July, 2007

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7/31 Dannyboy and Viejo......

A couple of things to keep in mind about the Zaca.

Cost containment and AMR (Appropriate Management Response for fire mgmt flexibility) are much more complex then someone can put into a white paper. Politics at the local level play into many AMR decisions. One size or decision does not fit all. The LP is 51% wilderness, over 850k acres. LP wilderness areas are surrounded by WUI. Now to all of us, WUI is WUI, almost everyone has some, everyone knows what it looks like and everyone knows they need to protected it. However (similar to what ab said in the HFL today) any 1 LP wilderness acre burning at 0800 hours, even if that acre was in the middle of nowhere, could be burning homes in downtown Santa Barbara by 1700 that same day. Ask any fire or fuel manager on the LP and they will tell you the same thing. This is not something we learned from a farsite run, it is something we read in our history and something that a few have witnessed. Lack of roads, central coast wind patterns, topo, unique wx events make the LP a tough place to fight a fire.

Back to the Zaca. In the back of the minds of these fire managers, including the Crew Supts who have been helping with the planning on the Zaca, this simply is not just a wilderness fire. From the start and even continuing with tomorrows shift, the Zaca could be burning homes in the Santa Ynez Valley or decide to go south to the communities in the Santa Barbara Front Country in a matter of hours. Although the percentages do not favor this happening, history tells us it can. This fact must be a part of the planning for Zaca and it makes AMR decision making difficult. As I mentioned earlier, WUI is WUI, however Forests in So Cal when making AMR decisions must be extra careful. Being careful usually costs more money. I agree with allowing fire to play a natural role. However the overwhelming majority of citizens from Santa Barbara to San Diego don't, and they vote. To them fire is bad and will always be bad and must be extinguished.

So I admire what the LP is trying to do. However, Mother Nature will probably make sure it doesn't go exactly how they want it to.

You have mentioned aircraft costs. Let's not forget cooperator costs. At upwards of, if not more than, a $1,000 per day per overhead it will blow the doors off your cost containment. This is not a strike against cooperators. The only thing I can say to CA cooperators is you're not only doing a great job on the fireline, but a great job at the bargaining table too. If the Forest Service would stop outsourcing and reducing the number of our militia support, we would need a lot less cooperators.

One last item about cost containment. The Forest Service does have a process now in place to ensure costs are appropriate. The plan calls for sending out the Chief's Principal Representative when costs reach the Chiefs signature level. Well he showed up a couple Mondays ago, hung around camp and left. So much for the Chiefs Principal Rep plan. The Chief is approving these expenditures, since he is signing the WFSA. If the WO or OMB is so interested in containing costs, come on out tomorrow. If you can't make it, I'm sure we will see you at the cost review this Winter.


7/31 Ab,

I thought it would be nice to lighten the mood a little. It has already
been a very long summer and we are just coming in to the heat of it. There
is a long way to go before we put this season to bed. Be safe, stay heads
up and everyone home for Thanksgiving.

1. If it's a stupid idea but works, it isn't stupid.
2. Don't look conspicuous it attracts work.
4. Never work at a fire that is braver than you.
5. Never forget that your equipment was made by the lowest bidder.
6. If your efforts are going really great, you're at the wrong fire.
7. All fire fronts 1 hour away, will arrive in 30 minutes.
8. The media will turn up, just as your brilliant plan turns to s$#%.
9. When you have an area under control, don't forget to tell the fire.
10. If you are short of everything except fire, things are going as per normal.
11. Things that must work together, usually aren't shipped together.
12. Anything you do will be wrong, including doing nothing.
13. If you put out more fire than you are asked too, you will be given more fire to put out.
14. You will always have more fire than you do water.
15. The distance from a piece of equipment you need, is directly proportional to the urgency in which you need it.
16. That firebreak you spent all night constructing, is in the wrong place.
17. Your biggest save will have no witnesses.
18. Your biggest mistake will have hundreds.
19. The person who contributed least to the fire fighting effort, will be the only one interviewed on the six o-clock news.
20. No matter how bad things get, it will look much worse on TV.
21. The maps sent to you will be the wrong ones.
22. Reinforcements will arrive, as soon as the fire is contained.

Socal Dispatcher

haw haw. Ab.

7/31 Montana Fire Pictures
Worth a look:


Old Sawyer
7/31 Dear AB:

This is a compilation of information from North Ops that might be beneficial for those who are curious as to how their (North Ops) decision making process is guided.

The questions always comes back to "...how come I am not assigned to an incident somewhere, or why are you holding resources when there are fires going on somewhere else in the nation?"

Many employees are not aware of the Draw Down levels associated with ONCC (per the Cal Mob Guide, pg 51, 23.14) and the fact that we have regularly been below or out of resources.

For example today, 0 T1 crews and 0 Heavy tankers and 58 % effective on IA engine availability.

  Moderate ( 83 ) Significant ( 61 ) Severe ( 40 )
Engines 67% 50% 33%
      Type 1 crews      4
      Jumper loads      1
      Copters           4
      Tankers           1
      Type 2 IMTs       1

Additionally, many are not generally familiar with our current resource levels in the Daily Resource Report from the GACC webpage. Most are aware of the current status of the fuels conditions, but some don't look beyond their own turf.

North Ops looks at a multitude of factors in determining availability and filling of resources and attempt to facilitate mobilization as effectively as they can in order to meet needs and plan for what is coming around the corner. They acknowledge that sometimes they are close, and sometimes they don't quite hit it squarely on the head. However, use multiple inputs to aid in their situational assessment and decision-making:

Incident updates (ICS 209/Nat Sit Reports/Phone calls)
NICC Call (0830 National GACC roundup)
Weather (1030 ONCC Wx Briefing)
UTF lists (Unable to fill)
Fuels conditions
WFDSS information
Daily Resource Report (1030 resource status report)
NMAC (0900/1500 Daily)
Forest contacts (Duty officers and FFMOs)

Again, thanks to Joe Millar for his help.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

7/31 Mellie

Here's part of a message on what North Ops had out as
of July 25th. Not a lot of support for other Regions.

Resource commitment from Northern California includes:
27 engines within the GACC and 5 outside the GACC (26
percent of engine capability); 2 dozers in the GACC; 8
Type 1 Crews and 3 Type 2 IA Crews in the GACC (47% of
crew capability); 1 Type 2 Crew outside the GACC; 249
overhead within the GACC; 10 smokejumpers to SOPS;
and, 95 overhead outside the GACC. The NOPS Type 1
Team is committed outside the GACC. Both Type 2 Teams
are available (1 on R and R), and have been assigned
already this year. The GACC mobilized 4.5 teams within
NOPS during the month of August.


7/31 Grist for the mill. Ab.

Here's the Large fire Cost review of fires from last year from the wildlandfire.com archive:
Uncle, Happy Camp Complex, Orleans Complex, Bar Complex and Pigeon

Here's the OIG Large Fire Cost Report and comments from the wildlandfire.com archive.
Comments on the OIG Large Fire Cost Report and the OIG Large Fire Cost Report that were presented earlier in the year.

7/31 Fire Guy,

In talking to some folks that went out of business because of the proliferation of the plastic tanks w/non potable pumps, bladder bag use, and of course those stand-,alone plastic sinks, they all have 2 big questions in common.

How is it the State allows them to operate? With at least 5 positions on the teams that have responsibility for the equipment being proper, meets State law, meets the existing water regs. How /Why is this kind of equipment is being exclusively used?

No agency wants to tackle the bladder bags used for potable water. Those bags unlike the tank vehicles, are not regulated in any way so they are not subject to any type of sanitization process, water testing, record keeping etc. They are simply used, rolled up when finished and stored for who knows how long without any scheduled maintenance/sanitization.

As for those free standing sinks. Ever watch how those things are cleaned and serviced? After watching, I don't use them anymore.

Yup! I bet your plumbing and NSF certified pump cost at least what you said maybe more. I bet your tank has a bottom drain as well. Ever look at those plastic tanks? How can all the water be drained, there is about a 2-3 inch lip that prevents them from being completely drained, unless you tip them completely on end which I doubt happens. In my opinion the drain doesn't meet the State regs.

I believe the answer is to put the monkey on the vendor. Require the documentation from the manufacturer that the pumps, hoses, plastic tanks, (stainless tanks speaks for it self) are certified NSF 61 or food grade. Not all the pump companies, even though they offer a stainless pump, have spent the money and time to acquire the certification.

potable guy

7/31 Jacqie,

There is no interagency standard for sawyer or faller qualifications. A proposal was made to NWCG a few years ago to standardize the process and to adopt the faller position taskbook currently in use by the BLM.

Attached is the 2003 issue paper Faller Taskbooks (pdf file, 75 kb) that was rejected with the note added at the bottom: "It is a valid proposition to establish 'National' standards to ensure proper training is given and received, however, at this time there is considerable variation regionally and there is a factor of complexity associated with private contractor certification that needs to be dealt with."

From my vantage point the complexity hinges around one point. That is, how to maintain a system that allows Forest Service sawyers to be C-fallers with just a couple days of class time and maybe 50 hours of chainsaw time in 5 years, while denying professional timber fallers (who get 50 hours on a saw per week) an opportunity to get even an A or B rating.

vfd cap'n
7/31 AB & All:

Lots of good, interesting posts today.

Thought I'd start off with some education I received from North Ops. First & foremost I'd like to thank Ed Hollenshead for contacting North Ops as did others about concerns raised by folks who are "sitting idle while fires burn."

I especially want to thank Joe Millar at North Ops for taking me through the decision-making process step by step, showing me the data utilized etc. Based upon his clear and concise explanation of what they do & how they do it, I don't think for a moment that decisions are being arbitrarily made.

Perhaps the best advice I can offer to those that have concerns about not going to fires is to address the issue with your chief officers, FMOs etc. and review the data and information readily available on line. Just as important is to review your own Forest's Fire Management Plan which outlines draw down levels and other pertinent information.

A number of factors go into this process. For example North Ops is expecting lighting north of Tahoe in the next few days. South Ops too could have significant issues with the Zaca fire in the next couple of days with winds expected to push the incident towards Santa Barbara. So I'd like to suggest that folks go easy on North Ops or whatever Ops they are not happy with. Unfortunately, those making such decisions cannot take into consideration the loss of OT of certain firefighters.

With regards to the WO Transformation Meeting I'll say this...

What I understand of it is that a group of folks with PH'Ds in bureaucracy get paid a lot of tax dollars to come up with exciting buzzwords of change and "transformation" which really does nothing except stir the primordial goop which is the FS bureaucracy.

OK so I've become some what cynical.

Speaking of the Zaca Fire...costs could go MUCH higher in the next few days and this could be a very dangerous incident, so please be prepared.

Stay Safe,

7/31 re: the fire tours of idaho fires,

i just got off of the cascade complex. there is a type I team on the fire now and they are working on putting in line to try to protect a few cabins and the little town of yellowpine.

i don't know how many else of you have had the opportunity to bust yer asses for the small town of yellowpine, but judging by the number of fire scars we saw, i'll bet that its a few of y'all.

about 12 days into the fire, and the price tag is almost $5 million bucks. a couple of days ago a strike team of calfire folks rolled in to spin the cost-meter faster.

my question is: why are we even fighting this fire? if it weren't for a few cabins and houses in the woods, it would be good fire-use country - that is where the bulk of the fire is headed anyway - into the wilderness. obviously its country that needs to burn - lots of lightning and falling-apart lodgepole and fir forests. yesterday the fires in the complex blew up for about 7,000 acres.

seems to me that if you want to have a cabin in yellowpine, 'let the buyer beware'. if people want to escape society and hide out in the sticks, let them save their own dam* town. i'll bet you that we spend $20 million on this by the time that the snows fly - that would pay for a hell of a lot of thinning.

why risk our lives and waste money subsidizing what - for the most part - is a bunch of cabins in the sticks? we're flying in crews and gear, pissing on a corner of a fire that will burn until it snows. by then we'll be into the scores of millions. i just hope nobody gets killed, wasting their time, bodies, and energy, trying to save some wooden houses out there back of beyond.

i have nothing but respect for the other firefighters that are working hard, doing their job out there, and i don't want to see anyone lose their home, but i signed up to make something meaningful out of my life, and fighting what would otherwise be a wilderness fire for the benefit of a few people that want to live in the sticks makes me question why i am even in this business - I have no respect for the system that makes putting this fire out the highest priority in the eastern great basin.

they're just pissing into the wind, that's all, just trying to look like they are doing something, and just postponing the day that towns like yellowpine will have their burn.

sign me,
young and full of fire

7/31 I'm quite sure that you are aware, Washington State has a Fire Mobilization Act, there for members of Fire Departments participate on the Interagency Teams as are designated by WFS (Washington Fire Service). I dealt with this while Liaison to the Fire Compacts in the Northeastern Area. Several States wanted to transition to this back in the early 90's, but leadership changed as did congressional oversight.


Thanks for educating us. Ab.

7/31 Ab,

The Zaca Fire has been expensive, the Air Force being run by both red and green does not come cheap!! Flying the crews in instead of hiking a lot of miles costs money. Flying in food (MRE) and water along with other supplies is expensive every trip. Care to discuss with the crews spiked 3,4,5 or more days if it is too expensive? Not I.... But having a camp that is more than 50 miles from where some work is being done IS expensive to more than just the government along with increase in traffic on those roads. Cutting back on chairs at briefing, reducing the amount of showers in camp is not the way to save money. Did you need 53 dozers to cut secondary lines miles away from the fire? A lot of people spent hours driving to and from work assignments that could have been more productive with camp(s) closer to the incident.

One spike camp was set up and torn down three times. Doesn't sound like much except for the cost of toilets placed and removed each time refeer truck rental and demob each time, bag lunches that sat and were not used, heli-torch on the ground paying standby and other things not used. There must have been a reason in the minds of those who ordered preparations in case.

It all costs money, but maybe there was a plan?? It does cost a lot of money, and so does some of the properties threatened. I don't have the answers, just some questions. Do you consider some of the people over paid for their work out there? I believe there are folks who are underpaid for sure....

Putting a large fire out is more expensive then letting it burn,,, until....

just observing

7/31 My boyfriend is heading out for his first season soon. The gentleman that hired him said he would like him to become a sawyer since he is use to running a chainsaw already. Looking at the regs it says he must be class A or B. What requirements are needed to be qualified as class A or B? I just can't seem to find anything on this and he would like to know before he hits his first fire. He is signed up with <snip> out of the Boise area, is this a good company to work with? If possible what do you know about <snip>? Thanks a bunch.


Hi Jacqie, we don't comment on companies here on theysaid. Your other questions can be addressed by someone who knows the Class A or B and sawyer quals. Ab.

7/31 I read this morning where the Zaca Fire is now 35,350 acres with a cost to date of $39,000,000. OUCH! With a predicted containment date of 9-7-2007 .......let's see ....... that's about 38 days or so from know, with the fire already burning for 27 days to date .... if my math is correct (doubtful at this point), that is 65 days, give or take a few ............... from date of fire start to containment. I would guess that it is a pretty safe estimate that this fire will be contained by 9-7.... why not just say new years day for containment so you are really covered! 65 days of burning to containment on a fire that IS NOT a fast mover ......................... I still say there is something wrong with the management on this incident .......... think about it ........ 65 days??????? If they fool around with this incident long enough and get in to September and have to deal with some north winds howling thru there ........................ well, we can only imagine what will happen then.
Cost at 65 days ......................... probably around 100 mil or more.
Again, I say ..... 65 days ...........think about it ........................ 65 days?????? Laughable to me. DANNYBOY
7/31 The Dead Horse Theory or WO Transformation

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to
generation, says that, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse,
the best strategy is to dismount."

However, in Federal government, more advanced strategies are often employed
in such situations, such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

4. Visiting other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.

7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse's performance.

10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.

11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.

12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And of course . . .

13. Promoting the dead horse to a management position.


haw haw. Ab.

7/30 USFS - WO Transformation Meeting - All Hands

Interesting proposal. Perhaps clarity of mission would help me better
understand this proposal. AS 51% of the agencies budget is fire and fuels,
does this address this emphasis in terms of efficiency and
effectiveness?...I understand this is open comment time... (noname)

070724_all_empl_ppt.ppt (2593K ppt)

Firefighters who are interested should comment, but I don't think anyone in fire has time at the moment. Ab.

7/30 Cascade Complex, East Zone Complex, Murphy Complex, and Middle Fork Complex: Google Earth for Fire Intel

We have added a couple of new Google Earth features to the Fire Intel section of our website.

They include:
A tour of some of the large fires in Idaho, a new link to MODIS satellite heat data which shows hot spots in Google Earth, a tour of the Antelope Complex (Plumas NF), and a link that loads perimeters for recent large fires in the Pacific Northwest.

Check it out:


(NOTE: You need to install the <a href="http://earth.google.com" target="_blank">Google Earth Program</a> before loading our links.)

Zeke@NorthTree GIS

7/30 Mellie You ask about R-5 drawdown:

A look at the Wild Cad sites in the region shows that the region was no where near drawdown based on measures used in the past. When forests with lots of engines that previously sent two and, when the chips were down, three strike teams of engines off (pre MEL) only have one gone now, something is wrong: looks like they are trying to keg resources.

Its not just one forest, appears that there are several others in the same mind set. Perhaps it is relating to lack of qualified staffing on modules, but that has been a issue several times before and resources have been sent. I do know that crews are a problem as crew bosses are in short supply. Any guesses where they went to work?

Old Green and Gray Guy

7/30 Viejo,

Regardless of what AB says, I have to agree with your thoughts....33,000 acres at a cost so far of 37 million.....for what percent containment????????????? For a duration of how many days since starting??? Not to break bad on the poor firefighters who are doing whatever is asked of them each shift...... I feel for each and everyone of them..................................... BUT...................... something is amiss on the management of this incident............................. I honestly believe that most of us that write in here, kinda feel the same way. Not that this fire could have been contained or mostly contained by now, but the cost certainly could have and should have been cut considerably, making it look one heck of a lot better to the general public... as in Viejo's "control burn"....semi managed burn that is. It appears obvious that the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ spent on aircraft, and nearly all other firefighting components are not and have not worked too well.................... sooooo..................... cut way back on them. There comes a time when one has to admit that there is nothing humanly possible that can be done to stop this monster where it lies......quit throwing rocks at a charging elephant just to look like you are doing something. There will come a time and place.... mother nature permitting............... when you can make the odds swing to your favor for victory. Meanwhile ( as in long ago), hold back a few taxpayer's dollar until you can get your $$$ worth.
One more thing AB, when you said you didn't see CDF put it out on I/A..................... wow, hell of a jab.


Haw Haw, yeah, couldn't resist given that I didn't throw the first jab; the comment about control burn was the first.

I simply, haw haw, jabbed back. I agree the costs issue is a big one and very, very worrisome. CDF has problems with the same issue. I think it's easy and far too simplistic to comment about the costs of a wildland-urban interface fire near a heavily populated area adjoining wilderness without knowing the actual planning process that's taking place and the constraints on that process.

As for federal environmental constraints, 95% of our US population live in cities. Congressional legislation for the treatment of our forests and wild areas doesn't happen in a vacuum; city folk vote for the legislators who create the policy. Policy is usually created with the best of intentions but without prior knowledge of the ramifications of that policy. --I mean look at the SNAFU that came out of 30mile? That legislation created a legal and congressional reality check we're still working through.-- Similarly, I think we are currently having a fire-finance reality check, a costly one, but I don't think it's the team's fault. I also think it will get worked out eventually. Ab.

7/30 I detect a strong sense of favoritism on your part in your response to a post by Viejo. You claim that he/she is hitting below the belt but yet you can voice similar feelings for Federal agencies freely and do so quite often. You admonish others but are unwilling to acknowledge your own sensitivity for the USFS over all other Departments.
You say that MIST is "policy created by those that represent the public".
No it's not. It is policy established by those in Washington who have no idea what the public wants but what THEY think the public needs.
I am unaware of asking the public's opinion of a proposed MIST policy prior to it being mandated.
If the public actually knew what some of the absolutely ridiculous things that are mandated for MIST practices are...I truly believe they would question the common sense of most of them.
Build a warming/heating fire on a fire shelter...?
Helicopter out human waste and toilet paper...?
Isn't fire a natural thing to have occur in a wilderness area...?
Just because a human has designated it a Wilderness Area, does that mean that a human can't relieve him/her self of bodily wastes...?
Aren't bodily waste products a natural occurring process...even in a wilderness area?
Viejo makes a perfectly valid statement when he/she points out that the cost so far is over 37 MILLION dollars. After all, isn't it the public's money and shouldn't they have every right to question it's distribution?
I'm am not attempting to start a debate over "who's more green" and I respectfully urge you to reconsider your response to questions that involve agencies other than Federal ones.
I thought better of you prior to that posting with a zinger for Cal Fire not extinguishing the Zaca fire when it was "theirs".
Shame on you.


Haw Haw. I acknowledge that my blood runs green, when someone forces it out of simply running FIRE which is my preferred blood type. I'd say more but wouldn't want this to turn into a "bodily waste-ing" match. Haw Haw. Ab. (Did someone ask a question that involved an agency other than a fed agency?)

7/30 Mellie,

I just checked the system and only RRU & AEU are down for crews only.
AEU, BDU, RRU are only down one level on engines.
The rest of the State is full Staffing.


7/30 MS - POTABLE Water INFO !!!!

You nit the nail on the head.. Yes, we see this all the time. You see, our company has been in this business from day one & this was before the state got involved ~ cal.

You are right on. We have two water tenders that are potable, & yes we have the pto set up, all stainless steel, all the plumbing is stainless also !!!

This cost near $10,000 per truck. We used to have a lot of work!! But now for some time we have not had any calls ... they are calling the cheap companies with the plastic tanks & the non-potable pumps.

WE have seen people get sick in fire camp also!

fire guy

7/30 Is CA FS fire at drawdown? I am trying to figure this out...


7/30 Ab,

‘WFS’ is a generic term for a structural and/or rural fire department which participates in wildland fire suppression in Washington State. Many members of the 5 WA type 2 IMTs hail from these various departments around the state, hence their designator. All 5 of Washington’s IMTs (type 2) are interagency, consisting of federal, state and WFS folks.

The Les Blair fire is currently being managed by a type 3 ‘WFS’ team, which is why it’s designated a WFS fire.


So it's not the unit identifier. It would be similar to identifying a CalFire (SRA) fire as CDF. Hmmm, OK, doing things a bit differently than I'm used to. Ab.

7/30 Ab,

>From what little info I can find:

WFS - Washington Fire Service

I believe that this is a state agency, possibly connected with the Washington State Fire Marshal's Office. I have found from looking at WA-IMT websites, that there are some individuals assigned to some WA-IMT's that have WFS designated as their home agency.

I know this isn't much to go on, but maybe someone else will be able to contribute some further info.

7/30 Has anyone considered the impact of the change of mission from Fire Control to Fire Management on wildland fire costs?

Since the Federal Government has gone to the concept of managed fires the costs some of the fires in California and Southern Oregon have gone through the roof.

Some recent examples are the Biscuit Fire, The '99 Bar Complex, The Bake/Oven/Uncle Complex, the Day Fire, and currently the Elk and The Zaca Fire.

On the Zaca incident, more than 37 million dollars have been spent to contain a 33,000 acre incident. That's a VERY expensive control burn.

The use of M.I.S.T. and other less than aggressive tactics needlessly exposes firefighters to greater risk, while the public is forced to endure smoke pollution and evacuations.

Scarce resources such as hand crews and helicopters are tied up during the peak of fire season.

I don't think the care of the Wilderness should rate higher than the health and safety of the citizens and firefighters.

Use the dozers, cut big handlines and rehab if needed.


There are lots of reasons for increased fire costs. I didn't see CalFire catch the Zaca early on when it was CalFire's fire. I think you're hitting below the belt in linking it to the term control burn. MIST is policy created by those who represent the public. The public apparently wants that kind of protection for the wilderness. Get the public to change their attitude and the policies, don't be ragging on good firefighters here who are not the policy setters.

In my opinion, this may be the fire that gets the public to reconsider what they want their congressional reps to do regarding wilderness policy. If the fire goes the direction the winds and weather are likely to take it, it has a chance to burn a large number of interface residences in spite of anything that can be done to fight it. Firefighter safety comes first. Ab.

7/30 For those looking for the official USDI document that prompted the news articles and Sec of Interior Kempthorne "let my people go", here's the text of the press release (7/25) with contact information.

Secretary Kempthorne Takes Action to Strengthen Interior’s Wildland Firefighting Efforts

Here's a link to one of the articles

US Secretary of Interior Kempthorne Issues Wildfire Directives
KRNV, NV - Jul 25, 2007
To help address the severe wildfire conditions in the West, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today issued directives and orders to immediately ...

7/30 Ab, ‘WFS’ stands for Washington Fire Service.


Thanks, that's what we thought, but why not on the Unit Identifiers list? Ab.

7/30 Looking Sharp

Thanks Lucky Lindy- even a sharp dressed man like Fernando needs some
support sometimes!

To GISgirly - Indeed not all of us can look marvelous each day in a
snappy uniform. It costs money to look smart and professional. Those
Parkies out there didn't get to be the public's highest rated federal
agency by looking like a bunch of grungy slobs. They wear snazzy hats
just like old Gifford Pinchot use to back when he was fighting for
agency credibility.

Not everybody needs a uniform allowance- especially if they don't make
contact with other humans very often. I do wish that humans weren't so
fickle about how they perceive credibility as it relates to
professionalism. If appearance wasn't important, then John Wayne would
have worn a pink Spandex jumpsuit in all his movies. According to the
plot of most of his movies- John had the quals, actions AND the pretty

To Mr. 7107-I would have them drive what is issued to them to drive. In
Sweden that might include a Volvo. If you count the Helmet Shroud -Nomex
PPE could be called a three piece suit. I figured that you might be a
follower of the wrangler jeans myth. The last time I saw anyone
following a pair of wranglers to fight a wildfire it was a small group
of migrant farm workers following their boss. They got after it- right
up until the boss fired off a road with his ranch hands caught between
the burnout and the edge of the fire. It ended up okay with everyone
accounted for………On second thought- perhaps you are correct, pink Spandex
jumpsuits might be just what the doctor ordered. Uniforms won’t improve
the firefighter if the firefighter lacks the credentials and the
credibility in the first place.


Fernando say’s “always look your best and you will be marvelous!”


7/30 Someone saw the inciweb or some report on the Washington state Les Blair Fire, Incident Number WA-WFS-2399 and asked what the WFS unit is.

I can't find it on the Unit Designator list from NWCG.

Anybody know the story on that?


7/30 Hey Steve, re Interior inspections:

In regards to the interior inspections on concessionaire properties on the forest, in my past experiences, it would be the local “structural” fire agency that would be responding as part of a normal IGA structural response. If the local fire agency has/had not adopted the county fire code or UFC’s, then the county building/planning department may be the direction you should try.

In regards to the Park Service (different from the FS), I have seen this within certain NPS park’s who do not have an organized fire “brigade” in park.

AZ Trailblazer
7/30 Someone asked where they can get a copy of the NWCG potable Water specs. Got a link potable water guy? Ab.
7/30 Re: Resource availability and allocation policy


I'm taking this opportunity to commend you on the incredible job that you are doing in support of all Federal wildland firefighters. I cannot speak for the Forest Service but in 1994 after passage of the CA Desert Protection Act, the National Park Service and BLM combined their wildland fire suppression resources for better efficiency at a great savings to the taxpayers in protecting over 25 million acres of public lands affecting three National Parks and the CA Desert District of the BLM. This "Innovative Management Laboratory" was recognized by the Department of the Interior as being a good thing and served as a model for other similar interagency operations that have been implemented throughout the rest of the country.

Each spring a pre-season meeting is conducted to review the CA Desert Interagency Fire Management Operating Plan and is attended by the Zone FMO's, Park Superintendents, District Manager and Federal Interagency Communications Center Manager. Various issues are discussed and agreed upon with input from the field. The area dispatch plan, which defines minimum drawdown levels, is approved, and it allows each Zone to make available resources to assist outside agencies PROVIDED THAT each Zone have at least one Type III engine to respond for initial attack in the CA Desert. The engines crews who are only staffed 5 days/week get to work on their days off, make some overtime and go home to a comfortable bed at night. The engine rotation schedule, that is managed by the FICC, keeps track of who is assigned to off-desert assignments and whose turn is up next to leave when the others return. This system provides sufficient coverage for home and also permits us to share resources with other areas where needed. We've been doing this for over 13 years and it seems to work to everyone's satisfaction.

Fire Geek
7/30 AirTanker memorials:

Stopped by Santa Barbara City Station 8 (Santa Barbara Airport) today to visit the 2 Air Tanker Memorials... T-88 (Lou and Teddy) and T-24 (John and Robert) .

I want to thank Sheryl Woods, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria Tanker Base Manager for making this happen, the Santa Barbara City Fire Department for providing the space on their grounds and the loving care the memorials are receiving and the Santa Barbara City Airport for supporting the move. These memorials were at the old Santa Barbara Tanker Base and needed to stay in Santa Barbara..

Thanks Sheryl! Great Job..... The setting is fantastic.... and powerful..


7/30 My best answer to Steve Fowler's question re: inspection of resorts on FS land.

Regardless of the ownership of the land, the authority having jurisdiction should be the
local fire authority responsible for enforcing adopted state and local codes. On the other
hand, if the occupancy is owned and operated by the federal government, the state and
local agencies have no jurisdiction.


7/30 Is there a place that we can see how many of our
resourses in R5 are on assignments right now.
Especially out of region.


7/30 Melissa,

In 1994, new monuments were installed at Mann Gulch to replace the cement crosses that had started to crumble. The crosses were left in place and granite monoliths were rebared and cemented into place. I cannot imagine damage to the site from a fire moving through the cheat grass.

There is a wooden cross in Rescue Gulch in the scree slope where Sallee and Rumsey sought refuge. That cross should again be safe if fire burns around the scree.

The Missoula Smoke Jumpers installed the new monuments and would take all responsibility for any required maintenance. Call the Smoke Jumper Visitor Center in Missoula, MT and they can hook you up with that project leader.

Thanks for your concern,

Pitch Pocket
7/29 From Firescribe:

Forest fires blaze across southern Europe

Wash. forest fires spark debate on climate change

7/29 Answer for JG


He said the TV was posting immediate evacs west of Phillipsburg. This link is a little old, so the voluntary may have become mandatory based on the TV posting.

Says the fire is the Wyman 2 and started yesterday and is over 500 acres tonight.


7/29 Just caught on the Missoula Mt news:

Emergency Evac in the Rock Creek area. Crawler said grab valuables and
IMMEDIATELY LEAVE. Not sure the name of the fire (could be the Mile
Marker 124) but the evac orders were for several areas in and around the
Phillipsburg Mt area. Aircraft flying from the Missoula tanker base at 20-30
minute intervals all day.


7/29 Since I started in the wildfire business in 19XX (I ain't telling the exact year 'cause it ages me, but it's way over 30 years ago), I filled a lot of positions in the fire organization, from "engine slug' and "rotor-head" to eventually being responsible for the fire management program on a large western National Forest. At the same time, I worked my way up the fire suppression organization, serving in Operations on Regional and National Incident Management Teams, sometimes while also serving in key Fire Management positions year-round.

My purpose in bringing this up is to lay the ground-work for the following comments!

Everyone in the wildfire business likes to fight fire, and to get a chance to head out to the "Big One", where ever it might be, but especially if it's far away from home in Wyoming, Utah, Montana or Idaho. It's not only an opportunity to test ourselves against some challenging fires, but also to make some big bucks before winter sets in a few months down the road!

But our desires as wildland firefighters to rush off to the "Big Ones" are sometimes overridden by the "bigger picture" need to keep some forces at their home units to make quick and effective initial attack on new fire starts. After all, it seems to me that our mission is still protecting the natural resources, even if it doesn't maximize our overtime? Of the postings from folks complaining about being "stuck" at their home unit, can any of them show that their Fire Danger is not at "High" or above?

I've been frustrated over the years, too: I want to go off on fire assignments, but have to stay home and protect the home ground, or wait for my Team to get called up off the National Rotation list; or, being forced to allow some of my "critical resources" to take a Resource Order to help out those with active fires, when I'd really like to keep them in reserve in case we bust something on the home ground! When I accepted the Forest Fire Staff Officer job, I had to get off my T-1 IMT for a few years, because my day-to-day responsibilities for fire management on the home unit was a higher priority during fire season than my Team assignment.

Just like every US Army soldier and Marine is not in Iraq or Afghanistan fighting the bad guys, so those of us in the wildfire business cannot always be assigned where the hottest action is, but our mission is still critical!

I've had numerous experiences with the National and Regional MAC groups over the past 20+ years, and don't envy them their tasks! Make a bad resource allocation decision, and while some happy firefighters are sucking up OT and HP, the consequences of their decisions come home to roost in the way of resource damage, media scrutiny, and political pressure. That's why Draw-down levels and resource allocations are always so critical.

If you think that things are so quiet at home that you should be allowed to rush off to the fires that offer bigger challenges and more OT, then why do you think that the rest of us tax-paying citizens should guarantee you a 40 hour per week pay check when there's really no fire risk that requires your presence at your home station? Maybe we should contract fire suppression skills when there's a fire, and not worry about having resources in reserve in case the unexpected occurs? NOT!!!

7/29 Hi Ab,

Late last night we received a call from a firefighter currently fighting on the Sawmill Creek fire in Missoula, Montana near the Mann Gulch www.manngulchfire.com/ memorial site. There was concern that the fire might destroy the monument. The firefighter asked me to get something up on They Said to alert folks that this could happen and that she (and possibly her crew – we had a bad connection) were ready to collect funds to ensure that the site is reconstructed if there is damage.

Thanks Ab for the wonderful forum you provide for all of us!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
7/29 MT-HNF-033-Meriwether www.inciweb.org/incident/871/

Location: Gates of the Mountain Wilderness

Significant Events: The fire aligned itself and made a significant run to the north and north east. Crews completed securing line on the south end of the fire, in the vicinity of the American Bar subdivision and along the American Bar Road. Residents of the Eldorado subdivision were allowed back into their homes and are on evacuation notification. The Fire moved into Mann Gulch today.


Observed Fire Behavior: Spectacular plume domination on the north and north east side of the fire.

Could be bad Karma! Hope everyone up there has their best mojo working for them


7/29 North OPS Issues

Besides They Said, I too have been getting emails about the North Ops strategies/policies etc. Certainly since I am not intimately involved in that decision-making process I am not going to second guess those making the decisions and whether it is simply a move to protect their own turf or whether it goes to something mandated from higher up as AB suggested.

Its one thing to be frustrated by not being able to go to fires but its an entirely different matter when policy starts impacting our firefighter's personal finances and economics i.e. losing OT hours and impacting the taxpayers if higher-priced non-federal resources are being used while more cost-effective feds are sitting idle.

While I may not have the answers, I do have the luxury of being able to ask such questions of those who likely know the answers. As such I have emailed R5 FAM Director Ed Hollenshead putting forth the idea that someone, whether it be himself or someone directly involved in the North Ops decision-making process put something out publicly in an effort to allow folks to better understand the decisions being made. Some may not like or agree with the answers and decisions, but at the very least someone should speak up and acknowledge the frustration and offer an explanation.

Until I hear from Ed...any takers?

7/29 Question:

Who does interior fire inspections for resorts who lease land from the USFS?
This is the result of a cabin fire on the Plumas National Forest.

Steve Fowler, CAL FIRE Fire Captain
Butte County Fire Marshal
Plumas County Fire Protection Planner

Thanks again for posting Ab. --would you please add that the fire was accidental and that no general interior fire safety inspection would have prevented this fire -- it started in the fireplace flue chase and extended into the attic. Fortunately the USFS was close by and kept the fire from extending into the wildland. The family who was staying there (out fishing at the time of the fire) are asking the questions and I've been instructed to come up with the answers. The state fire marshal's staff is also looking into it.

On a side note, I was assigned to Plumas County in March of this year. I am very grateful for the welcome I have received from the Forest Service.


7/29 I have been reading postings on they said for sometime now and given the tenor of some of the postings, I feel it is time I put in my two cents worth.

In ecology the is a concept known as a 'tipping point'. For instance it is postulated that once the Amazon rainforest becomes 40% type converted, it will no longer be able to generate its own rain, causing the demise of the rain forest.

From where I sit the R5 Forest Service is at similar tipping point. We all know that many Captains and engineers and prospective module leaders are heading to where the money is, namely Cal-Fire. Speaking for myself, I've been able to make an adequate living as a FS engine captain, enough so that I've never seriously thought of jumping ship. That is until now. Reason being is that because of our depleted staffing levels and the North ops draw down policy, I'm not making the requisite overtime to make that 'adequate living'. On my district, we have 4 engines and 4 module leaders. So no single resource assignments, and not enough engine assignments to compensate.

So the 'tipping point' is clear, as experienced qualified people leave for greener (or redder) pastures, those of us left behind are put in a position of not getting the assignments, training assignments and overtime needed to make a rational career. So then more people leave, a negative feedback loop.

It seems that R5 has managed to squander the gains made during the MEL build-up and is in a downward spiral. Yet our leaders, who are obviously mostly interested in their own careers, are content to hold an arbitrary line, in spite of the very real human cost to those of us who have so much invested in a career with the FS. I can hear the recruitment talk from the region now, if they were honest. Come work for us and put your career and money making potential on hold while we hold you and everyone around you at your station while the rest of the country is screaming for resources. Wake up people, the cost of doing business this way is extreme.

I can imagine the pressures on the other side of the coin, but I suggest that our leaders use some creative thinking to avert what can be averted in this slow motion disaster that is occurring as we speak. For instance, I'm guessing that draw down levels are based on MEL build-up numbers, a number no longer valid from what I can tell. What was draw-down before the build-up? We survived then did'nt we.


This action in NOPs does not originate in R5, but is mandated from the top (national level) down. It's failure of leadership at the highest levels that's at fault in my opinion. Ab.

7/29 Interesting article about the difference of CAL FIRE and USFS



My read on it is that it's not about the differences per se; it's about re-clarification of respective agency mission and vision, the responsibility the public must assume for building in fire hazard zones, and what all that means for agreements among firefighting entities to enhance firefighter safety.

7/29 NWCG potable Water specs

I have a safety issue that needs to be brought out in the open: it involves the drinking water provided to firecamp.

As you may know NWCG undated and released the new potable water specifications March 2007.

The new specifications mirror what several States have as standing specifications. The tighter the better.

Although these specifications are out and supposed to be adopted, several Regions are not going to adopt until 2010 which brings up the problem.

What follows are facts and can be substantiated.

  • There are numerous "potable" trucks in use and on EERAs that have non potable pumps on them.
  • The most common gas engine driven pump manufacturer being used is Honda. Honda has never manufactured a NSF 61 or food grade certified pump.
  • Other brands are Teel, Banjo, Pacer, and Red Lion and others who also have no certification as NSF or food grade.
  • Most of the pump heads are manufactured with polyester and reinforced fiber glass.
  • Fiber glass is on the carcinogen list as wool glass fiber, its real name.

Electric driven and PTO pumps that are certified are easy to find and are very expensive. The pumps named above are in the $300 to $500 range as opposed to a certified PTO pump at $7800 for starters.

To add to the dilemma is the fact most of these trucks have a State sticker on them as being inspected and acceptable for potable water. This compounds the problem. The Forest Service Acquisition group says "We rely on the State for drinking water inspections we are not trained to inspect". Further adding to the problem is the State sends out a yearly waiver that lets the contractors self certify instead of doing actual inspections.

The new NWCG specifications specifically state "If the State does not do certification, then the hiring agency will be responsible for inspecting and ensuring the tank meets the requirements".

The new specifications also state, "the tank shall arrive empty for inspection".

I might also add the task books that everyone is required to complete has specific responsibilities and training for the LSC, FAC, FDL, BCMG, and Safety Officer regarding the inspections of potable water equipment including the water quality and source.

People are trained. Just an example the Food and Drug Branch did an investigation of one company with a EERA and found non compliant pumps. A violation Notice was issued. One of the trucks issued a violation was later using the non compliant pump to supply the kitchen on a fire in Ca. a couple of weeks after being violated.

My recommendation to the incident management team members who have responsibility of potable water equipment is to ask the vendor for the documentation showing the pump is certified NSF or food grade. The documentation should have the company letterhead, serial number, model, (matches the pump tag), date manufactured and where. There should be a contact name and phone number. Any vendor worth their salt should have this readily available.

If a brochure is presented, read it closely. Example Hondas brochure has a application section with clear water and water wagons. There are 3 asterisks beside the clear water. The *** foot note says non-potable only. In the approved liquids section at the bottom it says "not to be used to pump liquids for human consumption"

The tightening of the original specifications is long overdue. I believe the folks who are in the camps ought to know.

After 2 years of searching I did find a briggs powered certified all stainless pump. Cost $3200.


7/29 Ab,

If you had a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and your living room couch
caught fire, would you carry the fire extinguisher into your living room, or
would you keep it staged in your kitchen in case your stove catches fire
sometime in the future?

That's the decision making this Idaho firefighter sees in North Ops right now.

7/29 FSH 5109.16 (42) - Only personnel meeting the qualifications of the Federal Aviation Regulations with appropriate ratings (FAR 43.7, 43.17) shall inspect, maintain, repair, or alter Forest Service owned or operated aircraft.

Sign me.... one helicopter dropped outta the sky into the creek after a supposedly qualified "inspection" by the Region made it available as a non-restricted use aircraft on a CWN Contract for severity.

It crashed due to inspection failures and is well documented.

Thank god, those on the ground recognized the hazards and called BS before it flew any troops and crashed.

NTSB reports available.

Ooops.... non A&P certified here..... I have eyes to know and understand a "rust bucket" and when something looks unsafe and doesn't meet industry safety standards for maintenance or safety.
7/29 Ab,

Attached is the OSHA citation for the Devil's Den Fire. BLM was cited with a single serious violation because 4 of 10 fire orders "were compromised," 8 of 18 watchouts "were not implemented," and 2 of 4 LCES "were disregarded." The language used shows a better understanding of wildland fire safety by OSHA's Denver regional office, compared to what the San Francisco office put out for Esperanza.

Not sure why it took a FOIA request to get a public document that was given to BLM over 2 months ago.

vfd cap'n
7/28 If John Milton were alive today, this is what I'd say:

Mr. Milton,

I do realize that waiting is part of the game and it's the game we play, and we
have been waiting patiently. But when the news shows idaho officials
complaining that they have no resources to work with, it pains us to know that
we aren't being used where we could be. I know resources are in a drawdown and
there are needs for north ops to have resources around. Its not a complaint by
anyone, just a strong desire to do our job. It's really hard for any shot crew
to watch land burning up around them and to be just sitting at the station. We
love what we do.

Oh and its not a knock against north ops... obviously they have jobs to do too.
Just a lot of frustration with half the western US burning up and we can't do
anything about it...


7/28 Casey

First off Casey I want to say what you do is very
appreciated by all federal firefighters but how do we
keep people interested with their jobs when they
aren't allowed to go to fires. There is a reason why
people are going to Calfire and leaving our
organization. When we see crews, engines and
helicopters sitting while fires burn it gets pretty
disheartening. Also when they move resources to fires
and they sit because North Ops is playing its little
games that doesn't help much either. Last I looked
there were only two fires in R5 but you would think
the whole state is burning by the way crews are being
held. Last but not least, it's hard enough to keep our
younger guy/gals coming back year after year and when
they aren't allowed to do their jobs it's even harder.
It almost seems like they want the Forest Service
Fire program to fail.

7/28 From Lobotomy


This is a long post and may need to be truncated some, but the info is important to fire and aviation safety as I am sure you will agree.

I think you may have hit the nail on the head regarding one of the latent problems in the federal firefighting air world...... The recruitment, retention, and qualifications of airworthiness inspectors and contract inspectors in the federal firefighting air program. I know the Forest Service has some damn good airworthiness and contract inspectors, but damn few too many qualified inspectors for the number of aircraft in our permanent and contract fleet for the number of aircraft we are operating on any given day.

Very recently, the Forest Service advertised numerous air worthiness inspector positions in the GS-1801 (General Inspection, Investigation, and Compliance) Series. Like the 0401 series, the 1801 series is a "catch all" series for folks that don't seem to fit appropriately in other occupational series. There is also keen competition for qualified airworthiness inspectors from the private sector, state, and other federal government agencies.

The most appropriate series is the GS-1825 (Aviation Safety) Series, but I believe the training and experience standards only apply to "civil" aviation safety and not to public use aircraft safety and inspections as the new draft standard states. On July 25, 2007, the Office of Personnel Management published the Draft Qualification Standard for the Aviation Safety, 1825 Occupational Series.

"This series includes positions that involve primarily developing, administering, or enforcing regulations and standards concerning civil aviation safety, including (1) the airworthiness of aircraft and aircraft systems; (2) the competence of pilots, mechanics, and other airmen; and (3) safety aspects of aviation facilities, equipment, and procedures. These positions require knowledge and skill in the operation, maintenance, or manufacture of aircraft and aircraft systems."

"Aviation safety inspectors apply a broad knowledge of the aviation industry, the general principles of aviation safety, and the Federal laws, regulations, and policies affecting aviation. In addition, they apply intensive technical knowledge and skill in the operation, maintenance, or manufacture of aircraft."

The GS-1825 series breaks down into three sub-groups:

1. Aviation Safety Inspectors (Operations) Positions
2. Aviation Safety Inspector (Airworthiness) Positions

3. Aviation Safety Inspector (Manufacturing) Positions


FSH 5109.16 (40.44) - Aircraft Maintenance Inspectors ETC For the rest, go to aviation-safety

7/28 Date: July 27, 2007
Subject: 72-Hour (Expanded) Briefing, Trapper Ridge WFU, Snag Accident, July 24, 2007
To: Forest Supervisor, Boise NF

The following information is preliminary and subject to change

At 0735 hours on July 24, 2007, three members of the Silver State Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) were struck by a hazard tree that fell while they were working as a crew constructing fireline. The crew was assigned to Division A on the Trapper Ridge Wildland Fire Use (WFU) incident at the time of the accident. An identified snag, approximately 25 feet interior of the fireline was determined to have a potential to fall. A lookout was posted to watch this hazard tree while the crew constructed line in the area. When the snag, approximately 8 inches in diameter at breast height (d.b.h.) with a forked top at a height of 35-40 feet began to fall, the lookout gave a warning shout. As the snag came down, it hit a second snag resulting in three crew members being struck by the falling material.

One employee was struck on his hardhat. The suspension of this wildland firefighter-approved (Bullard 911C) hardhat snapped, absorbing some of the force of the blow as designed. The second employee was hit by material on the upper back. The third employee hit did not receive any notable injury and remained on the fireline.

Emergency Medical Technicians from the crew provided immediate medical attention as the crew superintendent activated the medical evacuation procedures described in the Incident Action Plan. The two injured employees were transported via two Life Flight Air Ambulances to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho and were examined, treated, and released that day. These two firefighters have returned to their home unit on light duty status as of July 27, 2007.

The Trapper Ridge WFU started on July 17, 2007, and is located approximately 28 miles NNE of Idaho City, Idaho under the jurisdiction of the Boise National Forest. At the time of the accident, the fire was estimated at 10,884 acres with approximately 82 personnel assigned to the Rocky Mountain Area Fire Use Management Team 1.

The Silver State IHC is a Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (Nevada BLM) Type I - 20 person (hotshot) wildland firefighting hand crew, stationed at the Carson City Field Office in Carson City, Nevada.

The Interagency Non-Serious Wildland Fire Accident Review Team assigned is working to establish the facts surrounding this hazard tree related incident. The intent of this review is to determine any lessons to be learned or recommendations for situational awareness or prevention purposes.

/s/ Dennis Duehren
Accident Review Team Leader

7/28 IHCs aren't the only ones being held in North Ops. Our helicopter has been sitting for over
9 nine days with no missions, working 8's. Try to be excited about a big season when you
have only been on a couple of fires and haven't broken a 100 hours of OT yet.

7/28 D,

They also serve who only stand and wait.

John Milton

Desk Jockey

7/28 The Missoula National Interagency Support Cache recently four
instances of Sharps containers coming back to them at the end of incidents.
These containers (needles, blades, etc.) are to be disposed of through a
set protocol which utilizes appropriate facilities (hospitals, clinics,
etc.) as identified by local jurisdictional unit hosting the incident.

A SafeNet will be written but wanted to share this through your
coordinating list to get to the teams to request the medical units and
supply units work together to get these things disposed of through proper
procedures and not be placed on the cache item trucks returning supplies
from the incident. This truly poses a great health hazard to the folks at
the cache.

thanks, Tory

Tory Henderson
FS F&AM Fire Operations
Equipment and Chemicals
7/28 With all due respect ab, i realize that there are some management issues in
north zone and its getting ridiculous... idaho is screaming for resources and
yet my shot crew is locked up in north ops sitting at our station being
useless...supposedly waiting for lightning that will prolly fizzle out once it
hits the sierras. We are the only crew in north zone that has not been assigned
for the soul reason... im betting that if idaho found out that we are sitting
around doing nothing they wouldn't be very happy.. and the crew isn't very happy
with north ops... nothing worse than a shot crew sitting back doing
nothing... and we are chomping at the bit to go somewhere and do what we do

7/28 This story has come in from several people, Mellie, Lobotomy and Elaine. Touching... Please take a moment to honor the fallen. Ab.


Happy Camp boy honors firefighters' fallen
By Dylan Darling
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Story Highlights

The news: A Happy Camp boy cashes in his savings to honor firefighters’ fallen comrade instead of buying a video game system.

For the past month, 8-year-old Julian Singleton of Happy Camp had been saving his allowance and putting away money earned bringing in recyclable cans and bottles and doing odd jobs for neighbors.
His goal was to stash away enough to buy a Sony PlayStation 2 game system. But that changed Monday when tragedy touched the firefighters working the Elk Fire Complex.

After learning that Dennis Luster Davis, 61, of Boise, Idaho, was killed when his helicopter crashed while he was fighting the fire, Julian told his parents that he was going to use his nest egg to buy flowers to honor the pilot.
"I was sad the pilot died," he said in a telephone interview Friday.

But it wasn't the first kind deed the youngster did for the fire crew. Earlier in the month, he crafted a 12-foot-long thank you card that he got businesses and residents around Happy Camp to sign. The massive card still hangs by the fire camp's mess hall.

As a thank you for his kindness, firefighters Thursday gave Julian and his parents a tour of the camp and helicopter base.
"He had a ball," said his mother, Pam Singleton.

Along with the tour, the firefighters gave Julian a collection of mementos, including a hat, stickers and a fire helmet with his name on it. And, after learning how he had used his savings, they gave him a PlayStation 2. Larry Singleton said he's proud of his son, who he said has always liked to help people.

"When I was his age, all I thought about was playing and getting into mischief," said Larry Singleton.

Made up of 30 fires sparked by lightning on July 10, the Elk Fire Complex has burned 10,244 acres and continues to threaten 550 buildings in and near Happy Camp, although calls for evacuation have been lifted, said Ray Dombroski, a fire spokesman with the U.S. Forest Service.

By Friday night, the fires were 59 percent contained, he said. Full containment isn't expected until Aug. 5 because hand crews need to hike into the wilderness to get to some of the fires.

"It's steep, rugged country," he said.

Reporter Dylan Darling can be reached at 225-8266 or at ddarling@redding.com .

Fair use disclaimer

7/27 The Remembrance Service for those firefighters who have died on the Oak Knoll RD of the Klamath National Forest will take place at 0630 to allow everyone working on the Elk Complex incident to attend. The Honor Guard will be among those paying tribute. Those who can't be there, please take a moment of silence... Ab.

Text from The Program (4,537 K pdf file) is below:

Today we are gathered to honor those who have fallen in
the line of duty on the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger

This date has significance to us on the Klamath
National Forest as it is the fifth anniversary of the Stanza Fire
tragedy. Lassen National Forest Engine 11 crew members Steve
Oustad, Heather DePaolo, and John Self lost their lives in the
line of duty when the engine rolled off a steep embankment on
July 28, 2002.

On July 23, 2007, Helicopter N205BR crashed while
performing firefighting operations on the Elk Fire, resulting in
the fatality of Pilot Dennis Davis. Additionally, on that same
day in the late afternoon, we lost fire camp employees George
Barbis and Richard Pearson, Jr., in a drowning on the Klamath

On August 4, 2006, Heavy Lift Helicopter N6156U,
crashed into the Klamath River at Independence Creek, resulting
in the line of duty deaths of Andrei Pantchenko and Terry
“Jake” Jacobs.

During the devastating fires of 1987, we lost another
firefighter, Bruce Visser of the San Bernardino National Forest.
Assigned to the Slater Fire, Bruce was hit by a motorcycle on the
side of old Highway 96, while conducting structure protection.

Thank you for being here to share in this remembrance service.

Alan Vandiver, District Ranger
Don Hall, Deputy District Ranger
Mike Dietrich, Incident Commander
Tom Cable, Deputy Incident Commander

7/27 Just a thought,

I don't know exactly who is on the Elk Complex, but perhaps a lot of the personnel are wards of the State of California. They aren't exactly paid a whole lot. Perhaps the terrain is tougher on the Elk Complex. Perhaps heavy timber requires a whole lot more mop up than sagegrass. Or, perhaps you're right and the attitude here is simply more oriented towards suppression. Likely, the truth lies in between. I do know that the leadership in the Klamath gets a lot of political pressure over air quality in the area.

This whole cost containment thing gets a little silly sometimes. I've seen forests refuse to purchase ten newspapers for folks in camp to enjoy while gladly paying for a handful of Type 1 helos. This happened just before a major election -- we actually had voting in camp. Yep, that seven dollars sure saved the Forest Service that year.


7/27 Ab,

ODF published this interesting bit of statistical information this afternoon, 7/27, in their Daily Fire Update. It relates to the current Monument Complex size and amount of acreage on ODF lands and compares that acreage to historical ODF fires over the last 45 years and their sizes.

The Monument Complex has burned approximately 54,000 acres. Approximately 35,100 acres of the total is ODF protected lands. For perspective on acreage amounts of recent historical fires on ODF-protected lands, ODF fire statistics show that only four fires over the past 45 years have burned over 20,000 acres of ODF-protected lands - acreage amounts close to the amount of ODF-protected lands burned by this complex (approximately 35,100 acres). Those fires are: Timbered Rock out of Southwest Oregon in 2003 at 24,271 acres; Toolbox #158 out of Lakeview in 2003 at 24,719 acres; the Monument Complex in 2001 at 28,253 acres; and Fire #66781035 out of Western Lane in 1966 that burned 43,368 acres.

Note the Monument Complex of 2001.

7/27 re: UTF's at Antelope Complex (NV);


Thank you for picking up that point, regarding your Team's performance. I should have made that perfectly clear; I was attempting (evidently poorly) to address the shortage of resources available to IA, EA, and T3 organizations, and had absolutely NO problem (yet again) with any of your Team, or its handling of what, as you said,was quite a Complex.

As for my failure to mention the other fires in the Complex, and the job those resources assigned to them produced; as a Pulaski Motor, I had no real contact with any of them, so didn't feel I had the right to comment. I did not intend to disregard their efforts; we were all in the same boat, until you arrived like the Cavalry!

Rowdy (and all readers), I can only tell you from first hand experience, that all IA/EA personnel there were thrilled when Muir Team arrived, and with all the resources you can, and did, draw; I have had complete faith in your entire Team since the first time I worked under them, and still do. Shoot, they took us through 2 of the smoothest transitions I've ever experienced (T3- T2- T1); if we hadn't been notified of transitions taking place, and seen the new faces getting oriented and briefed (and resources arriving), we wouldn't have noticed. If I'd had any problem whatsoever, you would have heard about it at the time, through the chain of command, and not on a public forum.

I ABSOLUTELY did not intend to minimize anyone's efforts or performance, in any way.


I seem to be doing a lot of apologizing lately; maybe I should concentrate on the season at hand, and less on the Big Picture...


A Serious Accident Investigation (SAI) Team was assigned the responsibility to investigate the circumstances surrounding the entrapment and shelter deployment of two firefighters on the Alabaugh Canyon Fire in South Dakota. The SAI Team is in the process of identifying the contributing factors, causal factors, and recommendations to prevent similar accidents of this type in the future. Findings of the investigation team will remain confidential until the Investigation Report is approved by a "Board of Review" in late August or September.

"Lessons Learned" were derived during the investigation but are not a part of the formal SAI process, and consequently will not be in the Serious Accident Investigation Report. Interviews with the personnel involved with suppression activities during the Alabaugh Canyon Fire produced much information that can be used immediately by other firefighters to heighten situational awareness during this extreme fire season.

The Team's intent is to convey these "Lessons Learned" to the wildland fire community for immediate use and provide a benefit to others as a learning opportunity.

The purpose of these Lessons Learned are insights to assist in designing and implementing a safe operating system and increase organizational learning, necessary to prevent a similar accident in the near and long term.

Environmental Factors

What the firefighters learned for themselves from this incident:

· Never underestimate Mother Nature, anticipate the unanticipated.

· Know what fire weather and fire behavior is doing. Extreme fire behavior shortens the decision space to plan and implement emergency actions.

Human Factors

What the firefighters learned for themselves from this incident:

· Firefighters involved in the initial attack on the Alabaugh Fire actively mitigated the risks they believed were present. In hindsight however, virtually everyone engaged in this operation reported that they underestimated the fire behavior and fire weather. Several firefighters voiced a key message, that highly trained and very experienced firefighters can underestimate fire behavior.

· Whenever on the fireline always have personnel protection equipment.

· Pay more attention to weather briefings and Red Flag Warnings

· Don't assume radio communications are adequate, disengage from operations if there is not positive radio communications.

· Be more mindful of conditions; maintain situational awareness and attention to planning safety zones. Be more mindful of fuels and topography, escape routes and the overall situation especially when engaging in operations at night, in the WUI and in unfamiliar country.

· Safety zones must be preplanned and known before taking actions. Escape routes need to be assessed and everyone briefed.

· Be more assertive in speaking up and expressing thoughts and concerns about the situation. Do not defer to others just because they have more experience.

· Request thorough briefings, potential fire behavior and maps of the situation.

· Firefighters should reassess tactics and engagement when situations are chaotic and there are poor communications.

· Follow the chain of command.

· Resist the unconscious temptation to put yourself and others at risk to save unoccupied houses.

· Fire shelter training saves lives.

· Overhead and firefighters together should develop and make known fire behavior and weather trigger points for disengagement.

· Do not delay deployment of shelters if there is an assessed life threatening risk from unexpected fire behavior. Don't delay the deployment because of intimidation by the fear of an investigation.

Equipment Factors

What the firefighters learned for themselves from this incident:

· Test radio communications and verify they are satisfactory when responding to and engaging in wildland fire operations. If radio communications aren't working, or failing during the incident or become overwhelmed with traffic and can't be mitigated, firefighters need to disengage. Better use of tactical frequencies is essential during complex initial attack and extended attack particularly in the wildland urban interface.

· All wildland firefighters have to abide by a protocol for radio use to avoid confusing chatter.

· There is a need for the States and Federal agencies to develop a standard radio use plan for safe wildland firefighting and interoperability.

· All wildland firefighters will wear personal protective equipment even if on the line for a short time.

· Shrouds should be available and used when fighting fires, especially in the urban interface.
7/27 Why is it that most of the other Regions are trying to contain costs on fires and R5 is continuing to spend like there is no tomorrow. Look at the cost for the Elk complex and the amount of personnel still on that fire. Is the Region aware that there are alot of fires outside of R5 that could use some of its recourses. The Elk hasn't grown much since the rainfall last week or the week before whenever it was but the crews keep coming in. There are fires in Idaho that are three times the size of the Elk in timbered areas and they have 1/10th the personnel as the Elk. I think it's time for R5 to step up and stop the spending spree and stop hiding your recourses on fires that are contained or close to it.

Just a thought

There's some serious cost management going on with down/upsizing as needed. Remember that there is an incident within an incident and that personnel numbers are high as firefighters timing out overlap with firefighters transitioning in. As fuels dry, fire behavior increases. There's more to the story than meets the eye in this vertical country. Ab.

7/27 A newspaper article today says that the USDI Secretary has told all of his agencies (NPS, BIA, F&WS, BLM) to kick their people loose for fire assignments, and authorized temporarily hiring retirees back at their old rates for fire assignments with no loss of retirement benefits.

With a potential boatload of USFS retirees qualified for fire assignments in a year like this, the USDA Secretary and USFS Chief are strangely silent!


7/27 Pyro,

You forgot to mention that a Type I Incident Management Team was
involved with the Antelope Complex. You also forgot to add the Paris Fire,
Carico Fire, and the Cain Fire. The complex contained six fires and were
scattered over 100 miles. Each around the 30,000 acre figure other than the
Paris Fire.

You are right however, a shortage in resources makes decision making and
priorities somewhat hard. As the IC I would like to thank all of those who
worked so hard in helping contain these fires. There was lots of fire with
limited resources.

However the job was accomplished successfully and we will carry on, because
that's what folks in the fire organization do best. "Carry on"
Be safe and we will see you on the next one.

Rowdy Muir
Incident Commander
National Type I Team
Great Basin

7/27 from the Hotlist Forum:

The following information is from Inciweb - This accident occurred on Wednesday, July 25th, shortly after 8 P.M. on the East Zone Complex / Loon Fire -

Helicopter Makes Emergency Landing; 2 Injured

A Bell 214ST helicopter working on contract to the Payette National Forest in support of fire suppression on the Loon Fire northeast of McCall made an emergency landing at about ten minutes after 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

The two people on board were the pilot and a mechanic -- both were injured in the accident and taken by air evacuation to the McCall airport and then McCall Memorial Hospital. Both were able to remove themselves from the aircraft and walk to safety after the emergency landing. The aircraft did not catch on fire and the aircrafts radio continued to operate, allowing the two to communicate with Payette National Forest dispatchers.

The names and condition of the pilot and mechanic have not been released. One of the individuals was treated and released and the other remains at the local hospital.

The aircraft appears to have suffered significant damage. A National Transportation Safety Board investigator has been assigned and a Forest Service investigation team is traveling to McCall.

Inciweb - East Zone Complex - http://www.inciweb.org/incident/801/
Inciweb - East Zone Complex Press Release - Helicopter Accident - http://www.inciweb.org/incident/news/article/801/4542/

7/27 Doesnt look like its been picked up by wires yet since its a Missoulian reporter writing it...but I m sure other reports on the meeting have/will been written:


Firefighting costs out of control, says panel
By Noelle Straub Missoulian D.C. Bureau

Washington - Economists, foresters and federal officials debated Thursday how to lower the skyrocketing cost of fighting wildfires, mulling solutions that ranged from staying the course to abolishing the U.S. Forest Service.

The agency's fire spending is “out of control,” said Randal O'Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank. A forest economist, O'Toole released a policy paper suggesting a range of six alternatives to fix the problem. (to read the whole thing, click the link)


7/27 Dear UNSURE:

I get the same question from many of our members and I'm sure you'll receive answers that suggest doing what is best for you & your family is what counts. More often than not that translates to pay & benefits.

However that being said, my caveat to that answer is that if I didn't see changes coming, albeit slowly, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing.

There are facts that must be addressed and dealt with:

The Agencies, primarily the Forest Service is not fond of FIRE...it gets too much money, its a pain etc.

The agencies are mired in supporting archaic pay & personnel policies and because of their indifference to FIRE, won't publicly support changes for its firefighters.

The Agency's use of FIRE money is deplorable and gives rise to a variety of problems currently being experienced.

The Agency will draw a line in the sand in regards to portal to portal compensation

The FIRE leadership has its hands tied to a great degree by the non-FIRE leadership

Soooo..... lots of negatives. But there is movement. And those negatives haven't stopped us before.

Congress recognizes the dysfunction and is actively looking at ways/methods to fix many of the problems. We are hopeful that will include supporting our legislative agenda.

The ANF is resurrecting a look at the special salary rate;

The FWFSA has it's "homework assignment" from those in the Agency that support FIRE such as working to secure permanent or permanent part-time appointments for temporary firefighters and continuing our legislative efforts etc.

If I honestly felt there was no hope for change in making the land management agency fire programs THE place to make a wildland firefighting career, I'd state that publicly and find something else to do with my time.

We have demonstrated before (securing the elimination of the overtime pay cap for wildland firefighters) that we can go toe to toe with the Agency(s) if necessary and prevail and I remain confident things will change. Of course we all know that change, especially in dealing with the federal government takes time.

Our federal wildland firefighters will never have true pay parity with those from CAL-FIRE or many municipal agencies. I don't think too many feds expect or envision that. However some realistic policy changes will go a long way in allowing our firefighters to feel as though they are important to the Agency.

If the non-FIRE leadership of the Agency wants to ignore its firefighters or refuse to do what is necessary to retain its quality workforce, then they can give us the ball and get the hell out of the way and we'll run with it (which is basically what we're doing now anyway).

You may or may not be FWFSA members but I think it safe to say those who are working on behalf of federal wildland firefighters value your service and would be honored to have you stay with the Agency and work with us to effect positive change for yourselves and others.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
7/27 Unsure,

Sounds like you and your significant other have an extremely personal decision
to make as will many others in the near future.

As with all decisions, gather as many facts as time allows utilizing trusted sources.
Weigh the facts with your current situation and proposed change with your life
priorities, goals and objectives in mind.

Bueno Suerte,

7/27 Hi Ab,

Have you seen the video with the Washington DNR helicopter with a water bucket striking an engine during the Easy Street Fire?

If not it’s definitely worth watching. It’s a great training video for people to follow their training and department procedures. The firefighters are from Snohomish Fire District # 22 (Getchell), the department policy is you wear your goggles, helmet and pack when in the vehicle during a wildland fire. The bucket hit them on the drivers’ side dash and literally covered the two from head to toe with glass.

If it wasn’t for their goggles, the outcome would have no doubt been worse. As it was they both walked away only shaken up.

The link to the raw video footage is: http://www.getchellfire.com/mobilzation.phpl. Scroll to the bottom of the screen to see the video.

There was also a news story done about it and the link to that site is:
Fire crews face surprise attack from the sky


Thanks, that was posted last week but I'm posting again for those who missed it. Ab.

7/27 At the risk of creating a minor "firestorm": I think that it's important during the coming weeks of a severe fire season that all of us in the business of wildland fire, regardless of our Agency affiliations, remember that we've all agreed to use ICS as our basis for fire positions and related nomenclature. Just a few examples: on Incident Management Teams, there are only 4 Chiefs: Operations, Logistics, Plans and Finance. If you're a Wildlife Biologist on your everyday job, but serve as a PSC 1 or 2 on a wildfire, your a Chief, not a Biologist; if you're "Chief" of a Fire department in a town like Poedunk, Washington and go off on an IMT as the "Head Person", you're referred to as an Incident Commander (IC), not a "Chief". regardless of your everyday job. Fire quals are based on ICS 310-1, or other nationally accepted standards, not "home boy" criteria.
Just hoping that, as we all (crews, engines, overhead, etc) start crossing State borders to help each other out on fires, we try to "march to the beat of the same drummer", and realize the importance of standardization in our business.
Stay Safe!

7/27 In response to Pyro, It sounds like the old days in Reg. 4; limited equipment and manpower. The GACCs are bullshitting you about the lack of equipment, though. The Powers That Be in R4 are holding-back equipment ( for what reason???) and not using all their potential resources. Example: R4 is using the least expensive and least trained Support Water Tenders (for lower-cost benefit) in Tactical Tender roles. Most of the Tactical Tenders are sitting at home, not being used primarily because (with the second FF position) they are more expensive than the Support Tenders. This is only one example of the GACCs not following the Red book; there's many more to be found in the field. Waiting and Waiting and Waiting.....
7/27 I think the simple solution to extending the 1039 folks is to remove or
revise the clause that it bites in to their next seasons 1039.
But, to extend a 1039 is not fair to the individual as they receive no
benefits and that is the reason for the 1039.
Gee, what a tangled web this one is, lots of these folks leave at the end
of their 1039 for school, winter jobs etc. any how.

Retired Rick
7/27 Aberdeen,

Here are a few more terms that are being regularly misused this summer, along with their real definitions:

Honey: A sweet, sticky substance made by honeybees from the nectar of flowers
Girl: A female child
Sweetheart: One who is loved
Sweet Pea: A garden plant of the legume family with climbing stems and fragrant flowers of many colors
Ma'am: Madam (NOT a substitute for a name or title, especially when used over the radio, unless, of course, you are also addressing all males as "sir")

Where is the PROFESSIONALISM (the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person)??????

7/26 From Firescribe:


Firefighter's manslaughter charge dismissed
The fire engine driver had been accused of causing the Riverside County accident that killed a colleague during a rainstorm.
By Maeve Reston, Times Staff Writer
July 26, 2007

A vehicular manslaughter charge was abruptly dropped Wednesday against a firefighter accused of negligence in an accident that killed a co-worker after prosecutors reviewed defense team findings that the fire engine's design and lax maintenance caused the crash.

The Riverside County district attorney's office had faced intense pressure from a firefighters union to drop its case against Michael Arizaga, the first California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighter to be charged in an on-duty accident. A trial was set for this week.

"This was a tragedy two years ago, and it would have been a double tragedy if Mike had to stand trial for it," said Michael Schwartz, an attorney for Arizaga.

7/26 Someone please tell me...

My significant other and I are both captains for the Forest Serviced in R5. As you all know Cal-Fire is doing another big round of open hiring and according to the Cal-Fire chiefs who are recruiting us on the line, we are just what they are looking for. Since we both put our apps in earlier this month I expect at least one of us will have a big decision to make come this winter.

I am not giving the same old rant about not being treated right. We both love our jobs... even though the pay is not there. I would just like someone to please give me some reasons that benefit me and my family, not to jump ship. Not reasons that are good for the agency (such as training opportunities...) But the ones that can I can tell my future children, "that is why mommy and daddy stayed with the Forest Service." And fall asleep at night knowing I did the right thing. I am tired of Cal-Fire folks laughing in my face when I tell them the reasons I have (all feds know what I'm talking about)... because they aren't good enough when said out loud and compared to Cal-Fire.

I am sure I am not the only one out there with this hanging over my head. Now that they have started the engineer announcement and I have heard of a chiefs recruitment coming up... will there even be a future for me in the Forest Service or will it be far too depleted of it's good people and experience.

Hope to hear from many of you,

7/26 Ab:

Consider posting some or all of this Safenet - It is the best for FMOs that I have ever seen!

This applies well beyond the region from which it originated and really captures what is going on at the transition level between the Firefighters and the National/Regional/state offices. FMOs are being pulled apart and trying to lead upward to reduce the impact of these things on the firefighters. Finally, These stresses line up the swiss cheese holes at the FMO levels, as they are tasked to responded to another fire season with "real and unreal" noise in and about their environment.

Sorting out which issue is real and needs attention, vs which can be ignored because it has no immanent impact and is unreal noise.



Describe in detail what happened including the concern or potential issue, the environment (weather, terrain, fire behavior, etc), and the resulting safety/health issue.

Through my own experience as a Manager for the past two years and through direct interaction with all of the R2 Forest FMOs and many Line Officers, it is my observation that agency imposed, administrative actions are now adversely impacting the workload of mid-level fire program managers. Additionally, organizational issues contribute to distraction of focus and add to the complexity of the fire management operating environment. Outlined below is an extensive list of these distractions.

Current agency initiatives, albeit well intended, continue to add to the complexity of an already complex and high risk operating environment. Individually and, more problematically, in a collective and cumulative sense, these self imposed agency actions represent significant, potential, causal factors leading to an incident-accident-injury-tragedy. These initiatives, administrative requirements and organizational transformations present mid-level fire program managers and line officers with additional distractions that are compromising their level of oversight, situational awareness, and ability to apply sound risk management.

Continued, competitive sourcing studies and associated data calls, transformation efforts, substandard support in business operations (and associated burden shift now consuming over 1/3 of FMO's time) distract employees and compromise their ability to safely and efficiently execute mission critical preparedness and suppression functions.

Mid-level managers are overextended and their focus has shifted from doing the basics well to doing many things simultaneously and, often, in a substandard fashion.

The litany of initiatives, requirements, and organizational change is overwhelming.

What follows is a listing of many, but not all of these potential causal factors:
1. Agency tranformation efforts;
2. Agency doctrine;
3. Multiple FAM doctrines;
4. Pushing Fire Management Efficiencies out to the field before they are policy, adequately developed and in the middle of the fire season (LO certification WFDSS, AMR confusion, CPRs and RFRs, severity caps, etc.);
5. Revision of FSM/FSH 5100 fire and aviation management direction;
6. Conversion of standard rules of engagement to principles (e.g., 10/18, LCES in the 2007 Red Book) without engaging the Regional FAM directors...leading to surprise and confusion in the field (Chapter 1, Page 7, Paragraph 3);
7. Lack of understanding and compliance by the agency with OPM's requirements and direction concerning implementation of IFPM;
8. Continued issues with performance of CHS and interaction with employees and the IMRB;
9. ASC continues to be "in transition" with customer service deficits in the arena of personnel actions (i.e., hiring) and payments to cooperators/states;
10. Confusion about NIMO teams and their roles (filling out understructure);
11. Implementation of the National Response Plan (All Hazard/All Risk Doctrine) and mixed messages concerning all hazard responsibilities short of a Presidential Declaration;
12. Requirement that NIIMS be FEMA NIMS compliant;
13. Fallout from Thirty Mile (exposure to criminal liability);
14. Competitive sourcing studies (aviation, dispatch, training, others)
15. 2008 Budget Line Item changes ("wildland firefighters") and anticipated reduction in mid-level fire program manager staffing in the face of increasing administrative and oversight requirements and expectations;
16. OIG large fire cost study/recommendations (11/06)and resulting conflicts with State and local partners;
17. Incresasing volume of EEOC complaints and grievances flowing from many of these changes (e.g., Medical Standards, IFPM, etc).
18. The volume of required training getting pushed out through AgLearn during the fire season;
19. The increasing amount of preparatory work to bring on seasonal firefighters (AgLearn, finger printing, security training, IS-700, Medical Standards processing) not to mention time for basic fire training;
20. Threats to cut-off computer access;
21. Computer migration issues;
22. Continuing and incessant data calls;
23. Reviews upon reviews;
24. Doubling up of administrative (parallel and redundant) processes on Service First and other blended units;
25. New "10% Protection Exchange" initiative on Front Range;
26. Managing and reconciling multiple data bases;
27. Procurement capability or, lack thereof, amongst many firefighting modules reducing sustainability while on assignment (travel expenses) or conversely when issued a PCMS card, challenged with meeting monthly reconciliation requirements during an active fire season...at risk of losing their procurement authority;
28. Centralizing and increasing control at NMAC over the utilization of IMTs and crews... conflict between NMAC, GACCs and line officers;
29. Increasing Congressional oversight and inquiries;
30. Inability to satisfactorily maintain a radio system that functions as designed/intended;
31. Lack of qualified fire and other staff to deal with demands.

It is estimated that the administrative workload falling to these mid-level fire program managers is about 35% and rapidly escalating. This is similar to what the assessment by a FAST report in 2006 in R2 (J.Payne, June 2006). Historically, this workload has been less than 25% of their time. This growth is a function of the ever increasing demands (outlined above), loss of local administrative support, and continuing but incomplete transition to ASC. All this occurring in the face of agency transformation and presssure to reduce upper and mid-level fire management positions.

Failure to relieve this workload will/is reducing the level of situational awareness that these managers and line officers need to practice sound risk management. Indirectly, firefighter safety is compromised and at risk. Oversight and monitoring has become the exception rather than common practice. Quality assurance is diminished. The potential for failure to correct errors before they become serious is increasing.

Reporting Individual : Please list anything that, if changed, would prevent this safety issue in the future.

1. "Stop the presses" on any more initiatives, data calls, competitive sourcing studies, additional mid-fire season requirements, etc.;
2. Roll back existing requirements now and defer until after the fire season is over;
3. Take the thirty-one items above and array them on a "215A" and work out some mitigation measures for hazard control... at a high level.
4. Add more capacity by appropriately staffing more administrative support personnel at the Unit level.
5. Add more radio technicians;
6. Streamline and/or eliminate redundant, duplicative, or "no value added" process requirements.

The perception in the field is that the agency and its leadership have lost their way... pick your metaphor: "the emperor has no clothes", the "lemmings are headed for the cliff" at a high rate of speed, "spinning out of control", lots of "commotion",.... devise your own...It appears to many that things are out of control and there is little opportunity to get it back.

Please document how you tried to resolve the problem and list anything that, if changed, would prevent this safety issue in the future.

  • Multiple briefing papers over the past several years, including sharing/raising these issues and concerns with all four levels of the organization.
  • Advising LOs and FMOs to maintain their focus.
  • Advising all to focus on what they can control and letting the rest go...

The problem with this advice is that there is so much beyond the managers control and yet, what is beyond their control, they have to live with and all of it has an adverse affect on what little over which they do have control.

7/26 Hi Ab,

I see this question from Capt JW, Central Fire Protection District, CA. and I want to answer it.

Capt. JW,

Cal Fire has several Fire Management Teams and they are all managed by the South or North Ops Centers. If your Team is first out that is for the operational area the South or North is responsible for it. On the out of state assignments it has been my experience that they try to tailor the Team selection in relation to the job requested by the other agency. For example, those who went to the Hurricane disaster were all USAR Team experienced. Those who are assigned to go to other specialized calls and are assigned commensurate with their abilities and proven experiences. If you have a question about your Team contact your Team IC. They should be able to help you with your question.


7/26 Old C-rat:

Didn't your Forest Supervisor see Tom Harbour's letter requesting extensions for 1040 employees due to "critical resource shortages are in all areas of fire suppression operations & support..."

I'd be delighted to help educate your Forest Supervisor. Heck, maybe I can even get Tom to give him/her a call and ask "what the hell are you doing...???"

7/26 TC

I am looking for the requirements for a District Duty Officer in Region 4 Nevada. This is what I found but it seems that some are not following this.

File Code: 5130-1/5120
Date: May 8, 2006
Route To: (5100)
Subject: Duty Officer Qualifications
To: Forest Supervisors

In response to the Thirtymile fatality fire, the Intermountain Region developed and has implemented the Intermountain Region Implementation - Thirtymile Action and Hazard Abatement Plan. Among other issues, this plan discusses Duty Officer qualifications and duties in detail. Since implementing this plan, each Forest has completed a complexity analysis as required to implement the Interagency Fire Program Management Standards, and the Washington Office issued a new 5120 section of the Forest Service Manual. The new 5120 specifies Duty Officer qualifications based on Forest Level complexity.

To be consistent with the Forest Service Manual, we are amending the Intermountain Region Implementation - Thirtymile Action and Hazard Abatement Plan with respect to duty officer qualifications. The current plan states (Section 6, paragraph C):

C. Minimum qualification for a Duty Officer is DIVS or ICT3. The person need not be current in the red card position. The unit must have documented evidence on file of the person having held that qualification in the past.

Effective immediately, this paragraph is deleted and replaced with the following:

C. Forest level Duty Officers shall meet the following minimum qualifications:

1. High Complexity: Incident Commander Type 3 and Division Group Supervisor.
2. Moderate Complexity: Incident Commander Type 3 and Task Force Leader.
3. Low Complexity: Incident Commander Type 4 and Single Resource Boss.

The Duty Officers need not be currently qualified in the above positions; however, they must have been qualified in the positions at one time.

Forests that utilize sub-unit Duty Officers for individual Ranger Districts or Zoned Fire Management Area Duty Officers may use the above minimum qualifications or they may complete a complexity analysis of the sub-unit and then utilize the minimum qualification standards above for the analyzed sub-unit. Forests that conduct a sub-unit complexity analysis shall use the same criteria for determining complexity as they did for determining Forest Complexity. The guidance for complexity determination is found in Section 6 of the Interagency Fire Program Management Qualification Standards and Guide. The Forest Supervisor must approve the determination of sub-unit complexity.

Fire Program Managers should make a notation on their copy of the Intermountain Region Implementation – Thirtymile Action and Hazard Abatement Plan referencing this letter.

These qualifications should not be interpreted to apply to the Interagency Fire Program Management Standards for determining job series or grade levels for District or Zones. IFPM standards for sub-unit fire program managers will be determined at a later date.

Please direct any questions to Steve Holdsambeck, Regional Fire Operations Safety Manager at (801) 625-xxxx.

/s/ Mary Wagner (for)
Regional Forester
Thanks for your help.

7/26 To the person asking about Duty Officer Quals, Actually, The Forest Service manual is very clear on the quals needed:( This is out of the 2005 version, the newest FSM out).What they're debating in R-5 is that is this for Forest D.O., or District D.O.? -MJ


5126.4 - Duty Officer Qualifications

Forests utilizing Duty Officers, that serve as on-call leadership and supervision for fire suppression response and that have the responsibility to provide oversight and support to personnel engaged on emergency incidents, shall require those officers to meet the following Interagency Fire Program Management (IFPM) Qualification Standards for Unit Fire Manager.

1. High Complexity: Incident Commander Type 3 and Division Group Supervisor.

2. Moderate Complexity: Incident Commander Type 3 and Task Force Leader.

3. Low Complexity: Incident Commander Type 4 and Single Resource Boss.

The Duty Officers need not be currently qualified in the above positions; however, they must have been qualified in the positions at one time.

7/26 To Pyro, Re: Where is everybody,

Where is everybody? On my forest the forest supervisor has decided to cut
all of the Fire Engine Operators (engineers), the developmental fire 13+13
positions, all the fire prevention personnel, the assistants on the Initial
Attack handcrews, and won't fill the vacant AFMO (Battalion Chief)
positions and wants to cut the other 2 remaining AFMOs. The reason given
is declining budget trends, yet every year we turn back money in PR or go
on some wild spending spree to spend the funds before the end of the FY.
This is improper management. So at least on this unit there are less
people available for local and national fire assignments.

So nationally, there is less personnel available but the above example also
cuts into the ability of the local units to provide aggressive initial
attack and to complete other tasks in prescribed fire, etc. on a high
complexity unit with a heavy fire load. The key to successful fire
suppression is keeping fires small thus reducing costs and reducing the
hazardous risk and exposure time of firefighters and aviation resources as
well as protecting the public, homes and communities, natural resources and
infrastructure. When we manage wildland fire use for resource benefits
there are less personnel available to do that and respond to the
suppression fires too. Type 3 incidents strap us big time. We can't staff
engines 7 days per week. manage work/rest, get people on some days off and
staff engines too, pretty hard to do with inadequate staffing. But we have
range, timber, rec people and biologists coming out of our ears. Six
GS-11's in range on one zone and they want to cut one GS-9 Battalion Chief
in fire? Heck no it makes no sense! But this is today's forest service
and BLM. No support for fire management or firefighters. So come on
agencies, Quit if you want to quit, lobby for your fire programs to go to a
Federal Wildland Fire Department.

Everything the agencies do in fire management must be in support of the on
the ground firefighter involved in fire suppression and management. If they
won't do that then get out of the business.

33 years for me too, Pyro. And I never thought it could get this bad.

Old C-rat
7/26 NormBC9...

The Murphy Complex currently has the following assigned:

93 Engines
15 Hand Crews
11 Helicopters
7 Tenders
13 Dozers
2 Camp Crews
651 Persons

7/26 Note to IDFireEcologist,

You are correct. There are two assigned to the Murphy Complex working
for Chief Rich Hawkins. That has to be a mess too. Almost ¾ of a million
acres and almost no resources to work with. Chief Hawkins is another of
this profession’s miracle workers so it will be fine. Just give him time.


7/26 Just wanted to confirm that the Cal Fire Engines are in fact in Idaho. Saw
what looked like 2 strike teams with misc overhead this morning, eating
breakfast in Twin Falls. Not sure if they will be assigned to the Fire or not..

Just sign me,

7/26 Lobotomy

No problem with your explanation. Sometimes we would have get near rotors and hot engines just simply to check wiring harnesses, bleed band actuators, linkages to the fuel control,I could go on. What liiiitle I saw in those pictures, the mech may have doing all of that or trying to isolate a situation where a pilot had a squack ( sp) and maybe had to go thru a duplicate/ could not duplicate situation to satisfy a logbook requirement.

These items are not standard firefighting safety operations, granted and to the untrained eye, could be a hazard. I served as HECM and TOLC in my years and often just hung around the operators.

I haven't been in the Fed system as far as firefighting for 10 BUT was a WG10 FT mech for 4 of my 21 and it goes along way to talk to the operators.

Simply because the Agencies have CORs, HECMs, UAMs, State Avn Officers and on and on, does not mean they hold the A&P nor a Comml Pilots license to fly either fixed wing or rotary wing. It means that those Aviation managers could do better job explainin' what is up or maybe they don't??

Keep up the dialogue, brother!!!!!!

Leo K Larkin
Firewise Specialist
7/26 Ab - I am an FS employee in Idaho and wife of an IA Dispatch Coord. Not sure if you have received report of a helicopter going down on the Payette NF last night (East Zone Complex) - but wanted to pass on that pilot and copilot are OK. Helicopter is not as lucky.

Here's the info from Inciweb: East Zone Complex http://www.inciweb.org/incident/801/

At approximately 8 PM, July 25 a helicopter working on the Loon Fire crashed while making bucket drops. Another incident helicopter was sent to the crash site with a paramedic on board. Both pilots on the helicopter were assessed and flown to McCall for treatment. One pilot was treated and released, the other pilot has been taken to Boise where he is being treated for a non-life threatening injury.

We've been following this and waiting for some official word. Thanks. And thanks to those writing in behind the scenes. Glad the pilot and co-pilot are ok, more or less. Seems like too many times we're marveling that it could have been a whole lot worse. An accident investigation team is en route. Ab.

7/26 LC,

Qualifications for Duty Officers vary from region to region and forest to
forest. Then, are you talking District Duty Officer or Forest Duty
Officer. Again the quals for each will vary from region to region and
forest to forest. R5 has made several attempts to develop a regional
standard, but has fallen short each time............... At some point in
time, whenever IFPM gets fully implemented, we'll have the built in quals
for that in place, but until then.............................

7/26 Ab, and All;

Where in the world is everybody? I know that every part of the West is getting hit right now, and that everybody's at a dead run, trying to catch up, but...

Just got home from the Antelope Complex (NV-BLM-BMD) last night, and in my 33 years of WLF have never seen so much done with so few resources. It was one long joke, amongst those of us there.

The Raven Fire was stopped at 39,995, by 2 BLM T4 engines, a contract T5, a BLM WT, and a contract dozer. The evening it was hooked, AA and 2 SEAT's finally arrived over the fire about 3 hours before the hook was made, and with about 30 minutes of flyable light... this was 3 LONG days in...

Dunphy Fire (30,000 +) had a BLM T4, 2 contract lights, a dozer, and some VFD lights; same experience with ordering...

Elephant Head (28,000+) was staffed for the first 2 days with engines pulled periodically from Raven and Cain, along with some large graders borrowed from a local mine, and some dozers from a California contractor; the dirt movers were all arranged by the local rancher... putting engines for structure protection on Elephant meant leaving one T4 and the contract dozer, with a DOZB(T), on a 15,000 acre running fire, in steep terrain, on Raven, so the 2 engines and WT had to run back and forth between the 2 fires (about 45 miles of mountain roads)...

As a T3 incident, we were told absolutely nothing was available, nationally (and incidentally, no injuries). As soon as it went T2, transitional, we suddenly had air over us, asking for assignments, and crews and engines from southern AZ, MN, TX, and MA.

I know everyone in the stations, field offices, and dispatch centers are doing everything they can, and that the entire Western US is getting pasted right now. But the WO is still insisting that everything is all good, and that we have plenty of resources to cover it all...

What the H#*l???

7/26 To OFG & others:

A bit of clarity on the request for information. Data need not be limited to "off-forest" assignments. If you were on an assignment on your home turf and it exceeded 24 hrs, it would be compensable under our portal to portal legislation.

Also do not limit info to wildfire assignments. You folks go here and there and do all sorts of stuff so our language does not limit such compensation to wildfires.

Additionally, the original intent of our legislation did not limit portal to portal compensation to just 462/455 series folks. Although the vast majority of our membership are those that are eligible for the federal special firefighter retirement provisions, we have always recognized that many folks in the land management agencies support fire and other incidents.

If you have any questions, please let me know at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.


7/26 Could any one let me know what qualifications are needed to be a duty officer
with the Forest Service? I believe after Thirty Mile that policy changed and new
requirements came out. Are there any exceptions?

7/26 From the mailtribune.com, Medford, OR. -

Second body found in river near Happy Camp

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. — Siskiyou County sheriff's deputies have found a body believed to be a fire camp worker who disappeared Monday while swimming in the Klamath River.

Richard Pearson Jr., 42, of Bakersfield, Calif., disappeared along with his friend and co-worker, George James Barbis, 35, of Okanogan, Wash., as they swam in the river. Crews recovered Barbis' body Monday night.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter flew the river Wednesday to search for Pearson, and the crew found a body about a half-mile downstream from where Pearson was last seen, said Susan Gravenkamp, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's department.

Full article: www.mailtribune.com

At least they were able to recover the body for the family.

7/25 There are 3 new qualified firefighters looking for work on the Jobs Page and a company in Montana looking for water tender drivers. Check'm out. OA

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

7/25 Tragedy on Elk Complex:


It's been a tough couple of days at Happy Camp Helibase. Fortunately, there's a good group of folks here who are really pulling together and helping each other out. It's really impressive to see everybody step up to keep the place running after such a horrible event.

Dennis Davis was an excellent pilot, and clearly a good man. My deepest condolences to his family, as well as his friends at Idaho Helicopters. I wish I could have gotten to know him better; it's obvious that he will be greatly missed.

PLEASE, everybody, be heads up out there. Keep looking out for yourselves and each other. As everyone knows: red truck, green truck, engine crewmember, hotshot, sawyer, pilot, division supe, whatever - in the end, we ALL feel it when we lose one of our own, and we're all in this together.

Take care out there.


7/25 For those out there that retired as a "public safety officer" This was
passed along to me by a friend:

In 2006 Congress passed the Pension Protection Act, which allows a limited
premium conversion tax advantage for retired public safety officers, but not
for anyone else. Until recently, OPM was of the opinion that this provision
didn't apply to public safety officer annuitants who were covered by CSRS or
FERS. That all changed on June 20, 2007, when OPM issued Benefits
Administration Letter 07-201. Here’s what they had to say:

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has determined that the Civil
Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System
(FERS) are eligible retirement plans under section 845 of the PPA. Retired
public safety officers are deemed to have a premium conversion election for
this purpose. As a result, retired public safety officers whose CSRS or FERS
annuity payments include a direct premium payment to a health insurance
carrier or long term care insurance carrier may self-identify eligibility
for, and self-report, the tax exclusion to the Internal Revenue Service. IRS
Publication 721 Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits at
www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p721.pdf contains additional information on this
tax advantage.

Note the words “self-identify” and “self-report”. Whereas the identification
and reporting of employee premium conversion activities are handled by
agencies, if you are a retired public safety officer who wants to take
advantage of this form of tax relief, you’ll have to establish your eligibility
with the IRS and report any excluded income up to a maximum of
$3,000 annually.

Please be safe out there


7/25 Come on People,

Try cutting Fernando a lillte Slack.

It is So--ooo Easy for individuals to Nit Pick the little things that are said and throw stones.
But in doing so we may loose sight of the whole message as we cock our arms back.

I'll be back in about 2.5 weeks with travel.
I'll catch up then.

Lucky Lindy
7/25 Bravo Zulu,

In regard to your comment from R-5 on Saws and Dolmars not being wrapped in trashbags when transported in Aircraft.

Pilots and most crews do prefer putting these items in trashbags as an extra layer of protection to prevent the buildup of fumes in the cargo compartment, particularly in a light helicopter and some mediums when these items are placed in the 'gun tub' adjacent to the passenger compartment. While these compartments are technically 'vented' and far from airtight, it has always been a good idea and our crew will do it whenever possible. Our procedure is to check the fuel and oil caps every time and bag anything containing a gas mix that has the potential for leaking, particularly the Dolmars. Our own sigg fuel and oil bottles are contained in the blue cordura bag at a minimum and we are always replacing the lids and gaskets to keep the bags clean, as well as the cargo compartment.

The only time I would not wrap a Dolmar would be when it is strapped down in an external basket, where the airflow might shred the bag. Most times we try to put them in the tail compartment or better yet in a sling load. However on IA's and when moving squads to and from the line, we often move these items internally.

I am sure R-5 has a reason for this, but for the life of me I cannot think what it might be...

7/25 From the Hotlist, an announcement of a memorial event:

Elk Complex (CA-KNF) is preparing a memorial service set for this Saturday, 07/28. We will be remembering the members of the Lassen engine who lost their lives fighting fire on the Stanza incident five years ago, the Helicopter pilots who went down in the Klamath River last summer, the helicopter pilot who gave his life this week on the Elk Complex, and the two off duty caterer employees who drowned in the Klamath River this week.


7/25 Casey,

In response to your request for PTP numbers. Last year my forest sent 46 individuals out on off-forest assignments. Some did not stay the entire 14 days. None had less than 6 days. Some individuals had multiple assignments. For the agency to say there were 15,000 personnel on a 6-14 day assignment (if they counted multiple trips) might not be inaccurate. I don't know.....but I would guess that with one forest having sent 46, that the 500-2000 might be a low estimate.

The only PTP I would have hope for is to pay straight time x 24 hours. (This would roughly equal 16 hour shifts) resulting in good pay for our ff's offset by savings in tracking timesheets. As you know, Congress favors cost-neutral changes.

Good luck in your continued endeavors.
OFG (ret)

Glad yer still out there OFG. Ab.

7/25 Can a person that works for the FS be a relief driver for a contractor without
going over the boundary of work/rest by taking the two days when the contractor
has his two days off?




I know everyone is incredibly busy this time of year but the FWFSA could certainly use some info.

Last session of Congress the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) utilized misleading information in calculating the cost of portal to portal compensation for our federal wildland firefighters. The information they used was derived from the Forest Service.

Based on the information provided, the CBO assumed that nearly 15,000 federal wildland firefighters each had an average of 6-14 day assignments in any given season. I think we all know that even in a bad season such as last year or this year such a figure is outrageously inaccurate.

Naturally their assumptions and calculations caused them to report a much higher price tag for portal to portal. We were able to address this issue with CBO and get them to understand that their calculations were significantly inflated and offered our own calculations based on much lower numbers ranging from 500-2000 firefighters. This made sense to CBO but unfortunately it was too late in the session to dismiss the fears of some in Congress about the reported cost first offered by the CBO.

Soooo...if folks could provide us when possible some semblance of accurate information about the number of 24 hr+ assignments they have this season we can provide a bit more clarity as to the reasonable costs of portal to portal. Whether information comes in from IHCs or individuals, it will help immensely. Information can be sent directly to me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or faxed to 208-775-4577. Thanks in advance for any assistance. Remember, it is for your benefit.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

7/25 JerseyBoy:

Your assessment of the "politics" behind Senator Craig's comments are right on point. In fact his "political" comments are testament to just how incredibly difficult & time-consuming it is to educate folks in DC as to the realities on the ground without getting muddled in politics.

That being said, having been in DC and spoken to him and others and listened to him at recent hearings I do believe he and others are becoming a bit more educated as to the dynamics of the wildfire season as it affects our firefighters and his constituency.

I am hopeful we're getting through. One of his staff folks that I recently met with is a wildland firefighter and perhaps better understands the "ground" dynamics than others staffers would. In fact it is interesting to note just how many former wildland firefighters are working on the Hill. We try to utilize their understanding & expertise to educate their bosses and effect some changes for the betterment of all wildland firefighters.

As for the fuels actually burning in Idaho, we'll make sure he understands that for the most part it is not harvestable (don't know if that's a word or not).

7/25 Hello Ab,

First, let me tell you what a great site you have. Although I am a local government guy, my heart is in wildland firefighting. I live in the Santa Cruz area of California which is known as “Asbestos County” when it comes to wildland fires. A 5 acre fire is big news.

I am fortunate enough to have landed a training position on a CalFire Command Team and could not help but notice the entry made by “Normbc9” who talked about the CalFire strike teams being cancelled but still a Type 1 team order being still being intact. How can I find out more information on that. Our team (team 1) is on call this week. I am not a member of your site yet, still figuring out how to do that.

Anyway, thanks for all you do, like I said it’s a great site and you should be proud of what you have created.

Captain JW
Central Fire Protection District
7/25 Attn Fire Flyers,

A good source passed this little tid-bit of info on to me. Per the R5 HOS,

"saws and dolmars are not to be wrapped in trash bags when being
transported in aircraft".

It has been my experience that pilots prefer 'em bagged. Anyone wanna

Either way, it is a breath of fresh air to have these type of SOPs clearly
addressed at the top and passed on to the little guys on the ground.


7/25 CAL FIRE has sent 10 engines with 40 personnel to Idaho.


7/25 Fire Geek,

I agree completely with you on the need for a Federal Wildland Fire
Department but for many more reasons than fire crew/resources management. I
think it would be much better for qualified and experienced wildland fire
leaders to supervise wildland fire management programs and personnel. This
would be much more effective, efficient, and safe. Today's forest service,
as I see and experience it, has lost the skill, ability and the interest to
oversee and support wildland fire management programs. Collar brass and
uniforms are okay with me.

Old C-Rat
7/25 Fire Geek

I know my Forest is well above it's draw down level for Engines, but we're
not getting any orders from the GAC. When questioned, I was told that
Northern California at the GAC level is short federal engines, so they're
sending state stuff............ That's an even harder pill for the grunts
to swallow.....................

7/25 2008 Apprenticeship jobs

Good afternoon!

The Apprenticeship Program staff positions are now open to
be filled for spring of 2008. Positions open include: Crew Boss, Assistant
Crew Boss, Staff, Instructors, Lead Instructors (Course Coordinators),
Physical Coach, Logistics Coordinator, Assistant Coordinator (Operations).
The applications are due by mid-October and can be found, along with more
information, on our web site at wfap.net, under Recruitment. Please call
with questions to Scott Whitmire - 916-717-6615 or Polo Rodriguez -

Also, the Apprentice Announcement closing date has been extended to August

Scott Whitmire - Assistant Coordinator
National Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program

7/25 Thanks to NorCal Tom for his link to Sen. Craig's testimony on the floor of the Senate the other day.

While Sen. Craig's words may have an element of truth behind them, unfortunately his comments are all too typical of a politician - using cherry picked current events for specific policy changes.

Sen. Craig notes that the largest current wildfires in the West are burning in Idaho and Nevada, with the largest devastating a part of southern Idaho and notes the declarations of states of emergency in various counties. He then goes on to argue that these wildfires are primarily the result of poor forest policy that has discouraged the use of logging.

However, what he doesn't note is that the largest fires he speaks about - those in southern Idaho and northern Nevada are mostly occurring on BLM lands or on FS lands that have little, if any, chance of ever being logged. They consist of primarily grass, sage, and juniper - which last I checked wasn't incredibly profitable for large scale logging. Having spent the greater part of 4 seasons on a Great Basin 'Shot crew and having worked the lands that Sen. Craig is talking about, I can't see the connection between the decline in logging and the 600,000 acre Murphy Complex. Unless logging companies have developed an appetite for 5 foot tall sage, there's nothing that logging could do to stop these fires

In his defense, appropriate logging in some places (like central Idaho, for example) and other land management tools have their role in the control of wildfires. But record heat waves, record low humidities, and the record low fuel indices are probably more to blame than Clinton's logging policy. And lest Sen. Craig forget, almost the entire West is under a 20+ year drought that just MIGHT have something to do with large wildfires.

In the end this is the sort of mentality that those who create fire policy face. Politicians (of both parties, this shouldn't be construed as an attack on Republicans or Democrats) will be interested only in what helps their constituents and donors, and will speak up when they see an opportunity to help those folks. But with rare exceptions, they will remain silent when the facts show otherwise. And actual policy that makes fire sense will be tugged between those competing interests.

Sorry for the rant -

7/25 Hi NorCal Tom,

Good to hear from you! Interesting piece from the Senate floor...

Hard to believe what's happening in Idaho.
Look at this variety of maps and images from space. On some you can click in closer:


(Click the state and then the animation button at top.)

And I love live lightning maps and watching lightning busts, if only it didn't start so many fires.

And honestly, the way CA was burning after those lightning busts several weeks ago, I'm not surprised resources are being kept close to home, especially since we have fewer available. I had heard the Antelope Fire (Plumas NF) was fought at night because it was too active to engage during the day. I asked for some info on that and got it. I think it's OK to share. It's very interesting.

Antelope Complex Fire Behavior Brief (198 K doc file)

Well, my comments on the presentation by Craig and the PL-5 level talking points will have to wait.

Be safe,


7/25 Greetings All,

I heard something yesterday that made a lot of sense and put the current state of affairs in the Forest Service into perspective. My great thanks to Larry Craig, Senator from Idaho, for his testimony on the floor of the Senate yesterday. I hope many of you will read this or watch the video of his speech: Congressional Record S9809, 7/24/07: Wildfires.


Skip down to Senate Floor section. You can watch the video of his presentation or read the text version. Ab, I'm sending in the text version, too, if you would link to it. Casey, jimhart, Mellie, Tahoe Terrie, Misery Whip, I think this is a "must read". Times have changed, population on the interface has changed, climate is changing and all the rest. What will future generations say?

NorCal Tom

Congressional Record S9809, 7/24/07: Wildfires, Senator Larry Craig

Many thanks NorCal Tom for de-lurking and contributing. Hope retirement is treating you well. Ab.

7/25 Dear Normbc9:

Your commentary of costs for these CAL-FIRE crews coming to Idaho
is right on point...Although if I see them anywhere near Pocatello I'll give
them all some FWFSA brochures...

7/25 Lobotomy,

Do your estimates consider the minimum drawdown levels needed to protect our Parks, Forests and Public Lands in CA? In past years whenever we would go into Preparedness Level 5, the hardest thing I had to do was explain to my crews that they were needed in their home units for initial attack in anticipation for "what might happen" even though the rest of the world was screaming for help with on-going emergencies. This was a very difficult concept for the newbie's to accept because whenever they were dispatched for an off-unit assignment they could see how well the area dispatch plan worked and cover crews would come in to back fill during their absence. If we exceed the minimum drawdown levels there are no other resources to backfill and most responsible fire managers won't allow that to happen especially when CA is in very high to extreme fire danger.

I used to hate hearing back in my grunt days that even though our neighboring states are going up in flames and they would always assist us whenever we called for assistance; I was hired to protect the National Park that provided my paycheck and that was my first priority. When I became a fire management officer I hated to explain it in those terms but that's how it works in the real world. I believe the best solution, and most efficient use of resources, would be to combine the Federal land management agencies into one Fire Department and pre-position crews and equipment from other parts of the country where they are not needed into the areas where they are most likely to be used. With only one agency director making that decision, it would be very easy for it to happen. The crews would have year-round employment and gain more experience in different fuel models and well as all-risk assignments. Until that happens we're still going to have to hold back a minimum amount of resources and if you're on one of those crews just remember the reason why you applied and be grateful the agency hired you. I expect to hear some disagreement on this issue but just remember that preserving our National Parks, Forests and Public Lands where you work "for the enjoyment of future generations", is a noble cause in itself.

On the other hand, if your unit is not at its defined drawdown level and the Chief Ranger, District Ranger or Field Office Manager is arbitrarily hoarding resources, that's not right either and negates interagency cooperation agreements. Another good reason for a Federal Fire Department... one Fire Department; one Fire Chief (with collar brass) making the decisions.

Fire Geek
7/25 State engines to ID

The hot rumor is CALFIRE will send at least 3 strike teams of engines to Idaho
in the next couple of days. Apparently there was a high level meeting today to
discuss logistics.


7/25 Hazard Tree Awareness on Fire Operations
Hard Hats Do Work!!

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/Wapiti_River_07.pdf (461 K pdf file) with pictures

This good lessons learned document came out following a "good outcome" hazard tree accident involving a Canadian helitack crew member on July 13. (Originally this was sent out by our friend Leo Drapeau, Safety Program Coordinator, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada).

In light of the hazard tree injuries to two hotshot crew members yesterday, this deserves a good and thorough read by all wildland firefighters.



sent in by Mike Apicello, NIFC Risk Management PAO
written by Joe Ferguson, I.C. for the Atlanta NIMO team, in response to the questions here about NIMO teams.


Thanks for your questions about NIMO.

The NIMO teams are highly qualified Type 1 fire managers; in fact both Incident Commanders are also finishing up their Area Commander qualifications. There are however, a couple key differences between a NIMO team and our national Type 1 teams.

The NIMO teams are configured with only the seven key Command and General Staff positions;

  • Incident Commander,
  • Safety Officer,
  • Information Officer,
  • Operations Section Chief,
  • Planning Section Chief,
  • Logistics Section Chief and
  • Finance Section Chief.

At the current time there is no dedicated Air Operations Branch Director or Liaison Officer. Unlike our traditional national Type 1incident team members, the NIMO team members do not return to a day job on their home unit after the fire. Implementing the NIMO program is the full time job of the NIMO teams. Incident assignments are a big part of the NIMO program, but the teams stay very busy during their non-incident assignment time implementing the 9 key recommendations in the NIMO implementation plan. These include

  • building capacity and capability,
  • developing type 3 organizations,
  • developing non-traditional partnerships, and
  • streamlining training.

When assigned, the NIMO teams work for the local agency administrator as all incident teams do. When not assigned, the NIMO Incident Commanders work for the USFS Assistant Director for Risk Management at NIFC. The other 6 team members work directly for the NIMO Incident Commanders year round. As far as differences between a NIMO team member and the person filling a corresponding position on a traditional type 1 team, there is none. The NIMO teams were hired from several hundred applicants with one of the requirements being a Type 1 qualification.

The differences between the two NIMO teams and the traditional Type 1 teams will evolve as the type of assignments NIMO teams are committed to become better defined. Management may find a niche for NIMO teams in several areas. NIMO team could be ordered in a long team configuration and the team would fill-out to long team numbers through a variety of avenues. In that type scenario there would be no difference between NIMO and a traditional Type 1 team. But we expect most NIMO assignments will occur when a line officer wants to try something different, such as managing a long term fire event with minimal personnel. Because incident management is the full time job of the NIMO teams, they are not subject to a strict 14-day assignment limit. The incident commander must still manage fatigue and meet agency work rest and R&R policy, but the team can stay beyond 14 days. NIMO teams will also be used to mentor new type 2 and 3 teams as well as incident teams from non-traditional partners such as APHIS and FDNY. NIMO teams might be tapped first for all-hazard assignments Agency management is testing the NIMO concept with these first two teams because our firefighting world is changing and we as fire managers must change with it.

Thanks for your interest,

Joe Ferguson
Incident Commander
NIMO - Atlanta

Thanks for the information, Joe, and for sending it in, Mike. I bulleted the team positions and functions. Ab.

7/25 Lobotomy In response to all the issues about aviation safety...........

All these procedures are in place, if I am not mistaken.

As an A&P mechanic who spent 21 yrs as a helo mech, I was under moving rotors, under hell holes and whatnot.

If we are all worried about safety, which we ought to be, then let the aircraft mechanics do the work they do best, let them.

Not many firefighters are aircraft mechanics and we, as aircraft mechanics, aren't addressing all the firefighter safety issues that are at hand.

Working under moving rotors and test flights are all equivalent to firefighting in their own right and we all have our own situational awareness to be concerned about, Commander's Intent or otherwise.

Leo K Larkin
Firewise Specialist
7/25 Angered By It.

"One thing the OSHA report forgot to mention was that a CAL FIRE
battalion chief was the one to put these men there."

Out of respect for our fallen brothers I will not go into many issues with this incident that are well documented facts.

Your accusation makes it sound like a Cal Fire Battalion Chief is to blame for this engine companies decision to accept this assignment.

The IRPG and USFS policy has specific protocols for refusing an assignment. If E-57 was not comfortable with this assignment, it was well within their rights and within USFS policy to refuse this assignment! The company officer of this crew made a conscious decision to stay and defend this home.

Chief Officers have a job to manage emergency incidents. Will they put us into harms way? Yes!

Will they listen to engine company officer inputs in that decision making process. Yes!

Cal Fire Jake

Jake, Angered By It is a member of the public who has suffered a loss, so let's go easy here. Ab.

7/25 Casey-

Not at all... I found it to be a monument of inspiration and we all know when dealing with politics you need those recharging moments of inspiration. Plus it's only 2 blocks from the Interior building so it's close by some of those folks you visit (it's on the grounds of the National Science Academy).

Are you going to personally pay for all those people's uniforms? I know that not everyone in the Interior agencies (I can't speak for DoA)gets a uniform allowance. Especially the militia- agencies only buy uniforms if you have a field job or it's required for their real job. Plus unless you are talking about only your own agency- each agency has a different culture and there's a reason people choose different groups to work for. Look at the quals and actions not pretty badges- as long as they are put together decently.

Young Woman in Fire-
The docs are good and I want to see the next draft- you are on the right track.

Take care all,

7/25 In response to "NOTHING to SAFECOM home about" and "Yes they have to go up on the rig every time the sky crane is fired up. This is standard form !!"

Is that the helitanker standard, or the actions of the individual air contractor(s), or Commanders Intent?......Has the lack of safety become the norm and an accepted unsafe practice?... or has that become your standard?

The SAFECOM program is all about safety and has some folks telling otherwise.... it isn't being used for safety and prevention of future accidents like it should. It should be abandoned as a lost cause just like the SAFENET program has been abandoned by the troops in the field.

Other safety and pre-flight protocols are out there by the helitanker industry and they work. All of the safety and pre-flight protocols are meant for the safety of the air crew and folks on the ground on the receiving end. Lots of latent failures present.... Lots of folks know better and can effect change if they step up.



At approximately 1015 a.m. on Monday, July 23, 2007, a type 2 helicopter was reported down on the Elk Fire burning within the Klamath National Forest. One fatality is confirmed and the pilot's name will be released pending family notification.

Dennis Davis was a savvy, skilled wildland fire heli pilot.
Anyone he covered knows it as fact!
Sincere condolences to family, friends and co=workers.
Inadequate words, but the best I can do thru tears

Be safe folk!

7/24 Nice article altogether, gives a great feel for the man. I'm sorry he's gone. Ab.


Boise pilot dies in helicopter crash

Dennis Davis was delivering water to firefighters in California, investigators are still trying to determine the cause

Investigators were trying to determine what caused the chopper to go down in "extremely rugged" mountain territory about 12 miles southeast of Happy Camp in Siskiyou County, said Duane Lyon, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman. Davis worked for Idaho Helicopters and was under contract with the U.S. Forest Service, although he was not a government employee. He was the only person in the aircraft.

Davis' helicopter was carrying a large water container to refill hand-pump backpacks for firefighters on the ground. Some firefighters saw the helicopter crash and reported it to emergency dispatchers. The cause of the crash is under investigation, officials said.
7/24 OSHA Report:

I can not tell you enough how glad I am that someone involved with the Esperanza Fire finally said what they really feel about the OSHA report. I myself was angered by what the report said. How can these men and women fight wildland fire in turn outs when all it does is slow them, down putting their lives in more danger. Basically OSHA wants you to sit and watch a fire burn out of control due to the hazards of the job. These men and women know the hazards when they decide to be firefighters as do the people close to them. We don’t need a report to tell us that. It is something we deal with within the firefighting community.

OSHA wants to waste our tax dollars to have signs put up everywhere stating the hazardous working conditions. Pretty soon they will ask that these warnings go home to the families as well so we are all informed of the dangers. What good could that do, but scare the families? We would worry more than we do. We are already aware of the dangers these men and women face when they leave to go fight as fire. We hope and pray that nothing happens. Unfortunately good men died fighting the Esperanza Fire and my deepest sympathies go to all the families and friends of these men.

One thing the OSHA report forgot to mention was that a CAL FIRE battalion chief was the one to put these men there. It was not the USFS that directed these engines to the Twin Pines location. So does that mean that OSHA will do an investigation report on CAL FIRE as well. I doubt it. OSHA has pointed the finger solely on the USFS when it was a joint effort from both agencies. All OSHA wants is to blame someone for any accidents and unfortunately the are blaming the firefighters and the USFS.

Angered by it

7/24 Ab,

Your source is correct. Of the five strike teams on order, four are cancelled. One STE of Type 3 ‘s are still responding. The Type 1 Team order though is still intact. There has been an inquiry about the availability of OES Type 2 engines also but nothing on order yet. I hear the reason for the cancellation of the order is the mandated MOU costs. If the fire situation gets any worse with the declaration of an “Emergency” by the governor of Idaho I’ll bet costs considerations go out the window. An OES Engine Strike Team staffed by some departments here in this state are as much as $5,000 a day. Certain hand Crew costs have accelerated greatly too. Look at the costs of an L.A. County FD Hand Crew or now the new Kern CFD Rio Bravo Hotshots. Good crews but not cheap.


7/24 As of this morning, these are some of the federal resources shown as available in California:

5- Type 1 (Hotshot) Crews available in ONCC (North Ops).

2- Type 2IA Crews available in ONCC.

93 - Type 3 Engines available in ONCC.

9- Type 1 (Hotshot) Crews available in OSCC (South Ops).

1- Type 2IA Crew available in OSCC.

117 - Type 3 Engines available in OSCC.

A combined total of 186 "captive audience type 1 crews" that can't leave the state of California are also available.

7/24 from the hotlist -- USFS press release on Trapper Ridge Fire injuries

Two Silver State Hotshots Injured in Idaho’s Trapper Ridge Fire

Carson City, NV – Two members of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) elite Silver State Hotshots were struck by a falling tree snag at approximately 7:30 a.m. this morning while working on the Trapper Ridge wildland fire use incident, located on the Boise National Forest, 28 miles northeast of Idaho City, Idaho. The Silver State Hotshots, based at the BLM-Carson City Field Office, were one of five hand crews assigned to the 10,884 acre Trapper Ridge incident; they were working their third day on the incident when the accident occurred.

The two injured firefighters, Mike Handley, 22, of Henderson, Nevada, and Nathan Wendell, 24, of Reno, were transported by LifeFlight to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. Both firefighters were treated for head and shoulder injuries and have been released from the hospital.

The U.S. Forest Service has offered a critical incident stress debriefing to the crew and will conduct a safety review of the incident.

7/24 Peach,

One of the intended audiences of the talking points is agency administrators. It's meant
to let folks know its time to start freeing up the militia. This is usually followed some
days later by a "Let my people go!" letter form the head of each agency.

Eron, Awaiting Moses return from the burning bush.
7/24 Fernando;

What would you have these people wear and drive? I guess it would be
a volvo and a three piece suit. Sorry but when it gets hot and things go to
H__L, I will go with the folks in the pickup trucks and wrangler jeans
any day.


7/24 Hi everybody.

Wondering if the IC of the incident in Idaho receiving
the CDF boys (and girls) knows that their FTRs are
going to be for 24 hours a day. Cost containment?
What's that? BLM/FS fires showing no love to their
extended family of engines in California that are
making 8's and shooting squirrels in the meantime.

Some dude in the Golden State

I've heard rumors CalFire cancelled. But I also heard one strike team escaped and is on the road heading north. If I'd gotten free I sure wouldn't turn on my cell phone. haw haw. Ab.

7/24 Got a request for use of the Fletcher Fire Tornado photos, videos, etc materials from several people, one of whom was a Canadian fire manager from Alberta doing a short safety presentation. He said to tell everyone thanks. Ab.
7/24 re the CalFire Strike Teams going to ID:

Hi Ab,

I was just in the office and I see where the hotlist post is up and Type 3 engines strike teams and 17 Overhead were just dispatched to Idaho on Idaho Dept. of Lands request numbers. Some of the overhead are intended to work with Canadian Hand Crews in the Snake River country near White Bird. It is just a guess but I’ll bet the Poe Cabin fire gets a visit from a few of them.


7/24 From Sammie re the CalFire Strike Teams going to ID:


STEN thread.

Incident: Poe Cabin Fire
Released: 1:52 hrs. ago

Governor Otter issued disaster emergency declarations for five Idaho counties, which could allow them to get additional state support if large forest erupt in those areas in the next 30 days. Cassia, Idaho, Nez Perce, Owyhee and Twin Falls counties all asked Otter to declare the emergency, citing fears that dry weather, hot temperatures, and dry lightning will set off blazes in coming weeks.

7/24 Is this a USFS only thing?

7/22/2007 9:09:43 AM


I don't see PREV as a position anymore in the 301-1. I did however find it on the FIRESCOPE website.

Besides being a Forest Protection Officer, what's the difference between a USFS Prevention Tech and a Prevention Tech from DOI? With IFPM, The Prevention Tech is a job title, with a standard PD, not necessarily a Red Card Qualification.


7/24 From the Hotlist Forum:

I wonder who these are meant for? Usually talking points come out to educate someone(s) and to get everyone on the same page in answering questions. Interesting...


3833 South Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705

  • The National Interagency Fire Center has Preparedness Levels 1 through 5, each reflecting the level, complexity, and severity of fire activity and resource commitments across the nation. Preparedness Level 5 (PL-5) reflects the most severe fire situation.
  • The National Interagency Fire Center moved to a PL-5 today based on the current and expected fire activity throughout much of the West. This move was prompted by large fire activity occurring in multiple geographic areas and a heavy commitment of crews, aircraft, and equipment to these incidents, along with a forecast for continued hot, dry, windy conditions.
  • The 2007 fire season to date has been characterized by continued drought conditions, record-setting high temperatures, extreme fuel conditions, and widespread dry lightning storms across the West and an early, active season in the Southeast. The combination of factors recently in the West has resulted in multiple large fires in Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Montana.
  • There have been more than 1,000 new fire starts reported between Monday, July 16 and Wednesday July 18. The high level of resources required for initial attack of these fires, combined with the large number of resources assigned to ongoing large fires means the nation's response capability is being spread thin.
  • The move to PL-5 means national fire leaders may assess the need for seeking international or military assistance. At this level additional personnel who work primarily in non-fire positions but who have some level of fire qualifications may also be called into action. PL-5 also serves as a safety reminder to all fire personnel that conditions are severe and the need to be alert is intensified.
  • The majority of fires to date have occurred at lower elevations and in lighter grass and brush fuels, which are conducive to rapid rates of spread and large fire growth. Late July and August is typically when fire activity escalates on higher-elevation forested lands. The weather outlook calls for continued hot and dry conditions with the potential for additional dry lightning storms.
  • Wednesday morning, July 18, 2007, approximately 15,000 people were assigned to 68 large uncontained fires. Fire managers have been moving crews and aircraft from eastern states and Alaska, where fire activity has diminished, to assist with the western fires.
  • The National Interagency Fire Center has moved to a PL-5 earlier than this date only once since 1990. That was in 2002, when PL-5 was reached on June 21 and remained at that level until September. Last year, NIFC moved to PL-5 on July 28 and remained at that level until September 16.
7/24 Ab-

Clancey brings up some interesting points regarding uniforms and public perceptions. I find this issue to be one of the most fascinating within the federal wildland fire service. It has a lot more to do with personal culture and values than it does clothing.

During my 30+ year career, I have witnessed a general decline in the level of faith and trust that individuals have in institutions in the US. Institutions like the Forest Service have been used as a football by every opportunistic politician who was looking for an easy target to boost their poll numbers. It is no wonder that a generation raised on conservative talk radio and the evils of "Big Government" would shy away from any official association with the organizations in which they report for duty every day. After all- how does a person go to work and receive a paycheck from an entity that they have been taught to hate their whole life? (It's called prostitution in some places.)

It is always amusing to watch those individuals who consider themselves "not one of THOSE lazy government so-n-so's", dancing around the fact that they drive through some small, conservative community in a big green, or Puke Yellow (Official BLM Color) truck with an official government seal on the door. Of course they pick up their que from their boss, who usually makes it a point to wear Wranglers and drive around in a two-tone blue pickup with a gun rack in the back window. (They never seem to understand that their US Government plate stands out more to the locals than the big official government seal on the doors of the engines.)

So today we have a sizable group within the federal fire service who think it's cool to look like they crawled out from under a rock somewhere. After all- if you don't represent anything- know one will hold you to any kind of a standard (accountable?).
Pretty cool huh?

To these folks it's really cool to operate in a vacuum, the rules don't usually apply to them because rules are for those bureaucrats who wear uniforms and create standards, as if uniforms and standards somehow interfere with individual initiative and creativity. I will let you in on a little secret that professional firefighters have known for years, it's not the uniforms it's the attitude and the standards that we hold ourselves to that really prevents "indecent exposure" in public.

Clancey was right when he referred to the public having expectations of us. Either we can define those expectations or we can have those expectations defined for us- by people who could really care less about a professional wildland fire service.


7/24 Helicopter Crash and Drowning Tragedies on the Klamath NF (CA)

Norcross Incident Facts

• At 10:15 a.m. on July 23, 2007, pilot Dennis Luster Davis was killed when his Bell 205 Helicopter crashed near the Elk Fire.
• Mr. Davis was providing logistical support to crews when the accident occurred.
• A small ground fire resulted from the helicopter exploding shortly after impact. Crews, assisted by other water dropping helicopters, suppressed this fire.
• The helicopter, 205BR, a type two aircraft owned by Idaho Helicopters, Inc. of Boise, ID, was on a call-when-needed contract to the federal government.
• A USDA Forest Service Special Accident Investigation Team is in place to determine the cause of the accident.
• Additional information will be made available as details emerge and will come from the Klamath National Forest.

River Incident Facts

• At 2:44 p.m. on July 23, 2007, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department received a call for assistance from a swimmer reporting a possible drowning of two of his companions.
• Deputies, volunteers, a swift water rescue team, a California Highway Patrol helicopter, Klamath National Forest firefighters and Elk Complex incident personnel responded to the Klamath River at Clear Creek, approximately 7 miles south of Happy Camp, CA.
• The body of one victim was recovered from water approximately 10 to 15 feet deep.
• The second victim is still missing and presumed drowned.
• Both victims were employees of a kitchen organization assigned to the Elk Complex and were swimming in the Klamath River during off-duty hours.
• On Tuesday, July 24, 2007, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department, assisted by Elk Complex personnel, resumed their search for the missing swimmer.
• The search and ongoing investigation are being managed by the Siskiyou County Sheriff Department. Additional information will be made available as it is released.

7/24 Someone who was Figeuroa helibase on the Zaca Fire said the sequence of
photos of the HT 794 crash appeared the day after the incident; at the bottom
it said "photographs by Ted Williams".

If anyone knows how to contact Ted, please let us know. Ab.

He added,

By the way, that was one hell of an incident to witness....great job by helitack
crew members, managers, contractors and the crash rescue engine guys to
stabilize that situation!

7/24 This was posted on the NorthOps News and Notes this morning -

Yesterday two tragic events occurred on the Elk Complex. Yesterday morning, a type 2 helicopter assigned to the Elk Complex crashed resulting in the death of the pilot. During the afternoon, two off-duty camp crew personnel were involved in an incident along the Klamath River. One crew member drowned and the other is missing and presumed drowned. Resources assigned to the Elk Complex assisted the local sheriff office in the attempted rescue.

Godspeed all.


Thanks for the due diligence on finding that announcement, SCR. Sad day. Ab.

7/24 Hello,

Just a quick reminder that today is the last day folks can grab their résumé / profile off of the BLM Jobs Online (Quickhire) site.

I have instructions from Monster Government Solutions on how set up an account on USAJOBS (the new system the BLM will be using for hiring) posted on my website on the Fire Applications page under “Tip Sheets.” My website is located at: www.LoomisHannah.com. My company is Loomis Hannah | Wordsmithing for the Unique Professional and I specialize in résumé writing for professional firefighters.

Additionally, CAL FIRE just opened up the Fire Apparatus Engineer examination announcement – the deadline is August 16th, 2007. My writing services might come in handy for firefighters out on the fireline who may not have the time to put together the type of résumé that CAL FIRE requires.

Finally, I want to encourage all federal applicants to keep backup copies (both electronic and hardcopy) of their applications, résumés and supporting documentation. I can’t tell you how many people inform me they’ve lost their past résumés because of computer failure – and with agencies vacillating between automated hiring systems, in combination with the current shift to centralize HR functions, information is bound to get lost in the shuffle.


Bethany E. Hannah
7/24 Hey Abercrombie,
Can you post or forward a reply to FMO48?

"What we do as wild land Firefighters is dangerous, it is war. Do you expect all of your soldiers to come back from war, well as much as it pains me we will lose good people it is a dynamic world out there and stepping foot outdoors can harm you."

What I am talking about is the fact that just being outside has its dangers. You send people into an environment they cant control and bad things will happen to good people. I am not talking about taking on a head fire.

Say I turn down an assignment to build downhill line and while standing in camp waiting for a new assignment I get struck by lightning? Or while driving to the fire, obeying all laws of the road a rock slide takes out our engine? Look at the accidents in our history, we put thousands of fire fighters in harms way just by leaving the station. That was all I was talking about, not that we should be killing people on every fire trading life for homes that is insane.

We need to do EVERYTHING we can to mitigate the hazards-- take as much risk out of it as we can-- but there will still be things we cannot control. If I go the rest of my career with out having to put another friend in the ground, nothing would make me happier.

OSHA Take-home Message: A risk assessment approach mitigates bad outcomes but doesn't eliminate them.

reply from Federal Wildland Firefighter (although no moniker accompanied the post)

7/24 OSHA Report:

Talked to a buddy of mine on the Elk Complex tonight and he mentioned the OSHA report among a number of other things going on...

So I finally read it (was not b/c I knew it'd piss me off) and I got so tweaked when I read it that I'm actually giving up a couple of hours of sleep and have written the Secretary of Labor (the Department over OSHA) and copied the letter to my 3 federally elected representatives through each of thier website forms. So far the message has not bounced so I thought I'd let you all know. Her e-mail is: chao-elaine@dol.gov (I love Google)

Basically my letter says- your agency wasted my tax dollars, anyone who took the basic 32 can tell you your conclusions are contrary to fact, and you are now risking public safety because the only way to abate the CFR stated is for all of the USFS to cease fighting fires.

Seeing how involved Feinstein and Boxer were with Esperanza I hope they get it. I mean what idiot cites not being in turn-outs? OMG that is the most blatantly obvious statement expressing that OSHA took 9 months to learn NOTHING..


7/24 I would like to express my sympathy to the pilot who lost his life yesterday on the Elk Fire on the Klamath National Forest. I would like to extend my sympathies to his family, friends, and coworkers in the wildland fire community. Deepest sympathies for your loss, and God speed.

Sammie, thanks very much for posting the wildland fire game, I had never seen it. I enjoyed playing it, and it is always fun to see a 10 year younger picture of a friend from previous fires on the internet! Unfortunately, it is also the closest I will get to a wildland fire this year.

I work for a state forestry agency, and take leave to go out as an AD. I live for it all year long, and arrange my work and personal life around it, just like every other person on this board – AD or not. As I had a name request coming in on my first day of availability this year, I was told our agency wouldn’t allow any additional ADs out this year. It is an extremely bitter pill to swallow (I haven’t managed to choke it down yet), especially because my state will rely on outside resources later this fall to deal with our fires. While I knew western detail meant a lot to me, I hadn’t quite realized it was my world until it was taken away. I can hope that next year, we won’t have the drought and personnel situation that we are having this year. If this continues, I will look for another job so I can continue to work as an AD.

For all of you that are out there now, and will be out, be safe, be cautious, and look out for each other.

Ab, I’m leaving my “name” off this time……..
7/24 -Federal Wildland Firefighter,
Good friend and Co-worker of the men that died on Esperanza,
and a concerned citizen,

Your frustration and with the OSHA findings is shared by many of us. Your passion on this topic is very understandable given your close relationship to the crew.

I do have to disagree with one of your statements however.
"What we do as wild land Firefighters is dangerous, it is war.
Do you expect all of your soldiers to come back from war every time?"

As fire leaders our firefighters have the right and responsibility to disengage/turn down an assignment (ref. pg. 20-21 IRPG). Soldiers don't often have the choice in battle. By having the situational awareness to back off at times doesn't make us any less of a firefighter or public servant, it just acknowledges that there are some fires beyond the capabilities of our resources. We of course then have the ability to regroup with firefighter and public safety as the highest priority.
I will leave it at that.

This open, honest dialog that the entire wildland fire community is provided here by the hard work of Ab can help us all work more safely.

We all felt the loss of the E-57 crew, but I haven't had to go through what you are going through. You have the support of us all.


7/24 To Tahoe Terrie

It is all preflight and NORMAL mechanic duties...

Working under moving rotors is part of the job description

NOTHING to SAFECOM home about..................

Leo L
7/24 Tahoe Terrie

Yes they have to go up on the rig every time the sky crane
is fired up. This is standard form !!
I have worked for them a long time with our water tenders !!

Stay Safe
~ Fire Guy
7/23 Here is a video of HT-794 posted by someone on You Tube
about four months ago. One of the kids sent it to me.


Are there people climbing up while the blades are spinning to
check something up top?

Is this routine? Looks like they're doing it in this picture too
before the take off and accident.

Tahoe Terrie

7/23 Re Helitankers:

I have some questions for the firefighting aircraft buffs out there interested in the safety of the helitanker program and its continuance as a great firefighting tool. Should the federal contracting officer ground a company/companies when identified safety problems are identified and addressed like they did with Rogers Helicopters (1980's) after a string of crashes resulting in deaths?

Did any of the parts that were salvaged from N64AR (1995 crash) get used in the build up of N64KL?

After N64KL crashed (1998), did any of the salvaged parts get used on N6156U (2006), N54HL, or N4409A (2007)?

Did any of the surplus military parts from previously surplused, crashed or damaged CH-54's from the military get used on other helitankers from any company?

After the N6156U accident of last year, the problem became evident and has a simple fix.

The original company who started the helitanker program zeroes out airframe hours and has them certified by the FAA as zero hour airframes (S-64E and S-64F models) before they are put into service or sold to most other helitanker operators or countries. They hold the patent from the Sikorsky Co. since 1992.

Last year, there was an almost identical failure to the N6156U accident that wasn't widely reported but a SAFECOM was reported and logged into the system without followup. The difference was that in the 56U case, folks were killed. In the other case, the cracks were identified and corrected before the accident and didn't require follow up by a few of the aircraft safety inspectors/investigators from the USFS. The best I can tell, it was never reported to the NTSB as an incident with significance requiring followup even though an aircraft with the same problem went down, from the same company, with the same problem a month prior that killed the pilot and co-pilot.

For those of you in the air world, you can compare it to the grounding of the C-130A models as airtankers while the C-130 G through H models are excellent airtanker airframes.

Student of Reason

Ref: N64AR, N64KL, N6156U, and the eventual N4409A accident reports from the NTSB. 5 dead, four injured from the same company with a known underlying latent problem.

Note: Rogers Helicopters is the parent company of Heavy Lift Helicopters Inc.

7/23 OSHA vs. Forest Service

To hunt.connie@dol.gov (director of region 9 OSHA)

Mrs. Hunt (Region 9 OSHA director),

Do you believe that the report you're signing your name to is true?
Do you believe that if the young men had been wearing their turnouts that these men would have gone home safely? (Wearing turnouts is not policy during a wild land incident.)
What you are saying is that the Forest Service did wrong.
What you are claiming is needed to fix the situation will not work.

If you want to see all federal support of wild land fires stop, then ok.
When it stops, you can write all the people that will lose their homes, all of the people that will lose their land, and the timber destroyed will be the result of your report's findings.

What we do as wild land Firefighters is dangerous, it is war.
Do you expect all of your soldiers to come back from war every time?
Well, as much as it pains me, we will occasionally lose good people.
It is a dynamic world out there and sometimes stepping foot outdoors can harm you.

Would you stop structural firefighters from going into a house because it's dangerous?
"Well, they knew the roof was on fire and they went in and the roof collapsed."
Does that mean that from now on they can't enter a building to pull your loved ones out 'cause the roof is on fire?

You need to understand the implications of what you are saying.
You need to stop what you are doing and read what you are saying, talk to the families and the people close to the fire.
We can try and make firefighting safer, but your effort to enforce by 8/13 is insane.

If we stop fighting fires and people die from the uncontained spread of forest fires and towns are burned due to the fact we cant engage because OSHA said firefighting was dangerous, what will your follow-up report say then?
If you prevent us from fighting fire, every life, every house and every dream destroyed will be on your head:
when all is said and done, then we can write a report saying why we were not allowed to engage the fire.

"Sorry your family died, but OSHA said we cant fight fire at night."
"Sorry you lost your house, but OSHA said we cant try and protect it if there is vegetation between it and the fire."
"Sorry your town is gone, but OSHA said we cant engage a fire if the weather is getting hotter and dryer."

This report and your agency are a joke.
You have lost touch with the real world and when the backlash comes, I hope it is severe.

Federal Wildland Firefighter,
Good friend and Co-worker of the men that died on Esperanza,
and a concerned citizen

7/23 Casey:

GIS-girl is right. The Einstein Memorial is a real
treat. Another "hidden" memorial is the Theodore
"Teddy" Roosevelt Memorial (be careful, people often
confuse it with the more popular Franklin D. Roosevelt

Here's some information about each:


They are worth taking a few minutes out of your next
trip to seek out these monuments.

7/23 A water tender driver who say's he's willing to commit to the entire Cal/Nev area just submitted his info to the Jobs Page.


7/23 This is reported from Inciweb:


July 23, 2007 11:30 a.m.

At approximately 1015 a.m. on Monday, July 23, 2007, a type 2 helicopter was reported down on the Elk Fire burning within the Klamath National Forest. One fatality is confirmed and the pilot's name will be released pending family notification. The cause of the crash is under investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. Fire crews and additional helicopter support are working to suppress a small ground fire associated with the crash.


Thanks to all who wrote in privately. Ab.

7/23 There was a helicopter crash on the Elk Complex, a T2 CWN, unfortunately
one fatality, the pilot. Just south of Happy Camp, on Elk Creek drainage.
Unknown reason at this time. God Speed to the pilot. Prayers and thoughts
to the family and friends of the pilot.

Be safe out there folks.

R5 Dispatcher.

7/23 Forest Service plans to appeal - By Melissa Pinion-Whitt, Staff Writer

The U.S. Forest Service plans to appeal violations outlined in a federal
safety investigative report that placed the blame on fire officials in
October's fatal Esperanza Fire.


Glad to hear it officially stated. OSHA needs to be educated. Ab.

7/23 Dear GISgirl:

I've been to an awful lot of museums & memorials in DC but don't think I've run
across the Einstein memorial. Are you suggesting I should cuz I could use a bit
more intelligence :) ?

7/23 KnuckleDragon -

I second everything you posted about taking a fire assignment as an AD:
I'm OSC1 and SOF2 qualified and current, and staying home this fire
season too!


7/23 Abs:

I had to crack up just now reading the Southwest Area UTF (unable to fill) list. They listed 3 UTFs yesterday for the ATGS (Air Tactical Group Supervisor) position. I know for certain there are a whole bunch of us old retired guys in the Southwest who until recently happily served as ATGSs.

I, for one, will no longer do so. The civil, and now legal, liabilities are too great. If anything happened on any fire anywhere and I was airborne over the incident I know that I am sure to end up on the legal hot seat with no backing from Uncle.

Also, issues of payment both for services (i.e. AD pay scale) and for EERAs for equipment (yes I have about $5000. tied up in ATGS support gear) cause me to think twice about the net worth of what I am doing.

Until we resolve the above there will continue to be UTFs for ATGS. I feel bad about this because I know that it is a safety issue to not have an ATGS over a fire. I feel good, however, knowing I don't run the legal risk of personal bankruptcy or worse if something happened on a fire under my watch.

Good luck, Uncle. Stay safe ALL firefighters.

7/23 First- in terms of dispatching... CHP has an RFP out for a new CAD system. So while that doesn't have to do with the com equip conversation it does have to do with what one gentleman was saying earlier about the outdated CAD. The new system will hopefully allow the dispatchers to take calls efficiently and will be phase II compliant (don't know if their current system is).

Second- it's really funny to take the NIMS/NRP training for FEMA (for fun mind you) and see a picture of a friend on a fire mapping--- on the pages dealing with finance! Duh those are maps not spreadsheets :-)

Third- in pursuit of personal interests I have started reading general emergency management literature (including textbooks) and in looking at the industry as a whole, I am proud that I learned my initial info from wildland fire. It is amazing how much you have all taught me and I hope to be back in the game (gov) in the next couple of years.

My heart goes out to Contra Costa Fire- it is a true tragedy.

Take care and stay safe,

p.s. Casey- ever been to the Einstein memorial in DC? Totally worth finding it!
7/22 Ab,

Here's a 40 second video (Quicktime; 13,367 MOV file) taken after the Fletcher Fire.

Fletcher, after the Fire Tornado


Wow. Ab.

7/22 Ab,

Do you have this WLF game?



Now it's posted here. Someone should give it a good try. It's for 10 years and older.
I'll put it on the Wildfire Education Links for Teachers page, too. No doubt I need to update that. Ab.

7/22 Another great weather/smoke tool

Hi Ab,

I just found this very cool site for weather and high resolution satellite images..
It might be great in wlf maps section.

The Fletcher photos and story are truly awesome

Thanks for all that you do to help keep us updated and in the loop...



You're welcome.
That is a nice site. I put it on the Links page under weather, as "Regional Satellite and Radar Imagery". Easy to use. Ab

7/22 Ab

The attached photos are from the Fletcher Fire on the MDF where I was a SOF2. These photos are the aftermath of the fire whirl that is visible in photos 1559 - 1610 on the Fletcher Fire page. What you see are trees with a DBH of 12" - 18" that have been twisted apart about 4'-5' up the trunk or pulled out of the ground, root ball and all. The IMET said that the damage indicates winds in excess of 139 MPH which is equivalent to an F1 Tornado! Talk about EXTREME FIRE BEHAVIOR! We can not say it enough this year...Keep your SA in high gear and keep your head in the game always. Lets all do everything we can to insure that we all go home safe.

Jim Mackensen

Fletcher Fire photo page At the bottom. Pretty amazing. Ab.

7/22 The Fletcher Incident

On the afternoon of July 16th, as the Fire Behavior Analyst for the IMT taking over the incident that evening, I thought it would be good to see what the actual fire behavior was doing and where the fires location was in relationship to what was briefed at the in briefing. Upon approaching the fire from the south, it was obvious that the perimeter had advanced significantly to the NE by the predominately SW winds and was either about to or had actually started down the escarpment towards Goose Lake, just southeast of Lakeview, Oregon.

Upon my arrival, it was apparent that the fire behavior was extreme. The in draft could be described similar to a helicopter landing in close proximity. There were numerous fire whirls and debris being sucked into the column. I went to where there were a group of civilians and a deputy sheriff who were watching and taking pictures. I advised the deputy that the time for evacuation of the citizens was immediate and he acted accordingly. Realizing that my escape route was going to be compromised very shortly, I left by the route I came in on. At this time the fire behavior became more extreme with numerous spot fires ahead of the fire front, area ignition in some places and a whirl wind, as the IMET later described it. As it turned out, this whirl wind was the equivalent of an F-2 tornado as was evident by the damage after the fire had been suppressed.

The fire to me was not the scary part. I had an escape route, knew what I was looking at, and acted according. The part that really scared me was that there were civilians in harms way who didn’t know what they were looking at. Fortunately in this case, no one was injured or died. It was close, very close. At the briefing for each shift, I encouraged the fire fighters to go see what extreme fire behavior can to when they had the opportunity. I hope they did.

The ERC values for northeastern California were at a record high at the time of this incident. It looks like it will stay this way for a couple of months. It behooves us all to pass on our corporate knowledge to the younger fire fighters so they too can recognize danger when they see it. In the mean time, don’t violate LCES.

Be safe


7/21 My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the
Firefighters from Contra Costa County F.D. and the two civilians
they gave they their lives trying to save. Godspeed.

7/21 Don Smith and Kellie Carlsen sent in photos today that demonstrate how quickly a fire can blow up and with what force and devastation. The afternoon of the blowup of the Fletcher Fire (Lakeview OR), last Monday, a number of us were reading and contributing to the Hotlist forum. Questions were asked and DriftSmoke sent in photos taken 15 miles away that showed there was some serious fire acceleration going on. These photos can be seen on Fire 33 (bottom) and Fire 34 photo pages. Thanks DriftSmoke.

Later, a few days ago, another theysaid/hotlist contributor was sent one of Kellie's photos and, in turn, sent it in. I posted it and asked for contact info. An hour later Kellie emailed and said she had a few more photos, but her friend and retired ODF colleague Don Smith had a fine sequence. She got with Don and they sent the photos in. Thanks you two.

The photos span a 43 minute time period. I worked them up and put them on the Fletcher Fire photo page.

If anyone needs to show a jury or a bunch of newbies in a FF1 class how quickly fire can grow and with what power, here's evidence of one fire's growth. Area ignition, anyone? How do you remain situationally aware and make decisions quickly enough to save your life when confronted with such power? Well you plan and hope not to be in front of it. How close is too close? Safety Zone? Escape Route?

Thanks to everyone who contributes to theysaid and the Hotlist Forum. Days like this and last Monday with this kind of sharing make my "job" here pretty satisfying. Ab.

Fletcher Fire Thread on the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=908

7/21 A couple of historical photos of air support taken on fires located where the Zaca and Ranch fires have been burning recently. I put them on Helicopters 22 and AirTankers 23, respectively. Thanks jmck. Ab.

T-27 on Osos: Photo of Tanker 27, Osos Fire LPF, 1991, Capt Jan Reifenberg. I think this is same Ridge that burned in Rancho Fire last week (6/30/07). Photo compliments of jmck. (0707)

HT-43 on Marre: Photo of HT 43, Marre Fire LPF 1993 at Zaca Lake on a foggy day. Photo compliments of jmck. (0707)

7/21 The Inyo Complex burnover:

Seven Oak Greensheet (943 K doc file) is out again.


7/21 Condolences to the colleagues, friends and families of the two Conta Costra CA firefighters lost (115 K pdf file) in this early morning structure fire. Ab.
7/21 Oopsie, it's been recalled to fix some errors. We'll post the new one as soon as it's available.

The Inyo Complex burnover:

Seven Oak Greensheet (970 K doc file) is out.


7/21 The Madison Arm Fire Entrapment Facilitated Learning Analysis (1,250K pdf file) is done and out. Kudos to the Facilitated Learning Analysis Team. What a fine, productive alternative to reports like the Esperanza Report. I like the analogy "After Action Review on Steroids." Ab.

Accompanying the pdf file and announcement letter, part of a note from Steve Holdsambeck:

Congrats to R-1, Jeff Scussel, and the FLA team for doing a good job with developing a learning tool from a serious near miss.

This is the type of report the FLA Guide should inspire. The tone is excellent and shows a clear bias toward sharing the lessons learned rather than punishing the folks that didn't understand or perceive the risks that, eventually, were made abundantly clear. <snip>


Date: July 20, 2007
Subject: Madison Arm Fire Entrapment Facilitated Learning Analysis
To: Forest and Grasslands Supervisors, Staff Directors

The Northern Region recently conducted a Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) on an entrapment that occurred on the Madison Arm fire, on the Gallatin National Forest. Through this FLA, we were able to review this near miss event in a way that has enabled us to learn lessons and draw conclusions that everyone can learn from. By design, an FLA has no punitive outcomes. Dialogue with the participants was conducted in a manner without fault finding, blame placement, or judgment. The unit where the event occurred was familiar with the learning approach that is the foundation of an FLA. Given the understanding and acceptance that we need to learn from our mistakes, they were very open and responsive to the team.

The FLA tells a story that others can review and use as a learning tool. A major benefit of an FLA is the ability to produce a report quickly, for the immediate use and benefit of others. Our Safety Assistance Teams, which will be traveling around the Region next week, will have this report in hand for sharing. The report contains a description of the event, lessons learned, and some overarching emphasis items that the team identified. There is also a set of discussion questions that we think are of great value. They are questions that you, your fire managers, and all involved with fire management can discuss to further our collective learning. We are also developing a set of PowerPoint slides to serve as an additional training aid for use in sand table exercises. This collection of slides is intended to serve as a dramatization of the growth and movement of the fire over the period of time when the entrapment event occurred. Both the report and the power point slides will be submitted to the Lessons Learned Center website at www.wildfirelessons.net/Home.aspx.

We want to thank the Gallatin National Forest and their employees for their forthrightness and candidness in helping us learn from this event. It is our expectation that not only will the individuals involved in this event learn from it, but others will as well.

/s/ Kathleen A. McAllister (for)
Regional Forester

7/21 Ab,

I wasn't sure if these photos from the Zaca heavy helicopter accident had made it to you yet.


I put them HERE for now. Thanks Stanley. Does anyone know who the photographer is so we can ask permission/give credit? Ab.

7/21 Could you please educate those of us who are unfamiliar with the difference(s) between NIMO and Type 1 IMT's ?
Does all the cadre of the Type 1 team stay in place ?
Who does the NIMO report to directly?
What does the Finance Section Chief do that would be different from a Type 1 FSC ?
Same question for the Air Ops Section Chief.


I got some photos posted.

on the Engines 17 photo page from NormBC9

CAL FIRE Engine series: Hawk: Cal Fire Model 25 Type 2 engine. Two photos of the Cal Fire Model 16 Type 1 Urban Interface Engine. Six photos of Cal Fire Model 34 Type 3 engine. There are 42 of them on order and will be built up in the next two years. Three photos of the Cal Fire Model 24 Type 3 engine on the tilt machine.

on the Fire 34 photo page:

Fletcher Firewhirls: Taken by Kellie Carlson (ODF) on July 16, this is an example of extreme fire behavior that occurred on the Fletcher Fire. Sent in by mcleod.

I've heard from Kellie. She and Don Smith, a retired Unit Forester from her office (Lakeview) will be sending some more photos.

Kellie says:

What came off of Dry Creek Rim into the Goose Lake Valley was a phenomenon
that many long-time fire fighters have never seen (or heard).

There are some other on-the-spot pics of the Fletcher (on Fire 33) that were sent in during the height of activity by firefighters and their families on the Hotlist.

Thanks for all contributions. I am working on some more. Ab.

7/20 Dear Still Steep on the Klamath:

Please let your colleagues/co-workers know that we have been working with Rep. Herger's office and Sen. Feinstein along with Sylvia Kratzky to get Congress to recognize the site as a memorial site so that funds can be appropriated for maintenance.

We know crews have done a wonderful job of keeping the site and trail clear but we believe it appropriate to get proper recognition and funding. In fact I recently spoke with Rep. Herger on my plane flight to Washington a few weeks ago.

Things are taking a bit longer than we would have liked but I am confident this will get done. Hopefully with the FWFSA's president now on the Klamath, it will help facilitate the process.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
7/20 KH -

I'm stuck in Northern Colorado too... and I've been in fire for ten years.
Sometimes it's just like this. Hope you get out.

Green Colorado
7/20 Stanza Memorial

Just wanted to let everyone know that there will be a Stanza Fire/HT-790
Memorial in Happy Camp at 0600 on July 28th.

Also local crews (C2Delta and E26) cleaned up the memorial trail and
crosses today.

Stay safe and keep an eye on your crews for fatigue, we still have a couple
months to go.

Sign me ...

Still steep on the Klamath

7/20 Hotshot Dad,

Two points I didn't mention, the CHP knew and knows that there are fewer choices in low band equipment. They were one of the primary movers of the "PRISM" system. They were in hopes of all state agencies buying into the system and thus saving the CHP lots of money on the basic infrastructure. I can't tell you my exact involvement, however from a cost standpoint, it was conservatively estimated that the system would cost in excess of 4 Billion dollars to build out the entire State.

We are looking at several possibilities for improving State interoperability. However, It is tough to get large cities to change from their existing systems such as the San Francisco Bay area, LA Area, San Diego & Sacramento areas. Each have spent 100s of millions of dollars on their existing systems over the last several years.

Interop systems help for planned events, but when things go wrong without warning...it's very tough.

New technology, digital, etc are going to see huge advances in the next few years. It's there now. Next step is to bring the cost down and it will happen.

So I guess I should say....there is light at the end of the tunnel....it's just a long tunnel.

Congratulations on your retirement...... I'm way past that age... just still enjoy doing it.


7/20 Dear Hampton,

Your points are very well made. If you don't see any light at the end of the California
communications tunnel, with your background, there may be no hope. I too did not
see any light.

I retired from CA state service where I dealt only with CHP. Let's forget interop and
talk about keeping current. There is no excuse for 20 year old radios. Low-band radio
purchases the size of those CA would make should attract manufacturers like flies. I
have seen CHP go down some pretty mysterious spending paths while putting off
attempts to upgrade the radio system. Seen any Volvo patrol cars lately?

I am not a disgruntled former employee. I am a fan of the world's finest law enforcement
agency. Before I rode off into the sunrise, I finally managed to get CHP to make a rather
large radio repair parts purchase, to keep the old radios going for a few more years. I
felt I made a little progress.

My focus these days is the safety and welfare of our wildland firefighters. From what I
read here, WFF might be a good way to contribute.

Hotshot Dad
7/20 Re: OSHA Report:

I concur with Dick Mangan's assessment with a few additional comments.

The report is what it is. One bureaucracy investigating another with an inherent assumption it must find fault with whomever it is investigating in order to validate its existence and demonstrate it is doing its job.

Maybe someday OSHA will understand that wildland firefighting is inherently unsafe & unhealthful; that such employees know this going in and recognize those inherent characteristics and do the best they can in dynamic, unforgiving environments.

The Forest Service certainly didn't do itself any favors developing the 10 & 18 but to give them credit, they are changing their approach after seeing countless investigations, like this one, look for fault rather than helping to recognize situations that can help others in the future.

Perhaps OSHA should simply have a boilerplate inspection notice entitled Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions and post it at every fire camp, command vehicle, command post etc. on every wildfire so the employees will know that wildland firefighting is unsafe & unhealthful...and taxpayers have to pay for these investigations. Talk about the fleecing of America!


Everyone, the Forest Service has 15 days to request a conference with OSHA to address the points of the report. I think it is so clear from the report that OSHA doesn't have a clue, that the Agency will do this.

On another note, Ralph Dorn is or is soon to be the new National Health and Safety guy (following Dick King's retirement, phew). Ralph Dorn is very good, has perfect KSAs for the job and is a fine leader. Ab.

7/20 Wow, Idaho is burning up... huge acres.

The ID-TFD-Murphy Complex that includes the Elk Mountain and Rowland fires is cooking.

The Rowland Fire grew over 100,000 acres within a 12 hour period. Elk Mountain grew 5 x.
hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1046

In my area the rain has helped firefighters on the Klamath NF fires, the Elk and China Back Complexes. China Back is reported contained. It may take a few days after things heat up again to see if anything rolled out which can then flare up, in my opinion.

Be safe.


PS. psssst, Aberdeen, I didn't see anyone with and feel of leadership or command standing around you either --that wasn't really you, was it??. There were only several more bodies like the one I described.

7/20 Dear HotShot Dad,

With all due respect, I don't think you fully understand the California problem. I am speaking only about California. We have a lot of people here. We have a lot of land.

The CHP utilized the low band system (42mhz) because of greater coverage in hilly country. I don't know if you have ever been in California, but we have high mountains and numerous valleys. It would be impossible to place the number of repeaters required to give the same coverage on UHF or 800 mhz. The problem the CHP is facing is that very few people are making radios for low band any more.

From the point of the fire service. That is why CAL FIRE has stayed with VHF. Except for large metro-areas, most fire departments are on VHF. As an example, we in CAL FIRE would like to narrow band all of our frequencies now. This would make available more VHF channels. The problem is, many small fire departments have older equipment that cannot be narrow banded. They have to budget and plan with their small amounts of money. When we have wild land fires, we need the volunteer fire dept. water tender, dozer or engine. It would be easy to say....buy them the equipment.

The same issue comes up "MONEY". When we have major fire in the State and need additional communications equipment, we call NIFC in Boise. Their equipment is VHF.

Our radios have VHF with their frequencies programmed into them. Out on the fire line, interop boxes really don't work.

Right now we have a fire in California (Zaca Incident). We are utilizing over 10 repeaters for coverage of this fire. This is rugged country. Inter-op boxes, 800mhz, etc are not practical.

The next problem is frequency spectrum. There is not enough frequency spectrum for everyone to be in the same band. The 700 mhz that is being touted just won't work.

I have been involved in Public Safety communications for over 40 years in planning, technical servicing and on-scene.
I agree, it would be great for everyone to talk to everyone. But the money issues (astronomical) and spectrum availability have to be overcome. I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel yet.

I step off my soap box.


Thanks for the detailed perspective, Hampton. I learned some things. Ab.

7/20 For those enjoying the issue of collar brass here on They Said, perhaps you could also spend a moment
contacting the Director of the Office of Personnel Management about the archaic classification issue.

I'm sure she would be delighted to be inundated (or her receptionist would) about the OPM living in the
stone age of classification as it relates to wildland firefighters. Maybe she'd get a hint!

Don't mail anything...mail is still being irradiated in DC.

Linda Springer, Director
Office of Personnel Management
1900 E St. NW
Washington, DC 20415

PH: 202-606-1000
fax: 202-606-2573

And remember, don't use government faxes or phones.

7/20 Hi Ab,

Just had this video sent to me and thought I would share it. We not only
need to stay situationally aware but VIGILANT in our awareness for safety
or safety vigilant. The definition of vigilant is: attentive to discover
and avoid danger, or to provide for safety; wakeful; watchful; circumspect;

I recently read a paper written for the troops in Iraq which I believe
applies to our jobs. There are 3 stages that we can expect to progress
through during an assignment and would apply for the entire fire season:
arrival stage, mid-point stage and end stage. During the arrival stage,
everyone is looking for unidentified hazards. For the most part we are
situationally aware of what is going on in a new environment.
Statistically this stage has fewer accidents.

At the mid-point stage we are at the most dangerous stage. There are 2
causes for this stage, they are complacency and fatigue. Complacency can
be corrected by covering the basics. Wear your seatbelts, wear all of your
PPE, review and follow guidelines (like the fire orders, watchout sits,
LCES, etc), etc. Don't let your guard down, if something doesn't look
right or feel right then stop what you're doing and either mitigate it or
turn down the assignment or fix it. Vigilance is especially important in
combating complacency. Keep your eyes open, your heads up, look around and
be alert for safety hazards (in driving, fire behavior, swinging a tool,
walking, flying, falling snags, etc). Try rotating tasks and break up the
monotony in some way. Don't take shortcuts, especially this fire season.
Shortcuts may work sometimes but you may not get away with it - again.
Fatigue causes people to lose focus when they need 100% of their attention
on the task at hand. Make sure that you and your crews are getting
adequate rest. If the mandatory 2 days off aren't enough request more and
take more.

And finally the end stage. Everyone is focused on getting the line tied in
and getting home. We tend to perform tasks without much thought because
our thoughts are more focused on getting the final shift done so we can get
home. Mistakes can happen more frequently during this stage. Again,
review and follow the guidelines and pay attention to the details.

Everyone, please, take time for safety.

no name please

Thanks, I think it's one of the videos we got a look at (in smaller form) in the Spokane news report yesterday posted from Jimbo. I understand a firefighter took it. If anyone knows who, please let us know so we can give credit/ask permission. We do not want to violate copyright. If we can't find the photographer, we'll take it down in a couple of days. Ab.

Short video of helicopter bucket hitting the windshield of a fire engine (412K wmv file). Definitely lessons to be learned re vigilance. Ab.

7/20 Ab, did you see this? Sammie


My name is Emily and I recently had an accident involving a chainsaw on the
fireline. I can never express how wonderful it was to wake up in the hospital
to hear that my mom was on the way and to have her by my side through the
whole ordeal. Knowing that there are people like you out there allows us to
all sleep better at night.

My recovery is coming along very quickly, and after I get the stitches removed
tomorrow, I hope to be released by the doctor and put back to work!

Thank you once again for all of your help. Your support has made all the
difference in the world!

Right on. Good job, WFF.
Emily, I've heard from others that you're doing well. Great. Ab.

7/20 Hampton and NS,

Millions of dollars and many years have been spent by
California studying ways to modernize public safety
communications in that state. The only agreement
reached is to meet again for further study. That may
be over-simplification but generally true.

Look inside your CHP vehicle. The main radio is about
to celebrate it's 20th birthday. The life of a radio
system is 8-10 years. What does this tell us?
Someone is fiddling while California burns. It's time
to stop studying and try to catch up.

"Interoperability" is the key to seamless emergency
communications. The technology exists and is
improving every day. Each agency needs to plan a
system that meets their mission and tie them all
together using available technology.

This is not just a California problem. Our country
has unprecedented threats hanging over us and we need
to be prepared to meet those threats and stop
suffering from "short memory syndrome".

All this is easy to say from the comfort of my easy
chair out here in Kansas, huh? Believe me, I have
been-there-done-that. Praying for rain,

Hotshot Dad
7/20 I have to weigh in here,

It's not about collar brass. It's about building professional relationships with your cooperators.

What that has evolved to here, goes back to the 1920's and the concurrent development of the Los Angeles County Forestry Department and Fire Districts, the Forest Service on the Angeles NF, and Cal Fire in their early efforts in fire protection.

As fire suppression efforts evolved, we found the break up of the Angeles, (Santa Barbara) Los Padres and Cleveland NF's and the creation of the new San Bernardino NF to better manage our firefighting and forest responsibilities. Rather than try to do our own thing, we have been immensely influenced by our cooperative efforts and in retrospect, rightly so. We experience wildfires that extend across our various jurisdictions. It is imperative when among a sea of nomex that we followed the CAL Chiefs organization in their helmet color standard. In uniform scenarios our crew t-shirt did little to convey our experience, education and grade with our cooperators. In fact in this environment to wear a yellow hard hat and no identifying insignia as to levels of authority, meshed you in with the 1st day crewmember causing some confusion and discomfort to us and our cooperators.

When I started 30 plus years ago we rode tankers, had foremen, wore hardhats and could not communicate by radio to our neighboring forests, not to mention our daily cooperators. Our training was based on the initiative of our "module leader", those of us striving for more education went on our own to Fire Science courses at our community colleges and attended State Fire Training courses, there was nothing else.

As our efforts and education increased, we gave better service to our public who needed our immediate aid. We saw horrors and pain and attended First Aid and EMT classes. We offered better service.

As our skills increased we rejected the Lumberjack model of wildfire services and found our efforts more realistically paralleled the American Fire Service. We found over the years that wearing a beard interfered with the seal of our Self Contained Breathing Apparatus and washed our PPE as we found that carcinogens loaded our protective clothing and it needed washing.

As time evolved we found that dressing like the homeless with only firepants and boots to identify us in our communities, rich in military history and defense industry was not endearing us to our public, whose political support we counted upon. We know that such Fire Service leaders and truly professional organizations such as Phoenix and FDNY wear T-Shirts but learned here, that our public expected us to be uniform in their eye.

As our cooperators increased in their professional climb thru training, education, and public service, we wisely and sometimes begrudgingly followed suit. As I have served across the nation I will wear what you wear, less the cut offs and tennis shoes I've seen some of our cooperators wear. But in my assignments I firmly believe that we need to emulate the most professional of our cooperators in every facet including the responsibility to provide the best service that we can.

Even if that means that I wear pins on my collar commensurate with my quals.


7/20 vfd cap'n,

Don't bother packing your dress shirt. I'd prefer you wear your yellows and greens like I and others do. Wear your collar brass at your leisure, or amuse at others wearing it, your call. ..... don't forget your red card (+++).... I need it to sign you up on a volunteer agreement and make sure that you are "safe" to ride around and see the sights of the local area.

We'll put you up in first class accommodations.... a Forest Service guard station for your stay. (No Cost). Hope you don't mind cockroaches and rats..... they are part of the Forest Service experience. Forest Service employees have to pay upwards of $400/month for this wilderness experience since they can't afford other housing.

You can also forget the "compensation" stuff as it doesn't really matter... You will be provided all of the Top Ramen, Macaroni and Cheese, and other fine travelers delights you can consume.... but you will not see steak during this trip unless you stay for fourteen days and cry uncle.

This trip is an invite to see another aspect of wildland fire and comment about it. The invitation goes out to many others..........

On the other hand, you will have a great time down here meeting new friends and seeing some awesome fire behavior.

7/20 Ab,

Here's what a friend sent me about the OSHA report:

"For crying out loud -- as a result of the deaths on Esperanza, the entire USFS "failed to comply" with the 10/18 from Oct 25, 2006 to July 17, 2007, so current employees of the FS are put on notice that they are working in an unsafe environment.

"Good thing they'll have those violations abated by August 13 though. Whew. That could really be a problem if they didn't."

I am a little confused about the "...observed without turnout gear on while..." citation. I can't believe OSHA is talking about structural PPE, but I also really can't believe that the crews of two FS engines were not in their wildland nomex because of a collar brass policy.

vfd cap'n

OSHA and a bit more
~ a piece by Jason Mckay's sister, Brenda ~

It seems easy
to place blame and point fingers,
I see it more now than ever. It is conceivably human nature
that we need to fault those who cannot speak for their actions. I also fail to see
why the press and other reports continue to use
“this was a structure protection” in the same sentence as
“evacuation of residents”; to me a huge difference
lays between these two actions and it bothers me they are so
in the terminology I have read.
I appreciate all the extreme hard work that takes place to
find facts,
write stories and to do reports: maybe perhaps, my way of thinking is
just too simple for this time and age of technology.

I cant just keep silent tonight.
I must at least voice my opinion even if it falls on deaf
ears, if only to ease my own
One man is responsible-- the arsonist-- who chose to act that early
morning for whatever lame
excuse he has for starting this fire.
As I said earlier this year I refuse to accept
my Brother lost
his life for someone's misbehaved dog that already attacked
someone and the arsonist felt it was wrongly taken.
This may or may not be
true. I wasn't there.

inward I probably wouldn't think any reason was
good enough to deliberately
start a fire you know will obviously cause
damage and possibly death.
I will not go further into details, for I wouldn't want my
actions to
hurt the trial that is ongoing.

I have and will
continue to pray that his conscience will eat at
him till he speaks the

Allowing us all to go on with our
lives, no matter how
devastated and changed they are

I will never forget ……..
it is an arsonist who is to blame!!


Eloquent and Powerful response to the OSHA Report. Ab.

7/19 Thanks to Mike and Norm for their memorable tribute to our Engine 57 guys:


7/19 Ab:

The statement about brass bugles on collars MUST be a hoax. Perhaps from the Onion? I have been in fire with the feds since the 80s and haven't heard of Federal firefighters wearing insignia on their collars. IF it is true...it must be a lot quieter in California than the rest of the word that is busy stopping fires. Also, if it is true, which I have my doubts, how would that work on a fire, if you are a helitack captain, perhaps you are working the fire as a division group supervisor and your assistant or lead is running the crew. Sounds like it might work in a meeting where people are trying to identify each others' day job, but everything changes on a fire line. The AFMO may fill in as a squad boss and the engineer on an engine may be the ICT4. What part of the fire do I find a battalion chief on?

Keep the Fruits and Nuts and Brass in California
7/19 OSHA Report

Next thing you know, we will have to go on a 1+ hr response with our SCBAs on! Not sure what turn-outs have to do with it. I usually don't wear turn-outs on wildland fires either. The next step is to just show up on scene and watch the fire burn, because you cant do anything to put it out without breaking or compromising one of the 10s, 18s, LCES Blah Blah Blah, Etc Etc:. What a friggin Joke this has all turned out to be. LESSONS LEARNED you cant fight fire without having a lawyer in your back pocket.

Signed: Give Me a Break

7/19 If it is an OSHA violation for failure to provide a fire map prior to committing suppression
resources, does that require us to map the fire first?

Fire Geek
7/19 From Firescribe:

Fire nears Idaho nuclear fuel development complex

Wildfire-Preparedness (San Diego CA) Still Shows Shortcomings
good summary of what they needed to do and have or haven't done following the Cedar Fire (2003 firestorm)

7/19 KREM -TV (Spokane) running this story and video. From last weeks Easy Street fire near Wenatchee.


Pretty amazin' !


Posted this on the hotlist as a near miss. Ab.

7/19 Re, the OSHA Report on Esperanza.

I've just reviewed the 6 "Serious" findings of an Unsafe Workplace that OSHA issued to the USFS today. While I'm not surprised, I am disappointed that after working on Wildfire fatalities since "Buchanan" in 1993, OSHA still isn't getting any better about recognizing the difference between the 18 "Situations That Shout 'Watch Out' ", and the 10 SFOs.

But more important than these recurring problems with OSHA citations is the statement made in Notice 1, Item 2 that says that "the Branch Director ordered Engine 57 to relocate to a designated safe location, once the fire entered the drainage. Engine 57 did not follow orders that was communicated by the Branch Director."

This statement must be verified and confirmed, or we'll find ourselves in another "he said - she said" situation like we now have on Thirtymile.

For all of our stated goals about becoming a "Learning Organization", the USFS and the wildland fire community must DEMAND that all of the information derived during the OSHA investigation is made available to the public. Without facts, we have nothing but opinions!

Dick Mangan
7/19 The Fed OSHA Report on Esperanza (290 K pdf file) is out today; it's attached.

Dick Mangan

Thanks Dick. Ab.

7/19 From the Hotlist:

Fire prevention via GOAT?

California grass too dry for goats to eat, fire officials say

I ran across this article by the AP while surfing wildfire articles and found it
quite fascinating - and sad. Learn something new every day.


7/19 Here's a little excerpt from a news article in the Feather River Bulletin that was published in the Plumas County weekly newspaper:

Re: Antelope Complex

"One major injury was reported. A faller tripped while operating her saw and she landed on the blade. Plumas District Hospital had an ambulance and crew stationed at the fire. The unidentified faller was immediately airlifted to Renown Hospital in Reno where she underwent surgery for facial and dental injuries, according to Pat McElroy, fire chief of Santa Barbara's fire department and liaison for the Antelope Complex."

"The wildland firefighters organization paid to have the woman's mother flown to Reno to be with her," said Lee Anne Schramel Taylor, public affairs officer for the Plumas.

Here's the link to the full article.

Good PR for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for excellent service rendered, thanks to Vickie Minor and all the rest.


I hope that those who haven't contributed to the WFF 52 club will do so. The Foundation is our safety net for our firefighters and their families when, unexpectedly, things go bad. One of the things they're also doing now is helping families who are seeking PSOB. Often the government makes it very difficult to obtain these funds. In addition, people who are struggling in the face of their loss have trouble doing the necessary to show they qualify. The WFF helps. Ab.

7/19 Hi Ab,

Hotshot Dad’s comments do make a lot of sense to all of us in this profession. If our technology can track a railroad locomotive and tell the dispatcher how fast it is going, where it is located at exactly within feet and also compute the fuel efficiency of that locomotive, we are surely light years behind in the abilities of our communications systems.

When I was in Australia last year I found they track aircraft, crews and engines by satellite. What do we do here? Very little besides form another committee, eat up some per diem allowances and have unproductive informal chats.

I walked into the San Francisco Fire Department Alarm center in 1979 as a guest for a tour. Guess what? They knew where every engine and other mobile resources were then. They even had a back lighted wall map that showed the red dot with the ID moving and it was accurate to within 100 feet. Look at where we are at now.

For more well intended but bad endings, look at what came out of the famed Blue Ribbon Commission from 2003. What did it recommend? What has been done to address those recommendations? The CHP dispatcher story might be over blown.

The Cal Fire ECC at Mt. Danaher was notified of a controlled burn in the Angora Peak area the evening of June 13, 2007 at 1800. The next day (June 14 & 15) were scheduled for a controlled burn in that area. If the LTMBU burned or not, did a cancellation notice ever go out? That may become an issue.


7/19 I was burned over 35% on a Fire between Canyon Lake and Elsinore in the sedco hills area of So Cal, Our engine was burned over. I was flown by Loma Linda Helicopter straight to Sherman Oaks Burn Center after initial treatment at the old Perris Hospital. The rest of my crew soon followed, there were four of us.

This happened August 23, 1978. That was CDF’s policy back then.

Now there is Arrowhead Burn Center, a little bit closer, so if there is an injury the treatment time is cut by hours after the initial on scene evaluation.

7/19 Pump truck headed for the Zaca Fire careens off 200 foot cliff, driver survives

www.ksby.com/Global/story.asp?s=6812048 (has map; also has a video report-- go see)

Thursday, July 19, 2007
Reported by: Colin Seiler

The driver of a pump truck survives a 200-foot fall while heading to the Zaca Fire.

According to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the truck drove over a cliff on Figueroa Mountain Road, just north of Highway 154, at about 6:00 p.m. last night.

The private truck serviced outhouses near the Zaca fire.

Firefighters were able to locate the driver and hoist him back up.

He was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

old lpf

Fair use disclaimer

Thanks for that. Ab.

7/19 What's the deal?

I am new type 2 firefighter in northern Colorado. I have yet to be called for service, thought it was do to lack of work. Heard on news this morn that interagency is going to Canada and our military for help. What's the deal. I am sitting here ready and willing.


7/19 Mellie,

Dang, I can't even lurk around Humboldt County with out being spotted!

I guess my "ring of stars" gave me away, or was it the aura of Command
and Leadership that surrounded me?

7/19 Hotshot Dad,

The communications solution you are talking about was the "PRISM" system. An 800 trunking for all state agencies.

Big problems were huge costs. Loss of coverage and for the fire folks loss of compability in VHF with the Fedral Side and the majority of local government cooperators.

Lots of folks think that 700-800 mhz systems are the great answer to public safety communications.

Yes...there are some advantages, but there are many drawbacks. I think it is very interesting that the Federal Government wants to stay with the VHF spectrum for all security & safety communications. Only non essential communications are on 800 mhz.


7/19 From Firescribe: PL goes to 5


Alert level raised as 1,000 new wildfires reported

U.S. officials boosted the nation's wildfire alert to its highest level
in the bone-dry West after 1,000 new wildfires were reported.

7/19 Lobotomy,

Sorry about the "bugle envy" comment, it was a Freudian slip really. Maybe Mellie
can say for sure, I believe that theory has been mostly discredited these days, anyway.

As for the ride-along in August, I will pack my dress shirt with the 2 uncrossed phallic
symbols on the collars. One nice thing about the brotherhood of firefighting is that all
of us -- paid or volunteer -- have our compensation issues.

vfd cap'n
7/19 Heat in SW Idaho:


Here is a quote from today's Idaho Statesman as to the cause of the fires in
Gem County.

"The scrap iron in the truck apparently got so hot from the
high temperatures that it ignited some railroad ties on the back of the
trailer, throwing embers along the north side of the highway and starting
about 10 fires, according to Gem County sheriff's and U.S. Bureau of Land
Management reports."

I knew that it was warm out there I just was not aware of how hot it was.


7/19 Regarding Drone Airtanker development

Here's a link to an article that mentions USFS unmanned drone wildfire detection aircraft:



Ironically, the date is July 19 of last year. Thanks, TH. Ab.

7/19 ecc1,

It appears you may be right and complacency on a lazy
Sunday afternoon, on the part of CHP dispatchers, may
have contributed to the Angora fire getting a
foothold. If so, they must take their lumps.

California's telecommunications woes are not only
perceived, they are real. State-owned system
configurations have changed little since the 1960's.
In 1994, the eleven largest state agencies tried to
agree on a course of action that would blanket the
state with a communications network that all could
share. They couldn't agree, but that's a whole
'nother story. Talk about collar brass.

Hotshot Dad
7/19 Aberdeen,

I saw one of our dred-locked and pierced citizens with one of those
circular star ones you describe through his lip at the store yesterday.
I think that kind is lip brass.


7/19 Aberdeen,

The thing from R-5 you are commenting on is over ten years old and a topic that has been long lost as wildland firefighters began to talk about professionalism and common communication. It didn't come from Bernie Weingardt nor the current leadership team, nor from the current real leadersip in R-5.... they are DOA as moot. It came from leaders from the past who called BS and concentrated on firefighter safety.

It came from a retired Fire Chief (Fire Director) who went to the WO as the National Director and some damn good folks that followed his lead after he left the Region to become the national fire director (National Fire Chief) for the Forest Service. It came from the field and a leader who never lost contact with the troops or the programs he was supporting or representing.

The offer I made regarding a ride-along stands with you also if you have a current red card and verifiable WCT and can be signed on using a volunteer agreement.

7/18 Re Collar Brass

It's been really hot and dry here in the Great Frozen North (18 straight days over 90F, and already 8 days over 100F), the kind of weather that can make a person kinda squirrelly and agitated. So I really enjoy the good belly-laughs I got from reading the discussions about bugles and collar brass.

It's pretty boring here in my wildfire world, with folks just being called District, Forest, Park and Refuge FMOs, people that still use the old-fashioned ICS quals for fire assignments like IC 3 & 4, and the State and Federal folks that usually don't even wear uniforms: we know them and their capabilities, and the collar brass and bugles would be tough to pin on their t-shirts.

Me, I'm self-employed, the Owner/President of my own little outfit: maybe I'll write up a letter like Bernie Weingarten did for the USFS in California and specify what I should wear on fires. I've always been partial towards those circles of 5 stars like a "General of the Army" gets to wear: think it will help folks "recognize my Command and/or Leadership"?

Anyways, be careful that you don't stick yourself in the neck while pinning on them bugles: it'll stain your uniform!


7/18 Interesting reads on collar brass. I understand the concept. A buddy of mine when
he was a Hot Shot crew boss would wear his agency uniform shirt when not on the
fire line. It set him apart for the rest of the crew and folks could focus in on who to
talk to.

I will carry a copy of "Briefing Paper on collar brass" with me as well as post it in
our office. That way I will know who is who.

I do have a question though as to what collar brass I should wear. Could someone
tell me what collar brass I should wear when I am in the following 310-1 NWCG
sanctioned ICS positions.

And if some one knows where I can get a cross walk between ICS positions, FILM
13 critical positions, battalion, division etc. that would be good.

B-B-B (Baffled By Brass)
7/18 Casey -

On your first point regarding seasonals and the overuse/abuse of this: YES, and WELL SAID. Hear hear!

On your second point on collar brass: that was my point - fire department behavior, but not a fire department. Definitely an issue.

-former fed from so cal

PS - the letters sent in by TC on collar brass were after my tenure... are dispatchers at ECCs and GACC staff still wearing collar brass in CA? My guess is that they are, which would be interesting since the letter referred questions to the GACC chiefs in north and south ops. While those chiefs are field qualified, most GACC/ECC staff are not. Are there policies in the other fed agencies?
7/18 The way the federal agencies utilize the 1040 and 180 day appointments is a problem. As you read through OPMs documents you will see that any position that is needed for 6 months and 1 day, and is a position that is needed for more than 3 years is a position that should be "Career Seasonal" The root of the issue is the agencies do not have the funding to convert 1/2 of the current seasonal work force to "Career Seasonal" year in and year out.

So we continue to struggle to recruit and hang on to good folks.

Small Agency FMO
7/18 GACCs Holding IHC

Region 3 has six IHC shown as available and Region 2 is holding two IHC
geographically. Both areas are at a PL 3 and getting monsoonal moisture.

Wonder what NV or MT would give for some fresh IHCs?

What ever happened to IHC begin National resources ?

signed watching it rain

7/18 vfd cap'n,

The invite for the weeklong ride-along still stands. I haven't heard from you
for quite awhile to see if you are still interested.

7/18 TC- Thanks for the information.

vfd cap'n- Obviously FED people don't wear collar brass on their nomex, that's where the whole hard hat color comes into play. There are many places where there are multiple battalions inside of a Ranger District, there are also BCs in fuels and other disciplines. A FS Division has a much responsibility as other agency Division Chiefs.

7/18 Forest Service WO seeks another extension of 1040 temporary employees

To All:

Attached is a letter from the WO FAM seeking yet another extension of employees hired under the 1040 hour appointment. LETTER With all due respect to FAM Director Harbour, I personally think this to be abusive in nature.

For those in the federal system it is understood that in the west it is cheaper for the Agency to keep these firefighters on rather than pay the unemployment and associated costs when laying off these employees. In fact, the FWFSA benefits if these employees are extended because many of our members are temporary and it keeps their dues coming in via payroll allotment.

However that being said, I personally believe it is an abuse of these employees to continue seeking such extensions. OPM created the threshold of 1040 hours per year (with an additional 80 or so for training) to avoid abuses of working employees with no benefits for long periods of time.

When not working for 6 months out of the year fighting fires, many of these firefighters go to school or have other jobs. Many rely on the consistency of 6 months of firefighting and 6 months of something else. When confronted with an extension, many feel obligated to do so for fear they may not get picked up the following season if they don't take the extension. This then impacts their schooling, family lives, other jobs etc.

That is not to say that some don't mind the extension but the issue becomes benefits.

The land management agencies realize that the fire season is nearly year round in the west. Needing more firefighters for longer periods of time should not come as a surprise to the agencies. Yet rather than do the right thing and offer these employees either full time or permanent part time appointments that come with benefits, the agencies take advantage of these employees by simply seeking authority to extend their employment where they work in the lower grades and receive no benefits. Again, in my opinion that is criminal and something we might see in a third world country sweat shop, not in America in the 21st Century.

These firefighters are injured and killed just as any permanent career firefighter and it is simply wrong to continue to abuse these heroes. It is my fervent hope that someone will take notice of this and stop the federal sweatshop employment practices.

By the way, am I the only one that sees a contradiction in R5's collar brass policy (we want you to look like firefighters...but) and the Agency's refusal to support a wildland firefighter classification series??

7/18 Here is an article about the SEAT that went down.

A firefighting pilot was rescued after his small air tanker crashed in northern Nevada while he battled one of the dozens of wildfires tormenting the West, officials said Wednesday.

The AT-802A single-engine tanker was fighting a blaze south of Winnemucca when it went down Tuesday evening, said Jamie Thompson, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The rescued pilot was pulled from the wreckage by firefighters, treated at a hospital and later released, he said.

"Other than being pretty well soaked with slurry and aviation fuel, he was OK," Thompson said. "They cleaned him up and sent him home."

Officials said the plane was under contract from Minuteman Aerial Applications out of Montana. An investigation team was expected to determine the cause of the crash, Thompson said.

Across the West, the extreme dry weather and wind have spread wildfires and made fighting them difficult. The National Interagency Fire Center reported 68 large fires burning Wednesday in 12 states, led by Nevada, Oregon and Idaho.

In southwest Reno, 400 homes were on alert due to gusty erratic winds fanning an 1,800-acre fire burning in protected wilderness in a national forest northeast of Lake Tahoe.

"In a sense you feel like we´re under assault from Mother Nature right now," Thompson said.

In Southern California, residents in Santa Barbara County wind country were able to return to their homes late Tuesday after crews set backfires to keep at bay a large wilderness fire that had burned nearly 44 square miles.

Officials cautioned that the weather was still volatile and the terrain in the mountains of the Santa Ynez Valley was tough to work in.

"It could jump the ridgeline, but we´re working to keep it back and we´re monitoring Santa Ana winds," said Rick Todd, a battalion chief with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

In Northern California, overnight drizzle helped firefighters battling flames that threatened more than 300 homes in and around Happy Camp near the Oregon border. The fire was about 15 percent surrounded.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a wildfire emergency in her state, freeing state agencies to spend money to help local firefighting efforts. The National Guard and Washington State Guard could also be mobilized if necessary.

One lightning-sparked blaze in north-central Washington near the Canadian border was threatening 145 homes but only a few had been ordered to evacuate.


Related Links:

National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov
7/18 Ab,

Just a couple quick questions on the collar brass. Did a regional forester really write that collar brass would give his people credibility in an emergency situation? So the engine bosses and squaddies are wearing this on their dress yellow nomex shirts? Hopefully, they can use the uniform allowance for fire-resistant neckties, too.

Sounds like somebody has bugle envy.

vfd cap'n

ps, It's not just a California thing, anymore. With the new forest policy, our district FMO is now a division chief and the ADFMO is a battalion chief - so apparently the division consists of exactly one battalion.
7/18 The attached two documents are the direction for Region 5 to wear collar
brass. Nowhere in them does it authorize non-fire personnel to wear collar
brass. Also, although, it does authorize collar brass for prevention BC's
it does not authorize collar brass for FPT's or Dispatchers.


Briefing Paper on collar brass (404 k doc file)

collar brass.doc (41 k doc file)

7/18 R5FEO -

I think it is a worthwhile question you ask, but it goes to the bigger picture. When I was in So Cal, I wore Batt Chief and Div Chief brass, but worked in a non-field job and I know I don't have the field experience at those levels as required by the FS/fed agencies. However, I was working on complex management issues that are at that level. If you work for a fire department, and using CDF as the most available example in So Cal, I believe anyone wearing that level of brass must be field qualified at that level. Because the FS/fed govt is not a fire department and has no official brass/rank policy as far as I am aware, FS/BLM/NPS/etc personnel generally wear brass according to GS level in fire, or sometimes at the fire chief level rank that is equivalent. The most obvious example to me outside Fire Prevention Techs (FPTs) are the folks in dispatch and coordination centers. While on the CDF side they must have equivalent fire quals, the FS/fed folks do not.

In a very real way and having been there, the collar brass are unfortunately needed in those environments. However, at the field level and on incidents, part of the reason ICS was developed was so that you do not have to worry about collar brass on a incident - but rather the ICS organization itself and who you report to. Although in So Cal, the use of rank & collar brass is somewhat consistent between agencies, there are no formal interagency standards - especially nationally. But, there are standards within ICS.

A complicated answer, but its a tricky business. Again, the FS/fed govt is not a fire department but has to act like one and play well with others. And all this explanation doesn't mean there aren't problems with the way it is - I can assure you, there are many times I was very uncomfortable with the idea of collar brass and the "rank" I held, but folks don't listen to you if you're not wearing it even if you're above their level. As I hear it, federal folks visiting So-Cal from outside often stop and pick up collar brass on their way in just to alleviate problems! As for me, my little toilet plungers are hanging on my wall at work as a reminder of that so cal experience - if you can't beat em, join em (or leave!). Ha ha. One thing I don't miss!

-former fed from so cal
7/18 Ab re t-shirt info,

Thanks so much for the prompt reply. And thanks to Tom for
sending the info to you. I have called to place the order. It's
kind "Special" people like you that make daily life such a true
blessing. Again Thanks for the info.


Ah, so much happens behind the scenes as people send in solutions to problems. Thanks Tom. Ab.

7/18 Ab,

SEAT crash in NV:



7/18 Hey all, just watching our local news here in Reno and they reported that a SEAT had crashed today on one of the fires in Winnemucca. Reported that the pilot is alive, but condition unknown. Say a prayer for the pilot that he is okay and will recover from any injuries possibly received. Stay safe all, I know other states are hopping right now, but Nevada has just exploded with new starts, many unstaffed fires that are growing rapidly. LCES and 10 & 18's, lets all come home safe after this season. God bless all.

7/18 Re: Hotshot Dad & CHP delayed response to the Angora fire,

I've heard some of the CHP dispatches audio tapes on CNN for the Angora fire. I heard one dispatcher tell a caller it was a controlled burn. Then I heard another dispatcher also say it was a controlled burn. As I understand from other media sources, there hadn't been a controlled burn any where near the area for at least several days.

I've initial attacked fires where the delay of 10 minutes, or even 5 would have had a significant impact on whether the fire escaped. Then again, I've been on fires that it probably wouldn't have mattered if the fire started underneath the engine, it still may have escaped. I don't know whether the closest responding unit(s) to the Angora Fire were dispatched via scanning CHP or from their dispatch center or whether some of them saw the smoke and self-dispatched. And I don't know how far away they were or how far away the next closest units were or how they were dispatched.

But, however regrettable, my conclusions from the public media I've seen are that the CHP dispatchers provided false information to the public and can be held accountable for their actions. Regardless of any actual or perceived communications excuses you mention, it appears to me that the public was able to talk to a local agency that had the communications technology and responsibility to initiate or transfer to their cooperators the information to provide the proper response. It is a fundamental duty of every emergency dispatcher to focus on and be aware of what is happening in their area of responsibility.

It's too soon for me to know if the CHP dispatchers should be blamed for all the lost homes from the resulting fire. I sincerely hope it doesn't turn out that way because I admire and respect dispatchers. In fact, right after engine captains, I respect them the most!

ecc1 (ret.)
7/18 Folks: please share the message below about the NFES 1023 7.5 volt battery
casings and reversed terminals. This message comes from the National
Incident Radio Communications Cache here at NIFC - Share widely. Let's
not unknowingly have vital communication support systems go down! Please
read the message below and share widely with field going folks and support
people - thanks!

Michael G. Apicello
Public Affairs Officer
Risk Management Communications
U.S. Forest Service / N.I.F.C.


Yesterday (7/16/07) we started receiving an alarming amount of calls
concerning NFES 1023 7.5 volt batteries having the polarity incorrectly
marked on the casing. This morning (7/17/07) we received 130ea. NFES 1023
batteries from the warehouse. These batteries were a different brand then
we had been using in the past so we checked them using a voltmeter. Of the
130 received all of them had the terminals incorrectly marked. What this
means is that the anode (+) terminal is marked as negative (-) and the
cathode (-) terminal is marked as positive (+). As can be imagined if these
are hooked to our equipment as per there markings fuses will blow and
damage could result. I contacted Stan Legg in the warehouse and we checked
some 12 batteries from his stock. Of these 8ea. of those were also
mismarked. I also contacted Kathy Colson concerning this issue and found
that some 3000 of these batteries had been delivered. An estimate of 1000
ea. of these batteries have been distributed throughout the nation. These
batteries are used to power critical communications equipment and a failure
rate of this magnitude should not be considered acceptable. This particular
brand of battery is Rayovac Maximum Industrial No. 803 and is marked on the
bottom of the case with 12800 46441. We have embarked on a aggressive
campaign to pull these batteries out of our inventory and inform our
communications personnel of the situation.

Robert Dukart

7/17 Ab,

We got quite an education last year being involved with burned wildland firefighters. Our lesson learned: Wildland firefighters do not get the best care that is available to them, and it is happening again this year.

There is a real big difference between a rural hospital, a burn center, and a verified burn center. Austin B was burned over in Nevada last year. He went to a rural hospital where they popped his blisters (which they should never do) and released him with a diagnosis of minor burns. After arriving home, he then went to a burn center in Fresno where he was seen as an outpatient. He then went to a verified burn center, the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks; he was admitted and they started skin grafts immediately. Austin's treatment at this verified burn center, did not just treat the wounds on his body, but his emotional wounds as well with the support of other burned firefighters. Austin's co-worker, Chris F, has lost some of the mobility in his elbow due to scar tissue on his triceps tendon.

Had these firefighters been taken immediately to a verified burn center, things would have been very different for them.

* Rural hospitals usually do not see the burns that occur in wildfires.
* Burn Centers have doctors that are doing their residency and are moving through to another career.
* Verified burn center doctors commit their full career to treating burns. They are more holistic in not only treating the burns, but the firefighter's emotional needs and family support.

I just got off the telephone with another repeat situation similar to Austin and Chris. Again, we are in the process of helping get a burned firefighter to a verified burn center - this is critical and failure to get correct treatment will happen again and again if we don't step up and do something different.

The BLM is being pro-active in getting their burn policy put together and in place. I realize we are in the middle of fire season, I know it is hard for other agencies to get ahead of the situation now, but we must.

We need to take it upon ourselves, as a community of wildland firefighters, to ensure the injured receive the best care. You get the firefighter to a verified burn center and our 52 Club members will have their families there waiting for them. We need to help educate each other - together we can all make a difference.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
7/18 Thanks Hampton

I’ll look into it. In my engine’s (CAL Fire) radio freq book , like
I previously mentioned, only 2006 radio plan is in the book.

AZ Trailblazer
7/18 Ab,

I hope all hands will be very careful in northern
Nevada today. With single digit RH and up to 40mph
winds forecast for today, it looks pretty scary out
there. I have never read so much about "unstaffed
fires", "dangerous conditions" and "extreme fire
behavior" as I am reading this morning.

Hotshot Dad
7/18 I am a proud member of the FWFSA.

Although being a member does not benefit me in any way, I feel it's important to support all the brave men and women who are out there putting their lives on the line every time they do their job. These folks and their families deserve more than what they are getting. I speak from experience and know that the situation needs to change for the better.

Please support all the hard work that Casey does for everyone. He is a great man who is driven by his passion of the fire world and the people who live there, whether they be temporary or permanent, a GS-3 or a GS-14. Join the FWFSA and you will be joining the good fight!!

Lori Greeno

7/18 I guess this is not a topic that is a real concern but I figured I would see how other people feel. I do not understand why someone like an FPT is considered the same rank as a Captain. Generally when I see a person who is wearing dual bugles or a red hard hat, I expect that with that rank comes a certain level of knowledge and skill when it comes to supervising firefighters both on and off a fire. While I agree that there are many FPTs out there who most definitley know their job and have knowlege and skills...generally we know that an FPT is a "one man" job and therefore does not require the level of supervisitory skills one needs to run a fire module. I think that those who have worked hard to earn their rank as a Captain should be recognized as such and those who are FPT's or only qualified to run a module of "one" should have a different rank. That way, in critical situations, we can recognize the leaders more easily.

7/18 Guns and Hoses,

So you are not allowed to be on teams as well? Hmmmm, interesting. And part of the reason it interests me is because it is not a unified policy across all of the regions, and it also interests me because not very many people I have talked to know about it. That includes a national type 1 incident commander, a SAIC, two LEOs, a type 2 IC for starters. So that would make it an inconsistency in my mind, and from what I am seeing we don't need any more inconsistencies and unknowns in the management of fires and the fire organizations than already exist.

As far as safety goes, you might be on different types of incidents than I am on. I am on large scale fires with a type 1 team. For starters, when I am managing a helibase with with 12 ships on it for instance, it is extremely nice to have law enforcement manage the gathering crowd of onlookers as well as organize the around-the-clock security. This is often more important during the early stages of an incident, but once the security is organized and in place, I know who to thank. Yes, it would be nice if the local municipalities were available to help, but not all have the available resources, and many locations are too remote.

Thanks for the short-course on the CFRs, I do realize that they can only be used on federal land (hence the "F" in CFR!), at least that's the only place I have enforced them. And I find that my team is almost always working incidents which involve federal land to some degree, although not exclusively, but as I said earlier, I may be working different incidents than you are working. I am working a type 1 team which normally works on larger scale fires and often involving WUI situations.

I can think of many times, several this season already, where it was nice to have law enforcement (above SEC2's) watching camp around the clock, and not too long ago when I was pulled away from my regularly assigned duties to take some patrolling duties, it was once again very nice to have law enforcement. Could not have completed my tasks in New Orleans and Mississippi without them as well.

Just recently LEO's controlled and directed traffic when there was absolutely NO ONE available to tend to that task. I would say that it not only made the situation safer, but was critical in order to allow 4 strike forces of engines to navigate through a busy intersection at rush hour in an area zoned both business and residential where the traffic lights were not working. But it could have just been our misconception, all I know is, we were all very grateful!

And I am always grateful for the all night work being done by those keeping an eye on things, and the stories I hear at morning briefings never cease to amaze me. In the small town where I come from, when large scale fires draw on local resources, our two-patrol car police department can't really afford to work the fires - not that the additional funds wouldn't be nice, but there's no one to replace them. And that's not even taking into consideration what it's like during hunting season - which is what happened last year...

Hopefully you are right in saying you don't think it causes a decrease in safety at all. However, I think I'll opt to err on the side of caution since my focus is on safety in a preventative manner. I'd feel safer with at least one LEO on a type 1 team. Better to have it and not need it than to not have it at all. But I could be completely off base.

7/18 Guns and hoses,

On a recent USFS fire, we had NPS as well as BLM law enforcement rangers assigned to the fire to provide security and enforce closure orders. The local area only had one LEO to cover over 1.8 million acres and a patrol captain responsible for two forests over 200 miles apart. (Makes for a long day for the patrol captain if he has to provide backup). It makes sense to call for help in advance before it is needed.

Is not CFR and USC enforceable by all agents and enforcement authorities within the federal government when acting in an official capacity and properly authorized?

If not, I wonder why the majority of federal government agencies that had some form of law enforcement responsibility were called to support security in Washington DC, New York, Boston, and Philly areas following 9/11/2001? Were they deputized by the Secret Service, the US Marshals Service, the Park Police, or the Capitol Police?.... or did they simply have a delegation of authority letter on file?

On another note, I don't know if it still applies, at one point our local LEO's were deputized by the local county Sheriff and able to enforce CVC (California Vehicle Code) and CPC (California Penal Code), as well as the CA PRC (Public Resources Code) as delegated by the State or County forester. Not sure if that is still happening or not.... from what I remember, it had to be renewed on a year to year basis.

Sign me.... Still amazed at seeing BLM, USFS, and NPS patrolling downtown DC post 9/11. Also happy to know those folks... as federal peace officers.... are expected to carry their weapons on commercial flights after identifying themselves.......... other duties as assigned..... volunteer federal air marshal while in travel status.
7/18 HR, re your drone question, this is all I've seen



7/17 Baffled,

I cannot tell you the reason for this occurring, but I can give you some insight as to what I think and the reason I have heard why the SAC in my region does not allow us to go on Security details on fires.

The reason that I have heard for not going on SEC1 details is because of a multitude of reasons. I have been told 3rd person that our SAC will allow the regions LEOs to go on fire severity details but not security details. The reasoning for this is if we are not tied to a camp, we can patrol the surrounding forests for violations and if there is a problem at camp, they can call on the radio through our dispatch and we can respond to the camp.

Also, I am looking at another reason. If the fire is not on or near a forest, then the FS LEO is out of their jurisdiction and therefore has not authority to act.

The CFRs that are being applied only apply to the land meant for those CFRs and can only be enforced by someone authorized to do so. For example: Title 36 CFR 261 applies to violations that occur on or adjacent to the National Forest System. This can present a problem to a FS LEO on a team and the fire is in a national park or visa versa.

I do not think that this causes a decrease in safety at all. I am curious as to why you would think that it would decrease safety on a fire.

These are my thoughts and hope they work. I am willing to bat this one around more with thoughts.

Guns and hoses
7/17 This is a great website and I no longer am looking at any other website related wildland fires. It is great being able to look up my husband's engine to see what their status is. It helps with the family life. Great job and keep up the great work. It is nice to know that some one out there realizes how important or wildland fire fighters are.

Thanks from garret and his momma

The wife of E-65 MDF Engineer

7/17 Attached is a draft burn care management protocol. (32 K doc file)

It is based upon the recommendations of the American Burn Association,
the American College of Surgeons, Grossman Burn Center, and comments
from various fire management professionals.



The Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA):

Has members from all five land management agencies

Has members in all grades from GS-4 through GS-14

Has members consisting of family, friends, professionals of the wildland firefighting community

Has members in:

New Mexico
South Dakota
West Virginia
South Carolina

Costs only $ .79 a day to have your voice heard by the most powerful, influential people in the country who can effect positive change on your behalf.


Go to www.fwfsa.org for more information. It's your voice. It's your future.

FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 07/17/2007
SUBJECT : SAFETY ADVISORY : Dry Fuels and Extreme Fire Behavior

Safety Advisory: Dry Fuels and Extreme Fire Behavior

This summer, the National Incident Management Situation Report has consistently reported “extreme fire behavior”, “very active fire behavior”, or “rapid rates of spread” on large fires in most geographic areas. Obviously, similar fire behavior is occurring daily on numerous smaller initial and extended attack fires in the same areas.

This type of fire behavior is being observed because fuels across most of the west and in other portions of the country are extremely dry. These dry conditions are compounded by a variety of factors in some areas, such as abundant fine fuel loading, increased vegetation stress, frost-killed shrubs and brush, invasion of non-native species, lower than normal live woody and herbaceous fuel moistures, and mortality from drought and disease/insect infestations. Winter and spring precipitation deficits have created exceptionally low soil moistures drying duff layers deeper than normal for this time of year. Many locations in recent weeks have seen extended periods of higher than average daytime temperatures coupled with low relative humidity and periods of strong wind.

Rapid rates of spread, torching, crowning, running, fire whirls and long range spotting have been observed on many fires. When coupled with the effects of terrain and weather, this type of fire behavior has proven lethal in the past. Based on fire danger indices along with weather forecasts and climate outlooks, the potential for extreme fire behavior exists during the coming weeks with periods of hot, very dry conditions likely. Information on national and geographic area fire season outlook products can be found on the National Predictive Services Outlook page at www.nifc.gov/nicc/predictive/outlooks/outlooks.php

Wildland firefighters can mitigate the risks posed by these hazardous conditions in a variety of ways. These include:

  • Expect the unexpected! Fuels are drier than normal, so don’t be surprised by extreme fire behavior!
  • Maintain constant vigilance. Remember, most fires are innocent in appearance before unexpected shifts in wind direction and/or speed results in flare-up or extreme fire behavior.
  • Look up, look down, look around! A firefighter who has situational awareness is a safe firefighter.
  • Ensure firefighters have good anchor points, lookouts, communications, escape routes and safety zones.
    • Use the Incident Response Pocket Guide! Be extremely cautious when working in areas that have potential for re-burn.
    • Pay attention to what your fire is doing, how it responds to changing conditions, and anticipate how fire behavior will change throughout the day.
    • Closely observe the fuels in the area where you’re working. Remember, fine flashy fuels respond very quickly to changes in environmental conditions.
    • Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts. Stay attuned to the fire environment so that you notice the little, incremental changes in addition to the big sudden wind shifts. Develop an understanding of local conditions, especially if you are in an area unfamiliar to you. Demand a thorough briefing before engaging the fire.
    • Monitor your health and well-being and that of your co-workers. Maintain your hydration level and monitor fatigue. Fatigue, dehydration and stress impair situation awareness. Take countermeasures as needed.
    • Use Personal Protective Equipment. It was designed for your use and issued to you for your protection; it only works if carried and worn properly.

Leaders of wildland firefighters have special responsibilities:

  • Maintain command and control. Give clear instructions and insure they are understood.
  • Employ your subordinates in accordance with their capabilities. Consider team experience, fatigue and physical limitations when accepting assignments.
  • Provide accurate and timely briefings. Keep your subordinates informed and updated throughout the day.
  • Use the Risk Management Process identified in the Incident Response Pocket Guide.

On October 26, 2006, we lost five wildland firefighters during fire operations in the urban interface from extreme fire behavior on the Esperanza Fire in California. Since that date, wildland firefighters have deployed fire shelters in at least three other entrapment situations in urban interface/intermix areas with extreme fire behavior as a common denominator as well. Firefighters are reminded that no structure or facility is worth the loss of a human life.

The NWCG members request that all Operations and Aviation resources who may be assigned to wildland fire incidents be oriented to the key messages from this safety alert to assist them in preparing for assignments in which they may be exposed to extreme fire behavior.

A long, hot, and active fire season is still ahead of us in many parts of the country. Pay attention to firefighting basics and remember, chance favors the prepared firefighter. The most important resource to protect on any fire is you!

7/17 Hey -
Just want to make sure that everyone knows the Onion
article is pure satire...
Love the Onion, laugh out load stuff for sure. Use
the search on it to look up helicopter stuff and
you'll find a really funny article.
But - It's all satire.

Just making sure no one gets alarmed about the
"missing ranger".


7/17 AZ Trailblazer

Are you talking about a CAL FIRE not having a 2007 Radio Call Plan.?? Suggest they get hold of North or South Ops and get one. CAL FIRE has reprogrammed or is just about finished reprogramming everyone to the new call plan.

Travel Net has been removed and the new frequency "CESRS" has taken it's place RX 153.755 TX 154.980. The frequency is called CESRS, not Travel Net any more.

There have also been several frequency changes as well as power lever changes. CAL FIRE air/ground is now narrow band. Any way....check with your ECC and have them get you the up to date list.



7/17 I am trying to locate a t-shirt for my son from the Alambre (Kitt Peak) fire he was
on. Morningstar@signalpeak.net is the address that he was given to order one but
I have had no luck. If you have any other suggestions it would be greatly

Janet Ferrin

Alambre Fire was in Southern AZ. Was wrapping up end of last week. Ab.

7/17 Howdy AB and all!

Long time no speak...

I've decided to have a return to the woods vacation that kicks off today. About 2.5 years back I made the move from the USFS to the local police department. Needless to say it's been crazy and the stories I could tell. I've had some pretty amazing things happen since I made the switch and law enforcement has treated me well...Though I am starting to realize my first and only love is firefighting!

Without becoming to long and drawn out...I'm thinking I want to get back with the FS. However, I've got myself into a lifestyle that needs a full-time regular job. Is there anyway to rope in a position? If I recall correctly DEMO positions went bye-bye a little while back? Is the Apprentice Program still going? Or will I have to go in as a seasonal and work my way back up? Any advice?

I appreciate it guys! Stay Safe!


7/17 Can anyone enlighten me as to why R2 has pulled their LEOs from being available for future fire assignments? They are being told to stand-down on availability because law enforcement is not supposed to be filling positions (law enforcement or any other positions) on teams.

Will this just result in these positions being filled by other law enforcement agencies? And then won't this place the pressure on other municipalities and other agencies? And am I incorrect in assuming that R2 is the only region telling their LEO personnel to stand down? Or does this apply to everyone?

I for one enjoy the site of fed LEOs on fed fires and have always felt that because of the consistency of the CFRs throughout federal lands that it made sense to have a few of them on hand. But perhaps I have missed some new rulings or administrative moves.

Does this increase, decrease, or have nothing to do with safety on a fire? I'm leaning towards a decrease in safety.

7/16 from Firescribe:


Some volunteer firefighters missing 'red cards' (South Dakota)
By Ryan Woodard, Journal staff

RAPID CITY -- A state legislator is concerned because he says a number of volunteer firefighters haven't been issued their "red cards" -- cards that show they are up to date on their training and physical fitness.

Red cards, also known as incident qualification cards, are a firefighting ID badge of sorts. The state's wildland fire coordinator says the missing cards are not a problem.

"The red card situation is sort of a bad situation in the hills area here," said Sen. Jim Lintz, R-Hermosa. "A majority of our firefighters haven't received their red cards."

State Wildland Fire Coordinator Joe Lowe said not all volunteer firefighters have received their new red cards. However, he said the ones who don't still have their cards from last year, which don't expire until the end of July. <snip>

7/16 You must be very busy to keep this so much up to date, but what a great site,
thank you for your ingenuity. Have deleted the rest of the fire favorites from
my computer if that tells you anything. We are about 60 miles to the west of
the Fletcher fire, and my husband has a WT on 359 or Fletcher. Sure is scary
what is happening.

There again I really appreciate this site, I am even calling one of the look outs to
keep them abreast on what is the latest news.

Thank you,

You're welcome, and welcome to the online wildland fire community. Ab.

7/16 Lobotomy,

Norm Silver of CDF here and we actually adopted a formal CDF Region 6 Burn Policy in October of 1965 when we had two Crest VFD personnel badly burned on the “Harbison” fire in the mid evening. I was a CDF Foreman and the guy who did the First Aid Training for CDF and the Volunteer Fire Companies. I was summoned to the scene. Took one look and called the US Naval Hospital at Balboa by a mobile phone on a San Diego Gas & Electric District manager’s car. We were given the explicit instructions to transport both to the Mercy Hospital in San Diego for stabilization and a Naval physician was there to meet them. He arranged for both to be transported to what is now the Sherman Oaks Burn Center. One died en route, the other had a very long and painful recovery. The next morning I and my counter-part from the CDF Riverside ranger Unit were summoned to the Riverside Region 6 Office and were told by CDF Region Chief to go to the staff room and write a suggested formal policy. We did and it was parallel to what the US Navy physician had told us to do. That was the start.

But to digress even more, on the Ortega Fire west of Elsinore in 1958 there were CDF and USFS firefighter severe burns suffered when the fire turned around and burned back downhill faster than is was going up. There were fatalities suffered by both agencies. Within a month both agencies did develop a Burn policy and it was in writing, but nothing like the one we developed in 1965.

In 1977 there was a burn over with fatalities to a CDF engine crew on the Spanish Ranch Fire east of Santa Maria in the summer. One firefighter who appeared to be recovering at the Sherman Oaks burn center (Scott Cox, R.I.P) appeared to be making significant progress and after 70+ days there, he died due to a illness unrelated to the burns. It was a shock to all of us from both agencies. Scott had many visitors and cards from thousands of firefighters throughout the world wishing him their best. Within days, the person who was the Chief Forester of Region 5,San Francisco Office declared the bun policy null and void. No reasons given, no one in fire protection for that agency was ever consulted. I would have to defer to retired R-5 Fire and Aviation Chief’s Quintanar and Mangan for an answer to what and why.

Ab also posted this on the hotlist forum.

7/16 Hampton,

My bad, Khz!

Under our statewide 2006 Radio Call plan, yes, travel net to plastered all over page 8, when to use/not use, etc etc. I haven't seen a 2007 radio plan and just confirmed from my ECC that there is none.

Out of curiosity, was there anything that replaced the travel net, officially?

Funny thing, while traveling to a recent So Cal fire, out STEN utilized "DVP" as our travel net. Can I assume that the rest of everyone else is picking and choosing a non-local freq for a travel net?

AZ Trailblazer
7/16 New West (on-line mag) - - - front page coverage of fires (milford flat, egley, and ahorn) . . . .
and they're pretty good articles!


7/16 AZ Trailblazer

Yes....you are correct. More frequencies become available with the narrow band splits. (Ithink you meant Khz instead of Mhz)

One of the big problems is the Dept of Homeland Security. They have priority and want to gobble up as much as they can. A good example is the old "Calif. Travel Net" that went away on Jan 1, 2007. The frequency was taken over by DHS. I think it is important to have contact with resources as they move about, but DHS wanted the channel along with many others from various Federal agencies. I hope that some day, the people at the top will realize how important communications are for life/property safety and pay more attention to the needs of the fire community.


7/16 From the Northern Rockies GACC "News and Notes" on Monday, July 16:

Rocky Mountain Ranger District Press Release: A helicopter working the Ahorn Fire went down this morning near the fire's helispot, about 3 miles south of the Indian Point Cabin. The pilot is reported to have minor injuries. Fire officials have notified the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). An investigation will be conducted. Further information will come from NTSB. 406-466-3560 or 406-466-2524

It's on Montana's Lewis & Clark NF.

7/16 Ab,

For those not familiar with the reference to the 1981 Elizabeth Fire in the poem posted below, attached is an 8-page training exercise prepared 9 days after the fire. (Adobe pdf file, 364 kb)

We now use this as pre-course work for our S-231 Engine Boss classes. It's scary what hasn't changed in 26 years, except that maybe now even the engine captains are likely to be new and inexperienced:

"The engine foreman was a veteran Forest Service firefighter of 25 years experience. Crewmembers on duty that day were new and inexperienced. This situation is common to many fire crews in the region. Extra training and precautions are needed now by you and your crew to prepare for dealing with similar situations."

I don't view the 10 & 18 analysis and exercise as criticism of those involved, but as a valuable training tool for other crews to consider actions on their own fires and "how they measure up" themselves.

vfd cap'n

7/16 To vfd captain:

How in the world can someone be a new and inexperienced engine captain? A person should have one hell of a lot of fire under there belt to get to this position! I mean when the hair on the back of your neck stands straight up when danger is coming experienced type person. All 0f this debate about contractors stealing people is not new as it started in 1987 when I started. The government has to pay and retain people on a year round basis If anyone remembers the ccc or a position called combined resources technician this is the answer as workers can move from area to area working timber, trails, fire, building bridges, etc. I have met so many guys who say I am not going anywhere else. Well that seals your fate as a temp. I got tired of it and went back east and am pft with DOD and am now trying like hell to get back out west to help. I took a page out of a book from two temps who came back east to get in and it works. To all do not be afraid to move around as I would much rather work for the federal gov. than a contractor any day as they can be sued and go out of business quickly. The fed. gov. will always be in business.


7/16 Ab, info on Helitanker 794. Strider

Green Sheet on Zaca Helitanker 794 Accident (204K pdf file)

I am hearing about over $50 million being secretly funded from the Forest Service (money routed through APHIS in the USDA) to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the development of drone aircraft for the delivery of water and retardant on wildfires.

This has been supposedly tagged under national security to combat intentionally set wildfires that would distract response resources needed for other missions.

The rumor is that this technology was originally developed for Agent Orange, Paraquat, and other biological control agents, and has been resurrected for wildfire applications.

Does anyone know anything about this?

Supposedly, the APHIS office at 2280 Aviation Way in Cedar City Utah is a potential location for a "super-hangar".


7/16 Re radio freqs


With the P25 compliancy being the talk of some and the increasing of available
frequencies when the 5 MHz spread drops down to 2.5, will this increase the
amount of NIFC freqs out on the line?

AZ Trailblazer

7/16 Ab -

Found this in the latest Onion and HAD to post on this board! So
perfect for this group! Not sure how much you can post... but here's
the link...


Missing Park Ranger Found In Better-Paying Job

FLAGSTAFF, AZ—Forest Service ranger Lawrence Anderson, missing from
his fire-warning post in the Coconino National Forest since mid-July,
was found alive and well-off in the manager's office of a Flagstaff
Home Depot Sunday. "We announce with a sense of relief that Larry is
safe and financially secure," said FBI agent Donald Grasso. Anderson
described his years as a ranger as "an ordeal," recounting how he was
sometimes forced to subsist on root beer and prepackaged
bologna-and-cheese sandwiches from the park gift shop for weeks at a

7/16 Re: DC-10

CAL FIRE and the contractor said "minor damage" in press reports. NTSB uses the words "substantial damage".

Photos that were posted on They Said tell the story for folks who can determine for themselves whether it was minor or substantial damage, or if a jet aircraft of this size should be used in low level flight operations, or in close proximity to folks on the ground.

While this may seem as simple as "controlled flight into terrain" to investigators, it isn't. In order to slow down to retardant drop speeds, the jet engines are, for the most part, lowered to just above stall speed for the aircraft. In this flight configuration, the aircraft is unstable and not performing in its optimal performance envelope.

Rogue Rivers


NTSB Identification: SEA07TA181
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 25, 2007 in Tehachapi, CA
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas DC 10-10, registration: N450AX
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On June 25, 2007, about 1720 Pacific daylight time, a McDonnell Douglas DC 10-10, N450AX (Tanker 910), impacted trees with the left wing during a fire suppression flight in support of the White Fire about 12 miles southwest of Tehachapi, California. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (Cal Fire) was operating the airplane as a public use flight under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The captain, first officer, and flight engineer, were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and flight tracking procedures were in effect. The airplane departed Southern California Logistics Airport, Victorville, California, at 1657.

According to Cal Fire personnel, the flight crew was on their third flight of the day and preparing to jettison a load of retardant. While in a left turn from base to final for the drop, the left wing dropped downward and impacted several trees. The captain recovered the airplane and climbed to 11,000 feet mean sea level (msl) for a controllability check. The crew declared an emergency and returned to the departure airport at 1748, where they landed uneventfully.

Cursory examination of the airplane revealed damage to the left wing leading edge, and to control surfaces which included the outboard aileron.

7/16* Hey Abs -

I noticed Dale Shippelhoute of the Redding Hotshots is listed as a FMO/Division Chief FWS Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Dale was also on the Mendocino HS '82-'84 (at lest). I know for a fact that he also jumped for several years after that but I cant remember what base he was out of.

Another one for the list - Steve Millert (Mendocino hotshots '78 - '83) was just appointed division chief on the Grindstone district, Mendocino NF

Take care out there.

Hopefully I'll get this entered sometime soon, hence the * for reminder. Ab.

7/15 AB,

The Fletcher Fire CA-MDF (Modoc) was first reported at 1315 today.
This is a picture of the column approximately 3 hours later.

photo: www.wildlandfire.com/pics/fire33/fletcher-ca-mdf.jpg

Please be safe folks!

7/15 July 15

Elizabeth Fire.
Gilbert Lopez falls in fear.
"Did I kill my crew?"

Instructions mistook.
"Let's get out of here!" But where?
Abandoned? They ran.

A tunnel of fire.
Voices shouting "Safety here!"
Escape successful!

He went to find them.
Two breaths, six steps, destiny
Can he see us now?

no name please
7/15 Re: CAL FIRE burn treatment policy

I wish I could tell the story of how and why the CDF burn treatment policy was established and why it is so important to the care of our firefighters. I think it is best left for my buddies like Hawk, Norm Silver, or other leaders from CAL FIRE to explain it best, and why all wildland firefighters, regardless of agency or area they work in, should receive the best burn care treatment available.

From what I have been told, the CDF burn treatment policy came about after a burn injury to a CDF firefighter while working in the SRA lands outside of Hesperia, CA on the then San Bernardino Ranger Unit around 30 years ago.

Seemingly benign first and second degree burns almost cost a firefighter her life when infection, the most common burn complication, went untreated and non-recognized by non-burn care specialists.


P.S. - Why has the CDF / CAL FIRE had a burn treatment policy for over 30 years, while the federal land management agencies has had none?
7/15 Responding to Tess Bass: In 1996 Army troops from Ft. Carson,
CO were used on the Fork Fire, Upper Lake CA.

M. Maynard
7/15 Today, I just want to say that I am very thankful I am not mourning the life of a fellow fire fighter.
Today, I want to thank the men and women that participate in our detection program and our air attack.
Today, I want to appreciate that we did not lose anybody in the airplane crash on the Payette.

On 07/14/2007 we had a detection flight go down on Horse Mt. and, thankfully, everybody survived.
That is what is important. I am sure that more info will follow, as I did not hear the whole story and we
have a lot of fire to fight.


7/15 Those who are so inclined, please take a moment and send some
good thoughts to the firefighter(s) who are still in the Fresno Burn
Center. Healing lungs. Healing skin. Healing ear. Healing cheek,
healing shoulder, healing left hand. Healing LOVE.

Thank you.
And please take care of yourselves.

7/15 Re Mikes comment on NIFC Freqs:

For most agencies, channels are assigned and placed in the radios for what is anticipated in fire use. No radio has an infinite number of channels.

In regards to NIFC. They have 7 standard tactical and command pairs. When an area runs out of frequencies on a fire, NIFC seeks permission for additional frequencies because of emergency. They do no know in advance what frequency will be given to them or what federal agency the frequency will be borrowed from. Therefore, anything from NIFC t-8 or C-8 and up will be what ever they can get at the time. So, the question is asked, why not more set channels? The problem is, none available. We can ask the same about everything. Why not more firefighters, air tankers, helos, dozers?

That is why you have a programmable HT assigned to those in need with the necessary channels. I have been a COML for over 15 years and can tell you that lots of people the say they cannot get out, need how to properly use an HT. You may think you do, but do you really know how to get maximum range. Suggest you go to the NIFC Communications web page on how to use an HT.


7/15 I am trying to find a picture or article on the soldiers from Fort Carson, Colorado
that were helping fight a fire in 1996. I do not know exactly which fire, just that it
was in 1996. Any suggestions on where to look?

Teresa Bass

7/15 Anyone in Oregon or Washington know why the NWCC "News & Notes" section of the GACC web site has yet to post a single entry for all of 2007". Today's Morning Report say they have 53 new fires, 10 uncontained Large fires, 1 Type 1 IMT and 3 Type 2 IMTs assigned: surely there must be something to report??


information page providing detailed information on evacuations, closures, restrictions, etc.

FYI... Primary initial attack reporting on the News & Notes page above comes as a result of receiving an initial resource order (i.e. aircraft order) in NWCC or a specific submission or update on fire activity from an Office/Dispatch Center. In general, if you do not see new entries listed above, it does not mean there is no activity occurring in the PNW, it only indicates NWCC has not received any formal intelligence pertaining to activity or a specific incident.

No new entries for the 2007 Fire Season

So, NWCC has no "formal intelligence" so far this year??


7/15 NIFC frequencies?

It seems every large fire now in Ca. (Day Fire 2006 & Zaca 2007) The Com UL needs to use NIFC frequencies above the standard 1-7 command net because of potential bleed over… The problem is that (Cal FIRE, OES and Local Govt Depts.) mobile radios do not have NIFC 8 or higher frequencies preloaded. Why must we rely on 1 watt portable radio for emergency communication as Branch Directors, or Division Group supervisors? Why Can’t we get another 8-16 NIFC command frequencies developed and pre-programmed in our mobile radios? The Com UL stated that the frequency NIFC command 8 might be a different frequency on the next incident. What ever Boise releases is what they get…So Much for Communication if this ain't a safety issue, I don’t know what is… Especially when you had shot crews refusing to engage on the Zaca fire because of poor communications.


7/15 Just ran across this article on the DC-10 and thought you might have interest
in it for the board. May be old news to you, but had some info in it that was
new to me.


Fire supertanker to return to duty next week

The nation's only jumbo fire bomber is scheduled to return to duty next week following repairs to a wing that was damaged when the converted jetliner hit several treetops and nearly crashed, officials say.


The near-crash happened July 25 when the big jet clipped trees along a ridge top while its crew was preparing to drop 12,000 gallons of sticky red fire retardant -- 10 times the payload of California's regular air tankers -- on a blaze near Tehachapi.

"While in a left turn (onto final approach to the target) the left wing dropped downward and impacted several trees," according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The cause of the accident has not been determined. But the pilots say they hit air turbulence immediately before they hit the trees, Hatton said.

other subheadings:

CalFire Investigating
Fooled by the Terrain

A must read, in my opinion. Anyone know how high up on the tree they struck it? Sounds like they were lucky. Ab.

7/15 If anyone has 24 and 72 hour reports, green or blue sheets, final accident reports or investigation reports, please post them or send them in to abercrombie@ wildlandfire.com.

It would be good to add to the hotlist thread for each of the accidents/burnovers/etc we've had, from SEAT crashes and DC-10 AT tree strikes with no one injured, to burnovers.

We have been getting photos and will post links to those when the time is right. If you have any to share, please send those to Ab as well.

Thanks, Ab.
7/15 In the last week, three CAL FIRE unit Chiefs committed that ALL burn injuries would be seen and evaluated at a qualified Regional Burn Center following ANY burn injury in their respective units regardless of CAL FIRE burn policies to the contrary.

This evaluation would be made after ANY burn injury after stabilization, if needed. They hope that there will be changes to the CAL FIRE burn treatment policy for the better.... so do I, as it may result in a federal burn treatment policy.

Just yesterday, two leading Forest Service Chief's (during a team closeout meeting) also expressed the desire that the "current" CAL FIRE standard be the absolute minimum standard of care for burn injuries of federal employees.

The current land management agencies' standard falls far short of the standard of care....... the three CAL FIRE unit Chiefs envision even a better burn treatment (employee treatment) policy for their folks, while the FS Chiefs just want to ensure the most basic level of professional care for the kids they are raising to be the next generation of wildland firefighters.

If those kids or others are burned or otherwise harmed in any way.... Give them the best treatment available....... It is the least we can all do to ensure their safety.

7/14 Cy, FF 1 classes like those you mentioned are given to new fire employees just after they're hired. In our area, you can also find Regional Occupational Program classes (often offered prior to the season Jan-May), given through a County program but taught by fire folks or the basic classes given through a junior college. Some examples are here for ROP:


and Here for 2 and 4 year colleges:


The first ROP list may be a bit out of date on contact info. I made the original list. I sent in revisions several years ago, but haven't had time to update it lately. I think the second one is still up to date, possibly with more options offered.

Good luck,


These are listed on the Links page under training and education. Ab.

7/14 Re: Lack of Trainees

This is a problem in our area also. With the emphasis de jour being cost containment for each incident trainees are seen as an unnecessary cost for any incident. Too many folk have performance elements this year that deal with cost containment in FY 07. I think every line officer and FMO needs to have a performance element regarding measures taken to assure viable and effective fire management oversight and supervision of the local unit, region, GACC and Nationally in 2012.

Midwest FMO

7/14 Here is info on PD's from the IFPM web site www.ifpm.nifc.gov/implementation/spds.php

IFPM Implementation > Interagency Standard Position Descriptions

DOI Interagency Standard Position Descriptions:

The DOI Interagency Standard Position Descriptions have been posted on the FLERT website.

USDA Forest Service:

The corresponding Forest Service position descriptions are available in AVUE

Small Agency Fire Guy
7/14 MOC4546 & Jack Lee

The Kings River and Crane Valley Crews, on the Sierra NF, were part of the R-5 MEL
build-up. As Jack Lee said, Kings River is stationed out of the old Trimmer Station near
Pine Flat Lake on the south end of the forest. Crane Valley is stationed out of the town of
North Fork, geographic center of California!

Additionally, the Kings River crew was the first MEL crew in R-5 to be certified as a
Hotshot crew utilizing the IHC standards. Also, Crane Valley was the second crew to be
certified utilizing the same IHC standards.

7/14 Ab note: There's a brief description of what a NIMO team is, what it does and where the idea came from on the South Ops News and Notes, along with lots of other info. Thanks to Mary for keeping us updated on that forum. http://gacc.nifc.gov/oscc/predictive/intelligence/news_notes/index.php When something breaking happens, I hope she'll write in here and give us a heads up, in case it's not yet on our radar screen.
7/14 Attention Former Redding Hotshots,

The current Redding IHC has been tasked with making contact with former crewmembers in preparation for the 40th anniversary reunion this fall. If you are a former Redding Hotshot please contact the 2007 Redding IHC and/or check out and register for the reunion at reddinghotshotsreunion.com. If you have contact information for any other former Redding Hotshots, please inform them of the reunion and have them send us a current mailing address, phone number, and level of interest in attending the 40th anniversary reunion. Even if you don’t plan on attending the 40th reunion, please send us your contact information because we would like to mail a survey to former members about their careers after working on the Redding Hotshot Crew. The planned reunion date is November 10th, 2007 and location for the reunion will be in the Redding/Anderson area. A formal invitation will follow once plans are finalized.

2007 Redding IHC

Excellent, more info for the "IHC to Fire Manager" Project. Ab.

7/14 I'm not sure if MOC4546 got all the info he needed or not from his list of
hotshot crews, but if not here's a little bit more info on a few of the
hotshot crews. Big Bear, Feather River and Salmon River are all MEL crews
started up on 2001 I believe. Salmon River, off of the Klamath NF is well
known in North Cali for having come together as a crew and getting their
hotshot status either the same year or within a year from when they came
together and they are a pretty good crew to work with. Big Bear is off of
the San Berardino NF on the Big Bear RD and Feather River is off of the
Plumas NF. Hopefully this helped someone out with a bit more info.


7/14 Does anyone know when the San Bernardino National Forest gives
wildland training classes. Like for S-130 & S-190 and so on?

7/14 Ab,

This morning's news indicates two veteran CHP
dispatchers' careers are in a shambles in the wake of
the Angora fire. The allegation is that a response to
the fire was delayed because these dispatchers did not
take cell phone reports of the fire seriously. As a
retired CA state telecommunications employee, working
closely with CHP, I have been in the affected dispatch
center and know these are dedicated professionals who
are victims of a wireless emergency reporting system
that has not managed to keep up with technology to
better serve the public.

CHP dispatchers have to wade through tons of calls
initiated by a generation of frantic button-pushers,
pranksters, babies playing with cell phones, just
plain mean people, etc. and try to route calls to the
appropriate agency for response. They are literally
caught in the middle. Generally, these folks have
done an admirable job playing the hand they have been

The state is trying to rectify the wireless 911
situation but many of us know how slowly the big
wheels turn in a huge bureaucracy. Sometimes the
little people get thrown under those wheels and I
would hate to see them take the fall for a disaster
that has been a long time coming and was caused by a
plethora of questionable policies and decisions made
by others.

Hotshot Dad
7/13 Dear Ab, I would like to respond to the 2AK4U message about the
professionalism of Type I Incident Management Teams.

Dear 2AK4U,

My Type I Incident Management Team is in Utah and I am Managing the Milford
Flat Fire. I would say number one, if you have an issue with the team or a
team member you need to visit with the Incident Commander before you leave
the incident about your issue. Number two, you need to be very specific
about which Type I Team you had the problem with. With there being two Type
I Teams in Utah, I would ask you to be more specific with names. I believe
I run a very professional team and would ask if you ever have an issue with
a member of my team that you come to me to fix the problem. Number three, I
would ask you not to hide behind "They Said" without telling the facts. My team
is a very professional, highly respected and very reliable. If this issue
was from a member of my team, I would ask you to give me a call to clear
things up. If it wasn't one of my team members I would give the Incident
Commander of the other team a call and clear it up.

Rowdy Muir
Incident Commander
Great Basin National Incident Management Team
Office: 435-781-xxxx
Cell: 435-790-xxxx

Good points.
Rowdy feels OK giving out his phone numbers, I don't. I'll forward the message with the entire phone number to 2AK4U. By the way, since the WO FS web was hacked 3 weeks ago, no phone numbers are available on the FS lookup utility. It does put a cramp in phone calling. Ab.

7/13 The Kings River Hotshots are stationed at Trimmer on the Sierra N.F.

Jack Lee
7/13 At the risk of sounding like an old bureaucratic semanticist (is that even a word??), I'd like to offer a few thoughts on the recent postings about "California Hotshot Crews". I've always been taught (since ICS hit my non-California world in 1985) that the basic premise of ICS is STANDARDIZATION of resources and nomenclature. Now I see all these alleged hotshot crew names being thrown out that are NOWHERE to be found in the listing of the 89 Type 1 Interagency Hotshot Crews found in the National Mobe Guide for 2007. Am I missing something?

How about if I take 20 folks here in Bumfunck, Idaho that meet the Hotshot Crew standards: can I now call them the "Bumfunck Hotshots" and expect that T-1 and T-2 IMTs,as well as GACCs around the US will assign the like they would the El Cariso, Zig Zag, Lolo, Santa Fe or Prineville IHCs??

This is no way intended to degrade the training, quals or experiences that all of the folks on these crews that have been mentioned, only an attempt to surface the question about the validity and application of ICS terminology on the national scale.
Seems like the same questions could apply to CDF Type 1 Teams and hand crews, as well as folks in other States and GACCs that are using these terms that those of us outside of California apply against the Mobe Guide and the "Red Book".


The R5 BOD says there are no differences among hotshot crews. That's where it stands. Don't know what the private site is doing but some are not represented there. Ab.

7/13 Ab

Just off a Type 1 Fire in Utah. One individual on the team was not
satisfied by the work of their Trainer as a mentee. Evidently the Trainer
was negligent in working with the Trainee on the evaluation and filling out
the required "trainee" paperwork on the fire. The Trainee had to ask for an
evaluation (which was never completed) as the Trainer stated the work of the
Trainee was "satisfactory" but would not fill out an evaluation form or
document anything in the individual's taskbook. Even the Team Training
Specialist was "dumbfounded" by these actions. It is absurd that a high
level Team Member would perform this type of action when this is required by
members of the team and is listed in the SOG's. How can one provide a highly
reliable organization and have good team cohesion if the leader of the team
sets examples like this?

Just venting. Thanks

7/13 Hey AB,

I have been reading the debate between folks about
the pay difference between Cal Fire and the USFS. My
first thought is give me a break!!! Red, Green,
Yellow, White, the color of the truck doesn't matter
we all do our jobs to meet the same objectives, To
protect Life, property and resources. Does it matter
what our agency's name is or who pays us? Ultimately
it all comes from the Federal Government. I am tying
to not become bias, because I was a Fed for years, but
some of the posts from Cal Fire folks were ludicrous.
Apparently they have no idea what the Forest Service
consists of. Most of this is in reference to a post
about the USFS not getting busy and supporting Casey
ins the FWFSA, is the person joking? Unless you have
been under a rock or choose to talk without finding
out the facts, many federal firefighters have been
going to congress lead by FWFSA. As quoted by
beigefoot "GET ACTIVE". I say to him get a clue before
you rant, that guys doesn't have the faintest idea of
the work that federal firefighters have put forth. And
as far as the question from another, Does the Forest
Service carry SCBAs, Turnouts, EMT's and all of the
hoopla, again just like John Stossel of 20/20 give me
a break!!

Thanks for letting me rant AB.


Don't take it personally, but I am getting a bit tired of the ranting. No new points are being made. Take a deep breath everyone. It's going to be a long season. Ab.

7/13 Previous writer noted Cal Fire/ USFS job similarities


I’m glad one of our younger participants has taken the time to note how changing jobs to another employer in the same field of work doesn’t necessarily mean the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I was a Foreman for CDF in the San Diego County area at Warner Springs in the very late 1950’s. Our USFS CNF neighbors were at Henshaw , Oak Grove and Pala GS. We all trained together, responded together and even had a volley ball and soft ball team system. Del John was the Pumper Foreman at Henshaw, Larry Riley at Pala and Myron Lee at Oak Grove. The county and the forest supplied the other agency stations with receivers so everyone could be in the same ballgame at the same time. When the lookouts at High Point, Hot Springs or Boucher reported a smoke we went in used our maps and compassed it out. We didn’t wait for the dispatchers at Escondido or La Mesa to send us. If was in our area we all went. If there was a problem we helped each other out. Short on hose, call me I’ll see what I have to spare. Need handles for tools, call me, and if I do bring the tool over, I’ll trade for a like one and re-handle this at my shop. Truck giving you troubles? We had a CDF Camp with a Class 2 shop at Puerta la Cruz and I’ll arrange to get it fixed. You just pony up with the parts after. What happened to all of that? We trained, laughed, had hose lay competitions, picnics and a lot of other things too. I’ll still never forget the Green Hornet fire engines the CNF had and how glad I was to see one arrive to pump the hose lay. Our pumps (except for a few two stage units on some Marmon-Harringtons we had) wouldn’t put out the pressure those Viking’s did with the V-4 Wisconsin engine. While the Fire Camps were separate it wasn’t because we at our level ordained it that way. When that happened we were all close enough to arrange for a meet somewhere and discuss what the plan was going to be if the plans from the brain trust failed. We pulled it off many an afternoon when the chips were down. I still see the same apparatus in the field but I sure don’t see the same spirit of cooperation we had when I was young. I’m 70 now but I still remember those days well. Too bad these times are a changing isn’t it? I’m sure glad someone sees that the needs for performance in the field haven’t really changed too much either, in spite of the brain trust. God created good things, the devil created HMO’s and we are all saddled with the brain trust. I don’t know who created them.


7/13 Hey Ab,

In response to MOC4546 request for info on a couple of crews... The Kings
River Hotshots are out of the Sequoia NF, don't know details. The Crane
Valley Hotshots are a relatively (3-4 yrs) crew out of the Sierra NF, again,
sorry, no other details except that I've run some medical calls with them
and they're good guys!

7/13 Howdy Firefighters!

I remember when (not too long ago) when I was a Engineer (FEO) for the USFS. We would respond to Traffic collisions, Med-aid's and yes structural fires. Our adjoining agencies including CDF (Cal-Fire) were very grateful for our presence there and our large quantities of water. We had great EMT-1's and most of us had our STFM-FF-1 and other sundry quals such as RS-1 and other Academy type certs. I can't count the times the Medics from Eldorado County fire and CDF were happy we were there first to start good BLS and triage the situation.

I now work for a small fire district in El Dorado County as A Engineer/EMT-1 (great now I have given up my cover) and work with Cal-Fire, USFS and other districts on a daily basis. Guess what? we are all doing the same job, the grass aint' greener and we are all in the same boat together. I call B.S. on those who throw money into the equation. I also call B.S. on those that keep on whippin' out their parts on the table every time anyone decides their agency is better or worse. The only difference, some of us wear different uniforms and perform different job descriptions (Medics.......etc.) Yes some make more than others (money) and work different hours, but we all do the same thing PROTECT PROPERTY, LIFE AND EACH OTHER!

Lets use this forum to help each other and educate ourselves. Lets put <snip> and do our jobs! Be safe Bro's and Sis's from the fire "FAMILY" Remember what we do and why we do it...........Take care.


7/13 Lightning in NW

There is a lot of lightning today in the Cascades of WA and OR.
This could get ugly, be safe everyone.


7/13 Ab,

We are working on an effort to encourage Congress to restore funding to the Rural Fire Assistance grant program. The Dept. of Interior allowed the program to "die a silent death" this year. Local firefighters need federal assistance as intended by the National Fire Plan. Please see www.coloradofirecamp.com/rfa for more information.

vfd cap'n
7/13 HI AB,

Thanks for the Hotshot Crew information, Mellie! You helped me answer the questions I had, but created more questions.

From the site you sent me the Region 5 List of Type-1 Hotshot Crews there were a few more crew names that I did not know about or could identify. I hope that those out there reading this post can tell me which forest these Hotshot crews are from, if they are new or disbanded, if they are a re-naming and what forest / district they are from:

*Big Bear Hotshots
*Breckenridge Hotshots
*Crane Valley Hotshots
*Feather River Hotshots
*Kings River Hotshots
*Salmon River Hotshots

The California Hotshots page is a good source of information but is not complete, and there are some friendly "disagreements" about what crews are true IHC Type-1 or not, but I am doing a small personal project requiring up to date information.

Thanks for all your help.

7/13 Hey Be safe once green now red, How many type 1 or 2 engines does the USFS region 5 staff? Do some time in a busy sched A contract RRU, SBU or FKU and get back to us. How many Hazmat teams, truck company’s, or paramedic units do they staff 24hrs 365 days a year? CAL FIRE has more employees assigned to sched A (structure stations) than sched B (wildland stations).


A lot fewer than they had last year and the year before. Ab.



Congressman Adam Schiff whose district covers part of the ANF desperately wants to hear from ANF firefighters as to the staffing problems and anything else associated with federal wildland firefighter issues. I can only say & do so much but as I've stated before, members of congress want to hear from their constituents.

If you are a firefighter, irregardless of rank, and or someone who lives in Schiff's district, his office is urging you to contact Mr. Alex Saltman at 202-225-4176 or email at alex.saltman@mail.house.gov. DO NOT USE GOVERNMENT PHONES OR COMPUTERS!

For those of you concerned about reprisal, especially from line officers, Rep. Schiff's office has assured me in writing that "names and identifying details would be kept in strict confidence."

This actually goes for every other federal firefighter in the Nation who is experiencing similar problems on their forests, national parks etc. If you want to speak up but don't know who to contact, please contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org.

This is your chance to shine & be heard. Congress is now fully aware of the strain between line officers and fire folks and the ramifications thereof and wants to hear from you.

Thanks in advance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

7/12 BRS,

Region 5 USFS Fire Engines do carry SCBAs, as their CAL FIRE counter parts do! And with SCBAs do come turnouts! Region 5 Engine crews are an ALL-Risk Responder! It is true that USFS Engine crews are not allowed to go interior on structure fires; it is all based on Forest SOPs as to the amount that an Engine that is responding to a structure fire can act! Can a USFS Engine crew member don SCBA and protect exposure, YES. Can they set up exhaust fans, YES! The only thing that they can not do is go interior or perform ventilation acts, due to the fact that it is not with in their "expected" training to do such! Many USFS Engine Crew Members do have their California State Fire Marshall FF I, and do have the training to go interior, but are restrained by Forest SOPs! And as you know if you are a CAL FIRE Employee, the "67 Hours" of training that is required by CAL FIRE FFI's does not focus a lot of time on interior firefighting, which is when SCBAs and Turnouts are donned! Maybe 8 hours, give or take??

SCBAs and Turnouts can also be worn during vehicle fires, debris fires, etc. Turnouts worn during auto extrications, accidents and various others times, all of which USFS Engine crews respond to on a daily or weekly basis. As well as CAL FIRE Engine crews!

In my time as a Region 5 USFS Firefighter, I received far more training in the use of SCBAs and Turnouts, each and every season, than I have in my time with CDF, which was a one time training! I DONNED my Turnouts far more often in my time with the Forest Service, responding to vehicle fires or serving as an EMT on Vehicle Accidents in which the next due Engine was 30 minutes away!! In two seasons with CAL Fire I have served as an EMT once, exponentially less than that served as an EMT within Region 5!

Region 5 Firefighters are an ALL-Risk Responder, just as their CAL FIRE counterparts are! The California State Fire Marshall recognizes Region 5 National Forests as a California Fire Entity just as they recognize CAL FIRE! If the only thing that separates the USFS and CAL FIRE is the fact that CAL FIRE can go interior on a structure fire and that makes CAL FIRE better, GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!

And to go back a bit, CAL FIRE hand crews come from Conservation camps, so they are Conservation Crews, which gets shortened to Con Crews, and I have heard that from more than a few CAL Fire overhead!

Be Safe,
Once Green, Now Red, Always a Firefighter!!
7/12 A bit of humor from SoCal, sent in by RH. It's a scan of the paper.

The officer just got dumped with retardant yesterday and one of our
firefighters is trying to clean off his bike. Can you imagine the laughter
at the stations tonight?

picture scanned from a hard copy of today's San Diego Union Tribune

"Spammed" by an airtanker, now there's a rare "blessing" for ya!
To add to the irony, the Firefighter from a big ol hook-and-ladder with lots of nozzle power cleans off the officer's bike with the equivalent of a little piss pump. haw haw. Ab.

Fair use disclaimer

7/12 MOC4546

SQF has the Springville Hotshots. They were T-1 last year. They’re off base right now
or I would call them and ask, but I assume their status is unchanged. Contact the Tule
River RD for further information.

Tool Pusher

7/12 Yes BRS,

R5 FS engines do have SCBAs and turnouts.


7/12 A number of nice photos of the Birdie Fire at Mormon Lake, AZ 07/08/07, photos from Drew Holliday. I especially like two engine photos. To view more of his work, find the link to his website under the photo description.

Thanks Drew, I put them on the Engines 17 photo page. Ab.

7/12 These photos and a note came in yesterday afternoon. I put them on Fire 33 and Airtankers 23 photo pages. Thanks. Ab.

This fire, the Peak Fire near Napa, started about 3 hours after the fog lifted...
50% contained now with minimal structure threat. Started by a tree chipping


7/12 MOC this was the topic of discussion in mid-June sometime.

Here's a list of California Hotshot Crews from the hotlist. The California
Hotshot Crew page is not complete for whatever reason. Go back and
read early June theysaid if you want to read what some hotshots and
others think.

I think the issue got carried upstream and the comment back from the R5
Forester (whats-his-name) was something to the effect that it didn't
matter. I hope I remember right on that one. I'll look it up for sure later.



7/12 Hi AB,

I wonder if someone out there can share some information.

I understand that there are four new HotShot crews in Region 5 (California). They are the Shasta Lake IHC on the Shasta-Trinity NF, the American Canyon IHC on the Tahoe NF, the Beckwourth IHC on the Plumas NF, and a crew identified as the Springville HotShots but no forest ID. There is no current information about these crews on the California HotShots website.

There is information about the Shasta Lake and American Canyon IHC on their respective forest websites, but nothing on the other crews.

Can someone take a moment to pass on some information about the Beckwourth and the Springville HotShots and if they are actual Type-1 IHC organizations, or something else. Are there actually more new IHC crews in Region 5 other than these?

Thanks for your help.

7/12 AV,

Info on national Preparedness Levels (PL) is in the National Mob Guide on the NICC
Web Site at: www.nifc.gov/nicc/mobguide/Chapter20.pdf, starting on page 57. Each
Geographic Area (GA) also establishes unique criteria for PL based on their membership
and needs that may be found in GA mob guides. Zones and units may also establish
preparedness or staffing levels.

As with most of this stuff, these may be reviewed during the "off-season" and revised
as needed.

- former GACC staffer
7/12 AV - Chapter 20 (part 26) of the National Mob Guide has the criteria for setting national Preparedness Levels. www.nifc.gov/nicc/mobguide.index,html

7/12 AV

Here is a link to the description of National Preparedness Levels -



7/12 Ab,

How many times in my life, growing up in the midwest,
have I heard a country gentleman hook his thumbs in
his bib overalls and make an outrageous statement that
begins with, "looks to me like". It means he really
doesn't know and a thought better left in his head has
come out of his mouth. My Grandpa used to like to get
a conversation going that way.

Yes, I've heard "pray for fire" but it's the same as
the doctor who really doesn't want anyone to be sick
but can't survive if they aren't. I just don't
believe our firefighters would knowingly contribute to
a situation where folks would suffer property loss, or
worse. If there's the odd bad apple who would, I
don't believe the majority would allow it to happen.

On another subject, I am very impressed about how
safety conscious you folks are and that keeps me from
worrying too much about my own who are out there.
Thank you.

Hotshot Dad
7/11 Hi Ab

I am looking for the run down on how the national preparedness levels work.


Hi AV, nice to hear from you. Maybe someone could explain that. Different regions may be high and the national, low. Maybe it's how stressed out the wizard in Boise feels on any given morning? (tongue firmly in cheek) Ab.

7/11 Re Slams reported in the newspaper:

When people are anxious or angry they say things... the emotional brain takes over. Whatever comes out of their mouth reveals their biases. It's like they give you a clue to what their issues are and the "glasses" or "lenses" through which they view the world. Everyone knows we each see things in the world a little differently because of our personalities, our physiologies, our experiences. Well, it really becomes evident when people are under stress.

So I wouldn't place too much emphasis on what the rancher says. He wouldn't be the first to blame the feds and to see the world through such "spectacles". In fact, because of bad actions of some in NorCal years ago I did the same thing -- until I realized that things had changed and that my "lenses through which I viewed fed firefighters" hadn't. The realization prompted me to change course, and here I've been for the last almost 8 years.

In the middle of the Big Bar Complex which was the transformational fire for me, I wrote an article for a local journal. (Arm twisted by the owner-editor.) This is what I said about resources, sounds a little different out of context and these days a little out dated, but I still like the burrito analogy. We usually don't have absolute knowledge of everything that seems to be the reality:

What I have since learned about fire-fighting resources is that, when fires begin, personnel and equipment from across the United States are assigned in the order that they are requested and with the priority of protecting people and houses first and forests next. Sometimes you don't get exactly what you need right away.

Once assigned to a fire, resources are committed to that fire and usually are not released, even to a nearby fire, until the first fire is controlled. If helicopters are needed, resource consideration includes both the chopper and the number of flying hours that a pilot may safely be in the air. Thus, resources that sometimes appear to be available may not be.

It's like being in a "spike camp" dinner line expecting to get a super burrito. If the cheese runs out, you may get more beans to replace it; if the beans run out, you may get more rice, and so on. If you're unlucky enough to be at the end of the line and more people have come to dinner than expected, you may get only a tortilla, although signs of super burrito largess surround you.

Since then I've been made aware over and over again that people will say -- what people will say. It's the human condition under stress. You have no control over that, or very little. It's how we respond (or react) to what they say that matters. Education, PR, logic, no reaction but only a response with your understanding of the situation. hahaha, I try not to knee-jerk, but sometimes just like everyone else, there's that little jerk!


PS, on another note: My favorite hotlist moniker I've seen so far --> Fire Truckie. Makes me laugh every time.

7/11 Ab preface: The following post refers to this thread on the Hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=778

Specifically it's in response to this article:
Battle continues on wildfire burning north of Weiser

I will post the following there, as well. Sourdough, register for the Hotlist and post there too. Ab.



Just wanted to respond to all the controversy regarding the Idaho rancher's statement. I really don't expect this to be printed. But I'll throw in my two cents anyway.

All the response to the Rancher's statement have been negative. Has anyone considered the possibility that what he mentioned happens sometimes? It's the exception rather than the rule, but it happens.

I was once on an IA assignment in that area in the 90's. As one of several light Green engines. There were several lightning strikes that afternoon resulting in two starts a few miles off the forest boundary. We were the closest resources and were dispatched. It was in cheat grass. We could have caught both at less than an acre. We were within 10 minutes of both fires before being ordered to stand down. As BLM had insisted on only using BLM resources. Trouble was, it took another hour and a half before the first BLM engines arrived. By that time, each fire was over 1000 acres and 4-5 days of mop up.

I'm not pointing the finger at anybody in particular. Nor am I saying that those fighting the Weiser fire did that. The firefighters I've known from that region are tireless workers, honest and all around good folks. But I've seen people milking fires. It happens a lot.

Most of us find the concept appalling. This does not happen only at the lowest levels of operations.
But in order to prevent this kind of thing, we in the firefighting community must be our own worst critics. Being in denial is not going to solve the problem.

On a more practical note to all you new guys out there: Real busy fire season all of a sudden. Resources are stretched thin. Don't expect any showers, hot meals, laundry service or mini marts. Take plenty of extra socks, tee shirts, toiletries, and nomex. Same with tobacco. I recommended a coffee pot and a backpacking stove. Satellite radio can be a lifesaver also.

Chances are meals will consist of MREs. You'll go to bed filthy, but too tired to care. If you can't handle that, well, maybe you can get a job flipping burgers.


7/11 Brent,

"Bubbling under the surface are federal subsidies and unions"...."A perspective narrowed by provincialism and limited experience"...well, I guess the 25 years of experience is a bit limited, and has affected my perspective, but who am I to say. When I look up the job requirements, and correct me if I'm wrong, I usually dont see the federal wildland job descriptions requiring an EMT, HazMat, High-Angle Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, River Rescue, Auto Extrication, or even a NFPA Firefighter I. There may be the exception, but if there are, they are not the rule. Our department is governed by the NFPA standards, so we are required to provide the training to each individual firefighter, to the tune of about 300+ hours a year.

And I should have said this in the first place, I'm not CalFire. I can almost guarantee you that the only money we see from the federal government is when they decide to pay their reimbursements 18 to 24 months after the fire is out. We did get a grant from the federal government a while back (which we matched the funds) and purchased a computer.

And as for sharing the same risks. Yes, there is great risk involved in firefighting operations. This is true anywhere. But my point is that in only a few specialized circumstances, the day to day operations of the basic Federal Wildland Firefighter generally does not involve responding to all-risk alarms.

Just from looking in from outside, my perspective is that the problems between the line and management in the federal system is systemic, and can probably only be changed by starting over. Getting the Government to recognize the line as Firefighters and not Forestry Technicians would be a great start. But that only going to be the first shovel of dirt in a long line of work.

I never meant my first response to you to be an attack, and if you thought it was, then I apologize. But I will offer a little advice. Use the fact that the government is subsidizing CalFire. It can be a great tool to help you work towards bettering your working conditions.

enough, gotta go fill the kiddie pool for the rugrats,

Stay Safe everyone,

7/11 Dear Brent, Beigefoot & others:

I've tried to write this 3 times now and have chucked each one so far.

First of all, thanks for the kind words but "Casey" is not the FWFSA. I just get to be the "chief cook & bottle washer" and have undoubtedly one of the best jobs in the world. The FWFSA is all of its members, whether they be GS-4 or GS-14 fire folks, family members or supporters. I just get to do the yakking!

Brent, I truly believe the collective voice you referred to is alive and well and getting stronger. In the last few months firefighters have raised their voices regarding the liability issue, staffing & budget issues etc. The FWFSA allows for those voice to "channel" its collective strength towards those that can effect positive change.

We are cognizant, however, of the thousands of others out there who either know of the FWFSA but don't join for a variety of reasons or those who simply are not aware of our efforts. In fact the other day I spoke to a BLM crew in transit through Pocatello who had never heard of us. We rely on our members, especially during the season to get the word out.

I also want to reiterate that my recent commentary regarding federal funding to CALFIRE and other agencies is not criticism towards those fire agencies. In fact I've tried to be straight up and state that I have always admired the efforts of those that have led CDF/CALFIRE and those that represent its employees interests i.e. Local 2881.

In fact I got a lengthy letter off to Director Grijalva yesterday and hope our organizations can work together to ensure our firefighters get the best possible benefits, pay & working conditions. That being said, obviously federal dollars to state & local agencies is an issue if it impacts our federal firefighters' ability to be properly compensated. We have never advocated a wholesale elimination of cooperators or contractors and never will.

However this year, as did last, presents some serious challenges for federal wildland firefighters. Until last year, forests had the ability to "deficit spend". As a result, preparedness resources were usually in place despite preparedness funds being used for non-fire projects. However at the beginning of last year, the order was in place... no more deficit spending. Oh, and by the way, maintain your FFPC and the mythical 97-98% IA rate.

It just couldn't happen... and it didn't. This year is more of the same, but it is compounded by the loss of many federal wildland firefighters to CALFIRE and other agencies for better pay and benefits, as well as the uncertainty of the liability issue. Perhaps just as disconcerting as the fact that the federal government - more specifically the land management agencies - refuses to support changes to archaic pay & personnel policies, is the fact that our firefighters believe they have lost the support of their agency.

This in turn is likely attributed to the fire program being managed by those (line officers) who, more often than not, have virtually no fire experience or expertise. As I've stated before, this might have worked 30 years ago. However with the complexities of fire we now face and the additional elements of WUI etc., the current system is like having LA County firefighters working for the city's Park & Recreation District. It just doesn't work anymore and Congress must address this fact.

ADD to that huge sums of federal dollars going to fire agencies EXCEPT those in the federal sector and you can begin to imagine just how massive an undertaking change is. Case in point... Many have heard of the SAFER Act and FIRE Act passed by Congress in recent years. Does good things for every fire agency in America... except federal fire agencies. Go figure.

So let's not get into a blue versus green thing. There are a number of feds that do all-risk duties and traverse the globe helping others. There are others who do not. So what? The bottom line is when you all meet on the same wildfire line, the basic premise should be equal pay for equal work...ESPECIALLY if the federal government is paying.

OK, off to prep for my meeting tomorrow in Boise with Tom Harbour. And yes... I'll be politically correct... whatever that means.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
7/22 Dick,

You hit something on the near-miss/accidents decreasing with increasing levels of management (Type 1 and 2 teams). I have noticed a lot of good "plan A's" being implemented with IA resources with good briefings and good-to-ok strategies being planned. I have also noticed a major decrease in LCES and Situational Awareness with each following plan (B, C, D etc). I would be interested in how often these near-miss and accidents happen when doing something other than Plan A.

Maybe not a fair question now that I wrote it down, as most fires finish far from plan A.


7/11 I think it is a good thing to have a place where all can go and express their concerns, doubts, and pet peeves. I applaud the service that you offer. I even take time out once or twice a month to peruse this site to wade through the chaff and get an idea or feeling for the "group" mindset.

I have been in the Wildland Fire business with a number of state, and federal agencies, have been a State Ranger, Supervisor and a Federal FMO for longer than I care to remember. For a long time I have seen the people, policies and wildfires come and go. The constant that I see is that the learning curve or lack of such remained the same, a complete circle. Key words and "buzzwords" like "situational awareness" and policies like the "right to refuse an assignment" used to be unspoken because every one performed them in their job as second nature. We lived it. We called it "common sense". Nowadays we have to speak it to know it is so. Where has the common sense gone?

The only light I see on the horizon is the adoption and implementation of the "Doctrine." I know there will be a hundred responses that say "it won't work" or "it isn't right". It may not be and is not the answer to all the woes and problems in fire and the government, but it is part of it. Besides, I'm too busy to log on here very often so I probably won't see your comments anyway.

In the next year or two I will be hanging up my King Radio and White Boots which are many years older than a lot of the contributors herein. When I do the one legacy that I want to be able to leave is that "No one ever got seriously hurt, injured or died on my watch and yet the job got done." If that became a target by which employees where evaluated at all levels and the Government stood up to be counted instead of people protecting their careers and throwing others to the wolves, we would still be a cohesive "fireforce" for wildfire to face. Instead we have a bunch of the "sky is falling" insured chickens running around.

When I do hang up my Whites I will not ever put em on again even as an AD. A very important person in my career who is now the State Forester of Florida used to (when one of the little people) have a photo of a ghost on his office wall 25 years ago and the caption said "let no persons ghost say your training let them down".

Perhaps more later, perhaps not.



Welcome Ole Flamehorse. Ab

7/11 Brent:

Do Federal engines carry SCBAs? CAL FIRE does. How about Turnouts? CAL FIRE does.

Don’t get me wrong. I whole heartedly agree federal firefighters desire better pay and benefits. I WANT federal firefighters to be paid better, and be protected from the dangers of our profession better. What I do have a problem with is a NEGATIVE comparison with an agency that gets paid better. I am not sorry CAL FIRE gets paid better. I am sorry some people need to say one agency is better or not better than another, based upon pay and benefits. San Francisco FD gets paid better than FDNY. Is one better than the other?

I was at McLellan this year, where there was a 3 day class (don’t remember the name) where the federal firefighters were being introduced to turnouts and SCBAs. A federal employee from Michigan that was with me was shocked - in Michigan Federal firefighters aren’t allowed to leave the engine at state or local structure fires. They may give the water off their engines, but they must not assist in structural firefighting.


7/11 Re: Quals for new hires


The Forest Fire rep in hiring merely rubberstamps the committee's decision, at least on my forest.


I see it as a safety issue, too. Having a Fuels Battalion Chief with little or no prescribed fire training or experience (and not qualified to be duty officer in the absence of Suppression Battalion Chief, either) seems like a big liability risk and simply not worth the trouble. And having an engineer who is not qualified to supervise the crew alone on Captain's days off is limiting. Ultimately, the subsequent fast-tracking of people into required qualifications (which I believe is the FS's intention) they don't have adequate experience to support is just asking for injuries/fatalities. But my forest (and the Forest Fire Rep) seems to be okay with this.

Annoyed in R-5
7/11 Beigefoot,

Your response is classically conservative; you exude
self-reliance and personal accountability. Bubbling
just under the surface though, are federal subsidies
and unions. I am sorry that your friends on Federal
engines are not able or not allowed to respond to all-
risk emergencies. Your perspective is narrowed by
provincialism and limited experience. Most crews have
EMT’s, some EMT-I’s or P’s, and some have people with
high angle rescue skills, HAZ-MAT experience, confined
space training, river rescue skills, structure fire
skills and any other training that you feel exists
only in CALFIRE. I assure you that Federal engines,
hand crews, helicopters, and smokejumpers are all

It is good to hear that you get recurrent training,
seemingly limitless opportunities, and great benefits.
You are afforded those benefits because of federal
subsidies and the liberal construct of union
representation. The union is one voice for the
collective with the power to exact change on all
levels. Do you not see the irony in the Federal
Government paying for a portion of CALFIRE’s budget
while not affording similar benefits to their own
Federal employees who share the same risks?

You did make a good point that getting behind Casey
will only benefit Federal employees and for now is as
close they will get to union representation.

Brent Jenkins

7/11 I would like to follow up Dick Mangan’s post about fine tuning your situational awareness with a special mention about Southern California.

I’ve been stomping through chaparral for a very long time, but have never seen the kinds of vegetation mortality I’ve been seeing over the past few months. Scrub oak, one of the last species to be impacted by drought, is starting to drop. They have extremely deep roots and can normally tap into to the water table to survive while other shrubs can not. They’re dropping their leaves and I doubt they’ll make it through the season alive. Various species of ceanothus have been having problems for a number of years. Perhaps more telling is that I’ve seen acres of chamise just up and die. They’re not brown from stress, but dead.

With these kinds of fuel conditions due to drought, I’m really nervous about the coming months. There are a lot of new folks out there, and even some of the experienced, who don’t have the mental slides to know how wildland fires are going to behave when they’re being fueled by so much dead stuff.

It’s easy to get complacent. It’s easy to get excited. Don’t.

Please be careful.

7/11 A little good news


5 killed in Esperanza fire to get highway memorial
From Times Staff Reports
July 11, 2007

The State Assembly this week approved a resolution that cleared the way to designate a 30-mile stretch of Highway 243 between Banning and Mountain Center as the "Esperanza Firefighters Memorial Highway."

The road will honor the five U.S. Forest Service firefighters who were overrun by flames while fighting a more than 40,000-acre, arson-caused blaze west of Palm Springs in October.

The Assembly unanimously passed the resolution, sponsored by Assemblyman John J. Benoit, (R-Palm Desert), Monday.

The Senate had previously approved the measure.

Private donors will pay for signs along the highway and at least one memorial.

7/11 To annoyed in R-5

R-5 is not the only region hiring people who are not qualified. It seems
that our forest supervisors and district rangers are more concerned with
diversity than hiring people who are qualified for the jobs they are
filling. In my opinion this is a safety issue that needs to be addressed. I
don't care what nationality or gender you are, we need the most qualified
people for these jobs or there is going to be problems in the future. I
don't know about you but it scares me.


7/11 Another one for Terms, Nicknames, Jargon, slang terminology, phrase & funny acronyms


Chief Has Arrived On Scene

Happy California Cow

Good yer a California Cow. Wouldn't want to be a Nevada Cow fight now. Ab.
NVJims had this to say about the NV-EKD-Highway 93 Complex on the hotlist: "Local news reporting 30 fatalities, all cattle... definitely a sign of a fast moving fire."

7/11 Wildfires and firefighter fatalities are not just a US problem:

Three Firefighters Die Fighting Forest Fire In Crete

ATHENS, Greece --

Three firefighters died and another was seriously injured Wednesday while fighting a forest fire on the southern Greek island of Crete, authorities said.

The fire started around 4 p.m. in a forested area outside the city of Rethymnon on Crete's northern coast, its flames fanned by strong winds.

Forest fires, an annual summer scourge in the Mediterranean region, have plagued many parts of Greece in recent weeks due to tinderbox conditions worsened by some of the hottest early-summer weather on record.

In late June two people were killed in a wildfire outside Larissa in central Greece.


7/11 All Risk


At least in my part of the world on the Tahoe NF, forest engines can and do respond and are encouraged to respond to medical situations, as long as they are not needed for a forest response like a fire, and yes they do the same for all of our little small local departments for mutual aid fire response.

All I can say is thanks to Engines 61, 62, 71, 72, 73,and patrol 61 and 71. I love knowing you're coming to help. Things can get a little tight here at times, and definitely thanks for the respect & personality you all offer.


7/11 Annoyed in R-5

My understanding of how the Hiring is being done this week: Each Forest
has a Fire Rep at the meeting with delegated authority from the Forest
Supervisor. It is up to that Rep to make a determination and let the
selecting officials know, if they feel the candidate pool for a position
does not have qualified candidates, and elect to fill the position at a
later time. So if you're not satisfied with who you're getting, or have
issues, you should contact your Forest rep.

7/11 Quals for new hires:

With the FS making a big push to fill positions this month, is anyone on the inside of hiring noticing that candidates who may have the minimum requirements (i.e. one year at the next lower pay grade), yet who lack seemingly required qualifications (Engine Boss for FEOs, RX/division quals. for Fuels BCs, for example) being considered (and later this month offered) positions?

I've already noticed this on my forest and if it ends up being as widespread as I suspect (given the limited pool from which the FS is hiring), it makes it pretty clear to me that the FS is done for. How can we command respect and higher pay/benefits if we have Engineers whose limited qualifications wouldn't allow them to move past a basic FF position in any state for municipal fire agency? How will we ever be treated as professionals in our field if the FS insists on promoting unqualified people?

Apparently filling the position at any cost is a more agreeable option to FS bigwigs, rather than admit that pay/working conditions are such that no qualified people want the job.

Annoyed in R-5

7/11 Lack of Trainees

With the IFPM deadline of October 2009, I find it hard to fathom that there is such a disconnect with management concerning trainee opportunities. May be that it is only a problem near me but it seems like there is a lot of “No Trainee” orders being filled. Is it worth the cost savings to continue to perpetuate a workforce that won’t be able to step up when folks retire because their task book isn’t filled out? There is a lot of talk about a lack of midlevel management to step up when folks retire but what are we doing anything to fix it? As 2009 looms, it will be interesting to see the bottleneck that occurs when many will be short of their TFLD and ICT3 quals.

Sign me “Baffled”

7/11 Just wanted to send out a compliment to whoever is keeping the R5 South Ops News
and Notes page updated. With all the activity we are having, great info..

I tip my hat to you.

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


7/11 Re Gansner Pack:

Thanks NPS Cap'n for the link. It will be put to good


7/11 NIMO vs Type1 IMT

What's the difference between a NIMO Team and Type 1 IMT?
What circumstances would dictate the activation of one team over
the other?


7/11 again, I rant a little.

After reading Brents post about how myopic and egregious CALFIRE is with the double standard of "all-risk", I find myself thinking about that a little. Brent, I rarely see a federal engine company rolling with me to a medical emergency, car wreck, or a hazmat in their every day duties. I believe, and please understand that this is my opinion, and only my opinion, and if I'm wrong, let me know, but us "all-risk" departments have to maintain quite a bit more training than the wildland only departments. I'm not slamming you guys, just pointing out a fact. We are a bit more organized, is all.

I'm constantly amazed that the federal employees have not thrown themselves wholeheartedly into supporting Casey and FWFSA. The old axiom rings so true, "the squeaky wheel gets the most grease". GET ACTIVE! Find out whats going on, and where you can do the most good! The most powerful tool you have is the computer and the phone. Find the email addresses and phone numbers for your political representatives and let them have it! Call the FWFSA, find out where you are needed and pick the fight. I talk on this subject because I have many friends that work for the USFS, BLM, and NPS that I constantly see getting the shaft on a daily basis, and its not right. <whew> ok, enough...sorry ab...

And this is from one of the dastardly conservative republicans...I can almost hear my grandpa rolling over in his conservative grave...

Stay Safe everyone.....


7/11 Wildfire Friends - since my first summer at the Feather Falls Guard Station on the Plumas National Forest in 1964, I cannot remember so many close calls, near misses, burnovers, entrapments and "almost fatalities" as we've seen so far in 2007 in the western US ..... and all before mid-July!

Our studies of wildland fire fatalities show that wildfire burnover deaths seldom occur on well-established large fires with Type 1 or 2 IMTs in place: usually fatalities from burnovers occur during IA, extended IA and Transition. The entrapments and burnovers so far in 2007 (fortunately without fatalities) have reinforced those findings. But lots of other fatalities are occurring from vehicle accidents while going to, operating on, or returning from, wildfire assignments.

Please. on this 6th anniversary of the Thirtymile fatalities, fine tune your Situational Awareness to realize that, in July 2007, it ain't "business as usual" when you respond to a wildfire anywhere in the western States, and that one simple oversight or mistake may be your last!

Be safe in the days and months ahead! It promises to be a long fire season again!

Dick Mangan
7/10 Aberdeen

TCU is the Tuolumne Calaveras Unit of CalFire (CDF).

Strawberry Mom
7/10 Casey,

Your last post on 7/09/07 is the most cogent,
compassionate statement I have read in this forum. I
commend you for holding the Federal Government and
CALFIRE accountable while exposing the egregious
double standard that exists. The previous claim that
CALFIRE is all risk and therefore deserves more pay is
myopic and self involved. It is not CALFIRE's duties
that earn them better pay and benefits but that their
representation somehow cut a better deal. You are
doing a good and noble thing, Casey, the only thing
that matters really. You have found a group of people
that are not compensated for the risks and sacrifices
they make and you are changing that. Thank you for
representing those with a compelling sense of duty and
no collective voice.

Brent Jenkins

7/10 Official Summary of the Shelter Deployment on the Alabaugh Fire (South Dakota-BKF/SDS)


7/10 RE: Bethany Hannah's post

I have had the opportunity to work with Bethany when she was my crewboss at the Apprenticeship Academy in Sacramento and have taken her advice regarding the writing of apps. I used the handouts and information that was provided to me and it honestly helped me to get both my permanent position and later I used all of the same concepts and applied them to my Law Enforcement apps. And guess what...... I got both of the jobs that I applied for. She really knows what she is talking about and the tip sheets that she has are awesome.

So for those out there looking, I recommend using what is available and has been offered. It worked for me.

Guns and hoses

PS>: Bethany, Blue Crew Advanced 31 missed you, but your significant other provided plenty of entertainment.
7/10 Some mighty fine photos came in on the CA-Plumas National Forest-Wheeler Fire (Antelope Complex). Thanks to Jason Erwin and Scott R. Very nice photos.

I've made two into Wallpaper, featured one on the Home Page, and also put them on the Fire 33 photo page.

To those who are sending in photos, I'm trying to get to them, but things are rather busy here right now. Ab.

7/10 Are we having fun yet?

Is it just me or are we experiencing a serious melt down out there in the
fire world.......?
Seats crash landing, helitankers rolling over, civilians getting burned up,
engines getting burned over,
no fireline middle management, no air tankers, shelter deployments, the
list goes on and on.
It's only July!

I would encourage everyone to take a step back and ascertain where their
operation is positioned
in this sea of chaos. It's seems that good situational awareness with
regard to our organizations
is in order, before we even think about engaging wildfire.
Step two would be a rededication to the basics.

Establish LCES
Anchor and flank to the level of your capacity.
Always have a way out.
Slow Down and Think!

Remember that you didn't create this mess-
you can only fix that which is within your capabilities.
The fires will eventually go out after the fuel loads are "treated"
via Mother Nature.

Take care of yourself and those you are responsible for.

Jim Puckered

Ab added bold.


For those of us that are not Californicated, where is TCU and what fire are you referring to?


Sorry Aberdeen, I posted it on the hotlist forum under the CA-INF-Inyo Complex burnover but didn't provide that info here. Inyo NF is socal and to the eastern side of the Sierras and includes Mono Lake and trails that take off to go climb Mt Whitney and base camp at 8,000 feet, which is my primary experience with it. Let's see, here's a link: www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/ . The posts on the hotlist about the fire and the burnover are these:

Inyo Complex thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=681

Inyo Complex Burnover thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=772

7/10 Dear Ab,

In regards to grl4ster’s request for a 10/11 FMO PD…

I own a business called Loomis Hannah | Wordsmithing for the Unique Professional. I specialize in developing résumés and applications for wildland firefighters. I just launched a few months ago and, although I probably don't have exactly what she is looking for, I did want to mention that there are the open continuous announcements for GS-11 FMO positions in R5 posted on USAJOBS. The announcement numbers are: ADS07-FSJOBS-DFMO-462-11G and ADS07-FSJOBS-DFMO-462-11DP

I don’t know if this will help in her endeavor to find a quick solution for submitting/developing a 10/11 PD, but I thought I’d offer… The announcement is not for a 10/11, but it states within the announcement:

“If there are no positions at the next lower grade level in the normal line of progression for the unit, individuals at the next lower grade level may be eligible… They will be considered in there are no intervening GS-10s in the normal line of progression… Qualifying experience for the GS-11 level includes one year of specialized experience equivalent to GS-9.”

I also want to invite your readers to visit my website at: www.LoomisHannah.com I have several “Tip Sheets” on my “Fire Applications” page that may help Federal candidates during their application process. In particular, I have information on how to respond to KSA statements as well as a link to an OPM publication that outlines the CCAR model for KSAs/Evaluation Criteria. I am in the process of developing more Tip Sheets – including one with insight into developing résumés for state agencies (including CAL Fire) and municipal departments.

And one final note – July 24th is the last day to grab any information folks may have on BLM’s Jobs Online (aka Quickhire). I have posted a document that includes an email from Monster Government Solutions that explains how to transfer your Quickhire profile/résumé to the new system (USAJOBS). It is also posted on my Fire Applications page under Tip Sheets (titled: “Important information for BLM Quickhire applicants!!!”).


Bethany E. Hannah
wordsmith @ loomishannah.com

PS: Thank you for this site. I am a long-time reader and appreciate the lively discourse and pertinent information posted to this forum. As a former Hotshot and as a spouse of a Hotshot, I am grateful for the insight, camaraderie and wide-spread support for the firefighters out on the line (and at home).

Ab applied the bold.

7/10 With the threat of thunderstorms over the CA-PNF-Zaca, please be safe.


7/10 Readers,

This came in yesterday. It was typed all in upper case letters. I have re-typed it and checked spelling for readability. The only part omitted is the personal info. Ab.


I don't know what you have been told about the CDF engines burnover, but this is what happened and I will let you choose what to post.

The two engines from TCU unit, I know the unit numbers but I am leaving that out, were doing structure protection when they decided that it was time to evac. When they were leaving the area, they came across a woman who did not leave her home when ordered to. They loaded her up and kept going out their escape route.

With the delay in loading her and the smoke, the fire front had cut off their escape route. They tried to find another route but the fire burned out the brake lines on the lead engine, blocking the road. At that time, the captain ordered everyone into a nearby pond to wait for the fire front to pass.

The reason I am telling you this is <snip, rest of sentence is personal information>

I just want you to know what happened and to let everyone know that the 1000 hour fuels are burning hotter and faster than anyone could possibly believe.

Too, please be safe out there and always have a Plan A, B, and C.


7/10 Re: Helicopter Crash Near Zaca Fire

From Yellow Angel: Local news indicated that both pilot and copilot were treated and released.

Good news. Ab.

7/10 Firefighting Resources

I don't need to hear any more talking points on CNN. All this mobile firefighting force talk reminds me of the Rumsfeld Doctrine, and all one needs to do is keep watching CNN to find out what a mess that got us into. I believe in the Powell Doctrine, which is to hit it hard with everything you got. Strong effective Initial Attack. For those units with WFU authority, great continue to use fire use, it is a great tool and it's the right thing to do for the land. If firefighting resources are reduced, those units with WFU options should be effected first. Maintain preparedness levels at 100% for Forests that do not have the WFU options.

This mobile firefighting bull pucky, is an excuse to support the presidents 2008 budget by cutting 100 million from the preparedness. However Congress has other ideas and now, power. Thanks to what happened on the first Tuesday in Nov of last year, they're now going to exercise that power.

Are we going to catch them all? Nope, however you will catch more of them with 30 engines on your unit than 15. That is a statistical fact (go ask that Gary Biehl guy Mellie talks about if you don't believe me). The firefighting community continues to educate our elected leaders and the public of this fact. The public respects firefighters more than Directors of Fire Management. I personally think Mr Harbour is a brilliant man and want him as my Director, however at that level it's all about politics. I know deep down Harbour wants 100% MEL.

Mellie - It's not all about the hiring and recruitment process. Focus and funding needs to be given to the retention of employees. Fix retention and recruitment will follow. Now how do we fix retention.....hmmmm..........

Keep the voices loud, keep the emails flowing, keep the chatter high and keep supporting Casey, Nedelrmeyer and Lobo. P to P will pass Congress before this coming holiday season! Keep the Faith!


7/9 To Whom It May Concern

I'm writing this in hopes of getting a list of names and info on the
problems they are having with CHS (Comprehensive Health Services). I have
been dealing with the waiver process for over a month now and it doesn't
seem to be any closer to being resolved than when I started. Paperwork is
sitting on peoples desk for way to long before it gets sent on to the next
process. Something has got to change; this are our lives they're dealing
with. This is how we survive. So I'm compiling a list of everyone ( and the
problems they're having) who are interested in joining this effort, along
with union representation and legal council to take action and, hopefully,
take steps toward changing the way CHS deals with its examinees and
the waiver process. If you have any info that can help or you are interested
in joining my effort please contact me via e-mail at

Thank You


7/9 Dear KS,

First & Foremost, I served on the CPF's Executive Board from 1998-2003 and fully appreciate, admired & respected the efforts of 2881's leadership and more often than not have envied their ability to negotiate such pay & benefits for their members. However even back then, I knew that the 3% @ 50 would cause an exodus and a vast number of vacancies that would have to come from somewhere.

As you may know, federal wildland firefighters do not have the ability to negotiate pay & benefits which is obviously one of the main causes pay & benefits lag behind for federal folks.

I would dare offer up the fact that most R5 federal wildland firefighters and many, especially across the West, are also "all risk". As you may recall, E-57 which was lost on the Esperanza delivered a baby just a month before they perished. Our federal wildland firefighters were there for Katrina; there in Texas to pick up shuttle parts etc. Even the Administration, in its "Post Katrina" report cited the need to continue to rely on land-management agency all-risk firefighters for search & rescue.

Again, having served upon the CPF Board, I recognize that there are many municipal firefighters in CA that earn more than CAL-FIRE folks. However, in relation to our feds, the primary reason so many are flocking to CAL-FIRE is the pay & benefits.

So I'm not sure what you mean by comparing them to other wildland agencies. They don't do anything more or less than our feds do in R5, especially in and around large urban areas. The issue I raised was that CAL-FIRE and other municipal/local fire agencies in CA get stunning amounts of money from the federal government while that same federal government (the employer of our federal wildland firefighters) continues to manage its firefighters and other federal employees through archaic pay & personnel policies.

So, when CAL-FIRE folks are on the same fire line on a National Forest and the federal government is paying the CAL-FIRE firefighter their inherently higher salary, plus back fill costs plus Admin fees etc., while taking their own federal wildland firefighters working side by side with the CAL-FIRE folks off the clock, I think that criminal.

When the federal government says it can't afford to improve pay & benefits for federal wildland firefighters yet can continue reimbursing state & local fire agencies for 75% of their firefighting costs once $1.5 million in costs are expended whether such fires impact federal resources, land etc., or not...I also think is criminal.

7/9 Ab,

I thought this would have already been posted, both pilots are doing well and I
hear the Santa Barbara County engine crews did a great job on crash rescue.

Yellow Angel


Yellow Angel, you haven't discovered the hotlist. It all shows up there first, but we encourage people to be thoughtful of families. No one wants their loved ones hearing about a burnover, injury or fatality via the internet (thank goodness we have not had one of those last ones). Ab.

7/9 Casey,

Thanks for your comments. And thanks for reading my weekly memo to CAL FIRE employees. I apologize for not mentioning reimbursements from the federal government. FMAG is a valuable resource to state and local government in California. CAL FIRE last year, received about $46 million federal reimbursement on $210 million spent from the state's emergency fund for fighting fires. Much of that was on federal DPA. However, we do spend another $800 million in fire protection, resource management, and State Fire Marshal that is not from the e-fund or federally reimbursed. Approximately $240 million of that comes from revenue from local government contracts. The point of my comment in my weekly memo, however, was aimed at pointing out that fire protection costs are rising for every agencies because of land use decisions made outside of state and federal government control, and that we need to be more involved.

No need to shed any tears. However, I will not apologize for the salary and benefits of CAL FIRE employees, Fair and competitive wages are a necessary part of this business. I have supported pay and benefit increases for many positions in CAL FIRE over the past 1-1/2 years (dispatchers, supervisors, managers, and rank and file). While we have not solved all of the compensation issues in CAL FIRE, we have made significant progress in this administration.

Finally, I would like to comment that everyone is working hard right now with all the current fire activity. Local, state, and federal firefighters working together. I, for one, will continue to appreciate and value our federal and local partners and thank you for your dedication and what you do for our state. Take care and be safe!

Ruben Grijalva, Chief
CAL FIRE Director

7/9 Casey,

CAL FIRE Local 2881 firefighters are all risk, last year they responded to over 300,000 calls with only 3,000 of them for wildland. They have contracts with many municipal and county fire dept. states wide. On average they are paid far less then their brothers and sisters of other union locals based on their 72 hour work week vs. a 56. You can not compare what they do to other wildland agency. That was the reason for the name change.


7/9 I just wanted to make a comment to DT's post from today:

I think every season/fire experience is a lesson to newbies and oldies
(haha), however, I know the situation on the Angora and they weren't
newbies, this just goes to show that it can happen to anyone...and
complacency is what will get you in the end, unfortunately. So lets all
keep our LCES in mind and be aware that every situation is dangerous, no
matter how big or small; just because you've been there done that, doesn't
mean S#*%, mother nature is in control, not us. Please, all be safe out
there and we are constantly thinking of our fellow FF's in the field across
the nation right now!


7/9 72hr Report-MT-GNF-Madison Arm Fire Entrapments

Date: July 3, 2007
Subject: Expanded (72-hour) Briefing

Madison Arm Fire Entrapment, Gallatin National Forest, Region 1
June 27, 2007

To: Regional Forester, Region 1


Preliminary factual findings:

At approximately 1730 on Wednesday, June 27, 2007, two Forest Service engines, a chase vehicle, a contract dozer on a trailer and nine individuals were entrapped by a wildland fire. The firefighters got in their vehicles and waited for the fire to pass. There were no injuries and no vehicle damage.


Early on the afternoon of June 27, 2007, the fire had been sized up at less than five acres. The IC at the time was the initial attack engine captain. Later in the afternoon, after the fire had grown in size and complexity, a type III IC assumed command. Around 1700, resources were directed to the Madison Arm Resort for a briefing. Shortly after the briefing the involved resources were on the Madison Arm Road. They discovered their route to the east was compromised by the fire front. They decided to disengage and escape the fire front by traveling west on the Madison Arm Road only to find that escape route blocked as well. Recognizing that they were in an entrapment situation, they located an area with fine fuels and began a burnout operation. The operation lasted only a matter of minutes before the flame front arrived and they were forced into the vehicles. The crews waited as flame and embers passed over the vehicles filling the cabs with smoke. No injuries were sustained and no damage occurred to the vehicles.

On June 28, 2007, an Accident Prevention Analysis Team was formed and is currently conducting a comprehensive review of the incident.

/s/ Eric Johnston
Accident Prevention Analysis Team Leader

Cc: R-1 Regional Safety Manager
R-1 Assistant Director, FAM

I'm posting all of these on the Hotlist Forum with links to the original files. Thanks to everyone who sends them in. Among all of you we seem to receive most of them. Ab.

7/9 There are new requests and ads for agencies and companies looking for firefighters on the Jobs Page under Help Wanted. The link to the CalFire captains examination announcement sez you've only a few days left to get it in the mail. And there are a few new folks looking for work in the Jobs Wanted section.

If you're looking for other opportunities, there is an Aviation Command & Support Unit for sale that was just published this morning.

Those of you fortunate to already be working on replacing fire equipment and tools, please check out our Classified Page advertiser first. We're only able to keep our site open and free due to their dedicated support.

Thanks, OA.
7/9 This came in this morning... Ab.

CalFire Inyo Complex News release:

Three Firefighters Injured Fighting Wildfire

"San Andreas – At approximately 3:30 PM yesterday, July 7, three firefighters from CAL FIRE/California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection were injured while on the fire line of the Inyo Complex near Independence, California. The firefighters were part of two engines working together. Five (5) firefighters were on one engine and four (4) firefighters on the other, when the fire situation became critical. The firefighters deployed their fire shelters until the fire subsided enough for them to escape. Three firefighters sustained minor injuries and were transported to the Fresno Burn Center by helicopter per CAL FIRE policy.

One of the engines was destroyed and one was able to be driven. Six of the firefighters did not sustain any injury. The burn incident is currently under investigation."

Here's the official news release. (256 K word doc)

7/9 I'm in the process of filling a GS 10/11 462 District FMO position, via EMPOWHR/AVUE, etc. I'm not finding a standard GS 10 or 11 PD in the "library" - - - just checking to see if anyone else out there has run into this. There are GS 4 thru 9 PD's, but none higher. My region is one of the "lucky ones" - - - we've been transitioned to HCM, thus, the challenge. I'm pretty sure that the closer I can get to a classified/standard PD, the faster it will go.


You're going to be one of those "grown-ups"? Happens to the best of 'em. Ab.

7/9 Hey Ab!

It's been eons since I've last written anything... As I am sitting here in the smoke inversion of the Antelope Fire, I began thinking of you and your crews out there fighting the fight in the crappiest terrain on the PNF!!

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who are involved in the effort of saving lives and cheating death per se.. After the Angora Fire, I'm sure some may have learned some very valuable lessons of firefighting... Especially those newbies in the field... Of course rumors fly and people listen, but the most important thing I think many still need to learn is that when it comes to fighting fires and saving people's lives and homes, that it really shouldn't matter what color your uniform is as long as you are all on the same page... The bureaucracy that happens behind the scenes is just a bunch of b.s., when will people all learn to get along and fight the fight and put their colors behind them? One will never actually know that answer and don't beat yourself up trying to find the solution to the answers.. I just do hope and pray that all agencies can find some sort of compromise and do the real job that is more important... Save the lives and Cheat Death so to say....

STAY SAFE AND STAY COOL!!!!!! May the Fire Gods and Angels watch over all of you this fire season!!


Hey DT, you've been gone so long that the Ab yer addressing is now OA or Original Ab! haw haw, I'm sure he gets your message. Ab.

7/9 Would be nice if we worked for an organization with an unlimited budget, or
better yet no budget at all, just spend it where it needs spending, and no
one would care, cause we're the professionals, and we know we're doing the
right thing. To h___ with the politicians, they don't know what they're
talking about, we're the professionals and we know what's right. And to
h___ with the public also, we're the professionals and we're going to do
what's right regardless of what they want.

Hmmmm, Seems like I've heard this before somewhere..................

7/9 With serious fires working in so many areas and feds, state & local firefighters all working the lines, it may not be the best time to respond to recent comments from CDF's director about its fiscal concerns and the use of the DC-10.

However for those in R-5 that have seen the email referring to the fact that CAL-FIRE is wrestling with the same cost issues as the feds, there are a few things left out of Director Grijalva's comments.

Perhaps most importantly is the lack of candor about the staggering sums of money the state of California recoups from the federal government through Fire Management Assistance Grants as I've previously mentioned on They Said. I just can't shed a tear for an agency whose probably got the highest paid wildland firefighters in the world (certainly not Ruben's fault and kudos to local 2881); can offer our federal folks sufficient incentives to "hop the fence"; and who can order any resource they want knowing full well federal dollars, that, in my humble opinion ought to be going to improve pay, benefits & working conditions for our federal wildland firefighters.

By the way, for those who haven't seen the damage to the DC-10, here is a link to a couple of pics.
Left wing 1
Left wing 2

It probably works great if it has a five mile straight run on a flat desert mesa in Arizona. Course at $26,000 an hour and having to clear all airspace for it...who cares. That's chump change when you're going to get 75% of it back anyway.

No disrespect to the rank & file and officers of the CDF. I just think the truth ought to be told. I deal with enough smoke & mirrors on the federal side.


7/9 A friend sent me these - late afternoon 7/8/07.

The EASY STREET fire is burning on the north and northwest sides of Wenatchee.
2500+ acres tonite. 250+ homes under evacuation orders - earlier.

Fire moving east towards this location......the Columbia River is one more drainage
east (to the right in "easy #1")

His house is near the top of <snip> Rd. - just to the bottom-right corner of the pic
"easy #1".

All pics taken there and are with a "normal" lens


Cool air tanker pics. I put them on Airtankers 23 photo page. Please let us know your friend's name (or moniker HAW HAW) if he would like to receive credit. Thanks, Ab.

7/9 So there was a second SEAT crash.

This was the first, an 802. http://www.kxmb.com/News/141694.asp as posted earlier.

KYLE, S.D. (AP) An air tanker fighting a fire near Kyle crashed early this afternoon. Officials say the pilot walked away from the crash and was checked for injuries at a Pine Ridge hospital.

What fire was the second flying? It was a Dromader.

Both were non-fatal crashes...

Thanx- Jody

7/9 PL 4 is upon us, and as we sit here contemplating the
Big Grind, I am surrounded by professionals. People
whom I look forward to working with each day. Mind
you, we have our differences, but how we handle them
is our mark on the world.

Each one of us is ready, understanding what is coming.
The long days, loss of personal time, and eagerness to
rise to the challenge combine to excite us.

Remember all, we can change that which we control,
influence that which is within our reach, and always
search for the better way.

Step up, lead from the front,

And hope for snow.

See you safe in November and keep your ride straight up,

Biker Joe
7/8 This was reported by the Northwest Area Coordination Center in their Morning Brief for 07-08-07.

"Yesterday, four different burnover incidents occurred in Rocky Mountain, East Great Basin, West Great Basin, and Southern California regions. Two different SEAT accidents occurred in Rocky Mountain and Northwest Regions."

Unfortunately, they listed no further details on these incidents, but the fact remains that we are still in what would typically be the beginning of fire season in a lot of regions and yet all areas are reporting explosive fire conditions, very rapid rates of spread, and very abnormal fire behavior for this time of year. Resources are already being taxed heavily and already there is not enough to go around. Everyone needs to watch your backs and those of your fellow firefighters, remember the basics (10 & 18 / LCES) and rely on your training. Any one of the above incidents could have easily been fatal.

Be safe everyone.....


7/8 From the hotlist forum thread: SD-BKF/SDS-Alabaugh

One killed in Alabaugh Canyon Fire near Hot Springs
Several homes lost; two firefighters injured
By Journal staff


One person is dead and two firefighters have been injured in a raging wildfire on the western edge of Hot Springs, according to a news release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency .

No further information was available about the fatality.

Frank Carroll with the public affairs office of the Black Hills National Forest said that two Forest Service firefighters were injured about 12:30 a.m. today as they deployed a fire shelter while fighting the Alabaugh Canyon Fire, five air miles southwest of Hot Springs.

The firefighters, employees of the Black Hills National Forest, sustained injuries including burns to the face and hands, he said.

Initial reports revealed the firefighters were involved in a burnout operation when a sudden wind shift and increase in wind speed increased fire behavior in flashy fuels, Carroll said.

The two firefighters apparently deployed in one fire shelter. One individual received first and second degree burns to his hands and a superficial burn to his face with no airway impact. The other firefighter received superficial burns to his face, again with no apparent airway impact. One firefighter has been treated and released and the other is in a hospital for observation., he said.

A special team has been ordered to investigate the accident.

Fair use disclaimer

7/8 Re diversion of Congressionally Allocated Fire Funds

I've talked with Casey at length about this. The FWFSA is well aware of
these issues and they are working on our behalf. Congressionals have been
involved. I have spoken to the Forest Supervisor, Management Team, my
Ranger, Regional Fire Management office staff, State Office FMOs. I have
written white papers that document and outline the problems associated with
short-falling the fire management program. I wrote to past Chief Bosworth.
I have submitted 2 Safe-Nets, neither of which has been posted nor action
taken (What's up with that?). I have done everything I can. No one in my
region with the authority either cares or knows enough about fire
management to take action. I have been told by the R.O. they will not get
involved in the issue. Politics! And I say politics and fire management
don't mix, that's what gets people killed. Sure, there's politics, but
politics should never get in the way of doing what is right for fire
management and supporting our firefighters. For me, it is strong,
professional, well trained, well equipped, well lead fire management
organizations that hit fires hard and fast and put em out when it is time
to do so. It is responsibly managed prescribed fire programs and wildland
fire use for resource benefit fires. Everything the agency does must be in
support of the on the ground fire fighter who swings the pulaski, lays hose
up the hill, jumps out of airplanes, rapels out of helicopters, etc I
don't see the forest service, as an agency, supporting fire management the
way it should be. Our most important asset is our firefighters. We have
some very excellent fire fighters in the agency. I see a lot of great young
entry level firefighters coming into the ranks. If the agency won't support
them, then the agency managers should lobby to get out of the fire business
and move fire management into a federal wildland fire department. I will
never give up trying.

Old C-Rat

Fight on! Ab.

7/8 Posted by roadrunner on the hotlist forum discussion.
I am not posting his/her whole summary. Go read the rest of it there if you want to.

I was just looking at the 7/7/07 Combined GB Summary and some things are very evident.


There are not enough resources and there are not enough qualified overhead to manage the fires that have burned beucoo acres in the last 24 hours. In many cases its Type 4 and 5 ICs managing fires that are tens of thousands of acres large with very few engines and often no handcrews or maybe just a couple. Guess all they can do is pull back. Important wildlife habitat is burning.

Why are there not more town and city engines defending interface structures? Residents need to pony up to defend themselves.

I hope the burned firefighter was taken to a burn center, not just a local hospital which has little experience with burns, especially 2 and 3 degree burns to the face. Non-life threatening is not the only consideration in burn injuries.

From the Great Basin Summary Situation Report yesterday 7/7/07
Acres burned from lightning = 200,192; year to date 260,759
Acres burned from human starts = 977; year to date 110,368

<snip> Click the hotlist link above.

7/8 It is with profound sadness that the Saratoga Spring Fire Department (UT) announces the Line of Duty Death of Fire Chief Michael James Penovich on July 5 2007 at 1000. Chief Penovich had just left a meeting in Heber City, inspection a used tank for use on a Type 3 engine, when traveling southbound on Hwy. 189, the fire vehicle he was operating, left the roadway, traveled 75 feet down an embankment, struck the shoreline, and drifted into Deer Creek Reservoir. Chief Penovich, 38, leaves behind his wife, Michelle, two children, a 32 member combination department and a grateful community of Saratoga Springs, Utah. Chief Penovich was instrumental in establishing the wild land fire contract with Utah County, developing a single resource manning scheme and the hiring of dedicated wild land firefighters for the protection of the citizens of Saratoga Springs and greater Utah County.

Funeral Announcement

July 12

July 13
Saratoga Springs Stake Center (LDS Church)
587 South Saratoga Springs Road
Saratoga Springs Utah

July 13
American Fork Tabernacle
144 Main Street
American Fork Utah

Lehi Pioneer Cemetery
1100 North 400 East
Lehi Utah

More information, email jhomen2003@yahoo.com

Donations for the Penovich Family may be made at any Bank of American Fork Branch in the name of the Penovich Family.

Thanks Ab,
Captain Jack Homen SSFD WLFF-1

So sorry for his loss. Ab.

7/8 Here's a link to a different article with a little more information on the S.E.A.T.
crash that occurred today outside of Kyle, South Dakota.


Be safe all.....


Thanks sr. Ab.

7/8 It's an ugly fact of life, but politics is involved in our world of wildland fire, often times at levels above that of real fire professionals like Tom Harbour and his counterparts in other Federal agencies. Some would ask that Tom "fall on his sword" to bring attention to things that are not happening the way that Congress intended, or that the Budget would indicate is the best way to allocate fire dollars. Others will argue that, if you want to change the direction of something as large as an aircraft carrier, you have to be on board to make it happen, rather than yelling from a dinghy off to the side. The Federal "whistleblower" program has proven that it results in "shooting the messenger" rather than resulting in wrongs righted! No one should have to endure the character assassination, legal costs, and job stresses associated with being a Federal whistleblower unless your name is Joan of Arc!

My recommendations: give Tom your feedback via Email, with a copy to Casey at FWFSA; talk (during off-duty hours and out of uniform) to your legislators and local news reporters; share pertinent info here on TheySaid so that those of us not in the Federal Service (and thus, out of range from Mark Rey's attacks) can help out. Most of all, don't give up, and continue to be safe, no matter what happens!


7/7 This just added to the hotlist by sh9730:

From the South Ops News n Notes:

Inyo Complex; A CAL FIRE strike team of engines was conducting evacuations near the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery with one civilian evacuee. Due to severe fire activity, one engine was severely damaged and a second engine sustained minor damage during the evacuation. Three firefighters assigned to those engines are being treated for minor injuries and it is anticipated they will be released and debriefed.

Just a little more than has already been posted here.

7/7 I posted this on the hotlist under the CA-INF-Inyo Complex thread.

There's a report of a shelter deployment from a reputable source. No injuries. Remember that firefighters are always transported to the hospital following any event like this so they can be checked out. Such transport does not mean they are injured. It is a reasonable responsible precaution.

Please, if others hear such info of accident or injury, DO NOT post it to the hotlist board. Send Ab an email so we can check.

abercrombie@ wildlandfire.com

The hotlist is an auto posting site. Please be responsible. The last thing we want to do here is stoke the rumor mill or make people anxious, especially families and close friends.

Be safe all!


The following message is from a long time theysaid contributor whom I trust for accuracy. I appreciate that K wrote to Ab at the wlf.com email addy and didn't just fling speculation out on the hotlist forum. I held off on posting it until some random speculative posts were made. The mods quickly removed them. No doubt tomorrow we will hear more.


A crewmate witnessed a deployment on the Inyo Complex. No injuries; apparently subjects found shelter in a pond. Don't have any further details, but I'm sure we'll hear all about it tomorrow.


7/7 Old C Rat,

If what your talking about is true, and I'm certainly not saying it isn't, this is a misappropriation of funds. In addition to potential administrative actions, this could be forwarded for criminal investigation. If you are a supervisor, you are required to report this type of information. I recommend you contact (anonymously if you like) your Regional Director of Budget. This usually gets things fixed quickly. If not, you have a host of tip hotlines to report this kind of activity.

Good luck, nothing is more important than fighting for your firefighters.

7/7 Howdy Abs.....Hot enough for ya?

Old C Rat

Instead of hollering about strange goings on with your forest's fire
control budget on "They Said" why not use the whistle blower option
open to federal employees?

I understand the need to vent when so called "leaders" are leaving
the troops hung out to dry, but timely action is needed here. (In my

Have you confronted this guy through the chain of command? Or pulled
him aside to ask WTF?

I sympathize 110% with ya, but now is the time to ask those hard
questions of your forest "leadership".

Give 'em Hell, you guys deserve better than this.

Captain Emmett
Local 2881 and dog-gone proud of it
7/7 TC,

I have the budget to staff these positions. The forest has the budget to
staff these critical positions. Unfortunately for us, the forest supervisor
has the authority to use preparedness dollars however he wishes, and they
are not being used for on the ground fire management resources. The money
is there, it is not being used effectively. Most of us believe he has
ulterior motives, which are unknown to us.

If Harbour does know the truth, he has to stand up for what is right and
say what needs to be said. If the agency does not want to hear the truth
and/or support fire management then give us up to a federal wildland fire

Old C-Rat
7/7 According to the KXnet.com north dakota news a single engine air tanker
crashed today.

The pilot walked away.


Thanks for the heads up. Here's the link: www.kxmb.com/News/141694.asp Ab.

7/7 Old C-Rat

I believe Harbour knows what's going on, he is not being allowed to say it
publicly. Again he's being forced to tow the company line by the Chief
and Mark Rey. At that level, holding on to your job is pleasing the
politicians and nothing else.

And I have to speak up for the Forest Supervisors that are being forced to
live within a declining budget. They have some very difficult choices to
make. I do fault the administration, Mark Ray & the Chief for the budget
predicament they've put us all in.


7/7 To Casey and to Confused,

I fault Harbour for towing the company line and for not telling the truth
either because he doesn't see it, or because he doesn't know it. But I have
to ask, "How can he not know?" Leaders don't tow company lines, they lead.
We have no leadership in senior levels of forest service "management." I
also believe the agency is creating increased risk by not properly staffing
fire management programs.

Confused: I'm right with you man. On my unit the forest supervisor and his
puppet management team have cut all of the assistants on the engines and IA
crews, fire prevention personnel, fire use crew, and now they want to take
out the Assistant FMOs!! Yes, it is insane. This is a high complexity
unit with a heavy fire and Rx fire load. The Zone FMOs have adamantly
advised against this. The forest supervisor will not listen to sound and
experienced fire management officer advice. How this individual can do this
is beyond my comprehension but I will suffice to say it is extremely
irresponsible. This is yet again another example of agency non-fire
experienced "Managers" who have authority over fire management programs,
who shouldn't. And therein lies the problem.

If the forest service will not support and staff its fire management
programs to the best of its ability, then it is time to get out of the fire
business altogether. If the agency will not do everything it can to support
its firefighters in a high risk and emergency work environment then hand
it off to someone who will. I've worked for the forest service for a long
time and I am disappointed in what the agency has become.

Old C-Rat
7/7 To All:

On the job page at usajobs clicking on the apply through avue services,
it no longer works but to apply at the bottom of the page on the tab saying
apply online, it will take you to AVUE!


7/7 Hotshot Dad,

R5 Fire has been clamoring to get a revised hiring plan in place for some time. Mostly the problem is related to bureaucracy, all the hiring constraints imposed by the Hispanic Settlement, firefighter retirements, tons of firefighters being hired by CalFire and I think also that Human Resources being stovepiped in Albuquerque impacted the process as well.

The actual Hispanic Settlement legal thing is over now, but the extra steps and outfall from the process (involving HR and the forests) continued and was exacerbated by retirements, CalFire hiring socal FS firefighters, not enough new people coming up through the pipeline, having to scrutinize applicants for Hispanic surname, each separate group needing to do a background check, etc.

There was a breakthrough of sorts in May when a line officer group and FMOs got together and tasked Gary Biehl our R5 fire number cruncher to set up the computer process that he designed to expedite and remove redundancies during the MEL buildup. He's a brilliant man. The two groups were working together with Gary and HR to speed up the process. I haven't heard any update, but that was the plan in May. They were all working together to try to solve the problem.

So it isn't that they're just getting around to doing it now. It has been a going effort for some time that, hopefully, will be paying off soon.

What I find at whatever level I am invited to look -- whether in fire or the Forest Service -- is that there are people of integrity trying to do the best they can to solve problems that have been years in the making, piling up little incremental step by little incremental step until they are a mountainous problem. This hiring SNAFU is one of those. Gary's analytical methodology and info-sharing approach provides the best chance for streamlining and removing redundant steps.

Kudos Gary! You're a brilliant gem! You need to be awarded the golden smokey for helping remove fire hiring from its bureaucratic moreass (or however you spell it).


7/7 Another R-6 Contractor,

I too have completed the task with eatis, however the powers that be on the regional level have yet to forward the info to our local dispatch offices. I have a copy of my contract in my equipment, but if I where to get a dispatch in the near future, I would have to be hired under my '06 contract/ agreement for less $. The rumbling is that the "best value system" is confusing the overhead and that the proper dispatch priorities have yet to be calculated. Man I miss the old days when they told us how much we could charge; after all it was a lot more than I get now!

Another R-6 Contractor, Stay safe this year .


7/7 SB, and K, in regards to your question as to why the
CNF Wildweb wasn't updated for a little over a day.

Barring a problem with the site itself, the most
common cause of why the information isn't updated is
the WildWEB information transfer can only be setup
on/with 1 WildCAD station. What CAD station it
transfers the information from can only be setup by a
administrator. In our dispatch center we have 6
locations we can run it from, we have it communicating
with the CAD that is used the most, but if for some
reason nobody is using that computer that day (like
for some crazy reason a dispatcher takes a day off),
then no information is transferred to the Bighorn
Information Systems site until that specific computer
has been turned on and the WildCAD program has been

I've used wildcad since it was first
distributed and I'm trying to figure out how you "keep
abreast of what your family is doing" the information
is bare minimal and very few if any resources are
tracked from assignment to assignment once they leave
the forest. But to each their own. I don't work for
CNF but we get the same calls here when our wildweb
hasn't been updated in a day, and that has almost
always been the reason why.

Good luck on tracking your families,

Day late and a dollar short

7/7 Does anyone know the true acreage on the Antelope complex?

PNF says 1000 acres Cal fire 11,500? its sure had a column the last three days, coming home from Bucks lake last nite after work looked like three to four heads on the wheeler fire with flames showing in the column. i saw the post about pulling everyone off the Wheeler at 15:30 yesterday. I'd say it was a good choice from my vantage points, Bucks lake road and the Sierra Valley where i live,

Stay safe guys and girls.


Check the hotlist. Someone reported what the morning 209 says. That reall yis the best forum for these kinds of questions. Register and post your questions there in the questions subforum. Ab. www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=702

7/7 EWF,

I'm not sure what is going on with your R-6 Engine/Tender Agreement, but I do know I signed my R-6 Agreement 2 weeks ago electronically on the EATIS website. ROSS still is showing my old agreement number from last season and dispatch still doesn't have the new information even though it's been signed and valid for 2 weeks. I don't know how familiar you are with the EATIS website but you might want to check it again on the page that says agreements, and see if it shows awarded, if so all you need to do is click the accept this agreement button and input your companies pin to sign it. Good Luck

signed "Another R-6 Contractor"
7/7 Ab,

Link to MSNBC story on staffing woes.


This is from that article.

Firefighting crews and equipment from other parts of the country are also being moved into California and the rest of the West, said Tom Harbour, national director of fire and aviation for the Forest Service.

“We move those assets around to cover gaps in specific area, and the focus for us now is the West,” he said.

Yeah we do move folks around. However those severity assignments to fill the engine boss positions are not very attractive this year. I have sent 1 ENGB to Northern California on a severity request. 30 day assignment 5 days 8 hours is all they offered. It had been shopped around 4 GACC's for 5 days before we filled it. For 8 hour days lots of folks would just as soon stay home with the family (especially the 30 and 40 something's). Also if we send out our ENGB's to fill the holes in California it leaves our FFT2 and FFT1's stranded at home. Its better for us to send the engine with full crew. So we have chosen not to fill additional ENGB requests.

Midwest FMO
7/7 Dear Confused:

I think we're all confused and frustrated.

I personally think Mr. Harbour is in a bit of a pickle when it comes to the Agency's expectation that he tow the company line. However the question then becomes who is responsible for creating this "line" and requiring folks like Mr. Harbour to maintain it?

Its either Chief Kimbell or Mark Rey.

As you and others now see, the firefighters have the ear of congress the press and ultimately the public. The voice of the firefighters must remain loud & constant so as to rise above the bureaucratic rhetoric that could needlessly increase the risk to the health & safety of our firefighters and citizens.

I certainly don't believe for a minute that anyone, whether it be the Chief, Mr. Rey, Mr. Harbour or Mr. Hollingshead in R5 would deliberately create such an increased risk. However until they recognize that some things are a bit more important than sucking up to the president and the administration, firefighters need to make the safety of themselves and their co-workers their ultimate priority.

Again, I know I am being redundant when I refer to this quote but it was the Chief who recently said that "speaking up & challenging risky behavior is a virtue" and those that do "should not fear retribution."

She may be a bit out of touch with reality on that one but let's all hold her to it. If anyone wants to know who their congressional representative is and/or staff person in that office and how to contact them with FACTUAL [emphasis added] information, please feel free to contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or by phone at 208-775-4577.

Stay safe, stay cool & speak up.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
7/7 Ab,

msnbc.msn.com has a headline story this morning about
USFS critical shortage of "top level" firefighters in
California. I guess I don't understand why USFS is
only now going to start a "massive hiring push".
Hasn't the horse already escaped from the barn? Seems
to me I have been reading about the shortage on this
fine website for some time now.

I was amazed yesterday when I fired up NOAA's weather
map and saw roughly 1/3 of the country under red flag
conditions. One of my own has been on the same
incident for two weeks now. Isn't that unusual this
early in the season?

Looks pretty scary out there to me. Everyone please
stay safe.

Hotshot Dad
7/7 Helicopter firefighting photos

For Highlights for Children Magazine, we are doing a story on different
ways to fight fires. We'd like to find several really exciting photos of
helicopters doing aerial fire fighting. We love the one attached, but can't
get in touch with the photographer.

Do you have HIGH RESOLUTION photos you might share with us?

Many thanks,

Jane Martin for Highlights
fotoeditor @ comcast.net
jane @ thephotoeditor.com

Readers, if you have a high resolution photo, kind'a like this one, that you want to share or if you know the photographer, please contact Jane. Ab.

7/6 Original AB,

It's time for old F/F's like you and me to dig out our old "The Bear is Burning" T-shirts.
To all you younger folks out there going out to save the Bear, be careful, heads up.
I think we will see lots of 14 day assignments this year. I don't want to see anymore
Green Sheets. I don't want to see anymore Red Sheets. I don't want to see anymore
Esperanza or 30 mile type investigations!!!

LCES & God speed.


7/6 Here's the new wlf.com scanner link that Original Ab has been working on:


Happy listening.


7/6 I need some clarification

Tom Harbour stated to congress I believe a few weeks ago that our staffing is okay and that we have the resources to move around and pre-position to meet the needs of the agency. Our district is under a Red Flag Warning, temps over the 100’s, low HRs and all we have is 1 engine crew staffed for the whole zone of a little over half a million acres due to immediate needs. Orders have been placed but come back UTF. Am I missing something or am I just being Chicken Little?


Harbour was on CNN or one of the national news stations last night saying the same thing. Go figure. I think all those folks operating in the ethers are caught between a rock and a hard place. What do they tell their boss, the Pres. He didn't even want to entertain the thought that climate change might be an issue until just recently. Ab.

7/6 I haven't seen any Zaca fire pictures yet so I thought i'd send these in.

1st photo is of the Zaca fire from Foxen Canyon road. This fire was reported July 04 around 1030, photo was taken at 1109 hours. Zaca Peak and Figueroa Mtn are to the right of the picture.
2nd photo was taken from Wildhorse peak looking northwest at the end of Catway road as the fire approached the LP forest boundary.


Photos from 7/4 and 7/6 posted on the Fire 33 photo page. Thanks sting. Ab.


You can go to our index page to see how to make it your wallpaper.


7/6 Ab,

Here in region 6 contractors are used alot, however here we are in July still waiting for our '07 contracts. We did get a phone message asking if for the time being if we would be willing to work under last year's contracts. When we call and ask when the new ones will be "official" we are told as for the last month "well we hope by the end of the week". now when I call the powers that be are on vacation??!!! what about priorities??

Thankfully we havn't yet had the activity that our neighbors to the south and east have had, but it can start any minute here. It is primed and ready! To all out there STAY SAFE and no structure is worth the gamble of your life!


7/6 map fold

YES!!! That's the map fold I was looking for! I have printed out the
pictures, and saved the link. I am very grateful. Thanks a million

Signed: Just passing through...

7/6 All personnel have been removed from the fire line on the Wheeler Fire due
to extreme fire behavior at about 1530 hours. A good decision I believe.

7/6 Lightning busts and extreme fire behavior being reported on the hotlist. Ab.
7/6 Ab or Faker how do you apply to the apprentice program?


Go to the link below. Check it out. You DO NOT need to be sponsored. Ab.

7/6 Faker and All,

All open apprenticeship announcements can be found on the WFAP website
in the recruitment section www.wfap.net/recruitment.phpl. For those
who don't feel like digging though AVUE for the announcement for Region 5
visit the website for a direct link.


Thanks Cara. Ab.

7/6 Ab,

Pasted below is an excerpt from the appropriations committee report on the Senate version of the 2008 Interior & Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. I am hopeful that Congress will overturn the Administration's elimination of the Rural Fire Assistance grant program.

Yesterday, I spoke with Sen. Ken Salazar in Salida, who announced he will co-sponsor Sen. Cantwell's new legislation, the Wildland Firefighter Safety Act of 2007. Sen. Salazar also offered to work towards restoring funding for the RFA grant program.

vfd cap'n


"The Committee does not support the administration’s request to eliminate funding for rural fire assistance grants for the Department of the Interior while maintaining similar grants for the Forest Service. Rural and volunteer fire departments provide the first line of defense against wildfires and successfully respond to thousands of wildfires annually, reducing the need for costly Federal response. The Forest Service and Interior fire assistance grants are directed toward their respective neighboring local communities. Under the administration’s proposal, thousands of communities neighboring BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Indian lands would lose priority access to wildland fire assistance grants. Therefore, the Committee recommends $8,000,000 for rural fire assistance grants.

"Likewise, cutting fire preparedness funding does not actually save appropriation dollars. It merely shifts the costs for firefighters, aircraft, and equipment from the preparedness account to the suppression account. Furthermore, squeezing fire preparedness funding may disproportionately increase the cost of fire suppression. Therefore, the Committee recommends $286,009,000 for fire preparedness, an increase of $17,675,000 above the request."

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_reports&docid=f:sr091.110.pdf (pdf file, don't know how big)
7/6 Ab,

Many of us remember where we were when we heard the loss of 14 wildland firefighters on Storm King Mountain. I was at a fire camp in the Lincoln National Forest. That night when I went to my bed, I looked up to the stars and asked those firefighters to help me, to help their families. Well, it has been 13 years since that day and those firefighters' families are the ones helping us. They are the first to send in money when something happens to a firefighter. They do volunteer work here and some serve on our Board of Directors. This year on our Family Day, we had several of the Storm King families in Boise with us.

We did a “gifting circle” where all the families with losses of three years or less were seated in a center circle. Families 4 years or more out from their loss were on the outside. Those in the inside circle had a box of sand in front of them. Those in the outside circle where given several long candles and were asked to go inward to the ones seated in the inner circle, lighting a candle and placing it in the sand, giving them also a whispered verbal gift of the wisdom of their grief.

As I watched, I believe I saw some of the most sacred actions in my life. The room was dimly lit. When those family members lit the candles and bent over to softly share some wisdom of their grief, there was a warm light of the candle glowing off their faces. It was holy to see that kind of love and compassion given. The families in the inside circle were asked to take their candle home, and when the darkness of their grief for their fallen firefighter crawled in on them, they were told to light the candle and remember what was given to them from those who had lived with the loss of the their Wildland Firefighter.

To the Storm King families,

I am so grateful for having seen you live the lives you live with your losses. You are a light in the darkness for the new families coming our way. You are a gift to us all.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

7/6 There's an excellent beginning of a memory thread dedicated to those lost on Storm King in 1994 posted on the Hotlist Discussion forum here: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist...#post2640 . Today is the anniversary of that tragedy. If anyone wants to contribute, please post your comments there if you're registered or email Ab and I'd be happy to post them. Doesn't need to be restricted to today's comments only. This could become an ongoing annual remembrance. Ab.
7/6 John M. Mclean sent an autographed copy of his book to all of the resources involved from the Esperanza Fire for some reason.

While I think his gesture is cool and admirable for the most part, the timing is wrong and may be missing some pertinent facts that never made it into official "factual reports" or is leading those involved towards false statements or actions.

Before Mr. Mclean starts his "new" Esperanza book, I hope he consults with the experts who were physically there or those from the outside with expert knowledge... and with those local experts who do not agree with the agency "factual report"... a "factual report" that was flawed from the inception.

At one local (official meeting), it was joked about that the true story of Esperanza would not happen until Mr. Mclean wrote his next book... (bad joke)..... But a group of SME's are looking at it..... and the story should be told by the SME's. The story shouldn't have to be told from a journalist perspective, but rather a firefighter perspective in the first person when friends and co-workers die.

So far, no peer review, nor just culture investigation has been submitted as an alternative tool to the SAI "factual report" from CAL FIRE nor the USFS.

Folks from the BDF (most on the record), request (demand) a "peer review' or JCSI review of the "Esperanza Factual Report".

I am one of the many.

This came in to my private email account from a friend. Good reading: the Just Culture summer news letter. www.justculture.org/newsletters.aspx

Although it seems slow going at times, we need to keep working toward Just Culture in all that we do. If the fire professionals (Subject Matter Experts, SMEs) do not tell the story, then who can be blamed if the story is done by a journalist and feels incomplete to those who were there? Perhaps we should all get together and write it. Many of you/us are excellent writers. Ab.

7/6 Ab,

Here's a photo of the smoke column from the PNF Wheeler fire. This photo was taken from along SR70 in East Quincy looking north. Plumas NF Wheeler Fire

I had watched the column development for 10 - 15 minutes and had taken several photos, but due to my poor picture taking ability this was the only one that turned out half decent unfortunately. The smoke column was quite visible from almost anywhere in the Quincy / East Quincy area. By the looks of the smoke column this fire was quite active and I'm sure it will be even more so tomorrow as things heat up, especially if we get the lightning storms forecasted, and the winds that usually accompany them.


7/6 Ab,

Seems like the issues of safe and efficient wildfire communications,
always somewhat problematic, are being exacerbated by 1) the introduction
of new technologies and equipment (narrowbanding and digital, for
example) and 2) loss of skilled, experienced communications/electronics
types through retirement and cutbacks. Where's the commitment (by USFS
and other agencies) to support and fund motivated, technically qualified
people to support incident communications? I'd appreciate your
input (also from "COMT").

I'm signed up as an AD COMT.



7/6 To all Fire Supervisors and Temps -

I missed the conference call yesterday, but was informed that R5 Apprentice hiring will be done in September, not December, this year. I believe that this is due to the migrating of HR in November (we shall see) and all the apprentices that will be converting with the fire hire. Please encourage your temps that plan on applying to do so NOW. With the fire season getting nothing but worse, I would hate to see someone miss out because they were gone in August fighting fires. The announcement number is ADS06-R5-WFAP-234DP. Thanks for passing the information on, All!

7/6 J. Parsons, Fire Management, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, wrote:

"Have spent many a 4th of July on a fire somewhere in the west. Thirteen years ago, a shot crew and the helitack crew I was on were finishing a fire on the Winema National forest, don't recall the name of the fire, believe it was on the Chemult or perhaps Chiloquine Ranger district. The fire season was just getting underway, the shots and my crew were sharing camp at a small rest stop, the forest took good care of us and as the fire was winding down, provided a quality bbq, one you would typically see at a celebration. Life was good, our spirits were high, we were full of life, tossing a frizzbe, throwing a football, sharing fire stories, laughing and getting ready for the next fire adventure. That next assignment for the Prineville Shot Crew changed many lives forever. Please make time to remember those who's young lives were lost. Tell those who touch and share your life today, you love them."

This brought up some very fond, and very sad, memories for me, as I was assigned to a portion of apparently the same fire with my engine crew for one operational period. I was working for ODF as an Engine Forman at the time, and I remember the fire well, it was the "Wasco fire" I believe, Winema N.F., Chiloquin R.D. I remember it well because I ran across a friend, another former ODF employee who had moved on to become a Prineville Hotshot. I had worked with my friend on quite a few fires for several seasons on the same ODF district before I moved on to another district while he moved on to the Prineville shot crew (we worked on different engine crews assigned to the same District / Unit, our respective engine crews backed each other up on numerous fires). I had lost contact with him for a couple of years, and I felt very fortunate and happy to have run across him briefly in passing on this fire and to have had a chance to have a quick chat with him, even though it was very short in passing. The day I had come across him "out on the line" was July 3rd, 1994. My engine crew and I were demobed from the fire the next morning and returned to our home district. While returning home, I felt quite satisfied having just completed a "good" fire assignment and especially for having a chance to catch up a little with my buddy.

On the evening of July 6th I began to here the reports of the horrible tragedy that had occurred on the South Canyon fire, but had no idea who or what crews had been involved. The next morning, July 7th, when I heard that the Prineville shot crew had been involved in this incident I was just plain dumbfounded, then, when I learned later that my friend had been one of those to perish, I was just floored. I was so sad over what had happened, and yet so thankful that I had been given the opportunity to see him one last time. The moral of this story to me is completely summed up perfectly in the last sentence of your post Mr. Parsons, "Tell those who touch and share your life today, you love them." Tell them this everyday, and tell them often, because you never know when it will be the last time you see someone and are able to tell them how much they mean to you.

Godspeed to all those firefighters who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, and God bless all of you firefighters who continually answer the call to duty and lay your lives on the line everyday for the benefit of myself and others (God bless your families who are with you in spirit while you are "out on the line" too).

As you all know, conditions out there are EXTREME. Please BE SAFE everyone.....


7/5 Greetings from the Great Frozen North - - MONTANA!

On Friday, western Montana has Red Flag Warnings for temps in
the 103-106F range, RHs close to single digits, winds 15-20 mph,
a Haines of "6", maybe even some isolated dry t-storms. If the
Forest-using campers aren't careful over the next few days, we'll be
off to the mega-fire races.

Be Safe.


7/5 Just passing through,

I'm having a difficult time visualizing the map fold from your description,
but is this what you mean??

Method B-2 at the following link-


7/5 Sure would be nice if CA-CNF got the Wild Cad updated; the last posting
was on 7-4 at around 1500. This is one of the ways I keep abreast of what
my family is doing and where they are.

Please, please, please!


7/5 Hi,

WildWeb at CA-CNF MVICC never seems to update??
It shows info updated as of July 4th @ 1619 ?? It's now (July 5th @ 1919)

Thanks for all you do.... : >


hmmmmm. Ab.

7/5 Casey,

The 280 project was on the BDF in 02 or 03. Something about Hispanic
accord or court ordered action.

7/5 John N. MacLean, author of " The Thirtymile Fire", gave a lecture last friday night in Winthrop.
Pretty well attended, although not as many firefighters as I might have expected.

His talk parallels the book. Very critical of Ellreese AND the politics that put Daniels in that situation.

Book has been out about 4 weeks. My take is that it is not as well written as "Fire on the Mountain" about South Canyon.

Don't know if MacLean plans more book tours. He's worth listening to, regardless of what you think about him or his books. He chooses his words very carefully in discussions. And he did shed some light on the story behind the scenes of the disciplinary personnel actions, indictment, etc.

7/5 To all:

Allison Hoffman of the AP is an example of a reporter the firefighting community can trust and relate their issues to. Recently on They Said there were a number of posts about the press and what is wrong with it. Both Allison and JP Crumrine of the Idyllwild Town Crier are those who, despite editor's deadlines etc., have taken the time to gain a true insight as to what the issues are.

Allison has assured me that the current article is just the beginning.

With respect to other posts soliciting my response:

To baffled; I'm not sure if you are referring to the HSA or another program. I honestly hadn't heard of an outreach to inner city kids outside of the HSA. Suffice it to say, even those tasked with monitoring the HSA compiled data that showed entire classes of apprentices no longer work for the Forest Service. That being said, I think Div. Norm Walker off the BDF is absolutely correct that "recruitment" money could be better spent on retention.

To paraphrase a former election year cliché..."its pay & benefits stupid."

To ms: The issue of portal to portal will be included in a legislative package of proposals which the FWFSA is currently "shopping" on Capitol Hill to find a good group of bipartisan members of congress to support the measure.

In fact FWFSA need to be alert to our web site. Next week I hope to solicit from our members, a good name for the legislation. I'm currently pondering:

The National Wildland Infrastructure & Cost Containment Act since elements of the bill will help strengthen the infrastructure through pay & benefit reform while requiring the Agency to conduct fire business more effectively & efficiently. "cost containment" is a big "buzzword" on Capitol Hill right now and just the use of it might cause some folks to look closely at supporting such a measure.

The FWFSA has heard from many on the Hill that a comprehensive bill, rather than piecemeal individual bills is the way to go.

The draft will be done shortly (yea I know I've promised this before but it is technically challenging some times to get the language accurate).

Elements of the bill will include:

portal to portal pay
hazard pay included as base pay for retirement calculations
hazard pay for prescribed burns
FEGLI eligibility for temporary firefighters
basic health coverage for temporary firefighters
expanded inclusion of time as a temporary firefighter for retirement purposes
a consolidation of medical/health initiatives including cancer/disease presumption for federal wildland firefighters; a Valley Fever bill; medical monitoring etc. (some of these have already been introduced but a consolidated package might make more sense).

Casey Judd
Business Manager
7/5 To whom it may concern

I'm writing this in hopes of getting a list of names and info on the problems they
are having with CHS (Comprehensive Health Services). I have been dealing
with the waiver process for over a month now and it doesn't seem to be any
closer to being resolved than when I started paper work is sitting on people's
desk for way too long before it gets sent on to the next process. Something
has got to change; this is our lives they're dealing with. This is how we survive.
So I'm compiling a list of everyone (and the problems they're having) who is
interested in joining this effort, along with union representation and legal
council to take action and, hopefully, take steps toward changing the way
CHS deals with its examinees and the waiver process. If you have any info
that can help or you are interested in joining my effort, please contact me
via e-mail via Ab.

Thank you.

7/5 JB also sent in the article by the AP Journalist who has been communicating groundpounder needs.
Earlier ecc1 linked to the Mercury News. I'm posting part of it below. www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_6297745
Read the whole thing... Ab.

National forests thin on senior staff, especially SB Forest
By ALLISON HOFFMAN Associated Press Writer
July 4, 2007 - 2:52PM

San Diego — Weeks into a capricious fire season that has already burned parts of Catalina Island, Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, swaths of California’s flammable national forests are protected some days by nothing more than luck.

The hardest-hit areas include the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests, where only 60 to 70 percent of engines are being regularly staffed because there are too few qualified supervisors to go around, said Mike Dietrich, acting deputy director of fire and aviation for the Forest Service’s Region 5, which encompasses all of California.

Those forests border on heavily populated urban areas, potentially raising the risk to people living nearby.

On any given day, about 40 out of 271 U.S. Forest Service engines in the state remain in firehouses rather than on routine patrol, idled by a shortage of supervisors as the combined effects of sustained drought, last winter’s freeze and a searing heat wave send fire danger levels into “extreme” territory.

The cuts are one effect of an exodus of highly trained mid- and upper-level firefighters from the career ranks of the service, leaving 13 percent of the agency’s 3,600 full-time positions in the state vacant.

Some firefighters fear those gaps could strain the ability of federal fire crews to respond quickly to fires, leading to more out-of-control blazes in what promises to be a tough fire season.

“When you start leaving holes in your organization so that on a given high-danger day you can’t provide coverage you’ve set yourself up for trouble,” said John Marker, a retired former Forest Service district ranger on the Sequoia National Forest.

Nationally, fire planners from all five federal agencies that handle firefighting are dealing with the departure of a generation of top managers hired during a firefighting expansion in the late 1970s, leaving behind too few career firefighters qualified to run engines, oversee forests or command large fire operations.

As forests from the Mexico border to Canada reassign engine crews, top-level teams working for other agencies are simply hiring recent retirees. Of 50 people working on one Nevada-based National Park Service squad, 10 are due to retire in the next two years, and a handful have come out of retirement as emergency hires this season.

California has been hit harder than other states, because the high cost of living has deterred recruits from moving here, while state and local agencies are replacing baby boomers as they hit age 50 and siphoning federal managers with higher pay and better benefits.

Forest Service officials have filled nearly 800 positions since last October, but are still short about 470 people.

“It’s going to take them longer to get to these fires,” said Doug Campbell, a retired Forest Service fire planner who now trains various agencies on fire behavior.

None of the big fires so far this season has gotten out of hand because of short staffing, and officials say they’re confident California has enough resources available to get through the next six months.

With 1,600 seasonal hires, the Forest Service is fielding 5,200 firefighters this year.

The state’s robust mutual aid system also activates thousands of engines working for myriad municipal and county departments in large fires.

Firefighting crews and equipment from other parts of the country are also being moved into California and the rest of the West, said Tom Harbour, the national director of fire and aviation for the Forest Service.

To read the rest, click the link. Our Thanks to Allison Hoffman, the AP writer. Excellent job! Ab.

Fair use disclaimer

7/5 Ab, this might have been mentioned before...

Here's a very useful site. Click on the map for the area you're going to
fight fire in and you get the details of the fuels advisories and that
relates to Fire Behavior.


Be Safe


7/5 Have spent many a 4th of July on a fire somewhere in the west. Thirteen
years ago, a shot crew and the helitack crew I was on were finishing a fire
on the Winema National forest, don't recall the name of the fire, believe
it was on the Chemult or perhaps Chiloquine Ranger district. The fire
season was just getting underway, the shots and my crew were sharing camp
at a small rest stop, the forest took good care of us and as the fire was
winding down, provided a quality bbq, one you would typically see at a
celebration. Life was good, our spirits were high, we were full of life,
tossing a frizzbe, throwing a football, sharing fire stories, laughing and
getting ready for the next fire adventure. That next assignment for the
Prineville Shot Crew changed many lives forever. Please make time to
remember those who's young lives were lost. Tell those who touch and share
your life today, you love them.

J. Parsons, Fire Management
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
7/5 Making the front page of my local newspaper and also available online
(www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_6297745) is an article that does a
fairly good job of stating the USFS mid-level supervision crisis. It mentions
all the causes we here are familiar with, such as recruitment, retention,
low pay, hiring practices, retirement, etc. The reporter quotes several
respected and informed individuals who all concur that there is a problem
and that there may be serious consequences.

But, just so the general public doesn't get too worried and demand a fix,
there is also a paragraph that includes the following, "officials say they're
confident California has enough resources available to get through the
next six months". No further info on who these officials are or what the
heck "get though" is supposed to mean.

ecc1 (ret.)

7/5 DC-6s


Couldn't agree with you more regarding the use of DC 4's and 6's.

Have had the pleasure of being dump on by both the 4's and 6's 18-20 years ago up in MT, ID, and WY. Good times!

There is a Company based out of Ryan Airfield west of Tucson Arizona called ARCO who flies DC 6's. I know for a fact (my dad and I fly GA out of Ryan) that they had contract with the FEDS for well over 20 years until recently.

I heard from my dad (who also knows the ARCO guys very well) that they have been flying fire missions with the 6's in Canada with no problems at all. They also have sold some of their air tankers to other countries (Spain/Portugal).

Hey, didn't the DC 10's have quite a few fatal accidents in the 60's and 70's with their commercial airline program.

I can think of 2 here in the US in the last 20+ years, both back east. I think the DC 10's have had alot of problems overseas as well.

Something to think about. Stay safe, it was 116 in the shade here in Northern AZ yesterday.

AZ Trailblazer

7/5 Hi Ab,

Attached is the Blue Sheet report on the near electrocutions in CA-LNU a
couple of days ago. Fortunately the two firefighters were cleared back to
duty but this could easily have been disastrous.


~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~

Blue Sheet
CalFire Preliminary Summary Report
Near Miss Electrocution

July 2, 2007
King Incident

This Preliminary Summary Report is intended as an aid in accident prevention, and to provide factual information from the first 24 hours of the accident review. To that end it is published and distributed within a short time frame. Information contained within may be subject to revision as further investigation is conducted, and other reports and documents are received.


The following is a summary of an incident that occurred on the “King” wildland fire in which two CAL FIRE firefighters received a substantial electrical shock.


On July 2, 2007, at 1008 hours CAL FIRE Engine 1475 was dispatched to a vegetation fire on King Ridge near Cazadero (Sonoma County). The fire was burning in extremely steep and timbered terrain.

At 1028 hours, Copter 104 notified the ECC of power lines down on the ridge top. The ECC immediately notified and received acknowledgement from all incoming units. Both firefighters were in the cab of Engine 1475 and heard the notification. At 1045 hours, Engine 1475 arrived on scene. Prior to starting their assignment on the fire, both firefighters were again made aware of down power lines by the IC.

Following their briefing, Engine 1475 was instructed to lay a hose line up the flank of the burn. While climbing the hill, approximately 15-20 feet above the road where Engine 1475 was parked, Firefighter One lost his footing and placed his gloved left hand on the ground. He immediately received a shock, recoiled and screamed. Simultaneously, Firefighter Two felt a strong electrical current which he believes originated from the charged hose he was holding. He immediately dropped the hose and both firefighters reported the contact. It was later discovered that Firefighter One had made contact with a down 7200 volt line which was obscured by duff and debris.

Both ground and air ambulances were initially ordered. After assessing the nature of injuries received, the air ambulance was cancelled and both firefighters were ground transported, Code 2, to Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol. Following examination, both firefighters were released and cleared for duty the following day.

Recommendations For Immediate Corrective Actions

  • Maintain situational awareness at all times.
  • Maintain balance and footing on steep terrain.
  • Be cognizant of the fact that down power lines may exist in locations other than those initially reported.

~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~ + ~~

Power Line Safety for Wildland Fires:

Fire activity close to high voltage electrical transmission/distribution lines can cause multiple hazards which can electrocute or seriously injure firefighters.

• It is the responsibility of the IC and line supervisors to be aware of and communicate power line hazards to all resources.
• Contact power companies when power lines are threatened or involved.

Down Power Lines

Communicate – Notify all responders of down electrical lines. Obtain radio check-back.
Identify – Determine entire extent of hazard by visually tracking all lines two poles in each direction from the downed wire.
Isolate – Flag area around down wire hazards. Post guards.
Deny Entry – delay firefighting actions until hazard identification and flagging is complete and/or confine actions to safe areas.
• Downed line on vehicle: stay in vehicle until the power company arrives. If vehicle is on fire, jump clear, but don’t hang on. Keep feet together and shuffle or hop away.
Always treat downed wires as energized!

Ground Tactics

• Normal tactics apply when fire is more than 100’ from power lines.
• Heavy smoke and flames can cause arcs to ground.
Direct attack must be abandoned within 100’ of transmission lines.
• Spot fires or low ground fires can be fought with hose lines if heavy smoke or flame is not within 100’ of power lines.
• Always maintain 35’ distance from transmission towers.
• Never use straight streams or foam. Use 30° fog pattern at minimum distance of 33 feet/10 meters.
• Use extreme caution and contact the power company if engaging in tactical firing operations.
• Extinguish wooden poles burning at the base to prevent down wire hazards.

Aerial Tactics

• Communicate locations of all transmission lines to air resources.
• Aerial drops onto power lines will cause arcing to ground or arcing to power line towers and poles.
• Drops should be parallel to lines and avoid towers.


Look Out for any power lines near the incident.
Communicate location of all power lines that present a hazard.
Escape Routes should not be under or near overhead power lines.
Safety Zones / ICP’s / Staging Areas should not be located under or near overhead power lines.

7/5 Casey,

I forgot to ask, if you had any idea how much money was not given to firefighters so that R-5 USFS project (experiment?) with approximately 280 Los Angeles inter-city kids could be hired as firefighters? How much money was spent on recruitment, training, room & board, work uniforms and t-shirts, transportation, and who knows what else?? How much money was spent returning those who did not complete training back to the inter-city??? ( I understand approximately 280) I heard the number $10,000.00 each was the cost. WOW !!!

I wonder if that money could have kept all fire stations open in this fire season (USFS) , some have been reported closed for the season, and some are only on a 5-day schedule.

Of course, we are short of qualified firefighters, but how many openings are there in upper agency management, where there is probably more money with no offices being closed ????

They know firefighters are miracle workers, because they have been doing so much, with less and less all the time. And if we give them even less, maybe they will do even more !!

baffled in R-5 (with tongue in cheek)
7/5 Casey,

Any chance we can get an update on the portal-to-portal bill? With the AP story yesterday, timing might help with your efforts. Everyday more firefighting resources have reduced staffing or are shut down due to vacancies. We are reportedly hiring hundreds of positions in early July, however no one seems to understand that all this will do is create hundreds of new holes in our organizations. No one seems to be doing anything about it except for FWFSA. Portal-to-Portal would help.......... Thanks for any info........


7/5 Dear Baffled;

You are absolutely right on point. All of this has to do with fiscal management. Your observations about contracting debacles whether it was Cerco, Avue etc., is finally resonating in Congress as evidenced by its recent inclusion of language to "defund" such outsourcing studies.

My recommendation to you is that if you are not a firefighter, work with NFFE on these issues. Mark Davis of NFFE has done an exemplary job educating congress as to the flaws of the outsourcing efforts.

The land management agencies are no different than the Dept. of Defense when it comes to receiving huge sums of money and spending it in what we consider odd ways...partly because what oversight there has been has been lacking any teeth.

All we can do is keep raising our voices, educating those that can effect positive change and keep trying to make a difference.

7/5 Not Britain,

Remember we have to help IRAQ! Halliburton can repair them there.
For 5X the cost to do it in the US.


7/5 Casey,

I believe that federal firefighters have been underpaid for many, many years. I don't know that the attitude is in the agency to correct the problem though. Over the years raises come in dribs and drabs, never enough to really help.

The agencies have reduced pay for contractors while increasing equipment requirements, therefore costs.

I guess it is because they are short of money. It takes a lot of money to put out a proposal such as R-5 to replace all the mechanics and shops with outside services. It takes more money when other positions are created for those mechanics to transfer into. It takes more money when your winning bid turns out to be a loser, it takes more money to repair what you broke in replacing the forest shops. And I don't know that it is fixed yet. But it takes more money to keep fixing it!

Especially when the agency is busy spending money to outsource the communication department now. It takes more money when the new commo department can't keep up on repairs with less people and the agency has to float a contract to another outsource contractor to repair 3000 radios a year.

Casey, it takes money to make these wise outsourcing decisions for the benefit of the service. Therefore, it should be apparent why money isn't available in any quantity for firefighters.

Unless,,,,,,,,,, if we changed some of the overpaid officials and contracting decision makers to make decisions that included common sense.????

baffled in R-5 (with tongue in cheek)

Oh, we aren't going to have to send those commo units to Britain to get them fixed, are we? Ab.


*-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy 4th!-*


from the Abs

7/4 Dear Ex Fed:

I think we have a common thread and premise on things to a great degree. Our pitch to Congress in an effort to improve pay & benefits has had to include some mechanism of funding whether it be "off-sets" or under the term "pay-go" that Congress invented in 1994. As a result we have had to get into the budgetary mess over the last year and a half or so to illustrate to congress that the way in which funds are expended should be looked at.

I certainly am not a master at all the funding nuances of the Forest Service and other agencies. Heck, I stumble with "P" codes and overrides. Its all Greek to me. There are a number of elements at play here.

As I understand it, the hiring of temporary firefighters comes out of the preparedness budget. So too do dispatchers, dozers etc. I am not suggesting an overwhelming buildup of federal wildland firefighters. I am suggesting that the preparedness budget reflect the expectations of the National Fire Plan with respect to staffing and include funding for appropriate overhead.

As you likely know, these overhead costs, whether it be the New Mexico service center or something else literally reduce the available preparedness resources in the field. We saw that last year when forests were no longer allowed to deficit spend and we are seeing it again this year although an added element, the exodus to CAL-FIRE and other agencies is compounding the problem.

As a result of the lack of federal resources, Plan B increases the use of non-federal resources. An example might be the Rancho Fire on the LP. About 480+ acres with a lot of state & local agencies and to date the cost is $780,000 for 480 acres. That's a chunk of change for an area that's been managed for watershed. I certainly am not trying to second guess any request for resources. However I think it sound common sense that if federal resources that should be in place are not and the only alternative is non-federal resources, the suppression costs go up.

One of the issues Congress has are so many funds, budgets etc. Gets confusing even to appropriators at times. So I am simply advocating for the resources that Congress has already appropriated the dollars for not increasing beyond that.

My expectation is that if suppression costs can be reigned in (and I truly believe they can by having adequate preparedness resources in place) that frees up existing dollars to place a priority on retention rather than recruitment. If you take care of retention issues, recruitment becomes a non-issue and you save money on that. Retention issues across the board must include portal to portal & FEGLI & health care for temps. They risk their lives and die just like a permanent career firefighters.

It defies logic that the federal government can pay cooperators portal to portal based on their higher rate of pay on a fire but take their own, inherently less expensive federal firefighters off the clock. Something about equal pay for equal work comes to mind.

Many of these issues can be corrected simply by embracing a new way of doing business which will provide more efficient, effective delivery of services.

As far as data are concerned, we simply couldn't get past a receptionist, let alone get a Republican Chairman of the Resources Committee to introduce legislation for us that ultimately had more democratic cosponsors than Republicans on the bill if we hadn't done our homework.

Part of the ability to establish our credibility on the Hill has been the outstanding effort by our members from entry level to Chief in providing us with information and data from the field that even the Agency has trouble getting. Much of the data and information is contained in congressional record, testimony and quite candidly, reams of documents provided to congressional staff over the years.

As a former fed, perhaps you had an opportunity to utilize the 1121 OT code before you left. We were able to eliminate the OT pay cap in 2000 as a result of the homework we did. We had to go up against the Agencies, OPM and even labor unions. However because of the data we provided on the matter, federal wildland firefighters were the only group to see the elimination of the cap that year.

Not patting the proverbial back...but I dare say my looks alone don't cut it in DC. Gotta have the goods to educate those delightful folks in Congress.

7/4 viejo,

The new Behave program has incorporated the new Burgan and Scott fuel models. I used it awhile back.

fire freak

7/4 Casey,

Thanks for setting me straight on the feds vs. local gov't issue.

My previous note didn't say anything against 24hr pay and benefits for federal employees, I support that 100%, always did. I still feel that is different issue, but I could be wrong based on your reply.

If I understand it correctly, your study shows that the feds could replace all local gov't resources by increasing the number of federal fire fighters, buy more engines, dozers, aircraft, crew carriers, pick ups and housing, plus increase the number of supervisors, mechanics, administrative staff and other federal infrastructure to support them, pay them portal to portal, pay everyone benefits and save $100s of millions a year.

I'm not doubting your study, but your reply did leave out a lot of the story. Is it possible to see this study on line somewhere? I would like to support it and use the information in discussions with others about this issue, but I would like to have some of your facts first. Most of us out here are working on feelings and estimates rather than hard numbers. It would be great for us (me) to get the story right.

thanks for all your work on this issue!!

Ex Fed

7/4 I was just curious if anyone knew how to build a "bombardiers" map. I'm
not sure if I even spelled it right, but I know it exists and I can't seem
to find anyone who remembers how to build them. The process is to take a
normal fireman's map, fold it in a certain manner, make 2 or three cuts in
the center, then re-fold it in another way. The end result is a map that
fits neatly into a 8 1/2" x 11" folder, that can be flipped and folded for
viewing any part of the map without ever unfolding past the folder's size
when open. There are some problems with trying to look at legals that fall
perfectly on a crease of the map, but it is very useful for viewing while
inside of an engine cab, and not blocking the drivers vision while
unfolding a large and bulky district map.

Signed: Just passing through.

Also posted this on the Hotlist Discussion. Ab.

7/4 Dear Ex Fed:

Sorry, but I will have to respectfully disagree. We have spent years compiling data with respect to costs, pay etc. in order to validate our claims that a 21st century land management agency fire program needs to institute portal to portal pay for those on assignments exceeding 24 hrs.

In compiling that data and convincing congress to the point of legislation being introduced, we demonstrated several points.

First, we have heard the argument about "short duration costs" versus "all year" costs for some time now. It has been offered by some on Capitol Hill as well. We have dispelled that notion and demonstrated that because pay disparities overall are so significant in addition to all the other costs such as admin costs, back filling etc., that strengthening the infrastructure of feds is more cost effective.

The long term versus short term is a moot issue because often up to 46% staffing comes from temps who work varying periods of the year and who do not receive FEGLI benefits, health care etc. even when they are on the fire line.

Because of the overall pay disparity, we showed that the federal government could institute portal to portal pay; allow temps to be eligible for FEGLI & provide them with basic health coverage and the government would still save tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars each year in costs.

The obvious question then becomes why haven't they changed they way they do business? The answer: there has been no incentive to do so. There has been very little oversight in the fiscal management of fire programs. Only now (actually over the last year and a half) is congress starting to ask why so much money is being spent, where is it going etc.

So again, with all due respect, 3 years of my life was spent compiling information, educating congress and securing its understanding and support for such issues. I continue to believe we are making progress towards these goals and also continue to believe that the "over-use" of non-federal resources has increased costs significantly to the demise of those that have tried to stick with the federal agencies.


FEGLI = Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance

7/4 24 Hour Brief on the Angora Fire Burnover

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/24hr-angora-burnover.doc (42 K doc file, text below)



Date: June 27, 2007
Subject: Preliminary (24-hour) Briefing
To: Bernie Weingardt, Regional Forester


Location: Angora Incident CA-TMU-11011, South Lake Tahoe, California
Date of occurrence: June 26, 2007
Time of occurrence: Approximately 1500 hours
Team leader: Ray Haupt
Mission: Fire Suppression
Activity: Holding Fireline
Number injured: 0
Number of fatalities: 0
Property damage: none

Narrative: An entrapment occurred on the Angora Incident at approximately 1500 hrs. on June 26, 2007. Two engine company crew members that were part of Strike Team 3630-C were cut-off from their engine due to numerous spot fires and increased activity from the main fire while engaged in spot fire suppression. Both crewmembers made it to a deployment site where they safely deployed their fire shelters. They remained in their fire shelters for approximately 30 to 45 minutes until two safety officers arrived and gave instructions for the two crew members to exit their shelters. They emerged uninjured and where transported to the local hospital for observation and further assessment they were released a short time later.

An Accident Prevention Analysis Team has been ordered and is en route to conduct a peer review of the events of this burnover. Further information will be available as the process continues.

Peter Tolosano, Acting Occupational Safety & Health Manager

7/4 Ab,

Here are a couple of photos of the damage to the DC-10 supertanker
after it struck the trees.

Left wing 1
Left wing 2


Phew... Lucky pilots. Ab.

7/4 Blue Sheet
Tanker 82 Nose Gear Up Landing

June 25, 2007
Columbia Air Attack Base
CDF Incident Number: CATCU 005641

This Preliminary Summary Report is intended as an aid in accident prevention, and to provide factual information from the first 24 hours of the accident review. To that end it is published and distributed within a short time frame. Information contained within may be subject to revision as further review is conducted, and other reports and documents are received.

During a routine landing at Columbia Air Attack Base, Air Tanker 82 made a nose gear down landing on runway 35.

On June 25, 2007 at approximately 1955 hours, Air Tanker 82 was returning from a fire in Santa Clara Unit (CA SCU 003754 Grant Line fire). Upon landing all indicators told the pilot that the landing gear was down and locked. During the actual landing it was discovered that the nose gear had not come down. The pilot was able to land safely on the nose of the plane with minimal damage to the aircraft and no injuries to the pilot or Air Base employees.

Recommendations for immediate corrective action
  • The pilot was wearing proper flight PPE.
  • All emergency procedures were followed once it was indicated that the nose gear had not deployed.
  • Due to the extensive experience of the pilot there were no injuries and minimal damage to the aircraft.
7/4 stumpshot,

I've been a burn boss with the FS for many years so I am familiar with the policies. No, I don't think we do an adequate job of addressing these types of situations. I've written a fire management plan and incorporated indices, PLs, and other factors that are specific to the forest that I'm on and other potential factors, such as climate.

When I write burn plans I plan for the unexpected and play the devil's advocate. I game play with where I would cut it off in the event things don't go the way that we expect them to go - there's a change in weather or fire behavior. I look for the weak points along the project boundary and plan my contingencies accordingly. I would allow completing the burn if conditions allowed and not only based on efficiency.

I would say that a 100 acre slopover is significant (though I understand it's much larger than that - don't know why they only reported 100 acres). It tells me that the fire behavior exceeded expectations and/or inadequate holding resources and/or poor project design/layout and/or poor contingency planning. Large wildfires burning in the same general area that are exhibiting extreme fire behavior (doesn't matter that it's at a lower elevation) are important to look at (a red flag to me that potential is there). And in my mind meeting targets should never be a priority over community protection. This is an area where there are not a lot of resources available so travel time for suppression resources is great. Resources that were released from other fires in northern UT happen to be somewhat close - I understand that some went to Neola North and some went to rx burn.

Yesterday I heard that there was a decent column coming out of the rx burn, one of two helicopters committed to the burn was sent somewhere else, and a buddy on an IHC is now heading to the rx burn - don't know what's going on since there's no report.

Again, I think burning in season can be a good thing but we accept much greater risk, much greater responsibility, and we better take care of any mitigation measures that we can - and try to mitigate the ones that might potentially bite us when we're not looking. I'm not a meek burn boss but one who understand the implications if I don't take great care in what I do. We cannot cloud our judgment to meet targets.

I always appreciate good discussion, thanks!

To: jnm

Can I ask you a few questions? Do you honestly believe that we never lose fires that are in prescription? Most escapes in recent history have occurred while burning "in prescription". The fire behavior that was reported was "lots of spotting, torching, and giving us problems" and this is in the high country.

Do you think because we have a slow start to the season that the potential is not there? Do you personally know if there are plenty of folks still at their bases? Neola North is in a remote area where there are not a lot of resources nearby so travel time is great. Communities threatened should be a priority over putting more fire on the ground to meet targets as was reported in the media release.

No, they didn't quite catch the slopover. Please see the message above to stumpshot.

So we shouldn't be concerned about the availability of resources until the mucky mucks at NIFC tell us that we've moved to PL3? Shouldn't we be looking at the fire behavior at hand? Shouldn't we be looking at local or regional availability ourselves? We're the ones putting fire on the ground, we need to be situationally aware of the availability of resources as well as weather, drought, fire behavior, etc.

There are heavier fuel types on the Neola North so it's not entirely grass. They are seeing complete consumption of the 1,000 hour fuels in June! Rolling attack in the grass can work but you just don't throw your engine out into a grass field and go.

I agree that these types of burns under the right conditions while in season can be done - and should be done. Like I said there's no problem with the ignition on June 28th based on what I've seen BUT there are factors that have to be considered before we do. We also need to monitor and re-evaluate throughout the burning process. And if we're having trouble, such as a significant slopover, then we shouldn't be looking at adding more fire to the ground until we're certain conditions have improved. I also have concerns about tying up resources in order to meet targets while there's an incident where communities are threatened within the same general area.

Burning during red flag conditions for winds and humidities is never a good idea. I'm glad that it worked out for all that were there on the North Rim of the Cyn, but it gives people a false sense of security that they've gotten away with it before and they're more apt to try it again but potentially with very different results.

I'm with you - my heart and thoughts go out to the loved ones of those that lost their lives. One of them was one of us. God speed to all 3.

Fire Freak

7/4 Does anyone know if the BEHAVE program is being modified to accept the new fuel models described by Scott and Burgan in 2005? viejo
7/4 Ab do you know where I can get a S-131 book at on-line? Thanks!


Someone just sent one in. I'll send it on. Ab.

7/4 Echoing "Oliver", we in Oregon have a difficult time keeping our engines/hand crews fully staffed because the federal agencies: 1. Pay better, 2. Normally have more OT hours, 3. Offer HP, 4. Often travel out-of-area. If you live in a small town you can be competing with 2 to 4 federal agencies, for a limited number of interested fire fighters. What can we offer? Benefits. Medical, Dental and Retirement. Oh, and you get to sleep in your own bed almost every night (smile). BUT, most "youngsters" looking to make a lot of money for college don't care about benefits. I may be wrong, but in discussions with State Foresters and State Fire Fighters from all over the USA, no other state pays or has compensation comparable to that of CAL-FIRE.

Unfortunately, CAL-FIRE is so much more expensive than any other resource that we will release them, as soon as possible. Sorry guys/gals, but that's the reality.

Near the border
7/4 Maybe CAL FIRE could contract the former DC-4, DC-6, and DC-7 aircraft that the Forest Service refuses to certify under their 2002 decision as a stop gap?..... at least until the DC-10 is repaired?

As far as I remember, the DC aircraft have never experienced in-flight structural failure in wildfire applications. As my grandad used to tell me... they were built like a tank. You have got to love the old DC aircraft recip engines and airframes built for combat.

Yes, I am biased. My grandfather worked on the production lines of the DC-4, DC-6, and DC-7. He was also the production manager and VP supervising the DC-10 production. He had some severe reservations about the DC-10, to the point of telling me as a teenager to make sure I never flew on one. That bias is still with me and I will never trust a DC-10 platform.

Don't confuse my thoughts of the DC-10 with the previous DC planes that have served well, and continue to serve well in state administered contracts and with Canada..... After McDonnel merged with the Douglas Corp. and became McDonnel-Douglas, my granddad sounded the alarms for safety and eventually retired. After Boeing acquired the MD product line, all support and corporate knowledge of the DC product line was lost as was his experience.

The DC-10 is not an airtanker that is safe..... the DC-4's, 6's, and 7's are.... just my honest opinion.... lessons learned from my grandpa.

You can zero out the airframes on the DC-3 through DC-7 products and get them certified as zero hour airframes... try that with a DC-10.


7/4 Ab

My deepest condolences to "F-8" on the loss of his mentor under such tragic circumstances. And of course to the families of those lost.

Regarding the Deer Canyon and Banner fires on CA-MVU on Sunday. I think the Air Boss on CDF AA330 deserves credit for his forethought in ordering additional resources when he saw the plume of the Deer as he came out of the office to get on the plane; when the dispatch went out. Before they were even airborne he said something like "order additional tankers, would like some heavies if possible; also more coptors, including a couple type 1's."

He also saw the building plume of the Banner Incident and had the 2, S2T's dropping on it before ground resources were there. They were basically splitting loads for a while; 1/2 load for each fire each trip. The 4 IA coptors stayed on the Deer Canyon; but had to get out of the way for the Tanker drops.

It took a long time to get a 2nd AA here for some reason, and when it got here AA330 had lost a radio and had to go back to Ramona AAB for repairs.

When AA330 got back up AA310 left for some reason and 330 had more Tankers than one AA is allowed to manage. By then the coptors and ground crews had the Deer managed and A330 could concentrate on the Banner. Had the heavy Tanker that came make a drop to support the fuel break work the dozers were doing. The SEATS and S2T's supported that and direct suppression. Coptors eventually went from Deer to Banner and at least 1, Type 1, got there for a while and stayed for work Monday.

As someone on the Forum said "The Banner was an air show"; to start; and I say the aircraft saved the day. Or more specifically all the communities out on that slope.

7/4 Nothing is so important that we can act unintelligently, arrogantly, without regard for; personal welfare of our firefighters, the best interest of our agencies and publics, or yourself. That's the world we live in. step-up or turn in your yellow shirt.

My 20-year-old-daughter, second year firefighter just got home from an IA @2300. As she ate her Taco Bell burrito dinner I asked her how her fire went. She said "great got H pay for the day". Her only complaint, was that one of the Engine Companies did not work hard enough for her liking. It made me smile.

She may end up on your fire next, do me a favor and treat her like your own, treat 'em all like your own, I'm going to.

Be sharp it is getting dam* dry out there.

7/4 Dim-Whit,

The octagonal structure was mostly all windows.... single pane windows.
The structure was built for a view.... San Gorgonio View. Evidence at the
site showed the structure burned from the inside out.


7/4 Scott

Here's a link to a R8 hosepack guide....There are
several styles of hosepacks in this guide....Also the
dimensions for the hosebox you were looking for!

www.fs.fed.us/r8/academy/Documents/Complete%20hosepack%20Guide.pdf (pdf file, don't know how large)

NPS Cap'n
7/4 CA cooperator costs

There has been some good discussion about the high costs of non-federal cooperators. Let me throw this opinion into the fray. Expensive cooperators, even from CA, are a bargain for the Feds. It's true, the Feds use them when they need them and sometimes pay a premium price. However, the Feds get qualified people when they need them the most. The appear high price only applies during the duration of the assignment. This may include some replacement costs back at their home unit. But, the Feds don't pay for any of their off-incident costs for the rest of the year such as salary, training, retirement, health insurance, retirement, OWCP, unemployment, social security and all the other costs associated with any employee in any agency.

Using trained cooperators doesn't increase the cost of federal incidents, it allow the feds to meet their obligations without maintaining a huge expensive workforce.

Pay comparability is a different and separate issue.

Ex Fed

7/4 All,

As we enter this 4th holiday and with all of the BS going on, let’s make sure we focus on our mission and make sure we and all our people are safe. We have already responded to fire works complaints here on my district today and it will increase with the coming days. After almost 30 years experience that I have witnessed, we are experiencing something that makes me very concerned. A 3000 acre fire in the Basin in the end of June and the beginning of July should raise the hairs on the back of our necks. Fuel moistures extremely low, hot temps and low HRs should sound the alarm in all of us.

Let’s think clearly, Act decisively, and Provide for Safety FIRST. We are one bottle rocket away from disaster.

Take care my friends


7/4 The Gansner Pack was created by an engine crew on the Plumas National Forest (PNF) in the 70s or 80s. It was invented at and named after the Gansner Bar fire station in the Feather River Canyon along CA State Highway 70. For years it was the best wildland hoselay pack in existence. I heard that someone on the Plumas has actually improved it in recent months. Please contact any fire official on the PNF for an update and specs. I don't have a specific contact for you.

Retired PNFer.
7/3 72hr Report -- Engine 431 Rollover (43 K doc file)

Something worth discussing with your crews.
Luckily they were wearing their seatbelts.


7/3 Fire Training - Leadership Development
2008 Redding Interagency Hotshot Crew Leadership Development Program
To: Forest Supervisors and Training Officers
Attn: Interested Candidates
REPLY DUE: October 1, 2007

The purpose of this program is to offer an intensive leadership training opportunity as an Interagency Hotshot Crew member. This objective is met by a focus on small-unit leadership integrating classroom and field exercises with fireline suppression assignments.

The training program is targeted specifically for career/career conditional employees who are potential or current first line supervisors and have been recognized as individuals who will excel in a fire management career. Due to the intensive nature of the program, it is an excellent opportunity to obtain accelerated leadership training and experience.

DATES: Tentative start date April 7, 2008 through the end of the 2008 Fire Season, tentative ending date October 11, 2008.

POSITION: Type 1 Interagency Hotshot Crewmember, 16 positions. Applications will be accepted from individuals in any series and at every grade level.

LOCATION: Northern California Service Center (NCSC) 6101 Airport Road, Redding, CA 96002.

AREA/LEVEL OF CONSIDERATION: All career/career conditional Federal employees and State and Local Government Fire Management permanent employees.

COST: For all Forest Service Employees; salary, quarters and $25 per day for meals will be paid by the Northern California Service Center. For all non-Forest Service employees; base salary must be paid by the sending unit/agency. Quarters and $25 per day for meals will be paid by the Northern California Service Center. All travel costs to and from NCSC will be paid by the sending unit.

EXPECTATIONS: As part of fireline performance required of Type 1 Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC), assignments require candidates to be fully qualified to safely and efficiently perform arduous labor. All candidates selected for the program will be required to meet and maintain agency physical requirements as measured by the Work Capacity Test (WCT) prior to arrival. All Redding IHC personnel will strive to meet the physical fitness goals as outlined in the National IHC Operations Guide (http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/hotshots/IHC_Ops_Guide_revised-04.pdf) which are 1.5 mile run in 10:35, 40 sit-ups in 60 seconds, 25 push-ups in 60 seconds, and 4-7 chin-ups depending on body weight.

Being a member of an Interagency Hotshot Crew involves extensive travel and working under adverse conditions and in potentially hazardous situations. It is not unusual to be away from the Northern California Service Center on fire assignments for up to 21 days on assignment plus travel time to and from the base. Selected candidates will be expected to remain with the crew for the entire training period. A person should give serious consideration to the required level of personal commitment, physical training, and the overall duration of the training opportunity before applying.

Persons interested in the proposed training opportunity are encouraged to fill out and return the attached 2008 Training Opportunity Outreach Information form. The form may be faxed to the Northern California Service Center, Hotshot Unit, at (530) 222-5460 or mailed to the following address:

USDA Forest Service
Northern California Service Center
6101 Airport Road
Redding, CA 96002
ATTN: Redding Hotshots

If you have further questions regarding this program, please contact the North Zone Training Unit, at the Northern California Service Center, (530) 226-2721 or (530) 226-2723.

/s/ Joseph C. Millar
Region 5 FAM, Assistant Director (Acting), Northern California Operations
7/3 fire freak -

Thanks for the honest answers to my questions. It is clear we may agree to disagree on this one, but I have a few more questions for my own clarification.

Are you familiar with the policies of the agency completing the Rx? If so, do they address these types of situations (Rx vs. suppression)? I have seen the SA issues you raised addressed in fire management plans before, often tied to PLs or other types of indices.

With the wide range of conditions over short distances in the West, due to numerous factors (topo, wx, fuels, etc.), how should fire managers draw a line in the dirt, so to speak, when it comes to shutting down (ceasing ignition) a going Rx? Would this allow for completing the burn if it is the most efficient method of closing the loop?

I certainly don't have all of these answers, but your post brings up some provocative points.

7/3 As I am sure that we are all aware, three days from now will be the 13th anniversary of the South Canyon fire tragedy, which occurred on July 6th, 1994. 14 brave men and women gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty that day near the community of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. As we approach this 4th of July holiday and the anniversary of this horrible tragedy please take a moment to reflect back on all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and the changes that have been made, and will be made, in an effort to further enhance the safety and well being of our fellow firefighters. I will remember my friend, Rob Johnson, and his colleagues, who gave their lives in the line of duty doing what they loved to do. I will also be thinking of our men and women in the armed forces who lay their lives on the line every day in lands far, far away so that we may have times like this where we can gather together to remember and celebrate the lives of friends, colleagues, and coworkers long past.

For those of us left, remember to be safe out there and watch your backs and those of your coworkers, lets do our best to ensure that those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the past did not do so in vain. God bless those who have fallen before, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of those who remain, and for those who continue to lay their lives on the line everyday be it on the frontlines of a wildfire, or on the frontlines of the war. All of which is done for our benefit.


7/3 To all,

Just a few words on the North Neola fire in NE Utah. By now we know that three individuals were killed in a horrific turn of events and one of the worst fire that this area has ever seen. The media is reporting that all were civilians and that is true in most ways. You see the father in this burnover was my first FMO on the Ashley Natl Forest. He has since retired from 41 years of service and had been active in farming since. George was the one that gave me the opportunity to pursue what would later become my career. I was just 18 and out of high school when George offered me a position on the Roosevelt District engine. To let you in on a little bit of irony, I was the initial attack IC on this fire, I saw the most extreme fire behavior imaginable, and I found out - on the line - that my friend – a great man – and of course an “old dog firefighter” had been taken from this earth. I had been watching this fire grow and had been contemplating my career path, now here’s the irony, I had been thinking of how I started down this path and the thought of George popped into my head, he gave me a shot at what would later be my life…FIRE. It was only hours later that I got the news. I express my deepest sympathy to his family and I know that George and his son gave their lives to save the life of his grandson. I thinks it is safe to say that once a wildland firefighter, always a wildland firefighter, so to put in more correct terms we did loose one of our brother firefighters. In closing I would just like to say, “So long George … now your our ‘Lookout’ on the line.”

7/3 Aloha,

looking for specs on how to make a gazner pack. The 1
1/2" connected to the 1". people call it different
names so I thought I'd describe it. looking for
measurements of the tray used to lay the hoses in and
how to tie it all together with p-cord.


Welcome Hawaii. Also posted this on the Hotlist Discussion. Ab.

7/3 Here's the Madison Arm 24 hour Entrapments Report, Gallatin National Forest, MT

Fairly busy week last week.

A shelter deployment on the Tahoe Basin, 3 civilian fatalities in Utah, a
single vehicle roll-over on the Angeles, and the incident mentioned in the
24 hour brief above.

Please take the time to visit with your troopers regarding Situational
Awareness (SA).
Seems that it might not have been fully in focus on all of these

Maintaining sharp SA may be the single most important process that will
keep our employees safe.

Lets stay sharp and keep our eye on the ball!

Have a safe Fourth of July. It looks like it is going to be a busy one.

A phrase Michelle Reugebrink (TNF Safety Officer) has coined:
SAFE = Situational Awareness For Everyone!

Peter Tollosano, R5 Safety Officer

7/3 Oliver:

Thanks for your post. I certainly agree that a balanced approach to the use of all available resources is a good idea. We have never advocated the complete elimination of cooperators and contractors from the wildland fire landscape.

Rather we have seen an increased reliance on non-federal resources which, at least in the 11 western-most states and more often than not, cost significantly more than federal resources. This over-reliance on non-federal resources by the land-management agencies themselves has been at the expense of strengthening the Nation's federal wildland firefighting corps. The agencies continue this action because there has been no fiscal incentive not to expend the extra bucks for non-federal resources.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize that when the federal government pays for a cooperator (yes, let's use CA...sorry,) and pays them their full 24 hr salary inclusive of true OT, an administrative fee to the department from where the resource came, currently about 17%; backfill costs for that position and housing while taking their own, less expensive firefighters off the clock on the same fire for the same work, something is amiss.

R6 has unique issues as does R5 and others areas across the country. To be perfectly candid, I have to walk a fine line when dealing with your congressional folks from Oregon and those in Washington State because of those states being the "hot bed" of contractor activity and they are constituents as are federal wildland firefighters.

However in recent years, congress has sought answers to the skyrocketing costs of suppression and all members of congress, whether or not they have contractors or federal wildland firefighters, have one thing in common...taxpayers.

As a taxpayer we all should expect the most effective & cost-efficient use of our tax dollars. With respect to federal land management agency fire programs, primarily the Forest Service, fiscal efficiency & effectiveness is lacking. Couple that with a variety of other issues and there is no doubt folks are screaming for a new way of doing business.

As you recently saw the CAL-FIRE Director explained their plan to contract for the DC-10 and validated that by offering a number of comments that state the aircraft's ability. Many have seen it in action. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If you've got a straight five mile run on a flat desert mesa that's great. Throw in some mountainous terrain AND the fact that air space has to be cleared of everything else for this plane to fly and it, like any other new gadget has its limitations.

$26,000 an hour with a 3 hour minimum...And again, why not order up such a resource...the feds are going to end up paying for it anyway.

So I do think it important that Congress start looking at the bigger picture and understand what is going on in the field. They certainly aren't going to get a reality-based report from the Agency and fortunately, most in Congress now know that.

Cooperators can criticize me all they want but if our federal folks are already lagging in pay & benefits and in addition are taken off the clock on the same fire their "cooperator" colleagues are working on and some who, by the way may make about $100,000 in OT alone courtesy of the federal government each season, then something needs fixing.

That's the FWFSA's job...

7/3 Ab note: The Esperanza Final Report is on www.fire.ca.gov/index.php under the "Hot Topics" section. (118 pages)

Can anyone shed light on Finding 26 from the Esperanza Fire Investigation Report? It states:

Structure – The shape of the Octagon House combined with topographical features at the accident site contributed to a wind/fire eddy effect and was also unsuitable to serve as an area of refuge due to the conditions.

(Reference: On-site observations, and Photo) [Page 40]

Given the fact that the walls were standing after the fire, I am left wondering why the structure could not have been a suitable point of refuge. Granted, it’s a bit of a fine timeline to walk as the structure becomes involved, but given the nature of the natural fuels, could the crew have sought refuge in the house during the major advance of convective heat and gasses and then moved back outside once the main fire front had passed?

My read of Finding 26, however, is that it never contemplates the crew actually entering the house but merely acknowledges that standing on the lee side would have been ineffectual. If this is the limited scope of Finding 26, then I would easily agree that the shape of the house and topography wouldn’t have served as an adequate place of refuge. If this is the case, then why didn’t the report consider retreating into the structure itself?

I realize that the topic of using structures as a place of refuge (not a safety zone) is a very controversial subject, but I do know that a number of firefighters have successfully and safely ridden out a major head fire run by retreating into a residential structure. As I look at Figure 7 - Fire Engine 57 personnel travel paths, it appears that the crew were all running away from the structure in an attempt to find safety and I cannot help but ask 1) why did they not use the structure; and 2) was it at least partly attributable to the cultural (mostly federal) notion that using structures as places of refuge is inappropriate?

I echo Misery Whip’s questions about the why’s of firefighters being caught seemingly unawares by the speed and intensity of changing fire conditions. And, while I agree wholeheartedly that we must continue to foster situation awareness and recognition primed decision-making and other efforts directed at keep firefighters from harms way, I would also like to suggest that as a profession we offer little to no training on how to act and deal with life threatening situations. Other than annual fire shelter deployment training, most wildland firefighters have little opportunity to experience decision-making and stress-management during situations where personal attitudes and actions directly contribute to survivability. In contrast, virtually all other high-risk professions train extensively in this area to develop not only a toolbox of survival skills but also a survival mentality (research shows that only roughly 10% of the general population know how to act appropriately in the face of a life threatening emergency).

So I offer these thoughts and questions in part as a “fishing expedition” as I attempt to understand and reconcile within my own mind why we cannot make an appreciable dent in firefighter fatalities. Thoughts and contrary ideas are welcome.


7/3 The Community of Julian, CA experienced yet another challenging Wildfire on July 1st. This fire called the Banner Fire followed the Pines Fire, the Woodland Fire and the Cedar Fire. All consumed or damaged structures.

CAL FIRE in Direct Protection of BLM Lands of the California Desert District were assisted in their suppression efforts by the recently restored Sunrise fuel Break. BLM FIRE, CAL FIRE, Volunteer Firefighters of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District and private citizens have worked together to achieve success on the project.

This restoration effort has been in partnership with several Julian Community Fire Safe Councils and is leading to further improvements in defensible space and combustible vegetation management.

The fire started below the Julian Community near Highway 78, with extreme slopes and medium to heavy Chamise/ manzanita, Live oak woodlands and Pine Fuels. This desert interface is known for its winds battling for dominance. Pre dominant winds here are characterized by on-shore flow to the deserts during the warm parts of the day and evening with upslope winds in cooler periods.

The fuel break served to allow maneuver room for firefighters between structures and the main uphill climb of the fire. Aggressive Air Attack, improvement of the fuel break with dozers, safe ground attack with hoselays and in line construction with favorable winds all contributed to the suppression effort.

Recent criticism by vegetation non-impairment advocates, pales when fuels treatments and support of these fuels treatments by firefighters combine in successful action.

0 Structure loss, burned fireshed 110. Acres.

7/3 To Brother Cub,

A shaded fuel break can cause a running crown fire to drop to the ground and make it reasonably safe for firefighters to catch spots and do structure protection, rather than have to disengage, as demonstrated in the February Fire document attached (1,470K doc file, very large download) (with good pictures of the crown fire to ground fire transition).

My Ranchhouse, built in 1918, was saved by the work both we and the FS had done, including some broadcast burning both sides of the boundaries the previous November.

Old Sawyer.

7/3 More DejaVu.....

"With attention to the widespread damage which results to the public from the burning of the fields, customary up to now among both Christian and Gentile Indians in this country, whose childishness has been unduly tolerated, and as a consequence of various complaints that I have had of such abuse, I see myself required to have the foresight to prohibit for the future... all kinds of burning, not only in the vicinity of the towns but even at the most remote distances....Therefore I order and command all commandantes of the presidios in my charge to do their duty and watch with the greatest earnestness to take whatever measures they may consider requisite and necessary to uproot this very harmful practice of setting fire to pasture lands ....”

May 31, 1793 — Jose Joaquin de Arrillaga


7/3 Casey,

I appreciate your efforts and the job you do for federal fire fighters.

I would still offer my differing opinion regarding the efficient use of federal funds. Sometimes, in my opinion, the most efficient use of federal funding is with the states as a part of a complete and coordinated system with fire districts and federal partners.

My state (Oregon) doesn't generally hire firefighters away from federal agencies...instead we see more hiring of our firefighters by the federal agencies. We don't target our suppression efforts to spend enough dollars to become eligible for FEMA funds and the reimbursement funds doesn't change our bottom line at the field level to a degree that it would allow us to hire more people or pay them more money.

The 75% reimbursement on some fires does not represent 75% of all of our suppression costs. There are thousands of fires that are successfully kept to smaller acres and less cost. We can spend millions of dollars on single and multiple fires and not receive federal dollars. In Oregon we have a funding system that uses a combination of landowner assessments and general fund tax dollars.

I think we should all lobby for more harvesting from federal lands as a means to pay for fire suppression, fuel reductions and to maintain adequate staffing and experience levels.

I drop a note into They Said once in awhile just to remind folks that there are other other states in the union (humor intended).


7/3 fire freak, hey dude/dudette

You got to learn to relax if this was within prescription. After all this is in the high country. The season is only just beginning with only 14 fires in the nation and only at preparedness level 2!!! I would have to say there are plenty of folks still at their bases. I believe that they caught the slop, didn't they, so why should have to stop their burn? I am quite certain that they stopped putting fire on the ground when it did slop. I wouldn't start to hit a panic button till we move to level 3 and resources are still going out stating and/or timing out. As for Neola, isn't it or wasn't it in open grass fields? Doesn't that mean engines can do a rolling attack?

I was on a Rx burn about 10 years ago on the north rim grand canyon that was being burned during red flag conditions for wind / humidities. They also had a slop that they had to order resources for. They also had other fires going on in the state. My point is this: some of these burns need these type of conditions to even be lit and if done carefully can be very successful.

My heart and thoughts go out to those whose loved ones did lose their lives.


7/3 Ab,

Firefighters at the other end of the spectrum. Just
returned from a trip on the roads less traveled from
OKC to KC and observed firefighters across southern
Kansas rescuing their fellow citizens and pets from
numerous rivers along the way.

The end result is the same whether your home goes up
in flames or the river runs through it. Sad to see.
Sometimes the 100 year flood is today.

Hotshot Dad
7/3 Here's a link to an article on MSN about aerial firefighting, in case anyone is interested.



Thanks Lori. Ab.

7/3 To: Let's think outside the box!

I understand that the rx burn was started two days before the Neola started. I understand that the conditions are right for burning in those fuel types. I'm glad to hear that the burn plan is being followed and the objectives are being met. No, the resources on the rx burn would most likely not have made a difference in containing the Neola during IA - BUT the Neola Fire started, the rx burn had a 100 acre slopover, additional suppression resources were ordered to hold the rx burn and MORE fire is being put on the ground - WHILE the Neola Fire is ordering resources to suppress a fire where communities are still threatened. Red flags are flying aren't they?

High elevation burn with 100 acre slopover, spotting and torching, late June, lots of fire season still ahead, still putting fire on the ground, wildfire burning less than 200 miles away, resources that could be available for fire suppression are being used to hold and put more fire on the ground for the rx burn to meet targets, while resources are being ordered to suppress a wildfire with structures threatened. Hmmmm........

To: Stumpshot

1. No, I have not read the burn plan. No, I am not aware of the various parameters for the prescription. I don't know if the 100 acre slopover put them out of prescription - as stated earlier I have not read the burn plan.
2. Yes, you bet orders for suppression resources have been coming in for the Neola Fire. It's very possible that these same resources could have been committed to other fires BUT they're not. They're committed to a management ignited prescribed fire - it's a choice. An incident is not an incident.

I agree, we do need to complete these types of burns. I believe in rx burning year round when possible. I do not question them starting the burn on June 28th BUT I do question them putting more fire on the ground after the start of a wildfire that is threatening communities in the same general area and they've had a 100 acre slopover and they've committed fire suppression resources in order to reach targets.

Where's the situational awareness? What's the fire behavior at high elevation telling them (spotting and torching and a 100 acre slopover)? Are there wildfires in the general area? Are they problem fires? Are they ordering resources? What's going on with incidents locally, regionally, nationally? What are the priorities? It appears to me that it's meeting targets.

fire freak

7/3 Brother Cub,

There was a shaded fuel break in an area that was crown fire on the Megram Fire of the Big Bar Complex in 1999 (near Grizzly, adjacent to the wilderness). A shaded fuel break is an area that has been thinned and had ladder fuels removed. This one was in medium sized firs, maybe 10" dbh. The entire area around the shaded fuel break was nuked. The fire, when it hit the treated area, dropped to the ground and did a low level underburn. Amazing difference in fire severity.

Rob McLellan (Lower Trinity) took me up there on the jeep trail after the spring snow melt. There were holdover smokes in stumps and roots here and there. The rehab and erosion control work was in place on the extensive moonscape area. The ground under the shaded fuel break had sprouts of green everywhere. Lucy Salazar the fuels specialist on the Six Rivers had photos. Dramatic evidence that good fuel reduction treatments can take the destructive punch out of a raging crown fire.


7/3 Brother Cub,

If you can find any info on the Calpine fire started the day before the Angora on the TNF, 57 acres and burned like an underburn when it got in the thinned area. I have worked on a thinning sale at meyers about 10 years ago i think it was on the south side of hwy 50 at Meyers im not sure if it was involved or not but thinning and logging do work and no you dont need to clearcut everything and yes it can be done clean.


7/3 Ab(s) & Associates & Fellow Members,

I'd just like to comment on how great it is to have a site like this that is so very informative on so many various issues relating to wildland firefighting. I posed a question earlier today in the General Discussion forum on the Hotlist regarding the status of Tanker 910 and to see if there was any further info available relating to the incident that occurred on the White fire involving Tanker 910. Several responses were received from various members of this community with some interesting information regarding my question about Tanker 910, information that I probably would not have found out or heard about if it wasn't for you and your associates who have put this site together and turned it into an invaluable source of knowledge and information. And, of course, I cannot leave out my fellow members of Wildlandfire.com whose wealth of knowledge, education, training, and experiences are shared on this site to any and all who wish to learn and become better informed. I am very thankful to have a site like this to visit and learn from. I very much appreciate all that you do for this site that enables all of us to be able to share our knowledge, information, and experiences so that we can all become more informed and educated in the ever expanding field of wildland firefighting.

Thank you Ab(s) for all that you do for this site, thanks to all of my fellow Wildlandfire.com members for sharing your vast amount of knowledge so that I can continue to learn something new every time I visit this site, and a special thank you to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for all that you do and the assistance that you provide to the wildland firefighting community and families, especially during our darkest hours. All of your efforts are greatly appreciated.


You're welcome. We like all this and learn a lot, too. Ab.

7/3 CAL FIRE Directors Message Points,

In addition to the life safety factors, four areas should be considered in the future deployment of the DC-10 or any other Super Tanker.

1. How many fire days can be saved?

2. How many acres can be saved?

3. How many structures can be saved?

4. How much reduction in Green House Gases could be realized?

Somehow the CDF "Directors" message doesn't include the most basic in the the risk management process.... fill the holes. Does the technology result in increased risks to firefighters and the community in both the short and long term, or protect those values at risk?

His message missed a critical point..... How many fire aviators do we have to lose before a plane is specifically designed for wildland fire work? When the DC 10 had "the tree strike" what if it crashed and killed 100 firefighters on the ground?

The problems with low level turbulence in jet aircraft, and especially the DC 10 were well known.

So far, no SAFECOM, no SAFENET, nor an NTSB accident/incident report has been filed.

7/3 Good safety clip on what happens on low-level impact when you
do not wear seatbelts -- sent to me by Michelle Reugebrink, a friend.


Please buckle up. Your brain is necessary. A closed head injury can
ruin your life and your family's lives and is preventable.

Brain injury --Quickest way to loose situational awareness, permanently.

Buckle up. Make it a habit.


7/3 usually a lurker,

There is a piece of safety technology that was developed by Storm King Mountain Technologies and marketed by True North that would warn crews of electrical hazards in their area.

For some reason, the technology hasn't yet been well accepted and put into widespread use.

I remember the wildland firefighter that was lost around Jackson, CA in the mid/late 80's due to electrocution. That person stepped on a powerline hidden in tall grass well away from structures. With current available technology, that accident would have been preventable. The accident identified today.... fully preventable.

Sign me, Safety isn't cheap. You get what you pay for.
7/3 I must say my first thought upon hearing of the Angora Fire was: didn't these people do clearance? Then I was talking to my friend (who usually goes out as dozer boss but has a background in fuels management) and he said our mutual friends lost their house. He also said there was a lot of fuels work done in the area and that the house had good clearance. But they lost everything even with the clearance.

So while it is a major bummer for them (they found out on the way back from a rafting trip), luckily they had insurance so they will eventually recover. But the conversation piqued my interest so I went on-line to see what National Fire Plan grants were in the area and there are a number from 2002-2006. Now please remember the points are VERY approximate (that's why there are 115 from 2005 in the middle of Lake Tahoe :-) http://wildfire.cr.usgs.gov/fireplanning/ and click on Run the Fire Planning and Mapping Tools Viewer link.

Turn on the fuels project points when the word Layer is highlighted (teal)
Legend --> Fuels--> Fuel Treatment
If you want to see what symbol is for what year click on the work Legend and it will become teal when active.
Also a number of points are stack on top of each other so to get the attribute information (or details) make sure the correct year is activated
  • Radio button next to layer name is filled in
  • Click on the Identify button on the left hand column
  • Click on the data point you want information for

There also is a Help button that will give instructions on how to use the site. For those who know the area- the names of the fuels projects should help you identify them.

I attached a quick image (and this is a note to all agency people out there- SEE those lat/longs MATTER!) that show there were lots of grants and/or fuels projects in the area.

Okay back to my real job now ;-)

p.s. Slick marketing/public service NorthTree.... you win my vote for most creative/helpful for the day! Good to see you guys still out there Zeke.

7/3 I found your site last week and check it at least a dozen times a day to check for news on new starts and growing fires. I'm not a firefighter but am former Search and Rescue!! I've been searching your site for some time now and just couldn't find a place to join so I could post this huge THANK YOU for all that you and the monitors do to keep this site up, up to date and accurate. I live in Yakima, WA and we have fires every year and don't imagine we could be so lucky as to just skip this year. The memorials are still up for the 4 young firefighters who died, several were from here in West Valley. Since then, and in a way, in memory of them, I keep closer tabs on our fires and what it takes to fight them. I'm mending from injuries and have time to pray for those who do what I never would be able to - our firefighters and you keep us abreast of the news and give those who do know a place to put the info that is so very much appreciated.

With the 4th of July coming up, 100+º coming later this week, there will be alot of folks flocking to the Cascades for relief and celebration and with that comes fires. Trust I'll be here watching your site. I just wish we still had our scanner on line so I could listen.

God bless you for all you do and my God keep our firefighters safe.

7/3 NVAC and others,

Google "cheat grass" in the recent news. Unbelievable fire behavior is becoming common in the western states and it is putting firefighters and communities more at risk.

The fire regimes and condition classes have been permanently changed by non-natives species such as cheat grass, red brome, European intermediate wheat-grass, and European pubescent wheat grass.

There was a great article the other day by a Forest Service researcher saying why it was her goal until she retired to make sure the hazards are known. I can't find that article right now.

Rogue Rivers
7/3 Cy

The FS is getting ready to do another round of hiring
starting July 16th. I had applied to the GS-8 SFEO
announcement a couple months back and hadn't heard
anything....until the called out of the blue 3-4 days
ago and asked if I was still interested.....I also
know they recently contacted my supervisor with all
sorts of questions.....It took forever to hear
something back....you might ask the supervisors you
listed in your job history on AVUE if they have heard

NPS Cap'n

Good points. Just so you know, Cy is now getting assistance behind the scenes. Thanks everyone. Ab.

7/3 Oliver,

This is a partial tongue in cheek reply to your comments to Casey. Take no offense from these please.

So, if almost all CAL FIRE incidents have:

* Threat to lives and improved property, including threats to critical facilities/infrastructure, and critical watershed areas;
* Availability of State and local firefighting resources;
* High fire danger conditions, as indicated by nationally accepted indices such as the National Fire Danger Ratings System;
* Potential major economic impact.

.... and those incidents exceed the FEMA threshold level for funds expended (varies by state and local jurisdictions), why doesn't the DHS take control of these incidents to minimize fire suppression costs expended by FEMA under the FMAG program?

Also, why doesn't the cost containment and oversight on incidents that the DHS (federal government) is reimbursing 75% of local and state agencies' expenditures come under the same scrutiny as the federal land management agencies? Is it as simple as the difference between a "land management agency" vs. a "fire protection agency"?


If you had followed Oliver's posts over the years, you'd know he/she is not from the state of California. Ab.

7/2 Oliver:

With all due respect to your post and I'm certainly not trying to dig the proverbial line in the sand...BUT:

Yup, the FWFSA gets to be clearly myopic when it comes to improving pay, benefits & working conditions for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters. It isn't a surprise to anyone in the wildland firefighting community whether they be federal, state, municipal, private contractor that our goal and objective is to make the federal wildland firefighters the priority for available fed dollars. You won't hear an apology from me on that.

I don't recall suggesting that any state or local agency "mismanaged" funds. You also apparently don't know me very well...I don't spin. All you had to do, like anyone else, is ask who the senator was. That would be Jeff Bingaman, (D-NM). However I should also let you know that every Senator or staff person I have discussed the issue with recognizes the flaws of the program.

This would include:

and probably a few others. As far as the unnamed local agency...I didn't ask so I don't know. If you'd like, I can track that down for you.

You are right on point...residents of YOUR state do pay federal taxes. As such, they deserve the "most bang for their tax buck" or in the case of this business, the most cost effective and cost efficient method of delivery on protecting our Nation's natural resources ,its citizens and their real & personal property.

In my opinion, state taxes ought to reimburse state & local fire agencies. Why the federal government? Because they have more money to waste?

Speaking of "unnamed" you failed to "name" the portion of the suppression costs reimbursed from these grants. While I'm sure most in the wildland firefighting community know the figure, maybe taxpayers ought to...75%. Quite a "portion" if you ask me.

You also referenced "criteria" but failed to mention the financial expenditure threshold that an agency must expend before being eligible to apply for such a grant. How about $1.5 million. Now you and I know that in SoCal alone, $1.5 million can be spent in one day.

And please, again with all due respect, lets not think we're all naive to think that these millions upon millions of dollars in federal money going to states & local agencies doesn't at least "help" such agencies' bottom line and thus allow them to offer such pay and benefits to their firefighters and those they go after in the market place.

I'm sure you must know that many CAL-FIRE chiefs think that FMAGs and the federal firefighter apprenticeship academy are the best thing that ever happened to CAL-FIRE.

So, to recap the benefits to your state's federal taxpayers:

Federal wildland firefighters, already inherently less expensive than their municipal & state counterparts in most of the Western United States are leaving in large numbers to other agencies for better pay & benefits. Yet when they put on "your" uniform, they cost the federal taxpayer 3-5 times it would have cost if they stayed fed.

Add to that reimbursing state & local agencies (who already can pay their firefighters better and provide better benefits) 75% of their suppression costs regardless of whether those suppression activities impacted any federal lands, resources etc. seems to me anyway, and yes to some in Congress, not to be in the best interest of the federal taxpayer.

I'm sure you and your department have an advocate at the federal level that is fully capable of justifying the grant program. All I suggested was that there is in fact talk on the Hill, more than I expected, about the program in light of rising suppression costs and budgetary constraints. Your advocate has his job to do and I have mine.

Anything else you'd like to know, give me a call or email me. EVERYONE knows how to get a hold of me.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Ab is happy to provide the contact info.

7/2 Reply to Fire freak

The Rx burn in Utah was lit two days before the other fire started. Its a high elevation burn in the Aspen and these are the only conditions it will burn in. The burn plan is being followed and the objectives are being met. There were no resources that were committed to the Rx burn that would have made a difference in the I.A. on the Neola incident. We need to be able to accomplish these types of burns under these conditions so we can prevent more Neola type incidents.


Let's think outside the box!!

7/2 fire freak -

Couple of questions for ya':

1. Have you read the burn plan for the Rx you are blasting? Are you aware of the various parameters for the prescription? Does a 100-acre slop put them out of prescription?
2. Is the wildland fire you refer to in dire need of any of the resources assigned to the prescribed fire? Who's to say that all of the resources on the Rx wouldn't be committed to other fires? An incident is an incident...

Attempting to meet targets (i.e. Rx fire) during fire season is a reality in many parts of the West.

7/2 Ab, not necessarily for posting.

Did anyone else hear traffic of a CalFire firefighter getting shocked or worse
on IA? I heard an ambulance was ordered, but had to leave and didn't hear
any followup. It was on LNU, late morning.

usually a lurker

I think all is OK. This follow-up email from another poster came in shortly after a first email expressing the same concerns as you:

Heard they walked the guy out and are ground transporting him to local
hospital. WHEW........ Everyone here in the House just went dead quiet
and sullen when we heard the first call come over the air.

Will keep you informed.

We haven't heard any more, and I assume if things were bad we would have.

Thanks to everyone for being responsible with posting about possible accidents, etc. (Hope they file a Safenet.)

With interface fires involving homes and neighborhoods and fires near power lines, please be extremely careful. Ab.

7/2 Greetings,

I have enjoyed reading They Said and keeping up on the Hot List for the last year (since I found it). I haven't posted in the past but saw the question regarding Tanker 910 and also just received the following information which was distributed to all CAL FIRE employees. I'm not sure if, or where, you want to post the information, but it seems like it might be of interest to your readers.

I am signed up on the Hot List as

Following is taken from the Weekly Message for CAL FIRE's Director, Chief Ruben Grijalva. This just came out today.

Another significant assessment we are engaged in is the use of a DC-10 for fighting wildfires. Last year at the Sawtooth fire, CAL FIRE used the DC-10 for the first time anywhere in the world for fighting wildfires. It was used six additional times on fires in California and Washington and was contracted on a “Call When Needed” (CWN) basis.

The DC-10 is not a replacement for CAL FIRE initial attack aircraft, however, it was found to serve beneficial mission driven purposes at several wildfires. Often, there will not be a mission for the DC-10 in wildfires. For example, because of the inversion and low visibility at the “Angora” fire in the Tahoe Basin, very few air tankers (any type) were able to fly sorties on that fire. The “Angora” fire was mostly battled with helicopters and ground resources.

The DC-10 has flown on 2 wildfires so far this year. As you know, the DC-10 flew on the “White Fire” in Kern County. While operating on that incident, the DC-10, Tanker 910, experienced a loss of altitude and struck the top of several trees. The flight crew was able to apply power and fly out of the altitude loss and safely return to their base at Victorville. There were no injuries to the flight crew or anyone on the ground. The DC-10 had dropped 83,000 gallons of retardant on the “White Fire” before the accident.

The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) has released the aircraft back to Tanker 910, owners of the DC-10. Damage was to modular parts. No special fabrication is required. Repairs are underway. We hope to see it back in-service in 3-4 weeks.

There are lots of opinions regarding using a DC-10 for firefighting purposes. Some are emotional and misinformed. There were strong public and political opinions given after CAL FIRE’s first year of evaluation. State and federal legislators, local fire chiefs, media outlets and organized public interest groups weighed in with their comments. Our decision to move forward with a 3-year contract and further evaluation of this aircraft did not come without unbiased, informed, technical review. And after each mission, we continue to learn more.

There has also been a lot of misinformation about the use of the DC-10 on a federal direct protection area (DPA). CAL FIRE may use the DC-10 on federal DPA when in command or unified command and when there is a threat to SRA or LRA. In addition, The National Multi Agency Coordination Group position on the use of very large air tankers, in part, says the following:

Contracting Oversight: No federal personnel may be assigned as a State Contract Officer’s Authorized Representative (COAR) on a non-federally approved air tanker contract. No federal employee may be assigned to a position that exercises operational control of a non-federally approved air tanker.

Federal Aerial Supervision: Federal personnel may provide aerial supervision, including “lead profiles”, to non-federally approved aircraft under existing standard procedures and agreements, only when operational control is maintained by the state or local agency. In the case of Very Large Air tankers (DC-10, 747ST), the lead plane or ASM providing aerial supervision must have received prior written approval for such operations from their respective agency.

In an emergency circumstance, where lives and property are immediately threatened, in the current burning period, by wildland fire on federal lands under federal protection, a local federal line officer may, with state concurrence, take operational control over state contracted air tankers if sufficient federal aircraft are not available to protect the public. The local federal line officer must obtain prior approval from their Fire Director, or Fire Director Designee. Any such use will be documented by the approving federal line officer, and the documentation will be forwarded to the agency national aviation headquarters within two weeks.

I would like to thank the CAL FIRE Aviation Management Unit for their contribution to this portion of this week’s memo. This was part of my decision-making process before recommending, the 3-year further evaluation of the DC-10 to the Governor as part of his Executive Order for the fire season.

Evaluation of the DC-10

Bill Payne, CAL FIRE Aviation Management Unit, provided me with an analysis of the use of the DC-10 during the 2006 Fire Season. At my direction, in July of 2006, due to intense fire activity in southern California, an evaluation team was formed to determine the feasibility of incorporating the DC-10 into the fire action plan. After an evaluation process, it was determined that the DC-10 could be deployed safely and effectively. A Call When Needed (CWN) contract was issued at a rate of $26,500 per flight hour with a three hour daily minimum.

Over the next six months the DC-10 was activated on six fires in California and one in the State of Washington. It delivered 286,172 gallons of retardant on these fires in 25 drops and 25.6 hours of flight time. A comparable amount of retardant (282,000 gallons) was delivered by CAL FIRE’s S2Ts on the “Esperanza” and “Day’ fires. It required 268 drops than spanned over 139 flight hours to match the DC-10’s production.

The average price per gallon delivered by the DC-10 was $2.37. This cost was calculated using the total charged to the State divided by the number of gallons delivered. The S2Ts cost were calculated to be $1.02 per gallon. However, the S2T costs do not include availability and extended standby cost that were used in figuring the DC-10 cost. When the non-flight time charges are subtracted from the total cost, the average rate for the DC-10 would be $1.87 per gallon delivered. The cost of a gallon retardant dropped on the fire is higher from the DC-10 however there are additional factors that need to be considered when determining the actual value and strategic advantage when deploying the DC-10.

Retardant Line Quality

The first factor to evaluate is the quality of the retardant line. The DC-10 laid down a continuous line of retardant more than fifty feet wide and .7 to .8 miles long per drop. It would require ten to twelve drops from the S2T to equal the length, and extreme accuracy from the pilots to match the continuity of line. The probability of gaps in the S2T line is very high and the width of the DC-10s drop could not be duplicated.


The second factor is time. The DC-10 required only thirteen seconds delivering this uninterrupted line of retardant. The S2T/s would require considerable more time depending on the number of tankers available and the turn around time to the tanker base.

The base utilized on the California fires for the DC-10 was the Victorville Airport. This airport was in close proximity to the Sawtooth Fire, but was more than 193 air miles from the Rico fire, yet the turn around time for Rico was only one hour and thirty minutes. The other time consuming operation for the DC-10 was the retardant loading procedure. At Victorville, it was only possible to fill one tank at a time. This was accomplished in about twenty four minutes. This time could have been reduced to eight minutes if the mixing plant was equipped with three delivery hoses.

Risk Exposure

The third factor to look at is amount of time pilots are exposed to the risks associated during the low level retardant delivery mission. Clearly 25 drops in 25.6 hours as accomplished by the DC-10 is less exposure than the 268 drops in 139 flight hours. Less exposure = less risk.

Tanker Availability

Finally, tanker availability is a mitigating factor. The S2T is the perfect initial attack tool. It is capable of close support in very rugged terrain. The DC-10 is not well suited to these functions at this time. Therefore, the DC-10 should be deployed on extended attack incidents where it can have the greatest effect and is the most efficient means of retardant delivery. The S2Ts will then be available for any new initial attack assignments. This results in better initial attack coverage for all the bases.

The goal of introducing a safe and effective Super tanker to CAL FIRE’s aerial arsenal was successfully achieved. The necessity for this added resource is made more critical with the reduction in availability of the Federal Large Air Tanker (LAT) fleet. Since 2002, the number of LATs has been reduced from 44 to the current level of 18 aircraft. This is a 63% reduction. We are not aware of any planned relief for this shortage in the near future.

The mobile retardant plant must be readily available and capable of delivering through three hoses to cut down turn around time.

The 2006 fire season was one of the most active fire seasons in California and the DC-10 was only utilized on six fires. It is hard to imagine that there would be a need to continue the development of this project based on this level of utilization. However, as the experience grows, comfort levels improve and educational process continues the potential for deployment of the DC-10 increases greatly.

There were several missed opportunities in 2006 to activate the DC-10 where it could have made a difference. The “Day” fire is a possible example of underutilization of the aircraft. It only made four drops on the largest fire in recent state history. Despite its minimal use, it had a positive impact protecting cities in Ventura County.

Potential Future Impact

In addition to the life safety factors, four areas should be considered in the future deployment of the DC-10 or any other Super Tanker.

1. How many fire days can be saved?

2. How many acres can be saved?

3. How many structures can be saved?

4. How much reduction in Green House Gases could be realized?

In reviewing 2006 fire activity, CAL FIRE spent 136 days on 61 fires over 300 acres. That averages 2.2 days per fire. Considering the location and terrain of the ten fires that lasted more than four days, the DC-10 could have been utilized with a potential positive effect. It is projected that the careful and efficient application of the DC-10 has the potential to save one fire day per fire. This would have been a ten day and $10,000,000 savings to the State for fire protection costs alone.

The DC-10 drops .7 to .8 miles of retardant per drop, if the aircraft is deployed for a 7 hour day with just one drop per hour, it can directly protect or encircle 2,265 Acres per day. This one drop per hour number was the average time for the deployments this past year, but is dependant on distance to the fire and turn around times at the base.

There is no way to predict precisely how much total acreage can be saved with the use of any fire fighting techniques. There are too many variables to consider. However, by evaluating the amount of area that can be surrounded in a day, an estimate of the savings for that area can be calculated. Accordingly, if the DC-10 were activated and utilized for 30 days out of 120 days, approximately 68,000 acres could be protected. That equates to 1/3 of the acreage burned last year on SRA. According to Dave Doan of the Washington DNR, one acre of wood land yields $100,000 in timber. Not all of the land in the State’s fires involved timber, but a conservative estimate of savings would be in the range of $6,800,000.

The number of structures saved by use of the DC-10 can be estimated by using the same ratio of savings applied to acreage saved. There were 359 structures lost last year. The potential that 119 less structures would have been lost if the DC-10 had been used is a reasonable hypothesis.

Finally, the amount of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions that were produced by State fires last year was over 5 million metric tons. That number is derived utilizing methodologies developed from studies conducted in Colorado in 2002. Added to the amount of federal land burned there was 18.3 million tons of Green House Gases released. To estimate the savings on gas emissions achieved by dispatching the DC-10, the same 1/3 ration was used. That would be 1.5 million metric ton savings for the State and a 6 million ton savings overall.


More information is necessary to determine the accuracy of estimations made in this study. Continued evaluation of the DC-10 is necessary as a firefighting tool to verify its usage as being financially and operationally viable as a permanent part of CAL FIRE’s wildfire firefighting strategy. The potential benefits directly to the State by utilization of the DC-10 is estimated at $10,000,000 in reduced fire days, $6,800,000 in saved land and timber value, 119 structures saved annually, and the reduction of 1.5 million metric tons of GHG emissions. The public safety, firefighter safety, and pilot safety issues, while not immediately measurable, may also be significant.

Ruben Grijalva, Chief

7/2 Can anyone explain why someone is doing a prescribed burn less than 200 miles away (UT) from a 30,000+ acre wildfire that killed 3 civilians, structures are still threatened, there's only 5% containment, and only 400 fire personnel committed? This rx project looks like it started on June 28th, they've had a 100-acre slopover, and they're continuing to burn. What is the wisdom in committing fire resources (that could be working on the wildfire) and putting more fire on the ground? TARGETS!!!! What the h*ll - over.

fire freak

7/2 Ab,

Do you happen to know where I can find some instructions on how to use avue?

I have applied for jobs through avue, but it's making me question if I'm doing it right,
or not, because I haven't gotten any thing back?


7/2 Angora Incident: Did thinning make a difference?

Some of the fire area had been thinned, yesterday I read it was thinned ten years ago. I'm curious what percentage had been thinned and, most importantly, whether or not it made any difference. I think jimhart already commented on at least one area in the fire where structures were lost. Obviously, a thinned area will not burn as hot as an unthinned area and a start in a thinned area would not (or should not) start crowning due to the lack of ladder fuels. But if a fire starts crowning in an unthinned area and hits a thinned area does it keep going from treetop to treetop? Probably depends on conditions like wind, temp and fuel moisture. Just wondered if Angora teaches us anything about this, of course defensible space around structures is the main factor people can control on their own.

Brother Cub

7/2 Casey

There are a number of incentives for States to control costs on fires. While I'm not surprised that the tactic of declaring state mismanagement of funds is being used to leverage more funds into Federal fire fighting efforts, I'm a little surprised that it's coming from you. The spin of using an unnamed Senator and unnamed agency to illustrate your surprise at the concern raised from all corners of DC is pure politics. Bailout? ... Problems that are nationwide in scope have always been addressed at both the State and Federal levels. The residents of our state pay federal taxes for federal programs. We don't see the use of these monies as a bailout.

As for a relationship between grants and people leaving Federal agencies? You used a FEMA/ FMAG example in your post. These types of grants reimburse State agencies for a portion of their fire suppression costs if the fire meets one of the four criteria listed below. To my knowledge there isn't a fifth criteria that states " money may be used to hire and maintain a permanent fire fighting work force..."

There are four criteria in which the FEMA Recovery Division Director, or designee, evaluates the threat posed by a fire or fire complex:
  • Threat to lives and improved property, including threats to critical facilities/infrastructure, and critical watershed areas;
  • Availability of State and local firefighting resources;
  • High fire danger conditions, as indicated by nationally accepted indices such as the National Fire Danger Ratings System;
  • Potential major economic impact.


7/2 Abs, here is some info on the DC-10 supertanker.



Tanker accident reveals federal-state conflict
By Tatiana Prophet Staff Writer
July 1, 2007 - 1:17AM

VICTORVILLE — Last week’s accident involving a firefighting DC-10 air tanker has revealed a conflict between federal and state firefighting agencies over the risk involved in using former jumbo passenger jets to fight wildland fires.

While damage goes beyond a wing flap and extends to the left wing itself, structural safety, as well as the response time of jets, is at issue.

On Monday, the DC-10 experienced severe turbulence and descended rapidly, hitting the tops of some trees before the pilot powered up and pulled it out of danger. It landed at Southern California Logistics Airport, the former George Air Force base in Victorville, where it is based.

While CAL FIRE and the federal Interagency Tanker Board, as well as the FAA, have put the plane through tests and certified it, the U.S.

Forest Service has not yet done so. Forest Service officials cite the age of the 31-year-old wide body and an accident involving a C-130 jet in 2002. Any fires on Forest Service lands do not get the 12,000 load of retardant
that the plane can lay down.

Critics have said that a jet does not respond as quickly to pilot controls as would a propeller or turbo-prop air tanker, and air tankers must dive low toward a fire in order to drop the water or retardant. Other concerns involve the idea that the DC-10 must unload a tremendous amount of weight all at once, putting stress on the wings.

Mike Padilla, chief of aviation with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the DC-10 has strain gauges that monitor the flexing on different parts of the plane’s body, and that unloading fluid does not compromise the structure.

To read the rest, click the link. Ab.

7/2 I know there is alot going on in our community these days. Yet, I find it
interesting that no one has mentioned the death of a retired Forest
Service employee with 41 years service, his son and a local farmer in the
Neola Fire. I've seen fire do some amazing things in the 17 years I've been
a firefighter (I know I'm still a rookie compared to some on this board).
But the fire behavior in this event had to be unreal.


Just something to think about.


Please take a look here: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=561 No one posting knew he was retired FS -- thanks for sharing that, and condolences -- but we have been following the sad situation. Sounds like the older men saved the 11-yr-old youngster's life by telling him to run. Ab.

7/2 Ab:

On the subject of Safety Alerts:

We at SWCC just issued this Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory for all of Arizona.


Everybody needs to be aware that Arizona is at risk for very dangerous fires right now.

7/1 Ab:

With all the talk revolving around the structure loss in Tahoe and the action / in-action of property owners and TRPA, I thought I would pass on this bit of information about one homeowner’s actions in making his dream home fire safe in the Tahoe National Forest just outside the City of Colfax. The house is constructed of non-combustible siding and roofing materials. The house has a residential sprinkler system. The house has a 1250 gallon water tank attached to a Warf hydrant that is kept topped off by a solar powered well pump. The house has a minimum 100’ defensive able space that extends to 150’ downhill into the canyon that it overlooks and to top it off, a private helicopter pad that is set up to handle a Type II copter. This house is located at the end of a long narrow roadway that overlooks the North Folk of the American River Canyon which is typical of the roadways in the Sierras. It should also be noted that the homeowner is a retired volunteer firefighters with over 40 years in the service and held the rank of Battalion Chief when he retired.

All this prep paid off last week when a fire started down in the canyon below his house in heavy fuels. The helitac crew was able to use the pad to off load their crew and set up the bucket. This gave firefighters the access to hold the fire to less than an acre in an area that had the potential to become significant fire due to its location. His back porch patio served as the ICP (shade and cool drinks) due to its view of the fire. I’m also proud to say that this individual is my Dad. The neighbor’s gave him a bunch of c**p and grief when he “added the improvements”, but after the air show, it’s kind of quiet on the street. I have attached a photo of the Helitac bird on the pad with the crew “putting the bucket away”. According to my mom, she didn’t think to take photos until after the fire had been knocked down.


Nice. Way to be a role model. Ab.

7/1 AB,

Per James' request, the California alert is attached.


Thanks everyone. I'm going to let James go get it. Ab.

7/1 Here is the link to the safety alert for CA. Hope it is the one you are
looking for.


R5 Dispatcher
7/1 James;

If I understand your question correctly, what you're looking for can be found at the SoCal GACC Predictive Services/ Outlooks page; link is:


At the top- right of the "Outlooks" page, you'll find the link under "Fire Behavior" header, at "Fire Behavior Alert".

I printed some up yesterday, so it worked then; however, I'd suggest printing up however many you need in the first pass, as today the link won't pick up for me...

Good luck, and be safe!

7/1 James-----

All the fuels and fire behavior advisories should be posted on the NICC (National Interagency Coordination Center) at: www.nifc.gov/nicc/index.php

On the left bar, go to "fuels/fire danger", then on the next page, go to the far upper right hand corner, and click on the "fuels and fire behavior advisories national map". I'm having you go through this step by step, not to make it hard, but to assure you'll see that there is a LOT of valuable information put out there by the Predictive Services folks.

Each of the GACC pages should have a link to their own Regional advisories. Always a smart place to go, when you're getting an assignment out of Region, so you can gather your own intell in advance and know the right questions to ask when you arrive at the incident.


Thanks for the tips. Ab.

7/1 James I'm not sure if this is what your looking for?

CAL FIRE put out this map for the structure areas that are at high risk.

It doesn't cover all of Southern California. Mainly just part of San Bernardino County.



7/1 Does anyone have a copy of the alert regarding the fire danger this season in the Southern California area that USFS put out recently? It is the one with the red border around it. If so, I would like a printable copy. Thanks!

Don't remember if we posted it. Don't have time to look right now. Ab.

7/1 NorthTree Fire GIS,

Brilliant work with your posted GIS layer of the fire in Tahoe. Thank’s for taking the time to put it together and posting it here.

Unless I am mistaken, by looking at your graphic, the area east of Pyramid Circle looks like it was properly thinned by the USFS as per clearance standards? Looks like that open, “healthy” forest everyone always talks about. Is that accurate? Interestingly, nearly all the homes along this boundary burned. If was truly just about the vegetation, which I doubt, I suspect some folks will be calling for nuking the forest to bare mineral soil.

What was special about the two homes on the boundary shown to have survived? And how come so many homes were burned within the community despite the roads inbetween? Building materials? Presence of firefighters? Random acts of…?

7/1 The following Risk Management briefing paper dated 06-29-07 was released by the USFS Fire and Aviation Management this morning and posted on the W.G.B.C.C. web site.

Here's the link to the briefing paper:


This is some interesting reading concerning various topics / incidents / near miss accidents that have occurred recently as a result of fire operations.


7/1 Although I feel for all of those who have been burned out it is evidently clear that all of the homes from colorado to california over times are placed in areas with heavy concentrations of fuel with cedar roofs no less (Daddy why do they put the kindling on the roof) and this has been going on for a long time. Until folks are not allowed to build in areas like these this will continue to happen,


7/1 Re: Letter to the FWFSA

Dear Mr. McDevitt,

You said, "A person commits a felony, however, if he or she intentionally makes a false statement to a federal agency."

Not necessarily so..... It depends upon the context (background), scope (routine, administrative, civil, or criminal), and type of statements (compelled vs. non-compelled) requested, and their eventual use. You must know there is a difference?

Did you "intentionally" make this very same mistake in your reply to Casey Judd, the FWFSA and the wildland fire community?

Personally, I don't think so, but it raises questions for me on your knowledge of human factors and outcomes. I think you were not informed on the complexity of the problem, the ramifications of your actions, or the outcome that could happen by your decision to blindly accept the investigation results of SA Parker. You may have also been clouded from the stress of the accusations, questioning, situations, or even had stress related amnesia or lack of clarity (fog of war).

You surely know that it is only a felony in the case of a criminal investigation to provide false statements when you are adequately advised of your rights, and then, under oath, waive your 5th Amendment rights and freely offer false statements or testimony without duress. You also know that a well-defined Constitutional line between compelled vs. non-compelled testimony was crossed that violated Ellreese Daniels most basic civil liberties when his non-compelled statements were used against him as a basis of the criminal prosecution.

Probable Future Case in point.

Was your reply to Casey Judd compelled or non-compelled? I would assume it was non-compelled such as an SAI or agency administrative investigation would be, with an expectation that you were willingly providing information to the best of your knowledge that could only result in administrative actions if you were wrong. Your goal was for lessons learned and positive communication?

Now, lets say that you pissed off some folks somehow, or you raised the eyebrows of Congress, or for some reason there were underlying factors that caused yourself and SA Parker to have to testify before Congress on your official actions. Now that is compelled testimony, and you would have the ability to plead the 5th, seek personal counsel, or seek agency representation through the OGC if you acted within your scope and followed all laws, rules, regulations, and guidelines. Yourself and SA Parker are afforded the luxuries of proper representation and legal process.

Wildland firefighting is not so cut and dry, nor is the real world we live in..... nor is "your" world when the basics of Constitutional protection are overlooked or over-ridden for some reason.

Ellreese Daniels from the Thirtymile Fire was not provided these basic 5th Amendment protections. Alan Hackett from the Cramer Fire was not provided these basic 5th Amendment protections.

The OIG investigation that SA Parker initiated, as required by PL 107-203, was to be completely separate from the agency SAI and administrative investigation due to these known conflicts in case law, and the potential to violate civil liberties afforded under the Constitution. SA Parker acted outside his scope and the well-defined law as clearly shown in his sworn affidavit to the court. The prosecution by US Attorney McDevitt also exacerbated the problem for unknown reasons, and his letter to the FWFSA should be entered into the Congressional Record ASAP and Congressional Oversight Hearings held as to the Constitutionality of PL 107-203, and the its implementation.

If the Daniels trial results in a guilty verdict, so much as I hate to say it, next stop ACLU, appeals courts, and the Supreme Court. I can't understand why the ACLU hasn't been involved yet on a public law (PL 107-203) that was unconstitutional from day one that makes wildland firefighters more unsafe than they have ever been before?

Where does the accident causation chain initiate? At the original act, omission, or failure of an individual, or with the underlying latent factors that fail to be corrected when they have been identified year after year?

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