"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
November, 2007

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11/30For your Hotshot to Fire Manager Project. Bill Frankel and Ken
Yarger were both Palomar Hotshots on the Cleveland in the 70's
and are both Deputy Chiefs for the Camp Pendleton Fire
Department. Thanks, great site.

MCP FF

Thanks, I added them: "IHC-->Fire Manager" Project Ab.

11/30I am looking for anyone who has a copy of the Discovery Channels series
"Into the Firestorm". If anyone knows where I can obtain a copy, please
let me know.

Thanks,

KB
11/30Federal Wildland Firefighters,

Please take the time to do the Jobs Survey. Can someone please contact the hotshot supts, captains, squaddies; the engine captains' group, division chiefs, etc to tell them to request that their firefighters do the survey. If not do the entire survey, could those organizations at least gather the numbers in house? I've heard Jay Perkins is retiring. More power to him. Fine man! Fine Fire professional! Does anyone know of other R5 FMOs that are retiring? Ab.

11/30Ab, Orig. Ab, and other calendar collaborators,

I just got my Wildlandfire.com calendar in the mail the other day. It looks great!
It's already up on the wall in the office. Great photos... kudos to the photographers.

-FireBill

Order your Wildlandfire.com '08 CALENDAR! Ab.

11/30For the Love of...

We (USFS, BLM, NPS) have problems retaining employees because other Fire
Departments want these guys and gals due to their experience, knowledge,
leadership and training.... a no brainer. However, the Fire and Aviation
Managers and Washington Leaders of these agencies that I mentioned earlier
will not FIGHT to retain a single person. Someone please explain why? Is
it because they think that we are a "dime a dozen"? They can find any
person off the street to do our job? Whatever happened to PEOPLE FIRST?
We put Firefighter and public safety first on every incident, but when off
the firelines it doesn't appear that we're first. Someone PLEASE stand up
for your people, stand up for us just like we do for our employees here at
the ground level. Please remember what Colin Powell says, "Being
responsible sometimes means pissing people off."

GS-401. How much does the Forest Service pay for one person to attend this
training? How many years have we been doing this program? What TRUE
BENEFIT has our people came away with? I am just saying we are in a
financial crunch and are unable to retain our folks due to better pay at
other Agencies. Maybe we could use that money (TFM/401 programs) to
increase our pay and then maybe retain some of these folks instead of
spending so much of it on the 401 program. Another option is to get rid of
the 401 altogether (that probably opened a can of worms). By cutting the
program we save money that we put can to our employee salaries, benefits,
equipment, facilities, vehicles...

I apologize if I offended any person the is 401 or currently completing
401, I can assure that was not my intention. I, like so many others, want to
retain our outstanding folks. I have several friends that have left to
"greener pastures" and I hate to see us lose that knowledge, skill and
leadership.

Football Fan.

11/30Re letter about 401 series:

Riddle me this...
The purpose of this letter is to notify employees in the GS-401, Fire Management Series of the " NEW" Office of Personnel Management (OPM) qualification requirements which were effective on February 15, 2005.

Riddle me that...
Unfortunately, "WE DID NOT BECOME AWARE OF THESE NEW REQUIREMENTS" until early 2007.

How can this OPM qualification requirement which became effective in February 2005 be defined as "NEW"?
And then the "UNFORTUNATE" error of not becoming aware of these new requirements?
Only out of the mouths of bureaucrats . Looks and sounds like extremely poor staff work to me! And for something seen by some in this agency as "SO IMPORTANT" to future fire management programs.

Does the future circle the drain clock-wise or counter-clockwise?

The Riddler

11/30To BLM fire management employees,

How are your fire management programs doing out there and how are they
being funded? My unit is a combined USFS/BLM fire program with a heavy fire
load. I average just over 100 fires per year with 61% of the federal fires
occurring on BLM lands. I have 2 USFS engines and 1 BLM engine to cover
about 1.2 million acres. The BLM engine crew has a GS-7 Captain who is only
funded for 13 pay periods, and 2 seasonal firefighters. This is a 5 day
effective engine only. I understand this is a state office mandate and it
is certainly not enough to support the numbers of BLM fires we get.

The other problem is the Captain, who now will only work for 6 months, will
have extremely limited opportunities for attending training sessions,
teaching on training cadres, hiring the crew, participating in Rx burn plan
development, maintaining or increasing fire qualifications, etc. My Captain
is already looking at USFS or CalFire positions so he can once again have
permanent full time employment. In past years the BLM Captain worked year
round. So much for retention.

The USFS PR budget has to supplement the BLM understaffed fire program. I
have the BLM budget to support a 7 day effective engine crew but it seems
funding the fire suppression resource is the lowest priority. On this unit,
the Zone FMO does not have any authority over how the dollars are spent. If
I did things would be much different.

My question is, how are other BLM engine crews/fire management programs
being funded and supported? Are all BLM engine crews nationally going to 3
persons on, 5 day effective only?

Thanks for any information you may have,
Kevin Joseph
11/30Ab,

Kashdan's memo was so unbelievable I had to send letter to the department that oversees training and development for OPM (and hopefully the one involved in this mess) where some secretary will probably round-file it, but oh, well. Hopefully there will be LOTS of e-mail for them to contend with in the coming days.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Madam/Sir,

Let me get this straight: in February of 2005 your office clarified what proof of training was necessary for an individual in the Federal Firefigher GS-401 series to qualify for their positions according to NWCG standards.

However, the Human Capital Management office didn't get the message until November 28 of 2007 (i.e. yesterday) as to what those standards are.

OPM's first directive was to IMMEDIATELY REMOVE ALL NON-COMPLIANT FIRE PERSONNEL FROM THEIR POSITIONS, even though till now nobody knew exactly what training/education qualifies and what does not.

Someone managed to convince you to give the folks in the 401 series a year and a half to receive education/training in a creditable manner or be removed from their positions. However, many of the necessary classes and training are not even offered on an annual basis. These clarifications would have been much more useful a couple of years ago.

OPM's directive is heartless, uninformed, and potentially disastrous. The Federal fire organizations are already hemorrhaging people - particularly in leadership positions, as our experienced workforce either retires or moves on to structural, county or state departments where they receive better pay and benefits (also, where they are not so frequently victimized by failed communications between their supervisory bureaucracies). The Region 5 (California) Regional Foresters are even meeting on Dec. 10th to address the shortage of qualified supervisors in wildland fire.

In the past I have seen plenty of communications from OPM as to how important and valued the 'Human Capital' aspect is to the Agencies we serve. With directives like these, we clearly are not being treated like valued assets. We are being treated like garbage.

Sincerely,

Kibby (Ab: I signed my name on the original, along with contact #'s. Love to hear from 'em!)
11/30AB,

Any plans on posting the results of your survey when it is completed? I know I am very interested in seeing the final tallies.....

Former-R5er

Yep, results will be posted here. Ab.

11/30Ab,

I hope OPM didn't just destroy the fire program across the nation. Students at Humboldt State University (CA) now need 5 and a half to 6 years of going to school full time to complete their BA using traditional channels, because critical, required classes are impacted. You can't get into the classes on first try. To think a wildland firefighter, well along in his or her career, could take time off to take classes leading to a traditional degree is not realistic. I pointed this out some years ago when R5 was looking to bring people up to speed on the new DOI-created requirements. R5 got on the ball to help its fire-trained professionals jump through the academic hoops. Hopefully, there will be a fix on this new OPM problem, given all the years of effort that have gone into working out the kinks with Universities. I only know what's gone on in CA, not elsewhere.

What about others moving up in the fire organization and those in other regions? Are other region's fire managers screwed? Can we expect other regions' programs to go belly-up in 18 months?

Good luck on the OPM time frame, university folks are almost into finals and will be taking semester break soon.

Mellie

11/30Old Boot,

Once in a while, someone, somewhere, will choose the words, put them in the
right order, and create a true sense of empathy. Although I live in R-1, as a
private contractor, I find it gratifying to work among people with your sense
of duty and ethics.

What a truly eloquent post.

With respect,

contractor

11/30From Hickman, from the Helibase:

Helicopter marshaling pop quiz, Montana style:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ96LT-NabE

HAW HAW HAW HAW! Ab.

11/30Re: The 401 letter

Folks, don't get your panties so tied up regarding the 0401stuff. It is another program that will come and go.

For many years, NWCG classes offered by most R-5 Regional Training Centers and some national training centers have been offering college credit for their course offerings. College credit = Verifiable college transcript and meets the OPM direction.....

One, if not the first FS training centers to offer credit was the Don Biedebach Regional Training Center at Little Tujunga Station on the Angeles National Forest. Soon, other training centers from R-5 and R-6 also began offering college credit for courses. (Check with the training centers, many have been offering college credit for 10-15 years).

Offering college credit was win/win for everyone involved. The students got an accredited course of education, and the colleges and training centers got to split their pot of money from federal and states sources known as ADA...... average daily attendance.

Those that went through TFM shouldn't have a problem also.... From what I've been told, whether or not students elected to receive credits from CSU when they originally completed the program, CSU and the Washington Institute will certify the students who graduated.

Even over the last many years, NAFRI (NARTC) has even offered college credit for their courses.

Remember there are upper division and lower division positive education requirements.

/s/ Part-time Lumberjack (HSU) and Chukkar (TVCC) student (among many other schools)
11/30Been lurking like a 45 lb Catfish in the plumbing of a DAM (the kind that
hold water, not what allot of folks have been saying lately) the kind I use
to run into when in a previous job during work/training.

They say a nice rain is good after a funeral and saying good bye to loved
ones.

Cleansing

I hope and pray that this is a slow drizzle and then some drying and then
another drizzle. Join me in this prayer if you dare!!!! "I would be
honored it you did"

Well I hope this rain/drizzle is refreshing and cleansing to all, land,
humans, and all.

Today is a good day for a race!

The HUMAN RACE. diversify that!

Well today San Diego we started getting a much needed drizzle. After
reading some of the posts about pay and folks pondering leaving the USFS,
all I can say is count your blessings.

Will you have señorita seniority should CALFIRE have to downsize? Are you
a Veteran and does CALFIRE Honor VETS like the USFS does when it comes to
RIFs.

Remember when driving today if its the first rain in your area oil floats
to the top and lots of rocks, trees and other debree (sp) will be coming
off the slopes! "No duh!"

How many folks get to go to work everyday doing what they love and are
passionate about? I do!

There is talk of another interest rate cut by the FEDS. Is a recession
just around the corner? A bird in the bag is better than one in the brush.

16 Blocks was a movie I enjoyed, demonstrating choosing the Hard Right over
the easy Wrong.

Well Seasons Greetings and take care and be good!

Signed: Always learning and striving to be better and better understand
people, fire and all the toys and how to get the most out of them for the
Greater Good and the Good of the Order.
11/30V -

Thanks for the heads up on the YouTube bit. That was funny and gave
me a well needed laugh...

Lori
11/30SoCal Calfire,

Thank you. We've been looking for the updated info all week.

You guys from CAL FIRE rock.

Lobotomy
11/29Ab & All,

Quite a day, eh? Let's tally the results.

Workforce Measure-Results of FY2007 Hiring

plus

Employees in GS-401 Fire Management Specialist Positions
minus

Just Culture

equals

Demoralized Workforce


The chickens are coming home to roost.

Misery Whip
11/29The continuing denial of USFS/R5 on the painful reality of staffing/retention issues; the apparent void of leadership at the highest levels of fire management; the Kathleen Burgers/HCM staffing & diversity farce; the 401 series 'witch hunt' supposedly instigated by OPM but apparently accepted by the USFS as per Hank Kashdan's signature ('heads down, the sheep meekly file into the slaughterhouse') pile together to create perhaps the most depressing fire management implosion scenario that I have experienced in 30+ years in this business.

I'm sure a new day will dawn brighter tomorrow, but right now my optimism is at a career low. The redeeming factor throughout all the upper-level management failures over the years for me has always been the enthusiasm and tenacity of the quality folks in the ranks. Right now, I'm not sure I can hold my head high enough to meet their eyes.

Old Boot

11/29Howdy all,

Found this hilarious comedy video of Hannibal Burress from the Late Late Show
with Craig Ferguson on 9/26. There is an absolutely hilarious bit in here about
wanting to be in fire, and about directing the guys to put out the fire. This guy's
got it figured out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmcJuAQSAQo

Take care y'all, and be safe,
-V
11/29 CalFire Salaries compiled 03-06 then updated and released 11/05/07, and
oh yeah, they say we don't have a recruitment problem. It's because we
can pick up FS firefighters.

SoCal CalFire

11/29Ab,

For the person looking for total acreage burned in
Oregon - the best place to get this information is
probably from the dispatch centers or possibly from
the NWCC website.

For burned acreage in southwestern Oregon, contact
dispatch centers in Roseburg , Grants Pass and
Medford.

Marcy
11/29From SoCal CalFire:

www.heraldonline.com/opinions/story/206790.phpl

Firefighters as spies
By Staff Reports · heraldonline.com FTP
Updated 11/29/07 - 12:36 AM

Firefighters have always been admired icons of public service, a reputation greatly enhanced by the performance of New York City firefighters on 9-11. Now, however, the Department of Homeland Security may try to turn big-city firefighters into unwelcome snoops.

Unlike police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel don't need warrants to enter someone's home. Homeland Security officials believe firefighters would be useful in spotting behavior that could indicate terrorist activity or planning.

As part of a program started a year ago, Homeland Security gave secret clearances to nine New York fire chiefs. Under the program, firefighters would be asked to look for signs of terrorist activity when they respond to emergency calls or inspect buildings. If the program is successful, the government hopes to expand it to other major metropolitan areas.

In defending the program, Homeland Security officials offer a simplistic cartoon scenario: Firefighters stumble across a room full of rocket-propelled grenades during a routine inspection.

"It's a no-brainer," said Jack Tomarchio, a senior official in Homeland Security's intelligence division. He thinks the police, the fire department and the intelligence community ought to know about that, and who could disagree?

But the notion of requiring firefighters, as part of their jobs, to spy on and report the daily comings and goings of American citizens is more troubling. Who would determine the limits of what gets reported to authorities? (click the link for the rest; this is an opinion article)

11/29The Fall Just Culture Newsletter is out. Good stuff.

www.justculture.org/newsletters.aspx?id=8#2

An Examination of Red Rules in a Just Culture

Mellie

11/29CLASS  ACTION  SUIT!

Mcleod

11/29Date: November 29, 2007
Subject: Employees in GS-401 Fire Management Specialist Positions
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

REPLY DUE DECEMBER 28, 2007

The purpose of this letter is to notify employees in the GS-401, Fire Management Series of the new Office of Personnel Management (OPM) qualification requirements which were effective on February 15, 2005. (See Draft Departmental Regulation (123K doc file) Attachment 1). On that date, OPM clarified the acceptability of educational coursework for meeting the positive educational requirements for professional positions. Unfortunately, we did not become aware of these new requirements until early 2007. We have been working with the Department of Agriculture, the Office of Personnel Management and our partners in the Department of Interior to make sure that our employees know and meet these new requirements.

This change in OPM qualification requirements was due to the change in acceptability of post high school education or training at accredited schools or colleges. OPM qualification standards now require that coursework be on an official transcript for an accredited institution. Other appropriate or equivalent documentation is also acceptable (i.e. statement from the institution’s Registrar, Dean or other appropriate official). This means that we can no longer accept Technical Fire Management (TFM) or National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) courses that are not on an official transcript. For your information, we are able to accept the TFM course completion certificate. However, if an employee does not complete the entire TFM course, the individual courses completed must be on an official transcript in order to be credited.

Many Forest Service employees meet the qualification requirements in Part A of the GS-401 Fire Management Specialist supplemental standard by virtue of having a four-year qualifying degree. However, many others also meet the requirements by qualifying under Part B, which does not require the completion of a degree. Qualifying under Part B consists of a combination of education and experience that is equivalent to a major in biological sciences or a related discipline, or they must have at least 24 semester hours (or equivalent quarter hours) that are equivalent to a major field of study. The nature and quality of the coursework must have been such that it would serve as a prerequisite for more advanced study in the field or subject matter area, as stated in the OPM Operating Manual Qualification Standards Group Coverage for Professional and Scientific Positions.

In order to comply with the new qualification requirements, we are verifying the qualification of all employees in GS-401 Fire Management positions, as follows:

1. Employees with a qualifying degree (i.e. those who qualify under Part A) must send a copy of the degree if it contains the title of their major or a copy of their transcripts showing the degree obtained. Examples of qualifying degrees are listed in Enclosure 1. (gs401-fs-draft-dept-regulation.doc 123K doc file)
2. Employees without a qualifying degree (i.e. those who qualify under Part B) must send a copy of all transcripts and the TFM certificate, if applicable. Employees in this category are also asked to send in a resume showing their experience in Fire Management. The resume must show the amount of time spent in the position(s), (i.e. the specific dates of each work history). Biographical Sketches are not appropriate for this review.

Even though we are reviewing employees in all GS-401 Fire Management positions, we are especially concerned with employees who have received a promotion or reassignment, or who were placed or newly hired into a GS-401 Fire Management position on or after February 15, 2005. We have found that many of these employees do not meet the new requirements. With OPM’s approval, any employee who is found not to meet the new requirements is being given an opportunity to meet the requirements within approximately eighteen (18) months, but not later than June 1, 2009. The agency will be required to take administrative action for any employee who has not met the requirements by the aforementioned date.

Employees who do not meet the new requirements will be asked to sign an Employee Agreement and to work with their supervisors on creating an Individual Development Plan (IDP). The IDP will serve to identify and outline the remaining required coursework or requirements, and to develop a plan of action for gaining the credits/requirements needed to qualify. Employees who do not meet the new requirements are not eligible for promotions or reassignments or any other placement actions in the GS-401 Fire Management series.

Upon receipt of this letter, we are requesting that you provide a copy of this letter to all employees in GS-401 Fire Management positions as soon as possible. We recommend that you work with your Fire Management Staffs to assist with the delivery of this letter. Under separate cover, you will be sent a list of Fire Management employees on your unit or in your staff. Please verify that the employees on the list are in Fire Management positions and add others whose names might have been omitted in error. Employees must send the requested documents to Lisa Gibson, HCM Staff Washington Office, as soon as possible, but not later than December 28th in order for us to meet our reporting agreement with OPM on the status of these employees. Lisa can be reached at lisagibson@fs.fed.us. Please mail or FedEx the documents to Lisa at:

USDA Forest Service
1601 Kent Street
HCM Staff, RPC-6th Floor
Arlington, VA 22209

We realize that timing for delivery of this letter and the turn-around time for employees is extremely short, particularly given the end-of-year leave schedules. However, OPM has been adamant that we respond to them on this matter. The original direction from them was for us to immediately take action to remedy this situation by removing employees from their positions. However, they have altered this direction and have agreed to allow our affected employees approximately eighteen (18) months, but not later than June 1, 2009, to gain the educational coursework needed.

Should you have questions about the information in this letter, please contact Lisa Gibson via email at lisagibson@fs.fed.us or Gloria Banks at gbanks@fs.fed.us.

/s/ Hank Kashdan
HANK KASHDAN
Deputy Chief for Business Operations

cc: Carmen Funston
Joy R Thomas
Roy M Roosevelt
Florence Pruitt
Tina M Lopez
Ron Thatcher
Tom Harbour
James Barnett
Marc Rounsaville

Another GOOD GRIEF! Let's hear it for a firefighter series. Anything else doesn't make sense! I hope some folks are writing in to Hank's Blog. Everyone trained here knows how to focus on "the what not the who". Please do so. Ab.

11/29Re: Risk vs. Gain

Is it true that most of the federal airtankers and helitankers went off contract a few days ago to save the associated costs with daily availability? If so, was this a WO or RO decision?

With continued emphasis on the weather conditions affecting the southern portions of R-3, R-5, and R-8..... and portions of R-9..... Wouldn't it be more cost effective fiscally, and more efficient in mission delivery to extend the contracts?

I wonder about the differences in costs for federal aircraft from normal availability periods and contract extensions provisions being in place and utilized for INITIAL ATTACK vs. the significantly increased costs and time delays of getting Call When Needed (CWN) aircraft in place for EXTENDED ATTACK.

Both the initial attack and extended attack scenarios offer differing challenges...... Do the $$$ come from WFPR (Preparedness) that has been getting yearly cuts.... or from WFSU (Suppression and Severity) that keeps getting bailed out with a blank check at the loss of other federal programs?....... The two current fire planning models (NFMAS and FPA) both show that dollars spent for preparedness (planned need) significantly reduce the losses from unplanned fire events........... and reduce the political head hunting that happens when the wildland fire program is woefully under-prepared to meet the expectations of the American people, as pledged to Congress under testimony provided by Mark Rey (USDA) and Lynn Scarlett (USDI).

It's all about educated risk vs. gain decisions...... You get what you pay for.

Concerned
11/29Ab,

Attached is the CalFire "Blue Sheet" for the Engine damaged by the airdrop on the
Haverford Incident last week.

Fyr Etr

Thanks for that Fyr Etr. Ab.

11/29Ab:

You could not have posted this memo from signed by John Y. Kusano for KATHLEEN
D. BURGERS, Director of Human Capital Management, at a more appropriate time.
The irony is overwhelming.

Despite all good intentions to increase workforce diversity and all the flowery
HR language that goes along with such lofty and commendable goals, it is
patently obvious that "they just don't get it" (as you so succinctly stated on
your note below the memo).

Federal agencies have an endless and inexhaustible capability to put up
smokescreens, intentionally or unintentionally, to mask or avoid addressing the
true issues facing the folks who matter (eg, the ones at the end of the
Pulaski).

All the more reason for each and every firefighter, including those of us who
have retired and who may not even fight fires any more, to support Casey Judd
and join the efforts of the FWFSA to work through Congressional representatives
to effect some truly meaningful change. It's our best - and only, repeat only -
hope.

Hugh Carson
11/29File Code: 6100/1700
Date: November 28, 2007
Subject: Workforce Measure-Results of FY2007 Hiring

To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, WO Staff, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs, And WO Staff

In FY 2003, the National Leadership Team (NLT) agreed to a set of Workforce Planning Measures to assist field units in tracking their progress toward key workforce planning issues such as diversity and age distribution. The NLT agreed to periodically review how each Region and Station utilizes its hiring opportunities to positively impact its workforce composition and meet the challenges of the future.

Enclosed is a summary for each Region and Station of their on-board employment profiles including the results of the unit’s hiring during FY 2007. Results for FY 2007 and historical results from FY2003 through FY2006 have been posted to the HCM website: http://fsweb.hcm.fs.fed.us/workforce_planning/strategies_for_improving.php (FS intranet)

External Hires provide an opportunity to improve the skills and diversity of our workforce to better serve an increasingly diverse American public. In addition, Student Hires have proven to be one of the most effective tools toward this end by providing an excellent vehicle to add younger employees and the new ideas that they bring to our workforce.

Service-wide, we added over 2,100 new employees to our workforce in FY 2007. This is an increase of 24.5% from the number of external employees hired last year. This demonstrates that the Forest Service continues to hire from external sources at a significant rate. Over the past five years, we have hired an average of 1,879 employees per year from external sources. Agency-wide, we have made good use of the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) with 32% of all external hires being SCEPs. Our external entry-level hiring also increased from 12% in FY 2006 to 20% in FY 2007. There is much variation unit to unit so I encourage you to also look at your own unit’s statistics and make the appropriate comparisons.

I encourage you to continue to set hiring goals for your unit, such as the number of entry level and SCEP appointments, and develop local strategies to meet these goals. There is no more important responsibility for the leadership of this agency than to ensure that we plan for and build a workforce that can successfully carry out the Forest Service mission, now and into the future.

/s/ John Y. Kusano (for):
KATHLEEN D. BURGERS
Director of Human Capital Management

Enclosures: (1) wfp-measures-fy07.xls

cc: Charles Barclay
John Y Kusano

You don't say. Good grief. The Forest Service is worried about hiring diversity but not about retaining experienced diversity. If you could see what I've seen from entering data from the survey, you'd be amazed how many emails came in from FF2s and managers with Hispanic names who are going to CalFire if they get an offer. I won't be able to track that informally now that the survey is auto-posted. Ethnicity and gender weren't the focus of our survey; firefighters are firefighters. But the current exodus is likely to take lots of Forest Service trained, skilled and very professional diversity to CalFire. Ab.

11/29Ab and all,

Having recently returned from San Diego and looking at the post asking
about the break down of resources in region 5 I've noted a misunderstanding
on engine typing outside the region. Type 4 engines as per the fireline
hand book are heavy engines not type 6 or light engines. They are
typically 700 + gallons and have a crew of 3 + personnel.

Terry
11/28photo: FWFSA meets with Senator Feinstein (Casey, Diane Feinstein, Jim)

SENATE FIELD HEARINGS IN SAN DIEGO

FWFSA tells Senator Feinstein " The Forest Service fire program, especially in California is imploding and unless you and Congress listen to your federal wildland firefighters, understand the issues and take action, there will no longer be a federal wildland fire program in California and your constituents will pay 3-5 times as much as they do now to protect our Nation's natural resources in California."

These were the words of FWFSA Business Manager, accompanied by Sec.-Treasurer Jim Huston and BLM member Clay Howe to Senator Feinstein as they met after the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee -- of which Senator Feinstein is Chair -- held field hearings in San Diego to discuss the recent fire siege.

Sadly despite repeated efforts, no firefighters, whether they were federal, Cal Fire or municipal, were included on any of the three witness panels which included an array of folks from Cal-Fire to OES to the Red Cross and the US Geological Survey, the State Insurance Commissioner and the Farm Bureau. Additionally, the standard compliment of local elected officials from San Diego and as far away as Orange County and San Bernardino provided oral testimony.

The clear focus was on San Diego City. Much was said about the lack of fire stations and personnel, despite the staggering growth in the area. It is a rather popular notion that San Diegans, as affluent as many are, simply aren't willing to pay for such services, having shot down several ballot measures in years to fund additional fire resources.

Cal-Fire's Ruben Grijalva and OES' Chief Zagaris testified. Sadly, the only "federal" voice was Mark Rey who at least was consistent... consistently misleading stating on the record that federal resources were "pre-positioned" prior to the first fire siege. We believe this to be, at best, inaccurate. As we understand it, the word from the R5 RO prior to the first siege was that there was no funding for pre-positioning. (It should be noted that "pre-positioning" was what the Forest Service said it was going to do all season long to ensure proper preparedness.)

We certainly are aware of the federal pre-positioning over the last couple of weeks along with the 24 hr staffing but we are hard pressed to identify what was pre-positioned prior to Oct 20th, acknowledging the fact that state & local resources were pre-positioned at that time.

Mr. Rey did get hit with a number of questions about the always-promised, never-delivered, Forest Service aviation plan. Further, there were complaints/concerns raised by local & state agencies about the protracted process of approval for a federal response.

Ultimately, at the heart of this hearing was money. The Committee touted its approval to expend hundreds of millions of dollars to the Forest Service for additional suppression costs as well as the obviously popular FEMA administered fire assistance grants.

Needless to say, State & local fire agency representatives as well as state & local government representatives who obviously stand to benefit, paid homage to Senator Feinstein for her recent legislative proposals to, among other things, increase FMAG reimbursements in some cases from 75% to 90%.

It is fascinating how most of the time folks want less involvement/intrusion by the federal government... except when they money jar is wide open.

Much of the discussion centered around the urban fire fight with little commentary about the wildland effort.

One congressman who attended called the proceedings "a dog & pony show" and asked the FWFSA to make sure he got "the real scoop."

Perhaps the most poignant witness was former San Diego Fire Chief Jeff Bowman who suggested that the hearing was unnecessary because all of the solutions were developed by the Blue Ribbon Commission after the 2003 siege, yet virtually no effort had been made to complete work on the recommendations. He quit as fire chief out of frustration.

Mr. Bowman, who was likely only slightly less candid than the FWFSA's Judd would have been had he been afforded an opportunity to testify, met with Judd after the hearing and they agreed to stay in touch and work together.

The bottom line for federal firefighters was that Sen. Feinstein directed her Regional Director James Peterson to work directly with the FWFSA to get the Senator up to speed on the issue and start looking at real solutions.

For further information, please feel free to contact the FWFSA at www.fwfsa.org or by phone at 208-775-4577.

11/28moc4546

About all i can help out with this question, Plumas NF, 3 dozers, TahoeNF 0 dozers, 1 contract
dozer usually during fire season "Sierraville" one contract water tender from Sierraville also.

Hope this helps out a little.

mike

Haw haw. MOC, here's some more information several firefighters sent in: Standard Firefighting Organization, 2005 (254K doc file). Thanks, guys/gals. Ab.

11/28Rogue River,

I think I know why they've increased the targets for the southern California forests. At least one forest I know has been directed to use acres burned in wildfires towards their target. These areas did have burn plans but I would be very surprised if they met the plans objectives, especially as hot as the fires burned. Some of the forests up north have not been able to meet targets so I believe they may have shifted the targets south.

Do the additional acres come with funding? I doubt it, but if so, that additional funding may help pay for the 24 hour staffing. Just speculation.

Lobotomy,

I always admire and appreciate your passion and commitment. Having practiced "leading up" until my head hit several concrete ceilings about 3 feet thick each (aka line officers) I now have a neck brace and count my days down to retirement. Always swore it would never happen but here I am.

Fire Freak
11/28Ab,

I was wondering if you know of the total acreage of land burned by wildfires in
Oregon by year? Specifically, I’d like to know figures of acres burned in
Southwest Oregon alone, but realize this may be hard to separate from
state-wide numbers. If not, do you have an idea of where I can find this
information?

Thanks,
Jason

Readers? Ab.

11/28Ab, this came into my box:

As of this morning the Executive Leadership Team has entered the world of
"blogging." I want to thank the staff in the Office of Communications and
Information Resource Management for their work in establishing the
structure for blogging on the Forest Service intranet.

When we discussed this yesterday among the ELT, we admittedly were unsure
how unleashing a "leadership blog" might work. Much of our being unsure is
due to the fact that we really don't know what is involved in being a "good
blogger." But what we do know is that we want to continually seek ways of
staying in touch with Forest Service employees and providing a good venue
for employees to visibly and easily dialog with each other on major topics.

So, through the link below (and the use of your e-authentication password),
we invite you to get involved in helping leadership become familiar with
blogging. This first blog simply provides the opportunity for employees to
suggest how it might be used.

We have intentionally not made a big communication event out of kicking off
this blog. We would simply like you to pass this link on and invite
employees to participate. After a couple of weeks the ELT will assess how
it has worked and "go from there."

Thanks for giving this blog a look. Don't hesitate to post your comments
and thoughts.

http://apps.fs.usda.gov/roller/

Hank Kashdan
Deputy Chief, Business Operations

Not sure how to create a "fictitious name" but "Smokeygal" would be fun.
Anyways since Hank has opened the door for BLOGS...thought maybe could use
this as another opportunity for the Fire Pay and Recruitment Issues.

Smokeygal

I think everyone that wants to go over there and blog should do it. Good move for them, one that OA advocated 13 years ago. Ab.

11/28Our thoughts a prayers go out to the family.

hotshot7387

Volusia Co. Firefighter Killed in Training Accident

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. A 30 year old rookie Volusia County firefighter was killed Tuesday morning during routine training.

John Curry was pronounced dead at 11:05 a.m. Curry was a member of Volusia County's Wildland Fire Team which was practicing power and chain saw use at the Volusia County Fire Training Center when witnesses said a pine tree fell on Curry.

"This is a tragic loss for all of us," said Frank Bruno, Volusia County Chair. "Our hearts are heavy and we extend our deepest sympathy to his friends and family."

The Firewalker Wildland Team was created in March 1995. Members, known as Firewalkers, consist of volunteer and career personnel. There are 38 team members and they have been conducting ongoing training, although only a portion of them were at the training Tuesday morning. (to read the rest, click the link above)

Condolences. Ab.

11/28 WLF Survey explores potential Federal Agency Employee Exodus

Welcome and thank you for taking the time to complete the Wildlandfire.com survey regarding the decision facing many federal agency employees on whether to remain with a federal agency or to apply for a position with other wildland fire suppression employers. Our objective is to gather information and present it in a clear and logical manner in the hope that it may be used in a productive manner.

Please complete each question and submit just one survey per person. To help avoid duplicate inputs we will log computer ip addresses, though they will NOT be made public. If you find any question too personal, feel free to skip it and go to the next question. The results of this survey will be announced on They Said It and the Hotlist when concluded. Thanks, OA

My thanks to Original Ab for creating this self-administered, online survey. It includes more options for you to share your views than I was recording in the original database and the auto-entry will reduce our data entry workload substantially.

If you already emailed your survey response to Ab (in the last 4 days) but would like to fill out a complete survey, you may; add your email addy or some other identifier in the comments section at the bottom so I can easily find and exclude your original emailed entry.

Readers, tell your friends and colleagues. Email them the link. Help us get the word out. The more complete data we have, the better to evaluate the situation. We haven't decided on timeframe, perhaps 2 weeks, so please respond as soon as possible. I know many people are taking time off.

Results will be reported here and to the Hotlist in aggregated form only. Your individual responses and identities will remain confidential. Ab.

11/28To Misery Whip & SK and all:

SK: I take full responsibility for putting Mr. Pena's name on this site. However, it was not done with the intention of soliciting some of the recent comments about him. My responsibility is to communicate the facts to our members and the federal wildland firefighting community. It is my responsibility, and in fact that of Mr. Pena & Mr. Hollenshead to communicate...period.

I felt it important that readers not only read my letter to Mr. Pena seeking our participation in the retention meetings but to also post his response. I agree that some of the subsequent comments may have been a bit much. I also certainly agree that the voice of the firefighters drove the decision to plan this meeting.

I don't know that anyone is looking for a bad guy. Rather they are looking for leadership & communication from the RO and getting none. Basic communication is a foundation of leadership so when you suggest that "most of these upper level managers are doing their best to survive in a screwed up organization" my response is... if this is their best, its time to move on.

I am not referencing the exclusion of the FWFSA in the meetings but the deafening silence from the RO. Case in point: As of 4:00pm yesterday afternoon, there were still R5 FMOs (Forest Fire Chiefs) who knew nothing about the retention meetings, let alone when they were taking place. Additionally, the 24 hr staffing plan they want to look at has not been widely disseminated among firefighters in the region. Very few have actually seen the proposal.

We have given the Agency years to recognize that its fire management is mired in archaic policy and organizational structure i.e. managed by non-fire personnel. We have offered time and again to work with the Agency to utilize our influence to improve things for our federal wildland firefighters. Each step of the way we have been summarily ignored... even considered a "pariah" by the Agency non-fire leadership.

I also agree this is a good sign. However, it's akin to the fox looking at ways to better guard the hen house. Without affording the opportunity for participation by a full spectrum of those working to improving the R5 fire program, those that have allowed the problem to fester and grow to where it is now must assume they alone can fix it. Given the fact that basic communication seems to elude them, we hope for the best and place a great deal of confidence in those that will be participating (NFFE & FMOs) but continue to work with Congress to rectify the problems on a nationwide scale. If you will be in attendance... I'd push the classification issue :) Candidly, I am dumbfounded as to why HR folks will be attending. With all due respect, what do they know about what the region's federal wildland firefighters want or need?

To Misery Whip:

Lobotomy isn't going anywhere. he knows he's far too valuable where he is. Yea, he gets frustrated like the rest of us but he bleeds green. Course if he ever jumped to OES he'd really bleed red... hog tied & flogged for starters...

Casey
11/28I have been reading a lot about folks interviewing for CAL FIRE. I made the move last May, I left as a GS-8 Captain from one of the 4 Southern California Forests. It was a struggle leaving at first but I can honestly say it has been the best move I could have done. The people I have met and work with are really nice and welcomed me and another fed brother with no problems.

CAL FIRE will once again benefit from the lack of leadership from the Forest Service. I am looking forward to working with more of my friends if they make the latest round of interviews and hiring, I know there are some quality folks who have interviews and the FS is going to take a BIG HIT from the GS-8 and GS-9 level.

Thanks CAL FIRE for making the transition so easy......

Former R-5er

P.S. Yactak give me a call, my kayak has been land locked too long......
11/28SK,

Who has been crucifying Jim Pena?

Part of "leading up" is contingent on breaking through barriers and using communication resources available. For the most part, everything that has been posted has been entirely factual (while often not fully relevant). While some folks have posted non-relevant issues, the actions speak louder than words.

For folks that remember, Ray Quintanar, Joe Cruz, and Kent Connaughton were in the similar shoes of Ed Hollenshead and Jim Pena when they first assumed their leadership positions.

Joe, Ray, and Kent were instrumental in creating the Region 5 Board of Directors and eventually listening to their collective leadership, concerns, and suggestions after getting beat up repeatedly a lot in the early days. Most importantly, they learned in a proactive manner to address problems and find solutions. All of them are well respected and some of the greatest leaders the wildland fire program has ever seen. They knew and understood that they were only as good as the troops they were leading, and the troops were only as good as their leadership.

Now Randy, Jim, Ed, and Willy are in the leadership positions and need to show their stuff to address the greatest issues of their careers and gain support of the troops. To think they are getting "character assassinated" is just another test that many other leaders of the past underwent, including Lynn Biddison, as they trekked towards leadership of the fire program and answered the concerns from the troops.

The current leadership of Region 5 has a high bar of excellence, service, commitment, and leadership that others in the past have lead successfully with honor.... Not only do the current leaders have the expectations from below to lead, but also the guidance and expectations of others who were in their same shoes not so long ago offering helpful nudges to make them successful.

If our current leaders focus on the basics of duty, respect, and integrity, in conjunction with efficient and effective mission delivery, they'll do OK in saving the fire program. At the RO level..... Randy, Jim, Ed, and Willy need to understand that they can also "lead up" with lessons learned from the troops in the field.

JMHO

Lobotomy
11/28There is something that I have always wondered in the way of number or resources that the Region 5 USFS Fire and Avaition units for ALL of CALIFORNIA.

Is there someone out there who can tell me what the exact breakdown of Region 5 Fire Resources are in the following perspective:

1. Type 3 Engines
2. Type 4 Engines (or National Type 6)
3. Patrol units (Other than California Type 3 & 4 engines)
4. Type 1 Crews
5. Type 2 Crews (regular Fire and Brush Disposal, no AD crews)
6. AD Crews
7. Helitack Units
8. Dozer Units
9. Water Tenders (all Types)
10. Air Tankers (all Types) on contract for Region 5
11. Number of Stations
12. Number of Staffed Look-outs
13. Number of Fire Management Personnel by rank:
   a. Chief Officers (NF Fire & Aviation)
   b. Division Chiefs (NF District FMO)
   c. Battalion Chiefs (NF District AFMO)
   d. Prevention Officers (Chief, Captain, FF)
   c. Fire Captains (Engines, Crews, Helitack)
   e. Engineers/Squad Leader (Engines, Crews, Helitack)
   f. Firefighter II (Lead Firefighter, Asst. Engineer, Asst. Squad Leader)
   g. Firefighter I (Engine Crewman, Hand Crewman, Helitack Crewman)
   h. Support Personnel (Fire Management Staff other than mentioned)
   i. Identify those human resources by Permanent, Term, and Temporary positions.
14. Acres Protected by National Forests Combined

What I want to see is what these resources and personnel numbers are, plus what the similar individual numbers are for Fire & Aviation for California Dept. of Interior BLM, NPS, BIA, and US Fish & Wildlife (USFWS).

Does anyone have this information handy, or know where it can be found? I can find similar information for CDF on their webpage, but not for the Region 5 California Federal Resources. I want to see where the comparison measures, the area covered measures, the personnel breakdown, and resources compared to the "the big dawg" who is drawing down the federal resources.

Does anyone have this information, or know where it accurately can be found? Thanks.

MOC4546
11/28Re: Is Fire Season Over? (From: Provided Link Below, Predictive Services Fire Weather Outlook Nov. 26, 2007 (700K pdf file) reference round robin Michael J. Dietrich post below)

Mike,

Nice reply to the supposed "question" asked during the conference call with the California FFMOs. A short, sweet, and directly to the point reply was needed to re-enforce the lessons learned from fire managers of the past.

Lessons Learned:
  1. The Forest Fire Staffs are experts in the protection of their forests, and known critical issues such as staffing and preparedness in their areas, and
  2. The R-5 Intel Shop has their thumb on the pulse of what is happening in the weather and preparedness world, and
  3. Conflicting goals of meeting fuels targets in some areas are affecting the protection of other areas, and
  4. Decisions based on a flawed budget request process continues to set up local units to fail .

Many folks on the call would have responded much differently (as I would have), but all of you (FFMOs and RO SoOps Staff) showed a calm demeanor and only took it as another challenge that further "leading up" was needed to answer a really stupid question asked by someone above.

Anyone on the conference call knows what I am talking about. Folks can only "lead up" for so long before they bail a sinking ship without a qualified Captain leading the crew.

Rogue Rivers

P.S. - I hear that the SoCal forests just got lots of earmarks (short-term) with added fuels targets that must be met before the end of the fiscal year. One SoCal forest reports their fuels target is anticipated to jump to 18,000 acres of treated fuels with only ten months to complete it. A question of quantity to meet agency false targets vs. quality to meet the true funding intent of Congress?

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

> From: Predictive Services Newsletter, November 26, 2007

With the recent wildfires that occurred during October and November, the question now arises- When will fire season be over? Obviously our fire season should come to an end once significant rains begin to occur, but when will that happen? The latest long range outlooks suggest that southern and central California are in store for another drier than normal winter, although it probably won't be as dry as last year. Nevertheless the prospects for significant winter rains are looking grim.

Sea surface temperatures have been trending towards below normal in the equatorial Pacific region since September, and now current conditions suggest that a moderate cold event (La Nina) is in place. La Nina events tend to result in drier than normal winters in the southwest U.S.-but not always. In any case, this has been the main factor driving the long range seasonal outlooks which project below normal precipitation not only for southern California this winter, but also for most of the southern U.S. (see chart on the left). The current La Nina event is projected to last into early 2008 before moderating somewhat. Regardless, we have not gotten off to a good start precipitation wise as the Riverside area is already an inch below normal for the new rain year.

Current models continue to show a persistent amplified ridge over the eastern Pacific which, if this feature continues, will prevent any major storms from moving into southern California. Although this pattern does not preclude the area from receiving any precipitation, it simply prevents major troughiness from developing over the West Coast which would lead to periods of significant rainfall.

Unless this pattern changes, not much rain can be expected through the end of the year. So is fire season over? Not completely. While cooler temperatures and less daylight will mitigate fire activity and large fire occurrence to some degree, fuels remain very dry. And unless significant precipitation occurs over an extended period of time, there will continue to be the potential for the fire season to last in some modified form at least through the end of the year, if not longer.

11/28Old Fire Train Photo:

Old photo of SP X2181, I think near Truckee 1940/50s.

Lots of water and might have put out more fire than it started.

Old LPF

Great old photo. The original is a pig of a tif file! Ab.

11/28Railroad Firefighting:

While not really a new concept, railway fire suppression vehicles are indeed changing for the better. Southern Pacific, which was bought by Union Pacific several years ago, had a complete fire fighting train stationed at Roseville and in Reno to fight tunnel fires in the Sierra snow-sheds. Several eastern railroads also had these unit trains.

www.wildlandfire.com/pics/equip11/firetrain.jpg
www.wildlandfire.com/pics/equip11/watercar1.jpg
www.wildlandfire.com/pics/equip11/watercar2.jpg
www.wildlandfire.com/pics/equip11/watercar3.jpg

Tom

11/27Re the "Federal Agency Employee Exodus" Survey

R5 FS Firefighters,

Please hold off on sending in any more survey emails. OA is creating a self-administered online survey that takes only moments to fill in. We'll import the info you've already provided into the online survey database.

That survey should be up tomorrow early. We're working out the last bugs.

Please! No more emails! Wait until tomorrow.

The Abs.

11/27Lobotomy,

We've never met, but I feel like I know you better than some people I have worked with for years.

It shocked me at first to learn that you were considering jumping to OES. If that happens, the Forest Service will be losing another really fine leader, and OES will be getting a bargain.

It is absolutely shameful that some of our senior agency managers (I refuse to call them leaders, and you know who I'm talking about) are allowing a once world-class organization to be dismantled with hardly a whimper of dissent. Apparently bonuses, pensions, and SES loyalties are more important than the mission and the people executing the mission. One day we will remember them as spineless punks who sold us out.

Whatever happens, best wishes for your future. If our paths ever cross, I'd like to buy you a beer.

Misery Whip
11/27This is traveling behind the intranet scenes:

Just an fyi.

On a recent conference call, we were asked when will fire season be over.
Here is just one perspective.

Michael J. Dietrich
Chief, Fire and Aviation Management
San Bernardino National Forest

Predictive Services Fire Weather Outlook Nov. 26, 2007 (700K pdf file)

11/27Please give the attached Blue Sheet, referencing a Firefighter 1 who
sustained facial burns while assigned to the Corral Fire in Los Angeles
County, wide distribution for the purposes of discussion and Tailgate
Safety topic.

Dave Teter
Battalion Chief - Department Safety Officer
CAL FIRE

Preliminary Summary Report (Blue Sheet) CA-LAC-255190 Firefighter Burn Injury (158 K pdf file)

11/27Ab,

Here are a couple of photos with some flames. This is Arizona Strike Team #1 (Alpha) at the Rice Fire, Fallbrook, CA in October 2007. Five Type 1 engines made up of Central Arizona Response Team members Apache Junction, Chandler, Guadalupe, Mesa and Tempe Fire Departments. These pictures are of a burnout operation we performed near a few structures we were protecting.

AZfirefighter

Thanks, I put them on the Handcrews 22 photo page. Ab.

11/27Saw this article...Thought it might bring some grins to everyone out there!!

wilnd

Huge water balloons to help fight wildfires
http://news.rgj.com
Raquel Maria Dillon
For the AP
Posted: 11/27/2007

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) -- William Cleary believes aerial firefighting could become child's play.

Five years ago, his son drenched him with a water balloon -- and got him to thinking.

"He was three stories up and I was walking, and he still managed hit me square in the head," said Cleary, a Boeing engineer. "I thought, why can't we be this accurate with water on fires?"

So he started working on a system to use giant water balloons to put out wildfires.

11/27From Phyllis Krietz, DHS, behind the scenes:

The NWCG approved the Skills Crosswalk at the meeting in October, 2007.
USFA is currently developing a press release/program notice to announce the
initiative. At a minimum the announcement will be posted on the USFA web
site soon. The repackaging of the training as indicated in the Skills
Crosswalk is under development.

FEMA Skills Crosswalk (990 K pdf file)

11/27Good Evening Ab, et al.....,

I know I haven't written much lately! Been lurking and extremely busy! But I need to pass this along!

PLEASE Stay safe,
Keith, Bullard VFD (TX)

It is with deep regret that we advise you that a Firefighter with the Volusia County Fire-Rescue has been killed in the Line of Duty during training this morning. Initial reports are that companies were doing brush fire operations training when a tree fell, killing the Firefighter. The accident happened this morning at Volusia's Fire training facility located on near Daytona Beach FL. Volusia County fire investigators say the firefighters are part of a "fire walker" team, and were using power saws to cut down trees when the tragic event occurred. Additional details will follow. As always, our sincere sympathy and condolences to all effected-especially those directly involved from VCFR-and the Firefighters family.
Take Care-BE CAREFUL.
BillyG

11/27Forest Service firefighters if you're applying to CalFire, please send in your information and get your peers and colleagues to do the same. We're trying to get some accurate numbers regarding who's applied and planning to leave.

We need info from all Forest Service firefighters, temp, seasonal or permanent

  1. who have applied for the next CalFire Captain's hiring round. Please say if you have have received interview dates from them or not.
  2. those who recently applied for Engineer positions.
  3. anyone who is applying for or has has applied for CalFire Firefighter II.
  4. those who have or are applying for a Firefighter I seasonal position.

Please include the following information:

  • Grade (GS rating)
  • Forest
  • Module (examples: engine, hotshot, handcrew)
  • position you applied for with CalFire (captain, engineer, FFT2, FFT1); if you're applying for positions as low as you need to go to get your foot in the door.
  • any comments you feel like sharing (are you leaving reluctantly or happily, why you're leaving, what would make you stay, issues, priorities, etc).

Please tell your peers to email Ab or ask your peers and gather the info above from

  • your module,
  • your ranger district
  • your forest.

I am working to make sure there are no overlapping entries and no database "rectangles" left blank. Complete data that records everyone who is applying would be best. Individuals will remain anonymous. Ab.

11/27Ab,
For your "CAL FIRE hiring list" ... may or may not qualify but thought I would pass the info.....

I retired from the USFS, CA-LPF in 2005. Early retirement at 52 due to the continuing lying by the FS mucketies in regards to qualifications added to their red cards without the proper paths being followed, among other issues.

I was a GS-9 Battalion Chief (prior job had been a GS-11 FAO on the SQF) with ATGS, OSC2, DIVS ratings on my red card. I left the SQF GS-11 to take the lower GS-9 on the LPF due to the GS-9 being a $5000.00 a year raise on base pay.

The last two fire seasons I have staffed the Firewatch Cobra GS-11 ATGS position on a personal services contract. Most folks believe I am an AD, but I am on a personal services contract with the FS, working for the Regional Aviation Group and South Operations.

I applied to the CAL FIRE open examination and have an interview date of Dec 7, 2007. Needless to say, if I am offered a position with CAL FIRE I will no longer be available to the FS as a "Militia" ATGS......

I had considered coming back to the USFS as a full time employee in one of the newly created regional aviation ATGS positions, but the low pay was a major issue in my decision to pursue the CAL FIRE positions or remain as a militia contractor.

yactak

"Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal." -- Vincent Lombardi
11/27Re: the rail car fire engine.

This is a great example of a rail company's track fire suppression units. These are more commonly used to fight median fires during grinding operations. If you have never seen a rail ground - imagine 24 industrial grinders all going at once. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbJsPFp8u50&feature=related heres a youtube shot of a grinding operation.

Rail gets flattened out by the repetitive pounding by the passing wheels. When this happens rolling resistance increases as there is more contact patch to deal with. Re profiling the tracks reduces rolling resistance and increases economy.

These machines throw sparks a long ways as you can see.

eric
11/27I hate hearing all the character assassination of Jim Pena. Why don’t we give this Dec. 10th meeting a chance? The man has not even done anything yet and he is being crucified. I am a FS firefighter with 30 years of R5 suppression. I manage a complex District in So. Ca. so I understand all the problems this Region and the FS is facing. The very fact that this meeting is happening is a good sign and I think we should provide thoughtful advice instead of criticism before it even starts. Lets wait for the criticism until after the meeting, if nothing positive happens. My opinion is, the very fact the retention issue has been acknowledged and this meeting is happening is a very positive step and it is happening because of all your voices. Lets keep up the fight and applying the pressure for positive changes.

It is human nature to appoint a “bad guy” for problems that exist. Lets not make Pena or any others the “bad guy”. Most of these upper level managers are doing their best to survive in a screwed up organization. They lead and manage to the best of their abilities, even though that may not be enough. Let's at least give them a chance and try to steer the change and not criticize.

Thanks

SK

11/27Ms and Lobotomy,

Good on ya!!! Stand and fight. Don’t cut and run. All of you who love your organization should jump in with these courageous firefighting professionals too. In case you don’t know, you outnumber the opposing side and you all vote (hopefully you all do) and those who are hearing about the problems as a result of the hard work of the FWFSA are truly interested. What I find really heightens their interest is when someone tells them how many of you go to the polls. The most basic right we all have is our vote. Use it wisely and if you have to organize a “block vote” system and advertise it to the candidates do it. Don’t just ride the fence like a bunch of lops. Get in there and show your united muscle. It’s there. You just have to make up you collective minds to use it. There is safety and power in united numbers believe me. I personally know many of the federal upper level managers and they too are rooting for you to rise up. Don’t think this is pleasant for them either. They have that same love of organization you do but they are very vulnerable. I sense their frustration when we speak face top face..

Normbc9

11/27Another Piece of Pena Info

Did you know that during Mr. Pena’s last year as FS on the Plumas,
he was summoned to DC to work on a special project for Mark Rey?
Shortly after returning to the Plumas he gets promoted to the Deputy RF
position for R5. Coincidence? I hardly think so. In my opinion he is
nothing more than a puppet for Mark Rey and the Administration.

Stoneboat

11/27Hello,

I'm sure many folks already know this information...

It sounds like the R5 Fire Hire timeline for the next round of hiring is out
and being circulated - with February 3rd as the last date to submit your
AVUE application. Referral lists will be created on February 4th.

Thanks,

Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah
www.LoomisHannah.com

11/27Hey Abs.

Can you post this in your pics site, this is an UNUSUAL Firefighting Rig. It was built by BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad) up in Spokane Washington.

it carries:

  • 3,250 Gallon water tanks
  • 500 Gallon Foam Tank
  • Honda Pumps (1 on each end)
  • Honda Generator hooked up to bright halogen lights for night work or smoky conditions
  • movable water cannons mounted on a platform (1 on each end)

BNSF worked with USFS and Washington Dept of Natural Resources to make sure all fittings and hoses were compatible. They can haul it to the fire by train then park it and let fire personnel staff it.

Per BNSF they build this due to several fires started by their trains each year and wildfires threatening their railroad assets.

They are considering pulling this along during rail grinding ops each year when a lot of their fires start.

Mike

Different, interesting. I put it on Equipment 11 photo page. Ab.

11/26A Few Things

First,
San Bernardino NF FAM = Class Act !
Proof again that the iiaa model works.

Secondly,
Anyone have information that during the Dec 10th meeting the group will complete
an assessment of turning over protection responsibility of NF WUI to State and
Local Gov?

Proof again the iiaa model works and this would not be a cost effective/productive
decision. If anyone knows about this and as some talking points, now is the time to
pull them out.

Finally,
If the Forest Service starts losing the Lobotomy's of this organization, you can just go
ahead and put a fork in us, because we're done!

ms

Check the acronyms list (link in center above) if you want to know what IIAA is. ms, I agree with you. Ab.

11/26Ab,

From several reliable sources, the "average attrition rate" is around 4% in the federal sector. Attrition is loses from all sources: mandatory retirements, voluntary retirements, resignations, terminations, transfers, deaths, etc.

The 7.2% attrition rate of the R-5 fire program is nearly twice the federal average attrition rate. It signifies an agency in turmoil and in need of stabilization. The 7.2% current attrition rate is not due to the recruitment efforts of CAL FIRE, nor the municipal fire departments, nor DoD agencies, nor from In-N-Out burger...... Those employers evolved and sought the best employees for their mission delivery, and were willing to offer competitive pay, benefits, and working conditions. If the federal land management agencies don't evolve in similar ways of thinking, their fire and resource management missions are at risk. The upward trend in "losses" as shown in the R-5 "White Paper" shows that the problem was identified long ago, but only recently acted upon (or at least another strategy meeting was held).

When we (several were FWFSA members) worked on the justifications for the original Series 0462 Special Salary Rate Request (Table 256) (1989/1990) and the 2002 review and update, the level of concern with attrition was 6%, not 16% per OPM and staffing sources. It was described as a 50% difference over the national average.  A 16% attrition rate would signify a completely failed agency with nearly a complete turnover of employees every five to six years. The fire managers at the time (both the RO and WO) felt the attrition needed to be addressed.

What should be very concerning is the nearly 70% loss of entry level* folks before they complete 7 years of federal service (2000-2007). Not only is ~70% alarming for safety, it is alarming in the loss of "corporate knowledge and values". With many forests reporting a greater than 40% loss of apprentices before conversion to journey level (some forests have a rate nearing 60%), that  alone should be an alarm bell signaling the crisis.

The FedScope program provides excellent data on how the recruitment and retention process is failing at both the lower levels as well as in the mid and upper management levels in the fire program.

* Entry level includes temporary, career seasonal, and SCEP appointments at the GS-2 through GS-5 levels.

Lobotomy

Note 1: I intentionally omitted links to my data so that folks in the RO and WO know that others are gathering and fact checking data also. I provided the FedScope program  for them if they would like to refute any of our figures, communicate, and actually embrace the FWFSA as a partner. Other figures are easily fact checked/confirmed through other sources.

Note 2: After 24 years of federal service, I didn't apply to CAL FIRE...... I applied to OES. I'll bleed green until the day I die, but I won't live in the slums and eat top ramen for the rest of my life...... while the GS-14, GS-15, and SES "leaders" continually fail to lead the fire program and fully address the challenges of the fire mission delivery.

Note 3: While both FOIA and the California Public Records Act are time consuming in getting data, they are invaluable in getting down to the hard basic facts and "who said what".

Lobotomy, good points. Ab.

11/26Dear Ab,

For those who want some FEMA questions answered, you can swing 'em my way. I work for FEMA as a Community Relations Field Specialist (and was on the SoCal fires)...but my real background is wildland fire, and I am a PIO with national incident command teams.

-To answer the below question regarding rehab work down in Southern CA; please look up www.inciweb.org and refer to the SOCAL BAER teams listing. Click on the listing and look for the contact number. FEMA contributes financial assistance through the state via public assistance funding, but the SoCal BAER folks are the ones running the ground show.

Cheers,
Chelsea

Will do. Ab.

11/26Ab and All

Let me explain a little bit about the man Jim Pena is

Fact: Jim Pena, Forest Supervisor, Plumas National Forest

Fact: District Ranger who works directly for Pena is pulled over while operating
a government owned vehicle on government time and is arrested, processed and
booked into county jail for operating a vehicle Under the Influence.

Fact: District Ranger is still employed and holds his position on the same forest
more than 9 months later.

Now if this was a GS-5 Firefighter (Forestry Tech), I’ll bet my bottom dollar that
the firefighter would have been terminated immediately.

I also know you are innocent until proven guilty and I have heard it was guilty, but
the Ranger is still employed and it is an example of Pena covering for one of his
friends and didn’t want to muddy the water for his shot at Deputy Regional Forester.

Believe it or not this is true.

Brushboy
11/26I can see the asset R5 USFS personnel will be to our organization. You
mention that most hires will be from within our ranks. After what I saw
this summer and fall, we do not have a lot of experience in our lower ranks.
We need help from the outside as it would be bad to have a mass
promotion from within our inexperienced ranks.

A904G
11/26This came in round robin:

FYI,

Forest Fire Management would like to thank all of the Forest, BLM, and
HIA for the support resources assigned to the San Bernardino National
Forest during the recent wind events in Southern California. The Forest
had 44 initial attack fires, 4 structure fires with potential threat to the
Forest, and 2 vehicle fires into the vegetation that we were able to
utilize the additional resources to prevent these fires from becoming an
extended attack fire or a fire that required an Incident Management Team.

These additional resources have been released back to their respective home
units with the exception of the following resources still assigned to the
Slide and Grass Fires. Assigned Resources: S/T 3646C (MDF E-64, MNF E-42,
MNF E-34, TNF E-33, TNF E-42), Patrols SRF P-31 & TNF P-72. Released
resources have coordinated with our Expanded Dispatch, North Ops & South
Ops and their respective home units will be notified of ETA's home.

Rocky W. Opliger
Deputy Chief
Fire & Aviation Management
San Bernardino National Forest

11/26Normbc9, John says THANKS !!! Ab.
11/26Sad news

I just wanted to let everyone know that Frank Gruhot passed away on Nov. 19 due to complications from surgery. Frank had been recently diagnosed with cancer but had remained very optimistic in his attitude and outlook. Frank was with the Forest Service for 26 years. He worked on the Stanislaus NF on the Bald Mt. Helitack Crew for numerous years and then transferred to the Hume Lake District on the Sequoia NF. He was a valuable member of the California Incident Management Team 3.

A memorial service for Frank will take place Sunday, Dec. 2 from 11am to 2pm at the Dunlap Community Center. In lieu of gifts or flowers, please send donations to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

I had only met Frank a few times, but he was always a kind and caring man. Everyone I have talked to said that he was a great co-worker and even better friend. He will be missed.

Lori
11/26Does anyone have a contact number or e-mail for current FEMA
operations in Southern California?

Reportedly they have hired folks to do rehab work on the recent
fires and trying to verify this info and find the office or person
responsible for contracting.

Thanks,

John R. Bennett
Rio Hondo College

Get your guys out there for some post fire PT? Ab.

11/26Seeking Gleason Lead By Example Award Nominees:

The NWCG Leadership committee is seeking nominations for the Paul Gleason
Lead by Example Award. The award is open to any wildland firefighter or
group of firefighters and is presented in three categories: Mentoring and
Teamwork, Motivation and Vision, and Initiative and Innovation. For
additional information about the award click on the link:
www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/documents/gleason_award_info.phpl.

Nominations can be sent electronically from the above link or hard copy
applications can be printed and mailed. The deadline for applications is
December 31st.

Any questions can be directed to John Wood at 530.226.2723

11/26The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
11/26 Good morning,

I just wanted to make a quick clarification regarding your note on the
Cal Fire Firefighter I (seasonal temp) application timeline...

The filing period for the 2008 fire season is the first business day of
November 2007 through the last business day of January 2008
according to the Cal Fire "Career Opportunities" page on their
website. The actual hiring won't begin until around April or May.

Thanks again for your support.

Sincerely,
Bethany E. Hannah
www.LoomisHannah.com

Thanks, Bethany I'll correct that in my post. I'm not expert or even knowledgeable in CalFire hiring, although I'm beginning to know more than I ever thought I would. Ab.

11/26 I have a date of Dec, 6 for the Captains list. It is such a shame that the
agency I have worked for 18 seasons has denied this problem for so
long, and forced us to make such a hard decision in the middle of our
careers. SHAME ON THEM!

Noname.
11/25 Re: Jim Pena

I do not like to make judgment about someone I have never met, but so far the cards are stacking up against Jim Pena. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't he responsible for:
  1. Pressure upon Angles Forest Supervisor resulting in the abrupt retirement of Don Feser.
  2. Not allowing The Monterey Crew to attend the Funeral for a fellow firefighter this past fall.
  3. Denying the FWFSA representation at the upcoming retention meeting in December.

Too bad we cannot apply the federal Three Strikes rule, now codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3559(c), the defendant receives mandatory life imprisonment; for acts to undermine the morale, recruitment, and retention of US Forest Service Firefighters in Region 5.

Does Mr. Pena not realize the following?

  • The Land Management agencies combined have the largest fire department in the Nation with Region 5 having more firefighters than all of the rest of the nation combined.
  • The more Pena keeps putting down the firefighters (opps Forestry Technicians), the larger the fallout will be when the uprising happens. With Pena in the middle of the storm.
  • The mass exodus is upon us. A meeting during Use-Or-Loose Season, after the interviews have begun; is like putting a band-aid on a saw cut to the leg without chaps on.
  • The FWFSA has such a vast representation of members that Pena may deny official access to the meeting, but the FWFSA will still be present.

I might not be the first person to post this information here on they said, but the more posts about this topic, the greater likelihood that staffers and congressional aids will see it a huge issue amongst Federal Firefighters.

Thanks Abs for hosting this site.

SRJS, Proud FWFSA Member

You're the first that has pulled all that info together.
Regarding hosting, you're welcome, buy a calendar or two and make us happy. It's easy! Haw Haw! Ab.

11/25 Re the poll or tally:

GA and FS Fire readers,

Sure, we can widen this tally. Why not... It would be good to have real numbers across the board. You will remain anonymous.

Bottom line... Tell your friends and colleagues to email Ab. We need the info from

  1. all FS firefighters who have applied for the next CalFire Captain's hiring round and have received interview dates from them and
  2. those who recently applied for Engineer positions. (Supplemental packets come out is January.)

In addition, I'll start another list to include seasonals/temps, anyone who is applying for or has has applied for CalFire Firefighter II and/or are also willing to accept a Firefighter I seasonal position.

CalFire applicants below the Engineer position, please email Ab your

  • GS rating,
  • Forest,
  • Module (examples: engine, hotshot, handcrew),
  • position you applied for with CalFire (captain, engineer, FFT2, FFT1 temp), and
  • any comments you feel like sharing (why you're leaving, what would make you stay, issues, priorities, etc).

Seasonal or Temp hires don't count in OPM's calculations for retention -- although you make up more than 40% of fed firefighter staffing and you are  INTEGRAL  TO  THE  FIREFIGHTING  EFFORT.

I think OPM requires something like 16% attrition before they say there's a retention problem and move to address the issue. Go figure.

In 2005 or 2006 there were 4 or 4.5% losses in R5 because only permanent firefighters were included, while the temps/seasonals were excluded from the equation. I don't know what the numbers and percents are today, probably still well under OPM's magic % number. Seems like there is a problem with the OPM calculating system that should be addressed if the outcome is that we won't have firefighters to do the job during fire emergencies next season. (This could be a job for Congress.)

I am told CalFire has around 650 open positions as of 10/21. No doubt 80-85% of new hires will come from within their own ranks. However, they lack enough applicants that can step up into middle management positions and will be casting a wide net to fill them.

Congress needs to be educated and/or we need to figure out what will be left after so many of you decide ... "Should I Stay or Should I Go".

Ab.

PS. I'm hearing that all supplemental packets for Engineer/ FF II won't come out until January.

11/25 Dear Concerned & Letterman

Concerned;

I truly wish I could offer an answer as to why the fire program leadership from all the land management agencies are so silent. Maybe its the same old "CYA" and stay lock-step in place for some inexplicable reason.

Maybe its because the agencies truly have no clue how to solve the problems they face and feel if they just hide, the season will end, everyone will forget the issues and they can rest easier for a few more months... until next season. I honestly don't have a clue.

With respect to elevating the issue of the FWFSA not attending the meetings on retention to congress, well, that is management's right to include or exclude anyone they see fit. Does it make sense? I don't think so but neither did the decision not to allow Monterey Crew 1 to go to a Cal-Fire firefighter memorial service... same person making these decisions... Again, a non-fire line officer.

Congress itself is being weird in all of this because on the one hand they want to understand the problems and work towards solutions, but in the public eye, they seem intent on sound bites and press coverage that makes them look like they are doing something when in fact they aren't doing anything except looking towards the next election.

One angle is the press. Yes there are some very bad press folks out there which is why the FWFSA deals with only a very few in California who have taken the time to immerse themselves in the issues. I will be meeting with some of those folks in San Diego tomorrow & Tuesday. Suffice it to say those the FWFSA does trust have the information needed to make life miserable for those in the Agency leadership who not only have helped to create many of these problems that have now manifested under their watch but who now apparently believe they can fix the problems by themselves.

To Letterman:

I have been honored to have had the opportunity to work with NFFE representatives on a number of issues ranging from outsourcing to staffing etc. I'm humbled by your comments but I have confidence in those I know from NFFE to represent the interests of the rank & file firefighters and I don't think they need the FWFSA to be part of their team. If they do, great but I don't see that happening. If haven't heard any overtures from them in that regards.

Besides, whether the RO realizes it or not, there will be FWFSA members at those meetings...

The idea of the FWFSA & NFFE participating in the meetings was that NFFE can accomplish things within the confines of Title 5 and the FWFSA can accomplish things in similar yet more unrestricted ways. Thus we would be able to work jointly together in a variety of ways to achieve common goals.

As far as FOIA requests are concerned, I've had poor results in that process. It is time consuming and very little motivation for those responding to the request to provide the information in a timely manner. That being said, it might be an idea to have the press do the requests.

However, the reality is the diversity of the FWFSA's membership results in us receiving a great deal of correspondence, etc., that was not intended for us to see. That information is what has helped establish our credibility on Capitol Hill. I'm sure the Forest Service' RO & WO now know that very little about the fire program doesn't get sent to the FWFSA in one way or another. That in turn often makes its way to the press or Congress which is why the RO & WO are on their heels.

Additionally I've sent a copy of the revised briefing paper to AB for posting.

Lastly, for those pondering a move to the potential greener, or should I say red or blue pastures, pay & benefits are a huge incentive, especially when you are trying to raise a family. The easy thing is to jump ship but consider for a moment that each of you who chooses to stay in the federal system will not only eventually be running the ship but you will know that you were part of it's course correction.

Yea I know, metaphors are great but they don't put food on the table. However if so many dedicated people were not spending their adult lives doing everything possible to make your career more rewarding & prosperous for you & your family, I'd say jump. I guess I'd much rather see all of you take the helm and steer this ship in the direction YOU want it to go.

Casey
11/25 Thanks for sharing Casey. You did the right thing.

I agree that you should go to a higher level and continue to try and get in that meeting. Remember it was Feinstein and company who gave R-5 and the Forest Supv on the ANF 30 days to address in writing the attrition/pay problem within the Forest Service. This meeting was probably an outcome of the reply back to Feinstein. Has anyone seen the reply?

Secondly, I would recommend a FOIA of all written and electronic communications between R-5 RO/WO and any R-5 NFs to the Senator or her committee that relates to Firefighter/Forestry Tech pay/retention issues. This is an appropriate request under FOIA laws.

Lastly, if NFFE wants you (Casey) to help us/them, they will invite you as a representative/adviser for NFFE. If management continues to not allow you to attend, NFFE can and should file an unfair labor practice. Management cannot tell NFFE who NFFE wants at the meeting as a representative of NFFE. NFFE needs to hold firm.

Everyone needs to read the Pena "approved and updated" briefing paper on retention. I haven't seen it posted in here yet, however it needs to be seen by Firefighters and those representing employees at the Dec 10th meeting.

Letterman…….

I probably got it when I was enjoying the holiday. I get the message: Back to Work! I'll go look...

Here are two from the doc files:

Retention Briefing Paper from 9/26 (103 K doc file)
Retention Revised Briefing Paper from 11/13 (116 K doc file)

Ab.

11/25 FS Firefighter Tally and CalFire hiring:

Ab,

I think it might be beneficial to tally those who are applying for Firefighter II and
are also willing to accept a firefighter I seasonal position, as well. Showing that
some are willing to accept lower grade positions just to get the foot in the door
of Cal Fire and out of the Fed System may provide some good evidence of
retention problems.

For Engineer and Firefighter II there are no interviews, just supplemental packets.

GA

11/25 CalFire hiring process:

Ab,

You asked about the fire captain candidates being offered a job during the interview. That doesn't happen. The successful candidates will be place on a list by the ranking in their scores. The first ranks will be for CALFIRE folks only (theirs is a promotional examination) followed by the open list candidates. When all of CALFIRE candidates on the list have been offered jobs, the open list (non-CALFIRE) candidates will be offered jobs.

For the past several exams there have been far more openings than CALFIRE candidates to accept positions. This exam should be the same. The list probably will not be released until Spring, so hiring normally doesn't begin until March or April at the earliest, May or June has been when it was done in the past, which throws everyone behind the curve to staff crews and engines, to say nothing of what it does to the agencies that are loosing their employees right at the beginning of fire season.

SP

11/25 CalFire hiring process:

CalFire won't be offering jobs to people at the oral interviews. They will
still have to rank all the applicants then develop the "open list". Offers have
to be made to CalFire departmental promotions first, then to the open list
candidates.

SK

11/25 wow.

Those of you that have responded, please contact others on your Modules, Ranger Districts, and Forests that you think might have applied and encourage them to email Ab. abercrombie@wildlandfire.com

From what you've said, interviews are as early as Dec 5. Do they make an offer in the interview? Do you have to accept or decline on the spot?

Ab.

11/25 Ab is composing the data list of those who have applied to CalFire for the next Cal Fire Captain's round. You should have already received your interview dates in December.  In addition, we'd like to hear from Engineers who recently applied but have not received a supplemental packet.

To reiterate, this is a poll of

  1. all FS firefighters who have applied for the next CalFire Captain's hiring round and have received interview dates from them and
  2. those who recently applied for Engineer positions and whether or not you have received a supplemental packet.

Please send your GS rating, Forest, position, and whether you have an interview date or have recently applied with no interview date yet. No names will be included, just your GS rating and forest.

Keep them coming. I will only enter the data on the spreadsheet without posting comments to theysaid unless you instruct me otherwise.

Ab.

11/25 KC,

I’m in no position to tell what the bargaining issues will be but there is a strongly backed group in the state political structure who is trying to assail the current contract provisions for the Cal Fire employees as well as CHP and others. The leader is a retired state politician from Thousand Oaks and he already has his guaranteed pension and benefits so now he can take the path he chooses and try to take some of the hard-earned benefits for the Cal Fire employees. This group is also after the benefits of the retired employees. My guess is that with the current state fiscal woes they may attract some listeners this time. It will be interesting to see what happens, but my guess right now is CDF Firefighters will stand up and fight and win. But the factions who are assailing the benefits are akin to those who would like to abolish things like paid sick leave and vacations as well as any other employee benefits. They are strong advocates of bringing in off-shore workers too hoping to skirt the labor law provisions for overtime and other requirements set in the law. The one example they keep pointing to is the past practices of the federal fire agencies.

Normbc9

11/25 Norm,

SA on HA.?

The link you provided had a headline date of November 14th, Fall 2008.
Time to prepare?

Is that an evaluation of how the next CDF/CAL FIRE bargaining unit
agreement will happen as they pursue the "snatching"? Or will it fail?

KC
11/25 Casey,

Since the R-5 appointed leadership doesn't see the need for the FWFSA to be at the meetings in R-5 and why it matters on a national level....Has the matter been elevated properly upwards to the folks who can really affect change?...... ie - elected officials on the House and Senate? Folks need to know when things are circling the drain quickly....... and appointed folks need to know they have a last chance, and a chance to LEAD and prosper rather than retire and fade away.....

Why are the huge Fire Staffs in the Forest Service (FS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Indian Management (BLM), and National Park Service (NPS) from their Washington Offices (WO) and their offices at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) sitting silent as many of their programs are both failing fiscally and in their specific mission delivery year after year? Why do their program delivery budgets not reflect the mission delivery costs as expected by the taxpayers?

If the FS leadership can't step up, who will to unite the wildland fire program and exercise their professional leadership?

Casey, kick them in the butt!!! Get them to understand that they are failing as they take vacation when the mission is on-going.

Concerned
11/25 LA County Preparedness

Just a little interesting information I have been privy to: LA County refused any
Cal Fire/OES additional resources for this wind event. Said thanks but no thanks,
we have it covered. This is secondhand info but it comes from a very high source
in Cal Fire so I think it is valid.

Great job by everyone at the Malibu Fire. Saw lots of local departments, OES,
and Cal Fire units and crews there.

I think it was a good move to staff up the South State for this event even though
it was not a intense as they first thought. It does not take very many Malibu homes
lost to make up the the entire cost of the mobilization. By the way the local radio
stated that the mobile homes in the park at Malibu sell for $1 mil. Only in SoCal.

signed,
Eng. 83 Capt.

11/25 Re: The "Denial Letter" to the FWFSA by Pena

Shame on Pena and his principal advisers for their decision to not directly allow the FWFSA. It showed they didn't want a factual and honest discussion by everyone involved. It was a fully expected result.

Ab,

At the Region 5 retention meeting, I "hope" the NFFE represents the "rank and file" far better than they did during the congressional hearings to remove the overtime pay cap years ago. I am sure they will since they know that the FWFSA isn't an adversary, but a partner. It took years for the FWFSA to foster a partnership and understanding.

I said that tongue in cheek fully knowing that NFFE is keen in representing the "rank and file" and is not in an adversary role against the FWFSA as the agencies would like to foster. NFFE is a union with rights representing the non-supervisory and non-management employees of most of the Forest Service units. AFGE represents some other rank and file employees, mostly from the east coast or through FS Job Corps programs.

The FWFSA is an employee association with members from all federal wildland fire agencies with dues paying representation from GS2 through GS14..... temporary, career-seasonal, career, retired, contract, and AD appointments. Most are firefighters, some are not. All of our members care about the federal wildland fire program delivery as a core goal, and span entry level to upper management.

The FWFSA simply collects the facts, presents them, offers educated suggestions from the GS2 through GS14 levels on issues, and supports improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions for federal wildland firefighters.

The FWFSA facts and suggestions come from the field and from the program managers of the fire program. Some call it "leading up", a basic military foundation to improve troop and mission efficiency for the betterment of unit.

After talking with wildland firefighters over the last 12 months again on their issues......from throughout the United States..... it isn't just a Socal or California problem as some argue like they did in the early days of ICS and NIIMS.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Chapter Director, Southern California
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
11/24 I was watching the live coverage of the fire near Malibu on the Los Angeles
ABC channel. For the most part they did a great job providing excellent live
aerial views and information about the spread of the fire. But, in describing
the DC-10 air tanker, the reporter in their Air7 helicopter said the retardant
contained SEEDS, to assist in revegetation. In their hours of live coverage
they put out a lot of good information, and I guess they can't get every fact
right. But... SEEDS in retardant? Oh well.

Jackson
11/24 There is currently a large, wind driven wildland fire burning in the hills of Malibu.
The fire is at this time 2000+ acres, with an estimated 35 homes destroyed.
There are at least 500 firefighters on scene now with more resources on the
way.

Winds are estimated to be in the 50MPH+ range.

Its time to go to races!

MOC4546

The hotlist (CA-LAC-Corral) has been reporting on this since o'dark30. Sorry I didn't put a note up here. My bad... Ab.

11/24 Ab,

As you know Region 5 will be holding a meeting in December in regards to how to solve the current retention issues. For those who have already applied for the next Cal Fire Captain's round should have already received their interview dates in December. I believe we need to send a clear message to the region so that they understand the magnitude of the retention problem and why so many Forest Service overhead with years of experience are willing to leave.

I would like to do a poll or survey of those who received interview dates with Cal Fire. No names to be posted just your GS rating and forest. This may also help fire managers on each forest to know what to expect so that they can express their concerns to the region as well. Maybe even do a poll for those who recently applied for the Engineer positions. This may also help Casey with FWFSA by providing some good data and maybe be a voice at this retention meeting.

Sign Me,

Should I Stay or Should I Go!!

CLASH, eh?

Send an email to abercrombie@wildlandfire.com. I will keep track of the information on a spread sheet and keep the sources anonymous. If firefighters on ranger districts want to ask around to obtain the information and send it in, I'd be willing to record that as well or use it to double check the info. It would be good to have complete information. Ab.

11/24 Lobotomy's air force pun :)

Lobotomy,

Me thinks you made a pun, and a good one at that. Your statement about the press
being a large air force could have a hidden meaning not relative to aviation,
ie, a lot of hot air...

Tongue firmly in cheek.
Best wishes,

contractor

11/24 This may help enlighten all of us about the tenuous position Cal Fire is currently in.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/notes-ara-budget-healthcare.pdf

What concerns me is the state legislature keeps authorizing the expenditure of
more funds. Where does that money come from?

Norm

11/23 FWFSA  LETTER  TO  PENA

Hi to all:

In the spirit of the Holiday I pondered whether to post this today or whether to wait a few days. Ultimately my belief that our wildland firefighters need to know what is going on and the facts on any given issue led me to send this in today.

The R5 RO has refused to include the FWFSA in the "meetings" set for the week of December 10th to discuss region wide retention issues. While disappointing, the response is not necessarily surprising given the issues we have raised recently. Included in this post is a 3 page letter I sent to Mr. Jim Pena seeking our participation and his 3 sentence response.

I truly believe that if the RO & WO would come out collectively and say they support a wildland firefighter classification series, it would send a positive signal to our firefighters that the Agency supports them. Granted classification doesn't bring with it any help in dealing with the cost of living in Southern California and elsewhere but I'd like to think the recognition alone would give enough hope to those pondering a transfer to a non-federal agency that positive change is coming.

I am confident that the representatives from NFFE and the FMOs attending these meetings will candidly express the needs and concerns of the Region's firefighters from all grades and positions.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

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

Mr. Judd,

The Regional Foerster has requested that a team develop recruitment and retention options for consideration for implementation prior to the next round of fire hiring. The team will include NFFE representation. I know that you and your organization are interested in this meeting. However, NFFE will be representing barginning unit employees at the meeting. Jim

Jim Pena
Deputy Regional Forester
PSW Region

11/23 From Firescribe:

www.signonsandiego.com

An effective effort in fighting fires

By Ruben Grijalva
November 23, 2007

Saving lives is always the first priority of firefighters in responding to wildfires. During the recent fires, effective coordination between federal, state and local emergency authorities saved lives through the safe evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people. At the same time, no emergency responder lives were lost in the extremely dangerous conditions.

In Southern California, the recent actions taken by all emergency responders resulted in dramatic improvements since the 2003 fires. This year, in addition to the most publicized fires, another 251 fires were put out and held without damage due to aggressive tactics during the Santa Ana winds event.

Fires are fought and won on the ground. Air coverage is an important tool, but, by continuing to solely focus on that aspect, it diminishes the role of the 15,000 firefighters and their heroic efforts. More than 130 firefighters were injured, including four who were hospitalized in the intensive care unit with major burns while saving lives and protecting structures during extreme fire conditions.

When the recent fires hit, every aircraft that could safely be flown was launched. Cal Fire aircraft alone flew more than 800 hours and dropped 1.15 million gallons of retardant. The U.S. Forest Service and its contractors also flew as safety permitted.

(click the link to read the rest)

11/23 After hearing about all of the supposed air assets in Southern California that weren't used in the recent wildfires.... the following thought came to mind as the press was covering "their story" rather than the "history":

Maybe the press (one of the largest air forces in California) should start carrying bambi buckets in their ships to suppress wildfires rather than do their mission in detailing the news? Maybe firefighters should start writing stories for the press and carry those silly little white tablets?

Tongue firmly in cheek.

The public deserves the facts and not the political spin. There are cases where the military support is useful...... It is in the extended attack and support roles, or for planned events that can be prepared for. In the initial attack role, the public needs to understand that there are better resources available for theirs and firefighter safety and they come from firefighting resources with proper communications, a plan, and qualified fire leadership. Without those elements in place.......the aircrew, firefighters, and the public are at risk of injury or death.

Lobotomy

P.S. - Chopper Chick.... my post was not directed at you but some low life in SB Co. trying to drum up a story for his journalistic and video goals on youtube.... especially since I know you fly both the press and fire missions as needed throughout the year and stay highly qualified in both fields and are highly respected. The other person has a bad reputation of making up, and literally selling stories that don't meet the factual litmus tests of either the press or firefighters.
11/23 Santa Anas are starting to hit:
hotlist thread, look at sh9730's post to find the link showing the winds...
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2040

Ab.

11/23

Ab,

A little story behind the East Zone Complex Photo story. The photo is a poster child for W/U Interface challenges. I’m certainly going to use it in my next S-215 class. The management team was FDNY being supported by a NIMO team. The small community of Secesh is roughly 50 miles northeast of McCall, Idaho and has certain “political sensitivities.”

The East Zone Complex had made several runs at Secesh over the preceding weeks. There were Level Three evacuations in place with manned road blocks, but residents, guests, relatives, dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, whatever, were being allowed into Secesh for the holiday weekend. On Labor Day, Monday, Sept 3, 2007 the fire took another hard run at Secesh while it was full of residents, relatives and holiday revelers. It was not a good day for firefighters as they had to contend not only with extreme fire behavior, but a town full of well lubricated people who all wanted to be a part of the action.

By the Grace of God, no one was killed. The Division traffic to ICP coming through the fire radios, though, was almost radioactive. The repeaters most likely had smoke coming from them.

So there.

Snake River Sparky

11/23

Thanks to Anthony Rhead for the spectacular photo of the blowup on the East Zone Complex, ID. I've put it on our Home page and on the wallpaper page. It's a very strong contender for next year's (2009) calendar. (Thanks also to those who contributed to the 2008 calendar. What a nice one! Get 'em while they're hot!) Ab.

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

East Zone Complex, ID:  Blowup of Payette National Forest’s East Zone Complex fire taken on September 3, 2007 as the fire approached the community of Secesh. Photo compliments of Anthony Rhead. (ew1007)

11/23 Bluezebra,

All I am going to say is look up and study three things. I use each and every one of these documents on a daily basis:

1) the CFAA Agreement*

2) the Master Mutual Aid Agreement (MMA)*

3) the OES agreement for providing a FREE fire engine in support of MMA*

OES doesn't have a budget, OES is a Governor's Office, for the most part, without funding for key staff..... the E-fund is controlled by CDF.......

* all three agreements of paid and unpaid mutual aid have been trumped by the expected support of federal aid or state aid to pay previously expected costs for reciprocal aid. More often than not, the taxpayers outside of California are paying the costs through either FMAGs or emergency or disaster declarations or proclamations.

Trust me.... I know the agreements pretty well. I also know how FMAG is funding the rest of the world while federal firefighters get sold short while the leaders of the R-5 RO, the WO, and FEMA don't understand the agreements they agree to.

Gizmo
11/22 Love you all and wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving,

From the East Tex Tribe

Aaron, Brenda, Devon, Chelsea,
Kimberly, Remington & Zachariah

11/22

^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'
v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v

HAPPY--..--THANKSGIVING --..--HAPPY--..--THANKSGIVING --..--HAPPY--..--TURKEY!

v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v
^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'^V^'

We give thanks for all of YOU and today we're thankful for our turkeys, too.
Be safe. Carry on! Our best to those doing duty on the line...
The Abs at wildlandfire.com

11/21 Thanksgiving:

I'd like to thank all our fire managers who work hard for us including Ed
Hollenshead and others in the Regional Office.

It's a wonder these days that that anyone is willing to step up and try to
get the job done in light of OMB, OPM, the justice system, cost of living,
budget, politics, etc. I have no doubt fire managers are doing the best they
can, given their own personal style, their experience and background,
the politics they're subject to, the constraints on them from their bosses
and the bureaucracy and the limited time they have to get everything done.

I just want to say THANKS TO ALL!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Mellie

11/21 Dear Former Green Soldier & MS and to all:

I sent a note to Tom last night thanking him for the class & respect he showed with his message to all...unlike the deafening silence coming from R5's RO.

I have had the honor to meet with & chat with Tom on a number of occasions since 2003 and although I frequently try to remind him "from whence he came" I have come to recognize that he is in an untenable situation with virtually no support from the non-fire leadership at the WO. It is certainly not a position I could function in.

Many of us, including myself have readily criticized the fire leadership over the last year or so. I think we all would like to see Tom mount a white stallion and go galloping into Gail Kimbell's office and say "this is the way the fire program is going to be."

Unfortunately she & Mark Rey are probably armed with light sabers and he'd be toast. That is the unfortunate reality.

So, we pick up the slack. Firefighters need to be the ones to educate the non-fire leadership and explain what is needed to make the program stronger. We in turn (the FWFSA) continue to educate and pound on those in DC that have nodded their understanding of the issues yet have failed to take real action to make much needed changes.

I remain confident that with perseverance and hard work, we will all, inclusive of Tom Harbour, see a federal wildland firefighting program second to none in the world.

To all, best wishes for a safe & Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks to all of you for your efforts during this past season.

Casey
11/21 In reply to the post about potential BLM hotshot crew cuts. The second
5-year contract for the Denali Crew ended this year and BLM elected not to
offer the contract again. The BLM Fire Leadership Team decided to place
more emphasis nationally on initial attack resources. Within BLM Alaska
this means that we will be increasing our smokejumper head count by 20 over
the next few years. This is not an easy task and won't happen within one
year. In the meantime the number of other single resource firefighters
will increase. The total number of firefighters within BLM Alaska will not
change, but the emphasis will shift to more initial attack/single resource
types.

KS

11/21 Positive change.

When I worked on the ANF almost 20 years ago, Tom and later Greg, were way
to ahead of their time. I once saw Tom at a gas station in Palmdale racing back to
the ANF from an assignment on the SNF or SQF because of the activity on the
home front. He still took a few minutes to talk to the GS-3 grunts and let us know
what was going on. I hope they can bring about positive changes with the visions
they had back than.

Former Green Soldier.

11/21 Ab, for some background. Was the Harbour memo sent into you directly? Did it come down through the ranks and you received an e-mail by a secondhand ?

It was about 16 years ago +/- that Harbour and Greenhoe managed ANF Fire Management. They managed Fire Management as true visionaries. As Tom mentions, many are on duty this week. This is how Tom and Greg operated as well. Always first out the door in support of a Ranger District, neighboring Forest or cooperator. Holiday or weekend, no problem, out the door. They staffed out and planned for 24 hour staffing during serious event years ago. They were supervised by one of the Forest Supervisors who was on the committee to establish and deliver 462 Special Pay for the So Cal Forests. They staffed out proposals and implemented plans on how the Forest Service could support recovery efforts during the LA Riots and earthquake. These efforts were successful due to hard working Firefighters and the good thing was they knew who on the ground could make something work. They were Type I Incident Commanders and when they came to work they performed like Incident Commanders. R-5 had two big holes when they left.

Tom, you're way too smart not to know that the issues you had some 17 years ago as a Forest Fire Management Officer, have returned and multiplied today. We look forward to 2008 when hopefully we can roll up our sleeves together and work on solutions. 2008 would be a good year to bring Greg back for a special assignment as a WO envoy to examine the concerns from R-5. The Green Ribbon Commission lead by Greenhoe would be one commission we would trust and know at a minimum someone is listening and willing to work on and tackle the tough issues you so gracefully did in R-5 years ago. That's my 2 cents about what should be discussed at the Dec 10th meeting.

To Tom, Greg and families, have a great Thanksgiving.

ms

ms, It came round robin with a note to get it as widely distributed as possible. I copied and pasted your reply directly to Tom in case he's already at home thawing turkey. Ab.

11/21 Dear Ab,

It’s almost Thanksgiving…..

I sat in the office at the Foundation yesterday, opening the mail (I ran the office by myself for 2 days, can’t believe I can still do it). I saw checks come in for Ken’s Run. A grateful thanks to Ken Perry, his wife, his family and ALL the supporters. There was a check from a Region 2 Hot Shot Golf Scramble. They had on the entry form, you have to “be one, do one, or have one.” I’m sure that brought in a lot of folks! I know there are so many of you who donate all year long and many of you who have become 52 Club members. I am overcome with gratitude. I thought back through this past year about the people who have come into our lives. I am grateful that we haven’t had many fatalities this year. I am thankful that with the support we have from each of you, we have done an awful lot through our Firefighter Down program – a program that wouldn’t exist without Gordon King. This program has made such a difference in the care and follow-up of our injured wildland firefighters.

We just received several handmade quilts from Kirk Smith’s mother for a Ranger Station we are going to be utilizing. Kathy Brinkley, Levi’s mom, sent handmade Christmas cards for families of our fallen. Judy Rama, Dan’s mom, sends out our family newsletters. The huge support of Lori Greeno, John’s wife; Dee Burke, Dan Holmes’ mother; and all the others. I could go on and on about the goodness that comes our way.

I am just grateful to be a part of this Wildland Community, and all that you have given not just financially, but all the other support you give to this Foundation.

Abs I am especially grateful for your continued support and the long hard hours it takes to keep this site up and running for all of us.

Peace
Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Happy Thanksgiving Vicki. Thanks for all you, Melissa, Burk and Candace do. Community is a great thing. Carry on! Ab.

11/21 Re: CFAA vs Master Mutual Aid

Gizmo:

I think you have it backwards. Master Mutual Aid involves the sending unit
covering costs. Federal agencies are not signatory to the Statewide Master
Mutual Aid Agreement.

CFAA involves reimbursement by hosting agency for costs after 12 hours
of commitment, including travel. However, if an incident goes more than 12
hours, ALL hours are then reimbursed. So if you go help Cal Fire for 6
hours, it is free. But if it goes 14 hours, all 14 are paid for by Cal Fire.

The requests for all this move up were generated by Cal Fire. In the ROSS
order, it says re-imbursement is covered.

OES engines are owned by the State of California. All expenses are covered
by the State. The local agency that hosts an OES engine doesn't bear any of
these costs.

Bluezebra

11/21 I was talking to the Crew Supt of Prescott FD's Granite Mountain IHC(t)
and he said that rumors floating around the hotshot world are that BLM
is going to cut 2 IHCs this winter.
1) Jacksonville IHC (Mississippi) and
2) Denali IHC (Alaska),
due to budget reasons.

Can you post this to the group and see if anyone else has any info yet,
again this isn't confirmed yet, but everyone seems to think these are the
crews on the chopping block.

Mike
11/21 Article
Spread Too Thin?
www.pe.com

Despite the report's numerous references to shortages of equipment and personnel due to the widespread deployment, fire agency representatives said this week that there were always enough firefighting resources available to enlist in the fight.

Jason Kirchner, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, said almost every order made for firefighting resources was filled without any time lags. The priority in the early days of the Slide Fire was structure protection and not containment, he said. I've heard from a reliable source that the Slide Fire only had twelve fire engines protecting hundreds of homes AND doing perimeter control for nearly the first 16 hours. While the resources were filled, they were unfortunately coming from Imperial County, eastern Arizona, and the SF Bay area.

noname

The shortages are readily documented in the 209s for those Lake Arrowhead area fires. I don't have them now, but someone sent them in at the time. Ab.

11/21 additions to the smokejumper and IHC leadership

Hello AB would like inform you of some other that have make it to leadership
roles for the BLM in SE Idaho . Joel Gosswiller was an AK jumper for 3 or 4
years and is now is an AFMO for Pocatello BLM. Also Dan Zajanc was a
Squad Boss for Sawtooth IHC and Snake River IHC . Dan is currently an Asst.
Fire Operation Specialist. ( FOS) for the Pocatello BLM> Thanks .

B

Thanks, I added that info. Ab.

11/21 Ab -

Here's a little info I've been meaning to send you in regards to your Smoke Jumper to Fire Manager project.

My former ODF Supervisor, Steve Jolley, worked as a Redmond, OR, Smoke Jumper in the early 70's (don't know exact dates) and then eventually moved on into the ODF organization and advanced up to the position of Forest Unit Supervisor 1 (Assistant Unit Forester; Forest Tech; all ODF terms for the same position, but I believe his final official title was the Forest Unit Supervisor).

I haven't talked to him since 2001, but I believe he retired from ODF's Central Oregon District, John Day Unit, a couple of years ago. He was within 10 years of retiring in 1995 (my last season) and I thought I heard that he retired around 2004 - 2005.

Anyway, thought I'd pass that along for you to decide if it should be added. I found it interesting because I think he may have been the only one in the ODF organization that was a management employee, and also an Ops Chief on one of ODF's teams, that was a previous Smoke Jumper. I might be wrong on that now, but back then I think that was correct.

S

Thanks, I added that. Ab.

11/21 Tom Harbour,

Like you, I am thankful for the slower year on losses and injuries in the wildland fire community....... but, while Forest Service employees weren't lost on fires so far this year...... contractors and cooperators participating in the protection of Forest Service lands were lost and/or injured and should be remembered as part of the community.

I am thankful that this year, amongst all other recent years, those in positions of making changes for the betterment of safety and working conditions for wildland firefighters are starting to speak on the record.

Hopefully with your leadership and support, the wildland fire community can engage and educate the decision makers about the complexities in the wildland fire program in the western states.

I'll share your message with the troops working this Thanksgiving and Christmas. For most of them, working the fall and winter holidays has been just part of the job.

Best wishes to you and your family during the holiday season.

KCK
11/20 Robb in R3--

You asked "which international organizations deal with fire management in some form". Well, one of the obvious answers is the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF).

In addition, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization helped to facilitate the organization of the Fire Management Actions Alliance (FMAA) www.fao.org/forestry/site/firealliance/en/ at the 4th International Wildland Fire Conference in Seville, Spain in May of this year. The IAWF was one of its founding members.

The purpose of the FMAA "is to stimulate improved fire management and reduce damage from fire worldwide.

The Objectives are to:

* review and update the Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines;
* encourage stakeholders at all levels to adopt and use the Guidelines;
* review experiences from applying the Guidelines;
* strengthen international cooperation in fire management.

Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire
11/20 U.S. Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management

Message from the Director
November 19, 2007

For about a month now, I’ve been joking with my staff in Washington and Boise to get their annual leave scheduled so that I can cancel it in a timely manner as a good manager should. But the once humorous quip quickly lost its humor because it’s become true for a lot of folks, especially those in California who will be on alert for this week’s projected wind event.

Many of our first response firefighters including line crews, engine crews, FMOs and the line officers who watch over them are working or are on call this week, including Thanksgiving Day. 2007 marks another long year starting with the Georgia fires in February and here we are, still at it. I wanted to thank you, and tell you how much I admire your dedication to your vocation. You are standing by to protect the lives of America citizens, assist local firefighters with their structure protection duties and guide the delicate choreography of firefighting resources in the skies and on the ground that we all know works very, very well. Many residents this holiday won’t see your work and how you miss your Thanksgiving time with family and friends.

As I reflect on your labor, I wanted to encourage you to think back to a whole different kind of sacrifice that led to another day of giving thanks. It was 144 years ago and surfaced during the horrific Civil War. Towards the end of this bloody conflagration in November of 1863, Abraham Lincoln still found reasons to give thanks and remind us of those less fortunate in his Proclamation of Thanksgiving.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving ….. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also….commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

I am also thankful every day that in 2007 we have not had to mourn the loss of any Forest Service firefighters who lost their lives on the fireline. Be careful, be smart and Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Tom Harbour

11/20 In the first few minutes and hours of our recent fire siege in CA, I and others from throughout the wildland fire profession (federal, state, and local) recognized it was not safe to launch aircraft nor expect the pilots and crews to put their lives in danger. My comments and observations are captured on dispatch tapes..... They are available through both the CA Public Records Act and through the Federal Freedom of Information Act.

Others saw it as a chance to strike a political or educational blow while the media frenzy was high...... Shame on Dr. Minnich and Dr. Bonnicksen for their flawed views and opinions. Both refuse to talk to, debate, or discuss wildland fire issues with true wildland fire professionals.

Category 1 and 2.... sometimes nearing category 3... hurricane force winds were blowing.

I was on the ground watching houses burn while making sure that communities and firefighters were safer. Homes can be replaced.... lives cannot be replaced due to poor decisions.

If any politician, media outlet, or educated professor can make better decisions about wildland firefighting decisions and defend their attacks against wildland fire preparedness while factually reporting on the risks vs. gain, please contact the FWFSA or any wildland firefighter who made critical decisions during the period (please note..... none of them are currently on the CA Blue Ribbon Panel):

/s/
Southern California Chapter Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
11/20 Robb in R3

When I was associated with NA S&PF Fire, I served as the FS Fire Compact Liaison for Eastern Canada. The States activate their Fire Compacts and Agreements as needed. They can cross the border going both ways. Check with the Northeastern Area S&PF (Newtown Square) and Eastern Region (Fort Snelling) about agreement between the NFS and State Fire Compacts (Northeast Forest Fire Compact and Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact). I am quite sure there are agreements still in place with Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The Northeast Forest Fire Compact should be having a meeting very soon, so you don't want to miss out on the latest information.

Rated R

11/20 Good morning from the Southwest! I'm working on some research regarding international cooperation in wildland firefighting, and was wondering if anybody might have some good information for me. My main task is figuring out which international organizations deal with fire management in some form, whether it be something like the international agreements between the US and Down Under, or some international organization that promotes information exchange and cooperation, like the Food and Agriculture Organization within the UN. I know Tom Frey from BLM has been involved in some IO related stuff over the years, but I was wondering if anybody else had some good leads. Thanks folks, stay safe!


Robb in R3

By the way, we have a 20 acre fire going at 9,000 feet a little ways south of Albuquerque right now....in the middle of November! Stay safe everybody, don't get complacent through the winter, you might be out on the line again before you know it!
11/20 To All They Said readers and posters: Wishing you all a happy
thanksgiving and much to be thankful for!
 
Be safe in your travels and hug those close to you!
 
TX Lobo: getting up close and personal w/ some pumpkin pie
real soon......watching my yard cure out due to high winds...
11/20 Re: Senator Feinstein Press Release

Some ideas good (arson registry, disaster relief, and fire safe
grants)..... some ideas bad (increasing FMAG to 90%)......
some ideas really bad (providing assistance to folks to rebuild
in known fire corridors).

JMHO.

Gizmo
11/20 U.S. SENATE INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE HEARINGS

The Senate Subcommittee on Appropriations: Interior, Environment & Related Agencies
will conduct field hearings on Tuesday November 27th in San Diego at the San Diego
City Council Chambers regarding the recent fire events:

202 C. St.
San Diego
12th Floor
at 9:30am.

We are trying to ascertain the specific issues that will be addressed and will provide that
information as soon as possible. It would be great to have as many federal wildland
firefighters there as possible. For further information, please feel free to call me at
208-775-4577 or email me at cjudd@fwfsa.org.

Thanks,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
11/19 Re Firefighting Aircraft and safety:

Ab,

The airspace over an incident is fast moving, dynamic and terribly unforgiving of a mistake…….. which can result in the death of a pilot or others on the ground.

There are specific airspace regulations/procedures in the aerial firefighting environment that provide for aircraft separation and certain communication and performance requirements for safety. It is critical for the safety of everyone that all of the participating aircraft are trained in these airspace regulations and procedures. Even though there were military helicopters available during the last fire siege, without the proper training and radio equipment these aircraft would be a danger to all of the pilots that were involved in the air operation.

There is work/training going on now with the Marines and Navy so their pilots and aircraft may become a viable aerial firefighting resource in a future event.

Just because it flies and can drop water or retardant, it is not a safe resource to throw into the mix unless they know the rules.

Firefly

... and communicate on the same frequencies as fire commanders and know what the words and concepts being communicated mean... I agree 100%. Ab.

11/19 Re: The FY 2008 Presidents Budget Request for the Forest Service

All info (below) from: www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/ and from 24 great years of Forest Service employment. Fingers crossed for at least ten or more years of employment.

Thanks to the currently employed wildland firefighters, the recently retired, the contributors, the long retired with great lessons learned, and the leaders for your discussions, opinions, and suggestions on how to create, and focus on the "Greatest Good".

Lobotomy

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

I wondered why a rumor was going around again about another "management efficiency" program taking dollars away from the wildland fire program for the "Greatest Good" for the Forest Service. Seems folks long ago forgot that the "Greatest Good" was not for the Forest Service, but rather the American people as a whole. We within the Forest Service had a mission to deliver but somehow folks lost focus as political appointees became "leaders" rather than experts.

No wonder why so many federal wildland fire managers are so worried. They learned that "you get what you pay for", and that most rumors are true when you get down to the basics. It is simple Govt. 101 or Economics 101.

I guess I'd wonder where the money for the pilot program was coming from also since it wasn't appropriated or debated by the funding process (Congress).. Especially since the S&PF program took another hit with the 2008 budget... A $24.6 million hit in its mission delivery emphasis area. Just like the rest of the Forest Service, they'll be expected to do more with less and shift the shells around through "management efficiencies" and rely upon the fire program.

It basically comes down to discretionary (appropriations) vs. mandatory spending (appropriations) and what agencies do to shuffle the shells when political appointees keep saying "We can do more with less" as the program circles the drain.

If spending within the Forest Service remains discretionary without proper Congressional Oversight as originally intended... The Forest Service will continue to fail as political appointees determine the use of discretionary funds against the will of the people.

Don't even get me going on how "indirect shared costs" or "cost pools" incorrectly manipulated all of the figures on FIRE EXPENDITURES over the last ten or so years to keep the Forest Service solvent and give false facts out to the public.

Lobotomy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Forest Service Budget Facts (aka.. The numbers don't add up. literally.. Shell Game):

Note: Everything below is from the Forest Service FY 2008 Budget Request.

State & Private Forestry
FY 2007 Budget - $228,608,000
FY 2008 Budget - $202,458,000
Program Changes: (decrease) $24,604,000

Wildland Fire Management
FY 2007 Budget $1,810,566,000
FY 2008 Budget $1,648,917,000
Program Changes: (decrease) $173,761,000

(New BLI) Wildland Firefighters
FY 2007 Budget (**Was part of WFPR before) - $213,265,000
FY 2008 Budget - $219,710,000
Program Changes: (increase) $6,445,000

Forest Service Discretionary Spending
FY 2007 Budget - $4,191,398,000
FY 2008 Budget - $4,126,873,000
Program Changes: (decrease) $41,455,000

Forest Service Mandatory Appropriations
FY 2007 Budget - $821,141,000
FY 2008 Budget - $522,585,000
Program Changes: (decrease) $304,190,000

Forest Service Total
FY 2007 Budget - $5,012,539,000
FY 2008 Budget - $4,649,458,000
Program Changes: (decrease) $345,645,000

Wildland Fire (also from the pdf budget request link)

The FY 2008 Budget request responds to escalating fire costs by providing funding for suppression at the 10-year average level, adjusted for inflation. The FY 2008 Budget funds Suppression at $911 million, an increase of 23 percent over the FY 2007 level of $741 million. The Forest Service plans to implement new performance measures, from the program assessment rating tool (PART) which include, percent change from the 10-year average for the number of wildfires controlled during initial attack, and percent offires not contained in initial attack that exceed a stratified cost index. The FY 2008 Budget also introduces the concept of a risk-based fire suppression approach. Under the risk-based approach, wildland fires would be suppressed on a priority basis as determined by considering private property, infrastructure, and human values at greatest risk, and setting suppression priorities accordingly. In FY 2008 we will increase our ability to make risk-informed decisions by using new tools that will help managers decide how to respond to fires. These include improved fire behavior monitoring and prediction tools, along with improved assessment of cost and benefits of alternative suppression strategies. In addition to fully funding the 10-year average of Fire Suppression, the 2008 Budget provides $55 million for research to address risks from catastrophic wildland fires, and also pursues a more efficient and precise structure by establishing a new Wildland Firefighter appropriation, funded at $219.7 million. By establishing a single account for professional wildland firefighters, the Budget enhances performance, improves accountability, and provides the Forest Service greater efficiency in managing wildland fires and in supporting all-hazard responses through the National Incident Management System.

(the spin and shuffle).... The Official USDA Forest Service Fiscal Year 2008 Budget talking point (on the FS page)

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 President's Budget request for the Forest Service totals $4.13 billion in discretionary appropriations, a $64.25 million decrease from FY 2007. The FY 2008 Budget responds to our Nation's priorities of fighting the War on Terror and reducing the Federal deficit while it maintains funding levels for priority agency programs. Program reductions necessary to support agency priorities are substantially offset by process improvements and cost reductions from a restructuring of national and regional Forest Service headquarters.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The most recent management efficiency is not a rumor. It's part of "Transformation" The goal by the WO and all the ROs is to reduce their managing expenses by 25% or 126 million dollars so that money gets to the ground. For years we've been yelling here that fire is the "cash cow" and everyone wants a rake off; well, here's one actual concerted move to reduce Regional and Washington expenses -- their rake off.

These links were posted on 11/9:
transformation_110907.doc (55K)
All_Empl._Ltr._Encl_Matrix.10_5_07.doc (45K)

The only concern I would have is that the people who run critical regional programs for fire safety do not get consolidated into the 3 mega-region streamlining. One I can think of is the work done with cooperators to fund and educate for interface fire efforts. It's called  in "Little Fire" or "COOP fire" in R5 and involves Firewise funding and many more things.

Lobotomy, we're probably not talking about the same issues here, since you're talking discretionary (appropriations) vs. mandatory spending (appropriations) but I think finding efficiencies of scale -- if the people making the decisions are knowledgeable regarding fire safety and don't increase risk -- well that's theoretically good. I think transparency is critical. Ab.

11/18 Ab & All,

I found this on the Lessons Learned website today. Great reading for those
interested in human factors and high reliability organizing.

www.wildfirelessons.net/uploads/AFP_Articles/rmrs_gtr201.pdf

Misery Whip
11/18 Ya know what...

I am not a big english usage guy, but...
When CDF went to their new name, they were pretty explicit about how it was to be represented.
It is supposed to be "CAL FIRE", not Cal Fire, not Cal-Fire, not CAL-FIRE, but CAL FIRE.

I am not always a big fan of this organization, but as a Forest Service employee I HATE it when the press call us 'forestry' or even worse.

So, is it too much to ask all you folks to use the proper designation, they way the agency wishes?

Signed,
Words Matter
P.S. Ab, sometimes you folks get it wrong too.

With all due respect to our CalFire brothers and sisters, words printed in all CAPITAL letters mean SHOUTING on the internet and in emails. I will continue using CalFire or, if people would rather, Cal Fire. This usage is no slight to our CalFire firefighters. I'm simply following standard pre-existing internet etiquette.

I'm very glad CalFire upgraded from CDF. Very appropriate and necessary change. Words do matter. (Pssssst, poster are you stirring the pot? HAW HAW) Ab.

11/18 The Los Angeles Times published an interesting story today regarding a CAL-Fire report on the utilization of aircraft during the recent Southern California fire siege. The report was obtained using the freedom of information act and challenges several statements that were made previously about aircraft usage. This included the notion that all available aircraft, including military, were quickly mobilized, as well as the idea that winds were too high to fly. The report documents how military assets were eventually mobilized, but that their deployment was further delayed up to a day by a lack of forestry spotters. Once the spotters were available, resurging winds prevented their deployment. The article does credit the 12 airtankers and 5 state copters that did fly Oct. 21st, the first day of the fire siege, but notes that more than half of the State's available aircraft remained grounded the first day. The entire story can be read at the following link: www.latimes.com

Contract County Guy

Hotlist thread

11/18 Ab,

Here's a disturbing story - both in terms of having no background check for firefighter
applicants and being sent to a fire with 2 days of training. www.latimes.com

vfd cap'n

Hotlist thread

11/17 Readers,

We're pleased to announce that our 2008 Wildlandfire.com Calendar is ready for viewing, purchase and shipment. Building this calendar has been a rewarding community effort, involving a number of photographers with artistic talent. It was an exciting and difficult challenge to choose only 13 photos from all the spectacular photos submitted. For some photos, it came down to resolution, printability and how they fit into the "mix" of flames, headers, interagency engines and shared community experiences reflective of our wildlandfire.com community.

Calendar cost is $12.95 apiece. There are discounts available for multiple copies and a discount of $1.00 per order if you enter the following discount code:  theysaidit  It must be entered exactly as shown on the "checkout page" and is our way of giving a little something back to our faithful readers and contributors.

Click HERE to check it out and place an order.

Photographers, your calendars should be shipped on Monday. Thank you for helping all of us to "celebrate the flames" and the jobs we do together.

The Abs.
11/17 Nicholas,

I used Bethany's (Loomis-Hannah's) resume/application service. It was money WELL SPENT. They are very professional and thorough. I was busy with fire season and had no time to start a fresh AVUE application. Two short phones calls and a faxing of some paperwork to give her my info and it was done. She was so thorough that she even knew what fires I was currently on to use as examples for leadership roles in my resume/application with out me telling her. The look and quality of my resume was beyond anything I could have ever done on my own. It was shortly after that I got my job offer.

JH
11/17 All

Just a reminder that Federal OWCP does not always (ever?) have your best interest in mind when they deal with you after an injury/illness. They have taken the stance that a claim is never “settled” but always open. This means that if you had an injury 15 or more years ago for which you are still receiving treatment or compensation and for some reason you need to change doctors, i.e. your Dr. retires or you move/are transferred they are going to tell you that your new Dr. must provide a medical report including a “History of how the employment related injury occurred”. There are just a few Drs. out there that are somewhat reluctant to send a medical report on something that they don’t have any personal knowledge of and there are more than just a few Drs. that totally refuse to deal with OWCP on an ongoing basis

If you have the misfortune to have to deal with OWCP make very sure that you meet all the time lines they set. Keep copies of EVERYTHING, FOREVER, who knows when they will put you in a position of having to produce stuff they have had in their files for years.

Remember they have a dual standard for mail. If they mail something to you, you received it. If you mail something to them and they say they did not get it then you did not mail it and if you miss deadlines in ether case it is your problem. I would strongly suggest if it is a critical or time sensitive issue to spend the money and send it certified, return receipt requested.

If you are thinking of lawyering up you might take a hard look at the following from CA810 §4.1

D. Representation. The FECA provides that an employee may be represented if he or she so desires, but it is not required. A representative need not be an attorney; a union representative, family member or friend, for example, may act in this capacity. A Federal employee may act as a representative only for an immediate family member or in the capacity of a union representative. The employee must designate any representative in writing before OWCP will recognize him or her, and there can be only one representative at a time.

OWCP does not honor contingency fee agreements, and the law contains no provision for OWCP to pay representatives' fees. It does require, however, that OWCP approve such fees before payment. Where the representative and the employee agree on the fee charged, the fee is deemed approved. Where a disagreement exists, OWCP will evaluate the request. In this instance, the employee should not pay any fee prior to approval by OWCP, unless the fee is paid into a true escrow account.

So, if you don’t have the money to pay for a lawyer no matter what the outcome of your case, forget it. Even if you can fund it then you have to find a lawyer that is willing to work under these restrictions.

A couple of reference links:

For CA-810 a 94 page guide to “Injury Compensation for Federal Employees” www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/owcp/DFEC%20Folio/agencyhb.pdf

For a OWCP Lawyer’s site that has a wealth of information including links to OWCP forms and a lot of other resources. www.owcplawyer.com/?gclid=CPSR67W14o8CFQLaYAodol4YlQ

To a non-fed site about Federal OWCP www.fedworkerscomp.net/ Again a lot of helpful links and some sobering discussions.

SWID

11/17 Bethany Hannah is the guru of resume writing in MY opinion.
She is an incredible wordsmith - she took my shabby excuse
for a resume and made it golden - I will definitely continue to
use her services (and I tell everyone about her)!

Erika
11/16 Hi Ab,

I just saw in my daily report where six STEs, some crews and Dozer Teams
are moving south in anticipation of the next forecast wind event. Also copters
and some S-2s to preplanned locations.

Normbc9

Feel free to post it on the Hotlist:  So Cal Wind Events - 2007 Ab.

11/16 To Ecologist

This contact is several years old, but I met the director in the south of France at a Oct. 2000 Euromediterranean fire conference with some 30 countries represented.

His card information is as follows:

Wildland Research Department CAF Director and Professor
Chinese Forest Fire Association General Secretary

<snip> Li Fu Ph.D
Address; Behind of the Summer Palace, <snip>
Tel: 86-10-<snip> Fax: 86-10-<snip>
P.C.: 1000xx
(Ab will forward the info.)

What I remember is he was a main player in China for forestry and fire.
He presented an article named Forest Fire in China at this conference. 14 pgs. in the
Euromediterranean Wildfire Meetings- Research Special Session at Hyeres, France.
The article covered the organization ,fire causes, weather, prevention, fire breaks,
prediction, technology, communication and cooperation.

Good luck,
Tony Crawford- CalFire (retired)

11/16 There's one rumor that's been floating around for a few weeks that someone from the WO State and Private Forestry was going to come to R5 to the BOD meeting and talk to FMOs about giving fire preparedness money to non-fed fire agencies to protect forest boundaries.

What is this rumor about?

There is a State & Private Forestry Redesign going on now. Toward the bottom of the page, there's a link to a Competitive Allocation Process Briefing Paper (pdf file)

Is R5 preparedness $$ being taken away and given to other organizations to protect forests?

No, much as I've heard CalFire would like that (tongue firmly in cheek). Money for this trial or experiment on 12 forest boundaries will come from funds allocated by congress for this purpose for interface communities.

There's an email from Tim at NIFC to USFS (and 1 BLM) people involved in the process. I'm not going to post it (kinda' boring...), but it clarifies that this is a congressional request to fund interface communities on up to 12 national forests using State Fire Assistance (SFA) funds, (not agency "preparedness funds"). Subject of the email is "The 12 National Forest Cross Boundary Protection".

Two nice websites at the bottom of the email for those interested in browsing what communities are doing to protect themselves... www.firewise.org and http://landfire.gov/

Mellie

Ab note: From the acronyms list... SFA =State Fire Assistance. In western states, NFP State Fire Assistance (SFA) funding is available and awarded “through a competitive process with emphasis on hazard fuel reduction, information and education, and community and homeowner action”; NASF = National Association of State Foresters.

11/16 Ab,

I found this interesting site on Frequently Asked Questions about NIMS
(National Incident Management System).

My community was wondering about deadlines.

Tahoe Terrie

11/16 Book Review: High Mountain Two-Manner by Frank Fowler

A very good book. I enjoyed it.
A refreshing change from some of the recent books about fire-fighting/smokejumping that sensationalize and glorify the job/lifestyle.

This factual book takes place in Missoula in the early 50’s. It was written in large part by using the author’s letters home as reference so the detail is fresh and crisp. Interesting for the descriptions of Western Montana in the 50’s but I enjoyed mostly for the life changing/ heart-charging experiences very similar to my own.

four saws !!

Jim

Thanks, Jim. I put it on the Fire Book Reviews page. Ab.

11/16 On Nov. 8 "ms" commented "can't make it on our slave labor wages (do we live in China?)". Since I'm studying China and the Chinese, I decided to see if I could seek out more info on wildland fire fighting in China and promised to report back on they said (on Nov. 9). I found conflicting info on the internet and would be glad to hear from someone with direct experience in China. I don't see much more info on the net and would be delighted to correspond with Mandarin speaking Chinese firefighters.

That said, I did find the following article's title, though I've yet to find the article itself:

Hu, Haiquing, and P. M. Woodard. 1997. Military wildland firefighters in China. Wildfire 6:20-22.

One website search yielded the following comment, but did not link to an article with the words "all the firefighters in China are male soldiers, and their age is around 18 to 36" http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22firefighters+in+China%22.

Another website, in addressing 2002 fires said "a total of 13,732 people, including 5,669 forest rangers and 8,063 forestry workers, have taken part in the firefighting in China's second largest mobilization for combating forest fires since 1987, sources said" implying that not all firefighters are military. I suspect the urban firefighters are military while that's probably not the case in wildland fires. I'm guessing.
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200208/17/eng20020817_101616.shtml

Someone has already written the book:
Firefighting in China by Shi Song on Amazon.com for $72.70.

The following website discusses firefighting briefly as follows:
http://www.boggsmountain.org/Vol_2_Iss_4.pdf

"We got a chance to ask them questions about forestry and firefighting in China, which is obviously very different than here in the States. The structure of their [government] organization is dissimilar to ours, in that it is a federalized system with provincial chiefs and more centralized. Most of their firefighting is done with hands-on labor, as they do not have as many resources, such as helicopters. They thought we must be really rich because of that!!!".

It seems safety is also an issue as standards for protective gear is "set by China Ministry of Public Security, specifying requirements for general-purpose protective wear for firefighters. The contents include general performance, flame resistant performance, mechanical performance, design and structure, making, marking, packing and transportation, methods of certification" citing some sort of standard "GA10-91" of mainland China. http://jumpo-safety.com/std.asp (Ab Question: Commercial site with standards for exported firefighter products?)

Based on what little info I found, it appears that wildland fire fighting in China is probably at least similar to our efforts on the ground, and perhaps some of the firefighters are military. I found nothing related to how firefighters are paid (the issue that generated my search). General comments were posted on 11/9/2007 by myself comparing the pay issues generally in the US and China such as "[im]migrant workers" and pay scales. At least we're not outsourcing our firefighting to China (yet!).

Ecologist.

One book I found interesting was Great Black Dragon Fire: A Chinese Inferno by Harrison Salisbury. Our library had it. As I recall, some firefighters were military but a great number were also local. Maybe some readers know more. Ab.

11/16 Re: Fire Management - The Last 40 Years and Budget Tradeoffs:

I appreciate the insight you provided in your post. There is a lot of information in there that a lot of us in the newer generation Forest Service have never seen or heard of. I heard a lot about some of this during the 80's when my Dad was still in a Forest Service uniform. He was a timber beast so I didn't get a lot of the perspective from the fire side of things. I would like to comment on the paragraph where you mentioned the Reagan years. While President Reagan was a believer in smaller government and employed policies to shrink government, I think that there was (and still is) a lot of truth to under worked and overpaid federal employees. I see a lot of folks that are Forest Service employees that think the government owes them their job and they are, for all practical purposes, non-producers. It seems that there are a lot of folks that just sit behind desks, reading their email, gossiping in the hallways of district offices and S.O.'s and not really producing any kind of product or service. A lot of the public perception (at least where I live) is a fairly negative one of the agency. On the other side of this coin, there are a lot of hard working, mission oriented people employed by the federal government. It is unfortunate that the hard working folks are the ones carrying the load for the non producers. If this occurs in the private sector, the non producers are weeded out and placed in the unemployment line where they belong. As you probably know, it sometimes takes months to fire someone for poor performance or non-performance within the Forest Service. Sometimes we can never get rid of the dead weight that exists within our agency. I firmly believe that this is why President Reagan and other conservatives hold the views that they do (or did).

SUPER P
11/16 R-5 Fire Management --The Last 40 Years
Budget Tradeoffs

Fire planning has been around for at least 50 years, and in the earlier versions, forests were directed to plan for 60th percentile and 90th percentile (fires). The verbal discussions said that no forest would ever plan for higher than the 90th percentile because no agency or department could ever plan for, budget for, or staff for the catastrophic events. In the 60's, 70's and 80's, the Congress put a small amount in the budget for fire suppression, and as the season progressed, the Washington Office went to the "hill" and asked for more FFF authority, and that authority was routinely granted. At the end of fire season or the end of the fiscal year, the Congress would pass an "oversight" bill to cover all Federal FFF costs. When I was the R-5 Fire Budget person, our R5 budget was between $60 and $70 million, and the FFF costs were very similar. I went to the San Bernardino as FMO in 1981, and several things contributed to the escalation of costs.

The Fire budget has been diverted to other parts of the organization as long as I can remember. When I started with the Forest Service as a seasonal in 1959 and as a professional in 1964, there was an account called general administration ("GA") which funded the District Ranger and 1 or more clerks. Some clerks were funded from fire, timber, wildlife, range, and/or recreation. However, the funded fire and resource management accounts all put money in the pot to fund the GA account and the same was true for the Supervisors Offices, the Regional Offices, and the Washington Office. By the time the budget got to the districts, there was very little left. There were no timber sales or campgrounds in the SO, RO or WO, but they took the largest share of the money.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan became President. He believed that Federal employees were under worked and overpaid. He wanted to reduce taxes and reduce the size and scope of the Federal government. Many conservative politicians have said "reduce taxes and starve the beast". This meant reduce taxes and there wouldn't be enough money in the Federal treasury to fund all the 'stuff' that had been previously funded. Anyone who doubts this should look at the history of Federal employee cost of living raises while Reagan was President. He reduced taxes and spent most of what was left on the military, and the Federal debt went up dramatically while he was President.

In 1981 the Consent Decree was signed in the WO to cover both R-5 and the PSWF&RES. The impacts were delayed in hitting R-5 for a few years. The Regional Leadership Team was struggling with implementation, and the forests were trying to hire the traditional types of people who wanted to work for the Forest Service to do the types of work we had always done. Nothing worked effectively. We did not know how to get women into non-traditional types of work. When we hired them, they didn't stay long. None of our fire stations were designed for co-ed living. All of our stations had only one bathroom with one shower, and most had only one room for sleeping. We got complaints from the wives of firemen at stations where we were placing women on the crews. It's one thing to hire women in District offices and quite another to hire them for outlying stations with no separate but equal accommodations. We spent lots of Fire program dollars trying to meet Consent Decree requirements. We began to see more women in fire camps. There were requirements to create positions to oversee Consent Decree concerns on fires. The effect is that we were spending lots of money to do things other than put fires out.

During the 1980's the timber program was on the downturn. We had been very accustomed to having large pots of BD and KV money to do lots of work on the ground. Both pots were funded from timber sales. This money kept the fire crews funded for the pay periods that fire funding was not available. We cleaned up timber sale areas and did lots of improvement projects on sale areas. We kept pace with the growth of timber, brush, and all vegetation. The natural litter generated by growing trees and other vegetation did not get way ahead of us as in today's forests.

During the 60's, 70's, and 80's we used cooperator resources sparingly, and we tried to release them as other Federal resources arrived on the fires. CDF did not have near as many local government Schedule A and B contracts as they do now, and their state funded engines were needed for the State's DPA. The National Fire Policy was changed from the "10 AM " policy to more use of fire in 1978 or 1979. This new policy allowed for more than "put 'em all out now". I'm sure this lead to higher costs overall. Part of the new policy's genesis was to allow fire to consume more fuels and return fire to a more natural role in the environment.

The 1st computer systems arrived on the forests in 1981 and 1982. The requirements for all kinds of things-especially fiscal stuff began to skyrocket. This lead to more people and the "have functions" had to pony up more money to fund the administrative staffs and all the new computer people, hardware, software etc., etc.

During the 1980's the cities began to expand toward the wildlands. Housing developments grew in places where we had not had to be very concerned in the past. In some forests, the same types of growth occurred inside the forest boundary. At the same time there was a concerted effort to increase the use of prescribed fire. All good intents, but the growth of houses and infrastructure do not combine well with increased use of intentionally set fires. I was in southern California and always said --fund my crews and we'll get the Rx fire acres. That was a hard sell. So… we've always fought hard for what's now called 'preparedness funds'.

There are large-scale agreements between the Forest Service and many other fire cooperators. The agreements seem to have been modified over the last ten years to allow cooperators to bill for resources differently than in the past. Many local governments in today's world view these agreements as money-makers. They are billing for 24 hours at inflated rates even when the people are paid a salary and no more. They are billing for replacement costs even when they don't back fill a position. And….the Forest Service pays the bill!!! Maybe those are today's rules. If they are, those agreements need to be rewritten --even if some agencies decide not to play. We burn more acres, but we don't break the bank.

The computer based fire planning that was merged with land management planning in the early 1980's enabled analysis that would have been nearly impossible with all the hand written plans of earlier years. It was never designed to be a budget process, but the agency had nothing better, so it was bent and twisted to perform the budget analysis. Most efficient level (MEL) was part of that process. As the fire analysis process got better, and computer capability ratcheted upward, the outputs seemed to get better. We did lots of work to develop MEL, and we hung our hats on it. However, selling the concept on the "hill" was far harder. I expect that the staffers on the Congressional committees understand the process well. However, the Administration still develops the activities to be funded by the Congress with very subjective (read political) reasoning. We probably should not expect that to change.

The Congress decided many years ago that funding the administrative side of agencies was a way to greatly increase the number of employees and the size of agencies. So….they, in their great wisdom, decreed that the agencies should fund any necessary administrative work from the money they got for their resource management and protection mission. That thought process seems to be alive and well today.

John B. Hatcher
Retired from the San Bernardino NF at the end of 1996

Thanks John. Interesting read. Ab

11/16 DOI -- FS PAY DIFFERENCES

Ab, please post

That the discussion about DOI agencies not charging their
base pay to fires is incorrect. Within the FWS and the NPS, it is correct
that if you are fully funded in a fire suppression position your base pay
can not be charged to a fire. If you are funded in a fuels position your
base pay may be charged to a fire or project number.

Thanks,

M

Thanks for a the clarification. I've made a note on that previous post to see this one. Ab.

11/16 Nicholas,

I recently used Loomis-Hannah's resume service and am extremely glad I
did. The process was professional, simple, and I was offered a job
based on her work. It's also worth mentioning that with all the
movement within the agency, it will pay to know the basics of good
resumes and the hiring system. So... the best part is that you get a
starting point to continue applying and moving up in your career. I
definitely would recommend it to anyone who wants or has a career in
fire.

m@

Bethany's website

11/16 I posted this about Bethany's service this last July:

"I have had the opportunity to work with Bethany when she was my crewboss at the Apprenticeship Academy in Sacramento and have taken her advice regarding the writing of apps. I used the handouts and information she provided to me and it helped me to get my permanent position. Later I used all of the same concepts and applied them to my Law Enforcement apps. And guess what...... I got both of the jobs that I applied for. She really knows what she is talking about and the tip sheets that she has are awesome.

For those out there looking, I recommend using what is available and has been offered. It worked for me."

As I said this summer, I fully endorse this service. I was fortunate enough to have her help when I was in the Apprentice Academy and so I did not have to pay for the advice offered by her. However, I am also sure that she has a much better chance to work with you one-on-one if you do pay for the AWESOME service that is provided. Bethany has a great amount of expertise in what she does and she knows what it takes to fully answer KSAs. If I were going to be applying for another position any time soon, I would probably use the service provided by Bethany. However, since I utilized the information provided when I was at the academy, I now hold a position that I should be in for some time and will be extremely happy (though it is not fire, I am just as busy if not more now) for a good amount of time. If you would like any more kudos about lumis-hannah, I would be more then happy to give them.

Guns-n-hoses

11/15 Nicholas,

I used Hannah's resume service. Top notch, spend the extra money and do it /write/ if you really want that certain job. She knows what she is doing and is not just a service to get a resume in, she has line experience and knows what she is writing VS other people that do all federal resume/apps

I Have not heard back on my CAL fire Resume/application, but I just got a transfer and GS-13 wages in Phoenix, so bye bye fire =)

Ab, attached are a few pics from a lightning bust just outside of phoenix that's going on right now.

MG

I'll get to some more pics tomorrow, cool though. Ab.

11/15 Nicholas,

I've seen some of her work and it looked outstanding. The person didn't get the
job, but he should have. I'm thinking of using her next time I apply for something.

ms

Nickolas, if you go to last July and search on moniker "Guns and hoses" , he recommended Bethany's service highly and got the job. Ab.

11/15 Has anyone used Loomis Hannah Resume Writing Service? If so
how did you like it and did it get you a job?

http://loomishannah.com/firefighter_applicants.php

Thanks
Nicholas

11/15 Re: R5 Retention Meeting Set for Dec.:

To all who have sent me the documents dated "October" regarding this matter I have emailed FAM Director Hollenshead seeking an opportunity for the FWFSA to, at the least be present but more to the point have the opportunity to participate in the meeting(s) in December. The response from the RO will no doubt be indicative of their sincerity in fixing some problems. The FWFSA has been offering simple yet effective solutions for several years and no one has listened. Now might be a good time to start.

I have to respectfully disagree with a sentence in the "briefing paper" which states: "The disparity in pay between federal wildland firefighters and state & local firefighters (see table 1) is not something over which the Forest Service has any control."

HOGWASH!!!!! It is not only the responsibility but the DUTY of the fire program leadership to educate Chief Kimbell as to the needs of the fire program to not only make it stronger but more effective and efficient for the firefighters and the American taxpayer. In turn, it is her job to educate OMB & Congress as to those needs.

Unfortunately, everyone seems to be in "cover thy job/butt" mode with the ever-resonating "we work for the Administration." So what? If you work for someone and there is a problem at work, you suck it up and have the guts to approach the boss and tell them something is wrong and how to fix it. You don't hide under a rock and let the company fall apart. If you don't, ultimately the boss will be forced to make changes either from internal or, in this case external (Congress) sources and likely get booted because they failed to act sooner.

To: MOC4546

Thanks for the letter to D. Land. I wrote one too.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
11/15 Regarding Feds motelling up

Interesting and necessary discussion on Feds motelling it on fires! While
it is correct when a camp is set up with sleeping areas and a caterer that
personnel are required to stay there in most cases, it is NOT a hard and
fast rule. It never should be. As a Fed logistics chief with many years
of experience on all types of incidents all over the country, I've seen
specific agency guidelines from local to state to Fed that say you cannot
motel it - and I've seen these rules "broken". Remember, fatigue is REAL
and a huge threat to safe and effective performance. Keep in mind the
number one goal/objective on every fire - personnel safety! At times it
is nearly impossible to get sleep in camp for many reasons - long meal
lines, long shower lines, too much noise, etc.

If this is the case and a supervisor (whether hand crew, engine crew or
whatever) is concerned about their firefighters not getting enough rest
they have the RESPONSIBILITY to try to correct it. Talk to your supervisor
(DIVS/OPS) or Logs Chief about your concerns, by all means! Maybe he/she
isn't aware of the problems and they can help to correct it by bringing in
more units (shower, caterer) if available, or stagger shift times so that
not everyone gets back and tries to eat and shower at the same time, spike
people out - or maybe something else. The point is, something needs to be
done. Many times I've DOCUMENTED conversations with fireline personnel
where they spoke out about the poor conditions and I've gotten clearance
from the hosting agency AND DOCUMENTED it to get them into motels when
other solutions aren't viable for one reason or another. No one should
have to do this "under the radar".

We do not have to and should not have to put up with the dangerous effects
of cumulative fatigue. Any agency administrator, knowing that what is
going on is documented, is not likely to say that personnel cannot stay in
a motel for a night or two if that appears to be the only solution. They
should fear the consequences of not taking care of this legitimate problem.
We call this risk management! In fact, this type of situation should even
be put on the 215 A as a hazard to be mitigated and the Safety Officer, Ops
Chief, Logs Chief, Finance Chief, Plans Chief and IC should all be involved
with ensuring that the fireline personnel are well taken care of.

What if the overhead team doesn't do anything to help? DOCUMENT it - then
do what you need to in order to ensure the safety of your personnel. Ever
go to the Human Resource Specialist if the Logs or Ops Chief won't listen?
Try that! In many cases, the Human Resource Specialist works directly with
the IBA (Incident Business Advisor) and can get things done.

The bottom line is don't ignore it. You CANNOT ignore it if your personnel
are not able to perform effectively and safely due to fatigue. To do so is
a worse offense with worse possible consequences than paying for a night or
two in a motel. We need to get over this culture that indicates we are
wimps if we don't just try to bear with it. Granted, sometimes people ARE
wimps and just don't want to rough it at all, but someone has to make that
judgment call. If a crew has been out several days on hard assignments
staying in camps, I'm not going to tell them they are a bunch of wusses.
If they are coming in to a fire fresh, I'm not going to try to get them
motels if incident base is set up.

By the way - in most cases (where motels are available) it is cheaper to
put everyone up in a motel and to have meals served in town than it is to
set up a camp with a national caterer and shower unit and all of the
support equipment necessary for the camp. The distance (travel time) to
the fireline is always a factor in deciding whether to "camp" from town or
set up a remote Incident Base, the travel time being considered another
safety risk.

rmm

Thanks, rmm. Ab.

11/15 Ab,

I believe the reason the Weingarten notice is circulating is that the FS
is about to begin a series of background checks on all perm FS employees.
As part of this, each employee is being asked such things as alcohol and
drug use, addresses for the last 7 years, neighbors names, friends names,
criminal records (including traffic tickets), etc........... These checks
are administrative and employees are required to answer the questions (may
not take the 5th), and any false answers could result in termination. As
you can imagine, the union is concerned.

TC

Same Garrity law snafu regarding compelled vs non-compelled testimony... I'll look for the posts on that and try to pull them together on the hotlist. Any help welcomed... Ab.

11/15 Weingarten Letter from Misery Whip

This is one of the main reasons They Said is so useful. As a mid-level
manager in the FS in fire management, I often never receive these
e-mail messages through agency channels. Many times I find them on
They Said and ask questions of upper-level management on the unit I
work on, and generally they don't have a clue either. This lack of
communication has been a perennial problem and certainly leads to a
lack of trust throughout our local unit, and the agency as a whole. We
have repeatedly asked to have "all e-mails" sent down to the lowest
level and let us decide if it is relevant or not. And this has never
been honored, so we in the trenches lack basic information on the how
and why of the agency. I'm know there are units out there that have
better communications, but out of the four different units I have
worked on, only one had an upper-level manager who was keen on keeping
the troops informed. Not a good average. Thanks for the They Said and
for all those who contribute to it.

R1 Fireman

11/14 Ab & All,

Since NICC is in winter mode & only doing sit reports once a week, anyone care
to guess where the #1 wildland fire action is this mid-November? No, not So Cal.
Not even drought stricken Georgia. It's Montana.

www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/11/14/news/state/18-fiercewinds_v.txt

This attachment arrived in my inbox today. I'm still trying to figure out what it means,
but it doesn't seem to fit well with a "reporting culture" and HROs.

Weingarten-Rights-during-Incident-(Safety)-Investigations.doc (141K doc file)

Misery Whip

It's circulating because attendees at a recent FS Council training session in Reno asked for an electronic copy. Anyone know exactly why it's circulating on the FS intranet? Ab.

11/14 I agree that Q was a good Fire Director but let’s not lose sight of the other “good”
fire directors that came before him. Some of the other “good” fire directors included
Joe Cruz, Kenton Clark, Lynn Biddison, Dick Millar and Dick Montague. During
their individual tenures each accomplished good things that contributed to firefighter
safety, increased fire budgets and better working conditions for the troops.
Collectively they paved the way for Q to be as successful as he was.

ROCKSLIDE
11/14 To Noname-0,

If you are going to post on theysaid, Ab always asks us to "focus on the what not the who". This technique is described and discussed in Leadership-380. It's a Sun-Tsu concept (The Art of War) useful for fostering productive discussion. Issues are the focus, not personalities. Perhaps we could recommend some other readings for you if you haven't been able to take the training yet.

Here's how your post could be stated without interjecting the personal:

With respect to DOA and DOI differences in payment for fire:

The Forest Service (DOA) is allowed to lapse their base salary and
charge it to suppression. The Department of Interior agencies are not
allowed to do that. That causes the suppression pot that all agencies use
to be depleted rapidly and largely by the Forest Service while they save
their allocated preparedness dollars.

Tahoe Terrie

Thank you Terrie. Ab.

11/14 To Normbc9, ms and others:

I can't read any further without responding to comments about Q and his vision. While I am convinced that he has far superior vision and leadership traits than our current regime, I must comment on a couple of items. The halls of WFTC were mentioned in a post and how grand a facility it is and how much knowledge has been passed on through it. What about all of the years of training and education that came out of Redding? It is my belief that because of McClellan, our training budgets have increased as much as they have. Let's take the North Zone Engine Academy for instance. While it was based in Redding, the cost per student was approximately $2,000 - $2,250 per student. Now that it is in McClellan, the cost has jumped to over $3,000 per student (I think it is closer to $3,500). There are a lot of factors playing into the current cost per student, but the move to Sacramento is a big reason for the increase. Another training issue is the apprenticeship program. I'm not sure what the conversion rate is among current and past apprentices, but I am willing to bet it is less than 50%-60%. Please educate me if these numbers are off base. This is, in my mind, another waste of agency funds. These are just a couple of examples. There is no doubt that McClellan is a fine facility, but it is costing the agency a lot more money than I believe it should.

On another issue, the question was brought to the attention of Q a few years ago regarding the issue of retention in R5. When the numbers were all tallied and presented to him during the R5 Captain's meeting, he responded a few months later to the issue saying that he didn't see a retention problem. Somehow his numbers were skewed way off from the numbers presented to him by the group. It is my belief (and the belief of a lot of others) that he didn't want to admit that we had a retention problem then and look at the debacle we are in now. I don't like to sound negative, but I feel compelled to point out these facts.

SUPER P
11/14 Noname-0,

Yes, the Forest Service does charge salaries to a "P" code while Interior
does not. And if the Forest Service uses any resources on an Interior fire
and big ticket items such as aviation assets, other contractors, or showers, it
pays for that as well. Since Interior has few resources to offer, it pays
for very little. Does the Forest Service save a lot of money because it can
charge salary to a fire? Consider that it does not allocate sufficient funds
to the field for 7 day coverage for its engines. ...the answer is...  no..

Q

Thank you Q. Ab.
[Later Ab note added on 11/16] See the post by M on 11/16 entitled DOI -- FS PAY DIFFERENCES for more of the whole funding story. Some Fuels people in FWS & NPS (DOI) may charge their base pay to suppression. Ab.

11/14 MJ

You crack me up <snip> with your rant on budget and fraud stuff. I'm a supervisor that has taken his crews to a hotel while on fires. We didn't go every night but we did go a couple times and my boss said I did the right thing to manage fatigue. So after working 16 hrs on the line then waiting two hours or longer for food how much time does that leave for sleep? It comes down to
a safety issue <snip> and this isn't the first camp that had people do that believe me. I also had to do this on the Biscuit fire in 2002. Also remember not every district lets their people buy the good sleeping bags and tents because they are worried about budgets and audits and ordering from GSA.

So let me ask <snip> did you take your two breaks during your shift or did you ever pad your time to make an extra buck or have you ever signed an incorrect time sheet where people padded their time and didn't show breaks, because that is considered fraud so look out.

ME

Let's pretend for a minute that this and the previous post from MJ are or could be about the issue of a fed firefighter using per diem to get a motel room. Simply put for the newbie, what is the standard operating guideline? When might the guideline be broken in the interest of safety? New people should learn the guidelines before they learn when those might not apply.

Anybody whose first initial is M wants to go beyond that with personal comments, I'd be happy to copy and paste emails back and forth behind the scenes. You can duke it out there... Ab.

11/14 This question come up the other day while out in the field.
 
Can a ex-federal employee be banned from the federal service??
 
We have asked around the district office but no one seems to know?
 
If so, how and why can someone be banned from working for the federal service?

SH

11/14 When you are the big dog in the pack like the Forest Service is in the
wildland fire community you shouldn't whine too loudly. It isn't
dignified. The Forest Service is allowed to lapse their base salary and
charge it to suppression. The Department of Interior agencies are not
allowed to do that. That causes the suppression pot that all agencies use
to be depleted rapidly and largely by the Forest Service while they save
their allocated preparedness dollars evidently to acquire toys.

Please do not attribute this post.

Noname-0

[Later Ab note added on 11/16] See the post by M on 11/16 entitled DOI -- FS PAY DIFFERENCES for more of the whole funding story. Some Fuels people in FWS & NPS (DOI) may charge their base pay to suppression. Ab.

11/14 HI Ab,

I guess the letter had the effect, because I just got a reply directly from Disneyland
Resorts. This is what they said. Kudos to Walt Disney.

MOC4546

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thank you for your e-mail to the DISNEYLAND® Resort.

We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us
regarding our "Disney's Wildfire Heroes Salute" promotional offer.
"Disney's Wildfire Heroes Salute" builds on a philosophy established by
Walt Disney himself of aiding the members of our local community. It is
fitting, therefore, that the DISNEYLAND® Resort provides an opportunity
for emergency personnel who fought the fires within the Southern
California region to relax with their families and friends.

We would be happy to extend our promotional offer to emergency personnel
living outside the specified zip codes who have directly assisted with
the fire relief efforts. To ensure a person qualifies for this
promotion, we require that they provide official emergency worker
identification at our Main Gate box offices and mention that they have
contacted our office seeking clarification on our eligibility
requirements.

Please note, "Disney's Wildfire Heroes Salute" is offered
November 13, 2007 through February 28, 2008 except for block-out dates
of November 22-25; December 8-9; December 25 to January 6, 2008; and
February 15-17, 2008. Additional information regarding Disney's
Wildfire Heroes Salute, is available at www.disneyland.com/hero or by
calling (714) 781-7290.

Again, thank you for contacting us. We hope you will have the
opportunity to visit the DISNEYLAND® Resort soon and that our
attractions and entertainment will delight you in every way.

Sincerely,

Desiree Garnica
DISNEYLAND® Resort
Guest Communications
Received date: 11/13/07
11/14 HI Ab,

I saw the posting on They Said regarding the special deal being offered to 'certain' firefighters who fought the 20+ wildland fires that ripped through Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, and San Diego Counties in October. The offer was for a free or discounted pass from November to February for those who only lived within a certain Southern California Zip Code. I thought it was a nice gesture to 'certain' firefighters that worked in Southern California, but was not available to all the firefighters who responded to the So-Cal fires.

I tried to reach someone from Disneyland Guest Services but all I got was busy signals. Tried to find an email outlet to address my concerns, but could not find any kind of a direct link to a live body at the Disneyland Resort. I'd like to ask you if you could post this letter I sent to the Disneyland Resort, since the other means for direct contact do not work.

MOC4546

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Subject: Disneyland’s “Disney’s Wildfire Heroes Salute” Program
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To Whom It May Concern:

I'd like to thank the corporate leaders of the Disney Corporation and Disneyland California for their special program to thank Fire and Law Enforcement officials who worked hard for almost two weeks fighting the 22 major wildland fires in Southern California. It is not often that someone is willing to give such a measure of appreciation to those who fought very hard to protect life and property.

However, I was disappointed when your offer was limited to Southern California's First Responders only. You see, when large fires like this take off local city and county fire resources become overtaxed very quickly, especially during the first day of a large incident. When that happens, the State Office of Emergency Services (OES) put out an immediate request for Mutual Aid for fire resources from Southern California up north to the Oregon Border, and from fire agencies outside our state.

Within 24 hours of the start of the fires hundreds of Strike Teams of engines, handcrews, bulldozers, air tankers, helicopters and other equipment, composed of thousands of firefighters from Central and Northern California, and some from Arizona, Nevada, and also from around the country responded to Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Orange, and San Diego counties to help protect lives and property. Within a few days there were more firefighters from outside Southern California fighting fire, protecting homes, and risking their lives than those who started the efforts from these local counties.

I am a career firefighter from the Bay Area area and I can tell you for example the San Francisco FD alone sent three Strike Teams of engines (15 engines and three chief officers with at total of 71 firefighters) along with two other individual engines. My volunteer fire district in sent down three engines and two chief officers to aid in the fight. All the Bay Area counties sent multiple resources to assist with the fires. The Bay Area California Highway Patrol sent more than 200 officers from the North to help with law enforcement missions in the south. CALFIRE sent many engines and handcrews from the North and Central State to help with the firefight in the South.

On top of all that, each of California local county and city governments north of Los Angeles sent their share of Strike Teams of engines, handcrews, water tenders, chief officers and other equipment to continue the firefight and allow local fire agencies to get a break, return to staffing their home stations or continue the firefight. The Federal Government sent engines, handcrews, helitact crews, and overhead personnel to help fight the fires.

Although I applaud your corporation's generosity and your appreciation for my brother and sister firefighter’s hard work and sacrifice to protect life and property, many of the firefighters who were there fighting these fire were from outside the Los Angeles and San Diego area. This information can be confirmed through the OES Headquarters in Sacramento, who processed state fire resource orders and keeps track of fire resource information statewide.

Even though I was not able to participate in the firefight in Southern California due to my duties with my own agency, I find it somewhat one-sided that your offer is extended only to those who live in the immediate five-county area affected by the wildland fires. I would like to ask you C.E.O., or Board of Directors, or whomever is in charge if you would consider extending this generous offer to all of the California Firefighters, Rescue Personnel and Law Enforcement officers who participated in this year's Fire Siege of 2007. Their efforts were no less heroic or less valuable than those from their brother agencies in Southern California

Thank you for your time and your attention in this matter. Again, thank you for your corporation’s generosity and appreciation of California’s First Responders.

Letter Sent and Dates Thursday, November 13th, 2007
11/14 A quote from They said:

"Firefighters don't have to put up with this type of cr*p. I am sure all the CDF engines and
overhead are staying in motels. Head to one yourself and charge it to perdiem. If that does not
work call their bluff and have them send you home. "

What Bluff are you referring to??? Just a reminder to the new FED ENGB's out there, especially USFS. DON'T DO WHAT THE QUOTE ABOVE SAYS!! If they offer you a sleeping area, even if you don't like it, with a sleeping bag, you DO NOT have the choice to go to a hotel and put it on Per Diem. This would be Federal fraud.

Same goes for meals. say you don't want to wait in a 500 person food line for a hour and a half, so you take your Engine crew to McDonalds. You can NOT claim that meal on your Per Diem claim, because they offered you a meal. You just chose not to eat it.

I know it's hard when it seems like every other Agency on an incident is hoteled up, eating at restaurants, but you signed up for a FED Agency. These are the rules for FEDS. no way around them. Just because you do not like the sleeping area is no reason to commit a Federal offense, as Fraud would be in this case.

They do catch folks doing this. And BAD things happen to them. I know it might not be fair, But read the Adverse Action Digest once in a while. You can be demoted and stripped of Red card ratings, fines, suspended, or even fired and jailed. These have all happened.
Don't teach your new folks bad habits.
Use your modules supply dollars and buy GOOD tents, not the cheap 60-second ones. Buy GOOD sleeping bags. He*l, even buy cots if you must, but don't teach a whole new generation to commit Federal fraud just because you didn't get a hotel room.
I was on Slide and Grass Valley Fires in Arrowhead. I tented up the whole time, under the ski lift. Yes, it was bright, cold, and noisy, but I made due. And that is what you should do, too. Sniveling to go home just gives us all a bad name. Just suck it up and make due, or get a job with a Union contract that allows such luxuries.

Sheesh.....

-MJ

Somebody needs a chill pill? Ab.

11/14 Making the R5 intranet rounds this morning...

Upcoming Wind Event - SOPS

Hello Chiefs. SOPS is looking at a predicted wind event for the upcoming
Mon-Wed timeframe. There is another event predicted (w/lower confidence)
for the weekend following the holiday. Ralph is determining the status of
the severity package with the WO. I have requested that they place orders
for NOPS resources soon, so people can make the necessary plans for the
upcoming holidays. I will keep you posted on any changes or opportunities.

******************************************
Joe Millar
Shasta Trinity National Forest

11/14 Answer to ms most recent post and Q's very astute comments:

MS,

You have it right and I’m sure happy to see the person who history will bear out is the most progressive and forward thinking Fire and Aviation Director in the USFS R-5 history has ever experienced.

How many of you knew about the funding shortages artificially imposed and then leaving the Forest Service to fend for itself when and where it can? The issue -- of having to carry the costs of the Hurricane disasters, Floods, Earthquakes and other disaster relief out of the finds needed to run the organization when those other needs aren’t ever factored in -- is a tough job for the top managers and the writer sure did his best to absorb the brunt of those money shortages when needed. Now, the new guard has a different view of things and out goes the baby with the bath water.

I know those who are at the top level management do read this forum and recently they are probably on it every day. The real facts of the matter are that there are elected officials who are now becoming very interested in what is happening as well. I had a conversation with one recently who told me she suspected now, after reviewing the facts, that a lot of this we are seeing now was developed to be choreographed to happen over the span of a decade. She even suspects that some of the reference materials adopted as policy were developed after a careful author search with the idea in mind that a grant would be awarded to the selected author who would put into print what those architects wanted to have documented. If that is really a fact, then there has been a form of a conspiracy in action for some time.

Like Q stated, there are some very highly recognized authorities and academics making all sorts of claims and they don’t even have a clue. I personally was on the Conejos, McKinley, Inaja, Walker Basin, Laguna and other very fast spreading wind driven fire events. They are not new to us. The problems now are how to deal effectively with defending the newer improvements built up in the historic paths of these wild fire events. Cutting monies for the items Q describes is not the correct way to address the problems. If you think that weather and fire behavior of the 2007 fire siege was a new dimension, think again. It was not. It is, however, one now complicated by the urbanization of many areas in the historic fire paths in which no effective pre-fire defense measures have been initiated. If you want to see some success just take a look at the statistics for the fires this fall in Los Angeles County . They had the most structures threatened and had the fewest burn. Why? Effective planning and implementation of effective fire defense measures. The Magic fire burned right within the Stevenson Ranch Planned Community and there wasn’t even an evacuation needed. This could be true of all jurisdictions but not with the current USFS plan. And the local governments in this state share in that failure to initiate those recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Commission two years ago.

I do remember Q rising to tell all at that Blue Ribbon session that if the group implemented the recommendations (48 of them) maybe we could start seeing a reduction in losses. If not, we’d all be back again, much sooner than we would like, to discuss an even more disastrous set of events. Well, here we are. A working group of the Blue Ribbon Commission has been reconvened and told by the governor to “think outside the box.” In my opinion, the work is already done. All that the local governments have to do is lay aside their petty differences and implement the recommendations submitted by a very hard working staff from the Blue Ribbon Commission, of which the USFS was one of the major contributors.

Thanks Q for being the sage that you are. Here we all are again standing around and using some valuable monies that could be helping the USFS to get back into its rhythm. The Tom and Ed show may be in trouble this time too.

Normbc9

11/13 I am glad to hear that the RO and WO might know there is a problem with
the big picture. (Still not sure they care.) And, I agree with ms that they
probably do read this forum.

That being said, I figure here is the place to alert them to a potential immediate
problem. It appears the weather models and forecasters are starting to agree
that we may be in for another significant offshore event next week here in
South Zone. Do you think this time they might follow their own 'talking
points' and 'move resources to where the need is'?

Still Wondering

11/14 ms, Thank you…. Who ever this is… thank you… the hope and vision
and passion was merely a reflection the guys on the ground…..Q
11/13 A few thoughts, Dec 10th and Q:

Meeting Dec 10th? Hmmmm. If you don't think high level employees, I mean VERY high level employees within the Forest Service and other Fed agencies don't read this forum, think again. Oh they may hide it, sneak a peek during the lunch hour or at home, but believe me, they read this forum. So with that said, use your 1st Amendment right appropriately and tell them what you think needs to happen on Dec 10th. You can bet a paycheck agency officials have been hearing (reading) in here all about the welfare firefighters, portal to portal, flat salaries and serious retention issues. Isn't that correct Tom and Ed? To them I say, tell only the truth and speak what you believe. Acknowledge what you know needs to be fixed. You know the posts in here the past couple weeks are true and need to be fixed. Don't be afraid to step out of the comfort zone and do what's morally and ethically right. Ooops, close that browser quick, someone might be coming.

Some thoughts on Q's remarks and Q himself:

Interestingly enough I was reading Q's post at WFTC today. The long hallways, the high ceilings, the thousands of hours of training and education that has come from this place for years now because of Q's vision and I started thinking, "dam this place needs a new name!".

Please don't wait another 1.5 years for us to hear from you again Q. Regardless of your job status (retirement) you're still our leader and will always be our Director.

No one could outline the financial events of the past 7 years better. A couple thousand more people have jobs now because of the actions you and Gary took during the build-up.

I remember walking into Q's office for the first time. An hour later when I got up to leave, I felt like someone should be standing at the door to give me my certificates for L-180, 280, 380, and 381. It was like a giant L came down and hit me upside the head, basically telling me this is what true leadership is dummy. Now I'm not one to be easily impressed, however what impressed me was how the man believed in the troops. Flat out believed in his Firefighters!

I know FWFSA has had good communications with Q pre and post retirement. I encourage this to continue.

Without question Ray Quintanar is the greatest FFAM Director in the history of the Forest Service. He will be remembered as one of the all time greatest Forest Service employees to ever put on the uniform.

ms
11/13 Hi Ab,

Have you heard anything about a "Big-Wig" meeting this December 10th in Sac?
I was forwarded an email regarding retention issues and possible solutions.
VERY INTERESTING. Let me know if this is news to you and I'll send a copy
your way.

PEACE-
Joatmon

I understand the RO and the WO REALLY know there's a problem. I don't know any more. Ab.

11/13 All

I read an E-Mail the other day which referred to that R-5 was assembling a group
of Forest Supervisors, Regional Foresters and other reps to address the pay
concerns in California, lead by R-5 Director of Fire and Aviation. One issue was
24 hour staffing and others were pay equities.

Curious
11/13 If you're having trouble navigating the online federal hiring websites, wondering why you're not making a cert, want some help with your application and addressing the KSAs, or just have a quick question on the federal hiring process, we'd like to introduce you to our newest advertiser, Bethany Hannah of Loomis Hannah. Having quite a few years working in wildland fire, Bethany says her background and experience provide a significant advantage over any similar services. She's successfully assisted applicants in landing positions from the Sr. Firefighter level to program management positions and has even received compliments from the Regional level for their excellence.

Bethany also states she welcomes folks calling her with questions regarding the hiring process and can usually answer them in minutes. All she asks in return is that the caller help spread the word on her business. I'm not sure how you can beat a deal like that. Check out the Loomis Hannah website to see a complete list of offerings. You can also find them on our Classified Ads Page under Services. OA
11/13 from Lobotomy:

Western States Data
Public Land Acreage (FS & BLM), Percentage of Land Base, and Population

November 13, 2007

Alaska:

Total Land Base: 424,490,880 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 21.97 million
BLM Acres: 87 million
Population: 670,053

 

Forest Service Percentage: 5%
BLM Percentage: 20.5%

Arizona:

Total Land Base: 72,958,720 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 11.26 million
BLM Acres: 12.2 million
Population: 6,166,318

 

Forest Service Percentage: 15%
BLM Percentage: 17%

California:

Total Land Base: 101,313,280
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 20.8 million
BLM Acres: 15.2 million
Population: 36,457,549

 

Forest Service Percentage: 21%
BLM Percentage: 15%

Colorado:

Total Land Base: 66,678,400 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 14.5 million
BLM Acres: 8.4 million
Population: 4,753,377

 

Forest Service Percentage: 22%
BLM Percentage: 13%

Idaho:

Total Land Base: 53,530,880 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 20.5 million
BLM Acres: 11.9 million
Population: 1,466,465

 

Forest Service Percentage: 38%
BLM Percentage: 22%

Montana:

Total Land Base: 94,185,600 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 17 million
BLM Acres: 8 million
Population: 944,632

 

Forest Service Percentage: 18%
BLM Percentage: 8.5%

Nevada State:

Total Land Base: 70,762,880 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 5.9 million
BLM Acres: ~ 48 million
Population: 2,495,529

 

Forest Service Percentage: 8%
BLM Percentage: ~ 68%

New Mexico:

Total Land Base: 77,865,600 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 9.4 million
BLM Acres: 13.5 million
Population: 1,954,599

 

Forest Service Percentage: 12%
BLM Percentage: 17%

Oregon State:

Total Land Base: 68,018,240 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 15.7 million
BLM Acres: 15.73 million
Population: 3,700,758

 

Forest Service Percentage: 23%
BLM Percentage: 23%

Washington State:

Total Land Base: 42,612,480 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 9.3 million
BLM Acres: 364,600
Population: 6,395,798

 

Forest Service Percentage: 22%
BLM Percentage: < 1%

Wyoming:

Total Land Base: 62,603,520 acres
Forest Service (NFS) Acres: 9.2 million
BLM Acres: 18.4 million
Population: 515,004

Forest Service Percentage: 15%
BLM Percentage: 29%


Rankings in Total Acreage by State/Agency:

Forest Service (NFS)-

1) Alaska (21.97 million acres)
2) California (20.8 million acres)
3) Idaho (20.5 million acres)
4) Montana (17 million acres)

BLM-

1) Alaska (87 million acres)
2) Nevada (48 million acres)
3) Wyoming (18.4 million acres)
4) Oregon (15.7 acres)


Rankings by Percentage of Land Base by State/Agency:

Forest Service-

1) Idaho (38%)
2) Oregon (23%)
3) Colorado and Washington (22%)

BLM-

1) Nevada (68%)
2) Wyoming (29%)
3) Oregon (23%)


Rankings by Population:

1)  California (36,457,549)
2)  Washington (6,395,798)
3)  Arizona (6,166,318)
4)  Colorado (4,753,377)
5)  Oregon (3,700,758)
6)  Nevada (2,495,529)*
7)  New Mexico (1,954,599)*
8)  Idaho (1,466,465)*
9)  Montana (944,632)*
10) Alaska (670,053)*


Total NFS Land Acreage: 192.8 Million Acres
Total Western States Acreage (Above): 155.53 Million Acres
Western States Percentage of Total NFS Lands: 81%


Ref:
Forest Service Data: www.fs.fed.us/land/staff/lar/2007/TABLE_4.php
BLM Data: From various state office websites.
Population Data: 2006 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Posted here as well: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/western-states-data-public-land.php

11/13 Ab, 

Check this out …

*****THIS IS A INFORMATION BULLETIN*****
PLEASE DELIVER TO REGIONAL FIRE AND RESCUE COORDINATOR

Please forward and distribute to the OES Fire and Rescue Regional Coordinator and OES Fire and Rescue Operational Area Coordinators within your Region.

Please ensure that the OES Fire and Rescue Operational Area Coordinators forward and distribute to Local Fire Agencies within their Operational Areas.

ANAHEIM, Calif., Nov. 6, 2007 - Following The Walt Disney Company's recent announcement that it is donating $2 million to fire relief efforts,

<snip><snip><snip>

Theme Park Offer Details
"Disney's Wildfire Heroes Salute" tickets can be obtained only at Disneyland(r) Resort ticket booths. Active Southern California firefighters, law enforcement or rescue personnel living in zip codes 90000 to 93599 must present a valid organization identification and photo. To purchase up to five tickets for family members or friends, the eligible individual must show the complimentary ticket issued to them, in addition to valid organization identification and photo. Tickets for family members <snip>

BUT WAIT, there is one small catch. If you go to the website. Scroll down to the "Theme Park Offer Details". It states "Active Southern California firefighters, law enforcement or rescue personnel living in zip codes 90000 to 93599 must present a valid organization identification and photo." So I guess those that weren't impacted by the fires (which is minimal) get part of the deal, while the rest of who answered the call for help are ignored. Go figure.

Happy California Cow 

11/13 Red Flag conditions today for North Dakota, and South Dakota and critical - explosive fire conditions in western Minnesota, and Nebraska, Fire Weather watch for Nebraska.

At 0630 most stations reporting RH in 30's some into the low teens. Coupled with winds of 30 and some areas with gust to near 60 mph today. Lack of any moisture the past two weeks along with cured out grass fuels will alow for rapid rates of spread.

Heads all!!!!

Midwest FMO
11/13 Re: Federal Lands and Wildland Urban Interface

Why the "California Problem" is spreading........

www.nationalatlas.gov/printable/images/pdf/fedlands/fedlands3.pdf

Lobotomy
11/12

Q's Perspective on Forest Service, 1.5 Years after Retirement

I was recently asked my perspective of the Forest Service since my retirement a year and a half ago. Without being a “side line quarter-back,” what would I change?

I’ll begin with budget! This last fiscal year approximately 51% of the agency's budget was for fire and fuels. In fiscal 2006 it spent approximately 45% of its funds on fire, hurricanes, and other incidents in which it had responsibility and or was called upon to act. In '06 about $300 million was taken from the fire/fuels budget at the Washington Office level for various other programs and support. In '07 this number increased to $ 400 million. These numbers in themselves are not alarming. It is the trickle down effect that becomes the concern, or what finally gets to those who do the work on the ground.

The pre-suppression budget doesn’t just occur from someone’s wild imagination. The numbers are generated from the National Fire Plan Model (NFPM). It defines needed initial attack levels in order to minimize loss of resources and suppression cost. It has been used for many years and even though it is limiting in scope it has been shown to be a fairly accurate tool for Initial Attack (IA) needs. There are countless cases of forests and regions ignoring the pre identified IA levels and finding themselves far short of their needs for IA resulting in escapes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to finally bring a fire under control. In the year 2000 after the many fires that occurred in Montana, the administration supported the request by the Forest Service to fully fund the National Fire Plan in hopes that this would reduce the mass destruction and cost of large fires. Even though the plan had been sanctioned for many years, this was the first time the plan was fully funded and direction was to implement the plan at the 100% level. Funding had always been far short, usually to about the 60% IA level. By 2004, Region 5 had purchased most of the additional assets needed to meet the plan and was very close to complying with the direction from the Washington Office. I’m of the understanding that some time in 2005 OMB was upset with the amount of money the agency was spending in the pre/post suppression mode and wanted a model that would show less needs, in terms of dollars, with the same success. Since full funding for NFPM did not dramatically reduce suppression cost, there was the call for a different model. As of a year ago, the new model had proven invalid. Reductions in IA resources used in the model, in fact, showed substantial increases in escape fires from Initial Attack and increased cost. The objective of OMB to reduce the pre- and post-suppression effort by using a model showing less preparedness dollars, resulted in an increase of suppression expenditures. Understand, the agency was given more funds for pre-suppression and for fuels reduction than ever before in the year 2000. While Region 5 was actually using the funds for their intended purpose, other regions used the additional funds for other than preparedness, thus the additional resources were not showing up. As a matter of fact, Region 5 became the primary supplier of suppression resources and Incident Management Teams for the nation. It was obvious by the lack of available resources in other regions that the funds were going elsewhere.

In 2005 and '06 the Washington Office made huge dips into the pre-suppression (preparedness) and fuels budgets to be used for other than fire/fuels. The fire and fuels funds became the primary “cash trough” for the agency to feed its other wants. This was not done because the agency was given too much money in fire/fuels, rather the WO leadership had wants in other areas that were not funded. Leadership at the WO and RO levels would take dollars from Fire at the onset of the fiscal season for its other wants, and hope the fire season would be slow and stay within the total agency allocated budget. Unfortunately, the cost of fighting fire continued to grow and there were no “quiet” seasons to speak of, resulting in over-spending at the end of the year with funds having to be taken from engineering, recreation, etc to pay for part of the feeding frenzy that occurred at the beginning of the year.

How effective was the full implementation of the NFPM? 
The 2004 season resulted in the driest season ever recorded for California. Yet, because of the build-up of IA resources in the region, there were few major fires in California. The agency spent a lot of money on the NFPM and Region 5 proved it worked. However, in '05 the agency took so much money off the top that the region had to go to a 5 day staffing instead of the usual 7, significantly reducing IA capability and timely support for escape fires. On the one hand, there are major complaints of the cost of fighting large fires; on the other, the dollars to reduce large fires and to accomplish fuels work is taken and used for something else.

One of the cornerstones for keeping suppression cost down is maintaining an effective level of IA resources. The reduction of 7 day coverage meant instead of having 274 engines 7 days a week, the 2 days off meant a reduction of about 35%. Budget allocated to the region did not cover the other 2 days. With a fleet of 274 engines and over 21 million acres to cover, in California as well as coverage on other federal and state lands, the reduction of IA forces is significant. The bottom line is more escapes, greater loss of natural resources, private property and increased exposure to both the public and the firefighter with bigger and faster moving fires. In terms of cost, the increased cost of suppression speaks for itself.

The trickle down effect continues in the fuels program as well. In '06 the region was given approximately $48 million in fuels dollars. By the time the Quincy Library funding was met and the dollars were taken out by other than fire at the Regional level, there were about 16-18 million to distribute to the forests. This is a lot of money, but in terms of the area and fuels problem in California it falls way short of meeting minimal needs. Examples of this include the following: The 3000 plus Santine/Burton lots under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service at the Lake Tahoe Basin have never been funded for fuels reduction. The beetle infestation problem in Southern California has never been fully funded nor has the rest of the region been funded sufficiently to make a significant difference to reduce cost and loss from wildfire.

As a matter of fact there is yet to be a Land Management Plan in the Forest Service in California that once written has been “gamed” to test if it could survive from the most frequent and catastrophic event in the state, wildfire! There have been numerous reviews and studies showing that fuels treatments have played a major role in reducing fire spread and resource damage. There have also been frequent studies showing the initial attack (IA) levels needed to be successful. These studies have shown it is more effective and less costly to use our own resources rather than contractors. In spite of these many reviews, the agency is not willing to use the funds for their intended purpose and continues to increase the use of contractors during suppression. As of late, the use in contract engines and crews has increased significantly. Approximately 60-70% of total suppression cost for fire suppression goes to contractors with a trend to increase their use. This only exacerbates the ever-increasing cost of fighting fire. The trickle down effect is like a roaring flood only with little water. If the agency truly believes life, property and our natural resources are its real priorities, it needs to walk the talk, that is put the funds on the ground to do that for which funding was intended. IA crews do a lot of good work in fuels reduction projects and at a lesser cost than contractors. The use of fuels dollars on other than fuels projects results in increased suppression cost, increased difficulty to control a fire and increased potential for greater resource loss and private property as well. It increases the exposure of our public in the direct path of harm's way and significantly increases the exposure to our public servants, especially to our firefighters trying to protect the public, their homes and our natural resources.

I find it disturbing that several professors have written that, in its effort to reduce large fires, full suppression became the standard for controlling wild land fire by the Forest Service. Forest fire suppression was one of the big reasons the agency was established, to get a handle on the large devastating fires that were plaguing the landscape. The USFS struggled for years to find ways to put out fires as quickly as possible due to their mass destruction and loss of life. It went from foot patrols, to horseback, to lookouts, to permanent fire crews, to what we have today. What we have in common today and what we had then are thousands of unmanaged forests with tons of dead and down fuel. It was recognized then and the situation has not changed today. Massive logging without clean-up was a formula for disaster, as are the thousands of acres of unmanaged stands with massive fuels build up we have today. The results of the trickle down of dollars is creating a catastrophic event that will be far greater the 2003 fire siege.

Today in California alone there are over 35 million residents. The mediterranean climate in California is the warmest of its kind in the world. Two thirds (2/3) of all fires are started by people in the state, and the east wind corridors are well identified and have been occurring for hundreds of years. Adjacent to these vast forests are homes built under outdated building codes, many of which are decaying, as are our forests. All this is over thousands of acres of brush and timber with very little fuels management. In addition, the checkered ownership of federal and private lands adds to this very complex environment. To say this full suppression mode is the reason for these large fires makes about as much sense as saying structure fires occur because fire departments try to put them out! The population surrounding the forests is on a steep increase as is the recreational use. Without a full suppression mode there is a significant increase in potential of loss of life. Within California there are few opportunities to allow fire to burn without some kind of constant oversight. If fire is to be used as a tool to reduce fuels loadings, prescribed fire can and should be used even in those areas designated as wilderness. The air sheds alone limit the use of prolonged “natural fire.” The combination described is about when a major fire will occur, causing a destruction level we have not yet seen. Something can still be done, but requires use of existing funds for their intended purpose.

Another area that needs to be addressed relates to what the Forest Service is paying for when it should come from some other funding source. Over the years the Forest Service has been saddled with paying out of its appropriated funds not only for wild land fire but for hurricane support, structure protection, practically anything requiring expertise of the Incident Command System. Even the support that the Incident Management Teams gave during the 9/11 attack was paid out of appropriated dollars from the Forest Service budget. Expenditures for wild land fire are coded under what is called a “P” code to pay for fire suppression. If the incident is other than wild land fire, expenditures are coded under what is called an “F” code. Whether a P or F code, the funds come out of appropriated dollars to the agency. This means all the work on the shuttle recovery, hurricanes, 9/11 was all charged to an “F” code which was used only for tracking and the funds still came from the Forest Service budget.

Some years ago the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior agreed to not charge each other for fire suppression costs. Any suppression assistance one gives to the other is free. As it turns out, the Forest Service pays for most of the suppression costs incurred on Interior lands such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (NPS). This is because the Forest Service has most of the suppression resources, from Incident Management Teams to crews, etc. This is very, very costly to the Forest Service and is no longer affordable. However, fires that need Incident Management Teams or fire crews from the Forest Service on Department of Defense lands such as military reservations (Camp Pendleton), DOD does reimburse the Forest Service for any expenses incurred. And so it should be also for the Dept of Interior. Why should the Forest Service pay for suppression of fires on somebody else’s jurisdiction?

The argument for doing this is "federal dollars are federal dollars!" At the end of the fiscal year, however, there is a balancing of the books. Any expenses on a "P" or "F" code are charged to the Forest Service budget -- which means funds from recreation, engineering dept, etc need to cough up the shortages even if the expenditures were for an agency other than ours. Bottom line is that Interior gets off for free, as does support for FEMA. It is obvious the balancing of the "books" demanded of the agency at end of the fiscal year, doesn’t fit with the "federal dollars are federal dollars" argument, the reason there is no need to have Interior or FEMA pay for services rendered. These kinds of agreements which result in The Forest Service not getting reimbursed, need to be dropped or revised.

Today FEMA is very much involved in the payment of suppression costs to state and local fire department once the suppression cost in that state has exceeded a pre identified floor cost for that state. The floor cost can be one fire or the accumulation of several fires. Today FEMA will pay up to 75% of those suppression costs back to the state and local fire. Any funds the Forest Service spends on fire, again comes from its appropriated budget and not from FEMA. However, in the last few years the majority of high cost fires in California occurred along the border of private and federal land holdings; thus has involved more effort and cost in protecting structures than ever before, and the urban interface is growing.

The Forest Service is authorized to suppress (externally) structure fires to keep them from spreading to federal jurisdiction. There has been a lot of discussion recently about "pulling" back from fighting structures fires, not our job, let somebody else do it, etc. Those who think this are truly naïve, in that a structure is another concentration of fuel often surrounded by federal lands. Suppressing the structure fire often results in keeping the fire from spreading to the National Forests. I suggest rather than pull back, have FEMA fund structure suppression. Large fires usually result in the addition of a "structure division or branch", the focus of which is primarily structure protection. If FEMA can pay for 75% of state and local suppression, it can also pay for the cost incurred with structure branches by the Federal agencies, which would reinforce the integrity of the agency's use of its funds for "wild land fire". With the use of "Cost Apportionment", identification of these costs will be fairly easy to track. It’s time the Forest Service is given support by other agencies for the expanding use of the Forest Service in areas other than fire. The Forest Service budget is being butchered both internally as well as externally; this needs to stop. The rules that govern Forest Service expenditures need to be reviewed and updated.

It is also time for the agency to walk the talk and to bring back the integrity of the use of the dollar and spend it for its intended purpose. Until this happens, protection of the fire fighter, the public, private property, or our natural resources has little to no credibility to those on the ground, to those who have lost loved ones while in the line of duty, to those who have lost homes due to wild land fire.

Finally, it is time for the politicians, the environmentalists, the city and county officials to recognize that there are "fire corridors" as there are hurricane corridors and flood plains, and that if human habitation is to occur in these areas, human life must be shown to be paramount by the actions taken in these areas. This includes upgrading building codes, egress, thinning of the forests, etc. If this doesn’t change, the continuation of events as the Laguna Fire, the '03 and '07 Sieges should come as no surprise.

Q

Q's Perspective-1.5-yr-later.php on its own page and I'm placing it in Documents Worth Reading. Ab.

11/12 I've put up some fantastic new photos on Fire 35, on Engines 18, on Equipment 11, a new logo on Logos 13, and AirTanker 24  photo pages. Many thanks to the contributors. There are more coming. Nice to see some CalFire engines and dozers in there. Ab.
11/12 I am not sure what was open at SoOps during the weekend, but
I know Predictive Services was not. They had a banner headline
on their weather page that announced they were not there on
the weekend.

signed,

Still ready and available for the continued fire season.
11/12 Dear Ab.

I don't know where Rogue Rivers got his/her information,
But, So. Ops and Intel were open last weekend.

Thanks

Mary

Thanks, Mary. No holiday for you guys/gals, eh? Ab.

11/12 Does anyone have a number, or contact, that can put me in touch with a company
that will rebag new generation fire shelters?

You can reach me at 509-965-0624 or respond on here.

Chad James
WA DNR Ahtanum Crew Foreman
AHC

11/12 KCP -- Ken,

I'm really glad you got through the vomiting stage and had an
awesome experience. It was quite fun to see/hear what you
were up to. I know you wanted to make the trek anyway, but
thanks for using it to benefit the WFFoundation.

$20479.51 in donations and pledges. Nice.

I hope all the info can be collected in one place before your
blog disappears, etc. Maybe I can help with getting it on your
hotlist thread so it's available for reference..

Thanks Ken. Thanks also to Wendy, Lori, Mike, Ian and families,
to donors, to Melissa at the WFF and to this website.

Cheers!

Mellie

11/12 Re: Southern CA Rainfall and Fire Season

For those in the R-5 Intel and Predictive Services Shops who watched yesterdays Chargers vs. Colts game, please do not let the little rain that fell on the game fool you.

Most of extreme Southern California did not receive any rainfall, or in some cases..... received less than .05 inches. To make things worse, many areas are receiving northeast winds near advisory level again last night and today.

There are over 500 people still assigned on wildfires throughout Southern California........ even though SoOps Intel and Predictive Services closed down for the weekend and the holiday. Somehow..... I'd bet that decision was budget driven and directed from someone(s) in Vallejo.

Have a safe day and week everyone..... Some of us are still out on the firelines!!!! Situational awareness...... from the top of the organization to the bottom........ All parts of the system need to be working properly to keep the folks in the field safer and well supported.

Rogue Rivers
11/12 Wow, looks like I missed a good one.

But I feel kind of compelled to comment on the issue of negative attitude toward women in fire. For those of you who don’t know me, I am female, despite my androgynous moniker. I was working an ER shift when a local fire chief for a decent-sized, mixed (vollie and professional), all-male department came in with a patient. On his way out, he cornered me and proceeded to inform me that women had no place in fire or EMS, and that I was only endangering other responders, and “what did (I) think (I) was playing at?”. I had been aware of this guy’s attitude through the grapevine for a while, so I informed him that he was entitled to his opinion, but I didn’t particularly care how he felt and I didn’t intend to change my behavior because of it. It just so happened that two (male) nurses who happened to witness the incident found my behavior a lot more acceptable than his; over the next year they passed on some very cool training opportunities for me. Over that same year, Chief Dinosaur lost his job (not over that).

The great thing about karma is how pragmatic it can be; if you treat other people badly, people don’t want to work with you, and you don’t get what you want. And the great thing about dinosaurs is that they tend to die out. Hycatal, my hat is off to women like you (and Mellie, and countless others) who worked (and work) harder than the guys to prove we can do the same job. The fight isn’t won yet, but I think word is out that those attitudes are counter-productive.

Nerd on the Fireline

11/11 Ab,

My name is Patrick, and I am one of the firefighters in the picture with the president.
We are from the Bishop CA, BLM. We were down there with a task force from
the Inyo. We have emailed the CalFire rep about the pictures. If you have any
questions feel free to email me.

Patrick

Excellent! Ab.

11/11 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE: Photos are HERE...

Well, I’m back and I, once again, wanted to thank everyone for supporting me on my adventure, and for supporting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

I had an incredible experience in the Sahara Desert. I met many people from around the world. Some competitive racers; others (like me) that were looking for a challenge for themselves, and a way to raise money for a charity. The fires in Southern California were a hot topic of discussion around the campfire at night. Why was I there? How did I manage to get away to come to Egypt? The only thing I could tell them was that the Californians were in good hands…even without me. The camps at night were amazingly like Smokejumper camps, so I was right at home, in that respect.

The Sahara is an awesome place. Other than the people I was with, there is no sign of human life out there. I saw one jet contrail during the 7 hour bus-ride out to the start, and that was probably either and Egyptian or Libyan MiG patrolling the western border. And one night under the clearest skies I have ever experienced, I believe I saw the space shuttle passing over head. The air is so clean, and there is so little moisture in the atmosphere that it looks as if you could truly reach up and touch a star. Why there are no space observatories out there is beyond me. You can’t swing a dead cat in the western world without hitting someone, or something man-made. Here, there is nothing. There were times during the stages that I would be completely alone. As far as I could see forward and back…no one to be seen.

If you looked at some of the pictures, you noticed that in some of the areas we traveled there were black specks all over the ground. This was fossilized corral. In some places there were still the feathers there, as if the sea-bed had drained yesterday. I came across fossils of…I don’t know what…they were concentric circles of different colors 3 to 5 meters across in the rock. Ancient Jelly-fish, perhaps? There were rock formations that would morph into animals…and different animals depending on what angle you were looking at them from. I tend to hallucinate when I get tired, but these were obvious. The great Saharan Bunny Rabbit was the best. From miles away you could clearly see a bunny’s ears, body and tail. But as I passed by (changing the view by 90 degrees) it changed to a raptor perched on a rock, or branch. The 5 story Baboon head was cool. It could have been a Macaque head to my Japanese friends, but it was nonetheless a Primate of some sort. There were mirages big enough to land a Martin Mars on. A “cartoon” Oasis appeared on the 4th stage, with a bubbling spring at its heart.

Day 3 brought us to an ocean of sand. Literally as far as the eye could see, there was nothing but sand. No trees, no bushes….not a blade of grass. I was reminded of the Apollo astronaut that described the Moon as being “magnificent desolation”. I describe this place as, “the incredible beauty, of absolute nothingness”. There was one point, where I was a few hundred meters behind someone for a period of time. At one point I looked up, and he was gone. But, off to the right I saw something white lying in the sand. It wasn’t moving, and I became concerned that my fellow competitor had gotten off the course, and had collapsed. I decided I had better go see what was up. In 10 seconds I was upon the white “thing”. It was just a white “thing” and it wasn’t hundreds of meters away, it was merely a few feet away. In that ocean of sand, there is nothing to judge distance or size to. It gives you pause, and you understand why one might be found (or never be found, for that matter) dead next to a lake that was never there.

The last stage, a 10K sprint through Giza to the Pyramids was almost as surreal, but for different reasons. We basically got dropped off on the side of the road, next to a canal filled with….I’m guessing it was water, but it was hard to tell with all the garbage, and bloated horse carcasses. As we got off the busses, the two course markers took off, putting out the familiar pink flags. We then began running along the road next to the canals. Anyone that has ever been to Cairo, knows that traffic is an adventure in and of itself. The I-405 during rush hour is nothing. Cars do NOT stop for pedestrians, and there are no speed limits. I wondered why they waste money painting lines on the road, they surely don’t use them. Anyway, at one point I was running on the canal side of the road, when, after a couple of near misses, I began to think that I had two options. I could get to the other side of the road where I had a chance to escape, or I could stay here, and survive the impact of getting hit, only to be thrown into the canal and die several days later from a massive septic infection. Not more than 2 minutes after switching to the other side of the road….(I must explain that there is no such thing as running facing “into” traffic, as there is no such thing as directions on the roads of Cairo)….. I was hit on the left hand by the rearview mirror of a passing car. I was lucky; another runner was T-boned, breaking his arm.

We then turned off the main road, and began a swerving our way through back alleys dodging camels and donkeys, running through the sewage thrown from the front doors of the mud huts lining the alleys…..Not good when your feet are nothing but open sores. Septic shock comes to mind again, and the plan that as soon as you get to the finish…off come the shoes and socks, and every last alcohol swab you have will be used on your feet. I even had the idea that when we got back to the hotel that evening, I would buy a bottle of Gin to soak my feet in….probably drink a little too.

Then, as we all has suspected, it became apparent that as soon as the flags were placed, they were immediately removed by all of the children. So getting lost was easy to do. There were “supposed” to be some folks on the course to guide us. And there probably were on the main roads, where we didn’t need so much help. But they surely weren’t going to hang out in the ghetto. The night after the long day, in the desert, I had refilled my camelback with electrolyte mix. This day I also carried a water bottle with plain water. Well, in one of the alleyways a woman jumped in front of me and wanted money. I didn’t have any, but offered her my half filled water bottle instead…mainly just so I could keep going, right? I still had a ways to go, but I figured I still had a full camelback. So, another K down the way, and I took a big pull off of the tube. Carbohydrates are sugars, right? Well, sugar water sitting in a camelback bladder (that hasn’t been cleaned in 6 days) all day long in the hot African sun….well it ferments. So it was quite a surprise (although it shouldn’t have been I guess) to taste a grape margarita, or daiquiri. I had no choice….I didn’t think of it at the time, but I suppose I could have soaked my feet in that back at the hotel.

We then came into the Pyramid complex. What a sight. We were at 248 kilometers, but it put a little pep in your step to zig zag through the Pyramids, running past tourists wearing plaid clam-diggers and knee-socks. And to the finish line overlooking the great Pyramids of Giza. And finally in front of the Pyramids, and do something that was more hazardous than dodging cars…stand with Kobi and Roy and unfurl the flag of Israel in front of the Pyramids. I think my father would have thought that would be cool to see. I must say that the finish was a tad bitter-sweet, in that I had never crossed a finish line without Wendy being there. Then I remembered that it was 1:00 AM back home. Let the cold Pesi and beer flow!

I learned a lot about adventure racing; mainly about what to carry and what to leave behind. I estimate I lost between 7-10 lbs. during the race. I didn’t have the opportunity to weigh myself until I got home. But I pretty much ate non-stop from the first pizza slice at the Pyramids till I got home…including the cookies that Lori brought to LAX for me.

It was a wonderful experience to be able to participate in this race. And it was again wonderful to see the support that the wildland fire community extended to me and the WFF. I’m not sure what is next, Gobi March or Atacama Crossing. It’s a pretty spendy vacation, but worth every penny. If any other firefighters feel like it would be something they would like to try (not try…do), they do have a team category, and we would have wailed on the Brits that won the team competition this year.

Thanks everyone. The E-mails were pretty cool to get out there, although, in some cases, I didn’t know who they were from. It didn’t matter; I appreciated them nonetheless There are a few that I never did get (after Oct. 31), but RTP should be able to send them to us, hopefully. Thank you to Melissa and Lori who flew down to LAX to greet me. I got a bigger welcome than the former lead guitarist from Guns ‘N Roses (who was on the flight from London). Anyone that knows me, knows I’m a bit shy. So it was a bit embarrassing to round the corner out of Customs to see a big banner, and a bunch of cheering people. But, again, it was nice.

Peace, KCP

P.S. Mellie, I only vomited twice…and it could be considered one continuous vomit…on the first day. Just on the off chance you were wondering.

11/11 Ab,

Chris was way off base with his understanding of consent decree history. I've known Max Peterson for years and his actions were not designed to harm the FS.

Nevertheless, Chris spoke his opinion, and did so in a manner that challenged agency actions and policy as he perceives. He made no attacks on any individuals. Similar challenges that are equally off base are widely discussed here in this forum. It appears that you surrendered to political correctness in removing Chris's message. Such action diminishes the value of this site. Will you also remove all messages that I find offensive?

Old Fire Guy

Maybe, what do you want removed? (tongue placed way in cheek) Ab.

11/11 Well, Ab, I kinda wish you hadn't erased the infamous "Chris" posting for a few reasons:

1. I'd like to know what folks are responding to, and

2. It is important to have the perspectives of those who oppose women in fire, or are otherwise discriminatory and disagreeable, to be heard, so as to be addressed, rather than suppressed, and repressed.

Kinda like fire, no? As in, if we addressed the need for pro-active, prescriptive treatment of hazardous fuels, we would not be so heavily engaged in suppression.

Why do 75% of women in the Forest Service leave fire management within their first 3 years of service? I am inclined to think that it has to do with the lack of awareness of the difficulties women face in trying to succeed in a heavily male-dominated workplace. The difficulties are all too often suppressed, repressed, like fire, blowing up now and then, when much could be prevented from the start with a little forthright, honest communication.

As a single resource qualified female who has more than several times been the only female at briefing, on a crew, on an entire division, I can understand how a woman might stop short of ending up where I am. Yet, I am comfortable with what I do, have nothing to prove, and love my job, so it makes no difference what parts people have as far as I am concerned.

All the same, when an issue arises with respect to women in fire, I am all ears, and so am curious about what Chris has to say.

Thanks,
Missfire

I put it back, but I'm only being PC. Ab.

11/11 Fuels Officer:

I've tried hard in my life and career with the Forest Service to criticize the "what" not the "who." But your posts temp me beyond belief. It seems that where you're living (without any offense intended, I'll call it your world) you've got it made. For the rest of us, its not so dreamy.

I must say that I am a little jealous. Your post from several weeks ago, concerning career seasonal FFs not wanting to extend, you describe the a most pleasant arrangement between you and your supervisor. You help out with project work, but can go on fire assignments anytime you want. This is how it was supposed to be with primary FFs. Reality is: Primary FFs, in a lot of cases are be used to accomplish non-fire project with PR $ with no hope of performing their intended firefighting duties. I have to stay behind and do project work during the western fire season while all the other disciplines are out making OT and H pay. Doesn't quite sound like where you're living.

In your 11/9 Post you stated that we knew the pay was bad when we signed on and its our fault for applying for the job, that we did it for the love of the environment. Very true and well spoken. Like so many firefighters, I was going to do this just to get me through college, but fell in love with the people and the work. Now I have a family to support, and no OT or Hazard pay because I'm not allowed to be available for off-forest assignments due to the old guard land managers. Dam* right I don't like land managers anymore.

Why are foresters, wildlife biologist, and yes, recreation planners being put in charge of the fire management of eastern and southern forests? And I'm not talking 401.

My suggestion to you: Just remember, before you send out more sage advice, most of us don't live in your perfect world.

NOTA
11/11 Hey All,

Just wanted to drop in and say THANKS to all the vets in here. Whether it's a war
of arms or a war of nature, the ones we know and the ones we'll never know about.

THANK YOU.

Tom Stein

11/11 To All:

I certainly appreciate all the kind and supportive words but I am not the FWFSA. Yes, I get to play the "chief cook & bottle washer" role and get to state positions etc., but the FWFSA and those that should really get the credit are the Board of Directors and all of our members who not only part with some of their hard-earned money to help support our efforts and believe in what we are doing, but lend their voices to that effort.

Of the many folks who have left the federal system in R5 for example to CAL-FIRE and other agencies, very few have been FWFSA members. Additionally, the membership outside of R5 has continued to grow tremendously in the last year and a half in all grades from GS-4 to GS-14...hopefully testament to our member's recognition that they do have a voice and have an opportunity to participate in the effort to make positive changes in order to make their careers a more rewarding and prosperous one.

So to them I owe the thanks. Perhaps the greatest burden I have is in asking their patience as we navigate Congress in an effort to make much changes needed. As I've said to some, navigating congress is like swimming in a mine-laden septic tank with blinders on...Increased membership obviously increases our ability to be heard and traverse that "tank."

Thanks,

Casey
11/11 Letterman/ms, FWFSA,

What do we need to do to make that happen? Emails? Letters to congressional reps?

Mellie

11/11 Ab,

Thank you for removing Chris's post. I found it extremely disturbing.

This is my 12th season in fire (I'm female). I work hard to ensure I'm not hired solely
to fill quotas. The implication that I hold my position (Leader of 10 person fuels crew)
because of quotas is infuriating. I also appreciated your comments that we all just need
to manage fire, regardless of gender.

Hycatal
11/11 Letterman/ms,

Now you’re talking some serious “ get it done in good order” subjects. The game from the federal government is to go on the cheap. Do you ever hear of an elected federal official who isn’t on Portal to Portal? As a matter of fact those top level USFS employees are traveling in a very generous manner. Why not their troops too? I just thought I’d ask. What is good for the goose is good for the gander in my book. We do live in what is described as a classless society but the top end has never thought of it any way but how they view it now. Their travel claims filed should be a public document. Why not ask to see those submitted by the top level managers from DC on their jaunts out here to do damage control? Every one who is going to be potentially affected by this “New USFS” should band together now and get into the FWFSA. United you stand, divided you…… Lets not even think that way.

Normbc9

11/11 Ab, a friend thought the hats in that photo might be BLM. Anyone know what BLMers were there n the Witch ICP? mcleod

note from Janet Upton from last week:

Here is what I need: ID and contact information for the ff’s in the photo w/ the President so the White House can send them autographed copies. The photo was taken at the Witch Fire Incident Base on Thursday, October 25 th at approximately 1230 hours. I was the Deputy IC for the dignitary detail team and can be reached at
email
: janet.upton at fire.ca.gov. (remove spaces and put in @ sign)

Thanks for any assistance you can provide. I know the firefighting community will come through with the info!

Janet Upton
CAL FIRE ICT #5

PHOTO OF FIREFIGHTERS with Pres  WHO ARE THEY?

mcleod here again... Ab, please add:

I looked and there were no BLM on that fire on 25th of October. CAL FIRE Team #10 (Kerschen) was in Unified Command of the incident. There were
52 inmate crews (it's not them);
1 LGR type 1 crew,
7 FS engines,
40 OES engines;
(46x5+8) = 238 LGR engines;
(14x5+10) = 80 CalFire engines.
2883 personnel total.

Wow, she might not figure it out... unless someone recognizes them. The photo is not very good, either... Needle in a haystack.

11/11 From Lobotomy:

Georgia homeowners challenged by wildland urban interface

"Lee County is an example of 'Wildland Urban Interface,' (snip) "We don’t have the densely-populated areas as those regions do, but it is getting that way," said Andy Guy, the Lee County manager for the Alabama Forestry Commission. "Lee County is an example of that. We are getting new people and new subdivisions every day."

Guy said Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is defined as the area where houses meet and intermingle with undeveloped wildland
vegetation.

He said the location of Monday night’s meeting at Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest on Moores Mill Road is a perfect example of WUI. The Thomas tract is about 400 acres with neighborhoods going up all around it.

Surrounded by a Loblolly pine forest, the pavilion in the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest served as the setting for supper and the Lee County Fall Landowners Meeting hosted by the Lee County Forest Stewardship Committee.

Guy said forest fragmentation is one of several issues related to WUI.

"Today, the 1,000-acre tracts are being divided up into 10- or 20-acre tracts. Some of them have 500 to 600 homes on them now."

"A lot of traditional forest practices are hard to do when you have that many people surrounding your land," the Lee County manager said. "With those challenges, some of those alternatives can be costly."

Guy listed some of those risks as: smoke from prescribed burns, drift from herbicide treatments, zoning issues and logging equipment.

He said with more landowners and more property lines, you have more neighbors uneducated about forestry.

Guy said they are also having a hard time locating vendors willing to work on a smaller acreage of trees. (ETC, click the link)

11/10 Casey is right. Portal to portal is where we need to go and we need to get there fast. We need to do what we can to get it passed. I would like to see P to P combo up with a flat 10 to 20% pay increase (above locality pay) for those employees who perform as Emergency Management Responders within ICS. Example is our fire employees when they show up for work are within ICS as SRBs, Duty Officers (ICs) as part of the normal job. Those ID'ed by OPM as not having this within a position description would get the Responder Pay and p to p only when in support of an incident. The Federal Employee Emergency Responder Act.

The thought of Haz Pay for retirement spooks some, let's leave it behind. However a bill that supports the nation's #1 goal of fighting terrorism by paying and retaining Federal Emergency Responders would receive support from the Dems since the unions would support it and from the Neo-Cons since it supports the war on terrorism. The bill would not focus on Federal Wildland Firefighters, but would apply to Federal employees from all federal agencies that respond in support of local, regional, national and international emergencies. This would balance the pay and, in some cases, mirror the pay of our cooperators.

Secondly, it would not benefit any one group of Emergency Responders over the other. Fed Firefighters and Fed support personnel from California would receive the same benefit as Oregon and Montana Fed employees. This would increase recruitment, bring in more college educated people and help stem the tide of those leaving. Heck, we may even get a few back. Hell, I'll even help write the dam thing.

Many of us are frustrated after 7 years of flat wages, and listening to our current Executive Branch leaders talk about Terrorism, Terrorism and "the War on Terrorism is #1". Well OK then lets wrap ourselves around this #1 priority and the priority of natural disaster management and see if we can get some movement. Who are the first people that are called when disaster strikes? Who, other than the military were flying Sept 12, 2001 en route to support NYC and DC? Federal Wildland Firefighters and our cooperators!!

All we seem to do is bark and point/counter point in this forum lately, which, don't get me wrong is good and at least we have a forum (thanks to the ab's) to get those frustrations out rather than bark at each other in the workplace.

We just need to keep pushing towards something and I like a bill that supports this nation's Federal Emergency Responders and this nation's #1 priority. The only hope we have to get something done is FWFSA, PERIOD. The majority agree we need to do something fast and I guess it's unfair to put all this on FWFSA and Casey, however if you think about it, they're the only organization that cares about us, PERIOD. Hang in with us Casey we need you and FWFSA, PERIOD!. Thanks for all you have done in the past and thanks for everything still to come.

Lets do something............ LET'S ROLL !

Letterman/ms
11/10 Casey,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I guess I was growing tired of listening to folks beat-up the organization that allowed me to have a great career. That is not to say that there are some very reasonable changes needed for federal firefighters. I understand your frustration attempting to initiate positive change. I appreciate what you are doing. The discussion made me think that I could be accused of "selling my soul" if you consider the time with family (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc), that were sacrificed because I accepted a culture where commitment and availability for fire came first. I still have to be careful to insure family commitments are now first, instead of being sucked into an AD assignment.

For what it is worth, I'll work on a letter to the Chief. Keep up the good work.

airtac
11/10 Here's to the Heap's Peak Helitack Crew.

The report said everyone was wearing their seat belts in the crew carrier.
Way to set an example for the rest of us!!!

BRAVO ZULU
11/10 Ab- This is directly in response to Chris (11/9/2007).

It nauseates me to think that in 2007 (almost 2008) some guys still have issues with women. It is attitudes like Chris' which will continue to be sources of the problems to manage our forests rather than part of the resolution to solve the issues facing both foresters and fire-fighters in our country and abroad.

It also may help "Chris" and others with anti-female attitudes to observe the "visions of the forest service" where it specifically states that the forest service will create a work environment which "nurtures forest service employees". I think all of us know that both men and women can provide these nurturing conditions, although women may be more biologically inclined. If a more nurturing attitude was exhibited in the work place, its possible that people may be more productive and communicative about their perceptions for better management. We should all know by now that it takes a team and each team members ability to communicate in order to contribute toward a productive work environment.

Take a class in "Emotional Intelligence" Chris and you may discover that you could improve the world you influence by a little positive imaging and action (for yourself, others, Gail, and our Congress- which we elect!). Good luck with that!

Signed-

HF3 in ID

HF3 in ID, Chris is not a current FS employee and not a regular poster here. Could simply be a pot stirrer. Some people and what they say are beyond worrying about. I have removed his post. Ab.

11/10 Readers,

This is the first and probably the last post I will ever make. With that
said I cannot begin to list the multitude of posts about the Forest Service
work disparities. I can state that in my career I have worked with the most
ethical, selfless, and knowledgeable firefighters in the world. The Forest
Service has provided me with opportunities to work with, travel with and
associate with these folks all over the United States. I have gained what I
believe invaluable skills in wildland fire suppression and have had the
freedom to implement those skills at many different levels. I have gained
satisfaction in the impacts we (Federal Fireman) have had on the success of
suppression of countless fires. We did not do it for the recognition,
rather in the shared knowledge of what had been accomplished and the
personal satisfaction of a job well done. The firefighters that I currently
work with are at the top of the game and I marvel at the eagerness in which
they train. I see them attack fires with energy and aggressive skill that
make me proud to be associated with .

I truly would be remorseful for leaving everything I came to love for a
buck. I make a living and my family has food, so I guess I am blessed in
that respect. I will continue to give my brothers and sisters all the
support I can give to help them continue to be a part of such a great
opportunity. I encourage all Federal Wildland Firefighters to stay if they
can. Leave if you must, I will stay and continue to enjoy fighting fire,
sleeping in the dirt, being as tough as I can, not shirking any tasks, and
going hungry at times.

God Bless,
fs_hotshot
11/10 Ab,

Here is a link to a 1994 report on federal lands by state. This report specifically does not address Indian Reservations nor any lands held in trust (which is a significant part of DOI's WUI). So it looks at USFS, BLM, USFWS, NPS. It also excludes DOD wildlands.

http://www.gao.gov/archive/1996/rc96040.pdf

A brief summary:

Percent of total US land base.
FS 8.18%
BLM 11.41%
FWS 3.74%
NPS 3.27%

Combined DOI Agencies 18.42%

Land base wise FS is half compared to the combined DOI agencies

I also looked at the number of Federal agency administrative units listed on the eastern area sit report.

BIA 7
DDQ 6 (Dept Defense)
FWS 74
NPS 56
FS 15

Does anyone know which of these agencies has a land management presence (and ergo a wildland fire management presences) in every state, territory (Puerto Rico, Guam etc.), and DC? Hint. There are several states with no USFS land management presence what so ever.

Lobotomy posted:

The Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5, California) employs approx. 40% of all federal wildland firefighters in the country (Forestry and Range Technicians, all federal land management agencies). (OPM, FedScope, 2007).
So Almost half of the Federal Wildland fire fighting forces are employed by one agency in 1 state.

And that 1 agency has less than 1/2 of the total federal lands.

When congress mandated we come up with a common budgeting tool (FPA) for all of the fed agencies it also said the pie will not get any larger. You will have to divide up the current funding levels. So anything that would drive up fixed costs in any one area/agency would have an impact on other areas and agencies.

Jersey Boy posted

I know that California is the "tail" that wags the dog, but I'm guessing that any change in Forest Service policy/mission has got to take into account Idaho pretty seriously.

Any changes in any aspect of "National Wildland Fire Management" needs to consider a whole lot more than California, Idaho and the US Forest Service.

Small Agency FMO
11/10 Federal Land as a % of total land:

This link states that the Feds own nearly 64% of the land in Idaho.

www.uidaho.edu/cfwr/pag/pag16at1.phpl

From the "Executive Summary" part of this (here: http://www.uidaho.edu/cfwr/pag/pag16es2.phpl ) it mentions that in only 2 other states does Federal ownership exceed 60% - Nevada at 77% and Utah at 63% (I am not sure where Alaska fit in here; I think the state of AK owns most land there...).

In any case, they also mention that Forest Service land makes up a greater % of land in Idaho (nearly 39%) than in any other state. I know that California is the "tail" that wags the dog, but I'm guessing that any change in Forest Service policy/mission has got to take into account Idaho pretty seriously.

Nice graph from the folks in Nevada about Federal ownership of land:

http://dcnr.nv.gov/nrp01/land01.php

JerseyBoy

I doubt any change in interpretation of FS Mission will take any state, any "whole lot'ta nothin" country, any population or any proportion of GDP generated into account. Ab.

11/10 FIREDOG:

There is more than enough money for contractors, feds & cooperators to "have it both ways." The problem is fiscal mismanagement of those dollars by folks who have no idea how to manage a fire department/program.

So how do we illustrate to congress how this can be done with "flat budgets" and within the confines of current suppression budgets?

We have had to spend considerable time educating congress as to where those dollars are going. In the case of dollars that should be getting to the field for preparedness and fuels, hundreds of millions of dollars are being siphoned off by non-fire management to pay for non-fire projects. In essence, fire preparedness & fuels budgets are treated like a cash cow by non-fire entities.

The irony of this process is by diverting such fuels and preparedness dollars, the agencies decrease the preparedness resources in place to keep fires small and less costly. As a result either federal resources must be obtained from greater distances taking time and allowing fires to grow in size, intensity and cost or, in the alternative, higher-priced non-federal resources are called in to fill in the gaps of those federal resources that should be in place but aren't because the dollars to fund them have been misused.

The end result is higher suppression costs as a result not of WUI and climate, but due to Agency policy, pure & simple.

Vicious cycle huh?

This "cycle" is tantamount to needlessly spending a whole lot of money looking for the proverbial horse after it got out of the barn rather than ensuring the barn door was locked in the first place (preparedness).

Another irony:

You point to our issue about higher costs of cooperators yet wanting to increase pay for feds and that we can't have it both ways.

The primary "pay" issue we are working on is the concept of portal to portal pay in which I would suspect nearly every paid, professional firefighter in America receives... inclusive of federal Dept. of Defense firefighters.

Our goal is simple: to secure compensation at the base hourly rate for federal wildland firefighters during those hours in any given 24 hour assignment where they currently are taken off the clock. This is not a compensation process of 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. Portal to portal would kick in only on emergency incidents which exceed 24 hours.

So, as to the irony: IF the preparedness & fuels dollars would be used for the purposes as intended, conducting fuels treatment and having sufficient preparedness resources in place would significantly reduce the number of instances in which portal to portal pay would even be compensable.

Another irony: the 24 hrs staffing plans recently approved by Forest Supervisors for use on the Los Padres, Angeles during the fire siege provided greater pay than even our portal to portal plan.

We are not, and never have advocated the wholesale exclusion of contractors & cooperators to the mix. We have suggested that proper fiscal management and the elimination of archaic pay & personnel policies on the federal side will act to:

help improve retention problems which will strengthen the infrastructure of the federal wildland firefighting forces and will ensure proper preparedness resources are in place which in turn will reduce the suppression costs to taxpayers.

Simply, the playing field will be a bit more level and the taxpayer will get more bang for their tax buck.

CAsey
11/10 Casey:

Thank you for the thoughtful response. I too have a few observations

The FMAG program good or bad is available to agencies and is granted based on the thresholds set for each agency.

CALFIRE does not get any money until that annual threshold is met. Although it reaches it very early each year.

You said that the FMAG program takes away money that would otherwise be available to the Federal agencies to support archaic pay and personnel policies affecting Federal firefighters. In the next paragraph, you state there is very little incentive to reign in cost on incidents. If the Federal agencies get the much needed raises they need (and they do) would that not significantly raise incident cost? I feel strongly that to place a priority to reign in costs on all incident leads to bad decision making in strategy and tactics.

You raised the question of paying the cooperators in Ca their current salaries including OT and backfill costs. I don't know what backfill costs are. The rate that is billed as I understand is the standard OT rate for that individual plus the admin fee.

According to the Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement (CFPA), and the California Fire Assistance Agreement (CFAA), all agencies agreed to the rates.

Should the Federal Govt take their FF's off the clock during an incident? Absolutely not. Paying for availability guarantees response and production.

You said you disagree with the double standard of federal Govt paying cooperators more than their own FF's. CALFIRE too pays cooperators more than their own firefighters during incidents where the CFAA is utilized. If this did not occur, then we would just be a collection of single agencies unwilling to come together for the greater good of the taxpayers we serve. Sometimes it hurts, but that's the way it is.

The Federal type 1 and 2 teams in Ca are on average 30-60% LOCAL Govt employees by choice of the Federal agency.
In the last paragraph of your statement, you do not like to see Federal FF's in cow fields when locals are in motels on the Federal dime. It has been proven that in most cases, it is just as expensive to house FF's in a climate controlled tent in fire camp, provide showers, and laundry, as it is to put them in motels.

I guess in a nutshell, you don't like the costs that are spent on fires due to salaries and benefits of the cooperators because there is no cost containment process, but support increase in cost due to Federal FF's getting comparable salaries?

Don't get me wrong either, I support the increase in wages and benefits, but ya can't have it both ways.

Firedog

11/10 Dear airtac:

There is no problem with your thinking. I am sure there are many, many folks out there that are satisfied with the pay & personnel policies they are administered by. The benefits of a career as a federal land management agency firefighter are many, but some things are broken as a result of policies and organizational structures that may have worked decades ago, but have not kept pace with the complexities of fire program management.

To make sure everyone understands because you mentioned unions, the FWFSA is not a union. It is an employee association. Our "agenda" is driven by our members. Thus the issues we are addressing, whether they be issues that have been discussed for decades or new ones are those important to our members.

If everyone was concerned about these issues I'd like to think we'd have 15,000 members. We don't. Still others in the field haven't heard about the FWFSA, or They Said or even the WFF so part of our job is education as well.

As I've said before, we are not looking to bring true pay parity to federal wildland firefighters. However there is an uneven playing field and there are fundamental changes that need to be made to strengthen the infrastructure of our federal wildland firefighting forces. Not only for their benefit but for that of America's taxpayers. That infrastructure is being decimated by losses attributed primarily to pay & benefits.

For example, I'm sure there are a number of temporary federal wildland firefighters who love the sunsets etc. However, in our opinion, (and again because we have many as members) they deserve the same benefits, i.e. eligibility to FEGLI and basic health coverage as others for risking & losing their lives.

If there is negativity you sense from the FWFSA, I think it is borne more out of frustration that the Agency(s) have failed to embrace even the most fundamental of changes for its firefighters...classification which, according to Congress and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would not cost the government a dime. This, above all other pay & benefit issues is the # 1 issue of our firefighters and probably the easiest and least costly to correct.

The FWFSA is working to make the improvements you mentioned so that federal wildland firefighters don't have to "sell their souls." It sure would be nice if the Agency(s) recognized the same thing...that you can improve pay & benefits; strengthen the infrastructure of our Nation's federal wildland firefighting forces (the best in the world) AND save the American taxpayer staggering sums of money with simple, yet effective changes.

Casey
11/10 Map of federal lands in California to go with my last post:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/federallandmap.pdf (305 K pdf file)

Lobotomy

11/10 Regarding federal lands in California:

"According to NRI statistics, the total land and water surface area of the state is 101,510,200 acres. The Federal government owns about 46% of the state (46,633,400 acres). Federal landowners include the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the military, and the US Department of Energy. Individuals and private corporations; city, county, or state governments; and Indian Tribes own the remainder of the land in California." (National Resources Inventory, State of California, 2000)

"California has 39.7 million acres of forest land, which covers 39.8 percent of the state's total land area." (Shih, CA Fire Resource and Assessment Program, 1998).

"National Forests hold 45 percent (17,872,000 acres) of the forest land in California. Other public owners manage 13 percent (5,054,000 acres), forest industry owns 11 percent (4,477,000 acres), and other private owners hold the remaining 31 percent (12,280,000 acres)." (Shih, CA Fire Resource and Assessment Program, 1998).

The Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5, California) employs approx. 40% of all federal wildland firefighters in the country (Forestry and Range Technicians, all federal land management agencies). (OPM, FedScope, 2007).

Lobotomy

Do you have a similar breakdown of lands and acreage for other regions (or states) plus national figures? Perhaps the line officers in charge nationally are mis-assessing the situation due to the fact they're not firsthand experienced with California FS. No excuse for Harbour, except me'be that he's promoted to a place between a rock and a hard spot and finds himself entrapped. His choice. He should still man up and lead. Ab.

11/10 noname, Thanks for the info on the FS transformation. I did know they were working to reduce wo and regional expenses by 25%. Do you think they're also saying 3 "super-regions"? Chris, if so, Gail Kimball agrees with one of your suggestions. By the way Gail is a fine person, a good thinker and is juggling lots of resource issues even if she's not a firefighter.

Ab, thanks, I agree with you.

Casey, nicely done, but think on this everyone.
The mission of the Forest Service does not include protecting life and property per se (Protecting the land and serving people), as CalFire's mission does. More or less we protect only to keep fire from entering our national forests, which I think are 1/8 the landmass in CA (or correct me). I believe CALFIRE's mission statement actually says "protecting assets at risk which INCLUDE life and property." I suggest that what it costs to do that is relative, especially when you're talking million to multi-million dollar assets in SoCal for even simple structures. That's not to say we (FS firefighters) should get paid less, but to frame the issue from a different perspective and make it more local. It's like the costs of calfire using the DC10 are relative when you factor in the homes it will protect.

Part of the problem here is that the FS serves all National Forests and FS firefighters in Cali get the shaft because 1) of the large acreage in national forests we have, 2) it burns regularly, 3) that we have to live here to do our jobs, 4) living here is very expensive and 5) there's currently no way to factor that into pay... or ways that exist theoretically are not being used.

Some (mostly those who have retired or got their careers in before living in particular places became too expensive; I got mine, I'm a taxpayer, now screw the rest, screw the FS too... and everyone else, quit whining) have suggested we move elsewhere to work for the FS. Those of us that have aging parents here can't do that. Besides what would it accomplish for the FS if we all did? That's like saying the FS should abandon the American forests held in p[ublic trust in the states that are too expensive. (Expensive states also contribute hugely to the GNP.)

So many FS FF are leaving to other agencies and essentially abandoning the forests in the states that are too expensive. Now, who does that benefit? The country?

OK, I'm done...

Tahoe Terrie, proud FWFSA member

11/10 Casey,

Let me preface my comments by saying that I respect what you have done and are doing with FWFSA. I have reaped the benefits of the organization's past work. I am not an FWFSA member. Maybe I should be. Part of my problem is that I do not always support the negative picture that is generally depicted of the plight of federal firefighters. By far most of BLM, USFS, FWS, BIA, and NPS firefighters I know are satisfied with the pay, benefits, travel, job opportunities, job locations, and sunsets of the fire management mission. Could there be improvements?, of course. Do they need to sell their souls to a union, sleep only in motels, work halftime, and bankrupt their state? I don't think so.

I moved around a fair amount in my fire mgt. career (CA, OR, ID, MT, AK, MN, SC). I have been on assignments in nearly all the states that have a fire season. Most of the state fire organizations would be very happy to have comparable salary and benefits as federal firefighters. As a federal firefighter, I lived in several small communities. Many of the people I got to know in those communities would love to have had the same salary and benefits I and my family enjoyed as a federal employee. I am now retired (Forestry Tech, firefighter) but have remained active as an AD. I actually feel a bit guilty when people ask how I was able to retire so young. I feel for those poor non-fire federal employees I worked with who have little job satisfaction and have to work longer to gain the same benefits. Many of my friends in the community will have to work until they are 65-70 before they can retire. Some complain about the AD rates. I can supplement my annuity with a few assignments each season if I want. I can make more working part time for entertainment than some local state employees make yearlong.

Do you see my point? Please explain the problem with my thinking. Respectfully,

airtac
11/9 Friday evening offering, seven minutes. Let's count our blessings and celebrate our lives.

Hero performed by Michael Israel in New York
www.youtube.com/v/QZFkZiwMLZ4
(If you want small screen, click the You Tube icon in the lower right corner.)

My thanks to this community. Thanks to Jim Paxon who sent this round-robin and it got
sent to me. If we live our lives with integrity and love each other, I believe we're all heroes.
In his note he said "Make sure the sound is turned up."

Mellie (who also wishes for peace on a daily basis...)

11/9 Ab

Regarding BJ Fornadley's note about the "blackout" in Pennsylvania; I
remember it too; we heard the same story. I was in South Central NY
(Steuben County).

I have looked a couple times but find nothing on net about it. I thought
it might have been between 49 and 51; and it lasted a lot longer than an
hour. I liken it to the smoke from a large oil fire. Thick; black.

ht
11/9 Fuels officer,

I'm a hard core firefighter and I know a lot of hard core firefighters in
the forest service. There are a lot of really great firefighters in the
forest service. I am especially impressed with all of the young and up and
coming firefighters the agency employees. Forest Service fire management
and the public has certainly benefited from the actions and dedication of
hard core firefighters.

I do not fault any one from trying to improve working conditions and the
professionalism of forest service fire management. The job that our forest
service firefighters do is deserving of the recognition and complete
support of the agency and the federal government and I think that is where
the problem has been in modern times.

The forest service needs more "hard core leadership" rather than half-as$
leadership or no leadership at all.

Kevin Joseph
11/9 Dear FIREDOG:

If you've read some of my previous posts about federal dollars and CAL-FIRE, I have always expressed my respect and admiration for the Agency, not only Rueben's leadership but that of Local 2881 and what they have been able to accomplish for their members. Stating fiscal facts does not mean I dislike CAL-FIRE.

The reporter in question asked me about CAL-FIRE's spending increases and I told him that I presume like the federal side of things, spending is in fact going up for CAL-FIRE but I did not have the expertise to comment on CAL-FIRE's fiscal issues.

Let's look at what was reported:

"Higher salaries for state firefighters have lured away many federal firefighters..." FACT

The reporter obviously spoke to others because I did not supply him the figure of "$161 million in the past five years."

FMAG reimbursements are a FACT as are other federal programs that put money back in the cofers of state & local fire agencies. Do these reimbursements of federal tax dollars impact the ability to secure support for changing archaic pay & personnel policies affecting our federal wildland firefighters so they can remain in the federal sector? YES

Is there a disincentive to rein in cost? YES On every incident and with every agency NO

Even congress, inclusive of representatives from California have also raised the issue of fiscal disincentive as a result of FMAGs and other payments and have even suggested looking at increasing the current threshold ($1.5 million) or reducing the current reimbursement rate of 75% in California. Do they "dislike" CAL-FIRE simply because they raise a concern? I doubt it.

Does the current process of the federal government paying cooperators in California their already higher rates of pay for a full 24 hrs plus OT, plus an administrative fee of 17% plus backfill costs etc., while that same federal government takes their own firefighters on the same incident off the clock accurate? YES. Does it make me dislike CAL-FIRE, NO.

I do dislike the manner in which the land management agencies treat their firefighters and I do dislike the double standard of the federal government paying cooperators more than their own firefighters. However as we have discussed on They Said before, that has its roots in the ability of state & local firefighters to bargain pay & benefits while the feds do not enjoy the same opportunity.

So please don't confuse or mistake my stating facts as disliking any given agency. As far as "eating our own" I would think that could be an appropriate analogy of what CAL-FIRE has done to the feds in raiding them although I certainly didn't coin the phrase. Can't blame CAL-FIRE. Their own success at the negotiating table with 3% @50 has caused many to retire leading to many vacancies. Where else but the Forest Service and other land management agencies should CAL-FIRE go to get the best wildland firefighters in the world.

I do however think it fair that the taxpayers know the facts not only about FMAGs but also that the mass exodus of feds to CAL-FIRE isn't increasing the number of firefighters available to respond to wildfires or making them (taxpayers) any safer from wildland fire, its simply making those same firefighters more expensive to the taxpayer.

That is a fact, especially when the fed-turned CAL-FIRE firefighter returns to a federal fire line and performs the same duties as they did as a fed but now as a CAL-FIRE employee or with another local agency for substantially more...paid for by the taxpayer.

No, I don't like to see our folks in tents in cow fields when others, paid by the same federal government are housed in hotels/motels with cable and internet access. But again, that dislike is of the system, more to the point, the management of the land management agency fire programs by non-fire line officers and not a dislike to the firefighters of any organization working their butts off to protect lives and property.

Casey

Fire Acronyms Page

11/9 The question from BJ Fornadley about large Canadian wildfires interested me because I remember seeing signs explaining the forest regrowth from those fires in the late 1960s. It looks like a lot of record keeping for Canadian fire services started in 1950 and I could only find a couple of references, none matching the date BJ Fornadley gave.

Here's the closest (the information is from close to the bottom of the article)
http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/environment/naturalhazards/forest_fires/1

Chapleau-Mississagi, Northeastern Ontario, 1948

Photograph of the Chapleau-Mississagi Forest Fire, Northeastern Ontario, 1948[D]
Click for more information, 22 KB
Figure 8. Chapleau-Mississagi, Northeastern Ontario, 1948

The Chapleau-Mississagi fire, which occurred during the months of May and June 1948, began as a result of human carelessness. The fire burned some 280 000 hectares between the towns of Thessalon and Chapleau, and had a dramatic effect on the forest industry in the region. Smoke from the fires caused the lights to come on during the daytime in several Texas cities and choked residents from Ontario to the United States Gulf coast with acrid, nose-biting fumes.

Efforts to contain the fires were hampered by highly flammable balsam fir and white spruce stands that had been killed by spruce budworm, coupled with strong winds, high temperature Protection Program, British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range., low relative humidity and four weeks without rain.

___________________________________________________
Here's a slightly later event , mentioned in paper on Air Quality: ( Do a search for 1950)
http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/publications/pnw_gtr024/pnw_gtr024b.pdf)

Persistence and travel of forest smoke in the air have long been recognized.
The movements of vast smoke plumes from huge forest fires have been recounted in
the literature by many authors (Munn and Bolin 1971, Morris 1934, Plummer 1912).
The most recent accounts dealt w i t h the great Canadian fires of 1950 and the
resultant smoke clouds over the Eastern United States, British Isles, and even
Gilbraltar.

Hope this helps! If you find exactly what you're looking for, I'd like to know.

Still Out There as an AD

11/9 I took this from the California Native Plant Society email list. The NY Times link is here:

www.nytimes.com/2007/11/03/opinion/03fotheringham.phpl?_r=1&oref=slogin

New York Times - Op-Ed Contributors

Blazed and Confused
By C. J. Fotheringham, Jon E. Keeley and Philip W. Runder
Los Angeles

IN the last century, a greater proportion of Southern California has burned than that of any other part of the country. Chaparral shrublands - not forest - cover much of our landscape and account for the vast majority of what burns. The United States Forest Service, which devotes more than half of its budget to fire-related activities, spends most of that money to protect residences built in these shrublands.

Yet we have just seen, for the second time in less than a decade, wind-driven fires causing at least $1 billion in damage. The magnitude of these events makes it clear that it is time to re-evaluate the wildfire problem and how we deal with it as a matter of public policy.

There is much confusion over the causes and behavior of these fires. Some people contend that fire suppression is itself responsible for the catastrophic events, because it has allowed for an unnatural accumulation of flammable vegetation. But while it's true that fire suppression has affected fire behavior and intensity in many forests, it is not true of the chaparral that constitutes much of Southern California's undeveloped land, and more than 95 percent of what burned last week.

Fire suppression over the past century has failed to eliminate fire on these landscapes. In fact, recent estimates from the Forest Service suggest that most of the area has burned more often in the past hundred years than in the centuries before that. So it's not as if we have allowed more flammable vegetation to accumulate than when nature alone was in charge.

In any case, fires pushed by strong Santa Ana winds are only weakly affected by the amount of fuel in their path. This is evident from last week's fires, which consumed more than 60,000 acres of the same landscape in San Diego County that burned in the 2003 inferno.

In other words, even the extensive burning just four years ago did little to stop the recent fires. In addition to being inaccurate, the theory that fire suppression is responsible for large destructive wildfires is outright dangerous. It casts blame on firefighters and even suggests that we stop suppressing fires on these shrublands, even though they are home to a large population. And it shifts our focus away from real solutions, which are tied to local land planning and development patterns.

Large, high-intensity wildfires are a natural feature of the Southern California landscape, and we have limited ability to stop those that begin during the autumn Santa Ana winds. The best we can do is alter our behavior in ways that limit our vulnerability.

There is no one simple way to reduce fire risk, but we can learn many strategies by examining not only where houses have burned but also where they did not. It makes sense to begin by restricting the location and design of new housing developments, requiring the use of fire-resistant building materials and maintaining "defensible" space around houses. Greater use of parks and other open recreational areas on the periphery of neighborhoods that abut undeveloped lands can also contribute greatly to protecting communities from fire.

Downed power lines are responsible for igniting some of the recent large fires as well as previous catastrophic ones. Running power lines underground is expensive, but would be a worthwhile investment given the high cost of fighting fires and the billions of dollars in losses that fires cause.

Most fires in Southern California begin on roads, often when car fires ignite vegetation or when cigarettes are carelessly discarded. Low cinderblock walls built along fire-prone stretches of highways - similar to those that are used along freeways as sound barriers in cities - would greatly limit the spread of fire. And given that many fires result from sparks produced by construction equipment like welders, chain saws, mowers and chippers, it would be useful to limit these activities during the Santa Ana winds.

Trying to eradicate all chaparral wildfires in Southern California will continue to be futile. With the population expected to double in the next 40 years, we can expect fires to only increase. We should think of them as we think of earthquakes: we can't stop them, so we must accept them as a natural hazard and figure out how to withstand them.

C. J. Fotheringham is a doctoral candidate, Jon E. Keeley is an adjunct professor and Philip W. Rundel is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Fair Use Disclaimer

11/9 For Mellie and all interested,

Here's the updated info on Forest Service TRANSFORMATION.

transformation_110907.doc (55K)
All_Empl._Ltr._Encl_Matrix.10_5_07.doc (45K)

<noname>

11/9 Ab,

This came to me from an old retired wild land firefighter. He told me to
share with all of us. I like it myself.

Normbc9

An Old Wild land Fire Fighters Prayer

Let me lace up my boots one more time
and join my brothers and sisters on the line.
Another opportunity to work with the best
too young to stop… not old enough to rest.

Restore my eyesight and fix my knees
give me the energy to do as I please.
A fire assignment somewhere out west,
One more fire… one last quest.

Place me with friends from the past
Sign me up ...I promise I’ll last.
Grinning and grunting bent to the task
one last challenge is all that I ask.

Alongside of Mac, Ranger and young Blue
Flinging dirt and laughing… My lord what a crew!
C’mon just bend the rules for a shift or two
put me in the line-up… let me go against the flame.
One last inning … one last game.

Let me lace my boots up one more time
and join my brothers and sisters on the line.
give me another opportunity to work with the best
my last wish … my last request

Oliver …Counting the days

Glad to see that's making the rounds. Oliver does have a fine way with words. He contributed that here in 2005.
Oliver, hope you're enjoying retirement. If anyone else wants to contribute to this thread www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2003_n_before/jomt.php, we welcome contributions. Maybe I'll have to make a place for those on the Hotlist. Ab.

11/9 Casey,

A recent article in the Riverside Press Enterprise newspaper quoting you.
You can dislike CALFIRE in private, but please don't do it in public. I thought we were all in this together. Although some of the information was inaccurate, the reporter quoted you and relished in the fact that we are eating our own!

Firedog

Spending Questioned

But some of Cal Fire's firefighting colleagues raise questions about the spending.

Higher salaries for state firefighters have lured away many federal firefighters, said Casey Judd, business manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association.

At the same time, he said, federal payments to Cal Fire -- $161 million in the past five years -- leave less money to raise the pay of federal firefighters who protect national forests in areas such as Idyllwild and Lake Arrowhead.
"It's a huge disparity," Judd said. "One of the concerns we have is that there's not much incentive to rein in costs."

Click PE_News_Local_D_calfire09.36fd462.phpl for the whole article. Ab.

11/9 MS,

Funny you should play the food stamp/welfare card in you post. Why? Because when I first started my career with the Feds, my spouse enrolled, and was accepted, into the WIC program for milk and other dairy products. Our income was that low. She collected Cheerios box tops in order for the family to afford a trip to the east coast for Christmas to visit relatives. Resourceful she was, but you'd would think that as professionals in our field, that the WIC, etc could have been avoided. Like Casey recommended, send your stuff to Kimball and, if you're in CA, to Feinstein. I do not trust politicians, but it may be worth the effort.. Good luck

P

11/9 On 11/8 ms made the comment we "can't make it on our slave labor wages (do
we live in China?).

The answer is closer to yes than she/he might imagine. I don't know
anything about firefighting in China, but here's a start. Several other
internet links suggested commonalities: China has arsonists, firefighters
and when people in communities die, the army gets involved.

http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/90882/6296248.phpl

A few things I do know from my limited study of China and Chinese. The
two countries are VERY similar.

  • The US and China both think they are the best on the planet. After all,
    the Chinese word for China is "zhong gou" or "middle country" (middle
    earth?), the center of the planet.
  • The US and China both have migrant workers, usually paid much lower wages
    and outside "the system". In China the migration is similar to the US, but
    it is an emigration from the countryside to the city. Even the official
    wage for "migrant workers" is 1/3 of that for city dwellers. In both
    countries, migrants are defacto second class.
  • both countries have civil service systems "based on merit". In China,
    the higher you score on the entrance exams, the better college you get
    into. The best college grads usually get the best jobs in China and the
    US.
  • China's use of resources will soon rival the US. They are currently
    buying up raw materials world wide.

A few differences?

  • 300,000 students come from China to the US each year, mostly to study
    advanced degrees. 60,000 students from the US go to China each year,
    mostly to study Mandarin.
  • China will need another planet in resources to fuel their growth in the
    next 20 years. For example: www.iags.org/china.php
    states China's increased use of oil is seven times faster than the US and
    growing by 7.5% a year (by 150% by 2020). [It grew by 20% in about 2004
    alone].
  • I've heard various statistics, but www.csmonitor.com/2004/1223/p01s04-sten.phpl
    states China "is on track to add 562 coal-fired plants . . . in the next
    eight years. India could add 213 . . . the US, 72".

    The effects? Global warming or global cooling from the dust cloud. Who
    knows. One thing is certain. Things will change. This addition will
    cancel out any savings from the Kyoto agreement by 2-5 times.

As for firefighter pay and China, I'll research it and get back to you.

Ecologist.

11/9 Geee wizz the fires must be out because the hot topic is pay again.

How much should a GS-4 apprentice make? Is this not an entry level position? Hotshot Supts and
ADFMO's get $25.00 an hour as GS-9's after working 10-20 (15-25 seasons) years in the service.

Not saying it is right but what does a private in Iraq make? And they don't get overtime.

This is not China and no one is a slave yet but if Bernanke and the rest of the bankers have their
way with us China will be looking good. I am sorry that life sucks but that is the way it is.

Keep fighting for better working conditions and pay, but don't hold your breath. We may heading
for some hard economic times in the next several years. Maybe they will bring back the CCC's,
then you will think $12.00 an hour was a good deal.

A couple of wars, $100.00 a barrel oil, stock market free fall, dollar in the toilet. Hard to
imagine that pay raises for firefighters is going to be getting a whole lot of attention in the
next election cycle.

Be thankful you have a job that you can be proud of doing and that you're not handing out shopping
carts at Wal-Mart.

Dan
11/9 On or about October 31, 1948, when I was a child, there was a total black out
of the sun in Pennsylvania in mid afternoon. It was dark as on any given night for
about an hour.

It was very frightening afternoon and I was later told that the blackout was
caused by a major fire in Canada.

Can you provide me with any information to support that this was caused by
Canadian forest fires??

Thank you for any info or knowledge you have regarding this period.

Have a great day!!!
BJ Fornadley

11/9 Dialogos Report/Gail Kimball

I just came across this report of prior July and want my two cents placed.

Its been twenty six years since Zane Smith and Max Peterson detonated the Bernardi Consent Decree time bomb, demanding that 43% of the workforce in Region 5 be female. Contrary to popular thought, court records reveal Judge Samuel Conti never requested, nor certified what was essentially a Forest Service order. (It was never a court order.)

By 1993 the 43% quota had spread to every other region, making the Forest Service the most matronly agency in the nation. Please see Dale Robertson's "Blue Book."

This was despite the fact FS was acting in direct violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, several sections of the 1991 Civil Rights Act, as well as multiple sections of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.

Nothing has changed since the 1980s; thus, small wonder Dan Berman reports that Forest Service employees are confused about the future direction of their agency. The 400 employees interviewed by “Dialogos (who charged the Service $987,000 for uncovering the same problems agency mavens knew existed for a quarter of a century -- money much better spent on the ground) reported, “The agency is experiencing confusion and drift in its central identity and direction and ambiguity in the way it allocates power and responsibility.”

Was there anything in that statement at variance with the terrible events the agency has inflicted on itself over the past twenty five years?

Dialogos states that fire related costs are now accounting for nearly half the Forest Service annual budget. Agency workers “described fire fighting as a burden and said it is unfair the Forest Service has to fight fires for other federal and state agencies.”

Well, to the lace curtain post-moderns, firefighting is more than a “burden”; in fact it is down right dangerous. Which is why special people who meet the rugged physical and psychological standards prerequisite to fighting fires are so badly needed. They may get thirsty, hungry, tired, exhausted, injured, and at times frightened, but they never think of firefighting as a “burden.”

Another of Dialogos’ findings suggests the inquisitions, if not the purges of the 1980s and 90s remain at full throttle. “Even if they know their mission, employees said the agency’s culture is not welcoming, as they fear ridicule or punishment for raising unpopular topics or questioning superiors. ‘Individuals that raise difficult issues can be accused of being negative and subsequently feel their input is not welcome. They may even be ejected from the system. Employees do not feel safe to speak up with such a climate, adding to the perception of suppression.’”

Questioning the guiding principle behind promoting large numbers of women into positions they knew nothing about always brought suppression to Forest Service employees. So did questioning the promotion a women to fire management officer over a man with many more years experience. Questioning the long held, very expensive agency principle of “creating non essential urban office positions are far more important than filling on-the-ground positions in the forests" brought mountains of suppression.

(What Chief Kimball should now be doing is vacuuming the cash out of the Washington Office, and those urban caves known as regional offices, closing them down and hand carrying all [urban employees included] to the forests themselves.)

And Heavens, don’t question the near exclusion of men from forest personnel departments, or the efficacy of transferring minority employees from urban environments into the forests of Oregon, knowing full well they will not remain more than a month. All the while the F.S. literally gives local youths a boot in the teeth. Remarking on any of the above has left many employees not only suppressed, but literally mashed.

I digress: at one point in her interview Gail Kimball called into question the Forest Service’s once vaunted “mindset of can-do,” that quality that fell so naturally into place under the stewardship of Pinchot, Graves, Silcox and McArdle. Said Kimball, “[the mindset of can do] is diluting our effectiveness, overtaxing our workforce, and contributing directly to casualties.”

The "can do mindset" she is referring to once led to the thinning of slash, thinning of timber stands, the clearing of fire lines, controlled burns, reforestation on a massive scale, and maintenance of back country trails.

More than any Chief before, this mediocrity has an obsession with safety, which she is certain will reduce casualties and minimize the loss of timber and structures to fire. Dozens more initiatives are pouring out of her Washington Office that in no way relate to the skeleton staff on the ground.

There is also her mantra “enhance diversity workforce and visitors.” As if a thousand fortunes had not already been thrown to the winds of diversity, while thousands upon thousands of invaluable male professionals of wrong skin color were told to hit the road.

The single amusing moment within the entire Dialogos Report was Kimball's use of Einstein’s famous quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.” With every intention of following in the footsteps of her failed predecessors, there is good reason to suspect Kimball has lost her sanity.

Sincerely,
Chris

Chris, This Ab thinks that at some point we all need to get over the gender thing and just fight fire...

11/9 All (concerning pay and the inevitable),

I appreciate all of the perspectives concerning firefighter pay and the discrepancy between feds ands state agencies. I agree, as members of the "green machine" we are under paid. I applaud efforts to change that.

Here is where I'm coming from:

When we signed on to work for the agency we knew that it wasn't because of the money. We signed on because we wanted to be involved with the management of public lands and all of the exposure, friends, and experiences that come with that. Somehow the idea of being the stewards of public lands made us forget about the pay scale. Whether your fire or the so often scolded ologist on this site, we have a passion for being associated with the decisions that are made on the management of our public lands.

So maybe we have come to a cross roads. Is it time for fire and aviation management to go separate from land management? Lord knows, suppression and all of it's associated actions has become a drain. When you talk about approximately 50% of our total budget going towards the suppression of fires that the majority of us think is for the better, we are in trouble. All risk, and the obvious "South Zone" opinions aside...what's the frickin deal? This is still the U.S. Forest Service. If there is a majority of us that don't care about the "land management" aspects of what we do, then I suggest you find other employment or that we need a major fundamental change in the way we are organized. After all, if you signed on, you made your bed. You can't say that you didn't know what to expect. Trust me, the corporate knowledge will be severely missed, but we WILL carry on.

I suggest that if you are a "hard core fire fighter" and that only, why did you sign on with the U.S. Forest Service. "It's a land management agency". Were you looking for a job when you found this one? There are other agencies that will pay you what you deserve for your skills and commitment. That being said, I don't want to discount the service that you provide for people in the campground that say "here comes the Firefighter "and not "here comes the Forestry Technician". I think there is a place, and definitely multiple agencies for your services.

All of us knew the score. So why sign on and then express your displeasure? As some of the previous posts explain, there is plenty of opportunity outside of the agency. So go there, and lets move on.

Fuels Officer
11/8 Firefighter Pay

Leaving for Cal Fire or staying green because you like the opportunities. It all comes down to life priorities. However it's pathetic, sick and disgusting that a federal agency would allow a Federal Wildland Firefighter to make an income below the poverty line. A recent new hire told me he's not signing up for federal health benefits because he can't afford the federal premium for coverage for him and his wife and that Medi Cal (welfare) will take care of his kids because he makes only 12.00 freaking bucks an hour. I hear many of our federal brother and sister firefighters do the same thing, including receiving food stamps. These people risk their freaking lives and are heroes to the American people, and are faced with the indignity of walking in a doctor's office or grocery store using welfare to survive. It makes me sick to even think about what this agency does to its Firefighters. It makes me sick that proper compensation for Federal Firefighters is not on the agenda of every BOD, FLT, RLT or any meeting with leadership. I tell any Apprentice that asks: if you can't make it on our slave labor wages (do we live in China?), then work hard, get good references and apply to an agency that will pay you above the poverty level.

I support everyone that leaves, because I know most of them in their heart don't want to go, but can't afford to stay. Soak up all our training, soak up all the experience and then go to a real agency that will treat you properly. You have the support of the majority of the fed readers of this forum. All I ask when you're gone is to not forget the agency that put you through that Apprenticeship program and gave you all that training and experience. Help those that stayed behind by helping us keep up the fight.

One more favor please. Come Nov 2008, VOTE! VOTE for the group of candidates that will help Federal Firefighters get out of poverty.

Pathetic!

ms

11/8 Recently several Green and Blue Sheets, 24-hr and 72-hr Reports have been posted on the Hotlist Forum along with the unfolding information as it was released.

The hotlist has extremely fine search capabilities for words longer than 3 letters. If you ever need to find these for tailgate sessions or training, they should be easy to find. We do this for every accident, near miss, etc that comes to our attention or that we discover on searches of our own. In addition to being posted in the Hotlist's Major Fires/Incidents section, we also keep them in a private database. Here are the most recent:

CalFire Blue Sheet, Green Sheet and medical updates
CA-MVU-E-3387 Burnover on Harris Fire

CalFire Blue Sheet, ORC 24 Hour Report; flash pictures with commo from the LA Times Photographer, etc
CA-ORC-Santiago Fire shelter deployment

CalFire Blue Sheet
Vehicle Accident: Vehicle versus Fire Fighter II Paramedic

11/8 re: FS Mission

The public may not be able to point to a green truck or shot crew and say, there are Forest Service firefighters, but I am convinced that the public thinks about the Forest Service and its mission. "Rangers" are supposed to fight forest fires and protect Bambi, and fires are bad (Smokey told em so!). Unless they've been listening to environmentalists, in which case fires are good and we should just let them burn. After all, Yellowstone proves it.

There's also a strong sense (especially among those living in those east coast cities others have mentioned) that we should all have "wilderness" to go to, and we'll get there someday. When the Tongass was working on its Land Management Plan, it received comment letters from all 50 states, often from folks who had never been to Alaska, and have no definite plans to go. They just want to know it's there so someday ...

There's a lot of myth in this, and I don't mean that in a condescending way. Often the agency has failed to recognize how essential it is to deal with perceptions. I think it is the nature of folks with green blood to want to speak in terms of studies, stats, and so forth, and miss that the public isn't necessarily asking the questions that are answered by those facts. Unfortunately, great numbers of people can convince Congress that their perceptions make a difference on in Washington.

Still Out there as an AD

11/8 Ab,

I would like to offer a perspective for those considering leaving the federal fire service for CALFIRE opportunities. I started with CDF in the early 70's as a seasonal firefighter. It was a great experience. I took the engineers exam and was offered a permanent job at a schedule A contract county station in Carmel. I declined the offer to take my chances at working toward an appointment with the FS. It took a few years but I finally earned a 13/13 and eventually a PFT appointment. I supported a wife and family as a GS-4 and retired as a forestry tech, civil service firefighter. I never regretted the decision I made.

My fire career with the FS was a great adventure. I got to work with some of the finest people in the interagency fire business and got to see some of the best places the United States has to offer. I learned early on to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. I learned there was no management conspiracy, but rather that I truly was empowered to initiate changes that made sense. I was able to participate in fully integrated fire and aviation management programs rather than only fire suppression. I have lifelong friends in many states from several agencies. I have friends who are now retired from CDF. They certainly enjoy a greater retirement annuity than I do, but most I have talked to regret that they spent the better part of their lives limited to CA. It is a personal choice for sure. No question that CALFIRE is a quality organization, but their mission is very limited. Even in today's environment, I would not hesitate to make the same decision.

airtac
11/8 High Lonesome,

Thanks for your perspective on the aircraft availability. I'm sure more will come of this. I spoke with an individual on the State Board of Fire Services, and the Governor has requested a study by 20 experts of the recent fire siege in light of the recommendation and findings of the 2003 Blue Ribbon After Action Review.

I found your perspective worthwhile. Being on "the pointy end of the sword" you don't get all the Intel in the field as I'm sure you're aware. The other thing that crosses your mind is that "if its this bad and your not getting the resources here, it must be a he*l of a lot worse somewhere else." While I believe our OCFA Chief has some good points, I know he was strongly motivated by the shelter deployment involving a dozen of our people. He was there onscene immediately and checking on their individual welfare. Whatever his motivations, I'm glad he's stepping up and engaging in the discussion. I'm glad he is greatly concerned about the welfare of our people.

Hopefully the review will spark new initiatives that will better protect firefighters and result in better funding of needed improvements for all of us. Once again, our sincere thanks to all those firefighters who came so far and worked so hard.

Contract County Guy
11/8 In regards to P.

Your son is doing what many of my firefighters have
come and told me. They can make more money, with
benefits and work less as a TEMP with CALFIRE than
they can as a converted apprentice.......... Can you
blame them? And the Engineers' list? If/When this
happens, its going to decimate the Federal Government
Fire Management Agency's ranks of future leaders.

Then I talk to my fellow captains and they say the
same things in regards to Captain positions. Again,
more potential FMOs going the way of CALFIRE. Pay,
benefits, time with family........

I'm not going anywhere, yet. I like the freedom I
have with the Federal Government but something needs
to change. I'm not in the position now but in the
future if I have a family, the CALFIRE option would
look a lot sweeter. For now, I'll keep towing the
company line and waiting for our leaders to step up
and do something for the forestry technicians of the
world.

Sign me, still not jumping ship but something needs to
change.
11/8 Dear P:

Your commentary and that of so many others is like preaching to the choir on They Said. As we have recently solicited contact with Senator Feinstein's office to hold hearings on all aspects of the dysfunctional FS fire program, comments like yours need to go straight to Gail Kimbell, the FS Chief.

I would urge you and others that are passionate as I am about making the land management agency fire programs the place to make a wildland firefighting career to share your comments directly with the Chief and since you're from CA with Fesintein as well.

The Chief's phone number is: 202-205-1661

and fax is either 202-205-1785 or 202-205-1765

Feinstein's info has been posted here recently.

Thanks,

Casey
11/8 Jersey Boy I appreciate your perspective.

I have spent holidays in the Medford NJ area with aging relatives from time to time
including during fire season, also lived and did med research in NYC and near Philly.
The East is the world of big cities, summer rains and, except for the NJ Pine Barrens,
very little wildfire awareness. 90% of people live in large cities. Your point is well taken.
I will think on your solution. I'd still really like to hear the FS's solution. Maybe they
have something similar in mind and with NIMO teams.

Umm. Where will the IMT members or the NIMO Command and General Staff team
members come from when the current ones retire? It's like inoculation of a population
against disease (in a way), you need to have a critical mass of participants for the
system to work and to be sustainable...

Mellie

11/8 Mellie:

As to what the American Public thinks about the Forest Service and its mission...for the most part, they don't.

Only about 1/5 of Americans live in a state that has heavy wildfires in which the Forest Service plays a large role. (I'm counting the states as: AK, AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, SD, WA). Just throwing some stats out, but the bottom 7 of these states have a total population that is equal to New York City alone. These states have 26% of the Senate votes, and about 21% of the votes in the House of Representatives. And within some of these states, there is a part of the population that sees no wildfire threat other than what they see on TV.

This isn't to say that people in New York don't care about wildfire or the Forest Service, but it just never crosses their minds. My family and friends on the East Coast know about wildfire through my involvement, and they know that National Parks exist as a place to visit, but few know the difference between the NPS and the FS, and most have never heard of the BLM. So you're already fighting an uphill battle in trying to find out what "Americans" want.

Furthermore, political power in Washington sees no real incentive to change the Forest Service. A quick glance at the Presidential candidates reveals no one with any ties to "Forest Service" states (besides maybe owning some property near a ski resort out West.) If you're not going to have changes come down through the Executive Branch, then you've got to go through Congress to get it done... and as the stats above show, it'll be an uphill fight to fundamentally change something that has been in place for over 100 years. The current Forest Service model still works extremely well in places like Indiana, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire, etc. that don't see a lot of fire activity. You'd have to convince people from there that the system needs major overhaul.

In addition, while you, me, and most people who post on this board care about Forest Service policy, it's not a big money issue. I believe the Forest Service spends around $2 billion a year in suppression costs. That seems like a lot of money, but to put it in perspective, my medical school has nearly a $1 billion budget all by itself.

All this said, here's my thoughts...

I spent my entire, albeit brief, fire career in the FS green. I used to think that that a large federal fire service was the way to go - to standardize the various agencies and provide a more efficient use of resources. Strip fire - and its budget - away from the control of the land managers, rotate resources throughout the country as wildfire risk changed.

Recently I've had a change of thinking, and it's based on some of the debates that have been going on here on this board. Wildfire in Idaho is a much different beast than wildfire in SoCal, which is different from Alaska, which is different from Florida, which is different from... well, you get the picture. In addition, the financial realities of California make it nearly impossible to implement any sort of fiscal changes nationwide without completely upsetting the economic picture of firefighters in Cali or everywhere else.

My solution is thus this: strip fire away from the federal land management agencies (FS, BLM, NPS, BIA, FWS) and create a two fold approach. Make a small federal fire service consisting of the administration - NIFC in Boise, and the GACCs - the major management teams, the smokejumpers, the federal hotshot crews, and create federal fixed wing and helo contracts. Beyond that, all fire suppression will be handled on the local and state level, with block grants given to the states based on the amount of federal land acreage and WUI risk. The states then control hiring and paying firefighters. The federal fire service will determine minimum training standards, but the states will identify and pay for additional training as desired. They will determine if they want 24 hr coverage, if they want EMTs, if they want structure skills, etc from their firefighters. And they will be responsible for all fire suppression costs within the state. The states, with the federal fire service acting as a mediator, will work out mutual aid responses for communities close to borders.

The federal aspect will take over when large fires overwhelm local and state resources. The federal fire managers will be responsible for determining "emergencies" in which resources from other states can be sent, and fire paid for using emergency federal funds. As I mentioned above, SMKJ and Hotshot crews will remain national resources and will be requested by local/state fire agencies and will be moved with the approval of the fire managers to those places with the most risk. Ditto with national air resources and management teams.

Finally, the land managers will be able to hire the state fire agency personnel for fire suppression projects - to be paid for with the FS land management budget. That way, depending on the workload, states can recoup some of the costs of maintaining their respective fire services.

I know there are probably a million flaws in my plan, but it's been the evolution of my thinking over the past couple years as I've moved out of fire and into other things.

JerseyBoy
11/8 Casey and all,

After spending 30 years in A&FM, now retired, it appears that nothing has changed for the entry level folks and the infamous Forestry Tech pay scale. I was appalled when my son told me, after his second season, that he was making a meager $12.60/hour fighting wildland fire. Remember back in the early 70's when the pay was pennies? The FS and BLM haven't progressed since then, financially speaking. Unfortunately, he is looking to jump ship to CALFIRE and bag the Apprenticeship academy. I told him "your family has always been the USFS, but you do what you must in order to survive financially". I brought this up because we have, and will, loose more quality firefighters to other agencies that pay their people for the dangerous and unforgiving job that they do. Wake up D.C. and OPM ! And you continue to wonder, WHY???? Sad state of affairs for all that risk their lives, detach themselves from their families for extended periods, and get a "dollar - $2.98" (Sandborg quote) for their services........

P

It's blowing on the winds that CalFire is down some 600 employees and will be hiring from the fed ranks again. People in CA will be choosing for their careers and their families. Sad but true if your blood runs green. Carry on. Ab.

11/7 Mellie there's lots of information on the FS transformation on the fsweb
at:

http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/transformation/

Unfortunately the general public can not get to it. There is very little
that specifically deals with Fire Management. More dealing with
organizational structures, like cutting back on regional services, and
utilizing mega service centers (like they've already started ABQ), to
provide the services ROs are now providing.

TC
11/7 Readers,

The process of Forest Service "Transformation" has been going on for a while, for example with the changes in Finance and IT and Maintenance (done with Congressionally-allocated fire funds, by the way) and with FS Functions being forced to compete with the "private sector" in A-76 studies. I think the "metaphor of FS change" began to take root among Rangers and Forest Leadership Teams at the Pulaski Conference (which, ironically, was fire-inspired and grew out of the SoCal firestorms of 2003). Since then there have been a number of meetings focusing on the development of "Principles" and "Doctrine", similar in function to Commander's Intent, Leadership and Situational Awareness discussions in fire circles here. Some may not realize it, but there have been two processes involving Doctrine that have been going on simultaneously: one in Fire and one in the FS Natural Resources Organization.

I thought the Forest Service "Transformation" process might be described on a FS webpage somewhere, just as Fire has many websites dedicated to Doctrinal Change. Where we are in the "FS Organizational Transformation Process" is Stage 2 Tier 3, I think. I googled such things as --  organization transformation "Forest Service" and couldn't find a fs.fed.us page describing it, with stages and tiers. Perhaps on the FS Intranet? I'd like to see the plan clearly explained from top to bottom. It is going on; that's evident at this blog:  Transforming the Forest Service.

It also seems clear by FS Agency actions that the "Transformation" is proceeding. Clues abound: there are buyout and early out retirement packages that are being offered to hasten the departure of the most experienced FS employees, for example... (How will that exodus affect natural resources management, let alone fire management?)

I know I don't have an understanding of the whole story yet; I hope someone who knows facts will share and point us toward some good web material or formal documents describing the process. This stuff always fascinates me.

I have one thought in all this... What does the American Public think and want?

The Forest Service still views itself as a Land Management Organization, but TIMBER is no longer harvested to help fund some of the land management functions as it did in days of yore, like fuel reduction.

  • Timber no longer funds the Fire or Natural Resource Management Functions.
  • Because of that, moneys now need to be allocated for both Natural Resources Management and Fire.
  • 51-54% of the FS budget now comes for fire, but it's not all used for fire preparedness.
  • Even though Fire is King, Natural Resources officers (Forest Leadership, Line Officers, "ologists" (and I am one)) control the money and control Fire in the same organizational structure that existed when Timber Was King.
  • It doesn't make sense. Perhaps the two functions need to be separated into two independent functions... The agency's decisionmaking organization is comprised of Natural Resource Management officers and is no longer conducive for Fire.

OK, let's explore...

One way to fix this is to turn the current fire responsibility of "Natural Resources Line Officers" over to "Fire Management Officers" with a "Chief FMO" in Washington... This would be a Fire Branch Forest Service Organization that is separate from the Land Management Branch Organization of the Forest Service. The Land Management Branch could hire the Fire Branch for fuels reduction. (The DOI could pay too. They don't now.) Each FS "branch" would have autonomy of program and budget based on their own needs and professional expertise. It would disentangle the intertwined structure, function and funding snafu that currently exists.

How can the costs of fire suppression be controlled if you have to rely on non federal entities to control costs??? I don't think it can be done!

More...

If FS Fire's infrastructure is strengthened, there are resources for Initial Attack, and the costs associated with over-reliance on non-fed entities for large fire suppression can be decreased. At the same time, there will be a pool of trained and experienced firefighters coming up through the ranks that will be able to implement Doctrine from a knowledge and experience base to keep themselves and all of us safe. They'll be the next generation of wisdom: the supts, the Incident Management Team members and Commanders that currently manage a variety of emergencies from fire to hurricane to tornado.

Has anyone asked lately:
How does the Public see the Forest Service and what does the American taxpayer want the Forest Service to do? Congress will do the Public's bidding.

If Congress doesn't do anything, we will loose the fire program. At that time the nation will be forced to spend a staggering amount of money to do what has been and has become Land Management's responsibility.

I don't think we can put the issues genie back in the bottle unless the 2 functions -- NR Management and Fire -- are separate and autonomous... Ask the American Public...

Mellie

11/7 I posted a blurb in chat about needing id for this photo. Is there a way to link this photo to that post?

Here is what I need: ID and contact information for the ff’s in the photo w/ the President so the White House can send them autographed copies. The photo was taken at the Witch Fire Incident Base on Thursday, October 25 th at approximately 1230 hours. I was the Deputy IC for the dignitary detail team and can be reached at
email
: janet.upton at fire.ca.gov. (remove spaces and put in @ sign)

Thanks for any assistance you can provide. I know the firefighting community will come through with the info!

Janet Upton
CAL FIRE ICT #5

PHOTO OF FIREFIGHTERS with Pres

Did it. I'm adding it to the hotlist... Ab.

11/7 Sting and a Firegirl

Sting brings up an important point that needs to be made very clear to
politicians and the public. Just because you have lot's of resources,
doesn't mean they can be utilized in all operational environments
efficiently. In my experiences as a DIVS and ICT3, there have agency
modules (crews, engines, helitack, etc.) that I would take anywhere,
anytime. And agency modules that I would send home or leave in "staging"
rather than risk lives (and paperwork.) Same for contract crews, some I
would trust in the worst situation, others I would get rid of as fast as
possible. The very generic typing we have of personnel and modules can mask
the capabilities (or lack of) these resources. As we all know, if you have
positive fireline experience with someone, and they are bringing in a crew
or module, you are usually way ahead in knowing how you can deploy them,
the level of trust you can have in them, and your overall comfort level.

Sign me "R1 Fireman" Thanks.

11/7 a "Firegirl",

I believe it is normal for you to feel left out and helpless while you watch the end-of-the-world fires down here in SoCal. But I wouldn't send a high school ROTC class into Fallujah either. What we had here wasn't chasing smokes on the Umpqua, we had some really scary sh!t happening. Another day at the office during the fall here.

Simply, It isn't about resources, it is about the "right" kind of resources. What SoCal needed was highly trained, SoCal firestorm experienced, professional, self-sufficient firefighting units with qualified leadership that can act independently in a "high-tempo operational environment" and make split-second life or death decisions. How many of your resources mentioned meet this minimum standard? My guess is your list just got shorter.

I saw one of these Type 6 contract ( private ) engines you refer to on a cover order. I wont name the company but they sent them home after a few days. They were a waste of money and a liability. The only fire I would have trusted them with was putting out a campfire in a ring at a campground, or chasing a smoke on the Umpqua. I realize there are exceptions out there, but my slides are many with contract engines and crews.

Your moral support is appreciated but remember, all resources are not created equal.

sting
11/7 Ab,

If anyone has intel on how the country is going to be divided up, would they
please let us know. Is this a done deal like the stovepiping of finance to
Albuquerque? This could have serious impacts on local firefighting
agreements,

Tahoe Terrie

ref post Portage Pulaski wrote on the hotlist forum www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2318 He/She said,

I hope someone tells the legislators that FS regions will be combined in the very near future. In our area that might not have much impact, but in high WUI states across the west that burn it could be a cluster for the residents.

11/7 Thanks for posting the LA Times photos on the Santiago Canyon Shelter Deployment. I had heard about them, but not had a chance to see them.

Some questions:
  • Has anyone approached the LA Times and Karen Tapia-Andersen about being able to get and use the photo slide show for training? Perhaps additional photos as well? I think these could generate terrific discussions at all levels about what went right on this incident. Also, I'm not aware of any set of photos, other than these, that shows before, during, and after a deployment.
  • We are beginning to gain some experience with the new fire shelters. How have they performed?
  • This is a trickier one for me because I don't have experience on a wildland engine. But due to the tragedy last year, and this Santiago incident, I am wondering if there might need to be an adjustment to (or perhaps a re-emphasis of) our safety guidelines when working from an engine as opposed to your more traditional crew deployment? It seems that  the patrolling and stopping and quick hitting a problem scenario is inherently different from going in somewhere to grub out line for a fair length of time where you can become more familiar with your environment, escape routes and so forth. A road, or the black, are fairly easy assumptions to make for escape routes or safety zones, but they don't always work. (Of course there's cross-over between both types of firefighting, especially on initial attack, but this might be easier to discuss with clear, although perhaps artificial, distinctions.)
Still Out There as an AD
11/7 More photos from Ken - DESERT RUNNER DUDE's collection:

from the Sahara Race:
first day
Ken and Camel

at LAX homecoming:
Ken, Lori's promised choco chip cookies and Melissa (WFF- "bike girl")
Ken and fire flying partner Mike

11/7 I am concerned that the message "there were no resources available" keeps coming up regarding the Southern California fires. I am not sure what resources "they" keep referring to as there were many 20 man crews, Type 6 Engines, Tenders, timber faller teams and other resources sitting in other regions that could have gone, and did eventually go after FEMA put in the work order days after the fires started. However many of these resources are private and on contract in other regions or on National Contracts. I would not normally "jump into the fire" however I find it upsetting that "these resources" are ignored as the press and others keep saying no resources were available. The same thing happened two years ago and there were over 100 20-man crews available for dispatch, and this was the first time any private engines have ever been used from out of state by SoCal. We do not aim to compete but to compliment all other resources and do the same job with the same goals. Get that fire out, and save peoples homes and lives.

a "Firegirl"
11/6 Melissa called late this afternoon.

She was at LAX with a group of Ken Perry welcomers: Wendy (Ken's wife), Paula and Ian Perry, Connor & Sean (his brother and family), Beth and Mike Lynn (his BLM flying partner and his wife). All got to wear red and white t-shirts celebrating the event, and there was a welcome home banner. When Ken walked down the jet-way they created a scene, hollering, whooo whoo-ing, and whistling. Turned a lot of heads. They had a "coldie" and heard a few stories at a little LAX airport oasis. No sand, palm trees or camels. Ken is in good spirits, relaxed, sporting a goatee. Laurie, Ken and Melissa Check out the MEDAL and Ken's smile.

Promises of more race pictures later. Stay tuned.

Ab.

11/6 7107

Regarding Dozer Safety, your concerns are very justified and shared by many. The Fire Community has learned some hard lessons over the years that no one should be out on the fireline by themselves. There is hope on the horizon though. Several agencies, including some of California's Contract Counties, have installed Swamper seats on newer Dozers that have environmental cabs and are fireline ready.

There have been recorded burn overs in past years of Dozer Swampers who did not have the protection now afforded by new technology. This technology did not come easy or cheap. Each make and model of dozer had to be specially outfitted with new "roll over protection" that could encapsulate a swamper seat and purposely be rolled time after time to ensure proper design. There are now after-market kits available for retrofitting.

Regarding Dozer Bosses, just not enough qualified personnel to fill the positions. For years, many of these positions have gone UTF during the busy times. Its not uncommon to have one Dozer Boss for multiple dozers. A great opportunity exits for those individuals who want to get trained up as Dozer Bosses. Contact your local Training Officer to find out what the prerequisites are and where you can get the S-232 Dozer Boss class.

A good web site to visit is the California Dozer Operators Group (DOGs), this group has been around for many years. It is made up of paid professional Fire Dozer Operators and professional Contractors who fight fire. www.californiadozeroperatorsgroup.org

Stay Safe,

Yellow Angel
11/6 Confused & Ab,

You're almost right. This photo was taken looking into 40" dbh tree that had burned out.  It was taken with just a Bushnell outdoor camera with 3.2 mega pixels. My wife made the comment that it looked like the entrance to hell or some beast opening its mouth.

Jim

11/6 Ab...

This was forwarded to me today....

COPTER 100

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````
E 3387 Crew Update

Today I have lots of good news to report.

Yesterday our sister was moved from the ICU to the 5th floor. This morning she was alert, talking and even took a little walk. She needs lots of rest and time to heal, but it seems the most difficult part of her recovery has past.

Last night one of our folks went in for a little surgery on his hands. All went well and he is resting comfortably today. We think this will be his last surgery and that his release home will be soon.

Yesterday was a great day for one of our brothers, he got to go home! The doctors took a look at him in the morning, and by the afternoon he and his family were packed up and out of the hospital. One down, three to go.

Yesterday there was a very successful fund raiser held to benefit our injured firefighters. The fund raiser was sponsored by Chris Lord, a "housewife" as she calls herself from the city of Escondido. Chris contacted Mike Lopez with the her idea, set the wheels in motion and saw the event through. We want to thank Chris for her exceptional efforts on behalf of our folks. Many thanks also to all those who donated.

Finally, lets all keep our brother who remains in the ICU our thoughts and prayers. He is making progress, albeit slow. We continue keep close tabs on him and his family and look forward to the day when he too will join us on the 5th floor.

Mike Vogt
Firefighter and Family Liaison

11/6 Aircraft Ordering/Staffing

High Lonesome

Well put and articulate.
When you're called, you respond to the request that you are given...not
the one that comes later on and you aren't there to receive it.

Many of the Aviation Qualified individuals do indeed hold multi-functional
certifications in various positions in the ICS system.

There are times when an incident grows in scope that some personnel are
switched from their original assignment to staff another type of need.

Just as we move hard resources (Engines, Dozers, Fire Crews, MKUs,
etc., etc) around, so do we move or reallocate individual resources
(Helitack/Air Attack personnel) to other locations and assignments.

It also often takes a good amount of time to move individuals to aircraft
pickup points...you know how it is trying to drive around all those darn
Fire Engines, Dozer Units and Fire Crews traveling south hour after
hour after hour !!!

COPTER 100

11/6 Community,

Some extremely sad news. Matt Mathes was a fine person, had integrity;
I am in shock and wish this was not true... What a great loss for all of us!

Please, love and support those around you!

Mellie

www.timesheraldonline.com/ci_7384299

American Canyon man allegedly kills wife, dogs, self
Police look into apparent murder-suicide involving Forest Service spokesman
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 11/06/2007 07:02:00 AM PST

AMERICAN CANYON - A longtime, well-known U.S. Forest Service spokesman apparently killed his wife and two dogs before killing himself on Saturday, police said Monday.

American Canyon police are investigating the apparent murder-suicide of Wallace Erskine Mathes III, 54, his wife, Karen Pang Mathes, and the couple's two dogs, a police spokesman said. All were found dead in their American Canyon home early Saturday morning, said American Canyon Police Sgt. Craig Nickles.

Mathes worked for nearly 20 years as a U.S. Forest Service spokesman, stationed on Mare Island, said co-worker Jason Kirchner.

"He was a great guy. Great to work with. He was the voice of the forest service for more than 17 years in California," Kirchner said. "You couldn't find anyone more steady than Mat."

The deaths occurred on the 600 block of Chaucer Lane near Crawford Way, Nickels said.

Police received a call from the home at 6:17 a.m., in which the male caller told the dispatcher that his wife was sick and that she wanted to die, Nickles said.

"He told the dispatcher he was going to kill her, the dogs and himself," Nickles said.

American Canyon Police and Napa County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the home moments later, he said. After
failing to get a response from inside the house, officers entered and (click the link at the top)

11/6 Hi Ab,

I’m sitting at the Oakland Airport on my way to greet Ken as he returns from Egypt. I hadn’t been on my computer since early yesterday – had to get packed up and ready to travel – I just heard from Mellie that pledges are up over $20,000.

Thank you JIM FELIX and THE SUPPLY CACHE for the boost! I’ll be greeting Ken in just a few hours and we’ll be sure to deliver the GREAT news.

I’ll be meeting up with Lori Greeno, Wendy Perry, and other Ken family members who have helped support Ken as he supports the Foundation in all the runs he has completed so far.

Thanks to everyone who pledged, to everyone that got family and friends on-board. We wouldn’t be able to help without your support.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
11/6 Could Jim Adams share more information about his photo of the
Moonlight Fire? Aspect taken from, Lens, etc.?

Thanks.

Confused.

I wondered about that one, too, and whether it was just fire in a stump or something... Ab.

11/6 WOW

JIM FELIX AND SUPPLY CACHE ROCK!!!
Made it to $20,000.00 thanks to their donation.

All I can say is Pay Up and Pay More!!

Be Safe
Strawberry

I can't say enough good about Jim Felix and his wife. They're a model of selfless giving for all of us.

There's still time to follow their lead: donate ! Ab.

11/6 Contract County Guy,

In reference to your comments regarding Cal Fires' Military Helicopter Program, staffing, availability of copters in the north, etc:

On Oct. 21 (last day of my vacation) my cell phone started ringing with a half dozen different assignments and orders. The last one I received was for a Military Helicopter Manager. That was at 8PM Sunday. I live in far Northern CA. I was at Los Alamitos with one other manager and ready to fly with the Firehawk (tanked aircraft) and a Blackhawk with bucket by 3 PM Monday. Sacramento ECC and South Ops were notified of the copters status. We were told that there were no outstanding orders at that time. By 0800 Tuesday a total of 4 military Blackhawks were available and eventually assigned to the Witch Fire in MVU. Within a couple of days a total of 11 National guard Blackhawks and Chinooks were staffed and ready to go.

As far as the comment goes regarding having to find "alternate spotters" is totally inaccurate. All current and qualified Cal Fire Military Helicopter Managers are maintained on a statewide list. Just like most fire folks we all have a dozen or better ICS quals in addition to our regular assignments (Engines, Helitack, Air Attack, Handcrews, etc). Most of our managers were already busy filling a variety of positions and assignments. We were able to get some of those Manager qualified folks relieved so they could manage a Military helicopter. There is always some reflex time associated with that. There are no "primary staff" or secondary staff. One list, that's it.

You stated that on the second day your type 2 copters flew all day. Would this have been Monday the 22nd? If so, with the wind and gust spreads I witnessed, I would have to question the effectiveness of any drops.

I don't think the insinuation of the purse strings were being held too tight is an accurate statement either. I saw the following CAL FIRE copters within a day or two all working, all assigned to fires: 101, 102, 202, 205, 404, 406. I know the others were assigned although I didn't see them. I think the ordering and prioritizing system was overwhelmed. It took a little while to sort it out as it always does during the initial phases of several fires burning at the same time. But, as usual the folks responsible to sort out all the requests etc. did a good job. Remember "reflex time".

I'm not trying to stir the pot, just trying to provide some accurate information in a sea of speculation and assumption.

High Lonesome

11/6 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE:

This is a snap of my ankle while having tea in Cairo on Sunday.
Right now I'm having fish and chips in a pub in London. Be
back tomorrow (today).

Peace KCP
Sent from my iPhone

Owwwww. Ab.
Readers, we're only $600 shy of the $20,000 target. Anyone? Just a few more donations!

11/6 Green Sheet is out on the Santiago Fire Burnover:
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/CA-ORC-SantiagoShelterDeploymentGreenSheet.pdf
(2,127 K pdf file. Excellent maps and diagrams in the original.)

Text posted on the hotlist:
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=12669#post12669

11/5 N449RC Copter 10 is one of San Diego County Sheriff's 205 A1++ helos.
There are also CDF stickers on the door. N107BZ Copter 12 looks just the
same. Copters are operated by SDSO pilots and there is a CDF Captain in
left seat. 1 ship staffed with helitack crew depending on the time of year.

FYI
hwyted

Thanks, I will add that info tomorrow... Ab.

11/5 Ab,

I think the Romeo Charlie = Riverside County. There also appears
to be a CDF logo on the door if you zoom in. Just a guess.

Former Green Soldier.

11/5 Two nice photos came in from a CalFire Crew. Helicopter with a snorkel says N449RC and "Sheriff" on the side. It's not "Guns and Hoses"... Maybe someone knows more. I sent an email requesting info to the contributor.

I put them on the Helicopters23 photo page and the Handcrews 22 photo page. Ab.

11/5 Ab,

This is a picture of the header on the Moonlight Fire in Plumas County, 2007.
A thunder cell merged with the smoke column to produce this awesome header.

JS

Nice. I put it on the Fire 35 photo page. Ab.

11/5 I would like to submit the attached photo from the Moonlight Fire near
Susanville, Cal in Sept 07.  I think of this as the "Gateway to the Beast"
or "Entrance to Hell"

Thank You,
Jim Adams

Thanks, I put it on the Fire 35 photo page. Ab.

11/5 Here is a pic of the McCloud Fire Department's 2006 Pierce Firehawk.
It is built on a Kenworth T300 4x4 chassis with a 1250 gpm Darley pump,
FoamPro 2001 and Husky CAFS. This truck is the result of a Fire Act
grant and a lot of fundraising efforts.

RD

Thanks RD, I put it on the Engines 18 photo page. The shiny red one... Ab.

11/5 Ab, here's a pic of a Cal-Fire Helitack Sawyer on the Rice Fire in Oct '07

MEd

Thanks MEd. Nice action groundpounder pic. I put it on the Handcrew 22 photo page. Ab.

11/5 Ab And All;

I have some questions related to dozer safety. Maybe some of the CAL FIRE folks out there can help me out with this one. Some years back MVU quit using swampers on the dozers, in fact I think it was in the early eighties. At the time I thought this was an unsafe practice and still do, as this causes the dozer operator to have to load, unload and most times work the line alone. NOT GOOD.

Talking with some folks that were on the Pine Fire, 12 September, and after reading the green sheet, it is clear that MVU 3346 was working alone. (no swamper) And after being burnt over it was some time before he was found and taken to the ICP and later to the burn center. There was a dozer boss and a good one at that, but he was with the other MVU dozer at the time. Cant be in two places at once. This is a time when I think a dozer swamper could have made difference.

Now as for the accident that took the life of Matt Will in the Hollister area. Now I don't know if a swamper would of been any help or if there was a dozer boss in the area. I did talk to a reliable source from the Hollister area and he said that in the accident area the slope was eighty 80%+. Definitely not good dozer country. Why were these guys sent in there in the first place?

What is it going take to get some safer working practices for these dozer operators? I think this fire season should be wake up call as far as dozer operators are concerned.

I know Matt's father and mother very well and worked many fires with Gary, Matt's dad, and I am mad as HE*Lo over this one.

7107
11/5 Blue Zebra

I believe the OCFA's Fire Chief has made specific comments on the lack of use of CALFIRE and CWN aircraft, not necessarily engines. Some CDF copters appear to have been retained in north zone where fire season was pretty much over, and the CA Air Guard aircraft (copters and fixed wing) were not staffed up with State spotters so they could fly. This despite about 4 days worth of forecasts calling this the wind event from hell. CDF in some northern California counties temporarily ended there season and laid off staff that weekend, despite the forecast, only to have to do a quick rehire later. When the fires hit, its my understanding that CALFIRE had to find alternate spotters because the primary staff found other overhead assignments and were quickly sucked up into the system. (2003 Dejevu?) Also, winds were a factor during IA, but on the second day our Type 2 copters flew all day when winds were reported to be a factor in the lack of aircraft availability. My boss insinuates that the purse strings may have been held too tight somewhere at the top.

The facts about all this will come out in time.

I too have a few decades under my belt in doing this, and I have also learned that we learn from every deployment. I just hate it when we keep learning the same lessons over and over again (i.e.: 2003 firestorms and after action review) and we can't get the political backing to resolve these problems.

Hats off to all our brothers and sisters from throughout California and the west who came, and the many who are still here working on our behalf.

Contract County Guy
11/5 For Contract County Guy:

I appreciate your “size up” and add the following, particularly to the comments made by OCFD’s Chief.

There is a document floating around that shows there were 20 plus fires in this siege, and the Santiago fire was the 10th to ignite, less than 24 hours after the first, which if I remember correctly (I saw this document about 8 or 10 days ago) was the Canyon Fire in Malibu. How many resources does OCFD’s Chief believe were available? The Northern California resources were enroute, but had 10 or more hour drives. CDF directed that work/rest issues (related to driving) be more or less ignored, as lives and property were being lost.

When I arrived in Southern Calif (early Monday morning), there were 12 or 14 major fires, all demanding resources. Most were losing at least some structures. Fixed wing aircraft had been grounded in most cases due to high winds. I assume OCFD’s Chief expected that he could say he was at that crucial point, and all possible resources should have been sent his way. I appreciate his point, but anyone can say a certain point is critical, and demand attention. This would further cloud the massive number of issues that decision makers had on their mind at the time.

Contract County Guy, I have learned a painful (probably the most painful in my opinion) lesson in my 30+ years in the fire service. Part of the process of grieving a significant loss (loss of a home in most cases this time) involves trying to fix blame on anybody but ones’ self. So we fire service members get blamed, even tho we knocked ourselves out, did everything we could, to stop this horrible event. Mother Nature controlled this situation for at least 36 hours, not us. But the public finds it difficult to blame someone or something that it can’t reach out and touch, and subpoena to court.

Bluezebra
11/5 24 hour staffing on the LP

Here's to the folks who made it happen!!!

Bravo Zulu
11/5 Some of my retired brothers, whom I respect deeply, were quoted (or perhaps misquoted) in the media during the height of the firestorm regarding Orange County’s preparedness to respond to the Santiago Fire during initial attack. The controversy has continued as local politicians and our fire chief have made statements regarding the mutual aid and wildland resource response, or lack thereof to support this fire.

For our readers, I would like to set the record straight about a couple of things….

1. The Orange County Fire Authority maintains specialized wildland resources year-round on a level par with Ventura County Fire…not as much as Los Angeles County who owns their own firehawks and maintains state inmate programs, but certainly a significant capability including type 2 and 3 engines, crews, helicopters, dozers, and fully qualified ICS staff. Orange, like 5 other County Fire Departments, is a “contract county” to CALFIRE.

2. Before the Santiago fire started, OCFA and its city partners from the OC, had committed 25 engines to a fire in Malibu (LA County), and another 5 engines and 2 trucks to cover LA County stations.

3. At the time the fire started, the OCFA had staffed an additional type 3 and type 1 engine strike teams, a type 3 IMT, 4 helicopters, 2 crews, and 2 dozers. 10 additional single increment Type 1 engines were in the process of being staffed as well.

4. The initial attack included all the resources cited in 3, above. Additionally, five additional type 1 strike teams, three type 3 strike teams, 6 crew strike teams, and 3 dozer strike teams were requested within minutes by the initial attack IC. Except for the type 1 engines, none of this order was filled due to regional resource commitments, and aircraft returned to base due to the 85 MPH winds near the fire. The CNF was able to commit only 2 engines. The fire ran from the top of a mountain ridge above Irvine into the structures at the bottom in 15 minutes.

5. Orange County resources defended structures and conducted two significant firing operations to contain the fire as it grew to over 8,000 acres in the first burning period. OCFA resources were chased out of Modjeska Canyon initially, but recommitted to save this community, losing 15 homes and 10 outbuildings there but saving 300. A burnover involving 12 OCFA firefighters requiring shelter deployments occurred as they tried to keep the fire out of canyon communities. Resources were unavailable to support perimeter control objectives.

6. No mutual aid resources, outside aircraft, or other resources arrived for 56 hours after the fire started, leaving the OC to hold its own with IA resources, which included CNF E27 and E26.

Now I realize fire in San Diego and Lake Arrowhead took many more structures and perhaps the risks to people were higher there. But to those who might suggest that Orange County didn't put up a good fight, I would suggest they consider the above. Air and other wildland resources could have stopped this fire at half its size when winds diminished. They simply were not available. More will come of this in coming weeks as the after-action and political process kicks in. As some of you know, 2 years ago the OC Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff (yes, the one under current federal criminal indictment), opposed a voter-rejected ballot measure that would have funded OCFA wildland resources specifically.

But from one ground-pounder to others, there has been some straight scope to consider.

For your consideration, I have included some pictures from the initial run of the fire, and an "after" photo showing the community of Modjeska Canyon from the air.

Contract County Guy

I put your Santiago Fire pics on the Fire 35 photo page. (Check the Fire 34 page for other updates as well.) Thanks for the burnover links. They/we were extremely lucky the 12 didn't perish. Ab.

11/5 To All:

I just made a few more donations to Ken's Run and it is just $800.00 shy of $20,000.00...
Let's try and get it there before he comes home...

Be Safe All & Great Job Ken,
Strawberry Mom
11/5 40th Redding Hotshot reunion next Saturday...

NorCal Tom

11/5 Dear AB:

We are adding this information to our web site on the News & Legislation
page but hope you wouldn't mind allowing it to be posted here as well.

Thanks,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Recently the FWFSA brokered several phone calls between former R5 fire program leaders and staff from Senator Feinstein’s office as well as staff from several Southern California congressional members to gain the insight of the former fire program leaders regarding California’s recent fire storms and other issues facing our federal wildland firefighters.

As a result, Senator Feinstein has called for a full scale investigation of the Forest Service fire program and has suggested she is considering holding hearings before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee of which she is Chairwoman.

Now is the time to exercise your voice as a California federal wildland firefighter or supporter thereof.

We need you to contact Senator Feinstein’s office by phone, fax or email and provide the following:

  • Your name and address to verify you are a constituent
  • The fact that you are a federal wildland firefighter or supporter of their issues
  • You agree with the Senator that a comprehensive investigation into the Forest Service fire program and the management thereof needs to be done immediately
  • You support her consideration of holding hearings on the matter before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
  • Any hearings must include the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association as the voice for the firefighters

PHONE: 202-224-3841
A receptionist will take your name & address and record the information you provide to them (see above)

FAX: 202-228-3954
Simply send a letter with the information above

E-MAIL:
Go to: http://feinstein.senate.gov
Click on: contact us
Click on: email me
And fill out the email form. Pay attention to the fields marked with asterisks. They are required to identify you as a constituent of hers.

The more people who contact her office in the coming days may make the difference in seeing some action on real changes for our firefighters.

11/5 Ab,

Just a quick email to say "thank you" to everyone for their thoughts, prayers and support... this was printed in the memoriam section on Oct. 26, 2007, I wanted to share it to those that do not subscribe to the Press Enterprise... sorry it is late, but getting motivated is not a strong point this past year...

Again, Thank You all from the bottom of our hearts...

"Danny's Mom"... Gloria Najera-Ayala & family

Some nice moments of silence occurred that day at noon, from what I've heard. Ab.

11/5 Updated the Catalina Island Fire photo page adding in a few more pics from Eric Smith (FWS). I thought the ICS pic was particularly amusing. Hard to believe that was last May, toward the beginning of fire season. Ab.
11/5 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE:

Well, it really is done. We finished the last stage today, running
through the suburbs of Giza and finishing under the pyramids. Only 3
of us managed to be hit by cars (anyone that has been to Egypt knows..)

Thanks to all for the E- mails, and the donations. It was the most
difficult thing I've ever done, but very much worth it. I will be more
specific in a few days when I get home...and send some pics.

Peace, KCP
Sent from my iPhone

Good job. Ab.

11/5 Reading the Scratchline with interest out here....

Especially the "Aviation Personnel Shortages"

Willing to step up??? PLEASE !?!!??! there are number of us out here the have some previous qual

Leo K Larkin
Firewise Specialist
1200 Warner Rd
St Paul, MN 55106
651 772 7931
s>>>> HECM HERO TOLC etc

I be willing to AD as in the past just to get the taskbook up to date........

I agree with DIVS quals to some degree But here goes...

If an ATGS knows how to read a map and has A commercial ticket, he^l even a GOOD SOLID private pilot... these folks could do beneficial service..

IT is time for the agencies to start "looking out side the box" and look at the people who have ALREADY invested in the aviation skills that are out there

GET THE PEOPLE such as skydive pilots who operate flying in circles or other that have done this type of work since when does one have to be TOTALLY a firefighter for this job...

Call me and we will talk 402 770 0211 651 457 6180

SHORTAGES?? Yep IF you are only looking at DIVS and FFTR 1 and 2 and the ones who do not do well in small airplane to occupy those positions.....well then, guess what?? There are shortages

SCRATCHLINE is a great pub and I READ it......... But the aviation personnel shortages section chapped me to no end

Where do I send my resume?
11/5 Here is very short video from a 24 hour a day surveillance camera on Lyons Peak of the Harris fire. Norm

UCSD has some high quality cameras on some mountain peaks in the San Diego area. One of them is on Lyon's Peak, right in the middle of the Harris Fire. News 8 looked over hours of video and made this short video of the Harris fire as seen from the Lyon's Peak camera, over a 7 day period.

www.cbs8.com/flv/video_pop_hd3.php?startID=107344 (top left option)

I'll add it to the hotlist, too.

11/5 If a guy has several years of structural/airfield, and a smattering of wildland experience;
is a full time Fed and wants to ship over to the FS, will he have to apply for the GS-3
Forestry Aid (Fire) position located on USAJOBS/Avue or is there another alternative?

Thanks.
LMH
11/4 John Estes, Ab, and all,

Just a little history on Karen Hayden. She started in fire on an engine the Saugus RD of the Angeles NF, and did a darn good job. I've known Karen since she first started working for the Forest Service and I'm not surprised at all that Karen would go out with the hotshots. It's who she is. She's definitely an example of the kind of leadership that we need in this agency.

Good for Karen....you go girl!

FF

11/4 Santiago Fire Shelter Deployment

The LA Times has put an amazing set of images and sound together that captured the shelter deployment of 12 Orange County Fire Authority firefighters on the Santiago Fire. The firefighters were trapped while trying to keep a spot fire from escaping on the east side of Santiago Canyon Road, south of Silverado Canyon. The photographer, equipped with a telephoto lens, was positioned on the road below the site. When this and two other spots escaped, 13 additional structures were lost and the fire doubled in size. Thankfully, no injuries occurred as a result of this entrapment. A video clip about this incident is also available on YouTube that was carried on NBC news. The Santiago Fire stands at 28,400 acres and 95% containment this evening.

Contract County Guy

LA times: www.latimes.com/la-burnover-f,0,732907.flash?coll=la-home-center

YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO1MBmBhCTs
11/4 Well done Palomar Shots!

Heard you guys did a great job on the Taylor Ranch during the Harris Fire.
Had Fire in the attic. Made access. Suppressed the fire. Nice save. Watch
out somebody might issue you guys Trucker Belts.

Again nice job. Way to adapt and overcome.

CAL FIRE Jake
11/4 I spent a night and half a day at Chino staging. I slept fine and didn't think that it was unacceptable in any way for a recently activated staging area/camp. It didn't smell great, but it wasn't unbearable as others seem to be indicating. There were flies, yes, but I can't think of a fire I have been on that doesn't have some variety of annoying, flying insect.

The first night was a little disorganized, but the next day we received a full briefing, and were dispatched by mid-afternoon to a fire. Food, bathrooms and water were all provided by the next morning.

Sign me,

amused
11/4 Ab & All,

I found this article surfing today. Reminds me why I do this sh*t.

www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20071104-9999-1n4hero.phpl

Misery Whip

Nice. Here's the beginning teaser, click the link to read the rest... Ab.

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

Neighbors call him 'hero' for saving homes in fire
By J. Harry Jones
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

November 4, 2007

Mike Smathers didn't seek publicity.

His neighbors wanted it for him.

“He saved all our homes. He was just one man. He was our hero,” Glenda Little said.

Of course, Smathers doesn't see it that way.

The 36-year-old husband and father lives northeast of Ramona at Oak Tree Ranch, a manufactured-home community off Black Canyon Road. The development was the first densely populated neighborhood to be hit by the Witch Creek fire. Smathers was there when flames crested a hill to the east around midnight on Day 1.

That Sunday had started normally for Smathers, a 13-year firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service who recently became a law enforcement officer for the agency.

He got up at 6 a.m., took his 5-year-old son, Trevor, to his parents' house in Escondido and went to work. His wife, Penny, a dispatcher for the Forest Service, was also at work. Their dog, TJ, a shepherd mix, was at home.

Smathers and his partner were working near Temecula when they were told to rush to the Witch Creek area and help deal with what was then a small fire that had started shortly after noon.

The next 12 hours are something of a blur, Smathers said. The fire was out of control, and he spent the afternoon and ... [More]

11/4 Oh look, here's a picture of Ken taken by the race photographer and
posted on the Racing the Planet website.

Caption: "Ken Perry covers his face during a daytime sandstorm."

Mellie

11/4 Hi Ab,

I talked to Ken earlier (yesterday) afternoon as he enjoyed an Indian beer,
telling me how he did in the last 10K stage. Other than getting hit by a car
(on the hand) he made it!

I remind everyone again that you can definitely still pledge AND you are invited
to welcome Ken home at LAX on Tuesday, November 6 at 1:10 p.m.

Good Job Ken! We are all so very proud of you!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

I added the new stats and notes to Ken's page: www.wildlandfire.com/pics/wff-ken07/run.php Keeping a "tradition" going. Ab.

11/4 Re: Just another "routine" day in SoCal

Today,

A greater power (call it what you like.... God... Allah....Karma... etc...) was finally smiling favorably on the San Bernardino National Forest again. I can't go into details due to an ongoing investigation, but it involved a horrible double murder/arson wildfire on Forest Service protected lands in the Cajon Pass.

I'll provide more info about the circumstances in the future as details evolve and are released, but one employee of the BDF came upon suspicious activity, observed it from a safe distance, and then witnessed a wildfire start, and a vehicle leave the area at a high rate of speed.

The BDF patrolman responded in and asked for a 1st Alarm response, contained the fire during mild/moderate Santa Ana winds, and gave descriptions of the suspect vehicle that fled the scene. While suppressing the fire, two murdered individuals were found.

The employee is an Honor Guard member.......His actions and good situational awareness of hazards kept him safer.... A "helping hand" kept him and others safe as he suppressed the fire and kept it from running south and into the community.

Lobotomy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
more info from PE.com:

Devore CA
Two partly burned bodies discovered

The partially burned bodies of two men were found near a small fire burning Saturday morning in the Devore area.

U.S. Forest Service firefighters were patrolling the area of Cajon Boulevard and Kenwood Avenue because of the increased fire danger, when they saw a dark Chevrolet Tahoe speeding away near a large plume of smoke, sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller said.

Firefighters quickly doused the small fire burning brush and a pile of trash. Near the fire, authorities discovered the two bodies, Miller said.

The bodies have not been identified, and an autopsy is planned, Miller said.

Sheriff's officials are searching for the driver of the blue or black pickup with barn doors on the truck bed.

Authorities ask anyone with information to call the sheriff's homicide detail, 909-387-3589, or the anonymous hot line, 1-800-782-7463.

--John Asbury at PE.com

11/4 Rogue Rivers,

I was Foreman at the CDF corona station back before any MOU provisions were made foe decent sleeping accommodations and those dairies in the Norco, Chino and Ontario areas were always unpleasant to work around. The CNF Corona Forman and I would try to pool our resources on fires (we ran together a lot) and get a sleeping site up in the altitudes above the valley floor. Boy what a objectionable odor to be in 24/7 like the ICT Team of Rocky’s is doing. And I heard from a San Diego city fire officer there is still a 0 vacancy in the public accommodations in the San Diego area. Being retired does have its advantages and one is being able to pick and choose about when and where I want to go to. My home country is in Descanso and I’m glad I wasn’t there for this go around.

Normbc9

11/4 A car-buying tip from Chief 7700:

Ford announces, show your CSFA member ID to any Ford or Lincoln Mercury dealer in California and get the Ford employee "A-plan" discount during the month of November as a way of saying "thank you" to firefighters across the state of California for their tireless efforts in containing the fires.

California firefighters can simply show a valid/current badge and/or department ID card from a California-based fire department OR current California State Firefighters' Association ID card and state or Federal ID showing residency in the state of California at the time of purchase.

All California firefighters and their immediate households statewide will receive the same "A-Plan" pricing discount.

For exact details: www.csfa.net

11/4 A great article from the hotlist forum and circulating behind the scenes on the FS intranet:

No one answer... to reducing fire threat
By Richard W. Halsey
October 31, 2007

also printed in the San Diego Union Tribune

The vast amount of acreage burned and the tragic losses caused by the latest Southern California wildfires were not the fault of failed fire suppression policies, “overgrown” chaparral or environmental regulations.

The promotion of such simplistic explanations only complicate efforts to develop a successful strategy to help Californians adapt to one of the most fire-prone environments on Earth. We can, however, create communities that can safely coexist with large wildland fires if we have the courage and humility to objectively examine our own perceptions and listen to what science has to offer.

How to reduce fire risk is not a one-answer question. It involves multiple variables and values that can only be properly addressed by examining the entire fire environment. Fire risk reduction is a land-planning issue, not something that can accomplished by simply grinding up native wildlands in a quixotic attempt to control nature. In order of importance, the three critical factors involved in reducing community fire risk are location, building design, and appropriate defensible space.

A significant number of homes that burned in San Diego County's Witch fire had proper defensible space, but failed in placement or design. Developers had placed some of these homes at the top of canyons where wildfire heat is funneled like a blast furnace. This is inexcusable. When you put a flammable structure in a flammable corridor it's like putting a bowling pin in a bowling alley – ultimately it is going to be taken out.

Fortunately, San Diego County has two talented firefighters, Ralph Steinhoff and Ken Miller, directly involved in the land-planning process. They have helped to ensure new wildfire death-traps will no will longer be built. However, because folks retire and people forget, Steinhoff's and Miller's positions must be codified into county law. Firefighters need to have the final word in the planning approval process.

While new building codes are doing an excellent job in creating more fire-safe communities, there are still a large number of older structures designed to burn. In high fire-risk areas, these need to be immediately retrofitted. Embers can travel a mile or more and ignite a home surrounded by 300 feet of ice plant. Homes burn because they are flammable. It makes sense then to do what we can to reduce their flammability.

Did many homes burn because vegetation was too close? Yes, this is why wildland fires are called wildland fires. Stream channels provided wicks for flames to travel into communities, burning shrubs created extreme blasts of heat, and dried, flammable grass ignited large areas instantaneously. But fire will exploit the weakest link, so it is critical to not only create properly managed defensible space zones around structures, but also to make sure the structures themselves are not tinderboxes.

The social aspect surrounding the three components of the fire risk reduction equation is also vitally important. Citizens must become fire literate. This means not only understanding the fire environment in which we live, but taking personal responsibility to ensure their homes are capable of surviving a firestorm in order to protect ourselves and the firefighters we expect to help us. Every community in Southern California within the wildland/urban interface needs to establish a neighborhood “fire” watch program. Beyond encouraging everyone to do their share in creating a fire-safe environment, a cadre of able-bodied adults would be trained to stay behind to assist fire suppression efforts after other residents have been evacuated. Although certainly not without controversy, this approach has been successfully implemented in another highly fire-prone environment, Australia.

The basic facts supporting this “go early or stay” approach are simple. Early evacuations are often not possible, and there will never be enough professional firefighters to protect every structure during a large, severe firestorm. Staying behind to defend a home from fire is serious business and must not be attempted by untrained individuals. However, within properly prepared environments, such a strategy can be extremely helpful in preventing the loss of many homes.

In addition to addressing the fire-risk-reduction equation, it is vital to understand the facts about Southern California fire patterns. Large wildfires are not abnormal for the region. Fires in the late 1800s burned much more acreage than blackened in this year's blazes. While some individuals can spin a convincing argument that large chaparral fires are the result of an “unnatural” fuel build up due to past fire suppression practices, scientific research over the past 20 years does not support such opinions.

What is unnatural is the dramatic increase in fire frequency in Southern California over the past century. Nearly all fires in the region are caused by human activity. This has resulted in too much fire on the landscape rather than not enough.

Nearly two-thirds of the area burned by the 2003 Paradise fire and one-forth of the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County burned again during the Witch fire last week. This has set the stage for an ecological disaster in which native plant communities will no longer have the resiliency to recover. With all the “evil” brush eliminated and replaced by grassy weeds will we be any safer? Not likely. As the two-million-acre-plus grass fires in Oklahoma and Texas demonstrated in 2005-06, wind-driven flames do not need shrubs to create catastrophic firestorms. The fire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters one year ago in Riverside County was started in an area filled with non-native, grassy weeds.

Are grass fires easier to control than chaparral or forest fires? Under non-extreme weather conditions yes, but the myopic focus on vegetation fails to address the entire fire risk reduction equation. Trying to rid ourselves of flammable wildlands is not a realistic solution. Vegetation re-grows quickly, be it grass or shrubbery, making the return of large, Santa Ana wind-driven fires inevitable.

Rather than attempting to fireproof the landscape, an easier and more permanent solution is to fireproof our communities. Instead of avoiding difficult questions and pointing fingers, we all need to sit down and evelop the most effective strategy to address the three basic components of the fire risk reduction equation: location, building design and appropriate defensible space.

Firefighters, scientists and advocates for the natural environment can reach common ground, but it will require all of us to step outside of ourselves for a time, consider our options, and think about the kind of world we want to create.

(Embedded image moved to file: pic03315.gif) Halsey coordinates wildland fire research through the California Chaparral Field Institute. He can be reached via e-mail: naturalist at californiachaparral.com.

The California Chaparral Institute ...the voice of the chaparral
www.californiachaparral.org

11/3
Our competitor: Kenneth C. Perry, United States

Racing the North Sahara as a fund-raiser for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and for his own satisfaction...
Taking each day at a time...
 

Stage Distance Time (h:m:s) Notes
pre
10/27
    73 runners; 7.5 hr drive to base camp 1 and the start of the run;
map of course; the competitors meet up at the end of each day at
a base camp site, ring a fire pit to cook their own meals, enjoy each
other’s company, and get much-needed rest.
1st
10/28
21.5 mi (35 K) 06:47:56 73 runners began at 0830 to camels yawping and drums beating;
white stone boulder fields and long stretches of beige sand; hot!; each
base camp = cotton wall tents with 10 people in each; racers usually arise
0500 to a dark sky with waning full moon and needing a jacket,
begin 0700; brutal heat by 1000 hours
2nd
10/29
26.1 mi (40 K) 08:47:59 the course took a turn into ankle-deep sand; white sand dunes "White
Desert", tough on the quads most of the day, only one palm tree; heat’s
not quite as bad as yesterday, but still scorching! No wind. white desert
& stage2 in white desert, rocks, stage2 ...
3rd
10/30
23.6 mi (38.5 K) 07:37:28 Stage 3 Runners;
began earlier to allow racers more evening rest time; course is
flat, mostly hard-packed bed of sand, an undulating sea, stretching in all
directions; "beastly hot day" as athletes started their run through the Great
Sand Sea, seeing nothing but flat, hot, desert for miles. Temp: hot 110+
deg F; monster sand dunes before reaching base camp challenged
calves and hamstrings. Ken: "Incredible beauty in absolute nothingness"
was the term that came to my mind. But in all of this nothingness... there
were butterflies. Climbing a Dragon's back of sand-dunes. Up and down
this razor back ridge of... yes, you've guessed it.... sand. Oh and I got to
spend a few moments scratching the ears of a camel." camels & camels2
4th
10/31
22.9 mi (37 K) 07:18:05 competitors run through an oasis and past a glorious desert spring; temps
are still hot, but there is a slight breeze; at a checkpoint at this true desert
oasis with 3 palm trees, race volunteers offered to pour ice cold spring
water over competitors’ heads; music in the background; finish line is set
between eight large limestone formations to the East end of the course;
base camp; sandstorm blew through the campsite in the night
5th
11/1
58.125 mi (93 K) 23:08:10 the granddaddy, two-day overnight 93-kilometer stage; called the "double
day"; temps very hot; fierce 30 mph headwinds all day, gusts to 50 mph,
blowing sand; runner, wind, stage 5; 1st K began amidst huge limestone
towers; foot thick sand sucked swelling feet into its depths with each step;
after 1 K, the trail took an upward turn over a large rocky ridge; runners
bedded down on the trail or ran/w through the night; last-stretch;
6th stage of the race moved to the entrance to the Pyramids near the
Oberoi Hotel for the ceremonial 6 K finish for tomorrow (not Giza and
the Sphinx as earlier planned).
6th
11/3
3.75 mi (6 K) 01:11:54 Ken did GREAT!
(Andrew Murray of Scotland, was announced the winner of the men's
division 30:11:44 and Sandy McCallum of Canada was the women's
overall 39:55:24.)
END Overall Distance
156.25 mi (250 K)

Overall Standing
31st

Overall Time
54:51:32
Fastest overall time 30:11:44; Slowest, 83:01:43;
73 runners from 15 countries began, 53 runners finished

Photos compliments of Racing the Planet, Sahara Run.
More than 500 photos there... Check 'em out!

Ken got the most emails of anyone racing!


Well Done Ken!

ht

Mellie sent in the stage details and comments...

You can still pledge/donate. Job well done! Ab.

11/3 To John Estes:

Please extend our organization's thanks to Karen on behalf of our members on the
Plumas and across the Nation. We could sure use more line officers like that not
only in R5 but throughout the Agency.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
11/3 Ab and all

I want to take this opportunity to bring attention to all the support and guts of one District Ranger. Karen Hayden, District Ranger of the Feather River Ranger District, Plumas NF not only got involved in the last round of So-Cal fires she made the decision to participate. Karen went with the Feather River Hot Shots to the Slide Fire on the BDF. Karen pulled 7 shifts with the crew as a firefighter and worked side by side with them, is a Qualified Crew Boss and Firefighter.

Karen has set a whole new precedence for Line Officers in my mind and has demonstrated she does care.

Now if we only had more leaders who may not want to go on the line, but just show up and demonstrate they do care would probable go a long way.

My hat is off to Karen.

John Estes
DFMO
11/3 I just talked to Ken!!

HE DID IT!! He's done and he has a huge one pound medal around his neck to prove it! He said it's about the size of a CD.

The runners were driven into Cairo early Saturday morning and set off for the last 10K in two waves (the top 20 runners left about an hour after everyone else). Ken said it was crazy; several runners were hit by cars (one guy has possibly a broken arm and Ken was hit by a rear view mirror). He also said the organizers went ahead and laid out pink flags to mark the course to the finish; the street children went right behind them and removed them so the runners were basically lost most of the time.

Then he came across a lady who blocked his way and wouldn't move until he gave her money. He's been in the desert for 5 days and doesn't have any cash on hand, so she settled on one of his water bottles and let him go!

Ken said even with getting lost and having to do some navigation on his own, he still finished 4th out of the "slower" group! He felt great running and was surprised that he didn't have to walk. He did the 10K in a little over an hour. They have a leader board there at the finish and he said he moved up quite a few places!!

We didn't talk long because it was very noisy and a lady kept reminding Ken it was 20 pounds/minute for the phone call (his iPhone is dead). He did tell me briefly an interesting story about the security surrounding the buses and the camps because of the 2 Israeli runners (something about uzis?).

Best of all - he sounds ELATED, happy, proud!! I told him the pledge update and he was thrilled. The awards banquet is soon and I think he has the opportunity to tell the group about the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and how they help families...and how he was able to help them.

Ken said he was the "King of Emails" and definitely received more than anyone else. WAY TO GO everyone!! Thank you so much for that support. I can tell you that I heard in his voice how much it meant to him. I have truly never heard so much emotion in his voice as we wrapped up our phone conversation and said goodbye.

Wendy

Great news! Ab.

11/3 So the race is over but no times posted quite yet. Ken, you are one awesome man. Thank you on behalf of all the families and firefighters that will benefit from not only your amazing feat, but from your drive and compassion to help others.
If the Foundation ever sets up a Hall of Fame, you would be the first person that I would nominate!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! You truly are a hero.....

To everyone that pledged - you are a big part of this picture too. A BIG thanks goes out to all of you. Without your help Ken would have been chasing camels just for the heck of it!!

As Lobotomy said, I really hope that Ken has a picture of himself on a camel in front of the pyramids. Hey Wendy, how about having all of us over for dinner and then you and Ken can pull the old "Anybody want to see slides of my last trip?" routine! LOL

Can't wait to see you Tuesday, my friends!!

Lori
11/3 Ken Perry is poised to be in the top 25 based upon his run times, distance, and
commitment..... and his strength in the final push.

Not too shabby..... Actually pretty awesome.

Follower

Really awesome! Folks, still time to pledge in support of THE MAN. We're getting close to the $20,000 goal. Ab.

11/3 Normbc9,

LoL.... You sly fox. CDF (CAL FIRE) has been using Prado Staging for decades to prepare for and support wind events in Southern California. They had another area they also used when overflow was needed called the National Orange Show Fairgrounds.

The National Orange Show Fairgrounds were "occupied" by evacuees from San Bernardino, Orange, and San Diego counties and not available.

Chino Airport staging is only a stones throw away from Prado Staging and was the next logical source for out of area resources and it is centrally located to provide timely response to new fires.

Hotels throughout Southern California were booked solid.

I wouldn't want to sleep on the ground at Prado or Chino either, but we know who sleeps on the ground and those who sleep in hotels out of the area on most fires. With 500,000 plus evacuees getting "hotel preference" throughout Southern California....... it sure must have been tough on the CDF Hotel Managers (oops.... Offsite Accommodation Managers, I still like the old term better) in keeping the troops happy.

From what I have heard, the decision for Chino came out of the non-fed side of SoOps and the ESF4 activation........ and it especially wasn't from FEMA or the FS.

Rogue Rivers

P.S. - Don't get me wrong, I fully appreciate a good nights sleep in a hotel room away from the fires "or other inconveniences" as it improves the safety and performance of well rested firefighters...... A little cow poop smell..... come on.... Next time, maybe we could "torture" the firefighters and make them sleep next to all of the egg ranches that are found in the rural areas........ You think the cows smell bad now, wait til folks head eastward.... LoL
11/3 I keep seeing the same picture in my mind...... Ken Perry riding a camel and
having his picture taken in front of the pyramids and the sphinx. What an
adventure and challenge in support of our fallen and injured firefighters and
their families.

Very few among us could even dream to undertake such a venture, little less
complete it. You have a great skill and one of the most compassionate hearts
I have ever seen.

Great job Ken!!!..... You make the wildland fire community proud!!!

Lobotomy
11/2 Ab

Ken Perry, the man of Steel in my opinion, did the 5th stage in 23:08:10.
I think Melissa was having anxiety attacks and was reading the wrong portion of the race site when she said the first racer finished in 31+ hours. (I must say that site is a huge advertisement).

I went looking when I saw the 31 hours for the first racer and Ken's guesstimate of 21 hours.

I got this from: www.4deserts.com/sahararace/rtpsrtp2.php?SID=3&SBID=RC3&competitorsBiosNum=5

RJM

I looked early on (about when Melissa did) and I think the 4deserts webmaster was having trouble entering the stats or maybe started with the longest time. I was a bit concerned myself that Ken might not have made it. Luckily it wasn't so, although he's probably pretty beat up. I am very proud of him, he succeeded in achieving one of those "lifetime accomplishments" and for an excellent cause.

I agree on your assessment of the 4deserts website. It's one of the slowest loading sites I have come across and I have high speed internet. Ab.

11/2 Dear Mcleod:

Perhaps the most frustrating and disappointing part of rumors, comments, ideas etc. like the one you refer to is that they appear during a time when our firefighters are busting their tails even while many of their own family members and property are in harm's way.

I think we all expect a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking and a host of good... and not so good ideas to emerge from events such as the recent fire storms. Some come from the public, others from politicians who display their outrage at why certain things happen the way they do, even though they've been educated by folks like us for years on what to expect in such circumstances. And some come from the land management agency managers/leaders.

We hear calls for more DC-10s, 747s, heck why not un-mothball B-52s for aerial drops. Then... as suddenly as all the sound-bites appear, they disappear. We end up saying "we told you so... will you NOW fix things and we get the nodding of political heads... until the next disaster and the cycle starts all over again.

The idea/proposal you raise is mind-boggling ignorant. If it is coming from Agency leadership, whether the WO or RO, it is indicative of leaders who have no idea how to get out of a mess they themselves have created. So...let's punt.

The land management agencies have the finest, most cost-effective and efficient fire forces in the world yet, inexplicably, their only answer to the mess in R5 is "lets spend even more suppression money and give WUI to some one else who will cost the taxpayers 2-4 times what we cost. We'll be happy to regress into our forests and turn the fire program back 30 years..."

I couldn't begin to guess where this nutty idea came from but I am reasonably sure that the American taxpayer, especially those in CA, as well as Congress will have something to say about such a nonsensical plan once all the emotion and press coverage is gone.

Congress is already berating the FS for the suppression dollars rising and asking serious questions as to why. One of the main reasons is the use of non-federal resources. Sorry folks, that's just the reality. So if someone thinks Congress is going to agree to throwing more money away just because the Agency(s) can't seem to do their job, good luck!

In the meantime, firefighters who are working their butts off need not stress or over-analyze these rumors, ideas etc. What they do need to do is exercise their voice for positive, progressive change. If this concept is raised at the next BOD meeting, the FWFSA will know about it and will respond accordingly.

To old fire guy:

You are absolutely correct that it will take an act of congress to change pay & benefits for our nation's federal wildland firefighters. However, there are authorities given to Forest Supervisors and others that they can implement in serious emergency situations.

As you may know the LP and Cleveland have recently utilized their emergency 24 staffing plan during the recent fire siege. It is anyone's guess as to why the ANF has not implemented theirs. These are not the 24 hr staffing plan offered by some from the BDF.

I wholeheartedly concur that no Agency manager (non-fire line officer) is going to offer the points you brought up. However, I think if a Forest FMO were afforded the opportunity, many would do so. No one is looking to double pay for firefighters. No one is looking for true pay parity. I would suggest to you, however, that the retention problem among federal wildland firefighters in CA as compared to the other occupations you reference is far greater.

There are a number of fundamental pay & personnel policies that should be implemented to help stem the tide of losses. Funding these changes doesn't require additional appropriations. It does require fiscal responsibility... something the FS is lacking.

Many of these very same policies have been discussed by the Agencies, OPM and Congress for decades. Now is the time to make the changes.

The other occupations you mention have various groups working on their behalf such as the Federal Executive Board. They have every right to fight for whatever they believe they deserve. That being said, I would submit to you that the very fact that the Chief of the FS and other such leaders in Congress and the Administration refer to these brave men and women as wildland firefighters but can't muster the limited effort it would take to classify them as such, demonstrates to me anyway that these firefighters have been abused in the workplace for far too long.

Because no manager is going to work for one single group, we exist. We have the luxury of advocating on behalf of a very special group of folks. That is why we have always suggested to the Agency and its managers that if they don't want to advocate on behalf of their firefighters, then give us the ball and get the heck outta the way.

Respectfully,

Casey
11/2 Lots of new CalFire Green Sheets and a Blue Sheet upon the hotlist forum, Major Fires/Incidents section: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/forumdisplay.php?f=2 Ab.
11/2 Hi Ab,

I just took a moment to scroll through Ken’s Pledge List. I wanted to point out to everyone how many of our fallen firefighters’ families are listed. You can’t imagine what that means to us at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. People ask me how I can work around the very solemn issues we deal with (death and injury), and honestly, I tell them that I don’t think about what brought these people into our lives, I just enjoy getting to know them as they grow close to each of us. I’ve met Montana and Marcus Greeno, Jake Martinez, and Sara and Ricky Gonzalez, all kids who have lost their dads. They are amazing young people who, thanks to the many donors to the Foundation and/or members of the 52 Club, have met each other and are sharing their grief in a way that is special to them.

If you haven’t pledged yet for Ken, before you do, scroll through the list of folks who already have, look at the names of families who have lost their loved ones, and who entrust not only their money, but their healing path with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the wildland community. Your donation supports these kids, their families, and Ken’s efforts for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
11/2 I am certain it will take an Act of Congress to establish a special pay rate for federal firefighters. I can not imagine any agency manager making the points that:
Southern California (and much of the remainder of the state) has a very high cost of living.
All federal employees struggle to afford California housing prices.
Most federal job skills have greater pay in the private or state sector.
Ergo: We need to double (or more) the pay rates for only those who serve in a firefighting capacity......disregard those who are foresters, biologists, architects, recreation technicians etc.
Firefighters may lobby for special treatment, but it is my belief that only an Act of Congress can gain that for them.

Old Fire Guy (retired).

PS Note that I do not take the position that a raise is not warranted or deserved, only that no manager is going to pursue such actions limited to one small group of employees.
11/2 Ab and Fire Community,

There are serious plans to allocate federal fire suppression money to local
government in CA and to take fed fire out of suppression altogether.

mcleod

Well, that would certainly fix our nation's fire suppression cost problems. (tongue firmly in cheek) Ab.

11/2 Good Afternoon,

The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has just completed our 21st
edition of the Scratchline newsletter. This issue, based on Air Operations
on the Fireline, may be downloaded from our homepage,
www.wildfirelessons.net, or by clicking on the following link.

www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Scratchline_Issue21.pdf

Also new to the website is the link to our new Public Information Toolbox,
created by Jonetta Holt. This toolbox is a collection of templates, forms
and examples for Public Information Officers serving on Incident Management
Team Events and is offered in the spirit of encouraging each other to meet
the highest standards conceivable. Check it out on our homepage or click on
the following link.

www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/PIO_TOOLBOX_Final.doc

And lastly, Bob Mutch's report FACES: The Story of the Victims of Southern
California's 2003 Fire Siege, which is a case study of how six critical
tasks provide the foundation of a learning organization and his quest to
unearth the answers to so many questions about how these fires claimed so
many people’s lives is also located on our homepage, or at the following
link.

www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/FACES.pdf

The Lessons Learned Center appreciates your support and input!
Thanks and Take Care,
Brenna MacDowell
(For Paula Nasiatka)

11/2 Ab,

The Lessons learned center has several Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA)
documents available.

www.wildfirelessons.net

TC

Readers, that's an information-rich website. Visit often... Ab.

11/2 Hi Ab!

Sorry for sending that email multiple times this morning...
it was probably a mixture of excitement and the early
morning hour!!

Wendy

You have every right to be excited and very proud of Ken. We're excited too. Ab.

11/2 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE from the Sahara Desert::

I got 3 excited emails from Wendy starting at 0340 to check Ken's Blog. Here's what he says:

That's it. I'm through
02-Nov-2007 07:35:51 AM [(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada); Tijuana]
Sahara Race (Egypt) 2007

….Except for the last 10 K on Saturday morning….. Sorry. All you folks that pledged on a per mile basis, might as well go ahead and sign those checks.

So yesterday was the long day, at 93 K (or 58 miles). It was a long, long day. I think I came in somewhere around 21 hours (or there about), which seems long except that I had to limp approximately 60 of those K’s. I seem to be sporting either a stress fracture, or an extremely nasty case of shin splints on my right leg. My shin and ankle are quite swollen, as well as Blisters, etc. It was very windy yesterday on the plateau, with steady winds of 30 or so, and gusts to, what seemed to me to be about 50 or 60. You may have already seen pictures.

We lost a few more runners on the last leg. I’m not sure how many have dropped to this point. I seem to be getting better info from the E-mails I get from the outside world, than what comes to us from RTP. We basically have the rest of Friday off, and leave for Giza on Saturday morning at about 2:00 AM for the long ride back to the start of the last stage. Then it is pizza, fruit and beer (and hopefully an ice cold Coca Cola) at the pyramids, and back to the hotel for a much, much needed shower, and maybe a little hot-tub action.

I am going to attempt to eat something, and maybe get a little bit of sleep. It’s tough due to the throbbing in my legs, shoulders, and hands.

I will hopefully get to a phone in the morning, and call Wendy. And I will post to They Said, and another site when I can.

Thank you, everyone, for the E-mails, and for your donations to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

I love you Hon. Kiss the kids for me.

My next posts should be more interesting… I promise

peace- KCP

11/2 Ab and Ken’s Run Followers,

I’ve been scouring the Racing the Planet website to check for Ken’s Stage 5 stats…. the only thing that I’ve come across is the results for the first finisher, that runner finished in 31 hours 30 minutes (last night at 11:35 p.m.). This was the longest stage of the race – 50+ miles through the very hot, very dry, very sandy desert.

Stage 6 will start Saturday – it’s a short stage (6 miles or so). As soon as we see Ken’s results, we’ll get them up. And, again, we invite anyone living in the LA area to be at the airport on Tuesday, November 6 at 1:10 p.m., to welcome home “Desert Runner Dude!” It’s not too late to show your support for Ken…. pledge now! It would be awesome to see the pledge total at $20,000!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Community, please pledge or donate now. We're at $18,254.51. It's a worthy cause! Ab.

11/2 this came in from Mellie:

Good morning Mellie,

I am not to sure if it is appropriate to ask, if you could get Ab to post
the announcement for the 50 year, El Cariso Hot Shot Reunion, to be
held April 12-13 2008 at Lake Elsinore, CA. I need to know by
mid December just how many may attend, so I can get the appropriate
place. I'd like to make a head count.

Thank you Mellie and Ab,
Gordon H. King
email: GKING1 (at symbol) bak.rr.com

HAW HAW, good approach, Gordon (and Mellie).
In honor of your esteemed position, Gordon, we're happy to post your El Cariso hotshot reunion notice.
All you old hotshot f*rts, give the man an email and tell him you're attending.
Look at who some of those guys are: imwtk-ic.php
Watch out, Gordon, you help organize it too well and they may give you one of those aprons. ...Get Doug Campbell to help you. Ab.

11/2 Ab,

I got some great replies and info from the fires in Baja California. Thanks to those that replied to my request.

Does anyone have contacts for our brother and sister fire managers (firefighters) and emergency responders down south in Mexico who could verify/quantify the info?

I saw the photo of the fire camp/staging area and (without captions) it surely looked the same as the Southern California fires.

Their initial estimates are over 200 homes burned and thousands of hectares burned in Baja......... If and when the "official figures" are available (they never were after 2003), it sure would be nice to have the data available.

I understand that some of the true fire ecologists in the UC system don't agree with "the vocal geography professor" who somehow got through his doctoral defense and thesis without adequate peer and scientific review..... and now presents himself over the last five years as a fire ecologist, entomologist, seismologist, hydrologist, meteorologist, etc... ie. EXPERT AT ALL things to the press, but factually and peer reviewed to be a fraud when it comes to the facts and his credentials as an expert.

Much like Dr. Bonnicksen, the UC system should let Dr. Minnich understand that he is on the record now in using his official title in claiming things he can't factually support or defend against peers and experts in the profession and the science.

Gizmo
11/1 From the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2298
Reports & Investigations: from AAR to Serious Accident Investigation

Thanks AL, good to see the topic up here and on theysaid.

Here's how it shakes out right now, I think.

Hierarchy of Analysis/Investigation for a Learning Organization:

AAR --> FLA --> APA --> SAI

AAR: After Action Review, informally conducted in search of Lessons Learned, usually by the crew involved who provide verbal feedback to each other and going no further, as no written record is kept; not for investigative purposes but to aid crews in continuously improving themselves. Information usually does not get into the wider field.

FLA: Facilitated Learning Analysis, one of the tools for achieving a more wide-spread Lessons Learned that is based on a sandtable re-accounting of events with questions. Firefighters tell the story in a group setting and later other firefighters can be taken through the decisions and choices leading to the event. A "portal" type of experience for firefighters. Example: I believe the Nuttall Complex Incident AAR was a first try at what has become an FLA.

APA: Accident Prevention Analysis, is an accident investigation tool that promotes a learning culture; useful in promoting more widespread organizational Lessons Learned that is based on a storytelling approach using an accident narrative; to create the narrative, witnesses are interviewed by experts; their information is confidential unless it becomes clear there was "reckless and willful disregard for human safety"; the APA identifies causal latent flaws within the organization and usually results in recommendations for the agency to correct them to become a safer organization (HRO). Example: the APA of the Little Venus Incident or the Balls Canyon Incident.

SAI: Serious Accident Investigation, an investigation; has the intent of preventing future accidents and defending the organization from litigation; involves both a factual section (identifying chronologically the causal and contributing factors that led to the accident) and a management evaluation section; it's an administrative review for investigative purposes. Witness statements are taken. Can result in 1) individual consequences if there was "reckless and willful disregard for human safety" and/or 2) agency policy change. Contrast with APA (Accident Prevention Analysis).

11/1 From the hotlist:

Re: Reports & Investigations: from AAR to Serious Accident Investigation

Some information on Just Culture for people who don't know the term:

Here's a definition of just culture from James Reason in Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents. He does not mean "no blame".

He says a Just Culture is one in which there's “an atmosphere of trust in which people are encouraged, even rewarded, for providing essential safety-related information, but in which they are also clear about where the line must be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.”

----------------

And here's what the Balls Canyon Near Miss Peer Review (actually an Accident Prevention Analysis) said about Just Culture:
/docs/2006/balls-canyon/balls-cyn-review.php

Just Culture is an organizational ethic where employees are encouraged to report errors and mistakes because of an ethical recognition that other employees and managers must learn (and then make adjustments to compensate) from normal human error. Rewards and punishments are based on the employee’s values and how he or she acted on their values. If an employee’s values are consistent with the organization’s values (with the value of human life being the core value) then their errors and mistakes should be treated as normal and ethical human error.

Traditional organizational reaction to errors often includes punishment for normal, or "honest," human error. This inevitably results in the suppression of error reporting and the collapse of a reporting culture.

The process used in this review encouraged honest and frank disclosure of mistakes. The peers involved were assured that the only outcome will be a report intended to facilitate organizational learning. This Peer Review was fashioned after an After Action Review. The questions asked to the peers involved in this very close call were intentionally similar to, but in greater depth than, After Action Review questions.

----------------

And here's the just culture website. They've revamped it:

http://www.justculture.org/

AL

11/2 Buzz,

This is another FEMA fiasco and to expect better would be futile and I also see the
hand of the Cal OES Director Renteria in this site selection. Poor Rocky Opliger. He
is a “Can do person” and it will get done but the site selection sure leaves a lot to be
desired. The crews and the smell are alleviated by trips to and from assignments but
think about the Team members who live with this for days on end.

Normbc9

11/1 Ab,

As you mentioned on the hotlist there have been lots of accidents this season but few fatalities. I don't know how each accident could be investigated with a Serious Accident Investigation. Seems someone said some of the less serious ones would be good opportunities for other lessons learned analyses.

I've heard the terms FLA for Facilitated Learning Analysis and APA for Accident Prevention Analysis, i think like for Little Venus and another one, can't remember which one.

Is any report that is out a FLA? What does that look like?

Does anyone know the difference between these two kinds of reports? Do they have different purposes?

How do all the different kinds fit in with Reason's Swiss Cheese Model and HRO (High Reliability Organizations) and Weick and Sutcliff's ways to improve the learning environment?

I understand AAR and SAI the best first hand. What about the others? Do agencies other than feds use these too, like CALFIRE and Orange County Fire? For that matter, does any fed agency besides the Forest Service do these? If not, why not? Aren't we all trying to become a learning culture that is also a just culture?

AL

I looked on the Docs Worth Reading page and I think the second one called a "Peer Review" and now known as an APA is the Balls Canyon Review. I have not seen any Facilitated Learning Analyses. Anyone?

Was the Nuttall Fire Shelter Deployment Report a FLA? Lem'me see if I can find it.... Oh yeah, its on the Docs Worth Reading list too, as an "After Action Review" which usually doesn't have a written report. I think we're in the middle of the development and naming of these different tools. Ab.

11/1 Santiago Fire

We are on the Santiago Fire and I have a couple of interesting
observations about this one.

First off, they haven't mentioned the deployments at all in any
of the lengthy briefings...We found out about it by picking up a
newspaper a few days after we got here. There's no articles on
the bulletin boards, and nothing posted around camp. Yesterday
we heard some radio traffic about investigators wanting to
come into the fire area.

My second observation is that at briefings they are asking that
only strike teams leaders and above take an IAP... Last I
checked, all line personnel benefited from a hard copy of the
Wx and adjoining resources.

The community has been very supportive, and other than those
two items, things are going fairly well.

signed
On our toes at Cal-Trina

11/1 Buzz,

I am sure that the conditions are worse than you have said. I have driven through Chino and
the surrounding area many times and just driving by the feed lots and dairies can make you
GAG.

Anyone who ever had to stay in Anderson(ville) CA. staging has had similar experiences. They
made us stay 24 hours there in '87 and called it R+R. 110 degrees in a horse stall with a cot. I
am still bitter over that one.

Firefighters don't have to put up with this type of cr*p. I am sure all the CDF engines and
overhead are staying in motels. Head to one yourself and charge it to perdiem. If that does not
work call their bluff and have them send you home. Take care of your troops if OES and
FEMA won't.

Dan

(tongue firmly in cheek) Any OSHA standards for methane gas poisoning??? Ab.

11/1 Normbc9;

I think there is a current confusion in government, to the very top, between
“negative” and “non-constructive”. We need leaders who realize that just
because something is negative does not keep it from being constructive.

Nerd on the Fireline
11/1 Re: Lettermans post about pay in SoCal

Perhaps while the SoCal chiefs are working on local
pay raises, special pay and other benefits for Fire
Employees they should pass on this info to all the
North Zone chiefs and get the firefighters in North
Zone a little piece of the pie..........

Otherwise, as you'll see here in a few months, the
EXODUS to CALFIRE will continue at a blistering rate.
Not just Captains either. We're going to get stripped
when the Engineer/Firefighter list comes out.

That's the harsh reality.

Its not getting any easier to provide for your family
up here. Housing costs are high for the area, so is
fuel, so is day care, the list goes on and on.

We'll take the 30% the South Zone folks got a while
back. I'm sure a lot of folks that are leaving for
the money of CALFIRE would stick around if they got
thrown a frickin bone.

Sign me.......... Not leaving the sinking ship, yet.

11/1 Much talk of resources still coming into So Cal. I think that what we are seeing is a sustained mobilization similar to the LA Riots, LA Earthquake and the chicken roundup event. No politician or high ranking agency official (fed, state or local) will not have extra resources ready when the next wind event(s) happen. So I'm hearing that until So Cal gets sufficient rain, severity dollars will continue to flow in, mob centers will be staffed and resources will be rotated. Actually I think we should make this an SOP every dry fall and early winter for So Cal. Mob many to So Cal and rotate them until it rains. Heck most of the nation is out of fire season by then. Also I think the leaders at NOPS better be ready to maintain staffing up there this year. Keep your resources ready to head SOUTH!

Where the heck is Q? These are the times when we miss his leadership!!!

FPA - Many others can better articulate than I can the reason the IA module and all the subsequent modules (fuels, prev, large fire) went back to the drawing board. Some think it was because the model was too generous with firefighting resources. Others who did not fair well in the first analysis complained it was not accurate. On my local unit, FPA results validated years of NFMAS submissions. It actually gave us an extra handcrew at one of the option levels. Equally important the first analysis gave the same level or more firefighting resources to our DOI partners who manage areas with smaller fire work loads then most National Forests. They seemed pleased.

So before we start hammering those working on FPA from all the fed agencies, and thinking they are all resource managers or Line Officers, I suggest you read the bios of those on the working teams. Former Hot Shot Crew members, smoke jumpers and even a former Type I Incident Commander are among those working on this project.

www.fpa.nifc.gov/

ms

Thanks, ms. Ab.

11/1 A statewide (SoCal) fire map

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/statewide-fires103007pm.jpg

More maps are available on this hotlist thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2241

11/1 Ken is off and running on Stage 5 of the run. A sandstorm blew
through the camp last night but apparently isn't causing any
problems today. This stage is 93 kilometers long and is expected
to take between 10 and 36 hours to complete.

I went to the photo section and found some pictures of Ken.
He looks healthy and happy!

It's great to see him looking good - I have no doubts whatsoever
that he will finish this race! Run Ken Run!!

(Have you sent your email today?)

Lori

Click the link: www.4deserts.com/sahararace/rtpsrtp.php?SID=3&SBID=RC14 There's a dropdown menu - choose Perry, Kenneth C. and send him an email. If you live near LAX, make arrangements with Melissa at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to welcome him home. Ab.

11/1 Steve Westlake,

Thanks to you and your troops. I hope you had a good time and good experiences in California.

Were your folks that mobilized under the Washington State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan paid portal-to-portal during their assignment to support Southern California?

Part two: Were you requested under a federal agreement or under a state to state agreement?

Part three: If you were or weren't paid portal-to-portal, what were the reasons?

In any case, great to see you down here...... The folks from out of state (AZ) that we initially received support from saved lots of homes and provided great assistance in times of need (Ref. Slide Fire, 2007). Most of those I talked to were getting portal-to-portal pay through state reciprocal agreements.

Lobotomy
11/1 Letterman,

I agree that the four SoCal forests should be sharing info and be banding together to address their immediate concerns. Unfortunately, those concerns don't address the crumbling mess of an entire fire management program that exits across the country.

The problem is though, these problems aren't just a SoCal issue anymore and never have been.

These are problems found in Flagstaff, the Sierra Front, the Colorado Front, the Boise foothills, and across the western United States. The problems have also spread to the Southern Region and the Eastern Region. Once again, the Alaska Region got large WUI losses.

The problems have been there for years....... the wildland firefighters knew about them and discussed them....... the ologists and land managers didn't listen.

Noname Wildland Firefighter please.
11/1 Chino Staging

CNN would have a field day if they found out about the conditions at
the Chino staging area where FEMA and CA OES is making the
out-of-state firefighters stay. It is in the middle of the dairy farm area
and is a fly infested s___t hole. It stinks so bad you can't sleep at night
and there are literally thousands of flies, fresh from the piles of manure.
If this were a camp for illegal immigrants, the ACLU would have
already filed a law suit.

We saw the governor on TV praising the firefighters, then he puts them
in these deplorable conditions. Shameful!

Buzz

11/1 River,

Each year, the federal wildland firefighters know what their mission is, what
it will cost, and what the risks vs. gain are in the areas that they protect.

Each year, the individual land management units (forests, districts, parks,
resource areas, etc) prepare budget requests and provide data as to what
they need to do the job.... the mission.

Each year..... those budget requests and data requests go nowhere.....
They get lost in oblivion for some reason.

OMB acting as an agent of the President sets the budget direction that the
executive branch adheres to...... CBO tries to fact check those figures and
tries to see if those figures make sense when they advise the Congressionals
on budget decisions.

Hearings are held in both the Senate and House....... where political appointees
such as Mark Rey lie through their teeth to say everything is well, and the
mission is sound and well prepared for.

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

Cut and pasted from the CBO website:

CBO currently employs about 230 people. The agency is composed primarily of economists and public policy analysts. About 70 percent of its professional staff hold advanced degrees in economics or public policy.

The Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007 (H.J. Resolution 20), provided funding of $35.2 million to CBO for fiscal year 2007.

CBO was founded on July 12, 1974, with the enactment of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act (P.L. 93-344). The agency began operating on February 24, 1975, with the appointment of Alice Rivlin as the first director.

CBO's mandate is to provide the Congress with:

* Objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs covered by the federal budget and

* The information and estimates required for the Congressional budget process.

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

Data on the President's Office of Management and Budget wasn't readily available
from their website or sources, specifically:

1. Number of people employed.
2. FY 2007 budget.
3. Authorizing legislation.
4. Office mandates or mission.

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

/s/ 4 years and 4 days until retirement (25 years FERS..... 28 fire seasons)
11/1 Decision on Management of Southwest Regions Type 2 Teams

October 15, 2007
To: Southwest Incident Commanders, Southwest Type 2 Team Boards and Southwest Agency Representatives
From: Chair, Southwest Coordinating Group
Subject: Decision on Management of Southwest Type 2 Teams

On October 9th the SWCG made the decision to take over coordination of the Interagency Type 2 Teams in the Southwest. This decision was made after considering input from Agency Administrators, team members, boards, zone dispatch centers, national offices, and others. Based on the input, the SWCG modified the management proposal that had been originally circulated.

The proposal to bring the Interagency Type 2 Teams in the Southwest under SWCG management has been widely discussed since last spring. The case for change is summarized by the following items:

-Inconsistent or lack of active Zone or local board oversight/management.
-Increasing number of out of GACC assignments for which SWCG is responsible.
-Increased expectations related to Type 2 teams from NMAC and national offices.
-Inconsistency in Type 2 IMT adherence to National Mob Guide Standards.
-Issues related to “out of GACC” assignment oversight.
-Lack of immediate responsiveness by Type 2 team boards to issues.
-Inconsistency in: IC selection/tenure, charters, nomination process, and availability issues.
-Need to increase the pool of candidates for all SW teams.
-New applicants hesitant to apply due to “good old boy” system and perception that new folks have a difficult time breaking into SW teams.
-Direction of Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior for GACCs to manage the IMT’s.
-More prompt and responsive communications to teams from SWCG & NMAC.
-Spreading individual agency staff between teams, so that one team callout does not drain agency personnel in one area.
-Zone or board restrictions on geographic availability, and team use out of local area.
-IMT members getting “burned out” by being on call all season long, and could benefit by having
more of a rotation that allows some time off.

Under the accepted proposal the SW Type 2 teams will still be centred in their traditional “closest forces” response areas, with most members from that geographic sub-area. They will be the first team assigned to large fires in that area. The 2nd team needed in that area would be per a GACC wide Type 2 team rotation; that rotation would also be utilized for out of GACC assignments. The SWCG may consider adjustments for flexibility, as this new system develops.

Management would be cooperative between SWCG, the Ops Committee, SWCC, and the IC’s. Zone management groups may still provide advice and input to the SWCG, for example, if they need the team to be available outside their traditional season due to fuel conditions. Minimum seasons for each team will be established by SWCG.

The application form for team members will be designed to accommodate applicant’s choice to apply for several teams, by the applicant’s priority. Applicants would indicate a geographic/team preference. Agency reps would have input. The IC’s would have a major role in selection.

The SW team guidelines will be modified to include Type 2 team information including:
-Development of team cycle dates, (application, team mtg., AAR, etc.). -An annual spring SW multi-team meeting, (full initiation in 2009).
-Type 2 IC selection will be conducted by SWCG. IC’s would have 3 year tenures. Not all IC’s will
turn over in the same year.
-SWCC will house the rosters and coordinate mobilization.

The SWCG Operations Group is at work to integrate most of these tasks for the 2008 fire season. While there may be some issues to work out as we transition this winter, the SWCG realizes the critical importance of all our IMT’s to safe and effective incident management. The SWCG is dedicated to insuring the responsiveness of SW fire resources to the changing demands of the fire and social environment. If you have questions related to team issues, please direct them to the SWCG liaisons to the Operations Group, Hector Madrid (BLM – NM), or Donald Griego, (NM State), or Operations Group Chair Richard Nieto, (USFS).

Sincerely,
/s/ Bob Lineback 10-15-07
Chair, Southwest Coordinating Group

11/1 Re: In-N-Out Burger Model

The In-N-Out craze is now in SoCal, NorCal, Arizona, and Nevada. Early in 2008, the franchise will be in southern and northern Utah.

Future sights are set on Boise and southern Oregon as the next logical expansion, with Spokane and Albuquerque in short succession.

The R-5 Captains group caught on early to the "In-N-Out" business model a few years ago as In-N-Out paid better salaries and offered better working conditions and benefits than many areas trying to recruit "burger flippers". What they didn't know was that their business model was also competitive to being a Forestry Technician or a general laborer.

While many at high levels of land management joked at the comparison and at the leadership of the R-5 Captain's group for adding it into their annual report, it's not so funny now when folks understand business models and personal economics as it relates to recruitment and retention of wildland firefighters..... what they didn't understand was what they were being told was the most simple business model...... freshman college stuff at the most, high school stuff normally......... many foresters and biologists simply couldn't understand.

Former R-5 Capt. Rep
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