"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
December, 2007

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12/31

BEST WISHES TO ALL FOR A HAPPY & PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR

FROM ALL OF US AT THE FWFSA

12/31 Last day to switch to FEDS with 6 months free Professional Liability Insurance. Ab.
12/31 In the matter of not getting paid yet, it comes down to the official pay date is Jan. 3 by NFC standards. Those of us that use direct deposit are lucky and get paid on Mondays. Since it is a new year for tax purposes, and the day New Years falls on Tuesday, you will not see your paycheck until the second. Your supervisor should have told you this, as it was a common email that was sent out to all employees. Hope this help you out.

Green for Life

P.S. It sucks having to wait til Wednesday to get paid when you have bills to pay and you count on those funds every other Monday.

12/31 Hi all !

Glad to see that someone is looking into trying to how to retain some of these
individuals ! .I only wish that they had better pay and I had a 26/0 rather than
an 18/8. That is one of the reasons I left and went to the DOD! It was great
when I was single but when I started a family that all changed! Maybe I'll get
lucky and it will all change and I can get out of this mad house and start fighting
fires again!

DOD mistake

12/31 I did not get paid, and that is very strange since I've never had a problem getting
paid. I did get the email saying my paycheck was submitted to NFC last week.
I also see the statement on my personal page, however no transfer of funds into
my accounts.

Some thing is up, maybe Uncle's way of saying Happy New Year.

Maybe this should be reported in the letter back to Feinstein's committee.

1) First we are going to make sure we pay our employees.
2) Secondly we are increasing pay by 3% this year and health benefits by 14%.

What a deal !!!!!!
12/31 FyrGuy -

We were told that because of the holidays last week, we won't be
getting paid until Wed. Hopes this sheds some light on the situation.

Lori
12/31 Who pays the fire suppression costs when Plum Creek decides to subdivide their ownership?

An interesting view of what's coming in the 21st century to a private forest near you at www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/12/31/news/state/36-plumcreek.txt

Plum Creek's focus raises new concerns
By Michael Jamison
Missoulian

Kalispell - Not far up the road from Steve Brown's house, out west of Whitefish and just around the corner from forest burnt black by the Brush Creek fire, a quarter-mile of new road is headed off into the woods.

The short stretch will cross U.S. Forest Service land, using that public patch to connect Plum Creek Timber Co. with the rest of the world. Plum Creek has another route in, a winding six-mile twist of road used seasonally to haul logs, but the new neighbors weren't going to put up with that.

Because Plum Creek's not going to log that land anymore. Instead, the company plans on selling it as subdivided real estate parcels.

And so the Forest Service has granted a new easement to hasten access, that quick quarter-mile over public land.

"I'm baffled," Brown said. He's lived here for years, and knows the fire danger. "If the Forest Service is really all worried about wildfires, why would they grant easements that encourage more houses in the woods? I'm just wondering why, if they're as broke as they say they are, and they're spending all their money protecting houses from fire, then why would they go and do something like this?"

Because, said Lisa Timchak, the government just can't say no.

"Fire costs are huge," said Timchak, the district ranger who had to review Plum Creek's easement request. "We're becoming a skeleton of an agency. But right now, when they ask for something like this, the Forest Service doesn't have the tools to deny it. Fire costs are not part of the review criteria." (Ab note: important stuff; read on at the link)

Hundekot

Fair Use Disclaimer

12/31 Has anyone in the Forest Service been paid for this past pay period?
It's getting a little tight when you depend on your check to make a
mortgage payment and its not there. There have been several people
that have not been paid in 2 pay periods, I just hope I am not about
to be one of them.

FyrGuy
12/31 Dear Abs They Said;

Extremely interesting video.

60 Minutes video: The Age of Mega-Fires.

Socal Dispatcher

The Age Of Mega-Fires
www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3657686n
CBS News Online

It was good and very interesting, from the reduction in firefighting troops to environmental predictions from tree ring data going back thousands of years, to drought, to soil burned of all tilth back to rocky substrate. Predicted loss of 1/2 our forested lands in North America over the next 30 to 100 years... A wake up call for sure. Tom Boatner did a good job for the groundpounders. The AZ fire scientist did a great job of laying out the problems and predictions. I'd like to see it again. Ab.

12/31 It's burning Downunda. From Firescribe:

Three men killed in convoy inferno
December 31, 2007 - 6:20PM
www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/12/31/1198949707028.phpl

Three men killed when a bushfire caught their trucks in the West Australian
Goldfields are believed to be from WA, police say.

The bodies of three people, initially believed to be two adults and a child,
were found in two burnt-out trucks on the Great Eastern Highway in a section
of Boorabbin National Park between Southern Cross and Coolgardie about
midnight.

Deputy Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said investigators had confirmed the
three were all adult men.

"I can confirm three adult males, believed to be from Western Australia,
have tragically lost their lives,'' Mr Dawson said. (more at the link)

12/30 SoCal Dispatcher,

Thanks for the info. Its good to know it least some are thinking about AZ as an option. Maybe as cross-state boundary mutual aid comes more into play, a quicker dispatch of resources would work. As a state cooperator agency, the agencies I interact are always very eager to go to CA. It seems that is often San Diego. It will be interesting to see if the dispatch process ever improves and becomes a bit quicker the next time.

AZfirefighter
12/30 Hi Ab,

Happy New Year to all.

Peets Coffee in Corona Del Mar Plaza in Newport Beach CA (my daughter' store) raised
$780.00 which will be matched by Peets for a total of $1560 for the Santa's Helper Fund.
Her staff donated all their tips that day to the donation jar. I don't have the totals from the
other two stores yet who raised money for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation General Fund.

Annette

Nice Job. Ab.

12/30 Come help us bid a fond farewell to
Battalion 10 (Bill Bourbeau), Battalion 21 (Jim Snow) and Battalion 22 (Marta Woodward) as they retire from many years of public service.

Thursday January 10, 2007 @ 1800-2100
BJ’s Restaurant
26500 Ynez Rd. cross of Overland, Temecula, California

Dinner $20 all you can eat Specialty Pizza, pasta, salad and soft drinks.
12 and under $10
Gift donations gratefully accepted Please RSVP by January 8th Contact:
Carlton Joseph @ (619) 988-7717 or Gordon Martin @ (951) 415-8323

I am not sure if you post these types of announcements, but these retirements are a loss to the Southern California fire community. Good Luck to all.

FC180
12/30 Ab -

Since it's about to be a new year how about starting with a little humor. I assume you, being the moderator of this form, might enjoy the following:

How many forum members does it take to change a light bulb?

1 to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been changed.
14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently.
7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs.
1 to post in ALL CAPS
2 to explain that this is considered shouting and impolite
6 to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb" ...
Another 6 to condemn those 6 as stupid.
2 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is "lamp".
15 know-it-alls who claim they were in the industry, and that "light bulb" is perfectly correct.
50 people to argue over the environmental benefit of fluorescent bulbs versus incandescent bulbs
19 to post that this forum is not about light bulbs and to please take this discussion to a light bulb forum.
11 to defend the posting to this forum saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant to this forum.
36 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique and what brands are faulty.
5 People to post pics of their own light bulbs.
15 People to post "I can't see S$%^!" and their own light bulbs.
7 to post URL's where one can see examples of different light bulbs.
4 to post that the URL's were posted incorrectly and then post the corrected URL's.
13 to link all posts to date, quote them in their entirety including all headers and signatures, and add "Me too".
5 to post to the group that they will no longer post because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy.
4 to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"
13 to say "do a search on light bulbs before posting questions about light bulbs"
1 moderator to lock the light bulb thread.
1 forum lurker to respond to the original post 6 months from now and start it all over again.

Have a Happy New Year!
AK Old Timer

Haw haw, good one! Ab.

12/30 Re: Portal to Portal Pay vs. 24 Hour Coverage vs. Doing What Is Right for the Mission and Taxpayer

Proposed as a simple legislation change for those Forests who need 24-hour coverage, or who have employees who work 40 (plus) hour work weeks and who have employees on call (ie- night call dispatchers, fire prevention, or chief officers who are not compensated during "on call" periods of mandatory availability. This simple change allows complete flexibility based upon each units mission needs.

Proper classification with either a wildland firefighter series, or a distinct branch under the 0081 series is needed so folks don't have to wade through the USC and CFR to understand that federal wildland firefighters are firefighters..... not Forestry or Range Technicians (0462/0455).... not General Biological Sciences (0401).... not Foresters (0460)....

People who have been employed as federal wildland firefighters.... both in primary or secondary positions..... and others who are in allied professions (ologists) need to be viewed as equal peers and the experts in wildland fire program delivery....

The wildland fire program employs professionals who need to be leading and making decisions in the fire program mission delivery and not relegated to either "technician" or a non-defined series (0401) in the biological sciences.

Wildland firefighters know that it isn't rocket science, and that In-N-Out Burger offers competitive pay, benefits, and working conditions in their profession....... The problem exists when federal land managers don't understand they are managing a fire program that assists in land management....... and are competing for the best of the best with other agencies, other professions, and other federal agencies in completing their assigned missions.

Lobotomy

An amendment to (Proposed amendment highlighted) --

TITLE 5 > PART III > Subpart D > CHAPTER 55 > SUBCHAPTER V

5545b. Pay for firefighters

(a) This section applies to an employee whose position is classified in the firefighter occupation in conformance with the GS-081 standard published by the Office of Personnel Management, or an employee whose position is designated as either a primary or secondary firefighter under 5 CFR 842.802, and whose normal work schedule, as in effect throughout the year, consists of regular tours of duty which average at least 106 hours per biweekly pay period.

> From the Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us/people/benefits/fers.phpl

FERS Firefighter - 5 CFR 842.802
Firefighter means an employee occupying a rigorous position, whose primary duties are to perform work directly connected with the control and extinguishment of fires, as provided in 5 U.S.C. 8401(14). Also included in this definition is an employee occupying a rigorous firefighter position who moves to a supervisory or administrative position and meets the conditions of Sec. 842.803(b).

FERS Secondary position - 5 CFR 842.802
(1) Is clearly in the law enforcement or firefighting field;
(2) Is in an organization having a law enforcement or firefighting mission; and
(3) Is either--
(i) Supervisory; i.e., a position whose primary duties are as a first-level supervisor of law enforcement officers or firefighters in rigorous positions; or
(ii) Administrative; i.e., an executive, managerial, technical, semiprofessional, or professional position for which experience in a rigorous law enforcement or firefighting position, or equivalent experience outside the Federal government, is a prerequisite.

Firefighter Defined - 5 USC 8401(14) http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode05/usc_sec_05_00008401----000-.phpl
(14) the term "firefighter" means-
(A) an employee, the duties of whose position-
(i) are primarily to perform work directly connected with the control and extinguishment of fires; and
(ii) are sufficiently rigorous that employment opportunities should be limited to young and physically vigorous individuals, as determined by the Director considering the recommendations of the employing agency; and
(B) an employee who is transferred directly to a supervisory or administrative position after performing duties described in subparagraph (A) for at least 3 years;

Note: "throughout the year" applies to either calendar year (CY), fiscal year (FY), or appointment type. The 106 hour average bi-weekly limitation may not apply to all areas, in which case, the provisions of the FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS OVERTIME PAY REFORM ACT OF 1998 may not apply to your area. In such cases, other provisions of law relating to federal firefighters would apply.

Reference:

Congressional Hearing: Tension in the Tinderbox: Finding Fairness in Federal Firefighter Compensation
Congressional Hearing: Wildland Firefighters Pay: Are There Inequities?
HR 408 Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act of 2005
HR 2963 Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act of 2003
HR 5697 Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act of 2005
HR 2814 Federal Firefighters Pay Equity Act
HR 1116/ S 492 Firefighters Pay Fairness Act of 1997
Public Law 106-558 (S 439) "... to authorize equal overtime pay provisions for all Federal employees engaged in wildland fire suppression operations."
Wildlandfire.com Archive: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2003_n_before/firepay.php

12/29 AZ Firefighter,

I just wanted you to know that we in the Southern California dispatch community are well aware that all those resources are available just across the border. We have frequently called Arizona Dispatch Centers directly to make "back door" deals to get those resources on the road. Quite often, the resources are already en route or on scene before we can get the order placed through the system. It is frustrating to know that the ordering system doesn't always guarantee the "closest forces" and not everyone thinks outside the box. Thanks for making the trek out here to give us a hand, it was appreciated more then you'll probably know.

Socal Dispatcher
12/29 Re Bob Serrato's retirement:

I have known Bob for 30 years, in that time Bob has been an outstanding firefighter,
manager, mentor, friend and ski partner. I sincerely offer Bob and his beautiful wife
and daughter the very best in his upcoming retirement. He has been a strong asset
to the ANF fire management program as well as R-5 as a whole. I am sure he will
be successful in what ever path he selects in the future. Congratulations on an
outstanding career. Ski ya on the slopes Bob.

Tim V

12/28 Tanker thoughts:

Thanks to all who answered my question. I knew someone
smarter than me had to have already thought of that airframe.

Onelick

12/28 Everyone,

I'm still tuned in to the network of scientists tracking avian flu infections and deaths around the world. Several weeks ago there was likely limited human-to-human infection with deaths in Pakistan. Results should be in on that outbreak soon. This is similar to the clusters of human-to-human infection in Indonesia, where the disease is also endemic in birds, cats and other mammals.

I sent in the CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) summary and it's posted on the Birdflu Watchout Page.

For those who want to follow the latest breaking news on birdflu and other infectious diseases around the world, please visit flutrackers.com.

I'll let you know if things seem to be getting dicey with birdflu.

Mellie

12/28 For those who haven't heard... President Bush signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill -- H.R. 2764 -- into law late on 12/26. Ab.

Dear Letterman and all:

First & Foremost, the Omnibus bill "highlights" text did in fact come from Senator Feinstein. A quote from her follows at the end of this post.

Her efforts to place this language in the bill is the result of a variety of folks from fire officials off the BDF to the FWFSA to many others who took the time to educate her staff about the issues. That being said, I remind everyone that the FWFSA is committed to securing fundamental changes in pay & personnel policies for all federal wildland firefighters from all five land management agencies regardless of grade or geographic location.

The text is another in a series of steps forward that have occurred over the last year and a half or so.

The FS, after 3 years of silence finally took a position on the firefighter liability issue, supporting the expansion of reimbursement of PLI premiums. This occurred after the efforts of NFFE and the FWFSA secured the help of Sen. Domenici (R-NM) to get the issue out on the table in Senate hearings last February. As a result, language to expand the reimbursement of PLI premiums has now been signed into law. Next step... the Agency(s) covering 100% of the premium.

Again, through the collective efforts of NFFE and the FWFSA, congress inserted language into the Omnibus bill, now signed into law, "defunding" the FS outsourcing studies.

At the end of last session the House of Representatives passed the Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act. While OPM just hasn't gotten it through its head that classification is a major issue, we will continue to get that done with the help of Congress.

Retention meetings have been held in R5 after Congress sought answers to the "exodus" of federal firefighters in R5 to other fire agencies. We obviously don't know the details of those recent meetings but they were held because the Agency now recognizes they can no longer rely on the bureaucratic "smoke & mirrors" to suggest that all is fine. Too many folks are talking now.

Finally, this language in the Omnibus bill: It, as with all the other items mentioned, are steps in the right direction. That means we keep pressing until either 1) the Agency steps forward and recognizes its firefighters as the asset they are and begins to eliminate the archaic pay & personnel policies that have encumbered the firefighters for so long and works to strengthen the infrastructure, or 2) Congress does it for them.

One of the next steps is for the Agency to decide whether they want to have a fire program or not. If they do, it needs to recognize that the current organizational structure of the fire program i.e. non-fire folks making policy, is not conducive to managing a true fire department and changes must be made. The Agency also needs to recognize that its very own policies under this organizational structure is what has caused the skyrocketing costs of suppression.

So, as far as gut feelings are concerned, I don't have any. I am humbled that Congress is starting to hear the voices of these brave men & women and that means we keep our sleeves rolled up and keep up the effort until all of you get what you deserve.

Casey

Quote from Senator Feinstein:

“I worked to secure language in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill because the U.S. Forest Service is losing firefighters to other agencies in California. This is a serious problem that must be addressed, and we are working closely with the Forest Service on a long-term solution. California faces a real and growing threat from wildfires, and we must have a strong firefighting capability at all levels of government.”

"highlights" text
text on Curtailing A76 and text describing Professional Liability Insurance reimbursement (posted to theysaid 12/18)
Retention text (posted to theysaid 12/26) [scroll down to Green for Life's post on 12/27 for links to the bill itself]

12/28 Ab,

I promised a follow-up on the new statutory language stopping Forest Service competitive sourcing in FY 2008. I just posted a press release and briefing paper that go into the how and why the language got changed over on my corner of the NFFE Forest Service Council website. Short story: to make sure interagency fire studies (training, dispatch are ongoing) were stopped. More at www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/CSIndex/CSIndex.phpl.

Casey really hit the nail on the head in describing how Congress works and how difficult it is to get anything done. We've been working competitive sourcing since 2003 -- working it hard. Sometimes it gets pretty frustrating. Most times, in fact. This legislative work is worse than baseball, where even the best batters fail 7 out of 10 times. I'll bet we swing and miss 99 times out of 100. The trick is to keep swinging -- over 100 times. I expect that's what Casey and I will be doing in 2008.

In closing, one last pitch: we need all the help we can get.

Happy New Year to all.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

Thank you Mark and
Thanks to Casey. Ab.

12/28 Retirement announcement coming in from a variety of sources. Here's one message:

Bob Serrato sent this out today (yesterday). I remember first meeting Bob in the early 80's. The great thing about Bob is he hasn't changed a bit since the day I met him.

Bob is a great, outstanding Firefighter and fire management leader, but the good thing about Bob is, he is an even better person.

Thanks for your service Bob, have a great retirement.....

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

Out of Service
Robert J. Serrato
Angeles National Forest

Farewell, I will be retiring COB January 3, 2008. I have been with this organization almost 34 years and have enjoyed 95% all of that time. Many of you know what happen to the other 5%; I won’t go there in this letter. Ha! Ha!

I have given this organization my best over the years and I’m proud of my accomplishments. It is time for me to step aside. I have been successful in filling the position behind me. Eric McCormick was offered and has accepted the DFMO position and I am certain that he will lead it to greater heights. Although I am looking forward to retirement, it is with some regret that I am leaving. I will miss my colleagues and the opportunity to see employees develop. As I reflect on the people whom I have crossed paths with, many thoughts come to mind. First and foremost is the high level of professionalism that you all maintain. I have been humbled by having the pleasure and opportunity to have known and worked with so many that I hold with the highest respect. The Forest Service has provided me the opportunity to do things and visit places that most people only dream of.

In closing, I feel deeply indebted to you all for the support, guidance, and the encouragement you have provided me during my tenure.

Please keep in touch, I can be reached at (snip) or at the following numbers; (snip). I look forward to sharing a farewell refreshment with you all on January 19, 2008 at my retirement celebration.

Sincerely, 
Robert J. Serrato

When is the best time to start thinking about your retirement?
Before your boss does!

12/27 Casey,

What, if anything will this heightened congressional awareness we achieved in 07 help move portal to portal forward in 08? What is your gut feeling?

P to P helps not one geographic area, not just one agency, but the entire federal land management workforce. P to P would go a long way to solve the recruitment and retention issues. The passage of P to P in my opinion is the single most important thing that could be done to get things back on the right track.

Until then I ask ICs everywhere to use "ordered stand-by" (used by LPF and ANF during the fire siege) within your fire camps in 2008. You have many options within your authorities and can create variations to mold for your incidents and mirror P to P pay. Work on this at your team meetings in 08. R-5 has always been known for leading change, keep the tradition alive. R-5 and other fed agency ICs within Ca, if you lead on this issue now, then years, even decades from now you will always be remembered as "The Leaders" who changed how federal emergency responders are managed and paid. Most of you ICs have very little time left in your careers. Do something in 2008 for the younger generation looking to follow in your footsteps. ICs; "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things". You have the unique opportunity to do both in 2008.

See you Reno!

Letterman

12/27 To all:

The PLI and outsourcing language included in the recent FY'08 Omnibus bill coupled with the highlight notes recently posted here about the FS needing to address recruitment & retention should be a clear signal to all federal wildland firefighters that Congress is listening to and hearing your voices.

The highlight language is interestingly similar to the language of the letter sent by 6 bipartisan members of Congress to FS Chief Kimbell and the ANF Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron last summer seeking answers to the problems in R5.

Likely the RO will suggest the recent retention meetings were convened because they expected such language/direction from Congress in the Omnibus bill. That may be true in part but that language/direction is a direct result of the voices of our federal wildland firefighters, the FWFSA, They Said etc.

It should also be noted that while the focus seems to be on the FS, our goal at the FWFSA is to ensure Congress understands that fundamental changes must occur to benefit not only FS wildland firefighters but wildland firefighters from all five land management agencies. The Omnibus bill language notwithstanding, the FWFSA's legislative initiative will include provisions that apply to all federal wildland firefighters from all land management agencies.

To re-emphasize the complexities of navigating Congress, I use the example of the IAFF's national collective bargaining bill that after 10+ years finally was passed by the House this year only to die in the Senate recently. As with many such bills, the IAFF's language was included as an amendment to the Farm Bill which was a "must pass bill." The thinking was that with such a bill and the end of the first half of the 110th Congress at hand, president Bush would not veto the bill.

This is a common practice... to tack language of one bill onto another larger bill as an amendment. The interesting thing is that the practice of changing the law on an appropriations bill (one of 13 must-pass bills each year) while done frequently, is actually a violation of congressional rules. That is, unless everyone agrees to set aside the rules.

Apparently the IAFF believed they had done just that with the leadership from both sides of the aisle with respect to their language being on the Farm bill. However at least two Senators derailed the process using perfectly legal parliamentary tactics to kill the IAFF's language.

The point is, getting things passed and signed into law is not easy. One person in Congress can derail even the most popular bill. Thus, the language and reference to federal wildland firefighter issues in this bill are a major step to fixing many of the problems, but a great deal of work remains to be done. YOUR voices are what will make that happen.

Best to all for a wonderful, prosperous & successful New Year.

Casey
12/27 GISgirl and others:

You mentioned how long it can take to get resources into San Diego County when there are several fires to the north and you are geographically "a cul-de-sac". I would have to agree. However, being a fire professional in AZ, I wonder if there isn't more that can be done to get those resources "from the east" as you state.

Arizona has what I feel is a solid, close knit wildfire community. From Federal fire fighters to state cooperative fire departments, we may not have the numbers like California, but we can be and have been of help to many incidents in CA.

Over the years, many engines as well as crews or other resources have gone to CA. In 2003 we sent a very large (for AZ) contingent of resources. And now again in 2007, we were able to provide several strike teams of engines (all NWCG types) as well as other assets. Having been a part of those responses, and having waited for the orders, we get frustrated in knowing we are alot closer to San Diego than the Northern CA resources. We were ready to roll, but just needed orders.

Our time to the SD county fires was about 8 hours. With a little more "practice", we could easily get that number down a bit more. At our October 2007 response, we relieved some OES engines who had been on the line for an extended period, after having driven from the CA/OR border. They stated their drive time was 15+ hours.

Now of course I'm prejudiced, but it seems maybe Arizona resources should be given a little bit more of a look. The next time a firestorm gets going, and fires are threatening lives from LA county down to SD county, our resources can get rolling and be there quicker. Isn't that usually the way we all dispatch? Closest resource concept?

The only other problem is the slow ordering process. With some pre-planning, Arizona could be a reliable and expedient pool of resources at the next SD county firestorm when engines and other resources are spread thin.

Just a thought. Maybe someone who makes those important decisions to get out of state resources will read this and think about it as a viable option. I believe Yuma (AZ) FD is a part of the CA system. Why not other AZ resources.

AZfirefighter
12/27 Thanks, Green for Life.

As I read the Division F - Interior pdf of the Appropriations Bill, Congress has restored
$6 million in funding for the Rural Fire Assistance program and $14 million for Volunteer
Fire Assistance.

Thanks to everyone who asked their Senators and Representatives to bring RFA back
despite the lack of agency support.

vfd cap'n
12/27 Ab,

I found the information for you on how someone can look up what it says in the bill.

Just type in http://appropriations.house.gov/ into the web browser.
Click the Bill Text and Explanatory Statements.
Then under   look for
Division F--Interior (141 page pdf file)
and on page 55 it has what people might want to read. There are some really important
other amendments also on the bill that some people might have interest in.

Hope this helps everyone out that wants to read the bill, especially those of you in R-5.

Green for life

Thanks, Green. Ab.

12/27 From Firescribe, more on NDT or Non-Destructive Testing of aicraft:

www.ndt.net/article/ecndt98/aero/031/031.php

12/27 I just found this in the spam filter. It was dated 12/18:

Aging aircraft issues:

Regarding the Navy grounding or potentially grounding of their P3 fleet..........

ALL of these aircraft are now coming due, due to aging aircraft issues even before Mr Tony Kern (former USFS F&AVN) type knew about these and the issues of the of the aging fleet.

To be sure, Aero Union will do its best in the NDT arena, eddy current detection, and other aging aircraft issues.

Look on their website and see what their capabilities are.  Probably will get a Navy contract for the inspections if the Navy decides to use them as a prime mover in this arena.

Now it is time for the USFS and other land mgmt agencies to come to the realization that this issue is far from over and that their up and coming fire season may be interrupted (to some degree) during 18 to 24 month inspection schedules......

Some of these aircraft are as old as the former Hawkins and Powers fleet of C130 series of aircraft......

And everyone in the fire biz saw what happened to that FAMOUS aviation company after the land management agencies pulled their "Blue Ribbon Panel".  Are they going to do it again??  Are they going to claim knowledge in all things aviation??

USFS Fire and Aviation had better be clear on this........ The Navy let the AVIATION COMMUNITY know because of their AVIATION background, not the land mgmt agencies pouring over BRPs and town hall meetings regarding the aging air fleet.

Already everyone has seen the DC-10 and its possibilities, only it probably still can't fly over Federal lands like its older brother, the DC6.

Aero Union will do its best. The land management agencies do not have much left in the 3000 gallon inventory if they go after this one as they did the C130 and the PB4Y series.............

Let's let the AVIATION pro at Aero Union and the Navy sort this out..  BUT to the land management agencies... Are you ready to bring back some iron in the event of a catastrophic fire season '08??   Better get to the boneyard at Davis Monthan and see what can be resurrected.

Just to be fair to the fixed wing community......  some of the rotary wing aircraft are coming due also as far as aging aircraft issues also.

Again coming from a forester, former wildland firefighter, A&P, and Commercial pilot.......

To the land management agencies, be very careful with this, I will state the obvious, it COSTS something including people's livelihoods and it cost something to get these issues resolved.  GET all the facts B4 you pull another BRP.

LL

Ab note:
NDT=Non Destructive Testing detects cracks or any other irregularities in the airframe, structure, landing gear, and engine components which are not visible to the naked eye.
BRP=Blue Ribbon Panel, referring in this case to the BRP on the aging C130s and PB4Ys.

12/27 As a citizen of San Diego, as a former member of the federal militia, as a vendor to the San Diego Fire Department, and most importantly as a member of this wildland community (no matter how many months pass from the last fire I was on)....

San Diego county has a great number of wonderful people on the ground fighting fire- and a number of great ones in the various government agencies who are at the management level (Rich Hawkins I still miss you at 2am in the Sit Unit dispensing random fire knowledge as Plans Chief on Team 5). With that taken into consideration (having grown up in San Diego City), we are a small conservative town with a county covering an amazingly diverse area without a cohesive agency to cover our rear ends.

We in San Diego do not have the general knowledge amongst the citizenry (trust me I spend sooooooooo much time trying to bite my tongue or correct misled notions) regarding wildfire. They think water drops really do put fires out. They think the military is the answer (and yes, they can be a help- no arguments on that point). They do not recognize that geographically speaking we are a cul-de-sac... additional resources have to come from the North or East and speaking from a mere routing perspective it is a time consideration to get resources into San Diego- especially when our neighbors in the San Bernardino or LP are burning. Oh yeah has anyone thought of having 64 (or are we down to the 30s now) agencies to coordinate? I have heard the local stories about why we do not have a single agency responding in the county and EVERY time it is politics. I did have to put the article down for a bit from the UT b/c my brother-in-law was starting to blanch at the colorful language being uttered under my breath...

Without becoming one of the "contract counties" (I can't believe that term was never mentioned in the article- seriously people?), I don't think San Diego can ever contend with the LA County, Kern County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, Orange County, etc type of wildland fire support. I mean they didn't adequately mention the variety of agreements in place, the mutual aid vs OES vs GACC activations that have to occur for resources to be activated- who orders what- Unified Command vs Agency Representation and all that good stuff.

Okay- the bottom line is this- 2007 was leaps and bounds ahead of 2003. As someone who had to deal with half of our company being evacuated in the midst of a major company event- I lurked the sites, I check the boards and there is a long way to go to get to the point where information that needs to be distributed is done in a truly timely manner- but the response and public reaction was worlds better this time. We still have room to improve in this region. I heard from a FD source... we thought we would never see 2003 again... now we know it's not going away and we have to keep preparing.

GISgirl
12/27 ht,

I see your point. Yes, I go back to the original “Fire Stop” at Camp Pendleton in 1954. When I was in San Diego County all of those departments in the north were a dream to work with. Bob Harden at Carlsbad, Jim Fox at Rancho Santa Fe, Bill Elder at Vista and Charlie Carpenter at San Marcos plus Escondido, Fallbrook and the Rainbow volunteers, all were very helpful and good at what they did. If you analyze the San Diego County fire problems those departments were always know to me as “Problem solvers” not “Problem makers.”

On the Laguna fire in 1970 when it was making its run out of Harbison Canyon and heading into the Dehesa area, Chief’s Tom Barnes from La Mesa FD and Bill Thurber from Fallbrook saved about twenty five houses using good old Yankee ingenuity. I thought they were all going to burn; when I found Chief Barnes and told him about the problem he went back to the staging area at Gillespie Field, got the resources together and came out and those are my heroes even now.

The bigger problem with the whole situation down in San Diego County is turf and “Who is going to be in Charge.” That question is still hanging as I write this. The Chief Officer ranks of the SDFD don’t have the practical or demonstrated experience or ability to be thrust into that role, but the San Diego County fire service is loaded with some talented fire professionals who sure could help to weld that into a cohesive, functioning system.

Cal Fire is now too political to be the practical leader. They are changing Unit Chiefs too frequently for one personality to settle in and do a creditable job. What has worked well is their ability to pull smaller entities into their contract fold and make that work very well and make the utilization of resources effective. I only wish that when I worked in San Diego County that Cal Fire then had the talents they do now in the Battalion Chief ranks. Those folks are heads and above most I ever worked for.

The politicians never quit, do they? Now they want more fire engines. Who will organize and direct those additional resources? Who will fund the staffing and training? They have a hundred different ideas, none of which are practical or productive, to me, and the confusion still reigns supreme.

The solutions will be at the ballot box if the voters are truly as concerned as they are portrayed to be by the media. All the City and County government leaders are doing when they become critical of Cal Fire and the Forest Service is signal to me they are looking for scapegoats, hoping that no one comes trying to hold them accountable for their own lack of definitive action. It is they who are legally responsible and who continually refuse to take the helm and provide effective leadership, not the role of Cal Fire or the Forest Service.

Normbc9

12/26 Forest Service provided highlights from the FY 2008 Omnibus Bill included this one:
  • FS should examine Federal Firefighter pay and personnel policies and provide House
    & Senate Committees on Appropriations with a proposal to increase recruitment and
    retention for Southern California forests no later than Feb 1, 2008.

Letterman

Anyone know in what section or on what page this is located? Thanks. Ab.
Posted on 12/27: answer is here.

12/26 Onelick,

The A10 Warthog is built to deliver ordinance, i.e. bombs. This aircraft flies low and slow and pinpoints single point targets. Did I mention yet that most of the Warthogs are already old and worn out?

What we in wildland fire suppression need is a "purpose built" platform that will paint a lengthy line of retardant. Retardant releases from an aircraft in way different mode than bombs do...... As a now deceased airtanker pilot buddy of mine used to say: "the airtanker needs to be able to take off and land with different loadings and to be able to do some pretty weird stuff while in flight."

Right now Canada and Russia are way ahead of the US on the development of airtankers. We should be looking at what they are doing rather than looking into our military junkyards for the airtanker of the future. Moreover, I think Americans could produce a great purpose-built airtanker if the USFS would just get serious about it.

NMAirBear
12/26 Using the A-10 (Firehog) as a platform for aerial firefighting is an idea that's been floating around for about 10 years or so, scripted by Aerotech Ltd. The reasons this airframe was never followed through on are numerous. One of the big obstacles for this airframe is that the armor plating cannot be removed, thus adding un-needed weight. The original thought was to remove the armor thus giving the aircraft around a 2,000 gal capacity, however, even at 1,000 gallons this aircraft would be a problem to handle.

On a second note, there were some demo flight's at Camp Pendleton in California sometime around 1999-2000, and while the maneuverability was outstanding, many of the state and government officials walked away unimpressed. As a last note, the first hurdle to overcome should this get past where it is now, is for the government to release some for sale or lease. After 9/11, I just don't see that happening for quite some time.

Something else one needs to look at when dealing with jet engines vs. piston, is "spool up" time. In a piston engine, increased rpm's are attained more rapidly, such as post-drop throttle to regain altitude and airspeed. A jet engine takes longer to attain these critical rpm's. The basic A-10 uses a TF-34_GE-100 Turbofan powerplant. It takes roughly 6 seconds to spool to 110% vs. somewhere around 4-5 seconds for a piston engine (I used a Wright-Turbo Compound for this example). Not a big spread for the numbers, but it's a mile if your life depends on it.

Nothing wrong at all with your thoughts. That's the only way this industry is going to survive is by people dreaming up new thoughts and ideas. I hope I was able to answer your question without getting too technical.

TS

12/26 Onelick

The A-10 has been around for a long time and it's already been proposed
several times as an aerial firefighting platform.

Several proposals were put forth to both the Federal agencies as well as
many of the State agencies.

While the proposals in and of themselves were very well produced, edited
and presented, no agency thought the proposals were worth the expense
and time to develop.

Copter 100
12/26 Idea for new AirTanker:

Here's something that needs to be run by the airtanker folks. With all the
airframes that are being grounded lately, has anyone thought about using the
A-10 warthog airframe as an airtanker? I was talking to my brother-in-law
during the holidays, when this subject came up. He works on the avionics on
this plane, and he said the payload capacity is around 10k pounds. Which in
my limited mental capacity, put the gallonage around 1,000 gals. Since this
plane was designed to fly slow, and low to the ground, why wouldn't it make
a good airtanker? Or is the AirTractor a better platform? Since I'm just a
groundpounder, I'm not familiar with the different airframes. Just some
food for thought. It's amazing what ideas come to your head over some cool
adult beverages.

Onelick

12/26 Good Morning All.

Ab.

12/25


` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
-=MERRY=--=CHRISTMAS=--=MERRY=--=CHRISTMAS=--=MERRY=--=CHRISTMAS=--=MERRY=-
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

From the Abs at wildlandfire.com

12/25 Ab and All!

Praying for a safe and wonderful holiday season for all...and may 2008
be a better year for us all!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Tom Stein

12/24 Merry Christmas!

"I'm Dreaming" (swf file)
Click "
Play" in the middle.

To further get in the snow mood... if you have DSL or highspeed internet

Let It Snow.pps (2627K pps file, large download file if you have dsl)

Ab.

12/24 Best Wishes from the Ghost of Fire Seasons Past
(by an anonymous theysaid contributor)

May the season be a long one with lots of good starts
To see if our crew are men of good heart

May your fires be many and a challenge to fight
May your backfires be successful and easy to light.

May your rations be fresh ones, with spaghetti and cheese
And your crew be strong and not hard to please.

May your firelines be wide and not too steep
And none in the canyons or up on the peak.

May your hoselays progress without broken line
And your pump keep running along just fine.

May your boots be comfy, a nice roomy fit
May your butt stay dry, not chapping a bit

May your saws keep running all through the shift
And the copters in time to change the shift

May the firecamp keep feeding those big juicy steaks
And lot of OT for Christmas you’ll make

May the relief crew always show up on time
For you and your bunch to get off the line

May the night shift be rested and ready to hold
All that line you’ve been pushing since daylight unfold.

May the generator be shut down at 0 early time
So you and your crew can sleep just fine

May your sack lunches be fresh ones, not from days past
With 3 big sandwiches, all day to last

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

Best wishes to you Ab, to Original Ab and the hotlist mods at Wildlandfire.com.

Normbc9

Nice poem, unnamed firefighter. Thanks, Normbc9; happy holidays to all of you as well. Ab.

12/24 Merry Christmas and THANKS to Federal Dispatchers everywhere. Special thanks to those working today, tonight and tomorrow in our 24 hour Federal Dispatch Centers.

For the State, County and Local Dispatch Offices, we and our families appreciate you being there for us 24/7/365. Have a peaceful Christmas Eve and morning.... THANKS!

ms

So. Cal Forest 24/7/365 Dispatch Centers........

CNF
Open Incidents (Prepared 12/24/2007 09:56)
Date Inc # Name Type Location Comment
12/24/2007 03:40 CNF-3209
P5DZ83 0502
HILLS Vegetation Fire 3869 Pine Hills Road X Lazy Jays P5DZ83 0502
 
BDF
Open Incidents (Prepared 12/24/2007 09:53)
Date Inc # Name Type Location Comment
12/24/2007 07:10 CDD-14484 TC/MANNY/4R15 Traffic Collision TOWNE PASS .
 
ANF
Open Incidents (Prepared 12/24/2007 09:52)
Date Inc # Name Type Location Comment
12/24/2007 09:48 ANF-5148 Big Pines Miscellaneous Big Pines Station, .
12/24/2007 09:43 NPS-802 Barking Dog Miscellaneous Paramount Ranch @West end of the Park .
12/24/2007 00:12 ANF-5147 Daily Status Miscellaneous . .
 
12/24 Wind watches and perhaps warnings in socal. Luckily recent rains will probably keep the fire risk low. HOTLIST
Thanks to those maintaining situational awareness. Ab.
12/24 In response to Normbc9

Sir, sorry for your losses on the Inaja; that had to have been a real b-t-- to try and get a grip on. That is some rough country there. You sure must have a wealth of knowledge about fire in San Diego Co. You must be a very well seasoned fire dog.

You are absolutely right about the City of San Diego; just like New Orleans. Want someone else to bail them out but want to be the "Big Guy" when it comes to running a county department. Obviously you live in SD and know there are a lot of good departments/organizations here. I have a saying going back at least 25 years that "San Diego is the Biggest, Little Hick Town in the country".

I think that the best way to get an effective fire service for the rural areas, if they can agree to it; is have all the little rural departments become schedule "A" and the county add the number of additional stations and units they feel appropriate. Leave the cities the way they are, unless they want to join. I do not believe San Diego county can run an effective county wide department. It needs to come from CDF; a chief with a proven track record.

Leave Ramona, Valley Center and North County (actually is it not Deer Springs?) as they are; Schedule "A" still under the overall CDF umbrella. They are not broken or dysfunctional outfits, don't need fixing. How to integrate "Heartland" might be an issue. (Might be where some of the turf wars originate also.) (Heartland is a Joint Powers Authority to run an ECC.) They actually have an effective integration of the paid departments; I think is gets a little dysfunctional that they also deal with Palomar Mountain and a lot of the departments further out east of Ramona. The volunteer departments work their hearts out on their job. The VFDs are dealing with a dispatch center that really is for the smaller East county cities. Back up for all of the VFDs is CDF/USFS or the Reservation Departments, all of which are under control of MonteVista ECC. (Except for Barona Reservation which uses Heartland, in spite of the Ramona FD being the primary back up for them.)

Heartland is sometimes is a little slow to notify MVU ECC when they tell units a CDF engine is also responding. There are some MVU engines that know what VFD calls they will go on and they roll when those calls get dispatched. They tell MVU ECC they are rolling long before MVU knows they are supposed to go.

Now when it is CDF/CNF rolling together you can sometimes hear the other being dispatched, in the background. (You can tell I listen to the scanners too much.)

For those not familiar, MonteVista ECC is the center for CDF MVU and Schedule "A" departments, CNF, BIA, some BLM and FWS and some small rural departments in the south east part of the county.

Normbc9; some day it will get straightened out. You have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year; and the same to all the TheySaid readers out there.

ht
12/24 Flying:

There is all this talk about flying at night when the aircraft shouldn't even be
flying in those conditions even during during the daylight. The wind was 50+
mph and the drops couldn't be supported by ground troops.

DE

12/24 SoCal Firestorms: Inaja in 1956 and this year 2007...

Ab,

I, along with CDF engines from Witch Creek and Ramona in unison with CNF engines from Barona, Henshaw and Pine Hills were the IA force on the 1956 Inaja fire. It, too, occurred during some very extreme east wind conditions. We all worked our hearts out to try to get some kind of a foot hold on that fire, but it just simply got up at the tops of the brush on the north side (south facing exposure) and ran from Eagle Peak Road west to the Dye Canyon and Barona Truck Trails in about twenty minutes (five miles) and the smoke column never reached up skyward. It was all horizontal smoke stream down canyon following the San Diego Riverbed.

In the next hour there were at least 25 engines, four dozers and fifteen hand crews on scene and assigned. Those were the days before aircraft. On the second day, two aerial N3-N’s were brought down from Oroville for an experiment. The final fire tally was, unfortunately, that several brave firefighters being supervised by USFS Descanso District personnel died in the San Diego River canyon. A wind shift caught them by surprise. Both fire agencies were at the maximum effort and even found themselves defending their respective Base camps from the fire. We all spent our Thanksgiving still assigned to the fire, but all were mourning the loss of fellow professionals.

The recriminations in the media began immediately and rumor after rumor passed on the radio talk shows. Accusations ran amok. The firefighters who were in the middle of the firefight knew what the truth was, but every time they tried to speak out some agency attorney or manager tried to prevent the stories from getting out. The same happened in 1970, 1992, 2003 and now 2007. In my opinion, what is the real truth is in the indifference in the governmental bodies of San Diego City and County. Both remind me of what I hear about the New Orleans situation. They want someone else to bail them out.

I can however identify with what retired San Diego City Fire Chief Jeff Bowman is saying. He was one of those guiding lights the fire service was counting on to help identify the problems that were the task of the Blue Ribbon Commission to ferret out. The job that group performed and the results of their work are legend, in my book. Look at the record. L.A. County went to work, implemented most of the recommendations, and the 2007 wild fire records will bear out. Considering the structures exposed, their loses were much less than the governments who tried to do this on the cheap.

And yes, Chief Bowman is correct. Cal Fire’s top leadership is now compromised by politics. Look at the news clips. Who was following the governor to every fire (Grijalva and the Resources Secretary) who were the window dressing the governor so desperately needed. The relaxation of the fire resources in this state were initiated on the order of the governor. Just days before the fire siege. When trouble hit, all were pretty much caught by surprise with the exception of the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Make no mistake about it, if it wasn’t for the CDF Firefighters and the FWFSA, both parent agencies at the top are led by ineffective managers and they'd be totally paralyzed, if it wasn’t for the labor groups asking some questions and demanding some answers. Don’t let anyone mislead you saying that there are better circumstances in Cal Fire. Cal Fire does have very effective Unit Chiefs, but these are offset by some indecisive leaders further up the chain. If it wasn’t for the presence of many Schedule A contract funded personnel, Cal Fire would be in the same or near same position the USFS is in the Fire Control groups.

Normbc9

12/24 Here's a link to info on the PCADS system.

www.defensetech.org/archives/003783.phpl

Mid West Fire Guy
12/24 RE: the current fed COLA's...

For those of you not yet retired... check out how well our fine Congress
treats retired feds... for those under CSRS... 2.3% ... same as Social
Security which is the lowest in recent years...

www.washingtonpost.com

Certainly food for thought for those on the "stay or go" fence...
--
retired green yactak
12/23 I am fascinated, although not necessarily surprised to read the critical commentary from folks to the San Diego media about Cal-Fire's role, responses, policies during the recent fire siege.

The fascinating thing is that those who are named as the most critical in the media were at the recent hearings in San Diego held by Senator Feinstein's Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and were on witness panels that provided them an opportunity to offer their comments in a forum that might have actually done some good...not wait weeks later and nail Cal-Fire or the federal response in the media.

If you've got something to say, say it when it counts. Don't wait for the media to contact you for a sound bite.

Having taken an engine company to the Oakland Hills fire years ago and seen the stunning action of wildfires, there is no way in heck I am going to second guess the responses of either Cal-Fire or federal agencies on these fires.

The hearings were the perfect opportunity for the San Diego Fire Chief to address Cal-Fire's no-night flying policy. She remained silent on the matter. And with a great deal of respect for former Chief Bowman who, for the most part "said it like it is" at the hearings, he failed to offer his assessment then that San Diego should "get rid of Cal-Fire."

Perhaps if these opinions were offered at the hearings, substantive efforts in resolving some of the issues could have been made. Instead it is in the press and will only serve to fester any ill-will between these agencies.

So while my heart & soul lies with federal wildland firefighters, I think we should be fair to all those that did their best during stunningly difficult times in Southern California and elsewhere this year.

So with that, Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful holiday season and an even better 2008.

Casey
12/23 from the hotlist forum on the criticism of the 2007 firestorm response:

More of the same from Jarman, the city, and the local politicians. I think it's interesting to read the responses from the public. They get it! A lack of control, interoperability, and very poor brush management in the WUI is the key. Not spotters and night flying helicopters. Look at LA, they had ample resources and night flying helicopters but homes are still lost. Just like every major fire in the WUI. As long as San Diego still has inept leaders there problems will never be solved.

CDFFF

12/23 from james on the hotlist forum on the criticism of the 2007 firestorm response:

CDF is really taking a beating down in San Diego. Any of us who were there know who was doing what and it was not the departments in the article below. We need to support our brothers and sisters and start writing some letters and make some phone calls. The people of San Diego are going to get screwed if the city fire department takes control of wildland fires there. The citizens are not being served.

Please write......
To be considered for publication, a letter must include a daytime phone number and, if faxed or mailed, be signed. It may be sent to Letters Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Post Office Box 120191, San Diego, CA 92112-0191, faxed to (619) 260-5081 or
e-mailed to letters@uniontrib.com

12/23 thread on the hotlist forum, on the criticism of the 2007 firestorm response:

Cal Fire drawing heated criticism over policies
www.signonsandiego.com/news/m...23calfire.phpl

Experts cite agency's rigid approach to job
By Tony Manolatos Mark Sauer and Jeff McDonald
Union-Tribune Staff Writers
December 23, 2007

The call from Cal Fire came at 10:19 p.m.: Could Copter 1 rescue a man who had fallen off an ATV on a steep slope near Barrett Lake?

Sixty minutes later, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department helicopter was hovering above a dark ravine in East County, battling gusting winds as the crew hoisted the 300-pound victim to safety.

The city firefighters understood precisely what was expected of them that night in August. As the only helicopter crew in San Diego County equipped to fly after dark, they answer such calls about 50 times a year.

What they can't understand, however, is why Cal Fire asks them to fly at night to rescue people but says it's too risky for them from to fly at night to drop water on wildfires, a far-less-dangerous job.

Fire experts say Cal Fire's ban on night flying is just one example of the rigid structure that defines the state firefighting agency, which is responsible for controlling most major wildfires.

Interviews with more than a dozen fire officials and politicians reveal a growing concern that Cal Fire's approach to firefighting made it harder to protect homes and save lives during the October wildfires in Southern California, even though the agency had been told to correct similar problems that surfaced during the 2003 fires.

Many of them said Cal Fire has become a politicized bureaucracy, saddled with a tight budget, layers of questionable policies and less influence in most of the state's largest counties.

These increasingly vocal critics say wholesale changes are needed.

Some are calling for new leadership. Others want a fresh approach to firefighting that employs the best strategies from departments across California. All agree on one thing: To prepare Southern California for future firestorms, Cal Fire needs more resources, more accountability and fewer restrictions, particularly when it comes to night flying and deploying military aircraft.

Some suggest that San Diego County – which lost more homes than any other county in October – would be better served with a unified firefighting approach that relegates Cal Fire to a supporting role, instead of allowing it to direct the fight. Six other California counties have taken that step.

The county Board of Supervisors already is considering buying 50 fire engines to offset the lack of state resources. And the city of San Diego is trying to find money to buy a second firefighting helicopter, partly because Copter 1 was the only helicopter flying over the city for the first two days of the fires, when 365 homes burned in Rancho Bernardo.

San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman said her department needs “immediate access and control of air resources to respond immediately to work with crews on the ground.”

Frustrated by the state's lack of support, she has already told her staff to begin negotiating with the Navy for the use of its helicopters during future wildfires. That way, the city could bypass Cal Fire rules that limited the use of military aircraft during the last two firestorms.

The Navy copters are equipped with the same night-vision technology used on Copter 1 and on helicopters used by the Los Angeles city and county fire departments.

Jarman says it's easier to fight fires from the sky after dark, because the winds are usually calmer and night-vision goggles in effect light up the ground below like a video game.

But Cal Fire, whose pilots don't have the new technology, says safety is the issue.

Former San Diego Fire Chief Jeff Bowman, who was in charge during the 2003 Cedar fire, thinks city and county leaders should simply “get rid of Cal Fire.”

“I'm not knocking the firefighters of Cal Fire. I'm knocking the structure and how it's managed,” Bowman said. “I truly believe their leadership – there isn't any. It's all politics.”

But expecting lawmakers and the 65 fire departments within San Diego County's 18 cities and rural areas to support a unified plan is like expecting to win the lottery. The idea has been discussed for years, but turf battles inevitably rise, leaving San Diego County one of the largest and most populous in the nation without its own regional fire department.

Even the counties that rely on Cal Fire only for backup are demanding more from the state agency the next time around. (to read the rest, click the link at the top)

WLF.com Fair Use Disclaimer

12/23 Making the hotshot rounds...

Subject: ASC-HCM, Interagency Hotshot Crew Permanent Positions

Good Morning,

I just spoke to Lynda Kinney at ASC-HCM and the influx of e-mails and phone calls about the status of current permanent IHC positions is overwhelming them.

During January, a meeting will take place at ASC with classifiers and HCM personnel to discuss and attempt to resolve the following:

- Career ladder positions with in the IHC organization
- Open continuous announcements for all IHC positions
- Position description standardization across the country
- The use of the GS-7 vs GS-6 Squad Leader Position Description

I have requested that a least one representative of the IHC organization attend to answer questions on crew configurations across the country and any other pertinent questions that the classifiers may have.

I realize everyone is pushing to get positions filled before the upcoming fire season, however until that meeting very little will be resolved through continuing phone calls and e-mails except to delay other work ASC is doing.

A nation-wide approach is in our best interest and really the only way this will get resolved since HCM has been consolidated in Albuquerque. If you were to do anything it would be that your Regional Fire Director and Line Officers understand and approve the use of a GS-7 Squad Leader position description. It will be up to the classifiers of the PD that might be used in conjunction with development of a career ladder.

Please forward this request to limit the contact until after the meeting to the crews you represent.

I will advise you of the representative when attendance is approved.

If you have questions call. Thanks for your time.

<snip name>
<snip IHC supt affiliation>
Region 3

12/23 Sent in by Firescribe, FYI:

Federal Pay Raise, Part Two
12/21/07 02:00

Thanks to last-minute action by Congress, white collar feds will get a bigger January raise than the 3 percent hike authorized by President Bush.

Last month, the OPM published pay tables (which we also carried) showing the impact of the raise after city-by-city locality differentials were figured in. We told you at the time that the chart was accurate but that it wasn't necessarily the final word. The issue was whether Congress would pass an Omnibus spending bill that included the higher (3.5 percent) raise, and, if it did, if the President would sign it.

Bottom line: They did and he will!

The pay raise goes into effect with the first pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2008. For about-to-retire feds, most of their unused annual leave will be paid at the new, higher 2008 rates.

Under the original White House plan, the largest concentration of federal workers (those in the Washington-Baltimore area) would have gotten a 2.49 percent increase in January. But once the Omnibus bill is signed into law and after locality pay is factored in, most of those 300,000 feds will get a 3.49 percent raise. That extra percentage point will also boost the value of their life insurance, their eventual retirement annuity and the value of their annual leave.

The new pay tables will be posted on the OPM website soon.

Meantime, here's an estimate of what the raises will be for selected cities:

Chicago, 3.65 percent... Dallas-Ft. Worth, 3.72 percent... Huntsville, 3.07 percent... Los Angeles, Sacramento and Seattle, 3.5 percent... San Francisco, 4.23 percent... San Diego, 3.91 percent... San Diego, 3.9... New York City, 3.97 percent... and Richmond, 3.39 percent.

Feds who are in what is called RUS (which stands for Rest-of-U.S.) will get an estimated 2.99 percent.

The Nearly Useless Factoid
Today, it's completely useless for those who follow The Federal Drive, but in case you missed it, someone has actually gone to the trouble to list the Top Ten Worst Christmas Cracker Jokes Ever and the London Daily Telegraph has gone ever further by publishing the list. If pushed, we could probably explain what a "cracker" is (according to Brits), but we'd be hard pressed to explain British humour. They did say these are the worst. Enjoy!

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com
www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=7

WLF.com Fair Use Disclaimer

12/22 Yesterday's Mail:

Our office received an envelope from our Zone dispatch yesterday addressed
to "California Fire Fighters". In the envelope was a note and drawing from a
grade school student in California saying thank you for helping put out the fires.

Our thanks to all in the dispatch chain that got this note to us. Glad we could
help and ready to do it again if there is ever a need.

Seasons greetings.

Midwest Fire Guy

12/22 Thanks to Casey for his words of support and the help, encouragement, and information he's offered over the years.

FWFSA member, I've said it before and I'll say it again: NFFE and FWFSA are not competitors. We are two organizations committed to advancing your interests. I know Casey busts his butt to this end. So do I and others who have chosen to serve as union officials. There should never be a "credit" battle -- both NFFE and FWFSA are pushing in the same direction.

For example, let me quote from a 6/15/07 post by Casey:

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

And this from a 6/28/07 post from me:

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

To FWFSA and NFFE member, right on. We are both member-sponsored organizations whose effectiveness depends upon the support of our members. I will never encourage a federal firefighter to chose one organization over another. I have too much respect for Casey's work. Membership in both is great. But if you can only join one, for goodness sake flip a coin and join one. The problem is not NFFE "winning" members at FWFSA's expense, or vice versa. The problem is those who benefit from the work of both organizations but support neither. Get in the game, folks! We're winning some major battles here. But there's more work to be done. To take it to the next level, we need your support. NFFE and FWFSA.

Finally, a clarification: while the original language stopped coverage at the ICT3, DIVS level -- the new language in the bill extends coverage all the way down to an ICT5, single resource boss, squad boss, and others who were originally left out. The word document in my 12/20 post give more details.

I'll get back with an update on the competitive sourcing language later, but for now I'm going to get back to enjoying the holidays with my family. Merry Christmas to all.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

Thanks Mark. Ab.

12/22 Ab,
On a lighter note... Got my (your) calendar. A work of art, very nice.
Thank you much.

contractor

PS. Just got in from a 14 hour shift plowing snow on I-90 for MDT.
(Montana Department of Transportation) Might plow on Christmas also,
Ho,Ho,Ho.

Glad you like it. We do too. Happy holidays. Ab.

12/22 Ab,

I guess you allow for postings like Johnivan's because it promotes free expression (which is a good thing) and allows one to learn something. Hopefully some fellow feds, much smarter than I will teach Johnivan a few things over the next few days. My thoughts....

Forget about FMAG or F this or F that, and try to understand how the mutual aid system works. We as a whole would lose at a minimum 25% effectiveness w/o CAL FIRE, COUNTY FIRE, LOCAL FIRE and FED FIRE working together on each other's fires and other emergencies. The people of this state or any other state expect cooperation and understand cooperation has a price.

More important than that, is that it always astounds me to hear firefighters calling out other firefighters. You can expect that from Lawyers, Stockbrokers and Politicians, but Firefighters, common Johnboy! I'm Forest Service and will be a Forest Service Firefighter my whole career. However, I wouldn't lose much sleep or respect for a fire agency because they wouldn't pay to fix my ride. My concern was that it was fixed quickly and correctly.

You said:
I just heard CDF, oh sorry CAL FIRE. Cut with the cutesy crap please, that's embarrassing.

You said:
I lost a lot of respect for CDF. You lost a lot of respect because someone made a decision not to pay for a vehicle repair? Did you ever think that maybe a Fed Agency Rep made that decision?


YOUR ANSWER:
www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/cooperators/rev03_ca_fire_assist_agrmt_2002-2006.pdf

This agreement has been extended through the end of 2007.

Governor's Office of Emergency Services, hereinafter referred to as State OES; the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region; the State of California, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; the USDI Bureau of Land Management, California State Office; the USDI National Park Service, Pacific West Region, and USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, California –Nevada Operations, the latter five parties hereinafter referred to as Forest Agencies

A-17. State OES assumes the normal cost of repair or damage to State OES-owned apparatus, which may result from use under the terms of this agreement.

A-16. State OES shall assume operational costs, including necessary motor fuels and lubricants used in State-owned OES apparatus while responding to and returning from Forest Agency incidents.

A-21. Forest Agencies* will provide for motor fuel and lubricants, normal servicing costs, and minor repairs incidental to operation of apparatus including local jurisdiction support equipment while under direction and control of the requesting Forest Agency. Minor Repair is defined as any repair necessary to keep the equipment in operation on the fire, which requires not more than two hours (labor time only) for one mechanic for any one job, exclusive of obtaining parts.

COST OF APPARATUS AND EQUIPMENT LOSS OR DAMAGE
23. A Forest Agency may reimburse a local agency for the cost of apparatus or equipment loss or damage where the loss or damage is directly caused by the fire being suppressed, and where the local agency, its employees and/or operational failures in the apparatus or support equipment are not a contributing factor to such damage or loss. Loss or damage to local agency apparatus or support equipment while enroute to or from an incident and repairs due to normal wear and tear or due to negligent or unlawful operation by the operator shall be the responsibility of the local agency providing the apparatus or equipment.
24. Loss or damage to local agency apparatus or support equipment occurring on an incident is to be reported to the incident finance section to ensure proper documentation and investigation.
25. If post incident help is needed for cost reimbursement, contact the appropriate Forest Agency, listed below:


Finally, the So Cal fire siege was a federal disaster that caused the largest evac in Ca history. As a Fed and Ca taxpayer, I expect the Fed gov to support state, local and Fed departments. Why? Remember the fire agencies who may receive federal funds, may also be the same dept that is tasked with saving lives. We all have moms and dads, grandparents or kids. I want and will pay for a strong well-staffed fire dept in my community that is not burdened with paying for a federal disaster(s).

Good Grief, go vent somewhere else, because comments like yours are not something the overwhelming majority of readers in this forum find acceptable.

ms

Italics above are not Ab's. <tongue firmly in cheek>

12/21 While a success story locally, the story wasn't put to the ultimate test. or of its designed purpose by those who analyised it..

Repeat the test and collaborate the findings under Jun-Jul fire and weather conditions...... That is the test of fuel treatment effectiveness in most of Region 3.

I'd bet different results would have been achieved under a different set of known and established variables.

Supervisory Fuels Technician
12/21 Johnivan:

Maybe a bit strong on the words you used but if it looks like an FMAG (Fire Management Assistance Grant), smells like an FMAG and costs the federal taxpayer like an FMAG... then its an FMAG.

Apparently the LA Times doesn't know what an FMAG is or the details behind them. Maybe someone should educate them. Perhaps if they did, they could ask Cal-Fire why the need for federal reimbursement for a service state tax payers apparently think they are paying for and why should federal taxpayers across the country pay the freight with their tax dollars to bail out California state and municipal fire agencies.

Heck someone should ask the LA Times, or FEMA or Cal-Fire why all those federal dollars aren't going to help retain federal firefighters and instead are going to help "reimburse" agencies for their better salaried firefighters.

Why should a firefighter in some other part of the country have his/her federal tax dollars go to pay salaries of other firefighters for doing the same job?

My crystal ball shows me a response from <Santa Claus?> in the near future.

Fedwatcher II

The italics are entirely the contribution of Ab who seems to have lost his tongue in his cheek! Cheers, Fedwatcher II!

12/21 Hi Joe,

I have been using Beyond Tranquillon Ridge as one of the primary text books in my Firefighter Safety and Survival class since it was published in 2004. Outstanding research and thank you for not making the text a political attack against any of the federal, state or local government fire agencies. Beyond Tranquillon Ridge provides a platform for students to analyze “where we were back when, to where we are now.”

When combined with case studies, selected readings, presentations from burn survivors and entrapment crew members, and the reading of Deep Survival, Beyond Tranquillon Ridge has allowed my students to see that safety is much more that a “green vs.. red,” “command vs.. the line,” or any of the other “us vs.. them” issues. As I read this semester’s final exams it heartens me to see that many of my students are able to see past the “mistakes” and concentrate on the human factors of each fire.

Thanks,

FOBS 73

12/21 Mike Johns, nice job!

It's nice to have that good fuel treatments burn example all in one place.
Should be on the hotlist too so it easily can be found with a search.

Everyone,

Whoooooo Hoooooooo, it's winter solstice! We're doing our annual
"Burning Old Man Winter" bonfire!

Happy holidays to all!

Mellie

12/21 To all you FWFSA Members writing in about NFFE...

Mark Davis is 'THE' man when it comes to FS outsourcing and efforts to keep the Forest Service from encroaching on fire and related occupations.

Yea the FWFSA worked with many of the same congressional folks as did Mark and NFFE but he truly deserves all the credit. He and I spoke on many occasions sharing info etc but he truly did the bulk of the work.

To the member who wrote that the FWFSA does not have political ties or agendas...better give me a call!!!

The important thing to remember is that NFFE as a labor union is bound by labor-management rules under Title 5 of the United States Code. The FWFSA, as an employee association is not bound by such rules. Thus, I would like to think that both organizations compliment each other with respect to our overall efforts on behalf of federal wildland firefighters.

Granted my relationship with NFFE leadership is primarily in R5 although Mark Davis is far from R5.

So, whether its the liability issue, outsourcing or even the current nutty housing policy offered up by the Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Los Padres, NFFE has their job to do, we have ours but if there is an opportunity to work together collectively we will.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

Heh, wondered if that post would get you using dialup.... Ab.

12/21 Here is the link I read about cdf getting the money.

www.dailynews.com/ci_7780371?source=rss

I also wanted to say that I do respect all fellow firefighters.
I was just venting.

Johnivan

12/21 Johnivan, I am sensing a little frustration and hostility my friend. Let's try
to set the record straight.

A. You "heard" we were going to receive 41 million dollars. I
for one have "heard" a lot of things. Most of which if you
have been in this business long enough, know turn out to
be complete B.S. So when we actually get some money.
Then let's talk.

B. Cal Fire will pay for damages if they are related to the
to the incident. I have no idea what this issue
was with your engine. However it may well have initially
looked to be incident related. Once we find out through
mechanical troubleshooting that it may not have been
incident related, then we will not pay for the repair.

C. If the engine operator or the Forest your engine belongs
too. Believes they are getting the shaft. Then it goes to
the USFS Agency Rep assigned to the incident.
They will negotiate the issue with the I.C. or Dep. I.C. of the
Incident Command Team responsible for the incident.

Johnivan, I am sorry we have lost your respect. This is unfortunate. Fortunately
for us, we have the respect of many others.

Cal Fire Jake

12/21 Hello all

I just heard CDF, oh sorry CAL FIRE, is going to receive around 41 million from US grants and OES. I am a federal firefighter. I was on the Harris fire, when the engine I was on broke down. At first CDF said they would pay for repairs, but when all said and done they didn't pay for cr*p. I am so glad that they are going to get all this money for fighting the fires but can't pay for an engine that broke on their fire. I lost a lot of respect for CDF.

I am staying with the federal service I am not going to jump ship.

Johnivan

I don't know what the rules and SOPs and channels are for paying for things like broken engines. Anyone know? Anyone want to fill us in? Ab.

12/21 To Theysaiders:

I am so grateful for They Said – it is used widely. As readers, I would like you, through this next year, to support the companies that pay for ads here on wildlandfire.com, so that this site can support all of us. Let the companies know, when making your purchases, that you saw their ad on They Said.

We're sending the wildland community a wonderful, warm wish for the holidays and we've toasted to all of you from our bottle of Jaeger Meister that's been in the freezer since Family Day in May. Really warm wishes and a Happy New Year.

Cheers! (hiccup....)

Vicki, Burk, Melissa, and Candace
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks Vicki.

Readers, with respect to Professional Liability Insurance, don't forget the FEDS offer of six months free when you make the switch by the end of the 2007 year. Tony and crew were the ones that Wright called on to do the work for those on Cramer and 30Mile. That legal brain power is working for all of us now through FEDS. Browse their website. Make a change.

Our wildlandfire.com calendars are pretty neat too. (Link and discount code at the top left of this page.) Ab.

12/21The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
12/21 Hi Ab,

Christmas Eve fundraiser for WFF - Peets Coffee in Orange County CA:

Peets will be giving free drip coffee & tea and collecting donations for the WFF at 3 stores on Dec 24 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. closing. I urge everyone in the area to stop in for a free cup of coffee and drop some cash in the jar. Peets will match the donations up to $1000.00.

Peets in the Corona Del Mar Plaza in Newport Beach will be collecting for the Santa's Helper Fund. My son will be at the Newport Beach store to encourage donations and answer questions about the foundation and wildland firefighting.

Peets in the Tustin Marketplace and Peets on El Toro Rd. in Lake Forest will both be collecting for the WFF General Fund.

Please stop in and drop some money in the donation jar for our Wildland Firefighter Foundation that does so much for everyone in wildland fire. We (family, friends & public) need to step up and support our heroes in any way we can and donating to the WFF is a great way to do so.

Annette

12/21 This came in from Arizona quite a while back. I've finished making a photo page for it and linking the appropriate docs. It's a good story of how fuel treatments and fuel breaks should and do work and is applicable to many situations on our ever-growing interface. Our thanks to Mike Johns, who many of you will recognize as contributing here before. Ab.

Abs: I am an Assistant U.S. Attorney who teaches a Fire Law course, and a former wildland firefighter. November 2005 we completed much of the pile and broadcast burning on my private land and the adjacent Forest, Payson Ranger District, under an MOU. Ice cold night winds falling off the Mogollon Rim added some excitement, but it was very successful in reducing dead fuels which were 30 tons per acre in places. The fire environment is the same as the Dude Fire, but better in November than in June. Many firefighters are familiar with my place from other fires as well, Kehl Ridge, Bray, December, Packrat and Webber.

Burning started 10 feet from my Ranch House with the Globe Inmate Crew assisting. They had no hot food for next breakfast, or shelter when I arrived, and were going to bed down outside. I opened up the Ranch House and Bunk House and made sure everyone had a bed or a couch or a cot, and hot water then went back to town for snacks and breakfast food. One of the inmates was an early riser and cook so I had him get me up early from my couch near the fire and we cooked up a huge breakfast. The Navajo Scouts replaced the Globe crew and I had a chance to visit with them as well, many of whom had been on the Dude Fire.

So far, this thinning and burning project has been a major success considering my 25 acres surrounded by Forest in a box canyon under the Rim had been at serious risk for a catastrophic and dangerous situation. Thanks are due the Forest Service, the Arizona State Land Department and the firefighters who have worked so diligently to complete this project. Here are some photos of the burning operations.

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

After we completed this prescribed fire in November, 2005, in February 2006 a campfire blew off the Mogollon Rim and raced toward the Ranchhouse as a crown fire until it reached the fuel break. The treatment done by us, the State Land Department and the Forest Service made it safe enough for firefighters to work and saved the historic structures and orchards. The February Fire eventually burned over 4,000 acres around us. You should link to the attached paper which received National/Congressional attention as one of the success stories of fuel treatments under the National Fire Plan. Mike Johns

Here's a 1472K pdf file of maps, etc: Bray Creek Ranch Rx treatment
This is a 60K msword doc that will download if you click this link:
  fuel treatment February Fire (60K doc file)

12/21 Got some new logos up on the Logo 13 photo page. Ab.

Messages follow:

I know you don't get many Dispatch logos, but I completed this one for
Central Idaho Interagency Coordination Center last year.
Tim B.

Here is the logo for La Cima Conservation Camp (Julian, CA).
MVU La Cima CCC

12/21 FWFSA Member:

As a member of both organizations I believe that they are both important, many times people (especially fire) get frustrated with NFFE, but we need to remember that they have done a lot of good and continue to do good for the WHOLE FS. Personally, no matter who worked on the bill it is a step in the right direction but does fall a little short still: as an ENGB, ICT 4 type you are not covered it stops at the ICT 3, DIVS level. There are many decisions at the ENGB or CRWB level that are made and I feel you should be covered, look at Ellreese Daniels.

FWFSA and NFFE Member
12/21 Mark Davis,

Unlike many in the USFS "leadership", the partnership of the FWFSA is an employee association without political ties or agendas and completely spanning the GS-2 through GS-15 levels who led the way to changes..... with collaboration of the NFFE Partnership Council assisting as they could.... Not the other way around.

Who takes the credit for changes doesn't really matter in the long term. If NFFE or the R5 Partnership Council wants to take credit, please do so..... and follow through. What matters is the change.

It has been a foundational difference between Unions and Employee Associations. Unlike many Unions, the leadership and management of many who have dedicated their lives and careers upon the communication between the FWFSA members of all levels..... GS-2 to GS-15.

We won't play games with issues. We are the issues. It is personal to us at all levels.

FWFSA member

Thanks to both groups for doing what you do. There are other shops within the FS that are watching the bill carefully. In addition to liability, the whole outsourcing process is very time and money consuming. Ab.

12/21 Joe,

Best of retirement to you.

Beyond Tranquillon Ridge was a great book to read and remember the
losses and the horrible tragedy from first hand accounts, but I remember
the stories best when you described them to us personally over a few
cold ones a few years ago.

We never knew....

Lobotomy

12/20 Ab asked...

Readers, here's a pic of the '06 Lakeview Fuels Crew on Handcrews 22. Does anyone know if this is Lakeview, Oregon? Is it a state crew or FS or some other agency crew? Thanks for any info. Ab.

The crew in he picture is BLM crew 7 out of Klamath Falls Oregon (Lakeview BLM). The info below the picture is pretty accurate. the crew was funded as a fuels reduction crew. They also had suppression responsibilities, mostly local, but some of unit stuff. Crew was set up as a type 2 IA with 1- Superintendent, 1- Foreman, 3- Module leaders (Squaddy), and the balance crewmembers. I believe they had 10 perms, ranging from PFT to perm 13/13's, and the rest temps. For equipment, I believe the crew had 4 six packs, multiple atv's, a type 6 engine (NWCG), a type 4 engine (NWCG), as well as lots of chainsaws. Pretty nice set up. Sadly, I have heard that the crew was disbanded after the 06 season, although that may not be true.

L-C-E-S

12/20 I emailed Cathy F asking for info too. Here's her reply... Boy that was quick! I added it to the description page. Thanks. Ab.

The photo was the BLM Lakeview District 2006 Fuels Crew located at Klamath Falls, Oregon. The crew that started in 2000 is one of several funded by the National Fire Plan - available for suppression but focusing on hard manual work and lots of prescribed fire. Cathy

12/20 lakeview is a blm fuels crew out of Lakeview oregon

ND

Thanks, I added the OR info to the description. Ab.

12/20 Hey Homey!

I didn't know you were on that fire!

That fire was a first for me in two ways:

It was the first time a fire was so close to the airport that I could see the
airtankers taxiing in and out of the pit at the tanker base. I told Pecos Valley
Dispatch I did not need airtanker status because I could see all 6 of them
all of the time.

It was also the only time I was involved in dropping retardant in a river...
the Pecos River. Oooops! We were all very contrite over that one and
learned not to do it again.

NMAirBear
12/20 Readers, here's a pic of the '06 Lakeview Fuels Crew on Handcrews 22. Does anyone know if this is Lakeview, Oregon? Is it a state crew or FS or some other agency crew? Thanks for any info. Ab.
12/20 AB,

These are from the Aztec fire near Roswell, NM in 2000. NMAirBear
was the ATGS on this fire.

Have a great day,
Homey

Thanks, Homey, I put them on AirTankers 24 photo page. Ab.

12/20 Ab, here's a pic of a West Texas fire:

Picture of range fire in Jones County Texas on Jan. 12, 2006. The truck
belongs to the Anson Volunteer Fire Dept. Anson, Texas. Picture taken
before the helicopters and planes arrived on the scene.

Submitted by Shannon H. Middlebrook

Thanks for the engine and flames. I posted it on the Engines18 photo page. Ab.

12/20 Just got a call from Casey who says all internet is down for him in Idaho and for the
FWFSA. He's taking a "snow day". His phone is working, however.

"Nerve center of the FWFSA" Casey-snow, but lots more.

Wildlandfire.com was also down this morning for 45 minutes. Those winter storms can take
their toll. If you can't get through to theysaid, just try again later. OA and I decided by
phone this morning that it was further indication we should all take a break and enjoy
our families when opportunities arise. Haw haw, several folks called to ask if we knew...

I got a call from one groundpounder needing his theysaid fix. He said he's spending time
at school with his kindergartner. They had so much fun the first day he's opted for
being there all week! Sounds like one fine alternative.

Have fun, All! Relax... Cheers!

Ab.

12/20 Someone did an outstanding Cost Benefit Analysis comparing the paying
of seasonals' unemployment insurance vs. hiring folks as career seasonals.
Does someone have a copy of that somewhere that they could send me?

Thanks,
Fishguy
12/20 Hello Ab,

Here are a couple of interesting articles from the Lompoc Record
concerning the 1977 Honda Canyon Fire on Vandenberg Air Force
Base.

Today is the 30 year anniversary and I thought your readers may
want to take a long trip back in time.

www.lompocrecord.com/articles/2007/12/20/news/featurednews/news01.txt
www.lompocrecord.com/articles/2007/11/13/news/featurednews/news01.txt

Here’s wishing you a very Happy Holliday,

Joseph Valencia

Hi Joe, nice articles, but for the full story I think people should get your book Beyond Tranquillon Ridge and read it. Here are some good reviews. I found your book very interesting. Ab.

12/20 From Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee:

To follow up on Casey’s post of 12/18, maybe I can shed some light on the coverage provided by the PLI provision in the 2008 omnibus appropriations bill. NFFE has been working with the Forest Service and Congress on providing broader coverage than was initially proposed. Here’s the short story.

The original PLI language would have expanded coverage to some, but not all, fire line supervisors. The original language would have modified the law to read (changes are in blue)

Word doc of the formatted version (33K) with changes in blue. Ab.

12/20 Ab,

So do you know any places in Canada that are recruiting wildland
firefighters with no experience?

JEB

12/20 Re: Recent Retirements

Steve Eubanks, the Forest Supervisor from the Tahoe National Forest, is also retiring after 37 years of service. Steve has been an outspoken supporter of wildland firefighter issues and delivery of the wildland fire program. He was one of only a few line officers who would put things right back onto the shoulders of the RLT and NLT for their decisions regarding management of the fire and fuels programs.

Steve always addressed the issues, listened to his fire managers, and was willing to support his troops in the field in getting the job done.

www.yubanet.com/artman/publish/article_72820.shtml

"Steve's collaborative leadership in sustainable forestry and connection with forest research has been noteworthy both inside and outside the agency," stated Randy Moore, Pacific Southwest Regional Forester.

Highlights of Eubanks' career have included:

- Working closely with researchers to develop concepts of forest ecosystem management that were a foundation for a Forest Service-wide program.

- Working with the Russian Forest Service in Central Siberia since 1995 to help develop sustainable forestry concepts and practices.

- Chairing the National Visiting Committee for a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education program.

- Helping establish the new Sagehen Experimental Forest near Truckee in cooperation with the Pacific Southwest Experiment Station and the University of California, Berkeley - the first new experimental forest in 40 years.

- Sponsoring Forest Sustainability Workshops locally in conjunction with the Forest Breakfast Group to promote greater understanding of Sierra ecosystems and their sustainability.
12/19 Midwest Fire Guy

Unfortunately, it’s almost a given that we’ll lose an average of two tanker
pilots/yr.

When you describe the wildland fire management community don’t forget
the Fire GIS Specialists! The job may not be the most glamorous; I’ve never
heard of high risk exposure to too many shapefiles, but the first thing folks
ask for during a wildfire is a map.

Fire Geek

Orienting, one prerequisite for situational awareness... Ab.

12/19 Ex Tanker Crewman

Thanks for the info on the P-3. They are a wonderful aircraft that
I have enjoyed and benefited from using. From what I have read
today sounds like they will be in our tool kit for many more years.

"What has always scared me is that a good majority of the
stones at the National Wildland Firefighter Memorial in Boise
came from contract airtanker crews...... For some reason,
their losses aren't appreciated or understood by some in
the wildland fire community."

I read once where if ground resources had the same death rate per
hour exposed to wildland firefighting as airtanker pilots is would be
many times higher than the worst year we ever saw. And no one
would find that acceptable. The nation has a duty to every wildland
 firefighter to provide them with safe, effective and efficient tools to
use. Wildland fire management is a big family. Hotshots to Type 2
crews, to IA crews, to dispatchers, to the pilots, the folks that work
in the caches, to the person who drives a pu of cubbies out to the
fire are all part of that family.

Any loss is a loss to the family.

Midwest Fire Guy

12/19 > From the Russian News Agency Pravda:

"... U.S. law-makers allowed to assign $500,000 to the U.S. Forest Service
to implement a program to protect forests and animals in Russia's Far East."

Sign me: Follow the money
and where your dollars go..... (not tongue in cheek) but an actual news story
from abroad that shows where US taxpayers $$$ are going.

12/19 Ab,

Here is a response to an concern that has come up a couple times on the board re Airtankers:

The P-3C UIII aircraft that the Navy is finding cracks have between three and four times the flight hours that the P-3A's and B's that Aero Union are working with. The "A" and "B" models were transferred to reserve units back in the late 70's through the early 90's. Some of the "A" models that I took to the boneyard in the late 80's only had 8,000 to 9,000 flight hours and AU puts approx 500 hours a year on them. The P-3C's with the cracked wings have between 20,000 and 30,000 flight hours. Lockheed and the Navy originally thought, and agreed, that the service life of a P-3 would be 20,000 flight hours...since the proper replacement for the P-3 has not been accepted yet, the service life extension program has been granting the extension of the 20,000 hours.

So do not count the P-3 out yet!

Ex Tanker Crewman
12/19 We all love "concept cars" such as the proposed Q400 airtanker.

Still waiting for the BAE Airtanker prototype or the Embraer Brasilia 120 to be discussed again.

I lost hope on new airtankers when the A-10 FireHog website domain name went for sale recently.

On another note,

SC, I am sure Aero Union is in full communication with the U.S. Navy....... last I heard they had the depot contract for maintenance and retrofits for all remaining military P-3's flying...... The P-3 is a stout and sturdy ship, and more than likely, any stress cracks found were from Aero Union's testing programs.... a positive find in the testing programs.

It was great to see the DC-7's around SoCal again this last fall. We even saw one of the oldest flying airtankers make a brief visit...... the Martin Mars.

What has always scared me is that a good majority of the stones at the National Wildland Firefighter Memorial in Boise came from contract airtanker crews...... For some reason, their losses aren't appreciated or understood by some in the wildland fire community.

I have no idea what the answers are, but I do know that folks better step up to save the aerial fire retardant delivery program.

/s/ Folks need to build a better platform and cockpit...... to keep the pilots safer.
12/18 WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER LIABILITY & OUTSOURCING ON THE SENATE FLOOR TONIGHT

The U.S. Senate is currently in session working on passage of H.R. 2764, the Omnibus Appropriations bill. The Omnibus bill is kind of a "catch-all" bill to pass the remainder of the 13 annual "must-pass" spending bills.

As we all likely know, in some years many of the spending bills don't get passed by the end of the year as a result of partisan politics. This is especially true this year with the majority in Congress changing hands to the Democrats while a Republican president remains.

The importance of this particular Omnibus bill is that it contains several provisions of note to federal wildland firefighters and Forest Service personnel in general. Namely sections 415 & 429

Title IV GENERAL PROVISIONS sec. 415:

SEC. 415. (a) LIMITATION ON COMPETITIVE
4 SOURCING STUDIES
.-
5 (1) Of the funds made available by this or any
6 other Act to the Department of the Interior for fis-
7 cal year 2008, not more than $3,450,000 may be
8 used by the Secretary of the Interior to initiate or
9 continue competitive sourcing studies in fiscal year
10 2008 for programs, projects, and activities for which
11 funds are appropriated by this Act.
12 (2) None of the funds made available by this or
13 any other Act may be used in fiscal year 2008 for
14 competitive sourcing studies and any related activi-
15 ties involving Forest Service personnel.

16 (b) COMPETITIVE SOURCING STUDY DEFINED.-In
17 this section, the term "competitive sourcing study"means
18 a study on subjecting work performed by Federal Govern
19ment employees or private contractors to public-private
20 competition or on converting the Federal Government em
21ployees or the work performed by such employees to pri
22vate contractor performance under the Office of Manage
23ment and Budget Circular A-76 or any other administra
24tive regulation, directive, or policy.
U:\2008REPT\2008CONF\OMNI\DIVF.OOO SEN. APPROP.
122
1 (c) COMPETITIVE SOURCING EXEMPTION FOR FOR-
2 EST SERVICE STUDIES CONDUCTED PRIOR TO FISCAL
3 YEAR 2006.-The Forest Service is hereby-exempted from
4 implementing the Letter of Obligation and post~competi
5tion accountability guidelines where a competitive sourcing
6 study involved 65 or fewer full-time equivalents, the per
7formance decision was made' in favor of the agency pro
8vider, no net savings was achieved by conducting the
9 study, and the study was completed prior to the date of'
10 this Act.
11 (d) In preparing any reports to the Committees on
12 Appropriations on competitive sourcing activities, agencies
13 funded in this Act shall include all costs attributable to
14 conducting the competitive sourcing competitions and
15 staff work to prepare for competitions or to determine the
16 feasibility of starting competitions, including costs attrib- .
17 utable to paying outside consultants and contractors and,
18 in accordance with full cost accounting principles, all costs
19 attributable to developing, implementing, supporting,
20 managing, monitoring, and reporting on competitive
21 sourcing, including personnel, consultant, travel, and
22 training costs associated with program management.
23 (e) In carrying out any competitive sourcing study
24 involving Department of the Interior employees, the Sec
25retary of the Interior shall:\
2008REPT\2008CONF\OMNI\DIVF:OOO SEN. APPROP. 123
1 (1) determine whether any of the employees
2 concerned are also qualified t~.participate III
3 wildland fire management activities; and
4 (2) take into consideration the effect that con-
5 tracting with a private sector source would have on
6 the ability of the Department of the Interior to ef-
7 fectively and efficiently fight and manage wildfires.

NOTE: In my humble opinion, the authority for DOI to spend money for outsourcing studies in 2008 while the language calls for in essense "de-funding" Forest Service studies will likely cause the FS to continue to find ways to skirt around the law.

SEC. 429. (a) IN GENERAL.-Section 636 of division
24 A of the Treasury, Postal Service" and General Govern
1 ment Appropriations Act, 1997 (5 U.S.C. prec. 5941 note;
2 Public Law 104-208), is amended-
3. (1) in subsection (b)-"
4 (A) in paragraph (1), by striking "or";
5 (B) in paragraph (2), by striking the pe-
6 riod and inserting "; or"; and
7 (C) by adding at the end the following:
8 "(3) a temporary fire line manager."; and
9 (2) in subsection (c)-
10 (A) in paragraph (3), by striking ", and"
11 and inserting a semicolon;
12 (B) in paragraph (4)(B), by striking the
13 period at the end and inserting "; and"; and
14 (0) by adding at the end the following:
15 "(5) notwithstanding the definition of the terms
16 'supervisor' and 'management official' under section
17 7103(a) of title 5, United States Code, the term
18 'temporary fire line manager' means an employee of
19 the Forest Service or the Department of the Inte-
20 rior, whose duties include, as determined by the em-
21 ploying agency-
22 "(A) temporary supervision or manage-
23 ment of personnel engaged in wildland or man-
24 aged fire activities;
U:\2008REPT\2008CONF\OMNI\DIVF.OOO SEN. APPROP. 132
1 "(B) providing analysis or' information that
2 affects a decision by a supervisor or manager
3 about. a wildland or managed fire;. or
4 (C) directing the deployment of equipment
5 for a wildland or managed fire.".
6 (b) EFFECTIVE DATE.-The amendment made by
7 subsection (a) shall take effect on the date of enactment
8 of this Act.

With respect to this expansion of PLI (Professional Liability Insurance) reimbursement, I would suspect that some may have questions as to whether their position is as defined.

Should the bill pass and be signed into law (no guarantee of that) with the language intact, I would encourage those with such questions to contact the FWFSA and we'll try get a handle on precisely what positions qualify for reimbursement.

A lot of this legalese is confusing, but if anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
12/18 Airtankers

With the recent development of fatigue cracks in the Navy's remaining P-3's, does
anyone know if there are plans to add CL-215/217 and the Q-400 airtanker
conversion www.cascadeaerospace.com to the US Federal fleet? Seems we
keep relying on old equipment or go for the biggest must be best with the DC-10
and 747 that have limited abilities mountainous terrain.

Midwest Fire Guy

12/18Good Morning All,

Here are the results of the Federal -- especially R5 -- Retention Issues Survey.
(The Survey is here: www.wildlandfire.com/surveys/2007/1/survey.asp)

We've summarized the numbers of respondents replying to various categories:
www.wildlandfire.com/surveys/2007/1/pub.asp

The first group includes all 314 unique respondents. Duplicate replies from the same isp were deleted in a very few cases. Thanks for participating responsibly.
We've reported numbers replying by Agency, by GS level, and by Forest for the entire 314 cases.
65 firefighters had interview dates scheduled with CalFire; the breakdown by R5 Forests for these 65 is listed in the right hand column.

We then selected on firefighters that are USFS and from R5.
Of the 248 firefighters who fell in this category,

 53 Have Applied to CalFire and had Interview Dates
 21 Have Applied to CalFire Without Interview Date
 78 Have Applied to CalFire or Other
 30 Plan on Applying to CalFire or Other
 30 Strongly Considering Applying to CalFire or Other
 17 were Interested in Applying to CalFire or Other
 14 were Considering Applying to CalFire or Other
   5 did not mark any option
248

We also tallied other info on GS Rating, Module, Forest and Appointment for the entire group of 248.

We then selected those who
Applied to CalFire and had Interview Dates
Applied to CalFire Without Interview Date
Applied to CalFire or Other
Plan on Applying to CalFire or Other

There were 182 firefighters who fell in these categories. We felt these were the most likely to leave their FS employment because they're already in the process or they are likely to when positions open in January -- unless the retention situation changes.

The array of reasons (issues) these people report that need to be addressed are summarized HERE.

Thanks to everyone who participated.

The Abs.

12/18Re: Private Fire Fighting

AB,

I wanted to write a quick note to express my concern and, frankly, my hurt. Since May of 2007 I have worked as an engine captain for a private wildland fire fighting company in R5. Over the past 7 months I have noticed a complete lack of respect and very frequently a heavy dose a vitriol directed towards myself and my crew for the simple reason that I work for a private force.

In case anyone cares I can assure you that my crew and I are very qualified. It took me eight years with State departments of Forestry and with other private firms to obtain the level that I am at. My operator is a fully qualified engine captain in his own right, and the fire fighter on board is a 3 year veteran of a hotshot crew and an EMT. Additionally our engine is a brand new 2006 Ford with a beautifully engineered fire back.

I am not attempting to compete with anyone. Why are we private fire fighters so thoroughly despised? Most of this spite seems to come from gentlemen I would otherwise call 'bothers' in the CDF.

Private wildland fire fighters are not attempting to take jobs away from anyone - we're just here to support the agencies when things go really bad. Let's face it; the advent, frequency, extreme nature, and size of wildfires is increasing on an almost yearly basis. With problematic funding for the Forest Service and the sheer amount of acres needing coverage for the CDF why not enthusiastically embrace the creation and evolution of a professional, competent, and experienced private force to help fill the gaps when the line is stretched thin?

It's painful to realize that the CDF would rather use their brawling criminals to put out fires rather than fellow hard working, responsible, and respectable citizens.

I have no wish to step on anyone's toes, but I fight the fight too.

And despite my enthusiasm to be the best, most competent, fire fighter I can be I was addressed as a 'snake' and given a sneer more times than I care to remember this last season. I invite everyone at CDF to try at least to be polite to the people who are, after all, attempting to do the same thing you are: protect life and property.

Thank you for accepting this post, you have a great site AB

Elusive Russquatch

Your company does a fine job, too. Ab.

12/18Re Contractors Article:

Interesting comment by Mike D about contractors being reluctant to
put out fires, since they would then be out of a job. Same goes for agency
crews, why put out the fire fast when there is more H pay to make.

Been there and seen it happen in more than one Region.

Knothead

12/18If you're wondering what to get that firefighter that can enhance his or her training, check out Fired Up by Charlie Palmer. It's listed on the Classifieds page. Good book, easy to read and follow training regimen with photos.

Don't forget our '08 Wildland Fire Calendars either! (Discount code at the top right of this page.) Ab.

12/18Ab,

I have heard some inmates are being pressured by gangs with threats to
their family members to create a disturbance before they get out. Don't
know if this is just beginning or if its gone on for a while. Gangs in jail
might change the mix and what happens on the fireground.

SC from Socal

12/18From Firescribe:

Here's a find from RobMac on the SRF. It shows part of the dilemma of structure protection on the SRA.

CDFFP_Cost_Cont_to_Escalate_032607.pdf  (380 K pdf file)

Full Report: LAO 2007 Budget Analysis: CDFFP (3540)

12/18Just wondering if Aero Union is in talks with the Navy about their P3’s… I wonder what may lay ahead. SC

Safety concerns ground 39 Navy planes

By Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press Writer
Mon Dec 17, 12:51 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Navy has grounded 39 of its surveillance, anti-submarine planes due to concerns about possible structural failures in the wings.

Ten of the four-engine propeller planes are currently deployed overseas, and Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Davis said they will return to the U.S. for repairs and it has not yet been determined how or if they will be replaced.

"We are acting early, based upon engineering analysis and fleet inspections, to ground these aircraft before a problem arises," said Davis.

<snip, go read the article>

The Naval Air Systems Command issued a bulletin announcing the grounding on Monday, saying it was determined that the 39 aircraft were "beyond known structural limits on the lower section" of the wing.

12/18Answer for Ab about CDC inmate problems in the CDF Camps

Ab,

This goes back to my days in the CDF Camp program in the 60’s and I do remember all of the Camps CDF personnel being gathered at the Chino “Southern California Training Center” (SOCC) and being told by a CDC Deputy Warden and the CDF Region 6 Camps Coordinator telling us that CDC was going to “reclassify” inmate candidates for the Fire Camp Program and they were going to have to allow inmates who had a history of violence and drug use into the pool to be considered for selection for the Camp Program. To the CDF personnel that was not good news.

One thing we were warned of then that the rise of violence was to be expected but as long as it remained out of the public view and did not cause any community resistance it would be allowed to change. Well Ab, that change did happen and the violence did increase. One disgruntled inmate tried to douse a CDF Crew Foreman with gasoline and ignite him. Other inmates intervened. The rule of “Keep this story here in camp” prevailed but later it did get out. There have been other serious incidents against both CDC and Cal Fire personnel and in most cases the silence of those involved was rewarded later with some special consideration. At a later date the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) had it written into their MOU that all Cal Fire Camp vehicles would also be lettered with a selected CD signing which continues to this day. Most Cal Fire camp personnel are intimidated enough that they will normally keep the stories to themselves but there have been some very serious incidents involving unacceptable inmate behavior that CDC has consciously suppressed.

The issue of the quality of inmate now no longer allows the good workers to get to the Camp Programs. They are hoarded by CDC and used in their “For Profit” Prison Industries operation (PIA) and the ones who get to the Camps are frequently viewed by CDC as “another trouble maker out of here and now a Cal Fire problem.” Cal-Trans, Fish & Game and other state agencies have some sort of Camp arrangements also. Most of those are seasonal in nature like clearing snow chocked high country highways, Fish hatchery Improvements and trails work in the parks. In all cases the managing of the inmates by CDC is at best one that almost dehumanizes the individual incarcerated and no wonder why the individual inmates are angry. That is a human reaction to that type of treatment. Prisons in this state are doing nothing more than warehousing sentenced citizens who are now handled like livestock.

Normbc9

12/17Crew 'riot' incident

Ab-

It was a tough week for Gabilan crews that week. We knew of this 'riot' incident
soon after it happened, but CDCR wanted to keep it under wraps so as not to
spread it to other Golf Strike Teams. In another and I believe unrelated Gabilan
incident, a Gabilan inmate attempted escape only to be tackled and subdued by
his Fire Captain until CDCR arrived.

DM2

More like a fight than a riot. I heard behind the scenes here that the CalFire Captain acted, yelled some verbal commands, got control of the rest of the crew and kept the incident from being worse than it was. Not the captain's job, but in remote, wildfire conditions with CDC fairly far away and out of touch, it's good he stepped up. Heard there were water tender and dozer operators standing by ready to support the captain too.

CalFire readers, is anyone concerned that word might get around that similar conditions are the time for inmates to make such a move again in the future or was this more of a one time deal? Last fight I heard of on a fire was on the French Fire (SHF, '04); it was mid-day and those guys were rolled up pretty quickly. Any lessons learned from this one? Remoteness, communications, availability of CDCR, etc? Ab.

12/17The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
12/17Fire and Aviation Retention and Recruitment Team Meeting Update

All Regional Employees,

A team of comprised of line officers, fire management leaders, HR
specialists and civil rights specialists met December 10-14 at the
McClellan Training Center. The purpose of the meeting was to examine morale
and retention issues in the Regional Fire program and to determine causes
and develop potential solutions for those issues.

The people who attended this meeting and regional leadership acknowledge
that there are widespread concerns surrounding all of these issues and they
are committed to developing recommendations and implementing solutions that
address those issues.

During the meeting there were discussions that spanned a wide range of
issues including the pay disparity compared to state and local
firefighters, the high cost of living throughout California, classification
of a firefighter specific job series, and other things adversely affecting
employee morale and retention.

The team discovered that to confront these negative influences on employee
morale and retention within the Regional Fire program, a heightened
recognition of : employees through pay commensurate with the work they are
required to perform; the changing environment and the skills required to
accomplish the Forest Service mission within it; and the important
contribution work life makes to the quality of life overall. The team
developed recommendations to create positive change in each of these areas,
all with an eye to sustain a Forest Service that attracts and keeps quality
people.

The draft will be finished by Wednesday of next week. I anticipate being
able to release details of the strategy once the Regional Forester Team has
been briefed. Following that, the Regional Forester Team will be working
with leadership in the Chief's office to gain support for and implement
the recommended actions we will be taking forward.

I want to thank the Team that worked on this plan. I appreciate their hard
work and commitment to improving this situation.

Jim Pea
Deputy Regional Forester

12/16Div 5,

Thank you for all the work and leadership that you, your chief officers, your captains, and many others did on the BDF 24 hour engine proposal for the four southern forests.

Unfortunately, unless significant changes are made in Title 5 of the United States Code, the proposal made will violate federal law in its implementation. NFFE and the FWFSA are rightly concerned.

Unless significant changes in Title 5 are pursued by the Forest Service, the pilot program will not be even remotely possible.

I fully agree change is needed to stem the losses, but change takes legislation most times in the federal government. The hands and actions of federal executives are often tied in either proposing or championing legislation.

A simple change in 5 USC 5545(b) to allow wildland firefighters to be treated as firefighters nationwide?..... or six lengthy changes to Title 5 to allow a pilot program for the four southern California forests to allow them 24 hour pay?

As an FWFSA Director recently stated regarding FWFSA proposed changes,

"Those simple changes would allow portal-to-portal schedules as needed in specific areas, or 40 hour schedules as needed in other areas based upon management or mission needs; the ability to seek Special Base Rates to be used in conjunction with Locality Pay Adjustments (not Special Salary Rates); the ability to separate the duties of Forestry Aids and Technicians from the duties of wildland firefighters; the ability to use and implement other hiring authorities other than temporary employees, and; the ability to apply the true meaning of what is codified as compensable meal breaks, and what truly adequate meals and lodging are."

FedWatcher

12/16Posted on the hotlist and sent to Ab's email for theysaid:

Re the socal firestorm...

Concerns persist about private crews U.S. hires to help battle wildfires

Firefighters battling the devastating Southern California firestorms in October were assisted by dozens of private engine companies and hand crews whose role in wildfire suppression is expected to grow despite criticism about inadequate training and oversight.

Thirty-one private engine companies -- most from the Pacific Northwest -- were deployed to the San Bernardino National Forest to combat the Slide and Grass Valley fires, which destroyed 450 homes.

The U.S. Forest Service also sent contract engines and hand crews to fortify firefighting agencies stretched thin by the October fire siege that consumed more than 500,000 acres between Inland Southern California and the Mexican border.

As federal officials turn to contractors to help combat such massive blazes, they are paying closer attention to which crews they hire in the wake of a report indicating that as many as a third of the private firefighters sent onto the fire lines lacked the proper certification to be there.

Even contractors themselves say the federal agencies that hire them could do more to scrutinize their performance and history before dispatching them to a fire.

12/16Posted on the hotlist and sent to Ab's email for theysaid:

Re the socal firestorm...

Inmate fire crews pulled after rioting

Two inmate firefighting crews were pulled away during the height of the wind-driven wildfires that flared across Southern California this fall, after a "riot" broke out on their bus, according to documents obtained Friday.

White and Hispanic inmates began fighting in the back of a crew bus while they were supposed to be fighting the Poomacha Fire in San Diego County, according to reports obtained by The Associated Press. Other inmates had to be separated after they moved to join the fight, the reports say.

12/1624 hour staffing is not what I want...Some issues I have.

* It's not a pay raise because my salary is still the same.
* There is no change in my pension.
* I will work more hours to earn that 50% more pay
* I'm guaranteed to sleep away from home 182 nights a year unless I take leave. 182 nights = 6 months a year.
* Not being home at night or in the mourning with my family.
* Sleeping at the station in the dead of winter.
* Not having standard barracks.
* Not being able to go home at night when you live 1 mile away.
* Not being paid for 8 hours during the night.
* Losing all my differentials.
* Never being asked what I feel or what I think before this was presented to the region.
* Longer shifts in the winter will only mean more is expected of us.
* Losing 5.0 staffing.
* Never on same shift as my engineer.

This is only a few of the issues I see with going to this schedule. I work for the Forest Service because I like my 40 hour schedule, If I wanted to work the Kelly schedule then I would have applied for CDF......
12/16Re: The Powerpoint Presentation of the USAF AFFF System

As a former USAF civilian firefighter, it looks like the test of the fire protection system went poorly by those not familiar with the testing...... but the system performed as it was designed.

I'd bet there was human error involved in the test?...... and the system worked like it was supposed to just in case it was a "real world" emergency.

At the base I worked at, we routinely performed AFFF deluge system tests with both civilian firefighters and GIs. Sometimes the tests exceeded the scaffold lifts that we would observe the tests on.

Casey could explain it better.

I also saw two accidental deluge system releases during my short time as a USAF firefighter........ both times real world emergencies (100's of millions of dollars at risk with aircraft in the hangar) while contractors didn't over-ride IR sensors before working.

Student of Reason
12/16Foam Effects

I got a chuckle out of that one.

I can also attest that if you put dish soap (in this case Dawn) in the dish washer
(3 year old saw mom squirt stuff in there) you will have foam flowing across
your kitchen floor just like in the movies. It took running the dish washer 3 times
before bubble quit coming out through the seal of the closed door.

Mid West Fire Guy

12/15On behalf of our FWFSA membership I'd like to express our sincerest gratitude to
those that took time from their normal duties to participate in the retention meetings
this past week.

From the scarce information available so far, it appears all of you who participated
did so with passion and conviction in working towards developing goals and
objectives in the best interests of the firefighters in R5.

We all owe you our thanks for your efforts.

Respectfully,

Casey Judd
Business Manage
12/15Ab -

I think the Air Force is a bit ahead of the Wildland Fire Services in developing
foam fire suppression systems to protect their expensive airplanes. Here's a
Power Point showing what happens when things go wrong....terribly wrong....
though very funny. I imagine there were a lot of "Oh Sh*t's" echoing around t
hat hanger!

FoamtheHangarRunWild.ppt (1907K ppt file)

Now, if I had a gazillion dollar home in the WUI I'd want one or two of these
devices protecting it. I wonder if they're available as surplus military equipment?

AK Old Timer

12/15Div-5,

I've heard of your plan and I do understand that it is different than the
emergency 24 hour staffing LP and ANF did during the fire siege. I've
never seen the plan either and I'm sure many others have not seen it.
I agree with fedwatcher2, I also encourage you to post the full text
of your proposal. Thanks in advance.

Curious
12/15New NIMO Teams

It will probably get posted in here soon, however outreach came out yesterday
for 2 more 7-person NIMO Teams with GSs from 12 to 14. These will be for
Phoenix and Portland area and they will be WO positions. Those receiving the
5-year assignment must live within 8 hours of those two cities. Same set up as
last NIMO hiring round, the person must be currently Type I qualified in a
Command and General Staff position.

Good opportunity and good luck if interested..........

Letterman

12/15Div 5:

I am sure a great deal of work went into the 24 hour staffing plan that you have pitched over the last year or so. However there is a great deal of confusion about the proposal because so few have actually seen it. The line about increasing pay 50%, by itself sounds great. However there doesn't seem to be much mention about the trade-offs in getting higher pay.

Many thought the recent 24 hour staffing plans implemented on the LP, ANF etc were the proposal you have developed. Those plans paid firefighters for 24 hours less 3 half-hour meal breaks. Firefighters were earning 8 hours of base pay and 16 hours of OT less the meal periods. According to recent posts by the FWFSA those plans, used while firefighters were simply pre-positioned, provided even greater financial benefits than their own portal to portal proposal.

When told that the 24 hour plans recently implemented were not the one you have developed and when details of your plan were explained, many were confused and concerned.

I know the union has some concerns as does the FWFSA. I don't think too many firefighters know the limited benefit the plan has. For instance it does nothing for helitack or Hotshot folks. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges would be the facility issues necessary to house personnel under your proposal.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm sure there are many firefighters who respect the time & effort put into your proposal but I also think it would be fair for everyone to have an opportunity to read the proposal. Because so few have, I would expect that very few questions about the implementation of such a plan, especially by firefighters, has occurred.

I would encourage you to provide the full text of the proposal to AB for posting. That way those throughout the region can fully understand the proposal and provide input which I hope those of you who are proponents of the plan would address.

I appreciate your assessment that such a plan would not necessarily be workable on all forests in R5. Also, the time necessary to implement such a plan taking into account the union position, expected grievances, facility issues may not be prompt enough to stop or reduce the exodus.

It is only my opinion but I think any goals of the recent meetings have to take into account all R5 fire personnel, not just a select few and actually have an agency-wide impact.

Fedwatcher II
12/15Hi Ab,

As promised, I’ve attached is a photo of Steve Miller and John Bolin (guitar maker) with the two guitars that are currently on Ebay. The Foundation has been promised proceeds from the sale of at least one of the guitars. I’m still waiting on that picture of me with Steve Miller – I’ll get it to you when I finally get it!

Here’s information from the press release announcing the guitar auction:

Steve Miller to Auction off Custom Made Guitars to Benefit Firefighters

Legendary artist will auction off two guitars on Ebay beginning December 10th 2007

(Sun Valley/Ketchum, ID)-Legendary musician Steve Miller will auction off two custom made signed guitars on Ebay to benefit the firefighters that worked to save his, and so many others’, homes in Ketchum, ID during the August 2007 CastleRock Fire. Miller nearly lost his home in the 40,000 acre blaze that threatened the resort community of Sun Valley/Ketchum this past summer.

After containment of the fire in early September, musicians in the community, including The Steve Miller Band, Carole King, and the Bruce Willis Blues Band, who all have homes in the area-put together a benefit concert for the firefighters. 6,000 people attended, and firefighters who worked on the fire were each given a ticket. The concert raised close to $113,000 for the Sun Valley/Ketchum Firefighters Association, and the Wildlands Firefighters Foundation. Miller presented the money to each organization in a press conference held in Ketchum on December 3rd.

The guitars, custom made by legendary Boise, ID guitar maker John Bolin and airbrush artist Christy Griffith, depict images from the CastleRock fire. Miller played both guitars at the annual Sun Valley/Ketchum Firefighters Ball, held November 17th. “These two guitars are the exact model that John Bolin builds for me and that I play at every concert I do,” stated Miller. “Your purchase will support the brave men and woman firefighters who risk their lives in this dangerous occupation. I know whoever gets these instruments will play the paint right off of them-Keep on Rockin’ Me Baby!”

Specifically, the guitars have chambered alder wood bodies with rosewood fingerboards, as well as a Hardtail bridge and Kulsons tuning gears. They also have the Steve Miller Slight U shape old school 50’s necks and Seymour Duncan Custom Vintage Pickups, and come with an engraved plate reading “Firefighters Rock”.

The guitars will be signed by Steve Miller, Carole King, and Bruce Willis, and will be available for bid on Ebay starting December 10th, 2007. link to the auction. The proceeds will go to both the Sun Valley/Ketchum Firefighters Association and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, which helps the families of US Forest Service firefighters who are injured or killed in the line of duty.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks, Melissa. Ab.

12/15Ab,

After two years of work to create the 24 Hour Staffing Plan, I am nervous as hell about what went on last week in the retention meeting. I worked along side an amazingly dedicated Engine Captain and input from other Captains, Chief Officers and Line Officers to formulate a plan that would bump pay up about 50% and yet give the agency something for its investment (2/3 more initial attack coverage).

There is a core group of us that have presented this plan five times now to local Line Officers, Province Line Officers, the RLT and Tom Harbour. It is presented as a pilot program in the Southern Province so that if it were approved for a trial period, we would have the ability to adjust it as problems arise and also have time to deal with any Civil Service regulations that may have to be adjusted to allow GS-462s to work in this environment.

We would also need to monitor our retention rates and initial attack success after 1800 during the pilot period to see if the plan could actually deliver to the agency what we think it will in terms of retention, large fire cost savings and our ability to actually recruit talent from other agencies (imagine that Forest Service!).

24 hour staffing probably won't fit all forests in R-5 so I can imagine how difficult it was last week for the group to come up with a retention plan for the whole region. I also respect their right to some privacy in dealing with such an enormous and potentially controversial subject.

To approve this pilot program will take bold leadership at the R.O and W.O. To participate in this program will require firefighters and Chief Officers to make huge changes in their customs, habits and traditions in Forest Service Fire Management.

To paraphrase a saying from the Chief of the Phoenix Fire Department, "We are 100 years of tradition unencumbered by progress". The world is changing, I'm hoping Forest Service Fire Management can change with it.

Div. 5
12/14R5 Rollovers:

There have been at least 4 Water Tender / Tanker Roll Overs
- that I am aware of -
that relate to the soft shoulder on forest roads since October 2006.
... Bolli Incident, 5/2007

October 6, 2006 - Day Fire - Los Padres NF
May 27, 2007 - Bolli Fire - Shasta-Trinity NF
July 9, 2007 - Schultz Fire - Peaks Ranger District (AZ-KNF-Schultz Fire)
July 13, 2007 - Zaca Fire - Los Padres NF

Fact #1 - Water Tenders are heavy vehicles. (rollover.jpg)

Fact #2 - Shoulders should not be expected to be able to hold the weight
of vehicles

Fact #3 - Wet winter conditions will make shoulders less stable.

Fact #4 - Heavier vehicles will be at greater risk near the road edge.

Fact #5 - Staying off the shoulder is one way to stay safer on forest roads
... even if you don't drive a water tender !

So What ? What Can You Do About It?

Here are a couple of resources that would make good safety tailgate topics
for your crew...

A few Lessons Learned from the Bolli Incident Water Tender Roll
Over........ Lessons-Learned-Bolli-WT-Rollover0507.doc (2,692K doc file)

A Lesson from Denali where "Dump Truck Meets Reflection
Pond"................ It-only-LOOKS-like-a-shoulder-poster-fs.doc (4,685K doc file)

Three More Roll Overs During July 2007....
Two relate to speed and another relates to the shoulders giving
away............... FLA-Multiple-Vehicle-Rollovers0807.doc (52K doc file)

Document the fact that you covered this material with your folks.

Let's keep them Green (Red or Yellow) Side Up,

Thanks,
-mc-

Michael Cobbold
Safety Officer
Shasta-Trinity and Mendocino National Forests

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

I recently had the opportunity to attended a Leadership in the Fire Service
conference and had the pleasure to hear guest speaker Chief Dennis Compton,
Mesa, AZ FD (ret.). During part of his presentation he talked about the
impact of leadership on line of duty (LOD) deaths. One statistic that hit
home was that 25% of LOD deaths are vehicle accident related. Further he
stated that while only 3% of the fire service fleet are water tenders they
represent 20% of fatal fire service vehicle accidents.

Lets provide the leadership to ensure ALL of our water tender operators
have the safest work environment we can provide. TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN and
educate.

thanks, arlen (Cravens)
Shasta-Trinity NF

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

Please see the comments above from Arlen Craven and the attached from Mike Cobbold.

This lines up pretty well with Larry's leadership at out recent meeting in Jacksonville FL.

Seems to be an area we can make a difference.

I believe our agency dozer operators are another area where we can educate to improve safety.

There are a small number of these operators who often go unnoticed.

Cheers!

Peter Tolosano
R5 FAM Safety Officer

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

There is a string of emails here with a lot of excellent information and
material here for briefings, safety meetings, and especially for
discussions with supervisors on their responsibilities.

Steve Holdsambeck
R4 FAM Safety Officer

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

Fw: Forest Roads: Recent History and Wet Shoulders, Soft Shoulders -- It only LOOKS like a shoulder!

Dave Sinclear
FMO on the Mendocino NF

All these and more messages are making the email rounds on the FS web. Some good resources. I'm posting this on the hotlist as well. Ab.

Bolli Fire Rollover: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=371
Zaca Fire Rollover: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1117

12/14BG,

I don't have any desire to go to an engine, nothing against them. I get plenty of
overtime at the camp. My goal is Air-Attack and that's where I will retire.

Former R-5er
12/14Is it possible that GW or whoever advises him set up fed agencies to fail by appointing poor
managers like Rey and Brown and then reducing the budgets so as to reduce "big govt" and
hand things over to the more expensive companies instead?

Without credible info on why decisions are made it's easy to imagine just about anything.

I hope good clear info comes out of this retention meeting soon to dispel conspiracy theories.

Last Brush Hook, speaking into my tool

12/14To all:

The "Get Smart" angle is great. As for Ed reading this site, I hope he also recognizes that the "gag order" apparently issued notwithstanding, AB & the FWFSA receive and hear everything regardless of how top secret it is so I am hoping that once the meeting is done, the RO will effectively communicate with everyone on the results, action items etc.

The downside to all of this is that despite how comprehensive the objectives turn out to be, if they must be sent to Mark Rey that could be a real battle. Whether Chief Kimbell or Mr. Harbour have the ability to "educate" Mr. Rey to the point that he would support anything on behalf of firefighters will be key.

Having met with him in his DC office and having listened to his frequent misleading testimony I can categorically say that federal wildland firefighter issues are not his favorite issues. Further he is so far disconnected from the field and the needs of Agency firefighters that we will have to be prepared to utilize Congress to render Mr. Rey's opinions (if he opposes the ideas) moot.

To MOC4546: The issue of buying temp time for retirement is in our draft bill.

Thanks to all the folks with shoe phones!

Casey
12/14Alias, thanks, I'll brief 99 and the Chief. "That's the second biggest update I've ever had".

13 - nice work 13, head over and see how Hymie's doing.

Glad to hear the quote might of hit a nerve. It took me an hour Monday to find the dam thing, however once I saw Mr. Drucker's quote I thought it would be a good fit for the events this week. I never did get a chance to research who the old boy is. I only hope I didn't borrow a quote from some crazed neo-con.

On a serious note, I hope Alias is right when he says it sounds like they're going for everything. However I'm concerned all they will do is play tennis with the issue(s) and knock it over in the WO court to allow them to be the bad guy. But I will stay positive and see the proposal and WO reaction.

The person occupying the Regional Fire Director position said this week on his Monday conference call he's been reading wlf.com. I found it interesting and potentially encouraging that he said that. I noticed looking at the WLF hit-o-meter that WLF gets a lot of hits from the DC area, so we need to stand strong, keep the chatter loud, support each other and support FWFSA.

"We will succeed, because we are right!"

Agent 86 (AKA ms) - out
12/14Here is a great Retention Idea to help stem the flow of people leaving Federal Wildland Fire in California, and the rest of the nation, that would help people to stay.

There are a lot of people who work as seasonal temporary firefighters in the Fed System, GS-03 to GS-07. These people don't get benefits because of the structure of temp employees.

What the agency could do is allow those who are leaving who are permanent who have many years in the system, and many years as temporary firefighters. Why not allow them, at thier own cost (not the agency) to buy that temporary time toward permanent years of service for retirement.

I myself have over seven years of temporary time that the government won't let me have toward retirement because those years were as a temporary firefighter. If I could buy those years back, by paying what would be the government's share and my share of what was supposed to go into the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) for those years to count toward retirement, that would be a great incentive to help keep people on.

Right now if you have temporary time after 1989 it won't count toward retirement because the government won't pay for that temp time, but what if they would credit you that time if you covered the funds due for those years?

I know I would jump at the chance to add seven years of service to my permanent comp date toward retirement, for me I could either gain a better retirement under FERS when I go as far as I can, or I can retire out at 50 instead of 55 or 57. I'd lay out $10,000 to add seven permanent years to my service comp date.

I spoke to Casey Judd about this as a possible idea to help retain employees and enable many of us to come out better in our benefits package. This to me should happen for all Federal Fire and Law Enforcement who are in the system now and have many years of temp service. Our counterparts with CDF (whom I will NEVER refer to them as Cal-Fire) give their seasonal firefighters time credit toward retirement if they become permanent staff.

I can think of a number of people over the years who spent ten or more seasons as temporary fire employees in the fed system, get their permanent appointment and are starting over again for retirement. This is an ideal that should be considered.

The problem is it would take an act of Congress to pass such a thing.

This is my idea to try to help figure a retention solution.

MOC4546
12/14Ab,

Are there confidentiality agreements being forced upon the participants of the R-5 retention meetings like they were during the recent National GS-8 Captain Desk audits and review?

If so, those of you involved don't (didn't) have to sign them and are under no obligation to sign them regardless of what Ed or others say unless you occupy positions designated as either "High Public Trust", Secret, or higher level security positions...... If you were asked, forced, or otherwise persuaded to sign confidentiality agreements for this or other meetings, please contact the FWFSA. Your discussions should not have been excluded under the Freedom of Information Act or through confidential agreement. Exclusion 5 (Deliberative Process clause) does not apply in this matter and no risk of harm exists to the Agency with disclosure of information.

The FWFSA has the funding to support the review by an attorney who specializes in federal employee issues to support this information, but it is fairly clear in the statutes and federal case law.

/s/ Researcher

Note: The above does not apply to voluntary agreements by the employee, when based upon deliberations or decisions initiated by the current employees negotiations for remedy under grievance, adverse action, or non-routine personnel actions requested, or decisions of the agency offering such remedy as a settlement.

No, simply a request. Ab.

12/14Casey,

Concerned about folks having to become a botanist to qualify as a
firefighter, eh? This is one botanist who came into the green organization
and was glad to reverse that role, becoming a firefighter (of the militia
sort). Stranger things do happen, but as I tell my friends, "after I was
hired I figured out who Smokey Bear calls when he sees smoke".

I'm told either fire costs or administration costs will be 100% of the
agency budget if present trends continue. We will either all be
firefighters or paper pushers.

Sedgehead
12/13Agent 13,

You made my day with the Get Smart parody, that was my favorite show when I was a kid.

Thanks and remember "Ve don't shush here" (Siegfried)

DirtMiner
12/13Ab-

Some rumors we're hearing up here in the Last Frontier:

- The Forest Service's Albuquerque Service Center is currently processing around four thousand applications for retirement for employees planning to retire in early 2008! That would be about 12% of the current permanent work force. Could create a lot of opportunities for anyone staying behind. Or, maybe not so many with the ongoing Organization Transformation Program being implemented.

- Some of the discussions in the Organization Transformation Program involve having R-6 manage/direct/supervise the R-10 fire program possibly with separate budgets for each Region. Basically Willie Thompson's former position as R-10's S&P Assistant Director for Fire Management would not be filled. Many R-10ers are not happy with this proposal. The Forest Service is already the step-child of the Alaska Fire Service. This proposal would make the FS orphan step-children!

Has anyone heard anything different?

AK Old Timer

P.S. To anyone in the R-5 RO: Please tell Willie we miss her!

Thanks AK Oldtimer. There are huge incentives right now to retire. R5 hasn't seen the baby boomer bubble pop yet, and I don't know about other regions, but this could be the year... Ab.

12/13Dear Tahoe Terrie:

I've started & stopped this response several times as I've tried to articulate the reason why the 0081 series would not be a good fit for wildland firefighters.

Perhaps some look to the 0081 series because the employees are recognized as "firefighters." That alone is not reason enough to try and fit round pegs into square holes...Only an analogy folks!!!

As a former 0081 firefighter for over 20 years, I can tell you that they are under constant attack by their largest employer the Department of Defense. Fighting DoD was, and likely still is a daily battle with a mega-bureaucracy which has never been able to accomplish proper fiscal management.

In many ways it is similar to our battle with the Forest Service over its management of their fire program. There are other agencies that employ 0081 firefighters namely the Coast Guard, the VA and the NIH.

Currently most 0081 firefighters are contractually represented by either the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) or the American Federation of Federal Employees (AFGE) while most wildland firefighters are contractually represented by the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE). The union issue itself would be convoluted at best.

However the designation of "firefighter" notwithstanding, the standards and PDs of 0081 firefighters and wildland firefighters are like apples and oranges and I don't think could be commingled in a practical manner.

Perhaps the fundamental issue is that federal wildland firefighters need & deserve a separate & distinct series. If the land management agencies embrace the classification issue, they should not continue down the crooked path of the 401 and try and "fit" wildland firefighters into an already existing series. As we have seen with the 401 it does nothing but create an absolute calamity.

For cryin' out loud how difficult would it be to simply change the terms "Range Technician" and "Forestry Technician" to "wildland firefighter" followed by the specific position i.e. firefighter, engineer, captain, B/C etc.

It is clear that many PDs out there differ from one another. For example on one forest a PD may refer to a Forestry Technician (senior firefighter) while other Forests may have PDs that refer to fire only as "20% other duties as assigned." It is an absolute mess.

So...get rid of the 401 and the requirement to become an "ologist" in order to ascend to the position of FMO. Change the current titles of Forestry Technician, Range Technician etc to Wildland Firefighter (firefighter) all the way to Wildland Firefighter (Fire Chief.) If firefighters want to voluntarily become "ologists" then that's great but you shouldn't have to become a botanist after 20+ years on the fire line, the last five of which being a chief officer, simply to become a fire chief.

The changes are so simple it is aggravating and frustrating that the Agency has stood so silently by while this issue has raged for decades. The Congressional Budget Office, in "scoring" the Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act last year stated there was no fiscal impact to the budget.

Finally the Agency, if it is willing to hear the voices of their firefighters on this issue need to tell [emphasis added] OPM what is needed, not ask OPM what is needed. The Agency needs to define to OPM what they want. Then, if OPM plays stupid (an oxymoronic comment I presume) Congress can legislate the changes ensuring that there is no impact to hazard pay and create a series developed & supported by federal wildland firefighters.

Respectfully,

Casey
12/13ADs

Hi:

Where can I find latest information on the AD hires. There was a lot
happening there for awhile, then nothing. Thanks for your help.

M48

12/13Agent 86, Alias reporting in, speaking into boutonnire:

The retention meeting runs through tomorrow.

By the end, the group expects to have a fat package of recommendations to make. That will go first to the RO for review. It's thought the RO will support whatever the group recommends and pass it on up to Tom Harbour (FAM Chief) and Abigail Kimbell (FS Chief) who will forward it on to Mark Rey.

Those at the retention meeting are playing it a little close to the vest at Ed's request. None the less, we've heard they're asking for the whole taco. They recognize we've probably lost those firefighters who are interviewing with CalFire, but they're looking to make a difference and retain the rest.

There are at least three working groups; some of their members include, <static> well, I'll get those to you in the morning:

  1. Streamlining cumbersome bureaucratic processes
  2. Pay
  3. Classification

Jody Noiron (Supervisor on the Angeles) and Kathy Hardy (Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Stanislaus) are tag teaming so a line officer is always present, making it hard to talk into my shoe or boutonnire. Jim Pena, Deputy Regional Forester, stopped by yesterday in hot pursuit for 1/2 hr on his way to the Tahoe to make sure everyone had what they needed.

All indications are that this is an excellent firefighter group really working ALL the options. I think they took to heart and it's also in their nature to listen to the following suggestions from the ground:

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." Peter F. Drucker

"May the decision makers in the meeting have the courage to stand up for what's right and not accept anyone saying; 'It can't be done' or 'We can't afford that' unless they can back it up with good staff work."

Alias.

12/13Agent 86.

Overheard at the retention meeting:
Max: Dont tell me we're losing people to other agencies.
99: We're losing people to other agencies
Max: I asked you not to tell me that

And this...
KAOS: We've got you now Smart, you weren't invited
Max: You think you've got me, but I have you surrounded by all of the regions hotshots
KAOS: I dont believe you
Max: Would you believe the Roadrunners?
KAOS: No
Max: How about an apprentice on a donkey?

and this...
Chief: You realize our people face untold dangers but should be happy with travel and sunsets?
Max: and loving it!

Max talking into his shoe phone: "The old retention meeting to get people to stay at Control trick... that's the second time I've fallen for that this month".

A little sardonic humor for you, Sorry about that Chief (or Apprentice as the case may be),
Agent 13

I also thought of the ancient Maxwell Smart tv series with Agent 86's post... Ab.

12/13This is a young man's/ woman's game ????

Why you little whippersnapper if I see you on a fire I'm liable to run over you with my Little Rascal Scooter or whop you up alongside of the head with my walking cane... oops not PC...I mean if I see you on a fire I will be there to look over your shoulder and provide for your safety as you leap tall mountains and broad axe a fire line through the conifer forests of the Pacific Northwest. You may have to speak louder due to my hearing loss and contend with my less than perfect vision but god willing you will learn what you need to know by the time you hit 50.

Oliver
12/13Ab, Casey, Lobotomy, former 0081 firefighters, anyone who knows,

Has anyone talked about the pros and cons of using the Series 0081
for wildland firefighters? It's used by Pendleton firefighters. I remember
some discussion on theysaid years ago. Maybe I'll have to do a search.

Does hazard pay "go away" if that series is used?

Tahoe Terrie

12/13Retention Meeting........

Kind of quiet with the "cone of silence" hovering over WFTC.
Is no news good news? Anyone have any information?

Agent 86

12/13Ab, did this get to the website?

Burnover in SoCal. Orange County Engine Crew on the Santiago Fire during the '07 firestorm.

www.latimes.com/la-burnover-f,0,732907.flash?coll=la-home-center

JS

JS, it did get posted as soon as it came out. Sometimes what this community finds and how quickly they find it amazes me. Many were still in socal fighting fire so I'm posting the link again. Here's the hotlist blow-by-blow leading up to the burnover. At first there was a single pic posted by an AZ newspaper for only several hours. Then the photo was circulating behind the scenes in emails without any info as to where it occurred. I had written down the LA Times photographer's name -- Karen Tapia Anderson -- and provided it to those writing in and seeking info. I'm glad the Karen and the LA Times coordinated all the photos and put the communications with it. I hope someone tries to get approval for it to be used in wildland fire training. Ab.

12/13Just got a call from one of the Hotlist Mods, RJM. He called Sea World, San Diego and asked about the "Special Tribute" for firefighters, dispatchers, etc. He says the special goes until Jan 31, 2008. I don't remember the details. Don't think they were posted here. Might be a good holiday event for the family. Ab.
12/13Ab - I would like to pass on a retirement notice for Anne Adams, aka Sandborg,

The VOICE of the SEQUOIA -

I have enclosed a copy of the flyer and would like it if you could/would pass this
on to the the fire world. I would like to remain anonymous.

Thanks so much

Her retirement party needs a RSVP by Jan 2 to Jonel Wagoner. If anyone wants the flyer, email me and I'll forward it. Ab

12/13VFD Cap'n,

Hilarious... the maximum entry age (MEA) for Air Traffic Control (ATC) Specialists and Technicians is 30 years old. The mandatory retirement age for the ATC series is 56 years old, with some limited exceptions. (www.faa.gov) When specific conditions are met, the retirement age can be boosted to 61 years old on very rare occasions.

The ATC series also allows for retirement at any age with 20 years of service, much like the military.

The mandatory retirement age of commercial pilots is now set at 65 years old.

Many of the ATC folks who filled the ranks of the FAA after striking FAA ATC employees were fired came from the military.

As posted years ago on They Said (in the archives), the roots of MEA and mandatory retirement came initially from the Federal Bureau of Investigation days as they became more "professionalized" by education rather than experience...... The kids were trying to get rid of folks like J. Edgar Hoover and others who had grown old and not willing to change with the mission.

It had some big problems that remain to this day.... The "kids" didn't respect those who had already walked in their shoes and learned many lessons, and the "elders" didn't respect the "kids" for presenting their lessons to management on how the mission was changing.

The Hotshot motto of Duty, Respect, and Integrity gets right to the root of the problem in the federal government.

Whether old or young, each person has a voice and ideas. Whether folks choose to communicate, listen, or act, it's their decision based upon how they have been treated in the past and how they were raised.

Gizmo
12/13Ken Perry, aka Desert Runner Dude, has made a video of the race he ran through the
Sahara and posted it on Youtube. You can see his amazing adventure at this link:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTnezAx5cGs

He did a really great job and it is well worth watching - fabulous scenery and you really
get the feel of what he accomplished. Thank you Ken for all you do for our fire families!!

Lori

It is pretty fine. 7 1/2 min and worth it. Thanks Ken, for the great work and following through with the video! I added the you-tube link to Ken's '07 Sahara run page. Ab.

12/13Ab -

I thought your web-viewers would like to be aware of this information.

I'm on the Board of the Associated Airtanker Pilots, an organization made up of the guys who fly the firebombers against wildfires, which is why I'm emailing you.

You may be aware of the Federal Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) program which pays a one-time lump sum benefit to the widows and/or families of firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty. What many people don't realize is there is an inadvertent loophole in the PSOB program that doesn't allow death benefits to be paid for career airtanker pilots who die in the line of duty. This, in spite of the fact that both federal and state pilots fly in extremely dangerous conditions many days of every fire season. The air is very turbulent, often sprinkled with airborne debris; smoke shrouds hilly terrain and masks tall obstacles such as trees and power lines; and they fly at slow speeds only 150feet above the ground, while dropping from 1,200 to 12,000 gallons of retardant and still maintaining control of the aircraft, etc.

AAP has been working since 2001 to rectify this DoJ-related situation. Just a few weeks ago, one of the widow's appeals (Christine Groff) was submitted to the US Supreme Court although they haven't decided yet if they'll rule on it or not (seems like Guantanamo and other "minor" issues carry more importance right now - go figure !).

However, we've also pursued legislative avenues to amend the PSOB act retroactively. This past week, Rep Cubin (WY) and Senator Feinstein (CA) among others, submitted bills into their respective houses to amend the act to include aerial firefighters.

We are getting excellent media traction in parts of California. Several Bay Area papers and the LA Times have carried major articles recently:

www.dailynews.com
www.mercurynews.com (requires a sign in)

However, we need folks throughout the country that are prone to wildfires (or involved with aerial firefighting operations) to be aware of this issue and call, write or email their congresspeople to request their support for this legislation ! It will only take 2 minutes out of their day to express their opinion via their congressperson's online website - yet that simple act may save their lives, livestock, homes, and even towns when the next firestorm heads their way.

It would help us greatly if you would pass this information along to your viewers and see if they'll follow up on this opportunity to help their aerial firefighters. Getting more Senators or Congresspeople to co-sponsor this bill would be a major step forward.

Thanks for your help !!

Bob Fish
Board of Directors
Associated Airtanker Pilots
www.airtanker.com
12/13Sting,

The ability to hire at the GS 5 level in Region 5 still exists under Demonstration
Project Authorities that were delegated to the agencies.

The "Region" just chose to ignore this other important tool while focusing on
the apprenticeship program.

Lobotomy
12/12From Ray Quintanar:

This went out to the CalChiefs. Ray is on the board of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. He knows how they help regardless of the firefighter's Agency. He says:

Please distribute to as many of your friends as possible who may be able to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF). In order to continue to support and help the Fire Community as it has, it now needs your support. Thank you ..Q

Here's the link to the WFF letter that went out. Please send it to your friends. The Foundation has helped CalFire firefighters this year as well as fed and other. I hope the CalFire community will also support the Foundation with donations to the WFF 52 Club or to the WFF General Fund. The Foundation is the safety net for all of us.

http://calchiefs.org/items/WildlandFirefighterFoundation.doc

Ab.

Here are some CalFire families the Foundation has helped recently:

- Matthew Will, Cal Fire Dozer Operator: Financial assistance was given to his wife, Diana, and their children. And, a statue was sent for presentation at Matt's memorial ceremony.

- Chris Johnson, Cal Fire Firefighter: Financial assistance was given to his wife, Rebecca, and their child. A statue was sent for presentation at Chris's memorial ceremony.

- Craig Brown, Cal Fire Dozer Operator: Financial assistance was sent to Craig's daughters to help cover costs while traveling to see their dad in the burn center.

- Zaca Fire injuries (hotel costs were covered for crew members as well as some family)

12/12BG,

No worries.. Ab said it best.. Sometimes it is hard to read a person with no body language and tone to discern. I read you as coming across as an elitist that thought Cal Fire was better than the other state and Federal entities that are around it. I'm not one to get angry I just say what I believe and stand up for my values.

DB,

There is a lot of other stuff about Cal Fire that I like. I look at a lot of things when making a decision and yes money and work schedules are in the mix. Those are not the only things on the list. A Union that fights for you. Cal Fire's history and upbringing are good ones as well. The chance to give my volunteer department more time and help with more training. See my wife a bit more. Work in a different and sometimes more dynamic environment. I can definitely stay entertained working for Cal Fire and I definitely can understand your resistance to the Open list "I want the Money and work schedule only" People are out there. Unfortunately, my old roommate is one. He left the fed as a temp to be a temp there and now works permanent. My only distaste for the guy is he didn't honor the history or culture of firefighting. He had a job in the South making loads and quit. And once he got to the woods it was all he could focus on that he was making 50K less than in the city. HELLO! That is what happens when you move to the woods in California.. Cost of living goes up and amount you're paid goes down drastically. :) It doesn't say NASA on the side of anything That either agency owns..:)

Bags packed

12/12Dear vfd Capn:

We finally agree on something.

Recently Senator Collins from Maine introduced legislation that would allow rehired annuitants to not lose any portion of their annuity if they were "re-hired" at the same position from whence they retired. The question I posed to their staff which resulted in the typical "I dunno" was:

If the government is willing to rehire someone after they have achieved their maximum age, say in the case of a federal firefighter 57 and allow them to perform the same job, why then is there a maximum age?

A couple of weeks ago in San Diego I had the opportunity to speak to one of our longtime supporters, Congressman Elton Gallegly of California. He was the one who orchestrated the vote on increasing the age from 55 to 57 a few years back as the first order of congressional action in the 107th congress I believe.

I asked him the very same question to which he suggested he and I fix the problem. So we are in the process of doing some research to change the law to allow any "able-bodied" employee to continue to work. Obviously meeting certain physical/medical requirements would be necessary in the firefighting field.

Hopefully after the first of the year we will come up with some language which I hope to add to our current legislative package which is belated but almost done.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
12/12vfd capt'n,

Concerning your post:

There is nothing "archaic" about requiring that folks enter local, state, or federal law enforcement or fire fighting before the age of 37. Nobody is being "penalized." This is a young man's/ woman's game whether we like to admit it or not. I and many many many others are really looking forward to retiring before 60 or 65 like airline pilots. I will be out before 50. This is the only incentive to stay with the feds right now, this is a good thing. There are already way too many folks staying in operational positions that their bodies can't handle and crew production and/ or safety is reduced. This is not what the tax payers are paying us for and this is not what the kids sign up for. Guys and gals digging line is still the backbone of what we do and we need to be able to keep up with them. There are exceptions, and I know there will be a lot of replies from that group of over 60 that are just monsters and run circles around the the young guns. But these animals are very few and far between and I'm very proud to know a few. There are secondary fire positions that have no age restriction that skilled and knowledgeable folks can attain their fire fix and contribute to the cause. I know you often post on what the USFS should or should not do and about its policies, but I garner by your moniker that you are not an employee......Think of the reverse, what if I started posting about your department's policies and advocating for their change and who should or shouldn't be hired when I know nothing about what goes on in your station? Just a thought.

To those that are quite content inside and out of R5 with your current pay I'm quite jealous. But here's the good thing: If we (R5ers) succeed in gaining better pay it will eventually be beneficial for everyone. I know California has a bad rep in the other regions but most things for good or bad trickle out of this region. If you don't want more pay, there are some mighty fine and needy charities to donate your extra cash to. I've listed them below....tis the season.

<snipped by scrooge>
ncalsupt

12/12Former R-5er,

Are you able to go work at a station if you wanted to work some overtime or transfer out?

BG

12/12To answer the question, what training the open list folks get after they are hired?

Here is the process that I went through so far coming off the open list;

1. Camp orientation, spent 2 week's straight reading camp SOP's
2. Complete a 3 page Camp Captain's check off sheet, took me 5 months to complete
3. Attended the 2 week Camp Captain's Admin. and Operational class
4. Attended the 6 week COA Academy
5. CAL Card training
6. Pass a 3 mile hike and lead your crew as they complete a 10ft cut 8ft scrap 300ft long. I Don't remember the times.

After that I was assigned a crew. Please note that this process is for the camp that I am at. My buddies at other camps completed 2, 3, and 6 of the list that I provided and they were assigned to a crew their first or second week. If my brothers from R-4, R-5, and the NPS who came in to CAL FIRE the same time I did have anything to add, I hope they write in. One other note, like BG has stated it's not just folks from the FEDS that are on the open list, you have folks from small municipal departments that were Captains taking and getting hired off the open list also.

I think what has surprised me the most, I have that feeling I had when I first came into the FS. Freedom to make mistakes (not life threatening), unity, tradition, respect, and having fun when I'm working. I have been blessed to work at a good camp, meet some good hearted folks, and work with some great people that don't think twice on helping me out.

I hope this helps out and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year........

Former R-5er

Thanks for sharing, Former r-5er. Ab.

12/12To Mg:

You might look at the Promontory Fire. Although some of the more intense fire
behavior might have been from burnouts, you MIGHT find what you are looking
for.

AZfirefighter
12/12To Mg
I saw your post that you are looking for a crown fire within 2 or 3
hrs. from Phonenix. Try the Birdie fire on the Coconino National Forest,
South of Flagstaff / Morman Lake Dist.. This incident was in mid July 2007
and made several crown fire runs in timber. If interested contact the
Coconino NF.

name withheld
12/12I do not think so many people should be up in arms about the Open Captains list on both sides of the fence.

I think within CAL Fire union people and Upper to Mid management should strive to make their candidates more viable in the new competitive market. CAL Fire personnel are still able to take advantage of TAU positions and LT positions that make them highly competitive. Education is key. The Feds pump huge amounts of training and classes into young firefighters. Up until recently not much has been done at the FF I level; and FF II 's and Engineers are largely restricted to JAC classes unless they are willing to pay out of pocket, many of whom do. The end result is Fed Engineers and AFEOs with more classes than many CAL Fire Engineers.

This represents an issue for two agencies. The Feds lament the time, money and next generation of firefighters leaving in droves in this exodus. Some CAL Fire people I have talked to are frustrated at the situation for not being as able to readily promote in the agency they dedicated themselves to. I do not pretend to understand everything or all the reasons for some of this discontent, I do understand that this is a problem or, at the very least, a hot button issue with two agencies.

I left the Feds for a FF I job, hoping next go round for a FF II job. Most of my friends who came over this year with me agree it is time for a change in the Feds. CAL Fire people have been very kind and receptive to me and others I have spoken to. I would urge patience to all people in these issues. I do not pretend to understand the decisions my friends made to leave the feds; mine were the money, benefits, being called a firefighter not forestry tech, and I just wanted to expand to municipal firefighting skills that I was not allowed to train on -- due to national directives -- but was expected to perform on the job (vehicle fires, traffic accidents, structure fires, medical aids).

We all put whatever color pants we wear on one leg at a time; we all make our own decisions, and none of us is individually responsible for the issues in our agency; we should all work together to address and amend them, not yell at each other for our individual frustrations.

Happy at CAL Fire

I don't hear any yelling.... Ab.

12/12I'll lend some support for Sting's comment about the GS-5 hiring. I'm working as a seasonal GS-5, and while I'm close to having the time-in-grade to rate out as a GS-6 (depending on how HR rates some of my winter non-fed work I might rate out that high), I don't have the ICT4 and single resource boss quals that people are looking for in a GS-6 candidate.

I'd love to come down and work in R5, just to see how you folks do things and gain some perspective, but I can't seem to do it as a GS-5. I don't really want to take a seasonal GS-4 spot, and I've done the mental calculus and decided that I'm not willing to be a GS-4 apprentice for 2-3 seasons just to get back to a GS-5 level, even if it is a permanent spot.

So, that means that I'm not likely to get down to R5 until I get the needed experience and quals to be a good, competitive candidate for the GS-6 positions, and that's probably 1-2 years away. That being said, if any of the helitack crews down there are hiring seasonal (1039) GS-5's, I'd be willing to give it a try. :)

Cheers all,

Young and Dumb in R1
12/12Ab,

On the subject of fixing archaic federal employment practices, wildland fire
should steal a page from aviation and push back the mandatory retirement age.
The House just passed a measure to change the retirement age of commercial
pilots from 60 to 65.

There are a lot of good candidates with the willingness and KSA's to do the
job, but they are penalized with the maximum entry age of 37.

vfd cap'n
12/12While I would guess the price will be a bit beyond what most of us can afford,
here is a link to the E-Bay sale of two of Steve Miller's custom made guitars.
Sale to benefit the WFF.

http://stores.ebay.com/Castle-Rock-Fire-Guitars

SWID

We should tell our rich friends? Ab.

12/12Some responses:

Former Green Soldier said "Are you worried about not getting a promotion, or that a Forest Service person may get it?? If CDF has a fair and equitable hiring system, don't you think the the most qualified/prepared candidates for the positions will get them? There are many great fire stations now-a-days that deal with complex, multi-agency, all risk incidents on a daily basis. Please don't mix union and management points of view. Sounds like you're trying scare away the competition. That's ok, my dept loves to hire from the green team. Although we have been blue a lot longer than you, we have quite a few people who still bleed green."

As I stated earlier... posting the Union response to the open list was to provide some background on the issue. The views expressed were the Union's taken verbatim from the website. No mixing of views on my part. And to answer your question, I am not worried about not getting a promotion. Just curious as to the direction of our Department.

Ab said "Readers, the variety of views expressed on theysaid educates all of us. Thanks to everyone who writes in. Let me remind all of you that anonymity plus lack of body language and other communication cues and lack of status symbols like collar brass or lack thereof can make communication more difficult, but often more interesting. Let's try to learn as much as we can from each other. Carry on. Ab."

Ab, as somebody said already, thanks for this forum and all the work you do to bring to all of us.

BG

You're welcome. We do like to be appreciated time to time. HAW HAW, buy a calendar! Ab.

12/12Lobotomy,

Unless something has changed recently, the FS in R5 has no ability to hire any GS-05 under demo authority. Any position with a GS-05 grade has been excluded. Example being a GS-05/06 AFEO or Squadboss. These GS-05's are reserved for converting apprentices into Senior Firefighter positions, even though the 05/06 would be into an advanced position a level above Senior Firefighter.

On my district, this GS-05/06 grade represents our highest vacancy rate and our core workforce. What this does is exclude currently qualified people from getting hired UNLESS they are converting apprentices. In fact, it delays the filling of these 05/06 positions until 05's get time in grade to apply for a 06. Apprentice Committee lobbying?

At the current apprentice attrition rate, we could afford to hire these positions at the demo 05/06 and still not impact the converting apprentices' ability to promote.

This is an issue as all other higher grades have multi-grade (demo and merit) hiring authority. To me it is an easy fix, make it fair across the board and open the 05/06 positions up to demo. Do it for the people who can already do these jobs, but for some reason, do not want to go through the apprentice program. It really is about people, but politics are preventing it. This is a recruitment and retention issue and has been brought up to the Board of Directors but to no avail, yet.

Regards,

sting

12/12to: db

I think a lot of the USFS fire personnel who are interested in CALFIRE are
not only interested in the pay and benefits, but are also interested in
working for a fire service agency that identifies its own as Firefighters
and treats them with the dignity and respect they deserve. The FS has
fallen far short in this regard. I've worked for both agencies and each has
some very excellent fire personnel. But CALFIRE has some things the FS is
currently severely lacking in: vision, mission, and leadership. There are
many fine fire management personnel in the FS who have these virtues and
are working hard to improve fire management programs, but I think the FS
agency as a whole, and the non-fire managers that have control of the
agency, have a very large disconnect and misunderstanding of the field
going on-the-ground firefighter and wildland fire management in general.
The support just isn't there. Naturally, people want to improve themselves
and provide for the well being of themselves and their families, hence the
interest in CALFIRE and other professional fire service agencies.

Battle on,
KJoseph
12/12Trying to locate any area within two-three hours of Phoenix that had a
crown fire run though it this year, preferably something above the 5000
foot range. I am looking for an area that just has tree trunks left after
the fire.

Thanks

Mg
12/12For all those that love the National Parks...
a Christmas greeting from the White House.

www.yahoo.com/s/758317

Happy Holidays!

Swiftfire
12/12Bags Packed,

You seemed to have taken my comments out of context. If you read my earlier post I simply stated that not all FS employees who work currently have any interest in working for CalFire. Just like your self with great qualifications that go beyond your job description, you have decided to stay with something you like. Thats great!

You also seem to have confused my dislike of the open testing with something against the FS. There were more people then just FS who took these interviews. While I will be the first to admit that I don't understand the culture and not the biggest fan of how it operates in California, I have nothing against the people on the ground. I look forward to the day when you guys get what is due to you. It will make life better for all of us.

When it is all said and done The "Open List" will have been a small foot note in both our organizations. CalFire has its own issues that need to be addressed as well.

BG

12/12BG,

Are you worried about not getting a promotion, or that a Forest Service
person may get it?? If CDF has a fair and equitable hiring system, don't
you think the the most qualified/prepared candidates for the positions will
get them? There are many great fire stations now-a-days that deal with
complex, multi-agency, all risk incidents on a daily basis. Please don't
mix union and management points of view. Sounds like you're trying
scare away the competition. That's ok, my dept loves to hire from the
green team. Although we have been blue a lot longer than you, we have
quite a few people who still bleed green.

Former Green Soldier

Readers, the variety of views expressed on theysaid educates all of us. Thanks to everyone who writes in. Let me remind all of you that anonymity plus lack of body language and other communication cues and lack of status symbols like collar brass or lack thereof can make communication more difficult, but often more interesting. Let's try to learn as much as we can from each other. Carry on. Ab.

12/12I was at Sea World today (on 11/26) and the ticket agent asked if I could
spread the word that the Firefighters' Tribute is being extended to dispatchers
and all support personnel.

If you could pass this on.

Thanks,

Mad River HC

This message just dropped out of the server. Hope it's not too late. Ab.

12/12Former Green Soldier;

Yes, I do live and work where there is "urban
interface" but we also have Forest Service Land, BLM
land and State Forestry land all around us. We do
assist the County and City fire departments if the
fire has potential to become a wildland fire - no we
do not do structure protection and are not trained to.
We leave that to our fellow brethren who are trained
as structural firefighters.

I don't know why people have so much trouble making
it on the pay of federal employees - and, why you
think just reclassifying your position is going to
make any difference to your pay. GS levels all make
the same amount no matter what the classification,
only thing that changes is pay for step increase, OT,
hazard pay, etc.

In my case, we are a 2 income household - one federal
employee and one private industry (mechanic). We have
2 children in high school, own our own home, own 2
cars, a boat and make it just fine on the combination
of our 2 incomes. Plus we live in a "resort community"
where rent is about $1200/mo + for 3 bdrm home,
$300,000 and up for houses. (I am just a forestry
tech - not mid or upper management.) We have plenty of
time to enjoy the outdoors and even take a vacation at
least once a year. Yes I am busy during the summers
and am often gone a lot on fires around the country,
but we manage just fine and it's just a part of my
job. (**Incidentally, I work in R6 which you have
stated is a high income, "hard to make it" area.)

I lived in southern California for several years,
and yes CDF pays more, but the cost of living is so
much higher that you basically end up financially in
the same boat as you were before.

It all depends on what you believe and what you are
looking for in a career. For those who want to head
for greener pastures of CalFire, more power to you and
I wish you nothing but the best. It's just not my cup
of tea, and hopefully many others feel the same. But
for those who do choose to go - please do not
disrespect those of us who choose to stay and those of
us who are happy with our career, our employer and our
lifestyle.

...Staying Green until retirement
12/11Hi Ab,

You do a great job with your board. I have been
watching the posts for some time regarding the issues
with the Fed agencies and fed personnel wanting to
come over to CAL FIRE to improve their personal and
financial situation.

I have been with CAL FIRE for 37 years. When I started
I had friends that worked for the USFS that made a
great deal more money than I, but I hung in there, got
involved in the CDF Firefighters Union and watched as
conditions slowly improved. In fact, I never ever
considered working for another agency and always felt
it wasn't about the money, it was about what I loved
doing.

I continue to have good friends that work for the USFS
who I admire and respect. The problem I have is that
some of the folks that want to come over to CAL FIRE
want to do so, it seems, only for the pay and
benefits. While that may be a lofty goal in the short
term, I believe that those that are doing so for that
reason alone should reconsider.

If you like the organization you work for, its
philosophies, and its way of doing business then you
should stay and effect change in your
organization. To force positive changes in your
organization by being involved in your employees'
association.

Like it or not, my agency is a different organization
than the Federal agencies are. We do business
differently than the Federal agencies do. Notice I
didn't say better, just different. The federal
agencies manage fire on their "property". The State
and Local government agencies do not manage lands that
belong to them. They respond to incidents on lands
that belong to others.

The discussions concerning coming over to CAL FIRE
that are taking place on this board seem to be wholly
about making more money and seeking more benefits, and
not about joining an organization that has a different
mindset and philosophy that people want to be a part
of. I have a problem with that.

db

Good point. So you'd like to see those applying be attracted to and embrace the CalFire Mission and Vision before they have a thought about money. Ab.

12/11"BG",

You might want to check out the items below C-6, D-6, and D-10. Maybe think about what you are throwing around. Also you are right, I have some pretty good experience with wildland fire. I also have been volunteering with locals for longer. I'm a Haz mat Spec, Rescue diver, EMT-1, High-Low angle, Swift water ops, an array of other Structure quals. You see, I love helping people and fighting fire. And I love learning about it and being hands on with everything about it. An the best part is, I treat the firefighters around me --whether I am in a red truck or green-- the same. Like my family. I don't care what the patch on the shoulder says. Maybe if you laid down your discrimination and point of view for a minute and started talking to the guy across the table maybe you would learn something new. I'm sure they would love to learn something new from you as well, because as we know none of us ever stop learning. Apply for a Captain's job with the FED. We'd be happy to have you and your expertise. Experienced hands are always welcome. Plenty of openings. Especially after we have another 67% pass rate. And just an FYI This is already my position description below. Really the biggest thing missing here is "And other duties as assigned".

Scope:
A. Knowledge of:
   1. Fire protection and prevention methods, equipment, and terminology.
   2. Principles of effective supervision and training and directing a crew in fire protection, other
       emergency, and conservation work.
B. Ability to:
   1. Communicate effectively at a level required for successful job performance.
   2. Supervise a fire suppression crew.
   3. Maintain cooperative relationships with those contacted in all work.
   4. Analyze situations accurately and adopt an effective course of action.
C. Knowledge of:
   1. Types, causes, character, and behavior of fires.
   2. Fire protection and prevention methods, equipment, and terminology.
   3. The department's incident command system
   4. Methods for responding to hazardous materials and other emergency incidents.
   5. Principles of effective supervision and training and directing a crew in fire protection, other
       emergency, and conservation work.
   6. A supervisor's responsibility for promoting equal opportunity in hiring and employee
       development and promotion and for maintaining a work environment that is free of
       discrimination and harassment.
D. Ability to:
   1. Communicate effectively at a level required for successful job performance.
   2. Locate and determine origin and fire cause.
   3. Train, advise, instruct, and direct a crew of personnel in fire suppression and general
       maintenance work.
   4. Read maps.
   5. Supervise a fire suppression crew.
   6. Maintain cooperative relationships with those contacted in all work.
   7. Analyze situations accurately and adopt an effective course of action.
   8. Meet and inform the public.
   9. Follow oral and written directions.
   10. Effectively promote equal opportunity in employment and maintain a work environment
       that is free of discrimination and harassment.

Welcoming you with Duty, Respect, Integrity, and Open arms,
Bags Packed
12/11Re: False Advertising?

Forest Service is the current Featured Employer on the OPM's USAJobs website.

Working for the Great Outdoors! The Forest Service mission is captured by the phrase "Caring for the Land and Serving People." For more information about working for the Forest Service, visit our website at www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs/about.phpl

The 30,000 people of the Forest Service work in the most scenic and inspiring forests and grasslands our nation has to offer, as well as in offices and research laboratories nationwide. The American people own the National Forests and we are their managers, performing valuable work today that will be appreciated by generations to come.

There's so much you can do in a Forest Service career! Our extraordinary diversity of occupations and locations make it easy to find a position to suit your talents.

  • Plan intelligent utilization of forest resources
  • Perform research that benefits natural resources
  • Protect the place of wildlife and fisheries in the ecosystem
  • Manage rangeland and watersheds
  • Conduct environmental impact studies
  • Manage wildfire prevention and suppression
  • Provide a safe and clean place for people to recreate
  • Use your public affairs skills for community involvement
  • Support our technical and financial efforts
  • And so much more

Hundreds of occupations, from firefighters to engineers to biologists. Hundreds of locations. The Forest Service offers challenging, worthwhile careers, all with excellent benefits. For more information, visit our website: www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs Equal Opportunity Employer.

noname

12/11BG,

You said, "Maybe the Forest Service should have an open Captains' list as well."

It does and has for years.

The "open list" for Forest Service positions in R-5 is known as "demo hire" authority. All permanent fire jobs from GS-3 (Entry Level Firefighter) through GS-13 (Forest Fire Chief) are flown both internal (merit) and external (demo) to bring the greatest diversity of employees, experience, and training to the workforce. The only exceptions are SCEP (Apprentice) and temporary appointments, in which there is no merit promotion opportunity and are open to all to apply.

The Forest Service "Captains List" and numerous other jobs are advertised on continuous application periods at UsaJobs.

Lobotomy
12/11

Ab said "BG, So is the point of this is what??? To warn people off from trying to get hired by CalFire, to warn those who are being hired they will be considered second class firefighters and not expect to be counted one of the "in crowd", to encourage people who somehow unworthily get hired to "stay in their place", something else? I guess I don't understand your purpose?"

Actually Ab, the reason I sent in the Union response is to show that the Open List has been an issue for quite some time (1982). Long before I was ever involved in CDF. Bags Packed seemed to think that I was speaking for other people when in fact our Union had spoken long before I had said anything regarding this issue. For along time in CDF the way you become a Captain is to get hired as a FFI or FFII, then apply for the Engineers position and then promote to Captain. That is the way Fire Departments promote people. It insures the people who lead and are responsible for peoples lives are truly qualified and capable.

I would never expect anybody hired by us to be treated anything less then professional. The one thing you won't have to worry about is being treated like a second class citizen by anyone. Not by other FF's, Engineers or Captains. Not evan management. We are recognized as FF's and it is recognized in our titles, pay, benefits, our retirement and our working conditions. I understand why people want to work for us. It is the same reason I work for CalFire and have no desire to work for anybody else. I believe this to be true for allot of FS personnel as well. They are completely happy and content with the job they are doing. They have no desire to work else where and they are great employees. Nothing wrong with that. That was my point in my earlier post.

Ab Said "If I was to instruct new open list hires to the FS or BLM what they might need to know to begin understanding the culture of the Agency they're going to be working for, I'd send them HERE and suggest they study up and let's talk. Anything like that you could suggest to our fine experienced people who might be coming to join your agency? Ab."

You pose a valid question. I don't know what is being taught to new hires who are coming from another agency. Are these Captains being expected to attend our Academy and complete JAC? What are we doing to make sure these people succeed? Your reference to the Wildland Fire Leadership Values and Principles is a great one. The only difference would be to rename it Fire Service Leadership Values and Principles to reflect our mission statement.

The one thing that I will say, that until the FS (USDA) treats and recognizes its employees for what they are, this is going to be problem until it is handled. I know by reading this forum that there are allot of people who are unhappy with the way things are. Hopefully something good will come from that.

BG

12/11Re: Cal Fire captains/open captains list interviews. There was a 33% failure
rate. Not specific as to breakdown of agency, panel, location, etc. Only
that 67% passed.

To "Staying green all the way to retirement..." You haven't seen much of
California. There is still some big country that gets truly dark at night.

High Lonesome
12/11Ab, Here is the background on the Open Captains List. From CDF's Union Website.
BG

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

Open List for Fire Captains

In the past CDF Firefighters has called for a general IAFF and CPF boycott of the open captains list. It was intended to keep non-CDF/ CAL FIRE individuals from reaching an open list for fire captains, limiting these appointments for our members who qualify through the established promotional process.

Laughably, if you’re inclined to find humor in unintended consequences, the boycott request precipitated even greater national attention and there was an increase in the applications submitted for the open fire captains test. Obviously, this is more than enough reason not do that again.

History

The open fire captains list was a result of an agreement reached with then Chief Deputy Director Woody Allshouse representing CDF and the CDF Firefighters Executive Board of Directors. The agreement was also approved by the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) and the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). The agreement included the end to split classes, which included battalion chiefs, assistant chiefs and Foresters II.

Specifically, the agreement moved all battalion chiefs to rank & file and moved all Assistant Chiefs/Foresters II to supervisory classifications. At the time, a high priority out of many past conventions was to achieve collective bargaining for supervisors. This agreement achieved that priority for well over 50% of the supervisors and provided 100% MOU protection for all battalion chiefs, not just a handful.

Part of the agreement includes CDF Firefighters not opposing an open pattern for fire captain.

The agreement further provides that CDF will not make appointments from an open list until the fire captain promotional list is fully exhausted and/or every promotional applicant has first been offered and turned down a promotional offer. At the time of this agreement, CDF knew it would not be able to keep pace with projected openings in the fire captain classification and needed the open fire captains list as an option.

Whether you agree or not, after arduous meetings, CDF Firefighters made an agreement with the department, including safeguards to prevent inappropriate use of the open pattern, and we are obligated to keep our word. Opposing the open pattern now breaches the agreement and puts at risk the rank & file status of all battalion chiefs. To date there have been a total of 44 open list fire captain appointments. There are still a large number of vacant positions and both the promotional and open lists have been fully exhausted.

New exams are underway.

While some of you will not like the fact that the open pattern for fire captain exists, I felt you should know why it was done and why we are not currently opposing the process.

On this same subject, CDF Firefighters has been successful in preventing the use of the open exam process for fire captains since 1982. We were successful in negotiating the cessation of the open pattern for the fire captain class as part of a stipulated judgment. That judgment also provided the participation in the JAC Program and ended the use of split lists for hiring. While it wasn’t easy once again to allow the use of the open pattern for fire captains, it was recognized by the union leadership that problems existed in filling fire captain positions resulting in safety and fatigue issues for existing personnel. As long as the safeguards are not violated, this practice is necessary to get us through this difficult period.

BG, So is the point of this is what??? To warn people off from trying to get hired by CalFire, to warn those who are being hired they will be considered second class firefighters and not expect to be counted one of the "in crowd", to encourage people who somehow unworthily get hired to "stay in their place", something else? I guess I don't understand your purpose?

If I was to instruct new "open list" hires to the FS or BLM what they might need to know to begin understanding the culture of the Agency they're going to be working for, I'd send them HERE and suggest they study up and let's talk. Anything like that you could suggest to our fine experienced people who might be coming to join your agency? Ab.

12/11Bags Packed:
Reread what I wrote below. It was Management's decision and our Union's decision to allow the open test. While I only speak for myself I am simply stating the sentiment shared by allot of folks who work for CDF. The fact that CDF dropped the ball when it came to forecasting and dealing with our own shortfalls in staffing is the reason we are at the point we are at.

While it sounds like you have some excellent experience regarding wildland fire fighting, that is but one dimension of what it takes to be a Fire Captain for CDF. Look at the job statement for Captain and see how many other aspects of the job you are required to know. In the past we wouldn't promote (some exceptions) our own people if they didn't have what it took to do the job. It doesn't mean that people can't learn new things, but how do we expect these people to be role models or mentors to those entering into the Fire Service (CalFire) if they are still learning themselves? As a Captain for CDF you have a lot of responsibilities and are supposed to have a large knowledge base for all that we do.

As you stated, you understand the whines about guys "skipping" in from CalTrans, then you understand the issue. Actually, I believe we have a few Dozer operators and mechanics who started with them. Truth be known, there has been an avenue for state employees all along to enter in to CDF.

While I truly look forward to seeing the altruistic fire line you mentioned, I will point out that there is allot to be said for the current atmosphere between the FS and CalFire. Anybody who says differently was not in California this year.

Former Fed:
I wouldn't expect anything less than what you have experienced.

Joatmon:
I don't think FS folks are any less likely to pass or not pass then any of our own people. It is a ranking based on how well people interview. Reading some of the comments on this board, you would think that if somebody (anybody) had an interview they will be hired. It is not the case. My point being, if they don't pass and are not hired, then the FS has not lost an employee. Maybe the Forest Service should have an open Captains' list as well. I am confident there will always be people who feel that they are qualified and would take the job.

I would be curious to know how many people applied for the open Captain's test and how many were rejected prior to interviews.

BG

12/11Hi!

I have been working in wildfire for the last 3 fire seasons as a seasonal dispatcher for the BLM at an interagency dispatch center. This last fire season was very stressful at the center (personnel problems) and it made me think a little more about what I want to do in fire in the future. I'm graduating from college this coming May with a degree in Political Science, so I'm thinking about what I want to do in the future, but I'm planning on working in fire for the next 2 years for sure. However, I've never been asked what my future plans are in fire or what I would like to achieve during the fire season. Plus, I've never been allowed off unit or in the field. And I'm not even sure if I have a redcard and what is even on it. (It's a long story about the redcard!) The one bright thing is that I've been interested in working in wildfire since a young age because my father worked for USFS and fought fire in 1970s and 1980s before getting involved in USFS law enforcement. So he has been some help with dealing fire jobs, but things have change a lot in fire since the late 1980s that he is not that much help now.

So, I'm sorry if my questions seem basic but I really don't have any idea who might be someone to ask. Here are the questions:

1. I would like to go out and fight fire but I'm not sure what I should apply for in the job since I've not been allowed out of dispatch in the last 3 seasons.

2. Since all my fire experience has been in dispatch, can I apply for GS-04 job? My past grades are '05 and '06 seasons as Range Tech. Aid (GG-03) and '07 season as Range Tech (GS-04 STEP).

3. Is it normal for fire dispatch jobs to be advertised as a 2151 series? The dispatch center I've been at the last 3 seasons is advertising its seasonal jobs as a 2151 series job.

4. I would like to do this fire season is dispatch and fight fire in the field, so I can see if I can really do it. How would I go about doing this?

Any help would be great. Since I'm still debating if I want to work at the same dispatch center or go out on an engine. Thanks!

secretsmokejumper

Readers, is there anyone who would like to be this person's Secretfireadvisor?
<tongue firmly in cheek> Secretsmokejumper, psssssst, you need a plane and parachute at least. Engine won't do it... Ab.

12/11Staying Green,

You bring up some excellent points. But let me ask you, "Where you work, do you have an "urban interface"? Unfortunately for many reasons, they are growing and going everywhere. I believe many people are jumping ship not to go fight structure fires or run medical aids. Believe me getting up 5-6 times after midnight is not much fun, but a decision I have made. These people are going because they live in R-5, 6, 3 and others where the cost of living is astronomical. The days of living in the barracks (I did for 8 years) are long gone. People want to own a home, have a family and be able to support them without having to put in 1000 plus hours of OT. I wonder if anyone has looked at the divorce rates and other sociological implications of being gone all summer.

I think if you read these posts, it's clear people would love to stay if the were given some recognition as Federal Wildland Firefighters, worked for a Land Management Fire Dept, and had 21st century pay, benefits, and leadership.

Furthermore, a lot of the non-traditional training, ie; Haz-Mat, S.C.B.A., first-responder was started to take care of our own. Until you put up a wall around every National Forest, people will still come. They will still get hurt, have their cars catch fire, build Meth Labs, build "seasonal" cabins, and get in to trouble. And what about last fall, do you tell the guys and girls that came out here last fall from R-4, 8, 9 and others "you're not invited anymore because your forest does not train or equip you properly???"

Former Green Soldier

12/11Bags Packed and Readers:

The R5 meeting on retention began yesterday afternoon and continues today and tomorrow.

Yesterday was about identifying and characterizing the problems, basically getting people introduced and on the same page regarding, for example, cost of living, that a GS-6 FS firefighter makes more money on unemployment after being laid off than working, that kind of thing.

Ab personally thinks this group -- those who were in attendance -- is an excellent knowledgeable group. Ed chaired the meeting.

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." Peter F. Drucker

"May the decision makers in the meeting have the courage to stand up for what's right and not accept anyone saying; 'It can't be done' or 'We can't afford that' unless they can back it up with good staff work." ms

People in attendance were
Gary Biehl, RO budget guru
Jay Perkins, Forest FMO and Fire Planner on the Klamath NF
David Glen, civil rights FCRO
Anthony Escobar (IHC handle: Crowbar), Forest FMO on the Los Padres NF
Jerry McGowan Forest FMO Stanislaus NF
Dave Defraene AFEO on the San Bernardino NF and NFFE rep
Karen Hayden, Feather River District Ranger on the Plumas NF and redcarded crewboss
Kurt Winchester, Mountaintop District Ranger, San Bernardino NF
Steve Diaz, Engine Captain on the Shasta Trinity NF and Engine Captains rep
Johnny Clem, Klamath Hotshot supe, Hotshot supes rep
Lirian Penn, excellent Human Resource Specialist
Jody Noiron, Forest Supervisor on the Angeles NF
Ed Hollenshead, R5 Chief FAM

People not in attendance were
Jim Pena, Deputy Regional Forester
Joy Thomas, Regional Human Resources Manager
Kathy Hardy, Stanislaus NF Deputy Forest Supervisor

12/11Retention Meeting

Any news out of the conference at WFTC? Everyone around here
is waiting on pins and needles!

Bags packed

12/11I guess I'm one of the old school folks. I'd rather work for the Federal government in
protecting our land management responsibilities and our beautiful natural environment.
I have no desire to move to a city and become involved in total urban interface
firefighting and dealing with the huge interagency 911 dispatch centers.

Pay is not as good as CalFire (maybe), but the hours are better (for me) and the
scenery on a daily basis during the course of my normal work environment is darn sure
a lot better. I prefer seeing the forest, mountains, rivers, etc instead of miles and miles
of houses interspersed with a little wildland areas.

I've some friends who work for CalFire and they say they work a lot more hours for
this "better pay", plus the stress level is higher and the work environment is not as "relaxed
and low-key" as it was when they worked for the USFS and BLM. In fact, I know 4
higher ranking employees who are leaving CalFire and trying to return to the Federal
Government. They said the lower stress level and more relaxed environment closer to the
outdoors is what they miss and want to return to.

I have worked in fire, timber, recreation, silviculture and the old "BD" crews, on and off
since the 1980's and even spent a couple years working in California where I dealt with
the CDF folks on a daily basis. They were great people and loved their jobs, but their
jobs were different that ours. They spent more time working around houses and in the
urban interface than out in the wildland protecting resources.

Luckily there are some of us who still want to stay and work for the Feds - we like our
jobs, we like our co-workers, and we love the history of this agency and want to carry
on what others have worked so hard for. Sure there need to be some changes, but EVERY
agency has problems that need to be worked on. CalFire isn't perfect either, and for those
who are "jumping ship" from the Federal Govt - you may be surprised at what you are
getting yourself into.

Sign me,

....Staying Green all the way to retirement
12/11Who Will Put The Fires Out ?

With the mass exodus of Fed employees over to State and Local government, who will put out the fires on Fed jurisdiction and who will respond to the hurricanes and other natural or human caused disasters?

The Fire Service nation wide is constantly changing, no longer are we an all volunteer work force, nor are we strictly Forestry Technicians. Our careers have become more complex and we have changed with Society's expectation of what "firefighters" are and the level of service expected. Where was FEMA and DHS years ago? Single "I" NIMS, pacts between States and Governors, never heard of. Yes, we will still respond and put out large fires but we know now that we will also pick up Shuttle parts, choke chickens, dig in rubble piles and do whatever it takes to serve our nation outside of war.

The Fed wildland fire agencies need to change with the times or they will slowly be choked down to a couple of seasonal engines in their home units who will never leave home.

Hopefully there will be a few die hard leaders of Fed Firefighters who will not jump ship and will continue to fight for what the citizens of our country expect, hang in there and lead from the bottom up.

Regarding who will respond to all of the large incidents, I envision little change in the current system, you will still have Fed Incident Management Teams, NIMO Teams and mutual aid agreements. The complexity of the Team rosters will and are changing. You will have a higher percentage of State and Local government personnel on the Fed Teams, many of whom served the Green Army for years prior to switching to the Blue. Those Fed Teams may one day be working for DHS or those Teams may come under the umbrella of the States and be shared as needed. One thing for sure, change is coming. Policy makers had best get on the train and pull their head out of the sand (in some cases their a**) or they will be swallowed up by those who step up to drive the train.

By the way Mr. H, I left the Green Army 25 years ago as an Engine Foreman (Captain). Having been a Fed Type 1 & 2 Team member for numerous years, I still see the most beautiful places in America. The view, sunsets and travel have never been better but now I have a view from my own home instead of Government housing and the travel is also experienced off duty with my family and not just courtesy of Uncle Sam.

There is light at the end of tunnel, more than likely its the Train.

Yellow Angel

12/11A day without federal fire fighters in the interface ? Sounds like a title for
a movie. Has the writers strike been settled yet?

Oliver
12/11BG,

Why wouldn't you think FS folks would "actually pass" the interviews?

-Joatmon
12/11Ken and All,

All this ranking below on firefighter job series means

Rated as Less Important in the decision to leave by the group that is interviewing
11 Firefighter Job Series<-----------------------------------------------
12
13
14 Advanced Education Opportunities
15 Benefits-Holidays/Leave
16 Social/Culture/Entertainment Options

is that these folks with an interview for the Captain's position are already pretty far out the door on shifting jobs to CalFire. In my opinion, it provides some validation of the survey data for this group. How often do people who are leaving one job concern themselves with something relating only to the old job that has so long been an issue -- with little change? It's human that thoughts and focus move on to the next creation.

I would venture to say that the state of California made a smart move when they changed the name from CDF to CalFire. CDF, like the FS, is a land management agency headed by a manager, at least formerly headed by a land manager, my friend Andy Tuttle. Same issue feds have at their highest levels, as well as within each forest. The morale issues at the state level mimicked our morale issue at the fed level. CDF State of Resource Readiness is authorized to not be less than 82%. Current level was falling below that with firefighters leaving to other local agencies. One way to change morale (and people leaving an agency) is to give recognition, to appreciate, even to change a name. Given that CDF was loosing many experienced firefighters to other county and city fire departments, they were in the same low morale state as the feds are now. Heck, they changed the name... Smart move.

From what I've observed, another way that CDF / CalFire works on their professional image and morale is to have a very active "Educate the Public" or PR or Marketing program. It's not by chance that their engines are in front when the pres comes to visit. It's not by chance that the public thinks the 2007 firestorm was handled (or not, in some cases) by CalFire firefighters. Matt Streck, CalFire PIO, he writes in to the hotlist with breaking CalFire information and tries to keep the rumor mill from churning during fire season.

GACCs, movement of resources, fed IMTs, what did they do? The feds don't take simple opportunities to educate the public on the real good they do in moments it would be appropriate. I know that to large degree to the public "a firefighter is a firefighter," but the red engines get more air time by design and by effort. This also aids in self- and public-perceptions of CalFire professionalism.

Pride in your profession and agency leads to envisioning it at professional and PROFESSIONALISM which ultimately to self-monitoring and self-moderating of your profession for safety, one of the things the Firefighter Safety Awareness Study (TriDat, 1996) Part III said needed to be fostered following Storm King.

OK, enough of that for now. I had to go back and Find Qs musical contribution "I'm Dreaming" (swf file) and replay it. Wonder what engine or hotshot crew are playing the deer parts???

Thanks to the calendar photographers. Nice job, community.

Mellie

You can also find that link to the FF Safety Awareness Study on our links page at the bottom under safety. Ab.

12/11Former Fed,

Good luck and best wishes on your new career source.

The R-5 Engine Captains, the Hotshot Group, the Helitack Group, the Dispatch Group, etc... all need to step up. All groups have provided info, but very little membership and leadership in the FWFSA.

The FWFSA can't simply "do it" to educate Congress or agency employees as you prescribe and complain about without adequate members..... WE can't "do it" with lessons not learned from the folks in the GS-8 and above levels and above who benefited from the FWFSA but never joined or supported the better pay, benefits, and working conditions of others who aren't in their shoes.

Maybe more in the R-5 Engines Captain's Group and the R-5 Hotshot and Type 2 Crew Group should join? We all know that many in the AFMO and FMO levels and above didn't join, but far more in the Supt. and Captains ranks didn't join even though their overtime pay cap was removed.

Maybe since the FWFSA once again spearheaded the recent National Engine Captains Desk audit (and won) and actually supported the HS and helitack folks without them knowing or being convened, maybe more folks will join? If the Engine Captain desk audit failed, the HS Supt. and Capt. positions were on the block.

If you are an AFMO, Supt., GS-8 Captain (Foreman) or GS-7 (Asst. Foreman or FEO) or above..... in California or outside....... and not a member of the FWFSA.... time to step up and pay it forward.

FWFSA Member
12/10I was talking to Alan Simmons today who advised the Firestorm 2007 Volume 3 video on DVD has just been released. He thinks he's captured some of the wildest fire behavior he's ever seen through a viewfinder. If you're looking for a great gift for a firefighter, have a look.

Another source for great gifts is Jim Felix and his staff at The Supply Cache, who always seem to have a Sale going on as he offers discounts from 20-50% on an assortment of in-stock hard to find items. Perhaps even more timely now is their "After the Fire" gift section for wildland firefighters.

Check 'em out. And don't forget to tell 'em Ab sent ya.
12/10Ab,

Great survey and results. It helps to quantify things a great deal.

For me, it signifies that "proper classification" was not on the minds of many of the folks who had interviews to leave.

It also signifies to me my failure as a Chapter Director, and others as FWFSA members, in not stressing the importance of proper classification (firefighter or wildland firefighter series) in improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions of wildland firefighters.

You simply can't expect to be paid, nor receive the benefits and working conditions of a firefighter or wildand firefighter unless proper classification becomes step number one. You also can't understand the importance of proper classification unless you have been actively involved as an FWFSA member.

Almost every action of improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions for federal wildland firefighters involves simple changes in Title 5 USC wording that are rooted firmly in firefighter or wildland firefighter classification. The most basic and simple change in Title 5 is the wording omitted from FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS OVERTIME PAY REFORM ACT OF 1998.

Those simple changes would allow portal-to-portal schedules as needed in specific areas, or 40 hour schedules as needed in other areas based upon management or mission needs; the ability to seek Special Base Rates to be used in conjunction with Locality Pay Adjustments (not Special Salary Rates); the ability to separate the duties of Forestry Aids and Technicians from the duties of wildland firefighters; the ability to use and implement other hiring authorities other than temporary employees, and; the ability to apply the true meaning of what is codified as compensable meal breaks, and what truly adequate meals and lodging are.

Get active and get involved.... it's your future.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Southern California Chapter Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
12/10BG,

I have been with CAL-FIRE since The 1st week of May, 2007. I have heard some of the comments about the workforce not wanting outsiders coming in as Captains before I left, but every fire that I have been on and all of the other Crew Captains, Engine Captains, Battalions Chiefs, Division Chiefs, and Flight Crew Captains that I have talked to are happy with the people that came off the open list. Maybe I am a little naive, but I know the 2 of us that came off the open list have been welcomed and treated fairly in our Unit.

Staying,

I know this might strike a nerve with some folks, but I cannot hold back any longer. The ground work has been laid for sometime now. The Region 5 Captains group has been laying down the path for the Region for the past 4-5 years now. These same issues that are being brought up on this form today are the same issues that the R-5 Captains group has been telling the leadership for years now. I have read a number of documents that were put together by some talented folks with facts, cost, retention solutions, cost of living, and the list goes on, and where presented to folks that make decisions and were has it gone? The Forest Service is still having the same issues that the Captains group BRINGS UP EVERY YEAR in Reno.

They offer solutions to the problems when asked and still nothing is being done. Not bashing the hard and relentless work that Casey does, but how long does Congress have to be educated to finally make a decision or pass a bill that benefits the back breaking work the men and women of the Forest Service do year in and year out? It's not just time for the WO and RO to step up, but it's time for Congress to get off their dead a*#'s and do something to compensate the workers of the Forest Service and to give Casey a break from traveling to DC, I am waiting for him to post a PO Box number from DC on this website so he can read some of his mail.

Will these issues get resolved, I hope and pray they do someday? Will they get resolved in the next couple of years, I wish I was more optimistic? I hope I will be proven wrong (Casey is just the guy to do it).......

AB, The survey you did is amazing and another example of people trying to open the eye's of the leadership.....

Former Fed
12/10Caught this on the comments from the survey. This must be in the top 10 for the most hilarious posts of all time on wlf.com. You gotta be kidding me.

When Ed H spoke to the <snip> during our Leadership week, he stated that we do this for the "Sunsets and travel". I was on the fence til that point! Ed showed me he doesn't care about classification, thus my application to CDF.

We'll maybe he's right. Those Mare Island sunsets look nice when your a GS-15 making 142k a year, that's $11,833 per month. I know at least a dozen people who would of got up and walked out if he would of offered them the sunset and travel pep talk.

This needs to go on the quotes page. Classic.

Stand Strong

12/10This just showed up in my mailbox along with another email from this morning. This one was posted on the 8th. Ab.

James,

The basics of recruitment and retention of federal wildland firefighters are not so easily rooted in pay as some would like, especially hourly rates that some firefighters receive. Recruitment and retention problems are rooted firmly in safety, and actually being recognized for the jobs and risks they perform in protecting our communities and our natural resources. If you are thinking about coming back, you will be welcomed by the federal wildland fire family.

First of all, let me say that the FWFSA is strictly non-partisan in our views and goals. The FWFSA is an employee association and not a union. The FWFSA has members from all of the federal land management agencies..... from entry level to upper level fire management..... all dues paying and contributing members.

The FWFSA has been working, sometimes with the support from the federal agencies and often times not, in addressing the simplest of successful business model principles. The FWFSA has always stuck to, and has followed its mission and principles:

- Seeking to provide competitive pay, benefits, and working conditions in connection with the associated risks, duties, and level of experience needed in a federal wildland fire program to help the federal land management agencies achieve the expectations of both the Congress and the American taxpayer.

Some of the things the FWFSA has been working on since the beginning are:

1) Proper classification (Passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, 2006)

2) Health benefits for temporary employees (Achieved by the FWFSA, but blocked in implementation due to a rule that only allows FEHBP program providers to enter federal facilities and offer their programs)

3) Elimination of the overtime pay cap (Passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by President Clinton)

4) Portal to portal compensation on emergency responses (Three bills, two in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate)

5) Hazardous duty differential pay counting towards retirement (same as #4 above)

The FWFSA has also supported numerous other actions to "improve the pay, benefits, and working conditions" within nationwide fire (and other programs) by providing data and expert level consultation on such things as special salary rates, group classification desk audits, and comments on pending federal legislation and how pending legislation will affect federal wildland firefighters safety, or the safest methods of federal wildland fire program delivery.

It's your voice!!!

Lobotomy

Ref:

USDA, National Agricultural Library
Tension in the Tinderbox: Finding Fairness in Federal Firefighter Compensation

USDA National Agricultural Library
Wildland Firefighters Pay: Are There Inequities?

12/10First off "BG" Cal-fire's resistance to Open Captain hiring seems to be real.. Sheesh... They are getting ready to open higher ranks from what I hear. Isn't that management's decision? I don't understand why you and your unit, union, management, Captain's, or who ever else you claim to speak for would be so resentful or resisting of hiring from outside the ranks... New blood is good... An you have the chance to pick up someone who has been trained extensively for free for you. Here is a good example... according to C.S.F.M. Org charts. I am qualified to be a chief officer in a CSFM org. In the wildland side of things I am qualified to be a Captain. Why the heck wouldn't you guys be open to getting someone like that? I can understand the whines about guys skipping in from Caltrans or another non-related state org. But jeez buddy gimme a break with the Anti-fed sentiment. I live in a split house; my wife is ex-Calfire turned local Medic and I bleed green most days. We don't look down upon one another, we love one another and know we share the same passion in careers. An as I hear so far most of the FED boys and girls are ranking pretty high. Some times higher than your own people. :)

Mellie,
Rock on! the Fed is looking at a major collapse in its fire org. What happens then? Who feeds the hurricane victims? Who comes to the aid of thousands during earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, or what ever other natural or man-made disasters hit? Most of all.. WHO FIGHTS THE FIRES????

Bags packed
12/10Dear "Staying"

As with many political organizations, detailed numbers and demographics are quasi "trade secrets" and to go into detail on TheySaid would likely require the consensus of the Board or Directors. However...

exact numbers in any given state don't tell the true picture. What does is the "reach" of the FWFSA which I will gladly mention here. I think I've done it once before but below are the states where we have FWFSA members. And, let's not kid ourselves, California has the majority simply because the FWFSA was started in that state. However we have experienced significant growth outside of R5 in the last year and a half which has been extremely rewarding.

In no particular order:
Michigan
California
South Dakota
Oregon
Wyoming
Minnesota
Idaho
Florida
New Mexico
Montana
Washington
Illinois
Arizona
Vermont
Colorado
Nevada
Indiana
South Carolina
Alaska
West Virginia
Virginia
Utah

So we are in nearly half the states in America. Even though the Association was started in 1991, most of this growth has occurred since 2003.

So I hope this information tells you that we aren't "just an R5 social club" as many had thought in the past.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

12/10GACCs did not come into being to address the wildland urban interface. They may have grown due to it but as long as there are federal wildland fires to manage there will be a need for federal land management agencies to support GACCs. And the GACCs are not solely a FS operation. BIA, BLM, NPS, FWS and State fire organization support GACCs. Maybe they will see a shift in who supplies funding and staffing but a federal presence will still be needed. And parallel to the GACCs are the various state compacts some of which include Canada. This past fire season in the Great Lakes Canadian resources were used on state fires and that movement did not even involve a federal agency.

Midwest fire guy
12/10Ab, here is the R5 fire hire Schedule.

Fire Hire Time line:
  • All updating and new applications need to be in AVUE by February 3
  • February 4th – Create referral lists (inform applicants referral lists will be created on this date; this is why all updating and new applications need to be in AVUE by February 3)
  • By February 18th – HR completes referral lists and review of applicant qualifications
  • By February 21st - SF 52 Tracker data reconciled with FAM vacancies, AVUE data loaded into Tracking database, Reports prepared for February 25th
  • February 25th – 29th Subject Matter Expert review, (McClellan), Reports prepared for March 3rd.
  • March 3rd – Selection process begins (McClellan)

NoSign

12/10"Staying" brings up a great point.

I have been saying it all along that not everybody who works for the FS wants to come work for CDF. R5 will lose some people just like CDF loses people every year to other departments. In California there are a ton of other Departments that make more money then we do. Entry level FF's for some departments make more then our Captains make. That is life. If we want to go work for them we have every opportunity to do so. The only difference is it would be as a Fire Fighter and not entering in as a Captain. CalFire's flaw is that we are allowing people to become a Captain without having to promote. The employees of CalFire had no say-so in the open Captains' list, and if a poll was taken I would venture a guess that the majority would be against what is taking place. Our management and Union agreed to this, not the work force. And just as there will be people to take Captains positions in CDF, there will be people to fill the "void" in the FS. I am waiting to see how many FS personnel actually pass the interviews and are offered a job? it might be a non-issue.

BG

12/10I've been following the CalFire exodus thread with interest.

I have one request for Casey: please give us a break down of FWFSA members by state. I think a lot of people would be surprised. Although I know that being a member of FWFSA member doesn't mean that you will always agree with every issue that Casey takes on, I think it would show that there are a lot of federal firefighters with concerns - and not just in California. In fact, Casey, please give us a break down by agency as well.

I started my career with the FS, then moved to NPS and BLM before coming back to FS. I started working for the feds because I grew up in small town, my family never traveled, and I wanted to see the country. And I have. After nearly 20 years, I will stay with the feds because of the freedom it offers me. However, I am single and have no children. I also do not own a home. I do not currently work in R5, although I have in the past. If your federal salary is enough to offer you a comfortable living where you are, be thankful. Please don't bash those who are not in your situation. I've worked in four different regions. From my experience, it seems like the places where federal firefighters with families can make a decent living on one income (and it usually has to be one income because who is going to watch the kids when you are out making your OT to pay the bills) are the exception and not the rule. Even being single, I spent many years living in rodent and roach infested studio apartments with the heat set at 55 degrees because I couldn't afford anything better.

As to the question, "Who will stay"? I will, for one. I am one DIVS, ICT3 that the government will continue to push around until I retire. I would like to think that there are enough other nomads out there like me who will also stay, and hopefully, have a hand in improving things someday. My single, unattached status allows me to be selfish this way. But I have seen too many great firefighters leave for other state and local agencies to not be a member of FWFSA and support what people are trying to accomplish/prevent in R5 (not to mention that warm, fuzzy feeling I get when I enter "exempt working as non-exempt" on my time sheets). Let's buck the current administration and stick together. Next year at this time, we will be looking at a new president, and who knows what will happen then. This is the time to lay the groundwork for making our issues heard - even if you don't care about R5 and CalFire.

Staying

12/10Ab,

During eight seasons as a temp in Region 4, I had to wonder about the ‘as goes R-5, so goes everyone else’ mentality of our neighbors on the Left Coast. Alas, when it comes to cost of living vs. Federal wages, it’s MHO that other regions in the west should be paying close attention to what’s going on in So Cal these days.

The housing market bubble may have burst, but it’ll be a long time before your average GS-5 with a family can afford anything but an Airstream on blocks (or a small cave) in many of the urban interface areas of Regions 1, 2 and 4. Look at Utah’s Wasatch Front, Montana’s Paradise Valley, most Colorado mountain towns, the Boise foothills, or the most populated counties in Nevada. No matter how immaculate your credit rating or how wisely you budget, securing loans and paying for a $250,000 ‘starter’ home is a real challenge when you make $28 to 30K a year. (Check out www.trulia.com /home_prices/ for current housing costs at the state, county or city level throughout the nation.) Add in the high cost of utilities, groceries and gas in these areas and...wow.

Hopping from rental to rental, car-camping, putting your stuff in storage for years on end, long commutes between work and home...these things are OK when you’re young and unattached. But even as Fed employees are putting in the years needed to gain fire experience, they’re also (usually) transitioning out of the ‘young and unattached’ phase of life. If it seems that staying with Feds means you’ll never be able to afford a decent house and car, basic amenities, college for the kids, etc., folks will make the painful but necessary decision to move on. And outside of California, there aren’t many non-Fed fire jobs to move on to. No state entity compares to Cal Fire, either in scope or funding, and better-paying contract, city or county positions are too scarce to really drain the Federal workforce. Most people I know have jumped ship to other careers instead (welding, construction, teaching, IT stuff) which they may not like as much but which provide the financial stability they need.

As a low-level permanent FF currently in R-5, it seems to me that there’s more riding on today’s meeting at the WTC than the woes of So Cal alone.

As always, Ab, thanks. And happy holidays.

Kibby

You're welcome. Ab.

12/10In norcal,

If the FS is removing itself from fire on the interface, where will the GACCs be? Who will run the GACCs the FS has run? the BLM has run? Those agencies won't really need them anymore. How will they be funded? Perhaps they will simply be contracted out?

This is what I'm talking about. Everyone assumes the parts of the fed machine we want and need to go on to have a viable working system will just "magically" go on.

I'm saying that's quite an assumption. What follows current Forest Service pullback (and likely followed by BLM, NPS, FWS pullback) from interface fire should be discussed and planned, or it will be like riding into Baghdad and "winning" the war. Believe me, I was as shocked as many that I hadn't thought beyond Baghdad to what I didn't imagine that I didn't know, because I assumed. Let's not do that this time.

How will the new system -- the new dynamics, the new funding to whom? for interagency, interstate, intrastate fire and other all risk agreements, the communications details both large and small, etc, etc -- how will it work? Sure, mutual aid on a large scale is likely the way to go. I just wonder if people realize how much of what goes on in the system is done under the FS umbrella and how a change in that could bring down a system.

Let me offer a mind exercise. Think critically about the 2007 firestorm in socal. What would have been different if the FS GACCs didn't exist? if Fed IMTs didn't exist? How would some critical parts of the job have gotten done?

Think critically about the firestorm in Idaho last season and run through the same scenario. Where would we lack pieces if the Fed GACCs, and IMTs didn't exist? Where might there be other problems? CalFire firefighters, keep in mind that many areas of the West don't have a strong state fire department like we do...

Mellie

PS. I must say, I really miss Don Studebaker sometimes.

12/10Hello Everyone

With all the talk these days of everyone moving over to Cal Fire, it seems I have chosen the perfect time to start my career with them and in wildfire (heavy on the sarcastic side :) ). Cal Fire has always been my first choice, so I guess the bottom line is, do I even have a chance at getting on with them for the upcoming season with just the standard S-130/190 qualification yet no field experience? Or am I doomed due to the mass exodus?

No matter what, hope everything truly does work out for everyone in each agency. Nobody deserves better.

-Hopefull

Sure, they hire seasonal every year. Ab.

12/10New crew website

Prescott Helitack has a new Webpage. Come and visit.
www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott/fire/helitack/

Virgil Lookingback
Helitack Lead Crew
Prescott Fire Center

Nice one. Ab.

12/10Green Sheet is out on the LAC firefighter injured on the Corral Fire on 11/24/07. Sounds a lot worse than first suggested.

www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=13514#post13514

Ab.

12/10Ab,

I got my 2008 calendars in the mail. You running back and forth shipping these things out? Did I get a calendar handled by one of the Abs??? Do you don a special Santa hat? Thanks to the photographers! Nice photos! Good memories of the season and thanks for the discounts. I used two discounts. One was that special discount word and I got another one because I ordered mine with 3 other people at work.

AL

Hi AL, Original Ab is doing the handling and running around. Thanks goodness for the Original! No doubt those calendars have his fire office vibe all over 'em! Don't know if he's wearing his Santa hat, or if he even has one... As for photos, I agree AL. They are mighty fine fire pics. Yep, we tried to price them pretty close to the bone and we did allow piggybacking 2 discounts on purpose, one discount for being part of this community, another one for ordering 4 at a time. Order 9 or more and get another bit off...

Readers, in case you don't know or don't remember, if you enter the discount code: theysaidit exactly as shown in the box on the "checkout page" you get about a 7% discount on the cost of the order. It's our way of giving a little something back to our faithful readers and contributors. I'm posting that up by the calendars link... Ab.

12/10Here's a good musical message from Q.

"I'm Dreaming" (swf file)
Click "Play" in the middle.

It will get you in the spirit! Brought a smile to my face. Ab.

12/10 Hello,

The next round of Fire Hire for R5:

Word on the street is: Applications need to be submitted in AVUE by February 3rd (the referral list will be generated on Feb. 4th with selections beginning on March 3rd).

A couple of AVUE tricks…

Deadlines: Please remember that AVUE works off of Eastern Standard Time – and the system often shuts down for maintenance at midnight (with a 10 minute warning). If you are on the West Coast, you will be shut out at 2100 (if you haven’t saved your work, it’ll be gone in a flash). If you are a procrastinator, 8:59 pm on February 3rd is the last chance to click the Submit button for this round of hiring!

KSAs on AVUE: KSAs (sometimes called Evaluation Criteria, Quality Group Factors, Quality Ranking Factors, etc…) are excellent opportunities to round out your application. The Merit applications in AVUE have both radio selection buttons and (in most cases) text areas that are limited to 4000 characters. Demo applications only have the radio buttons. However, it is really important that applicants take the time to respond to KSAs whether or not a text box is provided within the AVUE application. If you are applying Demo (or your Merit application doesn’t have text box areas), write your KSA responses in MS Word (or another word processor) and attach them in the Supporting Documents section.

When I was with the Feds, exactly how to respond to KSA statements seemed to be a big secret. However, the down and dirty is this: KSAs need to be written in narrative form (paragraph style) and should include specific examples from your professional experience. Make sure the examples you use are also delineated in your resume/work history blocks. Use the allowed 4000 characters – KSA responses should each be between 2/3 and 1 page in length – a few sentences or a single paragraph won’t cut it. Think of KSAs as interview questions and put your best foot forward.

The Office of Personnel Management has outlined a great approach to writing KSAs called the CCAR model. I have some Tip Sheets on my Federal Wildland Fire Applicants page on my website that explain this approach.

Supporting Documents: You can make the poor saps (i.e. subject matter experts or SMEs) that are “selected” to review the applications for this next round a little bit happier by taking a few simple steps – and keeping the SMEs happy is a good idea on all counts! Get your hands on a copy of your IQCS Master Record (from your supervisor, training officer, etc.) and attach it in the Support Document section in AVUE. Also attach a recent SF-50 (just scan and upload it). Transcripts are nice, too (unofficial will work just fine).

But here is my biggest bit of advice regarding the Supporting Documents section in AVUE: Attach your supporting documentation in .pdf format. This goes for KSA statements and resumes that you include, as well. There are many free .pdf converters available online – I use doPDF. Although AVUE allows you to upload supporting documents in many formats, I have encountered volumes of supporting documentation that I cannot view because the format doesn’t come across. Pdf is the safest way to ensure that your supporting information is available to view every time.

I know how hard it is to get answers regarding the AVUE process and want to just toss it out there that I am happy to answer AVUE questions at any time and invite people to give me a shout if they hit a road block.

Sincerely,
Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah
www.LoomisHannah.com

12/10A big thanks & Christmas fundraiser:

To the LPF mom of E-75 AFEO:

I would like to give you a huge thank you for what you did at Thanksgiving. I know all of our firefighters that had to work Thanksgiving day on the LPF really appreciated it, but so did I as my son had to work and could not travel home. Because of you, he had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am so thankful and grateful for you. When I get to come to Fraiser Park to visit my son, meeting you and giving you a big hug is a priority.

Readers - this wonderful, loving mom cooked 3 turkeys and all the trimmings and took them to the Chuchupate station for all the men & women working in the LPF on Thanksgiving day.

WFF Fundraising: Peets Coffee will again be collecting money for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation this Christmas Eve. Peets will match the donations up to $1000.00 per store, so we want to get as much as we can in donations. The good news is we have 2 other stores, as well as my daughter's collecting for the WFF this year in Orange County with 1 store for Santa's Helper Fund and the other 2 for the general fund. I will send the locations, times and details soon for posting.

Annette

Nice job, Annette. These kinds of grass roots annual events help. Readers if you aren't near a Peets and want to spread the cheer, click to purple ribbon at the top right of the page to go to the WFF website. Ab.

12/10An interesting news article about the Privatization of wildland firefighting, and mucho dollar
political donations from private firefighting industry members to the current regime that
supports "outsourcing".

http://rawstory.com/news/2007/As_public_firefighting_decays_billion_dollar_1210.phpl

Hundekot

12/10For those feds who are on leave and reading from home or someplace fun, please attend to your leave if you need to:

From Lirian Penn, making the rounds...
Subject Fw: Please read trailing message re: Executive Order:
Closing of Executive Departments and Agencies of the Federal
Government on Monday, December 24, 2007

Here is the link to the Compensation Policy Memoranda (CPM)
www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/2007/2007-14.asp which provides
further information.

Employees with use/lose annual leave may need to reschedule
their leave.

<snipped Bush's message>

12/10There has been a lot of discussion lately about retention within the USFS.
Sometimes “jumping ship” is not about the money at all. Sometimes it is
about unrealistic agency expectations. I know a dispatcher that has been
doing the same job for 17 years. This person was hired without having
previous firefighter experience or a college degree and gets fully
successful performance reviews every year. Now they are being told they
are going to lose their job if they don’t fight fire for one season and go
back to college for a degree. In addition, their job is currently being
reviewed for outsourcing. No, its not always about pay issues.

Sometimes, jumping ship is just about job security for employees and their
families.

-IADP

12/10Hi Ab,

I’m still the CDF Firefighters Union guy for the apparatus issues and I was told today the current award for the Model 34 and 35 may be delayed. I hope not but the money situation is getting worse and they still keep spending. Let’s hope FEMA reimburses the state for the Oct/Nov. fires quickly. Other wise the 200,000 + mile engines will be 300,000+ mile engines the next time we hear about the possibility of replacing them.

Normbc9

12/9The Survey: www.wildlandfire.com/surveys/2007/1/survey.asp

About 342 people responded to the survey. Tomorrow (oops, today but later) we'll have the precise number with breakdowns for replies by Agency, by GS Rating and by forest.

68 participants had CalFire Captain interview dates. We chose to summarize that data first. People who are interviewing are acting on a decision; they're not simply thinking about it, but putting their efforts where their mouth is.

# by Forest/With Interview Dates

 5  ANF
 3  BDF
 9  CNF
 1  ENF
 1  INF
 2  KNF
 5  LNF
 8  LPF
 1  MDF
 4  MNF
 3  PNF
 5  SHF
 1  SQF
 2  SRF
 2  STF
 2  TMU
 2  TNF
56
  3 unspecified agency
  9 Other than R5 FS (2 NPS, 3 BLM, 2 FWS, 1 FS WO, 1 GS-8 Engine Captain, 1 GS 11 AFMO, 1 GS-12 unknown)
68

# by Modules:
27 engines
  4 handcrew T-2
13 handcrew T-1
  6 helitack
  3 prevention
  1 smokejumper
11 overhead
  3 other
68

# by Positions:
  1 Engineer/Assistant Supervisor
48 Captains/Supes
11 AFMO
  3 FMO
  3 Other
66

All but 2 were Full Time Permanent appointments. Two were Permanent < 26 pay periods.

This group is comprised of our journeyman/journeywoman firefighters, module leaders, and up. Maybe I can do a breakdown of GS levels tomorrow. They're mostly 8s and 9s but there are several 7s, one 10, some 11s and a 12 or two.

CalFire or other agency position willing to take:
27 same as hold now
27 willing to go 1 below
14 willing to take any
68

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

Potential Issues surrounding decision to leave or stay for the 57 R5 FS firefighters:
For each category, the 57 respondents chose a number between 1 and 10 with 1 signifying most important issue and 10 signifying least. Most people marked more than 1 issue with a 1. Their 1's remained 1's and I changed their other numbers to 0, then summed the columns across all respondents. Group totals are on the left of the issues. The array of all the issues is at the bottom.

Pay & Benefits
29 Job Security/Stability
31 Wages/Salary
19 Duty days/hours
17 24 Hour Staffing
23 Benefits-Health/Dental/Vision
15 Benefits-Holidays/Leave
21 Liability Insurance
11 Firefighter Job Series
25 Portal to Portal Pay
30 Promotion potential/Apprentice advancement

Location & Living
22 Station/Duty Location
32 Area Cost of Living
24 Living/Housing Availability
16 Social/Culture/Entertainment Options
14 Advanced Education Opportunities
17 Spousal/Significant Other Employment Options
18 Health Care/Education/Shopping Availability (self and/or family)

Here are the resulting tallies in order of their increasing top priority concern(s).

Rated as Less Important in the decision to leave by the group that is interviewing
11 Firefighter Job Series
12
13
14 Advanced Education Opportunities
15 Benefits-Holidays/Leave
16 Social/Culture/Entertainment Options
17 Spousal/Significant Other Employment Options 17 24 Hour Staffing
18 Health Care/Education/Shopping Availability (self and/or family)
19 Duty days/hours
20
21 Liability Insurance
22 Station/Duty Location
23 Benefits-Health/Dental/Vision
24 Living/Housing Availability
25 Portal to Portal Pay
26
27
28
29 Job Security/Stability
30 Promotion potential/Apprentice advancement
31 Wages/Salary
32 Area Cost of Living
Rated as More Important

A number of people suggested adding Retirement Benefits to the Pay and Benefits category. Maybe on the next survey. A number of people mentioned increasing workload created by moving "Finance" support staff to Albuquerque and sending the "IT" people somewhere else. Two people mentioned the Series 401 snafu. Several people mentioned deteriorating buildings. Others cited lack of high speed internet coupled with increased computer training and work requiring high speed internet. I've probably missed a few. I'll look again tomorrow.

My guess is that if we included only the Apprentices' issues in a separate tally, the array of issues might look a little bit different. I'll try to do that tomorrow.

Here's a document of comments. Many people would rather not go, well read it for yourself...

Ab.

12/9No rush, ms. There's lots going on. All in its own good time.

Mellie

12/9FOREST SERVICE R-5 FIRE HIRING.......
Ab's I don't have the exact cutoff dates for the next R-5 Forest Service hiring round (hopefully someone can post or re-post them), however I think the closing date for AVUE applications is sometime in late January with SME work and selections shortly after that.

Purpose of this post is to remind all that R-5 is still "back-filling" during this next hiring round. So if the job(s) and location(s) you are interested in are currently not open, you can and should apply to them as they might become vacant during the hiring week and get back-filled. Outreach notices seem to confuse some as they list only those vacant jobs, not those that may become vacant. Under the current hiring rules, you may apply to any open and continuous R-5 position, vacant or not. Apprentices, every hiring round we also see a few Apprentices promote out of the program. Get those applications in. good luck

MELLIE:
Spent the weekend trying to figure out the gov health benefits open season puzzle (major headache). So I only completed 1/2 of the email in response to your good questions.

DEC 10TH MEETING.........
To those behind the closed doors at WFTC this week, a thought........

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things". Peter F. Drucker

May the decision makers in the meeting have the courage to stand up for what's right and not accept anyone saying; "It can't be done" or "we can't afford that" unless they can back it up with good staff work.

ms
12/9SURVEY IS CLOSED. We're doing the final tallies and compiling the comments.

The Abs.

12/9Shadow,

Welcome to the fray!

I spent 5 years of my lengthy federal firefighter career in East Tennessee. Beautiful place and I loved the people and everything else about it except....

Federal firefighters tend to work in areas that are pretty expensive and that certainly was the case for me in Sevier County....the Great Smoky Mountains. My wife and I and 3 kids lived in literal poverty because of the salary I got paid. We were not lucky enough to be long term generational residents who had real estate we inherited from Papaw so we had to pay big time for rent We could not even afford a down payment in that expensive a real estate market.

I worked a lot with TDF folks and saw one big glaring difference: The cost of living away from federal lands was significantly cheaper. I know what you folks were making then and it was significantly less but many of you lived places that were way cheaper to live in.

The parallels of my situation then with the situation for MOST federal firefighters at this juncture should be very clear.

I am absolutely in solidarity with federal firefighters looking to improve their lot. Federal firefighters are finally fed up with sub-standard wages for the areas they are working. They have my full support.

So, brother, welcome to the fray. I am proud of my time I spent in East Tennessee and proud to see TDF folks as part of the discussion in this forum. I enjoyed working shoulder to shoulder with you. You guys have just as professional an outfit, back there at least, as the feds do. Just remember that most of the fed folks really do have a harder time making ends meet, even more so in the Western United States.

NMAirBear
12/9Here's another news worthy note. :)
Thanks Jason...!

Bags Packed

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

www.sbsun.com/ci_7673554?source=most_viewed

Salaries prompt USFS exodus
Firefighters flee to other agencies
Jason Pesick, Staff Writer

The U.S. Forest Service might be facing a crisis, with firefighters leaving in droves for state and local firefighting jobs that offer higher salaries.

USFS officials, while accustomed to losing people to other jobs in California, are alarmed at the increasing numbers of those jumping ship.

"It's been going on for a large number of years, however, not at ... this rate," said Mike Dietrich, fire chief for the San Bernardino National Forest.

In 2006, the 671,700-acre national forest lost 60 firefighters to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and local fire agencies, Dietrich said.

The forest has about 210 permanent firefighting positions.

The federal government's Forest Service leads the front-line response to fires in the San Bernardino Mountains and other national forests.

The base salary for a Forest Service firefighter is about $32,000, according to the Forest Service. The CDF pays the same person almost $50,000. Minimum pay for a San Bernardino firefighter is about $60,000.

Click the link above for the rest of the article. Ab.

12/9From AL:

www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22889376-5013404,00.phpl

Australian (NSW) pilot crashes, dies in water-bomb exercise
Matthew Knott | December 08, 2007

A respected pilot with more than 50 years' experience was killed yesterday when his aircraft crashed into Lake Liddell in NSW's Hunter Valley during a water-bombing exercise.

The death of crop-dusting pilot and warbird enthusiast Colin Pay, 75, of Scone, has stunned the aviation community.

His body was recovered from the wreckage late yesterday afternoon.

Mr Pay's yellow Air Tractor 802 was performing a water-skimming exercise on Lake Liddell, near the New England Highway northwest of Singleton, at 9.40am when it touched the surface of the lake, flipped over and sank.

The single-seat aircraft, designed as a crop-duster, had been converted for fire-bombing operations.

Mr Pay, regarded as one of the Rural Fire Service's best pilots, was practising scooping up water ahead of the bushfire season. He was the only person in the plane when it crashed. (more)

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

www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20071209-9999-1n9fire.phpl

San Diego County Wildfires; Defenses may take hit due to budget ills

By Michael Gardner, Copley News Service | December 9, 2007

SACRAMENTO: California's looming budget crisis threatens to crimp new spending to strengthen the state's wildfire defenses.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers will be challenged to close an estimated $10 billion budget gap just as demands grow for more air power, engines and firefighters in the wake of October's deadly firestorms, which claimed 10 lives, 1,700 homes and 368,000 acres in San Diego County alone.

The question is, how do we come up with more money for firefighting in a year we're going to have a big budget problem?” said Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego. “How do we? I'm not sure at this point.” (more at the link)

12/9Shadow,

Awesome!...

https://www.avuedigitalservices.com/

While I won't come "switch jobs" with you, I will encourage you to apply for a position in R-5 with the USFS. You can definitely make $11.01 an hour, however, it sounds like you would qualify higher than a GS-3 and we could surely use you, as the position vacancies are numerous here and we need experienced people.

This offer goes out to all folks interested... Come to R-5!... there are plenty of vacancies!

Also, please don't read between the lines too hard. My last post was meant to be informative as a compensation comparison to our State brothers' entry level positions. I don't believe there was a single "gripe" included. I'm sure there will be other posts from the State side of things that will help illustrate this and show what we're up against in recruiting young firefighters here.

-Joatmon
12/9Hey Shadow,

I understand where you are coming from. But here's
what I'm fighting for, or leaving for....Family of 4
in a rural Norcal location, my mortgage is $2348 a
month on a $378,000 fixer upper. If we rented, it
would be about the same. Luckily I'm a GS-09, but I
still have to pull a minimum of 600 hours OT just to
our BASIC living expenses. Just like you, I love my
job and have put up with our pay disparity for a long
time. But my kids are in high school and I'm staring
down the barrel of college that I can't even help pay
for. I chose this profession, I chose this outfit,
and now I am choosing to leave if an offer comes
through from CalFire. I hate the thought, but I hate
not being able to support the futures of my children.
My only regret in leaving is that I didn't do it
sooner. We could have lived in a cheaper area away
from our friends and family, away from our support
network, but we stayed for our own reasons. If I were
to take a state captain position, my base salary is
what I make with 500 hours of OT and I probably
wouldn't even have to move.

We just want to see things right, complaining and
venting are not always bad things. Sometimes they
release enough steam to make it through another week
of watching the guys across the street make 30% more.
Sometimes the venting reinforces our own tough
decisions to leave. Good luck down south.... there's
probably a few jobs opening up with the feds out here
if you want a raise.

ncalsupt
12/9To follow up on what A904G stated,

Cal-Fire FFI's start at $2338 base plus 76 hrs planned ot $855 for
a total guaranteed salary per month of $3193.

The salary tops out at $2843 plus POT $1039 = $3882.

You get all this without having to worry about hazard pay or Sunday
differential, plus your portal-to-portal adds up fast on extended
incidents.

NorCal FC

12/9Re hours worked, CalFire and Fed:

Yes you are right that Firefighter 1's work a 72 hour work week and that FS personnel work, in two weeks, only 8 hours more. But think of it this way: 3 days on, 4 days off, only 24 of those 72 hours are 'hard' hours, and 19 of those 72 hours are OT. Also count in the full medical benefits (medical, dental, and vision) virtually at no cost, start paying into your pension, no charge for staying in the barracks, and all fires are portal to portal.

I believe the Firefighter 1's current salary is in the $2000ish a month category plus those 76 hours of guaranteed OT.

A904G

12/9To add to "Tool Pusher" statements. Our Union Local 2881 has pursued health
benefits pretty hard over the last few years. Through some tough negotiation we
now enjoy free lifetime medical benefits.

Cal Fire Jake
12/9I think some people just like to gripe. I work for the Tennessee Division of Forestry as a Seasonal firefighter. We get no sick leave, holiday pay, or any medical benefits. Forget about allowances for clothing or boots, we get one pair of nomex pants and shirt. And we are issued an old military style web gear for fire shelter and water bottles. I make 7.28 per hour which is .12 cents more than last year. And we are forced to take off most, if not all, our overtime. My only hope is that someone will quit or retire before I go under. But, I love this job and the people I work for so I will hang in there as long as I can. I keep reminding myself that we do this job to protect lives and property, not get rich.

So for all those who think you got it bad and want to complain, come switch jobs with me. I would love to make $11.01 an hour.

Also I read somewhere on here the complaint about structure protection. I am also a Volunteer with the local rural fire department, so I am both sides of the line. I believe that Wild land firefighters should stick to wild land fires and fire departments should stick with structure fires. But, that is just my opinion.

Shadow

Welcome Shadow. With all due respect, I have a non-fire friend who just retired and moved back to Tennessee where he has elderly family. He bought a house comparable to his house in socal for 1/7 the price. So there's really no comparison of our cost of living with yours. Your low cost of living would probably be the only reason most western firefighters -- who haven't seen the beautiful coves of the Nolichucky and Watauga -- would want to trade places with you. (Western firefighters, it's beautiful country.) Fires don't burn quite the same in your normally damp, deciduous forests either. That may be changing somewhat with your SE drought. But this isn't a forum for p*ssing matches or name calling. We're all fighting fire wherever we are. We're all trying to create our dreams while making ends meet and sending kids to college. Shadow, if you haven't discerned the difference between griping, seeking respect and and trying to find a better way for your family, stick around and watch how it works. I'll be posting some of the reasons firefighter managers give for seeking employment with CalFire later today in advance of tomorrow's meeting.

I understand this discussion may not be relevant or important to non-CA, non-fed firefighters, but it's one of the ongoing threads right now. Ab.

12/9

Those R5 fed firefighters who are going to CalFire or thinking about going who haven't taken the Survey, please do so. We'll be tallying things up this afternoon/evening. Actually we've been working on checking data for outliers and internal consistency since yesterday, and eliminating 3 ip's of repeated responses. If we're wrong on this and someone entered their entire modules' data, please verify with us. Otherwise, we're eliminating the questionable responses. Better to err on the conservative side than confound the frequencies results. Ab.

12/9I stayed up late to see the snow falling in the lower elevation levels of
Southern California........ and got my wish.

Snow is falling and finally sticking at the 2,770 foot level and below.

Many folks don't understand or appreciate the re-charging feeling that
some good rain and some low level snows have on many wildland
firefighters who don't see or experience these events very often. It signals
a short time period to relax and enjoy things.

Lobotomy

Hope you're doing that. Ab.

12/8Roadrunner,

http://www.opm.gov/oca/07tables/pdf/salhr.pdf

A GS-3, entry level Firefighter with the Forest Service under the “Rest of US” locality pay table (which applies to most locations…even in R-5…) makes $11.01 and hour. No guarantee of any over-time whatsoever. No health/medical benefits. No retirement plan. No step increase availability. No allowances (ie-Boot/uniform/food).

If you multiply that by 4.3 (weeks in a month) you get $1893.72 before taxes.

They do have to pay for their barracks space (…in the neighborhood of $150.00 monthly).

They do not get portal-to portal pay while on assignment.

They (..this applies to R-5 with VERY few exceptions...) are unable to progress past a GS-4 grade ($12.36hr) without joining the Apprentice program, guaranteeing another 2-3 seasons @ GS-4 wage.

They do receive annual and sick leave accruement, and a lump sum for their unused annual @ the end of the season.

That’s the Fed side of pay for our temps….. anybody want to elaborate on the State side of things?

-Joatmon

P.S. - Dec 10th meeting folks: Please don’t think the retention problem is all about money …….. It’s mostly about respect.
12/8Roadrunner:

CalFire retirement is pro-rated by the years of service. The current formula for safety employees is 3% of your highest year salary (unplanned overtime not included) multiplied by the years of service. 90% requires 30 years service. A former legislator, Keith Richmann, is trying to get a proposition on the ballot to change this to 2 1/2%, and require the average of your five highest years salary for the calculation, as I understand it. This would apply to newly hired employees at some future time. So, to answer your question, the retirement system for CalFire is good now, but may change in the future.

Tool Pusher
12/8Did not say anything last May when I hung it up. Figured 21 years and
age 71 was enough. Had my redcard for this year. But never got to use
it. Some of us Volunteer types can surprise people. But will still continue
to monitor and may put in my 2 cents ever now and then.

Semper Fi and be SAFE, Old Man of the Dept

12/8Re: The Greatest Good

The Forest Service: What is "the Greatest Good"?

Ab,

I am happy to have known and been hired by Gertrude (Gert) Becker who was identified and interviewed for the Greatest Good centennial film. She even has her own special out-takes on the CD on what it meant to be a "district clerk" and how important her job was to the mission.

Gert worked almost half a century as a Forest Service employee.... That is what the "Forest Service Family" used to be known for..... leadership and direction from below to accomplish the mission and not be unable to call BS when things were going off course.

Gert was known for dressing down anyone for heading down the course of wrong decisions..... She was not afraid and was actually scary sometimes..... She said things like she saw them and didn't hold her punches when appropriately due........ Many past and current leaders of the fire program were hired by her, educated, and sometimes crossed her path...... Several of the past, current, and future leaders of the Forest Service knew her as the leader (and dictator) of the true Forest Service family.

Gert educated and raised Forest Supervisors, District Rangers, Forest and District Fire Management Officers, etc........ some went on to higher positions in the federal government and RO and WO fire management positions....... others went on to successful careers in the private sector.

Ken

12/8I think it is a tragedy, what is happening at the FS. An agency with such history and pride, is rotting from the inside out. Unfortunately working for a Fed agency, you are at the whim of the current administration, and its political appointees. All who change every four to eight years. Maybe some of these positions need to become career track positions with real qualifications and experience, not being politically connected.

The mission of the FS is changing, it is becoming a fire agency in the eyes of the public, the tax payer. How do you explain to a tax payer, who owns a home in the forest that policy prohibits FS from protecting structures because that’s not what we do? Or is it? The tax payer expects a certain level of service, they don't understand preparedness funds verses suppression, they see personnel and equipment and expect a return on their investment. They expect trained professionals to show up and be fire fighters, regardless of the color of the truck and whose land the fire is on.

As for Mellie's question about what a national fire organization would look like, it may already exist, it just needs overhauled. What about a national Master Mutual Aid agreement, similar to California? It could be broken down into regions that correspond with the current GACCS. When a fire starts, the GACC coordinates resources. When resources become taxed surrounding GACCS starting mobilizing resources to the affected GACC. Resources are dispatched based on type, need and availability, and not jurisdiction. NICC would be the coordination between the GACCS. Hopefully the end result would be the closest available resource being dispatched to the incident. The only radical idea here is blurring the lines of jurisdictions. Basically, eliminate all boundaries, and focus on the greater good. The bottom line is, we are providing a service, and the public is the consumer. If we don't provide the level of service the public wants, we will be forced to change what we do and how we do it. I think we have reached that point because managers are denying the shift that is occurring in the FS mission.

On another note, all I keep hearing about is what went wrong in the response to the So Cal Fires. What about what went right?!!! Compared to 2003, fewer homes were lost, fewer acres burned, fewer civilian lives lost, no fire fighter lives lost, and the largest evacuation in state history. At face value I'd say we did pretty darned good, and yes we did learn from 2003. Now lets learn from 2007 and be prepared for the next time.

Best wishes to all.

In norcal

12/8It seems what the calfire /local fire folks are saying is that the difference between
entry level calfire and entry level fs pay isn't so big, but the difference gets bigger
the higher you go. Makes sense --> more training, knowledge=more valuable.
56hr local guy and James is this right?

I heard retirement from calfire (90% of pay) is lots better than from the fs (60%
of pay). Is this right? I'm a long way from retirement. Will the state try to get rid
of these kinds of pensions? CA is running quite a deficit.

roadrunner

12/8Ab,

Just a bit of a FYI. The Plumas District Ranger going to the retention
meeting came from fire. She took the Feather River Shots out on a
tour this season to keep her crewboss qual current. She is part of our
fire family and is actually a good line officer and voice for firefighters.

So she's a good choice to take the trip to Sac for the meeting. :)

Bags packed

Glad to hear it. Jay Perkins (FMO on the Klamath is good; Steve Diaz head the R5 engine captains group is good; Johnny Clem, the R5 hotshots and type 2 handcrews rep is good. Don't know which others will be there, but I hope for good solutions for retention to come out of this.

If you're from R5, thinking of going to CalFire and haven't taken the Survey, please do. Ab.

12/8ms,

The BDF numbers are on the low side because BDF took one of the initial hits with losses to other agencies.

Most folks who could qualify for the CDF Captains, FAE, and FF2 lists already left. In a few years, after the folks who filled the vacant slots gain enough training and experience, the BDF numbers of attrition will be back up if things don't change.

The GS-8 Engine Captain who went to Portland and defended the Captains during the second un-needed and un-warranted Captains Desk Audit. He also left to CAL FIRE as an inmate Captain. He defended and forwarded the GS-8 position to other regions because he couldn't care for his family on current Forest Service pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Now GS-8 and GS-7 folks are considering leaving even to lowly entry level CDF Firefighter 1 seasonal positions.

Another reason that BDF has lower numbers of reported folks willing to leave is their middle and upper level fire management folks who show hope and understand the problems, and are actively working towards solutions..... and line officers are engaged by them and willing to have factual and sometimes pointed discussions on the facts about what is happening in regards to recruitment and retention of firefighters.

The root of the problem is with classification and the mistaken belief that each person who leaves can be replaced.

Analyst

Analyst, I've been pondering the reasons for low BDF numbers. I also thought of 1) the solidarity/cohesiveness of firefighters having gone through Esperanza together and 2) the strength of the fine fire leadership and forest leadership... High morale and sense of self worth plus recognition go a long way in creating an environment where people want to stay. Lots of comments say the region and the FS just don't care. Ab.

12/8El Cariso Hot Shot Reunion

Ab,

I have been receiving a lot of questions as to who is eligible to attend. Some
people think the reunion is only for old fire far*s. That's not true. I had hoped
that all past and present hot shots could get together and share experiences.
Sometimes a lot of good comes out of such a meeting. All past and present
El Cariso Hot Shots are welcome.

Gordon King

email:
gking1 at symbol bak.rr. com (take out the spaces; put in the @)

Readers, contact Gordon if you plan to attend the reunion. He needs to know numbers. Ab.

12/8Mellie,

Great ideas and observations!!!

Part of the problem is "who" is leading the decisions of folks in the Senior Executive Service (SES) positions, politically appointed agency heads, and the poor (literally) folks who have to report to them and lead wildland fire programs and other natural resource programs while others get rich.

It is a program being set up to fail and be outsourced to the highest bidder.

> From: http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1643

Hearing Examines Executive Pay and Compensation Consultants

"On Wednesday December 5th, the Committee held a hearing to examine the role played by compensation consultants in determining the pay packages of senior executives at the largest publicly traded corporations. Corporate governance experts, institutional investors, and compensation consulting firms testified regarding the role of consultants in setting executive pay, efforts to prevent and manage conflicts of interest, and the adequacy of the information available to shareholders and the public."

"During the hearing, Chairman Waxman released a report regarding conflicts of interest at executive compensation firms." (79K pdf file)

With Mark Rey ("former" timber lobbyist in a failed timber industry) leading the ultimate decisions of the Forest Service and appointing the "Chiefs", the future doesn't look good in terms of outsourcing, contracting, and selling out the mission and history of the Forest Service.

"Where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run." ~~ Gifford Pinchot

/s/ Follow the Money

12/8Hi folks,

It seems that from the many posts on this forum regarding people "jumping ship" from USFS to CALFIRE, the majority appear to be from R5. Just curious, are employees from other regions also trying to get hired by CALFIRE? Is there more discontent in R5 than other regions?? I worked in southern California many years ago (1984-86) on the Cleveland NF - Descanso RD, and worked with great folks who seemed to really like their job. I'm sorry to hear how things have gone downhill.

..Forestry Tech

Regarding comments from the survey and comments from people who have emailed me: Several from other regions report having CalFire interviews for the Captain position. Several from other regions report seriously looking at other Agencies than the FS (BLM, NPS) to seek their permanent career path.

12/8ncal supt.

I'm not sure if were talking about the same thing but if you're switching to a 56 hr week platoon schedule, you're likely to make less per hour. Another way of saying it is your biweekly pay will remain the same even though your hours worked per week increase. Also when you're on a 14 day assignment you will loose 16hrs per week of overtime. When you add hazard pay plus the higher 40 week overtime rate, it closes the gap between what so called portal to portal people make since most Feds are getting 16 hours per day when on assignments. Having said that, I realize that that the base pay is higher for most state and local governments. I'm not trying to make a dollar for dollar comparison of Fed vs State&Local I just want to shed some light on what happens to your hourly rate with different schedules. I think some Federal people would be surprised at how low the hourly rate is for the average mid step Firefighter from a state or local agency.

Maybe you're talking about a big pay raise by increasing hours worked by changing schedules that would be one way to help our deserving under paid Federal Brothers and Sisters.

56hr week local guy
12/8I caution all of you who want to leave the Forest Service for CDF for the money.
Look at the hourly rates and compare.

A firefighter 1 makes a little over 8 dollars an hour and you work 72 hours a week
so you get 19 hours of ot on their plan. You may bring home more money, but you
will work tons of hours to get it. You will work, in a week, 8 hours short of what
you would work in 2 weeks with the Forest Service.

Sure, schedule B Captains and some Engineers can make 100,000 in the year but
they will have put in sometimes twice the hours of a USFS contemporary.

Please dont think everything is equal, it is not. You may earn more but you will put
in many more hours with CDF than you do in the Forest Service.

For what its worth, I am a former R-5er who left for CDF a few years ago and am
thinking about returning to the Forest Service.
\
James

12/7Like most of the other R-5 folks on this site...I am fed up!

As much as I'd like to say I love my job, I don't. I don't like my job when I make half as much as everyone else on a fire on MY forest. I hate that I have to work 100 hrs of overtime in a single pay period just to make other agencies' base wages. I hate that I wear the same uniform as a Rec Tech. I hate that I don't have a fire patch on my uniform. I hate that during the winter, I make less than people on unemployment. I hate that while I make less than people on unemployment I have to hike in the snow to burn piles all day. I guess that I'm burned out. I guess that for all my hard work and sacrifice to this agency I can never afford the mortgage on a median priced home in this area. I hate that after 7 years with this agency, I am willing to accept a seasonal position with Cal Fire just to survive.

I hope that the powers that be will read this an understand that if something isn't done with this meeting on the 10th everyone is going to suffer. And by that I mean, the people that jump ship will be working for a new agency, and the people that stick around are going to be forced to pick up the slack. Get it together Forest Service...you have an AMAZING workforce!!! Use it to your advantage!!!! Don't continue to lose the people you spend so much money to train! Take care of the folks that have sacrificed so much to work for you for so long! It's time to show some love to the folks that do so much for so little.

Signed,
Havoc

12/7Question on contacts

A few questions if you have a minute.

I applied for several positions on usajobs, it confused me though because of the amount of positions for entry level, (aid etc.) alot of them have the same job number but list different locations. should i apply to all of them? Also, in trying to be persistent - who should i contact to express my interest? the offices of the seven locations that i picked? human resources?

also, with all of the stuff going on this season with the different agencies, how likely do you think it would be for me to get a position? I applied for pretty much all western states - Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana etc. I have no previous wildland fire experience, but have been a volunteer firefighter for 5 years with some training with that. ie. firefighter 1, hazmat, rescue tech, emt etc etc.

any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Adam Keeney

I'll put anyone who has the answers in touch with Adam.
Added on 12/8: Thanks to the two people whose messages I have forwarded on. Ab.

12/7Hi Mellie,

I am always happy to hear your sage words (you reckon from my Alma Mater, to boot,) and you are again, as always, right on in describing the NUT. Thank you for your wisdom.

Mellie and readers: if you put the NUT somewhere out here in most of the rest of the United States of America the feds do not have any discussion with the states or any other entity about relinquishing responsibility for wildland fire management. The entire concept is unthinkable.

History and reality has been that the feds (USFS, BLM, NPS, FWS) provide nearly ALL of the professional wildland fire management outside of the municipalities in large portions of the western part of this country. There is no way, without a massive infusion of funds over several years, any non-fed entity could assume fire management responsibilities for the USFS/BLM/NPS/USFWS. Lord knows the states/counties don't achieve professional levels of wildland fire management on much of their own land right now.

The New Mexico State Forestry, bless their heart, has less than 20 permanent employees in a state that is about 70% federal land. Similar staffing levels is the case in most western and southern state forestry/fire agencies. Unpaid, poorly staffed and equipped VFD's are the rule and most of them head to the house as soon as the feds arrive.

The feds need to step up to the plate and do their wildland fire management job and do it properly. Not doing it at all is not an option anywhere and as a tax payer, albeit a retiree, I am beginning to get pretty weary of this relinquishment proposal.

Now, visiting another possible solution to the feds giving up wildland fire management: Maybe they should give it to contractors at a massive and ridiculous cost to the taxpayers. I could get rich off of that after spending an entire career hand-to-mouth as a fed wildland firefighter. Sounds pretty good to me but would the green blood still flow with big money as my motive??

Another idea: Why not use certain of the environmental groups as contractors for wildland fire management? Many of them already work as 'research' contractors and they have been trying to dictate fed fire management policy and actions now for quite some time. They would just love all that money and you had better believe they are already lusting after it!! Firefighter safety as a priority, however, would have to be discussed with them at great length. It definitely is not currently even on their radar screen let alone anything they know or care anything about. I don't want to be there.

NMAirBear
12/7Casey & Lobotomy,

Thanks! Lobo, it is nice to hear the middle management is on the same page. I think the whole denial problem starts in some places at the FFMO range in others it makes it to the regional level. Maybe some peer pressure at the FFMO level would convince the holdouts to create a solid voice. An pass that solidarity up into the region and off to the WO. I love working for the Fed, because it opens up regions of the US not normally traveled to by the State. I'll miss traveling to places in the outdoors that most Americans will never see in their lifetime. :)

Casey,
when I leave I still will support the association with my voice and money every month. I called and talked with Jason for a little while and told him about the situation I'm seeing. 1/3 to 1/2 of the captains and engineers I know have a standing app in with Cal-fire or other organizations. I've seen up and comers out of the academy leave and take jobs pounding nails to pay their bills. We had a nice chat and I left the door open for him to call me and ask more questions. I really do hope things change after this meeting on the tenth so I can put my bags in the closet. You won't lose a member's voice or a member for that matter. It will just be coming from a different position unless something changes. The Fed fire family is a family I grew up in. An I will always stand up for them and watch their backs like they would for me.

Bags Packed
12/7What will the fed organization/agency be that fights fire?

normbc, Rod, ms (I hear you), et al,

In my opinion and from what I've heard at all levels, the NUT the FS & DOI is trying to CRACK is

  • how can Fed Fire (especially the FS) divest itself of fire suppression? plus
  • how, especially, can it divest itself of anything to do with structures and interface? or
  • how can it get fire management and planning back in Natural Resources and only NR?

I don't know how the 2 NIMO teams would fit in if the FS divested itself of the major part of the current fire program. Obviously 2 would not be enough.

I don't know where we get the trained, experienced highly motivated wildland firefighters that would make up NIMO teams in the future without a pipeline of training and on-the-ground wildland firefighting experience.

And think on this, NO ONE that I have heard of is building the National Coordination System for interstate and intrastate communication, resources movement, etc that would be necessary for NIMO Teams to operate effectively if the land management agencies succeed in divesting themselves of Wildland Fire on the Interface. It would have to come under something like International Association of Fire Chiefs or something. It's not in NIMS! At least if some organization or agency were tasked and started developing that structure and that process we'd quickly see what's needed next to build it to replace what FIRE within the Land Management Agencies has been doing on an ever larger scale over the last 30 years.

I'm not sure anyone on up the FS organizational chain is really thinking of the future of fed fire/all risk per se in terms of what it should/could be for the nation. I think they're only thinking of it in narrow little terms of Natural Resources and what FIRE will not continue to be. (By Gawd, we will make them comply.) If the NR line officers had it worked out and saw the big picture, people at the Forest and RO and WO levels would be talking to firefighters about what is to come and how the rest will be protected.

OK, there's nothing that says land management agencies that supervised interagency wildland fire in the past -- wherever it occurred and they had responsibility -- have to continue to supervise fire on the huge, drought-impacted, fuel-laden, bug-ridden interface, one-way-in-one-way-out road, with STRUCTURES and PEOPLE! that exists today.

However, it seems the USA PUBLIC should be told up front that there will be few FS or fed suppression forces next season and the organization of those forces will be going away because what's the point with only a pissy little fire program and where's the $$ to continue running it large??? We're talking DEATH of a national federal fire program --with its coordinating capabilities-- by attrition, by thoughtlessness, because NR people don't understand what the fire organization does and has done. What a bass ackwards way to do it. Gawd, almost makes me feel like a conspiracy theorist. Unfortunately, I think those in charge are smart enough to think up the current scenario intentionally. They're just going down the road, trying to go back to NR, get their agency's finances in order, demonstrate the control they think they should have... not realizing you can never go back and it's better to go forward with communication and integrity and responsibility, to share and ask questions and see where the blind spots are. To me this is a national security issue! Doesn't anyone else see it?

Someone needs to get busy building the interstate and intrastate parts of a national fire organization!!!!

ms, I see what you're getting at about creating the alternative fire organization now before the next firestorm... Before the options, the wisdom, the systems, the resources are gone. Tell me what I can do and I'll organize that part.

Readers, comments???

Mellie

12/7Do you think with the possible new 24 hour staffing that engines will
be the place to make money? Has there been any discussion on staffing
alternatives for hotshots and helitack crews that cannot realistically staff
a Kelly schedule full time? If not, I can see myself and others jumping
from the crew world over to engines just for pay. I think it could leave
a vacuum for experience and leadership on the crew level.

Just a thought

ncal supt

121/7Ab, on the Mendocino NF we have around 7 out of 11 of our captains going in
for an interview along with several that have applied for the engineers positions.

5 chief officers also have a interview date.

S

12/7Survey:

Greetings, Abs and all.

At a recent FMO meeting our district fire staffs presented our forest fire
staff with the results of our own survey on who had applied for the Cal
Fire captains positions. ( I know you will not be able to use this
information for your survey.) I feel compelled to get this information out
in the hope that someone attending the Dec. 10th meeting sees it and heeds
the message that it holds. Even if all these irreplaceable employees do
not get jobs this time there is always the next round. This is the results
of our survey.
* 3  GS-9 Chief Officers
* 7  GS-8 Captains
* 4  GS-7 FEOs
Ours is a relatively small Northern Cal. forest, if we loose these
personnel our fire management program will be annihilated !
Thank you for your time.

CHAPPY

I've gotten the same info from someone else on your forest. I'll pass it on to the appropriate person, who is probably also reading here. Ab.

12/7The (MINICS) MN Incident Command System, just concluded its seasonal
end of the year fire planning/meetings in Duluth.

As part of our commitment to the WFF a silent auction was held to support
the WFF.

This years auction totaled $569.50 to be forwarded to the WFF.

Thanks to all who participated in the auction, and especially the people from
(MIFC) MN Interagency Fire Center, who put the auction together.

And of course thanks to the WFF who have the backs of all of us.

Lucky Lindy

Thanks Lucky Lindy. Good job. Tell everyone thanks and well done.
Readers, please remember the WFF in your donations as we approach year end. Feel free to donate now, whether a General fund donation, 52 Club, or to the Santa Helper fund! Donations made this year (and any year!) are tax deductible. WFF is non-profit. In a sense, WFF is us, they serve our families' needs. They are our safety blanket without regard to agency or whether private sector, fed, state, vollie or county. They fill a real and critical need and let this Ab breathe more easily at night during fire season. Ab.

12/7Let's put surveys into perspective.....

I'm a GS-9 District AFMO (Battalion Chief) working for a federal agency.
I make less and have lesser benefits (gross) than all entry level employees
(Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2, FAE, and Captain) of another state agency
recruiting our employees.

Other competing agencies and companies also offer better perks. Most
look at housing costs, employment trends, and value of the employee.

Circle or Spiral?
12/7Re Cascade Complex APA

Thanks for the info, Mellie. The matrix helps me understand the differences.

FYI: The Cascade Complex APA is posted on the Lessons Learned website.
It's not in the searchable database yet, but you can find a link to it here:
www.wildfirelessons.net/WhatsNew.aspx

I like the search utility here, too: www.wildfirelessons.net/Reviews.aspx
I hope we'll be able to find it there for a quick find.

mcleod

That's a good search utility at Lessons Learned by state and/or year and/or incident.
You can always use the search utility on the wlf.com hotlist as well. It's very good with keywords more than 3 characters. We're posting links to all reports as they come to us. Ab.

12/7Numbers:

The good thing about the numbers is they trend in concert with forest fire
populations. Except for BDF which is on the low side, which is better than
an unrealistic high result. Overall the numbers could lead one to believe in
the accuracy of this survey. Admittedly, I was a little worried the results
were going to be skewed. Appreciate everyone being responsible in taking
the survey.

As ab said, if anyone is missing, please get them in, especially before the
10th.

thanks for sharing ab's. Was an update planned for Sunday the 9th?

ms

Yes, we will be updating on the 9th. We'll be keeping it simple and straightforward. We are scrutinizing results and IPs as they come in. People are being responsible. Good job. Carry on. Ab.

12/7Staying Packed in Norcal,

Like you and hundreds of others who bleed green on a daily basis in Region 5 and other areas, I am with you. If positive changes don't happen and aren't communicated to the troops in the field during the Dec. 10-14 R-5 meeting.... I'm hitting the street for a much needed job change.

For me, I'm mid-level management in the organization and of critical need for mission delivery.... Most often, folks are paid $120,000 to $140,000 per annum to be mid-level corporate managers. I get $80,000 per year with over 600 hours of overtime and still struggle in my area.

Those in our entry level, apprentice, and journey levels cannot support their families based upon promises and hope.

I'd settle for a base pay at half of that to continue to live my dream of "Caring for the land, serving people" ..... go figure, I love my job and the outdoors, but I am not stupid, nor are our firefighters.

I won't ride a sinking ship without leadership.... especially a Dialogos Model funded to outsource federal programs and responsibilities..... "Spiral Model for Transformation"..........

Dialogos terminology.... not mine..... but we are surely in a spiral in the direction the wildland fire program heads towards........... The direction could be either positive or negative depending upon the actions of our leadership.

For me, I hope the direction is positive, but the direction is way above the level of Forestry Technicians to affect change. Most often, the spiral is seen as going downwards by folks in the field..... like down the drain.

I'd be happy with just being properly classified as a firefighter or wildland firefighter.

Lobotomy
12/6Dear "Staying Packed"

I think part of the problem is that, because of the lack of real, straight-forward communication from the RO to ALL fire personnel in Region 5, a variety of interpretations, theories etc., are being generated about the upcoming meetings and what they are all about.

The list of those invited is curious to say the least. Apparently the RO wants to discuss the 24 hr staffing proposal from the BDF yet the driving force behind that proposal has apparently not been invited.

I've heard only a few names of those actually being invited: the Forest Supervisor off the ANF, a FMO/fire planner from the Klamath; a District Ranger from the Plumas and perhaps some members of the BOD. With respect to the meetings just being a SoCal issue at these meetings, I don't necessarily think that's so. At least I hope not. The RO would be truly narrow-minded if that were the case. In fact, their own Table 5 in the briefing paper reports a worse retention problem in Northern California than Southern California. Yet often times these tables are seriously flawed.

I suspect that someone at those meetings will be a FWFSA member whether the RO is aware of it or not. And as is often the case, we'll get wind of what's been discussed far sooner than the RO wants it to be known. Once we determine what the information is, we'll get it out.

Obviously I wish the FWFSA would be afforded the opportunity to participate but I do know that our influence will be felt by the RO leadership whether they want to acknowledge that or not. Stay tuned...and put the luggage in the closet. :)

Casey
12/6NorCal Tom:

While I absolutely agree with the adage that "all fuels get treated eventually - one way or another", the flavor or your post appears to be a shot at the who, not the what. At the risk of displaying my naivet, I was under the impression that is the job of the judiciary to render, in as much as is humanly possible, dispassionate judgment on questions of law. Perhaps the fault lies with the agency for taking the easy way out in the first place, not looking around the corner & anticipating what might transpire.....wait a minute -isn't that the sort of thing we fire folks do? And if Fire wasn't involved in the decision to go the CE route, we sure should have been.

Stay tuned - the DOI agencies have utilized the same vehicle to speed fuel treatments. We'll be hearing from them shortly.

Old Boot

NorCal Tom had since added a "tongue in cheek". Ab.

12/6Ab,

Just wanted to pass this along. Maybe everyone has seen it already maybe not. Retention strategy--Briefing Paper from 9/26 (103 K doc file) This meeting seems to be more about the retention problems in "SOCAL" than about the retention problems in "California". I really do wish I could live my life as a bureaucratic ostrich like so many in the Exec pay grades.

FWFSA: I am a member, one of the many that has Casey's back as he has ours. I support feverishly. I am now married and tired... tired of being paid $20,000 less a year, because I drive a green truck. My app is in, my bags are packed, and talk is just that, talk.

To everyone walking into that meeting: Put your money where your mouth is and stop being an ostrich.

To Casey: kick butt, take names. If I can submit a wish list. Portal to portal and Kelly's are nice, but there is another half of the state that needs to be thought about too. How about a pay raise so I don't have to worry about feeding my family all winter. A California Locality might be a novel idea or a series and pay adjustment like LEOs too.. Why do we just look at putting Socal on Kelly's and think that solves the problem?

Sorry Ab I'm all over the place. Recognizing the problem is step 1 to fixing the problem.. And step 1 took how long?

Thanks,
Staying Packed in Norcal

This was posted on 11/25 along with the Revised version: Revised Retention Briefing Paper from 11/13 (116 K doc file)

12/6Current survey tally:

Here's the updated tally of those who are pretty far along in the process of getting hired by CalFire. At the moment there are 61 CA fed firefighters who have reported in via the survey. 50 are FS on forests; 11 of them are "Other", BLM, NPS, FS sj, cache, etc. These are our "journeyman/journeywoman" firefighters, mostly in GS 8-11 range. They are engine captains, T2 handcrew supes/captains, hotshot supes/captains, AFMOs, our type 3, 4, 5 ICs. They are those important for initial attack, catching them when they're small! You know what happens when we don't catch them...

Readers, I know this list is incomplete because I know of several more people on some of the norcal forests. No doubt it's incomplete from socal as well. If you have R5 friends who are applying for CalFire positions -- at any level -- email them and let them know; get them to take our survey, please.

# of people with interview dates (for CalFire Captain position) by forest

5 ANF
2 BDF
9 CNF
1 ENF
1 INF
2 KNF
4 LNF
8 LPF
4 MNF
2 PNF
5 SHF
2 SRF
2 STF
1 TMU
2 TNF

12/6They were a part of what Tom Brokaw calls "The Greatest Generation". And boy was he ever right!

Fire Stations everywhere, Bring Them Flags Down on the 7th!

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20250

President George W. Bush designated December 7, 2007, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. On December 7, 2007, America will honor those brave individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our homeland, and we recognize those veterans who, with strength and resolve, defended our Nation and advanced the cause of freedom. As we fly the flag at half staff tomorrow, December 7, we honor not only their memory, but also the sacrifice being made by all our Armed Forces and citizens defending our Nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.

Chuck Conner
Acting Secretary

Staying with the WWII theme, If you ever want to watch a good movie that highlights the importance of leadership, go out and rent or purchase the HBO series "Band of Brothers".

letterman

12/6Hi Ab,

Just for the sake of using past experience with the Ninth Circuit Court, I found it to be the most Overturned court in the land. Of every ten decisions they render, seven are somehow changed; so for all who are concerned be patient and let this scenario play out. I don’t know why their court decision history is so jaded, but they render some strange decisions that get straightened out at the next level.

Normbc9

12/6Re: To the judge on the Ninth Circuit Court Decision

From the Quotes to Live By page:

Often said by many after another court ruling stopping a thinning project:
"All fuels get treated eventually -- one way or another."

Ab, add "tongue in cheek", in the spirit of the quotes list! Cheers!

NorCal Tom

12/6Nice intro and explanation of the Cascade Complex APA from the Intermountain Region Deputy Regional Forester.

It's also posted on the FAM website with the AAR. Hopefully it will be posted on the Lessons Learned site as well. Link to FAM is in the body of the letter below. I can't say enough how hopeful I feel as a stress psychologist on seeing this lessons learned process actually demonstrated at a very high level of the fire organization. An opportunity was seized to evaluate and learn and share that learning widely. It indicates to me that someday FIRE will truly be a "high reliability organization" at all levels of the organization and at every opportunity. We're not quite there yet, but we're on the right trajectory.

Thanks All! Kudos to Broyles and his team. It takes courage and leadership! May we all demonstrate it in like manner!

Mellie

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

File Code: 5100/6730
Date: December 4, 2007
Subject: Cascade Complex Accident Prevention Analysis

The Cascade Complex Accident Prevention Analysis is now released and posted on the web. This
report examined the circumstances surrounding three events: the entrapment of two fire support
contractors, implementation of the “stay in place plan” for the Cascade Complex Incident
Command Post, and the decision to remain at that same ICP after the event. The process used to
review and investigate the accidents analyzed in the report may not be familiar to many of you.

The Accident Prevention Analysis (APA) process has several unique characteristics:

The APA process is designed to meet the intent of the Forest Service Serious Accident
Investigation (SAI) process but incorporates the Doctrinal approach of principal-centered
performance rather than rule-focused compliance.

The process forces a focus on the ‘upstream’ culture and the organization that influenced
performance. This goes beyond the proximal root cause that is typically labeled a causal
factor in other types of investigations.

Using an APA instead of the more typical SAI process does not relieve anyone of
accountability for their actions. Had there been any evidence of a willful disregard for human
safety, the APA process would have been terminated and an Administrative and/or Law
Enforcement Investigation would have been instigated.

The process values learning over blaming. The analysis is sufficiently complete to enable the
reader to understand what the decisions were made at the time, why they were made and how
those decisions seemed right, making perfect sense at the time. This is very powerful because
the players in this event were our most qualified and competent. If their decisions and actions
made sense to them at the time, it is very likely similar decisions and actions will make sense
again to others unless we share this experience and learn from it.

Enclosed is a question and answer document that further elaborates on this review. I encourage
every line officer and firefighter to read the report, discuss it, and learn from it. You can download
the report at: www.fs.fed.us/fire, under the heading: “What’s New.”

Using a new process is never easy, especially when we are learning and applying what we learn at
the same time. For their willingness to facilitate the APA I want to acknowledge the leadership,
energy, and enthusiasm of the entire review team—thank you for your efforts.

To all of the people interviewed for the story—thank you. Your accounts and reflections make
meaning out of timelines and events. It is my hope that the story documented here serves to
stimulate thinking and actions that contribute to us all being safe in our work.

/s/ Cathrine L. Beaty
Deputy Regional Forester

12/6To All:

I spoke with Jason Pesick last evening for about 40 minutes, if not longer.
There are very few press people the FWFSA deals with for obvious reasons,
but I believe Jason is truly interested in the issues and willing to sink his teeth
into them. Thus, I would encourage anyone out there to contact him.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
12/6Briefing described by rosevalley:

I have been reading the posts on this especially the one dated 12/05 from rosevalley; and I’m curious as to the meditation/breathing exercise, that he said the superintendent had used and adapted from Ted Putnam. Also interested from a safety perspective; people’s ideas on briefings. Thought there were some good points brought up.

Leo Drapeau
Safety Program Coordinator
Forest Protection Division
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

When it comes to Safety Remember…
"A rapidly escalating fire has the right of way, and..
"If the fire is in range, so are you."

Leo, That post is generating some email traffic behind the scenes. Readers, does anyone know which crew used that briefing method? On another note, nice quotes at the bottom of your email... I'll have to see if your two quotes are on the "Quotes to Live By" page. Oh yeah, they're attributed to "Charlie Drag-Mcleod!" Haw Haw. Ab.

12/6Hugh,

Old friend, I have suffered some pretty hefty retribution lately as an AD/Retired
FMO who still wants to do my part and sticks up for better pay and working
conditions for wildland firefighters. My measured response is, therefore, that I
am religiously paying my dues and then some to FWFSA. Solidarity of wildland
firefighters in support of FWFSA is now the only chance of making any progress
towards what you (we) started several years ago on behalf of ADs.

NMAirBear
12/6I know this topic has been discussed before - boots. I want to explore some
other boots besides whites. I know there are people out there who have
already done the homework. From what I can tell there are La Sportiva's and
Scarpa's? It looks some of them may have a full or partial shank that may
make them to stiff? It looks like the La Sportiva - Glacier evo model is
leather? Any input on other options besides whites would be appreciated.
Thanks.

Signed
Sore Knees

Since questions and comments about boots come up so routinely, it's good to have this topic on the hotlist forum. So I've posted this question there. www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1867 Hopefully people will reply there as well.

If you're not registered, please do so. Alternatively, if you want to email Ab, I'll copy/paste your reply to this hotlist thread. Ab.

12/6Tahoe Terrie,

I got this matrix of methodology options in doc form. It came round-robin.
I just formatted it in html since you asked:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/from-aar-to-sai.php

Very cool for keeping things straight. The APA (Accident Prevention Analysis)
was called the Peer Review initially. Steve Holdsambeck developed that
process. FLA (Facilitated Learning Analysis) was developed by Paul
Chamberlain.

Mellie

Thanks Ab for posting...

12/6ms on Centralized Fire Management

Not sure what the perfect solution is but Centralization may be best. Law Enforcement
is not exactly rosy as a stove pipe organization. Centralization has it's fall-backs,
particularly budget related. Our office has to buy our LEO equipment from regular
funds in order for them to do their job more efficiently. Also, please do not stereotype
line officers as out of the loop on fire. I am one and am heavily involved in fire, both
RX and wildland. I am continually adding to my fire quals and have attended your list
of courses within the last 10 years. I am far from alone, but the world is changing.
There are issues. But we as firefighting professionals (that's all of us from the
seasonal/ 13-13, PFT, contractor, etc.) are a smart, dedicated bunch and we'll figure
out what's best for all of us.

District Ranger

12/6Anyone following and reading the different kinds of reports and ways of
learning from decisions made on the fireline: AAR, FLA, APA. SAI

Is there some simple place that lays out the options and includes
implications? Someone asked me and I'm having trouble keeping things
straight.

Thanks in advance, I hope.

Tahoe Terrie

12/6I'm a reporter at The Sun newspaper in San Bernardino. I'm writing a
story about the Forest Service's retention problems, and I've talked
to a number of people about them. I'm trying to find a firefighter
thinking about leaving the Forest Service or who recently left for
another agency. I'll be writing my story Thursday <today>, and it would make
the story a lot better if I could talk to a firefighter facing these
issues, especially someone in the San Bernardino NF. Please give me a
call if you want to talk.

Jason Pesick
Metro Reporter
The Sun
(909) 386-3861 (work)
(248) 420-3718 (cell)

Jason, perhaps someone will call you. The problem is that most who are leaving or have left the FS love it and would not be leaving/have left if they had not felt there was no alternative for themselves and their families. Ab.

12/6Re: The Ninth Circuit Court Decision

I was initially very happy since fuels targets would obviously need to be lowered and reduce my workload (tongue in cheek). Very few areas have good post 2004 "shelf stock" ready to be implemented under the current Court decision. The case was sent back to the original judge with instructions on an injunction to halt the HFI Categorical Exclusion (CE) provisions nationwide.

Then the reality sank in...... The funding and targets have already been allocated to protect the communities at risk.

Looks like a temporary lull in project implementation again, while for some reason the planning storm is revisited again and sucks up the implementation $$$.

Those involved in fuels management saw it coming....... another lack of leadership in the fire and fuels program...... or more appropriately stated.... leadership decisions that didn't come from within the fire and fuels program ranks.

More now than ever before, the Forest Service needs to be centralized with a Deputy Chief of Fire and Fuels Management working directly for/with the Chief of the Forest Service in accomplishing the mission, vision, goals, and objectives of the agency. I've never understood why the Fire Director works for the Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry while the funding and direction for the fire program come through other mission areas?

/s/ Supervisory Fuels Technician
12/6From NMAirBear:

The U.S Forest Service in Region 3 is being sued again by the Fores<snip t> Guardians. While claiming to be the guys in the white hats on the subject of fire management, the Fores<snip t> Guardians environmental gp has done more than any other group in the recent past to derail the fire management planning process and to prevent implementation of any active fuels management in AZ and NM. See:

www.examiner.com/a-1088248~Forest_Service_sued_over_fire_management_plans_in_Southwest.phpl
12/6I am curious if anyone know the number of Captains that Cal--Fire is
planning on hiring this next round? I've heard between 300 and 500. Anyone
have anything a bit more exact?

"FED-UP" in R-5
12/6Dear Ready to write the next chapter:

You said:

"I’m wondering if yactak could share how, who, and what a person
needs to do to get signed up with a personal services contract since the COs
I’ve talked to, for the most part, believe the AD system is working well for
the FS and knows of no reason to do anything any different."

There is not enough room on this forum to explain how ludicrous the above
COs' statement is.

This is the same attitude and approach administration leadership has taken
toward the retention issue and the overall dysfunction of the Forest Service.
"Hear no evil, see no evil ..... and by all means keep your head stuck securely
in the sands of ignorance and denial." And as Lobotomy just posted, don't
bother to even utilize the right terminology, much less understand it.

Nor is there enough space here to detail exactly how toothless a tiger the AD
Firefighter Association has become. The ADFA was formed in 2003 in response
to a myriad of problems and issues relating to the AD program, none - repeat
none - of which have been solved.

I'll let previously active and very supportive ADFA members such as NMAirBear
address that, if they wish, as I am not only extremely disappointed but angry
as well regarding how little, if anything, the ADFA Board has done since to
support their ADFA membership.

The current ADFA Board could take 1 or 2 pages out of Casey's FWFSA book as a
road map toward recovering some of the momentum and initiative we had going a
few years ago. You may not be be liked by agency management, but you will be
effective.

Hugh Carson
ex-Chair, AD Firefighter Association

12/6More USFS "Overhead Assessment" $$ (read that as fire dollars that are taken off the top before they reach the field) being awarded NON-COMPETITIVELY for over $4,000,000.

The Forest Service, Washington Office intends to award on a sole source basis under the authority of 41 USC 253 (c)(1), a contract with base items totaling approximately $1,858,100.00, and potential additional option items totaling approximately $2,176,000.00 with Dialogos International, LLC of Cambridge, MA for work identified as: Leadership Alignment and Mission Clarity. Two efforts have been identified to initiate this effort; working with the overall Forest Service Leadership and work within Fire and Aviation Management. This work will bring about leadership realignment between the Executive Leadership Team, Regional Foresters and the rest of the National Leadership Team to create direct and sustainable impact on the culture and safety of the Forest Service.

The contemplated efforts are follow-on acquisitions to continue efforts for large system change. The Dialogos model for large-system change is known as the Spiral Model for Transformation. The program will take a step-by-step approach to build on the wisdom embedded in the organization and produce strong engagement and deliberate experimentation and evoke new levels of coordinated action. As described in FAR 6.302-1, there is only one responsible source and no other services will satisfy agency requirements. This notice is not a Request for Proposals, nor does it represent a commitment by the Forest Service to pay for any costs incurred by the preparation and submission of data or any other costs incurred in response to this notification. No solicitation document is available.

Hundekot

12/6Ab, JPH, and MG

Thanks, this information about Black Tiger was really helpful. I was just a kid
when the fire happened and my parents were both IA, so as I start my journey
into wildland fire it is interesting to look back at this fire. Have a great day!

Shivaun
12/5Centralized Fire Management

KJoesph is right. And he echoes what many have been saying for years. A centralized All-Risk Management Branch within the Forest Service is needed. The Forest Service does have history of centralizing large functions when mismanagement or at least inconsistent management exists. The best example is the Forest Service Law Enforcement Group. After Line Officers told sworn Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers, what to and what not to investigate, the LE organization was centralized directly to the Chief. Remember the 20/20 episode in the 90's?

One of these days something might happen that will lead to centralization. Forest Service should be proactive and get out in front of the issue instead of always reacting. For the meeting the week of Dec 10th to happen, it took letters from House and Senate leaders (thanks FWFSA) asking what R-5 was doing about the issue.

How many Superintendents, Single Resource Bosses, or higher would still be employed if you handled an emergency and or large fire event without any kind of forward thinking, planning and implementing decisions. While on the same day, upper management spends a good part of each work day reacting to issues they should of addressed and staffed out prior to the crisis. What gets me the most is when I hear; "462's have no planning or project staffing skills with the work they do"... HUH? When you’re responsible for the lives of other human beings in one of the most dangerous professions, you live in the world of looking out in front of what might happen today that could affect my employees.

Most non-fire Line Officers and other professionals are good people, good hard workers, they mean well. However firefighters and non fire professionals are not on the same page and one should not expect them to be on the same page. Each comes to work with a different set of objectives and when you mix the two together it can in my opinion, lead to disaster. We train differently. When was the last time you saw a Line Officer at S-230, S-212, S-330, S-339. Or an IHC Superintendent taking NEPA and FOIA training. We socialize differently. We react to roadblocks differently. We speak a different language. I’m not saying one group is better than the other, just identifying the fact these two different groups are forced together in an unnatural chain of command with two different objectives. They have no concepts, or as some would say "slides" as to what we are even thinking about and what the job is all about. Just like LEOs supervise LEOs, fire leaders should lead Firefighters. Even some Chief Officers, who are years removed from module management, force themselves to stay turned into the needs on the ground. How does a Line Officer who majored in Soil Science or Hydrology do this effectively?

Having a non-fire person out on the incident, standing around in clean greens and yellows with (and here is the most important part) complete authority over the IC (read the REDBOOK on what an Agency Administrator does) and in most cases the day-to-day supervision of that IC, is a sign of complete dysfunction. It’s like having the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Staff Officer or County Board Supervisor, supervising and providing oversight to an LA County BC who is IC of a fire ripping through the Malibu’s, ain’t gonna happen.

Non fire employees simply do not understand how to manage fire employees and a complex fire program, period. I’d rather have Line Officers doing what the taxpayers want them to do which is to focus on recreation, resources and post fire restoration issues. They should not be forced to waste time learning how to write a delegation letter or how to do a WFSA. When non-fire people try and manage fire employees, it doesn't work. It might have in the early 1900's, but not today. This is not a slap in the face to non-fire Line Officers such as District Rangers and Forest Supervisors. They’re stuck in the middle, forced to manage a program they have no concept of managing. I bet if asked anonymously 2/3’s, maybe even as high as 80% would like to see the Fire program managed in a centralized organization to the Chief. The other 20% are just plain clueless.

Centralize the fire program now. Do it before something bad happens, before the congressional hearing on the next tragedy, before the FOIAs, before the dysfunctionality is being reported on 60 minutes.

ms

12/5Rod,

You are very intuitive. There are many “lurkers’ here. I now hear from my rumor mill that the aircraft contractors are getting very nervous too. There must be something in the wind we haven’t heard about. The sad part about a rumor based system is that it really causes some deep seated morale problems and my big concern is that many who read this net (a gold mine to me!) may wake up one morning to hear bad news and it may be the kind that will force many to seek other employment and the service has lost a wonderful pool of talent. How does that loss get replaced?? Certainly not in a decade or so. There is no substitute for experience and it doesn’t happen over night. But what we see happening right now under our noses is not rumor based and the signal flags are going up quickly. It is getting close to “Circle the Wagons” time I fear.

Normbc9

12/5Well, while everybody is busy reading the Cascade Complex APA, I'll sneak this in.

I did a little back stepping --nice search feature Ab-- to see if I could find a
little more info on Linda Szczepanik. She was the IC on the Windmill Complex fire,
Montana, back in August 2003. I was one of her dozer resources (JD 750C-6 way).
I thought she ran an outstanding show and still do.

Anyway, I happened to scroll through some of the post for September 2003...
Ouch! And here I went and chose contractor as my user name.. For Life!!

Please Ab, can I change it to Ostrich, so I can put my head in.....

<grin>, totally all in fun. Except the part about Linda.

And Linda, this is Hi, from that smart mouth cat skinner on the Windmill.

contractor

Gon'na be hard to search on contractor and find your posts in 4 or 5 years time. Now ostrich would show up as completely yours on search. Haw Haw.

Did you see the IC info about Linda being the first female on the IMWTK page? Ab.

12/5A new concept in wildfire suppression: Taser the fires into submission.

"The U.S. Forest Service has bought $600,000 worth of "Electronic Control Devices" without any training program, rules for use or even a written explanation as to why the devices are needed, according to agency records posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The devices, known as Tasers, are sitting in storage and cannot be issued because the agency has yet to develop a training course."

Wonder where the $600,000+ came from in a budget starved USFS?

www.commondreams.org/news2007/1204-04.php

Hundekot

DHS? There's funding for more LEOs. Not enough money for guns so they're substituting tasers??? Tongue in cheek. Ab.

12/5Adverse Decision from the Ninth Circuit Invalidating the Hazardous Fuels Reduction CE

This one will hurt...........................

Today, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision in Sierra Cluub v. Bosworth
which reversed the Eastern District of California and invalidated the
Hazardous Fuels CE which had been adopted by the Forest Service in June
2003 as part of the President's Healthy Forests Initiative. The Circuit
held that the Forest Service's adoption of the Fuels CE violated NEPA
because the agency "failed to assess properly the significance of the
hazardous fuels reduction categorical exclusion and thus it failed to
demonstrate that it made a 'reasoned decision' to promulgate the Fuels CE
based on relevant factors and information." Following its invalidation of
the CE, the Circuit remanded the case to the district court and instructed
it to issue an order enjoining the FS from implementing any hazardous fuels
CE projects authorized after the initiation of this lawsuit in October 2004
"pending its completion of an adequate assessment of the significance of
the categorical exclusion from NEPA."

See attached file (146K pdf file)

TC

12/5Hiring:

Ab,

I got this below. Does this mean we're back in some weird-a** kind of hiring
system that takes several years to work through? (tongue in cheek)

My niece is thinking of trying.

Maybe this is something simple and I'm just conditioned it's going to be a snafu.

Todd

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

ASC has officially taken over temporary hiring. They will open the "open
and continuous" vacancy announcements (basically using the old o & c
vacancy announcements). These announcements will be posted on the ASC
website under "employment" after Dec. 17th. When we are out recruiting for
these temp. positions, we will want to let people know what locations to
list in their application just like before. Make sure to remind
applicants to re-certify so they stay current in the system. This way they
will continue to receive updated information if the process changes.
Below is a sample of temp (fire) announcements. Note on the far right
(scroll over) there is a conversion column. The FS#### is the PD # you
should be using. Here is the link to the ASC/employment site for the
complete information http://fsweb.hcm.fs.fed.us/employment/temp.php

ASC's timeline for Temporary hiring
|-----------------------------------------------+-----------------------------|
| Supervisors conduct outreach | Beginning December 4 |
|-----------------------------------------------+-----------------------------|
| Temporary OCR Announcements open | December 17 |
|-----------------------------------------------+-----------------------------|
| First day delegated examining referral list | December 26 || can be issued | |
|-----------------------------------------------+-----------------------------|

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

12/5re; briefings

The best and most effective crew briefing i ever saw was with a montana hotshot crew as a division supervisor. I wandered into their crew briefing one morning, with the intent of prodding them along to get out on the line, and instead was just amazed at the depth of information and crew participation/ involvement that occurred during their shift briefing.

I was so impressed that i asked the superintendent if i could attend additional briefings and did so for the next few days. I also attended one of the crew AARs. the briefings went as followed, if i remember correctly (its been a few years):

The superintendent has one of his module leaders and a crewmember attend the daily shift briefing with him. he made sure to get a copy of the shift plan for all three.

After the daily briefing the superintendent expected that the shift plans be circulated among the crew. When the crew gathered for their shift briefing (always at the drop point on this fire), the superintendent started things off with a meditation/breathing exercise, that he said he had adapted from Ted Putnam. This took a couple of minutes and i have to admit it was rather strange at first. But after a couple of briefings i found that it calmed me and helped me concentrate on the briefing. (The superintendent said that this was the intended effect, but that realistically not every crewmember participated all the time.) After the meditation the superintendent gave an overview of the fire situation. The crewmember, who attended the daily briefing, then gave the crew the weather/fire wx forecast.

The superintendent then talked specifically about the crews line assignment next the module leader discussed the fire behavior implications relating to the weather and to the crew's assignment. The crewmember then talked about the safety concerns for the assignment and gave the general safety message from the shift plan.

All the while the crew was being briefed there were no questions asked. I thought that this was wrong and asked the superintendent, who said that the protocol was to wait until the information was given before asking questions.

The crew briefing ended with the superintendent giving a short synopsis of everything covered and then asking the the crew to visualize, eyes closed, what the day's events were going to bring. Definitely different! This took a couple of minutes as well the superintendent then opened things up for discussion and questions. This resulted in a pretty good conversation for a few minutes.

The superintendent asked if there were any other questions, he reminded the crew that if things changed or were vastly different from what they had discussed or if they were uncomfortable, that they were to ask their module leader to provide another briefing (i never saw this situation happen) and then it was off to work.

He deliberately stayed away from the fire camp rumor stuff, (although crewmembers did ask about these things) and the "chit chat" stuff in the shift plan and daily briefing, figuring the crewmembers could read it on their own. He was very specific in briefing on the mission at hand. The superintendent said that sometimes he intentionally left things out of the briefings just to see if the crew would catch it and were paying attention. He said, though, that as often as not the crewmembers would come up with an idea or something that he hadn't considered or covered. Also, no questions were considered off base, as he felt that if someone was worrying about something, they needed to get an answer so that they wouldn't be distracted while on the line.

Needless to say, it was totally unlike anything or any briefing i had ever been to. I had the opportunity to talk with most of the crewmembers while on the line and asked their opinion of the briefing format. Most liked it but didn't always get into the meditation, visualization stuff. They all liked the fact that they got to attend the daily briefing with the superintendent a couple of times during the season, and that they all got a chance to see the daily shift plan. Most said that they didn't like having to do their part of the briefing to the crew, but that it got easier the 2nd and subsequent times they did it. they almost all felt that by moving the crew away from camp to do the crew briefing and by waiting to ask questions, they were able to better concentrate on the material presented. They also said that they knew where they "fit in", felt that they had some "ownership" into what was going on and that they didn't feel information was being withheld from them.

As a follow up, i received a christmas card with a yearend season report from the crew that winter. Not surprisingly this crew had no lost time injuries or vehicle accidents that summer.

I have not worked with this crew again and have yet to see any briefing that remotely compared to this. I too am interested in how other good briefings are conducted.

rosevalley

12/5FYI - Re: Castle Rock Fundraising.

Of the $173K raised, approximately $30K will be going to the Wildland Firefighters Association (I'm assuming they mean Foundation).

Read more at: www.mtexpress.com/index2.php?ID=2005118272

Stanley

Nice catch Stanley. See Melissa's post as well. It came in last night. Those Foundation folks work overtime to get the info out. Ab.

12/5Hi Ab,

I recently attended a press conference held in Sun Valley (with Steve Miller), where the announcement was made as to the amount of money raised from the Kick Ash Bash concert held the end of September, as well as, funds raised during the week prior and that weekend of the event. The Foundation was the very grateful recipient of a direct donation of $30,000 from two insurance companies; Chubb and Safeco. Insurance agent, Greg Bloomfield of Wood River Insurance, solicited the donations from his two largest carriers. An announcement was made the night of the concert that both Chubb and Safeco would be donating funds to the Foundation. We also want to thank Carole King and Bruce Willis for being a part of the concert. It was a special treat to be involved in such a fun event.

It was such a pleasure to meet Steve Miller! He has two guitars donated by Paul Bolin (a guitar maker extraordinaire that lives here in Boise) with some amazing artwork about the Castlerock Fire, that will be going up for auction on Ebay very soon (photos of the guitars should be heading my way very soon – I’ll get that out as soon as it’s in my hands!). The guitars are amazing and will hopefully generate some really good bids. Steve Miller plans on having them on Ebay through the New Year. The Foundation will receive some of the proceeds of these also.

The whole Wood River Valley (Ketchum, Hailey, Sun Valley) has been so generous and wonderful to this Foundation and the Wildland community, we are very appreciative of their support.

As I receive photos and more information about the Ebay auction, I’ll get it out to you.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
www.wffoundation.org
12/5MJ

You talk about bonuses to keep people or bring people
in, but what do we do to districts that offer bonuses
but don't give them out when the person arrives? I
left R5 because this happened to more than one person
on my district including myself and what did the
district, forest or region do? NOTHING! We all got
the same lame excuse, we didn't do the paperwork right
or we didn't say that. Must have just been to much
work.

ME
12/5To Rod,

It is clear to me and many others that I am in contact with that the FS is
in a free-fall. And, as one who manages both FS and BLM fire management
employees and resources I can say the BLM is too. After over 30 years in
fire I NEVER even dreamed it could be this bad. There is just no support
for the fire management programs or employees and a clear lack of
leadership ability in the higher levels of the agencies. And in my region,
a clear lack of leadership in the higher levels of the fire management
program.

So for me the answers to your questions are simple, but it will be very
difficult to get there, in large part, I believe, because of the bureaucracy
of non-leaders in the agencies who are unwilling to lift a finger to get
anything done.

As far as who takes over. I personally would like to see a Federal Wildland
Fire Department or as someone posted a while back, a fire management branch
of the FS. This fire department would be "Lead" by experienced fireline
personnel with demonstrated ability in leading people and programs and in
the administration of fire management programs. Our standards would remain
high because we would be lead by real leaders with excellent fireline
qualifications and we will require high standards through a commitment to training,
safety, good equipment, professionalism (Wildland Firefighter Series) and
support for the firefighters and the mission of the fire department.

May sound simplified but something has to be done. If the land management
agencies won't support fire management and fire employees then it is time
for them to get out of the fire business altogether.

Firefighter and public safety and the protection of lives, communities and
resources is too important to not be the best we can be. Everything a fire
department does must be in support of the firefighters who suppress the
fires and provide protection to the public, communities, and
infrastructure.

Never give up,
KJoseph
12/5Normbc9

Lurker here...

I've heard rumors the same about the land management agencies pulling
out of fire, as early as last year this time there were discussions that filtered
out and down. Fire is a big part of all the budgets and a big see-saw in
expenditures and reimbursements goes on every year. We're being told
now that it won't happen again, so who steps up in the middle of a hot
season?

Maybe it would be better for the Land Management Agencies to be out.
They could ask for and get a budget for everything but fire. Fire could be
separate. Money allocated by Congress for fire could go to fire. Congress
could also see what money it takes to keep the national Forests, Grasslands
and Parks managed.

Question is, who or what takes over fire and all that money? How do we
know the standard will remain high?

Rod

12/5Re: "-ed"'s letter that was posted on They Said on December 1st.

I worry about the folks going into the December 10th meeting and what their expected outcome is. I really wonder when folks aren't using common terminology in their presentations. I wonder if they aren't being set up to fail?

> From "-ed": "Special pay, Group Retention Pay, and other Retention Pay data - <snip name #2> and <snip name #3>"

Hopefully before the meeting and the presentations, listeners and presenters will recognize the following terms and adequately present the well-thought-out solutions:

1. Special Salary Rates (not special pay),
2. Group Retention Incentives (not retention pay or bonuses), and
3. Employment Losses and Attrition (not other "Retention Pay data")

Somehow, probably one of the "snip name #2" or "snip name #3" folks got some really bad info months ago and confused "Special Salary Rates" and "Special Base Rates"..... and further confused the 3R Incentives: Recruitment, Retention, and Relocation.

I don't know who the "snip #2" or "snip#3" folks are because I replied on the record through Forest Service Lotus Notes e-mail at the request of my Forest FMO, my District Ranger, my Forest Supervisor, my Assistant Regional Director and the Deputy Assistant Regional Director when asked ON THE RECORD to comment. I was asked once again to speak on the record as an expert about problems the Region was facing, but when I told them that the Forest Supervisor who was leading the Southern California effort was leading folks way off-base without understanding the issues or the people she was representing...... I got shut out.... I received no further e-mails or communication and was shut out from any future discussion.

I was involved in BOTH GS-8 "Captain's Audits" (one R-5 and one national) and both "Special Salary Rate Reviews and Requests" (One as an interviewee, and one as a leader). Being frustrated with the results in the current trend of our "leadership" with our losses, I posted the following below since the line officers weren't listening to stuff that needed to be said and heard, as yet another specific line officer team was acting reactively rather than pro-actively and listening to the troops in the field and listening to lessons learned from the past.

Once again, I was seeing information that myself and others had researched, fact checked, and verified through sources being misused without proper citation.

The problem has been around for over thirty years as the 0456 series was willingly given away to support the 0462 and 0455... and the recent 0401series.... The problem got a band-aid to stop the bleeding in the early 1990's (first Special Salary Rate review and authorization).... it got other band-aids in the late 1990's (R-5 Captains Desk Audit) and early 2002's (Special Salary Rate review and authorization and NATIONAL GS-8 Captains Desk Audit) as the problems spread unchecked.....

I'm on vacation from my federal job.......

Lobotomy
12/4Dec. 12th is good also.

Gizmo

12/4December 10th meeting in SoCal sounds good to me if folks can pull it off.

Gizmo

Dec 12th? Ab.

12/4Anyone else read the Cascade Complex APA yet? Nice job.
Ted Putnam's section on Human Factors (Appendix C, p88)
was eye-opening and easy to read.

Interesting read on smoke and carbon monoxide. Important thing
to factor in next time we're confronted with ...

... Should we stay or should we go?

Lots to think about.

Last Shovel

12/4NM Airbear,

What authority did a park service ranger use to "order" you into a meeting
and harangue you? I am flabbergasted! Why did you go? Does the park
service really have the authority to do that to a retiree? I am just curious.

thanks

the cynic

12/4Good afternoon! Just a quick correction on your 12/4 post. The
apprenticeship program has not "slimmed down." Although Region 5 has
proposed several changes in the program to streamline the process of
conversions, the national committee (NIJAC) has not implemented any changes.
Pending the outcome of a National Review of the program, due by the end of
the year, everything is status quo. No changes can occur unless they are
voted on by NIJAC. For the 2008 academy season we have planned three
advanced academies and five basic academies. We cordially invite all
interested personnel to come down and witness or assist in presenting these
invaluable academies.

Thank you.

Scott Whitmire

Thanks, Scott, I corrected that on my post. Ab.

12/4viejo

I'm not proud that we were doing things better than
FEMA, I was proud of all the people we helped out when
FEMA couldn't. The point was we do have a place when
it comes dealing with natural disasters and emergency
events. I guess you didn't catch that point.

Also three of the four fires you mentioned were run by
State and FS teams, UNIFIED COMMANDS.

And the State wasn't capable of hooking the Zaca
before it went into Unified Command.

DM

12/4Hello,

I'm looking for anything I can find on the topic of good briefings to
wildland firefighters. Know of any good locations that really cover
briefings?

Thanks

Kenny

12/4Regarding the Land Management Agencies and Structure Protection
and relating to that other post in August on foaming and wrapping structures...

This whole series of USFS communications indicates to me they are planning a
pull out from the fire business soon.

the one from the WO, posted last August 13 about foaming-wrapping structures...
structure-protection07.doc (55K doc file)

07_NRCGMemo_StructureFire_Protection.doc (51 K doc file)
07_NRCG_ProtectingEntities_Matrix.doc (33K doc file)
07_NRCG_StructureFire_Protection.doc (54 K doc file)
structure-protection/2000.IDL.to.landowners.pdf (736K pdf file)

Normbc9

12/4Good Points from Casey on the Direct and Indirect Benefits of FWFSA

Adding to what Casey said, due to the work of FWFSA on portal to portal and other issues, we saw some Forests look at options and implemented 24 hour ordered stand-by staffing (basically p to p) during recent fires and wind events in So Cal. You probably would not have seen local Fire Managers push this and local Forest Supervisors approve it, if not for the work FWFSA has done to date trying to get it pushed through Congress. Fire Chiefs developed the idea to order stand-by for 24 hours, however never forget it took a Forest Supervisor (a Line Officer) to approve it last month.

That's the thing that amazes me the most. The spirit and progressive thinking of Wildland Firefighters and Chiefs at the Forest level. While the RO and GACCs were sitting back, famously saying once again “use good judgment on staffing and spending”, the same words we heard during the 2003 fire siege, local Chief Officers said thanks and get out of the way, we will figure this out on our own. And Dam-it when it came to 24 hour staffing, they did.

You just wait until the Team Meetings and Chief Officer Workshop to see where this could (will) lead to. Ordered 24 hour stand-by of all assigned to large fire events (team activations). Sounds like P to P to me, all before Pelosi even calls for a vote. All within the rules of the NFFE Master Agreement, the Forest Service Manual and documented on a Delegation of Authority. Who knew? Even some ADs out there and members of the AD Association benefited from the 24 hour staffing pattern last month and should offer thanks to FWFSA for laying the bricks years ago on portal to portal.

I know for a fact the ANF implemented 24 hour staffing last month because neighboring Forest(s) were implementing it. Imagine the pressure placed on the ANF Forest Supervisor when she heard what the neighbors were up to as winds were gusting to 60 mph outside her window. She had no choice and she made the right decision. Nobody would have implemented 24 hour staffing pay last month if FWFSA had not been pushing this for 5 years.

So things are not critical mass just yet as long as we keep FWFSA working the big boys and girls on the hill hard, and Fed Fire Chiefs look outside the box and test the waters and stick up for and support Firefighters on the ground.

The sprit of 24 hour staffing last month and the potential ordered stand-by staffing changes this coming Fire Season proves that we have learned and benefited from each other here at wlf.com, our forum. We learned from the leadership from our association, FWFSA.

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday in town that had nothing to do with Wildland Firefighting, however it certainly is applicable these days. It said: Tough Times Never Last, Tough People Do. With that said; To Casey, Preas, Lobo, the ab’s and to those Federal Wildland Firefighters who are going to stick it out----> Thanks! Stand Strong! Keep Fighting the Good Fight!

Kermit

12/4Okay,

The WLF survey has some serious flaws. This is the most biased survey I
have ever tried to take. I didn't finish the survey, because the survey
only allows questions to be answered the way the surveyor wants it to be
answered.

The survey claims to answer the question of whether "federal wildland
firefighters" wish to "remain with a federal agency" or "other wildland
fire employers". Instead, the survey was almost completely biased toward
CALFIRE. If it truly addressed other wildland fire employers, it should
either name them (rather unwieldly, since there are roughly 50 state fire
agencies and thousands of county and city agencies) or not name them at
all.

Even worse was the "choice" of answers to the first question. There were
seven selections, but there was no choice but to answer that I was
considering applying for another position. A ligitimate survey would have
listed "not considering" as an answer. I was not allowed to answer that I
was not interested in other wildland agencies.

I sure hope we don't try to use this survey in any kind of serious
discusion of retention with the agencies or the elected officials who fund
them. It would reflect very poorly on our professionalism and even more so
on our survey skills.

-Midwest AFMO

PS, you can answer this by your responses to my own survey:

"I thought your posting was..."

A. Great.
B. Awesome
C. Fantastic
D. The best thing ever in print
E. The most intelligent idea since the theory of relativity
F. The most thoroughly researched survey since time began
G. Better than the last survey.

Midwest AFMO: With all due respect, you don't know how much your post makes me smile. Let me clarify for those who have been away from theysaid for the last 3 or more weeks.

This survey has a specific purpose:
It was created first and foremost to see how many Forest Service firefighters are leaving R5, most importantly, how many are leaving hard-hit southern CA to go to CalFire during its most recent hiring round. We had heard that many were applying, and some managers from SoCal --some of whom are also members of the FWFSA-- were concerned that a large exodus would happen in April 08, just as fire season is seriously rekindling there. As those who work in R5 know, it's been hard to fill vacancies in this region, taking 18 months or more in many cases. That's improved now with open rosters to expedite the process, but having boots on the ground with experienced managers to safely lead them next spring is still a critical issue.

As of 10/21 there were 648 CalFire vacancies and Forest Service firefighters are being solicited by CalFire.

Many who are applying and have their job interview for captain in the next few weeks are from

  • the Angeles NF (4 respondents have interviews),
  • the Cleveland National NF (6 respondents have interviews) and the
  • Los Padres NF (8 respondents have interviews)
  • Lassen NF (4 respondents have interviews)
  • Mendocino (4 respondents have interviews)
  • there are others in smaller numbers...

CalFire Engineer position openings come up next, in Dec/Jan. Who we are going to be loosing soon are our module leaders and AFMOs. Not sorting on degree of interest in leaving, we currently have

  • 18 respondents that are GS 10/11;
  • 43 that are GS 9;
  • 75 that are GS 8;
  • 36 that are GS 7;
  • 20 that are GS 6;
  • plus some lower and higher, even someone from the WO.

We get new responses daily.

History of the survey: The survey grew out of a simple a tally last month of how many were leaving, their

  • forest,
  • grade,
  • module,
  • calfire position applied for (if Captain, whether they'd gotten an interview date for the Captain's position) and
  • any comments.

Firefighters were emailing responses to Ab (me) and I was entering the data on an excel spreadsheet, which was very time consuming. (See the beginning posts on this about 11/24.) Original Ab stepped in and automated the process. Posted issues to theysaid and emails to Ab became our "Focus Group" for the list of reasons for leaving. We figured that if the retention group meeting on the 10th of Dec had some idea of the major issues, then perhaps a clearer strategy for working on retaining firefighters could follow. When theysaiders outside of R5 and the FS wanted to participate, we added some categories to accommodate them also. Those that don't feel the survey or the issues involve them right now, don't do it.

Some surveys are done with a specific group of people to elicit specific information, as this one was. You don't give an exit survey to everyone in the world, but to those who have left. We wanted to do it before they go, determine the demographic of those leaving and their issues and get a feel for how it might impact those fighting fire in R5 as FS firefighters.

12/4Long time lurker....feel the need to post. OK there is a lot of talk about
recruitment/retention in R5. However the problems that R5 is facing will be
in your back yard before you know it ! People need a place to live and most
likely they will choose the urban intermix, in R1, R2, R3, R4, etc.... The
rural departments will not be able to keep up with the demands of their
respective districts (medical aids, vehicle/ structure and wildland fire).
So it will fall to the local professional federal firefighters to pick up
the slack. Be ready

Fuels Guy
12/4I'll be at the meeting on 12/10. Is there a way that you'll have the information available to take down to McClellan so that I may share it with the R5 leadership folks? In conversation with some of our leadership as recently as today, they had no understanding of the number of folks wishing to leave. It has been suggested that numbers can be manipulated to prove any point. I just want them to be given information that hasn't been manipulated.

Thanks...........Diaz

The summarized (tallied) results will be posted here. Ab.

12/4Re: Black Tiger Gulch Fire

From JPH:

To Shivaun, I have a copy of the investigative report that was prepared by perhaps NFPA, if you would like info email me at
<snip, Ab forwarded the contact info>

From MG:

http://academic.regis.edu/wsutton/Web Site 2004/Black tiger gulch.phpl

From JM:

Shivaun-
I do not have any photos but there is a video made about the Black Tiger
Fire (NFES 1247, PMS 706). The video is geared at informing interface
homeowners of the dangers of wildfire and mitigating hazards. The footage
is post burn.

12/4Hotshots to Manager Project:

Bill Rogge, Smokey Bear Hotshots, 1977. First year after probation 1976. Engines, Helitack, and ‘Shot filler, Smokey Bear and Sacramento IHC’s on the Lincoln NF in NM. Now resides as a NM State District FMO since 1993 in Capitan, (you know, where Smokey Bear is buried?) NM……

BR

Thanks, Bill. I'll added it. Ab.

12/4Dear Ab,

Sad news for the loss of the retired Forest Supervisor on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, Sonny O'Neal. He was a fantastic leader and is sorely missed in our community. Draft press release is attached, a news article should be in tonight's Wenatchee World 12/4/07.

Sonny's funeral will be December 10th, 2007 in Wenatchee. Please note his family has asked for any memorial gifts to be sent to Columbia Breaks Fire Interpretive Center; Chelan-Douglas Land Trust; and National Fallen Firefighter Foundation. -

Heather Murphy, retired USFS wildlife biologist/Fire Resource Advisor

Sorry for your loss. Ab.

12/4DM...What is the criteria for good Incident Management ? I ceratinly would not be proud of being better than FEMA.

Lets consider the Day Fire, The Biscuit Fire, The Zaca Fire, The Big Bar Complex. All of those incidents might have been well managed, depending on how you measured, but none were effective in Fire Containment or Cost Control.
All of the incidents suffered life threatening or fatal accidents. What's the criteria?
viejo
12/4Ab could you please post the pdf file, the one I sent a link to last month, that tells the CalFire fire salaries and how much other departments make? The link I sent seems to be impacted and no one can get in.

Thanks,

SoCal CalFire

You mean this one? ca-firefighter-salaries.pdf (357K pdf file) Ab.

12/4Ab,

All this talk about people leaving the USFS to Calfire. The OPM passed the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act back in 2004, authorizing not only relocation bonuses, for those who move to take a new job, but Retention bonuses for those employees likely to leave the USFS to another agency, if they sign Service agreements. Yet the FS is reluctant to use this authority, which it already has. I wonder why the Forests that are losing so many folks don't just offer retention bonuses? it's already approved, they just have to do the paperwork, and some would stay......Just google "USFS retention bonus", and the authority from OPM comes right up. Must be too much work........

-MJ

12/3...one of the lucky ones:

You said:

"Sad, really, for some of us who remember the fun-filled days after season BBQ's with the District Ranger and all personnel and their families who worked on the district......Sad times now."

Yes, I too was one of the lucky ones and remember those days fondly. I retired as an FMO 5 years ago and hold the good old days dear in my heart. I miss the old barbeques, horseshoes, and good friends, good times.

Several weeks ago I was ordered into a terse one hour brow-beating by the new line officer from the (NPS) park that I retired from. He is/was a career 025 ranger. He is certainly affiliated with the political party now in control of the executive branch of the federal government and made that perfectly clear to me early on.

Seems I had said something regarding wildland fire management on one of the retirees' web sites and that had really ticked him off. My comments regarded streamlining NEPA as it related to wildland fire activities and dealing disciplinarily with those who refuse to do so. He did not disagree at all with what I had said, he disagreed violently with my right to say it. I reminded him of the fact of the matter of what he was saying --i.e. my First Amendment Rights-- and that really got him ticked off. It seems that, in his mind, retirees hold an even lower rung on the ladder of public opinion than the public and current employees.

Considering your comments and other recent comments in this forum I do believe now, and I have now seen it first hand, that the professional discipline of federal wildland fire management has sunk to an all-time low.

What has changed is that the federal bureaucracy is now entirely controlled by politicians. Those calling all the shots are doing so entirely for political rather than professional purposes. In politics only is it fair game to challenge folks' rights to even speak out with suggestions for better management. Good leaders welcome input, criticism even, to help improve whatever management action is being considered. Politicians lash out at their perceived foes.

Federal wildland fire will now remain completely broken until we get the politics out and the professional back in.

When I was a GS-462-04 I got a whole lot more respect than I do now from the line officer, and that was 38 years ago. And he could beat me at horseshoes rather than brow beat me for saying something he actually agreed with.

Misery Whip, I seriously hope you are wrong, Brother, that it is now just a matter of time. I don't want to be there.

NMAirBear
12/3Hello Ab, I know the big deal right now is the serious situation with CAL FIRE offering better employment circumstance and, perhaps more serious, the tremendous drop in employee morale when you find you are working for an outfit that seems not to value them as much as a neighboring employer. However, I would like to get some information for us AD, minor as it may be to the current concerns. I read yactak’s comment on 11/27 that indicated he was on a personal services contract with the FS. I’ve contacted FS contracting specialists and got a mixed bag of smoke and mirrors on the subject. I’m wondering if yactak could share how, who, and what a person needs to do to get signed up with a personal services contract since the CO’s I’ve talked to, for the most part, believe the AD system is working well for the FS and knows of no reason to do anything any different. The Interior may have a deal for reinstating retirees with no penalty, but I don’t hear anything about the FS doing the same thing. I could keep going out as an AD, but it is becoming harder to justify. Any help or clues out there?

Signed…. Ready to write the next chapter!
12/3Dear Kibble Free:

I don't recall ever [emphasis added] asking people to stay. Encouraging them to stay and take the opportunity to change the system is a far cry from asking them to stay. And I certainly am not nor have I ever blamed anyone for making the decision to go.

I have simply tried to keep folks posted about what the FWFSA is doing, that there are signs of progress, albeit slow and that I would encourage those who are passionate about the choice to enter the federal system and make a career out of it to join the effort.

No one knows where the Agency will be in one year or ten. Does that mean we just give up? If we had given up in 1999/2000 many folks would not be benefiting from the 1121 code. If we didn't get involved in the liability issue and push congress to act while the Agency sat silent on the issue, there wouldn't be language in both the House & Senate Interior Appropriations bills to expand coverage of the 50% reimbursement of PLI premiums.

If firefighters hadn't raised their voices in the last year and a half, there wouldn't be a retention meeting being planned. If we hadn't made progress, we would not have seen a portal to portal bill in each of the last 2 congresses, the last of which would have made it into the Senate Interior Appropriations bill last year but for the election defeat of Chairman Conrad Burns who said to h*ll with it and didn't move an Interior bill at all.

So, no, I have never asked anyone to stay. I have encouraged folks to stay, but have always respected the decision folks make on the subject. The priority is the firefighter and his or her family. We all recognize that, but that doesn't mean we just cave in and allow the Agency fire program to continue to implode.

Casey

(PLI = Professional Liability Insurance)

12/3FSH 5109.17 Contractors

Tim Sexton (Fire Use Program Manager, US Forest Service, NIFC) had a clarification message going round-robin on the FS email system. It had to do with the prescribed fire qualifications requirements for contractors. Evidently he'd had a lot of questions.

Following his enquiry,

Sharon Allen-Brick, the WO Risk Management Training Specialist, said

"There should be a clause indicating that the regional of national
contractor will adhere to the minimum position qualification standards
contained within the 310-1. The wildland fire contracts do contain
that statement."

FYI

12/3Hello,

I was wondering if you or anyone has any pictures of the Black Tiger Gulch Fire
(Boulder County, CO), July 1989.

I have looked a couple of times on the photos page, but I wasn’t sure if there were
any hiding. Thanks!

Take care,

Shivaun

I don't think we do. Readers, does anyone have photos from that fire in '89? Ab.

12/3Supervisors and other firefighters in need of professional liability insurance:

We're pleased to announce a new advertiser on the Classifieds page: FEDS, the Federal Employee Defense Services Association. The FWFSA endorses FEDS. Tony (Anthony Vergnetti) and crew have great professional expertise in defending and passion for helping federal wildland firefighters faced with the unthinkable when their agency doesn't support them... and also when it does. We all know the stories almost by heart, unfortunately. This is the same group of lawyers (almost) that were active in Cramer and in 30-mile defenses. Firefighters need such advocates.

Read their Intro Information Packet and then go to their website, to check out member benefits and their endorsements. Ab.

12/3There are two new job announcements on the Jobs Page. One for a crew supervisor for the North lake Tahoe Fire District, and one with two permanent supervisors for the Oregon Department of Forestry. Check 'em out. OA
12/3kibble free

<snip> To say that the agency is inept at managing emergencies
is a complete joke. Guess we weren't the ones who
helped manage the hurricanes (Katrina, Rita) when FEMA
had everything so messed up. I guess that all the
fires we manage every year across the nation just
shows how inept we are. Remember, we were managing
fires way before CALFIRE started their IMTs.

But the thing that irritates me the most with your
little rant, is giving Casey h*ll for asking people to
stand up for what is right. Remember he isn't only
looking out for the interest of people in R5 but
people across all the regions who would benefit from
better wages and working conditions. Not all of us in
the Forest Service is interested in working for
CALFIRE even though you do pay better, but pay isn't
everything. Now if people decide to swap, then more
power to them; it's a tough decision for all and
believe me CALFIRE is definitely going to get some
great firefighters and future leaders. But please
don't rip on people because they are willing to try
and make a difference. Yes, it is hard working for an
agency that doesn't have good leaders in the RO and
above but if we don't fight then what does that say
about us? Its bad right now but I have confidence
that we will win this fight.

Later, DM

OK, folks, please let's try to keep this about "the what not the who". No pig-piling in the kibble corner. Please be aware that Kibble Free may not even be CalFire or former CalFire. Ab.

12/3Hi all,

With the increasing concerns over the additional duties and expectations of wildland firefighters and the need to carry professional liability insurance to protect themselves, I wonder if that concern should extend to the dispatch community as well. As traditional agency dispatch centers fall by the wayside to make room for the large "Interagency Centers" of today's high-tech, cost cutting world, it would seem that their "risk" of liability would increase also. (I've actually worked on a couple forests where the dispatcher and their radio logs were investigated.)

Long gone are the days of the traditional agency dispatch office where everyone knew each other and the dispatchers knew all the fire personnel and resource personnel by face. In these new complex multi-agency dispatch centers often located in the middle of the city or at least located a long way from fire offices, most dispatchers wouldn't know the fire person's name if they walked into the dispatch center - especially the seasonal firefighters. With the lack of close ties to each other and the camaraderie that comes with that friendship, a lot of trust and confidence is lost along the way. The larger dispatch centers seem more concerned with getting the latest high-tech computer dispatching equipment and learning to deal with Law Enforcement issues and EMS calls instead of the federal wildland fire and resource personnel. It has become an increasingly "business and budget" related entity and gets farther and farther away from the fire dispatching office it used to be. The stress level is high and occasionally mistakes are made - will this open them up to lawsuits, too? Should dispatchers need to be thinking of adding liability insurance to cover themselves as firefighters are beginning to do?

Many of today's high-tech dispatchers are no more than "computer operators" and have never been near a wildland fire, although there are also many dispatchers who come from a fire background. Unfortunately, at least in the larger city dispatch centers, the ones with no background far outnumber the ones with it. In my personal opinion, fires were caught faster when we had agency dispatch centers that knew who to call immediately, without having to jump through hoops to get personnel and equipment to the fire. We left the LE and EMS dispatching to the county or city emergency dispatch centers.

Sad, really, for some of us who remember the fun-filled days of "after season" BBQ's with the District Ranger and all personnel and their families who worked on the district. The days of the close-knit Forest Service family is gone (I'm sure BLM and other agencies experienced the same thing) and it's something the older ones remember with fond memories and the younger members of the firefighting world won't get to experience. I'm sorry - you would have loved it! We wore our uniforms with pride and everyone talked about their "career" and goals with the agency. Sad times now.

Things to think about.

Sign me,
..one of the lucky ones

Good question. Readers? Ab.

12/3Hi All,

The Cascade Complex Accident Prevention Analysis report has been posted to
the FAM website: www.fs.fed.us/fire/ (8 mb, huge pdf file 120 pages)

It should also be posted at the Lessons Learned Center soon.

I am glad that we'll all be able to learn from this. Thanks to Paul Broyles and his
Incident Management Team for sharing the information. It takes courage to share
information that benefits the entire community. Everyone, this is an Accident Prevention
Analysis (APA), one of the new tools in the toolbox for our high reliability fire learning
organization.

Mellie

If the FAM site is impacted, let us know and we could also post it here. Ab.

12/3From Firescribe:

OMB directs agencies to close off most Internet links
www.fcw.com/online/news/150964-1.phpl

By Jason Miller
Published on December 3, 2007

The Office of Management and Budget's Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) initiative likely is to be the last publicized program in the Bush administration's stepped-up focus on cybersecurity, some experts say. More importantly, the new initiative requires agencies to implement real-time gateway monitoring, which has been a deficit in federal network protection.

The TIC initiative mandates that officials develop plans for limiting the number of Internet connections into their departments and agencies. OMB officials want to reduce the number of gateways from the more than 1,000 to about 50, said Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and information technology.

The initiative also asks chief information officers to develop a plan of action and milestones for participating in the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team's Einstein initiative. The program offers agencies real-time gateway monitoring capabilities and helps them react more quickly to security incidents. About 13 agencies voluntarily participate in the Einstein program.

"The reduction of access points to trusted Internet connections will improve our situational awareness and allow us to address potential threats in an expedited and efficient manner," Evans said. "While we optimize and improve our security, it is also our goal to minimize overall operating costs for services through economies of scale."

ETC... click the link above...

12/3Short Rant:

Ab et al,

Some thoughts, I’ve been a lurker for too long..

I have to say I agree with Yaktac that the USFS is inept at managing emergencies, particularly in the Urban interface scenario of SoCal and should give up these duties to an organization much more suited for that kind of work.

As someone who has spent the better part of almost 30 years in wildland fire, both public and private sectors, I was embarrassed to work for an agency that is so unbelievably poorly managed. Direction? Whichever way the politicians (leaders?) blow, so goes the Agency. No mission statement with longevity greater than what seems to be a millisecond…. Remember when the FS was THE premier land management agency? and they are a land management agency NOT an emergency response agency.

I actually saw some good in the 401 series (for new hires) as a way of making people get an education which would allow them to get other jobs (both in and outside of the agency), thus having an out (should they want one) from the historically lower paying, overtime addicted federal fire jobs,….. options and doors opening, the keys to growth. Once again we are a Land management organization, what’s wrong with having a Land management educational background?

Casey, I was surprised at your comment on asking people to stay with the FS ship, knowing that someday you’d be running the show, and could make it better then…. Nice idea in theory, if you have the years to wait…. Tell that to the guy who sticks around for 10 (or more) years waiting for it to get better, having to work 1500 hrs ot to feed his family, working all the time to attain that 1500 hrs, to receive a retirement that is or less than CALFIRE or other county/city pensions, as he gnaws on kibble in retirement. Who could possibly blame someone for trying to better their lives financially and their family’s existence? I apologize if I misinterpreted your comments….

And no I am not bitter, I had a great time, especially back in the beginning, when we were the Premier land management agency, with the travel, great people (fire people are GOOD people, that will never change), but with age comes wisdom hopefully. Jump ship and smile at the memories, while creating new ones. There will be good times at the other agencies and a lot less sacrifices…

A kibble-free retiree

12/3I like the "pass the boot" idea. Is there someone from the local Sac area that could talk to the McClelland Business Park? Maybe they would let us set up at the large Sure West parking lot across the street from WFTC? Or maybe even on public property off of Watt Ave. Anyone off the TNF, ENF or even WFTC interested doing some organizing?

I would recommend a Wednesday Dec 12 date. Might be able to have some information on how the outsourcing feasibility assessment went from someone on the inside.

I wonder if the WO knows that the person in our Regional FFAM Director position (noticed how I worded that?) has scheduled a formal assessment to study the possibility of outsourcing hundreds of fire positions? Under current A-76, FS Green Plan implementation guidelines negotiated years ago between NFFE and Forest Service Mgt, this formal discussion could be a violation of agreed-to procedures. Thanks to wlf.com, they will know first thing Monday morning.

So Cal FF
12/3Hi Ab,

I'm a first time writer and have been following the They Said dialog since May. First of all
let me say I work as a blue shirt for a so cal fire department after having been a 462 series
FS NTE person of the early 90's working on the ANF and Fire Lab. I desperately wanted
to bleed green at that time but was unable to get picked up with a permanent position.
Eventually after medical bills and children started coming along the pressure to financially
meet the family's needs caused me to look elsewhere. The pay and benefits of blue are
substantial. But it does come at a price. I still look back at my green days as the best days
of my life. The ones that molded and shaped me.

Everyone's journey is different. If you do plan on jumping ship to CAL Fire please carefully
count the cost because you just may find it is not quite the utopia you thought it was.

sign me "green blooded blue shirt"

Stoobig

12/3Casey,

I've been thinking the same thing. A national, interagency GAO accounting
of preparedness dollars spent and exactly where they go. As you know, my
forest is combined BLM and USFS. Funding the BLM engine crew is the last
priority on this unit, and believe me, we have the dollars to do it. A
13+13 Engine Captain and two seasonal Firefighters on a 5 day effective
engine doesn't cut it. Likewise the FS preparedness budget. Position cuts
but the bucks are there to fund them!

This is taxpayers money. The priority must be funding firefighters and
firefighting resources with taxpayers money that is in the preparedness
budget.

K. Joseph
12/3Casey,

No apologies needed...

I believe both yourself and ab mistook my intent... Intent was not to badger you for haranguing the folks who sent info into the survey... just those that expressed their VIEWPOINTS through posting on a forum which was designed to post one's OPINIONS.

My opinion and viewpoint happens to be that the Land Management Agencies cannot, should not be in charge of an emergency services organization in this day and age... therefore, if they did give away the emergency services arm (Fire and Aviation Management) of the current organizations, not only would the public be better off, but so would the firefighters.

When Gifford and the fella's invented the staffing of the organizations, and "every ranger was a firefighter and every firefighter was a ranger", things were simple enough to work well. As the Land Mgt. Agencies have evolved, this is obviously no longer true.... So why hold on to an antiquated system?

Grow, evolve, change.... it is a good thing....

Casey, you are appreciated for all the the hard work you do on our behalf! Hopefully you can make help the transition of the USFS Fire and Aviation Emergency Services shop into its next phase a smooth and better one for the firefighters.....

Peace

yactak
12/3Just wondering what the Dec 10th gathering in socal is???

AVD

12/2Information on Ojai Hotshots for the IHC/SJ to Fire Manager Project:

I was on the Ojai hotshots in '74,75. I believe it was started in '74. That year we had Bob Bernett as sup and John Salaz and Terry Raley as squad bosses. We were based in downtown Ojai and had a couple of vans for crew buggies. We thought we were full fledged Hotshots, but in hindsight i think this was a recruitment tool for local minorities ... it was ahead of its time in that regard. These two seasons we were very busy and went to about 20 fires each year.

One of my favorite stories is the fire outside of San Bernardino in which our reporting location for that shift was a "Sunnyside Campground" .. to make a very long story short .. it was a nudist camp .. and after spending all day on the hot, steep hillside watching our bus driver lounging poolside .. the crew was invited back that evening to swim in the Olympic sized spring-fed pool. You never saw a group of guys shower and get back on the bus so fast in your life ..it was a very memorable night of swimming and volleyball.

also could you add my name to the following organizations..

Ojai hotshots '74,75
Lolo Hotshots '77
McCall jumpers '78
Missoula jumpers '79-92

Currently Dispatch Center Manager for BLM in Susanville ,CA and BLM Aviation Manager for Northern California

Jim Hedges

Thanks Jim, great story, I added the info to the list. Readers, don't be shy. Tell your own stories and let us know where you started and where you're manager. If you don't want me to post to theysaid, just say so. I'll simply add your info to the list. Ab.

12/2How about on DEC 10 we hold a pass the boot fundraiser for the 52 club,
get a little news time and get our message out to the public. Right now the
public love firefighters and this would be a great time opportunity.

WKS

12/2Should I stay or should I go? topic of the day:

All,

This is all a matter of personal choice. I am a supt who digs his job and
the people and the sunsets and all that, however if I choose to leave it is
on me. The FS will replace me and my crew will go on without me and life
will continue, but I'm with lobotomy, I don't think it makes much sense to
go down with the ship. When you find yourself drowned at the bottom of the
ocean you are dead one way or the other. I certainly hope that some real
positive steps can be gained from "the meeting" on 12/10.

signed...oh I forgot to rant about 401

12/2December 10th Gathering in socal:

Sounds like a good plan. I'm on leave then.

Strider

12/2Is anyone planning a gathering for Dec 10 or a day during that week. 500 + Fire
employees on AL would really make a statement to the group working inside. I
know a couple businesses would be receptive. The coffee shop for one would
really like to have the business. Any chance we could pull this together, maybe
combine it with a WFF fund raiser and a FWFSA meeting/gathering?

Standing Together
12/2Dear Yactak:

I sincerely apologize if you inferred my post was directed at those responding to the survey. I've spent a great deal of time on the phone with AB as well as those that thought up the idea of the survey because I think it critical that the federal wildland firefighting community develop their own demographic profile of what is going on rather than leaving it up to the Agency.

I guess my frustration was directed at those who have posted about the ills of the federal system, that they would like to stay but have to leave etc., without participating in the fight to create a fire program they deserve. I obviously respect the decisions folks are making whether it is to remain or head to other agencies but when you deal with the bureaucracies and dumbfounding logic of those that are supposed to be the leaders of the agencies every single day and chip away to educate Congress to get them not only to understand the issues but take serious action, it can be demoralizing to hear people talk about leaving.

That demoralization however is often tempered by the continued growth of the FWFSA despite the problems, or perhaps because of them and the recognition of folks that they can take control and fix this mess. It won't happen overnight but slow steady progress is a far better course than simply giving up...at least in my opinion.

Again I apologize if you thought I was directing my comments at the survey respondents.

Casey

Job Survey of Federal Firefighters

12/2Ab, not meaning to point-counter-point you. However, your comment on where do we get the IMTs,is due some type of answer. Lets look at the facts, how many Teams does CALFIRE field. They are certainly capable of managing most incidents in the fuel type(in SoCal) that typically only result in 2-3 day incidents. Lets say that we have a Zaca type event, well bring in the NIMO teams,they are going to be experts in and expected to deal with long duration events.

What do IMTs get ordered for in SoCal? To mop-up usually,by the time teams get in place its over. What needs to be done is increase capacity and integration to be more effective during the 0-72 hours period. That is not meant to be an indicment towards any agency or specific events, just a philosophy that if you are not getting better you are getting worse.

If you care to, here is some homework for you. Of the National IMTs, in R5, what are the breakdowns for Federal and other agenecy participation. The breakdown between USFS personnel and all other personnel. What is the breakdown of USFS personnel in Fire Management positions, and the rest of the team. What I believe that you will generally find is that the ICs and Ops Chiefs, other Ops and Air Ops are strong to USFS, Fire Management personnel, the rest are militia FS types and other agencies. Now I am not going to suggest that those specific individuals are anything but difficult to replace. The point being that it would not present the dire consiquences that one would expect. At the very least it is a weak argument for maintaining a flawed model.

I want to be clear, there are some dam* fine folks across the board in South Zone, we are just doing them a disservice asking them to perform in that environment under the current circumstances. Not the least of which is that it will be very difficult to pay them a fair wage. I know most of these folks will say that they are dedicated to what they are doing etc., that is not the question. The questions is when do the leaders, move off of the politics long enough to make good decisions. Remeber one of the characteristics of HROs is to stay focused on Operations. Lets do that long enough to not be emotional and be objective about finding a better way.

SLR

12/2Thanks, Uncle Louie, I stand corrected on that point.

Mellie

12/2Casey,

A little harsh on our brothers and sisters who answered a request for information regarding folks who are interviewing with CAL FIRE aren’t we??

I feel your pain as I lived it for 32 years with the Forest Service. Don’t get me wrong, I had one fantastic career, but missed my kids growing up so I could pay for their upbringing. (Yes it was my choice) ... I always believed the politico’s would see the light and make it right. Silly me!

If I had to do it all over what would I do different? Leave the FS at the first better opportunity that presented itself. ie the current CAL FIRE opportunity.

Casey you said,

“Personally, I think any plan to turn over fire suppression/protection services for federal lands to non-federal agencies is an absolute cop out by the Agency and an acknowledgement that they are totally inept at managing a fire program.”

How about that … I do believe that the Land Management agencies have proved themselves inept at managing a Fire and Aviation program in today’s environment… Lets see…
• “Lost” money that was supposed to buy new lead planes,
• A fixed wing air tanker program that is in shambles,
• Inability to staff a multitude of aviation and ground fire positions due to hiring and retention problems
• A crew boss / IC on trial for manslaughter,
• An IC booted out of a job and on probation for doing his job (nice backup by the agency and local line officers!)
• Somehow turning “professional attitude” into a catchall 401 series and botching the implementation… hmm… kinda like “Lets keep those techs down on the farm”
• The continual raking of fire dollars to support other under funded shops
• Raking of other shops $$’s to pay for fires
• And the list goes on……..

Times have changed… the Land Management Agencies have no business trying to manage, much less lead, an Emergency Services Branch in this day and age…

I have supported the FWFSA since its inception and will continue to do so in spirit, but for some of us the time came to move on…. Doesn’t mean we still don’t “Bleed Green”!

yactak

Heck, yac, he didn't ask them to quit writing in to the survey. He's going to use information from it, no doubt, in educating Congress. Seems to me he had a button pushed by Pappy's post. We all get our buttons pushed, feel frustrated and maybe even have a moment of hopelessness. If I get some time today I'll post a few survey comments from people who bleed green but who feel their "backs are against the wall"... Ab.

12/2Mellie,

Your comment - "The traditional "professional series" for USFS was "GS-460, Forester". For the DOI agencies (Park Service, BLM, FWS, etc) was a "GS-401 Biological Professional Series"." - is not completely accurate. The traditional "professional series" for the NPS is Park Ranger GS-025. Don't know about BLM or BIA. For FWS it is Refuge Manager GS-485, that is, for the part of FWS that still actually manages dirt on National Wildlife Refuges. The FWS's ESA regulators, Ecological Services, are all GS-486, Wildlife Biologists or GS-482 Fish Biologists. The sad fact that the agency is no longer run by land managers but by so called Conservation Biologists is a dreary subject for another post.

The GS-401 is a government wide catchall, General Biologist series that almost anyone with a Bachelor of Science degree that included any kind of laboratory credits would qualify for.

Uncle Louie
12/2Ping Pong followup

Howdy again, Abs --

Just wanted to say THANX - to you for your quick posting of my request for
Premo info, and to the anonymous responder with the great reference -- just
what I needed, and another example of the power of TheySaid. Appreciate it.

STUMPIE

12/2Ab,

Hypothetically, say a forest has a 20 million dollar fire budget and the state and counties counter propose a 40 million dollar price tag for fire protection. Since the FS is backed into a corner and risks losing the core of its fire workforce to the state and counties, couldn't they use the cost difference to ask for pay parity?

Lets talk loyalty. To assume that the agency is loyal to its employees, and that it is a 2 way street, is just not true. The loyalties usually end at the forest FMO, but FMOs dont control the dollars, Forest Supervisors do. As with any federal agency, we are all considered expendable to the managers. They see dollars, org charts and diversity percentages. We can be replaced, next.

The folks looking to cross the street and work for CalFire HAVE been loyal employees, some for many years. It is also a free agent arena and can be compared with professional sports. The FS better get competitive if it wants to keep good employees. Travel and sunsets dont pay mortgages and help get kids through college.

thanks for listening,

sting

12/2As Randy Moore and Jim Pena forward their letters or comments to FIRESCOPE and are looked at as simple frauds by most in the wildland fire community in California..... hopefully they will learn to understand that the FIRESCOPE signatory agencies only listen to the leaders of the fire program.

Letters, comments, and suggestions to FIRESCOPE from biologists or foresters don't hold the same benefits as if they came from the leaders of the federal fire program..... which, why they may like to hold those titles.... they do not........ not the bureaucratic land managers who tweaked fire safety and community safety based upon dollars and economics.

The Forest Service has become the laughing stalk for fire protection failures in California with the lack of qualified fire leaders speaking on the record.

In the past, when communicating with FIRESCOPE, the communications came directly FROM the R-5 Fire Director as the program lead.... The Fire Chief for the R-5 Forest Service. Is there a communication failure?

Rogue
12/2In response to the comment from ab regarding the letter from SLR. specifically "Re your first topic: Where do the federal incident management teams of the future come from? Ab."

Well the hard and dirty news is that the whole FS world does not revolve around southern region 5!!! I understand this may be hard for some here on this board to grasp, but there is alot more of these here United States than So Cal. Many very fine teams have members from all geographic areas. I just want to state that it seems like many here are are preaching to be open to new ideas and thoughts , but at the same time remain closed minded themselves.

signed cant we all get along??

Maybe we need to have a course covering where the Command and General Staff on Incident Management Teams come from, what their training is, and how many years it takes. I think we can all get along, we simply need to be informed before we cut off the federal pipeline of talent and KSAs that lead to the appointments that are critical for the nation. Ab.

12/2With all of the fire activity in Southern California over the last two years making A/L a luxury; another knee jerk reaction increasing fuels targets and funding without a structure to adequately accomplish the targets; and commitments to my prescribed 0401 education over the last two years which took me away from my fire management duties....

I'll be on vacation from 5-Dec to 5-Jan using most of my use-or-lose annual leave. What I don't use, I'll donate to folks.

Very little chance I'll come back before then unless there is a documented need that restores A/L...... on the record.

I'll be registering for my future classes at UMUC and those so willing to preach to us to "just leave" should step back..... walk in our shoes for a few miles if you have been in our positions. Most of us have too much to leave and too much of a commitment to our friends' safety and mission delivery successes.

I won't ride a sinking ship to the bottom of the ocean if I see it is going off course.... I'll try to have the ship change course and change direction, but I am only an educated senior seaman who loves the sea........ If the Captain refuses and drives recklessly headlong into an iceberg.... I'll try to save as many of the passengers on the ship as I can. The Captain can sink with his ship for his/her stupid ons, but those aware of the issues, safety measures, and efficiency of the ship will survive and jump ship if needed.

A better ship, with a better crew and passengers will be afloat soon. I hope it doesn't result in a mutiny. The "Captains" of the ship still have a small chance in showing their leadership and regain control of their ship... and its direction.

The problem didn't come from OPM......

Lobotomy

Thanks for your contributions, Lobotomy. Ab.

12/1Lobotomy,

Once OPM has a "standard" -- wherever it came from -- it has to administer it consistently as it sees fit from its perspective, not that of the supplicant, even if the supplicant arranged the "standard". This is a strength and a weakness of any governing system -- little or no flexibility -- especially today with lawyers involved. I think this is true in the academic requirements case for the 401. With the 401 in place and the FS trying to work within it in transition, the rules being used by OPM are black-and-white. This came as a surprise and blow. I think I know how hard the FS has worked to get OPM to compromise on this one.

It's my experience that with bureaucracies you can try to get something new started with the intent of making things better or filling a need. Often bureaucracies are so complicated that -- in spite of all your hard work and trying to see hidden pitfalls and actual outcomes of changes -- someone or some other arm of the system interprets something differently than you did, and there's a whole new ball of wax.

A little background on the current ball of wax...

The IFPM and the GS-401 series all started with the South Canyon Hazard Abatement Plan. One of the action items was to "have a professional, qualified fire fighting organization..." Since South Canyon was, technically (in a world of politics this technicality counts), a Dept of Interior (BLM) accident (it was BLM jurisdiction), Dept of Interior (DOI) took the "lead" on creating IFPM. They literally translated "professional" into a "professional series". I'm told this is an institutional cultural thing common among "professional biologists" and "professional Foresters". The traditional "professional series" for USFS was "GS-460, Forester". For the DOI agencies (Park Service, BLM, FWS, etc) was a "GS-401 Biological Professional Series". The Forester series requires a lot more educational credits than the Biological Professional Series; it was not the Forest Service's lead; and the FS did not really get too involved in what was being developed. I understand OPM actually considered creating a professional wildland fire fighting series, but I'm told the politics at the time and the DOI leads determined that the GS-401 series was good enough.

As one friend said, God helps us! If read in context, the hazard abatement plan action item meant "professional" attitude -- and qualifications for the person's professional area. With IFPM, we do have the benefit of folks coming into fire positions having to have real fire qualifications. They have to have had previous experience in fire management related fields of expertise. Unfortunately, the GS-11 positions identified in the original 14 key positions also have to be GS-401 (biologists).

I think it's very difficult for any high level supervising fire professional to explain to Center Managers and Assistant Center Managers why it is a good professional move for them to learn about soil hydrophobic tendencies after a high intensity fire, when a degree in psychology or some people-managing field would be far more useful to their field of expertise. Where is it written in the university, college or equivalent training of choice that learning about fire ecology, tree identification, etc. is going to make a person a better "professional" on the fireline supervising people?

Mellie

PS: Casey and All, I'll be here, too.

12/1Dear "Not afraid of Major change"

Personally, I think any plan to turn over fire suppression/protection services for federal lands to non-federal agencies is an absolute cop out by the Agency and an acknowledgement that they are totally inept at managing a fire program.

Obviously, that point has been amplified by the recent 401 mess. Again personally, it is time for people to be accountable for their actions. Mr. Kashdan should be, at best, demoted or offered a retirement package before he does any further damage to the fire program. This snafu is without question the most inexcusable action I have witnessed in some time...and there are plenty of them within the Forest Service.

It is a contradiction, as far as I'm concerned, to work to improve pay & benefits for federal wildland firefighters and demonstrate at the same time that in order to accomplish some of these goals, the Agency must become more fiscally responsible, then turn around and support a plan that would cost American taxpayers staggering sums of money.

To be honest, I'm a little taken aback and frustrated by recent posts like that from Pappy, with all due respect, speaking of their intentions to bail. There was a recent post about considering one's seniority and veterans status with Cal-Fire and others referencing a serious fiscal issue to be faced by Cal-Fire next year along with the fact that many are looking at rethinking the vast sums of federal dollars that Cal-Fire & other agencies get from the federal government.

Maybe I should bail from a job that pays me about the same as a GS-4 with no benefits even though folks doing what I do make around $250,000 a year. I need to feed my family too and I have to think of them, too. But I also have another family... the FWFSA family and I'll be dam*ed if I'm going to toss away everything I and many others have accomplished and worked for on behalf of so many others just for what appears to be greener pastures.

If you're going to leave, leave. Stop complaining and telling everyone on TheySaid why you'd like to stay but can't. Hit the road rather than stand up and be a part of the solution. Those of us working for everyone else who wants to be part of the solution aren't going anywhere. Enjoy your new blue uniform, enjoy your greater pay, better retirement etc., but stop complaining about the federal system if you aren't willing to roll up your sleeves and work with us to make it the system you want it to be.

Out of all those lost to Cal-Fire very few have been FWFSA members. Maybe that will change with the next round of hires. I can't fret about that. All we can do is keep giving everything we have to create a fire program worthy of the best wildland firefighters in the world.

Casey

Thanks for all you do Casey. We'll be here, too. Ab.

12/1Why not

The Forest Service does not need to maintain protection responsibilities in So Cal. Why not give it to CALFIRE and/or the Counties? It would be way more efficient. As mentioned, leave the IHCs in place. The Helicopters would seem to be a resource that could go either way. If there is a large fire that needs managed, order a team and if it is federal land, the feds pay and give the direction for management of the fire. This type of arrangement would require some management staff, but beyond that it would be limited. The options for those losing their jobs, compete for the remaining management positions, go to the other agencies, or find another job. It is going to come to this sometime, why not do it now? It would be a bit of "black eye" for the FS, but what's new.

On another topic:

That structure protection letter is weak. Using the word may in it gives the discretion to the Line Officer. Here is a real example of how that plays out. Local line officer makes issue of buying structure wrap. Ordering Manager gets wind of the issue and refuses to fill the order for wrap when Operations personnel submit the order. Operations Chief, gets wind of the situation and tells Ordering Manager it is not at his discretion to determine what gets ordered. His job is to place the order. Ops Chief then tells IC that as soon as there is direction that is in official format and signed by the Line Officer, then no more structures will be wrapped; until then, business as usual will occur. That being: structures will be wrapped at the discretion of operations personnel. That is where it plays out.

So when structures are lost there will be a letter on file that states that the local official made the request to save a few thousand dollars, thus contributing to your home being destroyed. Guess how many Line Officers are going to do that? Exactly zero. Stupid thing to make a big deal about and gives mixed direction, poor leader's intent. Lets see, leader's intent is to be as wishy-washy as possible and then any decision is, at a minimum, subject to review and subsequent criticism.

SLR

Re your first topic: Where do the federal incident management teams of the future come from? Ab.

12/1Ab, also relating to structures, this was just released last week.

firebrand
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: November 29, 2007
Subject: Wildland Urban Interface Operating Principles
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors, Forest Fire Chiefs

Subsequent to the Esperanza tragedy there was a great deal of discussion in the interagency fire community regarding safe and effective operations in the wildland urban interface. The Esperanza Accident Review Board Action Plan furthered this discussion by recommending (#04) that WO FAM “Initiate a policy review of wildfire suppression risk management principles to enhance agency-wide performance and determine key factors to make educated risk decisions when operational assets are committed, or proposed to be committed in the wildland urban interface.” Region 5 asked to take the lead and, working with members of the WO FAM Risk Management Group and the California Wildland Fire Working Group (CWCG), developed the “Wildland Urban Interface Operating Principles”, attached to this letter.

While these principles capture in one place what can be found in many, they provide renewed emphasis on the fundamental imperative that the safety of firefighters is the number one tactical consideration when operating in this environment. They amplify the importance of judgment in the making of decisions that involve risk, and call upon every firefighter to engage only to the level their experience and training allow. These principles also contain a subtle shift in emphasis, which I want to amplify.

Before engaging in a structure protection assignment the leader and members of the crew must establish situational awareness that proves to them that the location and fire behavior do not pose an immitigable risk to their safety. There is adequate defensible space, good escape routes and safety zones are present, and time-distance factors are favorable. Secondly, the structure or group of structures also prove to the on-scene firefighters that, based on their condition and location, they would be able to survive the oncoming fire even if firefighters were not directly on-scene. That is the nuance; rather than seek ways to protect every structure, each structure and location must first prove that protection can be provided safely and with the assurance of success.

The CWCG has forwarded these principles to the FIRESCOPE Board of Directors and asked that they consider including them in the “Field Operations Guide”, ICS 420-1, and any others of their publications that may be appropriate. Further, CWCG members forwarded these principles to their representatives on the National Wildfire Coordinating Group for inclusion in inter-agency publications and training relating to WUI fire suppression operations.

CWCG adopted these principles and I concur. I want you to ensure they are trained and applied by all firefighters, fireline supervisors, fire program leaders, incident management teams, and any others preparing for or engaging in fire suppression on your units. They should be the topics of tactical decision games and sand table exercises, discussed at IMT in-briefings, and should serve to guide you as you evaluate the quality of the risk decisions made by your firefighters, their leaders, and incident management personnel.

I am very pleased that we have not suffered a single serious accident during the difficult season we just experienced. I know it is due in no small measure to your leadership and the emphasis you place on safe operating practices, and I thank you for that. Please continue these efforts, stay engaged, and leave nothing to chance.

/s/ James M. Pea (for)
RANDY MOORE
Regional Forester

<Ab deleted the cc'ed names>

12/1Your probably right ab about the FS not giving up the cash money fire cow, however when emails float around like this (6th bullet), it makes one wonder what they will do next... Swamper

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

Attached is the briefing paper that will guide our process. <snip name #3> will join us as the HR / pay specialist, and Jim Pena will identify the Line Officers that will participate. As agreed, the following data will be developed and brought to the meeting:

*1. Three-year attrition data for continuing and permanent employees - <snip name #1>
*2. Special pay, Group Retention Pay, and other Retention Pay data - <snip name #2> and <snip name #3>
*3. Current pay tables for locality pay - <snip name #2> and <snip name #3>
*4. Cost of Living tables for locality pay comparisons - <snip name #2> and <snip name #3>
*5. Demographics (workforce - general) - <snip name #1>
*6. Cost data for: Assignment of fire protection responsibilities on ANF, LPF, BDF, and CNF to State and County fire organizations. Assessment of potential to annex WUI area to City, County, and State Protection - <snip name #1>

We will meet at the WFTC in McClellan beginning at 1300 hrs on Monday, December 10, and work toward concluding our efforts on Friday, December 14, at 1200 hrs. Please make your arrangements accordingly. Through copy of this e-mail to Christine Haupt, I am requesting a room, with digital projector, white erase boards, and easel pad (2) for this group, approximately 8 people.

We will begin the week by reviewing in-hand data, identify shortcomings, and develop tactics to obtain. We will then spend as much time as necessary to determine how the data will be used to generate our proposal; this process will also lead us to identifying next steps and refining the end-state.

Please review the intent for the effort included in the attached briefing paper. If you have any questions, please give me a call.
-ed-

12/1To Pappy;

The transition from green to red was very smooth and I, too, had much to
offer the red side especially in the saw training end of things. D'ont fear too
much and roll with the punches and get set up for retirement. I got started
in the the early eighties and am now enjoying my free time.

Tunes

12/1Re: retention,

After working around in Forest Service fire for the past 27 years, a fellow
couldn't help but notice, as CDF-CalFire was evolving, Forest Service fire
seemed only capable of mutating, i.e. 462-401, probably because Land
Management folks are afraid we'll stray too far from the FS mission orbit.
My peers in the FS are the finest wildland firefighters around, and they
continue against all bureaucratic odds to build and maintain the best
firefighting organization anywhere. I'd like to stick around to try and
see if we can make the Wildland Firefighter series a reality, however, I'm
running out of time. A window of opportunity has come open at CalFire and
I have to see where it leads, I owe it to myself and my family. I see what
they pay, and all's I can say is: you don't have to hand me a red hot
horseshoe twice, besides, I've all ready gotten my butt kicked, I may as
well have the money too... Besides I'll always have green blood, no matter
where I go.

Pappy
12/1Truth be told, the letter is just a complete joke. It's disturbing to even read this again.

Can you imagine some Non-Fire Los Angeles County Bureaucrat telling a Los Angeles County Battalion Chief how to fight fire?

Or even better than that--->some WO Non-Fire Fed bureaucrat telling some local Non-Fire Fed Bureaucrat "you better watch out and not do this or we will send the misconduct investigators out"..

I mean common on. The whole feel of this just makes me chuckle....again.

One thing I've noticed lately and I honestly don't know if this is a good thing or bad thing. However a few I've talked to amongst the rank and file in R-5 are saying that turning protection of WUI federal lands to state and local gov would not be a bad thing in So Cal. R-5 would keep the nationally funded IHCs and contract helicopters for the Wilderness fires and reinforcement to cooperators. Millions of R-5 dollars would move into local hands and hundreds if not thousands of R-5 Firefighters would most likely get jobs in this transition, maybe even non-competitively. Again, I really don't know if this is a good or bad idea, however if the Non-Bureaucrats think this is a threat and would like to hold this over our heads, well think again Brother. I'm amazed and actually refreshed to hear the attitudes of many who have said, "bring it on, lets change the whole way of doing business in R-5".

Fed Bureaucrats beware, if this ever happened, I don't think Ca State and Local governments would react kindly to your advice on how to protect structures.

Casey, any thoughts?

Signed,

Not Afraid of Major Change........

Does anyone think the FS, BLM, NPS etc are going to let go of the $-cash-$ cow? Ab.

12/1Here’s a bit of confusing trivia for someone to figure out.

The official burned area total for the 2003 firestorm has been cited as
750,043 acres (in the “California Fire Siege 2003 – The Story”
publication). However, if you add up the acreage listed for each of
the 13 fires in the same publication the total comes up to 739,597.

What’s up?

It would be helpful to get the right number. I’m helping this guy update
his own publication that is going to press next week.

jimhart

12/1Ab, Stumpie had posted a need for PSD stuff.

Here's the link to the guide with Power Points etc. Hope it's helpful.

www.blm.gov/nifc/st/en/prog/fire/Aviation/Airops/iaig.print.phpl

12/1All,

I think the structure protection letter was all about cutting costs and is just another impediment to controlling fires and keeping people safe. We heard the "don't overspend" mantra all summer long; the cost police have added a whole new dimension to our profession. NASA finally wised up after the Columbia shuttle accident and figured out that slogans like "faster, better, cheaper" are not worth a bucket of warm spit.

I was running a division on a fire in Montana when the letter came out. We were also told that, in the interest of saving money, all of our resource orders for overhead, supplies, etc were being canceled and that our fire was going to be "right-sized". This was a fire with many expensive homes adjacent, record ERCs, and plenty of potential fire season left. I thought it was a bunch of BS then & I still do.

Mark my words, if the wildland fire "faster, better, cheaper" campaign continues, it will be a factor in future fireline fatalities.

Misery Whip
12/1Structure protection and Doctrine:

This letter has been floating around for a couple of months. It's amazing that the
WO would even put out something like this! My curiosity has gotten the best
of me so I'm sending it out to some who may know what this really means and
if it is creating any problems in California. What's up?

structure-protection07.doc (55K doc file)

First of all USFS firefighters are authorized to take action to suppress
wild fires on private land, (structure or wild land), that threaten federal
lands. Forest Service employees, however, are not authorized to go into
structures to suppress structure fires. Unless this has changed as of
late, the policy stands.

The use of material to wrap flame resistant material around a structure
seems time consuming and excessive. Why not just use foam?

Clearing around homes with an on coming fire is not unusual, but often there
is not enough time to do a complete job. Again, why not foam and move?

Doing a job hazard analysis before going on a roof makes sense as long as it
is done at the beginning of the season and not in the middle of the need.
Putting up a sprinkler system, say for a home or 2 that may have a chance
and could possibly reduce rate of spread or spotting has and does work.
Again, why not just use foam?

The sideboards of the Forest Service suppression policy has been pretty
consistent the last few years, Is this more an issue of poor training?
Apparently ordering engines for structure protection was stopped on an
incident in Idaho, due to the interpretation of this letter by agency line
types involved in this incident. Can you imagine the backlash if this were
to occur in R-5?

In case you may not know, over half the expensive fires the Forest Service
fights in California are along federal borders. There are over 5 million
homes in the "High risk" zones as presently defined by the State.

Structure protection is usually a separate branch or division on an
incident, depending on the fire size and complexity. The "cost
apportionment" process is used to sort out who pays for what while in
unified command. Is this another example of poor training?

Finally, I was of the understanding that the concept of "Commanders intent"
was fully supported by the Washington leadership. Putting out a letter of
"how to fight" a fire is a far cry from "Commanders Intent" or support of
the concept!

Well anyway read the stuff below (at the link above), pretty interesting...

thanks.. noname

Noname, this was sent in by TC on 8/17 when many were off fighting fire in Idaho. He found it raised questions for him, too. There was only one follow-up comment a few days later about micromanaging firefighting; no doubt firefighters were busy foaming and wrapping and spending $$ on structure protection, doing their jobs. Any comments now?

12/1Re: 401

Mellie,

OPM didn't mandate or require the federal land management agencies to use the 0401 occupational standard for wildland fire positions.

OPM did offer and agree to amend the 0401 occupational standard after being specifically asked to by the federal land management agencies.

Contrary to what many of the bureaucrats of the land management agencies say, OPM works to support, not hinder individual mission delivery. The decision to use the 0401 series as the professional series for wildland fire management came from the land management agencies.

Like many other things attributed as OPM problems...... ie. 1039 appointments, recruitment & retention, etc..... the land management agencies, NOT OPM, painted themselves into a box by conveniently band aiding a program and "making a square peg temporarily fit into a round hole".

In an effort to correct things, don't blame OPM. Look at the root of the problems and which leaders have been wrongly making the decisions.

Lobotomy
12/1The continuing 401 debacle and Hank's finger prints all over this "oops" redefine bureaucratic incompetence.

Chief Kimbell needs to call over to OPM Director Linda Springer and invite her out for an afternoon tea to dismantle this 401 mess and call for a ground up wildland firefighter series.

In the absence of such a tea party, the FWFSA will go straight to the House Government Reform Committee next Monday and seek hearings on the continuing ineptitude of both OPM & the Forest Service on this matter.

On an unrelated matter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office (D-NV) contacted the FWFSA this morning (yesterday morning) to suggest a General Accounting Office (GAO) study on the precise amounts of fire preparedness & fuels dollars currently being diverted from such uses to pay for non-fire projects and the impact that diversion has on fuels treatment and preparedness levels as they relate to the escalating cost of suppression.

Additionally the Office of Management & Budget has also chimed in on the FMAG situation and believes the grant program needs to be re-evaluated so look for that to take off shortly after the new year.

Casey
12/1Howdy, Ab.

I'd appreciate any help on locating info (text and pix) on ping pong aerial ignition ops - Premo MK III. My daughter selected "chemistry and wildfires" as her topic for a high school chemistry class project and I'm trying to provide her with research options. Real interested in the specifics of Premo ops, and some good pix of balls, dispenser, helo in action, and balls burning on the ground. Got a couple of good pix from the Heli4 page -- Thanks !! Having trouble finding much with a google-search.

Gotta luv them kids !

Thanx - Stumpie.
12/1Re: The 0401 blame game fiasco and its deepest roots..... aka... Stopping the "failure chain" in the Accident Causation Process

On February 15, 2005......"OPM clarified the acceptability of educational coursework for meeting the positive educational requirements for professional positions".

Focus on the word clarified. The standards for higher education meeting minimum qualifications have been around for decades. OPM had to issue a clarifying letter to the USDA and USDI over two years ago (2005) to admonish the agencies for their misuse in classifying positions and certifying folks to fill those positions improperly. The land management agencies failed to heed this admonishment and are now in crisis management for their inactions in properly classifying positions involved in wildland fire management and fire suppression.

"...5 U.S.C. 3308 prohibits requiring education for positions in the competitive service, unless OPM has determined that the duties of a scientific, technical, or professional position cannot be performed by an individual who does not have the prescribed minimum education."

OPM "determines" the duties based solely upon the expectations, requirements, and presentations of the agencies..... hence the educational sub-component of the Interagency Fire Program Management (IFPM) Standards and Guide. The fire managers wanted minimum fire qualifications to become a standard after South Canyon.... the line officers wanted to distance themselves from the root problem of their failed decisions and inactions.

"Following the South Canyon Fire in 1994, an interagency team was formed to investigate the fatalities and contributing factors. The subsequent 1995 Federal Wildland Fire Policy and Program Review , signed by both Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, directed Federal wildland fire agencies to establish fire management qualifications standards to improve firefighter safety and increase professionalism in fire management programs."

"The Interagency Fire Program Qualifications Task Force was established in July 1997, to develop these qualification standards and accomplish related assignments. Their efforts resulted in the Interagency Fire Program Management Qualifications Standards and Guide, referred to as the IFPM Standard and the Supplemental Qualification Standard for professional GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist positions, which were approved by the Office of Personnel Management in August 2001."

Just a short lesson on recent fire program history, and why folks not familiar with the wildland fire program or its history shouldn't be "leading it"... setting policy.... providing "factual reviews or investigations".... or speaking on behalf of fire issues they aren't experts in.

I fully hope that someday line officers will have to have 18 units of upper division Fire Science, Fire Technology, Fire Administration, or Fire Management coursework from an accredited institution..... and 6 units of allied lower division education from an accredited institution.... to manage the wildland fire program...... especially if they don't meet the BS/BA positive education component.......

........... or maybe the most simple fix is a wildland firefighter series from GS-2 through GS-15 strengthening the groundwork, and actually looking factually at the things (failures and lessons learned from the past that were not properly evaluated on a peer-to-peer level) that set forth horrific changes resulting in repetitive failures.........and didn't focus the future properly on the overlying goals of firefighter safety, resource and community protection, and preparing for the challenges of the next century.

Baby Steps
12/1If you're interested, a firsthand report from mountain burned areas in
Southern California:

Guy McCarthy

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