"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
May, 2007

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5/31 Ab,

The July issue of Men's Journal has a feature article on Esperanza Fire, which they
label "the most controversial wildfire tragedy of the new century."

That's a pretty tall claim considering Thirtymile and Cramer, but they may be right.

vfd cap'n
5/31 MAC,

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 defense.

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.

Lobotomy
5/31 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
context?

MAC

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.

5/31 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 legislation...).

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
5/31 Hi Aberdeen,

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 working.

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.

Wasatch

Welcome Wasatch. Stories of times gone by - nice. Ab.

5/31 Hi 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.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
5/31 Re hot button issues and discussion:

Discussion is not necessarily accusation. Something
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
friends.

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.

Hotshot Dad

5/31 PB

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
5/31 PB,

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 that.

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, etc.?

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 had.

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

5/31 ht, Ab;

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 diversions...

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 the radio.

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;

Pyro
5/31 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 line those 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>

Mellie

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)

5/31 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 committed arson.

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 Fires"......

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 anyone.......

Always Remember.....

Lobotomy
5/30 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 N355EV.

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.

PB
5/30 Ab
For Pyro

Thanks Pyro, I still think you should keep the moniker.
Try this: www.armory.com/~spcecdt/pyrotech/pyrotest.phpl
I scored 96% pure.
In good fun :)

ht

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.

5/30 Hi 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.

Florida Ranger

5/30 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.

Doug Marolf
Krassel Helitack Supervisor

Thanks Doug. Ab.

5/30 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 friends...

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"...
5/30 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.

Beenthere

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.

5/30 From Firescribe:

Firefighter Injured When Brush Truck Flips In Sumter County FL
www.wftv.com/news/13414165/detail.phpl

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 his condition.

Some properties just aren't worth saving from wildfires
www.thedesertsun.com (editorial)

... 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....

5/30 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.

Ancient IC
5/30 NOPS staffing up for predicted dry lighting.

Another 1987 year?

R5 BC

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.

5/30 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?

Aberdeen

5/30 Fire Community,

Almost 1 year ago, I set out on a run through the Mojave Desert to raise awareness and money for the Wildland Firefighter 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 winter.

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.

Peace,

KCP

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.

5/30 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 happened.

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'm Curious

I posted the narrative on the hotlist post. Ab.

5/30 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.

5/30 Ab,

FYI: The NTSB Probable Cause report was released 5/29/07
regarding the N355EV Krassel Helicopter crash last August 13th.

www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=SEA06GA158&rpt=fi

G

5/30 From: ND Dept of Environment & Natural Resources; NC Division of Forest Resources
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 and eyebrow.
An investigation team has been formed and is investigating the incident. Further reports will be forthcoming.

CC: Karen Patterson, NCDFR Safety Officer
5/30 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 Accident
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 involved.

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 Pearl, Mississippi.

/s/ Maureen T. Hyzer
MAUREEN T. HYZER
Forest Supervisor

cc: George Kulick
Gary W Helmer
Mark A Eaton

5/30 Has anyone see the 24 hour report for the Pender County NC incident?
Burnover on the Stag Road Fire.
Should have been out already.

GA Peach

5/30 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.

/HC/
5/30 Ab

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.

ht

Pyro, thumbs up on your moniker. Ab.

5/30 I'm so sorry to hear of all the challenges facing the wildland firefighting
community - be strong, stick together and we'll continue to keep you in
our thoughts and prayers...

Sandra

5/30

SAN ANTONIO FIRE
AFTER ACTION REVIEW
MAY 15, 2007
1100 HRS

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 lean over.

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 tactics.

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

5/30 Ab,

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 take?

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 future.

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
5/29 Does anyone have a link to the Florida fire picture of the alligator snapping at the helicopter bucket?

-FireBill

Sounds like a good one. Ab.

5/29 Bateman was forest service. He was on the Coconino. And Paxon, you said you
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 made
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,

Old C-Rat
5/29 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 effort.

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.

Viejo
5/29 RE: Bateman & Humphrey;

Ab, and all,

I'm gonna change my screen- name. I earned it as lead lighter 30 years ago, and
on every crew I've worked on since, as either LL or firing boss. I've carried it
proudly, maybe even a little arrogantly. And for the first time in my adult life (started
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!)

5/29 To All:

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.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

Good job, Casey. Ab.

5/29 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
other.

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,

Old C-Rat

5/29 I hadn’t thought another good use of the technology would be to track the arsonist
to the point of origin. It’s going to be difficult to dispute that Bateman’s vehicle
wasn’t at the scene of the crime. Every recorded coordinate has a time/date stamp.

Fire Geek

He doesn't debate that he was there. The evidence is clear. Ab.

5/29 Profound sadness from reading the USA Today article IF accurate. One learns
not to believe everything you see published.

Bateman, Denton, 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

5/29 There is a previous article here with additional comments by Larry Humphrey:
www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/185014.php

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 posture.

All in all, a very bad idea.

Sign me disappointed

5/29 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.

yactak
5/29 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.

Sign me
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.

5/29 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."

vfd cap'n
5/29 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 management community.

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 manager
5/29 All I can say about Bateman is shame on him. Shame on the others too. I don't know
of any fire managers in R5 and R6 who light fires outside of the legal guidelines we
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.

Strider

5/29 Hey Folks

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.

Thanks
SouthZoneFF

5/28 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.

TC

5/28 Ab,

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 "Notices - 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 fire.

As Gordon Graham, a Risk Management Consultant, says. "If it's predictable, it's preventable!"

Jerry Hurley
PC FSC Coordinator
5/28 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........

Gizmo
5/28 Anyone have a lead on who makes the "last chance belts"
besides the usuals that cost $20+. 

Thanks

R5 BC

5/28 From Firescribe and a number of other contributors: Prescribed fire???

Facing 5 years in prison, fire manager Van Bateman explains why he set blazes
www.kvoa.com

another on Bateman's case:

Veteran firefighters say they set unauthorized blazes
www.usatoday.com
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 service.

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 attacks.

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 Forest.

Bateman denied responsibility until agents from the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Agriculture presented evidence of his involvement.

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.

fair use disclaimer

5/28 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 learning
culture to enhance and sustain safe and effective work practices in the
entire U.S. wildland fire community. The center provides opportunities and
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
dealing with.

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
ass.

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
Service model.

All wildland firefighters should join the FWFSA. Let's be strong, let's be
heard, let's continue to set the example of excellence that we all do.

Battle on Friends,

Old C-Rat

5/28 Re: AEDs

Zimm,

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!!!!

Rogue Rivers

P.S. - AEDs should also be a standard at each and every WCT!!!!

5/28 Re Esperanza:

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
FORGET.

sc

5/28 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 the country.

Likewise, a fire professional who does not possess education in the biological aspects
of vegetation, fire dependent ecosystems etc. can succeed as a firefighter, but will leave
themself short as a comprehensive fire manager.

Old Fire Guy

5/28 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: http://theses.nps.navy.mil/04Jun_Kenney_Neverosky.pdf

-
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 monitored laboratory
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 day?

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 somewhere.

Type 1 Wrench

5/28 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:
  1. 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.
  2. The final fire risk assessment maps will be made public (Areas will be ranked either Low, Medium, High, or Severe Risk).
  3. 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.
  4. 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 this requirement.
  5. 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 designations.

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.

jimhart

5/28 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 courses since
it appears that is the priority over preparing for fire season!

Casey
5/28 Ab,

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.

www.cnn.com/video...etc

Fire Geek
5/28 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?
Just wondering.

Hotshot Dad
5/28 Greetings,

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 knowledge.

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,

JayBee

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 prayers.
5/28 River wrote:

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 sticks.'

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 homeowner. Ab.

5/28 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.

5/28 Thanks -MJ,

I did clear the IQCS preferences, etc and printing went fine for the AgLearn certs.

Thanks for trying L--C--E-S.

Cool place to get such tips. Thanks to you Abs, too.

Todd

5/28 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......".

As a 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 firefighter safety.

Dick Mangan

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 employees.

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.

5/28 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...........

Lobotomy
5/28 Hey Tim,

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 came through.

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 technology http://www.esri.com/library/casestudies/loma-linda-univ.pdf.

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.

Fire Geek
5/28 For PK,

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.

smkj79
5/27 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 years......

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
5/27 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?

PT

5/27 Fire Geek

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 a pencil.

- 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.
- Training.
- PPE
- Equipment
- Vehicles
- Quarters
- Technology

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.

Tim
5/27 Hello,

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.

PK, USFS

5/27 Todd asked…
!$@@+-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.
L—C—E-S

5/27 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 life.

Zimm
5/27 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 done safer.

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.

no name

5/27 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" happened.

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....

Lori
5/26 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

"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 resolution.

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 died.

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.

5/26 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.
5/26 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.

Just 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.

MM

5/25 Mike Johns,

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 research
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 of
command and why firefighters need training in recognizing and avoiding
pitfalls in risk assessment and decision making. It's also key to recognize what
the human thinking pitfalls are. Thanks for contributing to that understanding.

Mike, you rock!

Mellie

5/25 Ab,

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 it been?

-The Brush Coat Medic
5/25 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 this skill.

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.

5/25 Ab,

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.

MJ.

<<WHAT 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.

5/25 Re: Connectivity from remote locations

Hey Mellie,

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 worked!

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 work anywhere.

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!

Fire Geek

PS – GISgirl can also provide the best CAD system available.

5/25 From Firescribe:

nice article with photos...
Extreme Dry Year Ushers in Dangerous Fire Season (Santa Barbara Co CA)
www.santabarbaranewsroom.com/content/view/278/1/

5/25

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 season...

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.

email: mark.rey@usda.gov
PH: 202-720-7173
Fax:202-720-0632

Sincerely,

Mr. Nanlow

Mark Rey Needs a new line of work

5/25 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 company was.

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?

Mellie

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. Ab.

5/25 Dear AB:

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?

Casey

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.

5/25 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 Management.

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
5/25 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?

Tahoe Terrie

5/25 Re: Esperanza Report Lessons Learned

jimhart,

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 protection.

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 the outcome.

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 protect.

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.

Lobotomy

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!!!

5/25 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 organization??? Ab.

5/25 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!

Many states are "Draught Zone". Unseasonable fires have ravaged many areas east of
the Mississippi River and western states are battling fires fanned by nasty north winds.

Funding for UI fire protection has been redirected to HLS. Police yourself and your
neighbors.

Deep pocket law suits indirectly cost each of us as taxpayers money. Worse, forest
vacationers and rural home owner's choices caused many of the best wildland fire folk
heartbreak, injury, and financial devastation. When the professional wildland firefighters
disappear, who's gonna save your bacon?

River

5/24 Eric,

You said,

"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 firefighter patients.

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....

Noname
5/25 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.

Wildland FMO
5/25 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 district.

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

5/24 Dear Ab,

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 reads this!

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.

Thanks,

Micki Escalante Judd

Well said, Micki. I agree 100%. Thanks for all your help "for the cause". Ab.

5/24 Esperanza Report

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 properties burn.

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 everyone.

MM

5/24 Ab,

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.

Fire Geek

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

Ab,

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 in 2005.

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.

Fire Geek

Ab couldn't attach the zip file. If you want it, I'll put you in touch with Fire Geek.

5/24 From Firescribe:

Esperanza Fire to shape proposed changes
www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_esperanza24.3ee3191.phpl

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 nondefensible.

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 said.

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)

5/24 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 undefensible location.

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
Iraq.

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
route.

It is bound to happen again and soon, because firefighters are human and humans make mistakes,
sometimes with the ultimate of consequences.

Backburnfs
5/24 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 emergency.

Should work other places, too.

-MJ

5/24 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
5/24 Abs,

What a wonderful weekend we had at the Wildland Firefighter Foundations Family Day.

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.

5/24 Regarding past wildfire accident reports:

“What is conspicuous by its absence in these reports, however, is an assessment
of the values at risk for which these firefighters risked and ultimately lost their lives.”

Al Beaver

From Evaluating Risk and Reward Relationships in Wildland Firefighter Safety

jimhart

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. Ab.

5/24 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.
5/24 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.

Thanks

KB
5/24 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?

Thanks!

Cy

5/24 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.

R6 Tender

5/23 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 families.

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 cheeks.

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 carrying.

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 on the 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....

5/23 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.

FC180

5/23 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...

CT

5/23

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:

Allison Hoffman
Associated Press
350 Camino de la Reina
San Diego, CA 92108
PH: 619-987-3674

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 cjudd@fwfsa.org 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.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

5/23 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,
GISgirl
5/23 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 or disclosed?

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!!

5/23 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 up, but:

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.

-MJ

5/23 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.

jimhart
5/23 Abs,

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.

Brother Cub
5/23 Esperanza Report: Impressions and questions I come away with...

Why 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?

Mellie

5/23 OK, I'll break the silence since I have taken the step away from fire after 23 years...

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Stanley

5/23 Ab,

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

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.

5/23 I needed to write a quick note to the wildland community to thank everyone for their continued support of the Wildland Firefighter 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.

Heather’s Mom
5/23 Greetings AB -

www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5045a1.php

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
Eric

5/22 The Esperanza Final Report is on www.fire.ca.gov/index.php under the "Hot Topics" section. 118 pages.

Jlar64

www.fire.ca.gov/fire_er_memorial_esperanza.php

5/22 From Firescribe, seatbelt topic:

2 firetrucks on call collide in Conn.; 8 injured firefighters sent to hospital
www.telegram.com

Riverside Firefighter Charged With Manslaughter (from 8/25/06)
http://cbs2.com

5/22 www.nytimes.com/2007/05/22/nyregion/22bias.phpl
U.S. (DOJ) Sues New York for Bias Over Firefighters Test

"The complaint filed Monday alleges that the Fire Department administered exams
in 1999 and 2002 that, while not purposely or obviously racist, were littered
with college preparatory-like questions that do not test an applicant's ability
to fight fires."

5/22 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.

5/22 Seatbelts:

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 ALL firefighters...

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 firefighter fatalities.

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.

Mellie

5/22 Ab,

Here's the 25 page NIFC Fire Ops talking points for 2007 (200 K doc)
Some good info here.

Strider

5/22 joatman -

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.

When 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 fault.

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 anymored).

Hope this enlightens you as to the REAL process of hiring. Now, where is my Starbuck's????

FCRO Faker

5/22 Rogue Rivers;

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 heart!

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?!?

Pyro
5/22 From Firescribe: Came across this...

A nice fir stats page from NIFC
www.nifc.gov/stats/historicalstats.phpl

5/22 NEWS ADVISORY
Contacts: Matt Mathes 707-246-3911 (cell)
Valerie Baca 909-382-2711
Mike Jarvis 916-653-5587

EDITOR’S ADVISORY
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 fatalities.

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.

###

5/22 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 educate me.

*whew
-joatmon

...I think I need a friggin' cocktail Ab.....
5/22 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.

Tom Jones
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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
5/22 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 future.

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 changes.

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

Lobotomy, take a deep breath, my friend.
As soon as someone gets the Esperanza Report today, please send it in. Ab.

5/21 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
drained pool.....

Does anyone have any insight? What's up?

Steve L C E S
5/21 joatmon:

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??

Thanks

Sign me:
Need some educating
5/21 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 certification.....

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......

Rogue Rivers
5/21 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....

FCRO Faker

5/21 Talking points on CalFire's new emblem. Any new emblem should
"sing" for itself. Makeup your own mind.

www.fire.ca.gov/downloads/NewCALFIREemblem.pdf

SoCal CalFire

5/21 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,

sdlg

5/21 WOW. This is just plain RIDICULOUS...

www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/trackingdb/postings.phpl

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 TO WORK.

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 created.

....4th of July weekend?....Lets raise SA.....

-joatmon.
5/21 Hi Ab,

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.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
www.wffoundation.org
5/21 !$@@+-grrrrrr

Does anyone know how to get AgLearn certificates to print on a FS computer???

Todd

5/21 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
long gone.

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.

Old C-Rat
5/21 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 system.

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 method.

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.

Sincerely,

/s/ Tory Henderson
Chair, FEWT
5/21 Ab,

Can anyone in the dispatch or medical community shed some light on this request
on the Western Great Basin UTF list? I get asked about once or twice a month by
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
ACTION: UTF
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, www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/emsg/resources.php:

"2. The Scope of Practice of EMS personnel assigned to medical units is
primarily the skills and knowledge of a basic emergency medical technician
(EMT-B)." - www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/emsg/resources/standards.pdf

It would be interesting to know if this Georgia incident got their paramedic, and
whether from farther away than Idaho.

vfd cap'n

5/20 Dear AB:

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 special family.

Thanks,
Casey
5/20 From Firescribe:

http://gacc.nifc.gov/oscc/predictive/intelligence/news_notes/index.php

Today a flag was raised which had flown at the California State capital
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 Operator
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.

5/20 Ab,

Western Great Basin has updated the links for the UTF Report and News and
Notes. These links should be good for the year. Thanks for posting our
information.

http://gacc.nifc.gov/wgbc/information/utflist.pdf
http://gacc.nifc.gov/wgbc/information/newsandnotes.php

Nelda St. Clair
Center Manager, WGB

You're welcome, Nelda. Your News & Notes are linked on the News Page 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.

5/20 In response to the 5/16 post concerning Overtime for calculating child support.

I was able to not have my overtime pay count toward total income by using
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.

Sign me,

Another AIDS Victim (Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome)

5/20 Looks like the insurance companies are going to push better building and maintenance practices in the WUI.

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070520/wildfires_cutting_losses.phpl?.v=2

NVJims
5/20 Ab

As I was surfing today checking on what CDF had on recent incidents and I noted at
the bottom left of the page, where the department logo has always resided there was
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
wearing?

ht

5/20 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
5/20 Doing Research;

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 District...

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)?

Anyone? Anyone???

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!

Pyro

JOIN AND SUPPORT YOUR FWFSA !

5/19 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 people total.

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
5/19 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 your friends.

An airtanker pilot's book, a hammock and a cold glass of iced tea are on my afternoon relax list...

Ab.

5/18 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?

emt_mb

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

5/18 Firemom,

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.

Another AD
5/18 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.

Ab.

5/18 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. 

Old Sawyer.

Nuttal Complex archive site: 
www.fireteam-sw.com/oltrogge/incidents/nuttall/ 

Happy hunting. Ab.

5/18 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.

Be safe-

-Visionary type person (again)
5/18 Here are a couple links to some photos and video of
the fire burning in southern N.J. from our local
paper:

www.app.com/gallery1
www.app.com/article
www.app.com/gallery2
www.app.com/gallery3

JerseyBoy

I also put these links on the hotlist under NJ-NJS-Warren Grove. Some nice photos. Ab.

5/18 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)

5/18 "yikes"
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. 

Old Sawyer.

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.

5/18 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.

5/18 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.

FireMom

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 real.)

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.

5/18 OK 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. 
Schicke quilt

Greeno quilt

Quilt poster (with artist)


Marian and Nora Chambers

Very nice job, Nora. 
Info on: Family Day & 52 Club. Ab.

5/18 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 ;-)

GISgirl <laughing>
5/18 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.

5/18 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.

dragmccloud
5/18 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

5/18 Re: Biological Resources Group Leader

Old Sawyer,

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.........

"Yikes"

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?
5/17 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 scenes:

The information in this letter is really just a simplification of what is our policy as displayed in the Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook.

Unfortunately it refers just to fire related activities. A better letter would say:

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
are working.

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 Officer.

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
Chair, NMAC

5/17 Florida Bugaboo Wildland Fire
www.inciweb.org/incident/671/

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 Casablanca.

"Don't Bogart that fire my friend?"

Guess I should make a call to the ICP and clue them in...

GA Peach

Fatigue? Ab.

5/17 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.

Ann Studebaker

5/17 Ab,

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.

Dave
5/17 Old Sawyer,

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.

Fire Geek
5/17 Cleveland NF Community & especially the Palomar RD,

I had many interesting and frantic times along side of Grace in the aftermath
of the Cedar Fire. She took on the role of easing life after a major fire for
the surrounding communities and she will be missed.

Stanley
5/17 Ab

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
Hot Shot.

Bruce R. Dennis
El Cariso Hot Shot 1972-1974

Lots of ex El Cariso shots belong to this community. Have you seen this page? "IHC-->Fire Manager" Project Ab.

5/17 Mellie,

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.......

yactak
5/17 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.

ht

5/16 "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.

5/16 Thousands of lightning strikes all across Arizona today. Evacuations
ordered on the Promontory Fire.

Early active fire season.

Old Sawyer.

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. Ab.

5/16 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
venture.

Thank you

Naomi

5/16 Badbrad

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
things up.

Be safe

AZ Trailblazer
5/16 BadBrad -

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
5/16 badbrad,

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 west.

Stump
5/16 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?

badbrad
5/16 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.

ph 2

Condolences. Ab.

5/16 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 not mandatory..........

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 calculations. Ab.

5/16 There are still current jobs open in the Help Wanted section of the Jobs Page.  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
5/16 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.

Strider

5/16 Ab,

We've got a pretty long unable to fill list - WBC. It's posted here:

http://gacc.nifc.gov/wgbc/information/utflist.doc

Safety Officers Type 2 are in high demand.

NV Stu

5/16 Whoooo hooooooo

South Ops News and Notes is up and running again as of yesterday!

http://gacc.nifc.gov/oscc/predictive/intelligence/news_notes/index.php

Mellie

5/16 Ab,

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 to 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, melissa@wffoundation.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.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director

5/16 NMAirBear,

Politics and the lack of true leaders has always been the greatest risk to wildland
firefighters and the delivery of the mission. You are correct.

You said,

"I see politics and weather now threatening all of us." I see a lack of communication
threatening us....

On my side, I see the catalysts (They Said Members) of change eventually protecting
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....

Lobotomy
5/16 Firescribe:

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
a "Biological Resources Group Leader".... WTF is that?

I always thought he was a firefighter and the folks that worked for
him on 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.

Yikes
5/16 Cumulus,

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.........

TC

5/16 Lobotomy,

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.

007

5/16 Cumulus,

As I read it, the minimum standard is (Regional Forester - Commanders Intent):

"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."

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.

Rogue Rivers

5/15 From Firescribe:

Areas known for wildfire risk seeing an influx of residents
thedesertsun.com

"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)
www.desastres.org

Prescribed fire for Zion National Park postponed (AZ)
www.thespectrum.com

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
www.eastvalleytribune.com

Florida-Georgia wildfire forces hundreds to evacuate for 2nd time
www.accessnorthga.com

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)
www.chron.com

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)
www.myfoxny.com

"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)
www.wctrib.com

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 Thursday.
. . . . .

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)
www.tbsource.com

For more, check the Fire News page. Ab.

5/15 New Jersey fire. I hope people are being safe there, too.

Bert Plante 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 Hotlist Forum.

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...

Mellie

5/15 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
stories.

NMAirBear

5/15 TC,

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?


TC
Thanks For The Letter

Cumulus
5/15 ENOP

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 - www.usda.gov/oig/hotline.php.

TC
5/15 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 productive season.

ENOP

5/15 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...........

TC
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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:
  1. 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 a
    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.
  2. 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 license
    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
reference purposes.

/s/ Beth G. Pendleton (for) |
Bernard Weingardt, Regional Forester

5/14 007,

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 S-130/S-190 program.

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.

Lobotomy

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

From a Forest Service Fatality investigation report of the past:

History does repeat itself .... Lessons Not Learned.....

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

..."The investigation team does not feel more restrictions are necessary with regard to how we fight fire. Our problems will not be solved through restrictions when the basic cause lies elsewhere. We have our downhill guides for line construction. The first four of these guides were violated in the case of the <firefighters name> fatality. Nine of the Ten Standard Firefighting Orders were also violated. Further restrictions would also be violated, unless training and experience gives foremen and crewmen on the ground the basic knowledge to understand the reasons for the rules and restrictions. Foremen must also have gained the necessary experience and developed the supervisory and leadership skills needed for enforcement."

"Crew leadership begins with the recruitment, selection, and appointment of individuals with basic strengths in the areas pertinent to the crews work. In forest fire control, these areas include both a strong physical capability and a moderate level of intelligence. These basic abilities then can be utilized in a work and training program to produce strong and capable first line supervisors."

"The <forest name> has been less than fully successful in developing first-line supervisors (crew foremen) necessary for their fire control organization."

"Many of their more experienced people have left to join other Forest Service units and other firefighting agencies such as the California Division of Forestry and various County Fire Departments. Competition for good men is keen. We continue to train good people for other agencies. Our conditions for employment leave this Region, and particularly the <forest name> is an almost untenable position. It is difficult to entice high quality people to apply for fire positions when agencies such as the California Division of Forestry and most County Fire Departments can offer capable people full-time yearlong employment, better crew living conditions and higher pay." ...

... "The <forest name>, as elsewhere in the Region, is operating under severe budgetary and ceiling limitations. Allotments have failed to keep pace with increasing equipment, salary and other operating costs. The level of manning of fire crews is less than in prior years. The situation has been deteriorating over the past two to three years with a major loss of crewmen (78 positions) in <year>. Prior to <year> tanker crews had been fully financed and manned (generally 5 men per tanker) for the full fire season." ...

... "We are relying on a fire force that is deteriorating in both quantity and quality. We face a growing problem and growing public concern. People at the Forest level are becoming increasingly frustrated and bitter. Their frustration comes from trying to do a larger job with a lesser force. Their bitterness stems from the fact that they cannot see the results of any real effort being made to make their plight known, Interviews with Forest Service people revealed that they believe the Forest Service is more concerned with new programs and its image than it is with telling Congress and the Budgetary authorities the facts about our resource losses and protection needs. Other programs receive major fund increases, but we continue to lose effective dollars for the basic fire control organization. Our people believe that little is being done to point out the potential social and environmental benefits possible from increased fire protection, and thus capitalize on the current high level of public and Congressional concern in these areas."

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

Extracted from: Investigation Report, Robert Maxwell Miller Fatality, San Bernardino National Forest, September 19, 1971.

www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Mack_2_1971.pdf (entire pdf file)

Lobotomy

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.".

5/14 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 posted below.

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 legislation.

Bill Gabbert
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 -

5/14 After the Esperanza Fire of 2006, the new Regional Forester wrote the following:

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

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"

5/14 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.

smkj79
5/14

Anyone know if this is still in effect?

Cumulus
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

5/14 TC,

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 www.wrightandco.com 

-MJ

5/14 Firefighter Liability

This pdf file lists a web site for fire liability information
(www.nifc.gov/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

TC

5/14 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

5/14 L--C--E-S

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 me

Houston I think we have a problem
5/14 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).

David

5/13 The following information and all things IFPM can be found at:

www.ifpm.nifc.gov/guide/electronic.php

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)
AND
Operations: Single Resource Boss (SRB)-Engine
AND
Prescribed Fire: ----

SUPERVISORY FIRE ENGINE OPERATOR
Supervising three or fewer crew members
NWCG Incident Management Qualifications - Currency Required
Command: Incident Commander, Type 5 (ICT5)
AND
Operations: Engine Operator (ENOP)
AND
Prescribed Fire: ----

SENIOR FIREFIGHTER (advanced level firefighter with specialized skills and knowledge)
NWCG Incident Management Qualifications - Currency Required
Command: Incident Commander, Type 5 (ICT5)
OR
Operations: Firefighter, Type 1 (FFT1) or Helicopter Crewmember
(HECM), as appropriate
AND
Prescribed Fire: ----
Additional required training as presented in the following courses, or agency equivalent:
• S-290 “Intermediate Fire Behavior”

Small Agency Fire Guy

5/13 Lobotomy:

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.

Casey
5/13 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.
 

5/13 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 responding to.

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

5/13 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.

http://photo.twincities.com/index.php/2007/05/07/ham-lake-fire/

Small Agency Fire Guy
5/13 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.

Barbara Leach
Human Resources Specialist (Recruitment)
Mendocino, Klamath, Six Rivers, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests

  FYI,

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.

Updated http://archive.hpwren.ucsd.edu/firephotos/20070426/

Captain Ron Serabia
Semi-retired
5/13 Casey,

You said,

"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 forward.

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 towards success.....

Lobotomy
5/13 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
mystery voices.

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.

Hotshot Dad
5/13 Gizmo,

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' long list.

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 the time....

Any other advice, or experience with this folks?

-wood
5/13 Lobotomy,

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 bugs.

Maybe the Forest Service can learn something (at Ford's expense) and follow suit. Dangerous thoughts...

Stay safe! "Kicks"

5/13 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.

007
5/12 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

5/12 Southern Area is now at Preparedness Level 5

Multiple new starts in Florida where there are active wildfires in 54 out of 57 counties.

http://gacc.nifc.gov/sacc/predictive/intelligence/SACCMorningReport.pdf

Anyone fancy a trip to sunny Florida?
5/12 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.

Rogue Rivers

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 is leadership.
5/12 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: www.fs.fed.us/r6/recreation/rentals/

Have no fear! Some ARE available in the winter during your well deserved
time off...

noname

You can also check out books on the books page about fire lookouts. Ab.

5/12 Re: FEHBP Employee Premium Payments

-wood,

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 the FEHBP.

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.

Please see: www.opm.gov/asd/pdf/97-201.pdf

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 individual agency.

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.

Gizmo

5/11 Picker, 

The last time Tioga Pass (9945ft) opened before May 11, was April 29 1988. 

T

5/11 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.

Sincerely
-wood

Thanks Ab.

You're welcome. Ab.

5/11 Tioga Pass

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!

Picker

M-Day is not Mother's Day, I take it, but Memorial Day... Ab.

5/11 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 funeral!!!!!!!

NORCAL Capt
5/11 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 pay.

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 other engine.

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 staffed safely.

signed Private from R-6

5/11 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.

Thanks,
SoCal FFII
5/11 See attached file:

Fire Program Management and Decision Making Liability

no moniker

I think this was posted early in the year, but I cannot find it now. Ab.

5/11 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
5/11 AB,

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?

Thanks,

Still Learning
5/11 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
non-removable antenna)

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
to interference.

COMT

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

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 so
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

5/11 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,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
5/11 Allstate Insurance Company just announced that it will not be writing any new
structure insurance policies in California after July 1, 2007. Issues are a combo
of fire and earthquake.

Mellie

5/11 Fire QUILT:

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.

Lori

Good to hear. Ab.

5/11 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.
5/11 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.

ADTexas

Good place to ask for resources. Ab.

5/11 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.

WJ

Thanks for the reminder, WJ. Michelle Reugebrink was Chief Investigator and Fred Buhr was Team Leader on that investigation. We posted it here: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2006/miami-lookout-death-24-72.php

5/11 Bitter,

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 correct version).

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 fireline....

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 Tzu... 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 cause.

Lobotomy
5/11 JAF088--

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.

NVJims
5/10 All kinds of fire on the hotlist. Ab.
5/10 June 17, 2002

Blue Cut fire in the Cajon Pass near San Bernardino on Father's Day
Day 2
engine burnover.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uIBOL2yrRM&NR=1

Some on the wlf photos page:
www.wildlandfire.com/pics/fire12/fire12.php
last row
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.

Another post

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.

Be safe.

Mellie

5/10 Death penalty being sought for Oyler

www.latimes.com/news/local/la-ex-oyler9may10,0,2814621.story?coll=la-home-center

Fire Geek

5/10 The San Bernardino just lost another 2 to CALFIRE yesterday. Both were good Engineers.
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 district. Crazy.

Bitter
5/10 Hi Ab,

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 on
the fires, I want to extend our thanks to the communities here in Georgia who
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.

Sign me

ADTexas

Good on you. Thanks. Be Safe. Ab.

5/10 So I was prowling around YouTube for a little while, and came upon this trailer
for a documentary about Ken's 104 mile run.

Check it out... www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ooq3WGR7KQU

Cause Safety!

FireBill

Nice. Some of the characters there, too. Ab.

5/10 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.

Rogue Rivers

5/10  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?

Thanks.
JAFO88

5/10 50 1 50,

Right on, true to the truth!

dragmccloud

5/10 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)

-easterner

Maybe a rerun? Ab.

5/9 Hello,

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 receiving.

May God bless you all and I wish everyone a safe return,

Janet L<snip>
Hinesville, GA

Thanks Janet. You be safe too. Ab.

5/9 Tips:

Reducing the risk from PT - - - Selecting the Right Shoes

Michael Cobbold
Safety Officer
Shasta-Trinity and Mendocino National Forests

5/9 Professional Liability Insurance Reimbursement:

An applicant for reimbursement should prepare the documents, then send
them to the regional benefit specialist:

Yvette Erdman,
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>

Documents include:

  • Copy of the Professional Liability Policy issued in the employee's name
  • 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
    Enforcement employee
  • 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 the
    cost was incurred.

Questions - contact Yvette.

5/9 A little ppt, that you may be able to use for discussion with your ff's.

focus.ppt (small, 35 K)

DF

Nice simple summary points for discussion. I'd add seatbelts as the last one, after driving. Ab.

5/9 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 DOJ.

Lori
5/9 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

5/9 Position Classifications:

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
my way.

Abs, if its possible, feel free to distribute my contact information to
those who are interested.

Thanks.

FEO-JR

5/9 Re: Recent Work Capacity Test (Pack Test) related deaths

Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act of 2003
Pub. L. No. 108-182
S.459

One Hundred Eighth Congress
of the United States of America

An Act

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 2003'.

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 (1);
'(B) while still on that duty after so engaging or participating; or
'(C) not later than 24 hours after so engaging or participating; and

'(3) such presumption is not overcome by competent medical evidence to the contrary.

'(l) For purposes of subsection (k), 'nonroutine stressful or strenuous physical' excludes actions of a clerical, administrative, or nonmanual nature.'.

. Enrolled as Agreed to and Passed by Both House and Senate
. Signed by President George W. Bush Dec. 15, 2003

Lobotomy

5/9 Hi Ab,

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.

The Golden State of Emergency

I'm enjoying my MOU vacation, but not sure how long it will last with the deteriorating conditions in California

Thanks.
AZ Trailblazer

5/9 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.

Ab.

5/9 I have been reading, and digesting, a ton of posts here concerning retention, leadership (or lack thereof) and the general state of the Forest Service.

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 end.

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 negative means.

Signed,

No answers yet, just hope

5/9 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!

Signed,
R1 for a good reason
5/9 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 government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” (Declaration of Independence).

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

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

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

So, it was told to our Regional leaders that things are BAD and getting worse
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 them safe.

Sign me 50 1 50.

5/9 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)

5/9 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
5/9 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...

SC

5/8 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.

Signed,
Relocated, but still concerned

5/8 Retention

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
happened yet.

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.

5/8 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.

5/8 I got some photos of the Horse fire...

thanks,
Joan

You're welcome. Ab.

5/8 Anyone know how long inciweb has been down?

GA resident

5/8 Dan,

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.

Thanks

4th year

5/8 Oliver:

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 Assistance Grants.

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.

Casey
5/8 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.

Old Boot
5/8 Re who pays for fires:

Googled Facts:
Georgia Forestry Commission has fire protection responsibility for 24 million
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.

Assumptions:
If Georgia is like other states, and use USFS resources outside of reciprocal
agreements, I assume they will pay for those additional resources. If the state
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 fire.

Oliver

5/8 ht,

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.

Hutch

5/8 TC

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.

jd
5/8 Mellie,

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.

TC
5/8 JD;

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).

TC

5/8 Ab

IMWTK :)
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.

ht
5/7 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?

Mellie

5/7 Hey,

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
fire supervisor.

jd

5/7 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 not.

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 other.

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 great run.

God Bless.

Dan Fiorito, UNION IHC

Dan, we're gonna miss you. Ab.

5/7 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,

-MJ

This program won't be cut. Beyond that, we're still up in the air until things get worked out. Ab.

5/7 FS retention:

Hey Group,

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 intact.

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. AARGH!

Scrape.

5/7 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?

Tanker Support

5/7 JayBee,

The fire behavior report for Canyon Inn is in the Lessons Learned database
at www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Fire_Behavior_Canyon_Fire_1968.pdf

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."
www.coloradofirecamp.com/fire-origins/1967-downhill-line-operations.php

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.

vfd cap'n

ps

Here's a 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."

5/7 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.

Anyone?

JayBee

5/7 IFPM and 401 SERIES STANDARD

To: Region 5 Fire Community, Forest Supervisors and District Rangers
Date: 5/4/07

From: Rusty Witwer, R5 Fire Training and Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, R5 IFPM Working Group

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:

  1. 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 information.
     
  2. 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 this end.
     
  3. 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 level units.

    Those in this program, and other university programs (UNLV etc.) will need to provide transcripts in order to be credited.
     
  4. 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.
5/7 fireflyer-

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.

-bug

Be tough bug, this Ab is pullin' for you. Stay in the game even if not on the fireline.

5/7 Retired Chiefs speak out on fire suppression funding (statement from 4/23)

The attached 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.

5/7 Notice of Firefighter Fatality - Sweet, ID

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) has received notice of the following firefighter fatality:
 

Name: Vernon "Bob" McKenzie
Rank: Firefighter
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Status: Volunteer
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
Telephone: 208-866-2462
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 www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/

Condolences. Ab.

5/6 FFemt and others trying repeatedly and failing to register for the hotlist forum:

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.

5/6 From Firescribe:

Fires spread along Gunflint Trail (Ham Lake Fire in Minnesota blowdown)
Inciweb on the Ham Lake Fire MN
Minnesota DNR update on the Ham Lake Fire

Sweat Farm Road / Big Turnaround Wildland Fire Photos GA

5/6 Ab,

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 list. Ab.

5/6 Ab-

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.

Bill Gabbert

I added him. Thanks. Also added the current year's recipient. Ab.

5/6 Lori

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 52 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.

Annette

5/6 Great news.

The 2006 Paul Gleason Award winners have been announced.

www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/documents/Gleason_Award_2006.doc

sting

Ab put them on the Awards 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
5/6 Red Flag for Arrowhead of MN and portions of WI and MI.

Evacuation order for Gunflint Trail.

MNC031-061900-
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.

Weather Geek

More info on the Hotlist from Portage Pulaski on this fire, the Ham Lake Fire. Ab.

5/6 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
system.

People around you do notice. It's the "TEAM" concept
vs the "I" concept.

fireflyer

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.

5/5 Reminder from SoCal:

June 30 deadline for tree removal
www.bigbeargrizzly.net/articles/2007/05/03/news/treeremoval.txt

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.”

5/5 From Firescribe. I heard in R5 the % was 51% of the budget is for fire.

Former forest chiefs decry costs of fires
www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/05/05/news/state/60-costs.txt

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 those bills.

"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

5/4

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 change

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 unit.
  • 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 front passed.
  • 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 specialist.

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 fire.
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 dozer.

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

5/4 Re "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.

John Parsons
Fire Management Officer
Gifford Pinchot National Forest

5/4 Nice new state wildfire site here:

http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/fire/aboutus.phpl

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.

Ab.

5/4 The Help 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
5/4 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.

What a waste.....

Lori

5/4 Ab,

red flags for AZ.

www.wrh.noaa.gov/fgz/

Ser...

5/4 I was just wondering if anyone had any news of how Steve Burns is doing in Oregon.
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.

ADTexas
5/4 Ab,

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

"FireEcologist"

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.

5/4 From MK

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
Rank: Firefighter
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Status: Volunteer
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
Telephone: 208-866-2462
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 www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/

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)

5/4 Sally:

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
donation.

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
retire.

The only honest way to use a significant amount of sick leave at the end of
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.

FERS dude.

5/4 Ab,

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...

5/4 Ab (and all other rattler lovers):

After a quick check of www.snopes.com I found the following:
www.snopes.com/photos/animals/txsnake.asp
and..
www.snopes.com/photos/animals/claysnake.asp (slow loading with junk popup frame)

This snake story has been around for a few years, based on how many times it has been sent to me..
Nonetheless, be careful.

Stanley
5/4 Its always good to check out www.snopes.com before falling for an urban
rumor.

I found the rattler snake story and picture mentioned by "D Burns" on they
said:

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!

Sedgehead.

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 delivery. Ab.

5/4 Ab

Any rattlesnake within striking distance is disturbing, Check out
the Eastern Timber Rattler. They be big guys too.

ht

5/3 Firefighting hazards:

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 RR 3014

Turnoff on Highway 281 south of Tow Texas. [THAT'S JUST WEST of BURNETT]

RATTLER

A reminder that these creatures are actually out there and no matter what you believe,

Sometimes they should get not only prescriptive rights to be there but the full right of way!

9 feet, 1 inch - 97 lbs.

DEEP-FRIED RATTLESNAKE

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 egg
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper

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 brown.

Yum,Yum! It sorta tastes like chicken.

D Burns

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.

5/3 Does anyone have the

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 I and Type II Incident Management Team pages. Send in any updates or corrections, please.

Ab.

5/3 A California team still needs several logos:

San Bernardino City Fire
Murrieta Fire
Big Bear Lake Fire

Could someone please send them in to SoCal Team 2 or here to Ab to pass on?

Thanks

Mellie

We'll pass them on... Ab.

5/3 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
to...................

TC

********************URGENT NOTICE**********************

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.
5/3 Lori,

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 thoughts daily.

Brenda
5/3 Sally,

The donor leave program provides the opportunity to donate
"annual leave" to an eligible co-worker. Sick leave hours cannot
be donated.

Generous thought for you to want to do so, though.

Old Fire Guy

5/3 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 got
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
go in?

Sally
5/3 Ab,

Here's an update I got today on the Colorado legislation to provide health
benefits to firefighters who develop cancer.

vfd cap'n

----

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
www.colorado.gov/governor/contact.phpl

The Colorado Professional Fire Fighters website has lots of information to
learn more about House Bill 1008 before calling the Governor.
www.cpff.org/
5/2 I think that everyone needs to understand the difference between the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

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.

Lori
5/2 Re Medical Standards:

With all the talk about the health screening and/or
examinations, I'm wondering who actually came up with
the guidelines?

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.

Any answers?

JerseyBoy

5/2 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?

……………..p

5/2 Safety Chief

The USDA web page shows quite a few folks:

www.usda.gov/da/shmd/safpoc.php

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

Good Luck.......................
TC

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.

5/2 CHS Physicals

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 so 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.

Sign me,

CHS Hater.

5/2 CHS Physicals

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 delays.

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 used to.

Best of luck all those just starting out.

Firepup91

5/2 This photo of the southern Georgia Fire just came in.

Thanks RR.

Ab.

5/2 Official Medical Standards site: www.nifc.gov/medical_standards/
5/2 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.

KPC

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.

5/2

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 it.

Ann Studebaker

5/2 AB,

There are some Horse Fire photos for use at the HPWREN public site:

http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/news/20060725/

Captain Ron - CalFire Ramona AAB

5/2 Got the info, thanks. Misspelled the name. Mellie
5/2 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??

Regards,

Gordon Mackay
New Zealand.

5/2 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.

Thanks,
Socal FF
5/2 Medical Standards,

Doesn't the Americans with Disabilities Act weigh into this situation?

dragmccloud

Haw Haw. Ab.

5/1 Hey Ab,

Someone just this minute sent me the video clip featuring Don Studebaker that
was taken during the Eyerly Fire in R-6 in 2002. I believe John Truitt from the
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 get
permission to post it?

Mellie

5/1 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 program.

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.

5/1 This came in from the Cleveland NF:

I'm looking for photos of the Horse Fire in 2006. I'm trying to do a certificate
to thank folks for their assistance in letting us have base camp at Viejas.

Joan

Have any Horse Fire photos anyone? I know there have to be some out there. Inciweb took down all photos.

Ab.

5/1 Readers,

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 injury.

  • 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
  • etc.

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 attention.

[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 his family.

Mellie

5/1 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 conditional position.

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 a GS-5.

Is there anyone out there with real answers? Everyone that I talk to who should know skirts the question or ignores it.

Just Curious

I am not sure anyone knows at this time. Ab.

5/1 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.

The 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.

Vicki Minor

5/1 California Fire Season Outlook 2007

national-outlook07.pdf (62K pdf file)

ca-outlook07.pdf (247K pdf file)

• Earlier than normal start to fire season
• Abnormally dry fuels in the South due to absence of significant rainfall
• Below normal precipitation has led to lower then normal 1000 hour fuel moistures statewide.
• 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 interface.
• Drought stress and bug kill may become factors by late in fire season.
• California resources are less likely to be available for assignment to other Regions.
• Springtime prescribed burning in the north could possibly see early curtailment.

JS

Lots'a red on that map of CA. Ab.

5/1 From Firescribe:

Fire agency predicts increased wildfire risk in West, Southeast

US Drought Monitor Map (Click for closeups of region and state)
Fire Potential Map

Fire season begins May 14 in SoCal

and Georgia

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

5/1 Re Fire Boots:

HH & Tim

You might want to look at your state’s OSHA or Industry rules for wildland firefighters’ PPE.

Washington State requires wildland firefighter boots to have leather uppers “a minimum of 8
inches above the top of the sole”…

NWRG

5/1 Portage Pulaski,

We are having lots of fires.

Osakis Lake is where the fire occurred, 2 acres, grass. A MN-DNR Conservation
Officer -Jeff Johanson- pulled the old man -Harry Rutten- out of the flames and also
got burns. Here's a brief article explaining the incident:

92 yr old Osakis MN man died from injuries suffered in grass fire

Heads up.

MN-DNR Firefighter
www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/index.phpl

Our best wishes for Jeff Johanson's recovery. Ab.

5/1 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.

Ab.

5/1 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 www.nffe-fsc.org/ – click on the “New Comp Sourcing” button. Its potential effects on the militia are discussed in some detail in the April 12 Congressional Briefing book.

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 outsourcing program.

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
5/1 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician Series) & Series 0455 (Range Technician Series) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist Series) are updated.

Also, Ab updated the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project Thanks for the contributions.

5/1 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?

Be Safe,

Portage Pulaski

5/1 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........

grantgrovemtman

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.

5/1 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.

Ab.

5/1 Re: medical Standards

To:
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 eliminated.

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 program administrators.

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.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
5/1 If you think Georgia is burning, look south.

www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/FIRE/hms.phpl

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 9:24:37GMT
Fires are in red. Fire size has been increased so fires are visible in this large view.
Smoke, when detected by the analyst, is in gray".

Sedgehead
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