"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
June, 2007

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6/30 AB,

Rancho Fire here on the Los Padres, Santa Barbara Ranger District, Los Prietos is 250 acres at 
1920. 

Spotting and running with 80 ft flame lengths. Forecast here calls for 100+ tomorrow.

DV

6/30 Mike,

The idea of making people responsible for wildland fire damage is an excellent one and is in the direction I would like to see the fire service move. However, until there are some hard numbers relating to why houses burn, TRPA (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) and folks who enjoy keeping what some believe to be excessive vegetation, the strategy you suggest isn’t going anywhere. I know USFS Jack Cohen has done some excellent work, but we need a systematic study of a number of fires that look at every variable possible in a quantitative manner and come up with some stats.

A house may not burn not because of its construction, but because an engine crew was parked in the driveway. That kind of data can’t be collected by going around and looking at charred remains. You have to talk to the crews.

HELLO! Why do researchers have a habit of not talking to firefighters who were there?!? Maybe for the same reason we have non-fire people frequently making fire decisions. Yeah, the Esperanza fire struggled to get through 30-year-old chaparral. The guy in Riverside who said that, what’s wrong with him anyway?

I’ll give you an example of what I am talking about regarding erroneous assumptions about clearance. In the Cerro Grande fire you can look at all the aerials of Los Alamos and something really weird begins to come clear. There are circles of burned forest emanating from burned structures, not the other way around. In other words, clearance had nothing to do with the houses burning. Embers landed on the houses, igniting them and the forest nearby. It wasn’t the forest (cleared or uncleared) that was the hazard, it was the stupid house!

You can find similar events on nearly every fire.

I’m not talking about you here, but the population in general: Pointing fingers at TRPA, your favorite native plant lover, or old ladies who don’t have the money to cut out the shrubs, is not going to get us anywhere. This knee jerk response of blaming lack of clearance, while obviously justified in a lot of situations, is not particularly helpful. The logical extension of this myopia is to consider National Forests and other natural resources as hazards when in fact the hazards are the people who don’t understand fire.

jimhart
6/30 hello ab,

we have updated our angora fire intel page.

a new google earth tour of the fire area - with destroyed homes shown as a parcel overlay - is available at:

www.northtreefire.com/gis/virtual.php

NorthTree Fire GIS is not assigned to this incident, we are sharing these maps as a public service. we feel that with all the talk about clearance, or lack thereof, and with blame and finger-pointing beginning to build, that it would be good to give folks as good a picture of what actually happened there as soon as possilble. google earth is starting to be a great tool for talking about things that are happening on the ground.

google's base imagery for the fire area is not perfectly registered to on-the-ground coordinates - they are aware of the problem; once they fix it, we will update this information with more accurate overlays. our maps are derived from data posted on the el dorado county sheriff's website and from el dorado county parcel maps.

also, the red outlines of the fire area are not perfectly registered to their location on the imagery. errors of over 100' may be possible.

NorthTree Fire GIS
6/30 Just a thought here, maybe Cal Fire and USFS should get together and take a shot at going after TRPA (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) to cover some of the costs for suppression of the Angora fire. In my world they should be fined excessive amounts of money every day that they continue to impede the landowners to provide real defensible space, Those fines going to real fuels reduction projects, oh yes including oh no im gonna say it -- logging, especially thinning and not just small no value timber include the dead and dying old growth -- so its economically feasible to do such projects. Unfortunately, people forget fast these days so i think the chances for real changes at Tahoe Management are slim to none. 

Just my thoughts,

Mike

6/30 According to weather reports, California will be reaching temperatures in the triple digits by midweek. It's going to be HOT!

In Oregon however, the Oregon coast received some significant rains on 6/28, recording 0.40" inches in Astoria (far northwestern tip of Oregon) and a very decent amount of 1.45" just east of Brookings (not far from the CA / OR border)

Everyone please be safe out there, remember that even though some good rain has fallen in some areas it's still very dry out there, and we're still early into the season.

Be safe everyone.....

sr5401
6/29 AB,

Thanks for the spelling correction on my last post :)

I failed to include contact information for those of you on the ANF who are constituents of Rep.s Schiff & Sherman. Although I can stay on their radar screen with the issues, it is imperative that they hear from those of you who work on the ANF and are constituents of theirs.

Both offices are encouraging firefighters to contact them with their concerns and they are mindful of concerns about reprisal/retribution.

The POC in Schiff's office is Alex Saltman at 202-225-4176 or alex.saltman@mail.house.gov

In Brad Sherman's office it is Rebecca Carlton at 202-225-5911 or rebecca.carlton@mail.house.gov

Thanks,

Casey
6/29 Mimicking Nature’s Fire?

Since I’m in the mood today, I thought I’d comment on Frank Carroll’s post about Steve Arno’s new book, Mimicking Nature’s Fire.

While fire suppression and lousy land use management has definitely led to the accumulation of fuels in some forests, my fear is that once again folks will take stuff out of context and apply it where it doesn’t belong.

There are a couple quotes within Arno’s text that struck me (yes, I’ve read some of it):

“Prior to 1900…about 6 million acres of the historic burning was in forest and woodlands and the remaining 14 million in grassland, sagebrush, and chaparral.” Pg. 30.

“However, we do not know what forests would have been like without Native American ignitions.” Pg. 31.

Just to make it clear, Native Americans were human beings too. They modified the landscape to suit their needs. They used fire to basically eliminate plant communities that didn’t provide them necessary resources. For example, they began the process of converting California shrublands to grasslands (more deer, more seed crops) long before CDF helped ranchers perform “range improvement.” Now that those grasslands are basically filled with alien sticker weeds and frequently burn every year in some areas (the front range of the San Bernardinos for example), a lot of folks (except for a few dinosaurs) are beginning to wonder if that will be the fate of other shrublands as human populations expand and fire frequency increases.

While it may feel good to try and replicate Native American burning patterns, the fact of the matter is, we really don’t know a lot about them despite some of the grandiose assumptions some people like to make. Separating out lightning caused fires from Native American lites is not particularly easy as Arno states in his text.

Then we come to the second quote listed above. What’s natural and what is an artifact of human activity? From all the platitudes I’ve heard about how we’ve (firefighters) screwed up forests due to fire exclusion and how we should use “pre-settlement” burn patterns to restore wildlands, one must conclude that North American forests and wildlands must have been a mess before us humans got here.

All just a word of caution to remember that simple answers are frequently not what they seem to be.

jimhart

6/29 Mellie:

Thank you for the perfect opportunity to segue into the ANF and R5 issues. I can assure each and every firefighter on the ANF that both Congressmen Adam Schiff & Brad Sherman, along with Senator Feinstein are keenly aware of what is going on.

They are aware of the number of engines not being staffed both on the ANF as well as region wide. They are aware that the agency priority with respect to apprentices and new hires seems to be getting them through AgLearn classes rather than preparing for the fire season to try and develop at least some crew cohesion.

They are aware of the "timed out" issues with respect to computers. They are aware of the problems with the hiring process, i.e. certs being received only to find out all on it have taken other jobs; (CAL-FIRE, municipal etc) then asking for another cert only to get the exact same list of names...

They are cognizant of the reasons for the exodus to CAL-FIRE i.e. pay & benefits. I could go on & on. It is also important to know that most Senators from the 11 Western most states also recognize that "as California goes, so does the rest of the West."

As I met with both congress and the Administration (OMB), it became clear that all recognize there are systemic organizational problems that must be corrected. That being said, there are differing ideas as to what should be done and how fixes should be accomplished. Unfortunately it is an "Administration vs Congress" type of thing like with so many other issues. I am pleased however that both Congress & OMB have graciously asked us to be involved in the process.

What was surprising even to me was the concerns raised from all corners in DC about Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAGs) and the cost of these grants to the federal government. Some used the term "bailout" for state & local fire agencies in referring to the grants while others pondered whether to increase the grant threshold, reduce the percentage of reimbursement, etc.

All were convinced that under the current system, state & local agencies have no incentive to keep costs down. In fact, one senator conveyed a story about a local agency who had expended $1.2 million on a fire and continued to try and find ways to expend an additional $300,000 just to reach the threshold so they could apply for the grant.

All concurred there is a likely nexus between the enormous amount of grant money and the ability for some agencies to draw federal firefighters away.

Most importantly, my sense is that most, if not all members of congress from the west agree that the level of preparedness is far less rosy than the annual rhetoric from the USDA Undersecretary that the agency is "adequately prepared" and "resources similar to levels last year" (is that vague enough for you?) are in place.

Fortunately, I had the entire day of Wednesday of this week to meet with folks to dispel the "adequacy" commentary. Sadly again, the DOI representative Mr. Allred acknowledged the "good news" from the '06 season also previously mentioned by the Undersecretary..."only 760 structures lost despite a record year."

Wonderful...not a dam* word about the staggering loss of firefighters.

Finally, the AP article should be out soon. The reporter has been provided with a number of documents courtesy of the FWFSA that paint a very clear, disconcerting picture. There have been a good number of posts here about the press recently and we have learned, often the hard way, about who we can work with, trust etc. I believe this reporter to be one of those who has committed to taking the time to get it right.

More to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
6/29 Ab,

I just had the opportunity to read over the sacramento bee article and
only have a few things to say about it. First, if I build a home, I do
not care what neighborhood I live in, if there is a chance of fire, I
am going to do whatever I need to do in order to make it defensible. If
that means I cut down a tree over 6 inches DBH with or without a
permit, so be it. And if the homeowners association of the neighborhood
I live in thinks they are going to fine me, then we will have words.

I have an odd feeling that the people who live in the tahoe area and
other fire prone areas are now thinking the same way, that they are not
going to allow a homeowners association limit them from protecting
their home. In fact, if someone in CA is in this situation, they should
call CALFIRE and ask them to inspect their home's defensible space.
Then if there are deficiencies, go to the homeowners association and
tell them to shove it because you arent going to get fined for doing
what CALFIRE tells you and what your family needs.

guns-n-hoses

6/29 Where are the facts about houses burning in Tahoe?

It sure would be nice if someone, with all the money we spend on fire prevention and suppression, could get some funds to actually obtain real numbers regarding ALL the variables involved for homes that burned and DID NOT burn in Tahoe.

I’m sorry, but statements like this one leave me unimpressed: “On Cone Road, a house with gravel spread around the foundation, cleared brush and a metal fence survived unscathed while the one across the street was burned to the foundation.”

And the house that burned to the foundation was built of…? Its going to take a lot more work to find the right answers than just driving down the street and counting charred sticks.

For every fire I have investigated I can always find multiple examples to prove whatever I wanted. I have found houses that should have burned (because shrubs and trees were crawling into the eaves) and those that shouldn’t have, but did (lots of defensible space, metal fences, etc.).

Until we get some hard numbers that include ALL the houses within the impact zone (not just those that burned) and analyze them objectively, the “"It's obvious we need to do more to educate the community,” type comments will more fluff than substance. Just saying that thinning forests and removing fuels will protect homes, while obviously compelling, just doesn’t cut it. We need real numbers. Then you can give those folks that don’t create fire safe environments some hard data. Not that it will change behavior, but it is a strategy we have failed to explore properly.

And maybe, just maybe, we can use the real numbers to eventually get to the point where we can say publicly that homes within X% level of risk (based on science, not conventional wisdom) will not be defended by wildland firefighters.

jimhart

It seems we could be "ground truthing" lots of different hypotheses we've held through the years, not only about homes and interface, but also about natural resources and how fire hot/bad burns on lands that have burned before under different kinds of "treatments". There's lots of data collected, quantified, etc these days that could be analyzed to look for better practices given the "new normal" that seems to be arising. Ab.

6/29 Perspective...

A reporter from AP was asking a fire friend in Los Angeles area why upper level firefighter managers won't say there aren't enough firefighting resources. Engines on the ANF are being lost on a daily basis. Engine crews, while theoretically qualified and carded, are not very experienced. The few fire managers that are left and are approaching 50 are planning to retire before year's end when they hit their 50th birthday. The reality is bad enough that no one wants to work in so cal so the fire program continues to dwindle away.

My friend told the AP reporter that if national fire managers said there weren't enough resources, they'd be out of a job, given the reality of the current admin and budget. 

Last year the admin told fire managers they couldn't mention climate change. This year that's a different story.

I think we'll find out soon enough about whether resources are adequate. Next year could well be a different story... What's that old saying? Fires give the test just ahead of the lesson.

I sound so cynical today... (but I am actually quite happy...)

I really like lurking on the hotlist.

Mellie

6/29 Fyi, here’s links to highlights and testimony on GAO’s report, Lack of
Clear Goals or a Strategy Hinders Federal Agencies’ Efforts to Contain the
Costs of Fighting Fires, and to the 52-page report itself.

Highlights/testimony: www.gao.gov/new.items/d07922t.pdf
Full report: www.gao.gov/new.items/d07655.pdf

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
6/29 Has anyone else heard the rumor that the R5 Fire teams will be accepting 
no fire assignments outside of R5? Is it a rumor or is it a directive from 
higher up?

There are so many Unable to Fills for single resources already, I guess we 
might get to a UTF Team situation too?

R6 FF

That rumor is floating around. I hope other regions are being apprised of the reality, whatever that is. If R5 Teams are not being restricted to the region and do not expect such a restriction this season, please let us know. Ab.

6/29 Re foreign firefighters cost:

For actual cost you can contact USFS WO office in Boise. They pay the bill.
Boys from downunder are cheaper then CDF or GS 11 and up.
And that includes their flight. Flat daily rate for each one.

Canadians actually cost more, even though they are just across the borders. Better negotiating skills??

concerned taxpayer

6/29 Dear Old FMO:

With all due respect, my intent in communicating our overall concerns with Mr. McDevitt, The Yakima Herald, USDA OIG Phyllis Fong, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, members of Congress and President Bush was not necessarily to dissect the Ellreese Daniels case and its subtle or not so subtle nuances, realities etc., but rather illustrate the impact the case has had on the entire federal wildland firefighting community.

To be candid, I don't know Ellreese and there is no way I am going to get into a discussion about race, set ups etc. My responsibility to our members, and in fact the entire federal wildland firefighting community is to encourage them to continue taking assignments and not drop qualifications while we continue to ensure them Congress is actively addressing the complexities of issues in order to take appropriate action and alleviate the concerns in the field.

As most of you know, members of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee recently introduced legislation that would expand the coverage of those eligible for reimbursement of 50% of any professional liability insurance premium. The language of this bill was included in the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee mark-up of its bill.

It is not inclusive in the House version and will have to be addressed in conference but we expect it will be included in the final product. Folks do need to understand that it is expected by Congress that this additional financial outlay will be expended by the Agencies out of their preparedness budget...already decimated by cost pools, overhead costs etc., resulting in less and less preparedness resources in place to keep fires small. Despite this fact, the Agency continues to tout its mythical "98%" IA success rate.

Casey
6/29 Ab-

Some important changes will take place in the DOI's fire seasonal hiring
system, while this information is going out to all employees currently in
the system, we're attempting to get the word out to all current
employees...

Thanks

JG,
DOI/FIRES/QuickHire Steering Committee

Thanks, JG. I added it to the jobs page HERE. Ab.

6/29 Dear United States Attorney McDevitt,

I re-wrote this several times to not be offensive to some.... This is the best I can do, but be informed I am sharing the e-mail with others in the wildland fire profession...

To you Mr McDevitt, I hope it is offensive and makes you look inwards...... to others I hope it adds to discussion on how to keep folks safer as wildland firefighters.... I hope it kicks USA McDevitt in the a*s for his arrogance and his addition to firefighter safety risks.... my bad.

Hopefully someday you will eat crow and sleep in the bed you have made by your ignorance of not talking to, visiting, or becoming friends with the wildland fire community who have experienced losses or those who are trying to prevent future losses.

I called BS as soon as you explained your expertise, experience, and background as a wildland firefighter and how YOU made the decision to prosecute in the Thirtymile Case. You screwed up in exposing your weakness.

Just like Special Agent Parker who you are defending, you are using your self supported "expert level" experience that would not hold up in a court of law against peers in the fire program, none the less true experts in fire suppression, fire management, or human factors accidents. It surely would not hold up in most courts.... local or federal.

This cr*p looks like "Mike Nifong" (aka Duke LaCrosse loser) stuff to me where an overzealous investigator and prosecutor are making key mistakes and using personal judgments over facts to prosecute a case against folks who were just doing their jobs and that may have made some mistakes in judgment.

When it goes to trial, more often than not, those involved didn't make mistakes.... the prosecutors did. The Lessons Learned for safety were lost, once again, as usual.

Gizmo
6/29 The Jobs page has been updated, as well as the Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist). Ab.
6/29 Old FMO,

I don't agree with most items in your general post and won't comment on them,
but wasn't Ellreese Daniels identified as a primary CRWB and ICT3 trainer for
the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest according to the factual records, reports, and
documentation?

Rogue Rivers
6/29 FC180,

I didn't say there are lies in the factual report, but rather non-supported subjective statements and chapters submitted "as factual" that have long lasting effects for safety. Many of these statements would be better clarified and corrected through the JCSI process or maybe even a simple peer review process on site.

Two big problems are out there and I'll put them on the table for discussion...... 1) Hindsight bias, and 2) Lack of wildland fire experience and human factors knowledge by SAI investigation teams from the USFS and CAL FIRE.

Not one investigator... not a single one of the investigators visited the entrapment area with the survivors to hear the perspectives from the Forest Service employees that were there. Those involved never visited the site with investigators to explain what they were seeing, feeling, hearing, or experiencing, or how they would have done things differently... the same... or not. The Lessons Learned were lost again!!!

The investigation team simply took statements, collected video and photos, and did a SAI like they have always done in the past..... and we know how much the previous SAI's "have improved safety" in the past. (tongue firmly in cheek).... (nil).

As a downstream effect and result, there are libelous comments in the Men's Journal article and other print articles that directly propagated from the agencies' "Esperanza Factual Report" as supposed facts..... a report that is severely flawed and needs to be corrected.

Simple point for the Forest Service folks who are interested in safety (others disregard)..... Why is Hank Kashdan as the SME presenting corrective actions and changes needed for the 21st Century in the Forest Service? I am sure he is a nice guy and all, and this is not a slam against him in any way. How about a wildland fire professional such as Ray Quintanar leading the agency review board? If not Ray, how about at the very least having a fire person make the decisions on where we need to go with safety.

KCK... aka Lobotomy
6/28 Dear Ab:

While in Washington, I was notified that a letter that I recently received from US Attorney McDevitt in Spokane (regarding the Elreese Daniels case and the liability issue itself) by mail had somehow made its way into the FS email loop in R1 and you were starting to receive emails about it.

I have absolutely no idea how this got into the FS email system but I think it important for those who have seen or will see it to know what it is in response to. Therefore, I am attaching a copy of my January 2nd letter to Mr. McDevitt.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me directly by phone at 208-775-4577 or cjudd@fwfsa.org.

For those waiting for a glimpse of my trip to DC, please give me another 24 hours to "decompress." I will post some information here but most will be available in the "Member's area" on our FWFSA web site.

Thanks,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

Letter from Casey to US Attorney re Ellreese Daniels indictment (29K doc file)

6/28 Ab,

This DOJ reply to FWFSA is circulating in R1.

Letter from US Attorney to FWFFSA re Ellreese Daniels indictment (155K pdf file)

NoName

6/28 Ab,

Just read the US attorney's response to <Casey's> letter. I agree with many of
<Casey's> issues relating to Ellreese Daniels case, but I think <he> missed one
major issue. Ellreese was put in a position that he should not have been
in, and would not have been in if it were not for diversity goals, quotas
or whatever todays code word for discrimination is. I don't think he should
be charged with involuntary manslaughter when the agency set him up for
failure. There is a line officer over in Washington that got some brownie
points for hiring someone that most people on the Forest regarded as
inadequate for the position. That line officer should be held accountable
for the lives lost, not Ellreese, that is the point missed.... There
are good people out there and we need to get them in the fire service.
Discrimination is wrong and this time it cost four lives... Too bad as we
move into another fire season...

Old FMO

6/28 From Firescribe:

USFS tries for economic firefighting
www.towncrier.com/pages/stories/story220070628.phpl

Bone-dry conditions in California stress need for prevention near homes
www.contracostatimes.com/

6/28

The highly readable sequel to Steve Arno's Flames in Our Forest, this is a practical how-to guide that also informs and predicts outcomes for fire's continuing reintroduction into America's wild lands, ready or not. If the citizens and agencies now blaming each other for the debacle at Lake Tahoe had read this book when it came out last year, lots of houses now burned to the ground would still be standing. With over 30 years experience as one of America's top fire scientists, Arno is especially suited to the role of prophet and we should listen and learn. Arno is a writer who makes technical things easy to understand and who is not shy about giving the reader the benefit of the doubt, and teaching hard lessons with courage and candor. Anyone fighting or lighting fire in America today should have a dog-eared copy of this book on the seat of the pick-up. Arno's conclusion that we must figure out how to reintroduce fire where we have suppressed fire for so long, either as actual prescribed fire or as mechanical thinning, logging, and fuel reduction, is absolutely correct. Lake Tahoe just demonstrated the pointlessness of continuing to deny that fire is not going away and that only people can make forests and communities survivable. Read this book and then go do what it says in your own back yard.

Five stars. Among the best of the current crop of books written to drag us into reality and show us how to get out of the mess we're in.

Frank Carroll
Custer, SD

6/28 THIS ARTICLE CORRECTLY SAYS IT ALLLL -- ALL THAT THERE NEEDS TO BE SAID -- I HOPE
MORE HOMEOWNERS READ, HEED & ACT:

sacbee.com - The online division of The Sacramento Bee
www.sacbee.com/994/story/243982.phpl

Failure to clear brush aided fire, officials say
By Mary Lynne Vellinga and Matt Weiser - Bee Staff Writers
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The failure of property owners to clear small trees and brush from around their houses contributed greatly to the devastation of this week's fire south of Lake Tahoe, according to fire experts touring the burned areas.

Houses sitting on cleared spaces with irrigated plants, fire-resistant roofs, metal fences and other fire-safe features were spared while their neighbors' homes burned.

"A lot of homeowner inaction went into creating this urban fire," said John Pickett, Tahoe Region Chapter Coordinator for the Nevada Fire Safe Council, as he drove through burned neighborhoods Tuesday.

On Cone Road, a house with gravel spread around the foundation, cleared brush and a metal fence survived unscathed while the one across the street was burned to the foundation.

And on Boulder Mountain Drive, a house with a stone patio swept free of pine needles and sprinklers placed on the roof was still standing. All of its neighbors were gone.

"If you look at how many small flammable sticks there were throughout here, you can tell they weren't dealing with their defensible space; there's tons of ground fuel," said Stewart McMorrow, forest fuels manager for the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.

Julie Regan, spokeswoman for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, said the majority of the 1,300 properties in the area affected by the fire did not have "defensible space," a cleared area around the home.

Not all of these had homes built on them, and not all were in the direct path of the flames. In all, 275 structures had burned as of Tuesday afternoon, 200 of them houses, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

"It's obvious we need to do more to educate the community," Regan said.

The condition of national forest land adjacent to the neighborhoods played a role, too. Streets next to land thinned of underbrush and small trees by the U.S. Forest Service fared better than those next to more overgrown areas, Pickett said.

"We've spent all day trying to get our brains around what happened here," Pickett said. "If the forest adjacent to the homes was thinned, then the homes stood a chance. If it wasn't thinned, they didn't stand a chance."

The U.S. Forest Service released a map Monday showing that most of the national forest near burned neighborhoods had been thinned to improve fire safety.

Since 2003, the Forest Service has thinned almost 15,000 acres around Lake Tahoe, said Matt Mathes, spokesman for the service's Pacific Southwest regional office. It plans to thin another 42,000 acres in the next decade.

But Pickett said his tour of the burned neighborhoods Tuesday revealed plenty of thickly wooded sections where crowds of small trees and underbrush created fuel ladders for the fire to race to the tops of the big trees and jump hundreds of feet.

On Lookout Point Circle, where all the houses were burned to the ground, the adjacent forest was "grossly overstocked," he said.

Meanwhile, the fire has exposed an undercurrent of distrust between residents and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, or TRPA, which regulates building in the Lake Tahoe basin.

In order to remove a tree with a diameter of more than 6 inches, homeowners need a permit. But many are reluctant to apply because they think TRPA will inspect their properties and find a reason to fine them, some fire officials say.

Part of TRPA's mission is to maintain Tahoe's forest canopy.

"People are scared to death to do anything on their own property because they are afraid of retribution; it's created this huge paralysis," said Jessica Mahnken, defensible space coordinator with the Lake Valley Fire Protection District.

Pickett agreed that people are <Click the link to read the rest>

Fair use disclaimer

6/28 Someone mentioned the Dialogos Report to me again today. The Chief mentioned it in a
letter a week or two ago. Does anyone have a copy of that report?

Mellie

6/28 MT-GNF-3 vehicle entrapment
On the Madison Arm Fire, West Yellowstone district of the Gallatin NF, on 6/27 --yesterday:

An engine with 3 firefighters, a chase rig with 3 firefighters and a dozer on a lowboy with 1 firefighter found themselves cut off from their safety zone as the fast moving fire picked up. They found a safety-zone sized clearing, burned it out and sat in their vehicles, allowing the fire to burn around them. All are fine.

Ab note:
This is a good opportunity for a Facilitated Learning Analysis (Just Culture), and a chance to gain Lessons Learned.

A MT firefighter told me today that this is the second fire in MT this week that has had temps in the 90s, single digit RH and more than 1000 acres burned in the first burning period.

And we're not in the height of the burning season yet.

Be safe. Stay situationally aware.
6/28 Ab,

Our local newspaper (available online at redding.com) discussed the Angora burnover incident and said that two USFS firefighters from the SHF (Shasta Trinity) had to deploy their fire shelters when a backfire operation jumped a containment line. I think I read the next day that they were released from the hospital. I believe an official report exists online somewhere on this. Initially I didn't realize they were hospitalized, are they OK?

Brother Cub

They were taken to the hospital for observation, a prudent action to make sure nothing was being overlooked. They're OK. You should read the hotlist on this. Ab.

6/28 AB,

FYI From Bernie Weingardt

AC

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

Today I met with staff representing FAM and HR to discuss the GS-5 Senior Firefighter hiring issue. It was obvious this issue is complex, both in terms of causal factors and effect. Following are my observations and intent to address it.

There is a need to enlarge the pipeline that provides senior firefighters, and I have asked FAM and HR to develop a strategy that accomplishes this. It will be predicated on some key principles.

The solution:

  1. will not adversely affect or dilute the purpose, need, or efficacy of the apprenticeship program;
  2. will not open the door to individuals that do not currently meet or have the potential to meet our performance expectations and standards; and,
  3. will require that those hired under this authority, not already meeting the Region 5 (Apprenticeship Program) work experience and training standard for the senior firefighter, to do so within one-year.

In addition to this immediate effort, and in response to recommendations developed by the FAM Board of Directors, I have directed FAM to work toward elimination of the 2-year apprenticeship program requirement, and to develop means to graduate apprentices based upon their competencies rather than time in the program. This will obviously take some time, but our intent is clear.

This solution will not solve the problem. There are many causal factors that cannot be addressed by it. Principal among these are local decisions and biases that contribute to the issue.

  • Some module leaders discourage quality seasonal employees from participating in the apprenticeship program for fear they will be unavailable to meet their objectives
  • While I firmly support and want us to continue our efforts to achieve Type 1 HS status for the remaining 15-MEL crews, I am not overly concerned that it will take more time. All of the national Type 1 IHCs are certified, and that must remain our paramount objective.
  • Several units (many of which are those that are most vocal in their expression of the GS-5 issue) have simply not hired, nor are they currently hiring, apprentices in view of future needs.

There must be additional contributing factors. I want you to address the factors I’ve been able to identify and any others that are exacerbating the issue on your unit, and correct them.

On a final note… We have established certification and performance standards that we know are necessary to safely and effectively perform our complex program of work. During times where our capacity is challenged on all sides, it is difficult to hold fast. I believe these standards must be maintained, or we will establish others that are not complimentary to our purpose. That takes team work and commitment, which is what I expect from us.

6/28 KCK RE Esperanza

Which witnesses were disregarded, what lies are in the report? Be specific.
We all want to know, There is always room for the truth outside the official
report, and this is a good place to start.

FC180
6/28 FS hiring, not entry level... (R5)

Here is an FYI regarding the fire hire going on. Starting on July 16th, offers will 
be made for jobs and will go through September 14th. They will be starting with 
GS-9 jobs, then 8's and so on down to the GS-6's. You have probably been 
getting interest calls and supervisory checks already, but just wanted to let you 
know the exact dates of hiring. 

Faker

6/28 2 U.S. Forest Service Firefighters were injured yesterday in an
apparatus rollover while responding to a wildfire in Duchesne County,
Utah. UHP reps stated that 26-year-old FF Justin Moore entered a turn
and lost control of the Forest Service brush truck he was driving.
The truck went off the left side of the road and Moore over
corrected. The truck then rolled 1 1/2 times, coming to rest on its
roof. The Duchesne FD was called out to extricate Moore from the
truck. He was flown by helicopter to a Salt Lake hospital. Moore
suffered a broken leg and was complaining of back pain.
Firefighter Daniel Roberts, 22, also was injured. He was taken by
ambulance with injuries to his head and arms and was later flown to
Salt Lake City for additional medical treatment. UHP said speed
appeared to be a contributing factor, and a citation is pending. Both
Firefighters were wearing seat belts.


Pumba

Good on the seatbelts. Best wishes for speedy recoveries. Ab.

6/28 Re: "The Media"

 

I have a few comments on this subject.

Just as there are conks working in the world of media, there are conks in every organization. However, there are a few points I would appreciate you all keeping in mind...

I am a journalist and photojournalist and proud of my initial occupation. I started out in a small newspaper where resources were scarce and the reporting staff was small. I ended my newspaper career at a mid-size urban daily. I now write freelance for national periodicals, in addition to my business pursuits.

Over a 23 year span, I have seen a lot of both fine journalism and poor journalism. I saw writers anguish over how to tell a story so the context was accurate and all sides (or as many as they could reach) were represented. And I also have seen slop - lazy, thrown together crap that didn't come close to what journalism should provide to the public.

If you are approached by a print reporter,

  • make sure to clarify what publication they work for. 
  • Ask how to get in touch with them, and 
  • when they plan on running their story. 
  • In addition, know that your request to review their story "before it runs" will almost always be denied, as it should be. HOWEVER, you have the right to ask for your quotes to be read back to you prior to publication, and that 
  • the writer clarifies what context they will be used in. 

I have had this discussion with many, many other reporters. The majority felt as I did - that's a legit request and I, personally, have tried to abide by it whenever I could, or was asked.

If you read a story that you believe is inaccurate (particularly one you have been interviewed for, and which includes your comments), you should immediately contact the publication. First, talk to the reporter politely and professionally. They'll either listen and address your concerns or blow you off. If they blow you off, rather than getting mad and yelling (which will promptly get you cut off at the telephone switchboard). Ask to be transferred to the managing editor. I have seen these folks work hard to rectify a story gone bad. I have never witnessed a NEWSPAPER editor ignore a complaint. I'm sure it's happened. I've just never seen it. And, I've had my own share of stories to fix. When you work on a deadline, it happens. When something needs to be fixed, it needs to be fixed.

If you are approached by an electronic media team - you're on your own. Maybe someone else out there can address this area. I had a nice little episode last year with a television reporter who "wanted to get the scoop" and sat in an office with an corrupt Oregon senator and recorded my conversation with him covertly. (Yes, this is illegal.) I tracked down the reporter, and her station's managing editor and shook them up a bit. The result? Not a thing...So, you see? Sometimes even a journalist is the recipient of journalistic shrapnel over material taken out of context and used by an idiotic, uninformed, lazy reporter.

Now, a word on memory...for most people unaccustomed to interacting with the media, an interview can be incredibly unnerving. Just as your mind tends to narrow, slow and skip slides in other "emergency" situations where your heart rate becomes elevated (and other physical responses occur to ready the body for fight or flight...) an interview - particularly with a camera running in your face - results in similar mind altering phenomena in terms of memory. This means that you just may not remember the situation exactly like it occurred. Now, I know some of you who have been through this may scoff. But, I'll give you this little example:

I was doing a story on Hetch Hetchy. The story traced back the very beginning of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir near Sonora - back to the day when the land was privately owned, and Hetch Hetchy wanted it, because San Francisco wanted the water. I interviewed an older woman whose family had "sold" their land to Hetch Hetchy. Actually, the way it happened was that she was a widow and she was made an offer for her land and told that every day she waited the offer would lessen in value. Needless to say, she was very agitated about that memory. In her mind, Hetch Hetchy had essentially stolen her ranch for pennies. At the beginning of the interview, I'd asked her permission to record our conversation. She said "Of course you can, honey." And so I did. I talked to her a number of times to make sure I had the story right. We ran it. The next day she called my editor livid about one of her quotes used in the story. One of her quotes had the word "dam*" in it (with an "n"). It was an excellent quote. It summed up her position very well. But, she said she would never, EVER have said such a thing. My editor came to me for proof. I pulled out my recorder (I told him I had asked permission to record the interview) and played it for him. He said "Oh..."

But, the thing is, I have no doubt this woman remembered what she had said differently than what I had recorded. I don't think she even had it in her to lie to my editor. She really, honestly, didn't remember using that word. Now, we could debate about the use of that specific word in a story. But, the point is accurate memory, particularly when a person is in a state of agitation or fear.

Having your words etched into history is a scary thing, particularly when you

  1. don't know the reporter;
  2. don't know the publication;
  3. are in an emergency situation and
  4. know that when you walk away from that interview you have become vulnerable to the interpretation of your message by another person who may or may not understand what you just said to them.

Yea, no wonder your heart rate is elevated.

Some things you can do:

  • You can start by slowing down. Turn around and breath deeply.
  • Look around for back up.
  • Is there someone you could confer with over important points?
  • It might also help to have someone else listen in to the interview that you trust. This also might keep you calmer and your speech slower and less jumpy. (I always hated this as a newspaper reporter but if I were on the other side, I'd do it.)
  • And, though there was a day I didn't really feel this way, your agency PIO (Public Information Officer) is often an excellent resource for you. I know some incredible agency PIOs. (And then I also know some not so incredible ones.)
  • If the hair raises on your neck in the lead up to an interview, listen to your intuition. Wait. Nothing says you HAVE to do that interview.
  • If you don't feel up to it, then defer to your PIO. Those folks WILL come through for you when they can. If you don't know who your PIO is, just ask the reporter to contact the PIO. I can almost guarantee they know who the PIO is. I always did.

So - good or bad - there are some of my thoughts on the media. Just as it's lazy and inappropriate for a reporter to make broad, sweeping unsubstantiated statements about wildland fire, so to is it inaccurate to make such statements about "the media." It's not a black & white world - unless you're color blind. (And then I still believe there are shades of gray.)

If you have any personal comments, feel free to have Ab forward them on to me.

Shari

Nicely done. 
I posted it in the Documents Worth Reading section. Ab.

6/28 I've gotten some interesting emails from Casey who has been in DC at some hearings. He should be reporting in later today.

Ab.

6/28 Ab,

A new wild fire real close to West Yellowstone Montana. One local resident said its burning like the 88 Yelowstone fires with 200ft flame lengths and Crowning. Structures threatened, Smoke Jumpers dispatched, and mandatory evacuations of summer homes and camp grounds, 900+ acres.

Jodie

Sounds like a good one for the hotlist... Ab.

6/28 Aardvark,

Ya know come to think of it I've never seen a MedFlight Helo carry a chain saw or pulaski to cut out their own helispot, hmmm maybe we should look into that?, then again that's not the primary mission of a MedFlight. We've never had to leave a crew member on scene due to location, load capacity or what ever other reason imaginable. You might want to research different MedFlight operations to get a more accurate understanding of their capabilities which very across the country, some have rappel/hoist capability, size, load capability. I can't comment on Helo 525 & 522 since I don't know their types or models. I do know an Augusta 109 Power can lift a crew of 3 and carry 2 patients from high altitudes (Teton Range/Grand Targhee) but with most cases the crew has basic patient info and assess the situation from there.

I do agree with you that the government agencies come up with medical protocols for the benefit of the kids on the line but I think we both know that will probably never happen, how many years have you been trying to get protocols?. I just don't think grabbing an EMT-B and putting him/her on a helicopter constitutes a professional "Med_Evac", more like a temp quick fix to cover somebody's posterior. What I've been saying is that until the agencies get serious about forming their own professional advanced medical care on the fire line then they need to reach out to local resources that can provide it.

I was off today so I got adventurous and went out with a FS Hand Crew (Patting Self on Back Again), learned a lot about what they do, how they work the fire and in general had a good time. Now Aardvark get ahold of something...I even carried a pulaski and helped cut some fireline, didn't even break a nail, they wouldn't let me play with the chain saw though :o(.

Jodie
6/28 There is no mention here of the other Agency that promulgates rules that affect us all. 
Has DOT agreed to all of this? Will we be able to "Transport" flammable liquids in 
the old style Jerry Can?

Tired of all the cooks spoiling the broth.

Don't exactly know what Agency you're talking about. I think the problem is with sig and nalgene bottles. The OSHA rules have existed for several years as I understand it. It's only recently that the FS Safety shop has been warned that fire is out of compliance with whatever the new iteration of rules is. If FS is out of compliance, so is everyone else -- at least that would be my take on it. Maybe someone has the details and can fill us in. Ab.

6/28 Has anyone glanced at the California "North Ops GACC" UTF list over the past few days? 
With only 1 Type-1 IMT assigned, they are unable to fill multiple positions including STCR, 
multiple SOFR spots, FBAN, OSC2, DIVS (4), FOBS and a T-1 FSC and T-1 LSC.

Wonder what's going to happen if the entire western US gets hot and dry in the coming days 
of July and August?? Can you spell Canada, Australia and New Zealand??

Aberdeen

Gee, is that cost effective? Ab.

6/28 It appears that the author from the Men's Journal "pre-release" article about Esperanza that is making rounds behind the scenes may have gotten the picture wrong and is side stepping some to cya his butt, as well as his periodicals butt. We'll see, since his version has already been sent to print....... The true facts will come out and the facts will prevail.

Reliable sources say there are some factual lapses and subjective leaps by those not directly involved in the fire that somehow made it into the article as "facts"....... and those inaccuracies over stepped factual reporting to the point of being libelous to those involved.

Not to just slam the Men's Journal article.... it goes much deeper to the agencies for not listening to the troops who were there..... The official "factual" report is severely flawed (and causes this BS to continue) and needs correction by those folks whose statements were totally disregarded by the supposed "factual report" from the "agencies".

Both CAL FIRE and the USFS need to step up and correct the "factual report" so THAT ONLY FACTS ARE REPORTED and the inaccuracies corrected.

Get rid of all of the filler that assigns blame, absolves the agencies of any connection to the tragedies, or takes us further away from true Lessons Learned.

The damage is done by the agencies... Five heroes are gone and those left behind are scarred by agency BS once again. The agency actions once again didn't support the troops either pre or post accident.

How about trying the JCSI as a comparative model for the truth?

KCK
6/28 Ab,

The name of the bill being discussed in Senate (S 1152 RS) was changed to The Wildland Fire Safety and Transparency Act of 2007. See http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:S.1152:

The text of the bill is HERE.

Signed,
Tmint
6/28 Legislative update

Ab,

I see the excerpts I pulled from the House and Senate Interior Appropriations bills have made their way to They Said already, courtesy of And There I Was. I had intended to send them in earlier, but with the House bill on the floor today we were busy working to protect the provision halting competitive sourcing (CS) in the FS in '08 from an amendment that would have allowed the program to continue. It appears we were successful and in the end the amendment was not even offered.

So, while the CS moratorium is not a done deal yet, what we do have is identical language in House and Senate bills -- a very strong position. We will of course continue to shepherd this -- and invite interested parties who, for instance, might like working for the FS to make a call to their elected reps in Washington to offer their support.

We were also encouraged to see the liability insurance co-pay in the Senate bill. We worked hard to push this and I know Casey (a good man to have on your side!) did as well. We will continue to work with Congress to clarify the scope of this provision and encourage its passage into law. This is only a band-aide on the liability issue; we will also continue to work on building a statutory "privilege" firewall around information obtained by a safety investigation.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

links to the bills are two posts down...

6/27 hey Ab

just a lil heads up....the Ashley National Forest in
Northeast part of Utah had an Engine Rollover While on
a Fire in the Moon Lake area....with two firefighters
injured.

I will try to get you details but last I Heard they
was calling for Med Flight.

this was around 1700 hrs

G-LWM

6/27 Some info from The Senate Interior Appropriations bill
about a provision extending liability insurance
subsidies to Fireline Supervisors and A76 study of
fire.

An interesting quote from the documents

"The Committee is concerned about the huge costs of
agency business process centralization and therefore
directs that detailed reports remain a part of the
budget justification and that all expenses be
carefully evaluated and explained, and transparent to
the public at large…

The Committee notes that the Forest Service has done a
poor job of implementing its competitive sourcing
program."

The FS seems to only show savings relating to personnel
reductions, not taking into account costs from other
areas to try and cover for hiring too few people, (not
to mention the health of the stressed out workers in
the System). The new term for doing it yourself, "Self
Service Technologies" is aggravating and very time
consuming,. We have yet to see the full effect of
Centralization. 

And There I Was

approps08-hr-2643-interior.rtf
approps08-s1696-interior.rtf

6/27 Jodie,

While I am sure that you want to pat yourself on the back, yours is only one program out of how many in the US? I worked a few seasons at Jackson, as well as in and around other bases throughout the western US. But you are missing the main point, I still believe that it is necessary to have protocols in place to protect EMTs and give them direction whether or not they are on the fire line. Be it Trail Crew, Fire Crew, Road Crew, whatever, having qualified EMTs operating under protocols and SOPs would be to everyone's benefit.

I am also sure that what you might call a tight LZ in the mountains, we would use for a troop shuttle with a medium helicopter. IN GENERAL, med evac helicopters are heavy and, as I have said before, lack many of the things we take for granted. Helicopter 525 and 522 in California routinely move SAR personnel and patients in the Sierras, where the California Highway Patrol and Med-Evac helicopters cannot or will not go. Med Evac helicopters, with a flight crew of two plus a pilot, in a high and hot environment would likely have to leave one of the crew behind in order to take a single large patient. Very few if any med evac aircraft could handle more than one patient, have the ability to rappel and cut out a helispot, have sufficient crew to move a patient over rough terrain to a helispot, or have fuel and support locally, particularly if they are assigned to an incident and are the nearest available resource. These are a few of the many reasons why I believe it is necessary to develop protocols to guide and assist EMTs in the Forest Service. There are also many areas of the US that do not currently have helicopter Med-Evac access, and Military helicopter assets are often deployed or unavailable. And guess what... a lot of the places we fight fire are in those areas where there is no med-evac helicopter of any kind available. 

Aardvark

Part of the issue today has to do with the criminal liability faced for not adhering to a defined SOP. I noticed that many crews now write SOGs  (Standard Operating Guidelines) rather than SOPs so as not to back themselves into a corner later when trying to solve a problem that may need a flexible approach. This is a big issue when federal firefighters are facing criminal charges for not following what have become firefighting "rules". Best solution would be to train to a standard but not have the standard be "set in stone" that the lawyers will stone you with later. Ab.

6/27 A BIG thank you (you know who you are)!,

My wife's family back in the late 70's early 80's bought and built homes on some pretty cheap property (at that time) in South Lake Tahoe. One near Rainer Dr. and on in the "Keys". Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law worked hard to raise their family there and send all their kids to the high school there, near North Upper Truckee Drive. 

Well, the last few days have been very stressful for them. 
#1 their friends and neighbors have lost their homes 
#2 my family's homes were spared, but very close calls at both properties. 

They told me on the phone last night that the men and women that did structure protection on their homes (that were saved) did a outstanding job. They were professional, friendly and truly cared about their concerns and fears. I am so proud of all of you that are there and those who aren't that protect all of us in time of crisis. I am a Engineer/EMT-1 and proud to be a part of such a excellent fire service family in R5. A million Thank You's to those who put it on the line for my family's homes in South Lake. God be with you all, be safe and we are forever grateful for "YOUR" valiant efforts.......

Signed,
Driver51 

6/27 Ken's Sahara Run

Hello Ab and wildland fire community!

I’m sending this email to you because I value your involvement in the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and your past support of Ken’s running
endeavors, and because you are someone(s) that may be able to help me make 
some connections in California and elsewhere to gain sponsorships, support, 
and awareness for Ken’s latest endurance event.

Ken Perry, having run more than 120 miles and raised more than $70,000 for
the Foundation, has signed up to complete a 150 mile race over 7 days
through the Sahara Desert in Egypt:
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/kens-sahara-run-wff.php.
He has signed up stating that he is doing the race to raise funds for the Wildland 
Firefighter Foundation. On October 26, 2007, Ken will be en-route to Egypt – on
the one year anniversary of the Esperanza Fire. The run will end on November 3. 

If you know of ANYONE in the California media, a publicist, anyone with
connections in the news, with a celebrity, with a corporation that might
sponsor this event, please get in touch with me at this email address 
melissa@wffoundation.org
; my cell phone (208) 866-3063 (call anytime); 
or by mail: 2049 Airport Way, Boise, Idaho 83705.

I am actively seeking sponsorships, putting together a media package, and
doing research to get information out.

Ab and fire community, Thank you in advance for any help you might be able to 
provide!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Sounds good. I'll put on my thinking cap. I hope others do as well. Everyone, please send out emails to extended family and friends who might be connected. (By the way, Melissa, good work also on the grant writing program. The Foundation's work on our firefighters' behalf never ends.) Ab.

6/27 Applying for jobs using Avue:

I want to put it out there that Avue has bad timing for when they do scheduled maintenance. Most stations do not have the computer speed to write Apps at work. Our own time at home is the best time, and that is when Avue does their maintenance. Makes it hard to apply for jobs.

CS

6/27 From Firescribe:

Smokejumpers training in San Bernardino

6/27 Dear CW,

Can't we all just get along? I really don't understand the point of your ranting. As a former Ad crew member, USFS Hotshot, private contractor crew member, and now a CDF ( Cal Fire) Captain I find it disheartening to hear the tone of your e-mail. I can appreciate your concern about professionals missing out when CDF crews are mobilized however, they are a resource "supported by the taxpayers " and taxpayers get quit a bang for their buck with these crews. They are trained to a high standard and we maintain that standard throughout the year. Some of these inmates actually become crew members of Federal crews and private crews upon their release and yes, some fail, but some succeed. Do we not find this the same in the real world? From working as a collective group on an emergency we can all get the task accomplished. And I"ll let you know that I'll cover your backside just as I know that you would cover mine on the next fire we are on together, regardless of our uniform whether its green blue or orange.

Be safe, see ya on the big one - 

DWD

6/27 New R5 FAM Deputy Director

I am very pleased to announce the selection of Ms. Willie Thompson as the new Deputy Director of Fire and Aviation for Region 5. Willie has a very strong fire background, gained by working for two agencies, four Regions,
and on three Type I Incident Management Teams. She currently is the Assistant Director for State and Private Forestry in Alaska and is the Fire Program Lead.

I am particularly impressed by Willie's commitment to safety. She is a leader in promoting fire safety through direction, advice and personal modeling.

Please join me in welcoming Willie to the Region in early August!

Bernie

Bernie Weingardt
Regional Forester
Pacific Southwest Region, FS

6/27 Ab,

You said,

"Shrek, our hearts go out to you and the others close to this tragedy. I can't save this pdf file and post a link without violating copyright. I know it is making the rounds behind the scenes. Please know that we hold all of you in our hearts and minds. We'll always remember. Ab."

Ab, remember the "Fair Use" disclaimer for education and discussion purposes. Remember the goal of firefighter and community safety and the willingness to battle any obstacle for safety that you had or the folks you mentored.... and the folks who are willing to discuss even the most painful ideas and thoughts.

Folks need the truth to carry on. To not post the truth just plain sucks and loses creditability with the entire community.

KCK

I'd be willing to put those interested in the article in touch with someone willing to share it. Ab.

6/26 Hotlist:

Angora fire jumps fire line; more evacuations ordered

Fire is making a hard run! Be Safe fellow F.F.'s....

Someone also emailed me that there's a report of shelter deployment. No one injured.

Ab.

6/26 Ktoo -

The Harry Potter book you mentioned has a different name when it's printed
in England. It's "sorcerer" in the US. Perhaps we just don't know what a
philosopher is?

MB

6/26 Ab-

Check out this link to a news station in Idaho. I am trying to publicize this as much as possible to put pressure on the DOL and USFS.

Thanks for your help and here's the link.

Sincerely,
Kevin Reynolds

www.2news.tv/news/truthsquad/8171582.phpl (video of the report available here too)

Truth Squad: Firefighters Burned

It is some of the hardest work imaginable, under the harshest conditions. So, why aren't these Northwest firefighters getting paid?
That's the question one group of firefighters has been asking for almost a year.

The solution seems simple: people did months of work on public land, but don't have a penny to show for it. No one argues they deserve to get paid. Cutting through the bureaucratic red tape has been another thing.

Last year a group of firefighters, working for Pacific Wildfire out of Boise, worked a series of wildfires in Idaho's rugged Sawtooth Mountains.

"It was a busy season. It was tough, it was hot," says Kevin Reynolds, a firefighter who worked those fires. However, the season ended on a bitter note. That's because Kevin Reynolds and his crew of 56 firefighters from Oregon and Washington never got paid for more than a month of grueling work.

Reynolds is owed $12,000 in back wages. For all the firefighters, it's a total of nearly 176 thousand dollars. So, why no pay for the work on federal land? Forest service spokesperson, Dave Olson says it's simple, " The company was not paying their employees. The employees for that contractor are not government employees. They're actually employees of the contractor."

So, the government says the contractor actually stiffed his firefighters.
But Kevin Reynolds says the problem really started at this office in Boise, where the U.S. Forest Service hires firefighting companies from across the region.

The Forest Service is supposed to pay the private contractor. In this case, Reynold's former employer, Pacific Wildfire. Pacific Wildfire in turn pays the firefighters.

Reynolds doesn't blame his former boss at Pacific Wildfire. He says the person who approves contracts for the Forest Service accidentally rubber stamped payments to two companies for the same job. When the mistake was pointed out, Reynolds says the forest service worker stopped the flow of money to everyone. Pacific Wildfire never got paid, and firefighters never got paid. Reynolds says, " She doesn't care. It's not her paycheck. She still gets to pay her bills on time."

The last check they got was in August- ten months ago. Many of these firefighters worked through September and October and never got a paycheck. In late October, Pacific Wildfire owner, Eric Helpenstell, took the dispute to the Department of Labor in Portland. That agency launched an investigation.

Click the link to read the rest. View the video. Is that the entire truth?

We've heard that the news reporter did not do complete homework on this article and that the Fed Investigation is not complete by a long shot. I guess time will reveal more of the truth. Stay tuned. Ab.

Fair use disclaimer

6/26 From Firescribe:
Check out the photos.

'White Fire' (CA) burns red hot near Oak Creek Canyon
By: By Carin Enovijas, Tehachapi News Editor
Description: More than 400 firefighters have zero containment of 6,000 acre blaze

6/26 Here I have attached the horrible article from Mens Journal about the
Esperanza fire. Here are my comments.

"I only forward this to you so you can understand that this article was poorly
written and full of lies and half truths. I worked on the San Jac
District, I worked with Mark, Jess and Jason and the other engines that
were there when it happened. These guys/gals deserve better then this.
Please send out a memo reiterating the fact that the media will twist our
words, mis quote us and is always on the record. I cannot believe they
went to print on this with out waiting until the final report was out. I
would hope that people would consider dropping their subscriptions to Mens
Journal."

(See attached file: Wildfire.pdf)

Shrek

"Not a day goes by that I don't miss them."

Shrek, our hearts go out to you and the others close to this tragedy. I can't save this pdf file and post a link without violating copyright. I know it is making the rounds behind the scenes. Please know that we hold all of you in our hearts and minds. We'll always remember. Ab.

6/26 Abs, here's some info on the DC-10 Supertanker that had difficulties on the
White Fire in Kern County.

Gorge FMO

www.mercurynews.com/

Supertanker firefighting aircraft nearly crashes

By Steve Geissinger 
MediaNews 
San Jose Mercury News 

Article Launched:06/25/2007 10:17:40 PM PDT

SACRAMENTO _ A new, largely experimental supertanker firefighting aircraft commissioned for use by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suffered a near crash Monday evening fighting a blaze in Kern County. 

The California Department of Forestry issued a statement that the DC-10 had been grounded and cannot assist in the blazes currently ravaging  California until completion of an investigation. Officials provided no timeline for the probe. 

Tanker 910 encountered severe turbulence while operating on the White Fire, causing the aircraft to descend and strike the top of several  trees. 

The flight crew was able to apply power and fly out of the turbulence and safely return to their base at Victorville. There were no injuries to the flight crew or anyone on the ground. 

The aircraft was flying in the area of Bison peak, south of Tehachapi. The investigation of the close call will include a complete structural evaluation of the aircraft. It will remain on the ground until the investigation is concluded. 

As part of an executive order May 10, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told state officials to arrange "for immediate availability and utilization" of the new plane, which became the first such aircraft to battle a blaze last July in San Bernardino County. 

Use of the supertanker also was intended to make up for the reduction in U.S. Forest Service firefighting planes, following retirement of aging military-surplus aircraft without any ready replacements. 

The giant tanker can drop a flood of 12,000 gallons of retardant on fairly level ground - 10 times the amount spewed from the more numerous, familiar and agile state-owned S-2 turboprop air tankers. 

It can be used, for instance, to build a buffer of retardant between a fire and a community, allowing ground crews to get into position for containing the blaze. 

The privately owned and operated DC-10, based at the former George Air Force Base near Victorville, is a converted American Airlines jetliner jointly developed by Oklahoma-based Omni Air International and Cargo Conversions LLC in San Carlos. 

Contact Steve Geissinger at sgeissinger@angnewspapers.com.

Fair use disclaimer

6/26 Just wondering if anyone can explain to me why a Type 2 team was initially ordered for the Angora incident, versus Type 1? Complexity, politics, etc? Naw! Wasn't this fire "gone" within the first hour? Hmm, wonder what the cost was for mobilizing both teams? Every dime counts when we can't afford to staff engines or provide 7-day coverage. Can someone p-l-e-a-s-e enlighten me?

Picker

Kent Swartzlander's NorCal Team 1, a Type 2 team (great team), was present and handy for quick mobilization, less travel time, etc, that's all. Hawkin's CIIMT 1 (great team), I believe they were mobilizing for the first time with Rich as IC. (Remember Don Feser retired precipitously as FMO of the Angeles NF and as IC of Team 1 this spring after a disagreement with his ANF line officer.) In any case, I believe the T1 team was ordered at almost the same time as the T2 team. If I'm wrong, someone please correct this. Ab.

6/26 Found this; it seems to be good info JS. Ab comment: Should be, it's run by a hotshot wife. Go there and offer your comments.

The 10 Standard Firefighting Orders for a Fireman's Wife

http://www.wildlandfirefighterwives.blogspot.com/

Standard Firefighting Orders for a Wife of a Fireman

1. Base all plans on current and expected fire behavior that way you won't be surprised when he gets sent on a fire, and all your family plans get canceled.
2. Identify yard work that you have to do and safely use the proper yard tools.
3. Ensure your direct deposit is set up correctly. These reasons are self explanatory.
4. Remain calm. When your husband calls and tells you he's working his days off.
5. Be thankful for that you are the "WIFE (wear that with pride)" of a Fireman.
6. Leave clear instructions of "honey-dos" for days off and insure they are understood.
7. Maintain a loving home for them to come back to and relax.
8. Pray for your husband & his crew's safety until they come home.
9. Maintain control of your children and the pets, despite your feelings of fatigue.
10. Know that he fights fire aggressively, having provided for his safety first.

Okay, this one I expect some comments or emails on (wffwives@cox.net). I've been thinking about creating the Standard Fire Orders for the Wives of Firemen. This has been taken and modified from the 10 Standard Fire Orders that Wildland Firefighters use. I would love to change any of these as you see fit. Comments????????????

6/26 In regards to the media.........................

I was reading the newspaper this morning about an international phenomenon, Harry Potter. The writer mentioned the first Harry Potter book as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Anyone see a problem with that? (Maybe the title was changed somewhere along the line and my book and DVD are incorrect??) If a national newspaper writer can not get an international phenomenon reported correctly, it makes one wonder if anything can ever be reported correctly. I have been interviewed several times, and never has the article come out with the exact quotes that I made. In fact sometimes I have wondered if they talked with someone else, although it was my name they used in the paper. I have read news coverage about situations that I was directly involved with and after reading the article I have concluded that they were writing about another situation. Now days I just head the other direction when I see a reporter.

Don't get me wrong, I know there are many reporters who are credible and take great pride in their work, but it does make me wonder why the articles and news casts are often full of inaccuracies and misquotes. Maybe someone with a media background could enlighten me/us.

As for Inmates, my state works frequently with inmate crews, but it does bother me when they get better treatment in many respects than the rest of us fire fighters. The inmates complain about something (food, sleeping, showers, etc.) and they receive an immediate response. Others make the same complaint and they are told to "buck up" or they don't say anything at all for fear of recrimination and being sent home as "trouble makers". Somehow this seems wrong!

I have worked with many fine inmate fire fighters and I respect the fact that they are paying their debt to society and learning a skill that will hopefully serve them well when they return to society. I wish them the best of luck. However, there have been times that I have wished that the rest of us were treated as well (equally) as the inmates were being treated. But, as "Hotshot" said, we just continue to do our job and to do it well and with pride.

Ktoo

Ab would be happy to pass on any messages from the media, haw haw.

6/26 Ab,

First and foremost you all run a great site and I've read this info for a few years pre and post retirement. Your issues of safety, compensation struggles, and recognition strike a very sympathetic tune with me. I started with CDF in 1970 and retired after 36 years with no regrets, well maybe for not being a "Dorian Grey" and just always doing it.

I'll speak briefly about the (your ) issues over who's CDF (CAL-FIRE) , USFS, BLM, or this or that city fd and or vfd. At the end of day it matters not one "mote in God's eye". The funny thing for me after my career is to see the argument or comments about lack of recognition for the USFS and other Fed agencies lately. I lived that lack of "ID",..... it seems forever. In the 70's, 80, mid 90's , and still occasionally I see CDF referred to in print as "forest service, the division of forestry....." You guys for the most part until very recently got the press credit. Well, the FLAKS in R-5 on CDF's part have stepped it up and your Agency has been somewhat lacking it appears in that respect, not to mention the retention issues you face. I'm not at all saying "the worm has turned" but that times are changing and that in 20 or 50 or 75 years from now maybe there is a UK type system established that puts all the BS aside and there is only one Fire Service. [strangely enough in China where the fire service is the Military there is that wildland/structural disconnect ,,,,,,,, go figure].

It's a tough deal for the folks in the trenches to deal with. I can say with long experience that there are good ones and bad ones irregardless of agency affiliation. I must say that your comments about Native American crews (and I assume you include those from Alaska) being compared or viewed as CDCR crews to be troubling. The absolute worst things I've ever heard heard said about the Native American crews have come from fed agency people at the line and ICT levels when on incidents, and this was echoed in the 70's, 80,s 90, and 2000... It's a social/perception problem that the press or you for whatever reason equate skin color with who is or is not an inmate crew. If you or anyone else takes the time to examine the skin color of CDF/ CDCR crews you will see an ethnic and racial mix ,,,,,,,, maybe its the orange that gives the CDF/CDCR away. Be well and I hope your men and women get both the recognition and compensation they deserve. Think first and be PO'd later. It all changes and flows.

#..18

6/26 On June 26, 1990 in Arizona's Tonto National Forest, 6 firefighters died battling the "Dude Fire". This is the second largest loss of life in the past 20+ years to wildland firefighters from a burnover event, surpassed only by the 14 that died on the 1994 South Canyon fire in Colorado. We will not forget them!

Mollysboy
6/26 Ab,

I am just disgusted. I crank up the computer to read
the news of the Angora fire this morning on MSNBC, CNN
etc. and I see nothing but Paris Hilton. On CNN, I
could not find anything about the fire.

It's a sad state of affairs and I really fear for the
future of this country when the shenanigans of a
spoiled brat are more interesting than hundreds
fleeing their burning homes and hundreds more putting
themselves in harms way to try to save them.

I have people close to me out there protecting lives
and property and I have a heck of a time finding out
where they are and how the battle is going but I can
find out what Hilton is having for lunch with a few
keystrokes. What about news on how many young people
are coming home in boxes from God-forsaken corners of
the globe? Oh, I see it, it's way down there below
the picture of the heroic Paris leaving the hell of
the luxury slammer.

Sorry, I'm just a geezer who longs for the days when
we seemed to have our priorities in a more honorable
order. My profound thanks to all of you out there
fighting these fires. It appears it's going to get
much worse this year. Take care of yourselves and
each other.

Hotshot Dad
6/26 I just heard through the mill that the DC10 may have suffered some damage on the White fire. Anyone have any info about this?

CF-EMS

6/26 My take is this .... 

I do not mind when all h*!! has broke loose and ALL professional resources have been used up and we are beyond the point of the military being activated. Then bring on the inmate crews, Bring them on last and demob them First. As long as normal resources are available they should NEVER be replaced by someone who has been convicted of crimes and has found a way to get out of jail for a while and have some fun and excitement as well. I am sure there are good inmate firefighters, that is not the point. I am sure they have some good leadership that take them out on assignments, again not the point.

If a career firefighter is missing experience, overtime pay and advancement opportunities because they were not ordered when an inmate crew was there to replace them, It is wrong. The inmates did not make a career choice like the rest of us. (At least not one to become a wildland firefighter). They made a mistake, and in paying for that mistake they should not take a job from you, Me or any of us.

Every time a convict crew is ordered... some professional resources are missing out on part of a career they chose.

CW

6/26 CAL FIRE Since 1977,

I think that you have become a little too relaxed in your thinking of inmates. 
They are convicts, thugs with hand tools. If you believe anything different, 
leave you wallet on the dash of your CCV.

CM

6/26 Abs:

The AD Firefighter Association website is www.adfirefighter.org/.

NMAirBear
6/25 Firefighter fatalities
For those interested............

TC

To date, 58 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.

Firefighter fatalities in USFA reports are summarized by
date/year-of-incident. Initial notices posted online
(http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/) and distributed via USFA
listserve do not represent the final "on-duty" firefighter fatality
determination by USFA for such reports, nor Line-of-Duty-Death (LODD)
determination made by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
(http://www.FireHero.org) for names added each subsequent year to the
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial at the National Fire Academy in
Emmitsburg, MD, they are the beginning of a research process for each
firefighter fatality reported so that such determinations can be made.
6/25 hey guys just updating you and the ANGORA FIRE. at last report around 1430hrs.
approx 2500 acres, 225 homes damages including 173 total loss. no reported 
injuries (thank god). Rotorcraft having trouble flying due to Inversion.

stay safe,
wish i was there with you
excontractcapt
6/25 Ab, 

I heard all the drip torches are all gon'na haf'ta be painted red, too.

My thanks to Michelle as well. She is a woman who is larger than life. 
(For those who don't know, it was her brain child to do all the little 
2-3 minute safety flicks. Great learning tool.)

Tahoe Terrie

6/25 AB,

We just had a private crew in our office that was being dispatched to the Angora fire. 
They said they were told 600 homes had been destroyed. Can you see if anyone can 
confirm that?

Thanks.

SW 

6/25 Smokeater,

While not sure of the incident you are referring to, I believe the Hotshot
crew has every right to be upset. We as hotshots have a deep appreciation
for our job. We train hard and work even harder to maintain the respect and
honor of our crews, so yes if I was labeled an Inmate I too would be upset.
You must understand and see our point of view, on fires Inmate crews
receive quite a bit of extra attention, from meals, to showers, and special
sleeping areas. While we sleep in the leftover areas filled with horse
crap, sprinklers that turn on in the middle of the night etc, etc. We are
the forgotten ones, and we put all that past us to do our job however, if I
was in the paper with a quote " inmate firefighter........" I too would be
upset and would be writing a letter to that paper.

Hotshot
6/25 Subject: Fuel Transportation Guide, OSHA's interpretation

Safety/Fire Managers

This message is sent to provide an update regarding issues related to the (Draft) Interagency Transportation Guide for Gasoline, Mixed Gas, Drip Torch Fuel & Diesel (aka "Fuel Transportation Guide") and the situation with OSHA concerning their interpretation of 5 different hazmat container issues.

A meeting was held with OSHA this past Tuesday (6/12/07) and we were able to successfully demonstrate our unique applications using Sigg bottles, drip torches, and metal jerry cans to gain approval for (continued) use. However, we had to make some concessions and they are noted below. We will also be making final edits to the Fuel Transportation Guide based upon our new direction from OSHA. The Fuel Transportation Guide will also be cross referenced in the (draft) revised safety handbook (due out for review soon). OSOH will continue to work with MTDC to develop the necessary Alternate Standards that OSHA is requiring of us, as noted below.

Below are the main summary points.

  • OSHA indicated they will approve our use of MSR aluminum fuel bottles and drip torches if we apply for alternate standards signed by the USDA and DOI Secretaries. They offered to assist us with these applications. We also agreed to phase out all old, non-specification drip torches within 10 years of the publishing date of the Fuel Transportation Guide, and update specs on all new drip torches - requiring the containers to be red in color (currently working on draft specification).
  • OSHA reversed its previous stance and informed us that we COULD use the square, metal jerry cans.
  • Nalgene bottles absolutely can not be used for fuel storage or dispensing.

We also agreed to phase out the use of all military green plastic gas cans (within 3 years of the issuance of the Fuel Transportation Guide)

Since we now have verbal communication from OSHA that they approve of our use of Sigg bottles, metal jerry cans, and drip torches, the field should know that they may continue to use these types of fuel containers. The field should also be informed to begin phase out of all military surplus plastic gas cans and Nalgene bottles used to carry fuel.

Thanks to Wes Throop (FS/MTDC), Louis Rowe (NPS), Al King (NPS/NIFC), Mike Tupper & Ken Morin (BLM), and Tory Henderson (FS/NIFC). They demonstrated the various fuel containers and provided photos and other information through a power point presentation. How we got through security of the DOL building with all those gas cans and drip torches I'll never know! The field should know how well these folks did going to bat for them so that they can continue doing their job with the convenient (and safe) types of containers that they have used for years.

As stated, more to follow formally -via policy and guide - but this message was deemed necessary to send to communicate to the field that use of Sigg bottles, metal jerry cans, and drip torches are approved for (continued) use.

Please forward message to appropriate field personnel who have tasks associated with hazardous material fuel transportation.

Respectfully,

Allison Good, MPH
Acting Director of Safety
WO OSOH
USDA, Forest Service

Our great thanks to Michelle Reugebrink, Safety Officer on the TNF and former Redding Smokejumper who brought this whole issue to the attention of the "powers that be" at the annual safety meeting in DC. I do believe she was the only one at the meeting who had any field experience. (This is what I have discovered through the "fire mole" grapevine. Hope Michelle doesn't "get in trouble" for any of my revelatory comments. In my opinion Michelle is one of Fire's and the FS's secret SAFETY weapons. She accomplishes more than any 4 people could all together.) Ab.

6/25 Aardvark,

In response to your 6/20 post, if you are not having any luck with NWCG, you may send a question to the NIMS office in DHS. The NIMS office is working on position titles for the medical field, but I am not sure if they have development of any protocols on their radar screen. I have heard that they listen to input and questions from the field, but either way, it may help you find some other answers to your questions.

Web site: www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/ 
Medical job titles: www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/rm/job_titles.shtm 
General email: FEMA-NIMS@dhs.gov

Any all-hazard work in wildland fire should really be coordinated with the NIMS office, as NWCG is no longer the "keeper of NIMS", especially in terms of all-hazard stuff. 

Former NIMS nerd

6/25 Ab,
I just wanted to share this website again with our WFF wives on THEY SAID. Sometimes during fire season, it gets lonely for all the wives, without husbands gone a lot. This is a site to share stories and read others who live the same lifestyle. Here is the website and my email.

http://www.wildlandfirefighterwives.blogspot.com/

A Proud Firewife
6/25 www.adfirefighter.org was working.

New chief, and some others haven't changed.
TX Lobo

Thanks for that. It's a necessary organization. The website must have been getting revamped when we went looking. Ab.

6/25 Wouldbe Reporter

I have worked as a reporter, mostly free lance but also did a weekly column for awhile (the latter in a small town newspaper). I’ve also had considerable experience as an LEO and then as a private investigator. Inaccuracy was never a part of my MO.

So I have a question for you concerning your post of 6/22. At what level of questionable (or intentional) inaccuracy do you discard your honesty and integrity to keep your editor happy?

The Honorable Mouse
6/25 Re: Ab's comment on smokeater's post:

"...and lump them with people who are serving time for breaking the law, even if they are acting as firefighters! Ab." 

I've had the pleasure and honor to work side-by-side with our local inmate wildfire crew. I've had occasion to enter the correctional facility to share what I know of firefighting and lessons learned. They are not acting. They are firefighters, and they are my brothers.

vfd cap'n
6/25 Ab,

I guess all the people needing to be recognized by the media should become
information officers and get out the story of who we are and what were
doing. The rest should keep paying attention to LCES like line
firefighters are supposed to!

T
6/25 Mistaken Identity

Ab,

The thread whining about some Hotshot crew being mistaken for a CDC inmate crew shows how petty some in our midst are. As one who has been in the fireservice for over 32 years I have seen first hand how a minority of my brothers in green have struggled with their place in life. I have led CDC inmate crews into the common battle with the enemy for over 22 years. I have been saddened on many occasions by the snobbery of some in the wildland community whose egoes allow them to be perched on a self produced elevated position of superiority. This divisive attitude has shown itself on the fireline as well as base camp. By no means do I find this at every incident but I thought we as a community of "Firefighters" were maturing in this area.

So much of being a firefighter is in the attitude, and how we present ourselves to the public and those we work with. I have had the pleasure of fighting fire with many professionals who wear many different colors of uniforms. When training my inmate crew I always told them that those who were smiling and waving to them while we were in transit had no idea that they were inmates. The majority of the public saw them as FIREFIGHTERS who held them in high esteem.

We all need to act like we are firefighters. Having been at several funerals of wildland firefighters (both free and inmate) I can tell you with certainty that those who fall in the line of duty leave behind love ones who are proud of their sacrifice.

Be safe and I'll see ya at the top.

smokeater

And I have trouble with reporters who see a Native American hotshot crew and lump them with people who are serving time for breaking the law, even if they are acting as firefighters! Ab.

6/25 was looking for the web site for AD Association. anyone know it?

Mike 

It disappeared about 4 months ago. Hugh Carson stepped down as president and, poof, it was gone as far as we can tell. Anyone knows different, please let us know. Ab.

6/25 Yes, Hawkins is Headed to Tahoe. Just spoke with him on the phone and he's on the road mid-way there (0530). As he is retiring this year, this will hopefully be a good and safe one for his legacy. Don is watching from up above and will be proud I'm sure.

Stanley

Stanley, sure am glad you didn't fall off that roof! (tongue firmly in cheek) Ab.

6/25 dirt miner,

FC 180 hit the nail right on the head. Dept of Agriculture- AG crews.

As for me having an issue of Green coming over to Blue. My BIL was a golden boy for green, now he is blue, Some close buddies are green but will soon be blue. I say come on over the more the merrier. Remember final filing date for the Open/Promotional exam is July12, 2007. You think green is short now wait till new list comes out in January of 2008. So don't be late. "try it you might like it" what do you have to lose.

CAL FIRE 77
6/25 This just arrived in my mailbox from a writer friend of mine who has been/is
working on the PSOB issue.
www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/20070622-1639-herodeathbenefits.phpl 

Ab,

I'd appreciate you posting it to encourage those who haven't stepped forward
to do something meaningful about an issue they feel passionately about, to
consider doing so.

Those of us who have pushed the Justice Department on the PSOB issue have
had nothing to gain from it for ourselves. This is the first time I've
actually said this as directly as I am now. There is bitching. And then
there is powerful, intentional, direct, intelligent, collaborated action.
There is power in numbers. There is power in challenging a status quo that
is dysfunctional, and standing firm when the lion lunges.

There may be a cathartic release in getting together on Wildlandfire.com and
venting. There is SO much energy spent here doing just that. Well, folks,
progress takes more than pounding the keys. Don't let your involvement stop
with your posting. If you have something that concerns you, learn as much as
you can about it and thoughtfully consider how you would like it to BE.
Okay...I'll say it as clearly as I can...get beyond incessantly bitching
about the way it IS. Spend your energy and time working toward a solution.
There IS ALWAYS a solution. Often, there are many different aspects of a
solution, or many different solutions to the same issue or problem. Don't be
overwhelmed by the idea that you're not bright enough, politically
influential enough, socially connected enough, rich enough, ...or
even...good looking enough to make an appreciable dent in the armor of the
status quo.

Jericho's walls cannot stand up against the power of your heart and passion.
No stone is eternal.

I didn't even know about the PSOB program before timber faller Alan Wyatt
was killed on the Missionary Ridge Fire in Colorado on July 2, 2002. But a
bunch of us learned about it real fast when his family was denied PSOB
benefits after his death. Then we did something about it.

I encourage you to have an impact somewhere, on behalf of someone other than
yourself. It matters.

Shari Downhill

6/25 We are seeking entries for the annual fire photo contest sponsored by Fire
Management Today. Please share this information by adding a link on your
website at wildlandfire.com, using mailing lists, or other means possible.
This contest is open to all, prizes are awarded, and the deadline is
October 5, 2007.

The attached flyer and winning photos from past contests are posted at
http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/fmt/.

Thank you for your consideration and assistance in distributing this
announcement. Please contact me if you have any questions.

(See attached file: Flyer_Release2007.pdf)
________________________________
Karen Mora, for Fire Management Today
6/25 Just received from LTBMU:

Size 2,000 acres
Structires lost: 160
No injuries reported

Estimated start time: 2pm local time on June 24

Estimated start area: Mt. Rainier and North Upper Truckee, Tahoe South Shore.

Fire crews have been able to assess the full size of the Angora Fire under more favorable conditions.

This re-evaluation of the fire acreage is not the result of recent rapid fire spread over the last few hours, but rather made possible by more accurate assessments as the fire behavior has moderated.


Current fire behavior: Moderate fire spread, isolated torching within fire perimeter. Movement towards the Northeast.

Crews continue to establish lines and conduct backfire operations.

No estimate as of yet on date of containment. Crews have also been able to develop a more accuate assement of structures, and estimate approximately 160 structures including residences and outbuildings.

Structures continue to be threatened. Significant resources are on scene and on order.

Air resources will continue operations at daylight, pending safe winds and conditions.

The Camino Command Center is managing a fire in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit in the North Upper Truckee Road area, in South Lake Tahoe. Fallen Leaf campground and recreation area has been evacuated. The fire has burned within .5 mile of the High School.
-- 
Pascale Fusshoeller - headgeek
YubaNet
6/24 All,

Quick update on the Angora Fire, as of 10pm number of homes reported lost now is up to165 and the fire is still very active. Winds have died down considerably,  the RH is in the upper 30s and temp is into the 40s, but the fire is still going strong. Still over 500 structures threatened as well as the South Lake Tahoe High School. It's been talked about for years about Tahoe, it's not IF, but WHEN it happens. TRPA should be ashamed of themselves for the regs they've mandated for trees around properties; maybe without those regs, the number of homes lost might be alot less.

Be safe all and keep up the hard work, going to be a long and treacherous season.

MM

More here (750+ acres; no injuries): www.kcra.com/news/13560870/detail.phpl

6/24 Pics someone sent in from a web cam, the first few hours of the Angora Fire plume. Ab. 
6/24 Dear Lucky Lindy:

I hope my trip to DC tomorrow will prove productive enough to continue our slow but steady progress towards that "good positive working atmosphere" for you and all of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters.

Casey

Good luck on that Casey. Thanks. Ab.

6/24 All;

Wow.

The east end of the drift from the Angora Fire plume is over Elko, NV (about 6 hours east of Tahoe on I-80), as of about 1930... lotta fuel goin' up right now...

Be Safe, Ya'll!

Pyro

6/24 scanner link "Angora fire"

has anybody found the link for this yet one guy said that he was "trying it out"?

woodsman20

6/24 Ab, I'd like to thank whomever it was that posted the ABC News 10 (Sacramento) video link for the Angora fire in Tahoe. It is incredible being able to watch this fire as it progresses through the evening. 

Also everyone remember to be safe, your life, anyone's life is not worth property, no matter what. 

Just as a side note, this fire down in the Tahoe area reminds me of a fire that occurred 17 years ago in the Bend / Sunriver area of Central Oregon. That fire was called the Awbrey Hall fire. I don't remember the final size or final number of homes lost, but the other similarities between these two fires is kind of erie. 

Thanks and be safe out there.

sr5401

I think the link is nonfunctional now, but it was amazing watching the power of the fire and seeing houses burn just like that... Be safe all. Ab.

6/24 Aardvark,

Ever heard of or seen the Grand Tetons?, theres some pretty tight areas (LZ's) around that range and our Augusta 109Power hasn't had too hard of time doing missions up there, or the White Cloud Range. I know our pilots are qualified for Mountainous, Back Country, High Altitude Flight since all of them have been flying around here for over 10 years. Our Flight Medics are "Off Duty" Firefighter/Paramedics with additional training in Technical Rescue and Mountain Rescue. As for a flight crew being able to "Rough" it, we're on our 4th day at the Horse Creek Fire in Wyoming with no complaints but the marshmellos last night did get a little overdone. Yes we are qualified to be here, we even have the nifty yellow nomex shirts, work pants, yellow helmet and fire shelter on a harness with two neat water bottles. Our Maintenance Team brought up some "Life Support" for us and we're hangin out with the ARFF Team that's covering the area. More importantly the firefighters in the area have a fully qualified Air-Med Team available on 5 minute notice.

Jodie
6/24 Re: 6/21

Jodie,

Thanks for your comments regarding med-evacs. Unfortunately in the environment that we operate in, it is very unlikely that a 'true' med-evac helicopter with Paramedic, Flight Nurse and ALS equipment is available where we fight fire. Typically these aircraft are also overloaded and heavy and the pilots lack the experience to fly into a tight Heli-spot on or near the fire line. The things we take for granted; high skid gear, High Hot and HOGE performance, experienced pilot with mountain flying time, and ability to move more than one patient at a time, are often lacking in the civilian med-evac world. 

In my career we have almost exclusively transported injured firefighters off the fire with a light or medium helicopter either directly to the hospital or when necessary to a waiting ambulance or another helicopter for the next higher level of care. Usually this involves a delay and we have to look closely at whether it is indeed beneficial to make the transfer and waste valuable time or proceed directly to the Hospital and hope for the best.

And what about the line EMT on the fire or doing project work? An EMT on a Hotshot or Engine crew may be put in the position of dealing with an emergency with limited experience and little to no equipment. They are operating outside their licensing state and the expectation of the crew and the public is that they will be able to handle the situation. They have no on or offline medical control or protocols, no standard operating procedures and when they have equipment, it is either on the crew buggy or Engine, at the bottom of the hill. The 10 person medical kits available from the cache are in most respects useless. Often crews don't want to spend money on first aid equipment as it can be costly and oftentimes has a limited shelf life. Crew rosters change from year to year as well; one year you might have several very dedicated and qualified EMT's and the next none at all.

Utilizing contract EMT's on large incidents has worked in the past, but do they have the appropriate fireline qualifications to be there? Are they prepared to spend the night or spike out for several days? Are they familiar with the aircraft that they may have to work with in an evac situation? Will they be willing to transfer the patient to the helitack on board the helicopter when appropriate? Again, in my limited experience, I see them as being effective less than half the time. And on smaller incidents, there are no contract Medics, just the district personnel, firefighters or VFD that provide the medical support. 

This is exactly why I think it is necessary, as an agency, to have some sort of protocols written to protect the EMT/Medic, the district, the forest and the region, as well as the IMT, etc. that may be involved. This will give guidance to the EMT whether on the fireline, working on a project or assisting the public during their normal day to day duties.

Aardvark
6/24 Re; 911 Fire Service,

Call it stove piping or whatever.
If the land management agencies continue to manage the fire program
when I reach retirement in 9 more years at the young age of 53.
I won't let the door hit me in the back side on my way out.

However if changes are made that can address safety and create a positive good working atmosphere, I will
probably test the waters and give it a few more years with my life of public service.

You people who do and don't know me, please don't dump on me.

My feelings only.

Lucky Lindy
6/24 There's a fire in the South Lake Tahoe area. Webcam shows a growing column. Right now on the hotlist all we have is a cam image, that it's near near Pioneer Trail and Emerald Bay and evacs are underway. If anyone has more, please fill us in. Ab.
6/24 NMAirBear,

I am not sold that there needs to be a separate federal wildland fire service just yet, although I agree with you my friend in most cases... hope remains.... things are lacking now with our current and future leaders in terms of fire management.

I AM sold that there needs to be significant fire experience and fire training required for line officers and other decision makers who are leading the wildland fire program, unfortunately most of our "ologist" leaders lack relevant training, education, and experience to manage a fire program.

I just went through an 18 month "boot camp" to do my current job that I have been doing for four years..... after another 20 years of service doing the job I was trained and educated to do.

How about an 18 month "boot camp" for line officers and other decision makers?

If folks really want to address safety recommendations (1994-present), the decision makers will be trained to at at least the journey level in wildland fire.... hopefully to the expert level for the programs they manage and supervise.

Short of this, the fire program will be taken away from the land management agencies as another failure.

Lobotomy
6/24 Ab, 

Unless I'm mistaken, (as I'm not 100% sure as to what they are doing in the south...) 
Cy will have to wait till NEXT year to apply.

Typically each Unit accepts applications in January and February.

As we have increased staffing this year to 4.0, the lists may have been exhausted, 
and they may re-open the application process. 

Best advice I can give to Cy, is to make LOTS of contact with the station Captains, 
and let them know that he is very interested. Perhaps, the Admin Chief can make 
things happen.

Sign me,
CDF Fire Captain
6/24 Re: Inmate vs. Convict

I too have worked with the inmates from the CDC and CYA who have made the jump to either seasonal or career employment with CDF or the USFS. In most cases, it has been a failure.

In most cases..... the convicts remain convicts and don't usually make it through their first "free" fire season and return to the system...... while the "inmates" stay around for a couple of seasons as a Forest Service firefighter after recommendations from CDF Captains..... only to be hired by CDF as trained firefighters from the Forest Service.

The Forest Service does a great job of training them and weeding them out after their release from CDC and CYA custody, so CDF only gets the "best of the best" inmates........ Why has the Forest Service lowered its standards so much?

Rogue Rivers
6/23 Ab,

Yes, I am reading. Hi to you too.

frozendu mom

6/23 Faker,
I was not doubting your word, that was just the first I had heard of Avue staying, and was looking for a letter to show our S.O. folks, since they love paperwork. Since then, it has all come down thru official channels, thanks for the advance notice!! Be sure to let us know of anything else coming up!!

Mellie, The Bridge fire was a fun one, small enough to hook, big enough for everyone to get a good workout, hopefully they all will be like that...It's someone elses' turn to have the Big One!!

Thanks, everyone, -MJ
6/23 Ab

As of 1420 have 10 new IAs reported today.
Not even the hottest part of the day yet.

J
6/23 DANNYBOY

I think the only push I will have for seasonal position with CAL FIRE, that I was on a type 2 hand crew for the forest service for a short time.

If I don't get picked up over the winter doesn't mean I will give up on it. I just keep on trying. I also plan on taking the EMT class over the winter. I'm still just 26 years old so I hope I have a lot of time to get on as a seasonal.

cy

6/23 Dirt Miner re Calfire 77

No I think he meant AG crews. We have a little thing in CDF, if the 
Forest Service overhead calls our hand crews CDC crews, we call 
his crews Agriculture crews. Turnabout is fairplay. 

FC180
6/23 Ab, 

Here is a link to a news article in our local tv news..... it is interesting how they said WE HAD TO LEAVE OUR VEHICLES BEHIND AND HIKE IN WITH OUR OWN FEET. LOL I wonder if for some reason the reporter thinks that all we do is drive around all day? http://kdrv.com/content/contentID/17477 

enjoy your weekend out there and be safe!

Southern Oregon FireFighter

6/23 CY,

Good luck to you when applying for a seasonal FF position with Cal-Fire. Tons of applicants and very few position openings.............lots and lots of "returning" seasonals. Hopefully your resume is loaded. My grandson got a seasonal position with cal-fire this year and is loving it so far. Best of luck to you.

Beige,

I hope that my posting did not come on as "finger-pointing" regarding the SC incident ....................... it certainly was NOT meant to be, as it is way too early in the investigation for anyone to form his or hers opinions or conclusions.
When I mentioned "finger-pointing", I only was referring to some of the past incidents, one of which I was personally, hands on, involved with, and it goes without saying that there are times that finger-pointing when all the facts are in hand, is justified and warranted.

As for the Storm King Incident, I spoke with a USFS close friend of mine who in the prior year had supervised one of the FFers that was there when the tragedy took place ...........................  he was hands on and did some serious finger-pointing ............ I do not know or want to know the details. 

Keeping all FF'ers in my prayers.

DANNYBOY

6/23 Ab,

Maybe this has been discussed in the past, but I can't find anything in the archives, so here goes:

I have been a subscriber to the Fireline ListServ for several years now, and I look forward to the Sit Report in my inbox every morning during fire season. As a father and husband of active wildland firefighters, I feel much closer to my loved ones just knowing what's happening and where. More than once I have known more about a fire (big picture view, I mean) than my family member working the fire, and I have been able to relay the info to them via cell.

Last week the Sit Report started announcing the following:

The distribution of the Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR) through this FireLine listserv began in January 1997. Now it is winding down.

The distribution of the IMSR through FireLine is expected to stop at the end of June. The NIFC is soon to establish a holding of the archives for these reports and the information availability will be through their structure. Watch for details of the service at

www.nifc.gov

Does anyone know why this service is ending, and whether there might be a parallel service I can subscribe to? Having to log into NIFC daily to see the Sit seems to be a big step backwards.

Thanks,

Papa
6/23 SB - 

In regards to your "trained Type 2 Wildland Firefighter" , they may be referring to the redcard system. Requirements for a FFT2 (Firefighter Type 2) are S-130 (Basic Firefighting), S-190 (Basic Fire Behavior), I-100 (Introduction to Incident Command System), L-180 (Human Factors on the Fireline) and the task book for this position is completed and signed off. Hope this help.

A Happy California Cow

Here is link to the task book Good luck

www.nwcg.gov/pms/taskbook/operatio/fft2.pdf (pdf  file)

ES 

6/23 SB,

In the Forest Service, Firefighter Type 2 (FFT2) is our Basic Firefighter. This means that have completed tha basic firefighter training consisting of the following NWCG courses. S-130 (Basic FF), S-190 (Intro. to Wildland Fire Behavior), S-110 (Basic Suppression Orientation), I-100 (Intro to ICS) and L-180 (Human Factors). They also complete the FFT2 Task Book . Ususaly, they have 1-2 seasons under their belt. Typically after 2 seasons they would get the S-131 (Adv, Firefighter) and S-133 (Look Up, Look Down, Look Around) courses and then they can work on their FFT1/ICT5 Task Book. Both positions are Red Card Qualifications. Hope that helps.

DirtMiner
6/23 SB Type 2 Firefighter?

A little knit-picky aren’t we? Since in the 5109.17
it is listed Firefighter Type 2. They probably write
like they speak. I have “never” heard command and
general staff team members refer to them selves
properly or “as it is written in the 5109.17 or
310-1”. Ask them what their highest qualification is,
“I’m a Type 1 Incident Commander”, “I’m a Type 2
Logistics Chief” and so on. I’ve never heard it the
other way around, the way it is actually listed (I’m
not saying everybody says it bass-ackwards, but I
believe most do), Incident Commander Type 1, Logistics
Chief Type 2. Cut the kid some slack, where were you
23 years ago, and how much did really understand about
the hiring system and what did your resume look like.

Not to be too much of an a$$, as one who also reviews
resumes and applications but not at the lower levels,
I do understand what you are going through, good luck
wading through the mess. One of the best things I’ve
seen on creating an application or resume, for the
Forest Service, is a PowerPoint presentation that is
on the Stanislaus NF. It is very direct and explains
what is being looked for and ways to explain it. I’ll
leave it up to the person who created it to make it
available, he reads this forum. It can help the 1st
year crewman to the GS-11 DFMO create a quality
resume.

Sign Me,
Purrfe, perphe, prefect, Grrr I do okey dokey

SB asked a legit question. Let's not assume nit picky but in search of info. This is the place to do that. Gotta admit, you look at enough of those apps and it's even hard to remember your mother's name. HAW HAW. Hi Frozendu, I know you're reading... Ab.

6/23 SB,

Firefighter Type 2 (FFT2) is in fact the entry-level firefighter position in both the April, 2006 version of the PMS 310-1 qualification system guide and the last version of FSH 5109.17 that I saw from June, 2006.

By December, we will have run about 200 students through S-130/190 this year. I tell them all that the training and arduous pack test qualifies them to be certified as a type 2 firefighter, either by the agency they're with or whatever agency ends up hiring them.

vfd cap'n
6/23 To SB:

I was a type 2 for 17 seasons a type 1 is supervisory squad boss or higher. 

Dagwood!

6/23 To All, FYGI;

Humboldt General Hospital, Winnemucca, NV, now has a dedicated Air Ambulance 
(an American Medflight Piper Cheyenne) stationed at Winn Municipal Airport, 24/7. 
55 minutes to Reno.

REMSA will continue to service the area with Care Flight helicopters, and can transport 
to WMA, or a trauma center, "...on an as needed basis.".

Nice to know it's there, but I hope you never need it...

Pyro
6/23 CAL FIRE Seasonal Firefighter Advice?

I'm looking to apply for seasonal firefighter at the end of the year for 
Riverside County/CAL FIRE, and I'm looking for any advice that can 
help me along and what I can expect. Thanks!

Cy

6/23 Recently while doing a background check (checking the accuracy of resumes and verifying what was written with former supervisors) I ran across someone who claimed that he is a "trained Type 2 Wildland Firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service." I've only had 23 years with the green team and apparently I have missed this qualification. Can anyone help me? Yes, I realize there are type 2 crews, but I'll be damned if I can find anything classifying FS firefighters as "Type 2" wildland firefighters. But I could be wrong, wouldn't be the first time. I'm sure I'll learn more when I talk to his sup. However this might be a good time to reiterate the importance of accuracy and honesty on applications, even if you think you are ONLY a seasonal. You will be much more than just another body.

Anyone able to help me?

Checking the claims and trying to keep everything on the up and up...

SB

His way of saying Firefighter 2?

6/23 Biodisel in engines

Medford BLM can now use B20 or 20% Biodiesel in their fleet. soon to be 
installed hopefully is a B5 tank for all fleet vehicles. I run B100 in my POVs 
and it smells good and the little troops don’t get blasted with bad fumes when 
we load up....

JS

6/22 Ab, please share:

Interagency Aviation Safety Alert (315 K pdf file) text below

June 21, 2007
Subject: Risk Awareness and Mitigation of Hazards Caused by Human Factors
Area of Concern: Fire Suppression Operations

Distribution: Aviation and Safety Managers, Unit Aviation Officers, Pilots, Pilot Inspectors, Flight
Crew Members and all Aviation Support Personnel.

Discussion: Aviation System Safety assessments recently identified 18 hazards that are common among all
of the aviation missions studied, and which require National level mitigation. Inherent among the common
hazards are several Human Factors concerns that need mitigation and demand a higher level of situation
awareness. This Safety Alert should benefit all interagency aviation personnel, by defining the hazards and
offering solutions for mitigation, especially during times of increased activity. It is strongly recommended
that this Alert, as well as the completed program risk assessment package be utilized as a briefing tool and
operational checklist by Incident Management Teams, FAST Teams and ASTAT Teams and local unit
aviation personnel. Copies of the Risk Assessments are available from State Aviation Managers and Region
Aviation Safety Managers.

The following human factors pose significant hazards to safe flight operations. Each situation should be
mitigated to acceptable levels prior to accepting a mission. Mitigation measures are suggested or you may
use any other means at your disposal to mitigate these hazards.

Task Saturation: Potential for human error is increased when personnel must multi-task as a result of
the mission/ergonomic environment (human/machine interface), the organization, or the complexity of
a tactical operation) thereby losing situational awareness.
Ensure that flight crews and aviation managers
are qualified in their assigned position and trained in techniques for workload management (i.e. delegate
tasks, adjust tactics, reduce number of resources if necessary, get additional personnel to help with
operation). It may be helpful to establish local/personal “trigger points” to identify when task saturation is at
a critical level. When practical attend Crew Resource Management and/or simulator training.

Risk vs. Reward: Routine acceptance of high-risk assignments as a normal job expectation is a
hazardous attitude.
Assess the complexity, as well as the need/value for the mission, ask if it can be done
another way, and ask if all personnel are essential to the flight/mission. Solicit input from the fire line and
pilots as to the effectiveness of air operations. Risk Management courses are available at ACE.
Fatigue/burnout: Extended duration of incident assignments as well as year round incident support
(i.e. hurricane relief, fire support, other all-risk) contribute to the cumulative effects of fatigue leading
to poor decision making, risk taking and complacency. Ensure that aviation personnel are allowed
adequate periods of rest between assignments. Monitor symptoms of cumulative job fatigue and be proactive
to implement duty restrictions for affected flight crews. Emphasize restrictions on personnel that are in
extended travel status vs. those operating from home base. Adhere to work/rest guidelines, if necessary
implement a more restrictive rest policy based on personal/family needs.

Pilot knowledge of equipment and emergency procedures. Flight crewmembers are often being
assigned to new or unfamiliar aircraft, especially in call-when–needed contracts. Be on the alert for
a lack of familiarity with avionics, performance calculations, and knowledge of emergency
procedures.
Alert pilot inspectors to assess and/or have pilots demonstrate knowledge of equipment and
emergency procedures during the carding process. Aviation Managers and inspection teams (if correctly
configured) should discuss and review these issues with flight crews. Request vendors to provide
additional training for pilots that need to improve performance. Provide relief pilots adequate time to
transition with outgoing pilots.

Lack of Crew Resource Management (CRM): Effective use of all crewmembers is vital for
maintaining situational awareness and decision-making during high risk, high consequence missions.

Provide briefing and de-briefing tools (i.e. after action reviews, current information, and situation status
reports) to pilots and aviation managers. It’s critical, to the extent possible, that we monitor the mental and
physical well being of our pilots and support personnel, and curtail operations when necessary. Continue
to emphasize classroom based CRM training.

6/22 In reaction to an article I received last week, I encouraged Richard W. Halsey, Director of the California Chaparral Institute to reply. This is his specialty. Nice job and thank you, Rick. Ab.

Fire Suppression, Science, and Personal Opinion

With what has happened in South Carolina this week and some of the other things going on, I'm not particularly in the mood to discuss this issue, but recent events make it impossible to ignore anymore.

First some background. Although I have had the unfortunate experience of being manipulated by a few reporters over the years to say that one "personal-headline quote" they were fishing for, I have tried to deal with this continual fire suppression/fuel build-up debate in Southern California on a strictly scientific basis. I've always felt it best to ignore the personality and stick to the data. This is typically not the approach the press emphasizes, but it is how science is supposed to work.

However, there comes a time when a viewpoint becomes so disconnected from the accepted body of scientific knowledge that it distracts from constructive dialogue. At times it can even delay or alter important policy decisions. Such delays create negative consequences for future generations by creating unproductive, "my expert" vs. "your expert" politicized debates in the press. Although each of the experts are assumed to have equally valid viewpoints supported by objective data, one or more are solely interested in promoting their own individual cause or agenda regardless of the facts. Often these causes are pushed by narrow, special interests in a consciously dishonest manner. Or alternatively, the promoter honestly believes his or her own view of the world so strongly that he or she is unable to objectively evaluate contrary data. Instead, everything is seen in light of a favored theory and seemingly obvious contradictions are dismissed (often unconsciously). Consequently, when the cause is continually taken to the popular media instead of being objectively discussed within the framework of science, it becomes impossible to ignore the messenger. This is why a number of well-know fire scientists spoke out in 2006 about Thomas Bonnicksen who was disregarding scientific fact to promote politically motivated policies dealing with wildland fire.

The June 17, 2007, San Bernardino County Sun news article "Forests Need to Burn" was a signal to many of us in the wildland fire and fire science communities that the time has come to directly address Dr. Richard Minnich's promotion of incorrect and potentially damaging notions about wildland fire management.

In his insistence on focusing on only one variable (chaparral age), Dr. Minnich does not appear to have a clear understanding of wildland fire. Wildland fire risk in Southern California is not the fault of the fire service, or the result of old stands of chaparral, it is an inherent part of the landscape. Laying more fire on the ground on a landscape level or allowing fires to run is unacceptable in Southern California for both safety and ecological reasons. The Baja California fire mosaic model originally described by Dr. Minnich in 1983 and elaborated in 1997 is not applicable to Southern California. The best and most efficient way to reduce wildland fire risk is through proper community design, fire-safe building construction, adequate vegetation management around structures and strategically placed fuel treatment projects.


A Closer Examination

As both a biologist specializing in chaparral ecosystems and someone who has taken the time to get to know fire up close and personal, I find much of what Dr. Minnich says to be in direct opposition to reality.

To put these theories in perspective, it is important to understand that Dr. Minnich has been a major critic of the fire service for years and has blamed us for causing the conditions that have allowed large, devastating fires to occur. He has claimed that fire suppression has allowed an "unnatural" level of chaparral fuel to accumulate, leading to unstoppable wildland fires in Southern California. This is based on a paper he wrote in 1983 comparing fires in Baja California with those in Southern California, two radically different environments not suitable for comparison for a number of reasons (different climates, different soil types, different vegetation patterns, and different cultural and land use perspectives).

Research over the past twenty years has clearly shown that large, wildland fires in Southern California are not the result of past fire suppression practices, but rather a function of severe fire weather conditions: drought, low humidity, and Santa Ana winds. If you would like a more detailed analysis of the Baja California mosaic theory, please go to our Fire & Science page on our website at www.californiachaparral.org.

In the Sun article Dr. Minnich was quoted as saying,

"So, right now ... if you go from Santa Ana River and west of Cajon Pass, the fire hazard is nil because it burned in '03. It's three-year-old brush, and nothing is going to carry there for another 20 years - you don't have a problem."

Immediately after the 2003 Old fire in San Bernardino, Dr. Minnich repeated similar perspectives by saying that the area wouldn't burn again in our lifetimes. After the Griffith Park fire in May of 2007 he also said, "There's 800 acres of Griffith Park which have just burned, and that's the good news. There's no fuel there and those areas are unlikely to burn for years if not decades to come."

Let's look at the data:

  1. On Saturday (June 16, 2007), the day before the Sun article appeared, there were 4 fires in the Cajon Pass area, all of which could have evolved into major incidents under the right weather conditions. One required extensive use of aircraft to control. It is unfortunate the article's reporter did not adequately check out the facts before publishing as news unsubstantiated opinions.

  2. On Monday (June 18, 2007), the day after the article, a fire occurred in the Lake Arrowhead in an area that had burned 3 times since 1994.

  3. The first 20,000 acres that burned in the 2003 Old fire was a patchwork of fuel that was generally less than ten years old. Most of what burned during the first couple days had burned in the 1980 Panorama fire or subsequent fires. The Old fire also re-burned 1,000 acres that burned during the 2002 Arrowhead fire. And it wasn't a chaparral fire that was responsible for destroying most of the homes burned in San Bernardino during the Old fire, but a grass fire that came roaring off the mountain. Embers igniting palm fronds and other ornamental vegetation were major contributors to the fire's spread into the city.

  4. Many areas in the front country of the San Bernardino Mountains burn repeatedly, sometimes once a year. This is because the fire return interval has been so great that chaparral and coastal sage scrub plant communities have been completely eliminated and have been replaced by highly flammable, fine, weedy fuels. These weedy fuels create conditions that allow fires to return frequently because they quickly accumulate each year and can be ignited easily. To say that these areas present an "abnormally low" fire hazard is a clear misinterpretation of the fire environment.

In another quote, Dr. Minnich says,

"The area that was involved in Esperanza, the stands that burned, a lot of them previously burned in 1974, about 32 years before that, and that's actually rather young chaparral. The fire, even in the Santa Ana wind, was kind of struggling getting through that. ... It managed to consume it. But within the (Esperanza) fire, there were islands of unburned vegetation, which were far older than 32 years, and this structure was in it. The chaparral was at least twice as old ... so it resulted in much more intense fire behavior, in that small area, and that's where these people went into."

Every chaparral stand is different. Many young, post-fire recovery chaparral stands have plenty of fine fuels to carry a fire. This comes from invasive grasses and some natives such as deerweed. After 10 years, many chaparral stands close their canopies and create perfect fuel beds to carry a fire. The 2006 Esperanza fire started in grassy fuels near the desert floor. The Cabazon area where the Esperanza fire began has burned so many times over the last 30 years it is almost completely covered with cheatgrass. To say that the fire was "kind of struggling" to get through 32-year-old chaparral during the Esperanza fire indicates data was not collected from USFS firefighters who were on scene and who really understand fire in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Yes, chaparral systems provide ready fuel and can pose serious threats to poorly designed communities. This is why vegetation clearance recommendations are critical to follow as well as efforts to correct unsafe building designs in fire prone areas.

During a May 9, 2007, FM radio interview on the KCRW program "Which Way LA", host Warren Olney referred to how LA County fire officials had blamed the recent fire in Griffith Park on record low rainfall and drought conditions. He then asked Dr. Minnich "If there's more to this than just a dry rainy season and low humidity, what should people be concerned with the most?"

Dr. Minnich responded,

"Well, it depends on what kinds of vegetation you're working with. If its chaparral, the flammability of it depends on the accumulation of fuel over decades, not how much it grows or how much it's stressed by one year's deficiency of rainfall. I was looking at a video of this fire and its pretty mature looking chaparral and its ready to burn and that's the nature of the beast with this kind of vegetation. It's the old stands that burn, those areas that haven't burned in a long time, and not the young ones. And drought really doesn't have the specific relationship to fires other than to lengthen the individual fire season, which started a little earlier this year."

The fact that drought and low fuel moistures lead to dangerous fire conditions is one of most significant variables in determining whether or not a wildfire gets out of control. It's not just about fuel, but how dry the fuels become and how fast the winds blow. To ignore such variables is to create a perception that native ecosystems are "the enemy" and the only way to stop wildland fires from burning homes is to eliminate or drastically compromise the natural resources Californians value and wildland firefighters risk their lives to protect.

Warren Olney later asked, "So in other words, it isn't so much that it is drier than usual, it's that there's more fuel than usual, it would burn under any circumstances?"

Dr. Minnich replied,

"Well, there was sufficient fuel for the fire to take off and once chaparral gets 30 to 40 years of age throughout Southern California you have a big fire threat. On the positive side, those areas which are grassy hardly had any growth at all so the fire hazard is far less than usual this year."

Important variables are being ignored. Yes, over time chaparral does accumulate fuel, but it is highly variable depending on type, location, and prior rainfall levels.  ... to read the rest, of this document worth reading, Click this link.

I've added this to our Documents Worth Reading section and our Site Map. Ab.

6/22 Sorry Ab, 

But after reading some of the posts about the tragedy in South Carolina, I'm struck but the same theme of "someone has to be blamed!". When I read things like "finger pointing", "poor information", ect:ect:ect;. I guess that I get a little bent when the armchair QB's start throwing their "learned" opinion about without truly knowing the facts. I was on a fire on the Payette in 1994 after the Storm King tragedy and talked to a family member of one of the fallen, and I remember the pain in his face, and the agony in his voice when he talked about how people who think they knew what happened drew conclusions from their perceptions, and not the facts. I guess all we can ask is unless you have walked a mile in the IC's shoes, who I'm sure is dying a thousand deaths right now, or were going in that building with the fallen, please try to wait for the facts when a thorough investigation is completed. I believe then we can start an active and thorough debate through which we can all take lessons from. I can almost guarantee 100% that none of those Firefighters woke up that morning thinking that maybe decisions that they will make latter in the day might lead to their deaths. Structure and Wildland firefighting one big common denominator, fire doesn't care what uniform you're wearing, and dead are still just as dead whether it's in a dark hallway, or high on a mountain. I'm sorry about my rant going so long, but the longer I do this, watching the roll call of the fallen grow, I grow more heartsick as every year passes.

Please remember the basics...THEY WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE ONE DAY......

10/18, LCES, situational awareness, common denominators, and the checklists

Stay Safe,

Beigefoot

6/22 The Media

Good grief! When will everyone learn that we are each geeks in our various 
professions /trades /towns /cities /counties and stop expecting the rest of the 
world to know all of the nuances of our specialty, location etc.?

We each must know our audience and address them where they are in 
understanding and knowledge. You would not talk about fire behavior in S-490 
in the same way you would in S-190.

USFWS tired of being the DNR 

6/22 One question I would like to throw out there, has anyone used the biodiesel
as burn mix? I recall someone mentioning that it does not burn as well,
but can't remember who said it or when I heard it.

JS

If I remember the discussion correctly, it burns just fine, but has a different viscosity (it's "thicker" than diesel) at low temperatures. Ab.

6/22

Upper Lake (CA-MNF) using Energy Efficient Biodiesel

The Upper Lake District of the Mendocino National Forest is working to be more energy efficient by using biodiesel in their diesel vehicles and equipment. Using renewable resources to reduce energy and carbon emissions is a new way of doing business. For the past month, the Upper Lake District has been using a blend of 20 per cent biodiesel and 80 per cent diesel in equipment and vehicles. Biodiesel is a clean burning fuel alternative that produces less net carbon dioxide emissions than petroleum based diesel. The blended fuel can be used without having to make modifications to equipment.

Studies show that using biodiesel can increase fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. “We all have an opportunity and obligation to be involved in issues which affect the environment The Forest Service is mindful of our ecological footprint and using renewable resources such as biodiesel is one way we can positively affect our impact on the global environment,” acting Upper Lake District Ranger Jim Ruhl, said.

Plans are underway to increase the use of biodiesel to other areas of the Forest. If you have questions about biodiesel use at Upper Lake, please contact Jim Ruhl at 707-275-1401. For more information about the biodiesel industry, please visit http://www.biodiesel.org.

6/22 Incident Interior 1 (ret),

What I was referring to was, stay within your scope of practice, stay with your patient until care can be transferred to a higher level of care and do not be negligent (DO NO Harm). I hope that the designated "Med-evac" ships out there on assignments are staffed with a minimum of EMT-P if not flight nurses for quick access to ALS support. I am lucky, my partner that I work with at my department is an EMT-P, so I am lucky to have ALS so close. I do agree that all agencies that assume the responsibility of "Med-evac" on fires will staff their helicopters with ALS personnel. If not, contract out to companies like Cal-Star....ECT.. I do, however, appreciate folks like Aardvark that step up and offer their BLS/ (or ALS?) skills even though it's not a part of their primary mission on a daily basis....Stay safe..Do No Harm....

Signed,
Driver51
6/22 Cal Fire 1977,

I think those of us in GREEN have worked close enough with our BLUE counterparts to know the difference between Cons and inmate crews. You seem to have a deeper issue of GREEN jumping to BLUE than the inmate vs con issue. Oh and by the way, it's AD crews not AG.

DirtMiner
6/22 Ab,

Why isn't there Resource Status Listings for Cleveland National Forest on the WildWeb Dispatch Center link? 

Thank you, 

Gary

6/22 Ab,

CAL FIRE, Does Not have CONVICT Fire Crews. They have Inmate Fire Crews. Those that have run CAL FIRE Crews know there is a big difference between convicts and inmates. For those newbies that jumped from GREEN to BLUE they didn't go to fire stations they are going to the Camps, and will soon find out first hand what a big difference there is between convicts and inmates. The next batch of green that jumps to blue will also find out the difference between the two. The real Convicts are doing 25 to Life, most of the inmates are doing 10yrs or less, and have to have 5yrs or less to be considered for the camp program with an average crewmember having 2yrs left on their term. For the guys in Green you wouldn't want to hear AG Crew instead of Hotshot Crew same difference between Inmate Crew and Convict Crew.

CAL FIRE Since 1977
Crew Captain Since 1987

6/22 HEROES?

Do I think those folks were heroes... He*l yes. They chose a noble and honorable profession with known risks at service to others and made the ultimate sacrifice. They did their best and they did what they were trained to do....

DC Ret said,

"I firmly believe that in most cases where Firefighters die in the line of duty, it is because some major mistakes were made and they are usually glossed over and white washed while the victims are buried as heroes. Corrections are seldom made and these things will continue to happen."

Do I think they or others may have made mistakes? Probably. Would I, or you have made the same mistakes? Possibly or probably?..... We weren't in their shoes at the "aww sh*t" decision making point so we will never know?

Often times, as Ab noted, the very basics of human behavior are often overlooked and never addressed... such as using accusatory terms such as "mistake" or "failure". In other instances, underlying latent factors go un-noticed or uncorrected because of the basic human behavior factors of the survivors to protect themselves, their families, and their friends...... or the reactions of fire and land managers to protect program delivery.

More than not, the folks involved want to tell their stories. Give those folks some time...... Give them some space...... and the Lessons Learned will come forward.

Student of Reason

6/22 Even with a reporter in front of us, pen and paper in hand, quotes and affiliations are inevitably botched (although the quote above is verbatim). When I have discussed these issues with several reporters after the fact, I usually get an obligatory apology, but little else.

A retired reporter friend refers to today's media as "Drive By Media".

It seems in today's world of sensationalism, sound bites and talking points, most of the important specific truths are edited out sooner or later.

Good grief: for starters, when will the media realize there is a big difference between any fire being Controlled vs Contained?

Be safe y'all,
River

6/22 ON 6/21 Lobotomy wrote,

"I have a powerpoint presentation that explains "How does young chaparral burn?".

Ab, can you see if he'll provide a link we can download the powerpoint from?

Thank you

MJK

6/22 Reporters:
I've not worked as a reporter, but plan to someday. Its one of many careers
I've had or considered. Editing my high school paper doesn't count because
I wasn't paid. So, imagine having a low pay, few benefits job with some
local paper. A fire blows in your area and you get the first rush a
firefighter gets when he's headed to his first fire. You're excited, you
want the story, and you're willing to talk to anyone they will let you
near. You try to get your story right, but the jargon is all new. Folks
speak of hotshots, CDF, USFS, BLM, type II crews, not to mention all the
fireline jargon. You're trying to take it in, but somehow its so new it
all doesn't seem to fit. You head back to the office and the editor wants
your story for tomorrow's edition. You have 30 minutes to prepare it. Oh,
and that story about the cat in the tree. The editor wants that too.

I hope this helps firefighters understand how time pressures and
inexperience easily lead to errors. You have a picture and you can't tell
a green truck from a 18 wheeler. You have to call it something. You check
your notes. Oh, yea, the engine belonged to CDF, so the truck is probably
theirs too. You make assumptions. You're wrong, but you have a caption
for the pic. That's what's important to your editor. Completion. You
get paid by the word, not the hour. Dare I assume some firefighter ever
cheated in college? I imagine reporters have too. College habits shift to
real life. Our society seems to love shortcuts, even if the truth gets
lost.

Transformation:
I've heard the Forest Service is doing major reorganizing at the top. I've
also read that fire is going to consume 100% of the USFS budget before
long. I've also heard overhead costs are going to consume 100% of the
budget by 2009. And we've been told "budget won't drive" the
reorganization decisions. Dream on! I can't forecast what changes are
coming, but its fairly obvious the agency will be charting a new course.

I'll retire before long. Maybe you'll run in to me when I have a notebook.
I will try to get your name and story right. But I discovered after I hit
30 I ain't perfect anymore! I do make mistakes. And I try to apologize
for them. Unfortunately, that caption and picture won't be published again
with a correction and any other errors corrected in a republished story.
Such doesn't make good news. I'll be dealing with the mayor's office
instead. Such is life.

Wouldbe Reporter.
6/21 The golden hour. 

Develop those protocols so you can use them while obtaining the 
professional and more complete medevac services.

My opinion.

Mellie

6/21 Aardvark,

No disrespect to EMT's but putting an EMT-B or even an EMT-I on a helicopter with basic medical supplies isn't much of a "Med-Evac. Its more like a government operation/management trying to cover its behind. Its a good assumption that no government agency like the Forest Service of BLM isn't going to start their own Air-Med Service so the next best thing is to contract the nearest available Air-Med Service to cover an incident. Medical Protocols are developed by Air-Med Services and their local Medical Director/Authority so by contracting a local Air-Med Service the Agency in question doesn't have to worry about Protocols and Liability and they get a fully Qualified Pilot, Flight Nurse, Flight Paramedic, Fully Stocked and Certified Helo and quality care. Shouldn't Firefighters have the best Medical Care Available?.

Jodie
6/21 ht, Hotshot Dad, Lori, et al-

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that regardless of the color of the hard hat, engine, or crew buggy, us firefighters are all the same in the media's (and therefore public's) eyes. I recall a newspaper quote from a local VFD chief talking to his crews during the 2002 Hayman fire in Colorado, I believe, that went something like, "You need to be prepared to die up here if it comes to that." (See the safenet for more info). If you think the public makes a distinction between this woefully misguided individual and the rest of us, I am afraid they do not! 

Even with a reporter in front of us, pen and paper in hand, quotes and affiliations are inevitably botched (although the quote above is verbatim). When I have discussed these issues with several reporters after the fact, I usually get an obligatory apology, but little else.

That being said, the leaky nozzle often gets a new gasket, so keep hammering them each and every time. Maybe the media will eventually get the point!

-stumpshot 
6/21 DC, Ret.;

Good questions, all, but hard to answer. To be clear, I'm glad you asked, but to stay in context, they're relatively rhetorical on this forum, as the only people who can truly answer them (once again the same old story) are gone.

Having done about 50/50, structure/wildland fire over the years, I would have to say structure is, in many ways, simpler, although a truly three- dimensional hazard (forces of alignment affecting the fire behavior have less dynamics working on them). Bottom line, I believe it is perfectly reasonable to take a long, hard look at the basic philosophy, strategy, training, and on- scene discipline of any department that loses troops, particularly on a structure fire.

Thank you for bringing it up; now it should be up to Charleston FD to investigate themselves closely.

Driver51;

You mentioned something, in passing, that I got bitten by, many years ago; the issue of patient- abandonment vs: agency policy. My feeling was, and is, that when working with a patient as an EMT-B or above, responsibility to my patient rates above agency SOP in most respects. My problem consisted of flying a critical (minor) patient by the closest available (by quite a time difference) SAR helicopter; my medical training was a couple of steps higher than the crew- chief aboard at the time, so I chose to accompany my patient for a 15 minute flight to ER. Unfortunately, the aircraft in question was not certified by my agency to transport our personnel... you can see this coming. 

Just another of those issues that you might want to consider, before you're face to face with it; are there similar glitches in your primary service area(s), and what would your priority be?
I'm not so sure there's a right or wrong answer to that question, even so many years later...

Incident Interior1 (ret.)
6/21 Ab,

Is it a fact that these poor souls in SC entered that fully involved furniture building because there were people still in there?????? I do not hear of any civilian fatalities???? Poor information at scene??? I can't imagine anyone going in with that much fire involvement... strictly defensive actions...... surround and drown.

I have to agree with DC Retired's presenting a "question" only writing.

I, in the past have been a part of the investigating team for burn victims (cdf). It seemed to me that after all the fact gathering, interviews, etc., that the obvious is ignored for some reason. I believe that the reason is that the organization, whichever it is, will not point fingers when finger-pointing is due............ therefore, the real lesson is not taught.

I guess finger-pointing would open the gates for law-suits............ oh well................. if it would save a life somewhere down the line..... well worth it.

Lori, If you are concerned about the ignorance of the media regarding anything to do with wildfires .......................... you are clear out of something to do. The media makes fools out of themselves to you and I, but the general public doesn't see the stupidity of their reporting. And the truth of the matter is .................... the general public doesn't know or care the difference between CDF (calfire), USFS, Local Departments or whatever. It does fry me however when I see them interviewing inmate crews....... so I guess I am guilty of some of the same. Smiling.

DANNYBOY

Hindsight is 20/20. As with wildland, let's get somewhat through the shock and grieving and let the process take its course. Ab.

6/21 Aardvark,

Hey there. As a EMT (or medic?) you are protected by your approving county that you are certified in. If you are a NREMT then most states will most likely protect you and your efforts as a fireline EMT (or medic) if you follow your protocol and stay within your scope of practice. You are also covered if you stay on course and don't show gross negligence or abandon a patient. If all else fails, your duty to act as well as the Good Samaritan Law will protect you in a bind. I for one appreciate your efforts and it comforts me knowing that we have folks out there that take the time to take care of us if we need to be flown out. As a EMT-1 myself, I know of the great responsibility I have of doing my job right the first time. Keep up the good work, I hope this sheds some light, hope you get some answers from NWCG and your sponsoring agency....Take care...Be safe.....Do no harm.

Signed,
Driver51
6/21 Aardvark -

I used to bug the agency about protocols as well, and gave up. No one seems to know the answer. The USFS has MDs on staff somewhere, and AG has thousands in other braches and divisions. So it shouldn't be that far a stretch to simply sign off on some of the most universal of protocol sets.

In the past I have seen basic protocol sets used from each state. www.doh.wa.gov/hsqa/emstrauma/download/emtbprot.pdf that is washington state's.
For wherever you work, you can DL theirs from google.

As an EMS provider, now we have a medical director, malpractice, and our own protocols that our MD signs off on. One thing about non invasive EMS, is that there is much less liability. If your trauma kit does not include IV sets, airways, drugs etc you're on much safer ground and any of the basic protocols will not lead you too far in. Whatever you do, don't exceed your level of training. I doubt the agency will be of much help. There's a reason they farm out medics - liability, they don't want it. 

eric
6/21 I simply pose this as a question, not a condemnation. 

Are the Firefighters who lost their lives this past week truly “heroes”, or are they actually victims of flawed polices, inadequate leadership, inadequate supervision, inadequate accountability, inadequate or flawed training? My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of these men.

I firmly believe that in most cases where Firefighters die in the line of duty, it is because some major mistakes were made and they are usually glossed over and white washed while the victims are buried as heroes. Corrections are seldom made and these things will continue to happen.

DC Ret

You forgot human factors, like the drive of those fine men to save two lives, like a fire that flashed over and burned faster and hotter than anything in their experience. Mistakes are part of the human condition. We all need to better understand venting location and flashover (area ignition within a structure). 

Lessons learned is a large part of structural firefighter culture as well as wildland firefighter culture. I am sure that many in SC and beyond are asking themselves the same questions you pose, even as they weep. Heartfelt condolences for all our pain. 

One fine legacy that can be offered for the SC 9 is to learn as much as possible from this tragedy so that firefighter deaths will never happen that way again, and to finally bring the bedding non-flammability standards up to a reasonable level so structure firefighters are not at risk from that. Ab.

6/21 ht,

That is a common occurrence in our community. Our local paper is forever stating that CDF - oops, CALFIRE- put out this fire or that fire. Pictures of our helicopter have captions stating that it is a state ship, etc. Man, those guys must be exhausted!!

I finally got fed up with it and called them about the mistakes they had been making. While it has gotten better, it still happens more often than it should.

One year, on a fire up near Tahoe, one of the Sacramento tv stations were reporting on what was happening. They were showing footage of the FS, but were talking about CDF and interviewing their people. It was a FS fire with CDF helping out. I contacted the station and asked them why they weren't interviewing FS personnel. Their answer - we talked to who we had first contact with. You have to admit that CDF has one heck of a program for public information and they push it every chance they have while the FS seems to just sit back and wait for reporters to come to them. Not very good PR on the Forest Service's part.

I would contact the paper and tactfully let them know that not all wildland firefighters in CA are with CDF. Some of this state's finest wear green....

Lori

Lori, no offense meant to you but I would point out to them in no uncertain terms that to be lumped in with CONVICT crews even out of ignorance of the reporter is TOTALLY unacceptable!!!

6/21 SC Fallen Firefighters

I came to Charleston SC for the Firefighters Memorial with a group of Fire/EMS personnel (municipal, federal, private) from the Great Basin (R4). Our trip from the airport to our hotel last evening was breathtaking, everywhere one looks there are makeshift memorials, flowers, posters created honoring the fallen. There are Firefighters and families from all over the country here for the memorial, Career, Volunteer, Municipal, Federal. Some of the Firefighters that accompanied our group had just come off the fireline after fighting several wildland fires is Southeast Idaho and Northern Utah. On the flight here the firefighters were discussing what happened during the fire here and everyone agreed that what happened here in Charleston can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. While listening to the discussions I saw a true meaning of "Brotherhood", the structural (municipal) guys were explaining "Flashover" to the wildland guys, comparing flashover to burnover, how a whole engine crew didn't hesitate to entered the building to look for trapped employees and so on. I hope everyone will hold the fallen and their families in their prayers and now that wild fire season has kicked into gear, that all those who will be on the fireline or will be answering the next tone out will be safe and look out for each other. May God Bless those who have Fallen and those who continue to protect us.

Jodie
RN & Firefighter's Wife

6/21 Re: Safety

Dr. Richard Minnich, a geography / earth sciences professor with the University of California - Riverside is making some very poor choices when it comes to firefighter safety and community protection in the Southern California chaparral and shrubland forests.

Somehow his theories keep making it to the press even though they have been disproven by the wildland fire research community and the wildland firefighter community at-large. His theories are putting firefighters and communities more at risk and need to be officially countered!!! As usual, nobody at a key position to say BS is anywhere to be found within the agencies.

News Article from the San Bernardino Sun.

Dr. Minnich has no idea what a prolonged cyclical drought means, nor what the impacts will be from non-native species on fire return intervals and severity.

I have a powerpoint presentation that explains "How does young chaparral burn?". I would be happy to share it with anyone confused with the "fire dependent" vs. "fire adapted" discussion and how things are changing.

Some forests don't ....... "need to burn" as he professes. The vegetative change occurring due to drought and non-native species is to blame for the increase in "area ignitions" such as were observed during the entrapments/burnovers on the Sawtooth Fire and the Esperanza Fire. These same vegetative and climatic changes are happening throughout the West with similar results.

Lobotomy

Yes, let's hear it from a fire in chaparral ecosystem expert. Ab.

6/21 Ab,

Media folks never seem to get it quite right. A Salt
Lake City newspaper attributed control of the Timpie
and Hansel fires in Utah to the locals when in fact
our BLM IHC crews saved the day. I put in my $.02
with the paper.

Hotshot Dad
6/20 Ab

Please direct TheySaid readers to the Forum General Discussion thread " CA-SDC-newspaper slur of IHC "

The SD Union-Tribune called the Golden Eagles IHC a CDF hand crew.

The IHC came to help SDC on the Black Mtn. Tuesday evening and that is the thanks they get from the paper.
IHC did mop up; along with 4 CDF crews; paper lumped them as CDF crew.

Hit my Hot Button.

ht

Go read it on the hotlist. www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=457 
Maybe some of you will want to write a letter to the editor or call? Ab.

6/20 Ab,

*I wish to post the following onto your web page to solicit information and perhaps gain a few ideas on how to proceed.*

"As an EMT on a Helitack crew, I have often been tasked to be the medic on the designated Med-evac helicopter at the helibase or on the fireline to provide assistance in the event an emergency occurs. However over the last several years, I have tried to find or even create some sort of protocols and standard operating procedures for use by firefighting crews. I have written to the region a few times to see if something already exists and to other regions to see if they had something already written to no avail. I have written the NWCG working teams and other federal agencies but no one seems to want to help. Is there anything out there written to guide and protect EMT's on the fireline? I know that at project fires where a contractor is brought in that they have their own protocols and medical direction, but what about the rest of us? I wrote a document three years ago and sent it out to various people but got little to no response. As the worlds largest fire department and an agency that is increasingly working in an 'All Risk' environment, shouldn't we have something? Any ideas?'

Sign me

Aardvark
6/20 Good article HERE:

Leadership When Events Don't Play By the Rules
By Karl E. Weick

Not too long; easy in html...

Mellie

6/20 Mellie- Re: SRF firefighters

That Bridge fire was a fun one. Lots of briars though. It was sure hard to move through that stuff, but that's the Six Rivers for ya. 

The Salyer/Hawkins Bar RX burn is all tied in surrounding the community of Hawkins Bar, but we still have at least one more unit we will probably get to next spring farther up Waterman above Salyer. We got about 165 hard acres this spring with minimal impact to the communities along the Trinity corridor. Kudos to the whole LT team getting that project (almost) wrapped up.

Thanks for noticing 

6/20 Abs:

We love you guys for what you do so please understand my opinion here:

You said:

" More like a 911 fire department for the nation, one part of which deals with fires in the wildlands... Would that be better? Would it be better or at least as good for our nation's natural resources? Would it be better for firefighter training and safety?"

My one word response to the above is !!!!!!YESSSS!!!!!!!

It took me a while but I have definitely come around to that way of thinking. We retired guys spend a lot of quality time pondering what needs to be improved. We have time to do that and no fear of reprisal.

Right on Lobo! Hang in there.

Thank you so much Abs for the forum!!!

NMAirBear

You're welcome!

And, oh, I understand your opinion. It also grows out of years of workaround and frustration. 

I still don't have a firm opinion on which might be better and you certainly won't offend me if you hold a differing view. In fact, I count on people having their own views many of which differ from mine. Discussion and disagreement are frequently how we come up with better alternatives.

Pros and Cons:

"National Fire 911" would be better for fire safety/training/streamlined finances, if DHS (or whatever agency it fell under) didn't become equally as much a bureaucratic snafu. Natural Resources/Fuels work for the FS could be agreed to and accomplished by National Fire 911, perhaps even as part of wildland firefighter training. The costs of the work could get charged to a FS "Fuels Code" funded by Congress explicitly for that purpose. Finances would be disentangled. Perhaps National Fire 911 could rent living accommodations from the forests, as well pay the forests for computer services, etc. 

Alternatively, retaining Fire within the FS would probably be better for managing natural resources overall. Other aspects of NR would continue to be funded by fire. Resource managers could continue to get fire experience a boon for planning and management of forests shaped by fire. I know there's more... Ab.

6/20 Congratulations to Oscar Vargas who just got the Capt's position at Little T on the ANF.
6/20 Ab,

Operation Firestorm to enforce fire restriction violations. (AZ)

Old Sawyer.

Operation Firestorm

6/20 Deja Vu all over again!

A wildfire in Colorado, west of Glenwood Springs.
Canyon Creek estates are threatened.
A familiar name leads the suppression effort.
The same worthless piece of ground that killed 14 in 1994.
Will we be safer this time, or will it be.....

Deja Vu all over again??

Mollysboy
6/20 Re: Need CDF station list with equipment id's:

Ab,

Please tell everyone thanks for all of the help, it has made this much faster. I just put in a call asking for what Dave suggested. We'll see if they will do it.
 
Thanks again it is nice to see the fire community still helps those in need.

A-

Good luck. Ab.

6/20 Future Supervisor -

I'm not sure if you will be able to do that or not. I will check into it and
when I find out the answer I'll post it here for you. In the meantime, I'll
take a #2, protein style with extra onion!!

Faker
6/20 The Shasta Trinity NF (CA) is planning to implement Fire Restrictions Tuesday June 26th. This is based on current fire behavior indices and forecasted weather/fire behavior/fuel condition outlooks.

Word is that fire activity is picking up and norcal is seeing more class c fires daily.

6/20 Lobotomy,

I had the same initial response as you, but then I thought this through, trying to see what's really going on with the Forest Service as a whole. I think there are some big FS changes coming along - evident in bits and pieces - that could be setting a good FS trajectory for the next 100 years. The things I'm seeing are not the status quo, although change is still in the early stages. Time will tell. If the changes don't work or aren't sufficient, I think we'll be facing a stove-piped fire organization that includes all the land management agencies' firefighters and comes under Department of Homeland Security. More like a 911 fire department for the nation, one part of which deals with fires in the wildlands... Would that be better? Would it be better or at least as good for our nation's natural resources? Would it be better for firefighter training and safety?

In my opinion we don't know the answers. All is speculation. Carry on. Ab.

6/20 The "Chief" said,

I thank the hundreds of people who participated in the Safety Culture for the 21st Century project and contributed to the Dialogos report. No change effort, however important, has ever survived without deep commitment from the people charged with doing the work.

I ask you as senior leaders in the Forest Service to:

  • Distribute this letter and enclosed summary of the report for further discussion;
  • hold and promote regional change dialogues, and report results to me;

Is there a list of who "the hundreds of people who participated in the Safety Culture for the 21st Century project and contributed to the Dialogos report."?. How many of them were field firefighters or fire managers?

Is there also a means to quantify or stratify responses?

While well intentioned, the Chief's response doesn't hit the target for firefighter safety or reflect the views of the field!!! It is simply agency speak and not addressing the changes for safety that should be made without fear of losing personal political appointments.

Either you want to keep folks safer, or you want to stay status quo and do business as usual. You can support the status quo.... or you can support change for the better by listening to the experts and scientists in the field? Safety first, foremost, and always!!!!!

Lobotomy

6/20 This is worth viewing.

www.firehouse.com/cartoon/combs_sctragedy.jpg

Gods speed to the South Carolina nine.

sr5401

6/19 Faker,

With the Quickhire contractor being bought out by Monster.com, can
I migrate my Monster.com resume and profile over to the new system
after AVUE goes away?

I'd hate to re-type everything again...... both on AVUE and Monster.com.
Good jobs available on both Quickhire and Monster.

/s/ In-N-Out Burger Flipper Future Supervisor (Manager)
6/19 Re: Safety

Chief Kimbell said, "Our agency fatality rate (six or seven people a year "do not go home") is triple that of the National Park Service and more than four times that of the Bureau of Land Management. Clearly, it is not just that we are a natural resource agency in an intrinsically dangerous line of work."

It isn't as simple as the Chief would like it to be from her data and from her recommendations.

I wonder if Chief Kimbell has looked at the overall numbers of qualified wildland fire employees with all three federal bureaus? I'd bet if you looked per capita at the numbers of employees vs. the number of suppression actions, the Forest Service would come out as a safety leader.

Yes, more needs to be done for safety within the Forest Service.. I agree.... More importantly, more needs to be done within the wildland fire profession as a whole to keep folks safer.

It is time for the Forest Service to be proactive towards safety rather than reactionary, or step away as a leader in the fire management profession. Some d*** good Lessons Learned came out of the R-5 "Safety First" program from the early 1970's that were forgotten.

The current R-5 Safety First Committee and the folks from the Federal Fire and Aviation Safety Team (FFAST) get it.

Safety comes first, foremost, and always. Positive Lessons Learned from the past are always remembered and fostered in the organization through training, experience, and education, while the negatives are never repeated by those that can make a difference.

Always Remember.

Rogue Rivers
6/19 A-

Engine info....each CAL FIRE engine should have a "radio call plan" book in it.
These will list all equip by Unit and give its location as a station number or name.

I know engines in Nor Cal have a listing for all the north units including Sac HQ.
Pretty sure they also list aircraft.. Just have to find the book.

Dave

6/19 DM

I have read Mr. Macleans book and having participated in the 30 Mile Staff Ride in May, and having know and worked with many of the folks involved, I still shake my head at what happened. I agree with John's point that the organization gave Mr. Daniels the Shaft, I know Chief Lietch and agree with that quote. I think John's view point as a Journalist is just that a distant observer, he can sit back and give third hand accounts of what was said and make conclusions. I look at it from all the view points of fact. Many things were overlooked and botched in the report, leaders up on that fire that day and the Forest fire staff have many questions to answer. Convicting Mr Daniels of Negligent Homicide wont answer those questions I dont think he meant to do it but the Wenatchee didn't do him any favors in his career. He should not have lied and he will probably pay for that I think this new book looks at this from an author's point of view and we should wait until the trial and see what facts are rendered from the crucible of justice before reacting. Do read the book it offers accounts and stories that are true that I can testify to from Tom stories about going out with Mr. Foss, I was the crew boss trainee that trip. Until last year I could not bring myself to go up there to the memorial and I went to a staff ride with the Winemucca BLM at Oravada NV and that really opened my heart and mind to the power of staff rides. Remember we need to teach the next generation of fire folks these lessons and staff rides done correctly really drive the points home. So if you want to get facts go on the staff ride dont depend on a writer's view of the facts. RIP tom, Please check out the methow valley memorial web site and help raise funds for that. just type in methow memorial fund. thanks and please take a moment to "stand down" this week

Bushman 82

6/19

Senate Rejects Administration's Proposal to Cut Preparedness Funding

Today the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee sent a clear message to the Administration similar to past political slogans like "its the economy stupid" by suggesting "its preparedness stupid" in rejecting the Administration's FY 08 Budget proposals to reduce preparedness funding while increasing suppression.

The Subcommittee "marked up" the Interior Appropriations bill by moving to increase preparedness funding by $11 million over the FY 07 enacted level and $108 million above the President's budget request for a total of $676 million.

The Subcommittee also increased suppression but in the press release from the subcommittee, it was stated that "the bill rejects the Administration's proposal to cut readiness funding and reduce equipment, training & support staff for firefighters."

Obviously this isn't the final word on exactly what the level of appropriated funds are. The FWFSA still must work to ensure that whatever preparedness funds are appropriated by Congress actually get to those who will use it for preparedness resources rather than siphoning off hundreds of millions for non-fire projects.

We have been working closely with the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee in preparation for their upcoming fire preparedness hearing June 26th. To that end I will be attending the hearing next week. Also while in Washington I will be visiting with Andrea Bright, Manager of OPM's Standards, Competencies, and Assessment Development Group to find out what seems to be the problem regarding OPM's lack of movement on the classification issue.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

6/19 AB,

There are several webpages that give information about individual CDF county / Ranger Unit information, but little about the actual staffing information. Besides the actual CDF Schedule B Wildland Operations, there is the Schedule A Contract County Operations for places like Butte, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Mariposa, Tehema, Napa, San Luis Obispo, and Riverside counties, plus a large number of other city and fire districts that contract out for protection.

My suggestion is you contact each individual Ranger Unit, or the Region HQ in Redding or Fresno, or the State Headquarters Office in Sacramento.

This information is not secret and should be available through any of these offices. That staffing and fiscal information is supposed to be available to the public. There is also the ability to get the information using the Freedom of Information Act to get what you need, although if you are doing it for an agency it should not be an issue, just be prepared to reciprocate if they ask for the same information.

MOC4546

Thanks MOC. Contacting each Unit is very time consuming if there's a more central source. This is a very time limited project. Ab.

6/19 MJ,

I didn't address your post questioning the reliability of AVUE going away because there was no letter issued. All your forest folks in HR should now be aware that it is indeed true per the conference call this afternoon with Carmen Funston. We also found out that QuickHire has been bought out by Monster, so where everyone will end up applying for positions is not quite yet known. QuickHire is nowhere near ready to start dealing with the FS, and since there cannot be 2 applications for hiring running at the same time - HELLO AVUE!!

I hope this puts your mind to rest. I don't put information out here that doesn't have merit to it. Thanks Ab, for the vote of confidence - you're cool........

Faker
6/19 Request for information:

Ab and All,

I am trying to complete some Fire Program Analysis data and am having a hard time finding a comprehensive list of all Cal-Fire stations with equipment numbers and staffing levels. I could live with just what equipment (with identifiers ie., E2468) is at what station including dozers, handcrews, and aircraft.

Do you know where I might find this? I have found some parts of this such as lists for Shasta and Tehama counties on a norcalscan page. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am pushing a hard deadline.

Thanks!

A-

This is a legit request for a fed project. If anyone has access or knows how to find access to this data all in one place, please let me know. I'd be happy to pass on contact info for A- or provide a link. Ab.

6/19 An email has been sent to all of us on our forest from the Chief and assuming the other forest here in R5, for a moment of silence at 16:00 PST for the 9 firefighters killed in the LOD yesterday.

DirtMiner

Thanks, DirtMiner. We logged off here and took a moment in the garden. Our best to the families and friends. Ab.

6/19 I just noticed that last Friday I failed to post a very nice message from Joel Merkel, a staffer for Maria Cantwell to Casey Judd of FWFSA. (My bad.) Casey does so much to educate Congress to firefighter issues.

Thank You Casey for your dogged persistence, your fairness, your good humor! FWFSA and all firefighters benefit from your knowledge, skills, abilities, HUMOR and character. Those who haven't signed up for FWFSA should. Support the work of this good association. Ab.

Here's the cc'ed email from 5/15/07:

Casey,

Thank you for working with me on legislation that will clarify that the Forest Service and Department of the Interior are authorized to reimburse temporary wildland fire managers for a portion of their personal liability insurance costs. You will be pleased to know that today Senator Cantwell along with Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bingaman and Ranking Member Domenici introduced legislation that will do just that. In addition, Chairman Bingaman and Senator Cantwell sent the attached letter to the Interior Appropriations Committee encouraging the committee to include provisions of the Cantwell-Bingaman-Domenici legislation in the Fiscal Year 2008 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

Thanks again,

Joel

Joel C. Merkel, Jr.
Office of U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, WA
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

6/19 All,

Noname's concern about the info TC posted is interesting, but I would suggest having been informed on some of these documents/processes that these measures actually help involve the various levels of FS management, including line officers, the RO, and the WO, on the hard decisions that need to be made on large/highly complex incidents as the incidents are occurring, and in a more formal way than has been done before. Frankly, I am impressed (and surprised) by the level of accountability these measures seem to intend to bring to the table, and I hope that this will represent positive change. Doesn't mean it isn't going to be a real pain at certain points, but I think it is a good strategic move for the agency's management to get more involved with the high costs of firefighting, in terms of both money and the real risks that are there for safety and communities.

In fact, I would suggest that the posts from TC link to a theme clear in the letter posted from Chief Kimball. I am just as surprised to see the agency acknowledging the bulleted items that are "embedded" in how the FS does business. Strangely, these items match up exactly with the reasons I felt I had to leave the agency, although I have not been able to explain it so well!

As always, I am concerned about the level of fear and the tendency on this board to look at all change as a sign of certain disaster. I am guilty myself of contributing to this at certain points. However, I think the movement in the FS is a real sign that the agency is being forced to make changes, and while change is sometimes disturbing, I think in this case it is a real opportunity to educate management and change for the better. A friend said to me once "chance favors the prepared mind". Perhaps in this environment, there will be more opportunity for out-of-the-box thinking, more listening, and for real progress.

Just my thoughts for today,
-former FS "in a happier place" (ha ha)

Well said. Ab.

6/19 Ab

The names have been released for those who fell in South Carolina yesterday:

Capt. William "Billy" Hutchinson, 48
Capt. Mike Benke, 49
Capt. Louis Mulkey, 34
Engineer Mark Kelsey, 40
Engineer Bradford "Brad" Baity, 37
Assistant Engineer Michael French, 27
Firefighter James "Earl" Drayton, 56
Firefighter Brandon Thompson, 27
Firefighter Melven Champaign, 46

The IAFC is calling for all Departments to observe a moment of silence tonight at 1900 for the 9 firefighters killed yesterday.
I think it is only right that us wildland folk join in this moment.
We are all brothers and sisters in the same big family.

A fund has been established for the fallen firefighters. Donations can be sent to: The City of Charleston Firemen's Fund, P.O. Box 304, Charleston, SC, 29402

ADTexas

6/19 All,

The International Association of Fire Chiefs has called for a moment of silence at 1900 Eastern today for the firefighters in Charleston: www.iafc.org/ .

My thoughts go out to those folks in Charleston and everyone who has known and worked with them. As with the Esperanza, I wish there was something more I could do, but I will find ways to do what I can.

Stay safe,
-easterner
6/19 I, for one, just wish Kimball would make sure they get the SoCal-Nevada
communications frequencies sorted out before firefighters die.

I'm committed to good communication.

LCES

JC

6/19 I hate to be cynical, but it sounds like most of the points Kimbell reiterates on the 6-ITEM list below are more "structural" or bureaucratic problems. They're good points, ones we've discussed here often. However, firefighters on the ground work at Lessons Learned and hold After Action Reviews. Firefighters also bring up issues here with suggestions for solutions. Maybe she's mostly directing this toward line officers and other FS employees.

On the other hand from my more optimistic side, maybe Fire's Lessons Learned and Commander's Intent Doctrinal Change is rubbing off on the larger FS organization. The way the Agency picked up on Doctrinal change following the 2003 Firestorm Lessons Learned and the Pulaski Conference was heartening. (Thanks to Lobotomy for the writing contributions he made to the R5 Agency in those early days before Doctrine even had a name. Interesting the impact a Series 0462 groundpounder can make.)

Everyone, something we can all do:

WEAR our SEATBELTS!  Just DO IT!

Ab.

6/19 Safety Culture Report and Broader Implications

Another item that could have an effect on what the FS does this
summer..............................

TC

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

Date: June 15, 2007
Subject: Safety Culture Report and Broader Implications
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Chief Staff Directors

Last year Chief Bosworth charged our national safety council with examining the ingrained habits, expectations, and “ways of doing business, or culture” that contribute to death and injury, despite visible commitment to the safety and health of Forest Service employees. Enclosed is a summary of the report called “Safety Culture for the 21st Century” that the consultant Dialogos International prepared in response to Chief Bosworth’s charge. The report describes our safety challenges in terms of a much broader set of issues and dynamics.

After interviewing over 400 Forest Service employees at every level of the organization and analyzing what they learned, Dialogos determined that our safety record is not just about safety – it is about literally everything we do, and how we do it.

Our safety record and our operational challenges are embedded in how we:

o Contribute to mission confusion by not making hard strategic choices;
o Avoid or discourage straight talk, including reporting near misses;
o Divert energy from mission work, overtaxing people and diminishing our capacity;
o Skip time to detect, learn from, and act on our errors;
o Lose energy to a proliferation of piecemeal initiatives that come and go;
o Support a normalized attitude that it is okay to deviate from safety protocols.

This is not easy for most of us to hear. However, it is critical in this time when we are transforming and realigning our national and regional organizations. We need to ensure that we as core leaders are better aligned; provide more mission clarity; ensure better community and working relationships; and integrate our work and capabilities across boundaries. To ensure our success, we must continue to engage our employees in identifying things that drain energy away from our mission, and integrating what we learn in a single, unified effort to work well, safely, and consistently for the long run.

Our agency fatality rate (six or seven people a year “do not go home”) is triple that of the National Park Service and more than four times that of the Bureau of Land Management. Clearly, it is not just that we are a natural resource agency in an intrinsically dangerous line of work.

Perhaps most painfully, our can-do mindset is diluting our effectiveness, overtaxing our workforce and resources, and contributing directly to fatalities and injuries. Every time we say “that rule does not apply to me,” we are exacerbating operational challenges that put our coworkers and the Forest Service itself at risk. As Einstein once noted, “insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Our culture creates the results we get; we cannot expect different results until we do the hard work to change it. The good news is that we now know we can turn this around.

I thank the hundreds of people who participated in the Safety Culture for the 21st Century project and contributed to the Dialogos report. No change effort, however important, has ever survived without deep commitment from the people charged with doing the work.

I ask you as senior leaders in the Forest Service to:

o Distribute this letter and enclosed summary of the report for further discussion;
o hold and promote regional change dialogues, and report results to me;

Stay tuned. We are in this together.

/s/ Abigail R. Kimbell
ABIGAIL R. KIMBELL
Chief

Dialogos Report: Integrating Mission Accomplishment with Safety at the U.S. Forest Service (461K doc file)

6/19 Ab,

I read through all those attachments on TC's post. I am not FS. I have not gotten the "Agency Line".

In my opinion, We are in trouble! Does nobody else see this???

That system sounds like a formula for disaster. Non-fire people running fire by a Committee??? If the type 1 IC is given command but the Committee does not like what he or she is doing, they just tell him to go home? We really need a committee of bureaucrats telling fire professionals how to do their jobs? That is what it sounds like to me. I am sure every Type 1 IC is wondering "how the h*ll do I do my job?"

noname

6/19 BLM Budget Cuts

Somebody with the moniker BLMer asked for about info on this. Some
significant changes for 2008 for the BLM, but it looks like it could be
good decisions, based on shrinking budgets.

NR

Pres 2008 Budget Cuts - Effects on BLM Fire Resources (226 K pdf file)
Appendix- Aviation Resources (111 K pdf file)
(Ab named these links.)

6/19 Ab & All,

My deepest condolences to our structural comrades in South Carolina.
Many tears will be shed in the days to come.

Misery Whip

SC Furniture Warehouse Blaze Kills 9 Firefighters
more details and photos: S.C. Warehouse Fire Kills 9 Firefighters
My condolences as well. Ab.

6/19 Training/Experience of Fire Use Management Teams

The Fire on the Kaibab last year was brought up, and I
would like to share some video of the fire.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K-4ok4kV5g  and
www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8hqSWGDl5E 

>From what I saw, there is the need to staff a FUMT
(Fire Use Management Team) to the level of a Type 2
Team, and they also should not be considered a low
cost way to manage a fire. If it goes to suppression
it will be a much bigger fire.

A FUMT is usually on the bottom of the priority list
when it comes to ordering resources, made it difficult
with all the other fires in the Region.

That Fire was going to do what it wanted to, decadent
forest, record ERCs, red flag conditions, combined
with a very political situation. The biggest mistake I
saw was when the Forest revised the Plan to include
more acreage that could burn instead of calling in a
Type 2 Team when the fire burned outside the initial
area. Just had to say something about a great bunch of
people that dealt with a difficult situation.

COMT

6/18 To all:

Included is a link to the text of S 1635 (24K pdf file), the legislation expanding eligibility for reimbursement of 50% of liability insurance premiums. The bill as introduced is not yet up on Thomas.

It is the hope of Senator Bingaman of New Mexico that the language will be included in the "mark up" of the Senate Interior Appropriations bill scheduled for tomorrow.

As I previously indicated, this is not the "silver bullet" for the liability issue. Much needs to be done on the matter but the fact the Senate has taken an interest on the issue based upon their education by firefighters is a good first step.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
6/18 Regarding the post below:

Two non-Forest Service readers have written in wondering if this is a hoax. One included comments on how letterhead can be fabricated to appear real. I can assure everyone that it is not a hoax.

The communication originates from Karyn L. Wood/WO/USDAFS, Director of Operations, NIFC. It began its rounds on 6/11/07. The 3 identical versions we have gotten have made the email rounds through two different Regional Fire Directors first who got them from Karyn and forwarded them on. As for the person who asked why this has not been in the news if the system is now in place, maybe people don't know. The direction indicated by these documents is consistent with everything I've been hearing behind the scenes here from fire managers and from firefighters on CA forests.

Ab.

6/18 Some new stuff that will have a significant effect on management of Large
Forest Service fires this year.

fs-correspondence.doc
lg-fires-wfdss.doc
lg-fires-stratified-rep.doc
lg-fires-chiefs-principal-rep.doc
lg-fires-regional-foresters-principal-rep.doc

TC

6/18 I kid you not...

We just got an email soliciting hotshot firefighters willing to try out to be on the FOX game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”

I forwarded it to the advertising dept here at wlf.com.

HAW HAW
Wonder if they'd want you to wear full PPE.

Ab.

6/18 Just wanted to see what people thought about the
article in the Yakima Herald that was posted the other
day. What do people think of Macleans quotes?

DM
6/18 Ab, I did a web search on quickhire the other day, and came up with several sites. Aside
from DOI, it looks like the Dept. of Transportation, Health and Human Services, GSA,
Dept of Commerce, National Weather Service, etc.. all use it.

Also of interest is the web link below. might be the early stages of the FS quickhire page?

https://jobs.quickhire.com/scripts/aphis.exe/preview

L--C--E-S
6/17 MJ and Six Rivers firefighters,

Saw the crews working on that fire at the bridge about 1100 this morning
as we drove home from Yreka on Hwy 96. It was still putting off some
smoke.

Good job hooking it.

On 299 near Hawkins Bar. Didn't get a chance to look for the controlled
burn sign on the turn for the Denny Road. Is the Rx burn over, the one near
Trinity Village and Waterman Ridge?

Good job on that burn, getting it done.

Lots of Fathers Day pancake breakfasts in all the little Klamath and Trinity
River communities we drove through this morning.

Dads, we're sure glad you're in our lives.
OK enough of the mush for now!

Mellie

6/17 CA Six Rivers and Hoopa having busy night and day, see Hotlist

-MJ

6/17 Happy Father's Day to those on and off the line !
And you thought picking up multiple spot fires was
difficult...

A Fire Dad (soon to be twice over!)
6/17 Irony,

Do you have to YELL! As far as I can tell, the IHC community has been very supportive to all the RHC crews and working with those trying to get certified. This discussion thread began with a simple question from a poster asking "What was the difference between RHC and IHC"? As far as I have seen unless I missed something, everyone replying has stated the same thing. RHC or IHC = Hotshot, only the funding makes the difference. But it never fails, as soon as a poster or forest states RHC or IHC in front of Hotshot, this issue starts up. As far as "dismantling the Ca Hotshot Site", Good Luck. How do plan to dismantle a privately owned non-Government funded site? What about the Forest Service Fire and Aviation Interagency Hotshot site? How come no one ever mentions making their own RHC history/crew site? Instead of screaming and yelling on this forum, follow your protocol. Run these issues with solutions through your Hotshot Rep. and have it forwarded to the Hotshot Steering Committee. That's how Hotshots deal with their issues. Watching this issue unfold again is like watching Dr. Seuss's "Sneetches"!!

DirtMiner
6/17 I cannot believe there is still a distinction of IHC vs RHC.

This debate has to stop! NOW...... Get over it and move on.

Region 5 decided this 3 years ago. If a crew of any format meets the Hotshot guide requirements for a Type 1 crew as specified in the Guide, then they are a Hotshot crew --- PERIOD!!! These folks have worked hard and need to be recognized for their efforts. I want to recognize all these efforts and note that Pete Coy (Mill Cr) is an example of a class act regarding the R5 program.

There are two items of unfinished business.

1) The California Hotshot website and poster needs to be revamped to reflect the new crews -- immediately. If this is not done, then actions should be taken to dismantle the site and do whatever it takes to reflect the status of all Hotshot crews in the region.

2) NMAC needs to stop distinguishing between the crews as RHC or IHC. This is an ongoing issue. It needs to stop. They are contributing to the problem and making it worse. These crews meet all the standards. The ironic part is that NMAC is in control of the IHCs. The non-existent RHCs are technically not in their control!

It is time for a power play. The additional crews merely build capacity on a national level! There has never been a turndown to fill an order for a Type 1 HOTSHOT crew based on this.

Irony
6/17 Hi all,

I've been reading about everyone leaving r5, ive got two apps in on avue one for feo, and one for fire dozer operator and i havent heard a thing. I guess if everyone's leaving they arent getting replaced either. im well qualified for both positions and ive heard that they are exhausting all options from on forest personnel first. just thought id let you all know whats goin on in r5 country.

Does anyone know how long the Beckwourth HotShots have been around? I see their buses everyday and i was curious, definitely glad to see them. for those who dont know, Beckwourth is on the Plumas NF, Beckwourth District.

thanks
guys and girls b safe

MM

6/17 Thanks jim,

Something has changed. It might be the Interagency Hotshots Operations Guide.... the IFPM stuff... or the other many changes going on by folks outside of the wildland world to name a few. I can't put my finger specifically on it but there are big holes out there making our folks more at risk.

Supt's used to have to be DIVS qualified at the minimum..... and that was a position above TFLD or STCR that the foremen were required to have .

Engine Foremen (Captains) also used to be required as qualified as DIVS as a selective factor at the minimum.

The whole dumming down of fire qualifications as we lose people should be addressed. While we raise the IFPM educational requirements, we step down another notch in actual fire experience and "paper" qualifications without looking at the root cause of accidents.

Good leaders and good fire practitioners of fire are folks that we should seek to retain........ We shouldn't place either internal or external paperwork or BS quals on our leaders who can keep folks safer.... we should foster them.

Lessons Learned post South Canyon, Thirtymile, Cramer, Krassel, and Esperanza..... the minimum has become the standard rather than the Lessons Learned from the past. Something needs to change. The goal for safety needs to become the standard rather than the minimum......... the minimum is unacceptable......

Raise the bar...... Always Remember!!!! The minimum is not the standard nor the goal. We all owe it to some good troops, in their memory.

Gizmo
6/17 All-

Has anyone heard more on the BLM budget cuts? I have been
hearing things about hotshot crews and aviation being affected.

-BLMer

6/16 All,
I was not nagging on crews at all, I used to be a crew sup myself, and I know Hotshots are Hotshots, as I used to be one of those, myself, too...We just have a T2IA crew here on the District, that used to be T1, lost it back to T2IA due to a Sup's mandatory retirement, and are going up for Certification again soon, and I wanted to know what type of "Hotshot" crew to put them in for, during Certification, that's all. If it is possible to get called IHC, and not deal with the whole RHC issue at all, we would rather go there, just to skip a unnecessary step, but I understand if the Region wants them all called RHC here. That was all on that....

Faker,
Where did you hear AVUE is staying? Can you point us to a letter or something? I was told yesterday by our CR person that the AVUE timeline on going away is still happening. and AVUE is still set to leave, as their contract expires. (AVUE is a private company, not Gov.). I would love to see the letter so I can show our S.O. folks, if it is staying.....

Thanks,

-MJ

I will vouch for Faker's trustworthiness, although the moniker makes one wonder! Faker does get such info early on. Ab.

6/16 The Jobs page has been updated, as well as the Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist). Ab.
6/16 Gizmo,

I believe Strider may have answered your question. The situation with Laguna is that the current Supt. is detailed in South Ops as the Southern CA Training Officer. Behind him, I was detailed as the Supt. and my Squad Boss as Captain (moving up the food chain) and so on. There has been no change to the IHC Operations Guide, I believe since 2005. I do not believe the crew overhead qualifications ever changed. When the details began in March, I had not yet finished getting my TFLD signed off (a requirement of the Supt. position). Neither Captain had STLC signed off (at least one needs to be qualified). This placed us in an IHC Trainee status but the dispatch program ROSS does not recognize this, you're are either Type 1 or Type 2, no such thing as TRAINEE. All key players (Forest dispatch, South Zone and FMOs) were aware of our situation and assisted with getting us the proper assignments to take care of these qualifications. Once this was completed, it just happened to be the week our FQRC group was meeting. All our Chiefs are on that committee so it was easier to just wait a couples days when they would all be together to certify us T1. Hope that answers your question...

Jim...
6/16 RHC vs IHC

To all it concerns,

You have to understand that the crew is not labeled IHC because they want to be.
The forest and even the region is in on that, so you cannot nag on the crew.
Secondly the crew was held to the same cert. standards as an IHC. So they work
and perform under IHC standards. Third, I realize there is heartache from older
hotshot crews about newer crews. You have to realize that there are some crews
that perform strongly against older crews and some crews that need a little work.
For one thing we are all HOTSHOTS we all do the same work so what does
anything matter?

DK

DK, I don't think anyone was really nagging the crew. Someone said some time back that the BOD was going to call all R5 hotshots HOTSHOTS and quit making the distinction between RHC and IHC. Could be the FMO and the forest line officers decided to do that for the one crew. Seems like nationally dispatching all the hotshot crews on equal footing makes that even more reasonable. Wonder what would happen if all RHCs just entered themselves into ross as hotshots. Maybe consider creating an alternative to the existing hotshot site? (See the post below.) Seems to me this same process went on years ago and all the hotshots got put in the same category eventually to the benefit of all. Ab.

6/15 Question?

Do you think the RO has a plan together to deal with the bigger loss R-5 is
going to feel after this round of CAL-FIRE hiring? I have a feeling this round
will hurt more then the last one.

Sally
6/15 Why RHC are excluded from the CA hotshot site?

I think it has to do with status and competition for resources. When Supts, Capts and Squad Bosses are in short supply, those that are part of the "in crowd" and have the PR or website to show they are, they attract those guys to fill their vacancies. Like when people go to hunt for info and nothing comes up on Google.

To some degree this status-power thing is OK, but there are some RHC's that are better qualified and can out-perform. We just don't have the name recognition or visibility.

My opinion.

JD

6/15 Well, it's just like we suspected - AVUE will be with us for another year. We got the
word this morning. Keep those applications updated and don't forget that if you want
to be considered for a job in the first round of the mass hiring, your applications need
to be in by June 19th. Good luck to all!!!

Faker
6/15 SENATE INTRODUCES LIABILITY LEGISLATION

I am pleased to report that the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association's efforts, along with those of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), specifically Mark Davis, to educate Congress on the "unintended consequences" of PL 107-203 has resulted in legislation being introduced today by Sen's Cantwell (D-WA), Bingaman (D-NM) & Domenici (R-NM) that would expand coverage of those eligible for reimbursement of 50% of any liability insurance premiums.

I will post the legislation here as soon as it is available. In the meantime I have provided AB with an attachment of a letter from Sen.s Bingaman & Canwell to Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) (269K pdf), Chair of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member Sen. Craig (R-ID) seeking the inclusion of this legislation into the Senate Interior Appropriations bill.

This is not the final answer on this issue. The FWFSA firmly stands behind the position that the Agency should foot the entire bill for such premiums. This also is not to suggest the Senate is finished dealing with the liability issue, specifically 107-203.

This is the first step, but a huge step in that firefighter's efforts, NOT the Agency, has secured the help of Congress to address this issue.

I will provide more information/details as they become available. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
6/15 Gizmo, couple things,

No national standards have changed as far as I know. R5 has held to the 1,2,2 standards for initial certification. The only question that has come up as I understand is this; If overhead on an established hotshot crew is lost, is there a period during which 1,1,3 (another national std) can be used, as training—>ojt—>redcards are brought up to speed for captains & squaddies, (the 1,3 becomes 2,2)? This is especially critical since this level of manager is in short supply in the wildland fire force; since hiring firefighters takes years, sometimes; and because timing of OJT (and training that precedes it) may not lend itself for recert for the season once hotshots get out fighting fire. Sometimes it's hard for crews to get the right (or any) fire assignment for their people to progress early in the season or late in the season and then get home to take care of paperwork.

The Hiring SNAFU is a serious snafu with SAFETY implications.

Another side that someone may not of thought of, is if an established R5 hotshot crew (1,2,2) has to drop back to Type 2 IA (because it's 1,1,3 or lower), even temporarily, that crew then fails to be a nationally dispatched hotshot crew. It's not available to be dispatched outside of the region or the forest.

And then there's how many crews will be cut in the 2008 budget?

As someone said, it's simple -
but from another perspective, its not.

Strider

OJT=on the job training; SNAFU=Situation Normal, All effed Up; Acronyms list: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/acronyms.php Thanks, Strider. Ab.

6/15 Ab,

Tanker 910 the DC10 is now available for fire response on CAL FIRE incidents.
Looking forward to seeing this on fires and watching its awesome capabilities.
See attached T-910 fact sheet (187 K pdf file).

CAL FIRE Jake
6/15 Ab
For Mike from Monterey County

I am not really an expert but I have some knowledge of the subject. I do not believe 100 watt radios are necessary. Do the HTs work fine on the repeaters? Are you changing over your entire communications system? You going from VHF to 800 trunked? Losing repeaters?
What about your hand helds?
How good are the repeaters?
Are you just getting the P25 radios just in case of a brain f**t in Washington (not to mention the "bf" that is the reason you have to buy P25 to get the grant) but staying analogue? If so, you can disregard the rest.

If you are going to the digital for the vehicles, what about the handhelds?

You know what a guy sounds like when he is breathing hard, SCBA on and trying to talk on a good VHF radio. Think what it would be like if all that noise got digitized. No comms at all.

If some police in the area have digitals, ask if you can do a test; guy breathing hard in an SCBA, near an engine pumping or other typical fire scene noise. Engineer at the pump panel, engine pumping hard, what does he sound like? 2 1/2 nozzle on straight stream at 150 PSI; can you understand the guy holding it? Add a chain or "K" saw or a generator in the background, what do you hear?

I know that some FDs in my county went digital and then went back to analogue.

Ab you may share my addy with Mike, if he wants to talk more.

ht
6/15 Jim Huston,

Since I consider you a friend, I have a question?

You said, "The Laguna IHC has completed the required red card qualifications: Supt.
TFLD and Capt. STLC. The forest FQRC (Red Card Committee) finalized the
paperwork today. The crew is now back in Type 1 status."

Have the requirements for Hotshots changed? And if so, what changes have been made
and why? Was it the Interagency Hotshots Guide or the IFPM standards?

Gizmo

6/14 I have an update on my "How can I retrain without the $$'s to
retrain?" issue. Called & spoke to my claims examiner this morning.
She became a little adversarial at first- Stating that I had moved up
here & enrolled in school without the direction or blessing of a rehab
counselor. True? Yes. The whole truth? Not so much. (My guy in
California was any synonym for useless..)

Apparently, school does not always = retraining in the mind of OWCP.
If there is continued medical improvement, why send the guy to school?
I've reached medical improvement. But be that as it may, I really
didn't feel like getting in a fight at the moment so I asked "How do
we fix this?"

Apparently I'm the Poster Boy up there as the guy who's trying to do
the right thing. So... She's going to go talk to the department heads
& see if they can't flow for school.

So the jury's out & once again I've learned something I wish I already
knew about OWCP. I guess my "things you should know about OWCP"
booklet was lost in the mail long ago.

At this point looks like I have to prepare to pay for school myself,
with the hope that I won't. Which begs the question.. How's a guy
who's on disability supposed to pay for college? Especially when the
state he's in doesn't seem terribly anxious to pay the bills?

Yes I've talked to the state guys & since I'm going into a field that
will grow "as fast as average for all occupations over the 2004-14
period" they're at least at this point unwilling to fund me.

While I have the ear of ... Pretty much everyone out there, here's a
gem of information I should pass on.

Say someone is injured (at work) & goes to the doctor. They get fixed
& the bill is sent to OWCP. For whatever reason it goes unpaid &
eventually is sent to collections.

As soon as the collections agent contacts the injured worker... Said
collections agent apparently just committed a felony. Yes, it is
against federal law for that to happen. Now I don't have the chapter &
verse yet.. But it's another thing I've learned from this claims
examiner. Passing on stuff like that is why she's so cool. (If you've
seen the speech, you've heard me speak of collections & how much fun
that is.. Took me 6 years to figure it out.)

Ok, that's all I have for now. Finals are over so I need a nap.
Krs

6/14 Dear L--C--E-S

As a former GS-0081 federal firefighter for 20+ years, I would offer that the GS-0081 series is not a good fit for federal wildland firefighters with respect to classification. The vast majority of 0081 firefighters are employed by the Department of Defense while others are employed by the Coast Guard, NIH and a few other agencies. The duties, often associated with aircraft, ships, warfare systems, ordinance etc., are vastly different than those of wildland firefighters although both groups certainly could be considered "all-risk."

The classification & series issues should not be as complex as they are. In fact, a wildland firefighter series should have been developed years ago when it became clear that land management agency firefighters do more than plant trees 11 months out of the year. The issue is of course not new. It is decades in the making and has been discussed for just as long.

Several years ago, in someone's infinite wisdom, obviously a land management agency official but perhaps without a lick of firefighting experience or expertise, somehow got the Agencies to "buy off" on making firefighting more professional (no doubt a knee-jerk reaction to fatal fires and the typical bureaucratic response of trying to show Congress it is doing SOMETHING, ANYTHING) by mandating firefighters to complete 401 classes and secure, of all things sacred to the world of wildland firefighting, a "biological science" degree if they wanted to move up the chain of command.

Apparently the thought was that a degree, rather than 20-30 years of wildland firefighting would make more professional FMOs etc.

Now, even the 401 is in a gray area courtesy of the delightfully ignorant folks at OPM.

My opinion is that if the Agencies, the same one's whose leadership refers to all of you as wildland firefighters; whose own brochures for employment opportunities defines the position as a wildland firefighter would get off their dead *%#$s and join us in developing a wildland firefighter series and stop this nonsense about mandating this biological science degree, then maybe OPM would get the message.

Sadly, also in my opinion, the Agency, primarily the Forest Service has failed its firefighters with respect to supporting the elimination of archaic pay & personnel policies along with the classification issue.

As you may know, during the last session of Congress, the FWFSA succeeded in getting the House of Representatives to pass legislation mandating OPM create a new wildland firefighter series. Unfortunately OPM is apparently reneging on its promise to Congress to do just that. At the present time, we are working with the House Gov't Affair Committee to seek hearings as to why OPM has failed to comply with Congress' intent on the matter.

Further, since the House bill did not get to the Senate floor in time for passage, we are working with members of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee to get them to also light a fire under OPM.

It sure would be a lot easier if the Agency came along for the ride... (yes, those of you in the WO who read this site and know who you are). We have begged & pleaded with Forest Service FAM to work with us on this and other issues in an effort to make the land management agency fire programs THE place to make a career.

Sadly, it appears the leadership has no interest in that. Soooo, we'll just have to get 'er done by ourselves.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
6/14 The Laguna IHC has completed the required red card qualifications: Supt.
TFLD and Capt. STLC. The forest FQRC (Red Card Committee) finalized the
paperwork today. The crew is now back in Type 1 status.

Jim Huston
Acting Laguna Supt.

Excellent. Ab.

6/14 Whats 1,2,2 and 1,1,3?

Why is 1,2,2 better? Whats the downside?

Thanks for the help Strider. Thanks Ab.

GA Peach

You're welcome. There was some discussion some time this spring on your questions.
1,2,2 indicates 1 supt, 2 capts, 2 squaddies;
1,1,3 indicates 1 supt, 1 capt, 3 squaddies (one or more that might be working for capt); disadvantage of this is that if you want to divide the crew in half, one half might not have as experienced overhead as the other half.)

6/14 FS Fire hire:

Reminder that June 19th is the initial cut-off date for all FS applications to be received. If you are interested in a fire position, please apply to as many of the vacancy announcements as you'd like. Referral lists will be created on June 20, 2007 to fill currently vacant fire positions. They will also be used to "back-fill" positions that become vacant as a result of filling current positions. This process should provide multiple opportunities in a shorter period of time, compared to how jobs have traditionally been filled.

Please advise all your potential candidates that after June 19th, regional referral lists will be issued for each vacancy announcement from the GS-9 level and below.

Potential candidates can access these announcements at http://www.usajobs.gov/ by doing a search for the announcement number.

Potential candidates should apply now through AVUE to be considered for these positions.

6/14 Radio Folks I need your help…

We are in the process of buying 150 digital p25 mobile radios, compliments of a Regional Communication Grant and 22 fire agencies, many with wild land fire suppression responsibilities, are the recipients. The issue is that 19 of the departments want 50-watt radios, and we are trying to convince the last 3 agencies that they don’t need 100-watt mobile radios. I’m trying to find written documentation or studies to support our case that this is a firefighter safety issue. That the overpower or bleed over could cause havoc on an incident.

Any assistance on this would be great.

Mike
Monterey County
6/14 Hello! The Catalina Island Museum is collecting photographs from our recent fire (May 2007) and we would love to add the photos on your website to our collection. The photographs will be used for archival purposes and some may be displayed in an upcoming exhibition about the fire in the museum’s galleries. Please let me know if this is possible? Thank you so much for your time!

Sincerely,

Jeannine L. Pedersen
Curator
Catalina Island Museum

I'll email Gordon Tamplin (FWS) & Ron Serabia (retired CDF/ ATGS) Jeannine's contact info... Ab.

6/14 Abs,

I was back east on the Sweat Farm Road Fire. Met up with someone in firecamp. Their computer was tuned to theysaid. I commented like I hadn't seen it before. They told me "It's the place you go when you want to know." I had to grin.

Just thought you should know. This is our own kind of news site. Maybe some whining, but not much.

Thank you Abs.

Strider

Strider, I have only recently heard that description, although it sounds 'bout right. This site wouldn't exist without the contributors and community. The "news" and insights, the reports, the questions and comments add up to much larger "information" than the individual pieces. Because breaking info comes in from people near the source, it's usually here pretty fast. I don't know how interagency firefighters can get on the same page without this kind of info sharing... Sometimes even crews that are intra-agency need this kind of info sharing...

~ Leadership ~ Integrity ~ Professionalism ~ Teamwork ~ Performance ~ Ab.

6/14 I just finished reading the OPM Position classification standard for the GS-0081 series. I’ve read it before, but thought I should brush up on it since I am seriously considering a change in scenery. Once again I am dismayed that Wildland fire suppression was specifically excluded from this series. A few changes in terminology, or just additions, and it would clearly be applicable to Wildland.

Not sure if the document is already posted to “they said”, so I am attaching the PDF (284K pdf) in case anyone is interested.

L—C—E—S
6/14 Krs,

If Gary’s attorney-sister can’t help you (or if you can’t afford to pay someone to compel OWCP to do the right thing) consider contacting the law school at the University of Oregon about free legal aid. Most law schools (including U of O, I believe) have programs where second and third year law students work under a bar certified professor to assist people in positions just like your own. Some clever student should jump at the chance to help you since, not only will they get an opportunity to help someone, but your kind of case can make excellent resume fodder.

If the law school at U of O shoots you down, you might try Willamette University School of Law in Salem, and Lewis and Clark School of Law in Portland.

Best of luck—if it is any consolation, your problem sounds like the kind of thing that is ultimately resolved, albeit perhaps total a pain in the ass to get there.

PB
6/14 Someone said RHC and IHC are dispatched the same. Both will be/are being dispatched nationally this season.

They have the same requirements according to the IHC Ops Guide (there are two overhead stds there: 1,2,2 and 1,1,3; that's unusual???). R5 has the higher std of 1,2,2 for certification. In some cases this is the only thing that has kept a new crew from certification.

It's even possible that in CA, RHC that have just become certified might be more highly overhead qualed (1,2,2) than a long time IHC that has had leadership retire bumping them back to (1,1,3)... true?

How they are funded... does it matter money wise to the home forest or the forest they're going to serve? If not, to everyone else in the world a hotshot's a hotshot. You need em, they come, they perform to hotshot stds, they go home.

So it comes down to some hotshots want to maintain the high status-quo of the IHC name? and appear on a partial hotshot website? Why does appearing on a hotshot website matter?

snotshot

6/14 MA

I agree with the intent of what you're saying totally. One item though. One
of the MEL buildup crews actually became a National Shared Resource
(officially by decree of the then R5 Director of Fire) - Anyone know which
crew? Not that it means anything other than their funding source, just
interesting is all.

TC
6/14 Ab,

I feel very sorry for Krs and his battle with OWCP. It's bad enough to get seriously injured on the job but another thing to be forced to fight OWCP for what is needed to help KRS.

Anyway, my sister is an attorney who specializes in these types of claims. She is willing to help KRS. The cost would be minimal or none. She understands what firefighters go thru. Maybe all my stories have helped.

Feel free to have KRS contact me via email.

I am a FMO in Region 9.

Gary

Done. Ab.

6/14 The Forest Service Leadership in the Washington Office is really making mistakes. OPM is running their world as far as our future concerning the 401 professional series and the glass ceiling of the 462 series (where all the experience is working). Firefighters need our own series, if not, people should start to flee the Forest Service and gain respect as a firefighter from another agency.

2AK4U
6/14 TC, MJ, AB

Regarding the crew issue.

It's actually not confusing. It's simple.

Crews funded through MEL are RHC and crews funded nationally are IHC.

Why Beckwourth called themselves IHC, I couldn't tell you. Maybe it's just a mistake. I can only assume the Supt would have the integrity to do what's right, as was the case for both American River and Feather River.

If it makes people feel better. Just remove the "R" and the "I" and then it's just "Hotshots". Besides, it's not about the label, it's how the crew performs. If they say they're Type I, then perform as a Type I and do it safely. Let's not forget this important point. I would much rather have a crew that bumps me continuously until the job is done then one that wouldn't bump you at all. No matter the label or agency! It's about getting the job done safely, not who I think I am or should be.

As for the www.californiahotshotcrews.org/ website. This site is someone's personal site. What information they place on it is entirely up to them. Just like AB's site. What he/she puts on this site is entirely up to him/her whether you or I agree to it or not.  Most of the stuff you see in this forum is mostly whining anyways. These sites don't belong to the GOV. If I want to build a site and only want to put up links to just RHCs then I can do that and wouldn't care what you or anyone else thought of it. You or I don't have to visit these sites.

If you by any chance are on a crew with the RHC label, then leave and go to a crew with a label that makes you feel better, just make sure it performs.

MA

~ Leadership ~ Integrity ~ Professionalism ~ Teamwork ~ Performance ~ ... Ab.

6/14 Ab here's the breakdown:
 

California Type 1 and Type 2 IA Crews

Hotshots/Type 1 Crews
(1,2,2 or 1,1,3)
Type 2 IA Crews
American River
Arrowhead
Bear Divide
Beckwourth
Big Bear
Breckenridge
Crane Valley
Dalton
Del Rosa
Diamond
El Cariso
Eldorado
Feather River
Fulton
Golden Eagles
Groveland
Horseshoe
Kern Valley
Kings River
Klamath
Laguna
Lassen
Los Padres
Mendocino
Mill Creek
Modoc
Palomar
Plumas
Redding
Rio Bravo
Salmon River
Shasta Lake
Sierra
Springville
Stanislaus
Tahoe
Texas Canyon
Vandenberg
Vista Grande 
Elk Mountain
Happy Camp
Little Tujunga
Mad River
Rincon (only SOPS)
Salyer
Smith River
Tallac
Trinity
Truckee
Ukonom
6/14 MJ and Ab,

California Hotshot crews is a very confusing topic.

There are in

  • North Ops
    • 14 certified crews
    • 9 crews working on getting certified
  • South Ops
    • 26 crews certified crews
      + including Vandenberg
    • with only 1 working towards certification
    • but 2 have dropped down to Type 2 IA for qualifications reasons.

Being listed as RHC or IHC or as Hotshots is just what the local dispatch center has entered the crew as in ROSS for the crew name. There is no standardization on the 3 categories. At the Hotshot workshop in Reno this past winter all is holy and great and there is no more of RHC versus IHC, Us versus Them mentality. But wait, there are two exceptions to that:

  1. To become certified a new crew must be staffed 1, 2, 2. Whereas to keep your type one status you may go out as 1, 1, 3. There have been some crews around California that are certified, but have taken assignments below 1, 1, 3. This is an integrity issue and I am personally proud of Laguna for stepping down to Type 2IA.
    Until ROSS and IQCS are smart enough to check that the resource order is filled by folks with the qualifications required by the IHC Ops guide, this issue is handled at the Forest and district level.
  2. The California Hotshot website. All of the MEL crews are not listed. Polmar is certified but listed as a disbanded crew. Funding for Polmar came from the National Fire Plan just like Klamath and Modoc, but they are grouped in with the MEL Crews. It might be because the website is run by a crew that is not with the Forest Service.

And the Pot has been stirred!

California Hotshot / Notshot

Laguna got the certs necessary to be reinstated as IHC on the Goldledge Incident. My understanding. Congrats to them for the excellent effort. Ab.

6/14 Sure seems to me, Krs Evans, that you'd cost OWCP less by being retrained
and employed. I can't answer your question, but did want to say that I admire
how you are playing the hand that you've been dealt. Hang in there!

Still Out There as an AD
6/14 MJ,

In reality, Beckwourth is a RHC not an IHC. What really needs to happen
though, is drop the **** labels. Both types of crews meet the same
standards and should have the came capabilities, so why label different
based on funding.......................

TC
6/13 To All regarding Liability Insurance

Thanks to all who provide valuable info on my Liability Insurance. I received
a letter from the company which stated my policy has gone into effect and I
am to receive a check for reimbursement from them shortly and an apology.
I appreciate the info that was given.

Do you wonder if they read this website also and felt a little pressure?

Thanks

Brushboy

heh, heh. Ab.

6/13 MJ,

TC is correct. The only difference between RHC and IHC is where the
funding comes from. As far as certification, all HOTSHOTS are required to
go through the same process which is outlined in the IHC Operations Guide.

DirtMiner

6/13 AB-

I have a potential Big Problem with OWCP.

History, for those of you who are new:

I was 2nd saw on Plumas IHC in 2001.
On a fire in Ky (31 Oct '01) a tree fell out of the
burn, struck me over the head & broke many things,
worst of which was my back, putting me in a wheelchair
for the foreseeable future.

Fast forward to fall of '06. I've moved to Oregon &
enrolled in Oregon State University (OSU) in the
Botany program. I've been here for a year & will take
my last final tomorrow.

For several reasons I've switched my major over to Bio
Chemistry with an Entrepreneurial minor. Luckily all
the classes I've taken cross over so I'm not behind.

Here's the surprise:

OSU wants $2,288.64 in back tuition before I can
register for classes next year.

Now I have a rehabilitation counselor assigned to me
by OWCP who is supposed to be paying for my
retraining, right? (That's what I understand)
So I called said rehab counselor last Friday I left
him a message detailing what I need to register. He
called back today leaving a message for me. (I turned
the phone off so I could study Chem for tomorrow) He
had talked to OWCP & they said "Funding is not
available." However, they would still like him to
check in on me monthly to see how that retraining is
going.

So I called him back & got his machine... "Not to be
blunt, but how the hell am I going to continue my
retraining without the funds to do so?" I asked.

So I really hope this is just a disconnect since from
what I understand part of OWCP's mission is to retrain
us gimps so we can be productive & no longer need the
monthly disability payments. (As when I start work
again I will no longer be disabled in their eyes.)

I also called my claims examiner (who has been
*Really* good compared to the SF ones) and left the
same question for her. Maybe I'll get a call back
tomorrow, maybe not. But I'm going to wait until
Friday & then pay the bill myself. I've got the money,
it's just someone else is supposed to pay the
bill & I honestly doubt I'll be reimbursed... But the
longer I wait the more the classes fill & if I don't
get into something I need, it may be a whole year
before I can attempt to take it again.

Obviously I don't have the whole story yet as the "Why
not" question hasn't been answered. This is simply a
"just the facts" report for all of you out there who
are still following my life.

I'll report more when I know it.

Krs Evans-

6/13 thought folks might be interested....

BF

http://yakimaherald.com

6/13 TC,

I know about the funding...what I am trying to find out is,...R-5 said last year
that when a Crew got their Type 1 status, they would be a full IHC, that they
would no longer have RHC crews in this Region. But when American River
and Feather River got their Type 1 status, they are now called RHC, not IHC.

But when Beckwourth got their status, they are called IHC, this is what I'm
trying to sort out...

How did Beckwourth become IHC when the other crews got called RHCs??

-MJ

Not to stir the pot, but maybe this is a clue; we don't see Beckwourth listed here. Ab. www.californiahotshotcrews.org/

6/13 MJ,

Near as I can tell the only difference between an IHC and an RHC (at least
in Region 5) is purely a funding issue. IHCs are nationally funded and are
National shared resources. RHCs are funded by each individual Forest in
the Region based on its MEL. They are both dispatched as Type I Crews,
with none receiving priority over others.

TC
6/13 From the Idyllwild Town Crier Weekly Newspaper, 6.14.07 edition

CM

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

USFS Anza fire station closed
www.towncrier.com/pages/stories/story120070614.phpl

By J.P. Crumrine, Assistant Editor

The U.S. Forest Service (FS) announced last week that Station 53 in Anza would close.

“I’m working on some alternatives and this may only be a temporary situation,” said FS San Jacinto Ranger District Fire Chief Norm Walker. During this period, the Kenworthy unit (engine 52) will spend mornings and afternoons in Anza.

During this time of year, fires are more likely to start in Anza than Garner Valley. If lightning strikes are expected, they normally occur in Garner Valley and the engine will remain at station 52, according to Walker.

Regardless of the length of time for the station closure, its cause was the loss of staff. Separately, the engine chief and crew were offered positions with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

While state and local agencies typically offer higher salaries to experienced FS firefighters, the confluence of several other events, such as prosecution of a Forest Service crew boss in Washington, have created strong incentives for those interested in seeking a career change.

The accompanying table compares the salary of a fire or engine captain for the FS with other local and State agencies. This difference is not unusually greater this year.

Although the national and regional offices continue to argue that staffing and station closures are at normal levels, the data suggests an alarming trend.

Locally, one of seven stations is now closed. In the region, more than 10 percent of the 3,600 fire positions are vacant despite efforts since winter to accelerate firefighter hiring.

“Although funding exists to meet normal staffing levels, there are still 485 job vacancies in the region’s fire organization,” wrote Matt Mathes, FS regional information officer. “These vacancies mean that currently 75 percent of the region’s engines are staffed and two type 2 initial attack crews have leadership vacancies.”

In addition, compared to the 2005 fire season, there are fewer type 1 crews and fewer engines in the whole region. Of the 485 vacant fire positions, Walker said he has 11 career vacancies in the San Jacinto district.

For 2008, the FS is actually reducing the number of firefighters available nationwide. (more)

Click the link to read the rest. Ab.

6/13 Hotshots

What I was asking about the Type 1 Crews is,
why are some still being certified as RHC, and
others in the same Region being certified as IHC?

-MJ

6/13 Ab note :: Fire community members:

I have copied and pasted your four emails to Jim Paxon. As far as I can see they came from our folks who have already posted their outrage on theysaid. I am not trying to minimize our fire community's hatred of arsonists or condone what appears to be several fire managers' support of Van Bateman, their friend and colleague. However, I am really curious about what is the truth regarding what Van's friends said. It seemed illogical to me that they would say that such firestarting is common practice or typical of ICs, Line officers, and others. So at the end of the copy-paste email to Paxon last night, I asked him to further clarify what he had and hadn't done lighting fires and asked his take on the AZ Republic article. This is what he replied:

Ab, You do not know how very much I appreciate your even tempered and "equal" handling of this hot issue. Thanks to MAC and Ol’ Fire Guy too for their balance and perspective. I guess I was not very clear in my last post, although I tried my best. Even though I have been found guilty by association, apparently by the masses, I do not want this to erode into a pi__in' match with anyone. For clarification, please let me reiterate some salient points to you. Do with them as best fits the appropriate use with you as the webmaster/editor. I am looking for understanding and I wish for healing. It might take awhile. I am pretty thick skinned and know what I have and have not done. If you have other replies that you wish to send, that is fine. If they are only repetitions of these two, then I understand the common thread. I really do not expect to see this in “They Said” but leave that up to your judgment in posing another viewpoint. Again, Ab, thanks for the way that you handle this matter and God’s best to you and to all of us.

--for 22 years, I was a District Ranger. I was the line officer with the delegated authority to sign burn plans and implement Rx fire projects, until about 1998, when that authority was re-delegated to the Forest Supervisor only.

--I never lit a fire and walked away from it...NEVER-EVER!!. Neither have I broken any LAWS with regards to burning. I can’t and won’t speak for Charlie Denton nor Larry Humphrey. You can ask them.

--What I did from the early 80's and afterward, was some occasional test burns and some sampling of readiness for B.D. piles on timber sales before crews initiated crew burning. That was done with at least one or more also qualified fire individuals with me and notice to dispatch by radio. Piles were hand-lined, PPE was in place and the piles were either consumed or mopped up before leaving.

--The only thing I am "guilty" of is burning more acres than allocated on prescribed burn projects,...technically not authorized (but included because of secondary areas in the burn plan). Those additional acres were reported up front and I let the S.O.'s deal with the reporting accomplishments. The conditions for additional acres burned were within prescription and the results were reviewed on the ground by fire managers. I was never reprimanded for this, although often, acres reported were changed to match the allocation and the rest were “banked” by the forest or used by another district.

--I had 34 years fire experience when I retired in 2003. I have been qualified for fire since 1969 and my quals never lapsed. I was on the line in many states over the years until after Yellowstone in 1988. My quals included STLC and ICT3 as well as IOF1. I was a Sector Boss and a Crew Liaison Officer in the old Large Fire Organization. I was a proponent of PNF's and then Managed Fire Use on the Gila N.F. Those who have personally worked with me or for me know my experience, ethics and safety attitude.

--As I said before, in a simpler time, without the complication of environmental laws and smoke restraints, projects were easier to accomplish. Things have changed over the years, sadly it seems that Van Bateman did not.

I want to see Raymond Oyler get the most from a judge/jury as much as anyone. Leonard Gregg who started the Rodeo Fire is in prison for 10 years. I have never understood why Valindo Jo Elliott, who started the Chediski Fire was never charged. I do not condone what Van did. Remember that he pled guilty. He is going to prison this month. What I do know is that this is another tragedy not only for him but also for the fire community. It does not undo the good things that he did. All I have done is stand by him as a friend. He has told me that he is ready and wants to get his debt to society taken care of.

And in a more private communication from Paxon to Ab, that I asked permission to post in the spirit of understanding:

The reporter <snip> did take what I said and change it in kind of a twisted summary. I told him that I had never lit fires and walked away but that I had done some test burns and such and that I had several times burned more acres than allocated/funded. Technically, they were less than authorized. Big sigh and much regret from talking openly. I guess that means to him that I did the same thing many times. He does not have a good grasp of fire management. I don’t believe that normalizes any breaking of the law nor condones it. The whole thing is a mess and it would have been much easier to just stay “mum” But I really think that the F.S. also left Van out without scolding, counseling, reprimanding, etc., while they continued to use his services and expertise for more than a year. In my opinion, many of them have dirty hands in this whole mess.

6/13 Article on Fire Severity and Salvage Logging/Replanting making the rounds.

http://washington.bizjournals.com

6/13 To all interested folks:

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing on land management agency fire preparedness that was previously scheduled for June 5th but postponed as a result of the death of committee member Sen. Thomas of Wyoming has been rescheduled for June 26th at 10:00am.

The FWFSA has submitted its written testimony to the committee members. The testimony can be found in the ""Members" area of the FWFSA web site.

For more information, please contact FWFSA Business Manager Casey Judd at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.
6/13 Ab-

Haven't seen this article posted yet. Looks like a witch hunt has begun.

AK Old Timer

Fire Cmdr. Sidelined for Comments About Former Colleague

June 7th, 2007 @ 6:06am
by Jim Cross/KTAR

A top fire commander says he's on the sidelines with
Arizona moving into the heart of the fire season.

Larry Humphrey says he's no longer allowed to fight
fire on federal land because of a recent 'Arizona
Republic' article in which he reportedly defended a
former firefighter's act of lighting an unauthorized
fire.

Humphrey says he was misquoted. "Yes, I was. Although
I think they read it wrong also. They assumed that I
said I had set fires and I never said that at all."

"The letters that we wrote in support of Van (Bateman)
made the judge extremely angry, saying that we were
just a bunch of renegades cowboys up there. And I
think that may be one part of the reason he slapped
Van with the two years. It looks like our efforts to
support our friend totally backfired."

"First of all, I have to say that the state has really
stood behind me. But the federal agencies have decided
I can't fight fire on federal lands because they don't
feel comfortable with me being an incident commander
on federal land."

Humphrey led an elite firefighting team that stopped
the largest wildfire in state history five years ago.

The Forest Service is trying to determine if current
and former firefighters were accurately quoted in the
Arizona Republic article reportedly defending
Bateman's actions.

"What are they going to do? Take away my birth date?
There's nothing that I've done criminal that they can
get me on. I mean they can probe and make noise and
come out in the paper and ban me from federal fires.
But I'm having a real good time with retirement."

And if he never fights fire again. "With the current
climate that's going on, I won't miss it. What I'll
miss is my friends. It's not worth the effort
anymore."

Fair use disclaimer

Community, please include a link when you send in copyright information like this. Thanks. Ab.

6/13 this is a controlled burn i went to

:)

jed

Good humor... Welcome to theysaid, jed. Ab.

6/13 JJ Said…

-MJ

1-2-2 not 1-1-3

So if 1-1-3 due to attrition or injury, crew is bumped back to Type II IA.
I think this pulls them back onto their forest. Out of the national mix.

This is, in fact, not the case. What has happened this year is that R5 has agreed that the 1-2-2 configuration is not the only game in town. This is mostly due to the huge turnover that has occurred this season. If a Type 1 crew (IHC or otherwise) meets the criteria for either the 1-2-2, or the 1-1-3 (with regard to staffing, quals, etc…), then they retain type 1 status. I do know of at least one IHC which is using 1-1-3, and has bumped back to type 2 IA until the foreman is fully qualified. The region does expect those crews running in a 1-1-3 to move back into the 1-2-2 as soon as hiring and/or training allow.

L—C—E-S

6/13 Todd - regarding your thoughts about "Doctoring Up": in his presentation in March to the Oregon & Washington BLM/USFS Fire Ops and Safety meeting on firefighter liability, Dick Mangan closed suggesting that same concept of "Doctoring Up" might be the next logical step in an attempt to avoid legal circumstances similar to Thirtymile and Cramer. Interesting. Aberdeen
6/12 Ab

Cute picture of the little critters, the only good rat or mouse of any kind is a dead one. (Excepting of course libratory mice.)

In hantavirus territory it should be standard practice to have an exterminator come in and trap the entire Fire Camp. Yeha like that will happen! It is nothing to mess with. Read much about it over the years; nasty.

ht

libratory mice: those that live in laboratories or libraries... haw haw. Ab.

6/12 Ab and everyone,

I just need to say this, because what we don't think of comes back to bite us in the behind.

If anything bad happens to you or a crewmember this season ~heaven forbid~ remember that you have the right to medical care, That includes medical care to reduce mental trauma. Your and your crew's mental health requires you talk things over with friends without fear of reprisal. If someone overhead pressures you to go to individual debriefings following a burnover or deployment, if they want to stick you in a motel room to wait for investigators, or something else that doesn't feel right - DOCTOR UP. Demand it. Its your right and responsibility to insure your future health.

I heard that the new policy is that people will not get to talk with anyone following a bad event, that they want to keep you unpolluted for the investigation. Well, screw that! Take care of yourselves first.

I have a couple of friends who are still dealing with bad juju from years ago.

Todd

6/12 Hey all,

Someone sent me this hantavirus alert for the CS-STF-McCloud RD (577 K doc file). When I was on the Klamath this spring for the engine captains' gathering, a person from the state vector-borne diseases section spoke about hantavirus and several other dangerous viruses. This is nothing to trifle with. Deer mice are the vectors and a large proportion of them are carriers of the virus. You can end up dead (30-40% do) if you get it. Here's the American Lung Assn website that gives the symptoms, etc, lots of info...

I know there was discussion some years ago about not harming the wildlife in firecamp, but as I recall the mammals that were killed were not rats but deer mice. Deer mice or rats, if they cause disease, I think killing them is warranted.

If anyone gets sick, document, document, document!

Mellie

fat'ie deer mice or lil'ratties? Ab.

6/12 Training Opportunity Announcement #IFPM-2008-001 (114 K doc file)
USDA Forest Service, Region 5

This is Fire Management Training for Forest Service fire employees, leading to qualification requirements for the 0401 series. Ab.

6/12 Avue is going away. I hope the next option is better. Strider

Date: June 4, 2007
Subject: Timeline for Hiring through Avue Digital Services
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

As you are aware, Avue Digital Services (ADS), the automated classification and staffing program used since 2003, will not be available after September 30, 2007. The following timelines were developed to allow us flexibility to take advantage of the time remaining:

Single Vacancies, All Open-Continuous Non-Fire, and Fire GS-11 & above:

  • June 15 – last date for SF-52 to be created and approved
  • July 2 – Outreach to be completed and position moved to 4a Outreach Completed in Tracker
  • July 2 – last date for HR-Employment Center to issue vacancy announcements
  • August 13 – vacancy announcements close
  • August 13 – last day for employees/applicants to apply through Avue
  • August 14 – final nonfire open continuous and single vacancy referral lists created
  • August 20 – last date to send referral list package to Point of Contact (POC)
  • September 4 – last date for POC to return referral list package to Regional Selection Team (RST)
  • September 10 – all selections made by RST
  • September 17 – acceptances from selectee
  • September 30 – all referral lists audited and closed out

Fire Open-Continuous Announcements GS-09 and below:
Based on input from the fire community, we are streamlining the fire hiring process as one large selection pool to include making offers to individuals beginning at the GS-09 grade level and progressing through to the GS-06. We anticipate this will alleviate much of the declination impact, as well as speed up the hiring process.

Current Process

  • June 8 – last single referral list issued to POC (new process after this date)
  • June 4-8 – Regional Selecting Official for Fire to make selections for single fire packages received by POC
  • June 11-June 29 – Regional Selecting Official for Non-Fire to make selections for single fire packages received by POC

New Process

  • June 1 through June 18 – focused outreach by Fire & Forest Civil Rights Officers (FCRO)
  • June 19 – initial cut-off for all applications to be be received to be considered for most vacant position through the end of the fiscal year.
  • June 20-22 – regional referral lists issued for each fire vacancy announcements GS-09 and below. Additional referral lists may be created later if needed.
  • June 25-29 – Fire subject matter experts meet to prepare referral list packages for RST
  • July 2-6 – Preparation for Regional Selection Officials
  • July 8-13 – selections made by Fire RST (2 selecting officials)
  • July 16 through September 14 – vacant positions matched to selectees
  • August 13 – vacancy announcements close
  • August 13 – last day for employees/applicants to apply through Avue (note: employees should be encouraged to apply by the original cut-off date of June 19)
  • September 17 – acceptances from selectee
  • September 30 – all referral lists audited and closed out

The migration to the ASC and the loss of ADS will continue to impact our workload. How can you help?

1) ensure outreach is completed for current actions (located in button 4 of the Tracker) so that the Employment Center can balance the workload of new and current actions.
2) evaluate your organization’s vacant positions now in order for us to use ADS to fill your positions.
3) use the automated Tracker to track the status of your actions. Updates are made daily in the tracker.
4) use the R5 HRM website and follow the step-by-step instructions

QuickHire is the automated staffing module of the near future. There is a team established at the Albuquerque Service Center that is preparing the module to meet Forest Service needs. Information relative to QuickHire deployment will be forwarded when available.

Your assistance in ensuring that supervisors and employees are fully aware of these changes is appreciated. Employees will continue to apply to Avue announcements through the same process as in the past until August 13 when all Avue announcements will close. It is very important that you encourage employees interested in fire positions to apply prior to the June 19 date.

Questions from Line Officers and RO Staff Directors may be directed to Joy Thomas, Employment Center Manager at (707) 562-9178, or Carmen Funston, Acting Director at (707) 562-8736.

/s/ Vicki A. Jackson (for)
BERNARD WEINGARDT
Regional Forester

6/12 CAL FIRE has just released the announcement for Open and Promotional Exam for Fire Captain
Final filing date is July 12, 2007. Hurry up and don’t be late, this is your chance.

CAL FIRE FC.
6/12 Ab Note: Replies to Jim Paxon will not be posted here; however, I will copy and paste them into emails to him when I actually get them. Please keep in mind that emails coming in here containing profanity are likely to go into our spam filter. Sometimes I can catch them. Often they simply get filtered and I never even see them.
6/12 From Firescribe:

A fed firefighting "direction" being echoed across the West in the last paragraphs below from Flathead Lake area MT...

Don't Panic Yet
http://flatheadbeacon.com

...But, as with so many other things, the Flathead’s rampant growth is changing the roles and risks firefighters face, particularly when it concerns homes built in remote, heavily-wooded areas often bordering public land, known as the Wildland-Urban Interface, or “WUI.”

“There are more homes being built in the Interface, which present a whole other set of problems for wildland firefighters,” Frye said. In the ever-expanding WUI, firefighters must now contend with the protection of large, expensive homes while attempting to suppress a blaze.

Responding to this situation, the state Legislature passed a bill this year requiring the DNRC to provide a lawyer to any firefighter prosecuted for, say, property damage that might occur while doing their job.

“With development in the Interface, you’ve introduced a human-caused fire source that previously didn’t exist,” Frye added. “There are very few wildland fires today that don’t include residences.”

Adding structure protection to wildland firefighting has driven up the costs severely. As a result, Harrington and Frye said, the federal government is trying to cut back on the amount of money spent fighting “mega-fires” on remote, public land far from populated areas. The newer, cheaper approach to such fires will be to contain it and allow it to burn itself out, rather than expend millions in a futile attempt to extinguish it completely.

An example would be last year’s “Tripod Complex” fire in Washington’s Cascade mountain range, which burned 175,000 acres and cost $82 million to fight.

“A fire similar to the Tripod fire will be looked at much more closely in terms of management response,” Frye said. “A larger, potentially extended-duration fire may not receive all the resources that it would have received in previous years.”

6/11 Ab,

I suppose that things are never as they seem. I have read “They Said” regarding Bateman’s case and recent sentencing. Wow! It is amazing to me that there are so many “judges” with all the answers. I too am of the mind “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” I am disappointed in Van’s actions and do not condone them for a moment. Let me be clear that I have never started a fire and walked away from it. I have lit test burns and sample fires (BD of piles from timber sales to check readiness for crew burning). And as so many “fire-using” District Rangers, I have burned more acres than were allocated in both funds and targets, under conditions that met the objectives. That was what I called being efficient. The results were totally satisfactory to those who reviewed those burns on the ground. Targets were actually either changed or accomplishments reported where changed and the difference banked for the future. The results were technically “out of authorization!” Were they criminal—I hope not.

I was part of a group that pioneered burning in Bighorn Sheep altitudinal migration routes on the Taylor River north of Gunnison. We burned standing Lodgepole Pine to open areas up and clean up sheep dung in bedding areas. During my tenure on the Gila National Forest, we burned more than 100,000 acres in ten years, with outstanding results for watershed and wildlife habitat improvement. None of those fires were anything but good. I have lived prescribed fire and have done a little suppression work through the years as well, including working on six fatality incidents as an I.O.F.1.

In times before NEPA, NFMA, Clean Air Act, etc., burning was much simpler and with an overall plan, often burns were conducted when conditions were right. Some approvals were obtained over the radio, before igniting… from the site. Things are not that way now. What grieves me is that a good man who has given decades to protection of the public and is a recognized fire manager is on his way to prison. What he did was wrong, no doubt. Were his years as Ops and Type I IC considered? Was the fact that his team went to New York on September 12, 2001 and helped out in recovery on “the pile” for 31 days considered? He received a FEMA award as one of the “True Heroes” of 9-11. Did the fact that a critical burnout on the Dome Fire in 1996 kept fire from moving closer or into Santa Fe, New Mexico surface? On the Rodeo-Chediski Fire near Show Low in 2002, another critical burnout kept fire from running across U.S. Highway 60. If it had jumped 60, it would have burned thousands of homes in Show Low and Lakeside, Arizona and could have been at least million acres bigger. Were Van’s accomplishments considered at all in his sentencing? Van tells me that no one from the Forest Service, his Ranger, Fire Staff, Forest Supervisor, any Regional Office official ever talked to him about troubles to come, until he read of his indictment in the news. Yet, he continued to be sent on Type I fire assignments, hurricanes and instruction of fire management, even to NYFD. Is that good supervision and compassion from an outfit that you have spent your life serving? My Grandad told me that “he who makes no mistakes does nothing! He who does not learn from his mistakes is a fool!” Wise words for us to ponder.

I spent 33 years in a great outfit, working with great people. I am proud of my career and of the association with many fine professional firefighters and managers,… many of you. It pleases me to see some folks speak up here and offer another perspective. I do not wish to see any fragmentation of our small fire community. We need all of us going forward in a positive way to meet the demands of the future. Fuels are getting worse and WUIs are increasing. Looks like agencies will continue to struggle with budget constraints, which means less folks on the line and fewer funds for training, equipment and fuels reduction. I envy no one in a management role today. You folks out there, please take a deep breath and walk a few steps in another man’s Whites. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Best always,

Jim Paxon

6/11 brush boy,

don't buy professional liability insurance from a
company that makes you do everything from a fax or the
mail. check out some national insurance carriers and
go in and meet who will be working for you. i bought
mine through allstate. basically the same rate with
better coverage and local agent i can talk to at
anytime. just make sure you buy professional
liability and not personal liability.

jd
6/10 Brushboy,

Call the Insurance Division in the state that you live in and the state that Wright Insurance resides in. Once a check is cashed, the insurance company/agency has either 30, 45, or 60 days to return the money (each state is different). If the money is not returned, they must grant you the policy, also they can be in big trouble from the Insurance Division. The Insurance Division will just need a copy of the check that was cashed; complete a complaint and they will do all the investigation for you.

Good Luck
Insurance Agent

6/10 -MJ

1-2-2 not 1-1-3

So if 1-1-3 due to attrition or injury, crew is bumped back to Type II IA. 
I think this pulls them back onto their forest. Out of the national mix.

JJ

6/10 Hello all,

Just wanted to say great job to the PAF fire school grads. Welcome to the family!!!

-HOG

6/10 Ab,

I noticed about Beckwourth getting their IHC status, and I have a 
question maybe someone out there can answer.

Did the Region ever figure out the RHC/IHC certification issue?

When American River and other Crews got certified at the end of 
last Season, they were still being called RHCs, long after I thought 
the issue was dead, and crews would be called IHCs when they 
became certified.

Just Wondering, 

-MJ

6/10 Brushboy:

You'll probably get a lot of advice but here's my penny's worth.

I presume you have all of your documentation...initial application, canceled check etc. Call and ask for the name of a supervisor or someone that can address your concerns.

Send a letter along with copies of your documents to this person by certified mail and demand either your money back or prompt action on your second (I'd emphasize that point) application.

Give them a couple of weeks to respond. If no response then call this person and find out what their problem is. If you still have problems or delays, post it here and some of us can do some "stuff" to make things uncomfortable for them and get them to do what they're being paid to do.

Obviously they know about the issue in Washington state. Maybe they are inundated with application or taking advantage of the situation. No one will know unless you put the pressure on them. I'd certainly suggest anyone else having problems post here too.

CJ
6/10 Congrats to the Beckwourth IHC on recently obtaining their Type 1 IHC qualifications. Good job.

Just as a point of interest regarding the photo of Tanker 85 floating on Diamond Lake, the photo(s) are also on display inside the Diamond Lake Lodge with a summary of the accident / landing. Worth a stop by to look at if you're ever in the Diamond Lake area.

Interesting story and picture.

sr5401

6/10 Misery Whip,

You said, "A "safety zone" in a prominent saddle or drainage is an invitation for trouble."

I disagree in some cases since it doesn't meet the "aw sh*t" test when folks are caught by surprise and go into survival mode, a most basic of human factors.

Not always are these places most dangerous. Human factors come into discussion as well as countless other factors of fire behavior, fuel moisture and continuity, flammability, and what type of clearances exist.... Someone on the ground has to make those decisions.......

I agree with you that a safety zone shouldn't be in a "saddle or drainage" in almost all cases. I agree with you in 90% of times, saddles and drainages are dangerous on SW aspects in almost all cases........ but not always (Old Fire 2003, Waterman Station). Sometimes, folks under stress need to decide a deployment area or a "survival" zone, or a defense zone....... if they must be used as a survival refuge when folks are trained to recognize hazards and utilize their RPD slides, they shouldn't be turned away from things that could help them such as wet drainages (Thirtymile) and old growth fuels that aren't susceptible to rapid rates of spread or area ignition (Esperanza).

Humans make mistakes in deciding what safety zones are. Most often, those mistakes are told by their peers.

I'd would bet that you and others may think twice about NE aspects and drainages (Esperanza) after looking at some recent fires and seeing where folks lived and where they died ..... especially drainages and ones filled with heavy fuels that haven't burned in recent history.... especially if you ever visited the Thirtymile Fire or Esperanza Fire deployment sites that folks survived in while others perished? If you have visited the sites, the fatality entrapments were outside and above the drainages..... the survivor entrapments and structures (Esperanza) that remained were in the wet drainages or areas filled with heavy fuels.

You can't cookie cutter this stuff and produce "posters" to show similar terrain or produce actions to keep folks safer without looking at the root causes....... 1) A home built in a place it should never have been built it, and 2) Area ignition that was not expected or taught about.

Misery Whip, none of my references to "you" is expressed towards anyone, especially you, my friend. It is much like the 18 Situations that used to begin, "You.... etc..." Each person needs to look at the "you are" in their own circumstances and their own shoes.

Lobotomy
6/9 Ab-

Here's photo that I thought others might enjoy. I hope the file is not too big. It's a scan of a copy of the original. No, this is not an early version of a "water-scooper" air tanker.

This event occurred in the mid 1970's. Tanker 85 was dispatched from Medford, OR to a fire on the Deschutes N.F. in central Oregon. Tanker 85 made an initial trip, dropped it's load, and then returned to Medford for a second load. The pilot "thought" he had enough fuel for a second trip so he didn't bother to refuel. On the second trip he was held up over the fire longer than he anticipated, finally dropped his load and then ran out of fuel on the way back to Medford. He managed to make a perfect, "dead-stick" landing in Diamond Lake near the crest of the Cascades (note Mt. Thielsen in the background). You can see how well an air tanker can float when it has empty fuel and retardent tanks!

To get the plane out of the lake they floated it close to shore and wrapped cables around both wings. The cables were attached to a D-8 Cat to drag the plane onto the shore. Needless to say, once tension was applied, the cables promptly sliced both wings off! That made the plane much easier to remove.

There's more to the story. When the plane was coming in to Diamond Lake the engines were off so they made no noise. Just as the pilot was setting down he noticed an older couple fishing in a rowboat directly in front of where he planned to splash down. The pilot was able to have enough lift/speed to "hop" over the couple by about 50 feet. The couple made a very hasty trip to shore.

This incident was used in one of the opening scenes in the movie Always.

As old pilots are fond of saying "Any landing you can walk....er, swim away from is a good landing." 

AK Old Timer

Thanks AK Old Timer. I am away from home base and it took forever to download and work with the dust spots and upload, but it was worth it. Good news is always worth it. I put it on Airtankers 23 photo page, last photo. Ab.
6/9 IntotheWind;

From reading between the lines, and the little I knew Mark, I'd have to agree with your version of the human- factor breakdowns leading to the Esperanza tragedy. Sounds as if you've had similar obstacles to overcome with those middle-of-the-night-callback IAs. Which certainly illustrates MiseryWhip's point about limited-experience upper level Fire Managers (policy makers)... if one hasn't had the same load to carry as Mark had that night, one simply cannot relate. (No offense jimhart, Mellie, and others; but you have to admit, you are the exception that proves the rule.).

Sounds to me like you have plenty of info and RPD slides, and the right attitude for instructing The Kids, but, well... you asked...

(1): I don't teach 130/190 any more, but whenever I'm teaching a class of rookies, I always post Doug Campbell's "Revised Mission & Vision" statements, and ask the class to do their problem solving, using these for a basis:

"THE MISSION:
We will meet the fire at its weak points, knocking it out, not giving it a chance. We will KNOW the fire and use the knowledge of its behavior patterns to snuff it out. We will be tough but not waste our strength. We will plan our tactics anticipating the fire's moves. We will use proven tactics and avoid bad ones. We will engage the fire when we know we will prevail over the fire. We will not repeat the mistakes of other encounters.

THE VISION:
We will become a wise firefighter. We will find out what the fire is about to do and plan for dealing with its potential. We will become known for our wildfire wisdom and be able to avoid its traps and find its weakness. We will learn to communicate the whole fire situation and thereby save others from poorly devised tactical actions. We will minimize all negative impacts on the firefighters we supervise keeping them strong and well throughout the siege."

Have found over the years that this consistently leads to a whole different level of thought process and problem solving from the class, even the first- weekers.

(2): Drill for SA, SA, & SA. Expect and require that they are aware, every waking moment. Ask for their observations and interpretations, in every AAR, and not only of critical points; sometimes its amazing what they'll see!

(3): Make sure they understand that fire is simply a chemical chain reaction, and therefore is predictable. Not always predicted, but always predictable.

(4): There are very few truly "freak", unavoidable accidents. Lightning, vehicle rollovers, snags, rocks, falls, all are expected hazards, and can be mitigated to an extent.

Enjoy! What you're doing is what it's all about!

And Thank You, Doug, for your permission to post your material!

Pyro

Thank you Doug for your persistence over the years since your retirement. Ha, retirement!! Ab.

6/9 Casey, Mellie, Misery Whip, and all old cogers around here (not that you folks are old cogers, but I think you get the point)…

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“I find it funny all you fire scientists talk about fire, but you’ve never been in one.”

This was from a BC in the Forest Service who was listening to a presentation I was giving after the ’03 fires in So. Cal. Well, I took that one to heart and learned how to cut line from some great people. Now I find myself in rooms filled the Ph.D’s discussing fire and I make a point of asking them the same question, and I do so frequently. And quite frankly I’m becoming more comfortable around chewing tobacco and fire stations than at science conferences, but that’s another issue.

I can’t thank you enough for the time you have given to provide insight about fire and relate your experiences. I’ll never have those RPD slides in my head, but I am grateful you all have enough love for what you do to pass their contents along here. You can be sure when I talk to young firefighters, which I do quite a bit, I’ll make sure they have access to those as well.

Be safe dang it,

jimhart

6/9 Re Beckworth IHC:

Just Curious,

The PNF Crew 1 received their Type 1 status about 2 weeks ago and became
the Beckwourth IHC.

Fyrfghtr

Congrats! Well earned! This is no easy certification, folks.  Ab.

6/9 Liability Insurance

Back in January 07 I applied and mailed in my request for Liability Insurance with Wright and Company. After 6 months with no reply from them I called and inquired about my application. They stated that the date on my application was expired and they could not approve my application do to the fact that my signature was dated 12-5-06, however they did cash and deposit my personnel check in January. They did not attempt to contact me to inform me of this but just took my money. The person I spoke with stated I need to fill out another application and send it to them. I did that on June 2nd and still have not received any reply or info from them. They stated that my account would be reimbursed and to this date I still have not received any info from them. Am I being taken for my money or has anyone else dealt with this company.

Brushboy
6/9 Ab & All,

Glad to hear other folks think this is a meaningful discussion. I especially appreciate Bret Butler and Doug Campbell contributing their thoughts, their credibility is huge in this area.

Intothewind,

I’m not sure I’m the one you should be asking, but if I was going to offer advice about how to keep your troops safe, this is what I’d tell them.

Doug Campbell’s prediction system has a lot of merit. In severe burning conditions, if the wind and slope are in alignment, and there is fire downslope/upwind, you are in the barrel of the convective heat/gas gun. It may not matter how big your safety zone is. Get out of the way before the gun goes off.

Most constructed or natural safety zones never get put to use, and therefore we don’t know how effective they would have been if they had been used. A “safety zone” in a prominent saddle or drainage is an invitation for trouble.

The safest wildland fire tactic is a flanking attack from a secure anchor with one foot in clean black. If you’re using a different tactic such as a frontal assault or making a stand at structures, you are accepting an increased level of risk. In such situations, constant monitoring of the fire’s location and behavior should be your number one priority. Number two should be getting your troops out of harm’s way if it appears that your position may be subjected to harmful convective gas/heat.

The deeper the drainage or saddle, the more channeling of convective gases/heat you can expect upslope. In the 1966 Loop Fire, to avoid a fire below them, firefighters jumped into a steep gully that was devoid of fuels, yet were killed by the hot gases funneled up from a burning brush patch at the bottom of the drainage.

If all other conditions are the same, the steeper the slope, the faster the fire will move. Under some conditions, fires move faster than most people can comprehend. Give yourself plenty of time to get out of the way of a fire making a run on a slope below you.

The heavier the fuels are downslope/upwind from you, the longer the duration of the burn will be. In light fuels, fires can move very rapidly but the duration will be short. It only takes a few seconds of exposure to hot gases to kill you.

The amount of unburned fuel between you and the fire is important. A lot of unburned fuel below you means the fire has more room in which to develop a powerful convection column and pick up speed from preheating of available fuels. A well-developed convection column is a danger in and of itself.

Just because the wind is blowing in a certain direction or speed right now doesn’t mean it will be 30 seconds from now. Does your personal safety plan allow for a sudden wind increase or change in direction?

Just because the column is standing straight up right now doesn’t mean it will be 30 seconds from now. If the column lays down over you, so will the flames and/or hot convective gases. Are you physically and mentally prepared to react to that?

Choking smoke and hot gases may not be hot enough to immediately kill you, but they can incapacitate you to the point you cannot defend yourself. If you cannot breathe or see, you cannot flee.

Some times being too close to the column inhibits you from seeing when the column is changing in character. Frequently, the best observer of what the column is doing is a considerable distance away from the fire.

Study historical fire fatalities. Find out as much as you can about what happened to our fallen comrades so you don’t meet a similar fate. 

Experience is a great teacher but it gives the test before the question. The most meaningful fire lessons are not learned in classrooms.

Recognition Primed Decisionmaking is what drives most firefighter decisions (comparing your present situation with previous situations and making judgments based on the outcomes of previous situations). Until you accumulate enough “slides” in your RPD memory bank to make sound fireline safety decisions, pay attention to what the old codgers have to say. Many of them earned their RPD slides the hard way by making mistakes which they managed to survive.

These are some of the RPD slides I’ve accumulated in my career. I hope you find them to be of some value.

Misery Whip
6/9 Question for whom ever might know:

I was just looking at the PNF WildCAD resource status list, and I noticed that PNF Crew #1 had been removed from the list and was replaced by a "Beckwourth IHC" (currently assigned to the Larson Incident). Has PNF Crew 1 always been the Beckwourth IHC, or have they just recently attained type 1 status? 

Just curious.
6/9 JimHart,

I appreciate your comments on stereotyping ologists and your earlier stated perspective that wildland fire should remain under the auspices of land management rather than having it become "Amerca's 911". I have mixed feelings on that second issue depending on the day, and some comments on the first.

I think the point that is made repeatedly about ologists overseeing a fire program is that, although ologists may say firefighter safety is their first priority and they think safety is their first priority, they do not have enough live fire experience to be able to make that real. They don't have enough (or any) fire slides in their decision making toolbox. And this isn't all ologists who work for land-management agencies, but quite a number of them.

I am an ologist -- in biology (ecology) and stress psychology (psychoneuroimmunology, human factors) with a strong background in stats and epidemiology. I also feel I've achieved an "advanced degree" in fire over the last 7 years thanks to a number of people in the wildland fire community who have invited me into various arenas and encouraged or mentored my learning. However, in spite of all my non-fire academic training, I don't feel I have enough fire experience to be making safety decisions for wildland firefighters, unless they relate to human factors. (I do think that because of training with Doug Campbell, I got a jump start on recognizing high risk fire behavior conditions on the ground.) Bottom line, I think safety decisions for wildland firefighters should be made by people who have been wildland firefighters.

Andrea Tuttle, a personal friend and the former director of CDF, told me when she was appointed that her biggest shortcoming was that she had no wildland firefighting experience. She had advanced degrees in natural resources. She felt qualified to work with environmentalists and "loggers". She also expressed concern about firefighters' safety. We all do the best we can, but it's good to recognize your limitations. When you don't have experience/training, you try to have excellent advisors. Whether you have the knowledge or experience or leadership qualities to take their advice -- given the context and pressures of your job (political, financial, etc) -- is another story.

Just a bit of an ologist's perspective.

Mellie

6/9 Dear JimHart:

I can't speak for other "posters" but I have not tried to intentionally "bash" the ologists. As you said, the problem is the system and those running it like Mr. Rey that have failed to recognize the complexities of 21st century wildland firefighting and thus failed to develop an organizational structure of "fire folks" to lead the fire program.

As is typical, bureaucracies are reactionary. Case in point:

-In response to fatal fires the knee-jerk reaction was to "make wildland firefighters more "professional" and mandate that anyone moving up the chain of command in fire become degreed in a biological science ...ignoring decades of practical fire line experience & expertise.

-same can be said for Congress' knee-jerk reaction to ThirtyMile with their passage of PL 107-203.

-now, way too late after the fact, the FS is starting a Line Officer certification program. Odd that it takes into consideration experience but for firefighters moving up the chain, experience is a non-issue.

Again, it is simply a situation where non-fire people are developing & implementing policies that affect our firefighters. In the 21st century, that can only be described as archaic.

There are many firefighters who are enrolled in 401 classes because they want to be. Others feel like they have to be simply to move up the chain. I agree, some knowledge of "ology" can be beneficial but I certainly cannot be convinced that a degree in a biological science degree is necessary to become an Fire Management Officer. 

I think that when you are faced with an event consuming 1000 acres an hour, you'd be better served by your experience and expertise in firefighting than your classroom work towards a biological science degree. And let's face it...in fire we have all seen those that have such a multitude certificates of classroom training they could wallpaper their house yet put them on the fire line and...dah...what do I do???

So I want to make sure folks know I am not in any way trying to target ologists. They certainly play a vital role in the Forest Service...I just don't think they should play such key roles in the fire program without far more experience & expertise in fire than the majority of them have to date.

Casey
6/9 Intothewind,

Whenever we taught the optional map and compass portion of basic fire training, we 
encouraged the students to carry a GPS receiver so they always know where they 
were. If someone else maps the head of the fire with GPS and the two locations are 
never the same... you won't get hurt.

Fire Geek
6/9 Re: what to tell a rookie class

Intothewind,

I'd start by telling them that firefighter fatalities are not "mishaps"
-- despite how the FS Chief characterized Esperanza in her
action plan letter.

vfd cap'n
6/9 Misery Whip,

Very logical well thoughtout piece; almost mellow, so a little out of character. The Esperanza report is not very well done. I could find no wisdom in the report. It is the same concept with a different theme. What do I mean, well slamming people for not abiding by the 10/18 was popular for quite some time in accident reports, hence report writers were front loaded to find out how the firefighters messed up the 10/18. Remember Putnam could not go there with the South Canyon Report. Now we are a learning culture, just like that. The Red Book comes out and the 10/18 are now guidelines, not rules, though without any other backing. The Esperanza Action Plan thus supports the learning culture theme, once again front loaded, lets all learn from the mistakes of others, group hug, do an AAR and go eat dinner. What did upper management think, was it because Doctrine is coming, we better not find a reason to add a checklist or technocratic response.

My take is it was a simple breakdown in Situational Awareness: its dark, you can't see very well, they woke you up in the middle of the night to work through your normal REM sleep cycle. Besides that nobody really has a handle on what's going on, there is no apparent plan, There is not an ATGS or any aircraft to tell you to get the hell out. So in support of MW, they were just doing their best.

Whenever I discuss convective heat and radiant heat, I get my lighter out, turn up the flame and put my hand right next to the side of flame almost touching, and then I put my hand over the top of the flame, usually only within 2-3 inches. Even at that scale a huge difference. Seems pretty straightforward, stay away from convective heat situations, or where it may be funneled. Recognizing the risk is so key.

Next week I get to address a new class of rookie firefighters. This is my 28th season, and I will not talk about not bending or breaking anything. I will not try to scare 'em with the fact of all the close calls that I have had. What should I tell 'em, and I mean that. Tell me what you think.

We have to be sound at the unit level, that is where the strength lies. In unit I mean Engine Companies, IA models, Helitac Crews, IHCs. We need outstanding leadership at that level, and I think we are getting there. Lets hold each other accountable, every day.

Thank you all for contributing, reading, thinking and especially maintaining this forum.

Intothewind

6/9 There seems to be a rash of “ologist” bashing around here as if it is a requirement to join some club. Well, I say nuts to that.

Of course people who supervise firefighters should have a lot of fire experience. To do otherwise is ridiculous. On the same token, if a firefighter wants to understand the fire environment (to improve skills, enhance safety, and enjoy life more) a good dose of “ology” is required. And yes I did say “required.”

I understand the frustrations expressed, but I think using pejorative labels to define an entire class is counterproductive and creates unfair caricatures that only increase misunderstandings and reinforces biases.

May I suggest instead of bashing “Park” people and “ologists”, how about just calling twisted individuals like Mark Rey and inexperienced fire supervisors who don’t know a thing about fire what they really are? Incompetent bureaucrats!

I could go on about how irritated I get when people refer to chaparral as “brush”, but I’ll save that for another day.

jimhart
6/9 Rax is going to work at the Sierra Training Center teaching fire training
to CDC inmates.

CDF is lucky to have someone with his qualifications and training ability.
He will be an asset to the Department.

Firefly

He is an asset anywhere he works. He's gon'na haf'ta watch out and not award any horseshoe bob knobs. Never know what an inmate might do with one o' those. haw haw. Ab.

6/8 Dear AB,

I would like to take this opportunity to commend Mark Davis of NFFE (National Federation of Federal Employees) for his tireless efforts in working to educate Congress on the Forest Service' "questionable" outsourcing efforts of fire employees. His efforts have resulted in at least a one year "reprieve" of FS funds being used to study positions to outsource.

He and I have shared a great deal of information on this issue and the FWFSA is working to seek an amendment to Title 10 USC, sec. 2465 which would add federal land management agency firefighters to the list of positions for which the section prohibits contracting out. To strengthen that position we are hopeful to get these firefighter positions declared as an "Inherent Gov't Function."

I'd also like to thank those, especially from CAL-FIRE who supported our efforts to amend AB 384 to include temporary firefighters. As recently posted here, the California State Assembly unanimously passed the legislation on May 30th. The legislation extends to survivors of federal firefighters from California who die in the line of duty, certain educational benefits.

As you may recall, while our efforts to amend the bill to include temporary firefighters was well received by the Author of the bill and other members of the Assembly, our efforts were opposed by the California Professional Firefighters (perhaps more by the leadership than the rank & file) which suggested that adding temporary firefighters to the legislation would be a "budget breaker." It was also suggested to me personally by the CPF leadership that our efforts to amend the bill would mean a certain death for the bill when it reached the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Despite this threat, the Assembly Appropriations Committee passed the amended version of the bill 16-0. Thus a debt of gratitude is due to those rank & file members of the CPF who offered words of support to the FWFSA as we worked to amend the bill. Hopefully the CPF leadership has learned something about the federal wildland firefighting community as a result of this.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
6/8 Ab

Glad to see the Famed RAX went back to work in Blue, even if he appears
to be a shadow of his former self. (Wish I could do that.)

And it is interesting to note that, he posed for his picture in front of a crew
buggy rather than a BC's vehicle. But what CC is SRT?

ht

6/8 Ab(s),

I was just checking out the link to the IMWTK-Largest fire page.
Thanks for putting the page together, gives me a good list of historical
fires to start doing some reading about. Thanks again for all that you
all do for this site and this community.

sr5401

You're welcome. Never a dull moment. We Abs are always quite busy, but it's the community here that keeps things poppin'. Ab.

6/8 Re: Selecting a good safety area

Good morning Bret

I just read the piece you posted on Wildlandfire.com and thought that I would make a couple of observations on the subject.

My background is listed on (www.dougsfire.com).
My email is (doug @ dougsfire.com).
My home phone is <snip>

I have authored a book, workbook and a course of study that has been taught throughout the USA and Europe. The subject is predicting fire behavior events. The book title is "The Campbell Prediction System." The title of the course is "Wildland Fire Signature Predictions".

The course focuses on when and where fire behavior will change, get worse or easier. This is called a Trigger Point. The TP is shown on maps to denote places where there will be a significant change in fire behavior.

he forces of wind, slope and solar preheating are the major causes of fire behavior change. Where they align, the fire is worse or the head of the fire. Where they are out of alignment, the fire becomes easier.

I have worked on many wildland fires and I always picked a safety area location where fire had to approach out of alignment. Therefore the need for an extensive area was not needed.

To make predictions as to the amount of fire, convection etc. ahead of a fire we developed the Fire Signature Prediction concept. The fire behavior at the head, where the forces are best aligned, is the "In alignment signature". In the path of the fire where the forces are aligned the Fire Signature will replicate. From the previous fire signatures one makes predictions based on the alignment of forces in locations in front of the fire.

The Butte Fire video is an example of failure to take past fire behavior into account. The safety areas became deployment sites because the tactical choice was bad. From the bottom of the adjacent canyon to the top of the ridge where the safety areas were selected was in afternoon alignment with the forces of wind, slope and preheat. The signature would be the in alignment fire intensity of previous days runs. The effectiveness of the shelters was a cover for the real failure, the tactical choice that assumed you can fire out against the alignment of forces and take the crowns out from the ridge. What you would create is a creeping ground fire that was like the out of alignment signature of other parts of the fire.

I think it would be a good idea to open a discussion as to how to pick an escape route and safety area as well as how much area is needed. The fire signature is the best predictive system I have found and I have used it successfully for many years.

Respectively yours
Doug Campbell
Wildland Fire Specialists, LLC

6/8 Ab,

Some encouraging information on Forest Service competitive sourcing -- an
issue our NFFE Forest Service Council has been busting butt on for quite
awhile.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

NFFE Praises FS A-76 defund 6-8-07.doc (37K doc file)
Approps_2008_Rpt_070607.pdf (241K pdf file)

Good work. Ab.

6/8 Dear dragmccloud:

My commentary about land management agency firefighters working for Parks & Rec was an analogy primarily directed at the Forest Service fire program. A common theme from Forest Service firefighters from entry level up through FMOs is their frustration with being led & managed, from the Chief of the Forest Service on down to Forest Supervisors, by those who have little to no fire experience or expertise.

As an example, last year when I met with Mark Rey, whom I personally consider to be the "puppeteer" of the Forest Service fire program, he mentioned he had "been on a couple of fires." Sorry, that doesn't cut it.

In my opinion, the leadership of the Forest Service has things a bit backwards. They are insisting that firefighters who want to move up through the ranks complete "professional biologist" academic level courses despite, in many cases having decades of practical fire line experience while not requiring line officers, those responsible for developing & implementing fire policy to meet the NWCG basic fire leadership requirements, at least to the Division Chief level.

Again, in my opinion, this has got to be one of the most fundamental problems that has led to the current dysfunction in the FS fire program. I would suspect that if line officers and those responsible at the top (Mr. Rey, Forest Service Chief, budget analyst bean-counters etc., were trained and experienced in fire to a Division Chief's level:

- The Administration's FS budget proposal priority would be preparedness not suppression
- The systematic diversion of fire preparedness funding to non-fire projects (thus needlessly increasing the risks to our firefighters and causing suppression costs to skyrocket) would not be occurring
- The Agency would be embracing & advocating the replacement of archaic pay & personnel policies with those that would reduce, if not entirely eliminate the severe retention problems in many areas (yes, we know, there are folks in the Agency who are in denial that a retention crisis exists in some places)

and the list goes on and on.

The land management agency firefighters have become all risk and deserve to have those above them who set policy have much the same experience & expertise they have.

There are too many analogies to list:

An auto repair shop manager managing a McDonalds
The superintendent of Parks & Rec managing the local municipal fire department
The police chief managing the fire dept

etc., etc.

This situation in fact has reared its ugly head in cities across the country where, in order to save money, the cities employ a "Manager" that manages both the fire & police departments. In most cases this has been an absolute disaster.

Fortunately for NPS, BLM, BIA & Fish & Wildlife, the problem hasn't become as obvious as with the FS. However, since the FS is the largest employer of federal wildland firefighters, its program weaknesses are more profound and visible to all of us trying to fix what is broken.

Casey
6/8 Re Bateman, R-3, Culture, Competence and Safety:

Hey Ab,

Thanks for managing this forum!!! I have been keeping an eye on it for quite a while. I am retired FS now, but have a son in the fire service who is dealing with many of the issues that you present. I would like to touch on several topics if I may...

Background: I began in R-4 in 1970 with "Guard School" and did a little bit of everything on the District. In 1971, at 19 years old, my first large fire was on the District and I was assigned to be Crew Boss of a group of "engineers" that had been brought out of the R.O. in Ogden to fight the fire. That was a hoot! These guys had on wingtips and white shirts. They were the most out-of-shape crew that I have ever seen. We broke open the fire cache and found hardhats and hand tools for everyone. Fortunately I only had them for one shift and they were released... no serious injuries, but very little work done either. I had Crew Boss training (6-8 hours) the next season. I guess that we got things a little backward back then.

I eventually moved to a permanent position on the Coconino NF in Fire when Bill Buck was the Fire God/Staff and LFO ruled. I got to know Van Bateman and several others while I was there. I later moved to another Forest in Region 3 where I moved up through the ranks and spent 20 years as the FCO/FMO. My first DIVS assignment was in 1977. I joined Charlie Denton's (National) OH Team in 1984. I moved from OPs to Plans and served on several Type 1 and Type 2 teams until I retired a few years ago. My most enjoyable assignments were working on "Regular" (Type 2) Crews that we would put together from the area and travel throughout the West; although I don't remember turning down any assignment.

Safety Awareness: From my perspective, people were more aware (greater situational awareness) before we had Nomex or Fire Shelters. I believe that a false sense of safety/security came with these innovations. An example is the Butte Fire video extolling the virtues of fire shelters saving lives. The raw footage told a different story. Poor decisions were made when the affected crews decided to stay in place in their safety (deployment) zones, rather than move to a truly safe location. I have heard that the Canadians use the Butte Shelter Deployment to teach proper decision making and that the need to deploy shelters was a failure in leadership.

In Defense of Region 3: When I began with the FS, in both Regions 3 and 4, "winter lightning" was primarily a Lands or Engineering function. By the next spring, there were a few less structures to worry about in the Forest. The unapproved Rx burning was done either by the sheep herders, or the Range Techs in the fall or early spring. It wasn't until the late 1970's that management began to crack down on this type of activity, and only then when T&E Species were getting burned up along with the road clearing slash and the sagebrush. I have never seen anyone in the Fire shop light one of these and in my career, I haven't.

Arson is Arson: I worked as a Forest Service (arson) Investigator back in the old days out of Salt Lake City. I maintained my membership in the IAAI for several years. In all of the fires that I investigated, I never had a suspect who was a permanent government employee. It seemed that they were all working on the border of the Fire Service, in local volunteer fire departments, support or first season firefighters. With this background I have recognized some awfully suspicious situations and heard some rumors, but have never been able to pin an arson fire on a fire manager/supervisor. I left the Coconino about 30 years ago, so I cannot speak to Van's situation, other than as a former arson investigator, when I heard the news, my first thought was "How many other fires has he lit over the years? How could he have violated our trust like this?" An arsonist doesn't just take up the hobby in his mid 50's. It must have been happening off and on since the 1970's. That is the psychology of arson.

Safety a Personal Responsibility: There is a bottom line to my rambling... We as leaders in the Fire Service, whatever agency or company, MUST take care of ourselves and the people who work for us. There are many, many people in leadership positions in Management, on IMTs and FUMT (Fire Use Teams), that are flat-out incompetent and dangerous when it comes to fire management and safety. It has always been our responsibility to watch out for ourselves and not follow blindly. It is even more critical since the massive retirements of the past decade in fire management. There are a lot of folks that may have moved a little too rapidly to fill these critical vacancies. Not their fault. They just need to recognize their lack of experience and take time to review their decisions and the (often unintended) consequences of their actions. Don't be afraid to ask for help and act conservatively until you do have a better foundation for sound decisions.

There are still some great folks out there, many in leadership positions, such as Roy Hall (FUMT) and Gary Loving (IMT2) in Region 3. However, there was a FUMT from R-1 that messed up on the Kaibab in R-3 last summer, burning 58,000 acres. There were incidents in Wyoming and throughout the West in the past few years. These incidents don't all make it into the "Lessons Learned" Center for evaluation. I don't care if the person is a Type 1 IC who is calling the shots, make sure that you and your crews are safe! There are a lot of opportunities for organizational failure between the ICP and the fireline!

Be safe out there! You have a lot of great people who may be frustrated with a struggling management organization and its policies, but you are the ones with the boots on the ground. I had more actual decision making authority when I was a GS-3 living in a remote guard station than I ever had as an assistant fire staff or FMO. Policies are made at the top and interpreted by everyone in the chain of command until it reaches you out on the fireline. You are the ones who implement whatever the policy is based on your situation and your safety at that moment. The best policy is still Don't violate the "10" and Watch Out for the "18"!

Best wishes to all of you! You have dedicated yourselves to an honorable profession that is still undervalued and under-appreciated. But it is "what you do!" It is what I did! Do it safely and take good care of those who have given you their trust!

Sincerely,
-FireDad

Welcome to the forum, FireDad. Ab.

6/8 Perhaps worth adding to Oliver's list of large and deadly fires is
the Yacolt Burn in SW Washington. September, 1902, burned
238,920 ac and killed 38 people.

-FireBill

I made a new IMWTK-largest fires (Inquiring Minds Want to Know) page. Ab.

6/8 In response to post by Misery Whip dated 6/6:

As the primary research scientist responsible for the safety zone
guidelines, I appreciate and agree for the most part with your comments
about the need for additional training/discussion/information and
consideration of convective heating in the safety zone guidelines.

Clearly, wildland fire is a complex process which includes, among many
others, convective and radiant energy heat transfer processes. In fact, I
would be happy to "whine" about just how technically challenging this
problem is and the issues associated with developing guidelines that are
easily understood and implemented, but this is not the time or the place.

The original safety zone guidelines were developed with the full
realization and understanding that they did not consider convective
heating. The primary reasons for this were two fold: 1) there exist some
situations where radiant energy transfer is the primary energy transfer
mechanism in fire spread and 2) we had the tools and understanding needed
to do the analysis for radiant heating, but lacked a complete understanding
of the convective heating process. The safety zone guidelines were really
a first cut and a "stake in sand." They were meant to be a first cut that
then could be refined and improved. Fortunately, research over the last
decade since that original safety zone study has provide us with new
understanding and tools which allow us to more clearly simulate and predict
convective energy transfer if wildland fires.

We have just started a new
effort to develop safety zone guidelines that include consideration of
convective heating. One major part of this effort will be the development
of simple to understand and implement guidelines. To be successful, we
absolutely require input from all of the wildland fire community, but most
specifically from those who work in fire every day. Unfortunately, I
don't anticipate anything as simple as the 4 times flame height rule,
convective heating is a function of wind, size of the fire and local
terrain features.

Regardless of the outcome of the safety zone development
effort, it will still be incumbent upon everyone that is working in fire to
use their own experience and that of their coworkers to be students of
fire, to always be cognizant of what the fire is doing, and to be
constantly asking why it is behaving as it is so that we can make more
accurate estimates of what the fire is going to do. Unfortunately any
safety zone guidelines will require that someone, be it the individual
firefighter or some other source, will have to estimate what type of fire
behavior should be expected in order to evaluate the effectiveness of a
given safety zone. This is an added level of uncertainty. As you
indicated, in many cases we will find that safety zones are really
deployment zones, which means that the only option will be to change
tactics.

I certainly welcome any comments, criticism, complaints, advice,
etc that will help me and my research team in our efforts to further
improve the guidelines. I would like to conclude with a plea to you and
any others who have observed fire to continue to discuss fire behavior and
firefighter guidelines and don't hesitate to send me your comments and
ideas.

Sincerely,

Bret Butler
email: bwbutler at fs.fed.us

Thanks, Bret. I added some paragraph breaks to make your message easier to read on the computer screen. Ab.

6/8 Ab,

Please do not attribute this post. Casey's rant in response to JS prompts
this post. After 32 years, I am at the twilight of my career. I am not an
"ologist", but I am a Forester. Foresters are supposed to see the whole
picture. Fire is and will be in the picture. With the decline of the
Timber program nationally I was asked if I would assume FMO
responsibilities. I am old school enough that Foresters were expected,
required actually, to be involved in fire while I was in my developmental
period. I have been successful as an FMO at ascending levels for 12 of my
32 years.

My expression of our work is that it places us in close proximity to harm's
way, the key point is to not actually get in the way. Anybody that has
felt the heat of being in the "kitchen." knows of which I speak. It is awe
inspiring what you can be close to and yet walk away. We all know that
adrenaline is an amazing compound. It can facilitate great clarity to a
moment, but can at times also tunnel a person's focus away from broader
situation awareness. We win the battles by putting out the fires. We win
the war by retiring, relatively intact.

I also have military experience. I am a believer in leadership principles
and if everybody involved lived the principles of technical proficiency
(really knowing your job), reliability, respect, duty, Integrity and
maintaining situational awareness, despite the potential significant
distractions, we'd be doing the very best we can. Our firefighters deserve
no less.

My motto on safety is, "Safety First, Last, Always."

Sounds like a good moniker to me. Thanks for writing in. Ab.

6/8 Hmmm,

Wasn't it Lou Paulsen who said our efforts to add the temps would be
a death knell for the bill before the Appropriations Committee???

SoCal FF

6/8 The wind blew;
The pigs flew
And Overacker donned a uniform of Blue.

Superintendent 20 (Retired) has a new job.

A CDF BC

Way to go, Rax. Here’s a rare shot of the BIG GUY in clean mode before he retired from the FS last April. Ab.

6/8 AB 384 passes the CA State Assembly unanimously.

Assembly Approves 2 Portantino Bills
www.lacanadaonline.com

Portantino also secured a unanimous vote of support for AB 384, a bill co-authored with Fresno Assembly member Kathleen Galgani.

The bill would guarantee spouses and surviving children of fallen firefighters the ability to obtain fee waivers from California's public colleges, and would also guarantee uninsured surviving dependents (spouses and children) have access to a state-funded program to help them gain medical and dental benefits.

Portantino said, "California's civilian federal firefighters face tremendous risks to protect our wild lands from devastating fire, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with state and local first responders. When civilian federal firefighters lose their lives protecting our homes, their survivors deserve nothing less than the benefits we extend to California's own professional firefighters."

He said the need for this legislation was revealed after last fall's Esperanza Fire, when five firefighters died after their engine was burned during the wind-whipped 24,000 acre blaze. All five were California residents. The fee waiver for firefighter families for college was first enacted in 1999. The health insurance program was approved in 2004.

In the intervening years, these programs have been administered in a way that excludes the survivors of fallen federal firefighters who lived, worked and gave their lives within the state.

"When firefighters fall in the line of duty, their families are left with a hole in their lives and, often, a crushing burden to care for their children," said Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters. "The best way to honor their sacrifice is to do everything we can as Californians to ease this financial burden on their families."

The bill now moves to the Senate.

Fair use disclaimer

6/8 Ab & all,

I'd just like to thank all who responded to my inquiry I made earlier this week regarding the largest fire to occur in the lower 48 states. I had no idea that there was such a history of LARGE fire activity throughout the past 100 - 150 years. Looks like I've got some interesting reading ahead if me to catch up with the history of all these fires I didn't know about before.

Those fire stats that Ab posted don't look promising for the remainder of the year either. Could be adding a couple of more names to that LARGE fire list this year, hope not though.

Thanks all, and be safe everyone.

sr5401
6/8 An interesting read

This was given to me by the IC of the Sweat Farm Rd Fire.
In light of last year's active fire season and the increasing number of complex large fires, along with the fact that this year's season seems to be starting out as one for the books, I thought that others might find this an interesting read:

The Mega-Fire Phenomenon: Toward a more effective management model
A concept paper.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/megafire-concept05.doc

AD Texas

6/8 Casey, great writing as always. I just wonder what you meant by :

Yet when we look at land management agency firefighters, they in fact are working for the Parks & Recreation Department. As a result, those that are in a position to develop and implement policies that impact our firefighters and the management of the fire program have little to no fire experience or expertise.

I am not sure of any land management agency, surely not my agency (NPS) that works for parks and recreation department. In most NPS units, the chief ranger, who oversees the FMO, has some background in fire. Are you talking about land agencies in USA??

dragmccloud

6/7 Dear JS:

As with any investigative report from a fatal fire, the facts, along with the intentions and thought processes of those who perished are lost with them. There are certainly objective findings in any investigation but so too are there many subjective conclusions.

The points on They Said you refer to seem to have an element of defensiveness to them on behalf of the crew of Engine 57 who cannot defend themselves from hindsight or second guessing. I don't necessarily agree with you that the commentary is negative but obviously it is reactionary.

The report is a reaction to the incident and opinions posted here, including yours and mine are reactions to it. I truly don't believe that any wildland firefighter out there believes there are not significant inherent risks with this job. No doctrine or any other motivational commentary from the WO needs to remind folks in the field of this fact.

You ask what we can learn from this tragedy. The same things we have learned from far too many fatal fires before. As history shows us, despite lessons learned, we will continue to experience losses in the field just as with any battle in any war. In this case a war with Mother Nature helped along by some deranged arsonist.

You do pose a very poignant question: "HOW DO WE MANAGE RISK?"

The answer is perhaps incredibly simple yet, difficult to achieve. One of our members speaking to me last night said "you don't see municipal firefighters working for the Director of Parks & Recreation, you see them working for a fire chief who has risen through the ranks."

Yet when we look at land management agency firefighters, they in fact are working for the Parks & Recreation Department. As a result, those that are in a position to develop and implement policies that impact our firefighters and the management of the fire program have little to no fire experience or expertise.

As a result, we see the Agency, led by non-fire folks, reacting in a manner that is typical of non-fire personnel. If the Chief of the Forest Service, Regional Foresters, District Rangers and Forest Supervisors had a fraction of the fire experience & expertise of those in the field have, we wouldn't be developing doctrine, changing ideology from rules based to common fire sense based etc. in the 21st Century. It would have happened long ago.

So perhaps the commentary on They Said is just a glimpse of the frustration by firefighters of a system run by those who may know about leaves, bark and rocks, but virtually nothing about fire. I dare say if the above-referenced line officers had significant fire experience & expertise, you would not be seeing the systematic diversion of fire preparedness resource funding. You would see activism at the highest level of Government before the Administration & Congress about adequate staffing, better pay & benefits, proper classification etc. You would hear factual information from the USDA about preparedness levels, not a bunch of bureaucratic rhetorical smoke & mirrors by folks clearly disconnected from the field.

I agree with your assessment that the only way to be 100% safe is to stay at home. Some in Congress are concerned that the Forest Service is becoming the "Fire Department." If the Nation wants the safest & best wildland fire department in the world, then firefighters should be running the land management agency fire programs or the fire programs should be yanked from the land management agencies and created as a stand-alone organization.

Fire programs should be run by firefighters, not ologists.

And, although there may be some in the WO that started out as ground pounders...something unfortunate happens to some of them when they get to DC and start working for non-fire people...they often forget where they came from and instead become all too concerned about job preservation.

OK, done ranting...

Casey
6/7 More on the implementation of Doctrine

First, I want to re-iterate that I am a fan of the concept of Doctrine. I look forward to a time when this concept is our guiding principle. I am just gun shy about what it might look like before it is fully implemented. It is hard for me to have faith in the ability of the big heads of the FS to let it work the way it is intended.

Also, my intention was not to define a split, or difference of opinion between FS and DOI. However, there is a prevalent attitude on the part of the FS that its rules, opinions, policy, doctrine, etc… are everyone else’s as well. I saw this time and again when I was with DOI, and now that I am FS, it is even more obvious.

Case in point: At the Chief officers meeting last winter, the IHC group had the opportunity to ask questions of a panel consisting of the heads of all of the big Wildland players in R5 (or their rep. in a few cases). Not surprisingly, many of the questions asked were in regards to doctrine. The biggest talking point was that the R5 FAM expected the IHC community to lead the way with Doctrine in 2007. When one of the other agency heads took the podium, they were asked how their agencies intended to implement doctrine. After, a pregnant pause, they replied that while their FAM was supportive, and interested in Doctrine, there were not necessarily plans in the works to adopt it (that is as close to verbatim as I can remember.) That was pretty much what the rest had to say as well. This appeared to catch many FS folks in the room off guard, as if the expectation was that all the agencies where in fact moving towards this end state.

Why is this a concern? Let’s say that Doctrine does in fact become FS practice and/or guiding principle. Now, how does an IMT with a non FS IC, or whatever, determine whether to use doctrine as a guiding principle or not? Is Doctrine only valid on FS land? Do the other agencies accept the new FS way of doing business, even if it violates their safe work practices? I consider this to be a HUGE issue. If our Doctrine leads us to a place where the fire orders are not “…firm, we don’t bend them, we don’t break them, or …every firefighter has a right to a safe assignment…” (just using some obvious examples) then how are we to integrate this with an agency that still holds to the firm, unbreakable nature of the orders? Are we in fact going to get rid of the code of conduct for fire suppression?

Finally, I have an even bigger concern. I spoke with one of the R5 big shots during the conference, and I asked him some pretty direct questions about the implementation of Doctrine, specifically with regards to what had been asked of the IHC group earlier on. We were essentially asked to go forward with doctrine as our guidance, even though it is not yet officially implemented. My questions boiled down to how we would be treated by an investigation if we answered that we were using unofficial policy as our guide lines. The answers did not leave me feeling very comfortable. That conversation, along with all of the other snafus that have been going on in the past year kind of makes it feel like the pile of Swiss cheese is being carefully lined up so that all the holes match.

Now, before someone flames me for my opinions, please remember three things. First, I want doctrine to work, but (second) I have some concerns about the final implemented product. Third, I make no assumption that my opinion is shared by anyone else.

L—C—E-S

Critical points, Ab.

6/7 Van Bateman's brain tumor...

Maybe Larry Humphries, Charlie Denton, and Mr Paxon need to get check ups or CAT Scans...

Hell, I likely need a CAT Scan after how many years of smoke?.....can't remember why I wrote that...

Forgot my pen name...

"There was a rumor, about a tumor, nestled deep down in his brain..." Kinky Freidman (about Charles Whitman... Google it)

LIONA

HAW HAW HAW haw haw haw haw haw. Oh my gawd! Ab.

6/7 Re Misery Whip's Evaluation of Esperanza docs:

“The real problem we should be talking about is threat recognition, and how to improve the ability of all firefighters to recognize when they can expect life-threatening fire conditions on any piece of fireground, under any weather and/or fuel conditions.”

Thank you Misery Whip.

I do not have the experience nor enough on the line time to have much to say about how fire really behaves or what it is like to be there when things turn deadly. But I can say the one thing that has come up time and time again when I talk to firefighters who have been in potential and actual burnovers, is that how surprised everyone was that things could change and move so fast.

Although I strongly believe that changing the way we look at land planning is a critical factor all this, Misery Whip really does an excellent job focusing on what we can do from within. Coming up with a comprehensive analysis and training program that addresses threat recognition in addition to understanding human (our) behavior under stress is where we will probably be the most effective in preventing future fatality fires.

jimhart

6/7 Ab,

I am very concerned about the points on They Said
about the Esperanza Fire. I too am upset by our
tragic loss. There seems to be a negative or reactive
attitude, rather than a proactive attitude. What can
be learned from this incident and the conclusions of
the report? How can we be safer in our jobs? I also
see a lot of finger pointing and blaming the staff in
the Washington Office. I believe a lot those folks
were ground pounders at one time. Maybe someone can
check on this for me.

I remember when I took my first fire training. It
was twenty years ago, they called the course the
"Basic 32" Hour Class. Something that one of the
instructors said stuck in my head all of these years.
He said “no house is worth a life”. I too am very
enthusiastic about the “Chief’s Doctrine”. At first
I thought it was just another buzz word from the
Washington Office. I had to attend two presentations
before I realized what they were talking about. The
Doctrine has been in the works for five years.
I think they took too long to get it finalized, but
it’s a step in the right direction. What follows is
my interpretation of the “Chief’s Doctrine”:

We finally admit that there is some risk involved in
wildland fire fighting.

Usually when there is a fatality we require more
training and put more rules or policies in place.

Can we make wildland firefighting 100 percent safe?
Yes we can. Don’t put on your boots and stay home.
That isn’t realistic.

How do we manage for the risk? We do this with our
policies, our training, equipment and experience.
These are the tools that firefighters have. Another
tool that has been around for a while and people don’t
talk about it much is the ability to turn down an
assignment.

My thoughts on why “Doctrine” is different are as
follows:

We acknowledge that there is some risk involved with
wildland firefighting and we manage for that risk. We
used to say that if you follow what we teach you, you
will be safe.

We finally admit that there isn’t a rule or training
that applies to every situation you might encounter in
wildland fire. The organization wants people in the
field who can think for themselves and make good
decisions, rather than people who are waiting for
another policy change.

I too agree that the new slogan is lame, but they had
good intentions.

Stay Safe

JS

6/7 To SR5401:

I do not know the totals but in 1999 in Nevada a tremendous amount of acres did burn. I was on the Park Service crew who were on the Sadler Complex. Rough stuff on the range in Nevada folks. The first time down there in 1994 on a Malheur NfF crew we were entrapped and all outside of our safe zone was black after. Two for two in NV. It6 makes me wonder if I ever go back for the third time what will happen. This was on the same day that Prineville got in trouble. The winds will almost always pick up from two to three in the afternoon. All be careful out there this is really no game and dangerous. I was at a refresher one year and Tom Rambo spoke about the Storm King Mtn incident as he survived by up over the top. Stay in shape all and do not be stupid, Dagwood!

RH

6/7 sr540, older information on fire size posted on the web. Only goes to 1988.

1825 - The Miramichi fire in Maine and New Brunswick; three million acres burned; 160 people killed.

1846 - The Yaquina fire in Oregon; 450,000 acres burned.

1853 - The Nestucca fire in Oregon; 320,000 acres burned.

1865 - The Silverton fire in Oregon, one million acres burned.

1868 - The Coos fire in Oregon; 300,000 acres burned.

1871 - The Peshtigo fire in Wisconsin; the most deadly in U.S. history; 1,500 killed; 1.2 million acres burned.

1876 - The Bighorn fire in Wyoming; 500,000 acres burned.

Parts of this chronology are taken from The Big Blowup

1881 -A Michigan forest fire destroyed a million acres of timber and killed 138 people.

1894 - The Hinckley fire in Minnesota; 160,000 acres burned; twelve towns wiped out; 418 lives lost.

1903 - The Adirondack fire in New York; 450,000 acres burned.

1910 - The great fire of 1910, Idaho and Montana; more than three million acres burned; 86 lives lost.

1918 - The Cloquet fire in Minnesota. Cloquet, a thriving sawmill town of 12,000 was gutted; timber land and property losses estimated at $30 million; 400 perished.

1932 - The Matilija Canyon fire in California's Santa Barbara National Forest; 256 square miles burned; 2,500 fire?fighters on the lines; no lives lost

1933 - The first of four Tillamook burns, in the Oregon coast range; subsequent fires burned in 1939, 1945 and 1951. In all, 355,000 acres of some of the finest timber in America were destroyed.

1947 - Texas; in September and October, 900 man-caused fires burned 55,000 acres of timber in eastern Texas; losses exceeded $ 1 million.

1947 - Maine; series of disastrous fires raged for ten days; 16 died; nearly 10,000 required first aid; 175,000 acres burned; Red Cross spent $2.4 million on disaster relief.

1988 - Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Wyoming; a fire that was being allowed to burn broke out of the park. In all, more than one million acres of national park, national forest and private forest land were burned.

Oliver

6/7 Re Largest Fires:

The East Amarillo Complex in the Texas Panhandle which started on March 13th 2006 was 907,245 acres. 80 structures destroyed, 11 lives lost. Largest fire during 2006 fire season. It was comprised of the I-40 and Borger fires. They were majority grass fires, so I am wondering if those calling the Georgia fires the largest are referring to only timber fires?

I believe there was a fire in Arizona in 2004 that burnt over a million acres, but I might not be remembering it right.

Whether or not they are the largest, they certainly were/are troublemakers. I'm on my second tour on the Sweat Farm.

The largest fire I could find record of ever is the Peshtigo fire in October 1871, Wisconsin and Michigan and burned 3,780,000 acres.

There were others I could find that were not measured and only were called "several million".

AD Texas

6/7 To JMHO re slogan:

Well said! I would add that many of our regional and some of our forest or
local "FMOs" also lack true fire experience and leadership ability. Case
in point is my "Forest FMO" who has very little fire experience or
knowledge, and actual negative leadership ability (That's the kind where
one sells out the fire management program through acts or omissions of
acts). Until I see the Chief's safety message and culture of safety get
wings and wheels and start truly making a positive change in the agency I
will say I don't believe her and it is just another political and media
"Talking Point".

Old C-Rat
6/7 MiseryWhip;

Thank you for your excellent, and well worded analysis. It always boils down to Threat Recognition, doesn't it? And in my never- humble opinion, if RPD fails the boots on the ground, then someone 'way higher up the food chain needs to ensure they get more threat recognition training, both simulated and real- world.

And, "Its cool to be Safe" smacks of the old "Give a Hoot; don't Pollute", doesn't it?

Rotorhead;

Here's my cent and a half:

Haven't seen the new Aviation Plan. Personally, I like the idea of losing a few Type 3 copters, in order to gain Type 2's with helishots; am a firm believer in helishots. But, losing a Jump Ship (always seem to be in short supply) and did you say THIRTEEN SEATs (Single Engine Air Tankers)? is going to hurt us, a lot, out here. As everyone knows, there were more- than- several fires in '06, where there was no AT to be had, of any type...

And losing three of our IHCs... that's gonna leave a big boil, and you're dead right; those guys worked hard to be where they are, they joined the 'shots to be IHC, and they're not going to stick around... Maybe the bigwigs are thinking that six 10- person helishot crews = manpower from three 20- person IHC's, so, just bump them on over, thereby keeping the experienced personnel ??

I'd still like to see six new helishot crews in the Basin, and KEEP the IHC level we've got. That'd help put a little combo- punch in the IA program.

Admittedly, I don't have to write justifications, or balance budgets anymore. But sometimes, it gets to be a long wait to get resources on scene out here...

Rambling, again, but you asked! :)

Pyro
6/7 Re BLM changes:

The feedback I'm getting concerning the coming changes
at BLM indicate that rather than the IHCs Rotorhead
mentions being changed into Type II crews, they will
be expanded and enhanced to be more self-sufficient,
thus becoming more of an elite strike force. At
least, that's the take on the situation from one
Shot's point of view.

My un-informed observations have always led me to
wonder why IHCs would attack and help control a fire,
then be held on that incident to help mop-up. It
always seemed to me like a not very efficient use of
experience and expertise. Do you think BLM is
attempting to return IHCs to their original purpose?

Hotshot Dad

6/7 Re: "It's cool to be safe" slogan

that (BS, if it appears on WO fire leaders desks without comment or them stepping up makes me sickened) and if it keeps appearing on WO stationary ought to be spanked (punched) (Nope, not spanked but fired for agency CYA that shouldn't be allowed in a true "safety culture" or by their peers.) The troops will no longer allow the double speak for safety as presented from "our" supposed leaders while folks at the highest level come up with slogans for safety.

Misery Whip..... well said.... You once again cut through the BS.

You said,

"For one, safety slogans are pretty much useless, and this one is an affront to the memory of the crew of E57. Until someone can prove to me otherwise, I will continue to believe that the crew of Engine 57 was probably just like the rest of us, doing the best they could, with the tools and knowledge they had, and that the Esperanza investigators have done them a disservice by suggesting they were complacent about safety."

How about a cool safety slogan such as "Hey, the job in the field in ultimately hazardous and our national leadership of the fire program sucks and lacks fire experience?..... We recognize it as wildland firefighters..... The folks who make the policies for the troops in the field are mostly office bound and have never been "wildland firefighters" for the most part, and keep making things worse with their corrective and abatement actions?

JMHO

Sign me... Sorry for spouting out

6/7 Re "IHC-->Fire Manager" Project

If it's possible, I'd like my Dad's info added in. My Dad is Dale Jarrell. He was the first superintendent for the St. Joe IR crew (now the Idaho Panhandle IHC) out of the Northern Region and he held the position from 1967-71. He was a district FMO on the Helena NF and Boise NF before becoming the Forest FMO for the Sawtooth in 1978. He ended up retiring as the Forest Service coordinator for NIFC/NICC in 1994.

He also was a Type 1 IC for the Intermountain Region from 1983-1988, and then he became an Area Commander. I believe the Intermountain Region switched from LFO to ICS in 1983 - his first year in the position, because I remember him coming home and telling us he was no longer a "Fire Boss", but an "Incident Commander" and I'm pretty sure that happened before he took an assignment in that position.

I don't know if its a great contribution or not, but he was the "Rogue IC" in the 1988 Yellowstone mess. He refused to work for Area Command without a Delegation of Authority, which created all sorts of waves all of the way to the WO, but it ultimately made them get their act together. It also helped cause them to rethink how Area Commands should work.

Terrie Jarrell

Thanks, Terrie. I added that info to the "IHC-->Fire Manager" Project and the detailed info is here on theysaid. Sounds like he did some very fine things for fire. I didn't fight fire in Yellowstone (Original Ab did) but I did move through the area when it was on fire. Incredible! Ab.

6/7 A little good news,

I spent last week at Storm King Mountain as part of the Redding IHC South Canyon Staff Ride group. This was my 6th trip to Glenwood Springs and every year I walk away from the Redding IHC staff ride completely impressed with the quality of the young men and women who will become the future leaders of the wildland fire community. While the underlining causes of the exodus to "red" must be addressed, there are some very motivated, talented and committed individuals choosing to remain in the organization. If the current leaders cannot solve the organization's problems, I have faith that some of this year's and prior year's participants will.

While the last few years have definitely been a kick in the crouch for federal fire, a lot of it is just how you view it. Is the glass half full, or half empty? We had a forest chief who stated that, "prior to a few weeks ago" they did not even know what a staff ride was. You might read that and say, "With all of the emphasis on training and safety, how can that possibly happen?" From my standpoint, how it happens is important and interesting, but the most significant aspect is that a senior leader chose to take the time out of their schedule and learn a new skill, technique, decision-making process, etc. Not only will that person make better fireground decisions, but they will now be much more likely to support the same type of training for their forest personnel. That's good news. It's positive stuff.

I asked an FMO from the Black Hills NF if they had a training budget to support bringing seven Captains and Firefighters to the staff ride, and he said "no, but this type of training is so important that you just have to figure out a way to make it happen." That's positive stuff.

Alex Robertson (from the Prineville crew in 1994) once again committed his time and energy to help clarify those events that occurred thirteen years ago. His willingness and ability to speak about those events is clearly difficult, but as he said, "I have an obligation to the nine friends that did not make it off the mountain, and to make sure it never happens again." That is incredibly powerful and positive stuff.

As always, the individual conference group leaders (Art Torrez, Bob Bell, Jim Cook, Randy Skelton, Chad Fisher, and Mark Koontz) did an exceptional job of guiding the students to reach their own conclusions, while concurrently pushing them to make real time tactical decisions as they progressed through each of the staff ride's "stands." We have many of the same group leaders year after year. They literally build their yearly schedule around this staff ride. They believe it is that important. That's positive stuff.

A special thanks to Rob Holt, Charlie Caldwell and Craig Lechleiter for having the vision and understanding to believe that a training crew could be more than a "training crew." Numerous people over the years have fought hard and bitter battles to keep the idea of a leadership training crew alive. That's as positive as is gets.

Have a safe summer. Look around; there is lots of positive stuff going on.

As always AB, thanks for letting me rant.

Ron Marley (FOBS73)

Nothing like a good positive rant. Ab.

6/7 Misery Whip,

I want to thank you for saying BS to the Esperanza Report and citing things within it that need to be changed.

In our current training "packages", we are taught to avoid two things in our local area....
  1. old growth chaparral and
  2. drainages.

I AM SCARED that the similar terrain training package that is being proposed/prepared will overlook the basics and miss that the Esperanza Fire was uniquely different from the SW aspect fires that somehow train our folks these days..... The Esperanza Fire was a NE aspect fire. If someone is so stupid to put the Esperanza Fire next to South Canyon, Thirty Mile, and the Cramer Fire as a learning tool... Listen UP.

Yes, all fires had Lessons Learned, but each fire had unique Lessons Learned signatures..... Another poster will not fix them as a corrective/abatement action.

I agree that we need significant and rapid changes to our training processes. We need to focus training on what can and will make a difference. Here is but one example......

Directly to the southeast of the entrapment site, both of those "entrapment" hazards existed. Both the old growth chaparral and the "undefendable house" are intact while those at the E-57 entrapment site perished.

Two things existed at the site that didn't burn....

  1. Old growth chaparral that wasn't susceptible to area ignition such as the lighter (younger) fuels (ie- cheat grass, buckwheat, sage, young chamise, etc through type conversion..) and
  2. A house that was built with fire resistive construction with some clearance (not good, but a survivable location).... Yes, it was built in a bad location in a drainage under most current thoughts and conditions..... but that drainage had missed the last 150 years of fire history for "some" important reason...... A very important reason.

Those same two factors existed at the "Double Wide"........ and it kept some damn good folks more safe.

Gizmo

6/7 NIMO Team costs:

On further checking the NIMO team is costing the FS only its base 8 pay as agreed
upon under the National Response Plan. I was told that whether FEMA pays the other
costs in a timely fashion is another bureaucratic issue.

Thanks for the question, Tim. I got some budget things straight in my head.

Mellie

6/7 Fire Geek, good points, thanks.

Mellie, when you are talking about the USFS having to pick-up the cost of the NIMO team deployed to the tornado, are you talking about their base-pay or all of the costs associated with the deployment? In the past FEMA has covered all of the costs other than the base pay.

Tim
6/7 Point of clarity…

AB said…

Just make sure that they know the 10 and 18 are principles or guidelines for decision making, not rules and that fire suppression forces will be operating under a new doctrine 100% after January 1, 2008. Risk assessment is what we're about. Ab.

Doctrine is a Forest Service concept. Although the other agencies generally agree in concept, it is not part of their program, or their rules, policy, etc…

I only point this out to avoid the all too common mistake that many FS folks make regarding the DOI agencies autonomy.

Not saying I don’t agree with the direction that Doctrine is intended to take us, just putting things into a bit of perspective.

L—C—E-S
(Former DOI, now FS)

DOCTRINE is a firefighter concept (military originally); but with attention to interagency detail, I could have said Forest Service fire suppression forces. The Forest Service is the largest firefighting agency, after all.

Hats Off to those working behind the scenes on doctrinal change! The FS is stepping up and breaking new ground -- rewriting agency policy, new direction for the next 100 yr -- but stimulated by the firefighting needs on the ground and firefighter suggestions from the ground. Rather remarkable if people would only step back and see the policy effects begun by -- YOU -- the interagency firefighting ground troops and fire managers. Ab.

6/6 BLM Aviation FY 2008

In the last couple of weeks those of us in BLM Aviation have been getting some feedback on the 2008 season, much of which I have expected to see on "They Said". These changes are large, and in most cases, affect a lot of people. First, I will say I am not opposed to the plan. I hope it works, and that it's not just another attempt to spend a dollar to save a dime. Plans are to cut 13 Type III helicopters (exclusive use) and replace them with 6 more Type II helicopters with helishot crews. So in 2008, the BLM will have 5 Type III and 13 Type II helicopters. These aren't the only aviation cuts; one Jump Ship will be cut, as well as 13 SEATs.

I am not happy with the timing of this plan. The plan itself, I believe, will be for the better. My issues are that they released this information two weeks ago, just as most of the BLM crews were coming on. This is a total distraction to people in all of our programs. I'm trying to get ready for the 2007 season, yet worrying about what is going to happen in 2008. Crewmembers who love their jobs know that if their ship gets cut, they're out of a job no matter what the big guys in Boise say. Their plans are to cut the helicopter but keep the crews intact for CWN support. You know and I know, this will not happen. The state FMOs will love to cut those positions and pocket that money. So now I have to worry about my seasonal workforce being distracted, when what they really need to be worried about is the 2007 season.

I'm sure someone will say, why did you tell your crew? I believe that my crew needs to know everything that I know and, in return, they give me respect and hard work. It is a team effort in everything we do and I need them to accomplish our goals as wildland firefighters.

I would like to hear what everyone else thinks about the new aviation plan, as well as turning Ruby Mountain, Bonneville and Craig Hotshots into Type II IA crews. I know when I was a hotshot I joined to be a Hotshot, not a Type II crew. The BLM thinks all that great experience is going to stick around, I don't think so.

Out of respect for those crews I say, You do a great job and keep up the hard work. Fight to keep your IHC status.

Signed,

Just another Rotorhead

Glad we're seeing it on theysaid because YOU wrote in. THANKS, Rotorhead. Ab.

6/6 Misery Whip....

Amen brother.... You said it well.

I listened to another seasoned firefighter today who said it in similar terms as you.

I am glad that folks aren't looking at investigative reports as entirely factual, but looking at them for their true value in keeping folks safer and addressing the things that never make it to the "final cut" in the release of entrapment reports since South Canyon..... too much agency CYA rather than Lessons Learned that keep troops in the field safer.

Lobotomy
6/6 Dear Misery Whip:

Just a couple of sentences into your post I came to the conclusion it was written by either you or Lobotomy...

Great minds think alike...or something like that!?

Anyway, I'm sure you said what many have had on their minds for quite some time.

Thanks,

Casey
6/6 Ab & All,

Ab links: Esperanza Investigation Report (3.8 MB HUGE; or here for smaller)
Chief’s Esperanza Action Plan (23k small)

After poking through the Esperanza Investigation Report and seeing the Chief’s Esperanza Action Plan, I have some comments and questions.

To start with, I think the investigators missed some very key points and made some really bad assumptions.

We have ample evidence from this and many other burnovers that firefighters continue to be surprised by the suddenness and severity of these types of events. Why is that so? Is it just a temporary loss of situational awareness, a lapse in judgment by otherwise reliable employees, a “high risk-taking” culture, or is there something else going on?

How and why did the firefighter who triaged the octagon house two years earlier see the danger that these folks evidently did not? Is anyone else wondering why the octagon house was identified as a loser two years before the Esperanza Fire, yet an experienced engine supervisor and branch director both failed to realize the vulnerability of that same location and structure just before the burnover?

And I want to know more about why the investigators tagged Mark and the crew of E57 with rule breaking (pg 83: violation of orders, regulations, standard operating procedures). What order, regulations, or SOP did they break? Why doesn’t the report explain this point? If you’re going to say that someone did something wrong that led to a disaster of this magnitude, shouldn’t you be required to explain this statement?

I noticed the 10 & 18 analysis is conspicuously absent in this report. I, for one, applaud the decision to not include the 10 & 18 analysis because they are really not of much value except as a teaching tool and shouldn’t be part of our investigative process. Recognition Primed Decisionmaking (RPD) is what really drives firefighter decisions, not lists of very subjective guidelines. If the investigators felt that E57 broke one or more of the fire orders, such as “identify escape routes and safety zones,” they should just come out and say it.

The safety zone analysis on page 58 reveals just how conflicted and confused we are about identifying safety zones. The report calls the doublewide location a safety zone, yet acknowledges that personnel at that location had to conduct a critically timed burnout to withstand the approaching fire front and were forced to take refuge in vehicles. By our own definition, the doublewide was a deployment area, not a safety zone.

Let’s face it; we still don’t know how to define a safety zone or deployment area, and therefore don’t know how to teach firefighters how to recognize them. Although we teach firefighters that drainages and terrain features can channel convective gases and heat, we don’t spend a lot of time discussing this critical piece of fire knowledge, or train firefighters how to be cognizant of and avoid dangerous terrain/fuel combinations during critical burning conditions.

The Interagency Response Pocket Guide doesn’t even attempt to address this point when discussing calculations for safety zone size (for radiant heat only), except to say that “convective heat from wind and/or terrain influences will increase this distance requirement.” By how much? Under what conditions?

The Fireline Handbook calculation says a safety zone radius should be “four times the maximum flame height plus 50 square feet per firefighter” and “the Safety Zone diameter should be twice the value of the above formula.” But, “if the potential for the fire to burn completely around the Safety Zone exists, the diameter should be twice the values indicated above.” And then it says “keep in mind that these guidelines do not address convective energy.” Huh?

What I get from that description is that all safety zones should be round, and that if convective gases and heat are present these guidelines do not apply. Last time I checked, convective gases and heat are present on every fire, so apparently these supposed guidelines NEVER apply. In addition, how in the hell are you supposed to know beforehand what the maximum flame height will be on a given piece of ground? Isn’t sizing up a safety zone something you’re supposed to do well before the flames start reaching their maximum height?

To me, it is a cop-out to say that Mark and our comrades were careless or complacent about their own safety when we don’t have answers to even these basic questions.

Everything I have seen and heard and read about Esperanza points to two things: that Mark felt he and the crew of E57 could safely make a stand at the octagon house (pg 58: Engine 57 Captain communicated to others on the radio that he felt secure at his location), and that the conditions at that site quickly went from not-too-bad to deadly.

Folks, it isn’t radiant heat that suddenly changes from benign to deadly; its convective gases and heat. In case after case, the Cedar Fire, Thirtymile, and many others, it is the same story; big flames down slope/canyon, column/flames standing up and then lays over, firefighters caught unprepared by the sudden blast of heat, disorientated people reacting blindly in panic. That’s what being on the receiving end of convective gases and heat does to people.

Until our fire behavior people learn to calculate how convective gases and heat can “reach out and touch you” at distances far greater than present safety zone “radiant heat” guidelines are capable of predicting, and then turn that knowledge into a massive training program for all wildland firefighters to hammer home that a safety zone isn’t really a safety zone unless you can account for potential convective gas/heat impacts, we will continue to see events of this nature.

If you doubt that safety zone identification is a problem, ask any hotshot sup or foreman how often they have to “negotiate” with operations people about poorly located or insufficiently sized safety zones. If this wasn’t an issue, all firefighters should have an equal understanding of what constitutes a safety zone. We don’t.

OK. Now I want to address the Human Factors Analysis. I noticed the massive investigation team roster had all kinds of specialists, equipment specialists, operations specialists, a fire behavior analyst, even union reps. So where was the human behavior specialist? They performed a Human Factors Analysis, surely they had guidance from someone with a high level of expertise in this area.

Or maybe not.

On page 80, the HFA failed to give fatigue any value as a contributor to this accident (late-night or early-morning operations, circadian disruption). I would be curious to know how they arrived at this conclusion, given that the firefighters were rousted out of bed a few hours after midnight and the accident occurred just after daybreak. I think most behavioral scientists would find it is entirely likely that the disruption of their sleep cycle had some negative effects on the mental acuity of crew of E57.

On page 81, the HFA said that using improper procedures, ill-structured decisions, and failure to perform required procedures were contributors. If you buy that we have a clearly and mutually understood system for identifying safety zones, this might be correct. I do not. I felt that “inadequate essential training for specific tasks” (ie training to identify safety zones that requires firefighters to calculate potential dangerous effects of convective gases/heat) of and “failure in problem solving” (failure to predict deadly conditions at the octagon house after fire became established on the slope below them) were more pertinent to explaining why Mark and company did not anticipate the sudden blast of heat that overwhelmed the firefighters at the octagon house.

On page 82, the HFA says that intentional and unintentional deviations from procedures were contributors. Without knowing which procedures the investigators were referring to, this is hard to judge. But they failed to check “inadequate essential training for specific tasks” (ie how to identify safety zones where firefighters can safely withstand potential convective gas/heat impacts), which I feel is very applicable.

Page 83 bothers me a lot. The references to high-risk behavior, complacency, imprudence, deviation from procedures seem to me to be misplaced. I think the investigators misinterpreted Mark and crew’s failure to predict the eventual outcome as a failure of character. I think it is an organizational failure. That is why I would have checked “inadequate training” as it applies to this event.

The rest of the HFA is more of the same, vague statements about safety attitude, safety culture, etc. One point with which I heartily agree is that our “organization lacks adequate process or procedures for operational risk management.” Like a training program that trains firefighters to identify safety zones without loopholes such as “for radiant heat only.”

I hope our Chief will re-evaluate the proposed Esperanza Action Plan. Improved mapping of non-defensible structures and abandoning structure protection will still leave wildland firefighters vulnerable to the same problem that killed the firefighters at Mann Gulch and has factored into every wildland fire burnover since. The real problem we should be talking about is threat recognition, and how to improve the ability of all firefighters to recognize when they can expect life-threatening fire conditions on any piece of fireground, under any weather and/or fuel conditions.

And whoever thought up the “It’s cool to be safe” slogan that keeps appearing on WO stationary ought to be spanked. For one, safety slogans are pretty much useless, and this one is an affront to the memory of the crew of E57. Until someone can prove to me otherwise, I will continue to believe that the crew of Engine 57 was probably just like the rest of us, doing the best they could, with the tools and knowledge they had, and that the Esperanza investigators have done them a disservice by suggesting they were complacent about safety.

Misery Whip

Appreciate it Misery Whip. Ab.

6/6 Bateman's brain tumor:

And brain tumors, malignant or benign are some of the strange kinds of cancers/
growths that firefighters are more prone to get than the "general population".

Really sad. A tumor can exist and have an effect long before diagnosis.

Mellie

6/6 Ab,

Causal factors

Pyromania is an Impulse Control Disorder diagnosed in part by ruling out "normal" motives like seeking insurance money. The sentencing memorandum filed in open court by Van Bateman says he had a brain tumor surgically removed less than a year before he lit the fires, followed by additional surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. Such trauma is medically associated with onset of Impulse Control Disorders like pyromania. These types of disorders don't provide a legal defense to arson, but may or may not shed light on Bateman's statement to investigators to the effect that he didn't know why he lit the fires.

Sign me - Always Looking for Causal Factors

Thanks for that bit of info. Sad.
(Readers, this is a highly reputable contributor to this forum, not some troll offering flim-flam to muddy the issues.)Ab.

6/6 Ab
I know:); but this might be of interest.

Run over by a bulldozer on the fireline.
From Chief Billy Goldfedder

CANADA....A firefighter has the swamps of northern Alberta to thank after she survived being run over by a bulldozer on the weekend at a fire. The woman was leading a crew of bulldozers fighting the forest fire south of the Suncor Energy oilsands plant near Fort McMurray when one of the bulldozer drivers lost sight of her. The massive equipment drove over both the firefighter and the all-terrain vehicle she was driving. But because the crew was working on top of muskeg - a swamp of water and vegetation - the weight of the bulldozer was absorbed and the woman simply sank into the earth. When the bulldozer drivers realized what had happened, they stopped and found the firefighter trapped underneath the back of one of the bulldozers. She suffered a badly broken arm and a damaged ear.

ht

6/6 The Sweat Farm Road/Big Turnaround, Bugaboo Scrub and Florida Bugaboo fires have combined for 698,878 acres total. This is reported to be the largest wildland fire recorded in the lower 48 states since 1910.

What's the largest before that? The Tillamook burns in Oregon, or did those occur in later years? I believe one of the Tillamook burns was in the 30's I think, but I also know that there was more than one that occurred over time.
The Biscuit fire in Oregon must have held this title for awhile. Can anyone tell me where the largest wildland fire ever to occur in the U.S. was, and when?

This season sure seems to be heating up fast, reminds me of my 3rd year of firefighting in southern Oregon, that year was 1987. Everyone please be safe out there, lets not be taking any unnecessary chances, it's not worth it. Have a safe season all.

sr5401

Some current season stats: We're currently 30% over the avg number of fires (at about 26,000 fires) and 30% over the avg number of acres (at about 1.3 million acres). We've had 5,180 Rx burns (1.6 million acres) Cool beans on the prescribed burns. Ab.

6/6 Wheel, what does that mean?

That they were on a training mission and, as such, it comes under the
National Response Plan? Training is an added value.

Just trying to understand this stuff, now that we seem to be all risk.

Mellie

6/6 Here are a couple of pictures of our fire fighting equipment that we have here in
Washington State. We have the only 2 in the U.S.. They are converted M113
military track vehicles with 400 gallon tanks and pumps. It's a type 6 on crack.

Thanks for your site, its great.

Marty Schmoker
Artillery Concepts

I put them on the Equipment 10 photo page. Thanks, Ab.

6/6 Document on CA travel net

8024.5 Telecommunications – California Travel Net
Transition from USFS California Travel Net to CESRS (pronounced “See-zurs”).

6/6 The Jobs page has been updated, as well as the Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist). Ab.
6/6 Mellie

Bad Info. FEMA sent the mission assignment to the Forest Service for the team before they traveled.

Wheel
6/6 This was emailed 2 days ago. Must have been held up by thunder storm activity. Ab.

Hey Ab,

In my IRPG dated 2002 page 40 has thunder storm safety (red pages, personal safety).

Northern NVFF

6/6 The number of crews available nationally:

I believe the number for all Agency sponsored crews that are available for National use is somewhere round 650-675 (has been for many years)  this does not include crews like the CDF Inmates which is somewhere round 200 for use instate only.  I may be a little off on the numbers as I haven't really looked at these for a couple years.

Old Green and Gray Guy

6/6 Ab,

Attached is a graphic we've adapted from the L-180 materials to teach the human factors section of our S-130/190 classes. It's the 5-step "risk management process" from page 1 of the IRPG, represented as a continuous cycle instead of a one-time checklist.

Taking the lead from Chief Goldfeder, we've used what we think is the more appropriate, fireground terminology for the 'evaluate' step.

We've also begun posting the Esperanza documents as webpages. So far we've got the green sheet, factual report and action plan. In the next day or so, we should also have a gallery of the larger maps, diagrams and photos for folks working on powerpoints for their crews. http://www.coloradofirecamp.com/esperanza/

vfd cap'n
6/6 I just received the Winter 2007 issue of "Fire Management Today" in the mail, and it has several interesting articles: the first compares the costs of Agency and Contract Type 2 crews; and the second addresses the arrangement of the 10 Standard Fire Orders, and asks if the order really matters.

You can find them on the web at www.fs.fed.us/fire/fmt/fmt_pdfs/FMT67-1.pdf

"Wildfire" magazine from IAWF also came today, and has a chapter from John Maclean's new book on the Thirtymile Fire.

Mollysboy
6/6 I just heard that the cost of the NIMO Team that got sent to help with Tornado
Relief is being charged to the Forest Service. That makes absolutely no fiscal
sense to me! I know that's happened in the past with the costs of all IM teams
working on hurricanes, etc, but I thought with all the financial accountability that
would change.

Why is that cost not charged to FEMA???

When the FS runs out of $$ again for its everyday tasked functions, where does
that leave our public forests, our wildlife, our open spaces?

This is sooooo wrong!

Mellie

6/5 From Firescribe:

NFPA Releases Firefighter Death Study

NFPA site, last year's news releases and downloads on FF deaths
The pdf study--download-- should become available at that link when
it's available electronically. Couldn't find it yet.

6/5 Re: Fire Behavior Safety Alerts

Have the SoOps and NoOps California Fire Behavior Safety Alerts been posted yet? I saw a draft of the SoCal one last week before going on days off and it looked good.

I received an e-mail that the release of the alerts was being "delayed" by some NoOps and SoOps Forests who haven't gotten their "Pocket Cards" in yet for approval.... and "somehow" that was slowing the approval process?

The ALERT matters to get to the troops in the field ASAP.... the pocket cards are just a CYA process that has little to do with keeping folks more safe. The predictive services folks from NoOps and SoOps have the same data that the troops in the field do to prepare pocket cards.

A good local briefing after the out of area resources arrive.... in conjunction with the Fire Behavior Safety Alert would be the better learning tool.

Rogue Rivers
6/5 Zimm & R2-TNSP,

If you're with the Forest Service, 5109.17 does require S-445
prior to getting the task book.

TC

6/5 Idaho City Hotshots have created a great ppt. for S-234. Unfortunately I
have lost my copy. Does anyone have a link or the ability to send me one?

Ernie Weber
Mad River Handcrew
Six Rivers National Forest
(707) 574-6233 ext. 264

There was one out there that was larger than the size limit for emailing. I think the solution was to put it on a FS FTP server for download... not that it does you much good on your slow system. Ab.

6/5 Ab,

Thanks for referencing my recent Safenet regarding communications problems.

The actual interference is between the Las Vegas Dispatch of the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF, the Sierra National Forest, and the San Bernardino National Forest.

Numerous Safenets have been posted from all three forests relating to the continued radio interference. Both the local and the new WO comm staff have been involved, as well as the highest levels of local and regional fire management.

Problem still exists and results in severe communications issues during fires and other incidents including law enforcement contacts.

/s/ Safenet Submitter who hopes the process works someday

More complicated than I remembered. Ab.

6/5 New Esperanza Plan

Just came out today. Some changes from the 5/25 version.....

www.fs.fed.us/news/2007/releases/06/esperanza-letter.pdf

www.fs.fed.us/news/2007/releases/06/esperanza-action-plan-6.4.07a.pdf

TC

6/5 ZIMM,

S-445 is not a required course (per PMS 310-1) to open your TNSP task book. I would, however, highly recommend taking the class if you can, even after you open your PTB.

I would have to agree with you on the AEDs. One in camp and one at the helibase would be a great start.

Another thought, last season I came across two times where we needed to evac an injured Firefighter from the line (nothing too serious thank goodness), we had several units on scene, engines, tenders, crews and overhead. With all of these units on scene you would like to think that at least one of them had an old backboard or stokes on the truck right? No such luck. Both times we had to wait for an ambulance to arrive and then carry the equipment to the injury site before we could start our evacuation. It is my humble opinion that every engine should carry at least a backboard to get an injured firefighter safely out of a bad spot.

We are now looking at outfitting our engines with the SKED units (plastic sheet that forms a basket type stretcher). I would encourage everyone to look at carrying some kind of evac device no matter how basic.

Just my thoughts.

R-2 TNSP / EMT-P
6/5 Re Fire crews:

Does anyone know how many crews are available across the nation total? Just wondering because the sit report is showing 172 crews out (counting state and fed), from the rumors i've been hearing about crew reduction how long into the season is it going to be before all recourses are tapped out? Could this rumored crew reduction impact fire line safety this year? I work on the contract side and we have had a severe cut in crews, and companies still putting out crews are lessening their crew numbers dramatically (well needed and has to be factored into the big equation). With the low snow packs, drought conditions, and factors like forests of bug kill this could be a very busy season for everyone. Hopefully all will be safe as well.

Please sign me,

Ready but wondering.

6/5 Bateman, et al

Not wanting to write directly to a reporter - having seen what they can do with things they think you've said - or maybe would have preferred you to have said, here's one response to the AZ reporter's question. In a thirty year career with several Federal and state agencies, I have never worked with anyone who lit fires without proper authorization. Sure, some plans were better than others, some results were better (or worse) than others - but none of the people I worked with, trained or was trained by committed arson - at least to my knowledge. And given the professionalism of almost all the firefighters and fire practitioners I met, I'm sure the actions Mr. Bateman was convicted of are more rare in these agencies than they are in the general population. I am also totally disgusted that his defense centered on trying to portray all fire professionals as being criminals, too.

"Long-in-the-tooth Smokey"

6/5 re AEDs Automated External Defibrillators

I totally agree with both Pyro & just another firefighter. The AEDs need to be where they can used best. Camp or in the field matters not a bit, what matters is that first 5 minutes!!

To get fire agencies to place them into to the situation (on fires) is going to require the changing of the safety thought process. Some people think paying for moving forward is not good because of cost. In reality it likely costs more in the long term than anyone can imagine. Especially, since the AEDs have such a low cost and really work. Been there done that.

Put them out where we can get at them. Literally anyone can use one!!!

Zimm

Also, while I am here, do I have to take the S-445 Training Specialist Course in order to start working on the taskbook?

6/5 Ab,

Does SAFENET really work to fix problems?

R3 F/F

I've never filed one, but many have said here that it's a good way to address most safety problems, especially ones requiring a local fix. Link is on our Links page under Safety. Some problems can get fixed locally but some require change at a high systemic agency level. I know of one problem with comm traffic where fire traffic from Sierra Front overlaps with fire traffic from San Bernardino NF. That one has not been dealt with and my guess is that it will have to go to the highest WO levels for mitigation. It better get fixed before the next big one hits either area. Ab.

6/5 Chris Kanton Memorial Ride

2ND annual bike rally in honor of our fallen CALFIRE brother Chris Kanton
ride to remember

When: Saturday, August 4, 2007
Time: 10 am
Start: Chris Kanton Memorial Beaumont, CA Luis Estrada Rd. c/o Viele Ave.
Finish: Big bear mountain
* Fuel before arriving

6/4 Hi Abs:

Tonight would probably be a very good night for a lot of us folks to be on Chat.
I know I need to get a few thoughts off my chest after the recent turn of events
regarding Van Bateman. I will be on at 2000 MDT.

KnuckleDragon

1900 PDT for the west coast'ers.

6/4 From: Tom Harbour
Sent: 06/04/2007 04:16 PM
Subject: Some thoughts from the Fire Director

To my fire management colleagues:

It has been difficult, both professionally and personally, to watch the
fall of Van Bateman, especially in light of the other recent tragedies in
our community. We all make choices; there are consequences to those
choices. The courts of our great nation have spoken. Our Chief has
expressed her thoughts for the agency.

As the Chief noted, it was widely reported in the media that Van and
associates of his often lit fires without burn plans or any type of line
officer approval. Statements claimed this practice is widespread within
the Forest Service. That, simply, is not so and we know it is not so.
Professional Forest Service fire managers carry out their duties with the
highest degree of integrity and utmost respect for our laws, policy, and
safety. Prescribed burning is deliberate, strategic use of fire in
ecosystems to achieve desired ecological conditions and community
protection objectives. In 2006, we used prescribed fire over 4,000 times
on over 1.4 million acres all across the nation. Successful and
coordinated implementation of these burns built trust with our public and
our partners.

This trust is most important to me. We are professionals. We have the
unique responsibility of lighting, using, and fighting fire. We conduct
those activities with a conscientiousness based on integrity, duty, and
respect; the virtues which form the foundation of fire leadership.

I want us thinking about our foundation as we are deep into another active
fire season. We have a year-round cycle of prescribed fire, fire use, and
wildfire. We enter this season after months of asking ourselves what
happened near Krassel, on the Esparanza Fire, and to Van Bateman. I don’t
have all those answers, but I know I’m proud of the dedicated, professional
fire leaders who take on the complex challenges of lighting, using, and
fighting fire on National Forest system lands with impressive results every
year. I appreciate your diligence and your dedication in executing one of
the most successful, respected, and trusted programs in the world.

Now it is time to look ahead. We need to be watching out for one another.
Focus and dedication led us to this profession. Let’s hold our heads high,
proud of the work we do, and the way we do it as we face these next few
months.

Tom
6/4 Ab, et al,

Just wanted to make a couple of comments about what has been going on in this wildfire world.

To Van, Larry, Charlie and JIm, What are you thinking, then and now. Well I know all these guys and I believe Van set fires which he considerd a criminal act to set them. Larry is BSing to cover for Van, Same for Charlie and Jim. I worked in R3 for 15 years and had an agressive prescribed burning program and we always had a burn plan and followed it, anything else you hear from these guys is BS.

Let me set a scenario for you. It is 0500 hours you are on a northeast aspect in what is best described as fuel model 4, you are at a home that has a nice 100 foot clearance and a swimming pool.

The weather forecast is hot and dry with northeast winds predicted to reach over 30 mph in the early morning ( at diurnal wind shift). What do you do?

To Irony, no map will show you what to do when triaging structures for wildland defense, situational awareness is more important than any map.

The first 3 fire orders relate to situational awareness.
Thr 10 standard fire orders are exactly that, fail to follow these orders at your peril. If you fail to follow these orders you have a greater chance of dieing then if you follow them all to the letter. The 18 watch out situation all relate back to these orders, there is no margin for error, how many wildland firefighters die each year and how many of those relate directly back to not following the fire orders. One of the ABs said these are just guidelines. I disagree! They are orders that must be followed.

By the way a drip torch mix is gasoline and diesel fuel, not oil.

anotherdave

You're right on the driptorch fuel mixture. Slip of the fingers. Ab.

6/4 Van factor

Dear Ab.

Thank you for your forum. I check in and read when I can. I am a 30+ seasonal wildland firefighter in Alaska. I started with Van Bateman as my crew boss on the Flagstaff Hot Shots in 1973. My first fire was on the Coconino, a 20-acre, smoky, understory burn. This was his first fire as Crew Boss and he almost killed our squad.

Our crew arrived on a flank of the fire and, upon meeting up with the Sector Boss, we were told to split the crew up and start flanking the fire. Van directed our squad to travel across the fire through the smoke instead of traveling down the flank to the anchor point and around the other side to begin line construction.

Needless to say, we barely made it to the other side through the hot gas and smoke particulates. The entire squad collapsed with smoke inhalation and the worst carbon monoxide poisoning i've ever suffered in 30 years of firefighting.

Van's reaction to all of this was how weak we were as firefighters and that it was going to get a lot tougher than this along the way. I realized shortly thereafter that the only weakness that occurred that day was Van's cavalier leadership and, more importantly, the spin he attempted to justify his mistake. It was as though his position gave him the right to be above question. I watched him closely that summer and left the Shots for greener and safer pastures hence. As a current ICT3 and DIVS, I teach the Van Factor as part of my lessons to younger firefighters. Pay attention to and follow the principles of firefighting. Also keep your situation awareness tuned to everything that is happening in your changing environment, including evaluating authority.

Peace,

TA

6/4 Hello,

I’m a reporter, with the Arizona Daily Sun, and I’m trying to get a feel from the actual firefighters out there how common arson or unauthorized fires like Bateman’s might have been or might still be. The brass says it doesn’t happen. I wouldn’t expect the brass to really know.

If you’d like to give a call… or send an email.

Cyndy Cole
Environment, growth, county reporter
Arizona Daily Sun
office 928 913 8607
ccole@azdailysun.com

It's very uncommon. Arsonists occur in all segments of the population, so fire has an occasional example, but they rarely make it as far up the ladder as Mr Bateman. If you read back through recent posts, you'll see how greatly they're hated. Ab.

6/4 was just checking theysaid and see the posting from hotshotdad about lightning.

I know when i am out on fires and there is a risk of lightning, i will move heaven and earth to either get back to my carrier (with my crew ) or down as low as i can in the mountains. i have climbed up and down so many times during the course of a storm that i drive my crew nuts! everyone has the responsibility to educate their crews on the dangers of lightning. just my take on it.

ndffire

6/4 Lightning can be a killer.

Two Flame-N-Go inmate hotshots were struck and died some years ago 2000? in Utah. One
left behind a little daughter and a wife. Sad.

Julie

memorial pin photo. It was Aug, 2000. I think the next year that crew was reconstituted as a Type 2 crew. The Flame N Go was the only inmate hotshot crew. Their t-shirt is in the collection on the wall at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Ab.

6/4 For those who expressed interest, Rick Johnson can be reached at alphaboy66@hotmail.com.
6/4 Press release regarding Van Bateman's sentencing

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/2007-142(Bateman).pdf  (32 K pdf file)

6/4 From Firescribe:

Arizona Republic on Van Bateman's sentence:

Firefighter gets two years in prison for setting fires
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0604bateman-ON.phpl

An acclaimed Arizona firefighter who was honored for his help in managing emergency response in New York after the 9/11 attacks was sentenced to two years in federal prison today for starting two fires in the Coconino National Forest.

Van Bateman, 57, also was given three years' probation, fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $10,390 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service, where he spent his career of more than 30 years. The sentence matched a plea agreement between Bateman and federal authorities.

click the link for more...

6/4 Re: AEDs (Why is early Defibrillation so important)?

From my personal research and hands on experience early intervention of SCA (Sudden cardiac arrest) can be and has shown a 74% save rate with early (Within 1-6 minutes) defibrillation. Yes other factors such as cardiac medications in combination with defibrillation and early access to a Cardiac centers helps greatly, but, if you read the facts of all the subjects that where exposed to early defibrillation, you will see the need for all public areas to have AEDs available to all. I can personally remember my captain and I attaching a AED to a patient that was in (V-tac), obviously unconscious and not breathing. Our AED shocked him 8 times before any Paramedic care was present. Guess what? Great CPR and early Defibrillation saved his life. I rode in with the medics to the hospital with our patient and before we arrived ( 30 minutes later) he was breathing and talking to us CA&Ox4! The ER doc told us that without early Defibrillation, he would of died for sure. I only write this e-mail in hopes that whomever writes the checks for the USFS reads my testament to early AED use. IT DOES WORK! It works with simple BLS (Basic life support) and great CPR.

A new model 3 fire engine: $230,000 (Give or take$$)

New line gear for entire crew: $2000.00 (Or more )

A week at Redding for training: ($800.00 food and hotel + fuel)

Giving a person a second chance at LIFE with EARLY DEFIBRILLATION ................. Priceless....... (@ $1200 a piece including software).

Signed,
Just another Firefighter
6/4 I have to agree with Lobotomy that our AARs should not be posted for all to read and their intent is to better the team and should not be used and taken out of context. Might be good to just NOT put them in writing. We document that one was completed and leave it at that.

I am having a hard time understanding the post of Rick Johnson.

While I feel that such training exercises have no place on the fireline I am confused by how it could cause a shot crew to loose situational awareness to such a dramatic level ? I think we all.... well most of us are trained and capable of multitasking on the fireline. Dealing with a down firefighter is just another unfortunate part of what we do, Just hearing about one on the radio should not cause the world to stop spinning.

How this would affect someone to the point of not being able to perform their duty... That seems quite a stretch.

CW

That and the fact that no SAFENET was filed by Rick. Why not just try existing systems of reporting first? Ab.

6/4 Hotshot Dad - concerning Lightning Safety:

In the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG - every firefighter should
have one) on Page 75 is the reminder list for "Thunderstorm Safety". It's
good to review it during the Annual Refresher, and at Tailgate Safety
Sessions when lightning is forecasted or in the area.

Mollysboy

6/4 Zimm;

I'm just having a hard time understanding; as cheap and easy to acquire, learn, use and maintain as AED's are, why they're not in camp on at least T1 and T2 incidents, either at med- tent, or on helibase, in care of a qualified medic, who has access to power supply for recharging batteries, and can do daily tests/certs.

I do agree, its probably not as high a priority to have a batch of them out on line; also would be more readily available/ flexible for response if kept at base camp, close to helos and vehicles (would generally be a lot quicker to fly it to a patient, than to try to run down the line with it!).

And, as you say (no offense, mgt- types) probably a higher priority to have close to the "offices", than out with the younger folks (particularly where AED's are so specific what arrhythmias they will and won't trigger on - for instance, won't generally fire on a trauma patient).

To my (admittedly) simple mind, the potential liability, and certification/responsibility issues would be easily overcome by (1) National- Boarding line medics and Medical Unit Leaders (if its not already SOP, I'm surprised), and (2) the AED's being kept in custody of a qualified/certified medic, both during transport to the incident, and during the incident (and potential use). Only kink I can see would be that, on the home unit, the medics in question would not (at first glance) be able to State- license for providing AED to the public; in order to State license, an agency has to guarantee full- time coverage to the public, with the device in constant custody of a qualified operator. However, a medic COULD be temporarily reassigned from home- unit duty, carrying and operating a spare device...

As I said before, the little muni department I used to work for was involved in one of the first, and probably one of the most accurate, Real- World field tests ever run, at least in CA, involving several hundred cases, over roughly ten years; the conclusion, and certainly my personal experience (I participated in about 80% of those calls) was that NOTHING is a direct replacement for an AED, short of full EMT-P care, and a MICU.

I'm rambling again...

Pyro
6/4 Re AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators)

As I say again I came into the conversation a bit late to have everything being talked about (from 5/28 and before), but yes the AEDs need to be out in the area of where FFs maybe working. Yes they should be with IMS or in the field units. My issue was that when you do this remember there is a cost related to maintaining the AED not in $$ but in time to work on them and keep the running. The technology is changing all the time, if you buy one now it may need replacement in the next 6-10 years. Granted, they need little of either, they hold up very well in some really bad conditions. In my understanding of the earlier conversation, there some people indicating the AEDs should be on every street corner of the fire. Maybe I was wrong in what I thought I understood. To a point it could be done, but there are limits. For firefighter safety, I would at the very least have them in camps (this is where I have seen at least 4 heart attacks). I am sure there are some sorts of standards as to how many AEDs per population there should be. On the line, I would think more in the lines of trauma care not heart troubles.

Zimm

6/4 Apparently there was a very dangerous lightning event
threatening the folks working a rash of fires north of
Reno last week. It's not the first time I have heard
of firefighters fearing for their safety and I have
not been associated with wildland fire for all that
long.

It seems one agency does not provide much in the way
of lightning safety training and some of the newer
troops in the field tend to want to run like the
dickens during these events. That does not seem like
a good option to me.

I'm a bit concerned. Is there apathy concerning the
dangers of lightning? An average of 66 Americans a
year are killed by lightning, slightly more than those
who perish in tornadoes. On top of everything else
going on, I would hate to see anyone injured or killed
this way when a bit of training might prevent it. It
appears dry lightning is in the forecast for a part of
the west for the next few days.

Hotshot Dad
6/3 SWCC is no longer listing Larry Humphrey as IC on the AZ State Short Type 2
Team. Loving is now listed as IC for that team.

http://gacc.nifc.gov/swcc/dispatch_logistics/crews/sit300/sit300.php

d2

6/3 Water Tender Rollover on Bolli Incident

72 Hour Report (doc file)

picture

noname

Looks terrible. Glad the driver was OK. Ab.

6/3 New wildland fire guidelines to focus on firefighter safety

Download story podcast

08:48 AM PDT on Sunday, June 3, 2007

By BEN GOAD and KIMBERLY TRONE
The Press-Enterprise

PDF: Accident Review Board Action Plan - Esperanza (USFS)

The U.S. Forest Service will refine the guidelines used by wildlands firefighters to send a strong message throughout the agency's ranks: No home is worth dying for.

That recommendation was included among several nationwide initiatives laid out by the Forest Service in an action plan obtained Friday.

The plan comes after last week's report by the Forest Service and Cal Fire detailing the events of October's Esperanza Fire that killed five Forest Service firefighters in Riverside County's San Jacinto Mountains.

That report pointed to "risky" choices, possibly stemming from a culture in which safety is secondary to saving property, and contributed to decisions that led to the firefighters' deaths.

Though short on specifics, the latest plan aims to improve firefighter safety through the use of improved mapping and better evaluation of whether crews should attempt to save a home.

Some worry that the report hints that the Forest Service might reduce protection of homes in high-risk fire conditions.

Short of risking lives, firefighters should defend structures whenever possible, said Terry McHale, public policy director for CDF Firefighters, a state firefighters union. He said defending property is built into firefighters' training and mindset and changing that would be difficult, particularly as homes continue to be built in fire-hazard areas.

"It would be a frightening precedent in this era of urbanization ... to say we are not going to defend homes. All of a sudden you're going to say we're not going to protect properties," McHale said.

Hundred-foot flames overran Engine 57's crew as the men fought to protect a vacant home built in an area designated as nondefensible on a 2002 map. The map was not available to the crew at the time of the Esperanza blaze.

"This was a major tragedy in the 102-year history of the U.S. Forest Service and we want to make sure the message about what happened gets out," said Tom Harbour, federal director of Fire and Aviation Management.

"We owe it to Engine 57."

Changes in Mentality

Without a clearly defined standard for what risks are acceptable, firefighters have long been given mixed signals, said Dick Mangan, who was a Forest Service firefighter for 40 years and has conducted studies on wildlands firefighter deaths.

Mangan said the plan, if implemented correctly, could finally address the problem firefighters face about whether to defend a structure or let it burn.

He said firefighters have been taught in classrooms that firefighter safety is more important than protecting homes, but there is an underlying pressure to act heroically in the throes of a major fire.

On one hand, firefighters are criticized for letting a fire consume a home and praised for saving homes in dangerous situations.

"Maybe we could get to a point when they would be patted on the back for walking away, with their crew still intact," Mangan said.

The plan released Friday calls for increased creation and distribution of maps showing high-risk areas, highlighting areas like Twin Pines, where the Esperanza tragedy took place.

Such maps, if made public, could have big ramifications for homeowners -- and for insurance companies, which are already beginning to balk at the unchecked growth in fire-threatened areas. Mangan praised the Forest Service for addressing the issue.

"These are social and political issues," he said of the potential fallout from releasing such maps. "(But) you take a little managerial courage and say, 'I don't want another funeral for five firefighters,' " he said.

McHale, of the CDF union, said any shift in policy to reduce protection of property would require local governments to dramatically change their attitudes about home construction in wildland areas.

"We have to have better planning on where we build -- whether or not it's a feasible space," McHale said.

Local Solutions

Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster this week reiterated his call for local policymakers to take a hard look at what, if any, development should be allowed in fire-prone areas.

Buster said the size and location of the priority areas must be identified. State and national fire agencies need to take a leadership role in helping policymakers realize the need to reassess development in fire-hazard areas, he said.

"It's a new land-use front we have not dealt with before," Buster said. "We don't want another Esperanza."

Those concepts might not have made their way down from state-level discussions to the boards and city councils that decide where new homes can be constructed.

In 2004, the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties adopted a collaborative plan that recommended governments shape policies, zoning and land-use controls to reduce the losses associated with catastrophic blazes.

Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins said Friday that had not seen the U.S. Forest Service report but that he planned to review it.

"Then I will have a better idea of where we are going," said Hawkins, who has mostly declined to comment on the Esperanza Fire because of the criminal prosecution of Raymond Lee Oyler.

Oyler, a Beaumont mechanic, has been charged with five counts of murder and arson in the Esperanza blaze. He has pleaded not guilty to those and other arson charges.

Pat Boss, a retired U.S. Forest Service firefighter and liaison to the family of Engine 57 Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, said cooperation is strong between Cal Fire, the Forest Service and mountain communities.

But Boss said Forest Service firefighters are primarily trained to defend forests, while Cal Fire is more focused on property protection.

"We train together, we strategize together and our evacuation plans are in sync," Boss said.

"It's too bad they didn't use those maps developed in 2002, but still things happen," Boss said. "It was not Engine 57's fault."

Four of the firefighters -- Loutzenhiser, 43, of Idyllwild; Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan; and Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto -- died Oct. 26, the day the flames overtook them. The fifth, Pablo Cerda, 23, of Fountain Valley, died Oct. 31.

Reach Ben Goad at 202-661-8422 or bgoad@PE.com

Reach Kimberly Trone at 951-368-9456 or ktrone@PE.com

Fair use disclaimer

6/3 The 2002 map of the Twin Pines area of the Esperanza depicting the Octagonal House as un-defensible needs to be discussed as it relates to firefighting activities.

First "defensible" and its counterpart "un-defensible" are subjective values or determinations. As such, they both lack sufficient credibility in order to base any kind of firefighting tactics and decision making. As such, if people are given a map, without knowing the basis for the determination, it would seem to pose the question of its credibility. Hence, the risk to firefighters is actually increased by using a map based on subjectivity!

As an example, what if a house mapped as "green" ie defensible, were used to deploy firefighters and given fire behavior such as that experienced in Esperanza (ie Area Ignition under a Santa Ana event), the firefighters became trapped and burned over resulting in fatalities. Apply the same criteria of SA as identified in the report. Now the conclusion would be "Officials incorrectly mapped the house that killed firefighters", "Families begin lawsuit against XYZ governments for gross negligence in preplanning", etc.

Further, we know that all fire behavior is NOT created equal. Two foot flame heights near a RED structure may be totally defensible. Yet, if one applies the rule of not assigning firefighters to RED structures and the house burns, imagine the outcry from the public against the local fire agency and its firefighters or leaders in the decision to "let the house burn".

The point is that such maps with judgmental values are a Catch 22. That map as written posed as much of a liability to firefighters as it did potential benefits. Hence, it was not adopted because it was bad business. Legal counsel against such a map is very real.

I am not against the idea of mapping and preplanning at all. In fact, I fully support it. However, the maps need be based on quantifiable factors, such as slope, access, topography, water supply, etc. The HAZARD/RISK can be pre-identified and given to firefighters and commanders pre-fire. As such, it becomes an extremely useful tool to be used under a wide variety of fire and weather conditions.

In order to clarify the relationship of that Map to the the Mountain Area Safety Task Force (MAST) effort. The map was produced in 2002. MAST was not in existence then - in either Riverside or San Bernardino Counties. MAST was formed formally in early 2003. Consequently, The Map, was never part of the MAST effort. Recall that MAST efforts in 2003 focused on the areas affected by the tree mortality in both counties. The "factual report" is not factual on this item.

The principles of the MAST effort in terms of evacuation of citizens in the Twin Pines area during the Esperanza should be lauded. However, one does not measure the success of the efforts because no citizens died.

MAST leaders are likely to address the threats to citizens, Law Enforcement and Firefighters based on The Map. As with all other MAST efforts, the relationships with all the partners will develop principles and products to provide for public and emergency services workers.

No one map can protect lives of firefighters or citizens from the acts of arsonists! Esperanza would have not occurred if it were not for the acts of a domestic terrorist! MAST is already taking additional action to deter, investigate and prosecute arsonists. Efforts will also include citizen and public relations efforts to change the apparent acceptance of arson as just another piece of living in southern California.

Thank you for listening.

Irony

Logical, well expressed. Ab.

6/3 Attached is the Chief's Action Plan for Esperanza.

Mollysboy

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/esperanza-actionplan.pdf (4 pages, 726K pdf file)

6/3 Southern Area Fire Behavior Alert for those traveling to the Southern Area.

SJ

6/3 From Tahoe Terrie:

FED Management and decision-making liability information

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/mgmt-decis-making-liability050807.pdf  (259K pdf file)

6/3 Last week "Mop Up Support " Incident on the East Coast was shopping for
Trainee TFLDs. My unit filled one order.

Rhino

6/3 I have read the posts here for several weeks on Bateman et al.

I have known all 4 of these guys for quite a while. I, like many others, was shocked when Van was first accused of the crime of Arson. As time has worn on and I have sat back and thought about it, the less shock I have. The "Bateman factor" or as I heard it the "Van Factor" had in fact been kicked around for alot of years. One of those things that those of us that floated in and out of that area over the years tended to disregard. One of the posters made a comment about the 4 people being able to "spin a yarn" which is really true; over time my perception of the 4 was that, one was quite the story teller, one was a goat roper who was a little too loose for me, one was a grandstander who just flat out rubbed me the wrong way and the other one I thought of as a highly respected professional. The concept of bending the rules for burning just never crossed the mind set of those who I learned Rx fire from, and they were some damn fine practitioners, well before the sophisticated training, fire behavior prediction systems, rules, contingency plans, go-no go lists and regs of today's Rx burners. They learned it the old fashioned way and taught it the old fashioned way.

It is not only the Arson crime, it is a crime what Bateman et al did to the Agency and the Rx burners.

If the others are guilty then then shame on then too, too bad that there is not evidence to take them to court too. I agree that the Judge should throw the book at Bateman for what he as done. Firefighters are held to a higher standard due to the public trust they hold. Van violated that public trust and the trust of those that are firefighters. Yes, I said Firefighters because that is just what they are, regardless what the PC folks in the WO say.

Old Green and gray guy

6/3 CK,

I read your post and...after waiting for a while...decided to write a little "thank you". I certainly do not represent all the other fire response personnel out here in "Retired Land" but after having put in my 35 years "on the line" I couldn't help but applaud your comment regarding Bateman getting what he so richly deserves.

Yeh...yeh...yeh...I can hear all the rest of his cronies saying "Wait, wait...let the justice system proceed" before you tear the man down. B---S--T folks. He did it...he said he did it...and worst of all, he defends his crimes (yes...CRIMES) in the name of "fuel management".

If the Forest Service does not cashier him in a hot second, it will have lost what very little credibility it has managed to hang onto.

Thank you, CK

COPTER 100

Bateman was fired last year or the year before. Ab.

6/3 After reading the newspaper articles and looking at the emails on this site, I realized a few facts needed to be clarified and expanded on about Van Bateman.

The newspaper article in The Arizona Republic was initiated by Mr. Bateman. He toured with the reporter to the wildfire sites and explained (in his words) what had transpired up to that point. This was his article, not one dreamed up by the reporter.

In the article, Mr. Bateman stated that he had set the wildfires to reduce fuel loading. He did not explain why he set the Boondock Fire at the height of the fire season when he new conditions were extreme. This fire would not have grown to 20 acres unless conditions were critical.

Fire crews on the ground started noticing evidence pointing toward Mr. Bateman back in the 80’s but the evidence was inconclusive and most firemen were in denial and thought that in his position, Mr. Bateman would not set them. It just couldn’t be! Suspicious fires increased, with some being large, after he transferred to Happy Jack and just too many things kept pointing to him. Fire crews began asking, jokingly, where was Mr. Bateman when a fire started and talking about the “Van Factor” when discussing the number of fires on the district. When things became too obvious, they reported it to law enforcement.

It was a long time from when he became a suspect to when he was formally charged because it is very difficult to find enough evidence when the arsonist is a very knowledgeable fireman. Also, you better have it right when you accuse someone in his position. You would almost have to see him strike the match. Having a GPS tracking device mounted on his truck definitely helped in the later investigations.

It was quoted in The Arizona Republic article that “My take on it is that Van got too famous. The Forest Service does not like any lower-level employees to get any kind of fame.” and “There almost appears to be a vendetta. Someone had it in for Van.” Well, the truth is, the evidence was there and the firefighters were seeing it and informed law enforcement. It did not come from someone with a vendetta or a high level employee it was the firefighters, several firefighters.

Today, even after he admitted to starting two wildfires, some people are still in denial. The whole ordeal of this one individual has created tension, strained relationships, and affected the careers of some very good firefighters.

Mr. Bateman and the others touting that fire managers regularly set wildfires to bypass paperwork really hurts the credibility of dedicated, honest professional firemen. This is just a ploy to hide an arsonist. Hopefully, Monday, he will get what he deserves.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. CK
6/3 A local Southern California newspaper (Press Enterprise) published the Esperanza Fire "Abatement" items in a local news report about 18 hours ago...... they then retracted their link for some reason?

Since that publication, the pdf file associated with the report "went missing" from their weblink.

The hard copy report from the newspaper yesterday (today) shows 11 corrective actions needed..... The online version shows nothing.

A local Forest Supervisor sent out "e-mails"....

Still as we sit, the official document for the Esperanza Abatements sits silent while our supposed leaders sit on their thumbs waiting for an official "CAL FIRE" release............

Confused
6/3 Re: Promontory Fire

I am saddened to see any AAR written down or especially placed on the internet for public viewing. That was specifically not the military version of the process, nor the version that the wildland fire community needs, or should follow, or allow. The basic premise of an AAR was completely lost in this case and completely negates the value of the AAR process in keeping folks safer at the troop leader level and keeping the squads the safest they can be.

If those things happened on the Promontory Fire, there should have been immediate actions taken by leaders to correct them and address the issues. I know the leaders on the Promontory Fire would agree with me.

After the incident was over, rather than publish an AAR at a level above the troops, that has specific purposes for learning for the grunts, maybe the folks involved could have instituted a JCSI for institutional learning?..... Just Culture Safety Investigation? It leads to Lessons Learned without any biases and blame for those who speak out.

I understand that the JCSI is a new tool in an evolving learning process, but it is the appropriate tool in this case. By bastardizing the AAR process by recording it (and publishing it), the AAR process was also bastardized and lost all its importance for crew cohesion, safety, and mission efficiency and getting folks to speak off the record for Lessons Learned.

An AAR is not an investigative tool... nor an info tool.... nor a feel good tool.... It is also not a tool to assign any type of corrective actions other than personally to those involved in the "unit" who place the corrective actions upon themselves for the betterment of the "team". The AAR is a specific unit tool to do things better as a small unit.

The JCSI process (or any way it is evolving) is a tool for how things for a bigger unit (District, Zone, Forest, Region, IIMT, Agency etc...) could make things safer.

Lobotomy

P.S. - As the things evolve, hopefully the Just Culture Safety Investigation (JCSI) process will replace the Serious Accident Investigation (SAI) procedures in finally learning how to get to, and record Lessons Learned for safety.
6/3 ndffire,

Is there a reason why your unit cannot form a ST or TF on an initial attack or extended type fire? any unit can reserve the right to utilize trainees locally. All you have to do is bring it up when you get on scene, or pre-plan it with your local IC's. Based on your task book expiration date looming, you should be a priority trainee

Benefit: lead up, helps with span of control for an IC, he/she may not even think of it until you mention it
Risk: adequate leadership for your own module, finding a qualified trainer in the same boat.

anybody else?
sting

6/2 Rick Johnson

I would like to see the Promontory Fire write-up and as it relates to the Globe IHC.
For safety reasons

Thank you
Doug Campbell

Anyone who knows how to get in touch with Rick, please let us know. His original note came in as an attachment but has been making the rounds in the FSweb. I left a message with the Globe IHC contact yesterday asking for him to contact us. I believe the Union is involved, as well. Ab.

6/2 ST/TFL (t) posits

Ab;

Don't know the Regional policy here in WGB, but do know that we've worked with/ for several STL/TFL (t)'s in the last couple years, on TII incidents, under 3 different Teams: Whalen, Suwyn, and Lund. All excellent Teams, all very training- oriented. Maybe check with them??

Pyro

6/2 Been a long time since i posted on here. I am am the former BCDavis from NJ, now in Nevada for 7 years now. I work for NDF and for the last 4 or 5 years have been trying to get my Strike Team/Task Force taskbook signed off. No one seems to want trainees under Div Sup. Isn't that how you become Div Sup or other important positions? Anybody have any ideas on how to tackle this? Is this a Great Basin thing or are there other regions having this problem? 

Well, hope to hear from you all about this. 

Be safe this summer my brother and sisters.

ndffire

Hi former BCD. Wondered if you were still in NV. Welcome back to theysaid. Anyone got suggestions? Ab.

6/2 Here is a link to the Operations section AAR. The big LACK OF COMMUNICATION thing bites us again.

www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Promontory_Fire_AAR_Sciacca.doc

Rimfire

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

Promontory Fire
Tonto National Forest
CWZ Type 2 IMT (Sciacca)
05/18/2007

An incident occurred during 5/18 day operational period that involved a situation that resulted in an IHC crew losing situational awareness during a burnout operation. 

1) What was Planned
DIVS Z contacted OSC2 (t) during the operational period of 5/18 and asked if he could conduct a training exercise for his resources in his division. Permission was granted and DIVS Z continued with the exercise.

2) What Actually Happened
All divisions were contacted by DIVS Z prior to the start of the training (per DIVS Z). However, DIVS A and DIVS A (t) said they didn't receive the message to pass on to the resources. As the training started, the IHC who didn't hear about the training, heard on DIVS Z's Tac channel that a tree had fallen and hit a member of a local engine. The Squad Boss in charge of the burnout asked the TFLD (t) assigned to the division what was going on. The TFLD called DIVS A who said that the traffic was part of a drill. This compromised the IHC crew's situational awareness during a burnout operation. The previous night's shift had burnout the fireline from Promontory Point to Christopher Creek and got about two chain buffer along most of the line. The IHC crew assignment was to clean up areas that didn't burn well and increase the buffer to five chains. 

3) Why Did It Happen
An understanding on the extent of the training was not clearly defined to the OSC2 (t). A cultural difference between wildland and structural training was exposure during this incident. The OSC2 (t) thought the training would entail a sand table type exercise and not a full out scenario of running the sprinklers within the community and a medical incident within the incident. 

4) What Can We Do Next Time
If this type training is to happen again, it will only happen with the IC's approval, identified in the IAP and discussed in the morning briefing. The timing of the drill will be later in the incident when all divisions are in the mop-up stage. 

Bea Day
OSC2

6/2 Does anyone have any more info on this? I couldn't find a SAFENET on it.

emt_mb

As I understand it, no Safenet was filed. Ab.

6/1 I am a 1st time poster, and was wondering if anyone else has heard about what's going on concerning this incident. I heard that a IHC squad boss had sent this in...seems relevant concerning recent discussions on this forum. DS

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

To my fellow firefighters,

I have decided to recuse myself from fighting fire due to the actions, and subsequent inaction of the Type two team that managed the Promontory Fire. Serious mistakes were made, mistakes that deviated from the rational, safe culture we are supposed to espouse as professional firefighters. Sadly, these mistakes were never addressed at the two subsequent AM briefings which I attended. I was also told that an investigation will not be forthcoming. Everyone involved in our line of work knows that there can be a potential for errors in judgment. However, when these errors are ignored and there are attempts to sweep them under the carpet (when I confronted the Team on this I was told they were still in the "fact finding stage"), that is inexcusable. The Type two team was immediately aware that mistakes had been made. All Safety Officers on the incident were immediately notified. As we should all know the Safety Officer reports directly to the IC. Multiple crews had been demobed off the incident without ever being notified of what actually occurred.

This is inexcusable.

The crazy actions (and lack thereof) of these individuals has adversely affected my ability to work safely within a firefighting team environment. I have subsequently become physically ill, and have been unable to think in a rational state. Therefore, for my safety and the safety of others, I will be taking sick leave until I can get these issues resolved in my head. On the Globe IHC, we do an AAR after every shift. We do this for safety reasons primarily, but we also do them so that we can become a better, more efficient crew. I can only wonder why this wasn't occurring at such a critical/high level of fire management.

There is a lot of fire season left for you all. We can only hope as firefighters that folks take to heart an important item that I am copying from the FS-6100-37 (aka Performance Elements and Standards at the gs-3) that is standard G "assumes responsibility for and learns from own mistakes." Remember, this is a critical element.

If this email has raised anyone's curiosity to what actually happened I have copies of the Globe IHC statements I would happily relay to anyone interested.

Have a safe fire season,

Rick Johnson

6/1 I worked on the Coconino NF back in the day when the good old boys ruled the roost in region 3. Bateman was one of the good old boy favorites and always got away with all kinds of stuff. Ask the good old boys about the time Bateman's fuels tech deployed a fire shelter on a prescribed fire. It was covered up. Ask the good old boys about the time one of Bateman's engines was totally destroyed on what should have been classified as an entrapment. The incident occurred on Bateman's district. <snip> For some of the same good old boys to defend him now, when he is accused of such heinous crimes for a professional wildland firefighter to commit, is an outrage. I for one, hope that the judge throws the book at Bateman next week.

I'll also always wonder about all of the suspicious starts of some of the big project fires that we had on the north end of the old Flagstaff District when Bateman was the AFMO there. <snip> We often thought that we had a clever arsonist on the prowl. Well, in the end, maybe he wasn't so clever after all.

Long ago Coconino Firefighter
6/1 With summer approaching or in some places already here, many new folks are
going through the required training in guard school. Learning the important
lessons of S130/190 and all the other classes tied to the basics. Has
anybody been getting calls from OIG with the request to send their folks
through the training? Some of you I am guessing can say yes, our unit
received a call and will have a person(s) from OIG attending. Does that
scare anybody? Maybe the feds should be sending folks to the PIG, I mean
OIG. Just a heads up, they are out there, and seem to be showing up
everywhere.

Cowboy

Just make sure that they know the 10 and 18 are principles or guidelines for decisionmaking, not rules and that fire suppression forces will be operating under a new doctrine 100% after January 1, 2008. Risk assessment is what we're about. Ab.

6/1 Good morning,

I was just scanning your photo pages of the cedar fire and I saw the pictures of the crossing Cuyamuka Lake and Crossing 2 pics. I just wanted to update you all on the who and where those engines are from. We were a task force from Northern California: task force # XSN2376C. The 1st engine was a type 1 from Fort Bragg; 2nd. Was 7471 a type 3 from Anderson Valley; I was in the 3rd, 9870 a type three from the U.S. Coast Guard Petaluma; and the engine way in the back was 7562 from Rincon Valley.

Sincerely,
Christopher "Brett" Callahan,
U.S. Coast Guard Fire Dept.

Thanks for the info, Brett. I added it to the description page. We always appreciate more info on the photos. They're historical record. I added your pic of E-7562 with the smoke roiling in the sky behind it. Entitled it "Military Engine Task Force". If anyone wants to send in photos to add to this page, please do. It was a historical firestorm. In my opinion, this set of SoCal fires and the After Action Review is what has lead to the Fire Suppression Change in Doctrine that is underway today. Ab.

6/1 For those folks who still have faith in the FS and the new center in ABX (Albuquerque), I opened my mail today and received my Government Travel Card from BofA.

OH, I have been retired for 18 months which, to say the least, makes both me and the government happy. I am sure that BofA just sends cards out, but since this one is a government card, do they charge the FS a handling fee? What if I use it to charge and do not pay? And yes I, upon retirement, cut up my card and had the agency cancel it.

Well, need to cut this short, my bid on Costa Rica was accepted. Thank heavens for that government VISA.

SELDOM SEEN

haw, haw. Ab.

6/1 Abs,

Gordon Tamplin, Fire Captain with Fish and Wildlife Service, San Diego NWRC also posted this short 22 second clip of a hovercraft coming ashore at Catalina Island with engines on board.

Can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fJkpbxERFE.

Fishguy

Action and sound with the hovercraft. Gordon's still pics he sent to us are here: Catalina Island Fire Ab.

6/1 I wanted to give all of you out there who have applied for jobs a heads up. A couple of days ago we received a memo stating that "they" (the RO) are implementing a new system for notifying candidates when they are picked for a job that they have applied for. In their infinite wisdom, all notifications will now be done by e-mail. Here's the problem as I see it.

It states in the memo that the candidate has 24 hours to reply to the email. Hello?? What about when you are gone on fires?? Also, I have heard from a couple of different people that the emails are being sent to their personal addys. One of them said that it went into his junk mail!!

I have real concerns about this process and wanted to warn you. Hopefully they will rethink this whole thing through as it makes no sense to anyone I have talked to, not only fire people but non-fire also. I sent an email asking them if they had taken any of this into consideration, and I know that several other people have also. Let's see if they take the advice of us lowly GS wage earners - we can only hope, folks!

So, if you are waiting to hear about a job, check your email both at work AND at home. I'll let you know if anything changes.

Faker

I wonder if they have thought about discrimination issues connected with access? Some people applying for jobs with the help of a job tutorial group, regional occupation program or school only get an email address for a short time so as to have internet access to send in applications. Frequently, those who do not have long term or consistent computer/email access are minorities. But then, I think the seasonal entry-level hiring must be done at this stage of the season so the impact would be more on firefighters away from home base. Ab.

6/1 Interesting read lately on the Bateman thing.

Can't believe that folks that so long lived as IC's would set themselves up to be so mis-quoted, as recently alluded by one soul. I mean "taken out of context". I know 3 of the players, wouldn't say we were ever close, though. No one should be surprised at all on how they are trying to do damage control. Not really of sure the wisdom with sentencing coming up, what, Monday? So now this discussion contributes to a media plot to bring down an IC? Please, give us all a break.

Maybe the true colors of some are starting to show and they aren't what many folks saw for so long? Both Bateman and Humphrey walked the edge of propriety for years, in my book, even after becoming T1 ICs. Charlie was their mentor; he knew what he had and is this a haunting? Becoming an ICs doesn't necessarily change the package that wears the hat. For me, some shock and disappointment, but not surprise, as to who is involved, where it is now, and where looks like it's going. Again, I wasn't surprised.

Let's see how this plays out in the near future. There is probably is more to this "story". What if it isn't very pretty? Honorable intentions are quickly buried by dishonorable actions. It is good to see that Bateman's friends are sticking with him. I don't see how the rest of us can.

This time, just call me -
Old duffer

6/1 July 1972: 10-97 first fire, Rogue River NF
June 1, 2007: 10-7

Old Fire Guy

Old 10 code for "arrived at scene" and "out of service".
Happy retirement Old Fire Guy. 35 years. Thanks for your service. Ab.

6/1 MAC, and All;

Experienced? Yeah, I've been around the block in a tailspin. But no credit to me; with 33 years in fire suppression, it would be hard not to get experience. And only the last few years that I work will tell if the experience was good, or bad, or if I learned anything at all.

Noble? Not in the least. And I heartily apologize if anyone felt that I was inferring that I had any semblance of nobility. I'm just another rock-breaker, a bush- killer.

Media? I agree with you completely; I have avoided the media like the plague for many years, after being misquoted shamelessly, among other things. In fact, I wrote about the media last winter, during the initial stages of the Daniels Case.

Know Van Bateman? As Ab says, I have met him, and have worked for him on several incidents. But no, I do not "know" him personally, or socially, and have never worked with, or for him, on a home unit.

Evidently, I was not as calmed down as I thought, when I wrote my post. There was a two- fold point I was attempting to get across.

(1): I am personally profoundly disappointed by the lapse in judgment exhibited by Van Bateman, both his actions, and his statements. While fully agreeing that the media may well be twisting the entire story into an unrecognizable fiction, if there is any semblance of fact in the USA Today version, I remain disappointed. Because:

(2): I will never apologize to anyone, including my wife and sons, for feeling responsible for the safety and well- being my crew, adjoining forces, and the fire community in general. That is no way an attempt at nobility, it just... is the way it is. I firmly believe that the responsibility that we accept as fireground leaders, whether squaddies or Area Commanders, is a 24- 7- 365 task, just as much as parenting. There's plenty of room for personal foibles, but never a moment for a lapse in core virtues. I live in terror of the possibility that I will someday lead a young firefighter into injury, or death. My heart goes out to those leaders who have, despite their best efforts. Noble? No, I just take this business d*#n seriously.

Thank you for your time, and for correcting me where due. I apologize for my temper, and lack of eloquence.

Pyro

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