say
& who you say it to" but obviously the value of any such information would
be significantly increased if you were to give your name, position etc. to
Allison but ask her to keep it out of any story rather than simply being
anonymous. Also, while not required, it would be ideal if you could either
call me directly at 208-775-4577 or email me at
email@example.com just to let me know
you've contacted Allison etc.
Time is of the essence. Again, this is an incredible opportunity to
educate the public. It is not a "declaration of war" on the Agency nor is it
an act of disloyalty etc.
The FWFSA is doing its part to try and educate Congress. Your additional
voices, FWFSA member or not, is critical to making progress in righting this
listing ship so that all of you can have a safe season and America's
taxpayers get the most cost effective & efficient program delivery.
Thanks in advance.
I haven't had time to read the report as it crashed while downloading last
night- BUT if they truly had identified this parcel as "red tagged" (whoever
"they" are) I am APPALLED that this information did not get out there to the
crew- who was local.
Working for a CAD company it is time you all in the wildland have a real CAD
or at least get GIS to the field. DHS is giving all this grant money to
local governments to implement CADs and mobiles and you don't have it in the
federal arena. Or hell just some GIS laptops that you all could look at
information while in the field.
I know it is technically possible to have a CAD system where every apparatus
with an AVL locater on it- while the logistics of how it got back to the CAD
would be interesting (wireless, satellite, or radio)- and every piece in the
system would be locatable. The mobiles can have local GIS layers- like a
layer that says- parcel red = get out it's fuel and your GPS will tell you
where you are. Topo layers could be added in for a visual background. The IC
could just have a mobile in his rig and see where his folks are. There are
CAD2CADs so that one agency can see another's resources even if they don't
dispatch them. It wouldn't be perfect, there's a lot to think about BUT
information is useless unless it is in the hands of the people that are in
the field risking their lives.
Heart hurting rant,
I am still trying to re-read through the report again but have some
confusion and concerns.
- Using a Forest Service tactical
not assigned: It does not address why they used it nor how to fix
the over congestion of the assigned frequencies that was most likely why
they had to use their Tac channel.
- Strike Team?: The report
initially states the the 5 FS BDF engines and 1 DOD Brush Engine where
ordered as single resource IA. Yet it refers later as them being a strike
team with no leader. Who made them a 6 engine strike team? The CDF ICP?
If the CDF ICP made them a S/T, wouldn't using their tac channel be placing
them in common communications.
- Branch II: The CDF Chief/Branch II states he spoke with
the E-57 Captain 30 minutes prior to the burn-over and even noted the
PPE safety issue. He also stated that E-57 had hose pulled with
the engine pump running as well as a portable pump w/ hose running at
the pool. If the location was so obviously dangerous, why didn't
the Branch II direct E-57 to move their location to either the Double
Wide or Tile House? Or was it obvious? Who has the pre-plan
records for that area "red tagging" the non-defensible homes (this could
help in triage)? What is the purpose of that Pre Plan if not used
It seems there are more lessons to be learned than what the report gives.
It seems to be the standard agencies CYA report.
Trying to see though the smoke!!
Ab, I have one comment after reading the Esperanza report, and I'm not
blaming anyone here, as I know it must have been pandemonium when this blew
If the house was determined to be "undefensible" in 2002, how come the local
resources did not know this fact, and committed an engine to that location?
We need to reinforce "Foam and Go" or "Gel and Go" tactics if there is any
doubt about defending the structure, or extreme fire behavior predicted. For
years we have taught Engine Crews to dig in, deploy pumps, hook up 1 1/2
hose for Engine protection, and make a stand. This needs to be seriously
rethought as a viable tactic with the increased Fire behavior we are
experiencing in recent years.
These new gels last a long time, and have been approved for use by most
wildland agencies. It's time to start using them!!
And, for the person asking about how to print AG Learn certificates on a FS
computer, I have found out if your computer is set up for IQCS, you won't be
able to print out Certs on it, unless you go into Tools: internet options:
then clear the temporary internet files, cookies and history, then click on
the 'advanced" tab and click on "Reset defaults". For some reason, IQCS and
AG Learn have different computer settings needed to work. When you ant IQCS
to open again, you would have to go to their home page, and reset all your
settings as instructed there.
Someone should fix this incompatible glitch,
since some of us use both programs frequently.
Well, I guess my hopes were unfulfilled that the Esperanza report would
jump-start a serious discussion about irresponsible land planning.
I am very disappointed that the authors did not emphasize this issue and the
broken process that allowed the house to be placed where it was. A golden
opportunity to present this in a forceful manner has been lost. In reading
the media reports this morning, it is clear the public will get the message
that what happened was totally the crew’s fault. Maybe I’m being unrealistic
about what this document could do, but I was hoping.
Referring to Lobotomy’s comments over the past year, the cockpit was
ignored. Build wherever.
I’m really bummed.
A major point of the report which I missed the first time (a friend pointed
it out) was that pre-planning had categorized this particular parcel as
indefensible even under normal conditions. This appeared in the LA Times
summary of the report. How is this information supposed to be or how is it
typically used in a fire situation? Does someone in dispatch or headquarters
look it up and pass it on? Do BC's in the field carry this info in their
vehicles? Local engines? Probably more of a CDF or local agency function
since USFS doesn't have too many structures in its initial attack areas and
in THIS case it was SRA I believe.
Esperanza Report: Impressions and questions I come away with...
defend a structure that was deemed indefensible? Isn't this information
passed on somehow firefighter to firefighter? If not, it should be. As
crummy as I feel after reading this, I say let all those indefensible and
almost indefensible interface homes the Public builds -- let them burn. Like
marshmallows held a tad too long in a campfire, houses built in stupid
places are just another fuel type. Not worth a firefighter's life. Why are
the Public themselves not regulating where they build?
Second question is: What human factors at all levels resulted in this
tragedy? We'll never know from our dear guys since they're gone. Size
up: they had the training and experience to do that. If there had been
trigger points established based on the probability that increasing winds
and slope could come into alignment with increasing fire behavior, would
they have had enough of a heads up to escape..... or would they have
realized they should not go there in the first place, given how fast a fire
can move when alignment occurs?
OK, I'll break the silence since I have taken the step away from fire after
I read the Esperanza report from start to finish and I discussed with a
forest FMO who is happily taking time off to drive across the country to
attend a family event. He hasn't read it yet and the only summary I could
give, with only a first reading and without the advantage of collaboration
with others (more brilliant than myself - tongue firmly embedded in my
cheek) were the following 3 points:
- The files were all executable and easy to open, so no techno
glitches making the thing a nightmare from the start for reasons
unrelated to the incident or the report.
- The layout of the different sections was extremely easy to figure
out and clearly referenced and as (I believe) per the Severe Accident
Investigation Report guidelines from 2004 or 2005 - I think.
- This is going to be an EXCELLENT training guideline, and as my FMO
friend pointed out, it comes at a perfect time as training is exactly
what's taking place about now.
Leave it to the wildland firefighting community to make a positive
learning and training experience out of a horrible situation.
Hopefully I didn't miss some glaring mistakes in the report, if I did I'm
sure I'll hear about it.
In the meantime I hope this report saves some lives. I'm sure it will.
I suspect you are working on the overload of commentary concerning the
Esperanza report which is why nothing has been posted on They Said
since it was issued?
Rick, Interestingly enough, no comments have come in. The silence
is deafening. Why none yet?
- It's a long report. Many FS and CalFire computers operate on slow
access and are not equipped to download it.
- Firefighters are very busy with All Hands meetings, hiring,
health/pack testing and readiness reviews... and fires.
- Many fed fire forces at home or away (FL/GA; MN; AZ, norcal) are
already fighting fire in what appears to be the beginning of an intense
fire year. Some of the emails coming in from western theysaiders back
east are coming in via text messages.
Even I haven't had time to read the report, aside from the Causal and
Contributing Factors section. I think we all need a weekend.
We do welcome comments if anyone has any. Don't be shy. Ab.
I needed to write a quick note to the wildland community to thank everyone
for their continued support of the
Foundation. I attended the third Family Weekend, and the wonderful
people there never cease to amaze me. Vicki and crew thoughtfully prepared
for us a native tradition weekend. It was designed to connect our grieving
hearts with the heartbeat of our mother earth. Drumming, dances, singing
bowls, sweat lodge, friendship circles, all drawing us closer to our center
and radiating that energy out to those around us, reinforcing our shared
experience, and moving us along on our healing journey.
I cannot think of a sweeter, more powerful way to honor firefighters and
their families. Our firefighters choose to live and work in the center, or
heart, of the Creator’s gift of love. It is not easy work. Firefighter’s do
it for the love of the work, the rush of feeling that you are making a
difference. And you are. It is evident in the way that the Foundation cares
for you and for us, the survivor’s families. As always, it was wonderful to
meet with other families who are now our friends. There was time to comfort
and bond with new families, to share food, and laughter and children (pass
those babies around!).
Once again, I came away from the weekend renewed and energized and feeling
that I am loved and cared for, and that Heather and all the others who have
died doing what they loved are honored and will never be forgotten.
The work the Foundation does is vital to all of us. Thanks to them for
another great weekend, and thanks to you all for opening your hearts to make
it all possible.
Greetings AB -
My doctor gave me this article after finding out i get pneumonia every year
- I always figured it was the flu - he says otherwise. an entire strike team
of our engines was assigned to he DNM (Dinosaur National Monument) during
the period of this outbreak. Doc sent cultures in to be tested so maybe its
that simple. We'll see.
We breathe enough crap in smoke, and i believe not enough is known about it,
or if it is known - isnt disseminated.
be safe all
The Esperanza Final Report is on
www.fire.ca.gov/index.php under the "Hot Topics" section. 118 pages.
From Firescribe, seatbelt topic:
2 firetrucks on call collide in Conn.; 8
injured firefighters sent to hospital
Riverside Firefighter Charged With Manslaughter (from 8/25/06)
U.S. (DOJ) Sues New York for Bias Over Firefighters Test
"The complaint filed Monday alleges that the Fire Department
in 1999 and 2002 that, while not purposely or obviously racist, were
with college preparatory-like questions that do not test an applicant's
to fight fires."
Re child support on 5/20:
As for OT affecting child support. OT fluctuates
to much from year to year
to set a $$ amount on it for figuring support payments. Set a % of the
total for the year payable into an account just for the child/ children.
Experience speaking here. I am the one paying.
Dad of two.
CNN had a brief report last night on two fire engines that
collided at an intersection while going to the same fire. Some firefighters
were ejected from their engines on impact. At least one has died. This
indicates to me that they weren't wearing their seatbelts. Hard to believe
in this day and age that wearing a seatbelt is not an automatic process for
Last year a CDF Engine Captain was charged surrounding the death of one
of his crew who died because he was not wearing his seatbelt. One can argue
that the driver should not be responsible for a crewperson not wearing a
seatbelt because what driver can see when someone unbuckles it? I had some
sympathy with this until I learned the driver was not wearing his seatbelt
either! He should have led by example. It should be a SOG (std operating
guideline) that the driver and ALL crew have buckle-up expectations of
each other. (I don't know the status of that trial.)
Last year on a fire near my home, a crewhaul went off the road and barely
missed plunging a large number of feet down an embankment. There were bumps
and bruises that would have been prevented if everyone in the buggy had been
wearing their seatbelts. If the crewhaul had taken the big plunge, seatbelts
would have saved lives and/or saved them from brain injury.
Cum'mon you gals and guys, BUCKLE UP and make your buddies BUCKLE UP.
Have an award you give yourselves as a crew for buckling up - positive
reinforcement. Or count it the other way - negative reinforcement - like the
person not wearing a seat belt has to buy the drinks at the party after the
fire is out.
In our extended family the engine doesn't turn over until all are BUCKLED
UP. In no time buckling up is automatic. It makes sense. It is also the
law. You can bet it's the next big thing DOJ will be watching in
But putting DOJ aside, if you had seen the head injuries I have seen, and
the hardship - emotional, financial, legal - to families of head injured and
barely surviving "survivors", you'd know that there are circumstances much
worse than death that result from not wearing seatbelts.
BUCKLE UP! Make it the norm.
Here's the 25 page
Ops talking points for 2007 (200 K doc)
Some good info here.
I hate to say it, but you are ranting ignorance. Let's take a little lesson
on how hiring is done and what Civil Rights (CRO) has to do with it.
a supervisor needs a job filled, they initiate a 52. They then send a
request to us to outreach this position. The CRO then identifies what groups
are under-represented and puts together an outreach that is sent out
nationwide, both internally and externally of the Forest Service. This is a
2 week period in which candidates may respond their interest in said
position. After the 2 week period is over, the people who responded to the
outreach are notified by email that the job is now open and they can apply
for it. With the open and continuous announcements (which 99% of the fire
jobs are) they can apply at any time, even during the outreach period. The
job is generally "closed" after 2 weeks, which gives you a month total. We
then go back to the 52, push the button that says in essence "Create a
referral list". From that point on, it is out of the forest's hands and
everything goes to the RO. It is assigned to a staffer who may or may not
create a referral list in a timely manner.
After the referral list is created, it is sent back to the forest for a
team to do the strengths and weaknesses. They then send that back to the RO
where a RST (Regional Selection Team) get together and choose a candidate.
It is sent back to the staffer who is the person who makes the offer. And
that, my friend, is how hiring is done. As you can see, the CRO's have very
little to do with it, and that is only in the beginning, so you are barking
up the wrong tree and at the wrong level when you say that it is their
I would love to suggest that you send your concerns to Bernie Weingert,
your senators and congressmen, heck, go as far as the President for that
matter. We are with you, not against you in this hiring fiasco. I am working
as fast as I can on my end, but when things head to the RO, it is like a
black hole sucking things in and nothing getting out!
Oh, by the way, did you know that the workforce for HR staffing and
personnel has gone from 250+ persons to roughly 50 to 60 semi-warm bodies in
region 5 doing the same amount of work? We know stress, believe me....
As far as the list that you linked as being current - not even close
anymore. On our forest, 4 of those jobs were filled, but are still listed on
there. Of course, now we have to add more due to CF (I'm not saying it
Hope this enlightens you as to the REAL process of hiring. Now, where is
I'm with you, Bro. "Someone" needs to cut through the bureaucratic BS and
get this tool out on the fires.
I spent 21 years with the first predominantly- volunteer fire department in
the state of CA to field AED's, as a real- world test of their effectiveness
and reliability. They raised our save rate for cardiac patients enormously;
our level of medical care, pre- AED, was very similar to a fire (BLS EMTs,
very short response times for medics arrival, and about 45 min. by ground
ambulance to the ER). Response times, personnel responding, etc., didn't
change; just the equipment going in the door. Prior to AEDs, if you had a
serious cardiac problem at home, you were pretty much... gone. With CPR and
O2, only, the percentage of saves was abysmal; the best of CPR doesn't
perfuse well enough to support body chemistry sufficiently for long
transports. With AEDs, the save rate... well, there actually was a
quantifiable save rate. There is no comparable alternative to a functioning
National boarded EMTs are becoming more common now: with enough pressure
from some national fire agencies, perhaps "They" will get the brainstorm
that there is NO REASON not to train and cert' nationally for something as
simple to operate as an AED. So make line medics, or Medical Unit Leaders,
an inter-agency national resource...
AEDs are really pretty hard to screw up with. They can hang 'em on the wall
at Wal-Mart, with simple instructions for public use, but we can't cross
jurisdictional boundaries with them and take them to fires?!?
From Firescribe: Came across this...
A nice fir stats page from NIFC
Contacts: Matt Mathes 707-246-3911 (cell)
Valerie Baca 909-382-2711
Mike Jarvis 916-653-5587
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY
AGENCIES TO RELEASE ESPERANZA FIRE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., May 21, 2007—The US Forest Service and CAL FIRE will
release the Esperanza Fire Accident Investigation Factual Report at a 2 pm
news announcement on Tuesday May 22 at the Yucaipa Community Center, 34900
Oak Glen Road in Yucaipa, Calif.
The Esperanza Fire took the lives of five San Bernardino National Forest
firefighters, Mark Loutzenhiser, Jess McLean, Jason McKay, Pablo Cerda and
Daniel Hoover-Najera. The top Forest Service official, Chief Forester of the
United States Gail Kimbell and the Director of CAL FIRE, Chief Ruben
Grijalva will each make a statement. US Forest Service Safety and
Occupational Health Manager Gary Helmer will then discuss followup steps.
The purpose of the report, written by a team from the Forest Service and CAL
FIRE, is to help prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future. It
includes a narrative and timeline of events on Oct. 26, 2006, during the
fire’s early hours. The 18-member team, with the help of 14 technical
specialists, also drew conclusions (findings) in a number of areas. The
report also lists causal and contributing factors that led to the
Copies of the 114-page report will be available at the press announcement,
or at www.fire.ca.gov at 2 pm.
The fire, which was under CAL FIRE jurisdiction near Cabazon, Calif.,
ultimately burned about 41,173 acres over several days, and destroyed 34
residences and 20 outbuildings.
FCRO Faker and Need some educating...
What I'm referring to are the positions that have had enough applicants,
QUALIFIED applicants, and have been reviewed by first line supervisors, had
recommendations made, sent to the forest level, received approval, made into
a package and sent to the Regional Office. Are these positions not waiting
for civil rights approval? And I'm sorry if I sound a bit harsh here but....
gee whiz.... an email a week as we approach JUNE? Who the heck is running
this damn show? GIVE "THEM" AN EMAIL EVERY DAY. If "They" get angry at you,
start giving "Them" an email EVERY HOUR....... and "cc" it to the
supervisors that are pissed at you... they'll love it.... maybe...
FCRO look, I understand that there are MANY bass-ackward circles in our
prestigious hiring system but the few positions that actually make it to the
Region need to be offered ASAP, Not fiddle-farted for weeks or months....
fire season ain't waiting and neither are our people. The ones that are
waiting for promotions are eager, angry, and fed-up. There is so much
CAL-FIRE talk everywhere I'm starting to speak in "CAL-sentences".
As far as that list is concerned from my last post, it is the current
vacancies from GS-6 and up in Region 5. Folks can say there aren't enough
applicants to fill the positions and for many vacancies that is true. On the
other hand, there are positions that have been vacant for over a year that
MANY QUALIFIED people have expressed interest in but were unable to apply
because of the HSA freeze. Well now the jobs are open again and even in the
shadow of CAL-FIRE, folks want them. Now, Avue slaughters half of the pool
and the rest sit in limbo.....
Anyway, if you are reading this and you have any power over approval in
"limbo".... then GIT R' DONE..... If I am ranting ignorance, then please
...I think I need a friggin' cocktail Ab.....
Steve L C E S,
Here's some insight on the ban on AD's renting equipment to the gov. They
stopped honoring my computer rental agreement a year or two ago.
Date: February 7, 2007
Subject: OGC Opinion Regarding the Status of Personnel Hired under the Pay
Plan for Emergency Workers
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director,
Deputy Chiefs and WO Staff
In response to questions from the Forest Service, the USDA Office of the
General Counsel (OGC) issued an opinion on December 20, 2005, regarding the
status of personnel hired under the Pay Plan for Emergency Workers (AD Pay
Plan). The purpose of this memorandum is to widely disseminate the
information we received from OGC.
We asked OGC whether or not personnel hired under the AD Pay Plan are
considered Federal employees. OGC has advised us that AD hires do meet the
definition of employee under 5 U.S.C 2105(a) because they are 1) appointed
in the civil service by an employee of the Federal Government; 2) engaged in
the performance of a Federal function; and 3) subject to the supervision of
an employee of the Federal Government while engaged in the performance of
their duties. AD hires are, however, exempt from some regulations which
apply to other Federal employees. In summary:
* Personnel hired under the AD Pay Plan may perform work considered
inherently governmental in nature.
* AD hires are covered under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA),
however, it is up to the Department of Labor (who administers FECA) to
determine specific coverage on a case-by-case basis.
* AD hires are covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), the
Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act (MPCEC) and Section 717
of Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
* Individuals hired under the AD Pay Plan may not work as AD hires and
simultaneously have contracts or Emergency Equipment Rental Agreements for
emergency equipment or services with the government. See Federal Acquisition
Regulation (FAR), subpart 3.601.
* AD hires are excluded from Social Security (FICA) withholdings under 26
USC 3121 (b)(6)(c).
For more information, please refer to the current Pay Plan for Emergency
Workers or contact your servicing Human Capital Management office.
/s/ Ronald J. Banegas (for)
KATHLEEN D. BURGERS
Director of Human Capital Management
Never before have I ever thought that the wildland fire program of the
federal land management agencies was in any trouble for safety or a complete
loss of the program delivery than today..... I always thought there would be
folks on the "inside" and "outside" looking "inwards" and "outwards" that
would keep folks safer under the worse case scenarios. Today, I feel the
entire wildland fire program is lost by our lack of leadership at the
Washington Office and Regional Office levels.
Today is a challenge day.... Folks at at all levels can go one way or the
other...... It is either about firefighter safety, or about natural
resources protection. You can either assign blame.... or you can look
towards the future and how we keep wildland firefighters safer in the
Your actions can make you feel good or feel like a leper..... You can
increase wildland firefighter safety... or you can be a block wall against
I never understood that those folks "on the inside" would never step up to
the leadership positions..... I am ashamed of the investigation results of
those who don't recognize the HUMAN FACTORS and in ARE IN POSITIONS TO
DESIGN CONTROLS ..............
Those on the inside of the failure process need to step up...... Be a
LEADER.... KEEP A KID SAFER.
Lobotomy, take a deep breath, my friend.
As soon as someone gets the Esperanza Report today, please send it in. Ab.
I was just told by the BIA in Portland, OR that because I am an AD, I cannot
sign equipment up on an EERA.
Last year I could. All the way back to 2000 it hasn't been a problem. Now?
If ADs can't also have equipment on an EERA, that will dry up an already
Does anyone have any insight? What's up?
Steve L C E S
Could you help some of us "not so in-the-know" folks about what this R5
posting list means and what it has to do with Civil Rights...or am I just
waaay too clueless??
Need some educating
Re: Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
The American Heart Association (AHA) teaches the stuff folks need to know
about AEDs in training they provide on local levels. The AHA provides the
AEDs are now understood to be local tools and anyone with a BLS-C card and
should understood, at local levels,,,,,,, .... Some are used in airports and
some used in hallways of federal buildings... Some with special
training.... Some without....
When folks step up...... lives are saved..... If an AED is needed, damnit.......
put the agency BS aside......
Re; joatman's post
In a perfect world, we would have 5 or 6 quality candidates on each referral
list for each fire job, but let's get real here. What we are up against are
referral lists that have, if we are lucky, 3 candidates, sometimes 2 of
which will not qualify as a quality candidate, and many time lists with 1 or
no names on them. We are now having to fill even more jobs due to the
migration of numerous employees to CAL FIRE thus diluting the candidate pool
even more. Believe me, we are not sitting on our a***** drinking Starbucks
and having a good laugh at your folks expense. We are just as concerned and
would love to get these positions filled. Believe me, if I never had to do
another outreach or extend an announcement for another 2 weeks due to a lack
of people applying, I would be one happy camper dancing around my desk.
Another issue is the time between when we push the button to have a referral
list created and the time that it actually happens. At our office, we send
emails once a week to find out why a list hasn't been pulled - it is totally
out of our hands - and don't think we just LOVE getting the phone calls from
P.O.'d supervisors wondering why it hasn't been done.
I agree with you that it is ridiculous, but don't lay the blame on just
one group of people. It has been a cluster you-know-what from the get-go
since the inception of the ASC. We are trying....
Talking points on CalFire's new emblem. Any new emblem should
"sing" for itself. Makeup your own mind.
In reference to the OT & Child Support issue,
I was successful in asking the Court to base the payment on a
3 year average of my W-2. This gives a more accurate calculation
and adjusts for any OT spikes like Hurricane Katrina or other long
term assignments that may not occur every year.
Best of Luck,
WOW. This is just plain RIDICULOUS...
COME ON CIVIL RIGHTS....GET OFF YOUR TOOKUS'....THINGS ARE BURNING...SHOW
SOME RESPECT TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND GIVE THEM THE FIRE PROTECTION THAT
THEY ARE PAYING FOR....IT'S IN YOUR HANDS...WHAT LIABILITY FOR FIREFIGHTER
SAFETY SHOULD YOU BE RESPONSIBLE FOR?....SELECTIONS HAVE BEEN MADE....GET
Look at some of these posting dates for cryin' out loud....
I am concerned about the Safety aspect of so many collateral duties being
placed on those of us that are left....I know I'm taxed....I'll bet that
means we are ALL taxed.
Can we schedule a, "Stand Down For SAFETY" day across the Region? It's not
like we would be on "Strike", just "Unavailable" for the day to talk about
the facts concerning the staffing levels and the "Watch-outs" that are being
....4th of July weekend?....Lets raise SA.....
Thank you Casey for the very eloquent description of the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation's Family Day/Weekend events. I can't tell you how
very humbling it was to meet the "new" families, most with less than a year
since their loss. These moms traveled with their children to meet us here
in Idaho. I've traveled with my own children before, but never to an event
that would lead me further down a path of grief that I can only imagine
these young moms are traveling.
The children were so very shy and quiet upon arrival, but by Saturday and
Sunday afternoon children of all ages, ran, laughed, threw water balloons
(Lori Greeno you are a troublemaker!) and behaved like children. A big
thank you to our returning teen survivors for enjoying the weekend like it
was summer camp. It was wonderful to see them write and exchange (on Supply
Cache nomex shirts no less) phone numbers and email addresses so they could
continue to keep in touch with each other.
Thank you for sharing you, your children, and your firefighter. We truly
hate to see each of you leave on Sunday afternoon. It's hard to say
good-bye again for another year.
Bless each and every one of you. I hope you all had a safe journey home and
I hope you will be with us again next year.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Does anyone know how to get AgLearn certificates to print on
a FS computer???
In the days gone by in region 5 south zone: I was on the Cleveland in
those days ( 70's/80's ) We had 7 engines per district except for Trabuco,
they had 8. We had about 5 model 60's and 2 model 51's. The Engine
"Foreman" were GS-6's 25+1 and then in the very early 80's we went to PFT.
The Drivers were GS-6 25+1 and a couple were 20+6's. Usually we had one
GS-4 AFEO 13+13 and 2 GS-3's and 2 GS-4's. We had 7 day staffing and there
was quite a bit of competition for Captain and Engineer positions. The
Hotshot Supt.s were GS-7's and the two Foreman were GS-6's.
It was a pretty good time to be in the service, morale was generally high
and we had local, regional, and agency support. There have been some
positive changes, notably increased GS levels and appointments. I have had
the pleasure of working with some top notch firefighters and people over my
career. But I do not see, nor do I experience, local, regional, or agency
support for fire management anymore. I think the forest service
administration leadership is completely lacking and they are purposely
sinking the fire management program. The agency, in my mind, is already
My own unit has cut our engineers, initial attack crew assistant Captains,
fire prevention and education people, fire ecology and Rx crew, and they
are cutting our Battalion Chiefs too! This is on a high complexity forest
and against the advice of knowledgeable fire management Officers on the
districts. So for me there is no local or regional and certainly not agency
support. We have made the region aware of the situation, and they are
strangely silent and inactive.
FIRE EQUIPMENT WORKING TEAM
To: Chair, NWCG Date: April 30, 2007
From: Tory Henderson, Chair
Subject: Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
The SHWT submitted a memo to NWCG requesting that AEDs be added to the
existing 500 person first aid kits and managed nationally through the cache
The FEWT had an opportunity to respond to the Recommended Minimum Standards
of Incident Emergency Medical Services. We submitted a memo on behalf of
FEWT to the Chair of the EMSG. In that memo we stated we agreed with the
overall standards, except for the AED portion due to some concerns that need
to be addressed.
In researching the AED programs, it is even more apparent that providing
these through our National Interagency Support Caches would not be the best
An AED program requires sponsorship through a state-licensed physician to
act as a medical supervisor of the program. In addition State and local
requirements for AED programs can vary from state-to-state. Also most state
laws require notification to the local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) of
AED programs or to register AED programs with local EMS, and state laws
require that responders complete a nationally recognized training CPR/AED
course for lay responders.
Due to the complexity of establishing a program, especially with the
potential for the AEDs to travel to any state, and the potential to have
anybody operate them, FEWT proposes other alternatives should be identified
and evaluated. FEWT members believe there are several viable options if the
NWCG deems it necessary for AEDs to be on incidents.
We are willing to participate in developing these alternatives if the
decision is to move forward, but are against incorporating them into the
first aid kits currently in the cache system.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
/s/ Tory Henderson
Can anyone in the dispatch or medical community shed some light on this
on the Western Great Basin UTF list? I get asked about once or twice a month
EMTs and paramedics how they can become a fireline medic.
INCIDENT: GA-OKR-007021 BIG TURNAROUND COMPLEX
DATE/TIME: 5/20/2007 7:04:25 AM
REQ #: O-413
REQ NAME: EMER. MED. TECH. PARAMEDIC
REQ CODE: EMTP
TO ORG UNIT: ID-NIC
My understanding was that paramedics on incidents functioned below the level
of their training anyway, according to the standards posted on the NWCG
medical unit leader resource page,
"2. The Scope of Practice of EMS personnel assigned to medical units
primarily the skills and knowledge of a basic emergency medical
It would be interesting to know if this Georgia incident got their
whether from farther away than Idaho.
Please indulge my selfishness for a moment to use this site to extend my
sincerest thanks, and that of my family to Vicki, Burk and the staff at the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation, but most importantly, the families in
attendance who gave us the honor & opportunity to participate in their
"Family Day" celebration.
I have been to countless memorials, funerals and such, many with far more
"pomp & circumstance" & regalia than what you will find at the Foundation's
Family Day. However I haven't yet been to an event that soothes the soul
more than Family Day at the Foundation.
One of the most poignant moments came shortly after Native American drummers
rhythmically drummed and chanted. All eyes, young & old looked to the sky to
see a lone hawk slowly flying West and about 20' off the ground which seemed
to almost stop in mid-flight above those gathered, if only for a moment,
then continued on its way. There is no doubt that the Hawk, with its
unscripted "fly-by" was a manifestation of all those lost and for whom we
were all gathered to celebrate & remember.
Vicki has a rare ability to share spirits and souls between those in the
wildland firefighting community, especially those who have lost loved ones.
And most especially the children of our fallen firefighters. During the
candle ceremony, she and those families who have had a bit longer period of
time pass from the time of their loss, shared their spirit with those whose
losses have been more recent. I can't speak for those family members who
were being touched by others, but it did seem to show on their faces that it
was a tremendous, well timed gift.
Several days ago I looked at the overwhelming list of "52 Club" members. And
as we drove home after Family Day, I thought of how much help to the
Foundation those contributions are. However, I could clearly see from this
weekend that the families of those lost, especially the children, also need
to feel our caring & support beyond the 52 Club donation.
I hope Vicki won't mind if I suggest that it is incumbent upon all of us to
share our spirits & souls with those grieving over their personal losses.
Family Day is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Those families need
to know & feel the support of their wildland firefighting community now and
well into the future.
That being said, I truly hope other wildland firefighters will make the trip
to next year's Family Day and many more in the future to let those families
who have sacrificed a loved one feel your support. I guarantee you that a
stroll through the Wildland Firefighter monument at NIFC across the street
from the Foundation, not to mention a hug from Vicki will also allow you to
cleanse your soul & spirit and realize that you too are part of a very
Today a flag was raised which had flown at the California State
on October 26th 2006 and moment of silence was observed. Engine Captain
John Clays and a staff of four (4) firefighters placed BDF Engine 57 a
new model 62 into service at the Alandale Fire Station. The station is
located near the community of Pine Cove on the San Jacinto District of
the San Bernardino National Forest in Riverside County. A district
dedication was held at the Alandale station with a plaque posted at the
station in remembrance of Fire Captain Mark Loutzenhiser, Engine
Jess McLean, Assistant Engine Operator Jason McKay, Firefighters Daniel
Hoover-Najera and Pablo Cerda who were killed in the line of duty on the
Esperanza Fire. Engine 57 was destroyed. Captain John Clays is the
brother in-law of Jess McLean.
Western Great Basin has updated the links for the UTF Report and News
Notes. These links should be good for the year. Thanks for posting our
Nelda St. Clair
Center Manager, WGB
You're welcome, Nelda. Your News & Notes are linked on the
under GACC News & Reports. We often get thanks like yours from folks behind
the scenes. We thank ALL OF YOU for being part of this
community. Many have mentioned lately that we have info here before it shows
up anywhere else. Again we thank ALL OF YOU. Theysaid, the
hotlist forum, photos, etc is really a collective effort of ALL OF US
to keep each other informed. Thanks also to those of you who buy a
classified ad or a jobs ad or sponsor a page or all of the above. You also
help keep this site up and running while letting others know about
yourselves or your businesses. CHEERS! Ab.
In response to the 5/16 post concerning Overtime for calculating child
I was able to not have my overtime pay count toward total income
the argument that while occasionally I do have to work extended hours, it
is my choice and option to take Credit Hours, or Comp Time in Lieu of
Overtime, therefore the overtime was not mandatory. It worked for
me...sort of. My child support did just nearly double... but not because
Overtime played any part of that.
Another AIDS Victim (Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome)
Looks like the insurance companies are going to push better building and
maintenance practices in the WUI.
As I was surfing today checking on what CDF had on recent incidents and I
the bottom left of the page, where the department logo has always resided
something new. Not like the one at the top of about every page.
LOGO But note the title, I
did not change it; that is what the download named it.
Is this what those
folk who work for the 2nd largest FD in the country are going to be
The organization on a Dual apparatus on our District is suppose to be the
same as you listed. We always seem to have problems getting everything
staffed to that point. With the loss of many apprentices and senior
firefighters to other organizations. It is a constant hiring battle to keep
that organization intact. Usually we use just the one AFEO on either
apparatus, trying to help with crew cohesion. The senior firefighter seems
to be the one we are in constant need of replacing from leaving or moving up
in the organization. At this time we have 1, who we have filling in the AFEO
position at this time. On our neighboring districts, one station is about in
the same boat as we are, and the other district has down staffed the water
tender to just keep the engine filled. I believe if we could utilize the
water tenders more we could keep them staffed with no problem. One of the
suggestions coming from our area, is to insert a water tender with every
Strike Team of Engines leaving the unit, but that would have to come from
the requesting unit.
Northern California Captain
Just a thought... not espounding a change back (not for a minute!);
Back in The Day, a USFS Type 3, in So Zone R-5, had the following for crew:
a GS-7 Foreman, a career- conditional GS-5/6 Operator, a seasonal GS-4 ATTO
(Alternate Operator), and 3 seasonal GS-3 FF's, and 7- day staffing.
But then, 'shots had a GS-9 Superintendant, and 2 GS-5/6/7 Foremen
(permanents), maybe 3- 4 GS- 4/5 c/c "crew pushers", and a pot- load of GS-3
or-4 seasonals (many of whom had 5-10 seasons in)...
Engines ("Tankers") were Model 50's or -51's, with maybe one -56 or -60 per
Yeah, fires were cheaper then; you can see part of the reason why. But does
anyone really feel secure, going back to that (even given that we typically
had full staffing)?
So, maybe some things in the FS are heading in a better direction (although
at glacial speed; but we are talking about the Federal Government!). Yes,
there's a lot of room for improvement, particularly in personnel retention.
But some things really are better...
Ab, Doing Research, thanks for the loan of the soapbox... Be Safe!
JOIN AND SUPPORT YOUR FWFSA !
According to the The Region 5 Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module
Organization (SFFMMO), stations with a type 3 engine and a water tender are
called "Dual Apparatus Stations" they are supposed to have a SFEO GS 8, a
FEO GS 7, 2 AFEO'S GS 6, 3 Senior FF GS 5, 2 apprentices and a Temp GS 3. 10
Are there any stations out there with this configuration, do you rotate your
AFEO's from the engine to the water tender? Do you have 2 AFEO's?
Input or opinions would be great.
Signed, Doing Research
Good morning everyone. I hope it's as nice a spring day in your area as
it is in mine.
If you're out on the line, be safe. Watch out for
An airtanker pilot's book, a hammock and a cold glass of iced tea are
on my afternoon relax list...
I got back from the Ham Lake Fire last night. I just finished scanning TheySaid and didn't see any reply to my question here. I guess I'm in the hurt box on this one eh?
Ab note... Here was his request for info...
I know that the standard for the amount of time that a person has to complete a task book is 3 years from the date of the first recorded experience. I was wondering if there is anyway to extend that due to extenuating circumstances.
I have an ENGB taskbook that expires in July of this year. It was opened in June of 04 with my first recorded experience being in July 04 while on a detail to R5. On December 30, 2004, my National Guard unit went on Active Duty (referred to as Title 10). I was on Active Duty until mid-March 2006.
With another deployment on the horizon next spring, I don't see the opportunity to start a new taskbook and completing it any time soon, which is why I want to finish the one I have. I currently have 13 tasks remaining of the total 57 tasks required. I could most likely complete these tasks in one assignment. Unfortunately, with my National Guard training schedule, the ability to complete these tasks prior to July is looking pretty slim. If I could somehow get an extension, I could more easily complete the remaining tasks prior to my next deployment.
Any help would be appreciated. emt_mb
The Lassen NF uses a program called Altaris-Cad, which is about as user friendly as ROSS in japanese. I agree that the Wild Web site is a good place to get info on who's burning and who's not. I always try to make sure to put a Web-Comment in there so people can be informed.
There's a great picture making the rounds --of engines being transported
by a hover craft (Landing Craft Air Cushion) to the Catalina Island Fire
(May 10). I got in touch with the photographer (and theysaid lurker), Gordon
Tamplin of the FWS. He gave us permission to post the photo and sent some
more. Nice ones. I've posted them on a Catalina
Island Fire page.
I also posted some photos from Ron Serabia (ATGS for CalFire). If
you'd like to access his really huge copies of his photos, he has posted
them on the hpwren site as well. http://archive.hpwren.ucsd.edu/firephotos/
Thanks for the fine photos.
Fire websites with lessons learned should be archived indefinitely, like the Nuttal Complex which is still up. The AAR concluded LCES worked in a helispot and Div burnover with no injuries. Let's get a place to keep these experiences available.
Leaving now for the hunt. Good weekend to you.
Nuttal Complex archive site:
Happy hunting. Ab.
Ab and all,
As with lots of things I write, it always looks different later on. In my little tribute to the range of folks who seemed to have made the 209 program successful, I did not mention the patience and efforts of the
dispatch community, who I am sure -like the planning section folks- were nearly ready to string people and/or networks up at many points of implementation. But then, if I hadn't had so many of those moments in the fire program myself, I just wouldn't appreciate the happy times as much. Ha ha. Fortunately, ROSS came along after the 209 program and, well... but we had most of the kinks worked out by then anyway.
As I continue to work in these areas but from different perspectives, I remain in awe of the efforts that go into the entire wildland fire program effort every year; on scene, in management, and behind the scenes. At no other point in my life have I worked with so many dedicated and highly effective people than when I have worked in wildland fire.
-Visionary type person (again)
Here are a couple links to some photos and video of
the fire burning in southern N.J. from our local
I also put these links on the hotlist under NJ-NJS-Warren
Grove. Some nice photos. Ab.
GIS Girl -
Just saw a post from you on here, too. Laughing, as I do sometimes: not my problem now! Ha ha. If only we could really feel that way. Bummer news: I won't be in San Diego this year, but we should catch up anyway soon.
And how's that book coming? Drop me a line as I'm not sure I have your right email (mine is the same).
-Visionary young fire woman (again)
I concur that in firefighting, it has to come first - no problem with your point of view. The Willow Fire archived site seems to have been removed. Too bad, good show. Not sure what Ed is doing in his new position but he was instrumental in adopting Doctrine, now being implemented. I know Tom met last month with the people necessary to move the fire service forward on numerous fronts which are on everyone's mind. I had to miss the meeting but things are being done . . . no heads are in the sand.
Well, packing my rig for a spring turkey hunt up toward the Promontory Fire. More T-storms forecast along the Rim today.
I wonder if any of those Inciweb fires are being archived. I remember
when theysaid first began, fire had no history, or very little. When people
moved, they threw stuff out, like info from the Loop and Rattlesnake
burnovers. I hope we will never return to those days where documents and
photos simply disappeared. I was surprised to see that the 1957 Fire Task Force Report to the Chief
was removed from common viewing some time back that coincided with the push
toward Doctrine. I was pleased to see that later it showed up on the Lessons
Learned site, minus some of the shields and photos. We had saved it in our
archives as an important piece of fire history. History documents a changing
culture and professional development. Ab.
How truly wonderful to log on the They Said today and see your fine compliment! Made my entire week, in which I had again found myself wondering why I keep working on this stuff. Thanks again!! Probably just what I needed...
Alas, I do wish I was clever enough to deserve all the credit for the online 209 program. For those who may not know about this sort of thing, here's the "rest of the story" (at least from when I came onto the particular scene).
2000 was, as you all may know, a busy fire season that inspired much change, and in the fall as things cooled down, the national intelligence (intel) coordinators found themselves wondering how to do it better next year (as many wildland folks seem to spend their winters doing). Several geographic areas (GAs) had begun to create their own incident databases of 209 info, etc., including the California FIRESCOPE program, and it was getting to be messy and confusing for a lot of people. In the meantime, the ICS-209 form itself ("the 209") had recently been updated due previous winters' work, and existing programs needed to be updated to include the new form.
Long story short, in the fall of 2000, the national intelligence folks decided to look into creating a nationally standardized approach/database/program (based on the existing sit report infrastructure and program) as a result of discussion and some nudging by certain folks who ended up - like most people in similar situations - on the committee to fix it. As nationwide approaches don't work without the whole nation on board, my task was to take on the California situation. After finding another able-bodied and motivated counterpart in CA, we worked with the rest of the national committee to deal with the issues to move forward. In an unusual twist of luck, success, and absolutely no sleep, the program was ready for beta testing in like 3 or 4 of the GAs by July 2001 (within 9 months of inception), and implemented in CA promptly at the beginning of a fire bust in North Ops. By 2002, we had most major bugs worked out, national implementation, and the first ever nationally standardized [IT] system approach to incident reporting. None of this would have been possible without the support of lots of groups and managers, much thinking outside the box (as always happens in this outfit), a small and dedicated 209 committee, a lot of really really really patient (generally) planning section personnel, and one seriously talented and dedicated programmer. This program remains the most consistent incident status reporting approach in the US, refined annually. 209s are used by a ridiculous bunch of folks in often unexpected locations, and data from the program is exported all over the place (ie: large fire map, MODIS, departmental reports, GeoMAC, etc).
I only tell this story because I think it might have value for folks who may not see some of the behind the scenes work that goes on in the enormous fire program we've got. This story is a short and relatively simple tale, compared to the likes of I-Suite, MIRPS, FPA or whatever that becomes, WildCAD, and the 800-pound gorilla: ROSS. It also highlights the importance of information sharing, planning for it, and putting the organization, people pieces, policies, and technology in place to have it help you do what you need to do and know what you need to know. I know it's not always the most interesting part of fire, but then again, everybody always wants to know what's going on!
Ab, thanks again - you really made my week. Anyone else who wants to know more about this stuff or get involved in other angles of it: Ab knows where to find me. As always, take care, and y'all be safe out there!
-Visionary Young Fire Woman
Haw Haw, glad yer still out there... Ab.
My son just transferred to the Lassen National Forest. He called last night and said they were heading to a fire on the Hat Creek Ranger District at 6:00AM today. The Lassen Hot Shots went to the fire yesterday and there are 3
CalFire engines on it also. I can't find any information on this fire. Why doesn't LNF use WildCAD? It is going to be a LONG fire season with out
access to this information. The WildWeb and Wild CAD system is a great tool for families to be kept informed. Thanks for this site that also keeps us informed.
It is much more efficient (less time consuming of human forest
resources) to have the wildweb kind of fire info available for access
online. It's also a great way for forests to track resources, calculate
resource use and to collect summaries at the end of the year on costs for
veg fires vs auto accident assists, etc. Way to verify use and
accountability. The net is great for data storage, especially when lots of
people need to provide input as with the 209 system. (Thanks to the
visionary young fire woman who had that brainstorm and worked to make it
As you may know, a crew's departure from its home forest should be
noted on the wildweb dispatch center on his forest if there is one. Most of
California is online. Once crews are out during fire season, however, where
they go next may not be reported on any wildweb.
Readers, Wildweb sites that exist are available on the FireNews
page under WildWeb dispatch centers. If you hold your pointer over the
little dots, the name of the dispatch center comes up. Once on the right
site, select your area of interest, be it fire or resources, etc. Ab.
The fire quilts for the CDF Helitack 404: Eva Schicke and USFS Bald Mountain
Helitack: John Greeno were given to Lori Greeno today and are on their way to
the family weekend event at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. With over 500 patches donated and plenty of material for Nora Chambers' Senior project, there will be more quilts over the summer.
Thank you to everyone for your support and donations, the generosity is still overwhelming.
Nora makes her final presentation at Summerville High School in Tuolumne on May 22nd. The title of her project is "The Flame Of Our Heroes".
Here are some photos of the quilts.
Quilt poster (with artist)
Marian and Nora Chambers
Very nice job, Nora.
Info on: Family Day
Re: the Bugaboo fire showing in Morocco
Casablanca is 33° 35' N 7° 39' W
Not sure where the actual lat/long of the real fire is (or estimated location) since I'm on vacation and don't have the laptop... I'd guess there was an editing issue or transposing issue from wherever Google pulled the lat/long. GeoMac has it correctly- YAY USGS!
I remember all those fires in the pacific ocean and Japan from my FMOs.... Here's to hoping you all keep those fires on land this year ;-)
There is an excellent opportunity for a seasonal fire department position in Livingston, Montana. They're only looking for one wildland firefighter, see the new ad on the
Jobs Page. OA
The Wildland Firefighter Series
0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series
0455 (Range Technician) & Series
0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
Sometimes I think that the work rest guidelines make firefighting less safe. Limiting crews to 16 hours, can cause unfinished firelines to be abandoned and fires get bigger and more complex with more
safety issues. 14 day assignments cause lots of transitions of overhead teams, and other resources. This causes less synergy towards the common goal, PUT THE FIRE OUT
most people tell me, "Get used to it" still haven't.
To Looking For Help:
I live here in California. I pay child support as well. They base my child support by looking at my W-2. Yes my W-2. In fact they get a court order of my
W-2. I try explaining about the overtime and proved that it was not mandatory. Still what I made is what I made. It is really horrible in that last year there was a lot of overtime. What happens if the next year there is no overtime in which I am looking at now in Region 5 and was told last week that there will be very little overtime handed out due to budget cuts. So, I will pay more while making less.
Another thing is the less time I spend due to having to work overtime gets factored in with less time spent. They base it on actual days that I spend with children. This has been really hard on me lately due to this. They also factor in my unemployment as well. But then again, I live in California where the courts are harsh on most Fathers.
I also am court ordered to pay for my kids health insurance. This expense is an extra $200 a month to have her added on. I don't know what state you are in but you might have a better advantage
than California. You can go on to your state or county court website. I would advise you to read all the laws and get to know
them. This will benefit you a lot when you go in front of the judge.
I wish you the best of luck.
Los Padres Firefighter
Re: Biological Resources Group Leader
You said... "Jeff Whitney is one of the best, aggressive yet safe, thoughtful and effective, IC's I have ever known, up there with Ed Hollenshead and Tom
Harbour. Check out the Willow Fire website, which raced through Sonoran desert through Fir ecosystems threatening communities including homes of my relatives."
I also believe that Jeff is an aggressive, safe, and effective IC. Depending on how you read my post, you take away your own preconceived notions on the intent and meaning. Hopefully "we" are on the same page and using SA. Personal, educational, and professional bias will always be out there as a human factor and lead "us" into traps that could be prevented.
My intent on the post is not to bring folks into traps, but to help make some of those traps better known and more preventable in the future. Latent factors exist that must be corrected for a safer wildland fire community.
My point is... when Jeff is serving as a Type 1 IC or as an FMO..... he is a FIREFIGHTER above all other duties or titles. Regardless of his background, he is a firefighter regardless of what the agency thinks he is.... His primary duties at the time are the protection of firefighters, the public, and natural resources. His number one goal is that each firefighter returns home each and every day.... THAT MAKES HIM A FIREFIGHTER... not a botanist.... or a "Biological Resources Group Leader".
If we have to look at things time and time again under hindsight bias rather than foresight cognition, we will never learn to protect our troops. Right now... those of us in the field see both Ed and Tom with their heads in the sand..... failing to lead the troops anyway or the other.... While their backgrounds and actions have been admirable in the past, their leadership through troubling times has been moot for most of us who would sure love to see them step up and be leaders again.........
P.S. - The WO Fire Safety Team.... you guys rock....You are presenting something that will keep folks safer.....
P.S.S. - Where is the Willow Fire website link?
This has come in from several sources: A reminder about managing
fatigue via work/rest...
Steve Holdsambeck, R4 Fire Operations Safety Program Manager, added this
note to last year's email on work/rest that is going round-robin behind the
The information in this letter is really just a simplification of what is
our policy as displayed in the Interagency Incident Business Management
Unfortunately it refers just to fire related activities. A better letter
Supervisors have the responsibility to manage employee fatigue
regardless if they are on a wildland fire "assignment" or supporting
day-to-day work activities. This includes non-fire related activities.
People that get assignments to fire related activities generally also get
monitored closely for days off. In my experience, the employees that slip
through the cracks are those that work NEPA one day, then suppression, then
presuppression, catch up on NEPA projects, then severity,...etc... day after
day after day either on the home district on in support of a dispatch office
on their home forest. Not going through ROSS, only their regular supervisor
knows (or should know) how many days they
Line Officers should ensure they discuss mandatory days off with their FMOs
(and other supervisors) and of course it is appropriate to do some "quality
assurance" checks by reviewing time sheets occasionally.
>From a liability standpoint, managing fatigue in fire related activities is
quite well established and so there is a "firm", 2-after-14 "guideline".
Deviating from this guideline may or may not increase the hazards to the
firefighter, but it clearly increases the liability hazard to the Line
But from an ethical a standpoint, there are similar risks to allowing an
employee to work all month, every day, on a trail (or any other) project.
Bottom line is that supervisors are legally responsible to provide a safe
working environment. If we can't manage the workload to allow employees to
take their regularly scheduled unpaid days off then we are obligated to pay
them to take days off. Safety is one of the reasons any Line Officer can
authorize administrative leave.
If you all feel more formal direction on this is warranted, please let me
know. Otherwise, I'll assume this is intuitive and I'll make a note to send
this out again next May as a reminder.
National Interagency Fire Center
3838 S. Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705
September 11, 2006
To: Geographic Area Coordinating Group Chairs
From: National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group
Subject: Work/Rest Guidelines and Days Off
As the 2006 fire season continues and resources are stretched, fatigue
management is an issue of concern. It’s been brought to our attention that
there is confusion in how the work/rest and days off are applied for
resources assigned to local support. Because some managers are interpreting
them differently than others, the purpose of this letter is to provide
consistency in the application of the NWCG work/rest guidelines and days off
as described in the Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook,
Chapter 10, Section 12.7.
Work/Rest guidelines and days off should be met on all incident assignments.
This includes assignments to a dispatch offices, caches/warehouses, buying
and payment teams, mobilization centers, etc. In 2004, a 2-day-off-after-14
day assignment standard (exclusive of travel) was adopted as a standard for
fatigue management. In the case of local support, an example would be if an
individual is “assigned” to their local dispatch, working 12 hour days for
14 (or more) days the individual would be entitled to 2 days off prior to
returning to their normal job duties following their assignment.
The intent of the work/rest guidelines is to manage fatigue while at the
same time provide flexibility for managers. To maintain safe and productive
incident activities, incident personnel must appropriately manage work and
rest periods, assignment duration and shift length for all personnel
including casuals (AD), contracted crews, and EERA resources. The 2:1 work
ratio should be applied to all incident support work situations; and sound
judgment should be exercised to ensure rest breaks are of adequate duration
to provide for fatigue recovery.
As always, managers are expected to keep the health and safety of their
employees as their highest priority. Please ensure this information is made
available to your fire management personnel.
/s/ Tom Boatner
Florida Bugaboo Wildland Fire
Did Inciweb for this fire get hacked?? or is it only the Google map of the
fire that's off?
It shows N. Africa- Morocco- as the fire map site, south of Marakesh and
"Don't Bogart that fire my friend?"
Guess I should make a call to the ICP and clue them in...
Sincere condolences to the family of Grace Terrazas of the Palomar District
CNF from the family of Don Studebaker.
Grace was one of Don's favorite people and he always said he felt honored
to work for her. Many were the evenings when he would arrive home later than
expected while DFMO of the Palomar with the excuse that "Grace needed to
vent." I think he enjoyed those venting sessions almost as much as she did
and I always forgave him for being late to dinner. They were both great
talkers and got such a kick out of each other. Grace called several times
after Don's passing just to check on our family and a couple of months ago
met Don's granddaughter Emily (age 1) when she visited Goose Valley. I
understand she had a brand new grandchild as well. So sad. Just my thoughts
... We love you Grace.
Son on Bonneville Hotshot crew. They left Salt Lake Sunday, arrived Naples
Wed late afternoon. 3 buggies & Supt vehicle. Sounds like they will be
working to keep I-75 (Alligator Alley) open.
I also had the pleasure to work for a biologist, Ron Woychak, the BLM
CA Desert District FMO and Type II IC. He is, in my opinion, the
epitome of the IFPM standard.
Cleveland NF Community & especially the Palomar RD,
I had many interesting and frantic times along side of Grace in the
of the Cedar Fire. She took on the role of easing life after a major fire
the surrounding communities and she will be missed.
I was just reminiscing about my days as an El Cariso Hot Shot,
and I Googled your site. Great site! I've shared with my kids how Dad
used to have a "real job" back in 1972-1974 as a Hot Shot, and how we
put out major fires on the West Coast. Do you have any pictures of the
Big Sur fire? I'm not sure what year that occurred, but I remember our
Crew worked 40 hours straight. I wonder if you've received any
correspondence from that Crew.
Thanks again for those great shots, and I will always be an El Cariso
Bruce R. Dennis
El Cariso Hot Shot 1972-1974
Lots of ex El Cariso shots belong to this community. Have you seen
"IHC-->Fire Manager" Project
Thanks for posting the south ops news page site... glad it is back up also,
though saddened by the news that Bill Hall passed away on the 11th... butted
heads with him many times over the years. He also brought us beer when he
was a crew rep on one of the early runs to the southern area when we were
in a dry county....Godspeed Bill.......
Ab and the Cleveland NF Community
I would be remiss in not stating my condolences to the CNF community, and
in particular her CO-Workers on the Palomar RD, on the passing of Grace
Terrazas, the DR of the district where I make my home.
May God rest her;
and condolences to her family.
"Yikes" commented about the "Biological Resources Group Leader" who is also
a Type 1 IC profiled on our local news. I commented on the recent article
yesterday on the same news website. He is a botanist who is also one of the
best wildland firefighters I have known since I started in the fire service
in 1968. Jeff Whitney is one of the best, aggressive yet safe, thoughtful
and effective, IC's I have ever known, up there with Ed Hollenshead and Tom
Harbour. Check out the Willow Fire website, which raced through Sonoran
desert through Fir ecosystems threatening communities including homes of my
relatives. He is a great leader. Seems like with the drought and the bark
beetles, Arizona is becoming more like So Cal. In 1971 we gave a new hire So
Cal FMO a pretty hard time when he started on the Tonto NF in a small
cow-town, but by the end of the season he had earned our respect. I tip my
Stetson to homegrown leaders like Jeff Whitney and to So Cal firefighters as
well, regardless of their education degree or geographic origin, as long as
they prove themselves as leaders and innovators.
Old Sawyer, B.S. Biology and Juris Doctor.
Thousands of lightning strikes all across Arizona today. Evacuations
ordered on the Promontory Fire.
Early active fire season.
p.s. Tony Sciacca's Type 2 Team is handling the Promontory Fire. In 1990
he read the smoke laying down and pulled his Prescott Shots out from under
the Dude Fire downburst which entrapped 11 firefighters and killed six of
them a few hundred yards below. Saved my ranch a few times too, as recently
as the February Fire 2006 as Assistant IC. Good man and good team. Lightning
still flashing up North. Suns beating the Spurs. All is well. Old Sawyer.
https://thunderstorm.vaisala.com/ Click on the free lightning map.
I am an Australian looking into the process involved in purchasing some
Helitankers for use in Australia during the bush fire season.
Could you please advise me of the most appropriate website to go to
to conduct my research into the costs and training involved in such a
Friend of mine is the HS sup for Bonneville HS, Nathan Lancaster.
Great stand up guy, great crew out of Northern Utah. Would fight
fire with these guys any day of the week!
A lot of western resources are being sent East due to fire activity
and lack of regional resources, per a friend of mine in R-3.
We are having our own issues here in AZ with dry lightning heating
Maybe Bonneville IHC was near Tampa on their way south to the Big Cypress
N.P where a Type 1 Team (Northern Rockies - Stanich) is currently set up for
business on the BICY Complex. Northern Florida may be stealing the media
headlines right now, but there are other parts of Florida on fire too. The
whole darned state of Florida is currently experiencing drought.
FYI - Big Cypress National Preserve if located about half way b/w Miami and
Naples, Florida. If you pull out your handy Atlas, find HWY 41 which is near
the southern boundary of the Preserve (just north of the bigger, more well
known Everglades National Park) & Alligator Alley (I-75) is close to the
northern boundary of the Preserve.
Then again, Bonneville IHC could be in the Tampa area as a preposition
resource or because they are enjoying a trip to Tampa-Bay Busch Gardens....
Sign Me - Former BICY Fire Chick
The Bonneville IHC is a national resource. They are dispatched to where they
are needed. There are a number of western state-based suppression resources
helping out in Florida. When fires burn in the west and the fire season in
the southeast has slowed down, suppression resources from Florida (and other
SE states) help out with our fires. As you gain more fire experience you
will begin to notice quite a few resources from back east helping out in the
So, my girlfriend (who lives near Tampa, Fl) called me today and asked me to
remember the word 'bonneville'. I, being a astute CDF, (ooops..... CALFIRE)
FAE asked "why?" She says "because i just passed a yellow truck looking
thingy that said bonneville hotshots on it". She asked if I knew where 'bonneville'
was and I told her the only 'bonneville' I knew of was in Utah. She was in
disbelief that a crew from Utah would be in Florida, more specifically near
Tampa since the majority of the fires are in the northern part of the state.
Anyone? Why are the Bonneville HS near Tampa?
It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I write this email to
notify you that Graciela (Grace) Terrazas, District Ranger of the Palomar
Ranger District, Cleveland NF, passed away suddenly this morning. Grace
never knew a stranger, and she will be missed by many.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.
This may sound like a silly question but as a firefighter for a government
agency is overtime mandatory or is it voluntary???
The reason I ask this question is because over the last few years I have
worked with firefighters who have gone thru divorces and now have to pay
child support ( I am one of them now). When you go thru the court system
they say they can count our overtime pay when they calculate the child
support amount. Most of us are paying three to four time more than what it
otherwise would be because of this. The court looks at our job as seasonal
so by law they can count the overtime pay, unless we can proof overtime is
Looking for help....
Yet when OWCP figures out what to provide
firefighters that are injured on the job, they do not count overtime in the
There are still current jobs open in the Help Wanted section of the
It's not too late join up with a variety of companies and organizations
looking for help this year. The newest one, listed this morning is King
Water Tenders, they're looking for cwn driver/operators for the Southern
California area. Check 'em out. OA
Re apparent shortage of Safety Officer 2:
If there's a burnover or
fatality on a fire, it's the SOF2 that starts the process of investigating.
I have 2 R5 friends who have let their redcard quals lapse for this
position. I wonder if others
have done the same.
It will be nice to have the Ellreese trial completed.
We've got a pretty long unable to fill list - WBC. It's posted here:
Safety Officers Type 2 are in high demand.
South Ops News and Notes is up and running again as of
I want to share let everyone know that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation
will be hosting its 3rd Annual Family Day for our fallen wildland
firefighter families, friends, and co-workers. Without all of you and your
donations, this Family Day would not be possible. Hold yourselves proud,
for you have helped in the healing process of grief for those left behind.
I am inviting any and ALL of you to attend our 3rd Annual Wildland
Firefighter Foundation's Family Day: Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20.
Saturday, we will have a Native American Ceremony with blessing and songs,
drummers and dancers, and a potluck. The Warm Springs Nation will host the
morning event and provide baked salmon for the potluck. We will gather on
the grounds at NIFC around 9 a.m. The doors of the Foundation will be open
at 8 a.m. for coffee and light breakfast foods and to get a hug just in case
you feel like you don't belong. (You can also get a hug "just because".) We are located across the street from NIFC
on the northeast side at 2049 Airport Way, Boise, in a white building with
blue trim. Come and bring a potluck dish if you feel like it... if not, just
come be with us. It would fill my heart to have you here.
On Sunday morning we will gather at the Foundation at 10 a.m., Honor
Guard, a dove release ceremony, and a tour of the monument will take place.
Dress is casual.
This family day we are celebrating the lives of the firefighters we have
lost. I know many of you have suffered quietly with the loss of your
friends and co-workers. I invite you to come and be with us, and I offer
you anything that might make your journey a littler easier.
I want to give you an opportunity to meet our families. Please feel free
bring yours. We have several families from Storm King attending. Dress is
casual, you can wear anything you'd like to, but I know some of the families
hunger to see Green and Yellow. Please notify Melissa by email,
firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at
(208) 866-3063 to let her know that you will be attending as we need your
name for NIFC security purposes.
Politics and the lack of true leaders has always been the greatest risk to
firefighters and the delivery of the mission. You are correct.
"I see politics and weather now threatening all of us." I see a lack of
On my side, I see the catalysts (They Said Members) of change eventually
wildland firefighters in the future and keeping our friends,
families, and coworkers safer.
It isn't about politics, it is about the facts of protecting the folks we
all care about and
correcting the things we can..... each of US.....
Safety starts with the individual before it spreads to the community....
I loved all of the news links. It was great to see a compilation of the
wildland fire news as it was being reported by the press.
I was confused when a Type 1 Incident Commander called himself
Resources Group Leader".... WTF is that?
I always thought he was a firefighter and the folks that worked for
fires to be firefighters.
I'd bet that any of his troops that risk their lives protecting communities,
natural resources, or bioligical resources, or the families of those lost
each year, would like be classified as firefighters rather than biologists.
It ain't rocket science.
An AD Crew is just another type 2 (or sometimes type 3 crew). Either way,
they need a crew boss, and 3 FFT1's per the red book, Appendix Z.
On your ENOP question. Since the current version of 5109.17 does not
recognize ENOP as a position, I'd say most engines going on assignment
don't have a qualified one on them.........
I appreciate your illuminating response to my post. I never would suggest
we bury our heads in the sand as the benefits of Safety First and other such
programs are lost to the blind eye of the bureaucracy, however I feel an
overwhelming sense of negativity lately concerning our current state of
affairs. It seems that we will be tasked with a long and arduous fire
season, and I think we must, at some level, focus on things such as
cohesion, attitude and a positive disposition to safely complete our
mission. I do not think the problems of retention, hiring, pay, nor budget
will go away with a sunny outlook, but from now until the snow flies we need
to have our eyes on the ball, and provide each other, and the fire, our
undivided attention. Again, I thank you for your insightful post, I listen
to you regular posters to form what I hope is a more broad opinion of the
agency and the path we are on.
Stay safe y'all.
As I read it, the minimum standard is (Regional Forester - Commanders
"According to the SFFMMO, the standard staffing for Type III engines
fire personnel per day, seven days per week. This is commonly referred
as 5.0 staffing. The daily configuration for 5.0 staffing continues to
include an Engine Boss (ENGB) who is not driving the engine and a
driver with Class B license and appropriate endorsements."
Nowhere in the agency direction does it require an FEO (Engineer/Asst.
Capt., etc) to provide for five day coverage, none the less seven day
coverage as a supervisor. The commanders intent is, and was for fully
qualified GS-7 FEOs with the ability to provide for 7 day staffing.
I personally believe the past R-5 Director was right on track for safety
when he issued his letter. The thinly guised reversal of course from the new
R-5 Director as "Commanders Intent" set us up for this discussion....
Do you need a qualified Class B driver or a qualified engineer who meets
X-118, IFPM, ICQS, and agency direction?... or do you need to provide an
qualified FEO who can serve in the absence of the Captain who is either on
days off or on overhead assignments?
If you are concerned about staffing five day effective stations....... an
apprentice, an AFEO, or anyone qualified as a Class B Driver will keep you
on the road and responding to incidents.
A qualified FEO (Engineer) who is red-carded as an ENGB at the minimum will
meet commanders intent that was provided by the Regional Forester, without
retraction or direction to the troops in the field.
Areas known for wildfire risk seeing an influx of
"The fact of the matter is that this is a lesson that's been learned
in the blood of our firefighters for many years," said Tom Harbour, the
head of firefighting for the U.S. Forest Service. "We need to be telling
people with even more clarity that just because you built something
here, we're not going to die for it."
Wildfires scorched a record 10 million acres nationwide last year,
and the federal government predicts this will be another bad year. The
years ahead could be worse: Climate studies suggest even warmer and
drier weather could turn Western forests clogged with dead and dying
trees to tinder, ideal conditions for fire.
The growth is most pronounced in the brittle hills of Southern
California, near Riverside and San Bernardino, where 240,000 people
settled in fire-prone areas since 2000. It is also playing out along
Nevada's eastern Sierra slopes, where the at-risk population grew by
nearly 14,000; outside Boise; and at the fast-growing fringes of
metropolitan Phoenix. (etc)
Wildfires Flare In Mogollon Rim (AZ)
Prescribed fire for Zion National Park postponed (AZ)
Due to the weather conditions, a prescribed fire in Zion National
Park has been postponed.
The remaining 670 acres of the 2,300 acre East Mesa prescribed fire
was to take place this week but has been postponed due to the high fire
danger in Southern Utah.
Behind the Fireline (AZ: air attack, Payson hotshots and Whitney
IC) audio slide show
Florida-Georgia wildfire forces hundreds to evacuate for 2nd time
The wildfire that raced through the Okefenokee Swamp in southeast
Georgia and into northern Florida was started by lightning more than a
week ago. By Tuesday, it had burned 109,000 acres in Florida and 139,813
acres of swampland in Georgia _ nearly 390 square miles in all.
Progress made on Florida wildfire (video also available)
The flames jumped containment lines three times Monday as brisk
winds, low humidity and high temperatures made work difficult for an
army of firefighters. But on each occasion, firefighters were able to
quickly extinguish the blazes. There were no reports during the day
Tuesday of fires jumping containment lines.
The fire was raging through the Osceola National Forest and heading
toward Lake City.
Wildfire Burns Thousands of Acres in South Jersey; Several
Highways Closed; Residents Evacuated (video, photo gallery)
"If the fire is not contained by tomorrow afternoon, we're going to
have more problems," said Bert Plante, a division fire warden for the
New Jersey Forest Fire Service, who added that expected 20 mph winds
with gusts up to 30 mph could get behind the fire and "continue to push
it through the woods."
Residents of upper Gunflint Trail to be allowed back briefly (Minnesota)
Residents chased from their homes by a large forest fire along the
upper Gunflint Trail got welcome news Tuesday when they were told they'd
be allowed to return to their properties for brief visits starting
. . . . .
Mark Van Every, a spokesman for the firefighting effort, told
residents at a public meeting that nearly all the fire's growth since
the weekend has been on the Ontario side of the border, where Canadian
firefighters were hard at work on the fire's northern flank, where the
fire grew by about 20 square miles Monday.
On the Minnesota side, fire commanders planned to continue sending
ground crews directly to the still-burning areas to put them out, and
continue tightening their containment lines around a part of the fire
south of the Gunflint Trail that's still cause for concern.
MNR making headway on fires (Ontario, Canada)
For more, check the
Fire News page. Ab.
New Jersey fire. I hope people are being safe there, too.
Division Fire Warden was speaking on The Weather Channel tonight about the
12,000 acre fire burning in the NJ Pine Barrens north of Atlantic City.
Amazing photos too! He said they might have to burn out the Garden State
Parkway to try to contain it! Wow, wonder if that would be a first??
Thanks to NJFFS DIV B and Pine Barrens FF for the good info on the
Does anybody know how the fire in the Minnesota blowdown is going. Guess
it got into Canada.
So much more going on early in the season than usual...
Everybody please be safe on the GA/FL fireground.
I see politics and weather now threatening all of us.
That is a dangerous combination. Remember LCES
at all times.
Let's all go home safe with great memories and fire
Thank you very much, I have a new red book but nothing for USFS Type 3
engine staffing. Can any R5 USFS dispatchers confirm they have sent a
USFS Type 3 Engine with a ENGB and a Class B driver + 3 FFT2 IE
no ENOP Off Forest?
TC Do you know anything about having to staff AD Type 2 crew with 3
fully qualified FFT1?
Thanks For The Letter
Sorry to say that Engines are not considered a National Resource. Some
Crews & Helicopters are, but not any engines that I'm aware of. There are
lots of reasons why a local unit could make an engine unavailable for
assignments and without having more knowledge of what's going on, it's
difficult to advise you. That said, if your being paid with WFPR funding
you should be available for fire assignment, unless your unit has reached
drawdown. I know some places are already at drawdown, due to vacant
positions. I'd suggest taking it up the food chain on your district, or
maybe even up to the forest level. Failing that, if you're real serious, you
could call the USDA hotline -
I am looking for thoughts from our community,
I currently am employed as a full time engine operator (note the full
time). I recently was told that our engine could not go available due to our
services being promised to other functions. I know there are times when
targets must be met and our availability is affected, but truly are we not
to be considered a NATIONAL RESOURCE? In my opinion is fighting fire not our
number one priority, hence the full time engine operator.
Sorry to do this but have others run in to this type of problem, and if
so how can we make management let us do what our job truly is, and do the
job we love, protecting the lands for the public, its not our problem that
other functions don't have the resources to cover their own area of work.
Sorry for the venting guys, just having a bad day!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks AB, for this wonderful site and everyone have a safe and
Cumulus, the R5 May/22 letter on staffing was modified in July. See below.
As far as I know, no final direction has come out since this...........
Date: July 10, 2006
Subject: Region 5 Engine Module Configuration Requirements
To: Forest Supervisors
Operating under the direction issued in the Region 5 Engine Staffing letter
issued on May 22, 2006, has resulted in some unintended consequences
negatively affecting program agility, budget, and capability to provide
interagency support. In response, I am superseding the May 22, 2006
letter. The purpose of this direction is to meet the intent of that letter
by providing adequate leadership on our engines, and simultaneously improve
our organizational capacity and ability to respond. Of course, crew safety
will always be the primary consideration when applying this direction.
The Region 5 Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module Organization
(SFFMMO) was developed by the Fire and Aviation Management Board of
Directors (BOD) and outlined in the March 29, 2005 letter with subject
“Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module Organization.” The SFFMMO was
approved by each Forest Supervisor, the Regional Fire Staff, and the BOD.
The standard was developed to provide a cost-effective way of doing
business while continuing to provide safety, leadership and operational
effectiveness on the modules. The Region 5 standard module configuration
has not changed; Region 5 will continue to follow the SFFMMO.
According to the SFFMMO, the standard staffing for Type III engines is five
fire personnel per day, seven days per week. This is commonly referred to
as 5.0 staffing. The daily configuration for 5.0 staffing continues to
include an Engine Boss (ENGB) who is not driving the engine and a qualified
driver with Class B license and appropriate endorsements. The remaining
three positions are comprised of a combination of senior firefighters, an
apprentice, and a temporary position as displayed in the SFFMMO.
Exceptions to the SFFMMO for Type III Engines:
- Based on the unavailability of module personnel due to fire
assignments, illness, or annual leave, the Duty Officer may direct an
engine to respond to an incident while deviating from the standard 5.0
staffing. The minimum staffing level under this scenario will consist of
qualified Engine Boss (ENGB) who is not driving the engine, a qualified
driver with Class B license and appropriate endorsements, and an
additional qualified firefighter.
- Under rare circumstances, limited to initial attack on the home unit
and when outside the normal work day, a Duty Officer may dispatch an
engine staffed only by a qualified Engine Boss (ENGB) with a Class B
and appropriate endorsements, and two additional qualified firefighters.
In order to determine the effects of implementing this direction, the
attached monitoring plan must be completed and maintained between now and
the end of November. The results will be reviewed and discussed by the BOD
at their regularly scheduled meeting in December, where they will develop a
recommendation as to whether to finalize this direction as a supplemental
directive prior to fire season 2007.
Any questions or comments regarding this letter should be directed to Ed
Hollenshead, Acting Regional FAM Director. The March 2005
letter, associated attachments, and the May 2006 letter are enclosed for
/s/ Beth G. Pendleton (for) |
Bernard Weingardt, Regional Forester
All of the things that you describe as negative and hurting morale, have
been overcome in the past with excellent results for safety. Unfortunately,
it took lots of fatalities during the 1957 through 1972 period for the
changes to be implemented. It also took some great leaders to go against the
grain and drop any personal or agency biases, and look squarely at the end
state goal of improved firefighter safety and mission efficiency.
Many of us who study and look at the past see us returning to the days prior
to 1972.... rapidly.
I wrote this back on October 1, 2006 and sent it in to They Said. I also
wrote about it sometime in the previous years and also posted it on They
Said. Others wrote about it during the fall of 1971....
It is appropriate that the lessons learned from the past be repeated and the
errors corrected....... In the mid-1970's, the Forest Service implemented a
series of programs in Region 5 under the "Safety First" program. Many of
those programs spread nationwide with exponential results in firefighter
safety. Those programs from the mid-1970's involved improvements to the pay,
benefits, and working conditions for wildland firefighters, and improved
training such as the "Cleveland Package" that eventually developed into the
Those new programs created the "old salts" that kept us safe and that were
with us in the 1980's, 1990's, and early 2000's.
From a Forest Service Fatality investigation report of the past:
History does repeat itself .... Lessons Not Learned.....
..."The investigation team does not feel more restrictions are
necessary with regard to how we fight fire. Our problems will not be
solved through restrictions when the basic cause lies elsewhere. We have
our downhill guides for line construction. The first four of these
guides were violated in the case of the <firefighters name> fatality.
Nine of the Ten Standard Firefighting Orders were also violated. Further
restrictions would also be violated, unless training and experience
gives foremen and crewmen on the ground the basic knowledge to
understand the reasons for the rules and restrictions. Foremen must also
have gained the necessary experience and developed the supervisory and
leadership skills needed for enforcement."
"Crew leadership begins with the recruitment, selection, and appointment
of individuals with basic strengths in the areas pertinent to the crews
work. In forest fire control, these areas include both a strong physical
capability and a moderate level of intelligence. These basic abilities
then can be utilized in a work and training program to produce strong
and capable first line supervisors."
"The <forest name> has been less than fully successful in developing
first-line supervisors (crew foremen) necessary for their fire control
"Many of their more experienced people have left to join other Forest
Service units and other firefighting agencies such as the California
Division of Forestry and various County Fire Departments. Competition
for good men is keen. We continue to train good people for other
agencies. Our conditions for employment leave this Region, and
particularly the <forest name> is an almost untenable position. It is
difficult to entice high quality people to apply for fire positions when
agencies such as the California Division of Forestry and most County
Fire Departments can offer capable people full-time yearlong employment,
better crew living conditions and higher pay." ...
... "The <forest name>, as elsewhere in the Region, is operating under
severe budgetary and ceiling limitations. Allotments have failed to keep
pace with increasing equipment, salary and other operating costs. The
level of manning of fire crews is less than in prior years. The
situation has been deteriorating over the past two to three years with a
major loss of crewmen (78 positions) in <year>. Prior to <year> tanker
crews had been fully financed and manned (generally 5 men per tanker)
for the full fire season." ...
... "We are relying on a fire force that is deteriorating in both
quantity and quality. We face a growing problem and growing public
concern. People at the Forest level are becoming increasingly frustrated
and bitter. Their frustration comes from trying to do a larger job with
a lesser force. Their bitterness stems from the fact that they cannot
see the results of any real effort being made to make their plight
known, Interviews with Forest Service people revealed that they believe
the Forest Service is more concerned with new programs and its image
than it is with telling Congress and the Budgetary authorities the facts
about our resource losses and protection needs. Other programs receive
major fund increases, but we continue to lose effective dollars for the
basic fire control organization. Our people believe that little is being
done to point out the potential social and environmental benefits
possible from increased fire protection, and thus capitalize on the
current high level of public and Congressional concern in these areas."
Extracted from: Investigation Report, Robert Maxwell Miller Fatality, San
Bernardino National Forest, September 19, 1971.
www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Mack_2_1971.pdf (entire pdf file)
P.S. - See also the
1957 Report to the Chief....
"Career limitations in the present fire control aid series result in
the loss of well qualified fire men to woods and other industries, state
and county protection agencies, and other jobs where better careers are
available. This situation makes it difficult to recruit and develop
additional suitable men in this category. There is in-service
competition in that better careers are available in the timber
management jobs of the forestry aid series. The men involved in these
positions are the people who provide the local experience and stability
which is important in the fire control job.".
On May 8, the Governor of Montana signed a bill which clarifies the
liability for some firefighters, and provides for their legal
representation. The final version of the bill, which became law on May 8, is
On a related note, the Governor of South Dakota has committed to work with
the state legislature during their next session to push for similar
International Association of Wildland Fire
(The Montana Law:)
SENATE BILL NO. 404
INTRODUCED BY G. LIND
AN ACT CLARIFYING LIABILITY FOR FIREFIGHTERS; PROVIDING FOR LEGAL
REPRESENTATION OF FIREFIGHTERS; REQUIRING THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL
RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL FIRE AGENCIES TO PAY
ATTORNEY FEES; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Liability of firefighters. (1) A firewarden, firefighter, or
officer or employee of a state or governmental fire agency is not criminally
liable for acts or omissions while fighting fires other than acts or
omissions committed with demonstrable criminal intent.
(2) For the purposes of this section, "governmental fire agency" means a
fire protection entity organized under Title 7, chapter 33.
Section 2. Legal representation for state firefighters. (1) The department
shall pay reasonable attorney fees and costs for outside legal counsel to
defend a firefighter employed by the department against a criminal
prosecution for a good faith act or omission by the firefighter arising from
the firefighter's performance of duties during a wildfire. The department
may determine whether the firefighter's act or omission was in good faith
and arising from the performance of the firefighter's duties during a
wildfire. The requirement to pay attorney fees and costs does not apply to
any postconviction legal proceedings.
(2) The department shall adopt rules to implement this section.
Section 3. Legal representation for firewarden, firefighter, or employee --
local governmental fire agency. A local governmental fire agency shall pay
reasonable attorney fees and costs for outside legal counsel to defend a
firewarden, firefighter, or paid or volunteer employee of a local
governmental fire agency against a criminal prosecution arising from an act
or omission in the performance of duties on a fire or in fire training that
is made in good faith and within the course and scope of employment of the
firewarden, firefighter, or paid or volunteer employee. The local
governmental fire agency may determine whether the act or omission of the
firewarden, firefighter, or paid or volunteer employee was in good faith and
arising from the performance of the employee's duties in a fire or in fire
training. The requirement to pay attorney fees and costs does not apply to
any postconviction legal proceedings.
Section 4. Codification instruction. (1) [Section 1] is intended to be
codified as an integral part of Title 45, chapter 2, part 2, and the
provisions of Title 45, chapter 2, part 2, apply to [section 1].
(2) [Section 2] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 76,
chapter 13, part 1, and the provisions of Title 76, chapter 13, part 1,
apply to [section 2].
(3) [Section 3] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 7,
chapter 33, and the provisions of Title 7, chapter 33, apply to [section 3].
Section 5. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.
- END -
After the Esperanza Fire of 2006, the new Regional Forester wrote the
"We received a telephone call from President Bush this morning expressing
his condolences for the loss and injuries to the firefighters of Engine 57.
He asked about the condition of Pablo Cerda and said that his thoughts and
prayers are with Pablo and his family. The President also expressed his
deep admiration for the bravery and commitment shown by the members of
He asked that we extend his thanks to all the employees of the
Forest Service in Region 5 for our dedication and commitment to the
of our country."
1) When did the new Regional Forester extend the President's thanks to
the troops in the field?...(I never saw the above "e-mail" or other
appropriate response except on They Said)..... and
2) When will the Regional and Washington Office folks get real and address
things, as Bernie said, "... the families, friends and co-workers of these
brave men" through changes for safety.
Sign me... The families, friends and co-workers of all wildland deserve
better than lip service... aka "Better"
The Redding Smokejumpers are celebrating their 50th year of service for the
USFS. We are having an open house for the public, firefighters, and all
past/present Jumpers. The local newspaper, Redding Searchlight, has spent a
considerable amount of time following our Rookie Training for this year's
Rooks. Sunday, they started a three day stretch of front page articles and
pictures to help bring attention to the anniversary and the program. They
actually did a real good job. Sometimes these things turn out not quite the
way you want them too. Also, on their web site,
Redding.com, they have the
articles and some (4 or 5) pretty neat slide shows. Check it out. We have
already jumped 5 fires, all last week. The last time we got started this
early was 1987. Do you remember 1987? The Siege. We just all might be
looking at another 1987 type of year. Stay safe there.
Anyone know if this is still in effect?
Date: May 22, 2006
Subject: Region 5 Engine Staffing
To: Forest Supervisors
The Region 5 standard module configuration plan is to staff Type Three
Engines with five (5) firefighters assigned per engine every day. Staffing
will include two (2) leadership positions and three (3) firefighters; this
is commonly referred to as 5.0 staffing. The leadership positions are
identified as follows: one (1) engine boss (ENGB) and one (1) engine
operator (ENOP). Each of the leadership employees will need a Commercial
Class B License with appropriate endorsements.
The intent of this direction is to:
- Provide a safe working environment for our employees and the public
by providing sufficient supervision and oversight on Type Three Engines
on a daily basis.
- Ensure engine modules used for fire suppression are trained to
established standards and are accompanied by a qualified supervisor, an
engine operator and three firefighters each day (5.0 staffing).
- Engines will not be dispatched to off unit assignments with less
than 5.0 staffing.
- Allow an engine to respond on the home unit with fewer personnel
than the regional standard when the Forest Duty Officer deems it
necessary. This decision will be based on the Specific Action and
Staffing Guide contained within the Fire Management Plan. Weather
conditions, time of year, time of day, (before or after normal duty
hours), will be taken into account. Fewer personnel will also be sent
when the situation indicates that it would be prudent to respond to an
incident with less staffing than the regional standard. Vacant positions
alone are not sufficient justification for exemptions.
Engine supervisors will be career employees on continuing appointments.
On the regular supervisor’s day off qualified career employees will serve as
an alternate supervisor. If no qualified supervisor is present the module
will be out of service and not available for fire dispatch.
The liability Insurance site was brought down due to the company
that the USFS was recommending stopped offering the coverage.
The current company offering Liability Insurance that most Fed folks
use has their own website, at
This pdf file lists a web site for fire liability
I could not find the web site, so am curious
how much effort these folks are really putting into this issue, if they're
not even following thru with setting up a web site????
Fire Program Management and Decision Making Liability
Dear Rogue River,
I can understand your dismay, an AFEO promoting to FEO should be Engine Boss
qualified. Have you tried to hire a FEO lately? Mission impossible on my
forest, we have 3 engines unstaffed because we can’t get anyone at all to
apply at all. I would rather hire a senior firefighter with a class B
license 6 , 7 then have empty engines for the next few years. We have to
home grow our AFEO and FEO with people willing to work in our area.
You may be but I’ll take anyone.
Ready to keel over
I don’t know about the origin of the term SFEO, I haven’t been around that
long. I received my career appointment in 1998 as a GS6 Supervisory Fire
Engine Operator in Region 3 so I know it’s been outside of Region 5 for at
least that long. I was also offered a temporary GS5 SFEO job in R1 a few
days after I accepted the R3 job. BLM and NPS have SFEO “captains” in
California as well so it’s not strictly a California USFS thing.
I just did a search of OPM to see how wide spread SFEO is but I am now
depressed, I’ve found Supervisory Forestry Tech / Fire Engine Operator, Lead
Forestry Tech / Fire Engine Operator, Forestry Tech / Fire Engine Operator,
Engine Captain (Heavy), and even Forestry Tech jobs at the 8 that are
clearly fire line supervisors when you read the job description. Some of
these terms are mixed within the same agency and region.
Well since I watched Apollo 13 recently and it seems appropriate just sign
Houston I think we have a problem
I have a complete set of Wildland Firefighter Magazines from January 1998 to
current that I would like to give to someone or some organization. All I
want for compensation is shipping. I would hope that someone would like this
for a reference set. It is all but the first few issues that came out in
1997. I live outside of McMinnville, Oregon area (Portland metro area).
The following information and all things IFPM can be found at:
IFPM sets minimums. Minimum qualifications, experience and minimum grade
levels. The agencies can go beyond. And it only addresses the 14 key fire
management positions. You will not find rookie fire fighter in IFPM.
ENGINE MODULE SUPERVISOR
Supervising four or more crew members
NWCG Incident Management Qualifications - Currency Required
Command: Incident Commander, Type 4 (ICT4)
Operations: Single Resource Boss (SRB)-Engine
Prescribed Fire: ----
SUPERVISORY FIRE ENGINE OPERATOR
Supervising three or fewer crew members
NWCG Incident Management Qualifications - Currency Required
Command: Incident Commander, Type 5 (ICT5)
Operations: Engine Operator (ENOP)
Prescribed Fire: ----
SENIOR FIREFIGHTER (advanced level firefighter with specialized skills
NWCG Incident Management Qualifications - Currency Required
Command: Incident Commander, Type 5 (ICT5)
Operations: Firefighter, Type 1 (FFT1) or Helicopter Crewmember
(HECM), as appropriate
Prescribed Fire: ----
Additional required training as presented in the following courses, or
• S-290 “Intermediate Fire Behavior”
Small Agency Fire Guy
Where ever the warnings are coming from, i.e. whatever line officer is
coming up with this nonsense is the info we need.
Whether it's suggested caution in becoming a member of the FWFSA or
commenting on the Agency dysfunction, we need to know where its coming from.
All of you need to remember that before you are a land management agency
employee, you are a citizen of the United States with the right... and duty
to speak up when things are screwed up.
Common sense dictates that you don't go to the press and appear on TV in
your Agency uniform and start blasting the dysfunction and naming names etc.
But when something is broken, and facts are being spun in a manner that
precludes the public from knowing the truth, your rights & duties as a
citizen far outweigh the expected "loyalty" to the Agency. In fact your
safety, and that of your co-workers may depend on your speaking up.
For those of you who need reminding, the FWFSA IS NOT a union and therefore
is not encumbered by limitations on union activity as set forth in Title 5
of the United States Code. As an employee association, we have the luxury of
speaking to whom we need to speak to and when, in an effort to solve
problems facing federal wildland firefighters.
The FWFSA is not hampered by the "union organizing" limitations and, in
fact, many folks in leadership positions in the fire programs of the land
management agencies encourage discussions by those on duty of the FWFSA's
efforts etc., knowing full well that we are working on behalf of all federal
wildland firefighters from all land management agencies in all grades.
I truly believe many folks at the highest levels know we are not the enemy
and understand that we have continuously offered to work with the Agencies
on behalf of their firefighters. Sadly as with any bureaucracy, there are
still those that think anyone not part of that bureaucracy is either the
enemy or up to no good.
Camp Pendleton Fire School 2007
It is with much regret that the US Forest
Service and the Camp Pendleton
Fire Department announce the cancellation of the 2007 Fire School. The lack
of rain this winter has created fuel conditions which make conducting Fire
School this year impossible. We wish to thank everyone for their interest
and willingness to participate and encourage you to keep Gordon Martin
informed of any changes in your contact email address so that we might
notify you of any information concerning Fire School 2008. Please forward
this message to any departments that may have been working through you to
attend Fire School.
Rogue River said…
“……….So, I have a question. Forest Service Engine Captains are
officially called Supervisory Fire Engine Operators (SFEO).
How does that crosswalk with the two IFPM definitions and make any
sense? One has a position called "Supervisory Engine Operator" that only
requires ICT5 and ENOP qualifications, while the other called "Engine
Module Supervisor" requires ICT4 and ENGB?........”
I paraphrased the quote, in order to highlight the portion that I am
1. SFEO – Supervisory Fire Engine Operator: This is an R 5 invention (much
like the “Captain” description instead of “Foreman”.) Most of the rest of
the country hires FEOs as the engine foreman, although this has been
spreading in the past few years.
2. EMS – Engine Module Supervisor: This is a BLM designation which refers to
the supervisor of a heavy engine module (although I may have this mixed up
with Engine Module Leader..)
3. SEO – Supervisory Fire Engine Operator: This is the minimum IFPM
qualification for the engine foreman on a light (type 6, etc…) engine
You have to remember, for good or bad, that IFPM is a DOI animal. Many, if
not all of the positions listed originated with DOI / BLM. Also, despite
internal perception, R5 practices do not always filter out into the rest of
the Wildland fire world (at least not quickly)
(examples: FOS – Fire Operations Supervisor, EML – Engine Module Leader, EMS
– Engine Module Supervisor, etc…)
In many DOI areas, a light engine is regularly staffed with lower qualified
individuals, and does not respond to ICT4 and above fires without outside
supervision. This could be assumed as equivalent to the USDA smoke chaser
function, or even prevention / patrol units.
L –– C –– E – S
Link to St Paul Pioneer Press photos of the Ham Lake Fire. There are
a couple of good aerial shots of homes saved by sprinkler systems.
Small Agency Fire Guy
Heads Up - Applications on Avue
As many of you are aware (and if you are
not aware, you are now), the Avue
Digital Services on-line application process will be replaced with a new
system called Quick Hire.
If you have a profile set up in Avue and you do not currently have a copy
saved to a disc or flash drive, you probably want to do so by copying to a
word or text document. I would also suggest that you keep a current
printed copy. It is my understanding that profiles will not migrate to
the new system. Hopefully in saving your information, you may save
yourself countless hours of frustration. It is not fun applying to a
position when you have to start from scratch.
It is anticipated that Avue may only be available until Mid-June. So save
sooner -- you won't get a chance later.
Human Resources Specialist (Recruitment)
Mendocino, Klamath, Six Rivers, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests
I placed some images from an AA-330 proficiency flight April 26, 2007
over the Palomar Divide USFS - CNF controlled burning project on fuel
break at the link below. As you can see the burning conditions this early
are an omen of the season were facing ahead.
Make sure to share this information with all crews and staff along with LCES
with the 10 & 18.
Captain Ron Serabia
"If there is truly commentary coming from leadership sources about "watching
what you say" in any form that can be validated, PLEASE contact the FWFSA
immediately with such information."
There are indeed comments about 'watching what you say' coming from many
line officers at the Forest, Region, and WO levels. The most important gauge
on these comments comes from FWFSA members in higher places (or those
wishing they were members and afraid to step up to leadership) who are
warning others about things to come.
The "rumor" I heard about was not a rumor, but a warning from one friend to
another to be prepared.... from one FWFSA member to another speaking on
facts.... to others exponentially.... and with expectations to pay it
The info did not relate to fire management leadership on the Regional Level
as they fully get it and fully understand and support the field, but
specifically about the lack of support and direct opposition by the Line
Officer level at many Forests, the RO, and the WO.... and the lack of
leadership and guidance by the FS WO Fire Program in supporting the troops
and telling the administration about where things are broken and needing an
immediate fix for proper program delivery.
When will the WO's (USDA and USDI) ever understand that the FWFSA seeks to
improve the mission delivery of the land management agencies' Fire
Programs... and the FWFSA is not an adversary but a potential future partner
I wouldn't fret too much about radio coverage being
reduced by the FCC mandated "narrow-banding".
Jan.1st, 2013, channels will take up half as much of
the radio spectrum as they do now (12.5khz vs. 25khz).
The propagation ability of the radio frequency waves
depends upon the transmitter power output (VHF
handheld is generally 5 watts), not the width of the
signal. The sensitivity of the receiver on the other
end is a factor but that will not change. I'd say the
radio user won't notice any difference.
Today's radios are capable of conforming to both the
present wide-band and the coming narrow-band and will
need to be re-programmed by a technician when the
change comes. That will mean a lot of work for
government techs and boo-koo bucks for private sector
radio shops. I can see the radio wizards now, hit a
few keystrokes and, cha-ching, 50 bucks. No
reflection on the radio types, I used to not be able
to spell technition, now I are one.
There is a potential problem. When the change is made
to narrow-band, there will be a lot of older radios
out there that can't be converted. Some folks will
continue using them. This probably won't be a problem
in the government bands but on the private sector
frequencies, I'll bet there will be a lot of muffled
As far as digital vs. analog (don't get me started).
Digital information is a wonderful thing in some
applications. A lot of digital stuff can be crammed
into a signal and come out useful on the other end.
However, give me an analog voice anytime. I used to
be able to pick out what Joe Blow was saying to me,
way down in the noise, but he was still there. Now,
if Joe fades one iota, he is gone and I am left
wondering if he fell off a cliff or I said something
offensive (just like the TV commercial). My ear and
brain are much better at recovering poor-signal
information than any circuitry devised by man. The
"Digital Revolution" has us all climbing on the
bandwagon, whether it's beneficial, or not.
"Re-farming", or the give and take of channels in the
spectrum, is another bucket of worms. I believe
Public Safety should get first dibs on what they need
to protect us. With the channel squeeze coming, there
should be ample radio frequencies for you. In
Wa$hington, it doesn't always work that way. Big
bu$ine$$ often seems to win out.
Please be safe out there and take your radio tech to
lunch. Sometimes, your safety depends on him/her.
Thanks for the info. However, I am specifically looking for procedural
information on expediting the process of FS HR folks approving my situation
as a hardship. My basic monetary figures are rounded and as follows:
Current health plan: $200.00 per pay period
back pay as of PP 8: $260.00 per pay period
Rough monthly cost: $920.00 per month. (yeah...ouch!)
Remaining net pay after deductions and 6% to TSP: $560.00 per pay period.
I was paying $100.00 per pay period for repayment which is tough enough
while on base wages. Now, the additional $160.00 per pay period, or roughly
$320.00 per month might force me to resign if I can't get some sort of help
quickly. Major bummer.....I like my job, but I have children to support. NFC
seemed to think it shouldn't be an issue to get this approved. They pulled
up my info and even gave me an amount that was "do-able" for my situation. I
informed them that the reduced payment would only be needed until open
season. They were very understanding.
The problem is getting HR to approve this in some kind of timely manner.
They want a letter explaining why it is a hardship for me to pay the current
amount. They also want a lengthy list of my expenditures and proof of
income, rent, electricity, gas, insurance, credit card statements, proof of
income, clothing costs, phone bills, etc, etc, etc...... dude, it's a friggin'
So, after all of this info is sent via snail mail, it gets reviewed and sent
to the regional HR folks. Then, it has to get signed by the Regional
Forester before it can be approved.,,,, Doesn't this sound a bit, uh.... weird
to anyone? The Regional Forester for crying out loud???
Again, NFC has told me it should be a very basic process.... they do it all
Any other advice, or experience with this folks?
A couple of years ago, the Ford Motor Company opted to spend around four
million dollars in order to design and develop a program intended to
"un-stifle" the rank and file employees. Ford willing to dedicate four
million? They finally figured it out that there was some "value" to the
information and ideas of the workers that management used to squash like
Maybe the Forest Service can learn something (at Ford's expense) and follow
suit. Dangerous thoughts...
Stay safe! "Kicks"
I find it interesting when people act like we have always been stacked with
experience at the Captain and higher level. I recall speaking with a former
captain and hearing him recollect about his "old" captain, (well they didn't
call them captains in the mid 1970's) and how his engine boss was pretty
cool despite his advanced age of twenty four. I recently went on the
Rattlesnake staff ride and was also surprised to hear that in the 50's, a
couple of years of fire experience made you somewhat of an old salt. I
understand all the venting and safety concerns about the changes the agency
is experiencing (they are valid concerns) but this negative droning on and
on has to be kept in check. You run the risk of affecting the morale to such
a low level, when now is the time to knuckle down, keep a foot in the black
and do what needs to be done. We shouldn't let our advances in safety and
training be eroded without a fight, however all this gloom and doom isn't
going to put out any fire.
This came in on the bottom of an email some time back. Makes me smile.
Nothing like a happy wildland firefighter. Ab.
"Today was good. Today
was fun. Tomorrow is another one." Dr. Seuss
Southern Area is now at Preparedness Level 5
Multiple new starts in Florida where there are active wildfires in 54 out of
Anyone fancy a trip to sunny Florida?
I almost flew off the handle when I saw that an FEO (Engineer) wasn't
specifically required to be an ENGB as a requirement for the job
anymore..... but then, I forgot that was prior to IFPM and us becoming more
"professional". I then flashed back to when it was a requirement and
selective factor for an Engine Captain to be DIVS qualified..... not so long
ago. I also flashed back to the days when our engine captains had 10-15+
years of experience and our BC's had 20 plus years of experience.....
So, I have a question. Forest Service Engine Captains are officially called
Supervisory Fire Engine Operators (SFEO).
How does that crosswalk with the two IFPM definitions and make any sense?
One has a position called "Supervisory Engine Operator" that only requires
ICT5 and ENOP qualifications, while the other called "Engine Module
Supervisor" requires ICT4 and ENGB?
As part of the most recent OPM and Agency desk audits of engine positions,
the FEO (Engineer, Asst. Capt.) were deemed to be a full assistant to the
Captain and able to perform fully in his/her absence.
P.S. - Kudos to the Forest Supervisor from NorCal for his pointed and right
to the point e-mail circulating about the failings of IFPM and the 401
component and his recommendations on how to get back on track!!!!..... That
This came in on 5/8 and I overlooked it. Ab.
History of Guard
Stations and other bits of FS Lore
Some old Fire Guard Stations, as well as some Lookouts, are available to
rent in the Pacific Northwest! Some history is provided about these Guard
Stations and Lookouts at:
Have no fear! Some ARE available in the winter during your well deserved
You can also check out books on the books page about fire lookouts.
Re: FEHBP Employee Premium Payments
Much like the changes in the regulations regarding the 0401 program
standards, it appears that the Forest Service Human resources shop has
overlooked regulations that changed back in 1996/1997 regarding changes to
A law that has been on the books for years requires federal agencies to pay
both the employer and employee costs of the FEHBP benefits when an employee
is in nonpay status. This typically affects apprentices, 13/13's, 18/8's,
and other less than fulltime appointments who qualify for continuation of
coverage during periods of non-pay status or periods when basic pay do not
cover premium costs.
As of September 1996, during periods of non-pay status, the specific
Agency pays the employee cost of the FEHBP and it is considered to be
"an advance in pay". As such, the employee is expected to repay the
amount at the earliest time period as prescribed in 5 U.S.C. § 5524a(c).
Prior to you entering non-pay status, or within 31 days, you should have
been given an agreement letter about how you would either elect to have your
FEHBP canceled or continued. In the case of continuance, you should have
signed an agreement letter with the specific terms of repayment for your
As a GS-5 employee, I would recommend you contact a member of your local
NFFE or AFGE chapter if you are on a Union forest or USDI BLM, Park Service,
or FWS unit. They should be able to help you through the hoops.
In any case, if the amount you are being asked to pay (or being forced to
pay) contributes to an undue financial hardship for your family, there are
provisions for the "advance in pay" to be recovered in other ways such as
tax returns, etc.... and not from your basic paychecks.
Hope that helps some. If not, you can contact Ab for my contact info and I
will try to help you further.
The last time Tioga Pass (9945ft) opened before May 11, was April 29 1988.
Hiya folks.... not whining..... just looking for some info...
I am an R-5 FS employee and my income has recently been whacked by an
additional $150.00 per pay period for back pay on my health benefits. I
contacted NFC in hope of reducing my payments till next open season when I
can change to a cheaper plan and then be able to offset some costs....
cheaper now... pay more later. Anyway, ABCO at NFC said, "no problem, we can
do that, we do it all the time for folks! Just have your local HR person
file it as a hardship."
Well, my HR contact didn't know anything about this and, upon further
investigation, came up with a large list of things needed to justify this as
a hardship. Then it would have to go though regional HR for review and then
up to the Regional Forester for a signature before NFC can help me. Very
time consuming for a problem that I need action on very quickly.
So I'm wondering if anybody out there has experience in this matter. It
seems as though it shouldn't require a small briefcase of materials to
simply adjust my payments. I know that $300.00 a month doesn't sound like
much, but to a GS-5 with children and no overtime yet.... it is.
You're welcome. Ab.
Heard today that Hwy 120 (Tioga Pass) through Yosemite National
Park recently opened, 9600' level. I can't remember when was the last time
it opened this early. Usually opens a day or two before M-Day or shortly
thereafter. Snowpack? What snowpack? Hold on to your horses this summer and
think safety first.....The pending fire occurrence will not be confined to
just the lower elevations this field season, that is for sure!
M-Day is not Mother's Day, I take it, but Memorial Day... Ab.
Dismayed in R-5,
I do not know your total situation, however what I do know at this point in
the game we have crews, engines, helitak, and dozers with folks on detail
that are plain just not ready for their jobs they have now let alone a
detail to higher position. An FEO is not required to be ENGB. So I
think that you can join the rest of the region and watch out for these folks
who have sucked up to someone to get a higher grade. I know I sound like
another disgruntled employee and I probably am, but I have worked for B/C's
that have 9 years of total experience and have completely blown it on fires
and blamed everybody but themselves. So as for your question is it legal
yep, does it suck yep, does the SO, RO, or WO care NOPE. So this sounds like
sh!y but see ya at the accident review......
A catastrophic fire season is in the making and it looks like another 1987
on the way so please everyone out there be safe and watch out for the ones
who really do not know what it means to attend a fallen firefighters
Dismayed in R-5,
I'm not from R-5, but I have made the trip from across
the border in R-6 and worked on many fires in Nor Cal. I'm not really in the
know when it comes to FS standards and requirements for their own people,
but I do know that if a private contractor were to arrive at an incident
without a qualified Engine Boss, they would be sent home immediately without
With all the questions raised recently about possible personal criminal
liability charges, stemming from injuries or deaths on the fire line, at
what level would the liability/blame be placed if god forbid something bad
happened to a crew working on an engine without qualified leadership in
place? Would the unqualified FS FEO/Engine Boss be to blame (for not
refusing to take the assignment without having the proper qualifications),
or would the blame rest on the shoulders of the higher ups that put him in
that position in the first place? To me it seems that if the Engine Boss in
question doesn't meet at least the minimum standards required under 310-1,
there is no "Gray area" at all in this situation, it's just very wrong at
all levels. I would hope that all people on the engines in question would be
informed of the lack of qualifications and experience, and have the
opportunity to refuse the assignment without fear of retribution.
I know in Montana a few years back, if a contractor was short one Engine
Boss the FS would team the engine up with another engine that did have a
qualified Engine Boss and run them together as a 2 engine module. That
situation would still not meet the mandatory requirements under 310-1, but
at least it would put the personnel under direct supervision of somebody
qualified to run an engine. The single Engine Boss might be in trouble if
something went wrong because of stretching his span of control to far with 3
or 4 crew people from his own engine, and an additional 4 or 5 from the
The agencies have all been pushing the private contractors for years to
meet at least the minimum standards before offering an engine for
assignments, and they're fully justified in doing so. It would be a shame to
see those standards thrown to the side or ignored just because the engine is
green. With as difficult and potentially dangerous as this fire season seems
to be shaping up to become shortly, in the name of safety, I would hope
anybody responsible for making the final decisions in this situation would
error on the side of caution and just park the engines until they can be
signed Private from R-6
I am a Cal Fire Employee who left a number of years ago from USFS BDF. I
spent seven years as an employee with USFS. I got tired of the bureaucracy
with the USFS and hiring practices. Not that Cal-Fires hiring practices are
always better, but I saw a future with Cal-Fire. Meaning that I spend more
time with my family, friends and most importantly I love going to work in a
place that I love. I know that there is more to life than work, but I
realized there is more to the job such as running medical aids, traffic
collisions, structure fires and public service. If the federal government
allowed its employees to respond to these emergencies without question then
I think the forest service would be a much more rounded fire suppression all
risk department. Anyway I will get off my soap box and encourage the good
employees of USFS to apply and go through the hiring process to be a Cal-
Fire employee. Trust me we need the experience of you folks.
See attached file:
Fire Program Management and Decision Making Liability
I think this was posted early in the year, but I cannot find it now.
Just wondering what R-5 folks think about a Forest detailing AFEOs who are
not ENGB qualified to GS-7 FEO positions. They cannot make the engine 7 day
effective, it seems like a waste of money to me or am I missing something?
Is it even allowed, its a very GRAY area from what I researched. Your
thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Dismayed in R-5
I am surrounded by guys that are retiring from CAL FIRE and would like to
interview them with a form I used when I was a FED…on what their approach,
thoughts, tools, lessons learned etc… they used in their minds throughout
the years of fighting fire.
I haven’t had any luck searching the Lessons Learned pages.
Is there a copy to help gather some Intel from the experienced prior to them
leaving the Fire Service?
There had been a post awhile ago about DHS taking project Frequencies. This
recent email from the Washington Office explains it a bit. We can still use
them, it had me really worried as we use those freqs so much. (Actually
they are approved for Government wide use)
I heard a WO person mention this spring that the Radio Spectrum the Forest
Service has control of is valued at $13. Billion dollars. Hard to believe,
but there is only so much of the radio spectrum that is useful and those
frequencies have been licensed for a long time. There is no creating new
radio frequencies. (Money from sales of frequencies goes to Congress and
is not committed to a specific project and is free to spend). Narrowbanding
only uses a smaller part of the spectrum, by transmitting half the audio
volume of Wideband, resulting in 1/4 to 1/3 reduced coverage area.
The use of crew and home frequencies on incidents have resulted in near
misses. Resources missed out on critical info or were passing info that
others should have heard to alert them of the situation. Only frequencies
in the IAP or assigned by Dispatch are to be used.
There was also some Crew freqs being used that are not approved for use by
the Government and the type of radio used is restricted by power levels and
antenna type. (Approved radios are very low power 1/4 or 1/8W and
I applaud the person who went off on the Digital radios. If we bought
analog radios we would be able to buy 2 to 3 times as many radios and use
proven technology. By the time we go Digital, there will be the next step
coming that can transmit more bits of data, the bad thing is all the radios
we have bought cannot be used and the radio signal is even more sensitive
Thanks to Tom Thomisons support here, he has been in contact with NTIA to
verify the use of 163.1000 for travel.
The Forest Service does not support the use of (dedicated spectrum) for
called Travel Nets per recent letter distributed -- but there seems to be a
requirement for personnel to be able to communicate (between vehicles) with
each other while traveling from one incident to another. 163.1000 is
identified as a simplex channel controlled by NTIA that is used as common
use for wide area operation (NB-Mode). Tom Thomison has identified this
freq (and this freq only) to be used for travel purposes.
Special note: please recognize that the frequencies 163.1000 P/W 168.3500
are now being used for FS Job Corp applications nationwide. These wide
area channels are subject to interference issues and are not protected.
Barry L. Mayo
United States Department of Agriculture FS-OCIO
Forest Service - Office of the Chief Information Office
Dear Lobotomy & others:
If there is truly commentary coming from leadership sources about "watching
what you say" in any form that can be validated, PLEASE contact the
FWFSA immediately with such information.
Despite our repeated efforts to reach out to the RO's, & WO, it is not
surprising that such comments might be out there...especially coming from
line officers with little to no expertise or interest in fire or leadership
folks in denial.
There are a number of folks on Capitol Hill who are more than willing to
investigate and address such "tactics" but we have to work with facts.
You can either call 208-775-4577 or contact us through our contact form on
our web site at www.fwfsa.org.
Thanks in advance,
Allstate Insurance Company just announced that it will not be writing any
structure insurance policies in California after July 1, 2007. Issues are a
of fire and earthquake.
I talked to Nora Chamber's mom earlier this week regarding the
quilt that she is doing for her Senior Project. Nora will be making her
presentation before the panel on the 22nd of May, so best of luck to her on
her endeavor! Marian informed me that they received well over 300 patches
for this project and that they have gone through 2 sewing machines so far.
Apparently nomex is pretty rough on them....
It looks like there will be more than one quilt that will be going up for
auction - great news for the WFF! They will be working on the other(s) this
summer due to the overwhelming response from all you wonderful folk who sent
in all those patches and old nomex.
Nora has also made quilts for Eva Schieke's mom and for myself to honor
our fallen loved ones. I will be receiving John's next week and I plan on
bringing it up to the Family Weekend so that it can be shared with everyone.
I want all the families to know what everyone out there is doing for the
Foundation to keep it going and how much the fire community cares for the
families left behind.
I will keep you updated on when the other quilts will be going up for
auction. A huge THANK YOU to Nora for this inspiring project that she chose.
Good to hear. Ab.
FF-EMT, send me an e-mail here and I will try to set you up with a
hotlist account. The email address you provided is not recognized by your
server, perhaps you have a typo? Ab.
Just wanted to let folks know that another two T1 IMTs have been committed
to the Southern Area.
Stanich's Northern Rockies T1 team is heading to take charge of the Big
Cypress Complex in Florida
Oltrogge's South Western T1 team is headed to Staging in Lake City, Florida.
I've heard some talk of the Florida Green Team being activated.
Rounsaville's Area Command team is going down to manage federal fires in FL.
On another note, the Sweat Farm Road fire is having a hard time filling
orders for Safety Officers Type 2. If you are qualified and can come
out to sunny GA please show available in ROSS or contact us via Ab.
Good place to ask for resources. Ab.
Miami Lookout (Sierra NF) 24 and 72 hour reports, 2006 fatality of Josiah
Nickerson Knowles, Jr. on 10/26/06
This was just sent to me by my
superiors with BLM Fire. I had not heard of this before and thought I
should send it out to others. We all, as lookouts, think we'll get it by
lighting, or some other dramatic ending; reality is, it may come some other
less glorious way. Be aware of the easy to over look hazards that surround
us as we dispatch our duties. As far as dying goes, I can think of no
better place to go then on a mountain top, under all of Gods heaven with a
commanding view of his Creation. Keep us all safe, weather volunteer or
paid, on the line or at our desk, Amen.
Thanks for the reminder, WJ. Michelle Reugebrink was Chief
Investigator and Fred Buhr was Team Leader on that investigation. We posted
Aren't you worried about the facts you presented? "Rumor" has it that some
folks in high positions that are on the "war path" and looking to kick ash
and take names. Are you not able to staff five engines without key positions
on your half of the district? What about the rest of the district?.... the
Forest?.. the Region?... the Agency?????... the Profession???
Today, I heard about some folks in the WO and Region 5 RO (and even some
lowly Forest Supervisor types without spines) who were "not very happy" with
the facts coming out of the Western U.S. regarding recruitment, retention,
and the overall state of the Forest Service fire program and mission
delivery and wanting their field troops to remain silent (politically
The warning was, 'be careful who you talk to and watch your back'. Instead
of concentrating on the issues and correcting them, the folks who are our
supposed "leaders" want to shoot the messengers without fixing the
underlying latent factors and problems.
Now, looking back at it at home and in my personal time, is that the way to
form a new Foundational Doctrine that the field troops can support? If so,
it is dead on arrival (DOA) with a backward style of thinking that causes
failure. That is the kind of thinking that gets folks killed on the
WO and RO folks.... If you want a target.... come and get us all who are
speaking facts and from the heart!!! Otherwise, the troops below you will be
leading you up to the 21st Century Wildland Fire Program and where it should
be.... You can either lead, follow, or get out of the way...... All are
valid choices for your continued career.
But if you chose to battle your own troops, remember and learn from Sun
The Art of War. If your troops don't support you as a leader, your
battle is lost before it ever began... and most often... you must fall upon
your sword and the leaders below you step up and battle on.... and you are
forgotten as a battle casualty for the greater good of the mission and the
All of the current production "king" radios are made by Relm. "BK Radio" by
Relm Wireless Corporation has models GPH, GMH, DPH, DMH, and for
our California friends, the GPH-CMD and DPH-CMD.
All kinds of fire on the hotlist. Ab.
June 17, 2002
Blue Cut fire in the Cajon Pass near San Bernardino on Father's Day
Some on the wlf photos page:
description of the burnover in the archived
June 2002 theysaid
OLD POSTS ON THE INCIDENT
from irishfiregirl then:
Blue Cut/Injured Firefighters
About 3:30 p.m., the flames caught fire crews while they were positioned
to protect a house east of I-15 near Summit Valley Truck Trail. The
trucks were overrun, and at least one firefighter deployed an emergency
shelter for protection from the flames, Gibson said.
Three firefighters suffered first- and second-degree burns and were
flown to a hospital, said Ron Hunt of the U.S. Forest Service.
CDF Firefighters overrun: Three CDF firefighters suffered first-
and second-degree burns and were airlifted to burn hospitals.
Wow! The images and sound from You Tube bring it home.
Death penalty being sought for Oyler
The San Bernardino just lost another 2 to CALFIRE yesterday. Both were good
I wish the two of you the best of luck. It was a pleasure working with you
guys. That leaves
3 Captains and 2 Engineers to try and cover 5 stations on one side of the
I am currently working out of the Sweat Farm ICP in Waycross GA.
I printed out the message from a local resident that was posted on They Said
and posted it on the information board for the Fire Fighters to see.
On behalf of all of us from both in and out of state that are working here
the fires, I want to extend our thanks to the communities here in Georgia
are supporting us with thanks, cards, donations and prayers.
They are just
as integral a part of this mammoth effort as the redcarded folks
and their support is making our jobs a little easier.
Good on you. Thanks. Be Safe. Ab.
So I was prowling around YouTube for a little while, and came upon this
for a documentary about Ken's 104 mile run.
Check it out...
Nice. Some of the characters there, too. Ab.
Re: The number one cause of firefighter fatalities each year
I scored better than the national average. How do you score as a
firefighter? Brought to you by the NVFC and firefighterclosecalls.com.
Take the Heart Healthy Challenge ....
Share with your family, friends, and co-workers. Are you up to a friendly
challenge by your wildland firefighter friends and family?
The NVFC has been fortunate to partner with Merck/Schering-Plough
Pharmaceuticals (MSP). The Sounding the Alarm For High Cholesterol
Program has arrived!
The purpose of this Program is to educate all firefighters on high
cholesterol and that it comes from two sources, food and family. To help
with this, the NVFC Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program has created a
national mailing with MSP that will help firefighters on the road to
heart-health. The mailing includes posters, decals, magnets, and the
NVFC Heart-Healthy Firefighter Resource Guide on CD-ROM. All
firefighters are encouraged to go to
www.cholesterolalarm.com to take the Heart-Healthy Challenge. The
Challenge is an online quiz that tests firefighters knowledge of
cholesterol, heart health, and firefighter fatalities.
Next quiz.... The WCT program and how it contributes to wildland
firefighter deaths each year due to existing and known failures that haven't
been properly mitigated or addressed.
One death is too many and not acceptable....... Get educated on the risks
and work towards a positive goal of reducing or eliminating LODDs.
Hello, I was looking for information on Relm hand held radios.
Has anyone used them on fires? How'd they work compared
to the Kings?
50 1 50,
Right on, true to the truth!
Hi all! Just thought I'd let you know if you can catch it (if Ab is
online!)... Craig Ferguson did his entire monologue on the LA fire... on CBS
on the Late Late Show. Was pretty funny, especially if you've worked/lived
in the LA basin. Y'all may be able to catch it on the west coast (it was on
at 1230 am eastern)
Maybe a rerun? Ab.
I saw many of your members today in a small town in Georgia. I asked one of
them where they were from (Tennessee) and where they were going (The
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.) The town I live in is about 2 hours
north of the fires, and I have visited this wildlife park often growing up.
I thanked this man and others for helping save one of this areas wondrous
animal habitats. I just wanted to ensure that everyone involved with this
organization knows how thankful their neighbors are for the help they are
May God bless you all and I wish everyone a safe return,
Thanks Janet. You be safe too. Ab.
Reducing the risk from PT - - - Selecting the Right Shoes
Shasta-Trinity and Mendocino National Forests
Professional Liability Insurance Reimbursement:
An applicant for
reimbursement should prepare the documents, then send
them to the regional benefit specialist:
Regional Forester - Region 5
1323 Club Drive
Vallejo, CA 94592
When Yvette receives the forms, she will do some administrative processing,
and then make an appointment to take the documents upstairs to Associate
Regional Forester Vicki Jackson, and it is actually Vicki who will sign (or
not sign) the approval for reimbursement.
Yvette has processed several such actions, and is very knowledgeable about
this stuff. <snipped phone number>
- Copy of the Professional Liability Policy issued in the employee's
- Proof of payment of the annual premium (or partial year's premium if
coverage started mid-year)
- The completed, signed and dated reimbursement worksheet
Yvette will verify:
- You meet the definition of Supervisor/Manager or an eligible Law
- You claim no more than one-half the total cost of the insurance
- You were or are still employed for the time covered on the policy
- You submit the claim timely - no later than the end of the CY which
cost was incurred.
Questions - contact Yvette.
A little ppt, that you may be able to use for discussion with your ff's.
(small, 35 K)
Nice simple summary points for discussion. I'd add seatbelts as the
last one, after driving. Ab.
Re: WCT and Hometown Heroes Act
There are numerous families still waiting to receive the PSOB whose loved
ones died of a heart attack while on the job and others that will never
receive it because of the technicalities involved in this act. If you had
any pre-existing health condition - such as diabetes - they can claim that
your family won't qualify for the PSOB as this was a contributing factor
towards your death. If your death comes about because of a heart attack,
whether it be while doing a pack test or fighting a fire, your family may be
in for a long, long wait to receive these benefits. I read an article
stating that there were families from 2003 still waiting to hear from the
I know that the standard for the amount of time that a person has to
complete a task book is 3 years from the date of the first recorded
experience. I was wondering if there is anyway to extend that due to
I have an ENGB taskbook that expires in July of this year. It was opened in
June of 04 with my first recorded experience being in July 04 while on a
detail to R5. On December 30, 2004, my National Guard unit went on Active
Duty (referred to as Title 10). I was on Active Duty until mid-March 2006.
With another deployment on the horizon next spring, I don't see the
opportunity to start a new taskbook and completing it any time soon, which
is why I want to finish the one I have. I currently have 13 tasks remaining
of the total 57 tasks required. I could most likely complete these tasks in
one assignment. Unfortunately, with my National Guard training schedule, the
ability to complete these tasks prior to July is looking pretty slim. If I
could somehow get an extension, I could more easily complete the remaining
tasks prior to my next deployment.
Any help would be appreciated.
I'm needing some help from our community. I am currently employed as a
Primary FF as a WG-8 Equipment Operator. My position is severly being
abused with over half of my time being devoted to the classic "Other Duties
as Assigned." If any of you have a PD for Fire Operators, please send them
Abs, if its possible, feel free to distribute my contact information to
those who are interested.
Re: Recent Work Capacity Test (Pack Test) related deaths
Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act of 2003
Pub. L. No. 108-182
One Hundred Eighth Congress
of the United States of America
To ensure that a public safety officer who suffers a fatal heart attack
or stroke while on duty shall be presumed to have died in the line of duty
for purposes of public safety officer survivor benefits.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the 'Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act of
SEC. 2. FATAL HEART ATTACK OR STROKE ON DUTY PRESUMED TO BE DEATH IN
LINE OF DUTY FOR PURPOSES OF PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER SURVIVOR BENEFITS.
Section 1201 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968
(42 U.S.C. 3796) is amended by adding at the end the following:
'(k) For purposes of this section, if a public safety officer dies
as the direct and proximate result of a heart attack or stroke, that officer
shall be presumed to have died as the direct and proximate result of a
personal injury sustained in the line of duty, if--
'(1) that officer, while on duty--
'(A) engaged in a situation, and such engagement involved nonroutine
stressful or strenuous physical law enforcement, fire suppression,
rescue, hazardous material response, emergency medical services, prison
security, disaster relief, or other emergency response activity; or
'(B) participated in a training exercise, and such
participation involved nonroutine stressful or strenuous physical
activity; (ie. - Work Capacity Testing)
'(2) that officer died as a result of a heart attack or stroke suffered--
'(A) while engaging or participating as described under paragraph
'(B) while still on that duty after so engaging or participating; or
'(C) not later than 24 hours after so engaging or participating;
'(3) such presumption is not overcome by competent medical evidence to
'(l) For purposes of subsection (k), 'nonroutine stressful or strenuous
physical' excludes actions of a clerical, administrative, or nonmanual
. Enrolled as Agreed to and Passed by Both House and Senate
. Signed by President George W. Bush Dec. 15, 2003
Please excuse the pun, but I had to do it. ;o)
Would you please post this ASAP for our R-5 and fellow CDF folks.
Golden State of Emergency
I'm enjoying my MOU vacation, but not sure how long it will last with the
deteriorating conditions in California
I implore everyone to "lead up" in whatever way you must:
positive... or negative, when called for.
As always, I am full of hope.
Thanks for your comments No answers yet, just hope. We all
would like to be hopeful. Hope is a great motivator.
I have been reading, and digesting, a ton of posts here concerning
retention, leadership (or lack thereof) and the general state of the Forest
Indulge me, please, and allow me to quote (or paraphrase) Thomas L. Friedman
from The World Is Flat:
"In [organizations] that have more memories than dreams, too many
people are spending too many days looking backward. They see dignity,
affirmation, and self-worth not by mining the present but by chewing on
the past. And even that is usually not a real past but an imagining and
adorned past. They cling to it rather than imagining a better future and
acting on that."
I fear that I may be misinterpreted to be sending a "feel good" message
of "meet the challenge, be flexible" that a certain former R-5er that is now
a WO lackey, um, I mean, important staffer, might foist on us. But I do want
to say that those of us that are staying with the organization do need to
play to our strengths and weather this storm if we are to come out in the
Certainly I do not minimize the "challenges" that we face because our
leadership is asleep at the wheel, or worse, part of the mechanism that is
bringing us down. It is incumbent on us to "lead up", to effect change by
whatever means we have!
I just implore everyone to endeavor to do this in a positive way, not by
No answers yet, just hope
Disgruntled in MR,
Come on Man! You start out by saying you don't want to
hear any more about retention, and then go on a rant
about YOUR DISTRICTS RETENTION PROBLEMS.
I'm sure it is very frustrating to lose the people that you
have, but it is ill-advisable to start out by blasting the
people who are voicing the very same concerns that YOU
have. This is a great site, and as Ab advised can be
a very valuable tool if need be, please remember that
as ground-pounders we are all on the same side and
need to stick together to accomplish all tasks, small
or large. I hope things work out for you and your
district, keep an extra eye open for the red flags as
they arise (which they will). It is up to each one of
us, as individuals to keep ourselves safe, especially
in your kind of situation!
R1 for a good reason
To Disgruntled in MR
Here is a clip from the 2005 R-5 Captains report,
Our agency is loosing its ability to retain these high quality employees.
Even those who are tried and true Forest Service employees that do
not wish to leave are finding very few other options. The prestige of
the job no longer out-weighs the deficiency of compensation and the
inability to adequately provide for their families.
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably
the same object evinces a design to resolve them under absolute
despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such
and to provide new guards for their future security.” (Declaration of
This quote from the Declaration of Independence may be a bit on the
extreme side and tends to dramatize the issue, but I feel it adequately
reflects the current state of our workforce.
And another clip from 2006,
In 2004 and in 2005 we sounded the alarm of a
mass exodus of quality employees leaving the USFS to accept better paying
with City, County and State Departments to better provide for their families
all together. We have continuously collected and
provided adequate data to support the claims of mass attrition and vacancy
amongst our organization and are still awaiting some
type of resolve that will assist us in retaining a highly effective
workforce as was intended when we implemented the (MEL) “Most
Efficient Level” buildup in 2001 till present.
Our collective group still provides our Regional Leaders with a “Can Do!”
oriented group but I must admit, it is getting much harder
to provide the level of service required with the current and un imaginable
vacancy rate here in Region-5.
Our request continues to be our unanswered plea for equal pay incentives
commensurate to our cooperative agencies as well as a
new request that a more thorough review of our State of California situation
affecting USFS Federal Employees be reviewed by
the Washington Office and congressional administrators~
Our Regional Workforce has provided excellent and dynamic leadership in what
was possibly one of the most difficult fire seasons
to date. In a few short months this meeting will be far away from the tasks
that we will be asked to perform in what is sure to be
another busy 2007 California Fire Season. We will perform, we will respond
and we will make calculated and educated decisions
in regards to risk versus gain management. We will be held accountable at
the highest level for the young men and women we
lead into these dangerous assignments as firefighters…. It is during these
times that we as the voice of the Fire Engine Workforce
ask that something be done to relieve the on going strain and burden of a
We thank our Regional Leadership for these opportunities to assist in the
detection and elimination of these catastrophic workforce
issues and we pledge our continued commitment to improving our
organizational efforts to reflect a professional, dynamic and goal
oriented group serving the best interests of both our employees and the
public we serve~
So, it was told to our Regional leaders that things are BAD and getting
Did you think that the folks you had on your forest would stay forever?
And you do need to voice your concerns of your forest that is falling apart.
And yes, be concerned for the Safety of the folks you still have, and keep
Sign me 50 1 50.
The Lessons Learned Center recently interviewed thirteen experienced WUI
specialists from federal and state fire agencies and Firewise programs
regarding their notable successes and effective practices in wildland urban
interface operations and practices, for a two part edition of Scratchline.
You will find links to both part 1 and part 2 below.
Thank-You and Take Care,
Brenna (For Paula Nasiatka, Center Manager)
www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Scratchline_Issue19.pdf (large 1532
K pdf file)
www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Scratchline_Issue20.pdf (large 1653
K pdf file)
Relocated but still concerned
Yes we were all warned but it's hard to leave a place you've been at for
awhile, especially when you have ties to the area. The bad thing is is that
the S.O. is still listening to some of the people that created this mess and
they are still destroying the shop. Well, what's left of it. You said
nothing worse than a fox in the hen house, well, here we have two foxes in
the house and tomorrow there will be hel* to pay when they read what's on
this site. But the people left here don't really care anymore, bad attitude
to have, but this was created because of people not caring and the S.O.
higher ups playing favorites with their crews/people. But what really bites,
this week sometime we have to say so long to our last captain and his
departure really isn't right. Even after being a target of some of the
people in our shop he was willing to stay and try and help fix the shop,
again our special S.O. leaders said no thanks and sent him on his way. So
much for loyalty.
Disgruntled in MR
Dear Wildland Fire Community,
I felt compelled to
write this amongst all of the "negative," feelings. I
have recently taken a new position as a Helitack
Captain on the ENF. Through our critical training we
have talked a lot about fatality fires, lessons
learned, liability, etc., etc., etc., to paraphrase
the not so "fun," parts of the job... but ya know
what? I guess I'm one of the fortunate ones. I'm
fortunate to have a job where I can make an impact,
and a positive one at that. I'm fortunate enough to
have peers that I consider friends... I'm fortunate
enough to have a B.C. and a DIV whom I can and do talk
to on a personal / professional, friendship base.
I understand all of the heartache, anger, frustration
etc. that we are all dealing with lately... but ya
know what? Its worth it. Its worth having my Supt, and
Capt's and Squadies, and FF's as my friends, and
co-workers. To conquer all of these trials I believe
we need to come together as a collective, and cohesive
unit, and ya know what? I'm fortunate enough to have
that. That's my take on it... through all of this
mindless B.S. I have my fire family, and the integrity
of everyone's decisions to tread on through. Thanks for
the forum, and the ability to write about the positives...
Disgruntled in MR
Being one of those that was drove out, all I can say is,
"We warned you." The problem was obvious from the start and some us were
forced to take sides. Never having protection from the union or management,
we opted to leave. There is nothing worse than a fox in the chicken coop.
Having said that, it was nice working there for a short time. Please stay
safe and keep one foot in the black.
Relocated, but still concerned
I don't want to hear another complaint about retention
until someone beats out our situation here on our
district in NW California. I am currently on a
district that is in a complete meltdown and alls we
keep getting is lip service from the S.O. on how they
are going to fix it. We currently have lost our
District Ranger, Division Chief, Battalion chief,
three of four patrols, over half the hand crew, and our
last engine captain has taken a job leaving us with
two FEOs to run three engines. Now some might say
this is a safety concern, but our forest keeps telling
us it's a challenge and we will work through it.
Now apparently our forest has put in the paperwork for the
BC position, but who know how long that will be tied up
with our great hiring system here in R5. The Captain
cert has been pulled but there were only three
applicants so who knows how many we will get, thats
after they actually work the cert, which hasn't
But what really interests me is how much
blame will be put on an individual here at the
district if someone gets hurt. Because I know our
S.O. staff will pass this buck as far down the food
chain as possible. So everybody who thinks they have
it bad come and work at my district and everything
else will be heaven compared to here.
So please nomore complaining about retention.
Signed disgruntled in MR
Your district is not the only one out there loosing firefighters. Your
comment here can be submitted as a pre-existing concern in a court of law
if, heaven forbid, something bad happens and you get blamed. As any
professional would, make sure you have written documentation expressing your
concerns via regular forest channels as well. Ab.
I just received a message from Jim Felix at The Supply Cache. Jim used his
business to print and sell wildland fire oriented calendars this year
featuring photos from firefighters. All proceeds from the sale of them is
being donated to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Jim says there are
quite a few calendars left (a quick check at 1300 today shows 1,220
available) and he'll plan on pulling any leftovers and recycling them at the
end of June.
I'll bet it wouldn't take long to wipe out the inventory and get the rest of
the money to the WFF if we all bought just one more for our workplace, give
to mom, the kids, your boss, etc. The cost is just $5 each and still a good
deal with 8 months left to go. The direct link to buy one is just below.
Thanks for your time. OA
Buy a 2007 Wildland Fire Calendar for the WFF!
They're really nice calendars. I get lots of comments on my two
calendars - home and office. There are also coupons for fire products, this
month 15% off on chainsaw flight bags & saw bar covers, next month 15% off
on hydration packs, and so on... Ab.
I got some photos of the Horse fire...
You're welcome. Ab.
Anyone know how long inciweb has been down?
I want to let you know that your leadership was held up as a model
in the Followership to Leadership class I took last year. I've never
met you, but I was hoping to run into you and your crew on the
fireline. From what was said, you've helped get a lot of young
firefighters on the right leadership path.
I'd "Google" to see how much the state of Georgia, or any other state has
been "reimbursed" by
the federal Government for their fire costs through FMAGs...Fire Management
After such research, it might not quite appear that the states are footing
much of a fire bill on their
own, regardless of whether federal assets are involved or not.
Dan Fiorito hit the nail on the head regarding the relativity of the 'good
old days'. I also started in R-5 in '75, and things were pretty much as he
described them. The history lesson is great for the younger folks, as well
as us old timers. Things change, and when we become too old/inflexible to
change with them, we need to hit the silk and let the young bucks do the
flexing. But how we got here has much to do with who and what we are today -
it's worth celebrating. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Dan, and all
the quality work you've done for the outfit.
Re who pays for fires:
Georgia Forestry Commission has fire protection responsibility for 24
acres of state and private forests.
They can take action independently or in cooperation with USFS. USDA
Forest Service owns around 865,000 acres in Georgia.
If Georgia is like other states, and use USFS resources outside of
agreements, I assume they will pay for those additional resources. If the
IMTs in Georgia are anything like IMTs in Oregon the cost of the teams are
the responsibility of the State unless the IMT is assigned to manage a USFS
To answer your question about where the term "Guard
Station" comes from:
In the early days of the Forest Service, the Fire Folks
-what few of them there were- were called Fire
Guards and they were scattered at remote stations
around the districts. Usually a guard and their family,
if they had one, lived in the "Guard Station". These
guys were tough, as they went to fires alone, and
went for it. If the fire was growing other guards were
sent to help them out. Travel was frequently by foot
or horse. Later the fortunate ones had model A or T
vehicles to get around with on the limited road systems.
Thus, the term "Guard Station" which hangs on today
as a tie to the Real Forest Service history.
I completely agree with you, I already have 2 degrees
and a masters and I value education. I wish the 401
standard made more sense. I see how it might help
Fire Managers relate better to resource folks, but
that really shouldn't be our primary focus.
I wouldn't assume anything about SRA........ It can change drastically from
state to state. Also who pays, would be determined by whatever agreements
are in place, in that particular state.
I've heard that the deadline for meeting 401 requirements has already been
extended to 2010. Haven't seen it in writing, but have heard it from
several sources. And, no learning about bugs and stream flows will
probably not make you a safer or better fire supervisor. However any
training/education you can get to better yourself, should make you a better
employee (regardless of the field of study).
What is the origin of the term "Guard Station" for a USFS Fire Station.
Oh excuse me the USFS Firefighters are not Primary Firefighters. They are
biology techs who happen to be tasked to fight fire. Could the term be left
over from the days when Rangers fought fire? (Like in the NPS.) I guess the
public would not understand those Big Green Model 62's rolling out of a
"Biology Station" lights and siren.
This whole thing about USFS FF's not being called what they are and paid
what they are worth, depresses me, and I am just a civilian, who once fought
fires (CWN) for a state. Even in the early 60's I got paid more per hour, on
the line, than I did at my "real" job. However I had to keep my real job
because fire was only in the spring.
Pardon the sarcasm, but I have written to the appropriate politicians in
Foggy Bottom and have never had a response.
I was just looking through some of the southern fires on the hotlist
forum. If the fires like, say, one of the ones in GA are managed by
a state IMT, does the state pay for it?
Do we assume state management means
it's a SRA? Does the state
pay the feds to come fight fire?
Do you think this new 401 OPM stuff will extend
the 2009 deadline for education compliance???? I
still don't understand how learning about bugs and
stream flows is going to make me a better and safer
Ab, Less than a month till June 1st...
Well, it’s time to move on to
another chapter in life and say goodbye to the Forest Service.
My career with the FS spanned close to 1/3 of its history. 99% of the people
I have worked with, supervised or worked for have been outstanding
individuals and genuine Public Servants.
When I started on the San Bernardino National Forest in 1975 I was placed on
the Del Rosa Inter-Regional Hotshot Crew. I started on July 6th and went on
an off forest dispatch to the Shasta-Trinity NF in the Trinity Alps
wilderness my first day. I was fortunate to get to work with some of the
last old school firefighters in the Forest Service on 43 fires that season.
I never attended guard school or had any training before my first fire, so,
needless to say I had a lot to learn that first season. We worked hard,
played hard and watched out for each other.
There were still some of the old Civilian Conservation Corps guys around
then, and a few, were fairly disgruntled employees by that time. They
complained that the Forest Service was changing and it was not as fun to
work for the FS as when they were younger. I thought, how could they say
that? I figured this was the best job in the world.
Of course, their GOOD OLD DAYS were past and they had seen many changes in
the way the FS operated during their 30 or 40 years. Now I look at the way
the FS has changed for better or worse and I think I understand now what
kind of things were going through their minds as they got ready to retire.
One of the great strengths of the old FS was that the organization was
de-centralized, hiring was done at the District level as was most of the
planning for the many resource management projects. The FS was one of the
only federal agencies that returned more money to the treasury than it cost
to run, maybe the only one.
Timber was King and Recreation had lots of money to operate through the KV
dollars generated through the sale of that renewable resource. Our forest
roads were open and brushed out regularly. We had good access for the public
and our Initial Attack resources.
The Fire Suppression organization on most forests was basically a labor pool
of forestry aids and technicians for recreation and other departments like
reforestation, timber stand improvement brush disposal (BD) and engineering.
We were told that we had strong backs and weak minds, sometimes we actually
believed it. When the fire call came in every employee was expected to help
in whatever way they could. Most forests could field at least two 20 person
regular crews made up of the militia (non-fire employees) as well as a
couple of good BD crews and an IR Crew if they hosted one. 20 person
district BD Crews worked toe to toe and hoe to hoe with the IR Crews on the
line and most BD Crews saw a lot more fire during the summer and fall and
worked more overtime.
Engine (tanker), crew and heli-tack supervisors were temporary employees,
students or more rarely, part-time permanent employees. Even into the late
80’s many of the 30 or so Hotshot Crews had temporary Foremen and Squad
leaders, the Superintendents were 18-8 WAE GS-6’s and 7’s. It was common for
a Wildland Firefighter to spend half of their career and some longer as a
temporary employee. When we left home at the beginning of fire season, we
told our girlfriends and families; “See you in the fall if I see you at
all”. There was no limit to the number days or hours you could spend on the
fire line. You worked till you dropped, went down for a few hours, got back
up and did it again.
And yet, the FS had no recruitment or retention problems. A lot of CDF
firefighters got trained up and quit to get a job with the FS.
Now, we get to deal with EU-SUCK, the Albuquerque Service Center, AVUE, AG
Learn, GS-401 qualifications and LIABILITY INSURANCE.
The U.S. Attorney’s office sends lawyers to Fire Management workshops and
FMO meetings to explain why we are at risk of being criminally charged if a
fatality or serious injury occurs on our watch.
Many Rangers and Forest Supervisors have little or no recent firefighting
experience. The militia is more often than not unavailable to help with
fires for all kinds of reasons and excuses.
We fight fire by the clock and get pulled off the line if it is secure or
A lot of positive changes have come to pass as well, often with much
resistance from the Forest Service leadership, or at least in spite of it.
Most of our “professional” fire leadership positions Engine Captains,
Hotshot Supervisors, Smoke Jumpers, Helitack, ADFMOs and down to our senior
firefighters are at least PSEs and have increased in their GS levels by 2 or
3 levels. Training has gotten quite a bit better.
We treat our employees quite a bit differently. Being an “FNG” just does not
have the same meaning as it used to.
We have non-governmental organizations that have helped to increase the
morale of the Federal Wildland Firefighters. The Wildland Firefighter
Foundation and the Federal Wildland Firefighters Association are two such
organizations. Thanks to them for the work they do for all of us.
The FWSA was instrumental in getting full overtime pay for Federal Wildland
Firefighters. It would be good to see the FS leadership get on board with
Portal to Portal pay, Hazard Pay for Rx fire operations, Hazard Pay as a
factor in retirement annuity calculations and benefits for TEMP’s
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation does more than any other organization to
support the families of our brothers and sisters who have been injured or
killed fighting wildfires.
Fire is King now! We have many more Permanent and PSE employees in fire than
ever before. You can make a difference if not for yourselves then for the
ones who come after you. MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD!
All you “new” folks remember, these are your GOOD OLD DAYS, make the best of
them. Work Hard, Play Hard, and most of all BE SAFE and look out for each
I have enjoyed a lot of good times and endured some not so good times in my
time with the Forest Service. Mostly, I try to remember the good ones and to
learn from the bad ones. The best part of the job, other than watching 200
foot flames perform their natural function, has been the people I have
worked with and am able to count as friends. Thanks for helping me have a
Dan Fiorito, UNION IHC
Dan, we're gonna miss you. Ab.
Even though the USFS letter tells folks enrolled in the "Boot Camp" to
stay in, it doesn't say what will happen after the camp. According to the
Eureka Times Standard newspaper, HSU will be cutting many courses due to
budget cuts from the State. Will This program be cut? And, If TFM no longer
will meet the requirement, why are we spending $35, 000 per student to send
folks to that program? -Just Wondering about the future,
This program won't be cut. Beyond that, we're still up in the air
until things get worked out. Ab.
I think alot of Y'all are missing some points on the retention issue. A
GS-8 step 5 grosses 50k in R-5 south zone. Sounds like good pay. It is and
those of us who choose to wear green pants to fires proudly perform 3 times
the work for a third of the pay, but what about all the Bravo Sierra and
Hostility an SFEO has to deal with. It's not worth it. Sure alot of BCs and
Div Cs are performing nearly heroic levels of BS filtering. But they can
only do so much.
I'm giving the ole tree farm a second chance in another region. Yah I'm
trading area pay and even 8 pay periods of work for more snow and sage. I
think its quite obvious R-5 can't compete with other agencies for pay, time
off, or other factors helpful to keeping ones' marriage or health reasonably
I think we should approach the problem like a boat. Some sailboat racers
are known for making the mistake of just throwing money at the problem,
thinking that the boat will sail faster. Others have a reputation of keeping
what works despite its appearance or the way others perceive it. Our example
would be the fallout after the 30 mile tragedy. There were no R-5 south zone
SFEOs, FEOs, AFEOs, model 62s or type 3 engines there, but we in this group
were told to change what we do. Some region folks said we were OK and we
were following the mitigations before that event. We also have legal
settlements and indictments to match someone's perception of what is right.
As the demolition of the Santa Barbara tanker base proceeds, does anyone know
what's happening with the monuments to the crews of Tankers 88 and 24? Will
they be moved to the new site?
The fire behavior report for Canyon Inn is in the Lessons Learned database
The downhill checklist was proposed by the Loop Fire Analysis Group,
rejected by the 1967 Task Force, and accepted by the Washington Office even
though "a physical checklist to be carried by firefighters is not needed."
The Tuolumne Fire fatality investigation noted the differences between the
USFS and CDF versions of the downhill checklist in 2004. At the time, CDF
had it listed as "Downhill and Indirect Firefighting Guidelines, 7070.2."
Not sure if anything has been done to put the agencies on the same page.
single page .pdf from the Tuolumne report with the comparison of
the CDF/USFS downhill checklists. It would be interesting to know if
CAL-FIRE has retained this sentence: "Full compliance with "THE STANDARD
FIRE ORDERS" is assured."
History questions (copied from the hotlist "Discussion" subforum)
Why did the Downhill/Indirect checklist change to Downhill only?
I am also having a hard time getting details about the Canyon Inn
Fire fatalities in LA, 1968.
IFPM and 401 SERIES STANDARD
To: Region 5 Fire Community, Forest Supervisors and District Rangers
From: Rusty Witwer, R5 Fire Training and Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, R5 IFPM
Given the stir created by the email posted above
(posted 5/3 on theysaid ***URGENT***), Rusty Witwer contacted Washington Office Fire Training to discover what has
happened and what our agency is doing to move forward.
Per Jim Barnett, WO- Fire Training Officer, here’s where we are today
with OPM and implementing the 401 standard:
- A recent OPM ruling, in effect since February 15th 2005, conflicts
with previous OPM direction to the Department of Interior and USFS
regarding the education component of the GS-401 fire specialist
qualification standard. That prior direction allowed that certain NWCG
courses (primarily 400 level fuels and ecosystem courses; and 500 level
courses) and the completion of Technical Fire Management were viable
educational credits that satisfied criteria for qualification into the
professional GS-0401 series.
This change in OPM regulation was not known until about two weeks ago.
Conversations between the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior, OPM,
and involved IFPM agencies have occurred to deal with the new
- The Federal Board of Education, the University of Idaho, and IFPM
involved agencies are working with OPM to resolve the conflicts created
by the 02/15/2005 ruling. A meeting is scheduled for May 16th toward
- For Region 5 Fire folks currently in the Humboldt State University
program (also known as “Boot Camp”): remain in the program, complete
your course work and forge onward. This program was developed in
conjunction with and is conducted by an accredited Forestry school;
accredited with the Federal Board of Education prior to 2005. Pursuant
to the negotiations to interpret the 2005 OPM regulation, this program
should remain viable. Completion of this program will provide incumbents
with 16 units of the upper level educational requirement and 3 lower
Those in this program, and other university programs (UNLV etc.) will
need to provide transcripts in order to be credited.
- Region 5 Fire Training and IFPM Working Group will pursue adding to
our educational credits capacity, and is investigating how to capitalize
on NWCG courses currently affiliated with junior college programs (ADA).
Rusty Witwer forwarded this idea to WO-Fire Training for incorporation
into the IFPM agencies’ educational credit proposal to OPM for the
scheduled May 16th meeting.
Three cheers for you on the sick leave thoughts. We should feel lucky if we
make it to the end of our career with so much leave left. I am in the middle
of my career and have surprisingly found myself with a chronic illness so
severe some have suggested disability retirement. I was not the toughest by
any means, but I was a decent hiker and did some pretty serious outside work
firefighting, etc., so this is unexpected (and frustrating, of course). One
of a few reasons I may be able to hold out full time in my job is because of
the blessing of federal sick leave, although I don't have a lot as I've been
increasingly ill for a while and needed to use it. Count your blessings - I
am counting mine every day, and crossing my fingers that I may recover and
eventually make it back out to the fire scene. When it comes to it, the
thought of running out of leave and having to ask others to donate terrifies
me, and also using LWOP can jeopardize your retirement.
My grandmother was also a fed, who got two or three different cancers (may
have been related to a life of smoking) in the last year or two of her
career - used quite a bit but not all of her sick leave, although I remember
she missed a LOT of work due to the cancer.
Be tough bug, this Ab is pullin' for you. Stay in the game even if
not on the fireline.
Retired Chiefs speak out on fire suppression funding
(statement from 4/23)
statement was submitted for the public record of the House
Interior and related agencies appropriation subcommittee. It was also sent
as a letter to the Chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate
Agriculture, Appropriations, Budget, and Natural Resource Committees. It
was sent to the Chairman and ranking members of the subcommittees with
jurisdiction over the Forest Service.
Erin Newman, Exec. Assistant
US Forest Service-Fire & Aviation Mgmt.
Glad to see the message is
getting to congress. Better late than never. Ab.
Notice of Firefighter Fatality - Sweet, ID
The United States Fire
Administration (USFA) has received notice of the
following firefighter fatality:
|Name: Vernon "Bob" McKenzie
|Years of Service: 25
Date of Incident: 04/28/2007
Time of Incident: 1700 hours
Date of Death: 04/28/2007
Fire Department: Gem County Fire Protection District #2
Address: 7810 Sweet-Ola Hwy, Sweet, ID 83670
Fire Department Chief: Dennis Robbins
Incident Description: Immediately after participating in a wildland
Pack Test, Firefighter McKenzie returned home and complained of not
feeling well. He was transported to a hospital where he passed away
from a heart attack.
Funeral Arrangements: Memorial service to be held on 05/05/2007 at 1300
hours at the Ola Community Church, Ola, Idaho.
Memorial Fund Contact and Address: In honor of Firefighter Vernon "Bob"
McKenzie, C/o, Gem County Fire Protection District #2, 7810 Sweet-Ola
Hwy, Sweet, ID 83670.
Tribute is being paid to Firefighter Vernon "Bob" McKenzie at
FFemt and others trying repeatedly and failing to register for the
You must provide a valid email addy (and one that doesn't reject our
reply to you as spam). If you do not get our reply with instructions, you
cannot complete the second part of the registration process. We have this
process to avoid mass spamers. If you're having trouble and can't figure out
what the problem is email me here and I'll try to help. Ab.
Fires spread along Gunflint Trail (Ham Lake Fire in Minnesota blowdown)
the Ham Lake Fire MN
Minnesota DNR update on the Ham Lake Fire
Road / Big Turnaround Wildland Fire Photos GA
Decided on the 3rd of May that it was time for me to turn all the trials
and tribulations of the Fire Service to the youngsters. Started this game at
age 50 and 21 and 1/2 years plus later, pushing 71 is time to back off.
Developed an eye problem and hip is causing problems, Dr said no Pt for 4-6
weeks, so I made the decision to back off. Will be monitoring.
Old Man of the Dept (retired) great retirement from a vol dept.
Thanks for your service, Old Man. You'd better not be a stranger here.
We also expect you back at that PT as soon as you are able.
There was a theysaid thread that developed some years ago called
"Just One More Time". I pulled out some of those and put them on a
page. Haven't added any lately. Sweet reminiscences of wildland firefighters
who decided to retire or found themselves retired or had an experience they
did not think would ever be repeated.
Do you have any memories of wildland firefighting that stand out in
your slide tray of experiences: epiphany, revelation, "defining moment",
good or maybe not? (Maybe even an ecstatic moment following the pack test?
Haw haw, tongue in cheek.) I enjoy adding to the wildland fires memories
Here is the information about the first Ember award, in 2006. It can go on
the Awards page if you deem it to be appropriate.
During the 1st Fire Behavior and Fuels conference in Portland in March,
2006, the International Association of Wildland Fire presented the first
Ember Award for excellence in wildland fire science posthumously to Dr.
Frank Albini, who was a fire behavior scientist at the Missoula Fire
Sciences Lab. The purpose of the Ember Award is to acknowledge sustained
achievement in wildland fire science. The name “ember” was chosen to reflect
the fact that research and science often move slowly, and their benefits or
impacts may not be apparent for years or more.
I added him. Thanks. Also added the current year's
Thanks for your post re the differences in the National Fallen
Firefighters and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF). I totally
understand the tremendous need for the WFF. The general public is probably
not really aware of the WFF. I wasn't until last year when my firefighter
son mentioned it, so we need to spread the word as much as possible. I think
it is terrible that the WFF has to constantly worry about funds when they
provide such a vital need in the fire community. Unfortunately, I do not
have any corporate connection either as probably most of us don't so maybe
we need to think in terms of "strength in numbers" and do a fundraising
blitz and pick a month as "Support the WFF" month and hopefully get some
media attention. We (firefighters, families, friends and anyone else) can go
to small and large businesses in communities everywhere for donations and
see what events we can set up and anything else we can think of. Maybe a
"virtual" Hands across America in Support of Wildland Firefighters event and
get our communities involved -everyone pay a dollar or more to participate
and set a number of people per mile and see how many times we can go from
coast to coast (not physically but symbolically). We can write letters to
large corporations. My daughter (manager of a coffee shop -- not a large
company like Starbucks -- is checking with her boss to see if we can do
something like put up a poster to get people to join the
Club and bring in their receipt for a free beverage of their choice.
Anyone who belongs to clubs, organizations, sport leagues could do events. I
am sure there are lots friends and family with lots of good ideas.
The 2006 Paul Gleason Award winners have been announced.
Ab put them on the
Page. Any other awards for this year, send 'em in. Didn't get the name
of the Cal Yarborough recipient.
Motivation & Vision
- Chris Wilcox
- Fire Management Division Winnemucca Field Office
Mentoring & Teamwork
- Tom Boatner
- Texas Forest Service
Initiative & Innovation
- BDF Engine 57 Family Support Branch: CIIMT1
- Jack Kirkendall
Red Flag for Arrowhead of MN and portions of WI and MI.
Evacuation order for Gunflint Trail.
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
CIVIL EMERGENCY MESSAGE
COOK COUNTY SHERIFF
RELAYED BY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN
1153 AM CDT SUN MAY 6 2007
THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED AT THE REQUEST OF THE COOK
COUNTY SHERIFF OFFICE.
...EVACUATION ORDERS ON THE GUNFLINT TRAIL DUE TO FOREST FIRE...
AN EVACUATION ORDER HAS BEEN PUT INTO PLACE FOR THE AREAS OF THE
GUNFLINT TRAIL NORTH AND WEST OF THE CROSS RIVER...INCLUDING ALL OF
THE ROADS CONNECTED TO THIS AREA. PLEASE LEAVE IMMEDIATELY...THERE
IS IMMINENT DANGER DUE TO A FOREST FIRE. THIS IS A MANDATORY
EVACUATION ORDER...UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
THE RECOMMENDED ESCAPE ROUTE IS SOUTH ON THE GUNFLINT TRAIL TO
GRAND MARAIS. CHECK IN AT THE COOK COUNTY COMMUNITY CENTER.
More info on the Hotlist
from Portage Pulaski on this fire, the Ham Lake Fire. Ab.
I don't think we should look at sick leave as time
that we are "owed", and unused sick leave certainly
isn't "a waste"...
Rather, SL is insurance for us. A gift -- in the
horrid event that our health threatens to be taken
away -- that we can at least postpone the stress of
losing our financial security when being faced with
losing our health/life. If you are lucky, you will go
your whole career just needing sick leave for "oil
changes" rather than "engine replacement". If you ARE
that lucky, I don't think you should spend a lot of
time worrying about how to suck up every last bit of
insurance time you were given. When you try to
maximize your sick leave consumption, you're really
trying to avoid every last bit of work that you
legally can. i.e. "I want what's comin' to ME!"
If people abuse the safety net just because "they
can", it's only a matter of time 'til the
bean-counters notice the lack of productivity and
perhaps adjust the amount of sick leave they give in
the first place.
Suppose you spend your whole career TAKING ADVANTAGE
OF sick leave because you don't think you need much of
a safety net, and then something happens in which you
find out you gambled incorrectly. Then you're
completely dependent on other people's generosity
with their own annual leave. You're robbing them &
their loved ones of family time just because you
purposely over-consumed. People who have enough
annual leave in their coffers to donate to someone
else's illness probably never take vacations and
probably need their annual leave hours more than you
needed to feign sickness throughout your career.
"Trying" to use sick leave is like the people who try
to stay on welfare, just because they can.
If you get to the end of your career and still have
500 hours of sick leave, you definitely were NOT
cheated... Feel GRATEFUL that you are LUCKY to have
your health, and feel PROUD that you were productive
instead of giving in to a temptation to milk the
People around you do notice. It's the "TEAM" concept
vs the "I" concept.
Indeed, many companies now lump all time they offer you - including
when you can't be at work - into a "paid leave" category. Once you've used
those days up for whatever reason, you've used them up. That said, I am glad
that firefighters and other fed public servants donate unused annual leave
time to those in need. We have many firefighters with cancer who go through
repeated treatments and can potentially postpone going on disability and
return to work one more time through the generosity of their peers. To me
the generosity of the annual leave donors is profound and definitely falls
in the TEAM concept category. Ab.
Reminder from SoCal:
June 30 deadline for tree removal
The deadline for private property owners to have dead, diseased or
dying trees marked for removal under the San Bernardino County Hazardous
Tree Abatement Program is June 30. After the deadline, property owners
are responsible for tree removal.
The deadline is only for having the trees identified and registered with
the program. The actual removal of the trees continues through 2008.
“It's critical that property owners in the San Bernardino Mountains
contact us so we can register their trees,” said San Bernardino County
Fire Department Assistant Chief Peter Brierty. “The public funding for
the hazardous tree removal program will expire by the end of the year,
and we need to identify these trees and put them on our schedule while
we still have funds available.”
From Firescribe. I heard in R5 the % was 51% of the budget is for fire.
Former forest chiefs decry costs of fires
Bosworth, a retired Forest Service chief in Missoula, said society
expects the agency's help during emergencies. Congress, he said,
shouldn't ask the agency to dig deep into its other accounts to pay
"It would be like Congress telling FEMA after a major hurricane to suck
it up and pay for it out of its annual budget," Bosworth said. "It's
crazy. These are national emergencies. The Forest Service is asked by
the national public to step up and put the fires out."
The Forest Service's budget should include appropriated money to hire
firefighters and train them, Bosworth said. Additional funds should be
set aside to pay for initial attacks on fires, he said.
But once a fire escapes those first efforts and grows large and
expensive, Bosworth said, those costs should be paid from a separate
emergency firefighting fund.
The 10-year average firefighting cost for fiscal year 2008 was $911
million - a 23 percent increase from just last year. The Forest Service
projects the costs could exceed $1 billion by 2009.
"If you look down the line three, five, 10 years from now, firefighting
costs could presumably be close to 100 percent," Bosworth said.
"Congress shouldn't allow it to get that bad. Congress needs to look at
this issue in an objective way before it becomes a crisis."
Fair Use Disclaimer
This event occurred to a Georgia Forestry Commission
employee on land under that agency's jurisdiction, appx 10 miles east of
Nahunta, GA on the Georgia Bay Complex.
Georgia Forestry Commission
PO Box 819, Macon GA 31202-0819
May 3, 2007
Subject: Expanded (72 Hour) Briefing
To: Troy Floyd, Incident Commander
The following information is preliminary and subject to
Name of injured: John Crawford
Preliminary factual information:
- This individuals’ training and “Red Card” certifications were up to
date and suitable for the mission he was engaged with.
- Agency issued Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was worn and used
properly by the individual.
- The dozer was “stumped” while assisting other dozers in constructing
a fireline across a bay and he was unable to dislodge the tractor/plow
- Having been chased from his open caged tractor by intense radiant
heat, the individual deployed his fire shelter (standard) properly in a
scooped out area in mineral soil in front of his plow while the flame
- The individual sustained several small 2nd degree burns to the top
of his head, the side of his left face and neck. He also received a
small 3rd degree burn on the top of his left ear. He received these
burns while in his tractor and when dismounting from his dozer when his
hard hat fell off.
- There is no evident of a sea breeze or any other meteorological
factor influencing or causing the incident.
- The plow unit received major damaged while the tractor sustained
damage to its hydraulic lines and some cosmetic damage.
Narrative: A Georgia Forestry Commission tractor-plow strike team
assigned to the Georgia Bay Complex was requested to assist with a new
wildfire located in the Waynesville community (Brantley County, GA). One of
the tractors with this group was placed in the shop earlier on Saturday;
therefore, they responded with two tractor plows (John Deere 650 Gs) and a
leader. The tractors joined local resources, two type 1 dozers and two type
2 tractor plows on the scene and started flanking the fire through a pine
stand. The strike team was advised to join up with one of the type 2 tractor
plow units to complete the strike team and began to establish a line across
the neck of a bay. The other tractors continued to work around the fire. The
tractors determined that the fuels were too heavy to punch through and made
the decision to turn around.
As the fire activity increased, one tractor plow unit was hung on a stump
during the draw back. The operator abandoned the open cage tractor as the
flames and heat intensified. He deployed his fire shelter in a hole that had
just previously been scraped in front of his “V” blade by one of the other
tractors. He did not bring his portable radio into the shelter.
He remained in his shelter as the fire front passed except for a brief
moment when a limb fell across the top of his shelter. He quickly pushed the
flaming tree limb away and re-covered himself fully with his shelter until
he heard the sound of dozers approaching him.
After the fire front passed, he was located and assisted to the road by two
GFC employees to a waiting ambulance from Brantley County EMS that
administered initial emergency care which included providing oxygen and
establishing an IV. He was transported to Southeast GA Regional Medical
Center where he was treated and released.
He sustained thermal injuries to the top of his head (2nd degree), the left
side of his neck (2nd degree), left cheek near his ear (2nd degree) and the
top of his left ear (3rd degree). The total surface area was less than 2%.
He also had several scratches and scrapes on his chest and left lower leg.
His post incident care included CISD and follow up with a burn care wound
CISD is expected to be provided to his fellow strike team members and local
resources on this incident.
The fire shelter was collected and will be sent to MTDC (already notified).
The plastic cover was not located. It is believed to have been consumed by
The tires on the plow were destroyed. The hydraulic lines from the dozer to
the plow were also damaged. Heat damaged paint and decals on the back of the
Contact me if you have any questions.
/s/ Gene Madden, SOF1, Accident Team Leader
cc: Alan Dozier, Chief of Protection, GFC
Monroe Gaines, Training and Safety Officer, GFC
Mark Munns, Accident Investigation Team, Co-Lead
Jim Brenner, Accident Investigation Team, FBAN
"IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project
I asked John Parsons about his experience on the Winema shots crew and
got this back. Thanks John. Ab.
Enjoyed reading many of the
stories/articles and info shared, want to
comment on the Winema Hotshot crew request for input. The crew was
renamed and formed in 1982 , moved to the Klamath Ranger district on the
Winema National Forest. It was to be a "kinder and gentler" shot crew as
compared to what it was in past years as the Rouge River Rough Riders.
While I was only on this crew the year it was created, it was a tough and
well tested crew producing many great fire fighters who are still
involved in all aspect of fire Mgmt today. I have since been the FMO at
Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument ( its still burning rocks
today!) and the AFMO/FMO for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Others
who have more info; Gene Rodgers (Crew sup in 1982) and John Giller,
President - Klamath Fire INC.
Fire Management Officer
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Nice new state wildfire site here:
Thanks to NJFFS DIV B posting on the hotlist. We do like to know what's
happening in other states.
I added that site to the
Links page under states. If anyone has new or updated state links,
please let us know.
Wanted section of the Jobs Page has a couple of new companies looking
for folks with a variety of skills in addition to the fireline. And the
listing for the Jobs Wanted section is being updated on a near daily basis.
The Jobs Wanted section is still free for individuals looking for work in
the wildland fire world. Although feedback has been limited, what we have
heard from those using the service has been very positive. OA
Regarding sick leave -
Also note that if you die in LODD your family does not receive the money for
all those hours, they simply go bye-bye. I would have loved to have donated
John's 1400+ hrs to a general program that could help out others.
red flags for AZ.
I was just wondering if anyone had any news of how Steve Burns is doing in
He was the FOBS who was in a nasty dozer accident in Texas last year.
Last I heard he was still doing rehab, but was out of the wheelchair and
trying to walk.
I noticed in an earlier post that you commented on the fact that the medical
standards and CHS have yet to hit Region 5. That may be true for the Forest
Service but not for BLM. BLM in California adopted the medical standards and
"working" with CHS a few years ago. It definitely caused some problems for
many of the firefighters who spent a significant amount of time trying to
get out of "pending" and cleared for work.
Please exclude my name from the post and sign it
When it hits FS in CA it could be a really big SNAFU. Last I got a
count, we had something like 4,800 firefighters that would have to go
through it. If "The Director" wants to make problems and slow the system
down, Region 5 wildlands might just burn up. Or, well, maybe the BLMers will
be the only Feds fighting fire. Ab.
Subject: Notice of Firefighter Fatality - Sweet, ID
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) has received notice of the
following firefighter fatality:
Name: Vernon "Bob" McKenzie
Years of Service: 25
Date of Incident: 04/28/2007
Time of Incident: 1700 hours
Date of Death: 04/28/2007
Fire Department: Gem County Fire Protection District #2
Address: 7810 Sweet-Ola Hwy, Sweet, ID 83670
Fire Department Chief: Dennis Robbins
Incident Description: Immediately after participating in a wildland Pack
Test, Firefighter McKenzie returned home and complained of not feeling well.
He was transported to a hospital where he passed away from a heart attack.
Funeral Arrangements: Memorial service to be held on 05/05/2007 at 1300
hours at the Ola Community Church, Ola, Idaho.
Memorial Fund Contact and Address: In honor of Firefighter Vernon "Bob"
McKenzie, C/o, Gem County Fire Protection District #2, 7810 Sweet-Ola Hwy,
Sweet, ID 83670.
Tribute is being paid to Firefighter Vernon "Bob" McKenzie at
To date, 32 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2007 as a
result of incidents that occurred in 2007. Please note, running totals of
firefighter fatalities used on these initial notices do not necessarily
reflect the number of firefighter fatalities used in totals for the
(provisional) monthly year-to-date USFA firefighter fatality reports, or
year-end (provisional) reports posted online (www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/statistics/ff_stats.shtm).
(snipped a little)
I don't believe CSRS retirees can donate sick leave, but I'm FERS and I do
know that we cannot.
The only leave one can donate is annual leave. In
addition, I believe one
has to maintain a balance of at least 80 hours of annual leave after the
FERS folks need to realize that sick leave is "use/loose". Either you use
it while you are employee or it evaporates, unlike CSRS employees who can
at least get some credit for it. I tried to keep a solid balance early in
my career, but as I approach retirement in 5-10 years, I don't sweat using
it either. CSRS employees have an incentive to use annual leave instead of
sick leave, but FERS employees do not. If I'm sick or have a doc
appointment, I use sick leave. I've been down to two hours of annual leave
and no sick leave after surgery, so I know the risk of not maintaining some
balance. But if you work and save sick leave as a FERS employee, you may
find yourself donating six months of leave back to the government when you
The only honest way to use a significant amount of sick leave at the end
your career is to get sick! You could have elective surgery before
retirement, or you may come down with a serious disease. My personal
preference as I approach retirement is to build mal e account as
my safety net. After I hit 50 every doc in town wanted to see me. Now
that I'm 55 three want to see me every 3-6 months. So, my suggestion to
those who can is to use your sick leave for valid reasons, save a little if
you wish, but realize that unless you plan to die before you retire, you
may not need six to twelve months of sick leave in the last year of your
career. I currently have fewer than 20 hours of sick leave and all I have
are these docs that keep pestering me over mild chronic conditions. For
example, every year I have the following appointments currently: 3-4 with
the general doc (plus 3-4 blood draw appointments preceding those), 2-3
appts with a specialist (and more blood work), a couple dental visits, an
eye doc visit, and any emergency work. I find it fairly easy to keep my
sick leave account legitimately low. I just don't hoard sick leave because
I know I will probably not need it at the end of my career. If I do come
down with some severe problem I hope to have at least six weeks of annual
leave to play with. After that, I'm more or less out of luck, but
hopefully I've paid my house off and can deal with the situation if needed
by retiring earlier if I'm seriously sick or taking leave without pay.
Ain't fun, but neither is seeing 500 hours evaporate.
As one who has caught and released more than a dozen 3-4' western timber
rattlers, they're pretty heavy and unwieldy. The guy would be straining more
to hold one that large the way he is. Also notice the failure to show
rattles in the photo. The 3.5 footer -- which was the largest snake we've
had slither into the garden at Five Waters -- had 13 rattles.
When the Flathead shots came to the BigBar Complex in '99, rattlesnakes
were the biggest discussion point on one break. It's good to know the local
hazards, even if tales are exaggerated...
Mellie, for one stretch of time a Texan who loved the tall tales...
Ab (and all other rattler lovers):
After a quick check of www.snopes.com I found the following:
www.snopes.com/photos/animals/claysnake.asp (slow loading with junk
This snake story has been around for a few years, based on how many times it
has been sent to me..
Nonetheless, be careful.
Its always good to check out www.snopes.com before falling for an urban
I found the rattler snake story and picture mentioned by "D Burns" on they
www.snopes.com/photos/animals/txsnake.asp#photo (slow loading with
junk popup frame)
As Ab suggested, this may or may not be an urban legend. The snopes.com
folks call it "undetermined". The photograph could easily simply be
playing a trick on you. As Ab noted, the snake is closer than the man,
making it appear larger. I would agree the photo does not appear to be
modified, but it could have been. I've used this technique intentionally
before, holding an object close to a camera to make it appear larger. In
fact, I have a photo of a truck on a hillside that looks so real some folks
told me it HAD to be a real truck. I know it was not. For one thing, it
says "Tonka" on the side. For another, I staged the photo so that the
sawdust pile looked like a barren hillside with real North Carolina
mountains in the background "over the ridge".
Looks can be deceiving. But snopes.com can prevent me for forwarding other
urban legends that have been confirmed to be false!
Haw Haw. Oh, I definitely think it's a TX legend, where things are
bigger and badder than everywhere else. I just liked the recipe that might
work with any critter you encounter while coyote-ing out with no MRE
Any rattlesnake within striking distance is disturbing, Check out
the Eastern Timber Rattler. They be big guys too.
Wanna see a "BIG" Texas Rattle SNAKE?
Next time you're out in the tall grass, remember this one.
This snake was recently found at the J & S Quik Mart located just south of
Turnoff on Highway 281 south of Tow Texas. [THAT'S JUST WEST of BURNETT]
A reminder that these creatures are actually out there and no matter what
Sometimes they should get not only prescriptive rights to be there but the
full right of way!
9 feet, 1 inch - 97 lbs.
1 medium-sized rattlesnake (3-4 lbs.), cut into steaks
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup cracker crumbs
1/2 cup milk (or pwd milk)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 teaspoon salt
Mix dry ingredients. Whisk milk into beaten egg and use to dip snake steaks.
Then coat them with dry ingredients. Fry, uncovered, in 400 degree oil until
Yum,Yum! It sorta tastes like chicken.
I found they range from 3-7'.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Recorded
record length is 7.7' or 92.5". Sure this isn't a hoax?
Nonetheless even a 4-5' rattlesnake is a bit nerve wracking. Ab.
Does anyone have the
- Regional R5 Team Rotation Schedule yet? Like
- SoCal Local Team Rotation info yet? Like
It would help to have that for our Type 2 teams page, the South Ops
intel page, etc. There were inquiries flying the other day in light of the
James fire. Firefighters wanted to know which socal team was being called up.
Type II Incident Management Team pages. Send in any updates
or corrections, please.
A California team still needs several logos:
San Bernardino City Fire
Big Bear Lake Fire
Could someone please send them in to
SoCal Team 2
or here to Ab to pass on?
We'll pass them on... Ab.
Just in from the Washing Orfice (Forest Service). Could have major impacts
on folks being able to meet the 401 requirements. DOI has been using NWCG
courses for years, but it appears the Forest Service will not be able
OPM has issued guidance and a decision that precludes us from using the
attachments to the "Supplemental Qualifications Standard for the GS-401
series for Fire Management Officers. Effectively immediately, we cannot
use any of the NWCG courses or any other courses that are not listed on an
official college or university transcript from an accredited school.
Also, we can no longer use the 18/6 split of upper and lower division
courses to meet Part B of the basic requirement in the standard. We must
determine what constitutes "a major field of study" at the particular
college or university the applicant attended. An applicant cannot meet
the requirement by having solely attended a 2-year or junior college.
We will be sending out additional information and guidance about these
changes. However in the meantime, please adjust how you are qualifying
applicants for Fire Management positions, when they do not have a
qualifying degree in accordance with Part A of the basic requirement.
If it appears necessary, we may cover this subject on a special HR
Director/Employment Officer teleconference.
WFF truly is a Godsend and I am so eternally grateful for its help and
support during our time of need. I could never come close to repaying you
for your kindness, love, support and generosity. However, if there is
anything you ever need me to do, or anyway I can help, all you need to do is
let me know, plug me in. I’m not “connected” with big corporations but I do
have heart and a love for all of you there and everyone in the firefighting
community. I pray for each of the men and women here, you are all in my
The donor leave program provides the opportunity to donate
"annual leave" to an eligible co-worker. Sick leave hours cannot
Generous thought for you to want to do so, though.
Old Fire Guy
Question about sick leave donation?
I just resigned from the Forest Service last week. I had 400+ hours of sick
leave, I ask our CSR if I can donate all my hours to those that need it. I
a call the other day stating I cannot donate my leave.
Does anyone know of a way that I can donate these hours to folks that need
it? I thought there was a Volunteer Leave Program that all of my leave could
Here's an update I got today on the Colorado legislation to provide health
benefits to firefighters who develop cancer.
Brothers and Sisters,
As you are well aware the Fire Fighter Presumptive Cancer Bill has passed
both the House and the Senate. The bill's final fate rests solely on the
decision of Governor Bill Ritter. We are well aware that he is being lobbied
extremely hard by the insurance industry and several municipalities to veto
this protective measure. This is some of the most important legislation that
fire fighters have worked on the in the past several years. We are asking
that you please contact Governor Ritter and explain how important his
support is on this issue. Please visit the website for details that you can
discuss when you call, e-mail, or write Governor Ritter.
Please take the time make this fire fighter protection a reality. Please
contact Governor Ritter concerning this issue now!!!
Click here to contact Gov Ritter
The Colorado Professional Fire Fighters website has lots of information to
learn more about House Bill 1008 before calling the Governor.
I think that everyone needs to understand the difference between the
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Wildland Firefighter
The NFFF does not provide any kind of financial assistance whatsoever to
families beyond the $1,000 that they reimburse you for your travel back to
Emmitsburg. This is in spite of all the big corporations that fund them and
fund raisers like Baskin-Robbins. They do a beautiful job of maintaining the
monument and the memorial weekend is quite stunning. I know that they are
big into the safety of firefighters and are the driving force behind
"Everyone Comes Home", but what they do with all that money is a mystery
(and believe me, they have LOTS of it! They know how to invest those
$1,000,000 grants they get!).
The WFF does provide financial assistance to any family whose loved one died
while on duty during wildland fires. It does not discriminate between city,
state, federal, structural or wildland. It helps out when firefighters are
injured on a fire, paying bills, house payments, or flying their loved ones
to be close to them during their time in the hospital. The WFF also has a
family weekend, yet it is much more in the style of our firefighters -
casual, outdoorsy, down to earth. Having been to both Emmittsburg and Boise,
I found more healing in Boise than I did back east. Being mainly structural
firefighters and mainly volunteers, the families just didn't get it when I
tried to tell them what John did for a living. The money donated to the WFF
is a drop in the bucket compared to the NFFF, yet the help that the WFF is
extending to the families far exceeds what the NFFF does for them.
It's a dam* shame that the WFF has to "get by" every year (and some years it
hasn't). It shouldn't be this way. So, if anyone out there has any ideas or
contacts with corporations or big buck businesses, let's hear from you.
While all the families and the Foundation appreciate and never forget " the
little guys" - Ken Perry, the El Dorado Hotshots, Brian Janes, and countless
others (you guys totally rock our worlds!), we need to bring out the big
guns. I have been talking with Vicki about trying to expand beyond our "fire
family" borders and bring in some serious money to help out EVERY family
that needs it and keep the Foundation afloat at the same time, not tapping
out their bank funds every year.
Re Medical Standards:
With all the talk about the health screening and/or
examinations, I'm wondering who actually came up with
I saw that possibly a dentist was the leader (or at
least the spokesman), but who was in the group that
determined these standards? Are the Ph.D's in
exercise physiology (like Brian Sharkey)? Are they
medical doctors (M.D.s or D.O.s)? Do any of them have
any fireline experience?
I ask as a former Hotshot and current medical student.
I know there are more than a few medical doctors out
there, and perhaps some research-oriented ones, that
have firelines experience - engine crews, hotshots,
jumpers, and even some overhead.
Seems like there might be an untapped resource out
there with some insight into not only the physical
capabilities needed (and not needed), but also the
potential medical pitfalls, and the practicality of
navigating a complex medical system.
Medical Standards and
CHS Physicals [Ab note: CHS is a company]
I am pretty sure that I
am the individual that Casey spoke about in region 2 and I had a similar
phone conversation as mentioned by Still Fighting Fire in Spite of the
Dentist last June, the only difference being that he lied to me about not
knowing about my situation before the conversation ended.
The Director (his title is actually Medical Program Standards Manager, I
have other names for him but this will have to suffice for now) has said
that he did not make the decision regarding my situation, but that it was a
regional decision; the regional Med Standards individual told me that it was
The Director. The last time I spoke with CHS (Comprehensive Health Services)
they said that The Director is the person that can make a determination on
my case and that they are done with it. In the last correspondence from The
Director, he stated that it was out of his hands and that CHS has to make
the final determination. I was given the OK by my neurologist, but this does
not seem to matter; maybe I should have asked my dentist now that FS
employees are eligible for dental insurance.
In regards to HIPPA, I was sent an email from The Director’s assistant
which stated that the Forest Service does not have to follow HIPPA
regulations. Needless to say, my medical history is now known by a number of
people in this region that have no ties to the medical standards program,
but learned of it through the wonderful Forest Service rumor mill. (I guess
in this case it is not really a rumor because it is true.) I always figured
after 17 years in the IHC program that it would be my knees that made me
leave the crew, not the implementation of some half baked medical standards.
(Can it really be considered a standard since only certain regions have to
follow them?) My condition has never been a factor on the fireline and I
have full support of forest management, but I still cannot gain a waiver or
release. Anybody know a good lawyer?
The USDA web page shows quite a few folks:
For the Forest Service specifically:
Dick King as the Director of the Occupational Safety and Health
Alison Good is Assistant Director
For Region 5 it's:
Regional Health and Safety Manager: Edwin Bunker
Regional Safety Specialist: Shannon Zunino
Regional Fire Safety Officer: Peter Tolisano
Thanks TC. Dick King retired in early January. Someone was
celebrating and posted the fact on theysaid. Alison is detailing in the WO
level position (or was) in February. Larry Sutton in Boise is a useful
contact for fire safety. Young but intelligent, may be smart, too. Ab.
The Federal Interagency Wildland Firefighter Medical Qualifications
Standards as operated by CHS are a good ideal gone terribly wrong. If they
haven't hit your region yet, you're LUCKY, and your luck will soon change.
While the process is fairly timely and straightforward for someone in
perfect condition having a perfect day, it can be a real nightmare for
someone with a slight problem, as simple as 30 db offset hearing loss in 1
ear. Pretty much everyone that ran a saw, pump, or worked around aircraft
in the 80's will have that much hearing loss. I know it wasn't cool to wear
any hearing protection back then.
I handle the scheduling and followup for these physicals on my unit, and
since I started the process in Feb.
2006, I still have 2 firefighters that have not cleared after over 420
days of trying to work the process through. Meanwhile I have an employee that
should have never been cleared due to very poor health in general that was
able to get cleared, so the "standards" are a joke. They will grant
waivers to the standards to almost anyone, something like 12 people
nationwide have not been granted a waiver.
- The waiver for eyesight is so
common that it is automatic, basically says if you need contacts or
glasses, you have to carry a spare set on the fireline.
- Hearing loss is
pretty common to get a waiver, just have to jump through some hoops to
request it, get your supervisor to say they are aware (now) that so and
has hearing loss and it does not affect their job, and they grant the
waiver with some restrictions like wearing an earbud speaker and sitting
near the front in briefings.
- Color blindness is another reason folks
need a waiver.
The baseline costs something like $450-500, its fairly
comprehensive, but like someone else posted, should only cost in the
vicinity of $150 for the same physical and tests.
Now we are working through the annual exams for this year, which take less
than 15 minutes for most people, and cost in the vicinity of $100. Pretty
much all they do is blood pressure, eye chart, and whisper in each ear,
test reflexes and sign the form. There has been some improvement over the
last year in the paperwork/ website database updating processes; for
example, now if an employee is cleared by the examining physician doing the
annual, the doc can send a paper back with the employee to the FMO that
says they are cleared, and that is enough documentation to take the pack
test. Last year that form went to CHS, and it took a week or 10 days, or
sometimes over a month to have that person posted as cleared in the
database. I thought that was a significant improvement, but I have to
keep asking myself, "Why they didn't think of that sooner?" since this is
not new. CHS has been doing firefighter physicals for 4-5 years now.
Another problem is once CHS has done their part, getting timely service
from the agency people to work on the waivers is very difficult. With the
people that would normally do that (HR) going away very soon, and nobody
designated in Albuquerque to handle the Medical Standards program yet, it
can take 3-4 months to get action on anything, and that is only through
constantly checking the status and making many, many phone calls. Last
year we had a person in the RO (in Region 1) that was a point of contact
for waivers, etc. but mid summer they quit, retired, or just went away
somewhere, and those duties got shifted to an HR person from R-10, which in
addition to doing all the R-10 waivers, now had all the R-1 waivers dumped
on her too.
Enough ranting for now, I'm sure there will be plenty of other folks that
will respond with their own horror stories....I know there are a LOT of
them out there.
My experience with CHS: Over the past 3-4 years since R-6
started using CHS, I have had to go through the waiver process twice for
different issues, partial color-blindness, and bee-allergy.
I will preface by stating that I am oversimplifying the process.
Once you have received your physical (the first year, or baseline is fairly
extensive for permanents, EKG, etc.) if for some reason you need to obtain
an accommodation/waiver to prove you are capable of performing the duties at
the arduous level, you must foot the bill with your doctor.
Once you've proven to your doctor that you are capable of performing the
job, it is submitted to an agency person for them to peruse and send on up
the food chain. Then, if it is stamped with their seal of approval it goes
to CHS and they clear you.
Snags: Both times I've had to go through this, there were significant
Causes: Apparently at some level (I believe in the agency FS) there is only
ONE person who can say yea or nay. Both times I've been through this, that
person took a week or 3 off for unknown reasons and I had to sit on my
thumbs and wait for them to come back to work. This year at the first level,
the person was gone for 2 weeks and sent it off to the next level, and that
person was gone for a week or 2.
The long and the short of it is that it is time-consuming.
Another problem is that in order to get temps on in time, you have to start
this process as soon as possible, which means hiring sooner than you may be
Best of luck all those just starting out.
This photo of the southern
Georgia Fire just came in.
Official Medical Standards site:
Re Comprehensive Health Services (CHS, a company):
Having been a lurker for 5+ years,
the current talk about CHS has empowered me to write in. As a supervisor, I
have had firsthand knowledge concerning the justification and appeal for a
seasonal employee with 4 plus years of fire experience. I will not go into
the nature of the persons "pending status" in CHS, but it did not effect or
hinder their performance in wildland firefighting. From the beginning until
the end of the process, it took 3 months. Keep in mind the seasonal employee
could have been let go from our district, but the individual had excellent
fire experience, exceptional former supervisor recommendations, and a proven
track record of excelling as a firefighter.
The process seemed very convoluted, and decisions by CHS and NIFC were being
made by individuals who had no fire experience. I spoke with two individuals
at NIFC and was given two different ways to appeal the "pending" status. I
will note, that there was another individual assigned to the case that
provided excellent help along the way. But this person said their hands were
tied and it was next to impossible to speak with the individuals at NIFC.
Not only was this frustrating but it came from individuals supposedly
heading the program. Keep in mind this happened last season, and I am not
sure if the process has been smoothed out.
The whole process was demoralizing and a bit demeaning for the seasonal.
When I questioned NIFC about the timeline of things, I was shunned and told
never to call them. I understand they must have a very large workload, but I
was trying to get an employee out for the job they were hired for. The
livelihood of being a firefighter for this person was nearly taken away over
a very minute problem.
It's great to see this topic being discussed and I hope to see more people
weighing in on the process, whether it is good or bad.
Readers if you know of anyone who has experience with the medical
health screening standards or process, please ask them to contribute to this
discussion. This has not hit R5 yet. We're relying on the other regions to
fill us in. I had to go to the
Frequently Asked Questions page from NIFC to begin educating myself. We
do have documents somewhere on this website, and there was discussion in
2001 or 2002 about this process. Ab.
From Ab and All:
In memory of Don Studebaker
Thank you so much for doing this. It is more than I could
have ever asked for
and a wonderful tribute to Don. I have let everyone in the family know about
There are some Horse Fire photos for use at the HPWREN public site:
Captain Ron - CalFire Ramona AAB
Got the info, thanks. Misspelled the name. Mellie
Hello, have been browsing thru your excellent site,
I spent a fire season at Galena, in 1987. Worked for Commander Northwest,
Tom Blaesing. Had a great time, and met some great people. Terry Johnson,
Hawkins and Powers PBY pilot was a good friend. What became of him...
is he still around??
I would like to know who the Safety Chief or Officer is for the USDA?
Particularly in Southern California. I am apart of a safety committee and
have lost a lot of my resources due to people retiring etc.
Doesn't the Americans with Disabilities Act weigh into this situation?
Haw Haw. Ab.
Someone just this minute sent me the video clip featuring Don Studebaker
was taken during the Eyerly Fire in R-6 in 2002. I believe John Truitt from
Cleveland shot the video. He's not in the FS lookup, may be retired?
Does anyone know how I can get a hold of John Truitt to see if we might
permission to post it?
More on the Medical Standards...
Casey hit the nail on the head regarding the subjective nature of this
process. If you think that you're past firefighting record will demonstrate
that you can safely and effectively perform "firefighting duties at the
arduous (or other applicable) level", you may be sadly mistaken.
The Director of this program seems to think that a doctor's view alone
will provide an appropriate evaluation of one's fitness for duty. He can,
and did in my case, completely disregard any and all documentation from
current and previous supervisors and coworkers. In my case (I cannot speak
for any others), he would not even discuss the situation with me, going so
far as to hang up on me during a phone call confirming his receipt of
documentation. I spoke with another individual familiar with the Director,
and he assured me that this type of treatment is typical of the Director and
is, in fact, a major factor in several agencies' dissatisfaction with the
Along with the omission of certain required tests by the contractor
performing my initial exam and their alleged (by me) violation of HIPPA laws
currently under investigation, I am left with...
Great idea on paper, but in the real world, the current medical standards
process is an absolute farce!
- Still Fighting Fire in Spite of the Dentist
Perhaps we need to launch
a collective challenge to all this? Ab.
This came in from the Cleveland NF:
I'm looking for photos of the Horse Fire in 2006. I'm trying to do a
to thank folks for their assistance in letting us have base camp at
Have any Horse Fire photos anyone? I know there have to be some out
there. Inciweb took down all photos.
Take a look at the initial report on 4/24. Erik's burns don't
seem that bad.
"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."
Those who have treated burns know that even small burns can become a serious problem.
Please everyone, when you or a fellow firefighter is burned, please remain
Situationally Aware. Assume the burn may be much worse than it seems. It may
not look too bad.
People, especially firefighters, tend to minimize the
- It's not so bad.
- I'm a firefighter and firefighters are tough.
- That was a stupid mistake; I can't make too big a fuss over it.
If the burn is deep, it kills the nerve endings, so the pain may not be
that bad at the moment. Additionally, you may be in shock.
When someone gets burned, insist on a burn center. Small medical
facilities and even some larger ones may not have enough burn experience to
give you the best treatment. Even small burns can become a serious problem.
Thanks for what you do Vicki! You and our Wildland Firefighter
Foundation do so much in the moments of most critical need when
no one else is around. You make
- arrangements when people are not thinking straight and
- provide lodging and
- plane tickets and
- a loving hand;
- sometimes cash for expenses and
- help with OWCP
These initial supports when people are so in need, confused or are
"deer in the headlights" far surpass what the Eastern Fallen Firefighter
Foundation does (in spite of however many B&R Ice Cream benefits they hold,
making however many bookoo bucks). Don't get me wrong, they have very good
large eastern events that honor the families of the fallen with appropriate
gratitude from our nation. They do a nice job doing
what they do for all fallen firefighter families. But, I sure am glad we
have our critical safety net WFFoundation for the timely personal
[In my heart of hearts, sometimes I wish we wildlanders all didn't have to struggle so
much with fundraising for our safety net. I wish the eastern big bucks fed
foundation guys would share some ice cream $$ or some few of their BIG bucks grant money, instead of just implying they
will; but hey, we seem to do OK just carrying on. We manage every year to
take care of our own.]
My thoughts and prayers for speedy recovery for Erik and best wishes for
I keep hearing that there are significant changes coming with the apprentice
program and appointments upon conversion. I have heard that OPM has ruled
that they will not accept a certificate of study for conversion to a career
Now I think that the apprentice program is a certificate for a course of
study through American River College and not an associates degree.
If this is true in both conditions, what is the future of the apprentice
program? It's my understanding the concept of the apprentice is covered
under provisions of the Student Cooperative Education Program (SCEP). I have
several friends that are currently covered under SCEP agreements that have
been told no conversion for a certificate, and that they can only convert to
a GS-4 with an Associates instead of the previous practice of converting to
Is there anyone out there with real answers? Everyone that I talk to
who should know skirts the question or ignores it.
I am not sure anyone knows at this time. Ab.
Just got an update on Erik Roden, from his mother Judy. Docs thought
for a while that he might loose his leg that got burned. She said they did
surgery and put some cadaver skin on it, hoping it would attach. It was
doing well. A few days
later they gave him a skin graft. He is now in a lot of pain, which the
doctor says is good because it indicates his nerve endings are healing.
Hopefully the painful stage will be short. (I
have heard that burn pain is terrible.)
Erik's mother is so appreciative of the Phoenix Burn Center. The staff
there have gone above and beyond in helping to assist them. They are providing
housing for her, food vouchers, and excellent support and care for both her and Erik. I
believe that if any of you have any choice in the matter, heaven help you
should need burn care, the Phoenix Burn
Center far outweighs the Las Vegas Burn Center in providing support.
If all continues to go well, Erik will be released later this week. He
and his mom will be staying in the area until the following week just to
make sure he is ok and no longer needs the Phoenix Burn Center's immediate
care. Erik will be returning to Colorado with his family for
rehab, which will be extensive.
52 CLUB has made it possible to initially help Erik's family with expenses. This is
part of our "Firefighter Down" Program at the Foundation. In
addition, we will be
tracking our injured throughout the year making sure OWCP is doing what it
is supposed to be doing, and just making sure our extended fire family
members are taken care of... so no one gets left behind.
California Fire Season Outlook 2007
national-outlook07.pdf (62K pdf file)
ca-outlook07.pdf (247K pdf file)
• Earlier than normal start to
• Abnormally dry fuels in the South due to absence of significant rainfall
• Below normal precipitation has led to lower then normal 1000 hour fuel
• Fire activity could increase rapidly with any sudden drying and/or windy
events, particularly in grass/ brush type fuels.
• Lack of new grass crop in the south will reduce continuity in fine fuels.
• Majority of local freeze-killed fuel areas are within wildland urban
• Drought stress and bug kill may become factors by late in fire season.
• California resources are less likely to be available for assignment to
• Springtime prescribed burning in the north could possibly see early
Lots'a red on that map of CA. Ab.
Fire agency predicts increased wildfire risk in West, Southeast
Drought Monitor Map (Click for closeups of region and state)
Fire season begins May 14 in SoCal
Strike team to investigate arson string in GA
"Anybody who would think about starting a fire, arsonists, you
better beware! You will get burned."
Local Firefighters Helping Battle Waycross GA Wildfires
Re Fire Boots:
HH & Tim
You might want to look at your state’s OSHA or Industry rules for wildland
Washington State requires wildland firefighter boots to have leather uppers
“a minimum of 8
inches above the top of the sole”…
We are having lots of fires.
Osakis Lake is where the fire occurred, 2 acres, grass. A MN-DNR
Officer -Jeff Johanson- pulled the old man -Harry Rutten- out of the flames
got burns. Here's a brief article explaining the incident:
92 yr old
Osakis MN man died from injuries suffered in grass fire
Our best wishes for Jeff Johanson's recovery. Ab.
I finished updating the photo page
in memory of Don Studebaker.
It turned into a page that also includes comments that have been
shared on theysaid about Don. If anyone would like to contribute any more
remembrance comments, stories or photos, I will add them to the collection.
I wanted to give you an update on some efforts by NFFE on two issues of
importance: outsourcing and liability. We will be traveling to DC the week
of May 14 to work on these and other issues of importance to the Forest
Service employees we represent. A
briefing paper (64K pdf file) that addresses these two issues is
attached. We also have a website with additional detailed information about
the administration’s so-called competitive sourcing program at
click on the “New Comp Sourcing” button. Its potential effects on the
militia are discussed in some detail in the April 12 Congressional Briefing
Congress has one chance a year to deal with the outsourcing issue – during
drafting and approval of annual appropriations legislation through which it
exercises the power of the purse. Our parent union, the IAM, is supporting
us by helping get the word out on competitive sourcing. Check this out at
www.goiam.org/content.cfm?cID=3536 – click on “Suspend Funding for
Forest Service Privatization.” At a cost of five minutes at this site, you
can let your Congressional representatives know what you think about this
Also, I want to thank Casey for his help on the liability issue. We have
shared information and we will continue to work together toward fixing this
deplorable state of affairs.
It is important that organizations like NFFE and FWFSA, which after all
exist for the purpose of serving, act as partners, not competitors. Sure,
our members come from the same pool of employees, but the problem is not
that employees choose to join one organization over another (you can always
join both – at least one of our members going to DC this month is a FWFSA
member). The problem is folks that whine and moan and do nothing about it.
Pick an organization, join up, and get involved.
Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
The Jobs Page and
Series 0462 (Forestry Technician
& Series 0455 (Range
jobs pages and
(Biologist Series) are updated.
Also, Ab updated the
"IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project Thanks for the
There have been a lot of IA fires in Minnesota this last week.
Has anyone heard about 2 people being burned in a small
grass fire last weekend?
Not sure what is wanted on the Sphinx Creek Fire from Kings Canyon 76-77.
There are a lot of factors that led to the burnover, but only one
critical one that I did not recognize until it was on us. I don't remember
all the men on the line that day: Stubbs, Myself, Budd-Jack, Mark Price,
Mike Smith, Curt Booher and others that all worked hard in the face of the
blowup when it went from what I estimated was around 100 acres and went to
2200 in a few hours.
The topography, high elevation hung valley, air inversion, high temps,
flashy fuels under a moderately timbered canopy of old growth, upslope winds
and the general afternoon sea breeze all contributed. If something more
indepth is desired, I will put it together as best I can from thirty years
ago and add it to the mix. All I know is that when I saw Tim, Curt, Mark and
a couple others come down the trail, I was never so happy in my life. A
couple of them were wet so I knew my warning had been timely and they had
been to hell and back....... I, even now, get a bit choked thinking about
it........ we went on with it though, working all night and the next day as
if nothing had ever happened....... forest fire fighters........
I think historical records that all can learn from are invaluable.
Perhaps it's time now to capture the story. We'd be happy to create a page
to record it. Ab.
Chula-vista hotlist applicant and State of SC hotlist applicant,
Your servers are rejecting the second and last step needed to complete
your hotlist registration. We must make this a 2-step process to make sure
reply email addresses work and to guard the hotlist from spam. If you need
to make alternative arrangements because of your department's or personal
email spam filters, email me.
Re: medical Standards
L--C--E-S & No Name 29
First & foremost to L--C--E-S, thanks for the informative posting on the
medical standards. I would agree that the program as a whole could be of
benefit but we are seeing some disconcerting applications of the standards
that, if continue when the standards hit the employee-rich R-5, could grind
the region to a halt unless some "subjective" thought processes are
While I have been told that the Interagency Director has a degree in safety,
the fact remains, he is a dentist. Already in R-2 we have seen gross
subjective applications of the standards in defiance of established federal
law protecting certain employees with certain conditions.
He has already overruled program specialists in the case of an employee with
epilepsy. Epilepsy is covered in federal law and if an employee has
demonstrated their ability to do their job without harm to themselves or
others, then such medical standards MUST be waived. However in this R-2
case, the Interagency Director has ignored the federal law as has the Forest
Supervisor. This matter has been on-going for nearly a year.
If the determination process takes this long, inclusive of hearings, etc.,
the impact to R-5 could be staggering. I have shared our concerns with Tom
Harbour and he is aware of some of the "bugs" in the system. I have been
advised that at least one federal lawsuit has been filed and won against the
Thus, I do think it important that employees be aware of the program while
the bugs get worked out... we hope.
As far the expenses to contractors performing certain functions, I'd be
delighted to know more.
If you think Georgia is burning, look south.
Is this really yesterday's fire map or some summary?
The site says "Analysis for day 4/30/2007 last updated at 5/1/2007
Fires are in red. Fire size has been increased so fires are visible in this
Smoke, when detected by the analyst, is in gray".
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