"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Aug, 2007

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8/31 Ab or anyone looking at the Cascade Complex ICP burnover... did anyone 
else notice that the slide taken out of the second slide show was the one that 
said "more than 100 spot fires were put out in fire camp?"

Soft pedal? I also wonder if this occurred with any other team on duty that it 
would have been allowed to be called a "burn by". This team is close to NIFC, 
maybe too close for making the best decisions for us all to learn from this? 
Politics? Why waste a great opportunity to understand the decision making, 
review what worked and trouble shoot what we might do better the next time.

JCN

8/31 It is interesting reading the many points of view about the study that is being funded by the US Forest Service..... the study that hopes to find out more about how wildland firefighters handle risks --- assessing risks, mitigating risks, being quiet about risks, and refusing risks. I know and have worked with the graduate student that is conducting the field research. In fact, she already interviewed me as part of her research and obviously I have discussed this with her. She is a wildland firefighter and knows what she is doing. Her advisors are at the tops of their fields. 

The research is being conducted under rigorous standards. We, as wildland firefighters, can only benefit from this. To bash the results while the field data collection is just beginning is a little short-sighted, at best. 

No single study of wildland fire is ever going to make this occupation totally safe, but this one may add just a bit to the knowledge base. Give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Bill Gabbert

I think many, if not all, are coming to that conclusion and we've learned a lot in the process thanks to Jim and all. I hope the dialog continues. It's what makes this site interesting -- the "requisite variety". Ab.

8/31 Geez, I take the day to drive to the Castle Rock fire and see some of our folks there along with Vicki Minor and look at all that I missed on They Said...

To Jim Saveland:

I too appreciate your recent posts and I can assure you that Dick Mangan & others have extolled your experience & expertise in wildland firefighting. I also concur with the idea of working to have no fatalities but recognizing the job is a dangerous one.

I can assure you that I have no intentions of "judging" you at all. Nor do I plan to judge the process of the research project. I simply haven't seen a pervasive "gung ho" mentality that apparently some think is out there which they believe may foster injury or fatalities. I don't know how much money was given to the U of I for this research project but maybe you could send some the FWFSA's way and we can research why the heck Mark Rey is still "puppeteering" the fire program. :)

To: VFD Cap'n/Kent: I composed a response to you but have deleted it several times because it isn't worth it. You aren't a member of the FWFSA nor even a federal wildland firefighter yet you seem to know all about what the feds need, what's wrong with the system, what's wrong with me etc., so I could frankly care less what you think. My loyalty is to our members, simple as that.

I will say again that time and again over the last couple of years I have offered to you my phone number and email address but have NEVER heard from you. That speaks volumes about your credibility. Instead, I read your barbs here. So be it. I'm done. Post what you want, make yourself happy. Until you're a dues paying member of the FWFSA I have no time for you.

Casey
8/31 Ken,

Don't forget that the membership of the FWFSA also includes those
who aren't directly involved in fire - the families and friends. I am proud
to be among that group!

Lori Greeno
8/31 OLD LPF

The list of honorees for the 2007 memorial ceremony can be found at the
attached CPF hyper link. Look on the left side, click FF Memorial, when
the next page comes up, on the left side click 2007 CA FF Memorial
Ceremony, on the left side of the next page click on 2007 Honorees. Here
is the list: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/mem07wall-additions.pdf

We do believe there will be more information coming out as the date gets closer.

MAW

8/31 Saw the messages from NorCal Tom and Casey: My posting was quotes out of the local paper. I agree that IC Pincha-Tulley can capture an audience however her comment on the Zaca is not correct. Ask those Hotshot crews that spent 3 tours on the ZACA if the weather put it out or was it their hard work.

So if you want to see more videos from ID, they have a total of 51 check out. www.sunvalleyonline.com

Seldom Seen:

8/31 Jim,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to all the
posts that have appeared. It shows you are concerned
with, and appreciate what is happening out here in the
field by us grunts. Sometimes I think the powers at
the top forget to listen to us at the bottom. It was
great to see that you are a very intelligent
individual and really well rounded. Thanks for your
contributions and I look forward to the outcomes of
research you are involved in.

I have embraced the Stockdale Paradox for years…just
never knew what it was called or was able to put it
into words. I just called it work and wishful
thinking.  :-)

BLMboy
8/31 Ken and Kent,

I’ve seen this exchange quite a bit. It reminds me a little bit of that old beer commercial:

Taste’s Great! – Less Filling! – Tastes Great! – Less Filling!

Inherently dangerous! – Everyone come home! – Inherently dangerous! – Everyone comes home!

What if we took a page from Ken Wilber and thought about how can everyone be right (at least partially)? What if the problem is our either-or thinking? If we do that here, I think we come up with what Jim Collins in his book Good to Great calls “The Stockdale Paradox.” Jim Stockdale was on active duty in the regular navy for thirty seven years. As a fighter pilot aboard an aircraft carrier, Stockdale was shot down on his second combat tour over north Vietnam. He was the senior naval prisoner of war officer in Hanoi for seven and a half years. A couple of good books out there by Stockdale are In Love and War (written with his wife) and Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot. When Jim Collins interviewed Stockdale about how he made it through his ordeal, and saw the same general characteristic in leaders of companies making the transition from good to great, he coined the phrase “the Stockdale Paradox.” Simply stated, “Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

This is the same notion as “realistic optimism” in the sports psychology literature. Some of the organizational learning people call it “structural tension” (Robert Fritz), or “creative tension” (Peter Senge) – and describe it as the gap between our vision (the result you want to create) and current reality (what you now have). Interestingly enough when Mahatma Gandhi was asked how he was able to accomplish what he did, he replied with the term Satyagraha and described it as the paradoxical combination of love (the vision) and truth (about current reality), i.e. the Stockdale Paradox.

So how about we embrace and apply the Stockdale Paradox to fire management: We have faith that one day we will not have any firefighter fatalities or serious injuries, and at the same time, we recognize that the work is inherently dangerous!

Jim Saveland
8/31 Well, finally the science guys have confirmed something firefighters have known for a long time: houses contribute to fire risk and fire size.

“…we show that fire size probability distributions can be strongly modified by the density and flammability of houses.” And, “Thus, the density and flammability of buildings should be taken into account when assessing fire risk at the wildland–urban interface. Moreover, our results highlight ways for regulation at this interface to help mitigate fire risk.” See attached paper (1306 K pdf file) by Spyratos, Bourgeron, and Ghil.

Just a reminder to those folks who aren’t firefighters and keep pounding the table claiming that wildland fire risk is all about “clogged forests” and brush; there are a lot of variables that determine fire behavior. Who would have thought? I’m hoping as more of these kinds of studies appear, there will be fewer reactionaries who want to blame the lack of logging and the USFS every time a house burns down.

Dreaming,

jimhart

Fair Use Disclaimer

8/31 To: BLMboy

You ask some great questions that lead to what I consider very interesting and important topics, like requisite variety – a crucial component of high reliability. Unfortunately I’m not that good at boiling it down, so I apologize upfront for the length of this post. What’s that Mark Twain quote, “If I had more time, I’d write a shorter letter.”

Dr. Harris is the major professor of a firefighter pursuing a Master’s Degree. As such, the major professor always gets listed as the “lead” in contracts and such. The accountability rests with the major professor, but the role of a major professor includes helping a student do largely independent research by guiding, supporting, mentoring, etc. Dr. Harris thought he made it clear to the reporter that this was her research. So while I understand the reporter’s confusion, I’m not surprised that the reporter got that wrong too.

Dr. Harris has no fire experience. So the obvious next question, why doesn’t that concern me? The even more interesting question, why might that be a good thing?

1) The student is a firefighter and brings her experience.

2) The study uses phenomenological methodology from the social sciences. Dr. Harris is qualified to coach a student in the application of this methodology to a fire application.

3) Any results from the research that get published will go through a rigorous peer-review process.

4) The Law of Requisite Variety comes from the field of cybernetics in the mid-1950’s. See www.wyrdology.com/mind/creativity/variety.phpl for a quick overview. Dr. Weick talked about the law in his early work, Social Psychology and Organizing:

"The law of requisite variety 'states that the variety within a system must be at least as great as the environmental variety against which it is attempting to regulate itself. Put more succinctly, only variety can regulate variety'. It's because of requisite variety that organizations have to be preoccupied with keeping sufficient diversity inside the organization to sense accurately the variety present in ecological changes outside it."

Dr. Weick went on to draw the link to high reliability in Chapter 14 of Making Sense of the Organization:

“Up to this point, we have been talking largely about the development of requisite variety in individuals, but in high reliability organizations, requisite variety is often gained or lost by larger groups. When technical systems have more variety than a single individual can comprehend, one of the few ways humans can match this variety is by networks and teams of divergent individuals. A team of divergent individuals has more requisite variety than a team of homogeneous individuals. In problems of high reliability, the fact of divergence may be more crucial than the substance of divergence.”

5) A fascinating book (IMHO) out there is The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. The conditions that are necessary for a crowd to be wise: diversity, independence, and a particular kind of decentralization. From Chapter 2:

“Diversity is, on its own, valuable, so that the simple fact of making a group diverse makes it better at problem solving.… Adding in a few people who know less, but have different skills, actually improves the group’s performance."

This seems like an eccentric conclusion, and it is. It just happens to be true. The legendary organizational theorist James G. March, in fact put it like this: ‘The development of knowledge may depend on maintaining an influx of the naïve and the ignorant’… The reason, March suggested, is that groups that are too much alike find it harder to keep learning, because each member is bringing less and less new information to the table. Homogeneous groups are great at doing what they do well, but they become progressively less able to investigate alternatives. Or, as March has famously argued, "they spend too much time exploiting and not enough time exploring. Bringing new members into the organization, even if they’re less experienced and less capable, actually makes the group smarter simply because what little the new members do know is not redundant with what everyone else knows.”

6) One never starts out as an expert and who knows what the future holds. Part of my work back in the late 1980’s was applying the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky to fire management decision making. While Kahneman and Tversky were fairly well known in the embryonic field of behavioral decision-making back then, it wasn’t until 2002 that Kahneman would be awarded the Nobel Prize in economics.

I remember back in 1994/95 when arrangements were being made for Dr. Weick to speak at the first Wildland Firefighters Human Factors Workshop. There were only a couple of us at the time who were aware of Dr. Weick’s stature within the organizational management field. His fire experience at the time: he’d read Norman Maclean’s book, Young Men and Fire; and wrote an article about it in Administrative Sciences Quarterly.

Hope this helps.
Jim Saveland

8/31 California Firefighters Memorial ceremony

See attached message from the LP PIO. I have seen nothing on this any place else. It looks like it will include the BDF crew and Cooney was from the ANF. I Looked at the cpf site and found No Names for 2007.

Lu Rodarte was an AFMO + good fireman, cat skinner, Packer ETC. and I hope there are some other old f--ts still around (besides myself) who lurk on your site who worked for/with him who might be in Sacramento on Sept 29 07.

OLD LPF

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

Los Padres Employees and Los Compadres ----

Please see Mary Blair's message below regarding the upcoming California
Firefighters Memorial ceremony at which former Los Padres NF firefighter Lu
Rodarte will be honored. Mary is from Santa Paula, knows the Rodarte
family, and helped to ensure that Lu will be honored.

kg

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

Luther Rodarte's name will be added to the California Firefighters Memorial
in a ceremony on September 29, at Sacramento's State Capitol Park,
adjoining the California State Capitol. The Firefighter Procession starts
at 11:15a.m., and the ceremony at 11:30a.m. Lu's daughter Catherine, who
now lives in Santa Maria, will be presented with an American flag. The
five Esparanza Fire victims will be honored along with Patrick Cooney,
Forest Service retiree and OES employee.

Luther was from Santa Paula and worked in fire on both the Ojai and Santa
Lucia ranger districts. He died on September 1, 1967, while working as a
Fire Sector Boss on the Sundance Fire on the Kootenai National Forest in
Idaho. He was overcome by flames when high winds whipped the blaze out of
control as he was attempting to lead a bulldozer operator out of the area.
A second person also died.

There are many retirees out there who remember Lu, some even worked
directly for him. Please share this information with anyone you think
would be interested.

For further information visit www.cpf.org.

8/31 I would like to thank SCR for his Hotlist Forum post yesterday regarding the posting of questions on the initial attack forum. I am a Battalion Chief for the City of Clovis and we participate in a very aggressive mutual aid plan with (2) Type 1 engines and a Type 3 engine committed in our operational area. We also have an OES engine for the state. I have the messages sent to my phone so, I can preplan my staffing and apparatus placement. So his post hit it on the nail on the head in my opinion. You have a great website that allows information sharing almost as fast as it is happening, and to many of us that is important. Keep up the great work, thank you.

Steve Henry
Battalion Chief
City of Clovis Fire Department
8/31 To Casey Judd,

I doubt there is anything I can say to assure you that this is one project that will NOT “try and pin adverse actions from fire incidents on the backs of firefighters.” While I know that in my heart of hearts, I also respect the fact that you don’t know that about me or this study, and I admire you holding that attitude. And I’m just fine with being judged by the actions that are yet to come.

At least with regards to OSHA, I think we are in close agreement. The following is an excerpt from a paper I’ve submitted to Fire Management Today…

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Executive Order 12196 and 29 CFR 1960 require the heads of Federal agencies to furnish to employees places and conditions of employment that are free from job safety and health hazards. This paternalistic attitude and mental model of providing a safe work environment is an important part of the safety story, yet it is only a small part of today’s story of complex systems operating in chaotic environments. It is an important piece of the history of job safety and it is still a very relevant story in a factory or in an office building inside the beltway. Yet, it occupies less and less of our attention on the fireline, and rightly so. It assumes we have more control over our environment than we do….

The complex world of fire management is fraught with great challenges: dramatically improve firefighter and public safety, reduce the costs of large wildfires, restore fire-adapted ecosystems across large landscapes while minimizing the nuisance of smoke and the chance of escaped fires. And do this in a polarized political environment, while the wildland-urban interface grows rapidly, and the climate changes. The fire management community is not waiting for the heads of agencies to furnish places free from job safety and health hazards; the community is beginning to explore the state-of-the-art in safe and effective operations: organizing for high reliability and learning. The focus of attention is shifting from “bad apples” to complex systems. Such a journey takes us on a path toward leadership in risk management.

I will also being talking to this theme of world leaders in risk management in my invited plenary talk at the Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire conference in October.

Jim Saveland

8/31 Casey,

I'd bet that if you talked to Jim Saveland, he would be the newest member of the FWFSA.

Jim is a pretty good guy and is looking forward when it comes to wildland firefighter issues.... especially fire safety. Even though he is a researcher, Safety is the root of better pay, benefits, and working conditions for the wildland fire mission delivery.

Lobotomy
8/31 Kent,

I can't speak for Casey, but I am pretty sure that he, and the FWFSA Board of Directors are not presenting "that it is somehow acceptable that not everyone goes home." In fact, that statement is a little insulting.

Since you have studied HRO's and the processes in developing safety programs for HRO's, you would surely see from your studies that one of the first steps to improve safety is to admit that the job is inherently dangerous and design system barriers. It is much like a drug addict having to admit they have a problem before they are willing to get help and make changes for the better.

If the job wasn't inherently dangerous, the wildland fire program wouldn't be an HRO. Until the federal land management agencies understand that the job is inherently dangerous, and that their employees are wildland firefighters and fire managers, there will be little gain in the wildland fire safety program.

Kent, I also believe you are missing the point on the extreme loss of federal wildland firefighters in the West. We are losing, and in many cases, have lost the "corporate knowledge" or folks with sufficient RPD slides to teach, lead, and supervise the next crop of wildland firefighters and fire managers. This safety problem (one of many) is directly related to the pay, benefits, and working conditions of federal wildland firefighters. This is but one system barrier that needs to be addressed.

Both myself and Casey have talked at length with the families of fallen and injured wildland firefighters. We have also shared hugs and tears with them. Hopefully that will explain why we are committed to improving the federal wildland fire program. Simply said, it's personal.

The Foundation for the FWFSA comes from the losses of the 1987 fire season and a group of federal wildland firefighters who put their heads together and committed to make changes in memory of their personal and collective losses. As a result, in 1990, the FWFSA was formed. Since 1990, the FWFSA has gone from the "gang of twelve" who were threatened repeatedly with disciplinary action to several hundred current and retired federal wildland firefighters and fire managers. Our membership spans the entry level (GS-2 through GS-4) through upper level fire management (GS-13 through GS-14).

Ken
8/31 I agree with ME for what they said in yesterdays posting in they said.
Once again "Region 5 is sinking and sinking fast"...
I pray for CalFire to take me away!

DL

8/31 To Shari Downhill and others interested in her question,

Thanks for the further clarification on copy editors. “Headline writers” was my feeble attempt at a more descriptive term for copy editors, and that they were indeed one step further removed from the story than the reporter.

You and wiki did a nice job of introducing IRBs. I’ll just provide a little more background and how it applies to the UofI study.

Due to the publicity from the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the National Research Act of 1974 was passed. The National Research Act created the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, which was charged to identify the basic ethical principles that should underlie the conduct of biomedical and behavioral research involving human subjects and to develop guidelines which should be followed to assure that such research is conducted in accordance with those principles. The Commission drafted the Belmont Report, (http://ohsr.od.nih.gov/guidelines/belmont.phpl) a foundational document in the ethics of human subjects research in the United States. The Belmont report articulated the three basic principles of Respect for persons, Beneficence, and Justice. (For those interested, there is also a 9 minute video out there http://videocast.nih.gov/ram/belmont_tribute.ram). In 1991, the core DHHS regulations that had been developed were formally adopted by more than a dozen other Departments and Agencies that conduct or fund research involving human subjects as the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, also known as the "Common Rule." The Department of Agriculture was one of those agencies and the regulations that govern the Forest Service in this arena are 7 CFR Sec.1c. The Common Rule is designed to ensure minimal standards for the ethical treatment of research subjects. The major goal is to limit harm to participants in research. A key principle of the Common Rule is that the degree of oversight should be scaled to the level of risk. Thus, there are provisions for exemptions to the Common Rule.

As Shari pointed out, the key is the research methodology. The UofI study uses a qualitative phenomenological methodology that includes:

Participant observation of public behavior – exempt from the Common Rule (7 CFR Sec.1c.101(b)(2)
12-25 voluntary, anonymous, semi-structured interviews using a “snowball sample” – exempt from the Common Rule (7 CFR Sec.1c.101(b)(2)
Reflective Journaling – Common Rule does not apply
Archival data – exempt from the Common Rule (7 CFR Sec.1c.101(b)(4)

Thus, the Forest Service has determined this study is exempt from the Common Rule. I do not know if the University of Idaho did any additional analysis or review.

Even though the study is exempt from the Common Rule, Shari’s points are all still important and valid. There is a section of the study plan devoted to ethical considerations and ensuring anonymity. The principles of the Belmont report still apply. The major professor and the student’s graduate committee assure the methodology and research protocol are valid and followed. The Common Rule essentially provides a second layer of oversight (an IRB) when necessary. There is one layer of oversight already built into the system – the major professor and the graduate committee.

Hope this helps, and wasn’t too boring diving into the weeds of research administration.

Jim Saveland
8/31 Ken,

I understand that Casey is under tremendous pressure to deliver on promises to the FWFSA members. I have worked enough with Congress to know that you have to "dumb it down and hype it up" to get any political action. But, denouncing a firefighter safety research project to "stay on message" for pay and benefits is just plain wrong.

The ironic part in all this is that neither wildlandfire.com, FWFSA nor Colorado Firecamp would exist at all if the Forest Service actually encouraged speaking up or sharing of information. There's a reason why one of Ted Putnam's real fire orders was "shut up and butt out."

Kent
8/31 vfd cap'n,

Ahhhh, ok…you are referring to "Gary" Klein. There are other Kleins that have published works about firefighting; glad you identified who you were referring to.

Yes, I understand your point about the list; it appears you missed my point…completely. Everyone on your list has done solid research, published works on wildland firefighting and related issues. That gives them expertise. Further, they all have degrees in related subjects (i.e. sociology, organization, HROs, etc.) That gives them credibility.

And you are right, everyone has to start somewhere. Dr. Harris apparently has neither the related education nor the published works; hence, no expertise or credibility. If he wants a start doing research in a wildfire related field he can be a researcher vs. the project lead. That way an expert has extensive supervision over his work. So it is about the “who” because that directly affects the “how” and thus the “outcome”.

To help you understand…a brand new firefighter does not become an ICT1 on his first fire assignment…regardless of his college degrees. It takes training in the classroom and then experience in the field. Same applies to research in any given area. Hope that helps clarify my position.

So you see I am not attacking Dr. Harris. I am challenging his professional credentials to lead wildland fire related research. There is a huge difference.

Your observation about the direction land management agencies is taking is spot on! And that is one of the primary reasons that federal wildland firefighting is turning into a train wreck with so many existing problems and so many more coming at us quickly. You wouldn’t want a music conductor supervising the operating room while they perform surgery on your brain…would you? So goes fire, we don’t think having non-fire people running the fire programs is a good idea.

However, the way you tried to relate recreation activities to fighting fire as it relates to this subject was WAY off and has no relational value, does have a faulty premise, and lacks an understanding of the bigger picture…from our perspective.

But I do appreciate your interest in this matter; you just appear to misunderstand where I am coming from.

BLMboy

8/30 Dear NorCal Tom:

Thanks for your post about Jeanne. We are tremendously honored and proud to have her as an FWFSA member and the work she has done this season as well as all of our members whether they be managing a Type I team or cutting line.

The season is FAR from over and not a day goes by that I don't personally reflect on the fact that I have the best job in the world advocating on behalf of folks like Jeanne and so many others, regardless of grade, Agency or geographic location.

To all of you, my sincerest thanks for the opportunity to be a part of your wildland firefighting community.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

We're glad to have you too Casey. I heard from Vicki today that Jeanne and the team invited the WFF to Ketchum. They'll be leaving soon. The community there wants to know what it can do to help wildland firefighters. Ab.

8/30 Ab,
Croatian Firefighter Fatalities

Here’s a link with details www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/100309.phpl

Tom

8/30 From: Andrej Loncaric to a friend who sent it to us.
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2007 2:13 PM
Subject: Tragedy for Croatian firefighters
Importance: High

This evening a tragedy struck Croatian firefighters. While on one of Croatian islands
fighting a shrub fire wind suddenly changed direction, fire encircled them.....five died,
6 heavily burned....

Once again I am wondering what would have happened had they had a complete
fire fighting GIS command control system which would enable decision makers to
asses the whole situation, what is burning, what is the meteorological situation, etc....

Regards
Andrej Lončarić
gisdata.com

Condolences, Ab.

8/30 Mr. Saveland,

Your post was well balanced. I appreciate you dropping into this forum to say your piece (peace).

Thinking about this situation, it might help the folks here if you explained the research methodology of the study, as well as the IRB (Institutional Review Board) process this study most likely has to navigate to see the light of day. The IRB process is very rigorous and I think that if readers understood it, they would also understand why the researcher of record is considered the lead and those who actually conduct the research (after the methodology has been designed and put before the IRB for approval) are placed under the umbrella of a researcher of record at the university, even though this person may not exactly be an expert in the area of study. (They are the ones who are supposed to assure the methodology and research protocol are followed to the letter.)

Also, though your statement about "newspaper headline writers" is mostly correct, it does suggest the reporters are these "headline writers" and that they are at fault for the shoddy, inaccurate headlines. In 98 percent of cases, headlines are written by copy editors who only occasionally ask the reporter's opinion about a suggested headline. I've picked up the next day's paper so many times I can't count to see a headline on one of my stories that made me say "what the f---"? Headlines are usually created after the reporter has gone home. And when the ink hits the paper, history has been created... and that's a whole 'nother story.

(Here's a wiki explanation of IRBs..." In the United States, IRBs are governed by Title 45 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 46.[1]This Research Act of 1974, which defines IRBs and requires them for all research that receives funding, directly or indirectly, from what was the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare at the time, and is now the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). IRBs are themselves regulated by the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) within HHS. IRBs were developed in direct response to research abuses earlier in the twentieth century. Two of the most notorious of these abuses were the experiments of Nazi physicians that became a focus of the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials, and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, an unethical and scientifically unjustifiable project conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service on poor, illiterate black men in rural Alabama."

Though this explanation discusses receiving funding from HHS, all the research studies proposed by my graduate peer group required IRB approval and the assignment of a university faculty lead, even though none of them received HHS funding. Just fyi. It's my understanding that if studies are commissioned through a university such as Univ. of Idaho, they require IRB approval, thus IRB review.

Is this the case with the UofI study, Mr. Saveland?

Again, thanks for making the effort to provide a great explanation of...the rest of the story. Perspective is everything.

Shari Downhill

8/30 Here are a few videos showing the effect firefighters and Pincha-Tulley's CIIMT3
have had on Ketchum ID in the face of the Castle Rock Fire (Wind River Valley).

Jeanne is professional, funny, no-nonsense and just what the public of Ketchum want.

If you recall someone sent in some quotes from this meeting... (theysaid 8/27) They
didn't make it on this report, but the crowd gave her a standing ovation at the end. (I
watched her work the same magic with the communities on the Bar Complex last
summer. Nice Job, Jeanne!)

Channel 7 video from 8/23 www.ktvb.com/video/video-index.phpl?nvid=169083

NorCal Tom

8/30 Dear VFD Cap'n:

Once again I find myself correcting your assumptions about the FWFSA, what it says, what it does etc.

As we all know what "assuming" does for anyone who does it (and I even admit to my fair share of it) your assumption that our recent "denouncement" of the U of I research project had more to do with "who" than "what" is way off base.

Quite candidly, I grow weary of so many wildland firefighting "experts" whether they be the Brookings Institute or others that provide "cost containment analysis" to Congress or come up with theories and suggestions about what is wrong, why this or that happens etc. I can't think of any actions by these experts that have provided much tangible benefit to federal wildland firefighters or any actions geared towards bringing such tangible benefits (and in today's day & age its all about pay & benefits) to these brave men & women.

More frustrating is the plethora of those who seem to have all the answers to the issues affecting federal wildland firefighters but who are not federal wildland firefighters nor do much on their behalf. I guess everyone is entitled to their opinions but I prefer to see demonstrable actions on behalf of the feds, not just yakking.

Anyway, I don't know Mr. Harris nor Mr. Saveland although folks that know Mr. Saveland have suggested he possesses ample experience & expertise under his belt. Our response to the project has to do with the fact that as many brave men & women, whether they be Fed, private, etc., are working their collective butts on the fire lines, we have yet another "project" to try and pin adverse actions from fire incidents on the backs of firefighters.

We have an ignorant FED OSHA who can't come to grips with the fact wildland firefighting is inherently dangerous. We have the USDI OIGs office who continually violates PL 107-203 in their fatal fire investigations because they are ill-equipped to perform the task that congress gave them to do...without any guidance of course.

I simply feel that if someone wants to spend tax dollars on a research project about federal wildland firefighters, maybe they ought to explore the fiscal mismanagement of the agencies and their administration of their fire programs; their failure to recognize their employees as firefighters; their failure to compensate them properly etc.

Just wanted to correct your assumption. It had EVERYTHING to do with "what" and nothing do to with "who."

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
8/30 Just got done looking at the assignment list on the
North Ops web page and it was pretty sad. I can not
believe the lack of assignments for the engine crews
this year. Only two Strike Teams out of state and
alot of crews haven't been off forest since early
July. Well I hope the Region has a plan for the mass
exodus of people that are going to go to Calfire and
other regions. But then again the people that are
responsible for this all have their higher GS grades
and it's apparent they really don't care.

ME
8/30 For Mellie:

From one poster:

This was floating around the web this morning. I received it from NPS.
Nothing to indicate when the summit is.

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

From another poster:

Making the rounds across federal firefighting agencies behind the scenes.

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

Message that came with the insurance briefing document:

You might know there has been some interest at the Department level, both within Interior and Agriculture, to expand cooperative relationships with the insurance business sector.

I was asked to represent DOI on this issue in a joint effort with USFS to establish contacts and arrange a meeting between appropriate insurance representatives, department-level leaders, and other stakeholders, as determined appropriate.

In preparation, I worked up this report on the workings and current status of the insurance business sector. I hope you find it useful. I know I learned a few things about the structure and peculiarities of insurance, and the broad and complex ties to the world economy. Also, it is important to see the effects of contemporary world events on insurers.

insurancebrief.doc (337K doc file)

8/30 Ab & All,

Wow, you go on a fire for a couple of weeks and the whole world changes. Looks like a lot to get caught up on on They Said. Why, it was only a few weeks ago that I was reading powerful Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s profound statement in the newspaper about how grazing more cows on government land could reduce the fire danger in our forests. Senator Craig is (was) well-known for his conservative Republican values and his anti-regulatory/anti-government stance. Now his mug shot is in the news for kneeling and bobbing in the Minneapolis airport john. How the mighty have fallen.

Is anyone else aghast that a massive demobilization is taking place on R-1 fires based on a computer model? I hope today’s forecasted dry t-storms don’t blow some fires up; many of them have been stripped of resources because the computer says they don’t need all those costly resources. Just when you think it can’t get any weirder, it does.

Shari, I deliberately excluded professional fallers in my last post about contractors, because I feel professional non-agency fallers are critical to wildland firefighting operations. But if you want to lump your association into the same category as contract engines and crews, that’s your business. And you’re not the only one who has strong feelings on this subject. If you want to go toe-to-toe on this website over this, bring your best game. I’ll have a little more “blather” for you after I R & R for awhile.

I think I am going to enjoy the rest of this fine late summer day, maybe ride my scooter up to the swimming hole and take a dip in the Blackfoot. Peace out.

Misery Whip

We're done with the fed-contractor thread until ... [insert timeframe] ... some time down the road if and when there's actually some new information? Ab.

8/30 Posted by AL on the hotlist forum:
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/forumdisplay.php?f=3

Hackers steal info on USAJOBS.gov subscribers
By STEPHEN LOSEY
FederalTimes.com
August 29, 2007

Hackers have stolen the names, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of
about 146,000 subscribers to USAJOBS.gov, the Office of Personnel
Management said Aug. 29.

The hackers accessed the information from the resume database run by
Monster.com, which provides the technology for USAJOBS.gov, OPM said.
Monster Worldwide told OPM that no Social Security numbers were
compromised. OPM said that because of the breach, job seekers could find
themselves targeted by so-called “phishing” e-mails, possibly disguised as
Monster.com or USAJOBS.gov messages. Phishing e-mails try to trick people
into revealing sensitive information such as passwords or downloading
malicious software.

Monster has identified and shut down the server that was accessing and
collecting the information, OPM said.

Fair Use Disclaimer:
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/fair-use-disclaimer.php

8/30 Jodie,

HAW-HAW-HAW, See Hank rolling on floor holding his sides, now slapping his knees,
We folks down in the valley love your sense of humor.
You can come slummin with us anytime.

danfromord

8/30 BLMboy,

Gary Klein is a psychologist and former professor best known for RPD, the Recognition Primed Decisionmaking model. RPD is often referred to as "pulling a slide from your tray" of past experiences and training in high-risk, high-consequence, time-compressed situations.

The point was that none of the people on my list are firefighters, and all probably have written research papers about subjects you might believe are totally unrelated to fire. Everyone has to start somewhere.

The FWFSA denouncement and your personal attacks on Professor Harris seem to be about the "who and not the what."

As for the contention about tourism and recreation being so very distant from fire: that's the direction I see the land management agencies headed. For many areas, agency funding and priorities are now driven more by public use, and less by timber or range.

Recreation does impact firefighter safety, like the decision to fight the Cramer Fire to reduce smoke impacts for boaters on the Salmon River. Thirtymile began with a campfire ignition, with the shelter deployment of 2 campers and loss of 4 firefighters.

vfd cap'n
8/30 vfd cap'n -

I agree completely with your recent post about firefighters in airports,
but remember, Conrad is now "EX Senator Burns", due in some part
to his actions with the firefighters last summer!

Mollysboy

And also due to an effective bumper sticker campaign... Ab.

8/30 I heard that all the federal agencies involved with firefighting would be having
something like a mini-conference this fall with the leading insurance companies.
The purpose of the meetings is to see what kind of pressure insurance
companies might bring to bear on homeowners to assume responsibility for
their own fire safety.

Does anyone know more about this?

Mellie

Ab, please add:
Firefly, thanks so much for the info on the fed reduction of airtanker resources on
the impact on state IA airtanker responses. Fire response relies on such an
intertwined network.

8/30 Gotta add my own two cents re: ADs.

In addition to those of us who are former feds (but not retired!) there is another significant bunch of folks who come out as ADs. Some states, particularly in the Southeast, do not have a provision for their employees to be sent to out-of-state to wildfires. When these firefighters are dispatched, they take vacation time and are paid as ADs. Some vacation!

As much as we're needed, I'm always concerned that we are a pain. Our dispatch centers have to enter all our paperwork (including travel, time etc.) as well as update our status in ROSS. I can't help but wonder if the dispatchers would rather have something else to do rather than entering data into my travel voucher; that almost seems like a disincentive for using ADs.

Still Out There as an AD

8/29 Re ICP burnovers:

As the Operations Branch Director responsible for the Grand Prix fire base camp area,
I can reassure you it was very unlike the Cascade Fire "burn by"/burnover. The hills
around the Glen Helen Park facility had a lot of fire in them, and a decision was made to
burn out around the camp well in advance of the main fire. This was a planned event
that waited and prepped through the day until down canyon winds picked up and would
carry the smoke and fire away from the incident base. The fire never burned through or by
the facility, no incident facilities were lost or threatened, and no shelter-in-place occurred
or was required. The firing job was completed by two engine strike teams in about two
hours without complication, and no residual smoke polluted the camp air. There was
never a risk for camp personnel from this operation and the head of the fire was stopped
far from camp. This situation was very different than the Cascade fire situation

Contract County Guy

8/29 Dagwood,

I usually reserve my posts to sharing my experiences using technology that has helped me to make safer, faster and better informed tactical decisions as a fire manager but your comment about the National Park Service taking better care of its volunteers than its seasonal employees is simply NOT TRUE! I started my 30 year land management career as an NPS seasonal maintenance worker and can cite numerous examples of others who had similar starts and progressed up the supervisory and management ranks in what is considered to be the most prestigious federal agency. Yes, the NPS does value its VIP’s (Volunteers in Parks). One of the best Rangers I ever had the pleasure to save lives with started as a VIP. The spirit of this forum has always been about the “what” and not the “who”; in this case, you choose to attack the National Park Service, “the who”. Please do not to make offensive, inflammatory statements that do not contribute to the intent of this wonderful website.

Let me ask you this. After your supervisor allowed you to work on the NPS Type II crew that responded to the Sadler Fire, was anyone hired to backfill in the position that you were hired to do? If you went on additional fire assignments after your regrettable burnover during that incident, was there anyone in the Park that could perform your job during your absence? In 1999, we didn’t have some of the emergency provisions that allow Federal agencies to exceed the 1040 hour limitations on seasonal hiring that are available this year. Were you informed by the personnel office when hired at the beginning of the season that your appointment would end on September 30? I faced that situation many times. Yes, we could rehire our seasonal employees on a another appointment after the start of the new fiscal year which begins on October 1st, but for every pay period we worked them starting in October 1999, for example, we would have to start them that much later during the 2000 fire season to comply with the 1040 hour restriction. Most fire management officers would rather have a full crew start at the beginning of fire season in order to complete all the mandatory training and most of our temporaries would rather work a full season when it starts.

It sounds like the LABE FMO was trying to take care of you by offering you the opportunity to remain employed as an AD hire after your seasonal appointment had expired. In the Park where I worked, we would continue to provide Park housing at the fire station dormitory for free as the only compensation we were allowed. What other hiring authority did he have? Is there more to the story that you haven’t told us? Why are you complaining about something that happened during the last century?

Fire Geek (former NPS Ranger and proud of it)
8/29 On the AD issue

I am currently a Agency employee, with this being my 34th fire season, and
my sense is without ADs we would no longer be able to conduct business on
large fires without ADs. Most IMTs both type 1and 2's have numerous ADs
filling primary roles, cause there aren't enough regular Agency employees
to fill those roles. The misc OH on large fires have a high percentage of
ADs and we still don't have enough people to fill all the orders on large
incidents. The # of UTFs on fires is staggering the last few years, and
the span of control is being blown out of the water..not just exceeded. It
is my professional and personal opinion that ADs fill a critical role on
incidents, and without them large fire management would come to a
screeching halt. I do feel that we need to team up trainees with these ADs
so maybe some day we will grow enough quality replacements, that maybe
ADs can slowly recede into the sunset......I suspect that will never happen,
but we can always hold out hope for the future.

We should be thanking ADs for helping us fill this role and not accusing
them of milking the system for their own benefit.

GorgeFMO

8/29 To: Jim Saveland

It was great to see your post…and any reasonable person should be willing to
hear you out and if warranted, change their mind. As for me, I am a firm believer
in research and studies…when it leads to a positive and impartial outcome
through valid and reliable data.

So this mystery person that will be doing the interviewing…if she is a firefighter…
fantastic! That lends credibility immediately to the project.

So Dr. Charles Harris is not involved after all? Or is he?

If he is, would you mind sharing a little about his wildland fire qualifications?
The article actually stated he was to “lead” the project.

I think that is the main question I have but it you read my posts then I am
sure you see I have many more. Not that I am a skeptic…yeah right…but the
USFS has gotten a bunch of black eyes in the last couple of years. It looks like
they are always trying to divert blame for everything that goes wrong.

So please feel free to post all the information (and opinions) you want. I for one
do keep an open mind and will always change my mind when presented with
valid and reliable information...or a reasonable opinion. So yes, your voice
can and will make a difference...at least with me.  :-)

BLMboy
8/29 VFDCap'n, not to worry...

Here at the Castle Rock Fire in Sun Valley (IDAHO), precautions have been taken. ALL Public Bathrooms and Porta-Potties have been put Off Limits to all Idaho Politicians. On the bright side we have come up with an idea since the Craig drama isn't going to help potato sales or tourism. We're going to market a 12 inch Larry "Broke Back" Craig action figure complete with its own airport bathroom stall.

Jodie
RN/Paramedic

8/29 Ab,

If the only information I had about the University of Idaho study was from the AP wire article, I’d probably be the first in line to bring a rope to lynch the dumb SOB who commissioned such a study. But then that dumb SOB would happen to be me. I’m Jim Saveland, a program manager at the Rocky Mountain Research Station. For those of you who don’t know me, and would like to know something about my background, my bio can be found at the upcoming IAWF Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference website (www.umt.edu/ce/cps/HumanDimensionsofWildlandFire.php) under invited speakers. As you’ll see, my roots are in the fire community.

What I’d like to do here is share a little bit of information that I’m privy to so that folks may consider what Mellie stated, “it may be the interpretation by the media of what the research is about rather than the research itself that's at fault.”

When the reporter asked me about the rising fatality statistics, I told the reporter he had his numbers wrong. That of course didn’t make it into print. Good catch BLMboy. For those interested in an analysis of entrapment fatality data, see my paper presented at the Eighth International Wildland Fire Safety Summit (www.myfirecommunity.net/documents/Saveland.pdf). Dick Mangan has just updated the fatalities report from 1990 to 2006 and that should be available soon.

The job of Headline writers at newspapers is to read the story and come up with an attention grabbing, often sensational, headline. Their expertise is not in story content, but rather grabbing the reader’s attention. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, it’s a “study of firefighter attitudes;” in Jackson Hole, “culture at heart of study;” and in Seattle, “right stuff mentality may be a factor.” Every one of them got it wrong!

The primary purpose of the study as stated in the study plan is "to analyze why firefighters do or do not voice their opinions when they feel uncomfortable or unsafe about going into a risky situation."

In Managing the Unexpected, Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliff stated: “With every problem, someone somewhere sees it coming. But those people tend to be low rank, invisible, unauthorized, reluctant to speak up, and may not even know they know something that is consequential.”

For those of you out there who are really gluttons for punishment and want to dive into deep academic waters, I invite you to read Everyday Failures in Organizational Learning: Explaining the High Threshold for Speaking Up at Work . (www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/06-024.pdf) Be forewarned, the paper is 61 pages long and contains a bit of jargon, but still worth it if you’re interested in exploring this subject area.

So let’s make this personal by using my situation as an example. I am faced with a dilemma here. Do I speak up and participate in this on-line conversation or do I just keep silent? Like anyone, I weigh the risks and benefits of speaking up, and I’m guessing many have had that feeling at some time when writing in here.

One of the things I consider, will my voice make a difference? Will it change anyone’s mind? My guess is, whatever I say won’t have any impact on those who’ve already made up their mind about this study based on the AP article. Past research shows that when people assess the situation and determine that their words will have little impact, they tend not to speak up. Alternatively, I know that research also shows that when one person speaks up it gives permission to others to reevaluate. Again, why should I, or anyone else for that matter, speak up? Especially if it seems likely that people will respond by telling me what an idiot I am and that I’m throwing away grant money. Hopefully this gives you a better idea of the territory this study will explore.

I think the very existence of this forum is testament to the need for a study to investigate why firefighters do or do not voice their opinions when they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Has anyone said something here that they wouldn’t feel comfortable saying elsewhere?

The person conducting the interviews (this is not survey research) is a firefighter who has been in a burnover where people felt uncomfortable about the assignment but didn’t speak up. She is pursuing a master’s degree. The quote attributed to her in the article comes from the proposal and actually is a conclusion drawn from the TriData study. She was never interviewed by the reporter – she was out on fires.

Sorry for the long post, but hopefully I’ve shed a little bit more light on the subject. Finally, Forest Service Research has never had a program focused on human factors. I’m starting one. If you’re a firefighter wanting to pursue a graduate degree in human factors, let’s talk.

One last thought, be skeptical about what you read in a newspaper! Reporters do their best, but they don’t always get it right.

Jim Saveland
USDA Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Research Station
8/29 Answers:

Here is something that someone posted recently,

"Once you decide to retire from federal service, that should be it. You should not be able to go back and get your old pay. These people made the decision to retire."

Not everybody out there CHOSE to retire. Some folks were MADE to retire at 57 due to OPM regs. If you are a Fed with Fire Retirement, they MAKE you retire. Some of these folks are highly experienced, and wanted to keep working, but were not allowed to. These are the majority of Fed Retirees you see on the Fireline.

So, making people retire by saying they are too old to fight fire, then bringing them back fighting fire at half the pay, is that fair?? How could it be? I understand not all ADs are retirees, but the new rules are not just for retirees. You are confusing the issue with the annuitants rehire issue.

-MJ

8/29* Re Impact of the reduction of Federal fixed wing resources

Ab,

This is my answer to Mellie in the Discussion section of the Hotlist regarding the impact of the reduction of the Federal fixed wing program (….. may be worth posting on theysaid, too.

I work as an aerial firefighter for the Ca Department of Forestry. The CDF fire suppression philosophy is based on fast, aggressive initial attack on all unwanted wildfires. Our “air force” consists of 23 1200 gallon S2-T, 14 OV-10 and 11 Super Huey aircraft based at 13 Air Attack Bases and 10 Helitack bases throughout.

Our aircraft response times are partially based on our Federal cooperator's ability to provide aerial firefighting resources when needed. The elimination of much of the Federal fixed wing fleet nationwide affects these planned response times in California. The result of this lack of available Federal aircraft in California has a detrimental effect on the CDF fleet and the ability to respond to State Responsibility incidents when needed, compromising our initial attack strength.

The other problem we face is the additional flight time placed on the aircraft requires more maintenance and replacement of components which stretches our Aviation budget. Any reimbursement we receive, (which is under priced) goes to the California General Fund and not to the Air Program.

In my opinion, the ATGS assigned to the incident, (Federal or State) has an obligation to not only provide a safe flying environment for the assigned aircraft, but to constantly reevaluate the effectiveness of the air operation. If the aircraft are dropping on unsupported retardant lines “hoping” to make a difference, the pilots are being subjected to unnecessary risk, and the continuation of the air operation should be seriously evaluated.

In general, throwing mud at a section of line without ground staffing should not be done as it is additional risk as well as a waste of money, as unsupported retardant lines are usually ineffective.

The aircraft are better used by returning them to the Airbase until the fire can be staffed so the fixed wing air drops will be supported and the aircraft can be available for initial attack.

Firefly

8/29 jd,

Not trolling this time, just voicing an opinion in the recent discussion.

Here's some advice for firefighters traveling across the country to
and from assignments the rest of the season:

"When you're at the airport, it's better to be approached by Senator
Burns than Senator Craig."

vfd cap'n

HAW HAW HAW, good one. Ab.

8/29 ADs

It seems like there is a lot of talk about the contractors and how they are always out to get over on the government or what a bad job they are doing. I would like to share a little different spin on this hired as an AD thing. Being hired as an Ad only makes you a over glorified contractor !!! It is no more than a personal service agreement that allows you to work and get paid with out competing for the work. Oh and I should add the fact that you have no overhead costs that are associated with being a real contractor. Why should we the taxpayers feel anymore confident that you are not out to take as much advantage of the government as possible to make up for your perception of a low wage. Is the incentive any greater for the AD to get the fire out than the contractor? I want to add a word of caution to all: there are many wolves hiding in sheep’s cloths. Look at the product that the contractor and the ADs provide. If its good keep them; if not, dump them. Most of the Contractors that have good programs have X agencies folks running them: Smoke jumpers, Hot Shots, Heli shots, Division Chiefs and the likes. The contractor is just another cooperator, the agencies just haven’t found the humility to say it.

Schlimey

8/29 AD

I was an AD at Hells Canyon in 1989 and got $8.85 an hr and was an AD-3 and a squad boss. I was not doing anything at the time so I went and in 13/14 days i was on the clock a lot and made some pretty good money. In 1999 I had an appointment with Lava Beds and was on the NPS crew on the Sadler Complex. We were grounded for the rest of the summer until my appointment ran out Sept. 30 as this is the Park Service way for their maintenance seasonals. It was because of the investigations after Sadler that this was so. On September 27-29 they started to ask for crews again and offered me AD-2 at $11.35 an hr with no leave and no ot just the wage for the hrs you worked. We had an FMO) who spent $20, 000.00 dollars on a helicopter to sling load burning gear for a fall fire. This could have been easily done with a few pick-up trucks and me and my friend could have been hired as GS-4,s and got ot and hazard pay. Is this right or what? I did not feel it was worth the risk of getting killed for this pay. This after getting a Fancy Letter of Commendation from the regional office of NPS for keeping my head cool on the fire. The park service takes better care of their volunteers than their seasonals. Rock on all of you ground pounders.

Dagwood!

8/29 Ab,

I’m a local government firefighter on a USFS Type 2 team in California. I’m an
Operations Section Chief and I’m looking for personnel liability insurance? Is
there anything out there that you are aware of? Any help would be greatly
appreciated.

Thanks,

Dan

8/29 Ab,

While the UAV topic is still active, thought you may find this interesting.

FlightAware > Live Flight Tracker > NASA870

Enjoy,

Tom

8/29 Gizmo:

I understand what you're saying, but I still disagree. And I'm pretty sure that I understood the old Supe then, and that his intent to us was clearly communicated - as it was, we had many discussions both among the ff's and with overhead over the years about the "inherent danger" of wildland firefighting.

His point to us that day, and something I took with me the rest of my firefighting career, is that as wildland firefighters we have a simple option: if the situation is unsafe, we can pull back and sit in a safe area and figure out how to make the situation safe. That's our default mode: watch from a safe place and figure out a new plan. And if we've done our homework and picked a truly safe area, then we don't have to worry about our safety. The danger of the fire is therefore not "inherent" but situational. And if, from that safe area, we can't figure out a way to safely do our jobs, then we don't engage.

(Now, I realize there are some exceptions to this: anytime transportation - vehicles and flying machines - are involved, the ability of a firefighter to account for his or her own safety gets displaced to other factors. And those who do structure protection or are involved in close contact WUI, then the situation is different. I can't speak for structure firefighters because I've never been one, but often the expectations are different when dealing with property.)

Granted, people do make mistakes in estimating safety zones and escape routes, weather and winds, etc. But these aren't "inherent" dangers, they are a failure of situational awareness and/or attitude.

That's been my view of wildland fire, born by my experiences on the lines with a professional crew with professional leadership that has a long history of respect and admiration for our safety, production on the lines, and for our attitudes towards fire. This doesn't mean my experiences or opinions are 100% correct, far from it. Yours may be different, as may others. But I suggest that there is substantial disagreement within the wildland firefighting community about whether our job is or is not "inherently dangerous."

JerseyBoy

Thanks to those who corrected me about camps burning over.
8/28 To: vfd cap’n

Sorry if you misunderstood the “outcry”. No one is against research and studies; at least no one that I know of. And I am not “bashing” Harris’ academia background. What I am doing is bringing to light that he apparently has no background in wildfire and no published works of any kind that relate to firefighting. His educational background is in recreation management and literature. If I used a little caustic humor along the way…so be it. He is a big boy playing in our sandbox. You as a firefighter should know he has opened himself up to having his credibility challenged and should have a thick skin to go along with it.

So doesn't his research, published works, and education raise a red flag to you?

As to the others you mentioned:

Charles Perrow – is a very well know sociologist and an expert in high risk organizations/technologies.

Karl Weick – a well known and respected psychologist with numerous works in relation to wildland fire. Some of his best known work is in relation to human factors as it relates to wildfire.

Kathleen Sutcliffe – Professor of Management and Organizations whose expertise is organizational adaptation, reliability, and resilience. Her works again are some of the best known human factors works in the wildfire community. She has jointly worked with Dr. Weick on several occasions.

Jennifer T. Ziegler – Professor of Communications who is also a well known wildland fire researcher. One of her best contributions is Managing the Unexpected in Fire Management Operations.

Klein – Well, you got me on this one. There are several known researchers whose publications have referenced wildland fire and some of the issues of our day.

All those individuals are well known outstanding academics in their academic field as well as published experts in wildland fire.

So you see vfd cap’n no one (or at least not me) is “trashing” anyone’s research, studies or publications. What I have is a hard time understanding:

  • Someone stating conclusions prior to their research being completed.
  • Someone with no education background in fire or any related “soft” science researching a complex subject such as attitude in wildfire organizations.
  • Someone with no published works in the arena of wildland fire.
  • Someone who blatantly misstated facts to support his own agenda.
  • Someone who is a media hound before his research is published.
  • Someone who in the media blames the deaths of firefighters due to their “gun-ho” mentality.
  • Someone who encourages people to “question authority” vs. being a team player with the right to question the safety aspects of (and turn down) assignments.

So no one with any brains wants to stifle research or improvements in our firefighting environment. What I want to see is qualified individuals with no agenda, no prior conclusions, with an open mind, and without a blatant prejudice of firefighters decisions.

No trashing and bashing going on…just reasonable and justifiable questioning taking place. Oh, yeah, that’s right…we do have a right to question actions and decisions in the wildfire environment…right?

vfd cap’n ask yourself two last questions:

  1. Would you like to see one of the experts from your list doing the research?
  2. How do you honestly feel about a recreation expert whose last published work was about hotels in Vietnam and who has no prior published research in wildfire?

I ask myself:

  • Can Chuck come up with any good info? Maybe, but how much better would it be if an expert would lead the project!
  • Will there always be a shadow of doubt over his research results because of his lack experience related to wildland fire? I would say so.

This is far to important a subject, it deserves the best expertise; I personally don’t think Dr. Harris has the expertise, training, education, or experience to carry the load. Finally, I hope Dr. Harris proves me very very wrong.

BLMboy

8/29 Aberdeen: What exactly is a bed?

Cough, hack!

Oh yeah, and thanks to those of you who have passed along kudos for ADs!

Still Out There as an AD
8/29 In the 2003 Southern Cal Fire Siege, the base camp for the Grand Prix fire was burned over/bye when the Old Fire and Grand Prix Fires merged at Devore. The camp was at the Glen Helen Pavilion and everyone just sheltered in place, just like the Cascade Complex. So, there are lots of “past precedence” situations out there. Of note, you should have seen the look on all the reporters who had to ride it out, pretty funny.

FC-E357-A
8/29 Ab,

Perhaps this will clarify the confusion with the “rehired annuitants” vs. AD hire issue.
Below is the authorization memo to this implementation plan from the National Fire
and Aviation Executive Board.

Fire Geek

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

Implementation Plan for the Delegated Authority to Waive Dual Compensation Reduction in Support of Wildland Firefighting Operations 8-9-07

The U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has delegated to the Secretary, Department of the Interior, authority to waive the dual compensation restrictions on hiring re-employed annuitants into positions directly related to wildland firefighting operations. To expedite the employment process, the Secretary has re-delegated this waiver to the Director, Office of Fire and Aviation Policy, Bureau of Land Management, commonly known as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Assistant Director for Fire and Aviation. This authority may not be used for administrative support or other positions that do not directly and immediately support mission critical wildland fire suppression activities, such as work involving land rehabilitation.

This waiver is directly related to the dual compensation reduction (salary offset) required of reemployed annuitants by sections 8344 and 8468 of title 5 United States Code. This delegation will enable Department of the Interior to waive the salary offset when necessary to re-employ a Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System annuitant on a temporary basis, but only if, and for so long as, the authority is necessary due to emergencies posing immediate and direct threat to life or property or emergencies resulting from other unusual circumstances. This delegation begins on the date the Secretary of the Interior signs the delegation and ends when no longer necessitated by the qualifying circumstances or on December 31, 2007, which ever occurs first.

The delegation will be primarily used by the four bureaus which are directly involved in fire suppression activities, i.e., Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The BLM Assistant Director for Fire and Aviation will be the controlling agent for the Department and will handle all approvals and denials on behalf of the Secretary. The OPM delegation requires that certain records and certifications are made and retained each time a waiver is granted. Any Department of the Interior personnel office wishing to exercise this authority must obtain prior written approval from the BLM Assistant Director for Fire and Aviation. Prior to final processing of the personnel action for the reemployment of the annuitant attachment number four (4) must be completed and submitted to the address listed below.

Assistant Director, Fire and Aviation
Bureau of Land Management
Attention: Human Resources (FA-202)
3833 S. Development Avenue
Boise, ID 83705
Telephone Number: 208-387-5627
Fax Number: 208-387-5723
Email: Timothy_Murphy@nifc.blm.gov

Servicing personnel offices must ensure copies of all forms and approvals are accurately and thoroughly completed, with copies maintained with the employees’ personnel records for subsequent review and reporting purposes. Physicals are required where arduous physical work will be performed. Individuals may not be reemployed without prior drug testing, regardless of the fire preparedness level.

You may approve a request when the annuitant will perform fire support duties or fire training duties in a position and grade listed below. The Department of the Interior will undertake a redesign of the work process and/or recruit extensively and post vacancy announcements on USAJOBS and will use all reasonable recruiting incentives and staffing flexibilities to fill the jobs as soon as possible. You may approve a request only if, and for as long as, no other reasonable staffing option exists.

Other reasonable staffing options include the following:

  • Hiring well-qualified applicants who are available to work;
  • Hiring well-qualified annuitants who are available to work with a salary offset;
  • Offering details, reassignments, voluntary overtime or compensatory leave to interested employees that management determines are well-qualified and who either can be replaced or are not essential to the continued performance of a critical operation or mission; and
  • Recruiting vigorously to replace annuitants working with a salary offset waiver as soon as possible.

The U. S. Office of Personnel Management has limited the number of position for which re-employed annuitants can be hired and have the dual compensation restrictions waived. The following positions have been identified by OPM and are covered by this waiver:

Park Ranger, GS-0025-9/11/12/13/14
District Ranger, GS-0340-13
Assistant Director of Fire Operations, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
Supervisory Fire Management Specialist, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
Fire Management Specialist, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
Resource Management Specialist, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
Supervisory Fire and Aviation Management Specialist, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
Fire and Aviation Management Officer, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
Fire Management Officer, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
Lead Biologist, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
General Biologist, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
Forester, GS-0460-12
Supervisory Forester, GS-0401-11/12/13/14/15
Public Affairs Specialist, GS-1035-12
Equipment Specialist, GS-1670-11
Supervisory Training Specialist, GS-1712-12

Additional waiver requests for positions not listed above must be directed to the Deputy Assistant Secretary - Performance, Accountability, and Human Resources, Office of Human Resources for approval.

Individuals may not be re-employed without prior drug testing. The Drug Program Coordinator may be reached at 202-208-5638 to receive expedited forms. Physicals are required where arduous physical work will be performed.

By January 15, 2008 the Director, Office of Fire and Aviation must submit a report to the Deputy Assistant Secretary - Business Management and Wildland Fire and a copy to the Deputy Assistant Secretary - Performance, Accountability, and Human Resources. The report must contain the information requested in paragraph 6 of the enclosure to the OPM Letter, including the number of times the waiver authority was used and the total costs incurred during the past 12 months.

8/29 A Swedish view of American firefighting. Although it's focused at the structural folks,
we need to look at ourselves on the wildland side to see if it is relevant?

http://cms.firehouse.com/web/online/News/From-Sweden--a-Critical-View-of-US-Firefighters/46$56147

Mollysboy
8/29 As a retired Fed firefighter, I take the Nancy Reagan "illegal drug use" approach when Dispatch calls, asking me to take an AD assignment: I "just say NO!!". Low AD pay and no liability insurance = one less qualified Overhead on the line, and another entry on the UTF list.

So far in the summer of 2007, it's been playing with the dog and drinking brews during the day, and sleeping in my own bed at nite. Is this how normal people spend their summers? I've never done it before, but kinda like it!

Aberdeen
8/29 Burn Injuries on the ZACA:

The FLA are a result of the burn injuries on the Zaca. The injuries occurred while conducting a burnout operation last week between Hwy 33 and Petro Seco Ranch in Div GG.

Two members of the Crane Valley IHC were involved.

FF1 a sawyer received first and shallow second degree burns to his right wrist area. The burn area was 1.5" x 2.5"

FF2 also a sawyer received first and shallow second degree burns to his right wrist area. The burn area was 1.5" x 2.5". He also received a shallow second degree burn to the top of this right ear approximately 1" long.

Both firefighters were evaluated on scene by paramedics and later at the medical unit. Both firefighters were taken by ground to the Sherman Oaks burn center. Sherman Oakes is a premier burn center in So Cal. This was based on following the after action review on the Seven Oaks fire where any burn injury should be evaluated by trained burn specialists to assure proper diagnosis and treatments. Both were treated and released the following morning. Both FF's were taken back home to receive further outpatient treatments.

Preliminary findings are that there was frequent spotting with increased fire behavior. Direction was given to the crew and others conducting the burnout operation to leave the area following the planned escape route to the established safety zones. Both FF's were wearing appropriate PPE. The burn injuries on the wrist occurred in the area between the glove and fire shirt. The FF's were carrying saws on their right shoulder and the burns occurred in the area where the sleeve had slipped down exposing the anterior (exterior) area of the right wrist. Neither FF was wearing a neck shroud at the time. There appears to evidence that the injuries were a result of radiant heat only.

An Angeles engine receive paint blistering on the upper right side of the Engine, also from radiant heat.

The crew and modules appear to have done exactly as they were trained to do. An overhead vehicle appears to have temporarily impeded the traffic flow of 3 Angeles engines who were also leaving the area.

The FLA is welcome in what appears to be 3 focus areas. Timing of burning operations with increased fire behavior; adequacy of PPE requirements, and traffic management along roads. We all would welcome any additional thoughts or findings.

[To be noted is that the Zaca incident also experienced a serious life threatening near miss on Sunday with a FF falling off a 30 foot cliff. A broken tibia/fibia, facial injuries, and pelvis injuries were sustained. The PT was extricated via helicopter to the hospital with life threatening injuries. To date, there has been no mention of an FLA for this near miss incident. ]

Un-named and unsigned

8/29 FC180

The Stormy Complex camp burnover was at Tyler Meadow August 9, 1990.
Most of the camp was evacuated at the very last minute.

A NPS vehicle was burned, a few FS trailers damaged and supply unit was
destroyed. The burnover was filmed and available years ago from Video
Specialties, Dinuba, California.

It was chaos and most of camp escaped down to Johnsondale.

Rhino

8/29 Ab,

In response to "getting the shaft":

As far as I know, all AD rates are the same for everyone. It doesn't matter if you are retired, newly an AD, etc. The rates are position-specific.

Maybe you are confusing AD rates with the "Rehired Annuitants" (or something like that) that was mentioned by an earlier poster? It kind of sounds like you are confusing the two? I am not up on that particular type of hiring, but I'm sure some of the retired folks here on the list can explain if you like.

I have been on many fires over the years, and I can tell you that it is vitally important to keep these retired folks with their wealth of knowledge, job skills and experience, as part of the current firefighting efforts. You won't go to a fire in this day and age without seeing ADs - a good majority being retired federal workers who are back because they are needed. They are underpaid for these jobs, but come back anyway because they are loyal to their fellow firefighters and to America.

Get the facts from the folks here on the list before passing judgment. (The different things you mention, though, make me think you just have a couple different hiring practices mixed up). Ask questions from the experienced folks here on the list - they will help get things cleared up for you and others with similar questions/thoughts.

Firegal55 <cough, hack, wheeze> sorry, been a busy and smoky summer!
8/28 Jersey Boy

Re: the Cascade Fire Shelter in place, you said:  “as it was an event that has no real precedence”

I’m pretty sure the camp was burned over in the Stormy Complex in 1990 and I personally was at the Eagle Fire base camp at the Vail Lake campground when it was burned over in 2004. I can attest to the fact that the decision was made in a very short amount of time to shelter in place and fight the fire as it went by, including firing operations and active firefighting in some of the camp structures. It was hairy for a little while but we got over it and moved the camp (and breakfast was served the next morning). We recovered.

FC180
8/28 AD hires

" ... curious how you figure that raising AD rates is only going to benefit 'retired' federal employees. ...  wages earned while still working (pre retirement) are just being used as a base line  ... would apply to everyone performing in that position, not just folks that are federal retirees performing in the position. ... "

HMPH.

My first stint as an AD hire was back in 1999. I agreed to a pay cut then (from $45/hr down to $29/hr) because $29 was the max pay for my position/quals back in 1999. I took an AD assignment last month, doing the same job, at the same AD hire specs, for $27/hr.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE ???????

The AD hiring authority has been for years a cheapskate way for the fed fire agencies to pick up personnel without having to pay for us. Go, Casey Judd. You rock.

Join FWFSA now.

m.a.

8/28 JerseyBoy,

Your Supt. did you a disservice when he told you that "... wildland firefighting was NOT an inherently dangerous job." It may have came from his personal experiences with the burnover or through past experiences such as a tour of duty in Vietnam, or through your lack of understanding back then as a rookie when he spoke. In any case, his observations and your payment forward, regardless of personal or group stature or recognition, were wrong about the inherent risks of wildland firefighting and how he presented it to the "kids".

Wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous job even if you mitigate or try to control the risks. You can't perform adequate risk management until you understand the ultimate and final version of what failed risk management actually means.

I wish some of the old Supes could have communicated better with the troops in the past... More often than not, just a piece of what the Supes said was communicated and remembered. Again, more often than not, valuable lessons learned were lost through communication.

Gizmo
8/28 I promised myself when I resigned as chair of the ADFA that I wouldn't let
"stuff: rile me up, but ....................

To: Getting the shaft (....law student/Forester/AD (been doing it for many
summers)

I suggest you get your facts straight, thus avoiding the type of
misinformation you put out in your post.

"The Cynic" reply pretty much said it all. Shaft, your thinking on the AD
issue is as antiquated as the agencies is.

Hugh Carson, ex-ADFA Chair
8/28 Here are some good quotes regarding morale and the "rocket science" of firefighting.
Note - None of the quotes are from wildland firefighters:

Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.
- George S. Patton

Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
- Winston Churchill

'It takes sixty-five thousand errors before you are qualified to make a rocket.
- Werhner von Braun

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
- T. S. Eliot

noname

8/28 vfd,

There you again assuming you know what the FS culture
is, and assuming what issues OUR employees are facing.
For never having worked for the Forest Service you
sure seem to have made up your mind on what our
culture is. One only has to read your blog on your
Colorado Fire Camp web page to figure out where you
are coming from. Your past posts on this site usually
show how you go off on these fishing expeditions
looking for reactions to your over the top statements.

Case in point:

"The academia-bashing of Professor Harris is bizarre.
I thought this board was accepting of ideas and input
from outside our small world of wildland fire. Are we
now also trashing the work of Reason, Perrow, Weick,
Sutcliffe, Ziegler, Klein and many others who have
contributed to our understanding?"

jd

8/28 Hey "Getting the Shaft"

I am curious how you figure that raising AD rates is only going to benefit "retired" federal employees. My understanding is the wages earned while still working (pre retirement) are just being used as a base line to try and improve the AD pay rates as a whole. Am I wrong? I have heard or read nothing that indicates higher AD rates would only be available to "retired" federal employees. I think you are wrong on that one. I believe if a position has the pay rate raised, it would apply to everyone performing in that position, not just folks that are federal retirees performing in the position.

If you are referring to the re-employed annuitant deal, that is a horse of a total different color and should not be confused with the AD pay rates.

Thanks for wanting to have our retirement docked for working as ADs. That's real special!!!

the cynic
8/28 Re: Firefighter Morale

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were
to success when they gave up."

- Thomas Edison
8/28 Re CDF Model 5 or Model 1:

Jon,

Be careful of the 1's and 5's. They have been rode hard and put away wet. I say spend the money on a smaller type 2 that can pump and roll. Those engines were the backbone of CDF for years and I have driven thousands of miles in them. Or get a Model 9. Most versatile engine CDF ever built in my opinion.

Good luck on your search.

RB

8/28 As requested, here is the link to the CDF Burn Treatment Policy Site (CDF Intranet available as Internet through a backdoor for policy review):

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

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

Lobotomy

1810 Sections
1810: Burn Treatment - Introduction
1811: Burn Categories
1812: Burn Treatment Guidelines
1813: Transportation of Burn Patients
1814: Burn Treatment Supplies
1815: Responsibilities of First Medical Provider
1816: Responsibilities of Incident Command
1817: Responsibilities of Emergency Command Center
1818: Responsibilities of Home Unit
1819: Responsibilities of Medical Consultant
8/28 A couple of things - and I apologize in advance for the length.

Mellie: I'm not so sure I buy that the situation on the Cascade Complex was an "entrapment." Here is the exact definition (with my emphasis in bold) from the NWCG glossary that you linked:

A situation where personnel are unexpectedly caught in a fire behavior-related, life-threatening position where planned escape routes or safety zones are absent, inadequate, or compromised. An entrapment may or may not include deployment of a fire shelter for its intended purpose. These situations may or may not result in injury. They include "near misses."

It seems to me that the ICP was in the middle of a giant safety zone that was adequate and uncompromised. Using your logic, anyone of us who has ever sat in a giant wet meadow safety zone and watched a fire burn around us ( i.e. "burn by") - was "entrapped." I'd just call that "sitting in a safety zone."

A similar argument can be made about the definition of "burnover" (A situation where personnel or equipment is caught in an advancing flame front) - which makes it seem like any frontal assault can be classified as a "burnover." In the case of the ICP, I'm not so sure they were "caught" - they had a place to go, went there, and there was no threat to life or limb.

I'm not sure what happened at the Cascade Complex fits our book definitions, and as it was an event that has no real precedence, probably argues for new terminology. In any case, I agree with you about the need to take lessons learned and develop a learning culture from every significant event that occurs outside the norm of regular fire protocol.

I also agree with you, and others, about the study concerning attitudes in firefighters. As mentioned below, these aren't new ideas. I believe the South Canyon fire talked about the "can do" attitude, and I think the 30 mile did too. I'm not sure I agree with all the information presented so far in the media, (correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most deaths of wildland personal due to vehicle - i.e. crash, rollover, aviation - accidents, and not burnovers?), but to slam the study from the outset doesn't seem very helpful.

Firefighter attitudes can play a large role in the safety of the operation. I remember a nearby district engine yard that loved bragging about "melting goggles" and peeling paint on their rigs when in initial attack - as if it was a badge of honor. And I'm pretty sure that all of us have come in contact with a number of individuals who either ordered and/or accepted risky assignments because they thought that it was a sign of "weakness" if they didn't.

I remember back to my first season in fire, as our 'shot crew was getting ready to leave for a fire that had just had a deployment resulting in firefighter deaths. The old supe, a great ff and well respected guy in the world of fire, caught up with us before we left. He gave us a little speech and he uttered a few words that stuck with me. One of the things he said was the wildland firefighting was NOT an inherently dangerous job. No one is trying to kill us when we do our jobs. That doesn't mean our job is without risks. We as firefighters have to be mindful of the risks and be constantly thinking of those risks while working, and doing the right things to make sure that the risks are mitigated.

One of the risks that we, as firefighters, should be thinking about is: "Where are our blind spots?" What things as an organization prevent us from doing our job safely. What are the things that are going to kill firefighters this year, this season, this month, this roll, this day, this hour, this minute? And even when we think we've listed them all, we should go back and look again and see if there is something we aren't missing - after all, firefighters still die. And if attitudes are one of them, and our attitude is that attitudes aren't to blame, then we're doing ourselves a disservice.

JerseyBoy

8/28 Burnover:

Mellie

Just a few thoughts on the burnover. Was the camp
considered a safety zone? If it was a safety zone
than was it really a burn over? We have shot crews
who have to retreat to safety zones all the time when
a fire burns around them, is that a burn over?

Secondly I think you answered one of your questions on
why the 14 people weren't allowed to leave, the route
was cut off. I think the IC made the right choice by
keeping the people there and not having to worry if
they made it off the hill. Just one thing he didn't
have to worry about. Also could you go to more of an
extreme by saying what if the IC died then who would
have been in charge, come on.

Now you are making some really good points though on
lessons learned, we need to know what went through the
head of the IC and why the decisions were made and
what he based them off of. I would be very interested
in his reasoning on that. Also was there a stress
debriefing for the camp crews?

Well enough for me.

ME

8/28 There's a great looking and reasonably priced Type 6 engine for sale on the Classifieds Page/Heavy Equipment section. It's loaded, ready to go, and can be inspected or picked up in Central Alabama. OA
8/28 Attempting to locate preferably a CDF Model 5 or Model 1, or other similar engine in decent shape that can be sold to a private party in Northern CA. This is for a private homeowners association that is intending to form a district.

Willing to travel to southern OR, western NV, and central CA for pick-up.

Email jp_96094@yahoo.com or phone (530) 925-2980 and please leave a message if no answer.

Thanks…Jon
8/28 Hey “I'm bored and I need to get a life or go to a fire......”

Thanks for the info. I work with a guy whose son has just received his EMT
cert and we were kicking around ideas. I think he’ll do the regular drill; apply
for seasonal positions with CDF/USFS and check out explorer/reserve
programs with the local Muni departments.

One more question. Do you see any personnel returning each season just do
work the 6 months (temp) and not pursue any type of permanent position?

I hope you don’t get too squirrelly waiting around for something to break.

LMH

8/28 Ab,

I am surprised by the outcry about the Forest Service attitude survey.

I think it is a hopeful sign that a FS research station is investing in studying human factors. It's one thing to print a risk refusal guideline in the IRPG, it's quite another to verify that an Agency has fostered an environment where a temporary firefighter can and will actually speak up about safety issues.

The lack of union representation for forestry/range/fire technicians is an issue. It is worth noting that article 28 of the NFFE/FS "union" agreement (for permanent employees with professional classification) actually includes the zero tolerance "we don't bend 'em, we don't break 'em" prohibition for violating the fire orders. A blame culture does not encourage the attitude to speak up or report operator error. www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/2005MA.pdf

The academia-bashing of Professor Harris is bizarre. I thought this board was accepting of ideas and input from outside our small world of wildland fire. Are we now also trashing the work of Reason, Perrow, Weick, Sutcliffe, Ziegler, Klein and many others who have contributed to our understanding?

vfd cap'n
8/28 Readers, quick reply to the discussion of the Assoc Press piece on the Firefighter "Attitudes" study:

First thought: It may be the interpretation by the media of what the research is about rather than the research itself that's at fault.

There's a long-standing body of psychological research beginning with

  • Sherif (1935) who first studied conformity, how social pressures influence what people think they see
  • Asch (1956) who studied social pressure to conform to the group's thinking even when your senses tell you that's wrong and
  • Milgram (1963) who studied people's compliance (obedience to commands to administer shocks to a screaming subject) related to status of the person making the command.

It's difficult for any human to go against or "buck" the group's or a "perceived superior's" position, even when they're told they can and should.  No doubt this is even more difficult for those involved in a cohesive group like firefighters who at times rely on each other for their very survival.

Is this an attitude? I don't think it's the best term to describe the situation really. I have found that I can often change my attitude, having recognized it, by trying to change it or by seeing the other sides to the story. It's the next step, the practiced behavior you've done all your life that's harder to change. So "attitude" may not be the best term to use if you want valid study results.

The tendency toward compliance or obedience in a group setting are human factors to understand and keep in mind as decisions involving risk and safety are being made. The question of why firefighters don't speak up in a moment when they should is a good one.

Mellie

8/28 Ab's this is interesting. Unknown exactly what injury(s) this delegation relates to on the Zaca.

File Code: 6730-1
Date: August 27, 2007
Subject: Delegation of Authority
To: John Bradford, Monterey District Ranger, Los Padres National Forest

This memorandum formalizes your appointment as team leader of the Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) team formed to complete a peer review of the burn injuries that occurred on the Zaca Incident, CA-LPF-1087 on August 19, 2007. As team leader, you have full authority of the Regional Forester to execute and complete an FLA of this incident using the peer review process. You are authorized to utilize the Facilitated Learning Analysis Guide to review the circumstances related to the accident, adjusting its application as appropriate for the circumstances you encounter.

You are also expected to contact me personally and immediately if you uncover acts you believe constitute a reckless and willful disregard for human safety or involve criminal misconduct.. Upon your advice, I will initiate an administrative investigation and may terminate your review. Your main objective for conducting this FLA is to gather the lessons learned form those involved with the incident.

Your authority includes, but is not limited to:
§ Controlling, organizing, managing, and directing the review.

* Authorizing and requesting additional personnel, including technical specialists, to support the FLA team, and releasing them upon completion of assigned duties.
* Authorizing and coordinating the expenditure of appropriated funds.
* Coordinating all media releases regarding the peer review.

Your team should issue a report outlining the details of the incident and the lessons learned from the review within 45 days from arrival at the accident scene. An extension may be granted, based on valid justification. The Report should be forwarded to the Regional Office, Office of Safety and Occupational Health for review. Although we are granting you 45 days to complete your work on this review, I would like to encourage you to complete the report as soon as possible so lessons learned can be delivered to the field.

During this process, you are requested to regularly update Peter Tolosano Regional Fire Operations Safety Officer. Although this peer review process is viewed as an informal means of analysis, it is critical to emphasize that the purpose of the review is to learn form those who were involved and share the lessons learned.

All travel, equipment and salary costs related to this investigation should be charged to P5DP4U with an override code of 05-07.

For additional information or assistance, please contact Peter Tolosano, Regional Fire Operations Safety Officer at (916) 718-2167.

/s/ Beth G. Pendleton (for)
BERNARD WEINGARDT
Regional Forester

cc: Peter Tolosano
Gene Smalley
Ken Heffner
Ed Hollenshead
Edward Cole

8/28 To all who sent prayers

This is just a thank you to all who sent prayers, poems and sympathies. I have forwarded all emails to the family of the helitack member that we lost recently in alberta.

His family sends their heartfelt thanks to you all and treasure the response from all who have their son in their prayers and thoughts. The past couple of years in alberta we have lost 3 firefighters (2 to r/w accidents and one who passed away on days off.) it is good to know that the camaraderie of the fireline is strong and that all are one big family regardless of were we do our jobs. My thanks to all the rotorheads, dopes on the ropes, ground pounders, engine units and overhead who continue the battle in memory of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. God speed to all and may all your fires end the best way, by all going home to their loved ones.

Ken

8/28 Private Insurance Companies Use Phos-chek to protect homes

This is an article from the New York Times that talks about private insurance companies that cover high end homes in the WUI in Idaho and send in crews to apply Phos-chek. The article acknowledges that more and more very expensive homes are being built where they never were before.

Here's the link: www.nytimes.com/2007/08/28/us/28idaho.phpl?_r=1&oref=slogin

No Name

8/28 Near Miss?

Just wondering if you have heard anything about two type 1 crews on the
Castle Rock fire that had to be extracted out of the fire area by
helicopters. I wonder if all of their gear was left behind and burned. This
would have occurred on the 25th, then on the 26th four crews had to be flown
off the fire. Our IA crew is there but we haven't been able to contact
them.

Thanks, Ross.

Hi Ross. I know from the hotlist (inciweb and the 209 someone sent ) that the 25th and 26th were dicey days when all firefighters were pulled off the line due to wind events and running crown fire. Ab.

8/28 Ab,

One of the AD organization (ADFA) biggest issues is about the AD rates and how they should be closer to what someone who is a federal employee doing the same job is getting. It's kind of interesting how now they are promoting the idea that "Retired" federal workers should get their old pay rate while going out as an AD but not have it affect their retirement? It's good for them (retirees), but screws their fellow ADs who are NOT retired federal workers doing the same job. It should change their retirement, after all they are going back to work at their old pay rate!

Once you decide to retire from federal service, that should be it. You should not be able to go back and get your old pay. These people made the decision to retire - if they choose to continue working in fire after retirement, that's great - we need their experience. However, since they ARE retired and not a current employee, they should not be getting their old wages back - they should get the same AD (Emergency Firefighter) wages as the other AD/EFF people working in that same position. After all, that's what they are now "Emergency firefighters" - EFF/AD - not Federal employees.

Seems like retired folks are getting preferential treatment. Might be some sort of discrimination case for other ADs here.

Sign me,

Getting the shaft

....law student/Forester/AD (been doing it for many summers)
8/27 BLM Boy,

Great post! I hope many of our so called non-fire leaders get a chance
to read it. Matter of fact, some of our so-called fire leaders need to
read your post.

Outstanding Job !

ms

8/27

The Cascade Complex Incident Command Post Burnover:

Firefighters,

I have looked at the two slide shows, read the talking points, followed the comments on theysaid, and have been thinking about this a lot.

WHAT HAPPENED? and WHAT CAN WE ALL LEARN FROM IT? This was a burnover as posters on theysaid have said. It was an entrapment (p 65: egress was cut off) and burnover (p 40: personnel or equipment is caught in an advancing flame front) according to NWCG definitions. Let's just call it what it was. Simple as that.

A highly motivated, highly experienced Type 1 Incident Management team, led by an incident commander from National Interagency Fire Center [(NIFC), National Park Service] experienced a significant event. Choices were made that led to an outcome in which, luckily, no one was immediately badly hurt or killed.

Now the wildland fire community needs to DO THE RIGHT THING:
The team involved needs to demonstrate Extreme Leadership as a group, request an Accident Prevention Analysis Team and provide Organizational Lessons Learned for ALL Incident Command Teams and for firefighters coming up through the ranks into management positions. We need to expect it of them. How else does learning occur?  How else do the cultural expectations of the firefighting change to reflect a learning environment so all improve safety? How else do we build leadership and foster leadership skills if they're not demonstrated by the elders?

It's all well and good to espouse DOCTRINE and talk about how wildland firefighters should operate in a Learning Culture, but it takes situational awareness of the larger learning possibilities, and courage to act on the rhetoric when your heart is pounding.

A bit of time has passed now. Intelligent people have regained their composure, had time to think this through, and it's time to act to make the LEARNING CULTURE real. The striving for this will not go away for professional wildland firefighters.

What a magnificent opportunity is here to learn from this event in which no lives were lost!

The following questions should be asked of all the team members. The results should be shared with the wildland firefighting teams and community so we can all benefit.

  1. What was planned?
    • a. What was your leader’s intent?
    • b. What information were you provided?
    • c. What did you feel was missing?
    • d. Why couldn’t you get it?
  2. What was the situation?
    • a. What did you see?
    • b. What were you aware you couldn’t see?
  3. What did you do?
    • a. Why did you do it?
    • b. What didn’t you do?
    • c. Why didn’t you do it?
  4. What did you learn?
    • a. What might you do differently the next time?
    • b. What can we learn as an organization?
    • c. What might we do differently?

In addition, I think it could benefit us all to know:

  • why the 14 people who wanted to were not allowed to evacuate
  • why the 14 people who rode it out were not automatically provided a CISD (Critical Incident Stress Debriefing) after the event
  • why there were helicopters flying during a wind event
  • what the plans were for other contingencies, for example:
    • if things became much worse and there were serious injuries and/or deaths, how it would that be handled; it would become an incident within an incident; what were the considerations for who would do what to get people treated
    • if the IC and DPIC died or were badly injured who would assume command of the incident and of the incident within the incident; what was the plan for the span of control in that case
  • no doubt there are others we could learn from if the dialog were open

Life is a process in which we're called to be our best, if only we listen. Sometimes being our best takes courage.
To effect change you have to show up.
Turning point moments are provided, if only we recognize them.

Mellie

8/27 Ab, et al:

Mr Harris states that firefighters are unlikely to challenge authority.

Well, THIS firefighter intends to challenge certain aspects of HIS authority.

Perhaps others would care to join me.  Letters to the editor of three newspapers in Moscow Idaho (where the AP article originated and where Harris is conducting his research) can be sent to these email addresses:

The Moscow Pullman Daily News:
letters@ dnews.com

The U of I Argonaut:
arg_opinion@ sub.uidaho.edu

The Lewiston Morning Tribune
letters@ lmtribune.com

Each newspaper has an approximately 300 word limit, and asks for full names, addresses and phone numbers to be submitted along with the letter.

Meanwhile, I have been invited to submit a 700 word "guest opinion" piece (pending the editor's approval of its content) to Moscow's Daily News.  Let me know if there is anything I should be sure to include.

The idea is not to start a witch hunt or pick on the guy in his own home town.  The idea is to make it clear early on that his research has, or at least could have, a profound impact on the professional lives of a whole lot of firefighters.  This isn't just academic statistics -- this is an analysis for the purposes of policy revision, and therefore an analysis that could carry very real flesh-and-blood consequences.

I believe, based on his quotes, that Mr. Harris has a very mistaken conception of the way we do business. I also believe it's up to us to offer our corrections and advice -- who else will?

-PB
8/27 Harris isn't saying there are 15,000 near misses each year, he says there
are 15,000 firefighters in the field each year. (near misses are 'numerous',
no number amount is given) Not that I agree with him or anything.......

-C
8/27 For the third time this week, Castle Rock Fire Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley and Operation Chief Joe Reyes answered questions from Wood River Valley residents about progress in fighting the fire and about what should be expected in coming days.

The questions and answers are summarized below

Q: Why can’t the U.S. Forest Service bring in the DC-10 tanker that took a big fire in Santa Barbara, Calif. from zero containment to 90 percent very quickly?
A: This tanker plane only flies in a straight line, which doesn’t help in a mountain fire. While the retardant dropped by this plane in California helped, the fire was suppressed primarily with a big dose of marine fog.

Q: What’s happening with animals in the fire?
A: Pincha-Tulley said that a bear ran through the fire camp on Thursday night. She said animals are smarter than fire crews because they run away from a fire while crews run toward it.

Q: Why can’t Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley create some rain for this fire.
A: She responds, “I know God’s Italian, but he’s not listening right now.”

George W. Hayduke

She's pretty dam* funny: combo of Sicilian genes and having been mentored by Don Studebaker. Ab.

8/27 To JP Harris & BLMboy:

JP: I have no clue where this guy got his information about the 15,000 near misses. I don't know where he got any of his info.

BLMboy: Apparently the Rocky Mountain Experiment Station, not even listed in the FS's R-2 directory, has a lot of grant money to throw away. Wish I could get my hand on some. Maybe I could research how many people who have no fire background consider themselves "experts" in the field.

By the way Mr. BLMboy, we have not seen your application to join the FWFSA as you promised last week!!

Casey
8/27 It just keeps getting worse... the articles are all
over the internet.

www.jacksonholestartrib.com

Look at the statement by the student who will actually
be doing the firefighter interviews, "It can often be
difficult for firefighters to focus on being safe and
aggressive at the same time," said UI grad student
Alexis Lewis, who is doing the interviews. "When
problems arise and situations on the fireline get
intense, the norm is to `put one's head down and dig
line harder and faster."

So you think he has already drawn conclusions before
he even asks the questions!?

Does he have a clue what he just said?

BLMboy
8/27 Early this month, there was a question here regarding radios, including what type work on federal incidents, where to buy, etc.  Fyrfghtr replied with some info, including a link we published to 49er Communications out of Grass Valley, CA.  The folks there noticed the immediate increased traffic to their website and to make a short story even shorter, we're pleased to announce they have become the newest addition on our Classified Page.

49er Communications, (also known as www.firefighterradios.com) has a vast inventory, knowledgeable staff and available next day air delivery.  49er already supplies the USDA Forest Service, BIA, BLM, USFWS and many more.  In addition to Bendix King Radios, their products include Relm, iCOM, Kenwood and Midland.

They are especially excited about the new line of Relm radios; the quality radios come with batteries, rapid chargers, belt clips and antennas starting at $175!    They are so confident in this line of radios they offer an exchange program during the first two years if anything goes wrong with your radio under warranty.

In addition to sales 49er has a full service repair shop and offers an attractive flat rate repair program of $99 plus parts program; and an average turn around time of just 2 weeks.  Have a look and remember them the next time you're in need.  OA
8/27 Re: study of firefighter attitudes www.sltrib.com

Let’s talk about good ole Chucky!

I love it when an academia type comes over to the real world and holds himself to be such an expert as the honorable Doctor Charles C. Harris has done in the Salt Lake Tribune article. I truly encourage research into what kills wildland firefighters; anything that can reduce that number is all right with me!

But…you knew a “but” was coming didn’t you. Let’s look into who the lead researcher will be. His latest work speaks well of his qualifications, “Environmental management: A study of Vietnamese hotels” competed in 2006. But then again he showed his versatility in 2003 with “Innovative Community Assessments for Sustainable Resource Management: The Case of Salmon-Recovery on the Lower Snake River”. However, in 1997 he showed his ability to diversify his wildland fire knowledge when we produced “A spirituality opportunity spectrum: Theory, applications and implications. In H.K. Cordell (ed.), Integrating Social Sciences and Ecosystem Management: A National Challenge”.

But don’t let his actual work fool you. His educational background is impeccable when it comes to wildland fire: B.A. degree in English Literature, 1973; M.S. degree in Recreation Resources Management, 1978; Ph.D. in Natural Resources (Recreation Management), 1983. So you see he is eminently qualified to do wildland firefighter fatality research. Especially since his education is solely based on English literature and recreation management. Oh yeah, that makes me feel real good!

OK, so maybe that was a bit caustic...just a little. So let’s go to the facts he states in the article.

1 – The easiest “fact” to challenge. Where did he get the 15,000 near misses each year? Ok, he didn’t quote a source, nor did the paper. “Fact” dismissed!

2 – Per year fire fatalities. Chucky quotes a figure from 1930’s of 6.6 deaths per year; he is right. But the decade just before it was less than 1 per year but the decade of the 1910’s it was almost 8 per year. So figures don’t lie…in the 1960’s the average was just over 8 per year. Fact: in 70 years (1910 - 1960) of fighting wildland fires, fatalities rose only 5%. Makes us look really really good! So you can manipulate figures all you want…he just sounds like… like an expert. The figures have been complied for more than a decade, he just chose some random decades to make a his own case.

3 – Leading causes of death; Chucky states accidents and burnovers. Duh, no kidding! But you can’t lump the two causes together, they are simply unrelated to his “gung-ho culture” comment. Let’s just say that all the burnover fatalities are related to some mystical “gung-ho culture”; that represents only 21% of all fatalities putting it in the 4th position. (1-aircraft accidents, 2-vehicle accidents, 3-cardiac arrests, 4-burnovers). So he is wrong again. And let me think…1930’s – 2000’s he talk about the per year fatalities more than doubling. I wonder how many vehicle miles were driven in the 1930’s for fire purposes? Oh, I wonder how many flight hours were used in the 1930’s? Lets see...subtract the vehicle and aircraft accidents from his 19 fatalities per year figure and bingo you have 4 people per year being killed by burnovers from 1990 – 2006. That represents a 40% reduction in wildland firefighter fatalities due to burnovers from the 1930's - the 2000's. We are getting WAY better!

4 – Then he asserts that “risky behavior” is responsible for burnovers. Duh…again. Did someone forget to tell Chucky that firefighting is inherently dangerous, hence risky!? Geeeeez let me think…flame, smoke, danger…yup he is right on this point. But if you removed all the burnover deaths that still leaves the top 3 reasons wildland firefighters die. So let’s make Chucky happy, we will never engage in risky behavior, we will walk to the fires, discontinue all use of any aircraft, and of course the only age group allowed to be firefighters are 10 – 20 year olds.

Now finally – “''Rather than question authority, they plug ahead and believe they can beat the fire,'' Harris said”. You just gotta love it! None of us has ever questioned a tactical decision, we never do risk analysis, we never do hazard mitigation, we never change strategy or tactics based on anything. Did every wildland firefighter know just how dumb we are? So let’s use Chucky’s logic and do the reverse since he believes we are brain dead robots. He wants us to always question authority and never believe we can beat a fire. Yeah, every leader and supervisor wants that!

Come on…the Forest Service (yes, the Rocky Mountain Research Station is a USFS organization) should never have commissioned such an idiotic study. There are reams of reports and studies that already show the statistics on how wildland firefighters die. Chuck’s premise that some “gung ho” attitude is to blame is ridicules! Of course we are “gung ho” but we are also smart and have plenty of standards and mitigation tools in place to help us do a great job.

Dr. Harris wants to interview firefighters to prove his theory. Yeah, right. Interview who? Those that died? And who picks the firefighters he interviews? What agency level are they, what ICS quals do they hold? How many years of experience do they have? And since the research will be based on subjective responses vs. objective facts… hummmmm… I am sure there will be no opinions expressed at all in the research outcomes.

How truly shameful the Forest Service is for commissioning such a study from someone whose last work was about hotels in Vietnam! How idiotic it is for a recreation academic type to research a subject such as wildland firefighter fatalities!

Notice that PhD Chuck didn’t mention anything about systemic problems like using part-time firefighters on federal engines, reducing crew size, non-fire personnel supervising fire programs, and ever the shrinking budgets as playing any role in firefighter fatalities. Ooooopppppppsssssss, silly me, who commissioned the research?

Has common sense completely left the fire service? It just keeps getting worse and worse!

BLMboy

HAW HAW, made my academic day! Nothing like a little "review". Ab.

8/27 Something's wrong in Region 5.

Most of us here on this North Coast National Forest will probably be leaving
to other regions by next season, That's the talk with hand crews and engine
crews at this time. My engine crews last day on a fire assignment was July
30th, Since we have been back I have seen a traumatic change in my crews'
well being and morale. National Preparedness level is at a 5 and yet we
still sit here doing other peoples project work.

Region 5 is going to sink and sink fast if management does not come to
their sense and understand that they are going to be losing alot of
valuable people.

Thanks for listening,
low morale

8/27 Flying boats in SoCal?

Here's the link.
CalFire eyes WWII-era seaplane for standby use
www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_S_mars27.3ee39ec.phpl

Tom

8/27 Castle Rock Fire

For those of you who would like updated info the local newspaper is
providing some great quotes and video of CIIMT 3 IC in action.
www.mtexpress.com/index2.php

Seldom Seen

8/27 A Missoula, MT company has an opening on a Type 6 engine for an engine boss.  See the new ad on the Jobs Page.  OA
8/27 Some checking has been done by one of our researchers to find out info on the firefighter injuries yesterday on the Zaca Fire. Rumors have been flying, as is to be expected in this day of cell phones. Unfortunately, some family members have gotten partial phone messages that have "cut out" in the middle and they're worried. This post is to allay their concerns. (Thanks for refraining from posting on the hotlist.)

There were two injuries yesterday from two separate incidents:

One was a CDF firefighter that got hit by falling rock. The unofficial word is that this injury is not too bad. If anyone knows more, like, for example, the firefighter was treated and released, please let us know.

The second was injury was to a firefighter on the Kern County Democrat Crew 87 who fell 30 feet. He was life flighted off the line within 45 minutes, to a hospital in Santa Barbara. Yesterday afternoon he was in surgery for a broken leg, pelvis fracture and sinus (face) injuries. I believe his family was with him or is with him now. He's due to be released today.

Firefighters, this has come up before. If you want to call your parents/spouses/families/friends to reassure them following an accident, please find a place with good cell coverage and have your crew pull over. Make sure you have adequate time and a clear signal to get the full message across. Garbled info or a cell signal that cuts out leaves loved ones feeling anxious. Our wildland fires are remote. You owe it to your families to provide good information or none at all...

Be safe,

Ab.

8/27 Casey Judd

I just read the article in the SLT and am wondering where did he get the
figure of 15,000 near misses per year??

That seems very high to me. Sounds like a WAG!

JP Harris, retired (sort of) LACOFD
no relation to researcher Chuck Harris

8/27 Tom Stein,

Back in the mid fifty's I remember some P-47's being used on fires in San
Diego County CA. Also in the early seventy's they were still using some
B-17's and the old navy version of the four engine B-24, but i dont
remember any B29's.

7107

8/27 FWFSA DENOUNCES RESEARCH PROJECT

FWFSA Business Manager Casey Judd has been contacted & interviewed by the Associated Press and CNN and expressed frustration over yet another study/research project by those with likely little to no wildland fire experience who think they will be the ones to find "the" causal link to wildland firefighter fatalities.

Judd said it is an affront to all wildland firefighters working their tails off to protect our Nation's natural resources, it's citizens and their property that a suggestion would be made that a "gung-ho" culture would be to blame for such fatalities. He went on to say that while there are likely a few in the wildland firefighting profession as in similar professions that may have a more aggressive approach to firefighting and perhaps even a cavalier attitude, it is not systemic and pervasive within the ranks of line officers who develop and implement fire policy and the ranks of firefighters themselves anymore than any other similar profession.

It should also be noted that "the" Forest Service, i.e. the Washington Office/Forest Service Chief etc. are not the ones who commissioned this study but rather the Rocky Mountain Experiment Station at Fort Collins, Colorado. It is unclear where these firefighter interviews would be conducted.

Judd said that firefighters as well as other agency personnel do everything they can to learn from fatal fires. The advancements in techniques, strategies, climatology and the use of other sciences has made the profession about as safe as it can be. That being said, maybe Mr. Harris from the University needs to come to the same conclusion that OSHA needs to come to, that is, wildland firefighting is inherently dangerous.

Judd agreed with Mr. Harris' assessment that fighting wildfires is second only to warfare among the most dangerous activities for government employees. "That's because, Judd said, 'it is warfare... with Mother Nature. An enemy that can devour 1000 acres an hour, create its own weather and blow flames horizontally across eight lane highways at 100 mph."

"All these wanna be experts Judd continued 'need to come to terms with reality. This is a dangerous profession. We can learn as much as we can and employ as much experience and expertise into the equation but there will still continue to be fatalities." "To try and find some sinister underlying mentality that leads to such fatalities certainly serves no purpose for these brave firefighters" Judd said.

Rather, the FWFSA would like to see Mr. Harris research why the federal government i.e. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the land management agencies, all of whom refer to these brave men & women as wildland firefighters, refuse to classify them as such, instead relying on archaic classifications and standards or,

Why these same agencies refuse to provide basic health coverage or eligibility to the Federal Employee group Life Insurance (FEGLI) to temporary firefighters who, as we saw on Esperanza, die just like the permanent firefighters or,

Why these same agencies refuse to move away from out-dated pay & personnel policies that are adversely affecting our firefighters.

For more information please contact the FWFSA at www.fwfsa.org or (208) 775-4577.
8/26 R-5 Engine Staffing:

I can't speak for the other regions, however Region-5 has standard module configurations for all firefighting resources. Engines are shown below in the table. Some explanation of the table;

1. The 226 is the amount of Forest Service engines within Region 5. Not all are currently staffed due the the regions inability to hire, lack of interest for employment in R-5 due to the pay/cost of living and attrition.

2.. GS are a pay scales for each employee. SFEO = Fire Captain, FEO = Engineer, AFEO - Asst Engineer. Senior Firefighter is self explanatory. Senior Firefighter is the position our Apprentices convert into. Apprentice and Firefighter are also self explanatory. The Apprentice positions are employees who enter a 1-2 year program. When completed with training and field experience they convert to a Senior Firefighter permanent position, however they only normally work 3/4's of the year. Firefighters are usually temporary employees.

3. This column will best answer your question, however it is based on the days off schedule for any given engine. The numbers you see (26, 18, 13) are the number of pay periods (2 weeks per pay period) the employee is funded for and required to be hired. So an SFEO or Captain works year round (26 - 2 week pay periods, 52 weeks a year). A Firefighter works 13 pay periods or 6 months per year. An Engineer works year round.

4. PERM = Permanent, APPR = Apprentice and TEMP = Temporary.

5. The next column identifies how many for each position are assigned to the engine. The R-5 standard is 7 person engines, 7 days a week, 5 on per day. Many more of our engines are not 7 days a week (see #1 above for the reason).

So long story short (ok longer than you probably wanted), when an R-5 Forest Service Engine pulls up with 5 Firefighters on board, your question can only be answered based on the days off schedule of those shown below. Also the combinations at the Senior Firefighter, Apprentice and TEMP positions will vary by module. Below is the perfect world.

On average I'd say when you see an R-5 engine, 3-4 are permanent, maybe one Apprentice and one Temp total of 5 and the combinations are endless.

To ensure proper credit is given, these standards were designed by Q and Biehl with BOD input.

226

 

 

 

GS-08 SFEP 26 PERM 1
GS-07 FEO 26 PERM 1
GS-06 AFEO 18 PERM 1
GS-05 Senior Firefighter 18 PERM 2
GS-02/03/04 Apprentice 13 APPR 1
GS-02/03/04 Firefighter 13 TEMP 1

Signed,

I'm bored and I need to get a life or go to a fire......

8/26 When a USFS 5 man engine pulls up, how many troops on board are full time,
WFAP participants, and seasonal? We were gabbing about this last shift.

LMH

8/26 Linker, Could you contact me again? Your server must be down.
My return email to you was returned to me.

Thanks
Shari
8/26 Onelick, rede4nething, et.al.,

The point I was trying to make was why didn't the team make the decision to move the camp earlier and not endanger the camp crew and the resources that were held in place? You and others have remarked on how unhealthy an environment it was after the fire passed by, yet they waited several days more before moving the camp? After hundreds of visits to medical and countless CA-1's and CA-2's? And how many others that did not report to medical?

We should know from our history what the area will be like after a fire has passed. Ash, smoke, particulates in the air, increased dust, inversions, falling trees, etc., and yet they decided to stay in place. "relocation would have delayed suppression activities for one or more critical operational periods" is a cop out and a poor decision, thus a poor use of risk assessment and management. Relocation could have been attained in an efficient systematic manner with little if any disruption of suppression activities. And yet they stayed in place. Convenience? Poor Planning? Arrogance?

I wasn't there but it seems to me that many people were needlessly exposed to a situation that should have been forseen from the beginning. Let us hope that future teams take heed to this event and prevent something similar from happening again. I certainly hope that OSHA doesn't get ahold of this one...

Aardvark
8/26 Have we got an "Attitude"? I guess we'll find out!

Rise in deaths prompts study of firefighter attitudes
www.sltrib.com

Aberdeen
8/26 From the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1657 

Hi All,
I am currently researching a particular aircraft whose history seems to have been lost thru the years, so I am hoping that some of you may be able to fill in some of the gaps.

In July of 1947, the Rocky Mountain Research Station initiated some tests using P-47's and a B-29. My focus here is the B-29. I have one picture of this aircraft showing only the nose. "ROCKY MOUNTAIN RANGER" is painted on it, along with the USFS emblem. I've narrowed down my search to 11 (then) active bomber groups and 4 reserve units that flew the 29 that year. Most of these groups are no more and very little is available on their histories. I've talked with several living members of these groups and nobody can shed light on this unique mission.

I am looking for anything, anyone can come up with, pictures, memories, references, etc. I've scoured the USFS archives without much luck and the USAF archives are impossible to approach without a serial number for the aircraft.

I welcome any and all feedback! This is not "time sensitive", and I know you're all really busy right now. Next time you happen to be going thru your own archives, think of me if you run across something.

Thanks in advance and STAY SAFE!
Sincerely,
Tom Stein

8/26 Onelick,

Some of us out West don't like foreign items in our eggs either. We learned 
to ask for " eggs straight " to get just eggs. Hope your health improves and 
thanks for the help, see you on the next one.

learning all the time
8/26 Aardvark, re Cascade Complex ICP

I spent all of my two week trip in the Knox ICP. Every night we were
subjected to a smoke filled inversion. I am now back east still hacking and
coughing, though not as bad and it gets better every day (I'm not coughing
up pink foam anymore.) Even our division sup had to go to the hospital for
bronchitis. That was one of the worst camps I have ever been in. The
showers were disgusting, the contractor only cleaned them when he was
scheduled to, nothing more. The food was hit or miss. Those of us back east
don't like green chilies and spinach in our eggs in the morning. The
suggestions that our crew made went unheeded. On the line, our DIVS and
DIVS trainee were topnotch. They looked out for us, and treated us well,
even though we mostly set up scads and scads of sprinklers and pumps.
Pioneer Peak IHC was great to work with and treated us well. They are an
excellent crew. Anyway, I'm glad they moved the camp, out of the smoke and
closer to cell service, since there were 3 phones for 600-800 people.

Onelick

8/26 Saturday, the Weather channel began airing a new series. Forecast Earth.

Specific to this forum, Saturday's program was followed by a wildland fire documentary including an interview with one of the first smoke jumpers . Photos of those who lost their lives at Mann Gulch and acknowledges the Prineville Shots & jumpers who years later lost their lives at Storm King.

The documentary included an overview of the importance of IMETS & footage of Nomex clad Fed groundpounders. Hope everyone has an opportunity to view it.

Hot & dry or floods worldwide
Be safe y'all,
River

8/26 "No Name 51", In my many years of experience I have seen poor performance from just about any and everyone now and then. I've seen trained professionals act like a bunch of Bozos and I've seen Vollies act like the professionals, even with less training, tired and worn out equipment and on the line longer than the paid folks because they didn't have to be relieved due to a union contract! Now, somewhere there is a law that says the government cannot interfere with private enterprise. So, quit bellyaching about who or what of where... quit acting like a Probie... As for most of you crybabies out there, you need to start acting like the professionals you are. Stop the bitchin, the back stabbin and get back to the work we all signed on to do. Helping people in need.

Cough!,Cough! Cahhhhhhhhck! Tooey!
There, now im much better.
danfromord

Thanks, Dan You're our bellwether on when it's time to close a thread. Ab.

8/25 From Firescribe: Sad news, sad story.

Fires rage across Greece, killing at least 46
Death toll could rise as rescue crews reach smoldering villages

NBC video accessed on that page: 
Many of the fires burning across Greece are thought to be the work of arsonists.

8/25 Book Review " Fire on the Rim"

I enjoyed this book! Stephen Pyne really captured the life of a firefighter in the southwestern U.S. in the late 60's to early 80's in this book. I worked in fire management on the south side of the Grand Canyon on the old Chalender Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest from 1974 to 1978 and knew or knew of many of the people he discussed in the book, including two classmates in the 1975 graduating class of the School of Forestry at Northern Arizona University. I believe the author and I crossed paths by taking the same intermediate fire behavior course at the Albright Training Center on the south rim in 1976 or 1977. Although the North Kaibab Ranger District and the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park were separated by geographically and in perspective from the south side I remember many of the incidents he talks about. His descriptions of what certain days were like match my memory very closely. His description of "Barbara Red Butte", a woman working the Red Butte lookout on the Tusyan Ranger District of the Kaibab is right on, we both listened to her radio traffic at the same time. His short accounts of the "Rampart Cave Sloth Dung Fire" at Grand Canyon National Park, an event covered endlessly and frequently by the media, and all the very unusual efforts made the Park to extinguish this unique fire, caused me to remember everyone in our fire behavior course standing up to introduce themselves at the beginning of the class. One Park Service employee gave a fairly routine account of his fire career and qualifications, then brought the house down when he ended with "and I am the world's foremost authority on sloth dung fires." 

The book conveys the feeling of being in fire management at about the time natural resource agencies began to shift gears from the "10 am policy" of total suppression, or fire control as it was called then, towards fire management. The fire organizations were looked at as an anachronism by management and employees in other resource functions in that time. A time when we began the extremely difficult task of putting together policy and procedures in response to what science had been telling us for two or three decades, that is return fire to a more natural role in fire dependent ecosystems or face a crisis by the end of the century. Many long time fire control people did not agree, however, some old fire dogs that began their careers in the 1940's and 1950's, who without any formal education had come to the same conclusions as the science did. "Fire on the Rim" also relates the widespread view of "ground pounders" of then and now, that we all too often accomplish our jobs in spite of management rather than because of them. 

The National Park Service, who Mr. Pyne was working for, was more progressive in their views of fire management during the 60's and 70's, which caused many of us in the Forest Service to believe that their on the ground management was more progressive as well. Mr. Pyne dispels any rumors that our perspective was accurate. As the events of the rest of the 1970's and the decades since then unfolded we had to suffer the frustration of the public and politicians extreme reluctance or opposition to let us do what had to be done to avert a building crisis. It did come, as evidenced by current events, resulting in fire management organizations becoming more critical than they have ever been. However, for many of us beginning our careers in the late 60's and early 70's the shift did not come soon enough and the difficulties of keeping up our morale each and every day were challenging. This is the main theme conveyed in "Fire on the Rim" in my opinion, and in doing so Stephen Pyne captured the thoughts, emotions, and coping mechanisms many of us had during those times. For anyone who worked in fire management during those times this is a must read.

Fred Richter
"Retired Ranger"
Mammoth Lakes, California

Interesting, Fred. Thanks for sharing. Other good books and reviews can be found on the Fire Books page. Ab.

8/25 If R5 wants to go the way of the contractor, they just need to spend a few shifts on some incidents in Region 1 and Region 6 and they'll get a good taste of what they'll be getting themselves into.

I'm sure there are some good contractors but in my vast experience with them, I'd say most are subpar.

I love seeing the engine crews with such slogans plastered on the backs of their pickup truck engines as, "find em hot, leave em wet" or "we fight what you fear" or "i fight fire because the voices in my head tell me too" or one of the other stupid and unprofessional quotations. Makes me sick.

On our last assignment, we would've loved to have seen a Region 5 engine module instead of the strike team of type 6 contractor engines with shoddy equipment and shaky experience. You can usually count on a R5 engine crew to work hard, be safe, have equipment and an understanding of what's going on.

What's the contractors incentive for putting the fire out?????

If we go the way of the contractor, that'll probably be the nail in the coffin for me (and a lot of others, I assume) as far as federal fire in R5 goes.

Sign me "No Name 51"
8/25 Arson suspect found hanging in cell
By GREG WELTER - Staff Writer

OROVILLE — A man facing nine counts of arson in Butte County, and potentially dozens more in adjacent counties, was found hanging from a sheet in his cell at the Butte County Jail early Friday.

A correctional officer making routine rounds at 3:45 a.m. discovered James Kenneth Hough, 56, hanging motionless and called for assistance.

The sheet was removed from Hough's neck, and jail medical personnel began CPR on the inmate, according to a Butte County Sheriff's Office press release.

Hough was rushed to Oroville Hospital's intensive care unit, where officials said he likely wouldn't survive.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Hough's brain activity later ceased, and late on Friday life-support measures were keeping him alive. (more)
8/25 To: Normbc9

This is probably not the proper forum to go into detail as to why the FWFSA is not longer affiliated with the IAFF. That being said we are not afraid to be candid about what led to the decision to disaffilate in 2003.

Also keep in mind that unlike federal firefighters employed by the Dept. of Defense, most of whom are affiliated with the .IAFF as their exclusive collective bargaining unit representative and others represented by the American Federation of Government Employees federal wildland firefighters employed by the federal land management agencies are already covered contractually under NFFE which is an affiliate of The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.

Neither DoD federal firefighters represented by the IAFF nor wildland firefighters represented by NFFE have the luxury of negotiating pay & benefits.

The FWFSA was affiliated with the IAFF specifically for legislative assistance. I'd go on to illustrate the details of the disaffiliation issue but believe it more prudent to do it via personal email or phone call. Thus if you are interested, or anyone else for that matter, please feel free to contact me at 208-775-4577 or cjudd@ fwfsa.org.

Thanks,

Casey
8/25 Red hats:

I'm including a tribute to firefighters in the Zaca Fire in a quarterly, regional publication 
I produce (Inside the Santa Ynez Valley Magazine) and I am using two photos 
purchased from a photographer who was on the lines.

In a photo of a firefighter setting backfires he is wearing an unusual red hardhat. Will this 
hat identify him as belonging to an organization I should mention?

I realize firefighters from all over have worked on this fire but it would be nice to include 
an accurate statement identifying the organization this particular firefighter is from. It's a 
stunning photo.

Appreciate any help you can provide.
Best regards,

Constance Cody

8/25 Aardvark,

If you visited the Cascade Fire, I cannot imagine why you would ask "why did the in-coming IMT move the ICP". Risk Assessment?? I would have to say so. After more than 3,000 visits to the medical unit and over 140 visits to the hospital @ around $500 a pop, the question should be why didnt they moved it days before the in-coming team? The in-coming IMT has made tremendous efforts to ensure that firefighter safety is the number #1 objective. I really like the statement in the "stay in place plan" that the reason for not leaving was because "relocation would have delayed suppression activities for one or more critical operational periods". Once again "risk assessment" Who really gives a Rats _ _ _ when your doing "point protection". I thank GOD that this IMT had the skills and ability to make the decision to move. I myself -- and let me assure you many many others being assigned to the incident -- applaud this team. Things on this complex have been turned around 180 for the better.

"rede4nething"
8/25 The previous threads talking about contractors experience levels seem to be everywhere. I am amazed this year at level of training where many people seem to be. I have been on many fires where I find myself slowing down to give extra instruction to those I work with. 

I monitor the 'Hotlist' page on a regular basis and find it interesting how often the 'rapid rate of spread' (ros) is used only to have the fire contained quickly to a meager few acres. Or how often the initial report on conditions is something less than an acre and ROS, and the fire has been burning for 10,15 or 20 minutes. Acreage estimation is no longer a close estimate. We recently had a fire where Air Attack arrived and estimated it to be 5-10 acres and it mapped at about a half an acre. Mop up is no longer an effort to conserve water, but an estimation of how many water tenders do I need to supply this hose lay or mop up operation. Some might think a mop up operation is likened to watering the lawn.

I guess what I am trying to say is us FOG'S need to not assume anything about anyone who works for us, regardless of their education or experience background. We need to have the ability to be patient, explain what needs to be done, and then evaluate the work as it is being completed. If we don't, then when we leave this organization, we have left nothing. And as witnessed this year, especially, the red and green departments have a lot to learn.

A904G
8/25 Looking at some older posts I noticed that in discussions about Zaca acreage and its approach to the Cedar Fire acreage, the acres burned for the Cedar are incorrect. Instead of 273,200ish, it should read 265,500.

After final surveys on the Cedar turned up a lot of unburned acres within the line, the final 209 was revised to the 265,500 amount.

And it's looking as if the Zaca might surpass that amount...

Stanley
8/25 Ab, 

When I was a BC in Orange County the federal military station firefighters were being treated very poorly. CDF Employees were not a part of any Union. Then Gov. Brown passed the State Employer-Employee Relations Act (SEERA) and now we had to either affiliate with the Teamsters, the Service Employees Int'l or the IAFF. We had an election to do so and when it came time to affiliate we became their largest local and we wrote our own affiliation contract. I know there are more federal wild land firefighters than we have and I'm pretty sure your group could do the same. I'd even stick my neck out and tell you that the CDF Firefighters Local 2881 would help them in any way possible. Yes, give me Casey's number and I will give him a call. Do you know what the upside was for us? The top level managers now had to meet and bargain "in good faith." That is a federal law and boy did they burn themselves royally a few times. One NLRB decision cost them a ten mil.fine and money talks. They then started playing by the rules. All of us are family in the larger sense of the word and we should all be available when the chips are down to help those same brothers and sisters who help us every time we have trouble.

Normbc9

8/25 Hi Ab

Just curious - has anyone posted anything about a concern for how resources are being used? I've noticed the past year or so an increase in getting sent to assignments where there was absolutely no reason for me to be there. There were no fires, no lightning predicted, and they were not understaffed.

At the same time, the GACC wouldn't let anyone accept assignments from "outside" if there was an outstanding order for the same position within the GACC. I can see this if the order is for a critical resource need, but that has not been the case on many assignments last summer and this summer, too. I've arrived on assignments to be told they didn't actually need me for my experience and skill, but only needed the quals on my red card! Their own personnel were not ICQS qualified (although experienced), so they just needed a body with the quals to be present to "cover" them. At the same time, there were outstanding orders for the same position by GACCs who were experiencing extreme fire activity and their orders were UTF'd!!

It seems like some forests USFS)/districts (BLM) tend to order resources just so their people can take vacations, or because they have extra $$ to use for Severity, etc instead of only ordering a resource when they have a critical need. I know for a fact that there were many orders UTF'd for areas like Montana and Idaho where qualified people were made to take "within GACC" assignments where they only worked 8 hr days sitting around doing nothing.

Dispatchers sitting around filing, making labels, reading books, etc; helicopter and engine personnel raking leaves, mowing grass, etc. This makes NO sense!!!!!!!!

NICC and the GACCs need to stress to the units the need to use their requests wisely. There should be some kind of priority that available resources be sent where they are needed most even if there is an order for the same resource within the GACC. If a going fire needs the resource, they should have priority over a unit ordering on Severity or something like ABC Misc.

Worried
8/25 On one of the hotlist subthreads there was mention of a PowerPoint presentation with an embedded film clip that was presented at the Ojai citizens Meeting ( maybe Sunday 8/19). Is there any possibility of that program and film clip being made available on this site ? 

Hopefully one of the Zaca FIO's can post that or tell me how to get a copy. Thanks

viejo
8/25 Dear Uncle Louie:

I don't recall ever posting something that said I personally think Congress would set up a brand new bureaucracy and consider it to be run by fire professionals.

The idea of a separate & distinct federal wildland fire service is certainly not new. The ever-increasing dysfunction, especially of the Forest Service' program seems to have heightened the interest in the issue.

I simply reported that more and more members of Congress are thinking about the idea and seeking the FWFSA's feedback on the idea. More recently, those at OMB who work with the Forest Service budget process and are intimately familiar with the on-going problems have also asked for our thoughts on the idea.

Perhaps just as importantly, we are expecting to be contacted by contracted analysts/advisors to the Forest Service to ask us just that...what we think of the idea.

No one who supports the idea want to see another Homeland Security Dept. or FEMA. And, as I have previously posted, it would be a monumental undertaking at best. 

I don't disagree with you that to a large degree, the leadership of the agencies are beholden to the Administration because that is who they work for. I am repeatedly reminded of that. That being said, if they don't want to risk their appointed rear-ends to fix the obvious problems, then you work through the other governmental channels of checks & balances, in this case Congress. On the plus side however, the FWFSA has been contacted by OMB, not the other way around, about what we think needs to be done.

That in itself is quite a coup.

So...given the amount of time and effort I have put forth in Washington and dealing with Congress and such bureaucracies as you mention on behalf of federal wildland firefighters, I take great offense to your last sarcastic comment.

Quite candidly, I probably heard the same comment from someone in 1999 about our ability to get Congress to eliminate the OT pay cap just for federal wildland firefighters when the Administration and even major federal unions opposed the specificity to just federal wildland firefighters. If The FWFSA had taken your attitude back then, I dare say many federal wildland firefighters would not be entering their 1121 code on their time sheets as they have for a number of years.

Casey
8/25 Just For Grins,

I have a grandson who is working his first year with Cal-Fire as a seasonal FF-1. 
He takes home about $2700. per month WITHOUT working any overtime....... 
he works three on and four off! Wow, have times changed......when I was first a 
seasonal with CDF, my GROSS pay was $319. per month... I worked five on 
and two off...................... Progress!

DANNYBOY

8/25 Stove pipe org:

Just a thought on this whole stove pipe organization. If we do have an organization all to ourselves (one for firefighters) it would take years to just settle the squabbling between agencies and regions on who would be in charge. I mean right now we have a huge division between R5 and the rest of the regions and how much more would that grow if we stove piped.  Personally I wouldn't want these clowns that have been running R5 right now trying to run more than our region. They've completely sank this ship with their lack of leadership and vision and what would happen if they took the controls elsewhere? I personally would like to see all the agencies as one but we can't deal with years of turmoil to get there. Also to the people that say as R5 goes so goes the other Regions, thats a myth anymore. I went to Montana this year and the moral there and what they have going is alot better than what we have here in R5. There people are getting the experience needed to move there careers forward while we are lagging behind. They are having to deal with fires with very little support and make appropriate decisions based on the lack of resources. They don't have the luxury of having fifty crews for a 700 acre fire, they are getting to see things we here in Region 5 will never get to see or do. It was funny to see all the fire shirts in my camp from people who came from out of state to help us with our fires earlier in the season but little support from us when they needed it most. If the other regions go as R5 goes then we are in big trouble as an organization.

ME

8/24 Dear DKF,

You are 100% correct. We should all try to work together and 'cooperate' towards the common goal. But when you are on the fireline and you ask the cooperator/contractor if they have bladder bags on their truck, to which they give you the "deer in the headlights look," You may think twice about the work they are doing. (Believe it or not, it happens!!)

USDA Forestry Technician

8/24 Re; eng.capt. on 8-23.

Between the contractors and total lack of training
opportunities, I applied to Cal fire. CYA.

Dad of 2

8/24 Casey and others;

Reading different posts over the last few weeks leads me to a question. What makes you and others think the congress would set up a brand new bureaucracy i.e. a "Wildland Fire Service", and even consider allowing it to be headed by fire professionals? Cases in point; Dept. of Homeland Security is not headed by anyone with experience or interest in protecting the public until you get a long way down the org chart. The federal land management agencies are led by people that on paper may seem to be land management professionals but are appointed and approved for their ability to bend to the will of a current administration.

If you think a new fire service would be looked at any differently by the political process I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Uncle Louie
8/24 To ms, GB and all others who responded to my question about the need for change in FS Fire Management policy:

I do appreciate your thoughtful and thought provoking response. I’m aware that the Zaca fire was fought on Santa Barbara County responsibility land for the first 2 or 3 burning periods. I have heard that when the fire moved into the Wilderness tactics were changed to allow only the use of hand crews on that portion of the fire is that correct ?

I was misinformed that the permission to use mechanical equipment on Wilderness lands had been moved to WO and stand corrected.

The fact that California now has 20 million residents and many of them are moving into the WUI points out that times are changing and the USFS must change with them. Policy must be formulated that will reflect well on the Forest Service both as fire and land managers.

Its interesting for me to read they posts in this forum. The USFS is undergoing severe growing pains…some of them very similar to those experienced by the CDF in the last 40 years. The debate about structure protection that’s currently raging happened in the CDF too. There were those who wanted status quo and those who thought the CDF via contracts with local government should expand its services. Fortunately the latter group prevailed and CDF was able to grow with the population. In various locales the CDF is able to offer, through contract, any level of protection a community or County would like. Those employees who chose not participate in "City Type" services generally gravitated to the Camps and the more rural Ranger Units where the demands for services were not so great.

The Collective Bargaining was not always in place. The Employees formed the California Department of Forestry Employees Association ( CDFEA) long before there was a Union or anyone to represent an employee to Management.

The Uniform debate took place and once again, forward thinkers were able to obtain a uniform allowance and set uniform standards for work and dress occasions.

The Land Manager vs. Fire issue was also addressed.

By following the path of organizing and supporting its Employees Association the CDF was able to progress from an organization of predominately seasonal workers to an organization that is a leader in wildland fire services.

It is probably true the R-5 leads the rest of the USFS in innovation. Many of the problems facing other Regions surface first in California forcing that change. I hope the current leadership in the USFS is up to the challenge of recognizing the need for the Forest Service to change while preserving its history. I have worked for and alongside USFS Fire all of my adult life and it grieves me to see this fine organization suffer so.

viejo
8/24 To anyone it pertains to:

It is the "if you don't like it shut up and leave" attitude that prevents change!
I am sorry you feel that way, but don't hammer the rest of us for fighting!

Hope
8/24 Brent Jenkins hit the nail on the head.

The point is not that someone is going to sue insurance companies, nor is the point that the insurance companies acted inappropriately. Surely they did iron out beforehand any legal issues they considered important, but protecting the government from liability is probably not one of those issues!

The point is that the government (acting through the IC) granted access to some private interests, while barring access to others. That kind of decision can result in an unfair disparity in property loss. So, to the extent that anyone else lost property because they were denied access, the government may be vulnerable to a claim for damages. That is because in this case the government made a wrongful decision, and private property was lost.

-PB
8/24 Hey Ab,

Just wanted to say thanks to Team 3 who was managing the Snow Fire in
So-Cal. They took care of all the firefighters very well, yes including the
folks in green also. Hope this is a growing trend for upcoming fires, it is
amazing the attitude on the fire when we are taken care of. Let's hope this
keeps up, also a big thanks to Jeanne Wade Evans, Forest Sup on the BDF.
The folks on the team said she made an extra effort to check up on her
Firefighters and to make sure we were being taken care of.

Hey this is a start.

Kickflip
8/24 A few Responses:

To Eng Capt:

With respect to a new R5 Deputy that wants to contract out R5...without trying to sound overly arrogant I offer a few clichés: "Not on the FWFSA's watch" and "over my dead body!"

To Yactak (& others) regarding land management agencies managing emergency services: Interstingly, there are a growing number of folks not only in Congress but OMB has started to solicit our thoughts about a "stand-alone" wildland fire agency. Perhaps they too are starting to recognize that this is not the business the land management agencies should be in...at least not with the current organizational structure. Should the idea catch on it would be an absolute requirement that the agency be run by fire folks, not bureaucrats.

To Envious:

Don't be envious. Work to fix the problems. Through my experience as a labor union president I cannot recall any instance where feds had the luxury of negotiating pay & benefits. The avenue for feds with respect to pay & benefits has largely been through legislation i.e. The Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) and other initiatives that have largely been ignored. There are obviously other avenues through OPM for special pay fixes here and there but not across the board without legislation.

To put the issue of collective bargaining for such issues for feds in perspective, it has taken over 10 years for the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) to get their # 1 legislative priority passed by the House of Representatives which is National Collective Bargaining. I presume that would be limited to fire agencies, maybe even other emergency personnel.

Then look at the vast number of different occupations in the federal system, the various agencies that employ the workers and the task of changing Title 5 to allow for bargaining on pay & benefits seems insurmountable.

So...we work Capitol Hill.

Casey
8/24 Ms,

Well spoken. I’m a long term CDF guy who retired with 42 years under my belt but I come from a Forest Service family. When the history books are written I’m sure it will show us that the best Fire and Aviation Director R-5 has ever had is Ray Quintanar. He is articulate, empathetic, a great listener, practical and above all committed to his employees and the organization and I hope all have a chance to see this now. He will be missed by all of us regardless of our agency affiliation. His retirement was probably very hard on him emotionally because of his intensity level. I’ll bet he is very restless right now watching what is taking place and due to professional ethics (he is a very ethical man) and not being able to get involved and fix this big mess before it gets worth. What I’m seeing on the horizon is the use of more contractors by the Forest Service and that means to me the use of more off-shore employees too. To displace such a group of well trained and dedicated employees in that manner is criminal in my book. I love you all and I wouldn’t trade a moment in my career. The camaraderie we all built is a very great memory for me to go to sleep with each night.

Normbc9

8/24 Tired of reading doom and gloom about leadership...pay and contractors. Not that there aren't valid points in the discussions...just a little too negative for me at this point in the season. Here's a little Ode to change up the threads.

Life is Great

Down in Florida swatting flies and gnats
up In Alaska sleeping on tundra mats.
Out in the Bob throwing dirt and digging line
Life is great… everything is just fine.

Fire out front… politicians on both sides
feet full of blisters and missing some hide.
Smoke so thick you envy the blind
Life is great… everything is just fine

10 and 18… LCES and spot weather forecasts
Briefings at base camp… questions to ask.
Newbies complaining and starting to whine
Life is great…. everything is just fine

Unwitnessed acts of perseverance
Holding actions so intense some ask for deliverance
Busting hump and watching for ticks carrying Lyme
Life is great… everything is just fine

Sack lunch for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Starts one thinking about life as a sinner
Tipping snags from their stumps…fir and the pine
Life is great… everything is just fine

Paychecks horded for winter subsistence
Chosen lifestyles and loved ones resistance
Gone from home for such a long time
Life is great… everything is just fine.

Twisted ankles, pulled muscles… poison oak from hell
Not having the luxury to falter or fail
Dealing with issues that threaten to shut down the mind
Life is great… everything is just fine

Coughing out dust from smoke filled lungs
Eyes watering and red… feet feel like they weigh a ton
Out ahead another tree covered hill to climb
Life is great…everything is just fine.

Shift finally ends as dusk approaches
Flames flicker across the mountain like tiny torches
Another day in the life of a fire fighter on the line
Life is great…everything is just fine.

Oliver
8/24 Much in They Said lately has discussed difficulties of living on the pay
scale as a fire fighter in R5, such as Yactak's post of 8/24. Others such
as Ms say its time for some in leadership to move aside and others suggest
that with attrition and retirements we will not be able to put teams
together.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good solution. But there is "a" solution.
It reminds me of when I worked in an ICU. Folks complained about pay scale
and leadership. Someone wiser than me pointed out that "we could all walk
out tomorrow and they will not close this ICU. They will find someone to
do the job." My point is simple. Every firefighter in the country could
walk off the job today. Tomorrow's fires would be fought. I'm not saying
they'd have fully qualified folks. Just that they would have someone.

As for the firefighters, they may find someone without a mortgage or a
family. But they will find someone. Not saying the results will be
pretty.

Arkansan.
8/24 PB,

I see you are assuming your role as the arbiter of truth and logic on the inter-web. You old soothsayer.

I also wonder about the liability for the IC’s, what if these mercenary insurance resources were injured or killed? Are they in communication with adjoining resources? Are there any standards? Or was everything smoothed over by the right people talking to the Ketchum RD?

The ramifications of this precedent is a little too Marxist to contemplate. Functionally the insurance companies of the wealthy are saying, “Federal, State, and Municipal emergency response to areas surrounding our policy holders is inadequate. So we will launch our own separate response.” Where does it stop? A private police force? Military? This is a slippery slope, hiking on alder with a pack-out bag slippery.

Jersey Boy, any input? Or am I just paranoid?

Brent Jenkins

8/24 If my memory serves me correct, if you are a Cal-Fire employee and get injured, you only get comp pay based on your base pay .....no O.T. calculations. You get 2/3 of your pay on comp and can supplement with leave credits to bring it up to full monthly wages.

I continue to read nearly daily here of the poor pay that is offered by the USFS......... I totally agree....... it is poor.... doubtful that it will change...... sooooooooooooooooo, if you can't survive on the wage....... leave....look for other means of making a life for you and your family.... no sense in batting your head against the wall forever when there is no light at the end of the tunnel. no one is holding you there at gunpoint. Wish things were different for all... as in decent pay.... but they certainly are not, and probably never will be.
DANNYBOY
8/24 Regarding the pay and benefits thread....

Simple really.... the "new" kids on the block with the USFS have the following to consider....

In order to pay rent, mortgage, utilities, etc in California, one must work a minimum of 1000
hrs of OT. Then figure out how one will cover health benefits when "laid off" during the winter.
If one has children, that 1000 hr figure may become a 1500 hr figure so we can put money
away for the kids college education.

So if I continue to work for the USFS and wish to provide for my family, I must be gone all
summer and not see the kids grow up....

Now if I worked for an agency that provide enough base pay, benefits and retirement
incentives to see my family during the summer and provide for life's basics and put money
away for the kids college..... Simple decision really..

Again, the land management agencies have no business managing emergency services in this
day and age.... simple evolution...

yactak

Another thought: If you're injured on the job, OWCP will only pay based on your base pay, not on OT, so you and your family are screwed. Ab.

8/24 Viejo said:

The Zaca fire has been burning for 7 weeks and is probably the most expensive fire in the history of California.
Not probably, it will be the most expensive unfortunately.

The large cost is related to a large air force and the WUI areas that surround the wilderness. Cooperator cost will also be millions. So much of what was spent was because of the assets in the WUI, areas the Los Padres are not even responsible for, but politically had to be part of the decision making.

I simply ask…Isn’t it time for the USFS to reconsider its Wildland Fire Policy? It has been demonstrated by and that fast initial attack and rapid mobilization of secondary forces is an effective way to combat wildland fires. Smaller fires equals less cost and less exposure to risk.

Yes, it is time to reconsider wildland fire policy. Yes, a strong IA will reduce large or mega wildfire. Yes, a strong federal secondary force with a strong militia will keep costs down. Yes, smaller fires = less costs. NO, the Forest Service was not responsible for the Initial Attack or even Extended Attack for the Zaca. However if we were, it would of been the same result. When Mother Nature is in charge, she doesn’t care what kind of badge you’re wearing.

It has also been demonstrated that in moderate to severe burning conditions bulldozers and mechanical equipment is required to put fires out in an expedient manner. I understand the authority to use mechanical equipment in Wilderness areas has been moved form the Forest Supervisors Office to the Washington Office. Why should a Washington bureaucrat decide what is best for the citizens of a Western State?

The Santa Ynez Range is a transverse range (east-west). Although some dozer use in the wilderness could of been useful, on a large scale, dozers would not of been effective based on the fact there is no north-south ridgeline a natural features to work from for secondary lines to hold the monster in place. Not even any roads to work from and you would be putting firefighters at additional risk. Our Region may make the decisions to use dozers in the wilderness, not the WO.

If the USFS wants to introduce fire to the wildlands, then lets do as a planned event, with appropriate cost controls and an environmental study.

The Los Padres, Angeles, Cleveland and BDF are not permitted in our Land Mgt Plans to allow wildfire to burn in the wilderness. A confine and contain strategy is required and it must to implemented safely. The Zaca was not about let burn, it was continuously being attack which is evident when you look at the perimeter map which shows 3 choke points where CDF and the USFS almost had this thing hooked and then Mother Nature came back and said "not so fast".

No fault to anyone with the Zaca. All good people and all good agencies doing the best they could. Only problem is they had thousands of years of fire history working against them. About 20 years from now when we are sitting in our rocking chairs, we will be hearing about another large fire burning in the same areas of the Zaca, Day, Kirk, Wheeler, Paint, Oakland Hills, Cedar and Bar Complex. With a strong IA, aggressive fuels treatments and sustained funding for both, you can delay these destructive fires, but you will never eliminate them. This is why you’re correct when you said we must have a large secondary force funded to continue to handle large fire events.

ms

8/23 jimhart,

Molumby's team may have hung the door on the south side, but Opliger's team
slammed it shut... none of which would have been possible without the efforts of
some great hotshot, engine and other fire crews. A great team effort by ALL!!

yactak
8/23 I heard there's a new R5 Deputy Chief and she wants to bring in
contractors to solve our problems. Is this true?

I had thought I would stay, but I may have to put my app in with
CalFire.

Eng Capt

8/23 Casey,

I think I know the answer, just want to make sure. Are there any examples or history where Fed employees were able to go to a bargaining table with a union or association to bargain on salary and benefits for a specific group of Feds? I know the prez requests and congress makes laws and passes spending bills, however I'm curious if outside of this process any unique situations every existed or if bargaining on these issues ever occurred outside of the political environment.

Signed,

Envious of State, County and Local Government Firefighters Ability to Bargain.

8/23 Ab,

I visited the Cascade fire on Monday and they have moved the ICP from its burned area to a field just outside the town of Cascade. Not sure why, since part of their reasoning was the camp was central and close to the 'action', perhaps they no longer enjoyed the scenery. In our training we often talk of the risk assessment matrix and I wonder if it was correctly applied to this situation. I am sure that their decision to 'dig in' and then later abandon the site will cause much discussion throughout the remainder of the season.

Aardvark
8/23 Actually, the supposed armchair commentary you are hearing mirrors  what  people and Firefighters are saying here in California. It is  real easy to rest on the argument that this way of doing business is  the "peoples will". Special interest groups and people with their own agendas are the ones that form the rules and regs that the FS is  governed by, not the "public". The rest just drink the Cool-aid with out questioning its impacts. What works in Montana does not work in California and conversely so. The Zaca fire is the perfect example of  what does not work in California. It will have been 2 months, 9x  million dollars and 225,xxx acres. Would this be considered a wise use of money and resources?  The loss of revenue to the state, the  impact on the land, and the effect on the surrounding people far outweigh any good that can come from this fire. You can't tell me that the use of Dozers and retardant in the "wilderness" outweighs the the damage done by this fire. Rehabing dozer lines seems like  allot less work then putting back together a whole forest

GB
8/23 Baily's post is the most reasoned, common sense posting in a long time.

For R-5, it's time for some resignations, it's time for those sitting back and watching it crumble be shamed for inaction. They follow the party line at the expense of the firefighter making 12-14 bucks an hour. No honest words, no commitment, not even a thank you.

I remember the days when Q and Ron would visit the forest. You could see in Q's eyes he wanted to meet some troops. I remember one day Q and Ron walked right past me and other Chiefs and went directly to our firefighters. They knew we would be sitting in a meeting for several hours and they wanted to meet firefighters first. They would ask a few questions, shake hands and before walking away Q would say Thank You, Thank You for being an R-5 Firefighter. That meeting to those Firefighters was more important than special pay. That was their Fire Director. If those kids never knew what leadership was, you can guarantee they did after that meeting. We just watched, smiled and learned. In retrospect Q was teaching us how the troops should be treated.

I remember when I worked for Harbour he was the person I most admired in the Service, hands down. Now he oversees a Service where one of his regions (5) is dying. No leadership, no vision, just stay the course and we must have a mobile smaller suppression workforce, sound familiar?

It's time for change, it's time for some to step aside.

ms
8/23 Ab,

This note is for Benner, and all the other fine folks who have contacted me about my faller treatment post.

Please know that, from reports from our fallers over the past several years, the poor treatment I described has definitely been the RARE exception, rather than the rule. As your post suggests, Benner, our fallers almost always feel appreciated and valued by IMTs. And they're most always told so, and feel it.

This was the case with Chris Shulte's IMT on the Domke, as well. I can attest, however, that there are many, many feet in recovery mode as yours are. But the stories the fallers are bringing back are priceless. Incredible pics, as well. They'll be showing up on our website as soon as we can find time to put them there.

The Domke was a rough assignment, made bearable by good companionship between everyone there working their as@es off. I only heard very, very good things about your team. Mutual respect and mutual admiration goes a long way...fortunately, all the way to 14 days, 21 days and beyond. That's particularly important as minds and bodies start to wear down and nerves begin to frazzle.

Thanks for your kinds words. Just a bit of advice...Epsom Salts and John Wayne movies cure just about anything. Add good beer and things seem to move along nicely. "...big talk from a one-eyed fat man"...(((come on, what JW flick was that from?...)))...And a pitcher of beer to the first one with the proper JW response.

Ciao,

Shari
8/23 Baily,

When the experienced firefighters leave we'll loose California's Incident Management Teams, as well. Lack of firefighters coming up into middle management means the wildland firefighting infrastructure in R5 is at risk. There must be a certain sustained but ever-changing core group of wildland firefighters working up through the ranks who maintain the fire knowledge and experience base for safe operation. It takes years to build the kind of experience needed for management of incidents across the nation. Evidence of the emerging decline is a lack of Deputy ICs on our IMTs.

What most people don't know is that R5 provides 40% of the fed wildland firefighting force for the nation.

What people also don't know is that the R5 Board of Directors -- the 17 Region 5 Forest Chiefs plus TMU Chief -- initiated or helped sort out lots of the problems facing fire for the nation, at least from what I observed from 2000-2006. They did it BOD Meeting after BOD Meeting and in between with the help of Gary Beale, Dennis Hulbert, and others, including our Regional Chief, Ray Quintanar. It's clear to me that as R5 goes, so goes the nation.

I don't blame Forest Service Line Officers, from forest ranger to forest sup to Regional Forester to FS Chief. They don't know fire. It's natural for people to create the reality that they feel comfortable living within. They're busy doing that. They hold the power and decide how money is spent, so it's not surprising that there's momentum for fire to get reduced to something small and manageable. A friend once told me that we only need get rid of the 15% of deadwood and we could regenerate. What I see is we'll be loosing our top 20-25%, at least in CA.

My opinion: there's no going back to the FS of yesteryear. We live in a new age with new population demands, climate change, current drought, forest density and decadent fuels in the form of acres upon acres of beetle infested dead and dying  trees across the west. It will take more than a new FS Doctrine or "Fundamental Principles" to move us through all this... Dialogos was flawed in that it was not framed on historical context and the way you frame the questions in part determines the answers you get.

One really good thing happening is that the Forest Service is the re-writing or has rewritten the FSH 5100, the 5120, 5130 etc and all the manuals and supplementary material pertaining to fire. Changes should take effect January 1, 2008 and may relieve some of our firefighting legal woes.

Mellie

8/23 I have to totally agree with the posting of Me 8/23. The fire leadership
in R5 (Ed) and the Fire Leadership at the WO (Tom) are showing their true
colors by letting the ship go down without even turning on the pumps. Over
the next eighteen months a large block of experienced Battalions, Captains,
Engineers, Sups and squadies will be leaving the Forest Service or the
Region. The reason; we could be lazy and just say Money, but it is more
than that. It is lack of leadership/vision/reality and showing you care
for your people. The Forest Service Fire Leadership in California has
chosen to do nothing about the exodus. In fact by their lack of concern
and or action they are encouraging it to happen. Ed, Tom and the rest of
the Deputies in R5 Fire should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of
action.

Baily
8/23 Aberdeen:

Who thinks the rich don't get special treatment, you ask?

I believe they did get special treatment in this case, but I also think the answer to your question depends on which rich people you refer to. The rich homeowners get the protection because they paid someone to provide it. It was part of the return on their annual $10,000 premium. In our system, that's not special treatment.

The fair-treatment-of-the-rich question I have is this: why were the private structure protection folks, who were agents acting on the behalf of powerful private interests (the insurance company's), allowed access to these homes AFTER the rest of the public had been barred access? If Joe-Schmo wanted to apply his own Phos-Chek to his single-wide trailer in the Wood River Valley, would the incident management have granted him the same access? I doubt it.

If the Forest Service is going to begin allowing private individuals to "help" with the protection of their assets (which is the effect achieved by granting access to the insurance company engines), they had better be prepared to afford poor people the opportunity to protect their property, even if those poor people can't afford a big shiny fire truck, Phos-Chek, or base eight's for couple of 19 year olds to apply it.

I am only guessing, but my suspicion is this: If someone can find a clear example from this fire of (1) a home that was lost because (2) private structure protection did not take place, and (3) access to the home was denied to the homeowner, even though (4) access to other homes was granted to other home owners' agents (insurance fire trucks), then the government (which is probably to say the IC) might find themselves in deep, expensive trouble. It is only a guess, but can you say "lawsuit," anyone?

-PB

Insurance companies may have had MOUs in place. Could also have had prior arrangement with local govt. I don't know if they did, but seems a possibility. Insurance companies usually address legalities up front. Ab.

8/23 Concerning the Zaca. Lots of arm chair commentary here. A couple non-firefighter friends told me a few days ago all the reasons why things have turned out the way they have. I think they heard it on the news. I just smiled to avoid a bar fight.

Regardless, Molumby buttoned up the south end, Hawkins is now on the north: a couple of the best and brightest who also happen to have a deep respect for the natural environment. Nuff said.

jimhart
8/23 I thought about responding to Viejo but then I thought better of it and
realized someone else would say it for me! Mollysboy said it for me and
put it well.

As one state representative said it right "the enemy is the senate". That
is, our system of government has checks and balances. The state reps in
congress help the locals retain some control and the senate helps provide
us with folks who have the interest of the entire country in mind rather
than solely local interests. We need that balance. On top of that we have
a president (not "the" president). There's one person who can take a
single person's perspective and make a semi-final decision. If that person
is extreme, then congress can overrule them, but it takes extra votes.
That way, while the prez has some say, if enough states push an opposite
direction, he (or she) doesn't have the final say.

I don't want my local politicians to have complete control over our
Arkansas national forests and parks. I know what would happen and how fast
they would be sold to cronies, mutilated for the fast buck, or perhaps even
ignored. And I agree with Mollysboy that I want my congressfolk to have a
stake in what happens.

You may have heard or been told parks and forests are "forever". But when
the budget comes up short and folks start to sell them off, you quickly
realize it will continue to take voter interest and desire to keep them in
place. Its only civilization that's protecting them. Civilizations
change.

Arkansan.
8/23 Re: Air guy, looking for DC 10 videos

Alan Simmons has some footage of the DC 10 included on his Firestorm 2006 Volume 1 dvd.  It's at the end of the Day Fire.  It's pretty funny, if you listen closely you can hear someone exclaiming in disbelief at how long the drop is.  It kind'a reminded me of that pink battery bunny on tv, it just keeps going, and going, and going. . . 

Alan also may have more that didn't make the dvd.  His contact info is on his website, and you can get to that from his image at the top left of of the Fire Photo pages and/or the Classified Page.  OA
8/23 viejo -

As a lifetime Westerner, a long-time Montanan, and a wildland firefighter for 30+ years, I for one am glad that some folks east of the Mississippi River are involved in making decisions that impact the Public Lands in the West - lands that belong to all of the people in the US, not just us Westerners. If it wasn't for those Washington bureaucrats, decisions about land use and firefighting might fall to the likes of Montana's Conrad Burns, Idaho's Butch Otter or Larry Craig, and yes, in California, to someone like Richard Pombo.

My life is more than just being a wildland firefighter, and after all these years, I still enjoy hiking around in Wildernesses, even a burned over one, with out seeing miles of dozer trails and clearcuts everywhere - it may not meet the definition of short-term efficiency or effectiveness, but I believe that it serves the long-term purpose of the Wilderness Act.

The will of the American people is expressed through our Congress, and they passed laws like the Wilderness Act that set our management direction: when the will of the Public changes and is reflected by the laws of our Congress, then we may fight different in those special areas. Me, I'm writing my boys in DC (Max, Jon and Denny) and telling them to "stay the course"!

Mollysboy

8/23 Viejo,

I am pretty sure that the Zaca Fire started on County property, and not Forest
Service land, so therefore not responsible for the initial response.

Now Red
8/23 Just got back on Sat. from my 14 day assignment to the ZACA II...got some really good,
up-close an personal video of the DC-10 making a drop just a few hundred yards from
our line on DIV N and another of a P-3. Thought everyone would enjoy this one. Stay
Safe and take care!

BDFWildfire

http://s9.photobucket.com/albums/a75/RayRay222/?action=view&current=100_0750.flv

http://s9.photobucket.com/albums/a75/RayRay222/?action=view&current=100_0749.flv
8/23 I'm all for insurance companies being more pro-active. Resources are scarce; we can use all we can get. Remember that many of the first fire departments in this country were founded by insurance companies. The rich may be different, but note in the article that one of the criteria for the company sending private fire protection is paying more than $10,000/year in premiums. That's about 15 years of premiums for me. Perhaps at that dollar amount, a little better service is warranted.

Fish
8/23 Viejo,

They have re-evaluated. We are doing "point protection" in ID and MT
while working to get out of structure protection altogether. We're not
trained in structure protection. We shouldn't be doing it.

I think they heard you. There are no longer enough resources to pick fires
up on IA.

About introducing wildfire... Tell that to the lightning and the random
human firesetters.

MT Fireline

8/23 Tara,

FIRST & FOREMOST – Company reputation! Find out from
state and federal folks what they think of the company
and their ability to be trusted and do the job. Other
contractors may not be such a good source of info
based on…well, you get the idea.

Easy to figure out:

Condition of equipment – this represents the overall
commitment to the NWCG engine program. Is the engine
clean, complete, and everything works (not just
occasionally)? Tools in good condition with safety
guards on them? And equipment cabinets orderly and
clean. Look for an actual mobile radio not just a
handheld.

Personnel background – do they come from land
management agencies, fire departments, or off the
street? Where exactly did they get their NWCG course
training and certifications from?

Personnel appearance when on duty – Do they look like
wildland firefighters? Nomex in good condition, and
line gear that will do the job? And check out their
boots just as a thought. And see if they carry new or
old generation fire shelters. New generation fire
shelters earns some bonus points (shows commitment).

More in-depth:

Insurance - Does their workmans comp insurance really
show the company as a firefighting company (vs.
construction, landscaping, etc).

Training - What kind of training does the employer
make available? Are task books used and show multiple
assignments for each position? Daily drills even when
not on fires.

Finally and second most important...

Intuition – Use your intuition. If you get a good, comfortable
and safe feeling around them you are probably ok. If you
“feel” and kind of problems you are probably right
about that too…walk away.

Montana is a great place to work on an engine! And
there are some good contractors in the state. But
back in 2004 there was a major player that was told
they would not be allowed to register as a contractor
anymore because they had earned a really bad
reputation. They moved their operation to Wyoming and
got back on the books.

Remember, you can always change employers. But don’t
forget us Feds! We hire a whole lot of engine folks
every year.

Best of luck to you and remember to stay safe.

BLMboy

Nice! Ab.

8/23 To the Abs, members of this forum and the Wildland fire Community…

The Zaca fire has been burning for 7 weeks and is probably the most expensive fire in the history of California and perhaps the Nation. Last year’s Day fire was a similar scenario. In my own area in Northern California I have seen this drama of fires burning until the winter rains repeated too many times to recount.

I simply ask…Isn’t it time for the USFS to reconsider its Wildland Fire Policy? It has been demonstrated by and that fast initial attack and rapid mobilization of secondary forces is an effective way to combat wildland fires. Smaller fires equals less cost and less exposure to risk.

It has also been demonstrated that in moderate to severe burning conditions bulldozers and mechanical equipment is required to put fires out in an expedient manner. I understand the authority to use mechanical equipment in Wilderness areas has been moved form the Forest Supervisors Office to the Washington Office. Why should a Washington bureaucrat decide what is best for the citizens of a Western State?

The two week team rotation policy seems to work to absolve any individual or group for the outcome of the fire. Faced with an impossible task of controlling a fire that has been raging for weeks the Fire Teams often seem to simply try to do their two weeks without anyone getting hurt.

I am not anti fire…I am anti wildfire. If the USFS wants to introduce fire to the wildlands, then lets do as a planned event, with appropriate cost controls and an environmental study.

viejo

8/23 Abs, Shari and Firefighters,
Just so you know...I walked out w/ a lot of fallers evryday, well, ok we
also walked in everyday 3 miles, then walked some more falling snags all
day, then walked out 3 miles, couldn't be helped. Some days we were boated
to our worksite and boated back to Sid's spike camp. That really helped
our feet and our production, long haul. Me and my fallers had a great time
working hard and camping together. Sid, the local concessionaire, welcomed
us as his regular guests. He made our spike camp a real treat by buying us
coffee, cigs and snoose, for those who ran out. He got up at 0430 made us
coffee (starbucks) on his campstove. He often had to travel by Hoda trail
110 then by boat to Chelan and back to get these, all out of his own
pocket. Sid didn't ask if we were feds or contractors, he did it because
we were a team of good hard workin' folks. That is as it should be, it's
called a lot of thins...respect, humanity, comraderie, good natured
behavior, caring...Sorry to Jim about the fire not replacing your missing
(from boat to helicopter) Husky 32" bar. I wish they'd bought you one.
Misery whip lighten up, and recognize your generalizations are bad for
everyone. back to Shari would love to travel with your falling group as a
felling boss anytime, anywhere. About Contractors : My fallers, as I
tell 'em are my favorite people on a fire, underline people and bolden
it...They are generally more efficient, generally not as uptight, generally
way more fun off the clock, very serious on the clock. My evals reflect
all that. By the way Ken said it was allright to wear your shirt and hat as
I traded my District stock for it...To other responders: I did get my
assignment, went to Lucerne by long boat ride and walked my ass off like
everybody else...My feet are still hammered, and I'm still not ready for
prime time...Two more days...

Sign me Benner ( not Bener or Benr or other misspellings)
Sisters OR
8/23 Re Zaca smoke picture (Zaca Fire Branch IV):

JE

During many late afternoons and evenings in the mountains to the north
of Santa Barbara, light to moderate winds from the North, not quite
sun-downers, occurred during the Zaca fire.  Smoke and ash were injected
by the fire into these air currents and highlighted their structure.

Like cream being added to swirling coffee.  These waves are common as
the air flows over the mountains.  We just aren't usually lucky enough
to be able to see them.

Kent

_________________________________________
Kent Field is the meteorologist for APCD Ventura Co.

Regards
DC

8/23 And who thinks that the mega-rich don't get special treatment?? Your insurance
company dispatches its own private fire force to protect your McMansion
(home # 2-3-4-etc).

www.magicvalley.com/articles/2007/08/23/news/top_story/119026.txt

Aberdeen
8/23 Ab.

The airtanker photo that Tyler H. is referring to on 8/21 was taken on the Jocko
Lakes fire (MT-FHA) on Aug 4, 2007. The location is west of Seeley Lake on road
9974. The entrance to the drive way read MOSS ROCK. Home owner unknown. The
location is in Div A. Myself and Jeff Muenster Div A. where scouting out
the divisions we were going to take over in the morning. IMT 2 Glenn McNett
was assuming command of the fire on 8/5. Just wanted you to have the
correct information.

Cameron Goins
Div B
Jocko Lakes Fire

Thanks, Cameron. I'll correct that on the photo description page. Didn't catch the tail number, did you?Ab.

8/23
'Black Fingers of Death' fungus may halt advance of invasive weed

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6600AP_WST_Black_Fingers_of_Death.phpl

 
From a FF standpoint this could be interesting for places like Eastern WA, anywhere
where Cheat Grass is a big problem.

Sammie

I hope they're looking at the fungus' health effects on humans, like wildland firefighters' lungs, and other organisms, too. Often species introduced to control other species have unexpected, devastating effects, like the incredible damage to unique ecosystems caused by the the cane toads that were introduced into Australia. Ab.

8/23 Answers

"Is anyone asking North Ops why they are not letting all of its type 2 IA crews
out of R-5 since there is not any drawdown policy/plan for those crews? "

They ARE letting crews out now, even though new R-5 fires keep starting, like Vista, and 80. I have a Crew currently in Idaho, that wanted to extend, and North Ops said no, come home, because some Crews have not went out yet. They are sending new Crews to replace those timed out in other regions.

Noname

8/23 GSP

There are draw down levels for most all equipment and
crews in the Northern Areas. It wouldn't be smart to
let all the crews go and say "hey engine guys it's all
yours" But with that said I do understand the
frustration with sitting at home while other states
burn. The Region has done real well at stopping the
"What If" complex and frustrating our crews. They
should just post the CalFire website in all of its
offices because that is where some of our best and
brightest will be next year. The lack of experience
and overtime will make for an interesting season next
year. Alot of people are going to be bailing off the
sinking ship known as R5 and joining other agencies or
going to other regions where their fire staffs
actually care about the people.

ME
8/23 Tara,

First off, welcome to the theysaid. If you're shopping around for crews, there are quite a few things you need to look for in a quality crew. I'll list just a few to get you started:

1- Physical training regiment

2- Classroom and field training frequency

3- Crew reputation (ask around)

4- Diversity

There are a lot of things to consider; some may matter more to you than others, but don't limit yourself to one potential employer. It's just business, so apply all over the place and put yourself in the driver's seat. Remember to have fun, be safe, do your best, and no matter where you go, it's bound to be an experience!

-HOG

Good points, HOG. I think she was also hoping this might be one place to ask around. I snipped identifying info as I don't think this public forum is the place for all that.  Is there anyone from MT who knows MT firefighting companies with engine crews that she could communicate with directly? I didn't recognize her potential employer, but I don't know MT contract crews except for a few big companies. With fire behavior in MT and ID being what it is, safety and reputation are very important for a rookie. Ab.

8/23 Beyond Tranquillon Ridge - Historical post and book review:

I was assigned to this fire as a Division Boss and responded from another fire located in the Mariposa County area east of Coulterville. When I arrived I noted constant brisk and variable winds and it was reminiscent of my coast assignment when with CDF in San Diego and Orange counties. I was a witness to sustained fire whirl that lasted about three minutes. When you think about it that is a long time. This book is well written, very descriptive of the many and varied experiences all of us witnessed. The burn over was no surprise to me. While we all mourned the loss of fellow firefighters, we didn’t have any time to dwell on that tragedy.

What did impress me was the total burn off down to the soil level of the fuels. I found places where the earth had a crust on the surface and I attributed that to the heat of the fire front as it passed. I even found sand areas where the surface looked like glass.

I do recommend this book for all who are assigned to a coastal response station. Be it in Marin, Sonoma or San Diego county, it gives a good description of what coastal fires can do and it is crazy. First it runs inland. Then the fog comes in and it tries to lay down except above the fog levels. Then it runs back out to the beach and lays down again. This goes on every day. If you are not focused, this is the kind of fire that can go into the history books.

Normbc9

8/23 Is anyone asking North Ops why they are not letting all of its type 2 IA crews
out of R-5 since there is not any drawdown policy/plan for those crews? I know
that I am getting pretty tired of mowing lawns at the station and reading the
North Ops report and sit report. Cal Mob Guide has no mention of drawdown
for type 2 IA.

GSP

8/23 A-76 Article

Forest Service IT is mentioned as an example:

http://www.fcw.com/article103515-08-20-07-Print

LC

Thanks for that.

8/23 There have been a LOT of replies for Ken. I think You all can stop now...

Ab.

8/22 Goodday

I was wondering if there was a prayer for firefighters that have passed on. We recently lost one of our helitack members (not fire related) and I have been asked to attend the funeral on behalf of the dept. I searched all over and cannot find one any help you can give me would greatly be appreciated.

Ken Creighton
Wildfire Ranger
Southern Rockies
Alberta Canada

Ab is happy to pass on any replies.

8/22 Dog and Tail:

dfchief:

Wish you were right, but I am afraid the political and inexperienced
tail has become much larger than the dog.

WGT

8/22 PIOfer, a response to your own comments:

1." It wasn't really an entrapment, as there was a place the people could move"

It does not matter that you can move around in your Safety Zone, if your Escape Routes were cut off, the proper term is "ENTRAPPED" , as per NWCG standard teaching in S-290, S-390, S-490 and numerous other classes.

2. "The camp didn't "burn-over", so you really can't call it that"

If all the fuels completely surrounding the Safety Zone burned, that is EXACTLY what you call it, reference above class materials.

3. "And issuing a non-line qualified status check-in recorder a shelter isn't going to do much good."

I can't even believe you said this. In the Level 1 Fire Refresher Class, that EVERYONE assigned as Incident Support personnel are REQUIRED to take every year, (FSH 5109.17_22.4) it clearly states that Fire Shelter Training is required.

The book states that Level 1- "Incident Support Personnel- this level includes individuals assigned to an Incident base, Spike camp, or other support facilities, and who on occasion may need to visit the fire area, BUT ARE NOT REQUIRED TO be in an uncontrolled fire area. Position Examples include Ground Support Drivers, FINANCE PERSONNEL, and Mechanics. Minimum training length is four to eight hours.

So the check -in recorder would have had the training to use a shelter, or should not have been assigned to the camp. If the trailers had all burst into flames, or a wave of convective heat swept over the area, Shelters might have made the difference between life or death.

Statements like the one you made endanger lives, and encourage bad decisions in the future.

4. "Could the team have moved? Probably; that would have been the easy move."

If it was an easy move, then why put people in Harms way? The people who asked to evacuate were NOT ABLE TO, even after voicing their desire to leave. Couldn't the ICP simply moved the people out of the way the day before, and returned later if it was so easy?

5. "Would that have been safer? Perhaps"
Again, You are saying the Team had a safer option they did not use. WHY NOT?

6. "Were these people lucky? Certainly"

Luck should not be a deciding factor in LCES, careful planning is. Read the above example someone sent in about an Engine Crew doing the same thing. It wouldn't fly... Just because it worked THIS time, does not mean this should be done again, unless no other option existed, and there were clearly other options in this situation.

I have personally witnessed "Inertia" in wanting to move an established ICP due to interruption of services, inconvenience, etc. And i do realize this was a large area. But if this camp was in was a true Safety Zone, set up properly, there should have been NO damages, no melted Yurts, tents, destroyed cabins...but there was damage, not only to belongings, but to the folks who wanted to leave but couldn't, the lungs of all involved, (were any CO levels measured in the camp at the peak of the "BURN-BY" ? ,CO meters are cheap and plentiful.) I think not, We will not know the true damages of this until some people return home, hacking and coughing.

I have been in phone contact with one of my people assigned to the camp, and there is a lot of bronchial irritation if not bronchitis, already surfacing in this camp.

As a DIVS and 300-level Fire Instructor with 28 years of wildland fire under my belt, working for USFS, I just can't let this one be. Is is not right to downplay a serious close-call, and this is not 'armchair quarterbacking" , it is SAFETY ETHIC to AAR this event closely and carefully.

Sancho

8/22 Thinker, WGT and Offline:

WGT:
You have some good points. Your are right about the management principles. (Authority, Responsibility and Accountability). As far as line safety officers, EMT's, and ambulances, what was the "need of the incident" has become SOP. I can't judge that; only the IC, IMT and the incident can. But I will stay with the principle that the incident drives the need. Never saw a dog with a tail larger than its body!!

Thinker and Offline:
Offline's line example is right on!. I do a good deal of instructing ( I courses and S courses). Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 and 8 after 9/11 sets the stage for National Response Plan, NIMS and the National Preparedness Goal all under the watchful or (sometimes blind) eye of Department of Homeland Security. Implementation of various segments of the plans and directives are money driven. As an example, locals, state and Federal entities must train all that could be involved in emergency management in ICS (I-100), and those involved in single resources and initial action in I-200. And if needed, I-300 and I-400. In order to get DHS dollars, the entities have to report accomplishment (i.e. number of graduates'). So, the emphasis is to get as many graduated which is a prime example of "carrot stick and donkey". So on-line is the quickest and cheapest way of accomplishing the numbers. And you can get the answers to the test on E-Bay. ( The new phonetic spelling has changed the "l" in quality to "nt" !)

I believe as Offline mentioned, that classroom instruction is best for a good foundation. Heck, an instructor can answer questions better than DELL, HP or IBM.

Is someone an ICS expert or ICS knowledgeable and able in instruct and lead if they have had I-100, 200 and 300 in three weeks? Well, they are out there! That lead to stuff like "joint unified command". From my viewpoint, the fire community as a whole (wildland and structure) has been good at teaching and learning the ICS protocols and principles. There are other emergency management entities that want to short cut the processes, count numbers, get the dollars and do things they way they have done them in the past.

Finally, I have to believe that ICS will prevail. Heck, back in my younger days when hardhats were aluminum, and fire retardant trousers were blue and made by Levi or Can't Bust'em, in the backwoods of Elk City, Rosebud, Crown King, Dinkey Creek and Hayfork ICS was called the Idiotic California System.

dfchief
8/22 rookie needing employer advice

Hi my name is Tara <snip> and I have recently been offered a position on a engine crew in region 1 in Montana with <snip>. Tim the crew boss just contacted me today, its is a first time crew, so new he doesn't even have a web site. I was hoping someone could help me out with some advice or pointers on how to choose an employer.

Thank you,

-Tara

8/22 I think some of you are delusional regarding cooperators on wild fires. The fire district I work for (In AZ) is a professional, career organization with skilled, trained personnel. Our personnel meet all NWCG standards, get refresher training annually, pass WCT’s and get red cards through the State Foresters Office. We provide Type 3 and Type 6 engines with CAFS to incidents through out the country. By the way, no leaks! We provide medical personnel, overhead (including DIVS and ICT2) and our engines. We are not paid portal to portal. We have an active Wildfire Division that not only has suppression responsibility but we also have a Fuels Mgt program staffed with a number of professionals. The feds hire us because we can do the job. We are accustomed to long hours, we are trained in ICS, we send out quality apparatus and personnel. We function well in the Federal system, think of all fire fighters as brothers and sisters. We go out to support these incidents from a sense of duty, to answer the call for real or planned needs. Additionally, Phoenix Fire does rely on cooperators because they have one of the best mutual aid systems in the Nation, maybe the world. In the Phoenix area, there is operational consolidation. Units respond from Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Glendale, etc. across jurisdictional borders, all working under a common command system, with common equipment, for a common purpose. The forest districts in this area rely heavily on mutual aid responses from the local fire departments for initial attack, extended attack, incident command duties, extra people and apparatus, prescribed fire, etc. I think you should stop slamming cooperators and contractors and gain the true understanding of what it means to cooperate. DKF
8/22 Ab,

I took this pic on the Zaca Fire Branch IV. It caught my eye and I was
wondering if any FBANs or IBETs had an explanation. As you can see the
smoke takes a dive then comes back up. I first thought a Sun Downer was
developing but it never materialized.

JE
8/22 Ab,

Here is the current Cal Fire Burns policy. Read it then tell me
just how clear is this to the common firefighter?

Thanks,

Normbc9

8/22 The Victorville Tanker Base Home of the DC 10 is looking for some
videos and pictures of the DC10 in action.

Thank You

Air guy
8/22 Regarding Fed Fire Burn Policy. I did some investigation this morning.

Fed Fire Burn Policy is actively being addressed: NIFC / FAM have been meeting with OWCP and Occupational Safety and Health. I believe they're only waiting for signatures if I heard right. It's clear that fire management at the highest level is actively engaged in developing a solution to burn treatment asap.

Currently all Fed Fire, including FS fire, is following the BLM Burn protocol which says send burn victims to certified burn centers. Regional Safety Officers and Ops folks have been or are being informed of using only certified burn centers even ahead of receiving the formal documents awaiting signatures from the various agencies.

The two Crane Valley Hotshots that received burns to hand and ear when a spot fire on the Zaca flared up day before yesterday were transported to the Sherman Oaks Burn Center soon after being burned. They were working on a spot fire that flared up. Kudos to the onsite EMT and the Richardson Side Zaca for their very good work, I'm told. Those at all levels of response knew that because there were burns no matter how severe, a burn center eval was logical.

Mellie

8/22 Vicki

That "old CDF Policy" of all burned firefighters will go to a burn center
is alive and well in CDF today. Nothing has changed in the burn policy
with CDF old or new.

BPG

Read below. It's the details... Ab

8/22 Vicki, Thanks for bringing up the subject about burn policy.

You are correct about the old CDF Burn policy and the fact that any burn
victims were sent a qualified Burn Center for evaluation and treatment. The
later policy written by a staff physician changed that and transferred the
responsibility to the “ranking medical authority on scene.” To me it is
unthinkable that this would be adopted, but it was.

Now the CDF Firefighters Safety group is pushing to get the old policy
reinstated and get the load off the medical personnel at scene. What qualifies
any of them to make a decision of this magnitude? Even our Para-Medics
are critical of this existing policy.

Normbc9

8/22 Djchief and Thinker:

Ya'll raised concerns related to taking I-100 and I-200 on line vs face-to-face.

I agree with djchief that "it is like building a house on a poor foundation".

Recently, I was required to take an on line fire course for the National Response Plan through the Forest Service's "aglearn" system. After a week of trying unsuccessfully to log on, I finally gained access to aglearn. And no, I finally refuse to call it AgLearn like I no longer buy in to other odd spelling systems like NatureServe, Landfire, etc. Everybody's demoted to lower case in my book.

Anyway, the course was slated to take four hours, or was it four and a half. I thought "I don't want to click through endless pages of garbage of stuff I already know" so I decided to take the course using the "speed" method. I clicked as fast as I possibly could, as soon as the page started to load. I tried to read nothing. When I did read, I got really sick at my stomach. The course sung the praises of interagency cooperation, but having worked the WTC incident in NYC I know how interagency cooperation and local control really works (or fails to work) on the ground. Yea, sure, the agencies work together smoothly. And oil mixes with water too, right? Each pretest required one to select answers to sample questions. I would always select "A" or "true" on the first round and "B" on the second attempt. The software allowed me to bypass further "testing" after I "tried" twice. I learned almost nothing. I was smart enough to print off the sheets of info provided as lists of acronyms. I "completed" the course in about 40 minutes, including the final test. I had to use the acronyms a few times, but passed the course in my first attempt to take the test.

I think this illustrates for "thinker" what "djchief" was trying to say. I'm certain I might have gotten more out of a face-to-face course. The on-line course did help me improve my mouse clicking speed skills, but little else. I'd hate to depend on on-line I-100 and I-200, let alone basic fire fighting courses. Sure, you can figure out which button to click, but did you learn anything? Probably not. It reminds me of how I got through high school, not by studying but by being able to spot the wrong answers and selecting the correct ones by default.

I think the important point is that it is much harder to sleep through a course in person. By attending an actual course, you have to at least pay some attention so you don't look stupid when the instructor asks a question in front of your peers. You have to actually listen, or at least pretend to listen, to the instructors. I think most people pay attention in a live setting, despite wandering minds. I paid almost no attention to that on-line course or other "required" learning. They area real waste of my time and I treat them in that way, if I feel there's nothing here to learn.

I will add that aglearn and other required on-line courses are a big part of why I decided to take early retirement and spend my life in more productive work as a self employed person. You don't have to worry about having me on your fire this year and probably in future years, in part because of the stupidity of on line courses. On-line courses are one of many elephants in the room. Speak bad of them and the leadership will slap ya!

Offline.

8/22 The Most Incredible SafeCom Ever Filed

Older firefighters, helitacker's, and rotor-wing pilots may remember this astounding survivor story regarding an aviation incident that actually occurred in R-6 over ten years ago. It is a very thought provoking account and serves to remind us why we only fly aboard agency approved carded aircraft. I always thought it would make a great movie (or advertisement for Leatherman pocket tools...)

www.helis.com/stories/impsit.php

Hope your readers will enjoy.

"Old Rotorhead"
8/22 a couple of relevant comments to add to this discussion:

What do you call what happened? It wasn't really an entrapment, as there was a place the people could move. "Shelter-in-Place" sounds like they had to deploy shelters; but they didn't - so "stay -in-place" describes it well enough. The camp didn't "burn-over", so you really can't call it that. "Burn-by" seems like the most logical term. The fire flanked the camp; embers landed within the camp boundaries and created spot fires. I don't think the team came up with "burn-by" as a kindler gentler term for anything - it just happened to be the most apt descriptor of what occurred. You had 110 people being protected by 140 firefighters and accompanying resources - I'm not sure that's indicative of bad planning. And issuing a non-line qualified status check-in recorder a shelter isn't going to do much good.

Could the team have moved? Probably; that would have been the easy move. The camp was set up by the previous team when the fires were further away. But this meadow was the largest safety zone for 25 miles in any direction. Moving camp would have meant a 50 minute drive to the line each morning and evening on winding mountain roads. Would that have been safer? Perhaps. It's pretty easy to 'monday-morning-quarterback' this one. Lots of fodder.

Were these people lucky? Certainly. Was staying there the right move? That will probably be debated for quite awhile.

PIOfer.
8/21 Dear Ab,

There used to be a policy with “old” CDF that simply read “anybody that’s burned will go to a burn center,” it was that simple. It needs to be that simple again.

When the burned LaGrande Hot Shots were taken to the emergency room of the largest hospital in the State of Idaho, they were treated and released. It would have taken 45 minutes more flight time to take them to a verified burn center in Salt Lake City. After being seen and released from this Idaho hospital, it took one of our wildland firefighters 2 days and frustrating multiple incidents with other medical personnel, to get a referral to the burn center in Seattle, where that firefighter was admitted immediately.

We had another firefighter in South Dakota that took 3 weeks to get to a verified burn center. By the time he arrived at the center, he was told that if he had been there within the first 3 days, he would have been admitted, with skin grafts performed immediately, and, that the hospital he was treated in was using techniques that were 10 years behind the times.

I believe that the simplicity of this policy is vitally important for these reasons:

1) It will keep our firefighters from being under- or misdiagnosed and keep them from going through the hassle of them or their family trying to get them to a verified burn center, or getting treatment too late.

2) You won’t have firefighters saying “I’m okay” when they really aren’t. We don’t want them to minimize their injuries, especially when it comes to lung damage.

We owe it to them and their families to get diagnosed correctly and immediately the first time at a verified burn center.

Marc Rounsaville stopped by the Foundation. We had a good conversation about current burn policies. Marc is very actively involved in getting OWCP to step up and take care of our firefighters. Tom Harbour also has been by the Foundation several times this summer. I know personally that Tom had his hand on the incident with Willy's crew.

Willy thanks for your post. It touched me when you said how your crew was out of your hands when they flew away...... How different it would have been for you, if they had been taken to the best care possible in the U.S.

I hope the season will close out with no more injuries or fatalities – maybe the Foundation will be out of business and we can go help run the government.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

8/21 Vfd cap’n:

I like your analogy, but have one comment. A safety zone is a location where you
can safely ride out a passing fire without deploying shelters. Look how many people
survived  without deploying shelters.

My take is that this was reasonably safe, although with a little more time perhaps
nothing would have been lost or damaged.

Of course, had somebody been killed or injured, then all bets are off..

Bluezebra
8/21 Gizmo & djchief

I obviously do not communicate my thoughts very well. By "required" I did not mean by ICS rules, I meant by CYA factors, ie: numerous investigations by people with little or no wildland fire suppression experience, and that feel that in order to justify their investigation, they must find fault. And the easiest way to to find fault, particularly if you have no experience, is finding positions that were not filled, no matter for what reason.

Secondly, perhaps "restrictions" is not the correct word, but I believe that there are policies regarding major fire incidents that require some positions to be filled, ie: archeologists, etc. I am speaking of positions that do not lend help to the incident suppression, but often hinder it. There is much that I do not know about these policies, but I question the true need for such things as a Human Resources Manager on scene, or ambulances at base camps with all the EMTs and helicopters available, or 40 or 50 Safety Officers when personal safety is the responsibility of first the individual, and secondly the immediate supervisor, and numerous other positions.

I am not in any way a ICS historian, but I do remember its initial implementation, and I know that many positions have been added to it since then.

I did not mean to imply that ICS is the sole reason for the tremendous increase in emergency fund expenditures, when in fact there are a number of other reasons that have a much greater impact. I do believe, however, that the implementation of positions into the ICS organization (for wildland fire operations) that do not play a role in the primary mission of the fire suppression has helped to increase the emergency fund expenditures.

There are many other issues involved that all factor into this expenditure issue, and most have been discussed on this site, such as non- fire experienced people at the top level of decision making for fire issues. I have not, however, seen any real discussion about the overall failure of adhering to the essential (to emergency response agencies) basic management principles of CHAIN OF COMMAND, AUTHORITY, RESPONSIBILITY, and ACCOUNTABILITY. Instead it appears as if the new management principle is Management by Committee. This won't work for any emergency response agency.

WGT

8/21 Ab,

This is my friends house, which by the way did not burn down.

Chippy Creek (MT-NWS-Chippy Creek)

Tyler H

Cool pic, Tyler. Glad it didn't burn. Can't quite read the number on the airtanker's tail... Anybody knows, send it in. Ab.

8/21 Re ICS:

djchief -

You are correct per the new-and-now-official NIMS ICS as well (as the
historical ICS): there is no restriction to fill/not fill positions
in ICS - the point of it is to be scalable and flexible.

Can you expand a bit on your statement "One of the problems today (and
over the last few years) is some our folks have taken I-100 and I-200
'on line'... It is like building a house with a poor foundation.... So
if we have those who want to fill the org boxes, we need to go back to
'face to face' I-100 and I-200."?

I am interested to know more about what issues you or others see arise
from taking the courses online versus in person. This is primarily
because the new NIMS allows for a whole lot of online training and
allows all fed and other agencies to use online training instead of in
person training. Of course, because it's easier and cheaper, lots of
folks are on board with this. As the NIMS moves forward, is this an
area where fire needs to speak up if there's a problem? And will fire
speak up?

Lobotomy -

I am pretty sure you're right - there is no "joint unified command" -
in NIIMS or NIMS; there is only Incident Command or Unified Command.
Why are folks on the Zaca using it, who should know? Is it a
misunderstanding of the folks posting to Inciweb, or a bigger
misunderstanding? Perhaps someone can get in touch with the PIOs and
check (I may try this later).

Be safe out there-

-thinker

8/21 Was this the report you were looking for???

Analysis of Agency versus Contractor Costs for Firefighters, Equipment and Facilities (375K doc file)
by Fire Program Solutions LLC
data seems to be from 2001; at first glance it's not clear when this was written, maybe 2002? Ab.

Deborah Miley
Executive Director
National Wildfire Suppression Association

Thanks Debbie. I think there was another one more recent than that. Looking forward to reading this. Ab.

8/21 This from NOPs is circulating on the FS Intranet:

Hello Chiefs and ECCs,

Given our current draw down of NOPS resources due to supporting SOPS
and the rest of the nation, ordering needs to be done mindfully. This
information should be shared with all of your staffs, duty officers, and
forest supervisors.

Some principles for ordering:

  • Requesting Federal Only will delay response if closest resource is not
    Federal
  • When ordering crews order some as single increments for Federal crews but
    make sure that some requests are ordered in strike team configuration so
    that CALFIRE can assist.
  • When ordering engines, order Strike Teams as well as single increments.
    Our capacity to fill federal strike teams is diminished, but we can fill
    singles much quicker.
  • Always work with your local partners for closest resource, tactical
    resources as well as fire line leadership positions.

It is National Preparedness Level 5 and ordering any team requires a
written statement of rationale for National MACs consideration and
approval. This applies to even our local T2 IMT. During a rapidly
emerging incident it is critical that this information is gathered by the
forest and provided to the GACC in written format or verbally so that we
can assist in writing the request for the team.

In order to accomplish this task in a timely manner, ensure that the IC
does not have Duty Officer duties. Designate an alternate Duty Officer as
soon as possible.

Rationale found at NMAC website.
www.nifc.gov/nicc/administrative/nmac/strategy/NMAC_Apx_8.pdf

The following is a listing of some examples that would assist in composing
rationale to the NMAC:

  1. Life threatening situations (firefighter or public safety)
    - Evacuations currently taking place
    - Advisory evacuations
    - Evacuation plans in place
    - Road, highway, or freeway closures
  2. Real Property Threatened
    - Number of structures, commercial and/or residences
    - Number of subdivisions
    - Name communities and number of populace
    - Historical significant cultural resources
    - Natural resources, such as crops, grazing, timber, watershed
    - Major power lines, energy sources
  3. High Damage Potential
    - Long term or short term damage potential
    - Plausible impacts on community
  4. Incident Complexity
    - Multi-jurisdictional
    - Fuel type, size and growth potential
    - Political situations
    - Severity, extreme fire behavior and fuels conditions
8/21 Wildland Fire Management Efficiencies Guidelines (2,588K pdf)

This supposedly came out last month.................... I have not seen
thru official channels.................

TC

8/21 re: Cascade Fire ICP entrapment

Here's one way to test the use of the questionable term "burn-by" for this incident --

Suppose an engine was in a position on the fireline where they knew there was a likelihood that the fire would advance to their position in several hours and cut off all three of their escape routes. They consider moving to a different location, yet know that in doing so, they would not do any productive work for the operational period.

Let's say the fire gets close enough to scorch some paint, melt a few lens covers, and burn a gear bag or two. Nobody is hurt (except for eating smoke), and no shelters are deployed. It's a type 6 rig, but they have a laptop and internet connection so they quickly put together a powerpoint presentation and post it to the web, about how safe they were in implementing their plan, entitled "The Successful Planned Burn-by of Engine 328."

Would anybody believe that?

Towards the end of the book "Managing the Unexpected", Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe write about telling the difference between high reliability organizations and those that aren't, by whether they label an incidents as a "close call" or a "near-miss." Weick and Sutcliffe advise us to beware of "danger in the guise of safety."

vfd cap'n
8/21 To Casey:

Sign me up…I am putting in my application…tonight,
after I get home and can do it from my home computer.
I am grateful for any forward progress that can be
made for wildland firefighters. And I totally agree
with you that it will take the Congress or a President
to make the right changes that we know needs to be
made. I will write more to you off-line.

To Aberdeen:

Nope, you are right on the money on the Strike Team
resource combination as long as you are referring to 5
same “type” engines. And as for the National
Mobilization guidelines I think you meant to refer to
“NWCG Engine Types” on page 385. As of April 2007 I
think there were still some differences between NIMS
national typing standards and NWCG typing standards
referencing wildland engines but that may have been
resolved by now. However, you are correct about
personnel in one respect. But notice that on page
A-40 of the FLHB and page 385 of the MobGuide it has
“(minimum)”. That allows for differences among the
agencies. However, contractors are more tightly
controlled due to contract verbiage. Also, you would
need to refer to the current Interagency Standards for
Fire and Aviation Operations manual. Chapter 15
explains further that different agencies have
different minimums for staffing, training, etc.. But
Chap15 minimums still meet or exceed NWCG minimum
standards. Also, remember that there are all kinds of
NIMS and ICS disclaimers in dealing with different
agencies and making allowance for specific agency
guidelines; portal-to-portal pay being one example.
Bottom line, even though we send out a chase truck
with our engine(s) it is considered an “engine
module”. Actually, I have seen many fed agency
resources (FWS, USFS, BLM) come out to fires with
numbers of personnel that exceed NWCG minimums. STENs
and TFLDs love to see our engine modules show up…gives
them a whole bunch more flexibility and capability.
So yes, there are lots of different national
standards; but they normally say “minimum” and always
make allowance for agency specific policy. We all
live and learn…eh?

To All:

This forum is an incredible place to learn, converse
and sometimes debate. But remember we are all one
community with one purpose. Let us work towards
fulfilling that purpose and not trying to find fault
with each other…whoever we may be. Stay safe, love
what you do, love our family, and do your best. What
a great job to have!!

BLMboy
8/21 Dear BLMboy and all:

I'd like to preface this post by acknowledging that I too often take this site/forum for granted as well as the tremendous work that goes on behind the scenes to provide us this opportunity to offer information, comments, insight etc. So much work is done to provide the links on wildlandfire.com that folks around the world access on a daily basis. So I'd simply like to thank the ABs once again for their work and commitment to the wildland firefighting community. We would all be hard-pressed to gain information and communication without all you do.

Dear BLMBoy:

Great, insightful commentary. I think it safe to say that of the five land management agency fire programs, the Forest Service' has become the most dysfunctional by far. This is not just an R5 issue but as you mention a nationwide, systemic problem. Perhaps it is because its budget is bigger then the other agencies or that they employ more "technicians." And most importantly because the program is "pupeteered" by someone at the USDA who could care less about federal wildland firefighters.

The organizational structure that was fairly well-suited to manage the fire program 30 years ago is now woefully ill-prepared to manage the largest fire departments in the Nation given the complexities of wildland fire all of you now face.

With respect to fire leadership at the highest levels, I can tell you that although I too would like to see them-step up and lead, I know first hand of the "rift" between the non-fire "management" of the Forest Service and its fire "leadership." This rift is due in part to the increasing budgetary load fire places on the discretionary spending of the FS. Ironically, it is the policies of those very same non-fire managers that have created the fiscal monster that is the fire program. So I'd have to say that I believe the fire leadership has the intelligence and common sense to do what's right but it becomes a self-preservation thing at that level and thus they are rendered ineffective.

If the fire "leadership" were to ignore the nonsensical orders of the non-fire management and do what was right, it would mean their jobs. Simple as that. I was perhaps a bit more cynical of their inability to function effectively a year or so ago. However in my trips to DC and in speaking with congressional members & staff as well as folks at OMB and the Agency, it is clear who runs the fire show at the FS and it isn't fire leadership.

Your assessment of where we need to be, i.e. a single federal fire agency is shared by many on the ground. It also has its detractors. Your assessment of "classification" I believe is shared by all...except the "managers."

As you may recall, last year the FWFSA was successful in getting legislation passed that would mandate OPM to develop a separate and distinct wildland firefighter classification series. We also made it clear to congress that with respect to the 401, we certainly applaud any firefighter who wants to be an "ologist" but they should not be mandated to become one for promotion. Further we suggested that to make the fire program better, these non-fire managers ought to be trained to the division chief level so they know what the heck they are doing.

No one from the Dept, of Ag or DOI has ever publicly supported this classification initiative. Good ol Kempthorne will make the rounds and get photo ops with "employees" and call them wonderful things...even firefighters but has done nothing to promote a wildland firefighter classification series. Sec. of Ag??? Missing in action, period.

In fact neither the DOI or USDA have supported ANY initiative to make things better for their firefighters. Why? Because they are both managed by non-fire folks who simply disdain fire for the costs yet continue to develop and implement policies which escalate such fire costs. Sounds like a vicious cycle.

The only recourse is to take the slow road to fixing this mess and deal directly with Congress. It is painfully slow & frustrating and sometimes the only thing that keeps me from wanting to stop dealing with those boobs is the respect, admiration and affection I have for all our federal wildland firefighters.

That being said, progress is being made. We have been able to get the liability issue on the record in the Senate and the Agencies as well as Congress and DOJ are working on the liability mess. A lot of it is slow, tedious stuff but the issue is being worked.

So too is the recognition by congress that the land management agencies, primarily the Forest Service are inept when it comes to fiscal management and the management of the fire program. The FWFSA would rather simply push its legislative agenda. However to "sell" that agenda to cost conscience members of congress, we have had to dive into the fiscal mismanagement and explain where preparedness & fuels dollars are going. We've had to follow up Mark Rey's testimony with the truth about the Agencies being ill-prepared for the season. Basically, we have had to take years to educate congress as to what is going on in the field and earn our credibility on the Hill, which, I dare say, is better than the Forest Service'.

There are some in congress who would like to take a look at a single fire agency. The complexities of getting that accomplished are enormous. However we can achieve a number of meaningful policy changes in the interim. The "one voice" you speak of has to be created now, not after a single fire agency is created.

And, while not trying to pat the FWFSA on the back, I truly believe we are the ONLY collective voice speaking on behalf of federal wildland firefighters. That voice was loud enough to get the agencies to finally take a position on the liability issue. It is loud enough that the non-fire managers of the FS consider the FWFSA a "pariah." I guess that is because we are peeling away the BS and exposing their misguided policies and misleading statements to congress.

It was loud enough in 2000 to eliminate the OT pay cap for wildland firefighters and will be even louder when we see portal to portal pay and a host of other benefits all of you have deserved for far too long. So you can speak with one collective voice now...because its the only one out there and I dare say its lonely sometimes. But ensuring all of you know that when you're on the fire lines and away from your loved ones that someone's got your back and is working on your behalf and educating some of the most powerful people in the Nation to make your federal careers a more rewarding & prosperous one provides the motivation for the FWFSA. We'd all like to think the Agencies would be a part of that. But as we've told them in the past, if they don't want to help us eliminate archaic pay & personnel policies and make the land management agency fire programs "the" place to make a career, then give us the ball and get the h*ll outta the way.

Respectfully,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

Thanks Casey, for the thanks. It comes at a particularly appropriate, very busy time. Readers, if you haven't joined, go join FWFSA. Ab.

8/21 Ab,

I tore my office apart trying to find the original study that you have been referring to and I could not find that document, however, what I did find was the Winter 2007 issue of Fire Management Today, with an article summarizing two studies on the topic of comparing Agency and Contract costs. I have attached the electronic link to that article.

KC

Comparing the Costs of Agency and Contract Fire Crews by Geoffrey H. Donovan
www.fs.fed.us/fire/fmt/fmt_pdfs/FMT67-1.pdf (1843 K pdf file)
8/21 BLMBoy - your "hard data" has me really confused. You show 5 person crews on both
Type 6 and Type 4 engines, as well as "chase trucks" assigned to both classes of engines.

The National ICS standard (from Chapter 70 of the Mobe Guide) shows Type 4 and
Type 6 engines with a minimum staffing of 2 persons, and no reference to "chase trucks".

I've been around a lot of engine strike teams across the entire US for the past 20+ years
since we implemented ICS, and the norm is 5 engines and a STEN; is there new or
different National Standards out there that I'm unaware of?

Aberdeen

8/21 Is it Joint Command, Unified Command, or Joint Unified Command ?

When I took I-400 years ago in preparing to be an IC, there were big differences between Joint Command and Unified Command..... One was an apple and one was an orange. To see "Joint Unified Command" day after day tells me something is broken with ICS, and someone is trying to send a signal to folks on the outside.

Since I teach I-300 and the terms are used in that class also as the foundation of ICS, is there such a term as "Joint Unified Command"? It appears as a duress code to say........ dysfunctional? What are the problems and what needs to be fixed or modified?

There is no such thing as "Joint Unified Command"..... Joint Command is one thing..... Unified Command is another. No such functional critter yet as "Joint Unified Command".

Getting back to basics.

Lobotomy
8/20 WGT and Gizmo:

Being somewhat of a ICS historian, I know of no restriction or a requirement to fill or not fill positions in the ICS model. Gizmo is correct. The organization expands (and deflates) as the need of the incident requires. The only position that is mandatory is IC. And in Demob, there is a mandatory requirement for a "Camp Slug Abatement Chief"

One of the problems today (and over the last few years) is some our folks have taken I-100 and I-200 "on line". Those courses are aimed at "checking the boxes and counting graduates". It is like building a house with a poor foundation. Agencies and individuals that are new to ICS will try to fill the boxes.

So if we have those who want to fill the org boxes, we need to go back to "face to face" I-100 and I-200.

djchief
8/20 So, if we are supposed to be WFPR conscious, and severity has been approved based upon fuels, weather, and burning conditions (mostly the ERC output of NFDRS)..... Why are we being directed to charge extended (exigency) staffing and sixth and seventh day coverage to WFPR to burn up the surplus before the end of the fiscal year when severity has been approved? It isn't rumor, it is captured on e-mail.

Ed, we can't buy the tools we need at the last moment as the fiscal year ends when the surpluses are finally tallied and we have the actual money to implement changes and buy needed tools for safety (ie- Retention Incentives)?.........But why, at the last moment,  should we be able fund things that WFSU should have been funding in the first place?...

It is a balance between preparedness and suppression dollars..... Busy fire year (WFSU).... means more WFPR dollars available to bail out the preparedness program and the rest of the Forest Service programs that were never funded properly......

It is the most nasty self feeding frenzy of government fraud, waste, and abuse ever. Mark Rey, your contempt of court is your most minor problem..... You destroyed the Forest Service and your criminal actions are being revealed.

Mark Rey has given repetitive false statements before Congress on firefighter preparedness and capability, interfered with a federal fire investigation and collection process, and now is being held in contempt of court on another matter....... nice guy to be a leader of the Forest Service and provide policy direction to a new Chief.

Damn shell game to keep the auditors and investigators off the tracks..... I say hang the bastard... even though a friend works for him.. oops.. she actually works for the Chief, but her primary duties are to speak for the USAG. I hope this post doesn't end our friendship.

The Forest Service fire program can be saved under new leadership...... firefighter leadership. First step. Replace the Undersecretary For Natural Resources and the Environment with someone who cares about the Forest Service and understands the mission....

Rogue Rivers
8/20 Ab, I've attached my post in a Word doc for formatting. Is this acceptable?

Thanks, Shari

Sure, Here it is: The Limits of Empirical Reasoning. (35 K word doc)

Here's the beginning:

Ab,

I understand and can appreciate your position that cost for any resource – private or agency – is an empirical discussion. Let’s use the following definition for empirical, if we could:

- Based on the analysis of actual data or experience. A conclusion based on observation rather than speculation or deduction.

- Analysis based on factual and observable data in contrast to thoughts or ideas.

Now, based on these two definitions - and with the real hard costs in front us for resources - we can compare and contrast at one level, and one level only: Hard costs.

These hard costs include such line items as worker compensation, health and medical related costs and insurance, general liability insurance (for private sector) self- insurance related workforce costs (for agencies and private sector companies that can swing it), employer related taxes, training, equipment, incident related travel & housing, food in travel mode, etc.

Based on these costs, and using only these costs, agency AQM (contracting staff) have been making the argument that faller modules are “too expensive” compared to the “old” AD Faller program, or the “new” individual faller EERA program. And, based on the hard cost analysis, they are correct.

And now…the rest of the story…
But there IS another aspect of valuation that is going unaccounted for, and that is the VALUE inherent in the model of the Faller Module program, how it operates, and the infrastructure and PEOPLE functioning behind the scenes to make it all run. It includes the cost of faller recruitment and retention, background checks, experience verifications, equipment inspections, training and retraining, processing orders, maintaining a safety watch while fallers are traveling to a fire and addressing emergencies that arise on the road and during incidents. We have an office, with all of the associated costs. We must pay for our phones and the internet we use to communicate our availability and process orders. We must

(Click the link to read the rest of this well-written piece. Ab.)

8/20 Fed Watcher II - Don't blame the WO just yet.

Something isn't right. I just read my version of the 06 and 07 "WO" budget advice. I see no mention of this 4th qtr spending limitation from the WO. I'd challenge anyone to prove that we have not just been mislead. As a matter of fact, for credibility reasons I hope I am wrong.

The fact is this 4th quarter no spending direction comes from R-5. It's not even applicable to other programs within the R-5 Forest Service, including fuels. It just applies to preparedness-WFPR. Maybe R-5 is trying to save up 10 million to implement some kind of pay incentive program for the firefighting workforce. OK, back to reality.....

Where have you gone Sue H? A region is looking for leadership.

ms
8/20 From the hotlist, this alert was posted on the Inciweb site for the Zaca fire: http://66.60.184.155/incident/770/
Hat tip to Tahoe Terrie and Chief 7700.

AB, Another source of information for the ZACA is www.sbcfire.com/ 

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

ALERT !.....

Updated 8/20/07 6:20pm

At 2:28pm Monday the 20th of August a fire was reported near the Cemetary south of the City of Lompoc (approximate lat 34 37.758, long 120 26.709). This fire was initially reported at 80 acres and had grown to 250 acres as of 6:00pm. The fire is moving to the east-southeast. Resources from the Zaca Fire are being diverted to the area. The fire has crossed Hwy 1 near Santa Rosa Road as it is moving with the prevailing winds.

Hwy 1 is closed from Hwy 101 north to Lompoc.

A Evacuation Warning is in effect for all residents along Jalama Road and for residents along portions of Santa Rosa Road from Hwy 1 extending 5 miles toward the east-southeast. No orders for evacuation have been made as of 6:00pm. Residents in the area should remain alert for changing conditions. Residents in the warning area should begin preparations immediately in case the order to evacuate is given. Resources such as helicopters, bulldozers and hand crews have been dispatched to the scene. Engines are on scene to provide structure protection. Residents can call (805) 681 5546 for recorded information.

As of 6:15 estimated containment is at 50%.

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

Hotlist thread on the Cemetery incident is here:
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1590

Photos sent in this afternoon after the Cemetery Fire had started. Message:

Checking in on Zaca and I saw the Lompoc Cemetery post.

Yes there is bit a fuel, but this is nothing like the Los Padres.

Fire is also heading towards overgrazed grassland and ag fields that can slow it down. Coastal fog too.

Lompoc is just a right turn for planes loading up at Santa Maria en route to Zaca. They were on it in minutes.

Cemetery Fire from F St
Cemetery from Lompoc

8/20 BLMboy hit the proverbial nail on the head!!!

Right now as we speak there are Fire Fighters here (or on there way) from Australia and New Zealand to help fight fires in America, while, Federal Agency " Primary" Fire Fighters set at home and work on timber sales or are making sure that District Targets are being meet so that the District Rangers can get there fat cash reward and what not.

This could in fact be only a local thing for some Forest and maybe only some Regions. BUT at the current, and past PL's I do think that if you are in a "primary" fire position you should be " Primarily" fighting fires.

I have said this before and I will say it again!

We need to be stove-piped!

Pick either the 5109 / 310-1 and everybody stick by it! Everyone who fights wildland fires take the WCT (including all cooperators, yes, States Agencies and VFDs as well) Get managers in positions (Regional and Washington levels as well) that HAVE FOUGHT FIRES! THAT HAVE WORKED THERE WAY UP! THAT HAVE DUG IN THE DIRT! Let us as managers work OUR budgets! Stop "stealing form Paul to give to Peter, "the days of the "old Militia" are over.

Again, I will have some hope that maybe this is only a local thing... But, the numbers don't lie people...Check it out see what you can find... It scares me to look at an IAP on a large fire and see UTF all over it... I don't know maybe it's just me. Then again, i do see misappropriation of funds and policy on a daily basis. I was actually told to use ADs in lieu of primary fire positions, in strict contradiction to the AD Plan, and if we didn't, and I quote, "you can let the fires burn to the top of the mountains," (you would cry if you really knew just how far up that individual was on the org chart).

So I ask you, what are we going to do? Just sit by. I doubt that or we would not be firefighters in the first place. We will continue to do what we individually can, while we actually do nothing on the broader scale. Or we will just shrug our shoulders and continue to do what we can with what we got and put what fire we can out while we can (or at least until the monies stop or the snow falls).

Oh well, for some I guess the view is fine with your head in the sand. But, I for one will continue to fight until something changes and we can get back to actually fighting fires as well as managing fire (Rx, etc) the way that we all know how to.

Signed, Unable to show ID for fear of reprimands (yes, my agency has attempted to censor me, all be it that this is on my own time and not on a GOV comp)

8/20 WGT,

I am not following you when you spoke out about "... restrictions that require you to fill all of the positions listed that do nothing in regards to completing the mission, in most cases, putting the fire out."

What are those restrictions and where are they found? ICS has always had the ability to staff up or staff down as incident complexity changes. I don't think I am reading your post correctly or understanding the point you want to make. Are you saying that IIMTs and ICTs shouldn't be used?

Gizmo
8/20 CalFire Suppression Costs:

Interesting to note, relative to Calif. emergency fund expenditures, that they all increased in amazing proportions after ICS came into being in the late 1970's. I am not implying that ICS was responsible, I believe that CYA required that you must now fill all the listed positions in ICS in order to not be found at fault. As time progressed, we have added many more positions, increasing the costs of wild fire suppression. I am not advocating the removal of ICS; it was, and is, a great tool for management of large incidents. I am advocating the removal of all the restrictions that require you to fill all of the positions listed that do nothing in regards to completing the mission, in most cases, putting the fire out.

WGT

8/20 Dear Noname:

OK I just gotta chime in on your post from the R5 FAM Director. This is the same person who apparently forgot to inform his boss, former Regional Forester Bernie Weingardt that firefighters and Forest Supervisors from Southern California forests were heading to see him on August 10th to discuss the 24 hour staffing plan, special salary rates etc!

"We need to be careful and prudent in the expenditure of WFPR funds." Yea, don't use them to pay for non fire projects! Can you spell Albuquerque etc.?

Doesn't he and the WO understand that if they properly prepared for the season they would be spending less on suppression than the record levels again this year? Maybe I'm the only one that doesn't get it. What does the Forest Service use in its financial management, "fuzzy math?"

I get a kick out of the "actions against the WO budget advice puts the R5 budget request for the next fiscal year at risk." I assume the WO budget advice comes from...(drum roll please) FS folks who don't have a clue about how to manage a fire program??? And I would add that there is likely no way the largest, most diverse congressional delegation in congress (that from CA) is going to allow the R5 budget to be at risk. The only risk to the preparedness & fuels budgets is the Agency itself and the non fire line officers swiping the money for other uses.

And why on earth do firefighters in the field need to care about all this financial smoke & mirrors being played by the RO & WO anyway?

Let me get this straight: OPM OKs the extension of 1039s but Ed says don't extend? The WO FAM Director Tom Harbour made the request for the extension and now Ed says don't extend? Again, I must be the only one confused. Maybe Ed & Tom ought to have a chat?

Of course extending these employees creates accounting issues for the '08 season. That's why the RO & WO should stop taking advantage these temporary employees by extending them with no benefits and actually offer those who want it a permanent position given the fact the seasons are now nearly 12 months long.

It is a good sign that the Forest Service will address the OSHA report. Whether OSHA will ever achieve an ounce of common sense when it comes to occupations such as wild land firefighting who knows.

And finally, an "unusual number of burnovers; fire behavior at or beyond known parameters; aircraft hours at record levels" (does that include the DC-10?) and the most eloquent comment I've ever heard: "use aircraft only for needed missions."

Again, if sufficient preparedness resources were funded and in place this year & the agency had addressed its dire retention problems in R5 before it got to a crisis, then having sufficient preparedness resources in place would mitigate to a great degree the "fire behavior; reduce the need for aircraft hours, reduce the risks of burnovers... This isn't rocket science. Why do the firefighters on the ground understand all this but the mucky mucks haven't a clue?

OK, I'm spent...

sign me:

Fed Watcher II
FWFSA Member
8/20 Ab,

You asked for data…I am giving you some hard data. I hope it helps.

I think the feds vs. contractors thing is no loner accomplishing much good. It appears there are two camps… which is sad…we are all firefighters trying to fight fire and earn a living. I spent about an hour trying to find the study you were talking about; no luck. So I went to our own district's budget numbers for several hours. I can’t use the actual MIS figures because the system is confidential. But I took the basic budget and percentages, then I made some adjustments (downward). I didn’t use actual wage information; I substituted base GS wages at Step 1; no locality pay and no allowance for people with multiple years in grade. So here are the $’s, not guesses, real time dollars, real people, real engines, real everything. Since we do run chase trucks with our engines (see notes) I thought I would add another sheet showing reduced crew figures and no chase truck expenses, “Apples-to Apples” lest someone shout foul.

You mentioned empirical data, and I agree that speaks for itself… no opinions. But what I was hoping to do was get all of us feds realizing the bigger issue, threat, problem, is not from outside the federal government. The problem is the federal firefighting community is fracture, disjointed, fragmentized, lacking strong leadership, and seriously mismanaged. That mismanagement statement applies to financial as well as organization and personnel issues.

Until we are recognized as firefighters vs. range/forestry technicians and until we have a single fire organization, until we can speak with one voice as professional firefighters…well, we will just have more of what we have now. Bickering amongst ourselves, striking out at external forces, trying to deride cooperators and their pay systems, etc. will gain us nothing.

One vision, one mission, one goal, one voice…now there is a legacy for someone to provide! Where is that person!?

BLMBoy

Thanks BLMBoy. I hear what you're saying about unity. Ab.

8/20 National Interagency Fire Center
3838 S. Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705

August 17, 2007

To: Southwest Area Coordination Group Chair
From: National Multi Agency Coordinating Group
Subject: Mid-Level Fireline Supervision – Southwest Area

Multiple Geographic Areas continue to experience a severe shortage in being able to provide mid-level fireline supervision in support of new and ongoing incident support. This is having a direct effect on being able to safely deploy crews and other tactical resources where they are needed. In order to help mitigate this situation, NMAC directs the Southwest Area to make available the following resources:

• 5 Division Group Supervisors (DIVS)
• 5 Dozer Bosses (DOZB)
• 5 Strike Team Leaders (STRC / STEN)
• 5 Field Observers (FOBS)
• 5 Task Force Leaders (TFLD)

These resources are to be identified to NICC and be ready to travel by Tuesday August 21, 2007. Thank you for your assistance.

/s/ Tom Boatner

8/20 Ab,

Here are two interactive training programs for firefighters (To Hell and Back 1 and To Hell and Back 2: Situational Awareness) regarding burn injuries and burn survival. Both classes are free of charge, but require an online registration.

I have taken both courses and highly recommend them. At the completion of the training, you can print out a completion certificate.

Lobotomy
8/20 This message from the R5 Chief is circulating on my forest. No Name

Ed Hollenshead asked that the Forest Fire Chiefs relay his message to the
Forest firefighters. His message contained four parts.

We need to be careful and prudent in the expenditure of WFPR funds. We need to follow the budget advice for WFPR, especially "no purchasing during the last quarter of the fiscal year" (I e-mailed the FY 07 WFPR budget advice last week, again). Ed said that R5 was being watched carefully this year. Some Forests in R5 made large purchases or attempted to make large purchases in August and September of 2006. These actions against the WO budget advice puts the R5 budget request for the next fiscal year at risk.

OPM will allow us to extend 1039 appointments, but be careful. (The <forest> should not extend our 1039's. It will only adversely affect our start-up next year as those employees that would be extended, will have that time accounted for in their appointment in 2008)

R5, that is Ed Hollenshead and someone from the WO, will meet with OSHA very soon about the OSHA citations to the Forest Service on the Esperanza Fire. The Forest Service will contest every OSHA citation issued and every OSHA mitigating measure required as without grounds and baseless.

MOST IMPORTANTLY - We are to approach every fire with patience, purpose and a plan. Fire behavior is at or beyond known parameters. We are having an unusual amount of burnovers this year. Aircraft hours are at record levels, use aircraft only for needed missions.

8/20 Hey what's going on at North Ops with helicopters? Could someone from there chime in and explain it? We've sat for nearly 6 weeks now with nothing to do but paint tables and build fences. Six weeks sure seems like a lot of wasted time and money to me, but I'm a little biased. Just curious if North Ops helicopters are going to be allowed to go on fires this year, or if we are just hanging out painting broken tables at taxpayers expense.

If you need a good fence built this winter give me a ring, I am VERY experienced and need the money.

The Fencer
8/20 Ab, here's several interesting lists of stats. SoCal CalFire

The Zaca Fire was officially declared 188,035 acres on 08/19/07 at 0600 hrs,
making it the 3rd largest fire in modern California history.. This morning it was
reported to be 214,725 acres.)

20 Largest California Wildland Fires (By Acreage Burned)
Compiled by CAL FIRE on 8/16/2007

   FIRE NAME         CAUSE           DATE            COUNTY          ACRES  STRUCT DEATHS
1  Cedar             human           October   2003  San Diego       273,246 4,847 15
2  Matilija          undetermined    September 1932  Ventura         220,000     0  0
3  Marble Cone       lightning       July      1977  Monterey        177,866     0  0
4  Laguna            powerlines      September 1970  San Diego       175,425   382  5
5  Day Fire          human           September 2006  Ventura         162,702    11  0
6  McNally           human           July      2002  Tulare          150,696    17  0
7  Stanislaus Cplx   lightning       August    1987  Tuolumne        145,980    28  1
8  Big Bar Complex   lightning       August    1999  Trinity         140,948     0  0
9  Zaca              human           July      2007  Santa Barbara   127,244     1  0
10 Campbell Complex  powerlines      August    1990  Tehama          125,892    27  0
11 Wheeler           arson           July      1985  Ventura         118,000    26  0
12 Simi              under investig  October   2003  Ventura         108,204   300  0
13 Hwy. 58           vehicle         August    1996  San Luis Obispo 106,668    13  0
14 Clampitt          powerlines      September 1970  Los Angeles     105,212    86  4
15 Bar Complex       lightning       July      2006  Trinity         100,414     0  0
16 Wellman           equip. use      June      1966  Santa Barbara    93,600     0  0
17 Old               human           October   2003  San Bernardino   91,281 1,003  6
18 Kirk              lightning       September 1999  Monterey         86,700     0  0
19 Refugio           misc. -struct   September 1955  Santa Barbara    84,770    20  0
20 Fork              undetermined    August    1996  Lake             82,980    40  0

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Emergency Fund Fire Suppression Expenditures (March '06), found online here (pdf file)

Fiscal Yr   Expenditures
79-80        $11,978,000
80-81        $21,178,000
81-82        $12,582,000
82-83         $8,619,000
83-84        $12,358,000
84-85        $16,847,000
85-86        $35,510,000
86-87        $14,799,000
87-88        $56,769,000
88-89        $57,983,000
89-90        $39,345,000
90-91        $70,825,000
91-92        $22,524,000
92-93        $85,591,000
93-94        $65,679,000
94-95        $69,858,000
95-96        $60.4 million
96-97       $107   million
97-98        $47.7 million
98-99        $43.8 million
99-2000     $178.5 million
00-01       $124   million
01-02       $162.8 million
02-03       $135   million
03-04       $252.3 million
04-05       $170.1 million
05-06       $105.3 million (est.)
SoCal CalFire and other Contributors:

Robert OConnor owner of CalFire News says you copied this information from his website. In the future if anyone gets data from a non-public domain website, please provide the link. I know we've gotten info like this from the CalFire original source before. That's the best place to get it. Thanks, Ab.

8/20 JS,

I have worked for 3 federal departments and 6 agencies... and in every single one of them, the rule has been that the government still pays hotels over per diem. Usually you just need to put a note in your travel voucher, but sometimes someone will need to attach a letter approving the rate. The note/letter basically explains that the only available hotel rate was over per diem - there were no other options, etc etc.

I'd tell that timekeeper to eat it too.... but I don't carry a gun, so I'm not sure how much people would agree with me!

-fly on the wall
8/20 Ab restated these italicized sentences to put them in the context of being about "the what, not the who".

Re cost comparisons of Feds vs Contractors

Slamming contractors big time accomplishes nothing, and makes the person doing it sound less of a person than what we know them to be to be. People doing this did however grossly misstate a fact. Yes, when you look at a specific incident (or complex) fed resources can appear to be less expensive than contractors. But when you look at all the added costs to the federal government for that fed resource there is parity in some cases, others almost so. But overall, the overall cost for a federal resource is about that of a similar contractor resource. The incident doesn’t see it because they only pay the direct cost of the federal resource but not all the associated indirect costs. And I do know that to be true because that is my job…as a fed fire manager.

And nothing will truly help us feds until we can speak with one voice and that will not happen without there being one fed fire service. United we stand – divided we fall…into low pay, into 3 – 6 month layoffs, etc… And my previous post about us not being able to do better till we actually have some strong fire program leadership still stands We don’t have leadership…we do have management…there is a huge difference.

And when was a land management ever interested in saving tax dollars? Yeah, I know I am being silly but I couldn’t resist that one.

As I have said for a long time… fed firefighters (oooopppppssss, range and forestry technicians) are our own worst enemies. We just love what we do, where we do it, and that shades us from the big picture.

In response to another poster:

Contractors do help FDs. It happened in our district just this year. The FDs (3 counties) got over-worked, and over-extended so some contract engines were brought in to help out during the worst of their brush fire season. It worked great and the FD’s were very appreciative.

So… the 90gal F350… I’ve never see a 90gal engine myself other than a state forestry engine; but if the incident ordered a Type 7 engine and a 90gal F350 showed up… then it is legit. Wait, what size are some forest prevention patrol units?

If the incident ordered a Type 6 engine and they accepted a 90gal F350 then it is still legit. Wonder if any USFS personnel would have been involved in inspecting or accepting the engine?

And as for the leak…this year I’ve personally seen USFS engines leak, seen BLM engines leak, seen 2wd USFS engines parked while great 4wd contractor engines go do the job that the USFS engines couldn’t.

We talked about contractor costs vs. fed costs and that is getting really boring. And people are paid what they are worth…fed personnel or contractor personnel. If we couldn’t find people at “x” dollars per hour we would have to raise it till we could hire people. When I hire GS 2 – 4 firefighters for the season we pay them what we are allowed. If we paid them more, then it would cost the incidents more, and thus cost more tax dollars. Oooooppppppssssss…there we go again paying to much for resources. You can’t have it both ways ya know.

The only way that the number of fed firefighting resources goes way up is simple; we have to prove our worth to those that control the budgets. We don’t have a single person in the fire service leadership today that has enough intelligence, common sense, or strength to do that…or it would have already been done.

So, bottom line…all of us fed firefighters need to stop bad mouthing cooperators, contractors, etc.! We need to decide what is right for us and our situation…then make a plan to get there. You look at Cal Fire…love em or hate em…they have a great pay, benefits, and retirement system. I wonder why!? Oh, maybe they are a single fire organization with a single fire leadership corps, with a single bargaining unit, with a single color uniform, with a single color apparatus…hummmmmm…see a pattern here?

BLMBoy

Again let me say, the  cost of the various resources, agency or private sector is an empirical question. I do remember a study several years ago (less than 5 years ago) that took all costs of doing business into account, from training to health insurance to workers comp, all the hidden costs for fed firefighters and contractors. Someone please find that study. This is empirical, folks. No need to keep bringing up and arguing over something you can't substantiate. Please show figures or reports that back up your statements, even you, BLMBoy, or let this thread die. Ab.

8/20

Does anyone have access to an electronic copy of the following article? Volume 56 is missing from the Fire Management Today database.

Tempereau CE.

When a firefighter gets burned.

US Dept of Agriculture, Forest Service. Fire Management Notes 56:21-2, 1996

8/20Jacqie,

Regarding the 14 days, the initial travel and return travel do not count towards the 14 days, at least as far as how long crews work. Travel between fires after checking in at the first fire does.

As an example if it takes my crew 3 days to drive to Montana (going to work on day 4), we can work 14 days on the fire then take the 3 days to go home for a total of 20 days away from home. If instead we arrived at the fire then 5 days into the fire were demobed and sent to another fire, the travel time between fire A and fire B would count against the 14 days.

As far as I know travel does count towards the days off, so if day 1 was spent in travel status then the crew spent 12 days on the fire and had 1 day of travel home (total of 14 days away) they would still be eligible for the 2 days off even though they only spent 12 days at the fire.

DC10,

I had the opportunity to see the DC10 operating at the Zaca 2 fire; while it was able to get lower than I would have expected I’m still not convinced it has much value compared to conventional tankers. The day I saw it, Tanker 910 arrived more than 2 hours late due to mechanical problems and then, instead of the 1 hour turn around the team expected (at least what was said in briefing), it was over 3 hours before it made its second drop. I understand the second drop was pretty effective, while the first missed its target. At the price CDF is paying for the contract (5 million) and looking back at the USFS tanker contract before that program was destroyed, the DC10 contract is 1/6 of what the National contract was for 40 heavy airtankers. So for that 5 million, 6-7 heavy airtankers could be on contract. Even adjusting for inflation I would expect 5-6 could still be had for that price. There are a bunch of DC4, 6 & 7’s available that were arbitrarily kicked to the curb that would probably be happy to get back into the tanker business. In the time the DC10 made its 2 drops the P2V’s and P3’s on Zaca 2 were quite busy, and I would be quite surprised if each of them did not drop the same or an even a larger load of retardant as 910 throughout the day.

While the DC10 may have its place, I don’t see $5 million dollar contract for an aircraft -- that spends most of its time on the ground waiting for fires large enough to absorb its cost -- as a value, compared to aircraft that would be used on an almost daily basis.

Based on the radio traffic I heard the day before, the DC 10 was called in because there were no more heavy airtankers available, not because anyone wanted the DC10. Had another 2-4 heavy air tankers been available, I don’t think the DC10 would have been flying.

PB,

Thanks for the info on the Advanced Burn Life Support class, I’ll be keeping an eye out for one next time I need CE for my EMT recert, sounds like a worthwhile class, much like I found Pre Hospital Trauma Life Support several years back. So much of EMS training is geared towards an urban environment where a transport to a well equipped hospital is 10 minutes or less. It would be nice to see the agencies take some initiative to have EMS training developed specifically for our needs. Unfortunately, since it can often be difficult to even get an EMT recertified on the government dime I won’t be holding my breath for any such widespread training to reach the ground in my career.

Just another Fed

8/20RO,

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, You  made my day! I'll be rolling on the floor
off and on all day! Whew!

On another note, today is the anniversary of the Big Blow Up of 1910.
Hundreds of fires burned together in Northern Idaho and Montana.

Be safe all.

Mellie

8/20JS,

Tell your time keeper to eat it! Thats what I would have done when I was back in your neck of the woods!!!

All kidding aside, the government has a responsibility to pay for your travel. As long as you are attempting as much as you can to stay at/below per diem in your area then if that is not possible, the gov should be covering your costs.

At least that is my thoughts. I have found that now that I have a gun instead of a hose, people tend to agree with me more!!!

RO
8/20Jacqie,

Unfortunately "14" does not always mean "14". The guide lines are "1 in 14
or 2 in 21" for Federal folks, State and local gov't have slightly
different rules. Meaning required 1 day off in 14 or 2 in 21 days. Most
places like to give folks two days after 14 so they do not hit the mandatory
of 2 in 21. That is "14" on an incident, travel time doesn't count.

Time starts the first shift of the fire. Also folks can be R &R in place and not
come back to their home bases. There are also extensions given at times to
go longer then the 14 for a list of reasons. Some units/forests give the
days off as soon as one is home others, wait till "days off" come around if
they are in a few days. Not the easiest thing to figure out sometimes.
Family and friends of Firefighter's learn once fire season has begun, they
might not see that firefighter till the season is over and definitely don't
plan anything with them during the season.

Hope that helps.
R5 Dispatcher

8/20Ab,

I would like to share the attached power point presentation with the  wildland community. I am its author, and I authorize its distribution for educational purposes.

www.wildlandfire.com/ppt/burn-presentation.ppt (1,080 K ppt)

This spring I had the fortune to attend and an Advanced Burn Life Support class, hosted at the burn ICU associated with Harborview Medical Center, in Seattle. The class (which was geared toward pe- burn center patient care before, during and after the emergency department) opened my eyes tremendously.

Brian (and other posters) are absolutely right: when in doubt care of the burn patient should be immediately handed off to a burn center proper -- not an ER, not a trauma center, not a regular ICU, but to a burn center, where patient care can be overseen by burn surgeons. There seems to be tremendous tendency to attempt to 'handle burns' at the lowest level possible. I'm not sure where that comes from, but I am sure that I do find it suspect.

There is a large amount of misconception regarding what constitutes proper and adequate care for the burn patient. This problem is complicated by the fact that as burn care has evolved over the last twenty years, pre-hospital care has not necessarily evolved with it.

I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in early burn care to consider the Advanced Burn Life Support Class (ABLS). I also encourage anyone who thinks they may be taking care of a burn patient (e.g., anyone who practices as an EMT/WFR on the fireline, and their supervisors) to take a look at the attached power point. And I invite anyone who has questions to email me (I am sure Ab will put you in touch).

In the meantime, here are some down-and-dirty pointers:

  • Severe burns present clean. They are shrouded in a layer of dead skin which has been sterilized by the heat. Breaking that barrier to clean or debrade in the field GREATLY increases the potential for infection, decreases the success of future skin grafts, and is no longer considered prudent
  • Buns do not alter patient mental status. Do a very careful assessment for underlying conditions in the event you encounter altered LOC
  • Most burn patient are also trauma patients with possible associated spinal and internal injuries. While the burn is not immediately life threatening, those injuries may be. Assess appropriately
  • Burn patients do need a lot of fluid. However, it is not only possible, but stunningly easy to administer too much fluid IV. And too much fluid pre-hospital has been linked very clearly to increased patient mortality and morbidity. Bolus fluid is never indicated pre- hospital. (Exceptions, of course, are for the trauma patient with systolic blood pressure below 90.) Please see the power point for guidelines
  • With the exception of chemical burns, burning stops when the point source of exposure goes away. Hence, burns do not need to be "cooled." In fact, since burn patients commonly lose autonomous thermoregulation, cooling large burns leads rapidly to hypothermia. (No one seems to know where this business about "cooling" came from, but it is about as up to date as "feed a cold, starve a fever," bloodletting, and other medical relics--I don't put down anyone who is not up to speed on this point, however; the prevalent belief in this 'treatment' proves to me that there is a gap between current clinical understanding and current pre-hospital patient care).
  • Wet dressings should be avoided. They stick to burned skin, encourage hypotherima, debradement and subsequent infection. A simple, clean-but-not-necessarily-sterile, dry sheet is preferred
  • Aggressive airway management is even more important in the patient with airway burns than in the rest of pre-hospital care, if that is even possible. Edema can close a burned airway very rapidly--people have died at the burn ICU in precisely this manner. Naso-tracheal intubation with lorazepam, or oro-tracheal RSI are indicated in the all patients with visible airway burns.

Finally, I am by no means Mr. Burn Guy. Everything I have recited here is regurgitation from my training, the ABLS course and from clinical time at Harborview. Undoubtedly, the research clinicians and burn surgeons there remain the authorities.

Stay safe, all.

PB

Thanks PB. It would be great to have some medical types look this over. Perhaps Q & A or discussion for any interested could occur on the hotlist Discussion subforum. I cross posted this there. www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1584

8/20USDA FT,

When you can get a full accounting of who does and who does
not "volunteer" throughout the U.S. and the world, please forward me a link
to your insightful research.

This broad brush sweeping suggests lazy logic. Casey wasn't jumping on the
"oust the contractor" broken down wreck of an argument. And, in my view,
using his post as a springboard for yours was a cheap shot.

What I've seen occur with the Forest Service over the past 30 years has been
organizational evolution that has negatively affected many, many, many good
people. Those people, when they are able to stand up, and not be knocked
back down by the organizational masses committed to keeping status quo in
place, have done good things. Groups of good people have attempted this, but
the Forest Service organizational culture is now an injured, crazed animal.
Don't blame contractors for this organization's ills. Those will be
addressed eventually in interesting and unanticipated ways, if the Forest
Service can actually survive the tsunami of organizational change. However,
blaming contractors for the current state of fed fire is like blaming the
jack rabbit crossing the road for the crash of a triple trailer semi.

Speaking of real people doing real things, watching FEMA (not) operate
during Katrina led me to this organization: www.hodr.org. Hands On Disaster
Relief. They seem to be a thoughtful, effective group dedicated to really
helping when help is needed. I'm waiting to see their assessment of what
needs to be done in Peru before offering my help. They were involved in
assisting after Katrina. There are countless other ways to help when help is
needed in our communities, our country and the world, you just have to keep
your eyes and your heart open. And, USDA FT, I don't think they require you
to wear your green suit, so unfortunately, I don't think those receiving the
help would actually know what organization to CREDIT.

Be strong. Be safe.

Shari

8/20Does anybody have info for a BLM'er that when you go to a town that will
not honor your conus per diem? My timekeeper states we have to eat the
extra 20+ dollars for Hotel rooms.

JS
8/20Mollysboy,

You made a comment and asked a "good" question: "The dead firefighters, as is always the case, are being called "heroes". What do we call the fire chiefs/managers that dispatched them into such conditions?"

Good question and comment. For the most part except for the blame... and I wonder if you're trolling with that? If so, shame on you.

I have a question for you: Have you ever been in the Fire Chiefs or Fire Manager's positions who tried to protect the "heroes", but had something go wrong with the troops you supervise and lead, and been on the receiving end?

No matter what the issues are, don't use them for personal gain or agendas or trolling, but if you have your stuff inline, use it for the gain of the entire fire community if it makes things safer. If not, skip posting and let the fire community work on safety. It hurts the rank and file groundpounder or structure firefighter when you blame firefighters for their decisions. Firefighters who are lost nationwide will always be heroes and afforded that recognition. Any firefighter who dies in the line of duty is a hero. Nothing less, nothing more.

The fire chiefs and fire managers "that dispatched them" were just involved in the process that led to a tragic failure and shouldn't be blamed unless underlying factors are addressed and corrected -- and they blatantly ignored them.

Tired of just lurking

Welcome, former lurker. Lets try to keep this to issues. We want lessons learned, not a clash of personalities that reduces communication. I understand your feelings. It's easy to finger point after the tragedy: human factors are almost always disregarded, and systemic factors that contributed are usually not addressed. The systemic factors are the ones that, if corrected, might actually provide a safer incident next time. Wildland or structure firefighting, it seems we prefer rules and placing blame to truly looking for lessons learned and correcting the systemic failures we can correct. Ab.

8/20AB,

Quick question, I understand the crews are allowed to work 14 days max without a day off and that after 14 days they should get 2 days off. I have been told by the office lady that my boyfriend's crew is ready for 2 days of R&R. They left for the fire on Monday Aug 6th it is about a 5 to 6 hour drive from Boise to Challis. The office lady said she thinks they will be home today but she has only been in the office 1 week so all is new to her too. My question is does drive time to the fire count as one of the 14 days? or does the 14 days start counting when they get on the fire? Same with coming home 14 days actually on the fire then head home or start for home on the 14th day? I'm new at all this and am trying to get a read on all this, but some things I just can't seem to find an answer to.

Thanks a bunch,
Jacqie

8/20This came in late last night... Ab.

Ab,

I'd like to follow-up on my recent post which included a description of our
fallers being treated poorly on a current wildland fire incident.

Today, I drove 6 hours to that incident with two of our senior fallers to
address the issues we were most concerned about. I have never before sought
the assistance of an IMT Human Resource Specialist on an incident. However,
the individual we dealt with today performed in stellar fashion. He sat
patiently and listened to our concerns. He wrote them down and read them
back to us to make sure he understood them completely. He then briefed the
IC and Deputy IC before bringing us together. He facilitated the discussion
with professionalism and sought resolution. I have to say, I've seen a lot
of negotiations, but none as smooth and seamless as today's meeting.

I truly feel both the IC and the Deputy IC genuinely listened and are
committed to not only addressing the issues, but implementing actions to
prevent them from happening again. Another six hours home and now I'm dead
on my feet, but inside I feel much better.

It would have been much easier to not do what we did today. It would have
been much easier to just stay mad and write this episode down as another
show of agency prejudice. But, that doesn't accomplish anything but
perpetuate generalizations about the agency and it's personnel, which is
just as unfair as making generalizations the other way around. For me, right
action speaks louder than anything.

I appreciate the chance to state our case. Now, we'll watch closely in terms
of follow-up. Right now though, my pillow looks very inviting.

Shari Downhill

8/19Willy,

Thanks for the timely information on the incident that occurred on the Poe Fire with your crew. It is not often that we get such good information so quickly. Usually we only receive a preliminary report and sometimes a follow up (if any) several months later.

Burns, by their very nature, are difficult to assess and treat particularly in the field. As most crew EMTs and even line medics have limited experience dealing with severe burns, it can be easy to become 'overwhelmed' by them. What may look like a simple first degree burn initially can become second degree with swelling and blistering very quickly. Most EMTs are ill equipped to deal with burns and in general all you can do is remove the heat source, clean and cool the affected area and transport to the next higher level of care. I wrote a 'six minutes for safety' topic on burns several years ago, perhaps it is time to dust that topic off and re-submit it to the committee to be considered again.

It is unfortunate that you had to learn the hard way the difficulties of getting proper treatment with the OWCP. Perhaps an incident like this, a 'close call', can wake up the paper pushers and we can insure that should this happen again there will be no question as to what sort of care a burn patient receives.

I worked on LaGrande as a fill in several years ago and should you like to learn more about burns, treatment and field equipment, let me know and I can get some resources to you. In the mean time I encourage all of you to make the effort to learn what to do in the event someone is burned, whether first, second, third or fourth degree burn. The very nature of our work puts us in contact with high temps and other burning agents and the possibility of getting burned.

Ab, you can give out my email to anyone who wants to know more and I will look into re-submitting that 'six minutes for safety' topic again.

Brian
8/192 firefighters died on Saturday! No,they weren't wildland firefighters fighting the fires in Montana, Idaho or the rest of the western States: they were members of the New York City Fire Department that were killed trying to suppress a fire on the 17th floor of a building that was being DEMOLISHED!
All the demolition workers involved were gone, and yet 87 units and 475 firefighters were dispatched to put out a fire in a vacant building.
The dead firefighters, as is always the case, are being called "heroes".
What do we call the fire chiefs/managers that dispatched them into such conditions?
And for those of us in the business of wildland fire management and suppression, what lessons can we learn?
Rest in peace, FDNY brothers!

Mollysboy
8/19Hi Ab -

I'm Willy Crippen - Superintendent of the La Grande Hotshots, and I want to share with our community some information about the incident on the Poe Cabin Fire that led to burn injuries to three of our crewmembers

I also would like to share what happened following the incident, and to express my thanks and gratitude to the many good people that helped us out.

First and foremost, I want to say "Thank you!" to Vicki Minor and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. They are there for us, and Vicki and her organization has been so much help for our crew from the minute this whole situation started. They are there to take care of us, and hopefully you will never need their help - but it is so much comfort knowing they are there when you need them.

Here is a quick overview of what happened to us, and a few things that we can hopefully take forward from this unfortunate event.

On August 7, we were conducting a burn-out on the Poe Cabin Fire - we were in the Idaho side of Hells Canyon. We were on a ridgetop in dead sub-alpine fir and dead spruce. This is an "all or nothing" fuel type - there was very little ground fuel - green huckleberry, heavily grazed grass, and some dead and down. The crowns were mostly dead and moss covered the trees from bottom to top - essentially a 130 foot vertical fuel model 1 or fuel model 6. It either skunks around and leaves a real dirty spotty burn, or goes crown and convection and consumes everything.

The burn had gone as well as could be expected in this fuel type. We were burning to keep ahead of the main fire, and general winds and draft from interior burning and from the main fire was pulling the heat off the line. The fire behavior was heavy multi-tree torching, was spotting 2500-5000 feet ahead of itself, but was just short of being a crown fire. The column capped a couple of times, but never really developed a big convective lift. We had several active cells pass over the area throughout the day, but had no real adverse winds from these cells.

At about 1800, we had tied the burn-out into a ridgetop meadow, which had also been identified as one of our two safety zones. Firing was complete, and about half of the crew was in the meadow.

The next series of events all happened in less than two minutes.

The winds started to shift, and there was a curl of smoke over the line and an ember wash into the green side of the line. We picked up one spot in the top of a dead snag. The wind subsided for a moment, and the holders continued to hose down the green, and to watch for spots. The wind then picked up again, and pushed a pulse of heat through the crowns to the road. This pulse of heat crossed over the road through the crowns.

The last three holders, who were running lats, were cut off from the meadow by this pulse of fire, and had to run a few hundred feet down the road through the heat to get to the meadow. Their escape was aided by the holding boss and assistant supt. All three sustained radiant heat burns to their necks and arm - the last one received 2nd and 3rd degree burns to her face and arm, and fell and injured her knee during her escape.

The crew EMT's started treatment immediately, and the line medics (which included a paramedic) were on scene within minutes. Our injured crewmembers were treated and transported by vehicle to a helispot, and were flown to ICP, were they were lifeflighted to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. They were met at Boise by people from our district, and from the Boise NF. All three were treated and released, and spent the night in a motel. The folks that met them took care of everything for them, and drove them home the next day.

Meanwhile, we got off the mountain at about 0030, spent the night in a motel, and demobed in the morning to return home.

There are some incredible people in our firefighting organization, and they shine in the face of adversity. From the moment treatment started on our injured crewmembers, the goodness and caring of the folks in our community was given in full force, and they have my total gratitude, respect and appreciation.

As soon as the medivac ship left the helispot with our three injured crewmembers, their fate was out of our hands. It is a helpless feeling that I cannot describe. But there were so many good people that gave everything they could to help out our crew.

We are working with the Lessons Learned; Facilitated Learning Analysis Process to produce a product that hopefully we all can learn something from this - we feel that it is necessary to share what happened and to help prevent or circumvent anything like this from happening again.

Here's some bullet statements from this incident that we can take forward.
  • Subalpine fir / spruce is a very dangerous fuel type. It usually has relatively slower rates of spread, but the heat produced is extreme. Attempts to hold and / or burn in this fuel type needs to be carefully assessed, and other, safer options should be seriously considered. To be successful in subalpine fir requires a perfect wind (which we don't have any control over) and lots of prep. Still, a 4 blade wide line and a hundred foot of canopy opening does not work in a fuel type that doesn't burn on the ground and that spreads through the crowns and spots from a hundred yards to a mile ahead of itself. Again - it has to be a perfect wind, and good weather intel is critical.
  • Any burn operation is very complex, and the leaders of the burn operation cannot loose situational awareness. Do not allow insignificant distractions compromise situational awareness. As described in CRM, any complex operation such as landing a 747, or in our case - firing, holding or line construction activities needs to be a "sterile" environment with no distractions.
  • Resource objectives vs firefighter safety needs to be carefully assessed. We need to decide right away if we are going to fight fire aggressively and to use all available tactics, or if we are going to minimize resource damage, and allow accept what fires are going to do. If we make this decision, we need to minimize risk to firefighters if this is our strategy. In this fuel type, the decision needs to be made very quickly; do we have full use of iron, or if we are going to accept a season-ending event.
  • We are in a new realm with experience and trainees. We need to very carefully assess our own experience, the experience of our people and key people in our operations, the experience of our adjacent resources, and the experience of the overhead we are working for.
  • PPE - it works. The three crewmembers that were burned were wearing Nomex that was in good condition, sleeves were rolled down, gloves were on, glasses were on, but still burns were received. We cannot stress enough the importance of PPE - if sleeves would have been rolled up, or if they did not have gloves or glasses on, these could have been very serious - life changing burns.
  • Also - no poly or synthetics - our crewmembers were burned by radiant heat through their nomex and cotton undershirts - if they would have had anything synthetic under their nomex - it would have melted into their skin. We all wear fire resistant clothing for a reason, make sure it is worn correctly and is in good condition.
  • Shrouds would have reduced some of the injuries. We do not require shrouds - it's an option. Shrouds are hot and cumbersome while working. They reduce cooling and increase heat. I personally carry a nomex hood that I put on to keep my monodread from catching fire - but a shroud provides much more protection from radiant heat. I'm going to issue everyone shrouds.
  • Several of us had "our finger on the trigger" to disengage, and were in the process of making the decision to pull everyone out when the fire came back at us. But, we made the decision a minute too late instead of a minute too early. If you have any doubt about a situation, pull out and reassess - you can always go back in if / when things get better. Sixty seconds earlier, and nothing would have happened except that we would have "lost" another one - sixty seconds later and it would not have been survivable.
  • Finally, we need to clarify our protocols for burn victims - it is not clear; OWCP is not burn-victim friendly. Please refer to the WFF homepage for more info on what we need to do, but any burn victim should immediately go to a burn center. We need to fix this.

Thank you so much again to everyone that helped us after this happened. While we may work for a big impersonal and somewhat dysfunctional bureaucracy, there are amazing people that we work with that really care about people, and will do everything they can to take care of us. My faith in our organization has been restored because of individual heroic efforts.

Again - thanks to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation - they are there for us, they were there for us - and helped us and our injured crewmembers so much. Vicki - thank you

Be safe, and really take care of the people that you take care of -

-----===== Willy =====-----

if you want to talk - call me on my cell 541-786-1359
===================================================
WILLY CRIPPEN
Superintendent
LaGrande Hotshots; Wallowa-Whitman NF
email - wcrippen @ fs.fed.us

8/19does any one know the reason behind cal fire restricting how many and what
type of resources they send to the zaca?

Signed

curious

8/19Training Assignments

AB,

Long time watcher first time questioner. I've been told, from our Battalion, that the reason
for a lack of training assignments this season is due to cost containment on large fires. I'm
being told that trainees are not being ordered by the IMT's out there. Any others out there
getting this info? Thanks.

Signed,

Just Another Digger

8/19BLMboy,

Amen, there are bad apples in both barrels (contractor and agency). I have worked federal fire, state fire and been a contractor for 23 years. There isn't anything I can do about bad agency apples, but when I try to find someone who will handle problems with contractors who are keeping others from doing their work and/or not doing their job, no one cares. I have been told to mind my own business, or the agency person doesn't want to hear about it. I am not talking about slow workers, but people who show up for day shift at 09300 HRS then pull over for a nap. Water tenders who open a water valve 1/4 open so they can take a longer break at the fill point, while a line develops behind them. This raises costs because they bring in 20 water tenders when maybe 12-15 working water tenders, might handle the job !

Contractors can be very disappointed in what is happening also! Most of us take great pride in what we do, but there are those that are in it for the money and don't want to put in a full days work.

OTHERS,
ALSO, please stop complaining about the "cooperators" and contractors and their costs. The money they earn doing wildfires most often is well deserved. The problem is FED FIRE is way underpaid for the work and risk they undertake. The conversation should not be bringing everyone else back, but how to bring our brothers (and sisters) to a good livable income. When you are overweight and want to look better, it might be easier to hang out with fatter people, but it doesn't help your own health.

hoping for brighter future.

8/19Very well said Casey!!!

How many contractors do you see assisting the Phoenix Fire Dept put out a
house fire?, or the Denver FD, or any FD for that matter? The answer is 0.
So why do the Feds feel inclined to elicit SO MUCH help from contractors
with wildland fire. There is a definite place for contractors in our
arena, but the fireline is NOT one of them. Air resources, definitely a
need for. Water Tenders, yes, a need for those as well. But, for 2
people to show up in a 1990, Ford F-350, with a leaking 50 gallon tank in
the bed of the truck, is watchout #19. Albeit, there are good contractors,
but in my dealings with them, 90% are not good.

But kudos to the contractors because they know that in all the Forest
Service's brilliance, they will pay top dollar for them, while paying the
lowly federal employee the GS-3,4,5 and 6 pay. So, from a business
standpoint, the contractors are pretty smart.

I don't know if portal to portal pay for the feds is the answer, but I do
know that the number of contractors needs to go way down and the number of
fed resources needs to go way up.

USDA Forestry Technician

Forestry Tech, if it is as you say (90%???) you should contact the NWSA and try to interest some contractors in R3 in joining the organization and starting a chapter. Professionals monitor themselves and the NWSA's involvement makes a big difference in quality and education of contract resources. Ab.

8/19Dear Optimist;

I don't know that anyone has suggested you or others are "overpaid." As a firefighter in a blue uniform you have the luxury of having a collective bargaining agreement that allows for the negotiation of pay & benefits. Feds do not.

If you're CAL-FIRE, you have a remarkable group of folks at the State level working on your behalf. Hence the 3% @50 retirement which ironically is fueling the need for more firefighters and thus the mass exodus of feds to CAL-FIRE. If you are a municipal firefighter you also have a strong union that can negotiate pay & benefits.

So I don't think anyone is suggesting cooperators are "overpaid" but they are often more expensive when compared to their federal counterparts. Numerous studies of major complexes have come to the same conclusion: if the feds did it all themselves it would save tens of millions of dollars...perhaps hundreds of millions over the course of the season. But again, I don't believe anyone is advocating the total elimination of contractors & cooperators from the equation. However the federal agencies have become over-reliant on them because they have refused to strengthen their own infrastructure. This is likely because those managing the federal fire programs are not fire people. Additionally there has been no incentive to be fiscally efficient & effective although Congress is FINALLY starting to ask some serious questions as to the federal agencies (primarily the Forest Service) lack of fiscal management and accountability.

I think the fundamental frustration is that the federal land management agencies are willing to pay these higher costs to cooperators rather than strengthen the infrastructure of their own federal wildland firefighting corps by implementing pay & personnel policies that will stem the tide of losses and retention problems. Let's face it, these losses cost taxpayers money.

The federal government is willing to pay you portal to portal and associated costs yet on the same incident they are willing to take their own, less costly employees off the clock. That is simply fundamentally wrong.

What does the move to CAL-FIRE of a fed do for the federal taxpayer? You have the same number of firefighters only now they cost more. Think of a fed that goes to CAL-FIRE. One week he's costing the federal government $10.00 an hour, the next he's costing the federal government $20.00 an hour (JUST AN EXAMPLE)!!!.

With all due respect I don't believe working with local & state politicians will help the feds. Feds are governed by an entirely different set of laws and managed by a variety of agencies. We have to deal with all branches of government: Executive, Judicial & legislative. Dealing with the California legislature is one thing, dealing with 435 members of the US House of Representatives, 100 Senators and various agencies is a mind-boggling task...especially when the land management agencies refuse to support initiatives that will strengthen their fire program and save tax dollars.

Feds shouldn't be waving fingers at you, they should be lending their voice to the FWFSA to help fix the problems they face so they can not only be proud of the career choice they've made but ensure they can care for themselves and their families.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
8/19Sent in by Mollysboy

Tom Harbour, USFS Director of Fire, sent out the following thoughts:

Seared into the minds of all of us who have fought fire are memories of the
Big Blow. On 20 and 21 August, 1910, the forests of Idaho and Montana
erupted in flame as a result of strong winds associated with a passing
weather front. Without warning, firefighters were overwhelmed. 78
firefighters died in the 3 million acres which burned those two days. On
23 August, rains and snows came to those forests.

As we approach these anniversary dates, we should all pause and ask
ourselves about the situation we face in Idaho and Montana today.

Today, we have modern technology to warn us of an impending frontal
passage. Today, we have firefighting equipment Ed Pulaski could only have
imagined. Today, we have firefighters on the ground using shovels and axes
Ed Pulaski would immediately recognize.

Back then, Ranger Pulaski saved many lives. Today, we should remember the
importance of preparation, training, and expertise as we depend on our
front line people to have the highest degree of situational awareness and
to apply risk management principles.

There are years where I remember the Big Blow as a key piece of our USFS
history and there are years when I worry the Big Blow could happen again.

Elers Koch remembered 1910 when he faced 1917, 1919, 1926 and 1931. I'm no
Elers Koch, but I can recall the concern we felt in 2000 when approaching
this time of year. Our mantra always is, "prepare for the worst while
hoping for the best". I hope the winds don't blow. I hope the woods don't
erupt as they might, but I know we have prepared and must continue to
prepare our folks for the winds which will surely hit the massive amount of
open fire we have in the woods in Idaho and Montana.

Lets make sure their minds are as sharp and as focused on firefighters, the
public, and community safety as was Ed Pulaski.

8/19Casey and ms,

Is it time to start a letter writing/emailing campaign to educate our congressional
reps who introduce and vote on bills? Perhaps we could focus our efforts on those
who are not yet educated about the issues, keep a list of who's contacting whom,
and alert family and friends across the US who live in those districts to network
and help us out.

I'd be happy to help out with that.

Mellie

8/19I could go on about this 'Burn-By" (can someone show me the page that this term is defined on, and in what NWCG training book)?:

If the 14 people who asked to be evacuated could not, due to the escape route being compromised:
1. The escape Route was NOT adequate for the current and EXPECTED fire behavior.
2. If the personnel could not use the escape Route, and had to stay in a Safety Zone, they were Entrapped, not "Burned-By" . Call this what it really was, a close-call.

And if the Team anticipated the timber adjacent to the ICP could possibly ignite and burn in a Stay-in Place scenario, why did they allow expensive yurts to be put up right next to the timber, as in the pictures?

The Fire P-number will have to pay the contractor for these, no doubt. From the aerial pic there was plenty of room to have the yurts away from the timber. Seems to be a case of inadequate ICP layout...

I know no one was seriously injured, but they COULD HAVE BEEN. This was just a case of luck, not planning, or all the above, and my last post would have been addressed...

Good thing for all the Firefighters there...oh, wait, those were Forestry Technicians, that's not a dangerous job.... Ask OPM... or the USFS Washington Office...

Sancho

I think the WO knows it's a dangerous job, but not first-hand as in 1*. Ab..

8/19The only way Federal Wildfire Firefighters will ever get the pay they deserve is for the entire firefighting community to support the effort at the Local, State and National political level. This won’t happen any time soon when there is more animosity toward properly paid firefighters, blue uniform or contractors than the appointed policy makers and politicians who have created and maintain this tremendous inequity.

How can one scream about how expensive cooperators and contractors are on one hand, and shouldn’t be used, then turn around and scream that they aren’t properly compensated? So take your pick, either cooperators and contractors are over paid, or Federal Wildland Firefighters are under paid. Logic dictates both can’t be true at the same time.

Another factor that must be considered is the actual incident cost of a resource for cooperators and contractors must cover the enormous cost of having trained people and equipment available without recouping one cent until the meter starts on an incident. This cost is going through the roof each year as new requirements for training and equipment are imposed without funding. These soft costs aren’t reflected in the incident costs for Federal resources. This fact greatly exaggerates the actual cost difference between the two.

I am a professional Firefighter in Northern California for better than 25 years, I work for an agency where wildland firefighting is a major part of our mission. While the vast majority of my experience with Federal Firefighters has been excellent and I have a number of friends who are Federal Firefighters, I have also had a number of one finger waves from uniformed Federal Firefighters for no reason other than I have a Blue Uniform and badge. I have been at Federal Incidents where we were treated with contempt, rudeness and in a manor simply not becoming a professional organization. Sorry to be so blunt but most folks from my side of the fence have had the same experience.

The issues that have created the current compensation inequities and animosity are deep with history and many made with good intentions. But we all need to realize we have more in common, Federal, Contractor, State, City or District than we want to see. We all have a passion for doing a safe effective job, properly suppressing wildland fires. We all want to make enough money to provide for a decent life for our families and ourselves.

With the critical staffing issues the Federal Agencies are having, a golden opportunity to make significant inroads to correct the compensation issue, starting with P to P is at hand. If we truly believe in what we do and who we are, regardless of our employer, and value fair compensation for all who undertake this difficult dangerous profession, we need to stop bashing the folks we work with and get our act together and get everyone paid what they deserve.

An Optimist
8/19Shelter-in-place has long been the standard for protecting firefighters. In my mind,
somehow, shelter has, and is associated with "fire shelter " and they aren't the same.

The Broyle's Team did an excellent job by sheltering in place for the immediate
hazards but they, and we, don't address the short term and ongoing hazards of smoke
exposure. In my opinion, the weeks and weeks of smoke exposure and eventual
"burn by" should have been avoided.

Location of the ICP was a chronic exposure followed by an acute (excessive) exposure,
worst case for the lungs of folks involved. In my opinion there can be lifelong injury
injury for some firefighters for this kind of choice.

In regards to medical and insurance coverage of any lung injury down the road, well we
know that's not covered.

On another topic, Re the structure protection policy letter: Changing policy in the midst of
the firestorm is not safe. This needs to be decided in the off season so commanders intent
can be clear. It smacks of micromanaging finances by those at the top.

NorCal Tom

8/19Sancho,

Good observations and questions.

For me, I can't really comment since I have been in similar situations before in my younger years and didn't recognize the dangers, but I wouldn't have left myself or my folks in that situation for any duration after things I learned as a journeyman or as a practitioner of fire..... primarily the weeks of smoke exposure with the knowledge that the only three ways out were being compromised on a daily basis by fire activity.... and then the mega dose of smoke.

The stuff the team did to protect the firefighters should be lauded, the lessons learned, and yes, mistakes should be shared.

Thank goodness that something unexpected didn't happen..... or will happen.

JourneyFirefignter

P.S. - Has any reputable fire expert ever discovered what a true safety zone is?
8/18Re Casey's post

AB, The LPF has more Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements (CFPA) with negotiated Annual Operating Plans (AOP) with Local Government Fire Agencies than any other Forest in the US. My department has such an agreement in place for the past five years with the LPF, during drawdown of the LPF engines my phone will ring " Chief can you staff up a Type 3 engine w 4-0 staffing for two weeks of coverage or we need two of your type 2 dozers". My answer is " Fax the order and request number to me and the order will be filled. The Admin fees pay for insurance, meals, supplies, fuel, and maintenance on the equipment. We have negotiated rates for all our equipment= stand by is 1/2 the normal OES rate for a type 3 engine.

ME
8/18ms,

I agree with you that the wildland fire community needs to come together on the need for portal-to-portal pay, and the other pay, benefits, and working condition changes that the FWFSA and its members seek for the wildland fire community as a whole.... but R5 is in an immediate crisis with some critical needs to stop the bleeding before what's left of the "best of the best" are gone. Two discrepancies though, 1) The SoCal Special Salary Rate (Table 0256) doesn't need to be updated (it is already at the maximum for GS-3 through 8 due to not so recent changes in the law, attached), and 2) Group Retention Incentives do not need to be approved nor updated by OPM (unless they are in excess of 10% of the employees adjusted salary).

I also agree that many of these ideas are only stop gaps and the underlying factors must be addressed through legislative changes. One important stop gap came in 1990 when the first Special Salary Rate request was approved for the four Southern California forests.

In 1991, an important law was passed called the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) of 1990. Unfortunately, unlike law enforcement, the comparability studies for the 0462 series (Forestry Aid/Technician) did not have any recognized similar profession in the private or governmental section to base the study on. As a result, the 0462 series was excluded from one of the very important provisions of FEPCA known as a Special Base Rate. In an effort to stem recruitment and retention problems , a Special Salary Rate was requested and approved by OPM in lieu of the Special Base Rate (not to be confused with Special Salary Rate). This is, and continues to be the only way that FEPCA applies to series 0462 (etc.) wildland firefighters since Title 5 doesn't currently recognize them as firefighters.

Law enforcement on the other hand, did have similar professions and an adequate job series defining their primary duties to base their comparisons on. As such, they were able to use a Special Base Rate instead of the National Base GS Rate for computation of pay.

Here is how it works:

Special Salary Rate -
National Base GS Rate + Special Salary Rate Adjustment (Up to a max. of 30%) = Amount authorized for the appropriate special pay table.

Locality Rate-
National Base GS Rate + applicable Locality Adjustment  = Amount authorized as the appropriate locality pay table.

Law Enforcement Rate-
Special LEO Base Rate + applicable Locality Adjustment = Amount authorized as the Law Enforcement locality pay table.

I have attached an excel file with the current (CY 2007) and projected (CY 2008) effects of Special Salary Rate vs. Locality Rate. Note: Unless specifically exempted (or covered) by another provision of the law, employees receive the greater of the two: either the Special Salary Rate or the Locality Rate, not a combination of the two.

Man, I feel like I need an In-N-Out double-double burger and a shake.

Lobotomy
8/18A couple of questions about the Cascade ICP "Burn-By" (a new term coined to make this sound less threatening):

1. Why did none of the Non-line qualified folks waiting out the incident have Fire shelters with them? Weren't there any at Supply? What if the camp would have burned more, or trailers started to burn and spread?
2. If the Team knew this was a possibility, and even has a plan for it, did they ask the camp personnel if there were any asthmatics, etc. that should have been moved out a couple of days before? Or just leave folks in there?
3. How come DUST masks were given to folks in a SMOKE environment? This has been proven to make smaller particles lodge deeper in the lungs, and has been deemed an unsafe practice. This is why we don't have wildland respirators as required PPE yet.
4. Has a Safenet been filed on this? If the folks in ICP were unable to leave, even for a few minutes on their primary escape Route, wasn't this a textbook ENTRAPMENT? And did the camp folks get Hazard Pay?

Just wondering,
Sancho
8/18vfd cap'n:

You are correct. Not all cooperators get portal to portal. Please correct me if I'm wrong but I believe you are with a volunteer department from Colorado. As such your ability to negotiate pay & benefits is about as limited as with the feds. Quite candidly, if your department is sending crews to Zaca and keeping them there but only paying them for 8-10 hours, I'd have a serious issue with that.

No one should be on an assignment that extends for 24 hours or more and not be compensated for ALL time away from their duty station.

The "expensive" cooperators that do get portal to portal are, of course, those that have had the luxury of negotiating lucrative pay & benefit packages with their City, County or State governments. In order for the federal government to utilize these folks, they've got to "pay the freight." Of course this "freight" goes beyond the portal to portal. It includes backfill costs, Admin fees etc. These costs are obviously paid by the federal government (land management agencies) at the expense of their own employees. That is simply wrong.

So again, you are correct. However, if your crews are in CA and not being compensated for their time not on the fire line, who is paying for their lodging, meals etc. for the other 14-16 hours per day?

Casey
8/18Questions to all:

Is there a correlation between the formation on the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA) and the Federal Pay Comparability Act of 1990 that federal wildland firefighters were initially excluded from?

Did the FWFSA see the train wreck coming years ago and keep positive (mostly) in trying to prevent the failure of the federal wildland fire program... as many as 17 years ago?

Hasn't the FWFSA always introduced, supported, and lobbied legislation that improved the wildland fire community as a whole, but always hit partisan roadblocks from whatever administration was in place, democrat or republican. Hasn't the FWFSA always kept it's legislation and goals bipartisan and supportable by both sides of our political subdivision due to simple facts?

It's a fire community thing..... but if it's a genocidal thing like the elimination of federal wildland firefighters.... only to be replaced by cooperators and contractors without similar skill, experience, and performance measures regardless of costs or production.... there will be a fight.

In the perfect world, there would be a balance of the folks who are under oath to do the jobs (feds), those who are assisting (cooperators), and those who are filling important for profit positions (contractors) needed to complete the funded mission. Each group has a place and purpose and wants the best for themselves and their interests in the long run.

In a perfect world..... we would all get along and communicate better since we all share the same goals of survival on the federally provided dollar..... unless we are warring in which case..... the gloves may come off and all sides lose.

The FWFSA is not against contracting or cooperator use on fires in the least... The FWFSA is against federal wildland firefighters getting short changed for performing the hazardous duties they are charged with under federal oath and allegiance, while the increasing use of contractors (for profit) and cooperators (also for profit since they didn't sign the Constitutional Oath) replace federal wildland firefighters on the fireline without regards to productivity, safety, and cost effectiveness.

FedWatcher
8/18Region 6 Holding Resources

First of all, people need to understand that engine/tender contractors put thousands of dollars into equipment/ training/ insurance/ workmen’s comp, etc. before they even apply for a contract. Then they wait and wait and wait. Region 6 Contracting Office is full of new employees and many don’t know what they are doing. This year the solicitation was supposed to close on May 5. The contracts were not awarded until the end of June. There is actually a solicitation for ground crews that is still open, which could mean there are crews out there without contracts still waiting. After all of that, several Oregon Dispatch Offices, totally ignore the rules and regs, by passing best value contractors and use EERA (locals who have not been through the contracting processes) before they call out contractors. If a contractor complains to anyone, he is marked as a trouble maker. Many of these contractors are in the “game” to make a living, it isn’t a hobby or a summer job for them. I think Contractor Reps would clean up many of the dispatch offices that are playing fast and loose with everyone’s money, including taxpayers. In the past few days there have been some dispatches from Region 6 to Idaho, so maybe that will improve. The problem with Region 6 hogging resources is that if they have a situation like Idaho and Montana, is that region going to send help to this side? As an Oregon private forest landowner, that concerns me greatly, especially when the weather forecast is for dry lightning in my neighborhood.

There are lots of ways for the Gov to make the system fiscally responsible, but it’s not ever going to be just FS or just Contractors. The two factors can and should compliment each other. Why would the FS want to spend millions on equipment and have it in a shed 8 months out of the year, just so they could say they were the real fire fighters. Everyone has a vested interest and anyone who is out there in an Engine or Tender or on a Line Crew is a qualified fire fighter no matter who they work for and they deserve our support and thanks for the dangerous work they do.

Someone down the line talked about Tenders getting l750 a day and double overnight. There are very few Tenders on line today for more than 1450, so the competition and inception of best value has brought the price down. Contracting works, and it probably saves taxpayers lots of money, to be better spent on forest management.

Tender Mom

8/18This came in this morning and I missed it. Flew right by me. Ab.

WILD WEATHER

While our brave men & women battle fires across the West, the business office of the FWFSA, tucked away in a peaceful valley above Inkom, Idaho, ducked for cover yesterday afternoon from a tornado. The National Weather Service validated the tornado and although it wasn't an F5, or even a 4, or 3 or 2, it was enough to snap 80' cottonwoods and huge aspens and birch into kindling.

It also left a telltale sign of a tornado...a piece of straw embedded like a spear into the fascia boards of our neighbors log home. I was actually outside at the time watching things fly past me horizontally only to look up and say "Holy &%#*!"

Anyway, everyone please stay safe out there.

Casey

8/18Misery Whip,

I've thought long and hard about responding to your overgeneralized agency vs contractor comments.

I do have this to say - When more agency folks educate and inform themselves about the costs and risks of doing business - particularly with a federal agency - then I will engage in this conversation more fully, and hopefully in a multi-lateral exchange where ALL parties are actively listening - and learning.

Learning to balance a personal checking account would be a great place to start for many of them. Money in. Money out. Utilities and mortgage first. Savings a close second. Insurance and Retirement a close third. Blah, blah, blah. It's really difficult for me to have a financial discussion with someone (or a mass of someone's) who insist on throwing out the "too expensive" crap and then running away when I pull out the paper, pencil and calculator. Ambiguity is a weak position to argue from.

I've heard "your fallers are just too expensive" more times than I can count. And this from people who should know the hard costs of doing business...but don't. I've seen it used as a justification for stupid behavior. Yes. Stupid. That's such a great word in this context.

Our fallers were just demobbed from a fire where the IMT staff consistently treated them poorly, disrespectfully and with disgusting anti-contractor disdain, not because they did anything wrong but because they were told (as was I) that "they were too expensive." They were told they would work more hours if they weren't paid such a high rate. Helicopters were flown out of a location empty, and our fallers were told to walk out because "they were paid to be tough."

This kind of poor, weak, uninformed, classless, tacky leadership perpetuates poor professional relationships, poor communication exchange, poorcooperation, and ultimately unsafe working environments on the fireline. Your comments only serve to add to that self-justifying prejudice.

I realize you qualified your statement with the exclusion of professional fallers. Still, it's the case with written communication such as yours - they contain underlying messages suggesting prejudice is acceptable because....(((place baseless blather here)))

Well, Misery Whip, it's not. It never is. Not even from someone who has consistently posted intelligent messages on this venue as you have.

Debbie, just a clarification - we pay 46 percent worker compensation rates, not 30.

But you know what? That doesn't matter in the overall argument because the agencies have gotten away with sending commercial fallers out on fires for so long uninsured ((what a cost savings!)), that the worker comp figure means nothing to many of them. It's not even in their intellectual periphery. It's a concept so foreign that attempting to discuss "hard cost breakdown" causes almost immediate disorientation and defensiveness. Why? Because there is fear behind not being informed. And, well, there should be. It SHOULD be embarrassing.

Now, Misery Whip, if you'd like a hard cost breakdown of our operations, feel free to call me directly. Ab, you have my permission to give Misery Whip my telephone number. But, I'll give you fair warning, I'm in a fighting mood. I've had enough of ambiguous blather. But, you know what, I've almost made enough money to buy one of those miraculous Dr. Seuss Stars On/Stars Off machines. I've been waiting to sneak into fire camps and install them to look like shower stalls.

Shari Downhill
8/18Keep fighting, Casey...

Casey,

In the recent past, I've been asked to put together stats of comparable coop salaries, housing costs, attrition figures and a host of other talking points for Line Officer review to try a stimulate some kind of discussion. All this so far for nothing. R-5 can't even get Special Pay done correctly. They blew off NOPS request a few years back and won't even consider an update for SOPS. All of these ideas generated over the years are only stop gaps, "give them a bone, maybe they will go away". Nothing discussed or implemented in years past will be effective unless annually reviewed and updated. SOPS hasn't completed a Special Pay update since 2001. Special Pay and other OPM approved incentives are a waste of time if not regularly updated.

We MUST get portal-to-portal and H-pay to retirement through Congress. This bill would leave no firefighter behind. It would make this a national federal interagency issue, not an R-5 issue. Acceptance of p to p within the Federal emergency workforce would show support to state and local cooperators. I can't count how many times I've heard someone say "those R-5 teams are too expensive with all those cooperators". I've had Coop friends (local gov) tell me every time they go out of state, someone sees the badge, the blue shirt and the first question they are ask is "are you P to P". I've heard of some trying to hide or downplay the fact they are p to p. They are always on the demob list first and at times feel out of place. P to P is considered taboo and we must change this.

Casey, I've studied this issue and nothing would help the situation more and show support to our firefighters and militia than to get this bill though Congress in a manner that it would be signed into law and not vetoed.

I don't have all the answers or know everything we need to do to make this a reality. Maybe we need to treat this issue like an incident and keep fighting until we have the issue contained. Whatever we do, you have our attention and my email if I can help.

We gotta do it Casey.......... We need to figure out a way to do it!

ms

8/18Fire Community,

Reading that article about the Wildland Fire Foundation gives me a lot of hope that the general public will learn about what a wonderful and vital organization the Foundation is to the wildland community.

But we, the firefighters, are the frontline for raising funds for their work and we cannot forget that. There are simple little things that we can do that can help bring money into the Foundation without having to stray from our day to day business of fighting fire.

On the Foundations website there is a flyer specifically designed for the general public in communities that have been threatened by wildfire entitled "Firefighters Love Cookies..." wffoundation.org/documents/FirefightersLoveCookies2_000.pdf. Download a copy and give it to a couple of community leaders while you are in town, or if you happen to be driving through and stop at a gas station, ask if you can post it on their window. People won't donate to something they don't know about.

When in fire camp ask the Information folks to post information about the Foundation on the notice boards. You would be surprised the number of people who are unaware of the Foundation and the work it does. I've attached both a pdf from the foundation and a word document that I made up to post at fire camp (with WFF approval of course). The vertical website addresses can be cut into tabs for people to tear off. Also attached is the WFF pdf membership form, keep some handy to pass out.

Fires are great for overtime etc. So how about setting $5 dollars aside for each fire you go on to donate to the Foundation? You could donate yearly or after each fire (and it's tax deductible). As Ab said, this is like an insurance policy for us. Add up the $52 for the 52 club and $5 per fire and that's not a lot of money, but it can add up if we all did it.

I suggested this idea to the Prescott HotShots when I saw them last on the Monument fire and they said they would discuss implementing it for their crew. Could you imagine. $5 multiplied by 20 people on the crew then multiply that by say 20 fires? A grand total of $2000. Now, multiply that by 10 more crews and you get and extra $20,000 in the coffers.

I have been on 10 fires so far this year, that's $50 heading to the WFF on top of the 52 club membership at the end of the year. Fire seasons not even close to being over and it could easily be $100 by the end of the year.

Finally wear your patches, shirts, pins and stickers with pride.

We can all make just that little bit extra difference with just 5 minutes of our time

AD Texas

Great ideas. I'm going to carry some copies in my vehicle to pass out. Ab.

8/18To JS:

Thanks for posting the snippet from Deputy FAM Director Marc Rounsaville. That's great that cabinet level folks, I presume the Secretary of Interior & Agriculture and the FEMA Director commented on the contribution the wildland fire community makes on non-fire responses and that wildland IMTs are the best in the world.

Unfortunately, actions speak louder than words. I would suspect that the FEMA Director didn't offer to change the current policy of not paying "the best in the world" wildland firefighters proper OT while on FEMA assignments and I'm sure neither the AG or Interior Secretary proffered the notion that these folks deserve portal to portal and other benefits commensurate with the rest of the Nation's firefighting community.

Talk is cheap.

Casey
8/18Ab,

Here is the narrative from Broyles IMT regarding the Stay-in-Place event - it is
a good complement to the slide show. Feel free to post. Thank you.

PR

Thanks, PR. Ab.

8/18re: painting cooperators with a broad brush

Not all cooperators get portal to portal pay, either. One of my department's engines is providing initial attack coverage for USFS about 50 miles from the Zaca Fire, working and getting paid for 8 to 10 hour days so that a federal engine crew can take a fire assignment to make a little overtime and hazard pay.

vfd cap'n
8/18I just need to put in my two cents to the argument that has shocked the heck out of me lately. I come to this forum every day, I use it for business, and just for talking. I know a lot of the argument didn't start anywhere near my area, but for some reason I am extremely offended by the comments about contractors. Yes, I have been involved in logging and fires for years, so has my husband, my father and so on. I DO believe that things got done better and faster when they hired whoever came in needing a job, and mostly it was people who were very willing to work and needed the money for their families. There is so much red tape now that by the time it is all worked out, the business has gotten out of hand. I also have been involved on the other end and I know that Feds do the best with what they have available to them, and I believe they do a great job.

Both sides have a story, and I am sorry that things are that way. But to go out and bash all contractors because of a few lazy &%#@! is not right. We get great evaluations, we work hard and we take what money we can get because we NEED and DESERVE it. Two years in a row we literally started to go hungry after breakup hit and when fire season hit, it saved our lives. How dare you say that we don't do what we should and we get paid too much! Until you are in my shoes and barely able to buy school clothes and food...don't you dare talk about anyone that way. My husband leaves every morning for briefing, he works dam* hard all day, comes home exhausted, never says he won't do something when told and gets angry when others do. We pay money for our business and equipment, we take classes to prepare. We are there without question if you need us.

There shouldn't be an argument at all. It doesn't matter if you are Contractor or Fed, you are who you are and each person should be judged by their actions, not by what they do and how much money they make.

sincerely,
T.C.
montana contractor

Thanks T. You and your husband are some of the good ones. Ab.

8/18While it may have been pretty funny to some of your readers...I SERIOUSLY question the decision to shelter in place. Whoever made that decision placed non fire going personnel in harm's way as well as the "professionals". Civilian workers at that site were subjected to unhealthy atmospheres, stress and poor leadership. They deserve much better than that!

They couldn't find a single Engine or Water Tender in the ICP to prevent structure loss or assist in the shelter in place.......amazing story to be sure...

COPTER 100

I don't believe anyone thought it funny. Ab.

8/18Ab,

Recently a slide show excerpt depicting the burn-by event at the Cascade Complex was posted on Wildland Fire Forum They Said. This excerpt had been sent to some family and friends and was part of a more complete show that was undergoing editing at the time (for example, the excerpt has the wrong date). The complete slide show is attached; it contains additional context and a great aerial shot of fire camp after the burn-by. Would you be willing to post this one in place of the excerpt?

Thank you.

PR

Did it. Thanks for the more complete update, PR. And thanks Kellie, for sending in the first version. Interesting... Ab.
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/id-bof-cascade-icp-burn-by.pdf (1648 K pdf file)

8/18News Video about the Wildland Firefighter Foundation:

www.2news.tv/news/local/9209547.phpl

Sweet and to the heart.

Community members, if you haven't donated to the 52 club please do so. The Foundation has had large expenses this summer, getting people to burn center, getting parents to the hospital following a chain saw accident, responding to other accidents, etc, when families are in shock. This is our community's safety net. It takes $$ to provide that safety net for our families and firefighters. PLEASE DONATE NOW. If you can kick in more than $52 (buck a week to help a buddy!). I hate to say it, but it also is and insurance for each of our families whose loved ones fight wildland fire. Consider your own family and give from the heart. Ab.

8/17Misery Whip.

Man, your passion and experience serves not only your arguments well, but all the firefighters who are out there trying to do the best they can under difficult circumstances. I am really sick and tired of all this “federal employee bashing/the private sector can do it better” politically motivated garbage. Thanks for keeping ‘em honest.

jimhart

8/17A few comments on:

The contractor vs fed issue:

This "discussion" should also include the costs of "cooperators."

There is no dispute that the FWFSA is working to bring improved pay, benefits & working conditions to our nation's federal wildland firefighters. As we do this we are met by the Agency's consistent argument that they simply can't afford to move away from archaic pay & personnel policies. For example portal to portal pay would just be too darn expensive they say.

In order to illustrate to Congress that sufficient funds are in fact available to the land management agencies to compensate their firefighters for the 21st century we have had to clearly demonstrate where the current dollars are going and how the fiscal management, or mismanagement as the case may be, of those dollars have needlessly increased the costs of suppression.

It is unconscionable for the land management agencies & the Administration to oppose portal to portal and other pay & benefit reforms when providing such compensation to cooperators whose salaries, especially in the West are already significantly higher than federal salaries. The agencies simply cannot justify the continuing payment of portal to portal pay along with a host of other costs/fees to non-federal resources then claim they don't have sufficient funds to properly compensate their own employees and take them off the clock on the same incident.

As a result of the systemic failure of the land management agencies to collectively find ways to retain their employees through pay & benefit reforms which would serve to strengthen the infrastructure of our Nation's federal wildland firefighting corps and thus reduce the need for non-federal resources, many are leaving the federal system for better pay & benefits. As a result of two actions, the agencies have become over reliant on higher-priced non-federal resources:

1) The continuing use by line officers from the WO on down of fire preparedness & fuels dollars appropriated by congress for that very use, to pay for non-fire projects. As we have seen in 2006 and now 2007, this action, coupled with the order of no further deficit spending for any given forest manifests itself in a reduced number of federal preparedness resources available during the season to keep fires small. The lack of federal resources then predicates the need for bringing in significantly higher-priced non-federal resources.

2) The number of fire employees leaving for "greener pastures" or should I say "bluer" have depleted the staffing levels of federal agencies to the point where it cannot recover. Thus, rather than implementing policies to retain their employees, the feds simply call on more & more non-federal resources which cause the costs of suppression to skyrocket. Why do they do this? Because there is currently no fiscal incentive not to do this.

These same feds who would rather pay 3-5 times the amount for the same number of resources rather than take care of their own then proceed to suggest to congress that the increased costs of suppression are a result of climate, WUI blah, blah, blah. Of course they don't bother to offer up the fact that because of their very own policies, they have to rely on significantly higher-priced non-federal resources. That's where we come in...to provide the truth as to where the federal dollars are going...and it ain't to the federal firefighters that's for sure!

So folks can beat me up for doing everything we can as an organization to get federal dollars to federal firefighters. Can't be any simpler than that. That being said, we have NEVER advocated the total elimination of contractors & cooperators in the wildfire business. However since the fire programs such as the Forest Service' are managed by non-fire folks who may know how to ID a type of tree but know virtually nothing of managing a fire department, it is incumbent upon us to educate congress on what is going on in the field and where the dollars are going. Let's face it, the federal taxpayers are getting hosed.

The management of the fire programs of the land management agencies by non-fire folks may have indeed worked 30 years ago. Not now. Yet this "leadership" refuses to allow fire folks to run the program as it should be run. The Secretary of AG needs to recognize this and not worry so much about yet another "transformation" project by the new FS Chief, but rather operating the fire program with fire people. And no, fire people do not include Mark Rey...a timber lobbyist by trade.

What happened to Bernie:

Just a couple of weeks ago firefighters visited the R-5 Regional Office to pitch several ideas about the retention problems which, in a word, are severe in SoCal. These same firefighters as well as at least 2 Regional Foresters went back to the RO last Friday to pitch the ideas to Regional Forester Bernie Weingardt. Apparently to those present, it was clear that Bernie was unaware that the meeting was planned nor for what purpose. In other words apparently being blind-sided. One would assume he would have been briefed.

Nonetheless word has it that he and the regional Foresters were quite engaged about the need to do something to stem the tide of losses. It appeared that Bernie offered to take the lead then boom, he's gone. What gives?

The rumor mongers are already out in droves. Wonder if Bernie had to sign something saying he couldn't REALLY say why he's leaving. On the other hand, maybe he recognized that things in R-5 are so bad that if something dire happens on his watch he'll be to blame. Likely he'd be the guinea pig of the WO if something did go sour.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
8/17Some info from ADFA:

Bill S. 2003 was introduced on August 3, 2007 – This is a bill to facilitate the part-time re-employment of annuitants and other purposes. The Bill was introduced by Senator Susan Collins, R-ME, John Warner, R-VA, and George V. Voinovich, R-OH.. Currently the bill has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for review. The bill is the first step in the legislative process. Introduced bills go first to committees that deliberate, investigate, and revise them before they to general debate.

If the bill becomes law, it would provide an easy way for retirees to return to the federal work force rather than obtain an OPM dual-compensation waiver said OPM Director Linda Springer. OPM supports the measure. To learn more about this go to: www.opm.gov/news/opm-applauds-introduction-of-parttime-reemployment-of-federal-annuitants-bill,1212.aspx.

AFDA is encouraging all members to write to their respective senators and congressman/woman promoting the passing of this bill.

Another bit of information is GSA has announced the 2008 Per Diem Rates. The rate will increase from $99.00 per day to $109.00 per day. The $10.00 hike is due to an increase in the standard Continental United States (CONUS) lodging rate change from $60.00 to $70.00. The meal and incidental expense portion of per diem was not re-evaluated this year and remains the same as for 2007, ranging from $39.00 to $64.00 per day depending on the travel destination. The new per diem rates become effective on October 1, 2007.

Mollysboy
8/17In response to Misery Whip (contractors)-

Wow, did I read some harsh words or what! But let’s talk reality to clear the air a bit.

First, I am currently a fed agency firefighter (AFMO actually). I was a county district fire chief. And, I also at one point in my past owned a type 6 engine that I contracted to the feds. All total I have just over 20 years of fire service. And I think I have a pretty fair perspective of resources on fires and who does and costs what.

Grouping resources into large general groups such as federal vs. contractor is not only patently unfair, it is not logical. Engines are manned by people and people are different…but yet they are the same. Everyone has different levels of training, different slides of experience in their tray and trying to categorize just doesn’t work unless you only are attempting to pit one group against another.

When looking at costs overall, federal resources are not inherently less, or more expensive, than contracting resources. When you look at a specific daily rate for a contract resource you cannot fairly equate it to the daily direct cost of a federal resource. In many respects federal resources are far more expensive than contract resources when you consider all the associated and related costs (i.e. supervision, training, admin, office support, benefits, hiring, per diem, etc.).

When looking at training… well, if someone holds a Red Card for a particular position then they are considered qualified. Notice I did not say competent. And if you are USFS and try to hold the 5109 thing above the 310-1 you’re sadly mistaken. And if you tell me that feds are not pencil whipped occasionally you don’t have your eyes open.

So in the long run it all boils down to individual people and individual crews. I have seen fed equipment look like, and operate like, junk while contractor engines come in WAY over spec and able to do far more than any fed engine. I have seen contract engines with crews that have better attitudes, more ability, more experience, and more willingness/cooperation than fed engine crews on the same fire.

Now, at the same time I have sent contract engines back to camp for demob due to performance and Red Card issues. I have caught contract engines trying to provide 2 crew members when their contract calls for 3. I have caught contractors sitting in the shade rather than working. Oh, wait a second…I have seen the green engines sleeping in the shade as well.

Now…operationally…if you use your head and think about it, contract engines doing mop-up is great! Contract hand crews improving line or doing mop-up or structure preparation is great! Because when these resources are doing the “low-end” jobs fed forces can be doing the “high-end” firefighting.

So let’s get real, get practical, get fair…all resources have a place in today’s wildfire community… and people are people. You have good ones…and you have those that need more training. You can’t put people into neat little containers with labels pertaining to this issue because it will come back and haunt you every time.

Now…trying to blame contractors for federal management screwing up our own fire programs makes no sense at all. And trying to relate it to Iraq makes even less sense. Fire agency managers are the people to blame for the condition we are in. They are the ones who won’t make our case, they won’t do the hard work required to justify our programs (including expansion), and we as firefighters share some of that blame as well…but that is another discussion. Having a contractor rep in dispatch does make sense, at the contractor’s expense of course, since it could assist in making dispatching of contractor resources more efficient and cost effective.

Now, going back to all federal wildland firefighting force…h*ll yes! But tell me a single leader anywhere in the federal agencies that has the brains to make the case for us or the backbone to advance the cause!? Yeah…didn’t think so. We aren’t even classified as firefighters in the federal system…so you think we could find any real leadership? Yeah…right.

Anyways, we continue to weed out the bad contractors and move on…I wish it was as easy to weed out the bad federal employees that are part of the fire program!

Generalizations are a bad thing, prejudice is even worse. Remember to check your own glass house before throwing stones at someone else’s. Settle down…it’s been a long season…more to go…respect everyone…improve yourself whenever possible…help others wherever you can.

BLMboy

If I recall correctly, there was a study that took all costs of fed firefighters and contractors into account. I don't have the time to find it now, but it was discussed here on theysaid several years ago. Regarding your 4th paragraph, do you have any hard statistics on comparative costs, BLMboy? Just trying to come at this cost issue with more than just opinion, and the facts would be better than opinions... in my opinion... I also think there's a place for everyone. Ab.

8/17Misery Whip,

As a Life long contractor my first reaction to your post is to tell you right where to stick it..... But I agree with some of what you say as there are to many bad resources out there and they make all of our jobs harder, more hazardous and degrade the professional experience of fire suppression, not to mention what is getting done or, more often, not done on the fires.

I will say what I have said in years past every time this topic comes up.
It is not who signs your check that makes the difference.

It is your level of professionalism, The quality of your work, The quality of your people and, most importantly, the leadership applied at all levels of your organization.

This is a line not so easily drawn as Contractor vs. Fed. Anyone out there long enough has seen good and bad on both sides, not to mention the states. I will say I have seen contract resources so bad that it made me embarrassed to be called a "Contractor". And Fed resources so bad I was embarrassed to be called a "Firefighter".

I have fired people for drug violations or had people quit because "they did not want to work this hard" that went to Fed crews or engines (and yes even Shot crews). Have also had some top notch people get a start here and move to the feds or state and do very well at many levels. Many have stayed in this organization for a long term career in fire.

In this politically correct day, it always amazes me that so many play the them and us game. Some of the comments posted here are just plain narrow minded, overgenralized discrimination. If the same type of comments were made of my race or gender instead of my employer orientation, my guess is they would not be tolerated on this site. WE are all firefighters and some are Excellent, Some are Good, Some are just barely good enough to be carded and some just plain suck and make you wonder how they got carded in the first place.

So if you get a bad Contract, FED or STATE resource that is below the standard, please send them home with an evaluation that accurately reflects the performance you observed. All to often bad resources go home with good or neutral evals because no one wanted the hassle of confronting them on their weak job. (Weak leadership)

On many fires my crews are the "Go to crews" as well, even though they are "contractors". As you said of the shots and others, it is getting to be long haul and my people are just as tired and working just as hard as any out there so please don't look down on us just because the color of our skin........ I mean because we are contractors. Judge us by our work and the overall impact we bring to bear on the fire, Crew by crew and engine by engine, Try to judge all by the same standard regardless of who signs the check.

Silver Salmon you beat me to the punch on the evals good post

CW

8/17For "In The Middle"

One way to determine if rain is hitting the ground during a lightning storm is to go to the national Weather Service site for the area in question. They usually have different radar screens to look at, usually under Reflectvity, called "Composite" and "Base". First, look at the base.(loop if offered). Then compare the size of the area covered by storm on the "Base " picture to the "Composite " picture. If they cover about the same area, the rain is hitting the ground. If the area covered by the composite picture is much larger than the base reflectivity picture, then the area that is different probably is Virga, rain NOT touching the ground. Use the radar sites, not the lightning sites , to determine dry lightning. Also look up the ROMAN RAWS weather stations near the location you want, and look for rainfall readings...if no rain registering on the closest RAWS unit, probably dry lightning....

Hope this helps,

-MJ

8/17Structure protection policy:

Just got this. It raises more questions than it answers.................

TC

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

Date: August 13, 2007
Subject: Structure Protection Activities
To: Regional Foresters, Area Director

It has come to our attention that certain structure protection activities
are occurring outside normally acceptable practices. Although the scope
and scale of these activities is not clear, serious safety and fiscal
concerns need to immediately be addressed. As with many activities there
are exceptions. These exceptions should be noted and the decisions to
proceed should be well documented.

The use of shelter material (wrap) purchased and applied by agency
personnel to private dwellings is generally not appropriate. Line officers
and fire managers may need to review each proposed action to ensure it is
the most appropriate tool to be applied to achieve the objective. For
example, historical and cultural structures that can not be safely
protected by other means may fall into this category. Documentation of
each of these decisions needs to be placed in the fire package.

The installation of sprinklers, especially on roofs, and developing
defensible space around privately owned structures on private or public
lands may not be appropriate actions either. As with the wrap, careful
consideration as to the appropriateness of the method and the long term
results are important. Developing defensible space is primarily the
responsibility of the property owners. The decision to use agency
personnel to perform this type of activity must be clearly documented.

In order to adequately protect a structure, personnel may have to work on
the roof of the structure. Certain techniques, training and safety
equipment are required to safely perform this work. Requirements
established by the Occupation Safety & Health Administration for working
above ground must be followed and should be included in the job hazard
analysis. All work activities performed to meet the objectives must have
an approved job hazard analysis prior to initiating the work.

Line officers and incident managers need to review proposed actions to
ensure they are the most appropriate tool to be applied to achieve the
incident objectives.

Please share this information with your line officers and fire management
personnel.

/s/ James E. Hubbard
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

Fire might have burned the place down before the paperwork is completed? Ab.

8/17Contractors

I believe that the ongoing battle about who costs the most contractor vs agency is a battle we shall have for many years to come however, I believe that it is important that everyone understand the costs that a contractor must pay to be in business which is often not included in the costs that the agencies use to calculate their cost of business due to the accounting practices of any agency. Contractors are responsible for the following:

  1. Transportation needs of crews
    a. Auto Insurance
    b. Fuel
    c. Maintenance
  2. Workers Compensation Cost
    a. In Oregon the current rate if aprox. 30.00 per hundred in payroll as firefighting is in the logging rate. The NWSA went to bat with the Oregon Rating Bureau (ORAC) and we have gotten a new class code for Firefighting however we have one more year in the new code before a separate rate will be determined based on our claim history.
    b. The private sector must buy minimum premium policies in any state it anticipates it might go as your workers compensation does not necessarily travel with you. We have worked with the IAIBC to try to find some solution for this issue as emergency services but it is very complicated as each state has it own regulations and some are three way and some are one way states.
  3. Liability Insurance
    Due to the loss of life on fires of both agency and contractor in the past few years, the rates have skyrocketed, and getting insurance for new contractors is almost impossible. We have worked with some insurance companies to develop programs specifically for the work our industry does.
  4. Training Costs
    We are expected to meet or exceed the 310-1 standards and we exceed them in most all cases. We have a system developed (NWSA Database Storage System) where all training by NWSA Certified Instructors is kept, including training certificates, event history, Quals, Fitness Test scores etc. This was mandated by the agency in our Memorandum of Understandings with various regional NWCGs as a Contractor Association in order to Certify Instructors. This system can be used for agency, non NWSA Members etc to store information.
  5. All of this is in addition to the requirement Personal Protective Equipment, hand tools, power saws, engines/tenders themselves and their maintenance and equipment requirements.
  6. Also, all of this must be met to get an Agreement/Contract/EERA with NO GUARANTEE OF WORK UNDER MOST OF THOSE!

Keep in mind that all of these are requirements by the agencies, and the contractors understand.

One of the goals of the National Wildfire Suppression Association is to bring a professionalism to the industry, and promote -- thru education, resources & peer pressure -- a better commodity for the agencies in our efforts to be a cooperator not just a contractor.

We know that there are "bad contractors" out there, but as with any industry a few bad apples should not put a bad taste in your mouth for an industry that wants to support your efforts and is striving hard to meet all the agency requirements, and be professional in doing so.

Agency personnel active or retired that want to be kept abreast of what is happening in the private sector can join the NWSA as a individual member for $50.00 a year and receive our newsletters, and information about our annual conference. Visit the NWSA website at www.nwsa.us and click on Join NWSA to get an application. We invite you to learn about us.

We hope that everyone is safe out there this season!

Debbie Miley
Executive Director
National Wildfire Suppression Association
Email: info@nwsa.us

8/17*Hey, I was just randomly clicking around and ran across the "Inquiring Minds Want to Know" page and saw something that needs clarification. Barry was not the first Supt for the Eldorado IHC.

Milt Clark was the first superintendent detailed into the position for the 1981 season and brought the crew to IHC status.

Barry Callenberger came from the Palomar IHC in 1982 and was superintendent from 1982 to 1988. Palomar IHC's last season before being RIF'd was 1981 (I'm not sure when they were founded).

Greg Keller was foreman on the crew from 1981 to 1988 and took over as superintendent from 1989 to 1995. After a stint as an AFMO on the Cascade District of the Payette NF, he returned to the Hotshot world and retired from the Modoc IHC in February 2007.

Mike Beckett is the current superintendent beginning in 1996. He was also a crewmember working for Callenberger back in the 80's.

Mark Smith was a squad boss 1990-1991 (possibly 1989 as well) and then became a foreman on the Sierra IHC. He ended up Supt of the Crane Valley RHC and is now a Bat Chief on the Sierra NF.

Dennis Terry was a crewmember on the Eldorado in the late 80's, became a Redding Smokejumper in 1989 or 1990 and then a Boise Smokejumper in 1998. He is the current Asst Center Manager at Western Great Basin Coordination Center.

I still keep up with the folks from the crew but I am not sure of a lot of the old squadies/foreman's current positions.

Thanks! Hope this helps out the page a bit; if it isn't what you are looking for, don't worry about posting it. Take care,

Old R5'er

Thanks, I'll make those corrections. I hope others can look the page over and offer any corrections as well. No one knows better who's who than the people who were on those crews. There was someone about a month or 6 weeks ago who sent in more info. I'm having trouble finding that email. If you are reading, contributor, would you please resend it. I was away from home base at the time it came in. Thanks, Ab.

8/17Re: Cascade Complex ICP Shelter-in-Place

I wasn't going to comment on this until I received some phone calls from folks who were there. None of these observations are mine.
  • Got a phone call from a HS Supt. on the Cascade Complex. While there may have been a good plan, it wasn't communicated well to everyone in advance and things got somewhat dicey.
  • The plan sounded good, the communication of the plan sounded bad. The intent was well within Doctrine.
  • The loaded gasoline/diesel tanker in fire camp raised a red flag to him and others. They tried to save the historic structures but didn't have enough advanced notice to prepare them.
  • Lots of folks with breathing difficulties due to excessive smoke and CO exposures to camp and fireline personnel.

/s/ Doctrine works for Lessons Learned

8/17Keeping Zaca Out of the SB Front

normbc9,

Amen brother!

ms

8/16Misery Whip,

Like DANNYBOY, I worked 35 years, but for the Forest Service. I watched contractors come and go...some good ones, but mostly bad ones. I do believe there is room for contractors even in suppression, but I also believe that for the most part it is our fault the bad ones are around. We simply are too afraid to let them go and document their performance, then stand our ground when the heat comes. I refused to follow a direct order from a congressman (I was acting as a CORD in expanded dispatch at the time) to put a specific contractor on a fire. The contractor was chasing fires around the region and I said there are closer contractors we will use first. He stormed out of the office and called his congressman. After explaining the closest forces concept to the congressman and the rules of engagement, he apologized for the call and said keep up the good work.

Now this leads me to something else that concerns me. A friend (retired and AD now) called me the other day saying that his region (I won't name the region) wouldn't fill an order for him, which was a name request. The reason was there was "a hold" put on all resources. Then a couple of days later another request for him came through, and the same answer was given. Now according to this friend, there were several positions in Idaho and Montana that couldn't be filled by his quals (I checked it out and it was true). I suggested he call the GACC and discuss this situation in a civil manner, explaining that if he is officially put on hold, then perhaps he should receive pay for this "hidden" standby as a local/regional resource.

Now before you yell at me, I've been there and done that. I still believe there should be a drawdown point for all units, or a combination of units. But if an AD is not in the organization, then he/she shouldn't be figured into the equation unless they are being paid....to be in the equation.

sign me,

silver salmon

8/16I just got a chance to look over the pdf with photos of the Cascade
Complex ICP burnover.

I don't want to arm-chair IC, but if this event was so pre-planned,
why wasn't the historic structure wrapped and sprinklered?

PB
8/16Very nice post from Misery Whip..

I almost want to laugh when I hear contractors complaining about not being on fires. I am a fed and just came off the Cascade Complex. I had contract engines and crews on my division. I see a change in the crews over the past few years. Some of those folks are changing for the better. We only had one IHC on my division and when we got some type 2 contract crews, I felt lucky because they worked hard. I had a couple fed engines and one or two contract engines on my division. The work that the feds did was great. Once they got the mission, they performed. One of the contract engines who should have been patrolling for spots and mopping up, was parked with the 3 folks in the cab. When I asked what they were doing, they came up with some lame excuse. In my opinion, the difference is confidence. When I give an assignment to fed folks, I trust they will get it done. I cant say the same for all of the contractors.

WYBlmGuy

8/16The IC who elected to have his ICP shelter in place is one very lucky man. I certainly hope for his sake there was no other option. If one of those non fire trained personnel had experienced a medical emergency or even a panic attack during the Shelter in Place exercise I suspect the law suits and finger pointing would make some of the other USFS legal problems pale in comparison.

Its one thing to expect a fire trained crew to ride out a flare-up in a safe spot, but its quite another to subject clerical and other non fire goers to safely pass through what would only be minor discomfort for fire goers.

While the experience may have been quite the thrill for your obviously young poster, it may have been traumatic for others.

viejo
8/16Good Afternoon,

Is there anyway to tell if the lightning that shows up on the lightning explorer is dry or wet? Is there a site that shows the actual lightning that has hit the ground that is not pass word protected.

As far as the contractor bashing posts. I have to agree with some of the posts content.

However not all contractors fit in that worthless, unscrupulous, lazy, category with some agency folks.

There are honest hard working contractors that bring just as much integrity and creditability with them to the table as some agency folks.

I guess one has to really look at the barrel one gets the apples out of. So ain't it neat we live in America where we can agree to disagree.

sign me---

In the middle

8/16Misery Whip,

Uh oh, you let the truth out.

jd
8/16Misery Whip;

A lot of the Contract Folks I know are Ex-USFS, BLM, BIA, and other state agency folks or city or county fire fighters, that work for these contractors. If the Agencies didn't act like Prima-Donnas, and treat the equipment like it would break if they take it off road.. Resources are spread thin, the U.S. Military is spread thin, I am Ex-government, but I don't blame the contractors, or the government, the world is changing, wake up and ADAPT. I have watched a lot of Equipment walk off of Fires in the back of U.S. Government Vehicles, and State, and yes some Contractors. A lot of the folks that work for or as Contractors do so because they are feed-up with the B.S. of the verius Agencies. Most of the Contract Fire Engines meet or excide Government standards. We most likely have worked together, or maybe not. Yet look at the satistic's on Fatalities on Fires the cost in lives shows a difference, no I am not attempting to lay blame on this issue. Or dishonor the memory of the Fallen. Government Officails have made many errors or mistakes, and the offenders get awards, promotions and transffers, and someone who attempts to do the right thing as a Public Servant and reports the Errors is punished and has to be treat as a lepper. Remember the contractors take the same Fire classes as the USFS, BLM, BIA, USNPS, DNR, State Forestrys, do the WCT which is also watched by a Officail who is ex-government as well as current. So get of your high horse, people used to fight fire without all the agencies and do a good job. Fortunately we no longer grab people off the street or out of the bars, with a Ranger armed with a weapon to suppress fires.

Eng Capt

8/16Hi Jackson,

The first night of the Paint fire my Check-In Recorder logged in 620 engines by 2400 hours
and another 120 before 0800 the next day. We had all those assigned and needed more too.
If it becomes a reality (and I sure hope it doesn’t) what is being held close will still not be
sufficient for the needs.

Normbc9

8/16Re contractor firefighting costs vs fed:

I had a two type 3 fires last month. On one of the fires the cost for
contactors was 98,000 and the cost for agency personnel and equipment was
27,000. There were more contract resources available than agency at 3 to 4
times the cost of agency resources. Our local unit has cut and is
continuing to cut preparedness resources and positions including Battalion
Chiefs. The government does pay more in the end for suppression and fire
cost with this type mis-management, and in the end the money comes form the
same place, the Taxpayers.

Old C-Rat

8/16Ab and all,

Good idea to post additional info on Valley Fever with the news story. I would hope that folks headed to the Zaca read up on this disease - it could greatly affect your life. I assume the team(s) on the Zaca have been considering this possibility - especially since locals are probably aware of the threat.

I worked in the CA Central Valley for only a month, not even actually fighting fire but just working on federal land, and all signs are that I contracted Valley Fever. I had pneumonia six months prior and a lung infection one month prior, so once I got Valley Fever my health continued to remain poor and was in fact worsened... and it remained poor for six years until I got severe chronic fatigue. I am on the road to health now, but the effect of Valley Fever on my complicated health scenario has been significant and likely one of the major reasons for my years of illness.

I did not know anything about the risk of this prior to working in the Central Valley - had I known that a weakened immune system increased my vulnerability, I might have chosen not to go there. Prior to the pneumonia and Valley Fever, I had been a pretty tough individual... moving all over the country to a bunch of seasonal jobs and able to handle about anything. I think now after 7 years of poor health I have figured it out (with the help of a good doctor) and may eventually get back to a normal level of resilience... but of course I'm not in my twenties anymore so my life has changed.

Not to scare anyone - just be careful! I thought I was tough and could handle anything before taking that job... but my life is changed! It isn't the only reason - but it certainly contributed. Due to the trouble with work comp and the tricky business of seasonal work, I never went after the government for compensation... not worth the hassle for me because chronic illness is so difficult to document and this was one of several factors for me.

Lessons learned: if you think you may be affected by Valley Fever, document document document, and get to a doctor! Don't wait for months like I did before a diagnosis... take care of yourself and make sure your illness is linked to the incident if there is a connection. I think a more aggressive diagnosis and treatment could have helped me avoid years of trouble.

Be safe out there,
-midwesterner
8/16Abs -

Found a recall that might effect some 2005-2007 International Type 3 engines. Don't know if this has made the rounds yet, but it has to deal with the brakes.


VEHICLE SAFETY DEFECT/NONCOMPLIANCE NOTICES RECEIVED DURING JUNE 2007 International is recalling 230 MY 2005-2007 7400 and 7500 trucks. The rear-rear axle brake slack adjusters may contact the rear axle housing preventing the brakes from being fully applied possibly causing extended stopping distances. Extended stopping distances can contribute to a vehicle crash that may result in property damage, personal injury or death. Dealers will replace all rear-rear axle brake spiders with a spider that has a different brake group clocking angle. The recall is expected to begin on or about July 20, 2007. 07V-222

http://safezonellc.com/documents/RCLMTY-062007-1234.pdf

Type 1 Wrench
8/16Mellie,

You question how one can tell if the hot gasses are life threatening ahead of and along with the oncoming fire that burned through the camp. I think the formula for determining this is by the way the hair on the back of your neck stands up, and your eyes are as big as a hoot owl's. In reading this posting, I seriously doubt that the conditions at camp were very critical (don't know,wasn't there), otherwise all would have abandoned ship in plenty of time and driven away. The person describes running around stomping out embers and such. Tents didn't burn..trailers didn't burn, etc.. Historical buildings did burn............ such a shame.Were shelters deployed.................... doubtful....... and if there was any thought that they may have to be used................... all should have left earlier. Just sounds like all ate a little smoke for awhile.. a common thing............... took pictures............ had conversations with others, and so on........ just another day at the office from what I read. The fact that all are okay is great news................... the fact that the historical building didn't come out so well, is a sad note.

Misery Whip,

I totally agree with you comments regarding contractors. A few years after I retired fron the fire service (35 years), A contractor approached me to drive a heavy water tender for him on wildland incidents. I took him up on it and worked for him for a few seasons................ lots of money IS wasted........LOTS. The other side of this coin is that.. there is a lot of gain from contractors also....just depends on the individual incident. I worked a few Fed fires for him, but normally the Feds only hire the tender with a single operator, versus CDF who like to hire with two..... this cost was, as I remember, around $1750. per day with a single operator................... I always thought it to be more cost effective to hire the tenders with two operators so that they can be used 24/7, rather than just 12 hours per day....... the addded cost for the additional operator is about $800., or $2550. per day. Maybe it is because not much suppression is done at night......... which, in my eyes, is strange, to say the least.

DANNYBOY

8/16Misery Whip,

You go Man!! I expect you will be blasted several times in the next several days with the same old tried and true (tired and weak) arguments supporting the use of contract resources and what a bargain they are for the agency posted by the same predictable sources. Rest assured, you are not standing on an island.

the cynic
8/16Ab,

Here is a PDF providing photos to accompany an earlier posting by COMT.
As they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words".

Kellie

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/id-bof-cascade-icp-burn-by.pdf (1755 K pdf file)

Amazing. Ab.

8/16JM, Eng Capt, No Name, noname 2,

If you’re looking for sympathy about contractors not getting enough of the pie, you probably won’t get much from the fed firefighters who post here. Every large incident I go to these days is mostly staffed by contractors or “emergency hire” hobbyists. Look around any fire camp briefing these days and you’ll see a smattering of non-agency people who would look right at home working in a carnival, or panhandling on the street corner. One of my recent favorites was the EERA engine supervisor with the big swastika on his forearm. Charming.

I heartily disagree that “contractor outfits need a contractor rep in each and every dispatch center in the country.” Dispatchers have a tough enough job these days without some doofus contractor rep standing behind them telling them how to better utilize their contract resources.

On fires, the go-to people in critical situations are still the agency folks; shots, jumpers, rappellers, engine crews, IA crews, etc. But most of the money these days is going to the fire mercenaries, like in Iraq. And, like in Iraq, millions of our taxpayer dollars are being wasted on an ideological predisposition of this administration to funnel obscene amounts of money to “the private sector” in return for little value while treating government programs and employees like crap.

Collectively, the federal land management agencies’ fire programs are as bare bones today as you can get. The fat was gone long ago, the muscle is used up and now we are eating the skeletons of our former formidable selves.

Ask the shot crews how worn out they are right now, and many of the honest ones will tell you they are dragging. This summer has been a tough haul. Day after day, they are pulling the roughest assignments, bailing out the teams and weak crews, and a deeply entrenched weariness has set in that makes me wonder if senior fire managers notice or even care about these people anymore.

One of the main reasons the shots and other agency resources are wearing out is that ops people and division supervisors don’t trust most contract crews and engines in general, and so we consequently give them the “easy” assignments (read: keep them out of trouble). Trouble is where we put the shots and agency folks. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. But the contractor explosion coupled with agency downsizing is having a negative impact on the health of our people.

I need to add this caveat; there are a few good contract crews and engines out there, and I feel for them, but as a policy I absolutely disagree with the concept of using contract resources to light or fight wildfires. I have no problem with contracting out kitchens, camp support, and similar non-operational needs. But, excluding air resources, professional fallers, some dozers, and some tenders, the job of fighting wildland fires on the ground was once an inherently government function, and it should go back to being an inherently government function.

Misery Whip
8/16Ab,

In a potential burnover situation, how does one anticipate how hot the burning gasses will be that precede or accompany the actual flame front? The firefighters on the Inyo Complex (Seven Oak Burnover) were not badly burned on their skin because they were immersed in the pond, but suffered lung damage. If firefighters in full PPE are "sheltering in place" in firecamp when fire roars around firecamp, how do they know no one will have burned airways even if all seems OK? Lungs don't have nerve endings to "tell them".

Mellie

8/16COMT,

Glad to hear that all are safe and not injured. Having plenty of time, and knowing that the burn through was a for sure thing................... how is it that the historical structures were lost???? Seems a shame to me.................................... Pre-plan for an engine or two??

DANNYBOY

8/16Posting here as well as on hotlist. Poison oak is a problem on the Zaca. Ab.

Hello,

Came off the ZACA (not ZACA TWO) with the same problem they are talking about in General Discussion (poison oak on the elbows). Nobody was having any real severe problems until they closed down the MKU and brought in the caterer. They went from wooden tables (bused and wiped down by the CCC kids with Hexol between diners) to cloth table coverings. All of a sudden there was a rash of poison oak usually located on the elbows (go fiqure!!!!).

Anyhow would like to post this reply, but for some reason am unable to post.

tks,

cdfinca

Other discussion on severe poison oak: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1519

8/16Sent in by JS:

I don't know if __________ shared this or not; if he did just delete it; if
not, please share with the IC/AC group.

Yesterday prior to a Cabinet meeting at the White House a group of Sec's
met to talk about the impacts of non fire events on fire fighting
resources. It was a very positive meeting. A couple of things I wanted the
gang to know that came out of the meeting. The contribution the wildland
fire community makes to non fire responses is important and is recognized
at the highest levels of our govt.

The other was a a statement made by Mr. Paulason, FEMA director, that the
best Incident Mgt Teams in the world came from the wildland fire community.
This was said to full Cabinet.

Thought the gang ought to know.

Thanks
Marc Rounsaville WO F&AM

8/16The Region 5 Regional Forester announced his retirement earlier today.

He produced a nice ppt/pps regarding his decision to leave. Really cool pps.
Bernie gave years (decades) of service to the Forest Service, the communities,
and the resources we all protect.

Any correlation to the new "Transformation" of WO and RO positions that
were being imposed?

His email was headlined.... "My Transformation"..........It isn't rocket science.

Best of luck Bernie and best of wishes in your retirement. Call BS where BS
is due and continue to support the troops.......

Rogue Rivers
8/16Fire season is to short to be sitting at home while MT and ID is in a state of emergency. Oregon is holding us contractors, for what reason? The next biscuit or for political BS? We already know region 6 is holding us, we just need proof. We need to be in a paid status or sent out of the region (The truth will come out sooner or later.)

JM

8/16Re: Burn Treatment

Here is a link to the most recent CAL FIRE designated burn centers and their specialties:

http://webmain02.fire.ca.gov/Pubs/Issuance/1700/exh1714.pdf

Here is a link to a news story about the Fresno's Burn Center:

www.cbs47.tv/news/local/

Here is a link to a news story about burn centers closing down:

www.kansascity.com/news/nation/story/222715.phpl

Lobotomy
8/15From KCK Zaca Fire Health Alert!

Zaca firefighters face harsh conditions creating some health concerns
www.ksby.com/Global/story.asp?s=6939073

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Reported by: Jessica Ferrante, Leana Orsua

<snip>

The harsh environmental conditions surrounding the Zaca Fire is producing some health concerns for firefighters, one of which is invisible to the naked eye.

Inside the soil around the New Cuyama Valley Basin, a potentially toxic fungus could be putting firefighters at risk.

"It's spread by spores that are found in the dust, its not seen by the human eye," said Jymme Ahl, medical unit leader.

The fungus causes an infection known as valley fever.

While there have been no reported cases of an infection since the Zaca Fire broke out last month, the fungus has been known to exist in areas along the Central Valley.

If inhaled, the fungus will cause its victims flu-like symptoms. (Ab note: Symptoms may be delayed.)

"Chest, congestion tightness anybody that had an pneumonia before would be familiar with that achy fever," said Ahl.

But, firefighters stationed in the southern region of the fire are plagued by a more visible health concern.

"This ones the worst here, it still oozes. It pretty much pulls you off quick," said Ray Goza from the San Bernardino Fire Department.

Prescribed a concoction of antihistamines and Zantac, Ray Goza is among more than 160 firefighters to be temporarily pulled off the fire because of poison oak.

"Most of the time when you're hiking and sweating it'll go to places where you don't want to have it and you're done," said Goza.

As Ray Goza fights the temptation to itch, fire medics will be keeping a close eye on the inflammation in hopes that his condition does not worsen.

A spray, known as poly binder, is being used on the soil in order to reduce the amount of dust in the air. However, fire fighters emphasize the spray is not being used out concern over valley fever. It is an overall dust abatement measure.

Fair Use Disclaimer

More info. This disease is not to be trifled with. Ab.

Valley Fever Center for Excellence
Infectious Diseases Fact Sheet

Mayo Clinic Fact Sheet

8/15To Normbc9 (re HAZMAT on 8/13):

With all due respect, the FC you talked give you a tale of mis-info.

First of all, the asbestos was alleged to be on the southern divisions of the fire, which had some, limited burning within dozer lines. Yes, the troops (including myself) were pulled from 3 divisions (Divisions A C and E) running from area of origin to about the 12 o clock position. “Naturally occurring asbestos” was reported in some of this area- mainly Division C.

The fire made a run within some of the more northerly divisions (Division X mainly, and into a newly created Divisions F and V), and into Division E. However, in reality, about 80% of this run was within contingency lines, and not towards or into San Luis Obispo County. The run was mostly in brush, about 1000 acres, and eventually contained within dozer lines fired in grass, and supported by 3 or 4 drops by the DC10.

Bluezebra
8/15LODD -From the Hotlist:

One theysaider wrote in a heads up to Ab to be aware of a for the Hotlist:

"The Sierra City chief was on a technical rescue last night around 2000hrs. When he came up the hill, he was breathing quite heavily and said he needed some water. When another rescuer needed water and went to the truck, the Chief was not breathing. They started CPR but were unable to resuscitate."

I emailed a FS friend in Sierraville for any information he had.
He replied, "This is correct. It was reported to us as a Heart Attack."

My condolences to friends and family. It's a small community and I know his loss is a blow. Ab.

8/15To : COMT

I am glad to find out that everyone in the ICP is ok, it could have certainly been decidedly different.

I do find it interesting and worrisome regarding the attitude of the comments sent to They Said. It seemed (I may be all wrong on this, just my opinion) that there was a real lack of situational awareness in how much danger the team personnel thought they were in and that with a lot of hard work, a lot of skills used, and a bit of luck no one got hurt and "EVERYONE IS GOING HOME".

Zimm
8/15Here's a quote from a Zaca fire news release from August 13 which is at: www.inciweb.org/incident/news/article/770/5250/

"CALFIRE Chief Rick Henson said the "Front County"
response plans involving "every agency possible" are complete and call
for 825 fire engines and many other resources that are ready if needed
to protect the South Coast area."

825 engines. Holy crap.

Jackson2

8/15Who says you never see any action in ICP. Just received this.
Adventure and Excitement and the Camaraderie, still remain as the main
attraction of Fire.

COMT

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So, how BIZARRE is this, the following excerpt is from
www.inciweb.org <http://www.inciweb.org/> and then look at Cascade
Complex in Idaho....this really happened, although the news always DOES
dramatize everything...The blurb makes it sound like we were engulfed,
but actually, I was in there stomping out embers with the best of
them...they knew for 2 days that the ICP, which is at Knox Ranch, which
is in the middle of the Forest, with LOTS of sub-alpine fir, would be
burned around, if not over...there was NO place for us to go, so they
implemented the "Stay In Place" Plan...around 1500 we all had to put on
our PPE (personal protective equipment) which means nomex pants and
shirt, hard hat, goggles, leather gloves, and then medical passed out
face masks for breathing, we had to leave our trailers, and sit in the
middle of the ICP, which is a fairly large open area...the Incident
commander, Paul Broyles talked to us, and then spent time going through
the crowd, reassuring everyone that we would be fine, it was sort of
like a strange "party", we drank water, took pictures of everyone
dressed up for FIRE FIRE, (I'll have to email pictures when I get home,
as this is not my computer) and then about 1730 the FIRE came right in,
it was a blast of hot air and wind, we crouched (about 200 of us) with
our backs to the fire, then the embers showered down, some caught the
dumpster (which was in the MIDDLE of camp, FULL of cardboard) on fire,
the fire fighters rushed in with fire extinguishers and such, the
Hotshots were brought in from the line to fight at the edge of camp, we
moved our tents out of the nice "forest sleeping area", THEY PLUMBED
all around the tents, sprinklers started going, (but not getting our
tents wet) we all moved around stomping out embers before they could
start big grass fires, it was the MOST bizarre situation I've ever been
in...but the BIGGEST show was in the air, we had the giant sky crane
(mosquito ship) and a Medium helo taking turns dropping water on the
fires (camp was by this point completely surrounded by fire, we had a
flock of birds in camp with us) and at the very end, in came the HEAVY,
the Chinook with it's 'whup whup', it exactly stopped in midair, lowered
itself straight DOWN, and then dumped it's bucket of a gazillion
gallons of water right on two historic structures they were trying to
save (yup, this morning all there are are the old brick chimneys left)
we all screamed and cheered, then it came back twice more, but the smoke
was thick and it left to go back to the fire they had pulled it
from...sooooooooooooooooooooo will I ever have such excitement at a fire
again??? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm probably not... this morning I had breakfast
with a man whom I'd given his resource order to when I was in St George
Utah, he's the facilities dude for the team, and yesterday I posted time
for a crew from St. George, Utah, and a person on the crew is the son of
a lady, Roscinda, whom I just worked with in St. George, Utah, last
week......fire is SUCH a small world, and the Meteorologist is my friend
Coleen Decker, whom I first met at the Fischer fire in Leavenworth, WA,
and then saw her a couple of June's ago, in the Salt Lake airport when I
was returning home from St. Louis, Missouri!!!!! What are the chances??

So today the air is still full of smoke, we'll never see the sun,
everyone has bronchitis from the sounds of the coughing, but we are all
safe...I have to say, this Team and the IC just rock !!! 'Lectra' is
sitting in the parking lot covered with ash, as is my tent, but that's
OK, I was able to hose all the dust from the Arizona Strip off my tent
before I left for the GREAT North Woods, I guess I'll get the ash off
the same way, when I get home! Everyone be safe out there, particularly
if you're on the way to another FIRE FIRE !!!
8/15Ab,

This is one of the Feather River hotshots; he was injured yesterday on rombo
fire in MT. Please dont use the names but feed the info that the guy's in pain, but
he will be fine.

RC

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

To all PNF employees:

I need to inform you of an accident that occurred yesterday afternoon: One of our Feather River Hotshots, <snip> was felling a tree on the Rombo Fire in Montana. During the felling operation he was struck by a branch. He has 4 cracked ribs and is in a lot of pain, no internal injuries. At this time he is in the hospital for a couple of days and the Hot Shot Superintendent <snip> has been sharing updates with us.

We have been well informed by Fire Incident Command staff and I've also been in contact with Bitterroot NF staff. I know that <snip> is being well cared for and will return to us as soon as he is able to travel.

Regarding the accident, the IC Team is performing a "Facilitated Learning Analysis", similar to an After Action Review, to learn from this incident. As information is available, we will share this through the Fire Management Staff.

<snip>

8/15Changes are upon the Forest Service:

Washington Office; Regional Offices and the Northeastern Area Transformation - Tier I Design Decisions

Correspondence from Abigail Kimbell (59K doc file)
Roles and Responsibilities (32K doc file)

8/15Images from the Zaca fire were posted yesterday, 8/14, and more will be
posted later this afternoon. The aircraft had been grounded for instrument
repair.

It helps to have the Flash plugin and Google Earth for good viewing.
Fireimaging also has an RSS feed

www.fireimaging.com

Randomwalk.
8/15 From the hotlist. Anyone have more info or details on the two recent accidents and burnovers? There was another vehicle accident on the Cascade Complex involving people from another fire, one of whom was life flighted. Anyone know more about that? Is the dozer operator involved in the rollover on the CA-FKU-Tar Fire really alright?

Lots going on. Please be safe. Let us know of any mishaps or further details on mishaps and we'll record them.

MT-BRF-Tree felling accident on the Rombo Mountain Fire
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1491

ID-BOF-Burnover of Cascade Complex ICP
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1496

CA-FKU-Dozer Rollover-TAR
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1497

and info on the Zaca...

CA-SBC/LPF/CAL FIRE-Zaca
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=617

They hold an Esperanza meeting, when few can come?

WO and R5 Leadership Meeting on the BDF
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=6738

Folks, if you haven't registered for the Hotlist Forum, please do so.

If you have not received confirmation of registration and a password, you (or your Agency --CDF, some county FDs) probably have a spam blocker that does not allow auto reply. Email me and I'll try to work around that. Ab.

8/15 Casey,

WALMART!? ((Face falls crashing into keyboard in repulsive disgust...))

We'll see what we can do about your trees after fire season. We have falling
teams assigned to a number of incidents near you and - if the stars line up
- perhaps a couple of them could stop by on their way home, or to another
incident. Just give me a call. (Ask Ab for my number if you've lost my
card.)

Shari
8/14 JM in regards to the Bear fire resources: this represents the difference between "management"
objectives and "suppression" objectives. We both know who uses what.

Norcal FC

Hotlist has Bear Fire info: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1468

8/14 Dear "Joan"

Ok, now I think I know who you are...If you don't have time to call Matt, email me directly at cjudd@fwfsa.org with the details of the issue and I'll call him.

To Shari...

I am in jeans and dirty t-shirts FAR more than a suit. In fact I'm usually downright grubby...even when I go into Pocatello to Wal Mart ! Heck, I've got chickens to tend, corn to grow, real bridges to rebuild (I burned some proverbial ones down several years ago!) and...since I work out of my home, I can wear whatever the heck I want while talking to some DC person on the phone while playing light sabers or Peter Pan with the 4-year-old. Multi-tasking!

Just don't want some of these snags to come down on the kids. The neighbor brought down a 100' tree (on my property no less when I wasn't there) and dam* near destroyed the bridge. Thus the fixing.

Casey
8/14 I've been in touch with Ellreese's Federal Defender Tina Hunt in Spokane, and
she says that because of the bad fire season that is tying up experts and potential
witnesses, the trial date has been postponed until January 15, 2008.

Dick Mangan

8/14 In regards to R-6 2007 Agreement MT/ID

Some of the contract resources are being held in reserve in non pay status; look at D1.6 or is it D6.1? I do not have the contract with me today, we all need to help each other in the contract fire world the UTFs are being hidden from everyone. Contractor outfits need a rep in each and every Dispatch center across the country, to monitor and keep the hoarding from going on. They are trying to get rid of some of the contractors as it is.

Eng Capt.

8/14 A new ENGB qualified individual, looking for work has been added to the Jobs Wanted section of the Jobs Page this morning. OA
8/14 Ab,

Here is the NTSB Preliminary report of the CH-54 Sky Crane crash at the
Zaca fire base last month.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/ntsb-skycrane-ch54-zaca.pdf

Normbc9

8/14 Remembering Ernie Johnson and those who go before us

Small p

It seems hard to believe that it was only 2 years ago that our fire
fighting and aviation community lost Ernie Johnson. Ernie had retired
from the Olympic National Forest and was on assignment as a Field
Airspace Coordinator in Grangeville, ID when he had a sudden heart
attack

Such a sad loss for his friends and family. Ernie will always be
remembered for everything that he did. He was a great Incident Commander
who put firefighters first. He was an innovator and an inventor. He was
a great friend who knew how to be leader. He was a great listener and
story teller. He could always be counted on. He was simply put "one of
the best". And he loved his "new career" as an Airspace Coordinator.

I spoke with Ernie’s wife Teresa today….. she said she is coping. The
first year of loss is hard because every day is a new journey alone.
The second year is equally difficult as the family continues to cope
with loss. But tonight they are gathering all the grandchildren
together for a birthday party to celebrate Mason who was born three days
after Ernie passed.

So take time this week to hug your friends and let them know how they
have made a difference in your life. We get so wrapped up in fire season
doing what we do because we are the types who give our "all"..... but in
the long run, it is our friends and family who matter the most. So
remember the ones who have gone before us...... and take time to enjoy
the ones you are with.

Ernie's friend

www.fs.fed.us/r6/fire/aviation/airspace/web/history/Julies_Ernie.pdf

8/14 According to www.nifc.gov/nicc/sitreprt.pdf

The Bear fire has one engine for every ten acres with 1 to 5 people per
acre, and one helicopter for every 60 acres.

Think they can get it out by the containment date, 8/15?

JM
8/14 Casey, Casey, Casey…

Cottonwoods? Practice? You have a sense of humor after all. Hanging out in DC
obviously hasn’t ruined you yet. Good. I have to ask, though, do you EVER wear
jeans and a t-shirt? ; )

Shari
8/14 Abs: first and foremost
Thanks

The sad thing was that Tester and his media circus were here about a week and a half ago. He paraded around in during the morning briefing and in the "chow" hall. It was pretty amazing how well his people steered him around. As I lay in wait at the helibase, he magically decided it was more important (or not enough time, depending on your perspective it is after all a big fire season, and so much support to spread around) to do anything but check out the skycrane. Pretty amazing, darn, and I was so prepared to let him know I was a FWFSA member, having avoided covering up my association t shirt with the obligatory nomex, until I realized he slipped through my fingers. The touche' moment was when he was being filmed serving slop to us and the camp girl looks at a guy and goes "whose this guy" while mouthing and pointing on film. I guess that will never make the news.

Thanks for the pass on, as I am well aware that I am not the only one out here just waiting to scream " take this job and shove it, I aint workin here no more". For some reason having you guys behind me keeps me from making a very undignified exit.

Hey major shout out to Casey, JT and others for helping me keep my sanity. Maybe someone from testers office will look a little closer to this site. I will surely, at the earliest opportunity I have, leave at least one tactful but informative voicemail message to his staff, and others who have the say, (1 voter at a time anyway) in our future.

Keep your head up JT, I'll send more picts when the smoke clears enough for service.

Joan (of Arc)
8/14 signed "no name" and Brenner

I too have encountered the fact that the headquarters of R6 in Portland are in direct conflict of our 2007 agreement! I have heard directly from the NRCC that they have UTF's of my equipment type that has been shopped outside of their region to R6 too. When I talk with any dispatchers in R6 I am told that they have never seen an order for MT or Id. I thought we had an agreement with R6. Now they are just holding us for a just in case. That is called severity in my book especially if they have received and turned down orders for us to go work!! I have a good friend that got "held" last year and is now facing Bankruptcy. Mt and Id are hurting and our R6 is playing games.

Signed

noname 2

8/13 Hi Ab,

Here's one of the many links, but probably the most explanatory, on the ban of
YouTube and other sites from the federal computer system.

As a note, you CAN access this from a gov. system. Access your private server
(aol, cox, etc.) and log into Youtube from there. For whatever reasoning, the fed
sys will only filter the initial log-in but not the secondary to a private server.

Hope this helps.

Tom S

Pentagon Bans YouTube, MySpace: Access Cut from Troops' Computers
Because of Bandwidth, Info Sharing Concerns
www.nowpublic.com/

Thanks, it was something like that I remember seeing. Ab.

8/13 Unfortunately, I know more about the Fire Management Assistance Grant
Program than I ever wanted to but to answer your question....

FMAGs are authorized under the Stafford Act and administered by FEMA. OES
Fire and Rescue is the coordinator for the program in CA. Every state is
different in how this is done and what agency is responsible for asking for
the FMAG. The FMAG provides states, local government and tribes the ability
to seek reimbursement of extraordinary suppression costs associated for
wildland fires. This includes firefighter overtime and operating costs.

There are cumulative thresholds for costs that the state must meet but
these are usually met in CA early in the fire season.

There are criteria that the fire must meet (and they all have to be present
at the time of the request):

  • Immediate threat to lives and improved property (businesses and primary
    residences). Infrastructure is in this group but it has to be a pretty
    significant infrastructure and I can't think of any fire that got a Grant
    based on that criteria alone. Barns, out buildings, US government owned
    property do not count.
  • Availability of state and local firefighting resources
  • Fire danger
  • Potential for economic impact

OES Fire and Rescue has a form that the applicant (which has to be a
recognized fire department) has to send in while the fire is burning
uncontrolled and threatens such destruction that would constitute a major
disaster that asks such questions as:

  • numbers of people evacuated,
  • what is the community threatened,
  • number of residences and businesses,
  • are there shelters open,
  • proximity to structures,
  • resources available (percentage in op area and region available or
    committed ie., drawdown),
  • other critical considerations.
  • The applicant also has to send a current 209, maps and current
    and predicted wx forcasts.

OES weighs the information and verifies the information and makes a decision
on whether to move it forward or not. If it is accepted, Fire and Rescue
recommends to the Director of OES, acting as the Governor's Authorized
Representative to FEMA, to make the request. If the director is ok with it
then it is forwarded to FEMA who in turn goes to the Forest Service who act
as FEMA's Principal Federal Advisor. The Forest Service in turn checks out
the situation and makes a recommendation to move it forward or not. If the
recommendation is to move it forward the FEMA Regional Director oks it and
then in goes to the DC for FEMA HQ approval.

So what does all this get you? Eligible costs are

  • OT,
  • mobe and demobe,
  • repair of damaged equipment,
  • travel and per diem,
  • sheltering and evacuation costs,
  • some animal evacuation costs,
  • police barrier and traffic control,
  • extraordinary EOC costs,
  • replacement of supplies,
  • removal of precarious trees,
  • damage to property caused by fire fighting activities but only basic
    repair ie... if you knock down a picket fence with a dozer FEMA will only
    pay for a three strand of barbed wire if that will do and this has to be
    done within 30 days of the close of the incident period.

The eligible costs have to be within the incident period. The incident
period is generally the beginning of the fire to the end of the fire but not
always. The Day fire burned for many days but only about 6 days were
covered by the FMAG as that was the only time a threat to structures
warranted it. This year 7 fires have gotten FMAG Declarations and in 2006
there were 8. In 2006 that amounted to about $50 million; this year it is
running about the same. Some examples of fires that have gotten FMAGs are
the Sawtooth, Esperanza, Junction, Angora, Inyo Complex and Island. Last
year the ratio of requests to grants was less than a third. Up to this
point the Zaca Fire (in either of its incarnations) has not gotten an FMAG
declaration -- it is in suspense until conditions warrant it.

With all that said, there is room for abuse because OES doesn't have eyes
everywhere and not everyone sees a fire in the same way -- one person's
catastrophe is another's two-manner. However, most of the time people apply,
not because they are trying to get something over on OES or FEMA, but
because they think they ought to at least try. Fires have gotten
more expensive; everyone is looking to shift the costs to someone else and
FEMA looks like a good someone else. FEMA is tightening up their criteria
because it is expensive and what was acceptable two years ago may not be
now.

Sign me:

Way too old for this

Thanks very much for the education. Ab.

8/13 I'm trying to find information about the Mann Creek Fire Wyoming 1961

Searching Leis, Leisse

8/13 Brenner on 8/8 you said "Abs, I have been ROSS'd since Monday morning, Aug. 5th as a National single resource. My local dispatch says there are none for my talents. However the UTF list you showed on the same day had 113 dozer bosses, 113 field observers, and 89 felling bosses. What gives? I do not understand the system. I faxed the list to dispatch so they could see it. Anyone have any idea about the discrepancy?"

I don't know if this has anything to do with your situation or not but, when I was in the process of being demobed from a fire in OR over the weekend and asked if there were any reassignments available, I was told "Orders from Headquarters in Portland are that NOBODY from R-6 is going to be dispatched to go outside of the region." This was initially stated to imply equipment and personnel on both the agency and private side.
Once I pointed out that the R-6 engine/tender agreement this year specifically states "Upon receipt of a order by a host dispatch center, Government Dispatchers will not hold the CE in reserve as a contingency force in a non pay status when that resource is available." the Contracting rep I was talking to at the time started back pedaling claiming he only said "Agency owned resources". Good Luck

Signed No-Name
8/13 HAZMAT

Ab,

I just finished a conversation with a Cal Fire Captain working on the Tar Fire. The fire is passing through some country containing natural asbestos and the engines were kept out of the asbestos area and the fire continued its run. It has an impressive run too. He has no idea of the final run size but it is headed into Sand Luis Obispo county now. The last time I was out there was in 1996 on the “41 Fire” and it made a 21,000 acre run in about four or five hours and it was impressive but it was basically a big grass fire. The cattlemen lost their feed but the winter rains brought back some nice lush grass that area hadn’t seen in a long time.

Normbc9

8/12 Anyone have a good presentation on the history/impact of the Smokey
Bear campaign? I have presentation to give to a 'Flower Club' next month
and I need all the help I can get.

emt_mb
8/12 Dear Joan (of Ark)

Although its district work period for Sen. Tester and a district rep would be a good
place to take your issue, please feel free to contact Matt Jennings in the Senator's
DC office at: 202-228-6277 or matt_jennings@tester.senate.gov.

He is my staff contact and may be able to direct you to a specific staff person in the
closest district office to you.

Best of luck...you certainly aren't alone!

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
8/12 Ab,

I got a kick out of the YouTube video that shows a great tool for firefighter safety that can't be viewed or accessed from an easily available source without increased costs to the federal government as a training video.... but unfortunately, folks on government servers are barred from using YouTube for some reason as a learning / information exchange tool.

If folks are interested in the video, they will have to view it from home or away from a government server since YouTube is blocked on government servers.

Long story about why YouTube was blocked... Simple fact.... it came from DoD.

That video could be available real-time to folks on the fireline through simple link servers hosted by the truck receiving the video.......Really simple technology is available to make it happen outside of the stuff that DoD requested to be shut down. Hopefully folks who are looking at real-time data are looking at all of the barriers and giving suggestions on how to correct them.

Rogue Rivers

I read the military guys in Iraq were using too much bandwidth and bogging down the servers there. Don't know if there's substance to the story. Can't find the link. Ab.

8/12 Re: DC-10

cdfairboss,

Thank you for expressing your comments and explanations. Though, as a California taxpayer, my seemingly benign questions from 8/6/2007 still stand unanswered.

I have an additional question to add.... Will federal taxpayers pay the majority of the availability and actual flight hours for the DC-10 and other related costs during its three year, $21 million contract?

"Rumor" has it that a FMAG is being prepared for the Tar Fire (CA-FKU) because of threats to outlying structures, and critical infrastructure threats such as power transmission lines, communication sites, and transportation corridors.

Rogue Rivers

Could anyone please give us the good info on FMAG (Fire Management Assistance Grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency)? I'd like to know more about it. It's easy to have a one-sided story of the negatives and limitations. I don't think I have enough knowledge of the benefits to judge good vs bad or to understand strengths vs weaknesses or limitations. I'm not talking about the DC-10 per se, but the overall FMAG, as in how it helps in the best way, how it benefits or interfaces with other agencies, fed, state, county, local.

I'd like to hear from those who have not contributed the negative comments, please. What is it? How does it work? How does it fill needs, and specifically fire needs? How timely is it? Here are two links from a google, but I don't have a working context. Ab.
http://72.14.253.104 and how FEMA fits in (page 6) www.fema.gov/pdf/library/firefr.pdf

8/11 fwfsasocal wants to share a video with you:

A backburn in the Mendocino National Forest in the summer of 2006

FireWatch AA-509

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smaco36NAkM

8/11 Joan of Arc/MT Firefly:

Can you spell "US Senator", specifically Jon Tester? He's highly sensitized to wildland firefighter issues, and is home in Montana for the month of August. Contact his local rep, as well as Senator Max Baucus, who is Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee: I'm sure they'll help a Montana firefighter.

Mollysboy
8/11 Ab: I thought the NICC Sit Report for today, August 11th, "six minutes for safety" had some great links to websites for all sorts of archive info on safety and information. wow! I cut and pasted it into my own library!

Check it out!!! Some were new to me, and possibly new to someone else?
Everyone be safe out there.

TX Lobo

Link? Maybe this one... Scroll halfway down to the Six Minutes for Safety:
http://www.nifc.gov/nicc/sitreprt.pdf

8/11 Hi AB--re the changes in the Zaca article--the county fire pio screamed bloody murder so
we changed the title just to be on the safe side--needless to say that night they confirmed
what I'd written.

See today's article for an update .....
http://independent.com/news/2007/aug/11/zaca-fire-team-meets-mission-canyon-residents/

Ray Ford
8/11 For Let's Hope:

re: Someone asked,

Does anyone have access to better maps out in front of the fire?

I have heard that an innovative Chief and a County Fire Department are putting their "assets" on the line to provide better real-time data to firefighters in the field. Maybe CAL FIRE and the USFS could do the same by funding it?

As a PSC 3, I have gotten with the County EP, EM, EROC group to produce maps as soon as our Type 3 IMT is activated. It takes me about 20 minutes to get to where they are and the maps are usually done or nearly done. They are able to produce maps for us for nearly the entire Southeastern Washington area. We have created a standing order for 3 x 4 color maps for an area of 5 miles around the known perimeter of the incident (all risk) and for about 12-15 others as 11 x 17 inches in color as well. This works well when one goes to files of fire, one goes to the IA/EXT IC to shows the fire issues and objectives (Strategic & Tactical) and the 3rd is the one my SITL to produce as a BAM map for everyone to look at and for any meetings. The small ones get done by hand of what the IC put down and show what the BAM would have on it later (down and dirty style), these go to the div sups, stle, and others for them to use.

The only other way to do it is to have about 3 large BAMs of your agency area and use them as needed.

On line is great as long as you have a printer to print or a big enough network to make sure everyone has access, if you do not then the 10/18 has issues which none of us want to have happen.

Zimm

8/11 Joan of Arc,

I can kind of understand your pain (however I am still getting my base). I have also had a lot of heartburn with ASC (Albuquerque). I have missed getting a lot of payments since PP11. Missed pay due me totals well over a grand. I talked to ASC and was forwarded to the "pay" person. I was asked if I included the differentials in my T&A and I said yes.

The response was amazing!!! "Well then you should have been paid". I was then asked how I knew I was not paid and I told them I looked at my documentation. They told me they were going to pass it up to a "lead" and then the case would be assigned.

What a Joke.

Joan, If I were still in fire and was a supervisor, I would bring you on. I am in Montana and I'm sorry I cant really help you out. I can say you are not alone.

Guns N Hoses

8/11 Joan of Arc/MT Firefly

I'm in the process of submitting sf-52's for my seasonals heading back to school next week. I've been told don't bother doing anything yet, they are so backed up that only processes that deal with payment of folks are being done right now (I believe this should put you to the front of the line, but hey, welcome to G'vt). After numerous folks paperwork "getting lost" for retirements and transfers, our D.O. is kicking around the idea of sending a driver the 7 hours to ASC to personally knock on some cubicle doors and hand deliver hardcopies.

Best of luck and keep sending me some fire photos-seems all my assignments this year are holding down parking lots in staging.

While on the subject: Anyone willing to take a STEN trainee for something other than making sure the pavement of the station parking lot doesn't disappear? :)

JT
8/10 Carol Ralston has passed away.

There was a great loss to the Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield District and the Sequoia National Forest last week. Carol Ralston, Bald Mountain Lookout, passed away. She spent 18 years as the eyes in the sky for both BLM and the Sequoia at the Interagency Lookout Tower. She spotted the Manter and the McNally fires. She served as our communications relay during lightning plans and as our point of contact during search and rescues. Anyone who worked or went to the Kern Plateau almost defiantly heard her on the radio. And she was very active in the Lookout Assoc. I had the privilege to work with her for the last 3 years. Every time I came to the lookout to help her logistically or just to visit, she always had chocolate chip cookies waiting for me. She will be greatly missed!

Brushfire ENOP

Condolences. Ab.

8/10 A little help from my friends

Hey all out there...

Another lovely day in the federal spectrum. Albuquerque (ASC) has managed not to pay me since pp#13, I "accidentally" had my insurance dropped this spring, sitting in a remote part of MT, on a "borrowed" computer. My union rep passed me off to ASC again, who put me on hold, and after leaving a message to ASC, and getting a ticket number, I still have not seen a paycheck. Thankfully, I am living off my american express card, and am still a permanent employee even though I believe I have again been erased from the system, my lotus doesn't work, my supervisor is unreachable by phone and telepathy, and I've just about had it.

Is there anyone out there who can use a HECM, EMT, FFT1 through the end of September until my 13 payperiods are up?

Abs, please send my email to any interested party.

The moral highground is a lonely place to be.

Sign me Joan of Arc,
(formally MTFIREFLY)

Hang in there. Ab.

8/10 Fed Watchers (I&II),

Thanks for your comments. I’m sure you are correct that when all is said and done, the Feds will end up paying the tab for Zaca I & II which I shall now refer to as the Zaca-Cluster. I suppose it plays out more frequently than I notice, but I’ve rarely witnessed that type of political football that is going on between the Cal Fire and USFS IMT’s on this incident that (as you pointed out), goes all the way to the Govenators office.

Irrespective of the Cal Fire assets, local government fire chiefs throughout the state have got to be asking their OES reps “where are my engines” by now. I’m sure the citizens of eastern Santa Barbara are sleeping better knowing that fire engines are patrolling their neighborhoods, but to what end ? Zaca II has not made any southwesterly movement towards SB in over a week. And if Cal Fire Team 8 knows the answer to those questions, they certainly aren’t sharing, which is part of the problem. I’ve got to think that if there were anything else on the radar in So Cal, those engines would be ripe for the picking by South ops.

RedWeasel
8/10 This is incredible.

In a sign fire command does not believe it can stop the fire from crossing the Santa Ynez River and moving to the front country, the decision has been made to burn out a huge part of the Santa Barbara backcountry.

With high temperatures and low humidity predicted for the next three days, operations leaders decided last night to go with a strategy they hoped they¢d never have to use: circling the entire fire boundary and burning back into it. This represents an expansion of the fire perimeter that could encompass an additional several hundred thousand acres.

More...

www.independent.com/news/2007/aug/10/fire-command-decides-burn-out-backcountry/

SS

Seems to me the story has changed between when it was posted and now. Maybe The Independent didn't have the story straight? Time will tell. Ab.

8/10 Just a quick note, one can get to inciweb. It is up,
and has updated data (not for zaca yet). The problem
seems to be a DNS issue, so use the IP address instead.

http://66.60.184.155/
8/10 Red Weasel:

As Fed Watcher said in a far more politically correct way than I might, fear not, the feds will ultimately pay most of these costs at the expense of federal wild land firefighters and their pay & benefits who will continue to be told by that same federal government that "gosh we just can't afford to pay you portal to portal pay and provide temporary firefighters with basic health coverage & eligibility to FEGLI because its just too expensive."

Of course the feds will continue to avoid the fact that the money they do have seems to go to bailout state & local fire costs (FMAGs-its all federal money whether its land management agency discretionary spending or FEMA $$) and help fatten already much higher non-federal salaries (Ventura County news article) rather than going to their own employee's pay & benefits.

While we're at it, lets talk about the SAFER Act & all that other federal money that state & local fire agencies get that isn't accessible to federal firefighting agencies.

Sign me: Fed Watcher II
8/10 Someone asked,

Does anyone have access to better maps out in front of the fire?

I have heard that an innovative Chief and a County Fire Department are putting their "assets" on the line to provide better real-time data to firefighters in the field. Maybe CAL FIRE and the USFS could do the same by funding it?

Sometimes, the entire discussion must be heard or understood unfragmented to glean the nuggets of info and how it relates towards firefighter and community safety, and eventually be used as a new technology or idea. Lots of discussion and trial by error happens as new technologies, ideas, and procedures are developed.

We are all learning and discussing issues with a similar goal of keeping firefighters safer and sharing knowledge on how to make the wildland fire world safer, more efficient, and a better place to call home and take off our boots when the paid day ends. That goal never ends for folks in the wildland fire community.

/s/ Let's hope
8/10 RedWeasel,

Don't worry about the customary need for an ICS-209 to be submitted with the FMAG request. This has evolved into a hinge bet whether FMAG will apply or if the Stafford Act will apply. In either case, regardless of the fact that the fire actually started on SRA under SBC direct protection and burned into the forest, the federal government will eventually bear the brunt of the costs one way or the other.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors signed a State of Emergency proclamation on 08/03/2007. In their press release, the SBCO Board of Supervisors made the impression that the Governor had signed a State Declaration of Emergency. On the Governors website, no such declaration has been signed as of yet, nor any approval been granted by FEMA for the use of Stafford Act funding.

If the Governor signs the state declaration of emergency, it may then be forwarded to FEMA and the President for potential inclusion under the Stafford Act.

Right now, under FMAG request for Zaca (1)..... 75% of costs will be reimbursed to state and local government. Under the Stafford Act, up to 100% may be reimbursed.

Under Zaca 2, a lot more eyes are watching and protecting nationwide taxpayer dollars and how they are spent.

So far, neither an FMAG request nor Stafford Act request has been approved by FEMA.

FedWatcher
8/10 This has not received a lot of publicity, but it effects retired Fed firefighters and LEOs.

www.opm.gov/retire/asd/htm/2007/07-201.asp

The health insurance premiums you pay from your monthly pension can be pre-tax, just like the active Feds now enjoy. The downside is the premiums will no longer be an itemized deduction, but 99% of the folks will be $$ ahead anyway, by an average of $600/year (according to NARFE).

Talk to your tax preparer about it. G
8/10 Zaca fire

www.fireimaging.com/homepage.phpl
Images taken by Firemapper of the Zaca fire late on Aug 7 - ground
surface temperature via thermal imaging overlaid on Google Earth maps. Map
on homepage shows generally what's hot. "More Imagery" or scroll down to
select from menu and check out the mosaic overlay that uses the 3-D Google
Earth map. Gives you the bird's eye view of how wicked that terrain is.

I've been waiting to see if newer images will be posted but thought
people might like to see this anyway.

Bud
8/10 Red Weasel,

This is all an overreaction to a serious concern voiced by local government leaders who have experienced some horrific wild fire events before and do not want to got through those again. I was on the Romero fire in ’64, the Black Canyon Fire in ’67 and the Painted Cave fire in I think 1991. All made long runs down slope without a break and did it in some record times. Two went to the beach. The loses were tremendous. But I can also assure you that if, in any of those previous events, if ten engines were dispatched to the first response, the fire was already on its way being controlled by natural weather events and there would be no way that we know of to stop it. If a run were to begin today and all of those resources were to respond, I doubt that much good would come of it and the sad part is our firefighters are being asked to get into the fire front and that is always risky.

Normbc9

8/10 Just to set the record straight for Rogue Rivers and Normbc9, as a member of the CAL FIRE DC-10 Working Group I can give you a few facts on the DC-10 program. There IS A CAL FIRE employee (a qualified ATGS) who rides in the King Air with the Lead Plane pilot. The two individuals who pilot the King Air are NOT affiliated with Tanker 910. They are DynCorp (the same company the provides the pilots to fly the S-2T) employees and former USFS Lead Plane pilots. The company that owns the DC-10 sub-contracted with DynCorp for the pilots to operate the King Air. The CAL FIRE ATGS works for the incident ATGS to assist the Lead Plane pilot with cockpit duties and provide another level of aerial supervision. There are 4 CAL FIRE ATGS’ who rotate on 1 week assignments into the position. Two of the Four have received ASM training and the other two will receive this training this winter.

I will not discuss the elements of the contract but I will say that the DC-10 contract was part of the Governor’s Special Augmentation Bill of which there were many elements including 4-0 staffing on select engines in the CAL FIRE Southern Region and a statewide hire of additional firefighters to perform defensible space inspections. I’m sure the Director would like to have $21 million dollars to spend on other aircraft, engines, crews etc. The money was not added to the CAL FIRE budget for discretionary purposes, it was added specifically to fund the DC-10 program based on external political pressures. If the Director did not spend the money as authorized, he would no doubt be unemployed. We all have a boss and work for someone.

cdfairboss

8/9 Digital Forecast utility from NOAA to play around with:

http://ifps.wrh.noaa.gov

You can change the lat/long and see how it varies in the Zaca Fire area.
Zoom in or out.

Todd

8/9 FC 180
Ops! Thanks for the correction 7/28
The darn map is so fuzzy and I wasn't careful enough.
My bad
DC

I'm told a new map is on the way. I'll post it when it comes in. Does anyone have access to better maps out in front of the fire? Ab.

8/9 Zaca Fire:

Any one who has worked on the Santa Barbara RD has probably been there.

Protecting the Cold Springs Tavern from the Zaca Fire
www.ksby.com/Global/story.asp?s=6903769

Old LPF

8/9 I just talked to some good friends who said I should ask the following questions and they aren't slouches:

If there are numerous large fires ongoing, is it a good idea to assign a NIMO team to a fire and expect that their needed overhead positions for the incident will be adequately staffed out when overhead shortages already exist nationwide? Or is it better to assign a properly staffed and qualified Type 1 or Type 2 Team? Yes, NIMOs are cheaper in the short run.... but a well staffed out team is a better value.

Per the Aug. 2006 letter, "These pilot teams, commonly referred to as "NIMO" teams are expected to have an immediate impact on wildland fire and aviation activities.

Folks also said something about getting back to the basics of why teams were assembled in the first place and what are we doing messing with something that worked well?

www.fs.fed.us/fire/ibp/current_issues/NIMO%20Team%20Announcement.doc

Increased management efficiencies (cost containment).... yep..... the NIMO concept worked.... until it was actually tested..... not. Lessons learned from the past...... and somehow forgotten.... will always bite you in the buttocks when you think you can spend a penny to save a dime in the real world. You get what you pay for..... simple economics.

Incident Management Teams were developed for a reason and those same reasons exist today and haven't changed......

Lobotomy
8/9 Re: Zaca Fire (False Image, Reverse IR)

Here is the MODIS image from 7/8.

Here
is the MODIS image from 7/18.

Here is the MODIS image from 7/28.

If you have a away to "zoom" the images, it helps a lot.

It would appear that there aren't a whole lot of changes from the 7/18 image and the 7/28 image.

Gizmo
8/9 Re: Santa Barbara Front County Pre-position

So what’s the rule on holding local government resources on an OES assistance for hire when not engaged in actual firefighting ?

I’m sure my now (day 5), they have some pretty nice maps and a hefty contingency plan for if/when Zaca II approaches the Santa Barbara front country. I would agree this is valuable intel that some would argue should have been done the county years ago. That said, from an accountability standpoint, how do you hold 50 engine companies on the CA state dime without so much as filing a 209 to indicate cost, progress, plan ? Is it me ?

RedWeasel
8/9 Here's a report on need for fuel treatment in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/LTBMUreview.pdf (261 K pdf file)

We received it from someone that thought it should be shared with the community. That person said "This real pretty and it does get out the message but I have no comments yet. But it is a well prepared and presented document. Norm"

Another comment from someone who was hunting for this report: "This report in part addresses why treatment has not been as aggressive as it needed and needs to be.. Cal Chiefs sent it to me... Q"

8/9 FC180,

It would be cool to have some GIS type person show the two "gore points" with the aerial photos, the topo map, and have google earth also to show the terrain, fuels, and slope alignment.

I take the movement on 7/8 from a different perspective. My perspective is that the fire was moving, or projected to move significantly that day, well before the helicopter accident and grounding of the rotary wing aircraft. Were there extra pressures on the air world that day to keep the fire in check? The accident occurred at 16:08 hrs.

I can make an ArcView map, but that is the limit of my crude experience with the tool. Sure would be nice to have some real-time tools available in the field.....

Gizmo
8/8 Nice pic of the Zaca from NASA.

www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/features/zaca.phpl

and from NOAA

www.osei.noaa.gov/Events/Fires/US_California/2007/FSHScalifornia218_MO.jpg

Mellie

8/8 If you look at this fire progression map Doug's choke points look pretty accurate.

zaca080707map-progression.jpg

viejo

8/8 Pretty interesting.......... In the fire planning world, this is breaking new ground.

hwww.fpa.nifc.gov/Library/Docs/Science/FPA_SimulationPrototype_0705.pdf

TC
8/8 There are inaccuracies in the “choke points” in Doug’s “presentation”:

The choke point listed as 7/8 had more to do with a helicopter crashing and
all the aircraft being subsequently grounded than the tactical decisions.

The second chokepoint labeled as 7/18 should actually be 7/28 I believe.
On 7/18 the fire was nowhere near there.

FC180

In my experience of Doug, he's always looking for accuracy. Ab.

8/8 Bener,

I don't know which center you are from, but if I were your dispatcher I
would be on the phone to NICC and tell them " I have a person with these
quals send me an order and I will fill it". Some centers work harder then
others to get folks out. When folks have a limited window in which they are
avail, I try my darndest to get them out. Sorry to hear that you are having
problems getting an assignment. Maybe your dispatcher will read this and
try calling NICC.

Be safe when you finally get out, which I hope is soon.

R5 Dispatcher

8/8 Zaka threshold points.

The last slide asks for answers to some obvious questions
because of the spread map and what implementations it
suggests. Can we get answers? Do you know who might know?
Did fire modeling project large spreads the days in question?
Were projections made at all?
If not why not?

Submitted without prejudice, seeking information.
DC

Three Pics of Zaca Fire -map projections- done in powerpoint:
www.wildlandfire.com/pics/zaca-helo/zaka0804projection.ppt (3,392 K ppt file)

8/8 To: R5 Dispatcher,

Well, I'm agency (green), am available, my boss and dispatch, and FDO
have given their blessing to go, but my overhead dispatcher shows no jobs
in his computer, yet there are many, many UTF's from NICC per list
given Monday 8/5... Like I said, the system is broken sometimes and we can't
figure it out... And Montana's Governor is screaming for help... I can make a
lot of Dozerline if given the chance. No there is no hold on me, so the
dispatcher says...

Bener

8/8 Mellie,

Something was going on in the HUU. An adjoining CAL FIRE unit sent
two engines to cover on requests E-1 and E-2.

Reporting in...

8/8 Is the Arcata Forest on fire or is there a wildfire at Humboldt State?
There's a helicopter doing bucket work flying over the campus/forest.
Rather incongruous sight. Interface right here on Humboldt Bay in
the "asbestos redwood forest"???!

Naaah, must be calfire training, dropping on students, that chopper pilot is
having way too much fun.

Mellie

8/8 Hello Ab,

I have a time lapse video of the Zaca Fire that illustrates plume dominated fire behavior.

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 4, I drove up Refugio Canyon Road to West Camino Cielo near Broadcast Peak to photograph the Zaca Fire. I set up my Nikon digital camera overlooking Lake Cachuma and shot a time-lapse movie showing the progression of the fire from 2:07 PM to 4:01 PM. The action is speeded up by a factor of 125.

The video is posted on YouTube.

By the way, I have a large collection of tanker photos on my web site, the Goleta Air & Space Museum.

Yours truly,

Brian Lockett

Thanks Brian. Ab.

8/8 Tahoe Terrie and all,

The "assessing operational effectiveness of retardant use" is just another attempt by ill informed "managers" to dictate field tactics due to the one overall management objective... cost containment.

ALL of the fires I have been on this year have had clearly defined goals and objectives, whether they be Initial Attack, Extended Attack or large fires with multiple objectives, including portions with full suppression, limited suppression and no suppression actions. As we all know, wildfires are not static entities.. they are dynamic with constantly shifting priorities requiring on the spot field commander intuitive decisions based on commanders intent.

Individuals who enter a small section of fire airspace for retardant or water drops, usually do not have the entire fire picture, goals or objectives. Nor do they generally possess the fire background, tactically and logistically, to be making accurate assessments of how the retardant use fits into the entire fire picture.

Most of the individuals in Aviation Management who author and provide input into documents such as the one you discussed do not posses the fire background to provide accurate assessments either, especially when their inputs or "SA" comes from a narrow field of individuals who do not have the true fire picture.

You talked about goals and objectives... What is the goal of the paper from NMAC?? Why were no specific incidents cited? Did the NMAC folks talk to anyone on the incidents besides a few lead plane pilots and helibase managers who have most likely never swung a tool, been a Division Supervisor, Crew Boss or IC?

I have been on fires constantly since late may as an ATGS... Has NMAC talked to me? NO... Has NMAC talked to any Crew Boss's, Divisions or IA IC's or kids swinging a pulaski or running a saw as to whether aerial support has been effective in helping them meet their fire objectives? I seriously doubt it.

That all being said, I am all for SEE: Safe, Effective and Efficient, but I do not need big brother second guessing my tactical decisions from the comfort of their air conditioned puzzle palace especially when that second guessing comes with no true firefighter input.

What I would like to see is the individuals from NMAC provide specific examples of ways to improve with input from the on the ground fire resources as this is where the rubber meets the road. I would love to have one of those individuals in the aircraft with me on both IA and extended attack and also see those individuals ride along or walk along with an Initial Attack IC or an extended attack division supervisor or hotshot crew to provide input to their SA.

I just finished a shift on a fire in Idaho where fixed wing retardant has been extremely effective keeping fire out ahead of the hotshot crews in check. We are in constant communication with the on the ground divisions and hotshots asking whether the retardant is effective, penetrating the canopy, coating the available fuels and retarding fire spread. These are the individuals who really know whether aerial suppression is effective!

In summation, NMAC should base decisions on a wider more realistic firefighter field of view, provide specific examples of perceived waste and stop issuing white papers that do no more than confuse the issue.

yactak
8/8 R5 Dispatcher said it best: "Understanding the information (From ROSS) is
a lot harder than most folks think." Trends are what it shows the best,
actual number can prove anything if you show them different ways."

In any case there are a few reasons that come to mind why Benner might
be stuck. Some of my reasons might be suggest controversial underlying
issues, but they are all things I have seen happen in the past:
  1. Make sure you are actually listed as Available. Dispatchers are human
    and make mistakes, and a verbal from your office might not mean it
    actually happened as you envisioned.
  2. Make sure you are "Available" and to "National". You can be available
    to "Local", "GACC" or "National". If you're "Available To" status is not
    broad enough, you won't get spotted.
  3. ROSS does not always work according to the textbook. In theory NICC
    should see a persons quals and availability and pass orders to the
    dispatch centers who "controls" that resource. But sometimes the order
    requests do not get to all the places they need to.
  4. Sometimes a person's GACC, zone, dispatch center or boss does not
    want to part with the resource, i.e someone does not want you to go.
    Sorry, but it happens.

Just some thoughts and possibilities as to what might be happening to
all the Benners out there. There are many more possibilities, the vast
majority of which do not involve incompetence or underhandedness of
the fire dispatch system.

Regards - AIM

8/8 Hello R5 Dispatcher,

One of the issues we are having is we are in CDF (southern calif country) and have a mutual aid agreement with them for our brush engine, but we also have a Type 2IA hand crew, that is available for dispatch today. But we are not listed in Ross because CDF does not dispatch hand crews. So how do we get a EERA agreement in the state of California? Or get our hand crew listed in Ross for that matter.

Thanks,
RR

Ab is willing to pass messages behind the scenes.

8/8 Benner,

There maybe many reasons why your dispatch center has not called you for a
fire assignment. A few might be: Are you an agency person, personal services
person, AD, EW or a state person who is portal to portal? Some requests
have exclusions attached to them. Some might say Host agency Only or BLM
Only, or something like that. Your GACC may have put a tentative hold on
certain positions leaving the state, or even a hold on anyone leaving the
state.

Make sure you have been made avail and listed as available "NATIONAL"
and your quals in ROSS are correct. If you are an agency person,
your duty officer or FMO may say "no more folks off-forest or unit till some
return". So if I were you, I would go and talk to dispatch (be nice to them)
and see what your status is in ROSS and what is the status of folks leaving the
forest.

Creating UTF lists are usually created at the GACC level. Local units may
have their own lists but not usually posted. In the "Text book" world
there would not be a UTF world because requests would not be sent to
dispatch centers that did not show any available.

I hope this helps a little, I know how hard it is to sit and wait for a call,
I have been there many times.

R5 Dispatcher

8/8 Ab,

Air tankers were never designed to be used without support of ground resources. That
has been written for years from the very beginning and his in every textbook there is on
the subject. You cannot just “dump” retardant allover the place and not back it up with
a fire line. We need to get back to the basics from those early days. All those pioneers
basically knew what they were doing!

Al
8/8 Three LaGrande Hotshots burned over on the Poe Cabin Fire ID

Ab,

Official news release from the Poe Cabin Fire in Idaho :
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/poe-cabin-burnover.doc (156 K doc file)

Official Release with names and conditions:
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/poe-cabin-update.doc (156 K doc file)

noname

Vicki Minor from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation called me to let me know she is at the hospital. She'll fill us in when she gets done and/or has more information. Ab.

8/8 Abs, I have been ROSS'd since Monday morning, Aug. 5th as a National
single resource. My local dispatch says there are none for my talents.
However the UTF list you showed on the same day had 113 dozer bosses, 113
field observers, and 89 felling bosses. What gives? I do not understand
the system. I faxed the list to dispatch so they could see it. Anyone
have any idea about the discrepancy? I understand that could be one third
the number of jobs but why would my dsipatch in Central Oregon have no
UTF's listed?

Benner
8/8 Jodie asked about Plume Dominated fire behavior.

Dick Rothermel first coined the term in 1991 following the fatal 1990 Dude Fire.
Here is a link to his paper describing the phenomenon, and a copy is attached.

www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_int/int_rp438.pdf (261 K pdf file)

Old Sawyer

8/8 Hi Ab.

My husband is on the Zaca. The other day I read something about it having "plume dominated fire behavior". I saw the picture of the "column". What exactly is plume dominated fire behavior and how does it differ from other kinds of fire behavior? Are there other categories? Wind driven must be one since the santa anas and sundowners are of concern. What causes area ignition? Are there things to look for for that? Thanks Ab for a place to read about this. I like the hotlist forum too. When Inciweb is not working I appreciate Sammie's and milehighbar's long inciweb reproductions and thanks for copying the maps over too.

Jodie

Welcome Jodie. Ab.

8/8 Ab,

This came in round-robin yesterday, a message for fire managers. Makes sense to me. Instead of throwing tools at the problem, clearly define your goals, evaluate and select the tool... Tahoe Terrie
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

National Interagency Fire Center
3838 S. Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705
August 4, 2007

Subject: Assessing Operational Effectiveness of Retardant Use
Area of Concern: All Fire Aviation Operations
Distribution: Agency Administrators, Fire Management Officers, Incident Commanders, Area Commanders, Aerial Supervisors, Fire Operations personnel

Background: Feedback from situational awareness briefings and after action reviews in at least three Geographic Areas has identified field concerns with the use of air tankers and retardant in places where operational effectiveness is minimal. Review of SAFECOMs appears to support the observation that retardant is being dropped where it is not supporting containment efforts effectively.

The tendency to “fill-in” areas having few ground resources with additional aircraft and retardant drops, while understandable, is not an effective tactic.

Discussion: Indicators seen on both initial attack and extended attack fires are:
• Continued utilization of retardant aircraft when fire behavior and burning conditions exceed all expectations of catching the fire.
• Dispatching large air tankers and SEATS to build retardant lines in areas that are not being supported by ground firefighters.
• Assigning aircraft to escaped fire situations to drop water/retardant on targets of opportunity without specific tactics or objectives in mind.
• Incidents of heli-mopping without ground support personnel to guide the operation

Recommendation: Agency Administrators, Fire Management Officers, Area Commanders, Incident Commanders, Aerial Supervisors, and Fire Operations personnel are urged to be vigilant, conservative and appropriate in the application of aerial suppression tactics. This is an example of maintaining good situational awareness and recognizing when to call it quits, or when to declare a “NO-GO” situation. The conservative utilization of tactical aircraft and retardant not only reduces risk, but also saves taxpayer dollars.

Sound risk management requires us to maintain a continuous process to identify hazards, assess risks, implement mitigations and re-evaluate the situation. Don’t expose aviators and aerial supervisors to risk when the outcomes do not justify the exposure. Thank you for your continued vigilance to fighting fires safely and effectively.

/s/ Tom Boatner
Chair, NMAC

8/8 Not sure if this got posted yet

www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20070807-1456-ca-wildfirecharges.phpl
8 people, 2 firms charged in wildfire probe
By Gillian Flaccus, AP

Santa Ana – Federal authorities announced Tuesday they have charged eight people and two businesses with negligent and illegal activity that allegedly caused nine wildfires that together burned across hundreds of thousands of acres around California.

The announcement by the U.S. Attorney's office marked the end of investigations that in some cases dated back to 2002 and covered wildfires in at least three different national forests.

None of the cases alleges arson, and all but one defendant face misdemeanor counts, said Kathy Good, spokeswoman for Los Padres National Forest. One homeless man faces two felony counts for allegedly starting two different fires. (click the link to read the rest, interesting)

MG

Nice find. Ab.

8/8 Here's an investigation of an airtanker crash in France that
reads like a CSI story. I found it interesting.

www.casi.ca/files/Oct2006MeetingReportp.pdf

Andre

8/8 KnuckleDragon, about what you say is a double standard.

I don't believe the Forest Service has been authorized to hire retired annuitants
any time in the last decade. How is there a double standard?

Gizmo
8/7 Knuckledragon - and others.

For what its worth (and it went no where) last year I approached the DOI Regional Office I retired from to "preload" the annuitant rehire thing in case it became needed - figuring just like you said, when the fires are a-goin there just isn't enough time to get all the required paperwork done by all the required offices. No one was interested then, and probably aren't much more interested now. And I approached it from the tack of getting to some of us who have the quals they are forever crying the blues for because they train us but can't find us! The rules (set by DOI, by the way) say its for not more than 2 pay periods at a time, and they wouldn't even be able to get the paperwork done by then. Well, one exception - some people who retired from our office in Boise seem to get thru the paperwork every year with no problem. Bottom line is if they really intend to use this authority they need to set it up so it can really work - not like they have it now.

For what its worth, the Department of Defense no has similar authority - but it has no 2 pay period limit, doesn't have to be for an immediate emergency, doesn't have to involve the last personnel office (doesn't even have to be a DoD retiree!) and has been delegated to the lowest level filling a job - just report to DoD what you did after you did it. What a concept!

Sign me ---- Still Lookin

8/7 Rogue River,

I can answer your question about who staffs the Beech King Air provided for in the DC-10 contract. There are no Cal Fire personnel, but the sole occupant is a highly skilled former USFS Lead pilot who I know. This person is one of the best USFS Lead pilots I have ever flown behind and really knows the business. Omni Aviation recruited this pilot thinking they may have a shot at a federal fire carding. It never happened but then the state of California showed up and got an agreement going.

Remember the DC-10 is a new aircraft to this type of work. It has a crew who, while very familiar with the aircraft (both have thousands of hours in a like plane), are new to this business and there are no previous tactical procedures ever established or even considered for a ship this big.

I see it as a very useful tool and it is not an IA ship. It is a level flight drop at higher altitudes 12,000 gallon single drop air tanker. It doesn’t have the drop doors, it is the clamshell door system like we seen on some of the Sky Cranes. I did witness the drops on the Sawtooth, Horse and Day fires. In each case the difference it made with the parts of the fire it dropped on were astounding to me. And I have been involved in both sides of the fire tanker program.

But it does have its limits and more importantly those who manage the system for the state do too. That is what needs to be evaluated seriously and by an independent third party who is QUALIFIED. The follow up of the small bit of training this DC-10 crew just received needs some intense follow up training by QUALIFIED state paid for experts in this field. Currently Cal Fire has no one who possesses those qualifications that I know of.

Normbc9

8/7 There's a large price reduction on the Aviation Command & Support unit for sale on the Classifieds Page. The owner's committed to selling and highly motivated. See the details here: Aviation C&S

A few updates to the Jobs Page, Jobs Wanted section this morning. Two FF's and an Engine Boss are looking for work. One ad from 7/24 (Ben) failed to include a contact method, that's been corrected. 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.

8/7 Paint Fire - Zaca,

ms,

Thoughtful observations regarding Paint and Zaca fires and the Santa
Barbara front. In the aftermath of the Paint fire , I remember one old
hand saying conditions were so bad it was amazing the kelp didn't catch on
fire.

Nice website for fire information by the County of Santa Barbara County
www.countyofsb.org/index.asp

Bud

8/7 Gizmo,

Thanks for the info on the Rehired Annuitant Authority. I was an FMO pre-retirement and was well aware of what it used to look like. I have been reassured by current higher ups in my former USDI agency that it won't look like that this time and as of this morning they still don't know what it will look like. "Just be patient and wait until they get it sorted out".

Of course fire season will be over by then and I will still be hanging on to my red dogs....

The one thing that seems certain is that you must be rehired by the same exact personnel office of the same exact USDI agency that you retired from. Since many of us live in other parts of the country, that will present some difficulty. I am also skeptical of any timeliness in processing the paperwork. What motivation will these offices have to take on an increased workload? Many of them refuse to deal with us as ADs and have de facto banned the use of ADs. The workplace I retired from is one of them. Do you think Kempthorne will intercede on our behalf? I sure don't.

I am waiting but not getting too hopeful. If anybody on They Said has any other information, please share it here. It is quite certain that the USDI will not be looking for us to share information on this IF it becomes available.

And then there's the USDA Forest Service. What a fricken' double standard!!

KnuckleDragon
8/7 Ab,

UTF lists are avail. thru ROSS for past year. I could pull them if we
really thought they would do any good. But every year is different, fire
wise availability wise, weather wise, and other deadlines. With ROSS this
information is avail., understanding the information the information is
a lot harder then most folks think . Trends are what it shows the best,
actual number can prove anything if you show them different ways.

R5 Dispatcher

Thanks much for the info. Darn those confounding variables. Ab.

8/7 From Mellie

Very interesting Facilitated Learning Analysis on the Ahorn Fire Deployment...

Ahorn Fire Precautionary Fire Shelter Deployment Facilitated Learning Analysis
www.fs.fed.us/r1/fire/nrcg/BulletinBoard/ahorn/FLA_report_and_pics.pdf


Ahorn Fire FLA powerpoint presentation
www.fs.fed.us/r1/fire/nrcg/BulletinBoard/ahorn/ahorn_fire_shelter_deployment.php

powerpoint:
www.fs.fed.us/r1/fire/nrcg/BulletinBoard/ahorn/ahorn_fire_shelter_deployment_files/frame.php

8/7 Looking at the list and having to deal with UTF orders. They UTF orders every 72 hours, hence I have to re-order the same resource up to 3 times during the incident. That might explain the large numbers since one position might count for 3 of the UTF's

Just my thoughts on the issue

SELDOM SEEN
8/7 Ab - To address some of the questions generated by the UTF list I had sent:

The seven UTFs for an ICT1 might be only ONE actual REQUEST, generating seven UTFs back to NICC as they try to fill the position. Keep in mind there are 11 GACCs that they can send the order to, as they pass the order around to try and fill it, each GACC would UTF it and the number grows. Perhaps in this case the eighth GACC they sent the order to was able to fill it?? So the numbers represent UTFs received by NICC, not individual resource orders that were ultimately UTF'd.

The same can be said about any of these numbers. Were there requests for 146 individual DIVS that went unfilled? Nope, my guess would be maybe 1/3 that number of actual requests (needs) but NIC had to bounce a lot of orders around to fill what they could. And many of the orders that generate multiple UTFs eventually get filled.

"why do you need a T-1 IC without a Team?" Could be a variety of reasons. Most likely a team already assigned, or a team coming up on rotation whose IC is not available do to illness or unexpected commitment. Might also be looking for a person of this caliber to fill a position at some other high level function on an Area or Unified command. Just guesses on my part.

Great comments by StumpShot regarding cherry picking. And as he said some of the GACCs post their own UTF lists. Just go to the GACC and hit the Intelligence link. GACCs I am aware of that post their UTF list are: EACC, SACC, SWCC, RMCC, WGBC, ONCC (N Cal). The NICC UTF list is not posted to my knowledge on any public websites. Anyone with ROSS access can get the report pretty easily.

"A Type 1 IMT showed up on the National NICC UTF list?? What about the unassigned teams on the National rotation?" Again, just because a IMT (or any resource) shows up on a UTF list does not mean the order was not eventually filled. Just means that the first place NICC placed the order UTF'd it.

"Also, does anyone know if, in the future, ROSS will allow user selection of specific quals one wants/needs to go out as?" It already does. Just have your home dispatch center "turn off" or "hide" the quals for positions you do not want to go as. They should gladly do so because they do not want to UTF orders from your GACC for assignments you are not willing or able to go as. Turning off some of your quals is not necessarily "cherry picking", there are many legitimate reasons to do so, such as needing an assignment to maintain currency in a position, or needing an assignment to complete a taskbook.

emt_mb - Excellent point we all need to remember. We have all been trainees at some point for every position we hold.

Regards - AIM
8/7 Zaca and Paint Fires

WxGeek,

I hear what you're saying. I remember about 16 years ago driving along Hwy 101 en-route to the Paint Fire. Driving through Santa Barbara on the 101, I didn't know until the next day I was in the middle of the Paint Fire burn. The Paint Fire jumped over Hwy 101 like it was a scratch line and only stopped when it ran out of fuel near the Pacific Ocean. Check the CDF web site on the stats for the number of homes and the one life destroyed by the Paint fire. The day of the Paint Fire, temps were between 72-76 degrees at 2-3pm (normally the hottest part of the day), RH at or near 50%, with fog in the morning along the coast. By 6:03pm (time the fire started) temperatures were close to 100, RH was single digit and the winds were incredible. In a matter of minutes temps on the SB Front increased 30 degrees.

A few things are certain.

  1. The destruction that occurred during the Paint Fire will happen again within the communities of the Santa Barbara Front. The only hope is to minimize the destruction with a strong IA organization that will limit the number of events and escapes, fuel treatments, pre-planning, proper clearance around homes and public education.
  2. The weather conditions experienced the day of the Paint Fire return on avg between 3-4 days per year.
  3. Fed, State, County and local fire officials are going to do everything they can to be prepared in case the next fire to do what the Paint did is called the Zaca. Politicians call this "making sure you don't get caught with your pants down".

I agree with the preparations of all the Gov entities are doing. Actually I'm impressed by it.

I do agree with you that there is more here than meets the eye on this incident. Something is different, too much going on behind the scenes, can't put my finger on it, yet. Maybe it's just all the tension and the fear of the unknown.

ms

8/7 Solution to Long UTF Lists

Here's an idea, let's accept some trainees for some of these positions! I know you can't fix the
issue with trainees alone, but I know for a fact there are TFLD and STEN trainees out there
that would reduce those 173 and 45 UTFs respectively.

Yes, trainees take proper supervision, yes, there is the potential for span of control issues, but
if we need bodies that bad, there are ways to safely allow trainees to get the job done.

emt_mb
8/7 Re DC-10

In answer to the questions Rogue River poses, they are all valid questions. No one has the answers and that is why the contract was posted for all to see an analyze. At this point in time the issues are already surfacing. One thing is for sure. There needs to be an internal audit conducted by a neutral independent third party of the Cal Fire Aviation program in total. The contract operator of the DC-10 seems to have their house in order but the state needs badly to look theirs over with a highly critical eye. The firm that gets my vote is the Negretti Aviation Consultants who are located in the Sacramento area and have a very respectable track record with assessments of governments and the aviation programs they operate.

Normbc9

8/7 Is This an NMAC thing:

You brought up an interesting point about the portal to portal thing vs resource shortages.

I did a little research about the reluctance of the Fed Wildland agencies not wanting to order the "expensive stuff".
I looked at the posted rosters of the Ca type 1 and 2 Fed teams, and on average (of those with rosters posted) 30-50% of the individuals assigned to those teams are LOCAL GOVT or other agencies. It would seem quite ironic that they are refusing the expensive stuff while paying portal to portal to most of their teams. Does this sound strange to anyone else? I realize that portal to portal is expensive but we in Ca have supported our federal brothers in pursuing that very end.

One thing portal to portal guarantees is availability and accountability.

Firedog

8/7 Rouge Rivers

Seems to me we keep trying to do this air tanker thing on the cheap. That is find an existing platform that we can adapt to do the job. That has worked well with helicopters but I think when it come to fixed wing aircraft we need to do the R&D to develop an aerial fire fighting aircraft. The folks at Canadair developed the CL-215 and 415 to meet the needs of a water bomber. They were also able to develop it to be used as maritime patrol/search and rescue, air transport and cargo. These aircraft are used through out the Mediterranean, SE Asia and South America for fire fighting as well as its other missions. The amphibious capability allow it to fit into a niche. Not sure if a new land based aircraft would have a market beyond fire fighting. I think its time we designed an aircraft with capabilities to fly the missions we need to fly rather than continuing to adapt aircraft built for other missions. I would think that $21 mil would go a long way down the R&D road.

Boeing had put forth a plan to use the C-17 as a water bomber that is similar to the C-130. Boeing planned to have pallets of 5 gal water bladders that would be dropped out of the back of the plan. Glad it never got traction. Think 100 cubitainors raining down on you.

Coulson Flying Tankers operate 2 amphibious Martin Mars.
www.martinmars.com/firefighting.php

Their web site claims:

Whether your problem is in the timberlands of British Columbia, the brush of Australia, the rainforests of Southeast Asia or the dreaded urban/rural interface fires anywhere, Coulson Flying Tankers is ready, willing and able to respond to your needs. In the case of interface fires our experience has clearly indicated the outstanding results of dropping massive amounts of foam in a short period of time to save buildings, homes, improvements and possibly human life.

Given the Martins can scoop water and how close the Pacific is to the Zaca and that Coulson has been using the Martins for 45 years I wonder if they could be putting more water/foam on that fire than Tanker 910?

Small Agency Fire Guy

8/6 Ab said: "All we need are fire chasing resources... Not too long ago it was a fairly common practice."

I agree we don't need any more fire chasers than we have now. However, most GACCs post a UTF list. I can't see a major difference between GACC and NICC UTF lists other than the area covered...

A valuable portion of a recent email from a local dispatch center:

If you show available for an assignment Nationally, you're available for assignment anywhere in the US.

If you "don't want to go to that place," you are "cherry picking."
In this particular orchard, we tend to eliminate the birds which pick our cherries.

All kidding aside, the system works when a unit with a need can put out a request and another unit... somewhere... can fill that need. It works both ways. If we cherry pick the places we want to go, we break the system.

As always, fire managers need to step up and hold people accountable for any abuses of our systems. What goes around comes around.

StumpShot

8/6 7 - ICT1 UTFs...... certainly....... 9 Type 1 IIMT's out right now (last nights figures).... correct...... that means there needs to be 18 qualified Type 1 Incident Commanders available (one IC and one deputy) just for the number of type 1 teams currently assigned.

Safety Officers... yep.... big shortage of them also.

Federal and State teams (both Type 1 and Type 2) are being pressed into service without meeting the agreed upon national (NWCG) standards for IIMTs and trying to mobilize before they are properly staffed.

Teams that don't meet national mob guide standards being pressed into service without all of the required command and general staff in place..... priceless.

Lobotomy
8/6 I have a some questions:

1. If the DC-10 has a daily availability fee, and an hourly flight fee, why does CAL FIRE (California taxpayers) have to reimburse the "contractor" for fuel costs? Aren't those usually covered by the flight hours that the contractor is paid?

2. If the contract covers the the King Air aircraft, how does the clause, "The contractor represents that it has or shall secure at its own expense, all staff required to perform the services described in this agreement. Such personnel shall not be employees of or have any contractual relationship with any governmental agency". Does this cover the CAL FIRE employee(s) in the King Air?

3. For a $21 Million three year contract, how many large airtankers could CAL FIRE contract for utilizing existing contract costs for P-3, SP2H, and P2V contracts?

Rogue Rivers
8/6 Ab - don't know who sent in that long list of UTFs from NICC, and I don't want to seem doubting, but.......

1. There were requests for seven (7) ICT1 positions that NICC couldn't fill?? There are only 9 T-1 IMTs out right now, and why do you need a T-1 IC without a Team?

2. Thirteen (13) Type 1 Safety Officer positions were UTF? Again, the need for a SOF1 is with a T-1 IMT, so were these really legitimate requests? A T-1 IMT only has to have 1 SOF1; others under that person can be SOF2.

3. Lastly, a Type 1 IMT showed up on the National NICC UTF list?? What about the unassigned teams on the National rotation?

4. What is the link to the NICC UTF list?? I can't find it.

I'm not arguing that the number of UTF Resource Orders is a serious problem, only that we must be careful in passing this kind of information around (and especially upward) at the risk of losing our hard earned credibility!

Aberdeen

Aberdeen, This list came to me in a form that leaves no doubt as to its authenticity. I converted it to html to protect the sender. You should know by now that I check, double, and triple check such information that comes in. Has Ab ever posted bogus data? Make of the list what you will. It is gen-u-ine.

We are not going to make a habit of posting the UTF list but I think it would be interesting to compare this list with lists from about this time in early August of previous years, which we don't have. Does anyone? ROSS will allow evaluation of data such as this. With good data, one of my questions would be... what impact is the unresolved Ellreese Daniels trial actually having on the resources available this season, controlling for other variables that impact resources, of course. Ab.

8/6 KnuckleDragon,

Here is what the BLM rehired annuitant program looked like when it was last authorized for the 2000 Fire Seige. I understand that there revisions for 2003, 2004, and 2005?

www.fire.blm.gov/Directives/imof&a2000022.pdf

I don't know what the other bureaus policies are (NPS, FWS, BIA), but if they are anything like BLM's, I can understand why it hasn't been implemented in a week.

Is it true that you have to be rehired by the same bureau you retired from or just the same cabinet level agency?

Gizmo
8/6 To the party posting the NICC UTF list-

Is this product available to inquiring minds outside of the dispatch world? If so, where? Would be nice for us OH types to be able to see this regularly.

Also, does anyone know if, in the future, ROSS will allow user selection of specific quals one wants/needs to go out as?

Thanks in advance,
StumpShot

I doubt it will be publicly available. All we need are fire chasing resources. (Not talking about you of course, Stump Shot, but others sometimes don't play by the rules.) Not too long ago fire chasing was a fairly common practice. Ab.

8/6 From: www.foxreno.com/news/13829435/detail.phpl

"Since the accident, two of the DC-10's captains and one co-pilot, all experienced airline pilots, have undergone refresher training for air-tanker operations and have been accompanying veteran tanker pilots in the state's medium-sized S-2T tankers, state fire aviation officials say."

"Cal Fire air boss Mike Padilla says preliminary findings have determined that the cause of the near-crash was "mechanical."

"We're looking at everything from the weather -- turbulence -- on that date to our procedures for lining up the aircraft (toward the target) and how the pilots were perceiving the drop," Padilla said."

bombero

8/6 Resource Shortages vs Portal to Portal vs. Cost Containment

In regard to the use of single resource Cal Fire and other portal to portal agencies on Fed fires, at what point does management okay the broad use of these resources? All one needs to do is scan the various UTF reports to see that resources of all kinds are in dire need. Unfortunately, they're not being ok'd in ROSS. It seems with the IMTs I've spoken with, there is a reluctance to accept these resources except in some rare cases.

Indeed the cost may be high, but at some point one has to wonder what's going on. If there's nothing else available, then you must take what you can get. Granted, these resources are expensive, but it is nice to have a Division Supe or Safety Officer on your fire! And it's cheaper than Canadians, New Zealanders, etc!

Is this an NMAC thing again?

8/6 I found the UTF's interesting but was wondering how many utf's their have been
recently for crews. My crew seems to be stuck in the North Ops vortex. If anyone
knows that I sure would be interested in finding out.

Bird hunter
8/6 Ok, don't get me wrong, I'm all for I-Zone pre-planning and believe these documents are invaluable when it comes to engaging in the interface, especially with regard to mutual aid resources who may be unfamiliar the territory.

But how do you rat-hole 50 engine companies driving around Santa Barbara with GPS's doing contingency plans for the SB county on the state (OES) dime in the shadows of FOUR Incident Management Teams ?

No doubt this is very important work that Santa Barbara county will be very happy to have, but aren't these are very expensive FOBS that Arnold has sent ?

There’s more here than meets the eye.

Wxgeek
8/6 Re Cal Fire//DC-10 contract:

Ab here's the contract. It is for three years and also includes a Beechcraft King Air Lead plane. I obtained the copy using the Freedom of Information Act. It is a lot more expensive than I was ever led to believe. It's also the first and only two page multi million dollar state contract I have ever seen using just two pages to describe the actual use of the contracted item. The rest of the pages are the standard "Boiler plate" language used in all state contracts.

DC-10 contract (8 page, 433 K pdf file)

Noname (at Ab's suggestion)

8/6 Ab always enjoys getting little personal notes, folks checking in. Thought I'd post this one since it's a groundpounder appreciating the overhead team. My guess is that there are many good incident management teams working in the West this year that are not having much luck containing the fires. Main thing is to do the best you can and bring people home safely. Ab.

Ab,

Just got off Ahorn in MT. Real mess. Bennett's T1 is such a class act I am sorry he was tasked with it.

Getting some Z's at home base and going back out this weekend for round #2.

Best Regards, ZZZZZZZZZ

8/6 Hey Ab -

Been reading the talk about UTF's etc etc.

Attached is yesterday's Nationwide UTF list from NICC. It's real interesting reading for Overheads that are wondering about the need for their position.

Catalog Name
AGENCY REPRESENTATIVE
AIR OPERATIONS BRANCH DIRECTOR
AIR SUPPORT GROUP SUPERVISOR
AIR TACTICAL GROUP SUPERVISOR
AIRCRAFT BASE RADIO OPERATOR
BASE CAMP MANAGER
BUS DRIVER
CAMP HELP
COMMUNICATIONS UNIT LEADER
COMPENSATION/CLAIMS UNIT LEADER
COMPUTER TECHNICAL SPECIALIST
CONTRACT REPRESENTATIVE, NORTH WEST
CONTRACTING OFFICERS TECH. REPRESENT.
COST UNIT LEADER
CREW BOSS
CREW LIAISON OFFICER
CREW REPRESENTATIVE
DEMOBILIZATION UNIT LEADER
DISPLAY PROCESSOR
DIVISION/GROUP SUPERVISOR
DOCUMENTATION UNIT LEADER
DOZER BOSS
DOZER OPERATOR
DRIVER/OPERATOR
EMT - BASIC
EMT - INTERMED.
EMT PARAMEDIC
ENGINE BOSS
EQUIPMENT MANAGER
EQUIPMENT TIME RECORDER
EXPANDED DISPATCH COORDINATOR
EXPANDED DISPATCH RECORDER
FACILITIES MAINTENANCE SPECIALIST
FACILITIES UNIT LEADER
FALLER CLASS B
FALLER CLASS C
FELLING BOSS (SINGLE RESOURCE)
FIELD OBSERVER
FINANCE TECHNICAL SPECIALIST
FINANCE/ADMIN. SECTION CHIEF - TYPE 1
FINANCE/ADMIN. SECTION CHIEF - TYPE 2
FIRE BEHAVIOR ANALYST
Count
2
22
42
57
34
70
2
1
1
28
32
1
19
12
24
2
6
26
4
146
37
113
4
2
13
2
57
14
67
1
14
4
1
7
22
2
89
113
4
2
1
9
FIRE FIGHTER TYPE 2
FIREFIGHTER, TYPE 1
FOOD UNIT LEADER
GENERAL MECHANIC
GIS SPECIALIST
GIS TECHNICAL SPECIALIST
GROUND SUPPORT UNIT LEADER
HAND-HELD INFRARED OPERATOR
HELIBASE MANAGER, 1 TO 3 HELICOPTERS
HELIBASE MANAGER, 4 OR MORE HELICOPTERS
HELICOPTER COORDINATOR
HELICOPTER CREWMEMBER
HELICOPTER MANAGER
HELITORCH MANAGER
HUMAN RESOURCE SPECIALIST
INCIDENT COMMANDER, TYPE 1
INCIDENT COMMANDER, TYPE 2
INCIDENT COMMANDER, TYPE 3
INCIDENT COMMANDER, TYPE 4
INCIDENT COMMANDER- DEPUTY
INCIDENT COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
INCIDENT COMMUNICATIONS TECHNICIAN
INCIDENT MEDICAL SPECIALIST TECHNICIAN
INCIDENT METEOROLOGIST
INCINET ADMINISTRATOR
INFRARED INTERPRETER
LIAISON OFFICER
LOGISTICS SECTION CHIEF - TYPE 1
LOGISTICS SECTION CHIEF - TYPE 2
MEDICAL UNIT LEADER
MOBILE COMMAND CENTER TECH. SPECIAL.
Module, Faller
Module, Fire Use
OPERATIONS BRANCH DIRECTOR
OPERATIONS SECTION CHIEF - TYPE 1
OPERATIONS SECTION CHIEF - TYPE 2
ORDERING MANAGER
PERSONNEL TIME RECORDER
PLANNING SECTION CHIEF - TYPE 1
PLANNING SECTION CHIEF - TYPE 2
PREVENTION TECHNICIAN
PROCUREMENT UNIT LEADER
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER TYPE 1
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER TYPE 2
68
20
10
5
27
2
36
6
39
26
19
84
73
3
6
7
2
25
8
3
12
34
8
1
2
20
22
1
5
1
1
9
1
19
4
7
53
28
2
5
19
23
27
2
128
RADIO OPERATOR
RECEIVING/DISTRIBUTION MANAGER
RESOURCE ADVISOR
RESOURCE UNIT LEADER
SAFETY OFFICER, LINE
SAFETY OFFICER, TYPE 1
SAFETY OFFICER, TYPE 2
SECURITY MANAGER
SECURITY SPECIALIST - LEVEL 1
SECURITY SPECIALIST - LEVEL 2
SINGLE ENGINE AIR TANKER MANAGER
SITUATION UNIT LEADER
STAGING AREA MANAGER
STATUS CHECK-IN RECORDER
STRIKE TEAM LEADER, CREW
STRIKE TEAM LEADER, DOZER
STRIKE TEAM LEADER, ENGINE
SUPERVISORY DISPATCHER
SUPPLY UNIT LEADER
SUPPORT DISPATCHER
TASK FORCE LEADER
TECHNICAL SPECIALIST
TECHNICAL SPECIALIST - CREWS
TIME UNIT LEADER
TRAINING SPECIALIST
Team, Area Command
Team, Type 1 Long
Team, Type 2 Long
WAREHOUSE MATERIALS HANDLER LEADER
114
19
11
41
43
13
76
28
7
106
1
38
18
40
47
28
45
29
17
13
173
8
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6
8/6 Hi Ab,

This is in answer to the TX Resource inquiry.
I saw two Texas Forest Service Type 3 engine strike teams last month
who had stopped in Pine Valley, CA. (San Diego County) for lunch.
They told me they were out here on a South Ops order and to report
to San Bernardino, CA. but were told to use the I-8 route to
I-15 then go north.

Normbc9

8/6 Re TX Crews....

Last month when NV was burning, we had a Texas IA Crew show up
on a fire we were working north of Reno... Never did talk with them,
we were flown up on the Mtn., and they stayed below..... and were
gone when we finished up. So there are (or was) some TX folks out.....

wilnd

8/6 Re TX resources:

I've run into Texas folks -- a whole team earlier in the season and single resources in the last few weeks. Also, I've encountered National Guard at the PL-4 level (just as we were going to PL-5) and at at least one, possibly two western governors sending in guard support. This may not be happening thru the official puzzle palaces, but these folks are out there working on wildfires. Maybe sometimes it's better if the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing ...

Still Out There as an AD

Re your last line... Guess I prefer being the left hand in that case. Ab.

8/5 DIRTY LITTLE SECRET:

All of this discussion about maintaining drawdown versus "fighting the fire we've got" reminds me of a rather unpleasant experience a few years ago where I learned way more about the fire planning/funding process than I wanted... but what I think few people realize: The federal long term fire planning & budget process bases most efficient level (MEL) and corresponding local resources such as the number of engines/crews/etc. per unit on the FIRE UNIT's historical fire occurrences (such as a park or forest). This is based on the best available (based on funding for such analysis) science, calculations, etc... through what was WFSA (for the FS only?) and may now be Fire Planning Analysis (FPA) (?). and the fire planning process.

What is largely unrecognized, I think, is this: THERE IS NOT BASIC FUNDING FOR RESOURCES FOR LARGE FIRE SUPPRESSION. In effect, units are funded at or below MEL and also not fully staffed due to hiring trouble, etc... and ALL resources are funded specifically based on local fire history for local capability. As I understand it, "national resources" may still fall within this limitation.

Again, as I understand it, there is no mechanism that funds a "militia" or any resources that are specifically designated for large fire suppression. This is a real problem when many units nationally are experiencing high fire danger and need to maintain the capability they are funded for, or during the "off-season", when there is not a nationally available pool of resources (for places like the east, south, or California). One notable exception to this may be the NIMO (national incident management organization) Teams, which are specifically funded to increase incident management capacity nationally.

Effectively, over the years, we have managed large fires nationally through luck and doing the best we can shifting resources from units that may not have extreme fire danger to the large fires. But, there is basically no mechanism in place for the unlikely scenario where every unit in the US has high fire danger and needs to maintain capability, while there are numerous large fires nationally that also need support. In short, the system is not funded to be successful at a PL4 or PL5 level, or worse. It is funded for success nationally at the "average" historical fire occurrence level per unit across the United States.

This situation is worsened with the potentially worsening fire conditions annually (increasing drought, fuel buildup, urban interface, global warming...) as the funding process likely does not take the increasing threats into account. There is no basic capability funding mechanism for all-hazard response whatsoever (again, except for the NIMO Teams and possibly a few NPS all-hazard resources).

There are some examples of funding specifically targeted only for local capability... for example, certain helicopters are contracted "exclusive use" and are not to leave particular areas ever, so that can cause some confusion (this is in reference to the folks complaining that they have helicopters sitting around - they may be exclusive use).

I've been out of direct involvement in the fire business for a couple of years, but I don't imagine this fundamental funding truth has changed... because to change it would probably require legislative change on funding - and include ADDITIONAL funding for a firefighting capability ABOVE AND BEYOND funding only what is needed to maintain local unit's capability in average to severe fire danger conditions. The decreasing availability of the traditional "militia" (non-fire federal agency folks) further compounds this problem. Finding overhead and all the necessary resources to maintain large fire capabilities seems to become more challenging all the time... although it would be interesting to see some studies on use of federal resources versus contractors, ADs, and cooperators over a long period of time and by geography.

I think the long term solutions to any of these things require the capability of the agencies to step back a bit and invest the time and thought into looking into some of these issues... because the current organization seems too busy trying to keep its head above water to do the necessary analysis, science, etc. to find viable solutions. Technology can help with efficiency, effectiveness, and safety as well, but again, the current federal fire organization is not in a position and is not showing the capacity to effectively use this potential for massive change and as a force multiplier to help manage limited resources.

Be safe, y'all...

-thinker
8/5 Mellie,

I also absolutely agree about Mr. Kempthorne. The recent proclamation from him that USDI was reinstating the Rehired Annuitant Authority, a proclamation that was spread about in the news media as propaganda to show what a good guy he was, has turned out to be nothing but hot air.

I was on assignment before that proclamation and I am still on assignment here in Montana working my A$$ off for 14 hours a day. As a retired USDI employee I was hoping that I might now be paid what I am worth in parity with the GS folks I am shoulder to shoulder with instead of half what I am worth as an AD. I was naive in my hope.

I have tried hard since the day of the proclamation to find out how to get "rehired" and have run into one dead end after another. It seems that USDI still has no procedure for that now over a week later......

I am traveling home tomorrow and I'll be darned if I am going to just let them pay me as an AD as has been suggested they will be happy to do. I'll also be darned if I take another assignment this year after this recent deception. He told a big fat political lie on the backs of us retired folks is the way I see it. We would be fools to capitulate to it.

KnuckleDragon
8/5 Firecapwife,

Check out Wildland Firefighter's Wives. It's a support site (Blog) for all wives of Wildland Firefighters.

DirtMiner

Ab note: It has music so if you're at your desk with others around, you might consider muting the sound.

8/5 Re no TX resources going west:

LIONA

Yes it is true. They say they might need them for hurricane response.
They also have all the seasonal money shut off.

Linescout

8/5 Mellie - regarding your comments about USDI Secretary Kempthorne: I agree completely!
It seems that he read the "Conrad Burns" chapter in the Politicians Handbook: never attack
ground-level firefighters, at the risk of losing your job!

It looks like Idaho's Governor Otter (the same guy from "Animal House"??), and Senators
Craig and Crapo missed that chapter.

In many western States, the political message of "Wildland Firefighters for XXX" can be a
real force to be reckoned with!

Mollysboy

Gotta watch out, that xxx put you in the spam filter! haw haw Ab.

8/5 Re Overtime:

Hi Ab!

This site has been a blessing to me. My husband is full time FS and during fire season, sometimes this is the only resource I have to know his whereabouts, except for this season. You see, he has not been out on many assignments this year. Haven't really known why until I have been reading the last few days of postings regarding contract crews getting all the assignments and overtime. I too believe this is true because my daughter is with a contract crew and she has been gone all season, while my husband remains at home. As a Wildland Firefighters wife, I can not tell you how important the overtime my husband earns during fire season is to our yearly budget. While we try not to depend on it, it definitely helps!

The spouses of firefighters not only have to deal with limited income, we also have to bear the burden of weeks without our spouses, taking care of families and homes alone and picking up the slack financially. This we do willingly because we support what our spouses do because it is their passion, not just a job. Sure I would love for my husband to move to CalFire or somewhere else where the pay is better, but he is loyal to the FS and I would not want him to put his life on the line for any agency without that loyalty.

I have read that overtime needs to be limited due to fatigue? I see more fatigue with my husband when he is not out on assignment than when he is working lots and lots of overtime. When he is getting the overtime he knows that the pressure is off me and that we will be able to put money in the bank for the off-season. When he is not getting the overtime he feels that he is disappointing me and knows that I will have to work even harder to pick up the slack. So whoever is sitting behind a desk making these decisions and deciding what is best for my husband --and probably earning twice as much as he does --needs to take a look at his own wife and family. Do they need to depend on overtime to make ends meet? Does she have to work harder and longer hours to make sure the bills are paid? Probably not! Maybe at one time these people did, but I think they have forgotten where they came from?

If there are any other wives out there who echo my comments, I would love to read them.

Firecapwife

Welcome Firecapwife. Ab.

8/5 To,

jimhart - you have way too much common sense, way to honest and straightforward. Ever think of running for Prez? Very nice write up.

Lobo - Thanks for keeping this alive. You think when the grocery store VONS or UPS's management were at the table, they said to the union for these employees, "what we do here must be budget neutral!". No way, since that would be an unfair labor practice by violating the unions right to negotiate pay. We don't have that right, we take what Congress gives us every January. HOWEVER, Congress by law requires OPM to establish other pay and benefit programs. They also develop job series, including the one DoD firefighters use related to 24 hour staffing. Earlier this year when management came to the table in So Cal to listen to lower level management officials about retention, recruitment issues and 24 hour staffing proposal, upper management said "we like the idea(s), we see the problem, however the cost must be budget neutral. When upper management said that, this was potentially an unfair labor practice, by addressing and accepting these issues exist and raising the "budget neutral flag" could of violated R-5 Firefighters rights to negotiate laws passed by Congress related to OPMs approved pay supplements. This should be discussed with the Region-5 Union President and see if my thoughts are correct and if we could potentially get some legs on this issue. Casey and R-5 Union President should talk regularly, especially on this subject. Not a big fan of 24 hour staffing, however some type of incentive needs to be established this Fall and in place by Jan 1. Too many within the RO and WO are blocking and delaying efforts for supplemental pay. However I think the union has the right to negotiate on OPM approved pay programs, especially since management has opened the door. It's time to get serious.

Tahoe T - I agree, where are the facts, all we are hearing is rumors.

MS.
8/5 jimhart

Once again your logic prevails over an attempt by the Press Enterprise to discredit the decisions made during an emergency operation which may or may not have influenced the tragic outcome. It appears to me that the reporter was blaming Cal Fire for not providing their 2002 structure inspection map to the crews prior to deploying them for assignments but there was no mention anywhere in the article about the even more detailed spatial analysis of the area that was conducted by the Forest Service in the mid-90's. Here is a link to portions of it www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2006/risk-assessment.pps

The best map to have on any fire is one that shows your location and position of adjoining resources, the location of the flaming front and the location of the nearest safety zone/escape route that is updated in real-time.

Fire Geek
8/5 As we all know, occasionally Texas gets very dry, and mobilizes a lot of resources from around the country to help out on wildfires. People from almost all 50 states have done a tour or two in Texas. Texas is green now, one of the wettest years on record for most of the state.

Despite this assistance in years past from other states and regions, I am hearing rumors that the Texas Forest Service will not let their people leave the state now to assist in wildfire efforts out west.

Does anybody know if this is true?

LIONA
8/5 Hello all,

I heard about the death of Tom French while on an IA fire after shift digging into one of the Payette's food bags (custom made by Mr. French). This spring I was one of the crew bosses out at the Payette rookie fire school which Tom has participated in for over twenty years. During that week I had the pleasure of having Tom as my teammate while throwing horseshoes against the rookies and beating them regularly. His knowledge, support, and experience will be deeply missed here on the Payette and the fire community as well. Raise a glass in his honor and NEVER forget where all your supplies come from.

-HOG

8/5 Mr. Kempthorn, Secretary of Interior, is no friend of groundpounders, he's politically posturing. Some would say he's simply doing his job for the President.

When Fire went to PL-5 (Preparedness Level 5), Kempthorn called a meeting in Washington and got someone from NIFC to fly east so he could tell them Fire had gone to PL-5 TOO EARLY!

I think that's why the PL-1-5 Talking Points came out, or at least part of the reason.

Why did a member of the President's cabinet try to tell professional fire managers how to do their jobs???

Here's my take on it:
In the past I've noticed that when we get to PL-4 the western governors start asking the President for National Guard support and for National Guard equipment. Supporting firefighting operations is one of the things the National Guard has traditionally done and they've played a critical role. Well, I think Mr. Kempthorn was told by the pres or a presidential advisor not to let fire managers raise the little red flag that would trigger requesting our home support troops. There are No Troops and there is No Equipment. Having western governors ask for it would make the President look even worse than he does. Unfortunately so much of what occurs has political underpinnings.

So whoever said Mr. Kempthorn was a better friend to firefighters than Mr. Rey, I beg to differ. Except that Mr. Kempthorn hasn't broken laws that we know of and Mr. Rey has, I think they both fit the Presidential political appointee mold in which firefighters are not supported.

Mellie

8/5 Re DC-10 thread:

It amazes me that people are so freaked out about this thing. It is a tool that can be used when it appropriate. The exact same things can be said about any one aircraft flying on any fed fire. Seen the video of the C-130 who's wings fall off? Had that hit people on the ground would we have stopped flying aircraft? On the fires I have been at when the DC10 flew over, fire lines were cleared of people and equipment. Do you think we would "forget" to do this? In my opinion the Zaca is a perfect place to do this. Large unstaffed fire lines with nobody on them. The Zaca fire is at 46 million dollars and over a month old. Might be a good idea to try something different in order to put this thing out by Christmas.

GB

GB, it didn't hit anything but we did stop flying airtankers and they didn't fly again until some new standards were established. That said, I don't hold any opinion on whether flying the DC-10 is the right thing or not. Ab.

8/5 Regarding the Angora report and Esperanza dots on a map…

“Released Friday, the analysis of the 3,072-acre Angora blaze found no single factor responsible for the fire's spread into residential neighborhoods. Instead, the review suggested that a number of elements, including unusually dry wind gusts, houses that had been built with flammable materials and long-ago commercial logging projects that had left dead treetops and limbs on the ground.”

I’m cutting this one out and putting it in my wallet to use next time some yahoo starts telling me houses burn because we’ve failed (either because we stood around and watched them burn or we’ve allowed fuels to build up because of our past suppression efforts). Multiple factors? Wow, who would have guessed it?

Then that OSHA report and the hullabaloo about all those red and green dots on the Esperanza map. Oh yeah, I’d base all my decisions on 5-year-old building hazard maps. You’ve got to be kidding me!

Then people who should know better are quoted as saying if Engine 57 had been given the little dotted map they would still be with us today…please, tell me it was a misquote. And someone tell me why throughout the entire media discussion about those stupid dots, no one brought up the fact that well, hey, Loutzenhiser was experienced enough to know exactly what he was doing, had excellent local knowledge, was an excellent firefighter, but was caught up in an environment in which extreme weather conditions met up with STUPID LAND PLANNING DECISIONS.

Blame the guys, focus on the dots, but not a word about who let that death trap on Gorgonio View to be built. Not even a question.

Unbelievable.

jimhart

8/5 Pumba,

As a fire manager in Region 5, I am faced with an increasing dilemma.... do I send folks off on overhead assignments (both qualified and/or trainees) or do I keep my minimally supervised modules staffed for response?

In almost all cases, if I send off one of the key supervisory positions on a module (engine, hotshot crew, helicopter, etc...), I would have to shut the module down for initial attack, extended attack, or large fire support both in region and out of region due to a lack of qualified supervisors.

R-5 is being hit hard by hiring issues brought on by past settlement agreements, reorganization and relocation of key HR staff to the ASC, and a fluid nature of the hiring process from day to day.

R-5 is also being hit hard with the recruitment and retention of employees. This problem only seems to make the hiring mess even worse as new vacancies exceed the ability to fill them. Also, the experience level, diversity, and qualifications of the candidate pools are shrinking. R-5 already has a hard time recruiting federal employees from out of region for our permanent positions, but things are staged to get even worse as the next rounds of CAL FIRE Fire Captain, Fire Apparatus Engineer, Firefighter 2 take away more of our career employees. The CAL FIRE Firefighter 1 position (seasonal) takes a heavy load of our experienced seasonals, apprentices, and recently career firefighters at the GS-7 level.

By not sending folks out on qualified and trainee overhead assignments, I am doing them a disservice by not allowing them to gain valuable experience and make money for their families.

It's a self feeding catch 22 problem.....

All we have been told is to come up with some ideas and solutions and present them..... but they must be budget neutral. There are no solutions that are budget neutral in the real world.

Pumba, yes, the problems with module staffing (albeit funding, recruitment, retention, hiring, etc.) does have a significant effect on the ability to provide overhead... a snowballing effect.

It is not just an R-5 problem.

Lobotomy
8/5 The cost for Tanker 910 is:

- $41,000 per day availability with a 122 days per year availability period (June 15 - October 15). That is $5,002,000 per year through October 15, 2009.

- $5,500 per flight hour cost.

+ Current costs for retardant per drop. The use of gel technology will also be explored later in the contract evaluation.

+ $415 per hour for the King Air. Unknown daily availability costs for the King Air contract or the assigned aircrew.

Outside of the availability period, I would assume that the price would go back to the CWN rate of $26,000 per hour with a 3 hour minimum guarantee. During the CWN period, Tanker 910 has a 12-24 hour activation period.

Info from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Fact Sheet titled, DC-10 Airtanker - Tanker 910 and Sacramento Bee.

SoCal CalFire
8/5 Ab,

That DC-10 hit trees 66 feet above the ground. The pilots lack experience with flying fires, even if they did go back and get more simulated cockpit training after the tree strike. They didn't even realize they'd clipped trees for gosh sakes. They would have crashed if it hadn't been the top of the ridge with a valley falling away on the other side. What if they'd crashed with a crew digging line underneath??? Are they even aware of where crews might be underneath so if they have to ditch in the future they don't put it down on groundpounders?

I heard CDF has other pilots flying with the main pilots these days? is this true? If it is, they're concerned about pilot experience too. Are the pilots carded? What kind of aerial firefighting training do they have? What kind of firefighter training do they have?

I hate to be negative but that's a frikkin'big plane up there. I don't want to be anywhere near where "under it" might be!

I think we need to be asking ourselves how far we go out on a safety limb when interface homes are at risk. Does Fed Fire Management suddenly sign off on flying this thing over groundpounders, in aircraft-choked airspace, over the public? I saw some time back that FedFire refused the services of this mo'hunchin' airtanker. Somebody got that doc? Who signed off now that it was OK to drop on the Zaca?

Did someone order the fedfire to let it drop on the Zaca yesterday? I sure would like the whole story.

Tahoe Terrie

This is what we have on record for use of LATs on federally managed fires, so someone better have signed off on the drop(s). Ab.

8/5 LODD in East TX

Greetings Ab and others,

We lost two volunteers in a structure fire here in east TX this past Fri. morning. We were called to assist another area VFD on a structure fire at about 2:00 a.m. It looked like a normal fire, not a very extreme smoke load, and not really a heavy flame load. My crew took roof ventilation, and after a little difficulty with the chainsaw, accomplished our objectives. About that time we got a MAYDAY, 2 men missing! My roof team was close enough that we were able to get to one of the men (even though they had low air alarms sounding). We immediately began resuscitation efforts but were not successful.

Austin Cheek, 19, and Kevin Williams, 42, of the Noonday VFD were tragically killed in the line of duty.

Memorial Services will be held Monday morning at 10:30 a.m. at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler. With their individual funerals occurring Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon.

Stay Safe, Keith

Keith, so sorry to hear that. Condolences to friends and family. Take care my friend. Ab.

8/5 Too bad that Mark Rey (Under Secretary For Natural Resources and Environment) doesn't work for the USDI Secretary Kempthorne. Kempthorne seems to have his stuff together in supporting his troops doing the work.

Too bad that Mark Rey supervises the Chief of the Forest Service......et al... at al.... by political appointments.

Maybe if the USDI was in charge under Secretary Kempthorne, then maybe the Forest Service and the USDI agencies would be on the same page and the Forest Service wouldn't be so dysfunctional and circling the drain as it currently is?

As fires rage on, it is great to see the USDI Secretary stand up and defend his agencies' policies and his folks who have to implement their policies.......

It has been a "no show" for USDA Secretary Mike Johanns and his politically appointed staffs as fire season escalates to critical levels, and hard questions are asked about the Forest Service fire program that they defer... especially Mark Rey since he has been designated as the lead spokeshole..... as the fire season progresses with repetitive failures, repeated year after year without correction and folks being told, "We make up the differences through increased management efficiencies" by Mr. Rey at Congressional hearings......even though they know those talking points are BS.

Tired of talking points and Spokesholes trying to explain my job or what we do..

If you want to save the Forest Service, get rid of Mark Rey ASAP and make sure that all levels of the Forest Service go back to merit promotion and mission delivery.

/s/ Political appointees killed the Forest Service
8/5 Firefly,

You are correct from what I remember being written. $5 million for a three year
contract for availability and evaluation. Additional costs are incurred for actual flight
hours and retardant costs exclusive of the availability fee.

The contract cost does not include the additional availability costs of the King Air
(Lead 90) nor the costs associated with the aircrew.

Rogue Rivers
8/4 Hello Everyone!

Can anyone shed any light on what we can do about our type 2IA crew? We are a Tribal 2IA crew and because we don't have a sponsor of BIA or USFS we cant get into ross or get a dispatch. So pretty much we have 20 guys doing fuels work and watching everything going.

Do we lobby BIA to try and get us a dispatch number, or do we apply to have our crew listed in Oregon so that we can get a dispatch in our own state of California.

Sign me,
RR

8/4 DC-10 cost

The DC-10 is not $26,000 per hour with a 3 hour minimum. It is currently on a 3 year contract with the State of California for 5 million dollars a year.

In my opinion, the DC-10 is a viable “special use” aircraft for large fires as a call when needed resource, and a good value at $26,000 an hour, but I question the value at 5 million a year as a contract aircraft.

Firefly

8/4 Dear Green Army Grunt & red army FAE:

It certainly wasn't my intent to suggest anyone on the ground was not doing everything they could on this horrific fire. I am confident those from every agency involved are doing their best under extremely dangerous & serious situations.

However lets not forget that this fire as with many that have the potential for being catastrophic also are mired in politics. There is great pressure to obviously stop this thing before descending on Santa Barbara and already there have been public meetings that have degraded into finger-pointing.

Additionally the use of the DC-10 is also political with loud voices on each side of the issue. Further, the issue of costs of the Zaca and others has been played in the press recently. So despite valiant efforts by the "grunts" on the ground, politics are being played all around you.

The DC-10 certainly has its costs & limitations. Knowing that frustration, despair and political pressure might lead to the decision to throw everything including the kitchen sink at the fire including the aircraft that requires air space to be closed etc.

I had two questions in my last post, neither which was answered by either of you. Were the two drops done yesterday effective?

And, given the secrecy of its use yesterday (not much fanfare) but with the Governor nearby, it was a great opportunity for CAL-FIRE to validate its 3-year contract for the aircraft so was it politically motivated or a tactical decision?

Again, no disrespect to the ground pounders and those working their butts off on the lines. Just a couple of questions that you'd likely see asked by the press and others aware of the political sensitivity of the use of the aircraft.

CJ
8/4 Ab,

This was in yesterday's Elko Daily Free Press. Will be interesting to see what the Govs' come up with to deal with the fires. If they come up with a way to stop lightning, I might be impressed!! Being a state employee, we have just as many problems as the FS seems to be having... wish we could get the benefits like Cal-Fire, without having to live there!! Have to say this is the first "post" to the forum in the 10 years I've done this job.... great reading all the post and see what is going on in our community.

wilnd

Ab couldn't find a link to the Elko Daily Free Press article, but it's an AP article and here's the identical text at this link below. (Please contributors, send in links with the text or we won't post it. We try to honor copyright.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_WST_Kempthorne_Fires.phpl

Interior secretary defends firefighting efforts

Friday, August 3, 2007 1:07 PM PDT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is defending wildland firefighters against accusations from Idaho’s governor and its two U.S. senators that the giant Murphy Complex fire in southern Idaho and northern Nevada could have been handled better.

“My heart goes out to the citizens who have been hard hit, but it’s not for lack of effort on the part of our firefighters,” Kempthorne told the Idaho Statesman.

He said a combination of events led to the ferocity of the fire, which has burned more than 1,000 square miles but on Thursday was nearly contained.

Kempthorne said the hottest July since 1870, spring rains in 2005 and 2006 that led to large areas of dead grass, a smaller snowpack, some 1,600 lightning strikes on the day the fire started July 16, and strong winds contributed to the blaze.

“It was explosive,” said Kempthorne, Idaho’s governor before becoming interior secretary last year.

(click the link to read the rest)

8/4 Aberdeen:

An Assessment of Fuel Treatment Effects on Fire Behavior,
Suppression Effectiveness, and Structure Ignition on the
Angora Fire

www.fs.fed.us/r5/angorafuelsassessment/index.php

John

Thanks, John. Ab.

8/4 Good question on how to stop the Zaca.

Hang around here long enough and the answers will pop up. All the experts are here!

The solutions will involve:
  1. Total drawdown of every federal fire resource, as they are owed the overtime by some federal law… (leave the home forest to be covered by somebody-anybody!- else)
  2. Don’t give any assignments to the portal to portal people, they don’t deserve them. They already get paid too much.
  3. If it doesn’t go out, it is the big wigs fault in Washington, or the Region office, or recently, North Ops.
  4. The best fire suppression agent is money. Throw more and more at it, eventually it will go out.

I got to stop the bleeding from biting my tongue!

Bluezebra

8/4 Well said Red Army FAE !

CJ, This fire has been in full suppression mode for the past month. Look at the perimeter map. They had this thing almost hooked three times. It blew out only in small areas where nobody wanted to go into. This is not like many other fires that eventually burn into a road system. The Zaca has miles to burn on the east side before any road systems. This thing is in the middle of freak-in nowhere on the east side and with communities to the south and west sides. The complexities are enormous now. Again if you study the Zaca fire history and perimeter maps you will see how on three, if not four occasions they almost had this fire contained. That documents for us aggressive suppression action by both Cal Fire and Fed Teams.

Green Army Grunt
8/4 Not from R5. Ab.

Well, here we are at National Preparedness Level 5 and here I am with two
fire trucks sitting in the engine bay 2 days a week with nobody to staff
them. The other five days per week I have 1 fire truck sitting in the
engine bay with nobody to staff it. These engines aren't available for
initial attack or to support national fire activity. I'll bet people whose
homes or communities are threatened would like these engines to be staffed
and available. I'll bet some fire could use them somewhere, I know I could
sure use them. But these engines aren't staffed because the forest
supervisor, fire staff, and forest management team have cut numerous
positions in our fire program. So the fire trucks sit idle with no module
leaders to staff them. They won't fill vacant Battalion Chief positions
either and want to cut the remaining two we have. We only have one Bat
Chief per district to assist the Zone FMO's/Division Chiefs. This is on a
high complexity forest. "Management" likes to blame the budget and states
future budgets will decrease yet every year this forest turns back PR
dollars because we can't spend them. Preliminary figures from Fy 2008 show
a slight increase in PR dollars. Several of us here have been very
proactive with our protests and in trying to educate the decision makers
who hold the the power but have no fire knowledge or experience. To no
avail. So i will say again....It is time for the forest service and BLM to
give up fire if you will not support your firefighters!

They fight fire with paper and pen, Arm chairs, computers and cell phones
are in, They think if they point , the fire will go out. They think they
know what firefighting is all about.

Signed,

Driven to Cynicism (Old C-Rat)

8/4 Zaca Fire blowup now

Got an email from someone who is now assigned to the Zaca incident and
he says there is a plume with dome on it reaching 25,000 ft into the sky.

Oh boy, this might not be the day to be in that area.

Normbc9

8/4 RE Tom French,

This goes back a number of years ago, when hotshot
crews were poor, particularly r-1 crews
after a gift a tents (we had none) courtesy of toms
"blue light" special i jumped into the supts rig with
the supt. he drove to the mini mart on the corner and
came back to the rig with a big brown paper sack, he
never said what was in the bag but took it into toms
office and slide it under his desk.
tom knew how to take care of those in need and was
always there for the folks on the ground.
ill have a couple of those in the brown sack for tom
today!

earthpig

8/4 Absaid:

I don't think anyone is doing anything "just for show". We're approaching very dire circumstances with this fire and we don't have heavy Sundowner and Santa Ana wind season to contend with yet, as I understand it. Those are expected in the next 3-5 weeks. Someone correct me if they have better or more complete info.

You're not only right, you hit the bulls-eye. Sundowners are a local event on the Santa Barbara Front. Santa Ana's become more dominate from the Ventura/SB County line east. SB will get the low RH and winds from a Santa Ana, but not like what you see in VNC, LAC BDF and CNF areas. Of equal importance is the back and forth wind patterns that will be experienced throughout August on the Central Coast. Sundowners have a role in this August pattern. Santa Ana's will have a role come Sept.

Absaid:

Let's hope the Forest Service doesn't get saddled with the bill with the outcome of shutting down all its other natural resource and recreation projects, as it has in the past. Ab.

I hope so too Ab. Looking at big picture; R-3 - quiet season, R-2 - semi-quiet season, R-1,4 and 6 have been busy and 8 was busy earlier, however I think the suppression pot still has some reserves. Zaca now has an opportunity to end up the most costly fire of all-time. However the total cost of the Zaca will be far lower than the cost of the values at risk.

MS

8/4 It is often said that great wisdom can come from the writings on an outhouse wall...
I recently saw this posted above the privy at a guard station in N. Idaho.

"Fight fire intelligently, providing for safety first!"

-FireBill
8/4 Hey All -

I have some friends who are currently building a cabin in N. Idaho & they want to be proactive on defensible space including treating their place with some fire retardant gel. I am an 18 year veteran of wildland fire, however I have never had any experience with pretreating the siding on the house during the building phase. I figured with as many folks reading this forum, I might hit on someone who knows something/anything about "Gel" made by Northwest Barricade in Newport Washington. Is this stuff worth the time/money/effort or should I advise them to keep clearing around their place and forget the expense of "Gel"?

Thanks!!!!
NH
8/4 Hey CJ-

Do you have any bright ideas for extinguishment or containment of the Zaca?
Very competent and capable fire folks from all agencies have tried for a month....

red army FAE

8/4 AB - this is the Angora report that came out yesterday I'm looking for..... Aberdeen

www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_6543949

Report: many houses in Lake Tahoe Fire ignited by other houses
The Associated Press
South Lake Tahoe

A federal report has concluded that many of the 254 homes lost in the Lake Tahoe fire were ignited by other homes and not flaming trees.

Released Friday, the analysis of the 3,072-acre Angora blaze found no single factor responsible for the fire's spread into residential neighborhoods.

Instead, the review suggested that a number of elements, including unusually dry wind gusts, houses that had been built with flammable materials and long-ago commercial logging projects that had left dead treetops and limbs on the ground.

Still, the U.S. Forest Service report examined the effect of thinning projects conducted within and adjacent to the burn area to reduce fire risk and concluded that they had worked.

Efforts to reduce fuels were "very effective in most cases," said Kathy Murphy, regional fuels operations manager for the Forest Service and one of the report's authors. "They're not designed to stop a fire. They're designed to lower the intensity of a fire."
<snip>

Fair use disclaimer

The report referred to has been found. It's posted here: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/angorafuelsassessment/index.php . Ab.

8/4 Abs and All,

There once was a staffed work station on the Mendocino National Forest called Log Springs, out of Paskenta Ca. At this now closed and boarded up station there still remains a sign that states the following: (Ab posted the pic instead...)

Log Spring Station Sign.jpg

We met up with an old firefighting Buddy and spent the night on the mountain, camping out at the overgrown helispot at Log Springs. What we saw as we drove around the mountain made our hearts sick. Springs that once were maintained by the engine crews are not being clean out and thus there is just a trickle of water coming out of the pipes, fences falling apart, roads closed, roads not maintained, the brush is returning in full force, plantations are not being released etc.... But the worst part is... Log Springs and have also heard the same for Cold Springs Station are now closed and boarded up. What ever happened to "hit em hard and keep em small" How can they keep the fires small when the fire crews live off the mountain? There are no Forest Service Employees living on the mountain to assist folks who find themselves in trouble. And I know many lives have been saved over the years because of the crews staying on the mountain during the summer!

We need our crews back on the mountain doing the jobs they had done in the past!

What?? No money to fund these or other work stations! I got a great solution! It's called logging and our forests sure can use it for health reasons and I really like T.P. around if ya know what I mean!

Just sign me as!

One who enjoyed her time on the mountain years ago.
8/4 I understand the "stealth" $26,000 per hour (3 hour minimum) DC-10 made a
couple of drops on the Zaca yesterday...

Were they effective or just for show since coincidentally the Governor was
hanging around?

CJ

I don't think anyone is doing anything "just for show". We're approaching very dire circumstances with this fire and we don't have heavy Sundowner and Santa Ana wind season to contend with yet, as I understand it. Those are expected in the next 3-5 weeks. Someone correct me if they have better or more complete info. The State of Emergency helps with funding. Let's hope the Forest Service doesn't get saddled with the bill with the outcome of shutting down all its other natural resource and recreation projects, as it has in the past. Ab.

8/4 Hi Ab,

I’m told this was a part of the information the Governor was reacting to. I told you about the unusual meeting of the Outside Contract Counties Fire Chief’s and I’ll bet they asked their respective County government leaders to act and contact the governor. Normbc9
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From the person who emailed it to Normbc9: This is the current 1800 8/3 picture of the Zaca fire. The white you see in the center of the smoke is an icecap, I suppose. That is an ugly picture.

from space: MODIS 080307 pic of the Zaca blowing up

8/4 Does anyone have a link to the report on the Angora Fire that was
released on Friday 8/3?

Aberdeen

All we have so far is the 24 Hour Report. When we get this report we'll post it on the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1326 Ab.

8/4 Cache Queen,

Well said. Here's one (& maybe a few more) for Tom! I'm here in McCall to
attend his service. Stopped in to the funeral home last night to give Mona a
hug and say a personal good bye. I half expected to see him in his whitie
tighties that he always seemed so proud of, and not the slightest shy about
sharing with the world. Quit a character that one. But, he looked mighty
refined in his uniform & badge. There's quite a few folks here cerebrating
his life...and that's a good thing. He always seemed so proud of you and all
of the crew. He was around you till the end. Your pride in him is something
that would warm his heart I'm sure. Keep on keepin' on Queen.

Shari (Hambleton) Downhill
8/4 COMT,

Very informative post. I agree 100% about digital
radio being a bad idea but would like to know your
objections to it. I believe there are activities
which do not lend themselves to digital and wildland
firefighting is one of them.

Another subject; We got the first of our 157 OV-10A's
in Vietnam in 1968 and our Air Force FAC's loved them
from the first minute. Sir Charles was used to
banging away at the O-1 and O-2 from the ground but
got a rude surprise when the Bronco responded in kind.
We lost almost half of them during the conflict from
a variety of causes, chief among them, hostile action.
Some nations around the world still use them but they
are going down fairly regularly and will probably
become a thing of the past soon.

Got a status call from our Hotshot last night. He was
trying to be Mr. Cool but the excitement in his voice
when talking about heading out to be flown in to a
spike camp on yet another wildland fire betrayed how
much he loves the business. I know the brotherhood
(and sisterhood) is a big thing to him. Such
relationships with one's fellow workers is rare and
this community is lucky indeed.

Thanks Ab, for this forum.

Hotshot Dad
8/4 AB,

With all the UTFs for overhead, are there any UTFs for Engines or Crews?
I know we are getting engines from the South and Alaska but what about availability in the GACCs? Great work on the R-5 Engine status by Mollysboy.
Too bad that kind of info is not readily available in all the GACCs? I wonder why???
Any idea if the lack of Overhead is impacting the other resource orders?

Pumba
8/4 Dear Ab,

As you know, I was once with the Forest Service. 3 seasons in fact. My last season was on the Payette National Forest on the New Meadows Ranger District, in 1995.

I too met and came to know Tom French. I was only there for one season, but when I read the announcement tonight here on They Said, I got misty eyed.

Like I said, I might have only known Tom for one season, but he treated EVERYONE as if you had been a lifelong friend. I still remember my first trip up to the warehouse in McCall for some supplies. I nervously asked "if" I could get one of these, and "maybe one of those".

I'll never forget him saying. "IF? MAYBE? If you need one, you might as well take TWO.

He went on to tell me that no matter what it was I needed, to let him know and he would get it for me, as far as he was concerned "his fire folks in the field" need the equipment they ask for.

Tom French was a good man, Its late here in California, and I don't normally hit the hard liquor, but as Cache Queen, asked, I'm going to raise the glass and toast him with a shot of whiskey.

--My wife didn't even flinch or bat an eye just now, as I told her to pour me a shot. She knows enough about our camaraderie, to not even ask......

God Bless Tom, and I'll be looking for him in the Warehouse in the Sky someday.

Sign me,
CDF Captain

It's a small fire world, isn't it? Ab.

8/4
Should The DNR Continue To Fight Fires? This Was The Topic Of A Meeting In East Jordan (MI)

http://www.tv7-4.com/Global/story.asp?S=6870156

Who should fight forest fires? That question is being raised amidst budget concerns and possible cutbacks. The Department of Natural Resources Fire Division responds to most wildfires. But there are questions over how long they can afford to that the idea being tossed around by State Representative Kevin Elsenheimer is whether those fire fighting duties should be passed along to local fire departments or continue to be run by the state. Fire chiefs at a Tuesday night meeting seemed pretty spilt on the idea. State Representative Elsenheimer told the fire chiefs from several counties he was contacted by a firefighter who was concerned over the way the DNR firecrews do their job. Since then Elsenheimer says he started asking the question should the DNR continue to be the resource for fighting forest fires. He spoke with 7&4 News and said "when forest fires happen these people are very important and they do a great job, but our concern is what about the rest of the time they're being paid by the state." Elsenheimer tossed around the idea of possibly making the Department of Natural Resources Fire Division seasonal employees or moving their duties to local fire departments to save the state money. Some of the fire chiefs in this room Tuesday night felt the local departments could handle the task since most of them seem to handle it already. Others say they're not equiped with the type of manpower or equipment to fully fight a wildfire. One chief who spoke at the meeting said "Where's your incident command going to come from if you get rid of the resource." Representative Elsenheimer says the state has about one hundred and thirty three employees in the DNR fire division "can that money be better spent on more economically spent if local fire departments are using that money and that equipment." Now that he has input from the fire chiefs, Elsenhiemer says he is going to try to put a task force together to see if state money is being spent wisely and whether they should give wildfire duties to the local fire departments. No one from the DNR was present at the Tuesday night meeting.

Rumor has it that the current fires in MI will force layoffs in the DNR.

Midwest Fire Guy

Fair use disclaimer

8/3 Here's a photo by Dan Segan of the column on the Zaca today. It grew by 4000 acres: Go to Inciweb or since Inciweb is slow, use this quick link. zaca 080307-dan-segan.jpg
Hotlist has a update on Gov Schwarzenegger's declaration of state of emergency: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=617.

Be safe.

Ab.

8/3 To Shari & all the fallers out there...

I've got a bunch of 100ft+ cottonwoods with a bunch of snags if anyone
wants some "off season" practice here in SE Idaho...

Casey
8/3 TR;

Thanks for sending the photo of Ojai '76; interesting to see how many of the faces are now behind desks...

But Puhleeze! Rose Valley Hx: Let's see, when I started with the Green Machine (in '73), RV had a helijumper crew, and an Alouette ("Flying Vacuum Cleaner"); same in '74, then in '75, we got a spanking new Bell 205 (12 hours on it) through Evergreen, with helishots. Don't think RV had a 212 until '78, or '79.

In '75, the only 2 Bells I know of in R-5 were RV and AG; the rest, to my knowledge, were Alouettes (high altitude heliports, like Peppermint), or Sikorskys (believe a SK-40 series variant); they (the SK's) kept having power- failure problems on take-off or landing, grounding the whole series, so the 2 crews got puhlenty of IA time that year...

There're also several prior, and future, Rotorheads in your pic, and several others I later worked with on Ojai 'shots.

Thanks for starting the trip down Memory Lane... it'd be good to see you again, too!

To paraphrase: We were Hotshots once, and young...

Be Safe, brother!

Pyro
8/3 Still out there as an AD

I think the point that was being made wasn't about R1 having resourses
sitting on fires that are no longer a threat. The message that was shown
was from R5.

noname

8/3 Cache Queen -

Well said. Without the "Support" personnel, there would be no "Operations".

To all of you who work hard in the background, my hat's off to you.

sr5401
8/3 Ab I have a lot of information and pictures of the Ojai Hotshots. Bob Burnett was the first Supt. Terry Raley and John Salzay were the first two formen in those days.

The crew was brought on for the Fire Season of 1974 during a large build up of crews in the State. I will work on some things and send them to you.

Ab during this time frame there were a large group of crews started up Called Helishots. Rose Valley Helitack Arroyo Grande LPF , Tambark Flats Crew 7B, Chantry Flats Crew 7A, And Crew 7 C ANF. These crews were assigned to the 5 Bell 212 in R5. Oh two of the 212s were night flying Copters.

TR

Got the first photo Ojai Hotshots, 1976 and put it on the Handcrews 21 photo page. They knew firsthand the terrain and veg that Driver 51 speaks of below. Ab.

8/3 Remember your best days….

All of us have a time(s) in our lives that we hold dear to our hearts. To me, when I met my wife Wendy, when our son was born and the years I spent being a Hotshot. Not until yesterday 8/1/07 did I realize how much I miss my old job, my friends there and the knowledge that was passed on to me and many others. Yesterday I was looking at the “Zaca” fire page and I saw some familiar faces in the photo album page of the site. I think that seeing those pictures sparked my memory and caused me to reminisce to old times. I since have never worked in a environment or place that holds a candle to the brotherhood of Hotshots.

Being young and naive to the world back then, I did not realize how well my supervisors took care of us. From lending us money to watching our backs at fires our overhead did their job and then some. It was almost like a security blanket knowing that all of the bases were covered, all that we had to do is our job and the rest was taken care of.

As I looked at the picture gallery I remembered how steep the ground is on the Los Padres National Forest. I remember racing up Schneider ridge for PT everyday. I remember the first time I cut brush there and how it almost felt as if it was growing back as fast as I cut it. After time, you got used to the fact that you worked on one of the most demanding, steep and densely vegetated areas in the country. I remember when “Woody” and I were doing a stint up at “Bluff” camp doing trail work. We discussed the potential nightmare of the surround area in the event of a fire. We discussed how gnarly it would be to cut line and the lack of accessibility to that area and most of the district.

Being a part of the LPF system (regardless of job) holds a burden like no other I’ve ever held. It is a unique forest with many natural obstacles that no human can conquer. The brush is big the terrain is vertical and surrounded by homes. You guys are doing a good job with the “Zaca” fire. I was there long enough to know how quickly you can find yourself in 20’ tall brush on a billion percent slope. Keep up the good work, you guys will pick the fire up.

Signed,

Driver51

8/3 Been a long time since I posted.....but I want to do this -- perhaps I've raised one too many glasses in this man's honor -- but, what the hey.

One of our own passed on Saturday. He died with his boots on at his DESK -- fighting fire on the Payette -- maybe not as "spectacular" as some may go -- he didn't rate the evening news.....Here's my take:

Tom French -- How to describe this person -- we probably all started in OPS positions -- and then "evolved" -- I will never surrender the fight to poke fun at OPS! He, too started in Ops -- and died with his boots on fighting fire in the support role as the Cache Manager of the Payette NF. He was a great developer, nemesis to me (I could never do as well at the National Level as he and his hair brained --but loved-by-the-field ideas).....He started out thrashing my husband (that's a point in Tom's favor!) by helping with rookie smokejumper training at McCall back in '77.

Here's my point -- we do a wonderful job of recognizing all our folks that go out of "fire world" on the line, but we do a piss poor job of recognizing the support players. Operations is what drives support -- ABSOLUTELY. But, if the support was taken out of the mix, everything would fail.

Please thank a support person now and then -- chances are, they actually were an OPS person at one time.

My accolades go to Tom -- he lasted much longer than I did before seeking out the Retirement Angel -- he stayed with the FS for I guess 40 years -- I remember being on teams with him, where he would empty out the Payette warehouse and attach it to a couple trucks with U-Hauls -- we had the best! And, who cares ------ we supported the firefighters! I think that's what the support mission is (or WAS) -- what's the FS going to do? Fire Tom? Or me?

Please, let's raise a glass to the guys and gals behind the scenes. Sometimes I think we forget.

I've attached the link to his obituary. He was a smiling scammer at times -- but, oh, how he got the people on the ground what they needed.

I guess I'll raise another glass!
www.legacy.com/idahostatesman/Obituaries.asp?Page=Lifestory&PersonId=91905646

Cache Queen

Nice eulogy, Cache Queen. I'll raise a glass this evening. Ab.

8/3 Some random GACC and dispatch thoughts.

The only GACC that I have visited is the North Op's facility, so this may not be universal.

1. The dispatchers, clerks and duty chiefs know you want (and in many cases require) overtime just to make ends meet. The duty chiefs and many of the support staff were in your "boots" before they went to the GACC. They want to send you on assignments. If resources are being held in the region, the decision is probably coming from above or below the GACC. If you have spent any time in the North Op's GACC, you know they bust their a%$#@ to make the system work. If you have never been, stop by and watch the activity for a few hours. It is an impressive operation, and everyone is more than pulling their weight. The GACC's function is to fill resource requests; the staff wants to make that happen.

2. Don't blame teams too much for holding onto resources. Right or wrong, it has gone on for decades. It is a function of the system. No team or IC wants to be the person that dumped resources and then had a blow-up, which leveled a town. On the other hand, teams are not just holding on to everything they get without oversight. There are resource battles within the team, on the daily the conference calls, within the region, between agencies, and at the national level. Every ICT knows there is a demand for unused assets, but their first responsibility is to their incident and that responsibility includes planning for the expected and unforeseen. If you release it, you probably won't get it back. There are a lot of reasons why teams my hold onto a resources, and just like everything else in real life, some teams are better at managing/utilizing resources than other teams. Many of the teams have lots of new members that have probably been pushed into the system much faster than in years past. It's logical to expect some of them to be overly restrictive in their staffing decisions.

3. Put yourself in a supervisor shoes. You have probably lost numerous highly experienced operations folks to retirements and agency moves; critical resources are not staffed; many of those that are staffed have inexperienced crews; you're watching the news and seeing every forest with a major fire get "ripped" by the local media; you have read the accident/fatality reports which identify poor management practices as contributing factors; you pick, the list is endless.... Individually, you may have even contributed to some of these problems, but you are smart enough to understand the current bottom line. If something goes bad on your forest, "tag you're it," and your life will be miserable. Added to this, is the fact that they are going to be held accountable for suppressing a fixed percentage of your IA fires (at least that's the rumor), and it's hard to fault any of them for wanting to keep resources on the district and forest. The end result may cause some of your people to leave the agency because they cannot get enough overtime to pay the bills, but that's next year's problem. TC's dead horse posting was right on the money, but keep in mind that even when the horse is dead, your leg may be stuck in the saddle, and it's hard to get off, even if you want to.

Lot's of problems, equals lots of opportunities.

Have fun, stay safe, it will get better.

Just some random thoughts.

FOBS73
8/3 Shari,

I agree that Falling Boss and Fallers is a serious subject. I have experienced a lot in my 30+ years. The best situation I ever saw was at Tyee in '94 wher we had 50 plus fallers and a dozen or so felling bosses. We had to fire two or three woodcutters as they were liars, you know the usual, no face cut, backcut kind. We had a Felling Boss Coordinator who handled the "day to day" logistics, of ordering chain, and broken parts. Real smooth and highly efficient. I guess you could train fallers to be a boss, but it would take time to make them street legal or ICS qualified.

It is sometimes scary felling trees when people stand around to gawk and you can't speak Spanish, nor they English, and hand signals won't work. I've suspended Ops for that and also when a Resource Advisor refused my orders to stop. That was on one fire at Tiller, the Biscuit year ('03 I think). So for those reasons, at least a falling boss (or a Dozer Boss) is necessary...I've also reversed roles and donned the fellers suspenders and tool kit, and he used my radio and assumed the FELB role, we both learned from it (It was cool with Div. Supe)...had fun and did our work safely. Also experienced being a Dozer Boss and a felling boss on same fire just to get the job done and sign all
the tickets...I know I was hangin' out on that one...

Benner

8/3 Hi Ab,

Does anybody know how many fire engine the FS has (all regions)?

TS

8/3 Mollysboy,

I was less making a point about the lack of R-5 resources going out of region, but rather making more of a point of the 40-60 fire engines each day that are unavailable due to staffing issues..... mainly hiring problems, and problems resulting from recruitment and retention issues, as well as funding issues.

This daily loss of FFPC not only affects R-5, it affects the other regions that R-5 supports.

Similar problems exist in other regions and it affects their ability to support fires outside of their local areas.

Somehow, as we decrease the number of daily resources available across the west, the numbers for FFPC actually increase somehow?.... it defies logic and is commonly called "increasing management efficiencies"......... The reduction in preparedness significantly increases suppression costs.

Lobotomy
8/3 Esperanza Fire map controversy

www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_map03.37e8186.phpl

Fire Geek
8/3 KP,

After doing further research and calling some friends, the LW-3B ejection seat is actually a 0/0 ejection seat...... one of the first to be put into regular operational service.

As a former rescue crew member at a USAF base with some experience with ejection seats and various military aircraft, I fully agree with your statement that,

"Ejection seats are a very expensive item to maintain. With a fleet such as CALFIRE has, you would need folks on staff to inspect, re-rig, etc. etc. every 120 days (at least). Which would require they go to a facility...can't be done on the ramp at a tanker base. Each pilot and ATGS would need to be trained in there use. All the ramp folks would need to be trained, as the seats have to be "safed".....In other words they are pretty dangerous pieces of machinery. "

If we can train 18 year old kids in the military to do that type of work under combat situations (repair, maintenance, inspection, etc...), and we can train folks to use these things as a last resort (pilots, ATGS, aircrew, and ground crew)..... should economics be an issue in safety?..... especially..... should economics ever be a part of the risk management decision process?

I also agree with your statement,

"... we don't rely on fire shelters, we shouldn't rely on ejection seats."..... while we don't and shouldn't rely on them, humans (our friends) still make mistakes and we shouldn't take away any safety option of last resort for them.

I don't agree with your statement,

"And ejecting out of an airplane (especially in places CALFIRE flies) lends itself to all sorts of other issues."...... if someone ejects out of an aircraft, I am sure it was the aircrew's last option.... and not an issue with them in any way.

There are some excellent books and papers out there on risk management in the air world....... Most of them relate to what has been termed by many experts and researchers as "building a better cockpit"...... Simply said, humans will always make mistakes; the way to minimize the consequences from those mistakes is to build a better cockpit around them to keep them safer.....

The OV-10A's are federally owned and administered under the Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP) by the USDA Forest Service. The aircraft are on loan/lease to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Student of Reason

P.S. - I have safed many ejection seats and weapons systems in both training and actual ground emergencies..... It isn't rocket science and it sure doesn't take lots of training. I also remember many of the most dangerous procedures identified by the USAF in our techical directives (ie - cockpit cut in after jettison release failure as an example) even though it has been some years..... those procedures were to be performed by the lowest ranking airman..... no BS. How would you like to be the lowest ranking airman as folks above you stood back.... watched you.... and if you did something wrong..... fed you to the wolves after following the directives as missing something in the procedure? Those of you who know the procedure know how risky it is...... You also know the correlation.
8/2 Hi Ab,

Mollysboy sure did a lot of great work and the numbers he arrived at all speak for themselves. Be a fire horse and run off and leave the jurisdiction unprotected OR do something foolish and abdicate the responsibility. Firefighting is an activity and we all are trained to do it. But there are some very quiet stations too. My son works in one now rolling 7-10 times a day. He promoted into that spot from one that responded maybe once a day. But both stations and those who depend upon them are all equally due a decent level of protection. Publicly owned and controlled wild lands are a public trust and all of us share in the stewardship of those lands.

But another point I want to make is there is a very loud and vocal leader for all of you and all you collectively have to do is join and support the Team -- the FWFSA. Collectively, they are your champions. Why cut and run from a career and lifestyle you wish to stay with when the collective group can get the political end of these major mistakes corrected. Remember, it took decades to get to this point and it will not be corrected over night but if you choose to stand and fight it will be worth the effort and emotional strain at the other end. Show us your stuff and stand and fight!

Normbc9

8/2 Some radio info.

I recommend buying the King GPH for Federal Fire use
(not the best, just the most common). Don't waste your
money buying a DPH Digital radio, you can always
upgrade the GPH to DPH later when we are forced to go
Digital. Digital Radio is a BAD IDEA and I'll say it
whenever I can. The EPH is outdated and should not be
used.

The following info and more can be found at
www.fs.fed.us/fire/niicd/Hotsheet/Hotsheet.phpl

Affected Equipment

Radios designed before 1997 will probably be 7.5 kHz
incompatible. Radios manufactured after 1997, using a
pre-1997 design, will also likely be incompatible.
However, radios designed since 1997 should be 7.5 kHz
compatible. Of primary concern are B/K EPH model
radios. The B/K EPH radio is widely used by federal
land management agencies and is not 7.5 kHz channel
compatible. Take note that it is a radio’s design
date and not the radio’s manufacture date which is
important. NIFC’s fire cache has several B/K EPH
radios built and purchased in 2002 which are 7.5 kHz
incompatible.

The following radios are known to be 7.5 kHz
incompatible:
• B/K models: LPH and EPH
• Northern Airborne Technologies: NPX138
• Wulfsberg Electronics: 9600
• Eureka Radio: ERS96000

The following radios are known to be 7.5 kHz
compatible.
• B/K models: GPH and DPH
• Motorola: XTS2500 and XTS5000
• Thales (Racal): P25
• EF Johnson: 5113, 5123, and 5133
• Datron: Guardian
• Technisonic Industries: TFM-138B and TDFM-136
• Northern Airborne Technology: NTX138 and NPX136D

Recommended website www.fireradios.net/

Also the NIFC Frequencies are not to be used in radios
with more than 10 Watts. This is to re-use the
Frequencies closer together. A 40W mobile on a high
ridge causes interference to other fires close by. The
NIFC Repeaters only put 1 to 2 Watts to the antenna,
If you can hear the NIFC RPTR you should be able to
talk back to it with a handheld. One reason there is
reluctance to program mobiles at Incidents.

COMT

Thanks COMT. Ab.

8/2 In response to the person looking for fire radio info:

Here is the current list of "Fire approved radios":
www.fs.fed.us/fire/niicd/docs/fire_approved_radios.doc

The main NIFC fire communications site is here:
www.fs.fed.us/fire/niicd/index.phpl

DMA

8/2 Re Mobile Radio on Federal Incidents

JM,

You can contact 49er Communications. They have a wide variety of radios
that will work on federal incidents. Here is the link:
www.49ercom.com/index.asp

Fyrfghtr

8/2 From
George Solverson
Boise NF Safety Officer

A safety advisory (Red Sheet) from Cal Fire. This one page
safety bulletin on fire behavior conditions and survival is applicable to
many geographical areas and is worthy of your time if you are a
professional wildland firefighter.

Learn the lessons - avoid becoming victim of the unexpected.

"THE FIRST PRIORITY FOR ALL DECISIONS IS FIREFIGHTER SURVIVAL."

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/calfire-safety-bulletin07.pdf (46 K pdf file)
8/2 My friend Lobotomy did a nice job of displaying the Engine numbers for California USFS, and seemed to make a case for sending some of them out-of-area to support on-going wildfires in other GACCs. Made me think that the fire danger levels in SoCal must be pretty benign, so I let my wireless mouse wander over to the SoCal GACC web site and started searching out their indices. Imagine my surprise when I saw the ERC chart shown here:
Predictive Service Areas YTD

8/1

Th

8/2

Fri

8/3

Sat

8/4

Sun

8/5

Mon

8/6

Tues

8/7

Wed

8/8

Historical

Avg

Hist.

Max

Hist.

97%

Eastern Sierra 91 92 92 93 94 95 95 96 75 97 92
Central Sierra 81 80 81 81 82 81 81 81 66 86 82
Southern Sierra 80 80 80 80 78 78 78 78 60 81 78
Sierra Foothills 90 90 91 92 93 92 90 90 70 83 83
Central Coast Mtns & Vlys 81 81 81 82 81 79 78 77 60 75 76
South Coast 61 60 60 60 58 58 59 60 60 79 77
South Central Mountains 78 81 83 83 82 85 87 90 66 88 86
Southern Mountains 71 69 68 68 68 70 71 71 61 82 77
Deserts 96 99 100 98 95 97 97 97 80 96 102

Most of the areas are in the 90-97th percentile for Energy Release Components, and some places are setting a new "Max" level. So, my question is that, facing those kinds of ERC numbers, does a prudent fire manager kick loose a bunch of her/his resources for assignment out of the GACC and trust that ignitions at home will not occur?

Mollysboy

8/2 There was a precautionary shelter deployment on the Ahorn Fire; has anyone seen any reports, or have I missed something in my quick read here? Seems significant because the person had a solid operations background, so the event is a sign of what we're up against this fire season.

Just got back from Montana, and I can assure DM2 that there were no extra resources in R-1 sitting on fires that aren't a threat anymore. If anything, the fires were understaffed with teams trying to cover multiple fires without the benefit of an area command structure and begging for resources like safety officers and dozer bosses.

Still Out There as an AD

It's here on the Hotlist Forum: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1295 Let me see if any of the reports are in but not posted yet... Yep, I had it, but hadn't posted it. www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/24hr-ahorn-deploy.doc Text below. Ab.

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

Date: July 30, 2007
Subject: 24 Hour Preliminary Report
To: Regional Forester, Region 1

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Location: Lewis and Clark National Forest, Rocky Mountain Ranger District
Date of occurrence: July 28, 2007
Time of occurrence: Mid afternoon
Team leader: Tom Pettigrew, Regional Director of Engineering
Mission: Ahorn Fire
Activity: Fire suppression
Number injured: None
Number of fatalities: None
Property damage: None

Narrative:

Fire fighter had been positioned as a lookout on an unmanned division on the southern flank of the fire to observe several spot fires that had been burning for several days. Mid afternoon, fire behavior became more active as it had on previous afternoons. Later the fire fighter observed more extreme fire behavior and moved up escape route to previously identified safety zone. Later the fire fighter determined as a precaution it was appropriate to deploy and enter his fire shelter. The intense fire did not reach the fire fighter. He was not injured and was taken back to the incident command post.

TOM PETTIGREW, TEAM LEADER
Cc: George Weldon
Ann Baker
Ralph Dorn, WO OSOH
Spike Thompson, L&C, Forest Supervisor

8/2 Shari, the discussion request in your post is right on. We haven't always came to 100% agreement over the issues of fallers but you bring up a very valid topic. One which deserves some discussion and action. Using a faller from a timber company, to fall one two or three trees on a single incident, it is relatively easy to provide the oversight with a single resource boss to take care of fire fighter safety issues, job site reviews (what do you want to faller to do) and any logistical support that might be needed. On large fire incidents ,where there is a need to tip over a lot of snags or danger trees, numerous fallers are usually needed... Supervisory oversight is much harder to supply and resources like fallers are not managed efficiently. I would welcome options to help manage these important resources safely and effectively.

Different topic -Dozer Operator thread...I happen to agree that there are fires where a dozer operator can operate safely without a dozer boss. It really depends on the dozer operators level of experience, communication means...etc.
I don't support a total suspension of supervisory oversight just to put more yellow metal on the fire line.

Oliver
8/2 Did anyone go to the Zaca Fire Town Hall Meeting last night who could give a report?

Tahoe Terrie

from Inciweb on Zaca www.inciweb.org/incident/770/

Incident: Zaca
Released: 1 day ago

Zaca Fire Town Hall Meeting
County Schools Administration Auditorium
4400 Cathedral Oaks Road, Santa Barbara
Wednesday, August 1, 2007 @ 6:00 p.m.

Introductions
Captain Eli Iskow, Public Information Officer, Santa Barbara County Fire Dept.

Opening Comments From
Chief John Scherrei, Santa Barbara County Fire Department
Chief Joe Smith, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office
Current Fire Situation and Long-range Fire Outlook
Aaron Gelobter, Incident Commander, Boise Incident Management Team

Contingency Plan and Trigger / Evaluation Points
Deputy Chief Tom Franklin, Santa Barbara County Fire Department

Evacuation Plan
Notifications - Cmdr. Chuck Gerhart and Sgt. Tom Walton, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office
Routes - Cmdr. Chuck Gerhart and Sgt. Tom Walton, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office
Shelters - Janet Stanley, Red Cross Emergency Services
Animals - Jan Glick, Santa Barbara County Animal Services

Questions and Answers

8/2 TC

This is just the game most people are talking about
and they wonder why people in the federal fire service
are leaving at alarming rates. Another thing that
really bugs is the majority of the resourses we have
out right now are sitting on fires (in the GACC) that
aren't really a threat anymore, in my own opinion. We
aren't helping other regions and when it comes time to
help us you know whats going to happen, the other
regions will not send resourses. I'm also tired of
hearing about the "what if" fires, we are darn good at
putting those out don't you think.

Sorry for the rant

DM2

8/2 Do you know where to find a list of mobile and/or hand-held radio's that
work on Federal incidents?

For example, Bendix King EMH5990A is a mobile that is currently in use
but I was wondering what Motorola or other manufacturers have to offer.
Do the Forest Service and the BLM still use Bendix exclusively?

Maybe you have it in your archives.

Thanks

JM

8/2 It's good to know that as some of the Federal wildfire agencies seek to keep costs low by using relatively low paid ADs, and refusing to use their authorities to re-employ retirees at their previous grades, other Fed agencies too are being cost conscious. This brief blurb from today's Washington Post tells the story:

Before paying $48,823 in cash bonuses to its chief of regulatory affairs in 2005, the Food and Drug Administration asked her to sign a simple declaration: "If I am unable to receive a retention allowance, I am likely to leave the federal government for a higher paying position in the private sector," wrote Margaret O'K. Glavin.

Glavin's statement did not detail a specific job offer, but that did not impede the payment. Over the past 4 1/2 years, she has collected more than $178,000 in cash bonuses -- on top of her $159,840 annual salary.

Sure makes me want to go out as an AD without liability insurance. Keep up the great work at FDA, Margaret!

Aberdeen

8/2 Midwest Fire Guy,

You mentioned the MLA, and I’ll take this opportunity to say that of all the state based timber industry associations, I’ve found the MLA to be outstanding in terms of supporting industry fallers in a number of ways. That said, these associations focus primarily on representing logging contractors and mills in terms of “clientele.” So, across the board, faller issues are not high on most of their priority lists.

Also, I want to stress that the progress made over the past seven years surrounding commercial timber faller standards has been a collaborative effort between the private sector AND various state and federal land management agencies. In Montana, Eric Kurtz, formerly of the Montana DNRC, and RC Carroll and Roberta Whitlock, both retired R-1 FS, were all very active in attempts to move the interagency effort forward for better methods of faller hiring and mobilization on wildland fires in their region.. R-6 retirees Terry Brown, former Type 1 IC Joe Stutler, Umpqua Dispatch Center Manager Donna Snyder, R-6 safety David Summer, & R-6 Power Saw Coordinator Winston Rall were the front runners in R-6. There have been many, many others.

So, respectfully Midwest, this effort is MUCH more involved than me, personally “cutting my teeth” on sawyer certification. That, by the way, is an agency issue. Commercial timber faller national standards are my personal passion, and an effort I’ve been involved with for seven years. I think there are some folks who would tell you those teeth you are metaphorically speaking of, have in fact become fangs.

You mention a “one day training” for timber workers. In many areas that “training” has evolved to, at times – 45 minutes in front of a video and a quick shaking out of a fire shelter. That does not prepare commercial fallers for the increasingly complex fire arena of today, particularly on large Type 1 incidents, with hundreds of agency and private firefighting personnel and equipment moving around. The cross-training program we’ve been developing fully prepares fallers to work in that environment. And, it’s not a proposal. We’re using that cross training program now and plan to continue using it to better prepare fallers for wildland firefighting. We’re not asking permission.

Thanks for your comments regarding faller standards and training. Perhaps if you’re interested, you could consider attending the (tentative) 2008 Timber Faller Roundtable to share your thoughts there.

Re: Restrictions for ag burners….(in all do respect…) if that’s your passion, Git ‘er done. Good luck on that!

Shari Downhill

Oopsie, Midwest Fire Guy. I shoul'da warned ya about the fangs (in a pit bull jaw?). Shari, in spite of the fangs, does good work. Ab.

8/2 from no name, no comment

oregonlive.com
Report: News chopper gets in the way of fire retardant drop
Posted by The Oregonian August 01, 2007 06:24AM

A TV news helicopter covering a retardant drop on a wildfire near The Dalles violated fire flight regulations, causing two retardant runs to be waved off and delaying the third, final attempt to drop the chemical, an Oregon Department of Forestry official said Tuesday.

Jim Ziobro, state aviation specialist and safety officer for the agency, said the pilot for Portland station KGW had been briefed on the rules shortly before entering the fire zone, The Associated Press is reporting.

He said a report of Friday's incident was being faxed Tuesday to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ziobro said helicopter pilots must remain in radio contact and stay at least 500 feet above the highest aircraft.

"He didn't do that," Ziobro said, adding that at times the helicopter was under the plane trying to make the drop.

(there's more, click the link)

8/2 As of 11:00 hrs. this AM,

NoOps:

148 engines "normally available". 91 engines actually available. 30 committed. 25 shown as unavailable for "some" reason.

SoOps:

180 engines "normally available". 115 engines actually available. 44 committed. 29 shown as unavailable for "some" reason.

I got a chuckle about cost containment as I heard about the Alaska and Florida fire engines heading to the Rocky Mountain region...... Really got a chuckle hearing about the FL State IIMT being activated......

Does Mr. Hollenshead or Mr. Harbour care to comment about the unavailability of "some" (many resources) that usually support the national wildland fire program but aren't available anymore on a daily basis?

Could someone please explain how a these new "management efficiencies" are supposed to reduce large fire costs, but actually increase them in the long run?

As I and others see it, right now there are a MINIMUM of 59 available fire engines from R-5 that aren't being utilized and most R-5 units are well above historical drawdown levels in support of other regions......R-5 also has 8 type 2 helicopters and 3 type three helicopter modules sitting on their thumbs while other regions are experiencing "critical resource needs" ..... The CAL FIRE resources are in place and available.

By the way, most of SoCal and the Sierras are dealing with a wet monsoon right now.....

Lobotomy
8/2 I'm looking for contact info for Canadian firefighter Chris Kuzenko who took the photo "Granville" on the Fire 4 photo page. At the time (2000) Chris was part of a provincial backburn team in Manitoba. I no longer have valid contact info. Author of a kids book would like permission to use it; thus she'd like to get in touch with Chris. Ab
8/2 Student of reason:

Ejection seats are a very expensive item to maintain. With a fleet such as CALFIRE has, you would need folks on staff to inspect, re-rig, etc. etc. every 120 days (at least). Which would require they go to a facility...can't be done on the ramp at a tanker base. Each pilot and ATGS would need to be trained in there use. All the ramp folks would need to be trained, as the seats have to be "safed".....In other words they are pretty dangerous pieces of machinery.

The LW-3B seat is not a 0/0 seat. It's not even close to what is standard ejection seats in today's fighter/bombers.

And ejecting out of an airplane (especially in places CALFIRE flies) lends itself to all sorts of other issues. When BLM owned the broncos they still had drop tanks on them. CALFIRE opted for internal aux. tanks to avoid the possibility of the issue of dropping a 100 gal. fuel bomb on a populated area.

But the most important statement you made is......."would have given them a chance while flying upwards into a box canyon with no way out........."

There are helicopters with ejection seats. B-52's have em. I'm sure we could fit every aircraft we fly with them. Or, we can not put ourselves into situations where we need them. I'm not going to sit here and arm chair Sandy, but we don't rely on fire shelters, we shouldn't rely on ejection seats.

KP

8/2 Shari Downhill

Back in the 90's NRCG developed a policy to address timber purchasers on initial attack wildfires.

The USFS and other fed agencies have policy on fitness and training required as to who can fight a fire. Timber sale contracts had a clause that said the purchaser had the obligation to suppress any fire in the sale regardless of how it started. (You can imagine the sale administrator saying work on the fire and the IA IC saying get off my fire) Working with a Mont Loggers association they came up with an annual one day training session for the membership similar to the annual fire safety refresher. They also adopted that within the NR sawyers and dozer/skidder operators would be classified as "Fire Line Technical Specialist" and would not have to meet the arduous fitness standard. Not sure if the policy is still in effect as I left the NR shortly after the policy was implemented.The Mont DNRC was the one heading up the training sessions.

Your proposal sounds similar and would be a good start. Once you have cut your teeth on sawyer certification you can take on restrictions for ag burners.

Midwest Fire Guy
8/1 thought you would like to see this! RR

www.idahostatesman.com/localnews/story/121909.phpl

Wildland firefighters hurt in vehicle crash; two still in hospital
- Idaho Statesman
Edition Date: 08/01/07

Five firefighters on the Middle Fork Complex Fire in the Boise National Forest were injured when the vehicle they were riding in rolled on “extremely steep terrain” late Tuesday night, according to the complex fire management office.

Two firefighters were airlifted to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. The three other firefighters were brought to Boise by ground ambulance. Those three firefighters have been treated and released, fire officials said this morning. The other two are still being held for observation.

The accident happened about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday as the firefighters were returning from the Lightning Fire about seven miles northeast of Garden Valley. They were headed to the incident command post at the U.S. Forest Service’s Garden Valley station, said Mary Christensen, public information officer for the interagency management team.

Christensen said the vehicle rolled but that all firefighters were wearing seatbelts. Another team of firefighters traveling Road 555 stopped to help get the firefighters out of the wreckage and to a nearby road where emergency medical crews were waiting.

The Middle Fork Complex fire has burned 10,432 acres and consists of five fires, including the Lightning Fire. The Lightning Fire is roughly 7 percent contained and has burned 2,743 acres. There are 634 firefighters working the Middle Fork Complex Fire.

Check back later for updated information.

Fair use disclaimer

8/1 Re National Faller Standards:

Jacquie,

The company that hired your companion should be able to fully explain to him the requirements for A & B cert levels. Taking S-212 (Wildland Powersaws) is the starting place for those learning powersaw operation. He definitely shouldn’t have to hunt down that information or training on his own if his employer is interested in training him as a sawyer. That’s their responsibility – not only to facilitate the training for him, but to make sure his training is of high quality and safe.

Vfd Capt.

Yes, you’re right that the concept of “Faller Taskbooks” was rejected based on agency’s inability to figure out a standardization factor for commercial fallers throughout the regions. However, establishing Faller Standards HAS moved up on the agency national priority list to 2008.

We’ve learned several things over the past seven years in working to make sense out of the commercial faller hiring process for wildland fire and emergency incidents – and that is this – commercial fallers learn to be commercial fallers working in the timber industry. It is beyond any agency’s scope of both ability and responsibility to “train” private sector fallers to be fallers for purposes of working on an emergency incident. That said, the biggest challenge the agencies have faced (and continue to face) is developing a method for adequately and CONSISTENTLY verifying commercial timber faller industry experience and background. It has also become quite apparent they also have a difficult time verifying worker compensation coverage, and general liability coverage, let alone the quality of the fallers’ equipment, and how well he performs on the saw.

The biggest uproar you would hear out of the west would rumble up through the canyons if a national “certification” for fallers was proposed and/or implemented. If anyone would like to test it out, just step in the door of any of the state timber industry associations and say “Faller Certification.” Be ready to run. While there is the professional logger program, private sector faller certification in the U.S. is a pipe dream. And, quite frankly, I’m not sure why it would be necessary. It never has been before. Fallers become fallers by working in the timber industry and learning from other fallers. Either they can cut it, or they can’t. I can assure you, they’ll be told to clear out long before any certifier could assess their skills and talents on the saw if senior fallers and falling contractors aren’t pleased with their performance.

In terms of fallers knowing what they need to know to work professionally and proficiently on wildland fires, we’ve been working on the development of a faller cross-training program to prepare commercial fallers for work on the fireline. We’ve augmented this training with mapping (land navigation), hazard tree identification & assessment and aspects of ICS. Basically, we teach fallers the protocol for conducting themselves safely around crews and other firefighting personnel & equipment. While this may sound simplistic, most fallers have been used to cutting merch timber at a commercial pace for their entire professional cutting career. Changing the way they do things on a fire is very difficult, but necessary. This last one can be a tough one for them, and most fallers (particularly those new to the fire scene) need to be reminded that the priorities and operating protocol are much different on a wildland fire incident than on a commercial timber job. I’m very much hoping these last couple of sentences don’t spawn a big “To-Do” in terms of finger pointing and accusations. It’s just the way it is. And, after seven years of sending commercial timber fallers out to fight wildland fires, I can honestly say, they DO learn what they need to learn.

One last issue I would like to bring up for discussion is the topic of faller bosses – 1) the lack of sufficient numbers, 2) the lack of truly knowledgeable faller bosses and 3) the idea of creating a faller coordinator position as opposed to a faller boss position to facilitate logistics for fallers on fire incidents. Too often, fallers sit in staging waiting for a faller boss because there are too few of them to go around. Any thoughts on this whole discussion thread?

These issues and others have been discussed at length in the past two Timber Faller Roundtables (2003 & 2005). We’re tentatively planning a third Roundtable in March of 2008 in Reno. If that becomes reality, we’ll let They Said readers know. The focus of the 2008 Roundtable would most likely be establishing national standards for commercial fallers (for the wildland fire realm/emergency incidents). We’ll see how that goes. Perhaps this really is that “finish line” I’ve heard people talk about. I’ve just never seen it before.

Shari Downhill

8/1 After reading the LA Times article on costs, a name jumped out at me. Tim Ing<snip>, who claims to be former seasonal wildland firefighter, runs an outfit that you have to see to believe... he is the founder of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology.

Where the Times got a hold of this guy is unknown, but his sole mission in life would seem to be to criticize wildland firefighting efforts around the country. He has been applying and received grants to help "re-educate" the press and the american people. As with so many of the critics, the facts don't have to be mentioned. Here is what one grant award stated from the Weeden Foundation Website:

"Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE) received $10,000 to engage the press, policymakers, and the public with critiques of firefighting, post fire salvage logging, and fire management planning from a wildland firefighter’s perspective. FUSEE is an Oregon-based organization that includes current and retired wildland firefighters, fire management professionals, rural property owners, and local citizens. Their goal is to fundamentally shift the model of forestry away from reactive fire suppression and towards proactive forest restoration. The grant will support the personnel costs and expenses necessary for the following projects: sending firefighters to speak at fire science and management conferences, environmental conferences, and community gathering; distributing hardcopies of their first publication, “A Reporter’s Guide to Wildland Fire,” which aims to reeducate journalists about wildfires; and, providing analysis and informal consulting on fire-related forest management issues to forest conservation groups, including several Weeden grantees such as EPIC, KSWild, and the Siskiyou Project."


Take a gander at his "A Reporter's guide to wildland fire" on his website. I was amazed but I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.

Wildman 66

There was discussion some time back that Ing starts a group, involving a very few people that the group supposedly represents --in this case it's firefighters -- and then he solicits others who have no connection to fire. In the past he's started other groups, all against the FS or fire. He's a sociologist by training.

8/1 On the Engines, it appears north ops is using the total number of MEL
engines as their starting point. Even without a single engine being
committed, we'd be down to 81% due to unavailabilty (staffing issues,
mechanical, etc...) At the rate we're losing folks, it won't be long
before we won't be able to commit anything to large incidents.

I wonder how we ever fought fire before the MEL buildup???????

TC
8/1 Ab thought that readers might like this read..

DB Dave

Officials seek to contain wildfire costs
By Steve Chawkins, Times Staff Writer
7/29/07
www.latimes.com

Santa Ynez, CA — For a tense couple of weeks, the 31,000-acre Zaca fire threatened to scorch more than 1,000 square miles of wilderness and reach the outskirts of communities as far-flung as Santa Barbara and Ojai.

Now, the smoke is clearing but the long, dark shadow of the auditor looms over a massive operation that has cost an average of more than $1 million a day for nearly a month.

Eye-popping wildfire expenditures aren't all that unusual — this month's inferno at Lake Tahoe ran up daily bills of $1.8 million — but increasingly they have drawn stern warnings from Congress and repeated promises from fire officials to hold the line on spending. (for more, click link)

8/1

"The current [federal] management practices helped contribute to this devastation," [ Idaho Senator Larry] Craig said.

[Idaho Senator Butch] Otter demanded a suspension of federal rules governing the circumstances under which firefighting equipment can be deployed, including a requirement that qualified bulldozer supervisors be present to coordinate safety and fire communication."

The stupidity of politicians never ceases to amaze me.

They want to suspend federal rules which are there to help ensure the safety of those involved in fighting a fire, so untrained locals can attack a fire.

When some of those locals get seriously injured or killed because they have no idea what they are doing, who will be held accountable? The IC?

If they really want to do something, how about those locals getting trained so that they are qualified to do the job, and can be assistance rather than hindrance?

It is called emergency preparedness - what a concept!

W0DSV

8/1 RE CDF (snip) and the Zaca Fire:

Touche, but Just remember,

Once it crossed on to the Los Padres, we were fighting fire on a delegation
of authority (on their terms, not on ours). WE don’t own any real estate, we
just protect other peoples ground any way they want us to.

FC180

True FC180 and, similarly, the Fed Team doesn't own the real estate but works for the line officer (ranger, forest supervisor) on the hosting Forest -- so you can say the same. And politics, fire experience, fed regulations regarding wilderness, pressures from the public on the line officer, concerns about money, etc to some extent dictate how the forest has the team do business. Throw in interface jurisdictions whether state, county or tribe, sometimes a complicated process this fighting fire. Ab.

8/1 APES,

NICC does not create a UTF list. Most of the GACC have a UTF list, either
under Intel or Overhead on their own GACC web pages.

R5 Dispatcher

Hit the News button in the upper border to get to a map of GACCs. Ab.

8/1 From CNN.com today, the headline reads:

"Westerners say federal rules make firefighting worse"

www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/01/wildfires.ap/index.phpl

Included in this article is the money quote:

"The current [federal] management practices helped contribute to this devastation," [ Idaho Senator Larry] Craig said.

[Idaho Senator Butch] Otter demanded a suspension of federal rules governing the circumstances under which firefighting equipment can be deployed, including a requirement that qualified bulldozer supervisors be present to coordinate safety and fire communication."

JerseyBoy

8/1 Isn't it ironic that "cost containment" has come so far since its "early days" when sodas, candy, beef jerky, and energy bars were banned from fire camps as the "key culprits" of waste...... Equally ironic is that for each step forward we progress to contain costs, the costs actually escalate.... hmm... one step forward and two steps back..... before you know it, we will be fighting fire the same way we did prior to the 1910 Big Blow..... oops... that is what some folks want.

I have an idea..... Let's start purchasing sodas, candy, beef jerky etc. again as supplemental food items. ..... It might provide the firefighters on the line with enough energy to fight the fires as well as have the energy to stand up and say where the true cost containment efforts can be achieved.

Some may say that sodas were banned for the evil "caffeine" that was present and how hazardous caffeine is to firefighters on the line..... if so, I also propose, as a means to cut suppression costs, that all coffee and ice tea be removed from all fire camps ASAP..... to cut costs and improve safety, of course.... (Tongue firmly in cheek)

Just a thought...

Rogue Rivers
8/1 I am looking for the URLs for GAAC and NICC UTF lists.....
thaks
APES
8/1 Potable Guy
Yes we agree with all you have put up for all to see, We have tactical tenders also~ so we are at fire camps when on a working fire.. Our potable rigs are not called any more ~But we see all the small flat beds with the plastic tanks running around the fire camps... If this is about $$$$$$$$$ then you can save a lot by having just on 4000 gallon potable tender to take care of the fire camp !!!!!
This is how it was in the past ???? Not sure why things have changed ??? Just the smoke from all the small pumps will make you sick in fire camp !!!
We used to have spring water tankers for a long time & we know all about the testing of the water +the sanitary ways of working with the water..
The f.c. was to put the potable rigs in the EATIS program////// ??? But this spring we were told that the potable will not be in EATIS until 2010 ?????

Not only is the f.c. not taking care of the camp water ~~ Cal fire has done wrong also. We saw them hook up to a spring // just so as not to have a potable rig doing things right !!!!!

Looks like no one will do what right until all of use are heaving up at the dinner table... +++++ Look at how much spring water is coming into fire camps !!!!!!!! Everyone use to fill up their water jugs from our rigs ~~ NOT NOW !!!!!
Fire Guy
8/1 Ab,

Not too long ago, you asked about receiving notices of investigation reports that haven't been posted. Here is an investigation report that clearly shows agency mistakes years in advance that start the accident causation phase..... much before the final event in the tragedy sequence that hits us all in the gut when our friends are lost.

When the BLM received and didn't like the performance or maintenance costs of the OV-10's as an ATGS platform, they subsequently transferred the OV-10's to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection under the Federal Excess Property Program. BLM made the decision to remove/not maintain/ or not repair a significant safety feature in the aircraft....CDF followed suit even though it was a safety feature inherently built into the aircraft they received....... the ejection seats.

From what I have been told, it wasn't a function of the de-militarization of the aircraft, but rather a decision based on economics to remove the ejection seats..... It would cost too much to maintain the ejection seats and train the aircrews on their continued use...... and the agency would have to employ personnel qualified for the continued maintenance and inspection of the ejection seats.

How much does it cost when firefighters lose their lives? The OV-10 was built to fly low and slow, into canyons, power out, and when needed, put on the power for faster speed when flying at cruise speeds towards targets or circling them..... but one important safety feature was removed from the OV-10 package that went into service as a firefighting platform with similar mission components and goals...

I don't know if the ejection seats in the OV-10 were 0/0 seats (ability to safely eject at zero elevation, or with zero forward airspeed like most modern ejection seats).... but even Vietnam era ejection seats would have given them a chance while flying upwards into a box canyon with no way out.

Student of Reason

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From the NTSB: LAX06GA287

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 6, 2006, about 1039 Pacific daylight time, a North American Aviation, Inc., OV-10A, N419DF, (call sign "Air Attack 410") impacted trees and rising mountainous terrain while maneuvering about 25 statute miles northeast of the Porterville Municipal Airport, Porterville, California. The accident occurred in the Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest (MHSF). The United States Forest Service and the State of California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CDF) owned the airplane, which was operated by CDF during the public-use flight. The airplane was destroyed during the impact sequence and post impact ground fire. The two occupants, an airline transport certificated pilot and an observer-crewmember, were fatally injured. No one on the ground was injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. CDF management reported that the flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, and it was dispatched in accordance with the department's flight following procedures. The accident flight commenced from Porterville at 1025. (to read the rest, click the link above)

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