January, 2008

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1/31 Clarification on lights & sirens memo:

To all:

The text of the memo posted here on TheySaid with respect to: Emergency code 3 responses will be conducted as code 2" was included by mistake.

It is an apparently convoluted issue however recently a directive came out of the WO on the subject which a number of folks, including safety officers, felt was too restrictive. A revised directive was offered to the WO and accepted. However for some reason, the powers that be at the WO sent out the more restrictive version.

What has been posted here is an interim directive until the mess with the WO can be corrected. According to those involved, they expect it will take until spring to do so. Several NoCal forests were tasked with putting together an interim directive and they apparently based the directive on their call volume. As a result, the intent was to have vehicles respond without lights or sirens until the matter could be resolved with the WO in the Spring.

Naturally my question to them was how this region-wide interim directive would be received by the SoCal forests that have a significantly higher call volume.

So, for the time being anyway, the interim directive everyone is posting about was not intended to include the " code 2" reference.

Likely I have confused the issue even more. Sorry.


I'll go back add add a note to each of the Code 2 posts... Sure was fun while it lasted... Ab.

1/31 Casey and others'

This is a section from the California Vehicle Code, and as you see, light(s) and siren.

Authorized Emergency Vehicles
21806. Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle which is sounding a siren and which has at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light that is visible, under normal atmospheric conditions, from a distance of 1,000 feet to the front of the vehicle, the surrounding traffic shall, except as otherwise directed by a traffic officer....

lighting up the subject.

Some great monikers. Ab.

1/31 Running with red lights and sirens may mean the difference between catching a fire in initial attack or having a fire escape and becoming a major fire. The use of red lights and siren is a tool in the tool box, to be used as needed. Having spent a good part of my career in SOCAL, I know that judgment is needed in making a determination about whether to respond code 3 or not. Personally I am bothered that this tool is being removed from our tool box.

We hear a lot about cost containment, yet we have imposed on us, these new policies that contradict common sense and good judgment, and potentially will cause more fires to escape initial attack and become major fires costing literally thousands, if not millions of more dollars of taxpayer money to contain.

I would ask the decision-makers why has this tool been taken away from us? Certainly if one were to examine accidents and accident frequency rates caused by responding with red lights and siren, they would find that we (collectively) have an excellent safety record.

Again I ask what happened to common sense and good judgment?

Stone Boat

HAW HAW haw... on the moniker... Ab.

1/31 Ahhh,

The joys of not having to be on call (uncompensated) for a minimum of two
nights per week.... and not having to be tied to the "green anchor".

Good decision Mr. Regional Forester (tongue in cheek). Should our dispatch
center forward our night calls to you?

Rogue Rivers
1/31 Inquiring law student PB - sorry for the delay in responding,
but I was out enjoying blowing snow and sub-zero temps
for a few days!

Do a Google search for "Backfire2000" and you'll get the court
document that has all of the Judge's rulings and comments.


No worries, two contributors wrote in with the info. Ab.

1/31 Casey,

Thanks a bunch for keeping us all abreast of what is transpiring. I whole-heartedly agree with your last post. Your comments, and my perception of what's happening in today's world, have led me to conclude that much of the staff and non-militia folks are all in it for themselves. Seems as though the outfit(s) are crumbling due to lack of communication, lack of teamwork, and lack of leadership. By teamwork, I mean the FS as a whole. It ain't there, and please, someone challenge me on that one. Teamwork within the fire organization still stands out, but the rest of them could give a (snip). A&FM, hold yourselves together, play and work as team, lead your people, and you will achieve production and satisfaction!


Thanks for snipping your own "bad" word. Good one. Ab.

1/31 RE: the lights and siren letter.....

.....Once the forest fire staff has an opportunity to fully review, understand
and implement the new agency directives I will rescind or amend this

Isn't that the problem?


1/31 Code 1, 2 & 3

In California, the vehicle code essentially says code 3 is lights AND sirens.
Code 2 is an old term to go to a call/assignment directy, but WITHOUT
the use of lights and sirens, following all traffic laws. Obviously on a
response at 2 a.m., the lights are going but common sense kicks in when
to to use the noise maker. Same as going to calls on the freeway etc.
Any questions though in Ca., CHP would be glad to help I'm sure.

Former Green Soldier.

Posted later: Emergency code 3 responses will be conducted as code 2" was included by mistake. See Casey's post. Ab.

1/31 Code 1, 2 & 3

Although different agencies have different ways that they use "Codes",
here is the way that I learned them and the way that most agencies
utilize them.
  • Code 1 - Available on the air (driving in a patrol type status)
  • Code 2 - Respond directly (no lights or siren)
  • Code 3 - Respond Immediately (lights and siren)
  • Code 4 - All clear (the scene has been secured and is safe)

I have worked in three states (including CA) and this seems to be the
common use.


1/31 Come on folks, regardless of the Code 3, Code 2, Code 1 stuff, I think the
intent of the letter is clear. Do not operate the emergency lights & sirens
on vehicles until we sure we're meeting the new direction contained in the
FS Manual.

At least thats what this Forest and several others are doing.


1/31 Lights & sirens & stuff:

Someone out there PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong but in California there is NO
code 2 for fire. There is code 2 (lights, no sirens) only for law enforcement and in
some cases ambulances so as not to further antagonize certain patients.

So as I understand it a FS rig cannot operate (as in moving) in Code 2 (lights, no
siren) and neither can any other fire rig in the state.

If responding to an emergency, lights and sirens are used...code 3. Once on the scene
a fire apparatus can shut down their siren but leave their lights on.

Additionally while I'm not sure it is codified in the CA vehicle codes, it is always a
good practice that when you are in traffic on an emergency response and come to a
stop light behind said traffic and there is no way to proceed until the flow of traffic
ahead of you starts moving, shut down lights & sirens. For years it has been known
that a motorist sitting at a red light with an emergency vehicle behind them blaring their
siren & running their lights predisposes motorists to risk accidents by moving into
intersections against red lights etc., because the panic for them is overwhelming.

I don't know the legality of running "code 2" while on a National Forest" but I do know
that the same vehicle laws apply on DoD (Department of Defense) federal facilities as
they do on CA streets...No code 2 for fire, only law enforcement.

Hopefully someone in the RO has researched this issue before making such a directive.


Is this a hint they're shifting FIRE into LE & I??? (tongue in cheek) Ab.

Posted later: Emergency code 3 responses will be conducted as code 2" was included by mistake. See Casey's next post. Ab.

1/31 I have a couple of questions regarding the following statement from the
"Use of emergency lights and sirens" directive -

"Employees shall not use emergency lights and sirens while the
vehicle they are operating is in motion. Emergency code three
responses shall be conducted as code two."

Please correct me if I'm wrong because I may very well be, but isn't a
Code 2 response illegal. Is it not Code 1, Code 3, or no Code?

If not, wouldn't a Code 2 response be considered as using the
emergency lights while the vehicle is in motion anyway?

If not illegal, then would it not be reasonable to assume that responding
Code 2 would be more unsafe than responding Code 3? Considering
that you're taking away an extra warning device alerting other vehicles
to your presence, your objective, I would think that it would be much
less safe.

Just Curious.....

Posted later: Emergency code 3 responses will be conducted as code 2" was included by mistake. See Casey's last post today. Ab.

1/31 My fire department is interested in getting our mechanics available for all-risk or wildland fire incidents. They would possibly work towards the Ground Support Unit Leader position.

Does anyone have any information on starting qualifications (Obviously mechanic, I-100, etc.)?
Any information on required equipment for their mechanics truck (i.e. compressor, welder, generator, etc)?
Any idea on daily rates for equipment reimbursement?

Any information would be appreciated.

1/31 This memo keeps coming in. It's the directive TC referred to and made a link to earlier this morning. It was toward the end of the larger pdf file. Guess I better spell it out. Guess there's some heat over this one. Ab.

~~~Posted later: Emergency code 3 responses will be conducted as code 2" was included by mistake. See Casey's last post today. Ab.~~~

Date: January 30, 2008
Subject: Use of Emergency Lights and Sirens
To: All Employees, District Rangers

Effective immediately and pursuant to FSM Interim Directives No.
5120-2007-1 and 5130-2007-2 employees shall not use emergency lights and
sirens while the vehicle they are operating is in motion. Emergency code
three responses shall be conducted as code two.

Emergency lights may be used while stationary to facilitate operational or
safety objectives as determined by the vehicle operator or his or her

Once the forest fire staff has an opportunity to fully review, understand
and implement the new agency directives I will rescind or amend this

All vehicle operators are required to operate at all times with the safety
of pedestrians, other vehicles and themselves as the primary objective of
travel. As a reminder:

  • Come to a complete stop at all stop signs and red traffic control lights.
  • Stop and do not pass any school bus with flashing warning lights.
  • Adhere to posted speed limits.
  • Travel at or below safe speeds based on road conditions, weather
    conditions, visibility and vehicle configuration.
  • Obey all railroad crossing signals.
  • Adhere to local regulations governing vehicle operation.

If you have any questions regarding this direction, please contact the Forest
Fire Management Officer.

1/31 Ab and Driver51

This probably does not help out folks that are not in Region 1 of the FS, but here is some info on Critical Incident Stress Management courses that are happening up here. Perhaps the contacts Below could put folks in contact with teams in their area.

Critical Incident Stress Management Basic Group Training

Tuesday May 20 from 1:00-5:00

Wednesday May 21 from 8:00-4:30

Thursday May 22 from 8:00-5:00

Aerial Fire Depot Training Center, Missouri Room, Missoula, MT

Any Questions please call: <snip>


I passed the names/phone numbers on to Driver51 who asked the question. Ab.

1/31 Re: R5 fire BOD

Ed doesn't go to BOD meetings anymore.

Many FFMOs are new and don't know what the BOD used to
initiate and accomplish in a unified way.

Seems that some FFMOs are hiding on their forests behind their
line officers so as not to be identified with R5 Regional Office.

It's a mess. The Forest Service is a mess. Someone told me they're
pressing to get it done before Bush leaves office. Don't know if
that's true.

Glad I'm retired and don't have to be in the middle of a melt
down in R5 communication and function. I heard at least one FFMO
is likely to retire before fire season. Maybe the retirement bubble is
being forced to burst.

Our cooperators should be worried.

Listen to me spouting negativity. Apologies...

NorCal Tom

1/31 Any word of whether the R5 fire BOD is going to tackle this vehicle issue
and address the requirements region wide in a unified fashion versus
independent action by forests?

noname fire

1/31 To All:

The expected new guidance from the RO in Region 5 with respect to taking rigs home and other such dandy, regressive ideas, is what amounts to a "shot across the bow" of the fire program. Senior non-fire staff have become increasingly aggravated by what it perceives to be the fire program "breaking away" from the land management agency, or "becoming their own entity" which is costing the Agency so much money. Oddly they don't understand that their very own actions and policies are what is driving up the costs in the fire program.

Furthermore, their disdain for the fire program has increased by virtue of the increased congressional scrutiny and that of the press. As a result, this action by the R5 RF as well as the collar brass issue in R6 are what can be described as a typical bureaucratic response in order to show all of you who is boss.

The dumbfounding fact is that the non-fire senior leadership who consider the fire program's "breaking away" are not willing to recognize that what the fire program is doing is actually called (drum roll please) PROGRESS in order to stay on top of the ever-increasing complexities of wildland fire. This thought-process is typical of those who have no fire experience or expertise. A major concern with such a bureaucratic response to in essence "reel in" the fire program is that it may lead to an increased risk in the health & safety of our firefighters and those they protect.

That being said it, all of you should be aware that there will likely be more ridiculous policies coming from non-fire leadership in their effort to 'reign in" those renegade fire people to make sure they all know whose boss. Fortunately, firefighters now have the 3 P's on their side: the Public, the Press and the Politicians.

Already folks in those 3 categories are developing their own plans to address this leadership phenomenon, also known as REgression. Now is not the time to abandon our efforts to make the fire program more effective and efficient while provide our firefighters with the pay & benefits they deserve.

Now, more than ever, it is the responsibility of all of us to raise this "Titanic" known as the FS fire program.

So, expect more nutty decisions from the ROs and RFs but recognize them for what they are. Stay focused on your job as FIREFIGHTERS, take care of yourselves and your co-workers and keep the FWFSA abreast of anything you think we need to know. As is typical in these kinds of situations, things may get dicier sooner than they get resolved. Just remember, this is YOUR career and you have every right to fight for it.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
1/31 Rogue Rivers:

You are right that there is really no good excuse for SWCC Intel not having daily updates to the big fire situation in Eastern New Mexico and West Texas right now. The New Mexico State Forestry has had umpteen fires, some large, lately and since NMSF is part of the SW Area their fires should certainly be posted to the SWCC Intel page on a timely basis.

It is probable, however, that NMSF is not fully aware of their own fires until they are old news. The backbone of NMSF IA response is VFDs and they are not very communicative most of the time about their own responses to wildland fires to the total of 12 or so NMSF full time employees who might deliver the information to SWCC.

The Texas Forest Service, an extension of Texas A&M University, is entirely another story. The only parts of Texas that report to SWCC are the relatively small parcels of federal lands west of the 100th meridian. The TFS reports to SACC on all of their fires and really nobody else. Same story with the VFDs being the backbone of IA on at least non-federal lands.

So, again, no excuses for anybody. That is just the way it is. Of course they need to change something to enhance their communications but funding is certainly at the center of the matter.

1/31 Subject: Official Information - Marc's Services

Official Information - Please distribute far and wide...
My e-mail list is not comprehensive and has holes, so please utilize your own e-mail network to redistribute /thanks

Memorial Services will be held for Marc Mullenix

Wednesday, February 6 - 1200 hours

Faith Bible Chapel
6250 Wright Street
Arvada, CO 80004

Memorial Fund:
Marc Mullenix Life Challenge Foundation

Donations can be made at the time of the services or mailed to: "details to follow"

Those preferring to send flowers, Flowers will be received at:
Fairmount Fire Department
4755 Isabel Street
Golden CO 80403

Further issues/concerns/info: Fairmount Fire 303-279-2928

Dress appropriate for Marc (that could include casual)


1/31 Marc Mullenix services

Ab, Please share the following information:

Services for Marc will be held
Feb 6th, 1200 at the
Faith Bible Chapel
6250 Wright St
Arvada, CO.

Please send all flowers or contributions to
Fairmount Fire
4755 Isabell Rd
Golden CO 80403.

Thanks to all for your thoughts, Marc's presence will be missed.
Take whatever piece he gave you and pass it on. His leadership
will live on through all of us.


Thanks L. Sorry for your loss. Ab.

1/31 Re Marc Mullenix services/condolences:

For those of you asking about services for Marc, we have received some info. It seems Fairmont FD will handle them but all is in the planning stages.

Shawna has lots of support from her crew and Marc's team with them organized in incident command style to deal with all necessary support functions. Her parents, brother and Marc's daughter are with her.

Cards can be sent to
Shawna Legarza
PO Box 785
Mancos CO 81328

1/31 Dim Bulb,

Go to www.nfpa.org/ and look up the emergency vehicle lighting standards.
It applies to all emergency apparatus operated by the fire service. It addresses
each vehicle based on “Zones. “ Yes there is a lighting and reflective stripping
standard and it is endorsed by the IAFF also.


1/31 Hey ab here is some good stuff I am sure Casey is all over it though

Signed: We Don't need no stinking badges


Round Robin within BLM, but the message path was not included:

I believe you are aware.....

Omnibus included authority to reimburse fireline supervisors for 50% of PLI
premiums. We need to implement in a coordinated manner between 2
departments and 5 agencies.

Wally J is the DOI lead to work with FS. Ahead is the determination of who
quals and then estab a process and finally a DOI policy/directive.

Sandy, will be a good idea to touch base with Wally

New language in 2008 Omnibus Bill.doc (28K doc file)

1/31 /s/ Stay Tuned.....

I can't wait to hear the next big decision from the Regional Forester in
Vallejo after his directive about storage of government vehicles at home.

There seems to be a collective feeling with the folks that I work with that
we continue to hear about how we are the best in the business and need
to continue to move forward, but then the WO and RO force us to take
steps backwards.

Now more than ever, Fire Programs need to be managed by Fire
Managers who understand what we deal with when the call comes in.

That includes the calls that come before 0930 and after 1800.


1/31 Ab, Mellie, anyone else?

Do either of you or anyone else know how I would go about finding out how to be trained professionally in CISD or if there are any National or regional courses available to us? I am a part of a departmental team, but would like to help out on a regional or national level. I think that it is important and would like to help. Anyone? Does it matter that I work for local government or can I be apart of a USFS/Cal-Fire team after training? I have a desire to help as someone did for me when I needed it, it's such a important healing tool. Thank you in advance..

1/31 This is meant to be somewhat of a "funny" but also a true statement....

The times I have visited the WO and RO recently, two things really stood out:

1) The computer screens of the WO and RO fire programs had a pleasantly orange/yellow glow to them while seeking information.... before being back-clicked as folks approached, and

2) Most of the non-fire screens were doing AgLearn, or writing word documents to justify or defend the current course of the Forest Service and asking for "peer review" by us visitors.

I always get a good laugh when visiting the "battlefields" known as the WO and ROs..... Always knowing the troops will win and lead the Forest Service forward because they communicate and share common goals for the success of the Forest Service..... and if not successful, they will lead a new Agency that will meet the original intent of "Caring for the Land, Serving People" that the current bureaucracy is afraid to factually address.

The Forest Service mission was broadly laid out to allow flexibility with changing times to meet the needs of the stakeholders. The folks looking at the orange/yellow glowing screens seem to be most informed on the issues and future.

Thanks Ab(s) for providing the glowing support of the wildland fire community.... Please don't change a thing.

1/31 Rogue Rivers,
I was visiting a friend of mine at the SW GACC in ABQ last summer. Most, if not all, were walking around were FS employees. I did see a person wearing a Bernallio County Fire Department Uniform, but that was about it (I think she was visiting as well).
Back in '98 when I was out staging at the Hamby Volunteer Fire Department during Texas's fire siege, I was talking with one of the regional fire control officers from TFS. He didn't know what the SW GACC was, much less where it was located.
I'm hoping that things have changed........
AZ Trailblazer 
1/31 This one is catching some folks by surprise........

In Nov 2007, the FS issued new manual direction of the use of emergency
vehicle lights. Because of this, some Forests are issuing direction, that
until they can complete the requirements, emergency lights will only be
used while vehicles are stationary.

FS emergency vehicle lights directive (76 K doc file)


Posted later: Emergency code 3 responses will be conducted as code 2" was included by mistake. See Casey's post. Ab.

1/31 Hi: Is there anyone that could send me the height and length of a USFS
Model 61 Engine. We're trying to ship two excess engines to R-9 for
the VFA program.



1/31 Hi Ab,

KJoseph sent me the photo taken at Descanso in 1956. He mentioned Emmett
Donohue and here is a photo of Emmett my dad took at the annual CDF/USFS
pre-fire season meeting. This was in 1949 at the Flinn Springs County Park
just west of Alpine, CA. in San Diego County. Could you share this with him
and all.

1949 Historical CDF/USFS pre-fire season photo



1/30 Does anyone know if there are different NFPA standards for the
placement of emergency lights on a chief's vehicle vs the standards
for automotive fire apparatus and wildland fire apparatus?

Our radio shop guys are getting ready to install lights/siren/radio in
a new BC pick-up, and are hung up on having some light at the
midpoint on the sides. (No lightbar, this will be all interior lighting).
Any help would be appreciated. (Abs, it's ok to give my e-mail
address to anyone who has the info)

Sign me,

Dim Bulb

Will pass any messages. Ab.

1/30 Well, it looks like the R-5 Regional Forester is about to make a doosie of a mistake.

It will be a mistake that will draw the political ire of local, state, and federal elected
officials..... all in the idea of "clarifying the mission" and reeling in the fire program.

I won't steal his thunder and ruin "the joy" of his announcement..... (and to give him
a chance to rethink and re-evaluate his decision with his key Regional and Forest fire
staffs being actually listened to).

/s/ Stay tuned.....
1/30 Woody,

I like your number 5.

I asked for and got a automatic center punch for Christmas. Cool little tool.
Car of an acquaintance slid off an icy road and into a river and this kind of
tool, that breaks a car window and can slash a seatbelt if you can't release it,
saved her life.

One warning: Don't press it against your thumb to test it.


1/30 I asked Lobotomy for links to information that rebutted the 01/2007 WO talking points:

Lobotomy said:

Please see the Congressional Hearings that followed on PREPAREDNESS AND SPENDING (Senate and House) to see why "talking points" are often disproven without relevant facts being substantiated.

The questions asked by the committees were intentional and very well informed.... and well prepared in advance of the testimony...... the same testimony that has been given for years..

The questions came from the FWFSA membership with both citation and verifiable facts.

Here they are. Thanks, Lobotomy. Ab.

S. Hrg 110-11 -- Costs of Wildfire Suppression, January 30, 2007
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_senate_hearings&docid=f:34268.pdf (559K pdf file)

S. Hrg 110-58 -- Proposed Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Request for the Forest Service, February 28, 2007
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_senate_hearings&docid=f:35971.pdf (180K pdf file)

1/30 Hi Ab and all,

Since the mid 60's when I started in the automotive repair trade, I have seen more electrical problems than I care to remember.

That said, here are a few comments that I have:

  1. All electrical circuits Must use properly sized components (ie; Wire, Fuses, Switches, Relays and Connectors) for the electrical loads they are going to carry.
  2. Fuses and Circuit breakers need to installed as close to the power source (ie; Battery or power distribution block) as possible/practical, not at the component.
  3. If electrical problems cannot be properly diagnosed and repaired at any particular repair shop, then consider having the vehicle towed to another shop that may have more expertise with electrical work. Wreckers and Rollbacks are cheaper than losing a vehicle to an electrical fire.
  4. Most late model vehicles no longer have any extra places in their fuse blocks to add electrical loads (ie; mobile radios, radio and cell phone chargers, lightbars and other emergency lighting) and even the new battery terminals are frustrating. I like to use an insulated stud in a central location and run 4 gauge welding cable from the battery + to the stud and then run any other circuits that I'm adding from the stud using suitable components.
  5. I highly recommend that everyone keep an automatic center punch in easy reach in every vehicle the operate/own. because they are spring loaded/operated they can instantly break any side or rear glass in any vehicle to allow escape in situations similar to the one mentioned in the safety alert and in particular in situations when a vehicle becomes submerged when other methods do not work! these automatic center punch's can be obtained at most hardware stores and home centers (Lowes, Home Depot etc.) and are not expensive.

Be Safe Out There,


1/30 I had the chance to work with  Marc Mullenix several times early in my career,
both in the field and in the classroom. He was a leader, and he will be missed.

L -- -- E -- S
1/30 Some pictures of Marc with his Rocky Mountain (Type 2) Incident Management Team A...

marc and team 2003
marc and team 2005-2006
marc by USNews & World Report (Brief www.usnews.com article, scroll down.)

Fair Use Disclaimer

Thanks contributors. Ab.

1/30The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated.

We've posted 3 new job vacancy announcements to the Jobs page. Check 'em out.


1/30 I met Marc at least twenty years ago in Boulder, CO and wrote a story about this larger-than-life wildland guy. Just talking with him, I could sense that this man was going places in the wildland fire world. And, he sure did! He was known far and wide in that world, thinking out of the box. Doin great things for his wildland fire folks. He reminded me of wildland fire legend, Paul Gleason. Since they knew each other, I should think that they are sittin side by side under a big old pine tree swapping fire stories up yonder. Ya, that's how I picture him and his friend, Paul.

To Shawna, and to his daughter, extended family and vast numbers of friends and colleagues, the sincerest condolences on the passing of one of wildland fire's memorable and excellent personalities. He's home now.

RM Winston
Boston FD DFC, retired
Fire Mag Journalist
1/30 From the hotlist, 2 posts: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=14235#post14235

sr5401, thank you!

My cousin lives in Brooklyn just across the river from the WTC and New Yorkers are worried about firefighters who were there and helped for days on end.

We had a number of wildland fire Incident Management Teams and individuals who responded...

Those of you who went to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon after 9/11 to help on our Incident Management Teams, please stay abreast of your annual check-ups and be aware of any lung symptoms you might have.

It's a shame and worse that firefighters who responded to 9/11 are not getting the medical help and support they need. Is there anything we can do to let our wishes for support be known to our congressional representatives?

Let's watch out for each other.



While not directly related to wildland fire, this is an issue that could have repercussions for the members of the Incident Management Teams that responded to rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.



9/11 worker's silent State of the Union protest
Newsday, Melville, N.Y. (January 29, 2008)

Jan. 29--WASHINGTON -- John Feal of Nesconset, had vowed never to return to the nation's capital.

The former demolition supervisor, whose left foot was crushed by an eight-ton steel beam while he worked to remove debris from Ground Zero, said it was simply too painful to be reminded of what he sees as the Bush administration's abandonment of him and other 9/11 responders.

But Monday, Feal, 41, gave it another shot, sitting in the gallery of the U.S. Capitol, along with eight other first responders, who are battling illnesses and other disabilities related to their service. Their presence was both rebuke and de facto demand to the Bush administration.

"I want to hear him say, 'I'm sorry,'" Feal said. "I want to hear him say that he's going to leave a billion dollars or more for 9/11 responders when he leaves office."

But Feal, who has set up his own foundation to help ailing 9/11 workers, admitted he is not terribly optimistic.

Earlier in the day, he and other men who became ill after working at Ground Zero appeared at a news conference alongside New York lawmakers and labor leaders, demanding the administration explain why it last month halted plans for a health monitoring and treatment program for Ground Zero workers around the country. They also urged passage of a long-term program to monitor those exposed to toxins after the Twin Towers' collapse.

"This isn't a political issue," said Feal, who has developed lung problems in addition to having 11 surgeries on his feet. "This is a moral and human issue. This is about people dying."

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), praised Feal for the work of the Feal Good Foundation, but added, "he ought not have to do that. ... The public sector has the resources and it has the obligation."

Lt. James Riches of Brooklyn, an FDNY deputy chief who lost his firefighter son Jimmy that day, predicted that more people would eventually die from toxic exposure than were killed on 9/11. He has developed severe lung disease after search and recovery work.

"When I was down there digging through the pile, there was a gigantic sign, 'Never forget 9/11.' We hope our politicians don't forget us now," he said.

To see more of Newsday, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.newsday.com

Fair Use Disclaimer

1/30 Ab,

The wildfire community has lost one of the truly good leaders. I remember
introducing myself to Mullenix a few years ago, with him replying, "I know
who you are. I think there are ways for us to work together." Although we
moved in different circles, he just had an awareness of what happened beyond
his personal work and interests. That's probably part of what made him a
great commander and inspired others to follow.

When he facilitated the exercises in the S-230 class I took, he talked about
how as a type 2 IC he liked to meet with the single resource bosses on his
fires. Partly he did it to improve his SA, but mostly because he wanted
that connection with the boots on the ground. A simple act of leadership to
show up and take the time.

Heaven only knows the burdens that were bigger than his shoulders.

vfd cap'n
1/30 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7093685.stm

Huh…looks like they had WUI issues during the Bronze Age. Interesting
note that it took 300 years from abrupt ecological change for the society
to collapse.

At the risk of trolling, I’d like to flip the % funding issue around…is the
increased emphasis on fire, especially with the escalating WUI situation,
deterring from the rest of the FS mission? What about the other land
management agencies?

Nerd on the Fireline
1/30 Safety Alert coming in from several sources. Thanks to those in the community that forward these to us. Ab.

On Friday January 25'th, Greg <snip> was in Yreka in his patrol vehicle
completing assignments. During the day, his vehicle exhibited a check
battery light periodically. Greg contacted Skip <snip> and the arrangement
was made to take it in to A-1 Auto for a check. A-1 was able to witness
the light activating but were not able to track it down to any problem.
The light simply came on and off with no pattern or obvious reason.

On Saturday January 26'th, Greg was patrolling the Snow Parks on the
Goosenest and stopped at 4-Corners Park to have lunch. Upon exiting the
park for the return trip to the office, his gauges began to fluctuate from
the low to high end and stopped at the upper level, this was paired with
steam coming form under the hood (smoke). Greg was able to find a location
to safely stop and turned off the vehicle to get out and check the cause of
the steam. The doors and windows would not unlock or open and allow exit
from the vehicle.

Greg reacted swiftly and turned the key to the on
position and was able to exit. He raised the hood and discovered the main
12 volt lead to his pump unit was burned to the bare wire. Greg
disconnected the wire from the battery and traced it back to his pump. He
found that at least 10 feet of the wire was burned and that when Serco
performed the install of the pump, they had failed to position an in-line
fuse in the main lead to guard against fire from a short.

The bottom line to this narrative is two fold.

  1. Be aware that in case of a vehicle fire, the door and window manual unlock
    may be overridden and compromised.
  2. If you have add-on equipment to your vehicle, make sure fuses are
    installed in the main wiring leads.

<snip original sender info>

1/30 My condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of
Marc Mullinex. I did not have the fortune of knowing this
man, but it sounds like he was an extraordinary individual.

Godspeed Marc.


1/30 Marc Mullenix

Shawna, I'm so sorry to you and all in the fire community,
we lost a great friend... I met Marc when he was with BLM
on the INJO area and worked with him while he was with
the Boulder Fire Department.. My best to You.

JP Harris, LACOFD retired

1/30 Dan,

My most sincere apologies to you and also to Union

I copied the info From Northwest Area Coordination
Center Shared Resource page
and added the parent agency without checking my facts,
my bad. La Grande was input twice on the page and I
just omitted the duplicate.

However despite my error, it begs the question why
does the NWCC page have La Grande down twice, when
they most assuredly meant to have Union on the page?

I understand human error, all too well, but this page
can and likely is used to make decisions at some

Again, sorry for the mistake

1/30 fire costs:

Ab. when I was working for the forest service in R6 back in the late 80's for
reforestation. the Fire program borrowed lots of our planting money to pay
for some of the fires during those years...


1/30 From Firescribe:


Ed Shafer Confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

US - The United States Department of Agriculture has
confirmed that former Governor Edward Shafer will be
the new secretary of Agriculture, succeeding Mike

Meet the 29th Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer


Secretary Schafer brings a record as an innovative
two-term governor of North Dakota to USDA along with
extensive private sector experience as both an
entrepreneur and a business executive.

Schafer served as North Dakota's governor from 1992 to
2000 and made diversifying and expanding North
Dakota's economy, reducing the cost of government and
advancing agriculture his top priorities in office.


Secretary Schafer enjoys the outdoors and his hobbies
include bicycling, hiking, scuba diving and restoring
classic automobiles. He and his wife, Nancy, have four
children; Tom Schafer, Ellie Schafer and Eric Jones
and Kari Jones; and eight grandchildren.

more at the link...

1/30 Marc Mullenix's passing:

I am deeply saddened to hear of Marc's passing. Marc was an excellent firefighter, leader, teacher, motivator, and friend. The most important thing I learned from Marc was 'always take care of your people'. It was hard not to have fun when around Marc, even when situations got to be a bit rough he had a way of keeping morale up while keeping the troops focused on the task at hand. He was a great guy that will be dearly missed.
My condolences to his family.
Godspeed, Marc.

Matt H

1/30 I did not know Marc from the fireline. I did know him from the Ab inbox. He was a part of this online community, writing infrequently, but sharing good information and raising issues where appropriate. Last we heard from him was in July between assignments.

Vincit qui patitur. (The one who is patient wins.)

This Latin showed up at the bottom of his emails. Not a bad message for one fighting fire and responsible for others fighting fire. To me it says "Use tactics and firefighters appropriately. Safety first. Persist."

Godspeed, Marc. My best to his family. We've all lost a good one. Ab.

1/30 Marc Mullenix's passing:

When someone as fine as Marc passes on it's hard to know what to say.
He was a good thinker, good strategist, cared for the troops, knew how
to communicate. He was a LEADER. It's hard to think that he won't be
around doing what he did well. Our loss, fire's loss. My condolences to
his family.


1/30 Very sad to hear of his passing. Marc was a friend and co worker for many
years. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Mark Ruggiero
1/30 My point is that we get told the number and then it hangs over our head, like its a bad thing. When you hear staff officers from other areas saying we need to reduce that number, because it is a popular thing to say, when I know damn well they don't know what they are talking about. My question is why is it an issue and that a given number is an issue, but it should equally be why not.

We don't know what has gone into that number. So the budget percentages for fire have gone up, and Tom Harbour, said a number that comparatively speaking is not based on the same inputs from when those numbers were cited from previous years. I am not a conspiracy guy, but what is the point, where are we going with that. After 2000 it was apparent we needed more of everything and we got more of everything. What apparently nobody told mother nature was that we weren't going to have any more big fires. Or add in the fuels dollars, congress was told that treatments in the WUI would stop houses from burning. We have saved some homes but it has cost a lot of money in the process. I did some checking the other day and on my Forest we have treated about 20,000 acres in the last 4 years, a good start, but we need to average that for the next 100 years.

The FS pays for programs that are under the guise of interagency programs. From what I understand, the FS pays for the Heavy Air Tanker program. What goes into that, well some aircraft, some retardant bases, some retardant, personnel, some contract administration, research and development, oh and don't forget the lawsuit, that I funded a wildlife bio to work on, out of local WFPR funds.

We can go down the list, IHCs, Smokejumpers, National Helicopters, NIFC, Fire Caches, Training Facilities, Fire Labs, MTDC, San Dimas, the IR program, all of the GACCs, Landfire, what else, make your own list. Don't get me wrong, I in some way or other believe in these programs, and what they do. I am not trying to throw anyone under the bus here. It just all adds up.

My problem is that I need some new line gear, we still have not got everybody that needs one a new generation fire shelter, I hire about 80% of the appropriate number of firefighters, My rig could really use some lights. We make GS-04s show lunch breaks on there timesheets on large fires. We get hammered locally when we don't have all of the tools that we need put every fire out. 98% sometimes is about 2% less than needed (Sorry George) Yeah we spend a lot of money but it aint all on the things that people want to believe we are spending them on. FMOs go check how many folda-tanks, or porta-tanks, or pumpkins that your have on hand on your unit. Then check two other things, what kind of shape are they in and how much it will cost to replace them.

Ok, I will take a look at some budget numbers and not at work either.


Thanks. Well said. I understand your points. Changing % over those years also co-varied with the way finances were recorded and a lot of other changes going on, including an attempted shift to a new budgeting tool (that hasn't worked well). Ab.

1/30 Intothewind,

You said,

"Quite frankly, no one knows where those numbers come from, whether they are 50% or 54%, or some other number. The reality is that there are people willing to quote those numbers and as importantly others that believe them."

Most important is the RESEARCH behind the numbers. A good Student of Fire would either verify or deny "the numbers". The numbers tell a story of a failing program since the 1950's and the folks who have the facts to justify their numbers.

WFHF should be included and focused upon, because it BECAME KING in keeping a failed program afloat..... just like the timber program.

on another note re the 01/2007 WO talking points:

Please see the Congressional Hearings that followed on PREPAREDNESS AND SPENDING (Senate and House) to see why "talking points" are often disproven without relevant facts being substantiated.

The questions asked by the committees were intentional and very well informed.... and well prepared in advance of the testimony...... the same testimony that has been given for years..

The questions came from the FWFSA membership with both citation and verifiable facts.


Thanks, Lobotomy. That is certainly a good point about the WO talking points. You're a relentless researcher on Fire's behalf as are some others in FWFSA. Many thanks for that. Ab.

1/29 re: Marc Mullenix's passing

Marc was a colleague, mentor, and friend. Words fail to express our loss.
Please say a prayer for our brother, his family, and his friends.
Rest assured, his passion will live on in all of us fortunate to have worked
with him.

Godspeed, Marc, Godspeed.


Intothewind, it would be great if you'd try to do that if you need to in order to make your point.

If I recall correctly, I heard it in a presentation last year by Tom Harbour, FAM Chief or Kent Connaughton, Associate Deputy Forestry Chief, WO. Might have been a tape. Does anyone else recall that presentation last winter? I may also have seen it as a talking point on some doc that went out. Seems like "fire budget as xx % of the FS budget" came up several times over the last few years as the number was rising. If it was being shared as a talking point, I'm sure it was shared over and over at different meetings. It was used in the context of being a budget red flag for the FS.

I searched on "% of the Forest Service Budget" with quotes around it and found the link in a post by Bud on May 26, '06. It referred the reader to the Director's Corner, Tom Harbour's corner. In his post of May '06, Bud said

The fire budget used to be 13% of the Forest Service budget. Now it's 43%.

That was in '06. Last year in '07 it was up to more than 50%. Bud's comments on 5/26/06 theysaid are similar to OFG's points, that it's simply what it takes to run the fire program --cost of doing business.

Here's the budget page Bud pointed to: www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/

A bit more digging into the archives and here's Tom Harbour's email from 2/1/07. By later in March he was saying 50% or 54% and I think Kent C was saying that too. In 2007 the % had already exceeded their 2008 projection. I'm posting it next as it was posted just about a year ago, sent in by noname. Ab.

1/29 From 2/1/07 in response to Intothewind's request today for documentation. Ab.

Management Efficiencies Talking Points:

Wonder how everyone will feel about this one:

    • Critical resources (Type 1 firefighting crews & aircraft) are managed nationally for maximum flexibility.


U.S. Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Management Efficiencies Fact Sheet
January 29, 2007

  • Over the last 20 years the Forest Service has been persistently challenged by fire management costs.
  • Contributing factors to these cost challenges include climate changes, the expanding WUI, and general forest health conditions resulting in larger more intense fires.
  • In 2006, fire suppression expenditures accounted for 40% of the Agency budget or $1.5 billion.
  • In 2007, 41% of the Forest Service budget is allocated to fire management, and in 2008 that percentage climbs to 48%.
  • Because of these escalating costs, other Agency programs are suffering and our ability to care for the land and serve the people is compromised.
  • Various internal and external groups have studied these costs and have provided over 300 recommendations intended to curb increasing suppression costs if implemented.
  • The Chief directed a small group of Forest Service subject matter experts to review and consolidate these recommendations and develop actions the Forest Service can take over the short and long term to support sound decision making and ensure prudent choices are made when spending. The resulting recommendations have been titled Management Efficiencies.
  • These actions were categorized into Leadership, Operations, and Management and when implemented serve to ensure the following.
    • Clear and concise understanding of Appropriate Management Response – choosing the best suppression strategy for the resources and values at risk.
    • Expanded Knowledge, Skill, and Ability for Agency Administrators responsible for managing large or nationally significant fires.
    • Increased oversight from the Regional and Washington offices on incidents of national significance in support of the agency administrator.
    • Severity funds are used within limits.
    • Establishment of a definite budget for each incident (use of SCI).
    • Critical resources (Type 1 firefighting crews & aircraft) are managed nationally for maximum flexibility.
    • Revision of the current aviation strategy ensuring the safe and financially prudent use of firefighting aircraft.
  • The details of the proposed management efficiencies are being formulated and expected implementation of the short-term actions will begin in the 2007 fire season.

These recommendations go hand-in-hand with the variety of business processes the Forest Service has changed in recent years to more efficiently manage its resources.

Contact: Tom Harbour 202-205-08xx

1/29 Ab,

I'm not really sure if we agree or disagree and it is really irrelevant to the discussion besides. Quite frankly, no one knows where those numbers come from, whether they are 50% or 54%, or some other number. The reality is that there are people willing to quote those numbers and as importantly others that believe them. What numbers should be included, WFHF funds should not be included in that total for example, but I don't know if it is or is not. I challenge you, to do the homework on this and validate the breakdown of how those numbers add up. If you cannot do that then say so and I will, it may take a few days.

1/29 Why does the Southwest Geographic Area Coordinating Center usually
"take a vacation" until April of each year?

There are fires in eastern New Mexico and West Texas during their
usual winter fire season. While there aren't many National Forests in the
area, there are significant National Parks, FWS Refuges, BIA Reservations,
and BLM public lands in these areas.

Also, New Mexico State Lands and the Texas Forest Service utilize the
services of the SW GACC for daily intel, predictive services, and resource

It would seem that the GACC only cared about the National Forests? Or
is it a question of who provides the funding?

Rogue Rivers
1/29 Ab,

Not sure if you have posted this R5 Fire Hire document or not. If not, could you
as this is good information for all those may have applied or are still on the fence,
since the region will be back filling once a position is filled.


noname on fire

1/29 OFG (ret)

You said,

"Those who truly wish to learn more, and contribute more, (and quit griping).....sit down and talk with your district ranger or forest supervisor. They'll be happy to share with you. And please....no excuse that "my line officer won't talk to us grunts". That's not true. I've been there."

What happens when the Forest and District Fire Staffs know far more about the budgeting process (and where their budgets go) than new District Rangers or new Forest Supervisors that "somehow" come directly from the WO....... without any significant field experience?

Seems like what you keep calling "griping" is actually known as two-way leadership and communication.


1/29 Small Agency FMO,

Yeah, I know that (but others reading may not). It seems strange that
"biologist" Series 401 was chosen to fulfill the South Canyon mitigation
for "professional". Thx.

NorCal Tom

1/29 PB,

Here's an article link from the theysaid archives:

Tahoe Terrie

1/29 Tough day in Texas.

Many fires across the state and numerous homes lost.


Mid West FMO
1/29 Ab -

Apparently Marc Mullenix (ICT1 trainee on Rocky-Basin Type 1 Team) passed away
last night.

No details yet. His wife Shawna <snip> is the San Juan IHC Sup.

PD, Fire Chief

Sad news. We called and verified this information. Marc was the IC of the Rocky Mountain Team A (Type 2) for several years and was Martin's Rocky-Basin Type 1 Team trainee last season. He worked for Fairmont Fire Dept near Denver. Formerly he was FMO at Mesa Verde NP and worked for the Denver FD. Very sad news. Please let us know as you hear more. Thoughts and prayers for family, friends, coworkers and teammates. He was much loved. Ab.

1/29 Wanna find IHC home unit designators? How about their days off.
Or, how about their jetports. Or, how many IHC's there are per
GACC. Well, it's all brought to you by the National Mobe Guide,
for your reading enjoyment!

1/29 AB

Winema was never a BIA crew only Warm Springs IHC is, Vale is BLM.


You forgot UNION IHC so probably ought to check the remarks about who knows what about R-6

"Which leads me to surmise, that if you don't know how
many IHCs there are, perhaps you aren't familiar with
all the other resources available in R6."

Saski Sam

Where did you get your information? The 1970 MOB guide?

There are 5 FS engines just on the La Grande Ranger District.


1/29 Ab et al,

The fire budget process is indeed "interesting". Much of the funding which in the past had been handed down to cover various administrative services (personnel, contracting, procurement etc) has been eliminated. Program funds are now charged to provide these service, ie "user pays". So......if you want to have "someone" process your personnel paperwork (vacancy announcements, selection panels, payroll processing) money comes "off the top" and is sent to ASC.

If your forest wants some new engines or dozers, better pony up the money for the procurement or contracting folks, not to mention the fleet manager (what per cent of fleet are fire vehicles?).

NEPA is required for fuels work. Who's supposed to pay the "'ologists" and foresters for fuels related work? Yup, the fuels program.

There is no "free ride" for fire or any other program.

The "non-fire" folks are often the militia, and all the others whose work supports fire. Without the personnel, contracting, procurement, NEPA, public affairs and others, the job wouldn't get done. It is truly an agency mission to accomplish fire management. It IS NOT solely a "fire program" mission.

Those who truly wish to learn more, and contribute more, (and quit griping).....sit down and talk with your district ranger or forest supervisor. They'll be happy to share with you. And please....no excuse that "my line officer won't talk to us grunts". That's not true. I've been there.

OFG (ret)

1/29 Here is the list with parent agencies:

Baker River IHC - FS
Entiat IHC -FS

La Grande IHC - FS
Prineville IHC - FS
Redmond IHC -FS
Rogue River IHC - FS
Union IHC - FS
Winema IHC - FS
Wolf Creek IHC - FS
Zig Zag IHC - FS

Vale IHC - BLM
Warm Springs IHC - BIA

Also the list seems a little light on the index page
at: www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/hotshots/IHC_index.phpl

Perhaps it hasn't been updated in a year or two.
Seems to me like some of the Regional Hotshot Crews
have made the step to IHCs?


Thanks for the breakdown. That table on fs.fed.us has a hiccup in the parent agency the way my computer reads it. Ab.

1/29 Well that is just the way it goes when a person knows most things.
You all forgot my and my son's shot crew, "UNION ihc".

Wildfire since Carter, Little Bear, Peace

Sorry about that. I was looking at the ihc list wondering why the numbers didn't add up. "Research" has a call in trying to get some resource numbers. Dispatcher that was recommended is out of the office at meetings until tomorrow. Ab.

1/29 While it's interesting to note the R6 dilemma in getting accurate resource

Aren't the resources ALL on file at the GACCs???

While I and we are preaching this stuff for CWPPs in all the communities
applying for Firewise grants, some of THE MOST simple things such as
a resource list should be in every community whether or not they are paid
or VFDs....

The bare minimums should apply to ALLLLLLLL the resource agencies.

These resources aren't secret and they should be available

Heck, FIRESCOPE taught us this "bare minimum" years ago.... Are the
land management agencies exempt from these reporting procedures???
Just a hint folks, DHS may require these for FMAG grants and WE all know
some folks feel about FMAG and DHS requirements. WE just OUGHT
to be ahead of that game... since land management...ERRRR FIRE agencies
started the whole deal of RESOURCE TYPING.

Maybe R6 and the whole shebang ought to learn from what they formed /
adopted and stick to it...

That maybe a req for Forest Supervisors.... KNOW WHERE YOUR
EQUIPMENT and PEOPLE ARE...... bare minimums for LEADERSHIP.

And we know how much FIRE is preaching LEADERSHIP>>>>>>>>>>>

Out here
1/29 Dear Sir,

There are 11 Interagency Hotshot Crews in Region 6. 9
of which are in Oregon and 2 in Washington.

They are: (alphabetically)

Baker River IHC
Entiat IHC
La Grande IHC
Prineville IHC
Redmond IHC
Rogue River IHC
Vale IHC
Warm Springs IHC
Winema IHC
Wolf Creek IHC
Zig Zag IHC

Which leads me to surmise, that if you don't know how
many IHCs there are, perhaps you aren't familiar with
all the other resources available in R6.


Is Warm Springs BIA as per the hotshot crew list? That would still be 10 FS with 8 in OR, 2 in WA. Ab.

1/29 Siski Sam / Abs

I did a quick count from the R-6 FS- BLM Fire Directory and counted 190
Engine Capts......So I think the numbers you quoted of 16 FS engines in the
region and the rest contract are a little off......unless you meant
160......Not sure what the exact # is right now...but it sure isn't 16....I
can count that many here in my local area...and that's just using my
fingers and toes.... This also doesn't take into account the NPS, F & WS,
and BIA resources in the NW.

Gorge FMO

Can someone find out how many FS engines there are. R6 is heavily BLM. It would be good to have accurate/ballpark numbers other than "it's not 16". Although, that's good to know too. Ab.

1/29 Intothewind and All,

stop putting the spin that fire spending is at the rate of 50% of the
funds that the Forest Service spends.

I think you mis-understand and we're saying the same thing. More than 50% of the FS budget (I heard last year it was 54%) is congressionally appropriated specifically for Fire, Congress had in mind engines or fuel treatments, perhaps. Instead of that, a great deal of that money designated for fire gets tapped by FS District Rangers into paying for non-fire personnel. Someone wrote in that on their CA forest 4 non-fire people were paid for with budget funds mandated by congress for fire. (A great deal of it also got siphoned off the set up the Albuquerque HR Service Center, as well.)

One older'n'dirt forester told me that it used to be the FS was a "Forestry Department doing Fire". Now it's a "Fire Department doing Forestry". I don't know if that's true, but following the money suggests it is and has been for the last 5 or 6 years in many parts of the West. Part of the current struggle the "New Forest Service" is grappling with is how to reposition the agency with respect to its initial core mission and vision, "Protecting the Land and Serving People". To squeeze itself back into being a NR Department doing Fire, it will have to give up huge responsibilities in Fire and huge fire budget monies. If wildland fire leaves the FS, this might be as much as 1/3 of the FS organization and 50% of the FS budget. That's not to say it shouldn't reaffirm its mission/vision, clarify its function and streamline, get its finances in order, modernize accountability, etc, it's just that this is harder and harder to do as "mission creep" into the WUI has occurred.

A recurring and logical question has been, "Why not a National Fire Service?" Well, USDA (USFS) and DOI (BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA) would have to agree, for one thing and mission/vision and standards among so many agencies differ to some degree. In addition, all the money Congress earmarks for Fire would go to that Nat Fire org, and the other fed agencies can't afford to lose it (or control of it). What may be more palatable to the fed agencies is a stove-piped fire organization within the respective agencies like LE & I is within the FS.

The other thing that might happen is that Fire would come under DHS/FEMA. Now that might sound terrible, but maybe Fire could think of it as us infiltrating them with our values, training, attention to detail. There aren't many of them and there are lots of us. Just a thought.

I heard from a friend the other day that, at the National FS level, Fire is characterized as "Fire Thieves" as in fire is "stealing the budget" and that fire's "stealing the budget" has to be corrected. I would say "fire thieves" is an unfair characterization that is trickling down to influence regional attitudes toward firefighters and will influence non-fire FS programs that could influence firefighter safety. What those saying this don't understand is that blaming firefighters for the situation is like blaming the troops for the war in Iraq. OMB is doing it to the FS and to Fire. Firefighters have no more control than the FS Chief. However, characterizing firefighters as "Fire Thieves" does create a climate that is not safe for firefighters trying to do their highly risky jobs.

My two cents...


1/29 Siski Sam,

Could you please confirm your number regarding only 16 FS
engines in R6 and the rest being contract? I know in Southern
Oregon we have 2 at Star, 2 in the Butte falls/ prospect area
and a few in Jo. county as well. Now we need to count BLM
too... they have 5 engines in Medford alone and numerous in
Bend, Burns, well all of eastern Oregon has BLM.

Just wondering about the numbers....

Could someone in the "know" in R6 please provide the full numbers for FS (and BLM and NPS) resources or give us a phone number to call and our research team will enquire. Ab.

1/29 Ab,

The attached WUI principles letter from CWCG to the FIRESCOPE Board
(83K pdf file) came in my e-mail this morning. It's from last October, so I'm
surprised it hasn't been posted here before. No word on whether it's been
adopted or forwarded to NWCG.

A few months ago I posted elsewhere that "the fire orders are dead." After
reading Randy Moore's Esperanza letter, I'm sure of it.

vfd cap'n
1/29 Longtime lurker not much for words but thought you should know
that the information on R6 resources is not accurate. I don't know
how many engines there are but much more than 16, as far as shot
crews go I count eleven, and there are at least four rappel bases in
the region. Thanks


1/29 Flight,
You might get a kick out of this...Or anyone else debating whether or not to answer that cell while driving. Plus a car has one driver (Usually my wife from the passenger seat). Every commercial airliner has at least two pilots and an autopilot. (Airplane! taught me that!) :)

CDF Capt,
I would have to agree with your collar brass arguments. There are people out there in the Forest service that shouldn't be wearing what they are. Sometimes people have trouble calling a spade a spade and sometimes our special situations exist that make you doubt even the ones that have earned their brass tacks. I wonder about some in your agency as well. I have and ex-roommate that has three years fire experience that is wearing a single bugle on his collar. He runs the crew once a week. In my third year I was accepting the fact that I was gonna be wet behind the ears for another year. I don't want to attack a place I want work, but to me that is scary and reckless. Being book smart and giving the right answer on paper isn't firefighting. Any who those stories exist on both sides of the fence. I recently put a supplemental in and looking to go to work for Cal-fire. Hopefully I can prove that I am worthy of keeping that single plunger on my collar. I would like it if maybe we could bounce some emails back and forth and see what kind of job hunting advice you could give. I have a pretty solid idea already. I am giving AB permission to give you my email. If you would like to chat.

sign me, Maybe gone
[But not forgotten ;) TY Mellie]
1/29 A few more numbers from R6;

IHCs:12 Crews,
Rappel Programs: 5,
Engines: 100+ (a bit of guess, being at home, thats the best I can do),
Smokejumpers: 60-65 (depending on details, turned ankles etc).

Budget issues are not the root of all of our problems. However, many could be
solved by appropriate funding. How about that for Appropriate Management
Response, stop putting the spin that fire spending is at the rate of 50% of the
funds that the Forest Service spends. I don't have an idea what numbers are
added up to get that number. 70% of my WFHF budget goes to planning and
funding non-fire personnel, what does that all mean. And by the way, produced
timber volume as a by product of good resource management.


WFHF = Wildland Fire Hazardous Fuels

1/29 From Hickman, some information that may help with filing taxes:

New Resources on Federal Taxation Available on IAFC Website


1/29 ms:

I will try to answer some of your questions regarding pre-reqs for CAL FIRE Chief Officers. There are, of course exceptions to every rule, so bear with me.

- Do CDF BCs have qualification requirements prior to entering the position? Example; do they need to be DIVS, ICT3, ICT4 or a Strike Team Ldr prior to getting the position?

Based on our 4039 policy, which is our version of 310.1, we have pre-reqs that you would normally see in an applicant for the BC Testing process. Given that, our department recognizes all Company Officers as being Type 3 IC's based on their successful completion of the CAL FIRE Academy and their probationary performance in the field. Some pre-reqs for BC would include the following: DIVS, STL, I-400, IM 2, Sup 3 and probably 4, CFESTES Fire Officer Series and a good portion of Chief Officer Series, an ICS Track pursuant to one of the Section Chief positions, or at least working toward that position. This would be coupled with formal education and varied field experience in multiple disciplines ( Sched. A / B, Staff, etc.). Within the first year as a BC, it is required that the employee takes IM3 and OSC. Typically, you will see a Section Chief track fulfilled and Supervision 5 to follow as well as the completion of the CFESTES Chief Officer Series and the pursuit of the NFA.

- Does CDF have BCs out there that respond to and manage emergencies without a DIVS or ICT3, ITC4 qualification?

Not to my knowledge

-Do your BCs and Capt in the ECCs and other positions on the unit have or are required to maintain ICS qualifications? Would I be correct in saying that most have the qualifications, however some may not?

Again, per 4039 policy, all Company Officers and Chief Officers are required to certify in and maintain currency in ICS qualifications. When promoting from Firefighter to Engineer, every employee is required to choose an ICS track that they begin fulfilling through their JAC program. If held to, this would result in Section Chief qualification in that track by the time that employee is a senior Captain and ready to promote to BC.

-Do you have non-ICS qualification requirements or non-NWCG training required to be a CDF BC, such as a Chief Officer school? Thanks.

The department has the CDF University and Chief Officer College where our Supervision and Leadership courses are born. In addition, the Incident Management Classes are internal courses geared toward career advancement in Operations. Our department also values the CFESTES series as well as the National Fire Academy for our Company and Chief Officers.

- I'd also like to learn how these questions apply to the DC and Capt positions?

I cannot speak to the Assistant or Deputy Chief positions.

Hope this helps answer your questions.

1/29 Ab,

Hundekot writes about a tort claim subsequent to a backfire operation
in Montana, and quotes from the district court opinion. Does Hundekot
have a citation or party name? Inquiring law students want to know . . . .

1/29 Siski Sam,

I'd like to know where the number of 16 engines for all of R6 comes from. I find that
incredibly hard to believe. I can count off-hand more engines than that between the
MAF, UMF, WWF, COFMS and BIFZ. 16 engines for 19 forests? That's less than
one engine per forest. Even on the west-side there still seems to be at least one
engine per DISTRICT.

Also, there are somewhere between 90-100 HRAPS in R6 at John Day, Ukiah,
Enterprise, Wenatchee and Merlin.

Finally a topic that concerns something outside of R5!

Side note: Does anyone know how to get their transcript evaluated for the 401
series without applying for a 401 series job?

1/29 SiskiSam,

Some pretty interesting number you dug up there, but I wanted to give mention to all the IA handcrews scattered around R6. I started eight years back on the Leavenworth IA crew which is bordered to the north by Entiat, Chelan, Methow, Tonasket, and Colville (all with IA crews); and to the south with Cle Elum and Naches IA, along with Ellensburg, and Wenatchee DNR handcrews, engines, and helis. I know there are quite a few more (especially in Oregon) but I don't want to gamble at getting all their names right! R6 certainly has the most contract firefighters and support personnel that I know of , but I don't want anyone to forget about the all the great federal IA handcrew resources that get rat-holed every year deep in the heart of good 'ol R6!


1/29 NorCal Tom,

Here is a list of the 14 "critical" wildland fire management positions identified by IFPM. Each agency was to determine which of its positions were and which were not one of these 14. At the bottom you will see "Fire Program Manager" For most agencies those with the title FMO would fall into this category. So a District, Area, Forest, Zone, Regional FMO should fall into this category of IFPM. So a Forest FMO should meet the appropriate IFPM standards. As you look around you might see these being applied/arranged very differently. Some limited the number of positions on the unit that would fall in these 14 critical positions to limit the impact of IFPM to their program. Some made as many positions as possible to be 1 of these 14 in an effort to firm up their budgets (Congress will always want the fires put out) in this day of FAR where all federal fire programs are having to compete against each other for funding.

I am all for wildland fire managers having a college degree. And if you're 19 years old just as well be some sort of "natural resource management" degree. However once you 40 something, and a GS-12 FMO I do not see the value of taking courses in mammalogy, dendrology, etc. I would much rather these folks take management and leadership courses or for that matter sociology or psychology. These would do them and society far more good.

Right now this is as close as it comes to having any "common" terminology between the 5 federal land management agencies on what to call who and what it takes to be called it. An interesting exercise in enhancing communications would be for folks from the various areas/agencies to supply their peculiar working titles for these positions and (I'm serious here now) what collar brass they wear, and what color hard hat they wear.

First Line Supervisor (Those that implement fire projects.)
Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) Superintendent
Helicopter Manager
Senior Firefighter
Engine Module Supervisor
Supervisory Fire Engine Operator
Initial Attack Dispatcher

Fire Project Specialist (Those that plan fire projects.)
Wildland Fire Operations Specialist
Prescribed Fire and Fuels Specialist
Prevention and Education Specialist
Initial Attack Lead Dispatcher/Assistant Center Manager
Center Manager

Fire Program Manager (Those that manage the overall fire program.)
Unit Fire Program Manager
Geographic Area Fire Program Manager
National Fire Program Manager

Small Agency FMO
1/28 Ab,

I haven't written in much, but I was wondering if non-r6 Forest Service firefighters know how few fed fire resources we have in R6. I had to laugh when I read your regional FAM director wasn't communicating with fire staff and forests and that FMOs weren't in on the fire resources & budgeting process. I don't know if ours is. I don't know if our director needs to. I do know that for all of our region's 19 forests we have only 16 engines, 6 shot crews, some rappellers ---- the rest are contract. (And private sector resources are being cut this year one poster said last week.)

We used to have more fed engines and resources. TPTB decided to try a different approach. I think the jury is still out on if it's better or worse. Whenever I hear of a death, I cringe that it could be someone I know --- and we can't afford to lose anyone. We lose too many.

I noticed that the hotlist couldn't get much info on initial attack fires last season compared to other areas. Lack of info is not uncommon.

In our area, if it wasn't for the ODF, we'd really be up a creek. Could this be coming to you?

call me Siski Sam

TPTB = the powers that be

Glad you wrote in Sam. Ab.

1/28 Ab,

With all this talk about Natural Resources related degrees, biologist, etc,
I have a question. Do any of the regional and FAM top managers have to
adhere to the same NR standards? I think Q has a business degree. Seems
to me that anyone who's new in a job should have to send in NR quals. What's
good for the goose is good for the gander..

NorCal Tom

1/28 Fire Freak:

Some of my own experiences in the 401 series: I was hired as a GS-401-11
in 2001. In 2004 I applied for another GS-401-11 fire job, only to be told
by personnel that I did not meet the requirements for the 401 series. I
was pretty much outraged and I asked how this could be possible since I had
been hired as a 401 three years earlier. That day I picked up my mail at
home and found a letter stating that I qualified for a GS-401-12 and my name
was sent to the selecting official! At this point, I laughed.

Way back in the 90's I had begun my long ascent out of the 462 series, and
was told by a personnelist that even though I didn't qualify for a
professional series on one forest, to try again with my next job since each
forest could rate me differently. If your degree program was in the
college of natural resources in your local university, it might count,
while the exact same degree from another university wouldn't count because
it was in the college of letters and science. She said it came down to
some personal preferences by the person doing the rating.

Someone else has me beat though. She was told by a personnelist that she
didn't meet the 460 series because she hadn't taken "Dermatology". She
corrected the rater and said "you mean Dendrology".

midwest afmo
1/28 Good 92 page Human Factors Annotated Reading List:

human-factors-annotated-readinglist07.pdf (1,628K pdf file)

NorCal Tom

1/28 Concerning comments by USFS FEO and Strider about the 10 SFOs and 18 SSWO:

In 2000, a backfire operation in Montana's Bitterroot Valley resulted in a lawsuit (a "tort claim") against the US Government. Here are some of the comments that the US District Court Judge made when he delivered his ruling:

"the vague principles of the Ten Fire Orders
and other directives show that hard and fast rules are not
appropriate to all fires under all circumstances."

"each mandatory directive provides discretion to
the firefighter. For example, Standing Fire Order Number Seven
holds that a firefighter must "determine safety zones and escape
routes." But the firefighter must use discretion to decide what
constitutes an adequate safety zone based on the surrounding
fuels, topography, weather, fire behavior, availability of other
firefighting resources, time available to prepare the site and
other factors involved in fire fighting discretion. An adequate
safety zone may vary greatly in size depending on these and other
factors. The Orders tend toward vagueness. Standing Fire Order
Number Ten instructs firefighters to "Stay alert, keep calm,
think clearly, act decisively." This is the language of
discretion, not of specific mandatory actions or protocols."

"the Standing Orders and Watchout Situations,
supports the Government's position. These are flexible
principles to be used in fighting fire, an activity that depends
on firefighters' judgment, common sense, and experience."


1/28 This is in response to a POST I read last Friday that named Doug Porter, a
Type 1 IC from the region 6 in the '90's, Those remarks I took as
disparaging. (I went back through the posts and did not see it again, so
I could not address the specific post.)

In the 90's, region 6 had three
type 1 teams. Doug was the IC of one of them and, for my money, ran the
best team of those three by a long ways. His team was always well
organized, efficient, put on-the-ground firefighters first and foremost, was
professional and used uncommon good sense in dealing with the myriad
changing of rules and regs we face every year. His team was always humble,
professional and service oriented towards the firefighters. I understand
he was an engineer in his day job and rose through the ranks on the
logistics side. There was no doubt in my mind however that he was a
LEADER, and his influence was very evident in how well his team performed
at every level and staff area.

By the way, in my opinion, the other two type 1 teams had
"Fire Guys" as ICs and were stumbling, barely competent, arrogant groups
(not teams), reflective of the IC's influence. A LEADER IS A LEADER IS A
LEADER; the leadership qualities that people choose for their behaviors are
not the special domain of the fire units. It is important that we find,
recognize, train and promote good leaders wherever we can find them. God
knows, we are certainly in dire need of as many good ones as we can find.

To Doug and anyone that knows him - Thank you. You did the job right.

Grumpy old hotshot supt.

Thanks for the input, Supt, glad you've got Doug's back. I don't think the poster who named him meant to disparage Doug; he has said nice things in the past. This is likely one of those situations where we don't have tone of voice, expressions, gestures or other body language to interpret the nuance of the message. Supt, I did put your testimony to Doug on the Excellent Leaders page. Ab.

1/28 To all:
Yea, something from Ed...


It was some time ago when we began to examine in earnest the issue of
retention in our fire management workforce. And I know many of you are
hanging on – hoping for some news – any news. While I can assure you there
has been substantial movement, the information we've been able to release
is negligible to some and not enough for others. I have been asked “why
the big secret?” There is no secret; just a multi-step course of action
that will eventually lead to tangible results that will be shared with you
as soon as we can.

Deputy Regional Forester, Jim Peña laid out his understanding of the plan
in an e-mail message of 12/15/07, and Regional Forester, Randy Moore
provided further information on the proposed timeline for taking the issue
forward and his areas of emphasis in his message of 1/14/08. I realize that
even those nuggets of information may not be enough to ease the anxiety or
to satisfy your need for more. If the issue were simple and the solutions
within our grasp, it would have been solved long ago. There were a lot of
smart people in that room in December, each fully aware of the challenges
presented by this issue and their responsibilities to represent you. I
believe that work will bear fruit.

Today, Randy Moore, Jim Pena, myself and others discussed the issues and
our proposal with the Washington Office, including the Deputy Chief for
State and Private Forestry. We were able to provide a fairly clear picture
of the challenge and its implications beyond Region 5. This issue is not
isolated to California, nor is it simply about pay... it is about the
ability of this agency to meet its mission in a rapidly changing
environment. That is a sobering fact that requires careful deliberation.

Next week we have the opportunity to discuss this with the Chief, and to
present proposal(s) that are rooted in the good work done in December.
Clearly the nuts and bolts of the proposal cannot be shared before the
Chief has an opportunity to consider it and decide a course of action. At
any rate, the agency must respond "with a proposal to increase recruitment
and retention for Southern California forests no later than February 1,
2008." as required in the 2008 Omnibus Spending Bill.

In the meantime, we have used this time wisely, refining the issues and the
options, validating the statistics and preparing for the questions that may
arise. I can only offer one small consolation at this time; I will provide
you a weekly update via your Forest Fire Chief during our weekly conference
call, even if it’s just “nothing new to report.” Based on the number of
inquires, I know that many of you are faced with difficult career choices
and that you want/need enough information to make informed decisions. While
I cannot assure you that the answer will come in time, or that it will help
you with your decision, I can assure you that your concerns are heard.



1/28 Re Esperanza legal stuff:


I would say management is finally getting connected with High Reliability
Organizations and Human Factors research.

There's no way the 10 Fire Orders are specific enough to be hard and
fast "rules". Guidelines for engagement and disengagement of fire is a
good way to describe them, in my opinion. They're tools we should keep
close to us...

No doubt they will continue to be taught and will continue to be adhered
to to the best of our ability.

Thank you Randy Moore.


1/28 Ab, I'm not sure if this has circulated yet but I found it interesting
that fish and wildlife have a higher value than firefighter safety.


Judge threatens jail for Bush official
AP environmental writer Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nevada Firefighter

This has been posted two times beginning around 15 January; thanks for your comment. Ab.

1/28 Re Esperanza legal stuff:

Interesting note from Randy Moore (Regional Forester, R5) which says that
the 10 Fire Orders are guidelines and are not hard and fast.

Didn't we all learn that the Fire Orders were not bent or broken? I
understand the 18 Watchouts are just that, "Watchouts."

Where is this train of thought heading? Is management disconnected with
years of safe practice in both fire training and fire operations?

Respectfully submitted,

FS letter regarding OSHA Esperanza settlement agreement (55 K doc file)

OSHA informal Esperanza settlement agreement (167 K pdf file)

1/27 From Firescribe:

South Africa:
Devastating forest fires 'worst ever'

The raging fires that in recent weeks devastated vast swathes of the country's plantations and forests have been called "forestry's own 9/11".

Sawmillers, land owners and lumber analysts say that the fires, which destroyed timber plantations in parts of the Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and, most notably, areas around Sabie and Graskop, the main timber-growing areas of Mpumalanga, were the worst conflagrations in the industry's history - "and the fire season is not over yet".

"Over the past 25 years, we have lost an average of 14 000ha of trees a year to fires," said Lance Cooper, of Nelspruit's York Timbers. "This year we have lost 84 000ha. It's been catastrophic for both forestry - we lost 20-year-old trees - and for the sawmilling industry." (more at the link...)

Fire to Cause Changes at USFS
January 26, 2008
Written by Stacia Glenn

California - The U.S. Forest Service has committed itself to correcting a handful of violations federal safety investigators say played an instrumental role in the deaths of five firefighters in the Esperanza Fire. An informal settlement agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was reached Friday. Officials with both agencies took eight months to hammer out the three-page agreement.

"More than anything, we're continuing to re-emphasize the current checks we already have in place and renew our call to our employees that the safety checks are there for a reason," said Forest Service spokesman Jason Kirchner.

The Oct. 26, 2006, blaze burned over the five-man crew of Engine 57, killing 44-year-old Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser of Idyllwild and firefighters Pablo Cerda, 23, of Fountain Valley; Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan; and Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto.

An OSHA investigation concluded in July that six safety violations were made before the firefighters died while protecting an unoccupied home in Twin Pines.

The following are changes expected to be in place by March 31 to correct the violations:

Fire officials will "emphasize the importance of timely weather information," according to the report.

On the first morning of the Esperanza Fire, crews were not briefed on the fire's status, Santa Ana wind conditions or danger areas before going to fight the blaze.

The Forest Service will review risk-management policies to ensure firefighters are equipped to make rapid decisions in risky situations.

The Engine 57 crew did not follow a commander's orders to move to a safer area, although it is not known whether the instructions were poorly communicated or misunderstood by firefighters.

Maps showing high-risk locations will be distributed.

Esperanza firefighters did not have maps of the area where they were battling the blaze.

Forest Service officials also plan to incorporate lessons from the Esperanza Fire in the agency's Serious Accident Investigation procedures and to re-emphasize the "importance of risk management and the priority of life over structure protection," according to the report.

OSHA officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

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320 PM CST SUN JAN 27 2008



As we say up north... Uffda!


1/27 Hey all,

Guess it's ground hog day AGAIN. We collectively have been bashing up the "Collar Brass" issue again. We collectively have been jumping on the bandwagon of, "He isn't qualified, She isn't qualified" thing again. "He/She wears Captains bugles but, they aren't qualified for the job" OK, again in my mind we are only bound to the boundaries we create for ourselves and are ultimately in charge of our future. If some one is making a poor decision and YOU feel that it will directly change the course of your well being and the well being of those around you,,,,,,SAY SOMETHING, PUT IT IN YOUR ROLODEX OF EXPERIENCE, DO SOMETHING, don't sit here and complain that Billy Bob or Suzy has collar brass now and makes more tactical f-ups now than ever before. It is your job to decipher good from evil. Pass your knowledge on to you crew, engine co's and battalion. It's what people take from fire assignments, med-aids, etc.....NOT from what they might of learned in a simulator or a 20 page paper fire course. That being said, IF YOU are not happy, move on to greener pastures. But as you jump the fence remember, the same pile of dog <snip> is on the other side, it's how you face it and embrace it, IT'S still a stinky pile of dog <snip>.

By the way all of you are doing a great job, challenge each other, but save your energy for bigger issues. Save it for a fatality free season, Hell a fatality free decade. We all do the same job, we all were just issued different colored uniforms. California isn't a Island, it's just a place that receives a giant A## kickin' every year. If we need to change our tactics until "WE" as a fire community can catch up, then so be it. I live in the "WUI" and accept it's consequences. What I can't accept....Fatalities....What I can't accept....he said she said. "UNITE EVERYONE" or we will be destined to repeat our <snip> past. Raise the bar as silly as it sounds........PEACE...


I've been educated by the back and forth dialog here. I can see when and where collar brass would be important and when it would be unnecessary. I now know who has permission to wear it and who doesn't. Thanks TC for the regs. I can see why some in the federal agencies might not want their firefighters to wear it. I can see regional, remote FS vs WUI FS differences, generational differences and agency differences. I don't think that anyone has been complaining, just engaging in lively dialog. Where's the beef? Start a new meaningful thread you're interested in if you like. Grab a bottle of your favorite libation and feel free to join us... peace... out... Ab.

1/27 Fire Freak,

Caught your "send us to the cornfield" quip. The current situation does seem to
resemble The Twilight Zone.

Season 3, episode 73... Ironically, the episode was titled "It's a Good Life".

However, if you don't go to the cornfield, you will end up being assimilated.

With humor,
1/26 The Front Country Ranger District and the San Bernardino National Forest is deeply saddened to report today that our employee, Darren Coffey, passed away early this morning (01/26). Darren was back-country skiing with two friends near the Mountain High Resort, when an avalanche struck at about 1:30 p.m. trapping them beneath the snow. His two companions were able to surface on their own, while search and rescue efforts for Darren continued throughout the day. Darren was located at about 9:00 p.m., with vital signs, and was airlifted to the hospital. His passing was confirmed early this morning.

Darren, age 32, worked as a wildlife biologist on the Front Country District since September 2004, and worked previously as an intern on the Mountaintop District.

Although a wildlife biologist, Darren aspired to be a district botanist and took on many of the district's botany projects including growing plants in the native plants nursery at Lytle Creek. He was involved in the big horn sheep project and he also worked closely with law enforcement and Mountaintop District employees in helping to close illegal OHV trails. Darren also worked on fire suppression rehabilitations, most recently contributing significantly to the Slide and Grass Valley teams.

Darren really cared about the forest and the work he was doing. He worked well with everyone and always tried to help people. He also cared a great deal for his community, and volunteered time to work with urban youth programs on the forest in partnership with the San Bernardino National Forest Association and the Bobby G. Vega Foundation.

Darren enjoyed being outside around plants and wildlife. He was an expert skier, and enjoyed backpacking and hiking. Darren lived in Wrightwood, where he had many close friends and family in the nearby area.

Darren positively affected so many people, and he will be greatly missed by all. Please keep his family and many friends in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Contact information for family condolences will be forwarded soon.

Gabe Garcia
Front Country District Ranger
San Bernardino National Forest

Condolences. Ab.

1/26 To "ms"

Thanks for the kind words to my post. To be honest, I half expected people posting "off with his head"!!

I can't answer all of your questions, mainly because I'm only a Fire Captain. I don't know all of the requirements for BC, but what I do know is our department does identify certain positions, i.e. Battalion Chief and above, and require them to at least start the process of obtaining certain ICS qualifications such as DIVS, Strike Team Leader, etc. We all have idividual training programs, that certain ICS positions are identified as MUST have.

As far as the ECC Fire Captains and Battalion Chiefs, as of right now, yes they all had some type of field experience. Just recently our dispatchers became "safety" members. However prior to that, Dispatcher Clerks were "non-sworn", and promotional abilities were just about NIL, unless you went out into the field and started out as a Firefighter, FAE and then Fire Captain.

That said, with the new classifications of dispatcher clerk to Communications Operator, I'm not sure if they will be able to promote up to Fire Captain simply by taking the exam. Perhaps a CALFIRE ECC person reading this could answer?

Since I posted my original post on the collar brass, just yesterday I saw a former CAL FIRE Firefighter 1. He had worked 2 seasons for us as a seasonal, and just this year went to the Forest Service as a Fire Patrol Technician. Guess how many bugles he's wearing?---Thats right....TWO.

So if anyone is going to get upset, I'd be getting upset at your departments for allowing him, who couldn't pass the Supplemental process for CALFIRE as an FAE, and is now a CAPTAIN for the Forest Service.

I hope that at least some of you in the federal service see my point at least with this example.

I'm fully aware of several Patrol Technicians that DESERVE the recognition of Captain, however I've seen Lead Crewmembers on Forest Service Engines who just happen to have a Class B license, wearing the bugles of an Engineer.

In CALFIRE, if a firefighter simply took it upon him or herself to place bugles on his/her collar because they have a Class B license and therefore could drive the fire engine, the department would take disciplinary action up to and including termination for impersonating an officer.

Who in the Federal service dictates who can wear bugles on their uniforms? Is it the FMO? District Ranger?

All I'm trying to say I guess in my posts, is that somewhere, someone must come up with a very defined policy on who wears the collar brass, and it has to be enforced.

CDF Fire Captain
1/26 Hi Ab,

I had seen an article about the Garth Brooks concert in our local paper and was wondering what the charity effort was about, so I looked it up. The McCormick Tribune Foundation is heading an effort to raise money to help Southern California recover from the recent fires (2008 Fire Intervention Relief Effort). It sounds like the money will be given out as grants to "nonprofit agencies providing aid to fire victims and first responders, and their families, and will also support southern California fire departments and organizations in need of additional or replacement fire fighting equipment." The full announcement is posted here: www.mccormicktribune.org/2008firerelief/default.aspx

I’m passing this along in case any They Said’ers might be interested in applying for a grant. (I have no connection with this organization.)

Thanks again for your website—it’s awesome, and so are the Abs!

If you post this, you can sign me as "LTL" (Long-time lurker).


Here’s the full text of the announcement:

2008 Fire Intervention Relief Effort
A campaign of the McCormick Tribune Foundation
Sponsored by American Express and the Los Angeles Times

Garth Brooks responded personally to the devastating fires in Southern California by pledging more than $3 million in proceeds from five sold-out concerts in Los Angeles in January 2008, to the McCormick Tribune Foundation's "2008 Fire Intervention Relief Effort." The Foundation has already provided $1 million in matching funds for the first $2 million that was raised from concert ticket sales.

The McCormick Tribune Foundation has recently made available another $500,000 to be used to match additional contributions at 50 cents on the dollar, up to the next $1 million raised. Corporate sponsors contributing to this effort include the Los Angeles Times, American Express, Ticketmaster and AEG.

All of the funds raised, plus the match, will go to nonprofit agencies providing aid to fire victims and first responders, and their families, and will also support southern California fire departments and organizations in need of additional or replacement fire fighting equipment.

The concerts are sold out, but your support is still needed. We can't undo the damage caused by the fires, but we can help our neighbors get back on their feet, and be ready for the next time.

Please join Garth Brooks in this extraordinary effort, and give what you can today.

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1/26 Been out a week on training so I will have to catch up with some responses. I know it is long. sorry about that

Noname22: I appreciate your response to my last post. But do remember that the Forest Service did not lose the "cop shop" as I believe may have been pointed out. The LE&I part of the forest service just went out of the direct line supervision of the district ranger in order to protect the integrity of the investigations. There have been many an LEO who has told me that they were DIRECTED TO NOT INVESTIGATE things by the ranger, to later find the ranger or another line officer was involved in the crime.

Ajax: I was actually one of those ever shrinking "firefighters" on the rogue siskiyou for a while. I do  recall a lot of paperwork going around with the new call signs and the proper collar brass for each position, and the proper way to mark a vehicle. However not being in the loop when Linda Goodman came around and was angry about being introduced to the "battalion chief" I can understand that Mr Conroy might have had some help in writing the letter.

KJoseph: in reading your post, you suggest that fire "stovepipe". Being in the stove pipe, I can honestly say it is difficult to be there. After a while you are resented for not being a "part of the team" and not going to meetings etc. You are not understood when you work longer hours then most and might be tired after going to bed at 2 am and since you are working on your relationship with the district you get up at 7 am to go to a meeting that has nothing to do with you. All i can say is that the grass is not always greener.

Hutch: No words other then great post

Palos: I agree 100% with this: ICS is INCIDENT command, not every day command. Collar brass and call signs help with daily functions as well as possibly the initial response. However once the boots hit the ground on the incident, the brass goes out the window and the ICS positions are assigned and used.

Hundekot: There are multiple reasons that fire and LE&I can not simply be given to the local and state agencies. On the national forest, the forest service decides what money is expended to supress fires. Also, fire is not only fire. They are fuels management and usually the go to folks for the other district staff positions when a great deal of physical labor or number of persons are needed. The fireshop is a specialized group of people who work in a rural environment typiclly who know how to stop a forest fire better then anyone. As for the LE&I part, congress has placed laws stating that the enforcement of Title 36 CFR 261 is enforced by the forest service. Another agency can not enforce our regulations and quite honestly do not care about whether or not a logger is stealing timber or if someone is mudding through a marsh that contains an endangered species. Our LEOs do care and many have other experince with land management. Also, I do not see any of the hydrologists willing to go out and confront a group of potentially dangerous persons (gangs, drunks, etc) about their campfires during restrictions.

For the record, I loved my time in the FS as a firefighter and I love working with the fire shop. You are all high speed, low drag folks and if I need help with something I know where to go. I need you folks. I am mandated to investigate possible human caused fires and without the fire folks I wouldn't be able to do it.

Sorry this is long but like I said, I was out for a week learning how to survive in the cold.

Guns n hoses

PS: To my R-5 friend stinky, hello.

Not sure if this link will work, but thought you and
the folks on "They Said" might find this interesting!
(It's an article regarding contracts for firefighting
crews for 2008 in Oregon)


Firefighter companies protest Oregon contract cuts
AP wire

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- A group of private wildland firefighting companies are protesting because their contracts were not renewed this year by Oregon Department of Forestry.

Dillon Sanders, owner of Inbound, one of the companies affected, said the decision is unnecessarily restrictive.

State forestry officials say 98 crews have received extended contracts for the 2008 season, which did not include Sanders' company and about 30 others.

Forestry Department spokesman Rod Nichols said the number of crews selected is based on the projected fire season.

In 2007, 132 crews were awarded state contracts.

Nichols said companies whose bids were turned down submitted estimates that exceeded the cap of $45 per man hour.

In 2007, the cost of private firefighting crews was an estimated $55.5 million, paid for by agencies that include Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Oregon-based crews often are sent to several states.

Sanders and others said $45 per hour is too low to meet rising firefighting costs, such as the cost of gas, new equipment and training.

..Staying green until retirement

Fair Use Disclaimer


Another problem with the 401 that I haven't seen posted on theysaid is the lack of consistency in which classes qualify and which don't. I know of at least two people that have applied for several jobs in the 401 series who qualified for the 401 in one job but didn't qualify for the 401 in another job. It all depends on who is reviewing the applications.

In one example, a friend applied for two 401 jobs on the same forest but his applications were reviewed by two different people. When asked why he qualified for one job but not the other he was told that the other person shouldn't have counted one of the classes (which was clearly a biology class).

In another example, a friend qualified in one region but not the other. This person was also qualified for the 401 with BLM but not the FS - all fire.

It will be interesting to see what they do with those of us that don't qualify for 401 anymore but hold the position. What do they mean that we'll be "removed from position"? Will they send us to the corn field? Oh, and that Feb 15, 2005 date is bogus since OPM didn't change their standards, they just clarified their existing standards for the FS on that date.

As a good friend always says to me "The WO is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic". Sounds about right, the FS is very much like the Titanic - and it's sinking fast.

Fire Freak

Do you think that means that R5 will be in pretty good shape but some in the other regions will be hurting with the new transcript deadlines?

I posted when the OPM policy came out that had the deadline of late Dec 07 that instead of a month to work things out for people (regional groups) seeking transcripts that it really was only a week because of university break dates. Many fire people were also in "use or lose". To me this really seems unfair. It's almost as though they (PPM and the FS) set the scene for failure of individuals and groups trying to work out the new changing target.

I have heard from friends in regions other than R5 that some highly qualified and experienced fire managers have only been picked up into the 401 series on a random basis, depending on their own limited knowledge and their forest ranger. From what they've said, most regions don't have the R5 BOD capability and didn't approach this in a standardized way. I'd like to hear if people are having trouble understanding the whole IFPM and FS PM and TFM and series 401 rules and current OPM etc rules with changing dates, especially those from other regions than R5 who have been developing a career in fire. This changing process has been going on for a number of years.

Maybe I could get together a page or two of the history of the process and the current requirements and dates. I do have some of it written down somewhere. Jeanne P-T still seems to be R5's BOD member and point person on all of this. I'd be willing to contact her and see what I can find out to share.


Here are several links to info on IFPM/FS FPM:
2007/r5-ifpm-answers.php (this is now resolved)
r5-ifpm-vs-fs_fpm-positions (late Fall, 2007)
www.ifpm.nifc.gov/ifpmstandard.php (current)

1/26CDF Fire Captain, good post.

I have some questions.

  • Do CDF BCs have qualification requirements prior to entering the position? Example; do they need to be DIVS, ICT3, ICT4 or a Strike Team Ldr prior to getting the position?
  • Does CDF have BCs out there that respond to and manage emergencies without a DIVS or ICT3, ITC4 qualification?
  • Do your BCs and Capt in the ECCs and other positions on the unit have or are required to maintain ICS qualifications? Would I be correct in saying that most have the qualifications, however some may not?
  • Do you have non-ICS qualification requirements or non-NWCG training required to be a CDF BC, such as a Chief Officer school? Thanks.
  • I'd also like to learn how these questions apply to the DC and Capt positions?

This should be interpreted as a positive post, not trying to make a point, just trying to learn.

Thoughts about IFPM-FS-FPM -

The smartest thing JPT could do in her upcoming briefing is to relay that those in 10/09 IFPM positions better be ready to meet the requirements or be ready to move out of those positions. I've heard the agency is planning right now to play tough on the 10/09 cutoff and for those who think they won't be kicked out of positions, better think again. I'm sure chances are still high the deadline could be extended, however I wouldn't bet on it. I'd like to hear what others think about the deadline; Will it be extended or will employees be removed?


1/26I agree that there are some line officers out there with excellent to acceptable fire qualifications and experience. I also agree that there are some with little or no fire experience. The latter is unacceptable and in violation of national direction. Several years ago the Chief directed that all line officer vacancies must include "knowledge of fire" as an evaluation criteria.
That direction has been widely ignored.

National direction on implementation of IFPM also dictates that fire program leaders must have significant fire experience and credentials. That too is being circumvented.


OFG (ret)


In response to your comments about CALFIRE Fire crews. They ARE
type 1, just not Hotshot rated crews. This discussion has been played
out ad-nauseum.

In R-5 the federal fire agencies utilize and gladly dispatch CALFIRE
crews as type 1 on federal I/A fires and are more than accepting to use
them when ALL of the local shot crews are in other states. Let's leave
this one alone.



Thank you for the photo. The person you are asking about is Clint Taylor from the Alpine GS and he had two sons George and Allen, both of whom became USFS employees. George was the FPT at the Morena Village Patrol and Allan was on the pumper crew at Corral Canyon. If you have any contact with Emmett give him my best. He was my boss at Julian years ago. The photo is from the 1956 era too. Lanky Williams is still alive and living in Mt. Laguna. We called him Doc.


When I enhanced and sized the photo for posting, I cut off the date at the bottom:   APR · 56  ·

1/26To the person asking about IFPM/FS PM and TFM:

There has been lots of discussion on the issue and it has been really simple to understand..... Unless the Forest Service continues to put a square peg into a round hole and fails to read and understand the Federal Register.

The Directions published by OPM in the Federal Register.... at the REQUEST of the Forest Service and DOI agencies... allowed the 0401 series (General Biological Sciences) to become the standard for fire management.

It is real simple to understand:

1) If you have a college transcript with lower division credit that is recognized in the latest lists of qualifying education, it is creditable towards the 6 units of lower division credits needed.

2) If you have a college transcript with upper division credit that is recognized in the latest lists of qualifying education, it is creditable towards the 18 units of upper division credits needed.

Most Federal Regional Training Centers (in California) have been offering either lower or upper division college credits in partnership with colleges and universities for nearly 10 years.

A problem exists for those that went through TFM and didn't elect to purchase optional college credits offered through the partnership between the Washington Institute and Colorado State University. That problem is being worked on. In recent TFM classes, the federal government picked up the costs for the college credits.

In trying to make firefighters into biologists, I think it was a good mix (tongue in cheek).

Hopefully someone will soon reverse the procedure and work on ways to make the line officers qualified to manage a fire program....... 18 units of upper division credits..... 6 units of lower division credits in fire science, public, administration, business management, or related "fields"...... And have a positive experience component as DIVS and ICT3 for line officers as the minimum.

If you are managing a fire program as a line officer with limited or no experience in fire, the ability to use and understand what "clear text" actually means is critical........

1/26To All in the midst of all the drama...

I was flipping channels tonight and happened on the Garth Brooks special tonight. I don't know what the donations "for the southern CA wildfires" is going towards but I hope the WFF is getting part of it and I must say...

When the entire staples center gets up on their feet to honor the CDF firefighters present (at least one or two who were burned in the fires)- to see one firefighter's mom standing beside her while they were being honored by all those people present. Damn people- people appreciate you.

So take a moment to breathe in this off season- log onto CBS.com and they might post clips after the live performance. Realize that the entire Staples center stood on their feet to honor not just the firefighters present but all you firefighters.

Take care of you and yours,
1/25To all:

Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell has released her "State of the Agency" letter, about two pages long. Sadly, despite fire taking up nearly 50% of the discretionary budget and the fire program itself imploding as a result of a variety of dynamics, only a small paragraph, included below, refers to the fire mess.

It is our hope that when she states "our partners are key" she will include the FWFSA and other organizations who have strived over a number of years to offer to partner with the Agency to create a stronger, more cost effective and efficient fire program. The text is extremely vague and short on details and short on an acknowledgement that the fire program is in crisis. We can only hope she will allow us to work with her and the Agency; that she will recognize that what line officers perceive to be fire managers' efforts to "separate" from the Agency is actually nothing more than critical & necessary progress which needs to be made in an effort to stay abreast with the complexities of wildfire in the 21st century.

Hopefully, she will come to recognize, understand & acknowledge that the management of the fire program by non-fire line officers is the most influential dynamic in the downward spiral of the fire program and that, in order for the Agency to field the most effective & efficient fire program in the world for the benefit of America's taxpayers and citizenry as a whole, that organizational structure must change before Congress "force-feeds" those changes upon the Agency.

The dialogue around fire suppression and fire preparedness, how we pay for it and how we plan for it, continues. There are some who see clearly the effect on all our programs and we are engaged in much discussion. We will continue to monitor and adjust how we suppress fires and their costs. We will continue to examine fire behavior and predictive models. Research will help us look forward to future needs and opportunities. Our partners are key.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

1/25CDF Fire Captain said:

To help understand my point, how would federal workers feel, if all of
CalFire engineers said they were AFMOs? or that CalFire Captains
were automatically equal to FMOs?

yes, I know the positions are a few levels apart, but could you appreciate
it if all of CalFire FAEs suddenly became "AFMO" qualified? Including
our LT (Limited Term) FAEs?

I'm guessing it would be a lot like how all the Interagency Hotshot Crews feel since
CalFire insists on calling all of their inmate crews Type 1.


1/25To the person asking about IFPM/FS PM and TFM:

I understand things are still not clear but I know IFPM questions have come up here over the years. As I recall, you have to have college credit for TFM to count. Have you tried doing a search using the search button at the top of the page? I just did using IFPM and TFM and came up with

October 13, 2007 memo: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/ifpm-answers.php

Information from 9/19 theysaid from Jeanne P-T www.wildlandfire.com/arc/2007i_sep.php

There are some other links going back to 2003, 2004, 2005..

Jeanne is on the agenda for the R5 Chief's meeting end of Feb. She'd know the answer to you question.



I got this PHOTO from Emmett Donohue (Retired CDF Ranger out of Julian)
several years ago. He was trying to identify the 3rd person from the left.
>From left to right: 1. Lanky Williams, USFS (Position?), 2. Dick
Raybould FCO Descanso, 3. Unidentified, 4. Kenny Joseph, Engine
Foreman, Descanso Station.

>From your posts I gather you worked USFS and/or CDF in San Diego County for
many years and I thought you may be able to identify the individual in this
photo. Any info you have would be appreciated. Photo date is April 1956.
There may be others who can identify this person, chime in if you can.


I appreciate your upbeat attitude regarding USFS line officers. I have worked for a few. Your good news, however, only applies to a small percentage of federal line officers. In fact, applying your argument to other federal agencies, i.e. NPS, you are just plain wrong.

As a very recent escapee from the NPS I can tell you that the number one reason why so many professional fire folks from NPS have either retired or moved on is that it is the rule that NPS line officers pay very little attention to their fire management staffs. They all came from the ranger ranks of the NPS, i.e. the cops. That is their inner circle of confidants, many of whom maneuvered their way to being qualified as the "typical NPS crew boss trainee" as their highest level of fire qualifications achievement. In several key cases now these interlopers have become politically appointed to FMO positions. The cops are in charge.

And they lust after those "fat fire management budgets" and "forestry technicians" who are better used picking up trash and picking weeds along roads while the rest of the country burns.

NPS fire management staff folks who earned their way there through years of fire management involvement are running scared. The line officers are responsible for this in what in many cases becomes a defacto hostile work environment.

We absolutely right now more than ever need a professional wildland fire series with wildland fire as a standalone discipline outside of absolute line officer control.

NPS Escapee
1/25A couple of personal observations about the Bugle

>From my view there has been a change in the type of
person in leadership positions in the Government

When I first started my career, it seemed like it was
almost a requirement to have been a Vietnam Vet to
advance. District Rangers and Fire Leaders were
Veterans. Then for awhile there was a conscious effort
to try to keep them out, I remember some jobs openings
being closed then re-flown because a Vet was on top of
the hiring list. (one bad thing about having local
Human Resources)

The current Leadership seems mostly composed of
College Kids. When I was on the hand crews the college
kids seemed to not like the Military style of
Leadership, some seemed to think the crew should run
as a Democracy.

When things are hot and heavy, the Military Command
Structure is the way to go, not to stop and have a
meeting to discuss what to do.

So, think about Leadership's reluctance to use Rank
Insignia, call signs and the rules requiring a land
management degree. The Military turns out Leaders
trained for adverse conditions. Not sure of the
Leaders produced in Colleges whose Professors lived
the late 60s early 70s.

And There I Was
1/25 Ab,

The interpretation of the IFPM 401 series seems to be changing on a daily
basis!!!! Does anyone know if a Technical Fire Management (TFM) graduate
with a certificate will qualify in the 401 series (IFPM or FS PM)? Or are
more credits needed?


1/25 Just another perspective for those who think the fire organization should only be be supervised by fire people, ie:stovepipe organization. During the later part of my career I was directly supervised by several different district rangers and forest supervisors. None of these individuals spent time in the fire organization except as temps when they were going to college. A few of them even earned qualifications such as DIVS, SOFR while in other resource management positions throughout their career, (pretty hard to do anymore).

A common trait of all of these line officers was that they sought advice from fire leadership before making fire management decisions. This is what is taught in interagency courses such as "Fire Mgt. Leadership for Line Officers and Agency Administrators". They were very supportive when a fire management issue was brought to their attention. The relationship between a "non-fire background" line officer/manager and a FFMO, Unit FMO or DFMO can be very effective. A good line officer allows the fire manager to do their job, accepting the fire leaders unique skills during a dynamic and challenging fire event. A good fire manager accepts the unique skills and influence the line officer/manager has to fight those battles that would otherwise detract from the fire managers ability to do their job. This is not unlike the relationship between a good president and military leaders engaged in a conflict.

I have seen a couple situations where line officers have mucked things up by thinking they knew more about fire than the fire leader. In both situations these line officers are no more. One was offered the opportunity to end their career 10 years early, and the other was reassigned to a non-supervisory position where they could not do damage. This occurred because of the teamwork from higher level line officers and fire managers. There are no doubt more line officers/managers out there who should be offered these types of "opportunities". However, in my experience, most "non-fire background" line officers/managers do an admirable job considering the environment they work in today. Be thankful you are in the fire organization.

1/25 Heard the other day the R-5 Retention plan will be out next week.
Hopefully alot of decisions will be made after we see it, either for
the good or bad.

1/25 Firescribe:

George Weldon is a well known straight-talker: Northern Rockies, R1
former Missoula SJ...
Our Trial By Fire

1/25 AB,

I retired as a DFMO. As such I am sure you realize I did not have a "Fire Boss". My boss was the district ranger.

That being said, during the course of my career and in my AD travels I have worked for and with many fine fire folks. Regional Fire Leaders I respected and stick out in my mind are Tom Harbour and George Weldon. Some reasons in no particular order: Fire fighter safety is at the top of their agendas, I think these two are honest and up front and you can trust what they tell you. They are very concerned with and care deeply about fire management, they are committed to the total fire program including suppression and fire use. They have strong fire backgrounds in spite of the fact they have done things other than fire, which in my opinion has made them stronger leaders and advocates for fire.

So these are two that stuck out to me.

This is my opinion, and I would hope folks would leave it at that and not get into finding fault. These are folks I dealt with at different times in my career that impressed me.

the cynic

Thanks for your opinions, cynic. Anyone else with names of people they admired as leaders and why? I started a page here: USFS, Good Fire Leader I have Known. Please let us know who tops your list. Ab.

1/25 more re brass

I gotta admit, knowing what you're getting during initial attack with minimal
radio traffic does offer an argument for collar brass. That said, don't most
folks know each other fairly well in their local areas?

Thanks too for those who recall the when fire was a top priority for most in
the Forest Service ...

Still Out There ....

1/25 Howdy, Ab -

Just gotta jump on Dan's 1/24 Bandwagon -- took my first baby steps onto the fireline years ago following our District RecTech/LEO/FCO with one foot in the black climbing through a laurel thicket in the dark, and later learned safety and tactics from our Marking Crew Foreman, while proudly serving under him on several crew and engine details around the country, confident he would keep us safe.

I'm proud to belong to the USFS militia, and just a little scared by how few militia members (non-primary-fire) students I saw at a recent Training Academy -- although a fair number of the 300-level instructors were militia.

As always, Ab, thanks for this site.


1/25 Gizmo,
The "battle" of Muir vs. Pinchot ended back in 1905. Personal friends, they had differing views as to the best use of federal lands. That was resolved in 1905 with the establishment of the Forest Service as a multiple use agency, transfer of the "forest reserves" to USDA, and later the designation as "national forests". National Parks remain as attempts to "preserve" nature.
As with the Civil War (War Between the States, War of Northern Aggression) some will continue to claim the battle wages on (including the guy who invented the internet). But.....until Congress changes the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, the Forest Service remains a multiple use agency.

Sounds like your forest is doing what it needs to (and should) to take full advantage of the continued use of "militia" firefighters. Without them, the mission of the FS (including the fire program) would fail.

Question for anyone who might know.....
How many IC's are classified "primary/secondary" firefighters as compared to being part of the "militia"?
How many Ops?
How many Logistics Chiefs
How many Planning Chiefs
How many Finance?

OFG (ret)
1/25 Hundekot,

Actually, Yes. I'm suggesting these two situations are similar enough to bear examination. All the specifics of the example you cited aside, would you not agree that the technology available for hands-free communication and map-free navigation would benefit the BC (in my simple example) and enhance their situational awareness, thereby increasing their margin of safety as well?

I was assigned to several incidents in Southern California during the end of October, beginning of November. When not assigned a mission or task I spent as much time as the ATC supervisor would allow in the FAA tower, observing working Air Traffic Controllers at work. Some of what I took away from that experience was:
1) a deep appreciation for the job Air Traffic Controllers do;
and more importantly,
2) the true professionals we are lucky to have flying our fires.

I was constantly asked, while standing behind the Controllers, to convey their (atc's) thanks to our pilots for that very same professionalism and the precision with which they handled their communication(s) and flew their aircraft. Guidelines exist and ATC instructions are given, but it is up to each pilot to comply. However, fire aircraft were only a small fraction of the aircraft utilizing the airspace at any given time. The density was much higher than one might expect. Within that density, the quality of pilots varied dramatically.

I submit; the same holds true on our nations roads. Including, the highly professional nature of our folks behind the wheel. Traffic laws exist and operational guidelines are developed, (I seem to remember drivers education eons ago - 1 car length for every 10 mph, as an example...) but again, it is up to each driver to comply.

Communication and Transportation are essential to incident response. I think we all agree on that. I just don't believe they need to be separated.

student of flight

1/25 re: collar brass


If I may chime in on the wearing of collar brass by federal government (BLM, USFS, NPS, etc) from a CAL FIRE perspective.

First of all, to those of you who truly earned the wearing of the brass, I fully support it. Yes, it does help either thru a red helmet, two bugles, or the "captain" radio identifier to know who is in charge of the crew.

But, as "TC" and "out there as an AD" have mentioned, the wearing of collar brass has gotten so rampant, that at least speaking for myself, I sometimes question the wearer's qualifications. In CAL FIRE you cannot wear a bugle, or a pair of bugles unless the department promotes, and trains you into the position, and has INDIVIDUALLY authorized you to wear them. This prevents anyone and everyone from just putting collar brass on their uniforms.

And like "TC" mentioned, I've met patrol technicians in their FIRST year of fire and federal service wearing 2 bugles on their uniforms. Like wise, I've met dispatchers from the USFS wearing the ranks of Captain that have NEVER seen a fire in person

I support the wearing of collar brass by Forest Service and other Federal personnel, BUT, there has to be standards.

From what I've been reading here on They Said, forest service employees are having a hard time getting support from the higher ups as it is, but if I may gently add my view to those who DESERVE the collar brass, perhaps, they will help control who wears the collar brass and who doesn't.

To help understand my point, how would federal workers feel, if all of CAL FIRE engineers said they were AFMOs? or that CAL FIRE Captains were automatically equal to FMOs?

yes, I know the positions are a few levels apart, but could you appreciate it if all of CAL FIRE FAEs suddenly became "AFMO" qualified? Including our LT (Limited Term) FAEs?

What I suggest is a more FOCUSED group of QUALIFIED personnel wears the collar brass. What constitutes qualified should be determined by your agencies and internally enforced.

Now I'll stand up right now, and say that I'm sure there are a few CAL FIRE personnel out there, that many FED'S shake their heads at and wonder how in the hell that person got their bugles, but I can say that our department does have a training and qualification system that the individual must have passed/completed to have earned the bugles. Sure all agencies have their bumbling idiots, God help us!!, but I guess what I'm getting at is that the FEDERAL agencies must come up with standards for who wears the collar brass to be equally respected by all other departments

Anyways, to those of you in the true supervisory positions and deserve the collar brass of Engineer, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief, or above I support you. But, you must police your own personnel, to help protect the respect your positons dictate. Not to say that Patrol Technicians nor dispatchers can't be qualified to wear the collar brass, but rather that the position they are in does not necessarily qualify them to be recognized in the same standards.

I've tried to be as politically correct as possible, and I hope that I haven't personally offended anyone. Just trying to give an "outsider's" view of federal collar brass wearing....

Now, if I may add some humor to the collar brass adding on what Gordon had posted.....A long time ago, I was told this.

First of all they are NOT bugles, they are vision performance devices...

Firefighters have such clear and unaffected vision that they don't need any. (The true leaders of our service...)

An Engineer's eyesight is getting so bad that they need a telescope to properly see what is happening

Captains have such bad vision they need BINOCULARS to see clearly,

And of course once you get to Battalion Chief or above, your eyesight and your vision assisting devices are so crooked and crossed that you can't even see what the hell you are talking about.

Sign me...

CDF Fire Captain

1/24 A now retired CDF Bat Chief once told me the collar brass are
not bugles, they are toilet plungers...

1/24 Another place you can get that Forest Service Humor Book, new copy. Great cover! List of topics...



1/24 Student of Flight: are you saying that talking on a radio during wildland fire flying with well-defined airspace separation guidelines and Air Traffic Controllers/Air Tactical Group Supervisors overseeing the operations is the same as talking on a cell phone/mobile radio while driving a vehicle under emergency conditions on 2-lane or 4-lane highways with the separation distances between vehicles of frequently less than 100 feet at speeds of 50-75 mph? Seems like a density of 3-5 aircraft per square mile is easier to manage (especially when they are talking to each other on the same shared frequencies) than 100 - 500 vehicles per road mile, with NO common communication link between everyone?

1/24 Ab,

I don't know what it is like in many other areas of the Forest Service, but looking at some of our PWP's I found the following things somewhat "funny":

Fire and Fuels Management takes up nearly 50% of the current Forest Service budget. Back when the Forest Service started as an agency, Fire and Fuels Management made up nearly 100% of the budget.

Approx. 68% of the FTEs for the Forest are funded either through WFHF or WFPR, but only about 45% of the employees are in the fire program. The remaining positions (23%) are resource staff (biologists, botanists, archaeologists, hydrologists, entomologists, etc...) being funded by "fire" to accomplish the fire and fuels mission. Much of their remaining time is funded through WFSU when they serve in "militia" positions.

Nearly 80% of the PWPs are dedicated to either fire suppression and preparedness, or fuels management.

Is it fair to keep blaming the "fire program" for the escalating fire budgets? The escalating fire budget and targets for fuels management are what is holding the Forest Service together. Without fire (WFHF, WFPR, and WFSU), where would the funding come from to keep all of the "ologists" employed? Last I heard, not much has been appropriated for the other programs under "multiple use" (Outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, fish, and wildlife).

For those that think the 1905 "Use Book" defines the Forest Service, they should read the Land Revision Act of 1891... aka Forest Reserve Act of 1891). The primary premise for the creation of the Forest Reserves was watershed protection and fire suppression due to the encroachment of "an increasingly urbanized nation".

Folks would probably be surprised to know the impetus of the founding of the Forest Service came from Southern California..... an original idea to protect the "reserves" from wildfire, ranching, mining, and preserving the watershed. Timber became a sustainable program to fund the programs, and the Forest Reserves were transferred to the USDA Division of Forestry from the General Land Office (precursor of the BLM).

It has been a battle of Muir vs. Pinchot since the beginning.... a battle that continues today.

At what point did wildland fire management get overlooked in the importance in the primary mission of the Forest Service..... Caring for the Land, Serving People?

I'd be interested to know how other forests are doing with their budgets and balancing their program of work in times of change (crisis).



Congress establishes the first federal forest reserves on March 3, 1891.
HistoryLink.org www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=5322

Forest History Society: www.foresthistory.org/Research/usfscoll/index.phpl.
Historical News Archives: www.newspaperarchive.com
USDA Forest Service, WorkPlan 2008.
USDA Forest Service, FY 2008 Budget Request .
USDA Forest Service , FY 2008 Supplementals (Earmarks) in other legislation. (also incorrectly known as the
1/24 Is there a Regional Forester in Region 5?

Every memo I've seen over the last month does not have his
signature, but the signatures of others.

One would have to wonder...........

Rogue Rivers
1/24 Ab,

per the cell phone/radio discussion.

I find it interesting (generally speaking) that we (as user agencies) require our
aircraft pilots to fly and talk at the same time, yet a BC responding to an
incident is prohibited from doing the same.

just an observation...

sign me;
student of flight
1/24 Crossed Bugles - back in the late 1980-early 1990 period, a professional Civil Engineer named Doug Porter in the Pacific Northwest GACC became a Type 1 Incident Commander: what kind of crossed bugles do Engineers wear? Do they wear them when they are designing roads and bridges? Did Doug's "Engineer-iness" (check out Steven Colbert!) detract from his ICS quals? Could he wear crossed slide rules on his pocket protector and still be a good ICT1? Maybe Dilbert's Evil Director of HR can offer us some guidance? Will the portal-to-portal folks in the BIG red fire trucks accept his authority on a Type 1 Incident? Inquiring minds want to know!

1/24 This Just In !!!!!! Overloaded? AgLearn can help!

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The best way to get rid of overload is to get rid of Ag Learn. Oh the irony of it all !

Only in the Forest Service........... Absolutely Classic !


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1/24 I was reading the most recent posts on 'they said' and clicked on the link for the banned Humor, and noticed that Gil Davies and Florice Frank were the authors/editors.

They are both Forest Service Retirees and live in Hat Creek, CA. Gil was an Asst Forest Engineer on the Klamath and Florice Franks also worked in the KNF SO.

Gil was the Logistics Chief on IMT #4 in the late 70's till about 1983 or 1984. Bill Howard from the Plumas and then Bill Cadola from the Klamath were the IC during that period. During that time I was the Planning Section Chief, so I knew Gil well and he was an excellent Log Chief.

I find it amazing that something that he and Florice wrote would be deemed unfit for current day Forest Service employees.

John Hatcher
1/24 This should get a little interesting


Date: January 23, 2008
Subject: Delay in Migration of Region 5 Human Resources to the Albuquerque Service Center
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

The February 4, 2008, Human Resources (HR) migration date for Region 5 has been cancelled due to continuing unresolved EmpowHR system issues and the need for organization and process adjustments at the Albuquerque Service Center (ASC). Effective March 16, 2008, some Region 5 HR functions as listed below will migrate to ASC. However, the new migration date does not include the majority of the mission-critical HR functions, and adds additional HR services to the Region 5 program. The purpose of this delayed migration plan is to guarantee that basic HR services will continue in Region 5 and until such time the ASC issues are resolved. Following are National and Regional decisions concerning the Region 5 migration:

1. Region 5 HR center in Vallejo, California, will continue for up to two years from February 4, 2008. In order to meet minimum service levels and assume expanded work assignments, it will be necessary to augment the current Region 5 HR staff. HR positions will be filled (most virtually) utilizing a variety of avenues, e.g., temporary or term employees, current or former HR employees from previously migrated units, and additional contractors. Carmen Funston will remain the HR Director until such time as most services have shifted to ASC.

2. Use of the Region 5 SF-52 Tracker for Region 5 work will continue.

3. Until migrated to ASC, continue to operate a Region 5 HR center to provide the following intra-regional services:
· Performance management program
· Standard classification
· Staffing and employment
· Processing, including awards
· Benefits, all except OWCP
· Pay and leave administration
· Paycheck 7 administration (until Paycheck 8 or USDA alternative deployed)

Note: Some functions may be migrated to the ASC-HR Operations staff prior to the two-year expiration. This will occur when ASC is ready to assume these responsibilities, and the two-year employment commitment for HR staff will not be negatively affected.

4. The following non-EmpowHR-related HR programs will migrate to ASC effective March 16, 2008:
· Workers’ Compensation.
· Employee Development (Training Program).
· Organization management and classification appeals (standard classification using AVUE and/or use of Agency standard position descriptions continues in Region 5 as part of the integrated staffing and classification work within the AVUE program).
· Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 will transfer; however, the on-boarding forms/process will continue in Region 5 to begin that process.

5. Region 5 will lead the national temporary employment program and will provide services in conjunction with ASC-HR Operations. Joy Thomas, Region 5 Employment Center Manager, is the program lead. This is a joint effort between Region 5 and ASC-HR Operations, requiring close coordination. Operational guidelines are being developed.

6. Region 5 will lead the national permanent Fire hire for open-continuous Fire announcements, GS-09 and below, in conjunction with ASC-HR Operations. Joy Thomas, Region 5 Employment Center Manager, is the lead. This is a joint effort between Region 5 and ASC-HR Operations, requiring close coordination. Operational guidelines are being developed. Active participation by the Fire organization in this effort is critical.

We do recognize that this decision has had a personal impact on some HR and non-HR employees who were approved for a buyout and/or early out, or HR employees who were to assume other positions in the organization, and managers who were expecting to fill vacant positions with affected HR employees. The Regional Forester Team will meet to caucus and develop Regional guidelines/protocol to address these issues. Further information will follow in a separate communication.

We do understand the impacts of this decision, but it was necessary in order to ensure continuity of HR services. The two-year delay in Region 5 migration and augmentation of HR staff will provide stability and relief to current Region 5 HR employees.

Thank you all for your continued support.

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

cc: Vicki Jackson, Kathy Burgers, Ronald Banegas, pdl r5 hrr5, pdl r5 district rangers, Dan Duefrene

1/24 Dear vfd cap'n

I just love the non-Forest Service, non-federal folks such as yourself that offer an
opinion on what you like or dislike about the Forest Service or the federal system i.e.
"I'm still not a fan of collar brass and the proliferation of chiefs in the Forest Service..."

By the way, you might want to know that many municipal departments have an EMS
Chief, HAZMAT Chief etc.

Fedwatcher II
1/24 One member of the R5 fire community got back from use or lose in SE Asia and is cleaning out his emails from the end of the year '07. Here's one coming in round-robin from a number of sources. Ab.

Forest Service Humor Book BANNED

Directive from the Regional Forester on "Forest Service Humor - More than 300 True Stories"
Above message went out from the R5 RO to Forest Supervisors and Directors on Nov 30, 2007

If you haven't already, you must read this directive so you know what to avoid... Wouldn't want anyone to get assigned extra POSH training. Ab.

Messages on the circulating email include

Did you see this...

My take; its official. Humor has been removed from the FS.
Now stop laughing...dam*it


It's with great sadness, I must inform you that you can no longer send me
anything that has humorous connotations, might make me laugh, smile or make
the workplace enjoyable. My sincerest apologies for ever sending you
anything of this nature.

Bah humbug and I hope your new years sucks...


This is very serious, not to be taking lightly!


Well, where can I get one?

Just for jollies - and we can't take ourselves too seriously - I found it on Amazon for those interested.
Kinda pricy for a paperback. Looks like it's out of print, but there are at least 5 used copies here:

Forest Service Humor: More Than 300 True Stories (Paperback)

1/24 Safety message: Making the rounds:

Although using a cell phone while operating a vehicle is a new law for
California it is prohibited item per our Health and Safety Code book


6709.11 - Health and Safety Code Handbook

Do not compromise your safety, the safety of your passengers, or public
safety when driving. The following are prohibited:

a. Engaging in distracting conversation or activities.
b. Eating or drinking.
c. Using a two-way radio.
d. Using a hand-held cellular telephone.
e. Using radio/stereo headphones.
f. Taking prescription drugs that may cause dizziness or lack
of concentration or reduce response time.
g. Reading maps, instructions, or other material.
h. Transporting pets. Transporting pets in Government vehicles
generally is not allowed. Transporting pets shall be addressed
on a case-by-case basis and documented in the job hazard

If your boss is screeewed, you should get him or her a headset next birthday. Ab.

1/24 The issue of Collar Brass keeps coming up, at least once a year and is a
little tiring. In 2005, The R5 Regional Forester issued direction that
specific positions would wear collar brass. These positions are
identified on the attached documents. It does not say can wear collar
brass, it say's will wear collar brass. Since that time, numerous other
folks from Regional Orifice Fire Staff to Forest Dispatchers have also begun
to wear brass, even though they're not authorized.


Briefing Paper on collar brass (404 k doc file)

collar brass.doc (41 k doc file)

TC, I found the files and post you sent in last 7/15/07. Let's remember I'm putting this on the hotlist under collar brass guidelines.

1/24 Well don't you just love the dead of winter, Colors, Collars, who's the boss?

Quadruple crossed Bugles do not a leader make, but it sure lets you know who to send the press to.

Some of the greatest Wildland Fire Leaders I ever worked with wore multi-colored hardhats with
matching boots. They were the Timbersale Administrators and Marking Crew Supervisors of Washington,
Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Northern Cal and other states. They worked for the FS, BLM and the State
Forestry Depts. They were bespeckled with orange and blue tree marking paint and had been around 20
+ years fighting fire all over the country from SoCal to AK and Oregon to Virginia. They were
unassuming, humble Public Servants with tons of experience and great leadership skills. They
worked fires because they liked it, knew it needed to be done and until a couple of years ago a lot
of them made less on O.T. than they did on Base Pay. Thanks Casey and FWFSA!

Their fireline qualifications were IC 1-2, OPSC 1-2, SOF 1-2, Branch, DIVS and down the line. They
took crews out as CRWBs and Squad Leaders, ran as Dozer Bosses, Falling Bosses and filled in on
Engines, Helitack, Hotshot and T2 crews as crewmembers when they were not running T1 and T2
overhead teams.

There was never any confusion as to who was in charge when they were around but they did not need
to make a show of their rank or lord it over anyone.

They were and are respected for their knowledge of fire and people, not what they had on their
heads or lapels.

Now they are mostly retired (like me) but alot of them are still out there as ADs. Look for them
and learn from them.

It ain't what you wear it is who you are that makes you a respected Professional Leader of Wildland

1/24 Gizmo,

The FS can and has hired a dozer operator with no experience on the transport, much less on the dozer.

" With the recent losses of our "old" dozer operators to other agencies and regions, there seems to be an experience gap developing. "

Stay safe out there !!

Eyes open wider
1/24 If I had a bugle or two you'd probably hear this better...

Seems every year I make it to at least one big fire in R5. Last year I was there for 28 days with the rest of my fire time being in Idaho. I have yet to learn what the different number of bugles mean (bet someone tells me). I clearly see the advantage on the home unit where it helps integrate state and feds where brass is used. In my position, I need to know who a person is and what their assignment on the fire is. If having brass on is important, no one has said anything about it and all the fires I’ve worked on didn’t seem to suffer from it. I just haven’t seen the benefit in an ICS environment unless it was just to get someone’s nose out of joint. But what do I know… I started on the Sequoia NF, Cannel Meadow (now the Kern River RD) Helitack crew in 1974. We had a lot of brass back then! The point is, no one should be relying on brass to be relevant in an ICS managed event. Too many people like me that aren’t used to paying any attention to it, but still carry out important functions. Don’t as*_u_me!


Witness Tree

1/24 "noname22" said:

Hopefully someday the line officers and other folks who make decisions will recognize the "fire and cop" shops are what is funding the Agency nowadays. The Forest Service is no longer multiple use / sustainable yield and the fire and fuels funding will no longer support a failed agency built upon the agricultural commodity of timber production, harvest, and protection.

From my perspective, I must disagree: in my world (and I believe in most of the Western States), the National Forest lands managed by the USFS are still in the multiple use mode, in spite of reduced timber harvest levels. There are still 10's of millions on Americans who use National Forest lands for hiking, biking, hunting and fishing, cutting Christmas trees, ATV and snowmobile riding, camping, horseback riding, and experiencing the Wilderness; there are hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep that graze on these NF lands; there are miners extracting minerals; there are hundreds if not thousands of American communities dependent on National Forest lands for their watersheds; and there are hundreds of wildlife species that are dependent on these National Forest lands for summer, fall and winter range.

The National Forest lands managed by the USFS are not just a place where we should "put out fires and arrest the bad guys"; if a National Forest has become nothing more than that, as noname22 alleges, maybe the Administration and Congress should seriously consider turning the Fire and LE duties on those specific National Forests over to the local county/State units, and put the funding and personnel into the remainder of the National Forest lands where multiple use IS still the norm, and needs balanced and talented natural resource management skills?

But, this is just one person's perspective. Our Congress needs to hear all of our views (and some quantifiable facts too!) about how we would like OUR National Forest lands managed, what is working, and what is not!


1/24 Radio Identifiers and Brass,

I think that those folks who are opposing the use of common radio identifiers should take a good look at where they work and how often they deal with rapidly escalating incidents that have resources from multiple agencies responding. Common radio identifiers allow responding overhead to coordinate efforts based on knowing what type of resources and overhead are enroute. If a BC comes up on the air to talk to me while I am responding to or working as the IC at an incident I know that there is an individual who is multi resource supervisor qualified coming to help and that I can use them for certain tasks. That streamlines the amount of time it takes for me to plan operations and helps me determine what additional overhead I need to order. Rest assured that once they are on scene and fulfill an ICS role, they will switch to an ICS identifier like Division wherever or Strike Team Leader whoever. If I hear a common name like say Johnson, Kennedy or Carter come up on the air I have no idea what is headed to the incident. They may be dropping off lunches or escorting the press for all I know. I do not think that we need to waste air time with conversations of who are you and what can you do for me when we are working as emergency management professionals. I have worked some places where they are still on the last name thing and I have worked and now work in an area where common radio identifiers are used. Coordination seems to happen a little more smoothly where the common identifiers are used.

It is my opinion that any federal fire personnel who rolls with a BC or DV call sign need to be qualified as a duty officer as required by the agency that they work for. I am pretty sure that for a high complexity area the FS requirement for duty officer is ICT3 and DIVS. I am not sure what the DOI standards are. The last DOI unit that I worked for required TFLD and ICT3. I think that this leads into another discussion that perhaps the federal fire agencies need to have common standards and position titles or better yet one fire agency as opposed to five, but not in this post. Where I was going is that there are some FS units in high complexity areas that assign a BC identifier to individuals who are not qualified duty officers but happen to work in a GS-9 position. This is not limited to fuels, prevention and training positions. It is being done with suppression positions as well and on both sides of the Mokelumne River in California. If we are going to establish requirements then we need to stick to the requirements and not try to amend through word play and semantics as some units have done recently. Basically the BC and DV (or whatever multi resource supervisor) identifiers should be used by individuals who both hold a certain agency position AND are qualified as necessary.

On the brass thing, no I do not like to wear my brass. Do they help when I interact with Cal-Fire and local agencies? Yes, they certainly do especially at non emergency functions like coordination meetings. I think that they have limited applications in the field once ICS has been established (I feel the need to remind some folks that ICS is INCIDENT command, not every day command). What I feel aids in the identification of supervisors during and escalating incident is the color coordinated helmets. I actually think that we should perhaps adapt the orange helmet for Captains as Miami-Dade FR and LA (County or City I can't remember) have, especially if our FEOs and FPTs are going to wear red.

This has gotten pretty long but I will close with this. We, as federal responders, travel all over the nation and sometimes internationally to assist with fires and other emergencies. Doesn't it make sense for us to use titles that have been established with the fire service nationally as opposed to us expecting the local Fire Chief or Mayor of TimbuckTu, Rural United States to know what an ADFMO or FOS is? I have witnessed more that a few times someone say that they are an ADFMO or FOS to a local fire representative. They then explain that their job is to supervise X amount of engines, prevention units, dozers and to work as an IC on fires and other emergencies. And I have heard more than a few times that local representative says "sounds like a Battalion Chief to me".

Sorry for the length,

1/24 Collar Brass Thread

Seems there are 2 camps.

  • Those that adhere to and uphold policy
  • and those that believe the ends justify the means....

Desk Jockey

WO AMENDMENT 6509.11k-2007-8
6509.11k_40  | Page 94 of 109
EFFECTIVE DATE: 12/13/2007
DURATION: This amendment is effective until superseded or removed.
FSH 6509.11k - service-wide finance and accounting handbook
Chapter 40 - payments

48.26g - Other Insignia and Commemorative Pins

Optional commemorative pins and other insignia currently approved by the
Chief may be worn with the uniform.

1. Individuals have the option to wear a length-of-service pin,
honor award pin, volunteer pin, union logo pin, or an American flag
pin (which shall be worn on the left side, over the heart) on the
uniform. Attach such a pin on the right lapel or collar or centered
just above or below the nameplate. Pins should be 1-inch
diameter/square or less.

2. Approved Forest Service commemorative pins may be worn with the
uniform on the right lapel or collar or centered just above or just
below the nameplate. Approved commemorative pins are usually worn
for a limited period. A letter from the Chief shall be issued when
new pins are approved.

3. Do not wear local fundraising campaign pins, local area emblems,
National Ski Patrol emblems, or any other insignia not listed in
preceding paragraphs 1 and 2 and in sections 48.26a-48.26f.

1/24 collar brass, clear text, hard hat colors, and ICS

The last several days there have been numerous differing posts as to collar brass, clear text, hard hat colors, and ICS. The sad thing is that each poster is correct FOR THEIR area. I had a little bit of experience on wildland fires in several different geographic areas over the years and each area has their own unique flavor and political interactions.

Collar brass has its place in the fire service and the FS. It is a part of the fire service and has been since 1910, regardless of what the detractors have to say. When collar brass was implemented on the ANF, a person named Tom Harbour was the Forest FMO, and it was implemented an effort to strengthen and clarify relations with the fire departments we worked with in LA County and to allow the Red Truck folks to relate to the Green Truck folks during meetings and Initial Attack on fires. In areas where the organizations are dynamic and new faces appear every day, it is important to quickly identify key players. Collar brass helps to do that, as does Hardhat/Helmet color. Neither is a total replacement for knowing your cooperators.

The Head gear color issue came out of the original FIRESCOPE activity due to confusion on the fire ground during the 1970 fire season.

Some firefighters need to wake up to the fact that SOME fire departments qualify their people based on Administrative Rank, NOT SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE, and they respect color of the badge or the number of plungers on the collar. Again its a local thing.

As for wearing collar brass on large incidents, again it's determined on a case by case basis. I went to a few fires as an ICT1 and there were times when it was appropriate when dealing with the Public, Law enforcement and cooperators; other times it was left in the travel bag.

As for the "clear text" issue, there are a lot of newer managers who throw that up to deflect the radio call sign and position descriptor. Great argument except "clear text" was again a product of the FIRESCOPE efforts to eliminate 10- codes 9- codes etc as they were not the same, led to greater confusion in an interagency setting, and often varied between forests.

The practice of using an individual's name on the radio is all well and good if it is a small unit and you only have one employee by the name of "Smith"; otherwise it's confusing.

When on a large incident do we not use position descriptors on the radio. . . ie Division K, Operations, Branch 2 etc.? YES, because of name confusion.

A lot of folks have spent a lot of time working to improve life and conditions in their geographic area. That has been going on for many decades and progress is slow. Making changes in the Green Machine, as in any large organization, is like turning an Aircraft Carrier... slow and deliberate. Many of today's new Managers do not know, understand or appreciate the energetic, skilled, knowledgeable workforce that makes up the fire program. Do your best to educate them and improve their Situational Awareness when it comes to the fire program.


Thanks for the perspective, Hutch. Ab.

1/24 I wear a BLUE hard hat, full brim, what does that make me?

Older'n'dirt? Ab.

1/24 R5 Incident Management Team meetings, April 1-3

Message went out electronically yesterday at 1504.

noname 3

1/24 Brass.

Chain-of-command is exactly why collar brass is a BAD idea on incidents. What matters is the role that someone is filling on that particular incident -- he or she has met national standards say he/she can fill that job. I have seen confusion arise when someone follows the directions of "higher brass" from his own particular fire department rather than the incident command structure. (This included an individual who was "demobbed" by someone from his own department on the incident -- no one knew where he was. This is a SAFETY issue!)

What's more, a battalion chief in one department or agency does not necessarily have the same experience and background as someone with the same "brass" from another place. I have known people who wear BC brass who are qualified under the ICS system as a Type 1 incident commander and I've known others who were Type 2 and even Type 3s -- major differences in ability and experience! I do agree that we need something that better IDs people on incidents -- teams usually do a pretty good job for their own folks, but others can be hard to distinguish.

As a history lesson, the ICS system helped to make sure that Forest Service folks were qualified for the positions they fill on incidents. Used to be, to become a district ranger or forest supervisor, you had to be qualified as a fire boss for increasing sizes of fires. If you were a golden boy on the rise (sorry that's what it was in those days) you'd get that ranking whether you were qualified or not. There was a multiple-fatality fire in California in the 50s or 60s where a district ranger made a bone-headed command and got folks in trouble. I'm not saying that can't happen today, but the ICS system along with the NWCG training standards has gone far in creating more standard qualifications.

Still Out There as an AD

1/24 Interesting, From Tom Harbour's Blog, on what he'd say to the folks at
S-520 if he were there..............


"If I were there, I’d tell everyone just how important this emergency
management function is to our Nation and to our Chief. I’d remind them to
apply risk management principles to all they do before, during, and after
an emergency. I’d tell them to carefully scrutinize their spending and to
make sure they feel proud of every dollar they spend. I’d remind them that
as emergency managers we work for line officers who set direction for us.
I’d talk about the importance of the connection they need to establish with
those local and geographic area administrators and the responsibility we
must take to reach out to those agency administrators. I’d talk about the
niche we fill in wildland fire between those dedicated emergency managers
in the structural fire services and foresters/biologists focused solely on
land management. Finally, after I went through some of those points, I’d
remind everyone of the trust we’ve been given. Mothers and Fathers entrust
their sons and daughters to us. The public entrusts their land to us.
Taxpayers entrust expenditure of hard earned dollars to us. We must always
remember and redeem that trust."

1/24 Collar Brass,

It's there for a reason.

#1 our job is hard enough, why run around and waste precious time on any type of incident to try and figure out who the key players are?

#2 Believe it or not TRADITION in the fire service (like it or not) utilizes little things like collar brass, formal designators and chain of command.

#3 Believe it or not, most of us have no problem addressing our supervisors or subordinates by rank not job description. I don't address any of my chiefs as "hey guy or gal that signs my paycheck or dude that makes all the hard decisions on fires" It's chief (blank), what is our assignment? And believe it or not, without collar brass, we are cheating the chain of command. Regardless of agency, we need designators such as collar brass to decipher who we are talking to sometimes. If nothing else, it's a safety issue. Rank matters on any incident, even if that means we have $5.00 jewelry on our collars. I for one laugh hysterically at the folks that want to use anything else. I personally think that these folks that nay-say the chain of command will nay-say anything that might make their agency "APPEAR" to have "FIREFIGHTERS". He*l, if we start calling our GS-0462-7 SUPERVISORY FORESTRY TECHNICIANS "ENGINEERS" WE MIGHT HAVE TO START PAYING THEM AS SUCH. I think that this is the true issue as WEAK as it sounds. I work for a tiny fire department in northern California. My title? "Engineer" I have a badge, a name tag, a patch on my left arm and believe it or not, single bugles on each side of my collar. I drive the engine and, in lieu of my captain being absent or busy, I make decisions for my engine company on any incident. Our brother and sisters from all other departments know this and act accordingly. It works pretty spiffy and there are no questions or inflated/deflated egos when our job is done.

#4 Whomever started this thread, THANK-you. It has given all of us a chance to expose those that want to live in the past and not move towards a safer "Fire service". I hope that those who are under such a archaic regime hopefully can move on to other places, assignments or jobs that embrace tradition, safety and the chain of command. I feel for my brothers and sisters that are going through these hard times and hope that all of you will come over and work with people that support you. We welcome all of you with open arms. I for one know who you are and what you do ( as I worked for 14 seasons USFS). You are the highest trained, best bunch of "Real FIREFIGHTERS" I know.

Have a great day everyone. I expect to get hammered for my opinion, that's ok, its just my opinion.


1/24 KJoseph,
Well said!

OFG (ret) (El Cariso '73)
1/24 Forest Service / CAL FIRE History (Intertwined 1872 - 1907):


Rogue Rivers
1/24 Wildland Firefighter MySpace Users:

Don't confuse the "United States Wildland Firefighter Association"  and their fundraising efforts with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF).

Please also don't confuse them with the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA).

The WFF and FWFSA are both registered non-profit organizations with the IRS. They aren't.

Recent efforts of the "United States Wildland Firefighters Association"  (North Carolina) to raise funds to support fallen and injured firefighters.... and to support the efforts of improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions of wildland firefighters (MySpace and internet)... are in question.

Their recent videos of the Esperanza Fire (2006) shown during January 2008 put them in the spotlight while they were trying to collect funds from wildland firefighters and their families without tax-exempt status.


I noticed that site the other day. Thanks for bringing it to the community's attention. Ab.

1/24 Hey AB,

(snip) Bet that felt pretty good.  In general I think it was a dandy.  But......, I think it would be a little more up front to admit this was more of an R-5 thing.  Since we are all hiding behind monikers I do not understand why you did not name names when it came to the gaggers.  I think it would also be a bit more fair to admit although R-5 is a large part of the Forest Service, there is a lot more to the Forest Service than R-5.

Which regional fire directors are not communicating with their Forests?  Seems like a statement like that should at least name the regions involved.

If there are no fire folks qualified to fill in behind our fire professionals who retire whose fault is that?  Are we going to lay that off on some Forest Supervisor?  If there are not qualified fire folks ready to step up to the plate there is something wrong with that picture and fire folks better start looking in a mirror.

Enjoyed that, you need to do that more often!

the cynic

My comments are not limited to R5, except in the case of CWCG being "in charge of" IMTs in R5. I have no idea how other regions' IMT appointments and communications are going under the auspices of their Regional Wildfire Coordinating Groups.

cynic, Feel free to start a thread listing by name the great and even good Regional Fire LEADERS and why you think yours is exceptional or good. What are leadership qualities they demonstrate? I would like to hear from firefighters who trust the fire person in their region who is in the position of authority and potentially in a position of leadership. It would be great to acknowledge them. What qualities does that person possess that makes them more than simply an authority drawing a paycheck? I am not talking about forest supervisors or regional foresters. I'm talking about your fire boss. Ab.

1/24 Cynic,

That's all fine and dandy. Just don't be surprised should you show up in SoCal and I ask you to clean the crappers. (tongue firmly in cheek)

In all seriousness, I had this discussion with a Forest Service buddy of mine a few years ago. He related the story of when he was a new BC and went to a fire in the interface. An engine captain from a large SoCal FD told our newly minted BC just where he could stick his directions. So, the BC went to his car, opened the box, put on his shiny new white helmet and repeated his directions. This time the Capt. complied.

The point is that as several have pointed out, collar brass, helmet color and titles are universal to the fire service. They are "clear text" in the fire world. Whether it's a large interface fire or a hurricane, we all need to play together in the sandbox.



Ab... "kicking the tires"


The United States Forest Service is currently intent on saving itself. Fire makes up more than 50% of the FS budget and that threatens the agency. (OMB and others must realize that fire is most of what the FS does today.) If you're the agency, how do you reduce that so fire is just another "little" program under resource management?

There's a serious communication gap between upper management and the ground. Who is leading FIRE?

There's a lack of understanding concerning

  • the role of the FS in the WUI; with rumors that the FS isn't going to participate there, and if it does, it's not going to pay
  • the new role of CWCG with IMTs is undefined
  • regional fire directors not communicating effectively with forests

First, on Fighting Fire in the WUI:
From what I hear, the FS is redefining the role of FIRE in the WUI, including who pays for it, and how. Recently, the Forest Service WO put out two documents -- the Strategic Plan and the "Regional Transformation" Plan -- at least in draft form.

The Communication plan section of the Regional Plan is heavy into primary FS goals:

* getting fire back into fire in the ecosystem as a resource management tool only
* clarifying the WUI stuff, including who pays
* tiered to the USDA's strategic plan of action and to the PART (Program Assessment Rating Tool)
* National Fire Plan (NFP) has a 10 year implementation plan.

Look, who pays is not a new issue. R5 has worked on this for years. Mutual aid agreements and processes for cost apportionment are and have been in place. They have been successful. What we're lacking is leadership and oversight, someone to supply direction and, in addition, to make sure that as fire managers retire, new people get trained in how the system works and how to assume leadership and lead. The Forest Service wants to change the system because it doesn't understand those successful fire programs or how they can be tuned up and managed well.

~~As far as suppression costs, the ground gets blamed for overspending, but that's because of the cost of whom they get sent... not because there's a lack of cost apportionment agreements or effective process.~~

~~If the FS creates a new system, or a new process... and if they get sent the same costly resources, costs will remain high or go higher.~~

~~If the Forest Service begs off the National Fire Plan -- ESF4: Firefighting there could be greater chaos and cost to the public.~~

Second, on the gap in communication, leadership and direction of the NWCG regarding the IMTs.
The Incident Management  Teams need to know: What does it mean now that the CWCG is in charge of IMTs? Where are the announcements? When are the meeting dates?

Third, on Regional Fire Directors not communicating with Forests:
For example, not communicating with respect to regional fire budget of all functional areas and information on retention. I'm sure there are other examples...

Regional fire directors either aren't doing their job of communicating important decisions, feel it isn't their job to make/communicate decisions, are overwhelmed with change and communicating change, or all of the above. Some regional program directors within fire have been "gagged", some groups -for example the one working on retention- have been gagged. Maybe we should do away with Regional FAM Directors and save a big chunk of the budget for the forests' programs. (tongue in cheek)

I heard last week from someone in a non-fire FS program that their manager who is directly involved with safety of firefighters during fire season "hates fire" and enjoys meeting with the Deputy Regional and Regional Forester to focus on ways to "bring fire into line". It feels like oppositional positions are being defined and strengthened, to what end?

Regional fire organizations exist; you are organizations of fire professionals. You know who you are. In your meetings you can set your own agenda, decide priorities, ask questions, demand answers or you can seek answers using your own processes. You can act.

Helpless leaders don't have to be quiet leaders!


1/23To: OFG (ret)

I hear what you are saying in your post but I will have to disagree with
you to some extent. There is no more off-season and there hasn't been in a
very long time. We are too busy with NEPA, ID Teams, Burn Plan Development,
Smoke Modeling and Permits, Fire Behavior Modeling, Committees, IQCS, IFPM,
Hiring, Training, Reports, Annuals, All Risk Incidents, Prescribed Fire,
Fire Suppression, PWP and Program Development, Ag-Learn, FPA and Budget,
etc. etc. etc.

One can look at it and say you are "Whining and griping" or one can say
there are people in the agency actively involved in trying to improve their
programs and organizations, especially in fire management.

The forest service IS a multiple use agency, but one would hardly know it
anymore. Many of today's modern FS employees do not support multiple use.
It seems ever since the agency went to 'Ecosystem management" about 1992
that multiple use has been forgotten about and/or is not the guiding
principle behind the management of national forest system lands. Some of
today's FS employees are against grazing, harvesting timber, mining, and
other uses including hazardous fuels reduction and prescribed fire! They
did not have the benefit of working in the agency when it was truly
multiple use and therefore lack experience in many of the disciplines
including fire, timber, range, recreation, etc. Today's "Resource
Specialists" do just that. They specialize in one area of expertise and
some are unwilling to see the big picture or look at other perspectives or
points of view. They pretty much run the FS these days.

There are many fire management employees who are unhappy with the lack of
leadership within the agency today. Clearly, there is a lack of support for
fire management programs. In my opinion this is due to a lack of
understanding and knowledge of fire management programs and organizations
and a definite lack of leadership. There are serious problems in fire
management due to a lack of understanding by unskilled line officers and
there are many of us who are working hard to find solutions and to improve
our fire management organizations. It is not whining or griping, it is
striving to improve and to be the safest, most effective and most efficient
we can be in a very hazardous occupation and to provide for the welfare of
our firefighters.

This is not the old forest service anymore, I wish it were but it isn't.
In today's forest service, firefighters who have come up through the fire
management ranks and who have demonstrated leadership ability and a high
level of knowledge and skill in fire suppression, fire behavior, and fire
management programs and organizations must be the ones to supervise and
lead firefighters.

I also think it is time for fire to centralize, stove pipe or whatever you
want to call it. Maybe a Division of Fire Management that is lead by
experienced fire management personnel. Firefighters have to lead
firefighters. We can no longer afford to have unskilled line officers in
charge of fire management programs. It is not working. The knowledge, the
support and the skill just is not there. Just as a large city fire or
police chief must have come up through the organization and have an
understanding and high level of knowledge and skill in fire or law
enforcement, so must the wildland fire management organization be lead by
highly qualified and skilled wildland firefighters.

When I started with the USFS over 30 years ago I did a lot of other work
besides fire. I worked trails, TSI, fire prevention, construction upgrades
of barracks and fire stations, range, fence construction, laying concrete,
campground improvements, water system maintenance, etc. All while I was in
fire management. My fire management employees still do a lot of that work
today. The militia has been a great asset to fire management, and still is,
but the reality of the modern FS is there are far, far fewer militia
employees who are available for fire suppression and prescribed fire duties
than there were in the past.

So, for all of the true leaders and firefighters out there who strive to
improve themselves, their crews, their personnel and organizations , I say
"Battle On."

Also, on the collar brass and radio call sign issue i.e. Division Chief,
Battalion Chief, etc. I was called into the forest supervisors office when
a couple of us tried to get that going on my forest in 2003 or so. I was
given a letter and told we could not wear collar brass, use the terms
Division Chief, Battalion Chief, Captain, etc. because it wasn't "Clear
text." (Ha) I was also told fire management employees could not wear the
forest service uniform anymore!! Well, we went back to wearing our FS
uniforms after about 2 weeks and no one said a word. (The agency cannot
specify fire cannot wear the FS uniform but everyone else can).

We continued to battle on and in 2007 we went to Division, Battalion,
Captain, etc. and it works very well. It is universal fire service
terminology and it fits with many of our cooperating fire service agencies.
I'm all for collar brass in forest service fire management. We also wear
colored hard hats to denote the rank of the individual and I like that too.

On the old El Cariso Hotshots we used to have a saying, "Only Your Best
Will Do." That's exactly what so many USFS fire management employees do.

Be Professional, be Progressive, be Your Best, be Safe and "BATTLE ON."

1/23More brass

So if ICS has nothing to do with collar brass, why is the collar brass being worn on incidents. As some one posted, if they see crossed bugles they think they are PROBABLY dealing with a DIVS or higher. The point being, you don't know what the heck you are dealing with until you ask or otherwise determine their position. If you ASSUME they are DIVS or higher you might be making a huge blunder. You can put me down as one who is generally not a supporter of the bent little pieces of metal pinned on collars.

That being said, it appears that it is an important deal for the R-5 folks and I have no problem with that and fully support them. Just don't get upset if other units or Regions are not interested.

the cynic

1/23While much of what OFG says is good advice, I must say that reading the FS Manual and Handbook will lead one astray. Since so many of the FS manuals/handbooks is in revision/doctrine review (or whatever else is going on these days) following what is in at least some of the manuals/handbooks will be wrong. Look at the 5140 for RX fire, then try to find the memo on what guide and format is actually supposed to be used. Not the same thing. So good luck in preparing those plans!

R1 Blockhead

1/23From Hickman:

USFA and the National Wildfire Coordinating Group Announce New Wildfire Training Aid for Rural Firefighters

Emmitsburg, MD - Today, the U.S. Fire Administration in cooperation with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, announced a new aid to help local and rural firefighters identify training equivalencies and needs for effectively fighting wildfires that threaten residential areas. The Skills Crosswalk (PDF, 572 Kb) identifies critical wildland firefighting skills that structural firefighters need to be safe and effective when making an initial attack on a wildland fire in their jurisdiction, or when working with state and federal wildland firefighter agencies.

“Our nation’s firefighters already have the necessary skills for fighting fires in all structures in a community," said U.S. Fire Administrator Greg Cade. "Structural training does not however always address the critical wildland fire suppression techniques which differ from structural firefighting techniques. The new Skills Crosswalk highlights the differences in order for structural firefighters to be able to address wildland fire suppression challenges.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2006 report, in every area of the nation rural development is expanding into wildland areas. Since the 1980’s, the rural population has more than doubled, with 140 million people now living in rural areas. As a result, rural and volunteer firefighters increasingly manage fire in the Wildland/Urban Interface.

The new Skills Crosswalk provides a performance-based methodology and a learning resource guide for qualified structural firefighters to develop wildland firefighting knowledge and skills in a focused and time-efficient format. This methodology will assist structural firefighters with wildland skills in working more safely and effectively on initial and extended attack operations and enhance cooperative firefighting efforts with neighboring jurisdictions and federal wildland firefighters.

Visit the Wildfire section of the U.S. Fire Administration’s Web site for additional information and to download the Skills Crosswalk.

1/23I've heard some good things about Willie, but I wonder is she deputy director of R5 because she's setting us up for the merger of R5 with R6 and Alaska? Has anyone heard more that the AK FS will be taken over by other agencies in AK? I'm not pot stirring, but no one seems to know anything. I also wonder if some people in manager positions are just trying to get their high 3s before retiring and are OK with doing the party line until retirement
1/23Just got done with the conference call regarding temp hiring. Rehires will NOT
have to reapply unless they are going for a higher grade. So, that is the word
from ASC. Hopefully, it will put some supervisors' minds at ease.

1/23ICS is not rank driven. An IC is not always the highest ranking person present at an incident, in his/her day to day job title.

ICS has nothing to do with collar brass. Collar brass represents day to day rank, not incident rank/ICS position. However, you are not likely to see a person with two crossed bugles (battalion chief) doing the Ordering Manager position. So, if I am at a big incident base, and I see if someone with 2 or 3 bugles, I am probably dealing with a DIVS, a OPBD, or higher.

For us non-Feds, the collar brass is helpful for getting an idea whom you might be talking to, particularly as Federal badges don’t have ranks on them. So,

If we are in full Nomex, helmet color helps in a similar manner.

1/23Hello Ab,

In regards to Firepup91's post on KSA statements and the Quality Group Factors in AVUE...

I have developed two Tip Sheets that explain how to tackle KSAs. They both can be found on my website but I'll also attach them here.

The first Tip Sheet is titled, "How to Write a KSA Response." (368K pdf file) It explains how to develop the narrative portion of your KSAs using the CCAR approach (a model developed by the Office of Personnel Management). Remember that regardless of whether or not there is a textbox provided in AVUE to respond to a KSA statement - you should always address the KSAs in narrative format (for both DEMO and Merit positions). It is an opportunity to put your best foot forward and to round-out your application. Attach your narrative responses in the Supporting Documents section in AVUE if a text box is not provided.

I just put together the second Tip Sheet for a workshop that I am giving for the Apprenticeship Program. It is titled, "Quality Group Factors in AVUE: KSAs/Competencies." (192K pdf file) It explains the way I have learned to approach the "multiple guess" options. It is very important that you take your time and make a good selection for each KSA...

AVUE is a question-driven automated hiring system - and the "multiple guess" options in this section (and in the Basic Qualification section) are essentially the questions. The selections that you make will automatically be scanned and rated as soon as you submit your application. In other words, you will kick yourself off the Quality List if you don't take the time to make sure that you're answering each KSA appropriately.

I am happy to answer AVUE questions if you hit a roadblock.

Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah
Loomis Hannah | Wordsmithing for the Unique Professional

Thanks Bethany. Ab.


Just another rumor that is spreading due to the lack of communication from the R-5 Regional Office on their recruitment and retention strategy.

The Southern California Special Salary Rate has been maxed out (30% over the National Base GS Rate) since 2001, but the 30% rate is very conditional.

Unless they are considering group retention.... or a change in classification to attempt to address Special Base Rates for the entire Region, it is just a rumor.

Don't confuse Special Salary Rate with Special Base Rate.

Nobody uses the National Base GS Rate anymore..... It is just a baseline figure.

Folks are either paid under locality tables or special salary rate (table 0256) tables.

Those that work in areas that aren't covered by large municipal areas are paid under the RUS - Rest of the United States.

RUS is 13.18% over the base GS Rate.

The SoCal Special Salary Rate has a varied scale between 8% to 30% over the base GS Rate depending upon grade and step.

Selected Locality Pay Areas:
SEATTLE-TACOMA-OLYMPIA, WA - 19.75% over the base GS Rate.
SAN JOSE-SAN FRANCISCO-OAKLAND, CA - 32.53% over the base GS Rate.
SAN DIEGO-CARLSBAD-SAN MARCOS, CA - 22.00% over the Base GS Rate.

An interesting note: The R-5 employees working in Vallejo get 32.53% over the National Base GS Rate and McClellan employees get 20.25% above the National GS Base Rate.

1/22Off season as usual finds a lot of whining and griping and "By God, here's what I'd do if "THEY" would let me.."
Suggestion: Use some of this time to read "Breaking New Ground", review the manuals and handbooks for fire policies, take a course in Government 101. Buy a dictionary and learn the difference between lose/loose, and effect/affect.

Corrections/clarification for some common misconceptions:
1) The FS is a multiple use agency. Its mission is guided by laws passed by Congress. (Review the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, Wilderness Act, National Environmental Protection Act etc.)

Its purpose is not to be the National Park Service. That fine agency has its own properly defined mission. The purpose of the FS (noname22 read carefully) as directed in the original 1905 "Use Book" (I have an original) is "Forest reserves are for the purpose of preserving a perpetual supply of timber for home industries, preventing destruction of the forest cover which regulates the flow of streams, and protecting local residents from unfair competition in the use of forest and range."

2) The FS did not "lose" law enforcement (LEI), nor did law enforcement "break away" to form its own organization. There were serious problems with the administration of the LEI program including mis-direction by unskilled line officers. The agency response was to create a "stovepipe" reporting system.....but LEI remains an integral part of the agency and its mission.

3)The "us" vs "them" is an endlessly tiring saga. Again the FS is a multiple use agency and its greatest historic success, and hope for future success is when employees recognize and embrace the need to be interactive with all programs within the agency. There is serious advantage to an employee (primary firefighters included) when they become integrated with the timber, recreation, wildlife and other programs). Seasonal jobs in fire can turn into year-round employment with benefits, (and often hire grade) when one's PD includes other duties.

4) Remember that not too long ago when we had minimal fire budgets, the militia was our primary source of firefighters. It remains a critical resource pool; anyone who doubts that has little understanding of the national fire program.
When timber and recreation and wilderness and wildlife budgets were flush, it was realized that employees in those programs became "better rounded" when they received training in "fire" classes. Improving the employees diversity of knowledge was an appropriate responsibility of their primary program funding (timber, rec. etc.).......hence those programs very often paid for fire training. So let's stop whining when someone suggests that training for line building could take place on the same location as a hiking trail, or chainsaw skills could be learned/practiced performing tsi.

Bottom line is that, if you work for the FS, you should recognize it is a multiple use agency, and you can best contribute by becoming involved throughout the diversity of programs. Those who want to become structure firefighters, homeland security agents, or park rangers......good luck. There are many fine agencies with those missions, and I am sure they would welcome you.

OFG (ret)

I'm still not a fan of collar brass and the proliferation of chiefs in the Forest Service. Some of the org charts I've seen show a fuels chief and dispatch chief.

Last year, our Forest announced their new radio call signs, with our local ADFMO changing to "Battalion Chief 2" which had been the designation for my supervisor. We accommodated the FS by changing our radio call signs to "County Fire ___" (1, 2, 3, etc.)

Now, it turns out the Forest is closing the local fire shop in a year anyway, with the incumbents being told to move or look for other positions. With those resources moving 60 miles away to Woodland Park, initial attack will become simpler as far as radio traffic, at least for the first couple hours.

vfd cap'n
1/23Ab - I'm somewhat confused about this issue with collar brass. I understand R-5 uses collar brass to identify what position the wearer holds. I guess some arrangement of brass indicates Battalion Chiefs or Engine Captain's. I really don't know what signifies what. Are there Corporal Firefighters? Major Equipment Operators?

Since I've been around for many, many years I thought I'd do some research on the subject. I'm aware that R-5 was the leader in developing the ICS System to standardize wildland fire fighting positions and organization. I also recognize that ICS has been adopted as the national standard in naming and identifying the qualifications, training, and experience of firefighters.

Looking through my ICS Class work and then moving into FSH 5109.17 I can see many positions have been renamed over the years. Now the Fire Boss is the Incident Commander and Sector Bosses have evolved into Strike Team Leaders. Some positions like Division Supervisor did not change. The FS Handbook identifies just about every position ever needed in any type of incident from a wildland fire to hurricanes and earthquakes.

BUT, I couldn't find Battalion Chief or Engine Captain anywhere in the ICS or IQCS Systems. I couldn't find any standards for training or experience or even a Task Book for these positions. In the Incident Command System do these positions truly exist? Looks to me like collar brass are trinkets and doo-dads added to the uniform to impress others.

I learned a long time ago while in the Army that rank and insignia do not make an individual a leader who could be trusted and respected. Soldiers quickly learned just who could be trusted in combat and who could not. Many times rank had no say in the matter. The Army was just a bad as the FS in what floated to the top as leaders. Only in the Army the bad ones didn't survive very long.

I have to agree with Hundekot that going back to the white peel-off labels might be a good idea. They will tell everyone exactly what ICS position the wearer is filling. DIVS, STEN, STCR, etc. Plus, when individuals have multiple quals on their red card everyone will know just what position they are filling on that particular incident.

Since <snip> developed ICS I'm disappointed they stepped so far outside the ICS system by allowing trinkets to be worn on the FS uniform and using non ICS "Titles" for their personnel.

That's the way I see it.........

AL Old Timer

About the what not the who. Ab.


I was told today by a R5 FFMO that the south zone forests have or
are putting in for another 25% pay increase request in addition to the
recruitment and retention strategies being proposed. Any word on this?


1/22Collar Brass

I never thought that a couple of shiny plungers could cause such a ruckus!!

As one of the ever shrinking number of "firefighters" left on the Rogue
River-Siskiyou NF, I thought I might share what transpired before this letter.

This summer our little forest was fortunate enough to be granted a visit from
the R6 Regional Forester, Linda Goodman. During this visit she was less than
happy when one of the district AFMOs introduced themself using their
Battalion call sign. She wanted to know why these call signs were being used
and who had approved it.

It would seem to reason that maybe Mr. Conroy had a little help writing this


1/22To HSPD

I believe the real reason for helmet colors was to identify to the Press who was in Charge. No use in talking to the person actual dealing with the situation who might get it right.

All info needs to be modified to fit the talking points of the Agency in vogue during that particular time frame.

Actually it really does facilitate Como between agencies and the public & Press if all adopt it. I remember a real FUBAR when the Press asked a 1st year FPT in a white helmet what their thoughts were on an incident. (the Forest had not come to grip with standardization in the Fire Service). It was hilarious when printed..



OSHA was invited to meet with the R-5 Forest Safety Managers (not
ICS Safety Officers). It was most likely a proactive move from the
Safety Manager community to invite OSHA to talk things over. They
will not be in attendance the whole time, just for a portion of this week's
agenda. I'm sure your correct that facilities and facilities inspection will
be discussed

1/22Does anyone know that OSHA is going to be at the R5 Safety
Officers meeting tomorrow? Supposedly they're talking about
compliance with standards in facilities. I hope that's all.


1/22Collar Brass

Ain't it funny that, as we in wildland fire persist in extolling the values of collar bugles, the US Army has REMOVED all collar brass, and instead has gone to a subdued rank insignia (they're all black) worn on the chest buttons of their combat uniforms? And when they pull on their body armor, it's nearly impossible to see. But then, combat in Iraq and Afghanistan is truly different from California fires. Maybe the Army guys and girls are afraid that Blackwater will target them?

Me, I still favor those old white peel-off Fires Position labels for your hardhat (I've still got an old "Sector Boss" sticker in my archives)! And what about the orange ICS vests of the 1980's?

Hundekot (showing my age!!)

1/22Dear Ab et al,

I recall a post from someone who was offering help
with the applications on AVUE, she had some good basic
info, and I assume charged for her services.

In particular I'm looking for help with those inane
KSAs multiple guess options.

Which one is the best answer to each question?

If one doesn't make the referral list based on these
ridiculous questions, then that is a shame.

Any resource or knowledgeable info on this would be
much appreciated.



That's LoomisHannah who has received rave reviews. Looks like there is an "early career" wildland firefighter special. Her link is on our classifieds page under services. Ab.


Molloy orders feds to explain fire retardant policy (archived story)

Striking parallels to MANY other issues...

1/22Howdy folks,

I found this article concerning potential plans to consolidate NEPA skills in central locations. For example, National Forest in Wyoming would have NEPA products come out of Denver. You know how hard it is to shake non-fire folks with good fire quals out of their units now, think about them being located in areas with supervisors that have absolutely no tie to fire.

Here is a quote from the article:

“Remove thousands of employees with firefighting responsibilities from national forests and relocate them in far-away service centers. Nearly half (3,564) of all Forest Service employees doing NEPA work have collateral all-hazard duties.”

The full story can be read at www.casperstartribune.net

Witness Tree

1/22“Just a Hotshot,” You hit the nail on the head!

Signed, “777”


I don't really have a problem with how just a hotshot responded. Yet I do not agree. The reason is that, as Misery Whip suggested (I try to distance myself from Mr. Whip's thoughts mostly), we are using a different definition for failure. I would suggest that my standard for failure is much different than most. I have held myself at such a high standard for failure that I am at times not willing to even fully accept success. That is my world. Anyone can read the strong signals, use all of your senses and expect the unexpected from the weak signals.

My first Supt. had a commitment to himself that if he ever put the crew into shelters he would find another job. When I became a Supt. I made the same commitment to myself and my crew. You know what, it worked and I never put them into shelters or a situation that compromised anyone's safety due to that commitment. Just as I expect you to get the same outcome from your approach. So here is the deal, you call it what you want, but train predominately on those aspects that will keep you and those under your command away from opportunities to use shelters. You are correct that if anyone would consider not using a shelter due to the potential repercussions, that needs to be corrected. I have heard of and believe that has occurred. In any case, Good Luck.



Great comments.

Hopefully someday the line officers and other folks who make decisions will recognize the "fire and cop" shops are what is funding the Agency nowadays. The Forest Service is no longer multiple use / sustainable yield and the fire and fuels funding will no longer support a failed agency built upon the agricultural commodity of timber production, harvest, and protection.

They got paralyzed in process predicament when "timber was no longer king".

They lost the "Cop Shop" years ago when the "ologists" didn't see or embrace the need and tried to incorrectly influence things they should have stayed out of...... They are going to lose the "Fire Shop" unless they are proactive and act as leaders they were entrusted and educated to be.

National Forest management has become National Park management.

If the Forest Service Business Process Re-engineering Proposal (BPR) for NEPA is carried forward..... say bye-bye to the Forest Service. Last nail in the coffin for those who planned and conspired the dissolution of the Forest Service. (Mr.Rey, et al).

Unless folks listen to the wildland firefighters who are intrinsically intertwined in mission delivery, the mission will continue to fail.

The Forest Service will either survive or fail based upon the original goals of the very first forest reserves...... watershed and community protection, and visual values of the wildlands.

Somebody said FUBAR....

Yeah.... FUBAR


1/22Why did Region 5 of the Forest Service begin using standardized helmet
colorings and markings?

A friend told me it was too hard to look at someone's collar brass while
you were running for your life..... and trying to figure out who was a
leader and been "through it" before.

Region 5 has been through it before.

As a result, Region 5 has:

-- Standard Call Signs for Radio Communications.
-- Standard Helmet Colors and Marking.
-- Standards For Routine Uniforms/Collar Brass.
-- Standards for Vehicle Identification.
-- Standards for Working Titles.

These standards allow us to communicate and do our jobs, and be
recognized as peers in the wildland fire profession.... as we strive for
interoperability with our local, county, state, and DoD counterparts.
This responsibility is in day-to-day operations of planning, as well as
emergency response.

Firefighters are firefighters.

ESF4: Firefighting = Forest Service

Why are land managers making decisions for ESF4 functions? Why
does the Forest Service have the ESF4 function when the Agency
doesn't even have recognized "firefighter" professionals leading the
fire program and having line authority?.... or even a wildland firefighter

The Forest Service Fire Program is just a short "failure" away from
becoming a part of the Department of Homeland Security. Good or bad.

Decisions by the land managers will determine whether they lose the
Fire Program. So far...... not good.


I would like to defend the Ab who responded to my post
and agreed with me on my point of fire shelter
deployment. The point I made that you may have missed
that I will restate clearly is:


If a firefighter, and more importantly, a firefighter
supervising other firefighters finds themselves in a
situation where they are forced to deploy (THE LAST
RESORT), they must be able to focus on the task at
hand. Imagine going into that situation being taught
your entire career that deployment meant you have
failed. Would you have to confidence to do your best
in that situation? Accidents and mistakes happen on
the fireline, and people get into unexpected
situations due to these mistakes. Once they are in
these situations, they need to think and act
decisively, not think about how they failed and are going to
be investigated, but about HOW TO SURVIVE.

Don't you think it would be good for your firefighters
to learn from the mistakes of others, especially in
regard to how deployment was carried out successfully
in life threatening situations? I think your attitude
about shelter deployment is one that is prevalent among
many folks, and I find it hazardous, because I think
it fails to "manage the unexpected" in terms of last
resort survival.

I wrote my post because I feel we need to get away
from the culture of only learning from our mistakes and
start learning from our successes. Nobody died last
year as a result of burnover/entrapment, so what can
we all (as students of wildland fire) learn from that?
My feeling is that our organizational learning tends
to fixate on the fire environment and ignore the human
dynamic (except when we are investigating liability).
We tend to just blame others for human mistakes,
because we would have done it differently in that

The fire shelter and deployment 'mental toolbox' is
like a trauma kit- I can ignore it and hope it never
needs to be used, and probably be fine. Or I can
train folks to the best of my ability on what to do in
case of emergency, and probably never use it just the
same. But it is counterintuitive to instill the
attitude that we just carry that thing because it's
our policy and if you have to use it, you should be
ashamed of yourself.

Please explain to me what is unsafe about trying to
change this cultural attitude that leads to impaired
decision-making ability in the most perilous situation
a firefighter may ever encounter.

With all due respect,

Just a hotshot

Thanks for the dialog on this, although I don't exactly think I need defending. Haw Haw... (Don't you hate it when you laugh so hard snot runs out your nose.) OK, let me catch my breath... I think perceptions of fireshelter use, training, potential feelings after entrapment and ability to focus on survival is an important discussion to have and to have with your crews. I'm glad Intothewind directed his comments to "Ab" -- it's pretty standard practice here. Over a number of years we've found we all get further if we keep discussion about the issues and avoid getting personal.

Carry on, All. Ab.

1/21Ab & All,

I see some folks are struggling with the “F” word again- Failure, that is. Most of us learn early in life that failure is something shameful that should be avoided or covered up. I don’t think all of the recent posters on this subject are applying the same meaning to this word.

Behavioral scientists like James Reason use the term “failure” to describe chinks in the armor of organizations, sometimes very small and seemingly unrelated problems that contribute to accidents. Failure can also take the form of human information processing limitations and unintentional omissions. Much less common is the traditional failure definition where someone intentionally does something they know is legally or morally wrong.

Experts like Karl Weick say that high-functioning organizations do not hide or diminish their “failures,” in fact they go to great lengths to ferret out and limit the potential negative effects of their internal blemishes, even to the extent of sharing and advertising knowledge of their weaknesses.

We are now in a transitional period where many firefighters are reading Managing the Unexpected, Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents, and other landmark works. To other firefighters, these concepts are brand new and can be unsettling. Before people get too wrapped around the axle on whether fire shelter deployments are failures or successful outcomes, make sure you are applying the same definition.

For those firefighters who have not yet read or learned about High Reliability Organizing, you are in danger of being left out of future conversations if you can’t speak the language. Managing the Unexpected by Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe is an excellent place to start.

Misery Whip

Tried to reply earlier, but my mail is not working right. I think we are in agreement that the goal should be to professionalize fire program managers...... and I believe that is indeed the intent of IFPM. You mention that To get around the problem.... some positions are using non-401 series and circumventing requisite fire experience.

IFMP is not the "problem"; it is the directed solution. What we need is for the agency to follow its own direction and use the 401 series (which in itself does not require fire experience), along with the specific fire qualifications (identified in IFPM) when filling fire program leadership positions.

Unless there has been change since my retirement, the direction was to allow incumbent up until 2009 to gain commensurate fire qualifications, but NO new positions were to be filled except by qualified personnel. That direction has on occasion been circumvented, and puts those line officers making such selections in violation of national direction.

I can't imagine the Chief wanting to sit before a Senate committee and testify: "Yes, we recognized the need to have experienced professionals with appropriate credentials leading the fire program. We established that as national policy. Then we allowed ourselves to circumvent that policy....a nd here we are again discussing our most recent tragedy."

My hope is that the Chief and the RFs will adhere to IFPM and ensure only experienced and qualified fire professionals lead the fire program. Our folks on the line deserve nothing less.

Old Fire Guy (ret)

1/21Collar Brass

Many firefighters have been in the military service; where everyone wears an insignia of rank/rate. It makes it easy to know, if you are in an unfamiliar situation, who is who.

Same applies to the Fire Service. Civilian (and DOD) fire departments display the rank on the Helmet and/or collar. I am not sure if the NPS "Fire Brigades" do also; as they use any qualified people in the park as part of the fire team; seems logical they might.

The insignia tells you who is who; important if things are going gunnysack and a leader is trying to get things controlled. Of course we must also recognize that if things are going "gunnysack" people will listen to anyone they know, who they trust, if the 'apparent" leader is not evident or is being ineffectual.

Collar Brass and helmet insignia are a long standing part of the fire service. The Feds depend on Local assistance so much that they should display rank so that co-operators know who they are talking to. Normally no big deal as most local area units know who-is-who. Just get 1 incident where a strike team comes in on a "Gunnysack" situation and a BC, looking like a type 3 crewmember, with no collar brass (and not familiar to the STL) tries to tell them where to deploy. I can hear the profanity now.

Just my thoughts about how stupid Conroy is. I realize STL's etc. can judge and make decisions but time lost is acres or lives burned. Positive recognition of a senior is essential in effective leadership.

This is a stupid argument; Rank Identification is important, a survival issue.

a civilian who Conroy or any others like him cannot reach :)

Here's my perspective on fire shelter use.
Using your fire shelter in a life and death situation is failure. Going
into a safety zone is not failure, Going into a safety zone is the end
result of using situational awareness, to develop a plan, which includes
LCES, and then implement the plan through timely decision making. If
you would suggest as you have that resorting to using a fire shelter is
not failure, I am strongly disagreeing. If you were on my unit I would
have a discussion concerning your approach and attitude towards safety.

With concerns to the Cascade APA, there may be the beginning of a debate on
whether the team did the right thing. The fact that someone determined
that an APA be conducted was appropriate in my mind; I don't believe that
is being debated. What it appears is that there is willingness to
determine if it is acceptable to have firefighters breathing bad air for 8
days, and it is not. In my mind it is an extremely serious example of poor
decision making. The team did not perform their basic purpose of meeting
not only the incident objectives but also of meeting the foundational guideline
of firefighting, which is to take care of your people.

My point on what will occur with the report is not much, at least to date it
appears not to be much. I've been waiting on the IC or DPIC on my team to
bring it up as an important issue to discuss with the team. Ok, so there is still
time, but to date it has not occurred so, how seriously is it being viewed by the
institution that is most responsible here, IMTs? I have some doubts, one of
those being did anyone really learn from this situation? We will see.

Let's breakdown the situation into simple terms. The team's choices, stay at
the current location, or move to another location. The decision to stay
is, quite frankly, an easy decision to make, and not the difficult decision
to make as some would suggest. The difficult decision,  from any aspect that
one could consider, would have been to make the move. They didn't make the
harder, in my opinion, better choice. How could anyone ever trust that team
again? The local leadership should be held accountable, as well, and that includes
the Agency Representatives, and Line Officers.

Where I believe the loop to be broken is, so we did a report, big deal. I
read lots of reports. I would have read the report on the Cascade ICP
situation regardless of the title, process and/or format. What's my point?
I am a student of my profession, wildland fire. However there is no true
method to be held accountable. At least when there are accident prevention
plans, and requirements to be met, we get held accountable. We don't like
it but it is a fact. Look at what came out of 30 mile and Cramer. Lots of
important improvements, we did not like them and many were centered on
the USFS, but I believe that we improved as a profession because of those



The National Archives has released a dvd on Amazon.com, "Smoke Jumper Training for Airborne Fire Fighting in Missoula, Montana, 1949."

We've posted a 4 minute clip on YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-waTEc0GXRE

The FS folks who insist that Smokey Bear does not have a middle name will probably not like the credit on the back dvd cover for "U.S. the Forest Service."

vfd cap'n

1/21In honor of Martin Luther King:

Martin Luther King said:


Signed: Forestry Technician Wildland Firefighter, Living the Dream

1/21The collar brass issue in R6 is demonstrative of the failure of the Forest Service, as a nation-wide Agency to develop & implement fire program policies consistently across the Nation along with its failure to educate non-fire line officers as to the realities of managing a fire program in the 21st Century.

Common sense dictates that with Forest Service firefighters on frequent incidents interacting with other fire agencies, it is imperative that those on the incident be able to recognize rank structure.

Surely Mr. Conroy must understand that his firefighters travel across the country, perhaps a significant time to R5 where collar brass is necessary when working on multi-agency incidents. While the saying goes "ignorance is bliss" perhaps in this case ignorance is simply stupid.

That being said, perhaps a little education would serve Mr. Conroy well. Obviously in the last year several Forest Supervisors from R5 have come to feel the "sense of congress" on issues facing the Agency's firefighters and since Oregon congressional representatives Greg Walden and Pete DeFazio both have long supported federal wildland firefighter issues, it might be prudent to solicit their assistance in educating Mr. Conroy on the fact that we are now in the 21st Century.

We'll speak to our folks in R6 and get a sense from them as to what they would like to see occur on this matter.

1/21On the collar brass issue, there can be very different attitudes depending on if you're state or fed or have an issue with authority, not that this is hot button with most people. The summer I worked for CDF, my sup wouldn't recognize anyone without the right color hat or collar brass. He was a big ego, but focused on chain of command, too. Several years ago when I went to the Gulf after Katrina, the responders there pretty high up the food chain wouldn't pay attention to some our team until they put on collar brass. Just a few comments on things I've seen.

Maybe we should do away with engine typing as well.

Tahoe Terrie

1/21collar brass

My impression has always been that fireline leadership failures rarely come from inability to determine the "rank" of the person to whom one is speaking.  If anything, they come from incompetent people filling leadership roles for which they are overwhelmed, or unprepared.  I don't see collar brass doing anything except complicate that problem.

Just my humble two cents.

1/20Re Collar Brass comments:

nomane6 is correct. Below is R-5's reasoning on collar brass with the 2005 letter and a portion of the briefing paper.

I've heard LOT (Line Officer Team) is looking at why we wear collar brass as well. This is another example of why we need centralized fire management, just like our Forest Service LEOs. It's only a matter of time until something happens that will push the issue of "how best to manage firefighters" over the top and centralized fire management will become a reality. The fire organization will be managed by fire managers meeting IFPM ICS requirements all the way to the Nat Director of FAM for the Forest, similar to how the National Director of LE&I (Law Enforcement & Investigation) reports directly to the Chief of the Forest Service.

LE&I centralized mgt after being told by non-LEO Line Officers, what and what not to investigate. Fire has investigators as well. Due to the inherent dangerous nature of the job, Firefighters deserve strong leadership from someone who has been in the trenches for many years working his/her way up through the fire ranks. We do have some strong Line Officers with strong fire backgrounds out there doing a great job and we would welcome them into our soon-to-be-centralized fire organization. However, the majority are not meeting expectations. Some examples of what has happened since the 70's under Line Officer management of the fire org:

  • Endless lawsuits and consent decrees lasting for years.
  • Reams of regulation and rules that often conflict and confuse fire managers and Firefighters.
  • Increased Line Officer workloads requiring more focus on non-fire Forest activities and issues such as personnel, recreation and resource management.
  • Meaningless accident investigations, with some leading to criminal charges.
  • Serious retention and morale issues. Some have said; R-5 FAM could have done something before it got so bad. Remember the R-5 FAM Director works for a Line Officer and does not work for the National Director of Fire Mgt.......yet.
  • Lack of a common down-to-earth understanding on how to relate and communicate with fire personnel.

Transforming the mistakes of the past 30 years does not require brain surgery and does not need to be analyzed for the next 5 years. It's common sense and can be implemented with a stroke of the Chief's pen. I think the Forest Service would be wise to do this now vs. under the pressure of congressional reps as what happened with the LEO group. These representatives have heard this before and will continue to hear why centralized fire management is needed. The Internet age has given us the ability now to get our message across.

Much has changed since the Forest Service was created.

  • We now have laws and executive orders requiring cooperative working relationships with local and state fire organizations.
  • We have legal authorities for the sole purpose of agreements with other fire service organizations, promoting common understandings during emergency situations, financial processes and the creation of common practices with other fire service organizations as we try and serve the public in a standardized approach .

Does the R-6 Forest Supervisor understand this? Gifford and his first District Rangers never had the dynamics we now have associated with emergency service.

It's not just time to centralize fire, it's time to come together as a fire org and Forest Service and prove better days can be in our future if we work together.

Forest Service mgt has the opportunity to make change and move into the 21st century, the easy way or the hard way. Either way, we will not stop until this nonsense stops.

I'd like to hear from the Rogue River - Siskiyou fire employees. If this is an unsettling decision by your Forest Supv, R-5 would like to have your skills in our region. Job announcements close in a couple weeks with hiring soon after that.


Keep Hammering Away, Keep the Chatter High.
We Will Succeed Because We are Right!


Date: June 21, 2005
Subject: Collar Brass Guidelines for Region 5 Fire, Fuels, and Aviation Management
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

The purpose of this letter is to give direction on the use of collar brass in the Pacific Southwest Region. Regional direction is that all fire management personnel Fire Engine Operator (FEO) and above will wear collar brass. Recognition of Command and/or Leadership is paramount on every incident.

The USDA Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and 940 local fire departments work together in an interagency effort to protect the lives and property of 34.5 million California residents from the ravages of fire. It is imperative that during emergency situations, police and fire personnel be able to quickly identify various levels of authority. The collar brass is also helpful in identifying rank when there are multiple fire officials in field situations, meetings, planning sessions, training or other non-emergency settings. The collar brass will also provide a uniform means of identifying command and rank structure within all fire agencies across the United States and a visual and rapid means of recognizing the rank of command personnel. It is intended to promote quick identification and communications of key fire management personnel by officials of other agencies, the media and the general public.

All employees should wear the same size and style collar brass. The size and style differ from one manufacturer to another. The recommended style of collar brass in California is a silhouette gold star-type collar brass, one-half of an inch in size. All other silhouette-type collar brass must be approximately seven-eighths of an inch in size. The attached document identifies Fire Management positions in Region 5 with the correct collar brass insignia to be worn and diagrams of the proper placement of collar brass insignia on the uniform.

If you have questions regarding this direction please contact George Motschall, (951) 276-65xx, at the Southern California GACC or Tom Hatcher, (530) 226-27xx, at the Northern California GACC.

/s/ Kent P. Connaughton
Bernard Weingardt
Regional Forester


cc: Ray Quintanar, Ralph Domanski, FFAM BOD


A portion of the Briefing Paper - Other areas of the paper included pictures to how to wear:

Pacific Southwest Region
Fire and Aviation Management
Position Paper- Use of Collar Brass

History- In the early days of North American Fire Departments, orders were given to the troops, by officers speaking through a device that resembled a megaphone. These were very ornate brass horns. They were commonly called “Bugles” or “Speaking Trumpets”. This was the major means of communications on the fire ground for over 100 years. Officers were the only personnel allowed to use these objects. From this, a small pin in the shape of a bugle became a rank insignia for fire service officers. The number of bugles designates a rank held in the fire service. Generally speaking, the more bugles an individual have the higher the rank in the fire service. These pins, worn on the collar of a shirt, are commonly referred to as “ Collar Brass”.

Discussion- The California Fire Service has been recognized as innovative and inventive when it comes to all risk emergency management. In response to the devastating wildfires in 1970, California ’s local, state and federal fire agencies saw the need and developed FIRESCOPE, Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies. This group created the Incident Command System (ICS), which has become the national standard for All Risk Incident Management. The U. S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and over 940 local fire departments work together in an interagency effort to protect the lives and property of 34.5 million residents, a population that exceeds the populations of Regions 1,2,3,4,6 and 10 combined.

Recognition of Command and/or Leadership is paramount on every incident. This identification can be accomplished a number of ways, from the color of the helmet or hardhat a firefighter wears to the Collar Brass they wear on their uniform. It is imperative that, during emergency situations, police and fire personnel be able to quickly identify various levels of authority. Collar Brass insignia are approved and worn by a majority of the Fire Departments in the United States . Collar Brass provides a uniform means of identifying command and rank structure within all fire agencies across the United States . It provides a visual and rapid means of recognizing the rank of command personnel, and is intended to promote quick identification and communications of key fire management personnel by officials of other agencies, the media, and the general public. Collar brass is also helpful in identifying rank when there are multiple fire officials in field situations, meetings, planning sessions, training or other non-emergency settings.

Guidelines for Implementation- All employees should wear the same size and style collar brass. The size and style differ from one manufacturer to another. The recommended style of collar brass in California is; Silhouette gold star-type collar brass one-half of an inch in size, All other silhouette-type collar brass, must be approximately seven-eighths of an inch in size. The approved manufacturer is Blackington & Company. The attached information identifies Fire Management positions in Region 5 with the correct collar brass insignia to be worn and diagrams of the proper placement of collar brass insignia on the uniform.

1/20To: Just a Hotshot,

I find your most recent post concerning shelter deployments, SA and safety issues,
past and present, to be outstanding. You are right on track and obviously mentored
by professionals. Thank you for your insight and opinion. I agree with what you are
saying and appreciate your views to this forum. People like yourself a a pleasure to
work with out there on the line. Sounds like you aren't "Just a Hotshot" but a leader
that understands what it takes to do the job safely and take care of their people.
Take care...


(Always a Hotshot)
1/20Just a Hotshot,

My comments were not meant to imply a deployment is a
failure of the personnel involved. I apologize if
anyone mistook my comments for a desire to criticize a
fellow firefighter after they had experienced the
horror of an entrapment. There but for the grace of
God go all of us, and I trust we all learn from the
experiences of those that have been there before us. I did
not mean to imply that anyone is above an entrapment,
especially me, and I want, more than anything, for
learning to occur without fear or the need to cover up
the actions taken or not taken.

My argument was that
to say 2007 was a success because no one died in the
entrapments misses the more important point that there
were a large number of situations in which people may
have been injured or killed. I take exception to the
fire organization categorizing the year as a safety
success based solely on the presence or absence of
fatalities. I am certain in many cases the decisions
made by the individuals involved contributed directly
to their own survival, and I hope the lessons of South
Canyon and Thirtymile contributed to the high
survivorship of the 2007 entrapments. I just disagree
that if no one died it was a “safe” year.

I prefer to
look at 2007 as a season where too many firefighters
faced those tough decisions you described. I am
incredibly thankful for the high survival rate, but I
resent the attitude that success is determined simply
by the outcome (in this case no fatalities). Not
knowing the specifics of most of the situations, I am
not comfortable with assigning a “successful” value to
the season as that seems to ignore the potential
lessons from each circumstance.

My frustration is not
at the firefighters who faced these tough calls, but
with an organization focused more on the statistics
than the learning process. I fear calling a large
number of entrapments without fatalities a success
negates the strategies, tactics, decisions, and human
factors that put people into those dangerous
situations to begin with. I worry that to call the
year a success because no one died glosses over the
seriousness of multiple entrapments during the same
season. Your points were well taken, though, and I
certainly see where my comments missed the mark.
Thanks to all for this forum so this learning can


1/20Re the Forest Sup's Collar Brass comments:


I think Conroy is acting on orders to get "those fire people back in line". I predict
we will see more of this in the near future as the war for control of the money
continues and the non-fire managers bunker in. Probably hand picked by someone
in Washington, Conroy apparently is not afraid of a fight. Google his name and you
will see what I mean.

I agree with MOC4546 for the most part that Federal Wildland Fire Management
needs to be detached and run by fire professionals. The interesting part is,
according to the forest service organization and hierarchy structure, we dont really
have any fire professionals.

I think this quote is appropriate here: "Never be afraid to try something new.
Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic." unknown


1/20Re the Forest Sup's Collar Brass comments:

Just so folks know who the Region 6 Forest Supervisor cc:d the comments to:

M.J. Harvie, Aviation & Fire Staff Officer
Rogue River-Siskiyou NF, Supervisors Office
Region 6 & Pacific Northwest Research Station

Connie Weathers, Fleet Manager
Rogue River-Siskiyou NF, Supervisors Office
Region 6 & Pacific Northwest Research Station

I'd bet the Rogue Rivers-Siskiyou NF Forest Supervisor just ended his career
by alienating his only support base.... federal wildland firefighters. I'd bet, though
not sure, that this Forest Supervisor supported A-76, Business Process
Reengineering, and the general sell out of the wildland fire program.

He made a mistake.... he has time to correct his direction..... Leaders above
(WO) or below him (Forests and Districts) can help him be successful. Someone
needs to kick him in the juevos.


1/20Does anyone have any more news on the Florida RX burn that
caused all the smoke across the road?


Welcome FFJ. Check the hotlist thread in initial attack: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=14063#post14063 Something not posted publicly, but sent in by a contributor and in the private accident forum is this:

080108-FL-FLS-Turkey Roost Command-Tractor Plow Burnover
location: Old Grade and I-4
Lat: 28° 11´ 7" Long: 81° 44´ 17"
Polk County

final fire size: 388 acres, grew from escaped Rx burn

Burnover of tractor plow during IA, estimated cost $65,000.
1 injury: Lakeland personnel, injury to Ranger MA (Ab reduced to initials), 2nd degree burns to his right hand.

A news article with a link in the hotlist cites the damage as being in the hundreds of thousands for the tractor plow.

For more major media info go to the News Button at the top of the page and after reading what we have, enter your own search words in the google box that pops up. Ab.


Remember the supposed "Law of Unintended Consequences".

Most often, the unintended consequences could have been avoided.

An effort to retain employees should be based on the employees net (take home) salaries.... not their gross salaries..... and especially not at the simple cost to government figures that do not include provisions for experience, training, aptitude, or ability if employees are lost to other agencies. ...Another example of latent problems when folks start looking at recruitment and retention at the higher levels without talking with the troops in the field and getting the experts involved in creating a win/win solution.

Right now, if thrown into the mix, California Unemployment has a better two-week take home pay for struggling families...... a far better take home pay than a PFT on a GS-6 wage having to subtract Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHBP), Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), Barracks, and other allotments to groups such as NFFE or the FWFSA.

There are folks who save every dime they can during fire season and work excessive overtime.... and then skimp and collect unemployment during the winters to make ends meet for themselves and their family.... Why?.... Because they are wildland firefighters and love the job.

Those that keep presenting this fix, including Q, haven't kept up with the times. It would have worked in the 1980's.... not now. Times have changed.

Are we are speaking recruitment, retention, and efficiency for the agencies?...... or are we talking poorly planned and poorly verified "cost to the government" figures that continue to drive wrong decisions? Before you answer, think..... Business Process Reengineering (BPR).

1/20Re: Rogue Siskiyou (Re the Forest Sup's Collar Brass comments):

Ol Scooter Conroy is, and always has been, a complete a*s when it comes to this issue. He always wanted all of the fire folks to play nice with the rest of the district and he always seemed to want the fire shop to "help out" other shops with projects (of course the money for the project came from the fire dollars too.) I had experience with him and the Fire Management Org while I was there as an apprentice. The upper management of the forest is part of the reason I felt a need to eventually leave. No support for the people who really did the work.

I do have to say that Scott Conroy is actually just following what many people on the forest say. "We dont want to be like R-5" And to think, they spent all the money and time to buy collar brass and to figure out individual call signs.

1/20Re the Forest Sup's Collar Brass comments:

On first look, I'd think that the Forest Supervisor was drawing a line in the sand....

But then I realized all of the vacant Deputy Regional Forester positions that were coming available nationwide.... and the folks who are on the short list.

R-6 Fire Management should call BS.

If any group is going to save the Forest Service, it is going to be the Forest Service firefighters!!!!

/s/ The Emperor Has No Clothes

1/19Another retention and recruitment suggestion

With the concern and talk (retention issues) *SNIP* have put together some numbers to upgrade the AFEOs from 18/8 to a PFT with a plus or negative value of 5% pending Issuance, TSP, etc..

Government cost for a 462-6/1 $22.34 x 80 hours = $1787.20 x 8 additional pp = $14297.60
if we look at what we pay for unemployment for the 8 pp off @ $900.00 per pp = $7200.00 with a difference of $7097.60,
meaning we can work the employee for a additional 8 pp with a cost of $7097.60,
breaks down to $887.20 versus the $900.00 per pay period on unemployment.

This would give more incentive for folks to want a job with the R5 Forests and to be able to take care of their family, retirement, continues getting paid, TSP is being deducted for retirement, Medical Ins, work is getting done, time for step increase will be faster. I know this a budget issue and some years are worse then others and it has probably been brought up more the once.

So here you go.


AFEOs (Asst Fire Engine Operators); PFT (Permanent Full Time); TSP (Thrift Savings Plan - retirement); pp (pay period)

1/19Re the Forest Sup's Collar Brass comments:


It's apparent that Scott Conroy, Forest Supervisor of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has no idea why the use of collar brass and identifier call signs such as battalion or division ## are used.  I guess we should all go back to wearing unmarked yellow hard hats, drive un marked fire vehicles and using our last name so that other federal and state fire personnel have no idea who is in charge of an incident. Maybe he should just remove the radios from all fire rigs as you won't need them if you don't know who's who and they can all do independent action. What's worse than not knowing who the IC is on an evolving incident, is a forest supervisor that is willing put all personnel in jeopardy.  This forest supt. has lost it.


1/19Re: Just a hotshot's post

I agree with you whole heartedly.

I am a survivor of a burnover. I was thrust into a situation that was a typical example of the Swiss Cheese Model. Latent errors stacked up, that were out of my control. It wasn't that my situational awareness had failed me so much as there were unexpected things that were thrown in front of me. The first unexpected situation was an unexpected cold front split the main head of the fire into two heads. The second being mechanical failure to my fire engine. If there was not the mechanical failure to my engine, I am confident that we would have made it to our safety zone with little to no problem. I would like to think that it was my Situational Awareness that was able to keep my firefighter and myself alive.

There were a few other things that stacked up against us that contributed to the situation but we did the best with what we had, and are still here to talk about it today and to help others learn from our incident. It seems to be the attitude in the wildland fire service that an "Entrapment will Never Happen to Me". Someday there will be a harsh wake up call to those who think that way. I had the same attitude before my incident. In my opinion, that attitude is what hinders Situational Awareness. After my burnover I beat myself up over what I did wrong. But a few key and influential people in wildland firefighting shared stories with me about when they were thrust into similar situations. After talking with these prolific individuals (some of which were Hotshot Supts and Smokejumpers), I realized I made the best of the worst situation you could be in and I am still here to share my story. So, I tell my story to anyone willing to listen, if someone can learn from it and it sparks a safer attitude then I am pleased!

We can not eliminate all of the dangers of our job, but we can try to mitigate them. Our job is one of the most dangerous in the world. We can not afford to second guess each others decisions after the fact, but we can try to learn from them.


1/19Thanks, Just a hotshot. Eloquently put and points taken. Please let me clarify.
  • I believe there may have been more incidents than were caught in this report. I don't know yet.
    • It was an accident-filled season and easy to loose track, even for someone closely watching and recording every day.
    • Perhaps NWCG and I differ in what we consider a serious incident.
  • I would have preferred a different wording or elaboration to express a different, less abstract tone in NWCG's memo, here, for example:

    Accident prevention is enhanced when firefighters and fire managers are made aware of serious accidents that have occurred over the year and can identify where our future safety emphasis areas should be.

    The report memo overall makes me feel like it's stressing the positive (glass mostly full) when it should give some weight to the fact that more still needs to be done and a commitment to lessons learned (glass still part-way empty and that's what we need to work on). I always take such reports as an opportunity for inspiration to do better.

  • I definitely do not see shelter deployment as failure. Deployment may mean survival of a potentially deadly situation not under your own control and/or not of your own conscious making.


1/19In regards to Burro's post...
I think the author is making an important point by
calling attention to the number of entrapments that
occurred in 2007, but I disagree that:

1) Survival 55 out of 55 individuals was simply a
matter of luck, and

2) These entrapments should be simply viewed as

Trust me, I do my job to the best of my ability to
never have to use my fire shelter or instruct other to
do so and thus far I haven't, but I have several
friends whom I consider the best of the best
firefighters, who felt the same way and have
supervised and survived deployments. God forbid, I
hope anyone who finds themselves in that situation
considers themselves not having failed, but being
faced with some of the most critical decision-making
of their lives which they are capable of undertaking

Looking at an increase in the number of entrapments as
a failure of our system of situational awareness
evokes the attitudes present in fire management that
may have contributed to both of the major fatality
entrapments that have occurred over the last 15 years.
In my opinion, these are the South Canyon and
Thirtymile incidents. The catastrophic end results of
both situations were influenced by an attitude that
those involved would never actually deploy fire
shelters in the course of their operations. The
correction of this cultural attitude came at high
cost, and in a fragmented fashion. It seems the
lesson learned by the Type 1 fire sub-community in
1994 did not extend to the far reaches of the regular
and incidental crew communities at large, leading to
hazardous attitudes which contributed to the second
catastrophe in 2001. Since then, many (overly?)
corrective actions have been put into motion, most
importantly, in my opinion, the changing of the
attitude that fire shelter deployment is a viable and
necessary option for minimizing risk if an entrapment

In some ways, the organizational learning of the fire
community depends on some mistakes being made, and
firefighters learning from them. There is no arguing
entrapments are taken very seriously, and our
organization scrutinizes the events and attitudes that
lead to every one. The fact that there were no
entrapment related fatalities in 2007 despite the
numerous entrapments is certainly fortuitous, but
seeing this as simply a failure of situational
awareness is an attitude which does not allow for
organizational learning. If anything, it should be
seen as an opportunity to formally analyze at least
these two elements of entrapment:

1) What are the conditions (human and environmental)
that are leading to so many entrapment situations

2) What is different today that has allowed a 100%
survival rate in the past year?

If you read the Thirtymile investigation, it appears
the firefighter currently standing trial for
manslaughter was attempting to cover up what he
perceived as his failures in decision-making, and much
of the trial is based on this perjury under oath.
Were these this individual's failures as a leader, or
our cultural failures in better teaching
post-entrapment decision making? Were the lessons
learned from interview accounts of major deployments
of the 1985 Butte and 1990 Dude fires enough
situational awareness to make the right decision? The
argument that "they shouldn't have been in that
situation..." doesn't work for me, as obviously we
continue to get ourselves into "that situation", as
evidenced by our 16 entrapments involving 55
firefighters in 2007. The need to "cover up" harkens
back to the cultural attitude that deployment is a
failure, when actually deployment should be thought of
as a proactive decision to minimize risk when we find
ourselves having made some critical mistakes. Making
the right decision in the future involves learning
from how we handle the situations we find ourselves

I agree with Mr. Burro that entrapments obviously
represent failures in decision making, etc..., but I
also think it is a short-sighted opinion that presents
all deployments as catastrophic failures which
narrowly elude death. In scrutinizing many
significant non-fatal deployments, there are some
incredibly well-reasoned, high-stress decisions made
that lead to survival, nearly always based on
information gathered before any deployment situation
was consciously considered. Mistakes are made on the
fireline on a far more frequent basis than we care to
admit, but leadership is about proactively managing
situations as they evolve, not being incapable of

I'm sure Mr. Burro and the Ab that responded to his
post agree with me on these points- I'm not trying to
take statements out of context- but I am fearful when
I see the resurgence of an attitude (shelter
deployments as failures) that was (and maybe still is)
so catastrophic in firefighting culture. I hope it
can be understood that the statements made are only
meant to bolster our understanding of why things fall
apart, and why are things going right in the regard of

The most tragic losses we experience as firefighters
are the ones that are from mistakes we have previously
made and learned from. There is no doubt we will make
new mistakes, as the firefighting arena is constantly
evolving. It would be a new mistake to not look
closely at our success in deployment survivability,
but it is one as old as humanity to think our
aspirations to control nature will not occasionally
involve things going awry. Be safe out there in 2008.

Just a hotshot

I've been watching the "They Said" forum over the last few months with regard to the deterioration of Region 5 Fire Management Programs within the Forest Service and to a lesser extent with the Interior FMO agencies.

I've come to the conclusion that there needs to be change, change in mission philosophy, change in private contracting, change in Federal Pay and Benefits, but above all change in management from the top of the heap for those who sit in the "Palaces" of Region and Supervisors Offices who continue with the stall tactics, the shifting budgets, and the lack of leadership. This doesn't apply to everyone, but those of you 'limp-wristers' need to move on, retire, or be shown the door with the foot-up-the-butt with forceful action motion.

I spent a total of 9 seasons with federal fire management in Region 5, and saw positive management and negative management, and know there are very good people working in our FMOs who love their jobs, love the agencies they work for, and look to switching agencies because they can't make it living or working in California. Something needs to change, and although I don't recommend throwing the baby out with the bath water, it is time to change the water and the tub.

If we are serious about making changes so that Federal Wildland Fire Management continues, then we need to consider moving those in the upper levels out, and bringing in positive, progressive and motivated leaders from OUTSIDE of the Federal System.

I am not a fan of CDF (politically correct name Cal-Fire) but there are some leaders who have demonstrated that they can move beyond the bureaucracy and politics and manage thier Ranger Units professionally, progressively, and supportively to the people who work there.

Its time to kick the current management who stall, delay, and politic, and put in a group of proven progressive leadership who can move the agency forward, support the agency fire personnel, reign in the overspending on private contractors, and change our mission philosophy.

As much as I hate to say it, its time for Federal Fire Management to move to the all-risk mission similar to what CDF and local government fire departments/districts do to provide not only wildland fire suppression, but more comprehensive protection including EMS, rescue, haz-mat, etc. just like our brother firefighters in the State and local governments.

Over the 24 years that I have been a firefighter in California I've gotten to know who are some of the best fire chiefs and fire managers in the State. One of the best Fire Chiefs I have worked with in that time is Chief John Hawkins, who is currently the Fire Chief for the CDF Riverside Unit/Riverside Co. Fire Department, and previously to that was a Division Chief in the Butte Unit/Butte Co. FD for over 20 years. Chief Hawkins is one of the most positive, progressive, and supportive fire chiefs in the State of California.

Another progressive national leader who retired a few years ago is Chief Alan Brunacini from the Phoenix Fire Department.

I heard a rumor going around that Chief Hawkins is going to retire in the next year or so. I for one hope not, and hope that he continues as long as he wants. What we need is a new leadership force who can move the Federal FMO program into progressive change, re-invigorate the program, make the Non-Fire Leadership in the R5 understand the need for change.

As I said before, there are a lot of motivated people in our FMOs who want to see change, but there needs to be an outside leader to come in and shake the tree. A man such as Chief Hawkins or Chief Brunacini is what we need to re-form, motivate, and support those within and outside the FMOs to bring the program back from the brink we are teetering on right now.

Outsourcing to private fire protection is not the answer, nor outsourcing the Federal FMO program for all the agencies to CDF to manage.

This is just my opinion on the matter, because something needs to be done to stop this slow bleed.

1/19Normbc9, re your post on 1/18: isn't it the empress that has no clothes?

LOL, Tahoe Terrie

1/19To: Strider

Carbon monoxide is not heavier than air, in fact it is slightly lighter having a specific density of .968. Air is 1, nitrogen is .967, oxygen is 1.105 and carbon dioxide is 1.521. It will be thoroughly mixed with the air. A good reference on gases is the Air Liquide website: http://encyclopedia.airliquide.com/encyclopedia.asp?CountryID=19&LanguageID=11

The smoke filled inversion was over the entire area, even the new camp near the town of Cascade was in heavy smoke from time to time. Yes it was probably heavier when everyone sat in the safety zone and watched the fire burn by, but there was no clean air anywhere in central Idaho during that period.

One thing to remember, possession of a Red Card does not mean that the bearer is Line Qualified. It is just a document showing qualifications. Personnel Time Recorders, Computer Technical Specialists, Radio Operators, Ordering Managers, etc. all have needed qualifications to keep the incident running, and they all have Red Cards, but only a very few are qualified to engage in suppression efforts on the line.


1/19Don't know if this was a Forest thing or R6. JC


File Code: 5160/7130 Date: January 11, 2008
Subject: Rescission of the Forest Collar Brass and Call Sign Plan
To: District and Supervisor's Office Fire Management Employees
Thru: District Rangers and Forest Fire Staff Officer

All employees of the Forest Service including employees in fire management are critical to accomplishing our land management mission. The Fire Management program is an integral part of the agency and is not a separate fire service. Wearing collar brass sets our fire management employees apart and gives the appearance of creating a separate organization.

Therefore, effective immediately, I am rescinding the Forest’s Collar Brass and Call Sign Plan, signed on February 5, 2007.

1. Forest employees will not wear collar brass on their uniforms or other clothing.

2. Fire program personnel will use our traditional nomenclature for titles and introductions as do the rest of the agency personnel when attending meetings, training, during an incident, etc. Refer to your position description working title.

3. Radio use will follow direction in the Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations (Red Book, 01/2007, Page 16-5), which is to “use clear text language”. Individuals will use their name. Crews, Engines, Prevention patrols will continue to use their module identifier as in the past.

4. Fire emergency vehicle markings will continue as outlined in the April 4, 2005 letter sent by the Directors’ of Engineering and Fire.

If you have questions please direct those to M.J. Harvie at (snip).

/s/ Scott D. Conroy
Forest Supervisor
cc: Connie Weathers

1/19Region 5 doing much of the hiring should scare the rest of the United States.

"process predicament" = <snipped name>


1/19Old Fire Guy (ret.),

To get around both the fire experience portion of IFPM, and to get around the educational component of IFPM... many fire management positions in the Regional Offices and the Washington Office are classified in the 0301 series - "Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series".

Other ways to get around the problem.... the 0340 (General Program Management) series used for District Rangers and Forest Supervisors.

Neither the 0301 nor the 0340 series have "positive education" components. Neither series requires fire experience to manage the fire program.

Maybe the goal of professionalizing the fire program after South Canyon should have looked towards the folks who should never have... and continue to.... manage a fire program that they aren't qualified to manage.

1/19The renewed discussion about the Cascade Complex incident reminded me of a conversation I had with a safety officer this summer. After he was done telling me that he had corrected some of my crew on their use of PPE, we had a discussion about common sense use of PPE, Doctrine, and a few other related subjects. I guess he got under my skin a little bit, because I asked him when he planned to go into camp and correct the camp personnel who where walking around camp in shorts, t-shirts, and sandals, or to verify that they had reviewed and signed the JHA for the job.

Point being, there is often a sense that fire camp is just as safe as the local KOA. This is a complacent attitude which has no business in our line of work.

On a positive note, I believe the safety officer did bring up the issue of proper PPE in camp to the IC!

L -- C -- E -- S
1/19CDF apps

I just want to say for all who sent their Engineer Cal Fire apps., good luck to all.
Hope you all made a wise choice. It's too bad that our Agency is so far behind
in taking care of their employees. Hopefully, what ever comes out of the Retention
meeting and their decision will be worth it for some of us who decided to stay.
"What can Green do for You".



I have to agree with you, I am a line FF myself and have more than once gone to a safety zone while the fire "burns by". There has never been an APA report on these incidents. If I'm not mistaken isn't a fire camp set up to be one big safety zone? I watched a quick clip of the incident and it seemed the "non-fire" support staff was in a group and looked relatively safe, is that an accurate statement? As a person who doesn't spend a great deal of time in camp, I am curious to know what people who do spend most of their time working there think about fire coming this close. Does this type of incident make you feel any less safe in fire camp?


1/18Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the very real issues of the Cascade Complex firecamp incident. It's colorless and odorless. In fires, it piles up near the ground, displacing air containing oxygen. I'm surprised there wasn't more discussion of carbon monoxide and its effects in the Accident Prevention Analysis.

Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin on red blood cells in the blood, preventing oxygen from binding; it binds much more strongly (100x) than carbon dioxide meaning you can get worse over time as it accumulates and the body can't get rid of it; the organs of the body that use oxygen most (central nervous system & heart) get starved of oxygen first.

Oxygen starvation is called hypoxia. Faulty thinking is one side effect of hypoxia. Because of its effect on thinking, you don't even know you're no longer the sharpest knife in the drawer or that you're not as sharp as you were before. You may have headache, feel confused, nauseous, have low energy, You're also more likely to have cardiovascular problems, including heart attack.

Members of Broyles team were not thinking straight. Some didn't even know the answers to the simplest questions. Deciding to stay could have been the result of faulty decision making due to carbon monoxide poisoning. It's a human factor, not knowing what you don't know because you're poisoned, assuming you're ok.

One important lesson learned could be deciding to factor carbon monoxide into the decision of whether to go or stay. Carbon monoxide detectors anyone? I wonder what the readings would have been.

I saw one article on here about carbon monoxide? yesterday...
Carbon Monoxide Bulletin (137K pdf file) from Normbc9

Googled "Carbon Monoxide" poisoning


Medicine knows a lot about it. Mitigation???


1/18IFPM requires a combination of education (401 series qualifying) and fire experience for specified positions. While some here bemoan the education requirement, what is of greater significance is the fire experience requirement for "upper level managers". A good question would be to ask the Regional Foresters: "How many people do you have in your Regional fire staff group, and how many of them currently meet the fire experience qualifications set forth in IFPM?" Readers might be shocked to learn the answer.

If the agency adheres to IFPM standards, and the 2009 deadline, then we could see a significant number of new "managers" with requisite fire experience....... not such a bad deal.

Old Fire Guy (ret.)

1/18After reading a few posts about the Cascade Complex fire, a thought process and fire terminology brings out different opinions:

A "burnover" is a term we in wildland fire use for personnel who are trapped by fire and probably deploy shelters and hope to survive.

I myself do not have a problem with the term "burn by". This is an accurate description of what is or has happened. In this case, the fire "burned by" the ICP/camp. Was it the best choice to leave non-operations personnel in camp? I cant say, I wasn't there.

However, I do know that we in operations use "safety zones" to move to after certain trigger points are met or the fire blows up. A safe refuge to go to, and in some cases the fire "burns by" or around the safety zone. The very theory of a safe zone is that: a place one can go to be safe and if the conditions dictate, the fire burns by. Correct me if I am wrong, but this can happen often in a fire season. Crews, engines, etc. head to their safety zones when things heat up, and often time the fire goes around us. There is no investigation. This was a possible, planned, foreseen event. The safety zone is big enough for all crews to sit it out.

I am curious if others will agree. Any other opinions, especially from Ops. personnel like myself?


I'd also like opinions from camp personnel. Ab.

1/18The 2007 Safety Gram is a great tool for training. I take exception to one
sentence in the introductory letter: "Also noteworthy is the absence of any
entrapment or burnover related fatalities." There were by my count, 16
entrapments or burnovers involving a total of 55 people. While I do not
know the specifics of some of the particular incidents, that is not a
number I can be excited about as an improvement from 2006. That there
weren't fatalities in any of these entrapments is a matter of luck, not
skill. It seems a better perspective to look at all entrapments or
burnovers as failures of situational awareness, decision making or
organizational control rather than any sort of success in safety. I will
not present this data as any sort of improvement, but use it instead to
illustrate how close 55 people came to dying last year.

sign me "burro"

I agree. We have a private (moderators only) sub-forum on the hotlist that is a compilation of all the posts that came in or that the Abs or Mods uncovered this last season. There are 5 pages of threads and some of the threads are multiple pages long. Some posts were private communications until families were notified and information was made public. We've thought of making this subforum visible to hotlist members for a limited time so firefighters can browse and can add information if they have specific additional knowledge on the mishaps. I'm currently in the process of checking our list against the NWCG list and, in addition, want to go over the posts to make sure any private communications are OK now. I need to confer with Original Ab some more before we do this. Ab.

1/182007 Safety Gram Cover Letter (108K pdf file), text is below:

January 15, 2008

To: Chair, National Wildfire Coordinating Group
From: Chair, Safety and Health Working Team
Subject: 2007 SAFETY GRAM

The 2007 SAFETY GRAM (268K pdf file) is attached. It summarizes reported wildland fire fatalities, burnovers/entrapments and other serious accidents for all wildland fire management organizations throughout the United States in 2007.

Nine fatalities occurred in 2007 when employees were performing wildland fire management activities. This is a substantial decrease from the 24 fatalities that were reported in 2006. Also noteworthy is the absence of any entrapment or burnover related fatalities.

The 2007 fatalities are listed by category below:
Aviation – 1: Fatality occurred when helicopter was performing logistical support.
Driving – 3: Fatalities occurred when firefighters were returning from a prescribed fire (1) and training (2).
Hazard Tree/Snag – 1: Fatality occurred when a tree fell on a firefighter during chain saw training.
Heart Attacks – 2: Fatalities occurred following the Work Capacity Test (pack test) and firefighting.
Other – 2: Fatalities occurred when a dozer rolled over while constructing fire line (1) and by electrocution (1).

Accident prevention is enhanced when firefighters and fire managers are made aware of serious accidents that have occurred over the year and can identify where our future safety emphasis areas should be. Please provide wide distribution of the 2007 SAFETY GRAM to your respective agencies and organizations. In addition, SHWT will distribute via NWCG Safety Alert System.

Please feel free to contact me at (208) 387-51xx or michelle_ryerson at nifc.blm.gov if you have any questions or need additional information.

signed Michelle Ryerson

My bold in the memo. Ab.

1/18To: Author Unknown,

Your story was pretty funny. Unfortunately, it is what is going on in the
agency today. The modern forest service has many people steering, who
cannot steer. But there are people who can steer the agency out of this
mess and rapid downhill spiral, but I don't think the non-steering
establishment will give up the wheel.

To: Sting,

You too, are right. It is FUBAR. There are a lot of really top notch fire
management leaders and problem solvers who could begin the fix. If only the
non-leaders who won't or can't fix it will let the fixers, fix it.
Firefighters are excellent at identifying problems and finding safe ways to
solve problems, to continue on, to improve, and to excel.

To: Cowboy,

You are right, but the problems in the region run much deeper than just the
R.O. The on the ground folks are trying to make things work, but again,
the non-leading, unable to steer establishment won't give up the wheel.

There so many excellent leaders in the fire management ranks who know, and
have demonstrated the ability to develop, maintain and improve highly
effective and efficient professional fire management organizations. There
seems to be an upper level management ceiling that has the power and we are
finding it impenetrable, for now. If those people won't lead, support
their people or their organizations, then get out of the way. Maybe the
only way out of this is for fire management to become its own department
i.e. Division of Fire Management. Lead by firefighters who have come up
through the fire management ranks and have demonstrated leadership and
organizational management ability.

To: Lobotomy,

We've been hearing that we're going to do "More with less" for a very long
time. Now it seems, we're doing everything, with just about nothing.

I will NEVER understand in a million years why the agency will not support
it's fire management organizations or it's firefighters to the best of its
ability. This is a dangerous job, a very dangerous job. We and the agency
must do everything we can in support of strong, safe, professional, and
effective fire management organizations. Again, everything we do must be in
support of our on the ground firefighters.

I think there are too many higher level "Fire Managers" in the agency who
did not come up through fire and have a lack of understanding of fire
suppression, fire organizations and fire management and that is one reason
for the lack of leadership we are experiencing today.

Never give up.

Battle on Friends,

1/18Re: Government time for working on an application.

I was brought up when the government would not let you use government postage or a government envelope to mail your application in.

The work ethic I was brought up on is, do your application on your own time. Once you think it is ready bring it in and have some folks with more time and experience look it over and make suggestions (mentoring, coaching).

I do not approve of my folks working on their application on government time except as stated above. My justification is if the government won’t pay for an envelope or stamp to mail it, why would they pay wages for an employee to work on his application. I don’t remember seeing it in the job description or performance appraisals. I also expect folks to work when they come to work and a: 30 lunch is just that. It turns my stomach when I pull into a station and they are watching movies, these are usually the same folks who don’t remember how to start a MKIII or have dull chain on their saw, not to mention having a GPS unit that they barely know how to use. I wished we worked twelve hour days so we could actually do the field, maintenance, training and administrative work we need to. Take care and burn that midnight oil on your dime not the taxpayers to better application and get that promotion, dream job, and live the dream.

Signed Forestry Technician, Wildland Firefighter, living the dream!


You have it right and I, too, am a person who was raised in the USFS family
setting and right now the leaderless ship is afloat and it is approaching the
waterfalls downstream. After reading the Tom Harbour note of a few days
ago I now see the organization in the same light as the subject of the children’s
book “The Emperor Who Had No Clothes On” and it isn’t a fairy tale this
time. Thanks for sharing your astute observations with us. Everyone at the
top is telling the Emperor just how nice his clothes look when in fact he isn’t
wearing any.


1/18Let me get this straight. R-5 HR is going to do all hiring for the other regions, both
temp and perm? I hope the hell I got this wrong. We have made progress with the
hiring process in R-6 since May 2007 when we changed, however if I was from
another region I would have that deer in the headlight look about right now. I can
only imagine WFTC training rooms broken into Geographic areas. Heck if you
stay long enough maybe we can get Pina and R-5 FAM to cut you a retention check.

I vote R-4 Firefighters buy the first round at Lions Gate. We are going to need a
few cold ones to get through that mess.

1/18Thanks for the website!

I read the giant Cascade APA report {the FS gives me lots of (unpaid) "free time" over the winter}. Can I give a public comment?

In my opinion -

the good news :)
The story and the fire behavior report are really easy to read. I can see a few good sand table exercises and trainings coming out of this report. The recommendations are profound (if not embarrassingly obvious things we all know we should have been doing) and I really like the Swiss Cheese approach to looking at accidents. I think the FS gets at least one thumbs-up for trying to do investigations in a better way. I will say I learned things.

The bad :(
Yeah, hindsight is 20-20. But! my God! where was the foresight??? I wasn't there but I know a guy who endured Happy Camp twenty years ago and is pretty pissed the FS (or maybe it was the Park Service this time?) did it to him again .... and this time on purpose!

The IC or someone on the Boise forest - or better the Chief of the Park Service or the FS needs - to apologize for keeping non-red carded folks in a place where everyone knew they were going to get "burned over" (calling it a "burn-by" was a childish attempt at a cover-up. Who did that?).

I really like the "just culture ideal" and hope someday we can look at fatality fires like this report did. The report makes it clear that the folks at ICP were trying hard to do the right thing. But !!! (and this is a big Butt !!!) not managing checkpoints, not managing CO exposure, not evacuating non-redcarded folks from the ICP before camp was " burnover" was (in "hindsight" OK, OK, OK) a very, very bad decision.

I'm not saying "heads should roll" over this but if there is one thing this new APA process needs, it's a contrition page. The "Lessons Learned by the Peers" section just doesn't go far enough.

thanks for listening.

1/18Submitted by KnuckleDragon..... Making the rounds in the USFS, the Modern Day Forest Service Parable:

The Old Forest Service and the Modern Forest Service decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day, the Old Forest Service won by a mile. The Modern Forest Service, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was that the Old Forest Service team had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the Modern Forest Service team had 8 people steering and one person rowing. Feeling a deeper study was in order, the Modern Forest Service management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised that, in the National Rowing Plan, too many people were steering the boat while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to use that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Old Forest Service, the Modern Forest Service rowing team management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents, and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager with none of then having any rowing experience.

They also implemented a new performance system that would make the 1 person rowing the boat more professional and accountable. It was called the "IFPM Rowing Team Program", with meetings, classes, and deadlines for the rower and a requirement to take 15 more courses on AgLearn. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes, and other equipment, and extra vacation days for practices and bonuses. It never occurred to anyone to add additional rowers.

The next year the Old Forest Service won by two miles. Humiliated, the Modern Forest Service management abandoned the National Rowing Plan, laid off the rower not meeting the deadline, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investment in new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Albuquerque Service Center as bonuses and the next year's rowing team was outsourced to private contractors.

Author Unknown


Is this correct?

EmpowHR MSS (Manager Self Service) - Discontinue Use

EmpowHR ESS (Employee Self Service) - Continue Use

If EmpowHR is so messed up that the "managers" can't use it effectively, why is the field expected to still use the flawed "management efficiency" program?

Same story for Avue Digital Services and hiring......
Same story for Fire Program Analysis (FPA).........
Same story for the 0401 component of IFPM..........
Same story for the outsourcing of fleet management.....
Same story for consolidation of various functions at ASC.....
Same story as flawed and failing Most Efficient Organizations (MEOs).....
Same story as the previous and proposed future changes within "Business Process Engineering" fiasco........

Someone(s) sold programs to an agency foaming at the mouth to "do more with less" and reduce costs without anyone in the cockpit who could change direction without the conflicts of being a political appointee. Most often, these programs have come with promises of increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved safety. All of the programs mentioned above have been complete failures due to the fact they simply CAN'T DO MORE WITH LESS.

All it takes is a person in the position of leadership at the Washington Office level to set the course right and get the Forest Service heading in the right direction to avert an outright failure. The person who can speak up and change course is Chief Kimball.

As the Chief of the Forest Service, she is in a position to take the Forest Service into the 21st Century....... It will take basic LEADERSHIP.... Leading UP.... and Leading DOWN.

She will have to abandon her "can do" attitude that she chastised firefighters for having in her first few weeks as Chief..... "Can Do" is a latent problem that exists in the management of the Forest Service, but not with its LEADERS.

If the Forest Service wants to change course, it should begin listening to the ideas and lessons being presented by their Professional Wildland Firefighters (District, Forest, GACC, Region, and WO).

It hurts deeply to see an agency I have been a part of since I was 14 years old spinning out of control so badly by the lack of leadership at the higher levels.

1/18The mess we are in...

Think about the amount of discretionary money created with so many vacancies open in R5 alone (1 state out of many). If you were in a position to support many programs that do not stand on their own and congress does not fund them, why would you want to fix it? There would less funds to be used elsewhere. Keep it in this dysfunctional state as long as possible? Sometimes I wonder, unfortunately at this point I truly think this is the case.


1/17Soldiers in WWII had the perfect saying for what has happened to Forest Service
HR, HCM, CIO, CIA, FBI, ASPCA or whatever the he!! acronym we're using
this week.......FUBAR

A message to FS management...STOP, you are screwing it all up.. in another year
CSI will be the only acronym recognized by employees, if there are any left

1/17Re: R5 HRM/HCM

Is anyone concerned that an already overtaxed hiring system in R-5.... A process that
can't even keep up with current R-5 fire vacancies..... Is now going to do the national
temporary hiring AND all permanent fire hiring?

I would hope that the hiring process is going to be streamlined to meet the need....
Maybe, just maybe, we'll return to the good old days of being able to recruit and fill a
job in less than 30 days!!!

This is an excellent opportunity to eliminate the "process predicament" that has
plagued R-5 hiring for many years.

Rogue Rivers
re:  Legoland's comment "I would love to offer a position to whomever wrote the post.  If they think this is
exciting, we would love to have you on board at our office.  We just find it all "challenging".
The poster's (my) only comment was "this just came in".    Everything else was from an e-mail that I cut/pasted
from.   I was just passing on news    "no name"

Thanks, no name. I clarified by putting the message in blockquotes. Ab.

1/17Re: Fed Fire Hiring
I wish all of you in R5 could have seen your HR folks faces when the announcement
came that migration would be delayed for up to 2 years.   But there are also some
errors in what was said below.
We are NOT going back to paper 52's.  R5 will be using the 52 tracker as usual and
the rest of the country will be retrofitted to use the tracker system also.
We will be doing all the temp hiring for the entire country AND permanent fire hires
also.  Going from 170 employees down to 40 - they call that a sizable HR presence? 
I don't think so!! Besides, they said that they were going to have to augment the HR
community because there just aren't enough people around anymore.  Sounds like
some term positions will be opening up here soon!  While the migration will be in place
for a minimum of 2 years, I never heard anything said about this process being in place
the entire time.
I would love to offer a position to whomever wrote the post.  If they think this is
exciting, we would love to have you on board at our office.  We just find it all


1/17By golly! Region 5 does have a sizable HR presence! I've been told it's
at 40 percent. Wow - that's huge!

Sign me:

"No Sarcasm from Me"

Haw Haw. Ab.


Having worked in the private sector for 20 years and for the USFS for 16
I've always been shocked by my ability to apply for jobs while working.
Initially I felt like I was stealing taxpayer money. Then I realized the
feds want me to fill out dozens of pages of repetitive garbage to apply for
a new position and my supervisor approved using government time. When Avue
came along and we had to then transfer all that garbage on line, it only
became worse. I've gradually decided I'm not in charge of everything. IF
they want reams of repetitive garbage, I don't mind using their time to
produce them. As a tax payer it burns me up, and since I'm about to leave
the agency early and work in the private sector again another 10 years
before drawing social security, I'm outraged again. My advice? Use the
system. That's what it is there for. If you have an questions about how
much official government time to use, just ask your supervisor. As for me,
when I had to prepare 30 pages and put it all on line several times a year,
I just decided they could pay for the garbage. My supervisors have never
complained and I quit asking.


Retirements in the RO? I work in a different RO. In my group the planned
regional office downsizing has done the opposite. Folks we expected to
retire are hanging around instead to see if a buyout is in the works. The
agency always denies planning buyouts then suddenly announces they have
them approved. Happened several times in my career. Any flush of
retirements probably came from CSRS folks who have advantages to retiring
at year's end. As FERS takes over, the retirements will be spread out
because there's no end-of-year incentive.

Call me Acronymless.

Or just Btpsaat: Back to Private Sector as a Taxpayer. I'm swearing off
acronyms once I'm retired!
1/17The Ellreese trial questions and the OIG on Esperanza got me checking around again for legal protections for federal wildland firefighters.

Upshot is that I heard that the San Bernardino NF firefighters involved in the Esperanza tragedy are currently being interviewed by OIG.

FEDS founder lawyer Tony Vergnetti plus lawyer Debra Roth presented info within the last week at the BDF Module meetings: They covered such legal topics as Criminal vs Civil cases; Garrity & Kalkines Rights -- Compelled vs Non-compelled Testimony; Public Law 107-203; etc, all that legal beagle stuff.

I hope everyone on the BDF is studied up and on the same page. I hope all fed managers have excellent professional liability insurance (PLI) coverage.

I also heard Casey talked with Feinstein's Regional Director in San Diego suggesting that OIG shouldn't be conducting investigations unless and until OIG has established policies on Investigation Team composition, Fire Training, etc. Makes sense.

As a result of my current little research project, I went to the FEDS website. (Its link is listed on the Classifieds page.) Their offer of 6 months free professional liability insurance coverage if you switch from another company was extended until the end of this month. Sounds like a good deal to me, knowing Tony's expertise and passion for wildland firefighters and the fact that he did most of the legal defense work for the "other company" you'd be switching from!

Here's the FEDS article on why PLI is necessary today.
The MEAT of it -- the part that should be read by all wildland firefighters -- begins on page 3. (Pages 1 and 2 introduce Tony, what their FEDS PLI offers, costs, etc...)

fwfsa-feds-article.pdf (101K pdf file)

If anyone wants to chime in with first hand reports, feel free.


1/17Breaking news on Fed Fire Hiring Process? Ab.

this just in . . . "no name"

* Vicki Jackson (R5) and a group of several are doing a "far reaching" assessment of ASC-HCM. (Albuquerque Service Center - Human Capital Management)

* There are "serious" problems with EmpowHR that are not meeting our needs. Given that, on February 4, we will DISCONTINUE the use of EmpowHR MSS (Manager Self Service). The ONLY units who will be using MSS will be the R3-RO, and two NFs in R3, the Cibola and the Santa Fe. These units will be using the EmpowHR process in conjunction with HCM to continue to work out the problems with the system. All field units, including the WO will not be using EmpowHR MSS for a "long long" time. (EmpowHR ESS (employee self service) is still working and will continue to function)

* We will be going back to paper copies of SF-52 actions, though this process is yet to be determined. Possibility we will move into the SF-52 tracker program, but again, yet to be determined.

* Here's a biggie -- ALL temporary hiring, including FIRE HIRES will be done by Region 5. Because of R5's sizeable HR presence, and because they have not migrated yet, it was decided that ALL hiring will be done by R5 - this is for EVERYONE, including the three R3 units above and Job Corps. This system will be in place for a MINIMUM of TWO years.

* HCM and CIO have developed a 3-page course for IT Security that's geared towards seasonals and temporary hires. The new employee (during orientation) will now only have to do the course on paper, certify that they have taken the course and sign it.

* Chief is recording a video that will be available to all employees sometime around February 4 (watch for the icon on your desktop) that explains some of what I'm telling you here.

And, I'll be attending the HCM e-meeting on temporary employment on January 23 and 24. Stay tuned, this is all getting very exciting.

Please keep us informed if anything else comes in. Might this help streamline the fire hiring process? Ab.


Trial was moved to April 14, 2008. Right now it appears we're on track for
that trial date.

1/17I have not read a update on Daniels in some time. I assume the trial did not
happen Jan. 15. Whats up with that??


Sent a note to T. Reply is above... Ab.

1/17One AD issue that I haven't seen anyone raise is the difficulty we have of moving into
another ICS position. Here's the problem: if you want to move into another job that
you see getting UTFed a lot, and the position is considerably different from your
current quals, the pay cut can be enormous. You not only face a drop in AD grade,
but also another cut when you go out as a trainee. A position I have been considering
would drop my pay by two thirds.

Certainly someone with years of experience in the fire organization is worth more to an
incident that a newbe coming in. Then there's the question about even being able to get
into the training. As a federal employee, it didn't matter if I went out as a member of the
command staff, or as a trainee in another position, the pay was the same.

Still Out There as an AD

1/17Hi Ab,

This is just out from CalFire and it is for public distribution. Carbon Monoxide Bulletin (137K pdf file)

This certainly does apply to us in this profession both on the line and in the fire camps, too.
Just think of what is hanging around the places where we are operating internal combustion
equipment. Due to studies of the atmosphere in structure fires, the requirement to continue
to don SCBAs during the overhaul phase tells me that the same situation exists in very
smoky areas of the wildfires too. Maybe the SCBAs all of us carry have a broader use
than just confined to a structure fire?


1/17Re: Still No Forest Service Policy on Burn Injuries

This item was discussed in San Diego this morning during the San Bernardino National Forest's Module Leader Workshop. It was discussed as an action item needing immediate attention by the Forest Service at the national level.

A good group of folks commented and offered suggestions on the policy (below) as it was being discussed, developed, and implemented by the DOI agencies last year. Much of the discussion and background of the policy development are archived on They Said.

The Standard was envisioned by everyone involved to be a truly interagency standard of care.

There is absolutely no reasonable excuse why the Forest Service didn't adopt the policy after two years of discussion of the need.

Kenneth Kempter
San Bernardino National Forest


From: Interagency Standards for Fire & Aviation Operations 2008 (Jan. 2008)

DOI Required Treatment for Burn Injuries
The following procedures will be used when DOI employees sustain burn injuries, regardless of agency jurisdiction.  These procedures will also apply to federal employees, casuals, and other personnel covered by the Federal Employee's Compensation Act who are burned during a wildland fire operation within DOI jurisdiction.

After on-site medical response, initial medical stabilization, and evaluation are completed, agency administrator will coordinate with the attending physician to ensure that an employee whose injuries meet any of the following burn injury criteria (identified by the American Burn Association as warranting immediate referral to an accredited burn center) is immediately referred to the nearest regional burn center.  A list of possible burn care facilities can be found at: www.blm.gov/nifc/st/en/prog/fire/im.phpl.

The decision to refer the employee to a regional burn center will be made directly by the attending physician or may be requested of the physician by the agency administrator.

Burn Injury Criteria

• Partial thickness burns (second degree) involving greater than 5% Total  Body Surface Area (TBSA).
• Burns involving the face, hands, feet, genitalia, perineum, or major joints.
• Third-degree burns of any size are present.
• Electrical burns, including lightning injury are present.
• Inhalation injury is suspected.
• Burns are accompanied by traumatic injury (such as fractures).
• Individuals are unable to immediately return to full duty.

It is imperative that action is expeditious, as burn injuries are often difficult to evaluate and may take 72 hours to manifest themselves.  When there is any doubt as to the severity of the injury, the required action is to immediately refer and transport the employee to a regional burn center.

Here's the wlf.com hotlist burn center list, focused on western centers, created by Strider. Ab.

1/17GISgirl -

She must be head-over-heels to want to move to
Worland. There is a BLM office in Worland which
houses the North Zone (of Wyoming) BLM fire
organization. It's not far from the real "Broken
Back" mountain - though there is no link between the
BLM fire and that movie. The dispatch for this area
is in Cody (about 1.5 hrs from Worland) and there may
be some upcoming opportunities there. Forest Service
offices are in Lovell, Greybull (IHC crew) and Cody.
Other than that, tell her to buy some Wranglers and
that leather boots are still in style for fashionable
footwear...Wyoming is great though, no income tax,
plenty of oil/gas revenues, good schools, wolves and
grizzly bears everywhere...

Go 'Pokes (That's a boost for UW - the Cowboys or
"pokes", nothing to do with the movie)

1/17Sorry about the link to the spider. The video showed
Technicians for Oregon Public Broadcasting doing radio
tower work above the Christmas Valley in Oregon and
work on another above Portland. Good scenery and the
Techs were entertaining.

Good video but they were breaking safety rules that
could be fined by OSHA. Could be why OPB took it down.

1/16Hey all-

I have a co-worker/friend of mine who is moving to Worland, WY at the
end of the month- obviously for love. She's worked for our company (public
safety) in administration/front desk and helped organize our world for us for
over 3 years and would love to stay in public safety.

Anyone from out in that region got any ideas? Anyone know of anything
coming open soon? I'm helping her governmentalize her app and introducing
her to USAjobs, but I thought I'd ask.

1/16The reason Radio Techs were included with the
computers, is that the Forest Service would have lost
the A76 study to the Private Sector if it was only
computers. ISO Leadership has mentioned this, even at
the National Meeting.

The big computer makers already have user support
established for their products, but they do not do
phone or radio work, and the contract was for combined
computer/data/phone/radio services. The telephone part
is easy as there are phone companies all over that
could be sub-contracted. But Radio work is specialized
(the FS is currently having problems finding new
qualified Radio Techs to replace Retirees and a few
that have jumped ship). The Forests that have tried
contracting Radio in the past have been failures.
There is no money to be made in a well maintained
system, the trouble tickets and equipment sales
account for money coming in.

One thing that burns my butt is Radio saved the FS,
but we are exempted from the special pay rate of the
2201 series that the computer people received before
the Dot Coms went bust. Always been harder to find
Radio Techs than Computer People, even more so when
the cellular companies sucked up Techs when cell
phones became more common. Lot of small radio shops
closed because they lost their techs at that time.

I did hear a good rumor that Radio might be pulled
back into Fire when/if the Agencies Fire Shops


Video of some Radio work
www.opb.org/programs/ofg/videos/view/52-TV-Tower-Safety (link is now gone)
1/16Submitted by NMAirBear:

Recent news from the AD Firefighter Association regarding current AD issues:

www.adfirefighter.org/images/Newletter_No._5_Jan_15_08.doc (67K doc file)

1/16Hi Ab,

I'm a federal employee. I have had supervisors allow me time at work to
work on my application. I was wondering if anyone out there knows how much
time we are allotted at work, if any, to work on an application for a
federal job? If we are allotted time to work on an application, what if
the application is for another agency?



1/16From Firescribe:

MT Fire: Smoldering coal seam possible cause of winter wildland fire


The FS fire training and dispatch feasibility studies
should be tabled for ten years. We already contract
out a lot of the training and that makes sense. It’s
called Aglearn. Employees are able to complete some
of the more mundane (non-fire) training on-line using
the Aglearn program. Aglearn is a USDA program and I
am assuming that a contractor writes the code.

Nobody seems to know how much money was spent doing
outsourcing studies or if any money was saved as a
result of the centralizations. The Forest Service did
such a poor job in complying with A-76 that it finally
gained the attention of congress. From what I have
seen when a job is outsourced, the level of service
goes down. Ask any FS employee. If I need to get
hold of the phone company or a radio technician, I
have to call a contractor to make the phone call for
me. In other words the tax payer is paying the
contractor to make a phone call which I could have
made myself. I also have to call the contactor when I
need the services of the Forest Service radio
technician who works across the parking lot from me.
It definitely takes more time to get service than it
used to. I can see the logic in centralizing some of
the IT and human resources because corporate America
does the same thing. I don’t know why radios and
telephones were grouped along with the computers. The
only good thing that I have read about A-76 is that
only two percent of those outsourced end up on the
street. I just hope that I am not part of that two

Training and dispatching are critical to wild
firefighting. We all depend on each other. In fire,
most of the instructors come from the firefighting
community. If you break any of the links in the chain
it could spell disaster. There are safety issues
here and outsourcing any of it is just a bad idea.
Congress has made a good decision in curbing any OMB
A-76 related activities in the Forest Service for one
year. Now we need to look to them to make the changes

John Q Firefighter
1/15Ab, fyi

Hollenshead is continuing to analyze dispatch offices workload,
responsibility in R5 using info from the dispatch feasibility study.
Might make sense to see what part is law enforcement, rec, fire,
etc. All the forests have different needs.

left coast noname


NJ managed to get all the Fire Warden titles, Fire Control Tech. and
Forest Fire Observer (Look Out) into the State Police and Fire Pension
System some years ago, Unfortunately some titles got left out and it's
been a long unsuccessful fight to try to get them in.

We're still working on it through the Union and other means.


1/15kb asked about changing retirement status from general service to firefighter in her/his state. Oregon did this several years ago and it was a long and involved process that took several years to get done. My agency, Oregon Dept. of Forestry, has many fire, non-fire, and part time fire jobs and those of us that spent most of our summers on the line wanted a better retirement. You pretty much have to get your State legislature to pass the appropriate laws you need. Involve your union in the process and keep after the lawmakers. They have a lot to do you you aren't all that important to them.

1/15Guess I have to agree with OFG, put something out there that we can chew on...
and not just Portal to Portal. I am most interested in the breadth of application.
This in not, by a long shot only a SoCal or R5 issue.

sign me
interested in cards yet to be played
1/15The point of the Nov R5 Retention meeting was to develop specific recommendations for actions that could alleviate the retention problem, which is the result of many general issues. (See the survey results and comments mostly from those interviewing with CalFire in this case.) Specifics have been spelled out in a number of posts to theysaid. It's good to see that the issues are beginning to be addressed, sometimes it's the groundpounders' job to make it known that there is a serious problem. We live in a land of free speech, individual and collective. We're exercising it. Absent being asked to deal with retention in a dialog with our regional fs fire director, we are using another branch of govt to force the fs to deal with it. Specific nutz/bolts should be researched, but any idea should not be discarded without thorough research.

On Point


I found this in my in my Lotus inbox. While on the BDF this past Fall, we got a chance
to meet Chief Seltzner, and other BDF employees, and hear another perspective to the
Factual Report. The Analysis goes in hand with the Factual Report.

www.fire.ca.gov/fire_er_content/downloads/esperanza_00_complete_final_draft_05_01_2007.pdf  (3,865K pdf file)

Esperanza Fire Analysis (92K word doc)

Seltzner Perspective (28K word doc)

Another R5 Squaddie

Thanks Squaddie. Here's the link to Misery Whip's comments on Esperanza from 6/6/07-- Esperanza-Critique -- as well. Ab.

1/15Well, The giant exodus from the FS to CDF might not be as big as first thought, at least here in Northwest Calif.

Out of the 10 or so folks that put in Calfire apps, I only know of 2 that received supplemental apps to continue the process. 1 BC who got a capt. Sup app, and 1 FPT that got an Engineer app. And the supplemental apps are HEAVY on Structural knowledge classes, so ya better know your structure fire very well...The rest either received letters that said they were not qualified, (including someone who had been a FS BC for over 5 years, and didn't even qualify as captain in Calfire), to most of those who received nice , polite letters saying they have enough internal applicants in the Northern cal area (Calfire Engineers and such) to fill all current vacancies. So, maybe the far NW forests in cali won't be as bad off for employees as first thought. At the end of last season, Calfire laid off their Nor cal FF's so early that we were able to pick a couple up as SCEPS on our engines for the rest of the season. And With the governators big cuts coming, who knows the future of calfire?



My wife and I had a long conversation this weekend on what it would
take to stay with the forest service. It is disappointing to hear that current
employees that have gone through the application process were already
written off for the retention meeting. I did a lot of thinking about this whole
process and was hopping the Forest Service would step up before people
move on. I am not moving on because I want a hotel room during fires, I
am moving on because we in the Forest Service need to meet some
equitable pay for being gone 100+ days a year from our homes in order
to make mortgage and basic household costs. Also be able to spend time
with my boys and not feel guilty about missing a fire and ot.

You can post this under the name gogo.

Welcome gogo. I hope you will hang on a bit longer. The comment about current CalFire interviewees being "written off" in that meeting may have been to help the meeting participants tackle the process with the intent of helping for the long term. I hope the FS shares the specific good ideas that were put forth in the meeting. Ab.


I am with a state agency, who just recently changed their wildland firefighters job descriptions from Forestry Techs, to Fire Techs. With this change, we have decided to try and make a push to classify us under the States firefighter retirement, versus the regular public service retirement.

Has anyone been involved in something similar to this? We have the backing of the States Firefighter Association, but we need to sell our case to the Department of Human Resources. Our division director, state FMO, etc are all willing to help present this. However, it is up to us to put together the information.

So, if anyone has been there before, I would like to ask some questions. Or, if anyone wants to put in there opinion or knowledge on the issue, please let me know.


1/15Anybody know what is going on in Region 2, seems to be a mass exodus in the
regional office? I realize some of the departures were from retirements,
but I find it ironic that everybody decided to go at the same time, with
little notice. Wouldn't be so bad if the Director and Deputy Director
decided to hang their hat, but they are still hanging on until who knows
when. Also, it is disappointing to know that R2 didn't attend the National
Operations meeting for the 4th or 5th time. Seems like the Rocky Mountain
Region is stepping back and not forward, folks on the ground are trying to
makeup for the feebleness that is present in the leadership roles at the

1/15An earlier post mentioned:
"I want to work for an organization that is run by Firefighters!"

Question: What are the expectations for the recommendations to the Chief to improve retention?

  • FS change of mission from a multiple use land management to an all emergency response agency?
  • Increase in pay.... How much? What is the expected annual income?
  • 100% health care without employee contribution?
  • Seasonal employee benefits equivalent to permanent appointments?
  • Breadth of application (SOCal or R5 or nation wide?)

Not sure I've heard any specifics; more a generalization of "let's make things better" which is certainly a good starting point. What are the specifics though?

As far as timing in relation to anticipated CALFIRE hiring, I wouldn't anticipate any government agency to be able to make significant unilateral change within that timeframe. It will take change in policies, regulations and perhaps even laws. Not saying it can't be done, just that it is a time consuming process.

Anyone care to offer specifics?
OFG (ret)

1/15Judge threatens Mark Rey with Jail?


Interesting article about the FS Fire Retardant EA. Looks like it may
not be a done deal after all, dropping water only probably won't be all
that effective, but I do kind of agree that the FS didn't fully address the
issue with the EA. I can send you the EA if you need it too, and wouldn't
hurt to keep me anonymous if you choose to post this.

Great forum!


1/15Maybe gone Maybe Forgotten!

You may have your bags packed and be ready to go, hopefully not gone
yet, but whatever your decision, you will not be forgotten. One thing I
have found through the last 8 years is that firefighters who begin as FS
and then move on continue with the work ethic, service orientation,
environmental sensibilities and training instilled in their early days on forests,
mountains and rangelands, far from paved surfaces and motel accommodations.

My best to you dude/dudette!


1/15Stephen, the ICE designation goes far beyond the wildland fire community and is supposed to be used as a suffix to a name: JohnDoeICE. It's not perfect; there are probably lots of other professional designations that use the same acronym, but used in such a specific way, the ICE extension should be clear enough. If I get run over by a beer truck, my spouse, my folks, and a very close friend of my family could get phone calls, and that's a comfort to me.

By the way, welcome. Hope your classes go well. Pay close attention to the safety information!

Still Out There as an AD
Feels a little strange to be so informal on first post, but I've been reading your site for the last few hours (forums, linkage and such) and feel comfortable talking to you. My name is Stephen and I start my S-130/ S-190/ L-180 training this Friday and am looking forward to becoming part of the community. The plan is to focus on a career eventually moving into Incident Command.

I just saw the post about using the designation "ICE" in your cellphone contact list in order to designate a spouse, NOK, etc. This was brought up during my recent Wilderness First Aid recert class, and I really took issue with the term. I live about 60 miles from the border in a sector that is under constant invasion and ICE has a very specific meaning around here. I volunteer with both the FS and BLM so I'm also in contact with these folks (ICE). I've even had five bale-haulers "surrender" to me and my trailwork crew after they dropped their "product", and just wanted to get arrested/ jailed/ deported (approx 15 days of shelter, medical, and 3 hots and a cot- we're a generous country!).

The point of my rambling narrative is that if I was responding to someone less than A/O+3, and I saw ICE in the contacts; I'd most likely ignore it. Don't get me wrong, I think this is an excellent idea, and I love standards more than most of my friends can tolerate, but I respectfully suggest that the letters ICE either be a preface or suffix to the person's actual name. THAT would definitely get my attention. I'd actually prefer to see it used as a prefix; that way if this concept becomes a norm/ standard, responders would know to go right to "I". Also since you have the person's name, the responder is able to use a somewhat softer approach when contact is made in what could be a very traumatic situation.

My two cents.
Great work, love the site.
Thank you,

Stephen W
1/14Hi Ab…. Gizmo,

I really appreciated you sharing the FS acronyms as compared to the real world. Some of us come from states that have a Department of Natural Resources or DNR. My business partner has early work experience in the medical field but now we do conflict resolution work (one reason I check “They Said” almost daily). When she hears “DNR” she has to work to avoid reverting back to her early days when it meant “Do Not Resuscitate”!

I’d hate to think that could apply the Forest Service!

Ever green….

The Witness Tree

1/14The belief that the FS Management not being forthcoming with the findings
of the Dec. 10th meet has created more of an environment of mistrust and
animosity. That being said, whether the finding are good or bad, once
they are implemented, they will not only affect the FS in R5 but the rest
of the Federal fire agencies throughout the US, and may even affect the
other non fire groups in the Fed agencies. FS management may be trying to
prevent a big wave of change all over.

FF hoping for the best
1/14So first off.. Cal Fire folks lurking.
Where are the FAE openings located? There are a couple here and there that I can find, but not alot of info. How do I get my foot in the door to say hello at some of these places like the Amador-Eldo Unit? I imagine calling, stopping by, Resumes, and a couple connections here and there would help. Any other tricks of the trade for Cal-fire would be helpful. I want to be ready to hit the ground running and be proactive to getting a job, rather than sitting on my butt by the phone hoping someone will call. Is Ice cream and station jumping a good call? Please let me know. If you don't feel like telling the forum AB can give you my email to contact me directly.

Loose and Lose:
Second, I wish someone would get LOOSE mouth and give up what was going on behind closed doors at the retention meeting. Before the FED LOSES out on some Good experience. I know a few people filling out their supplementals dilengently right now that would stay if we just knew what was going on. Pay, Series, and other items are part of the retention problem, but so is being kept in the dark by Fire Management. We spend all summer dealing with things popping up here and there that we have to deal with. Why does management think it is funny to have a Retention Jack in the box with the note "Don't turn handle till FEB 1st or later"? Is it because they know the ideas will enrage the community further and they will have a larger reduction in force at the next Cal Fire hiring?

I've heard hope of better things and some people with insider information saying it will be better. All I see is Systems Normal and another failed attempt right now. Sorry for being a pessimist, but after 10 yrs of being swept under the rug, it is hard not to be pessimistic some days.

Two reasons I am leaving:

  1. I'm married and getting paid bachelor wages and
  2. I want to work for an employer that has no choice but to listen to its employees.

No offense to Casey or the NFFE, they both do a terrific job in trying to beat that mole over the head in "Whack a Mole". I'm sure senators make the same sound when you connect finally! :) I want to work for and organization that is run by Firefighters! My question is with FAE hiring coming up and current FEOs and AFEOs applying. The Captains list out and FEOs are moving into their vacated positions. Who is gonna drive the type 3 engines in this world with the ENOP specifications in place? Are we gonna shove 2nd year FFs through their FFT1 Taskbooks? Scary!

Anyways, enough of the stool. This may get Mellie on her stool again!

Maybe gone Maybe Forgotten!

1/14While the CA Governor is looking at reducing some of the CalFire budget while off setting some those of the cuts with the new proposed "insurance fee", the ID Governor is looking to bolster his states firefighting reserve budget by 10 million for 2008 --


Officials open state wallet to boost ID fire prevention
Article posted on Fireengineering.com from the Times News -Magicvalley.com

BOISE -- Just months after Idaho suffered through its worst fire season ever, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the Idaho Legislature are hoping to beef up measures to minimize the impact -- financially and physically -- wildfires could have in the future.

Otter wants $10 million for his Governor's Emergency Fund, which he says will be reserved for fighting wildfires in 2008.

In a routine matter, he's also asking for $1.2 million from the state's general fund to replenish part of the Disaster Emergency Relief Fund, which Otter tapped for the rehabilitation and seeding efforts on the 650,000 acres charred in the Murphy Complex Fire.

The money may be used by Otter for "any emergency which was not foreseen or reasonably foreseeable by the Legislature and which may arise in carrying on the essential functions of state government and in protecting the interest of the state which have been impaired by such emergency," according to state law. It has a balance of about $80,000 and has been accessed for three or four years, according to the Division of Financial Management. Otter didn't seek funding for it last year.

Wildfires torched about 1.9 million acres in Idaho last year -- more than in any other state, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. About 9.2 million acres burned nationally, not counting some California wildfires still burning.

Federal land-management officials expect the mega-fire trend to continue as summers become hotter and drier. Authorities blamed the ferocity of this year's large fires on especially hot weather, high winds and a large amount of dry fuel.

Otter and his budget analysts feel that accessing the Governor's Emergency Fund would show more accountability. And unspent money would remain for the future, said spokesman Jon Hanian.

"With the case of fires, it underscored a need for the ability by the governor for an emergency fund," said Hanian.

How the $10 million proposal fares in the Legislature remains to be seen..... Click on article link above for full article -


But, just when you thought it was safe.....(lol)


Otter family ranch receives wildfire aid
From the Times News -Magicvalley.com
By Jared S. Hopkins

BOISE - As Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter asks state lawmakers for millions of dollars in reserves in case wildfires devastate Idaho again in 2008, funding for rehabilitation efforts in southern Idaho have already benefited his former employer - and ex-wife.

Last year, Otter issued $2 million by executive order for rehabilitation and reseeding in the wake of the 650,000-acre Murphy Complex Fire. The money went to state-owned land, much of it used for grazing by ranchers.

The ranch has two permits for access to 5,500 acres of state land, according to the Department of Lands. Its permit cost $3,689 based on an animal unit count of 620.

The company's primary stockholder is Otter's ex-wife, Gay Simplot. Otter worked for 30 years for Simplot. The ranch is used for livestock owned by the Simplot Company. The land is in a trust fund for Otter's children from his first marriage, according to Otter's office.

Otter did not intervene on behalf of Gay Simplot, and the rehabilitation efforts were coordinated among state and federal agencies, said Chuck Jones, ranch operation manager for Simplot Livestock Management Company, which has 16 ranches.

"The governor didn't use his influence as an ex-husband of Gay Simplot to get us anything. He was concerned about everybody out there, not just Simplot ranches....."


Just thought these were kind of interesting on a slow day.


1/14I have a question based on gut feel.

Does it seem like the content here on theysaid now differs from content of previous years at this time of year? Seems that usually in early to mid-January contributors have begun rehashing burnovers, near misses and lessons learned, what might or might not be included in training, the stuff of better practices for survival on the fireline. This year it's about budget, jobs, whether to change agency for their careers and families. Maybe I'm wrong.


The Abs haven't had time to post the page of photos of the post-Inyo Complex burnover yet. Perhaps there were so many near misses and accidents firefighters don't know where to start. The NWCG working group hasn't come out with their list yet, that I'm aware of. Everyone is busy writing their congress person? The immediate need takes precedence. Ab.

1/14Re the 1/10/08 message from Tom Harbour, FS FAM Chief (on theysaid below on 1/10) re the Omnibus budget bill

Items mentioned affect BLM, such as dropping A-76 study for Dispatch
and Fire Training and Congress high interest in hazardous fuels funding


I didn't upload the original document or make a link. Its text is posted on theysaid if you scroll down. Ab.

1/14From Q

Attached are the CA Assembly Budget Committee highlights of the Governor’s Proposal (900 K word doc) for the Special session fiscal emergency and the 2008-09 state Budget. Below are the pertinent parts for CalFire:


CA Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Special Session Fiscal Emergency Proposals:

  • Reduces $2.9 million (General Fund) in 2008-09 from resource management programs and will reduce the Department's capacity to review timber harvest plans, enforce environmental protection standards, and conduct nursery operations and vegetation management programs. Some of the functions affected by these reductions will be funded through new bond fund appropriations.
  • Reduces $4.8 million (General Fund) and 46 positions from Department administration in 2008-09.
  • Generates $125 million (Insurance Fund) beginning in 2008-09 in new revenue by assessing a 1.25 percent fee on statewide homeowner insurance policies to fund fire suppression programs. This increase in revenue will be used to offset an otherwise $44.7 million reduction in General Fund support for fire protection programs.

2008-09 Budget Proposals:

  • Augments $33 million (Insurance Fund) and 387 new positions to implement the following recommendations of the 2007 Southern California Wildfire Action Plan: Increase staffing of Fire Engines from 3 to 4 firefighters; manage fire suppression fleet through new global positioning systems; and replacement of 10 helicopters. Additionally, there will be a corresponding proposal in the Office of Emergency Services to procure 100 new fire engines that are to be distributed statewide.
  • Augments $4.4 million (Proposition 84) and 12.1 positions for the Department to evaluate climate change's impacts on forests and the begin implementation of strategies such as tree planting, stand management, biofuel energy generation, and fuels reductions projects.
1/13I posted several crew photos of a Ringtown Valley Crew on Handcrews 21 and of firefighters on the Jocko Lakes Fire on Handcrews 22.

Here's the message accompanying the Jocko Lakes images from Al Henkel. Al is a FF2 himself, best kind of fire photojournalism. Ab.

These are from the Jocko Lakes Fire in MT. Taken by Al Henkel/NBC News on assignment for NBC
Div "C" 09 Aug 07
Holding during a burnout
Christian Blankenship from the AK Type-1 team
Tim Wilson/Sup  from the Happy Camp IHC

Flashback to the summer:

Here's the Story Al did for the NBC Nightly News, 8/31/07. I dug out his old email.  Can't remember if I posted it then... Thanks, Al. Ab.

here are some links to a Fire story I did last week for NBC Nightly News.

A big thanks to Lynn Wilcock Team from Alaska on the Jocko lakes fire last month, USFS Engine 402 in Ogden, UT, and Box Elder County, UT Fire Marshal Greg Martz.

The story that aired 31 Aug:

The blog entry:

Photo Link:

Al Henkel/NBC News SW Bureau


I haven't a clue as to what is in the report. The delays referenced here on TheySaid are unfortunately typical of the FS. In fact it has yet to respond to the letter sent to Chief Kimbell and the ANF last August.

One of the frustrations is that the Chief has to be briefed on all this. It would have been nice to have had the Chief "briefed" as soon as she sat behind the Chief's desk as to what is going on in the fire program. None of this should have caught anyone off guard in the Agency.

Rather the actual losses and planned losses of great firefighters coupled with the incessant education of Congress by advocates for those firefighters and, perhaps most importantly the firefighters themselves have forced the Agency to address the manifestations of its falling asleep at the wheel for the last five or so years.

Sorry to be blunt but all of this; pay, benefits, working condition etc., have been issues of our firefighters for decades. The FS firefighters should not have had to be put in a position of feeling unwanted or feeling the need to leave the Agency because the Agency leadership ignored their pleas.

Well, there isn't anymore sand for the Agency to hide its head in. It is time for leaders to lead. By the way, if it is true that the leadership considers those looking to leave to Cal-Fire and other agencies as "already" lost, then those losses are on them. To me, that is a despicable attitude for any employer to take towards men & women who risk their lives each year.

If I were Randy Moore and Ed Hollenshead and Tom Harbour and Gail Kimbell, I'd personally contact each and every firefighter looking to leave and personally make every effort to keep the best wildland firefighters in the world in the federal system.

1/13Concerned about the Delays

Lobo's posting validates some of Mellie's comments on cost of living in No Cal. Since some No Cal employees live in more rural areas, gas prices are at or above the Needles price. Food prices and utilities are high everywhere. I can only imagine how high food prices are in rural No. Cal areas where super-centers do not exist. Housing: Yes in So Cal they're off the charts. However, they're coming down in So Cal (double digits % downward in some areas) and don't appear to be coming down in other areas of the Northwest such as Seattle, Portland and Redding. With that said, I appreciate Ed and others for looking at the issue regionally vs. focusing only on a quarter of the state. We don't need a divided region.

I write this with some caution, as we have not seen the report. Missing 2 deadlines for release is troubling. First it was, we will release the report after the RF is briefed. Then it changed to, we need to brief the WO and we will give you some more information in Feb. What's the WO going to say? "We need to brief the Dept and open some discussions with OPM before we release"? The issue is retention and retention overwhelmingly is related to pay, benefits and cost of living. Mixing issues diverts focus from what the main issue is = PAY and is a common tactic of meeting managers who may not be sold on the urgency of the primary issue (red flag #1). What related to the mission could be discussed? The only thing I can think of is centralized fire and I don't think a strong majority of R-5 firefighters would go either way (centralized or traditional) if surveyed. Someone tell me what in our mission could be corrected to make a significant change in the number of employees leaving? We all have SCBAs and trauma kits. Some have AEDs. I don't know of any R-5 Forest that would not respond Firefighters to a medical aid within a National Forest. Help me on this one.

We have some strong Capt's and BCs ready to walk and others looking to get out or retire early. I don't want to lose those employees, period! If we can get the details out and associated implementation time lines, we may save some of them from leaving. Being told: "I expect to be able to share more information on this issue with you in February" is vague, does not show an effort to work together, does not acknowledge that mistakes have been made in the past, is not specific to how much more will be released in Feb and tells me the full report will never be released.

I'm glad Casey is hopeful. He and others probably know more about what's in or could be in the report. I just wish the remaining 99.7% of the R-5 fire org knew. Not only the details, but the time lines for decisions and implementation.


As I understand it, February 1 is the deadline given by Congress in the Omnibus Bill. However, I heard that someone at the Dec07 Retention Meeting said it is unlikely firefighters with interviews for CalFire could be retained, like those firefighters were written off as losses already. Reducing the urgency for the final retention report and allowing time to pass reduces the options available, similar to a loss of situational awareness and "dawdling" in the face of a fire front prior to a burnover. I know I have said, "Let's give this process a chance," but how much time do they need and at what cost? I think some of our folks might stay if they saw some movement toward retention. Ab.

1/13From Lobotomy:

Gas Prices Nationwide with a search tool:

Lowest Price: Crook, CO ($2.33/gl)
Highest (low) Price: Needles, CA ($3.71/gl.)
Highest (high) Price: KAUNAKAKAI, HI ($4.14/gl.)

Selected Lowest Price by Cities/State:

Los Angeles - $3.17/gl.
San Diego - $3.16/gl.
Eureka - $3.46/gl.
Sacramento - $3.14/gl.
Vallejo - $3.22/gl.
San Bernardino - $3.10/gl.
Redding - $3.08/gl.
Sonora - $3.24/gl.
Yreka - $3.38/gl.
Calimesa - $3.14/gl.
San Francisco - $3.28/gl.
Chico - $3.16/gl.
Santa Rosa - $3.15/gl.
Auburn - $3.16/gl.

Phoenix - $2.80/gl.
Tuscon - $2.80/gl.
Kingman -  $2.84/gl.
Flagstaff - $2.95/gl.
Yuma - $2.94/gl.


Las Vegas - $2.94/gl.
Reno - $3.04/gl.
Ely - $3.46/gl.

Seattle - $3.06/gl.
Spokane - $3.02/gl.
Yakima - $3.11/gl.

Portland - $2.76/gl.
Bend - $3.16/gl.

Boise, ID - $2.93/gl.
Missoula, MT - $2.96/gl.
Washington D.C. - $2.96/gl.
Salt Lake City, UT - $2.90/gl.
Santa Fe, NM - $2.81/gl.
Denver, CO - $2.67/gl.
Austin, TX - $2.83/gl.

Thanks for the research, Lobotomy. Ab

1/13Re: Recruitment and Retention
from Lobotomy


Sawtooth firefighting class to begin, needs students
by Damon Hunzeker
Times-News correspondent 01/13/2008

Have you ever wanted to jump in and fight a big fire? Nearly nine million acres burned in the United States last year - 1.5 million in Idaho - so even if the question seems preposterous, somebody has to do it.

The Sawtooth National Forest, in conjunction with the College of Southern Idaho, will provide a course on battling wildfires. Beginning Jan. 15, Introduction to Wildland Fire will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for eight weeks.

So far, four people have registered for the class, down from 15 last year. If enrollment doesn't increase by Tuesday, the class may be canceled.

As explained by lead facilitator Steve Clezie, the course is an amalgam of four disciplines within the larger effort toward suppressing and preventing uncontrolled fires: basic firefighting, leadership skills, wildland-weather knowledge, and a tutorial on the incident-command system.

The class combines pass/fail and graded work. In addition to lectures and presentations for which Clezie will bring in multiple experts, it includes exams, quizzes, and a field trip to the CSI Expo. The latter is the only hands-on aspect, because it's difficult to replicate a wildfire - even for academic purposes.

Like any college course, students are not guaranteed a job. They will not be certified for anything. However, they are guaranteed a significantly better chance of getting a job in a highly competitive field.

Clezie, a Navy veteran, has been with the Forest Service for 10 years. "The class will make you more marketable to get hired with a government agency," he said. "That's what it's intended to do - to give people an edge. They'll already have the basics covered."

Jobs with the Forest Service suit people who are looking for an adventurous career in the wild, college students, and, of course, people who simply hate fire. Those who take and pass the class are not going to get rich, but they are going to immerse themselves in a unique and unpredictable job.

"Aside from the adrenaline rush," Clezie said, "you get to meet a variety of different people because you travel so much. With people in California, or wherever, there's a camaraderie and a real sense of community."

Depending upon how many employees return from last season, the Forest Service will hire about 40 to 50 people this year - including the Sawtooth Hotshots, helicopter crews and trail teams.

The fire season runs from May 15 to Oct. 15. When fires are nonexistent or contained, Forest Service employees are still busy -sometimes working on fuel-reduction projects, sometimes building fences - and physical fitness is paramount. In the mornings, they alternate between running 3 to 5 miles, lifting weights and various other exercises.

Fair Use Disclaimer

1/12Clarity of the Agency fire mission:

OK this may sound a bit odd coming from me but I am not reading those words in a limited, literal context.

I am hopeful Mr. Moore's use of those words is inclusive of a broad range of issues facing Agency firefighters. I would be more discouraged if those words were from someone in the RO who had been in R5 for a significantly longer period of time than Mr. Moore. However he has been here for a very short time and perhaps, having not had ample communication from him, we should all give him the benefit of the doubt.

Granted the phrase can be construed as a bit vague and ambiguous but maybe that's just his style. I am confident that during a week long meeting in Sacramento more was discussed than just "pay & clarity of the Agency fire mission." Pay alone is not a singular issue. There are many facets to pay & benefits. So too are there many facets of the "mission" that need to be changed to benefit our firefighters.

Obviously time is critical. A number of firefighters will be making serious decisions about their futures soon and I hope Mr. Moore is cognizant of that.

While all of this is headed back to the WO, so too is a request by the FWFSA to meet with Forest Service Chief Kimbell. I can assure you the 4 page letter requesting time (should be posted on the FWFSA web site soon) is candid, frank and accurate in its assessments and makes it clear that the buck stops on her desk. The letter has been faxed and copies have been provided to the Forest Service Legislative Director and Tom Harbour.

It is yet another attempt by the FWFSA to reach out to the leadership of the Forest Service in an effort to work with the Agency to make the Nation's land management agency fire programs "the" place to make a career.

The Forest Service chief will know, if she doesn't already, that the FWFSA and others are responsible for educating congress on the issues facing our firefighters that has led to the Omnibus language and other communications by Congress. It is my hope that she will recognize she has an incredible opportunity to bring her Agency's fire program into the 21st century and make it more effective & efficient.

The bureaucracy that is the FS cannot fix itself without seeking assistance from those who are adversely affected by that bureaucracy's ineffectiveness or mismanagement...In this case its firefighters. Chief Kimbell must demonstrate the leadership and willingness to listen to, and work with organizations such as NFFE, the FWFSA and others who truly are the voice of her firefighters and those from all land management agencies.

OK, off to shovel more snow...To all you BDF folks, see you in sunny San Diego next week.


Am I just not getting it, or maybe I am missing something?? Most companies/organizations, public/private, that have retention issues because of the lack of pay and better benefits, simply offer more $$ and better benefits to try and solve the retention issues. Empower employees, give recognition etc. Otherwise they lose employees, keep a few, hire more, lose some, and the cycle goes on until the organization simply does not have the people to carry on the cycle because there are no more to enter the cycle.

The mission? The mission is still the same, R-5 or R-4 or where-ever. The application may be a little different, is all. Brush vs. timber vs. grass etc. The mission is the same, but times have changed. Structural fire depts did not want to do EMS. But times changed, fires became more infrequent and medical aids became 80% of the job. The mission stayed the same, helping the public, but the application changed. Look at the LEO program...More aggressive enforcement vs. passive and educative ......

My .02 cents

Former Green Soldier..

1/12Clarity of the agency mission? I know what the agency mission is and that's the
reason I'm here. How did mission get injected into this meeting? I went back
and viewed the Dec survey and didn't see anything about a mission issue.
  • How is clarifying the agency mission going to keep hundreds of R-5 Firefighter
    from going to other agencies?
  • How is clarifying the mission going to help some of our lower grade firefighters
    better afford fed health insurance premiums and begin to get off California
    assisted health care and food stamps?

Could someone who took part in the discussions or someone who has an issue
with the mission explain? Is this more of the R-5 failed doctrine strategy coming our
way? Or a way to appease and distract?


Oh yeah, it's the mission stupid! Who would of thought.


All employees,

Today I received a briefing on the draft firefighter retention strategy for Region 5. The strategy identified issues affecting our ability to recruit and retain firefighters in Region 5. I appreciate the work the Retention Team accomplished in preparing the report and its recommendations. It has helped me to quickly understand the challenges before regional and agency leadership and allowed me to select the recommendations I want to bring forward. I have asked my staff to use the selected recommendations to craft the proposal I will present to the Chief. I believe the two primary issues are pay and clarity of the agency fire mission. I also want to address secondary issues related to work environment and leadership.

Briefings for leadership in the WO are planned for the end of this month. My plan will be finalized once I have reached agreement with the Chief on the proposal. The agreed upon proposal will be what will be used to respond to the request by the Senate Appropriations Committee for a retention strategy for this Region. I expect to be able to share more information on this issue with you in February.

Regional Forester, R5
Phone: 707.562.9000
Fax: 707.562.9091

1/12:: a loosing proposition ...

I'm losing it when I read firefighters' misuse of lose and loose. I hate seeing intelligent people make themselves look dense.

The moose was loose,
but we didn't lose the ewes.

Think wildlife and farm animals.
Loose and moose rhyme; both have 5 letters.
Ewes and lose rhyme; both have 4 letters.

Say it out loud:   The moose was loose, but we didn't lose the ewes.

You're welcome.

Good one, Grammar queen? (tongue in cheek) Ab.


You stated that folks should check with their agencies to see if immediate help would be available should a tragedy occur. As far as the FS goes, I believe that this would be a forest to forest situation.

In all fairness, the Stanislaus was wonderful to me. Even before they contacted Vicki, they were able to give me a check from the Employee's Association Fund, so there was an immediate response to my needs. Some forests that I have heard about.... not so much support.

Thank you to the WFF and all the wonderful folks both in the fire community and outside it that support our efforts to make sure every family has a "good" experience to remember during a time when everything else seems bad. Being able to stand back now and put everything into perspective - what a gift we have in Vicki, Burk, Melissa, and Candace. They are our first glimmer of light and hope during a dark time.

Love you guys!!


PS - Don't forget to join the 52 Club !! My first post of the year about this, but you can be sure it won't be my last!! ;-)

1/12On the topic of the firefighter retention report:

Did the retention report really get out yesterday? I haven't been able to find it. I'm really looking forward to reading it. Some good folks with excellent minds attended and participated. Thanks to all of you who worked so hard for so many days!

I hope they considered NorCal as well. SoCal has expensive housing. I think NorCal has the highest gas prices in the country and our food costs are through the roof in comparison with the south...

On the topic of financial agency support for families in times of tragedy:

We all know the FS firefighters often respond by passing the boot in fire camp, etc, but that otherwise there was a mass of legalities and bureaucracy. That's why the WFF began as I understand it, because by law, the feds couldn't help financially or with motels, transport, returning the body, etc, right away.

Don't know about states support for FF families when things go bad. I heard years ago that CDF was supportive - but a friend said that lately Cal Fire's non-gov support group gets hung up in red tape on the financial side. This would be important to know if these families really need help fast for bills and lodging and travel, and we in the larger community just don't know about it. Can anyone from Cal Fire say what kind of help is the reality?

I think we all need the WFF. Thanks Melissa, Vicki, Burk, Candace and all the other helpers and supporters! Readers, keep in mind that when money is tight across the country, it's even tighter for non-profit orgs like our WFF. Let's make sure we have our cushion.


1/12a way to help WFF while playing games evenings and weekends

Just wanted to pass on this new way to give that I found.

When playing online computer games or searching at Windows Live Search Club

You can create an account so that you earn tickets for each game you win. There
is the option to donate these tickets to charity and WFF is one of the charities on

The windows people cut a check once a year for the amount determined by total
tickets donated. Each ticket is worth 1 cent, but these things can add up quickly
if a few people are playing.

For example, my favorite game on there pays out 25 tickets for each win. That's
a quarter a game to WFF.

I only play every now and again, but I've racked up $30 worth of tickets so far :)

Here's the link to how to set everything up http://club.live.com/sg_help.aspx

So when you feel the need for a little amusement, take the chance to do some
good at the same time


Thanks, ADTexas. You and Lobotomy and SRJS and the Honor Guard are always looking for some new way to benefit the WFF. Others like Ken Perry and Mike Apicello and Dave Hannibal and Jim Felix and the Brinkleys and Lori and others I don't know of... consistently help in ways that work, as do those on the "5 years of 52" list. If we all had that kind of a mindset, we'd never worry that we could run out of wff support funds mid-fire-season. Bottom line is that if we don't contribute and ask our local communities to contribute, our fire families may have inadequate safety net.

On the video, Lori Greeno's comments on what happens after the death of a loved one are why this Ab supports the WFF. Following John's death, she was told by the FS that there would be no paychecks for 2 months. In addition to dealing with her grief, she then also had to think about how she would pay the immediate bills - the mortgage, food for the kids, etc. No one in our community should have to do that.

This is where the WFF steps in. When tragedy befalls us, the WFF hears right away from us and/or directly from members of the wildlandfire community. Networking moves into high gear for getting the family financial support, making arrangements for travel, lodging, getting them information, whatever is needed. This occurs whether the injured or fallen firefighter is state, private, fed, vollie, oes, or county.

Sometimes an agency appears to have its own support system. Sometimes that support is an illusion if financial needs can't be met when our fire family is overwhelmed and their need is there. Support several weeks after the major need is support of a different sort. I would ask all of you -- that think your agency provides support -- to find out if it really does, and how quickly it can provide families with financial support with very few questions asked (when families aren't thinking clearly).

My point is that all wildland firefighters need this safety net our WFF provides. We all need to contribute and keep contributing every year and in every way possible to make it real. The WFF is our support funnel to our families. Ab.

1/12Great new informational video on YouTube.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation serves to help the families of fallen and injured firefighters.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-pcULpLZeE (5 min)


Great to see the faces of so many of our community. Send the link to your friends. Send in your donation to the WFF 52 Club. Get your friends to send in their donation. The 52 Club has turned 5! Ab.

1/12Change is coming,

I also worry about Harbour's statement "the leanest, most efficient yada yada...." It sounds to me like WO management intends to continue the downsizing philosophy regardless of what Congress says.

I wonder if Harbour just says that kind of stuff in public to keep Mark Rey off his neck. If our "leaders" really feel that we need to keep cutting fire jobs, then they should be swept out with the rest of this administration's appointed hacks a year from now.

If Mark Rey keeps thumbing his nose at Judge Molloy, he may wind up in jail yet. From today's Missoulian:


And fire season 2008 is off to an early start in Montana. Also from the Missoulian:


Misery Whip
1/12Recently, I tried to apply to a new job locally as a GS-11 from my current job as a GS-9..... what rocket scientist approved AVUE as a user friendly employment process? That mess was obviously created by someone who never had to apply for a federal job.

In 2000, I replied to AVUE for a simple transfer..... GS-8 to GS-8..... seemed pretty simple at first. I eventually had to battle to get on the "Quality List" because of an RO employee.... VJ had corrupted the system.

One of the worst experiences of my career. I won when I called out an e-mail from VJ and the administrators comments.

I can fully understand why folks get frustrated when using AVUE at the entry levels when they don't know who VJ is or why she needs to retire or be forcefully retired (fired).

VJ is still corrupting the system..... and being allowed to without comment or supervision by those in the WO and RO. She announced her retirement last year, but changed her mind.

VJ makes over $140,000 per year as an SES employee and is the root of much of the Region 5 hiring problems.

1/12Gotta love the Forest Service choice of acronyms recently:

Forest Service: Executive Leadership Team
Real World: Emergency Locator Transmitter

Forest Service: Chief's Principal Representative
Real World: Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation

Forest Service: Environmental Management Systems
Real World: Emergency Medical Services

Forest Service: Roadless Protection Rule
Real World: Rapid Plasma Reagin.

I have to wonder if the trend of acronyms indicates some underlying trend with the Forest Service being sick or injured?

Thanks to MD for seeing and identifying this trend in new acronyms.


P.S. - We all now know why the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was so happy to get away from being known as "CDF"...... the lowest grades you can receive in school.

We're bound to run out of acronyms sometime or other. Heh, I don't think that was the motivation for the change to CalFire. Wonder what the Forest Service is going to do to deal with its acronyms & nicknames... Ab.

1/12Dick Mangan,

Thank you for your help and recommendations.

The DRHS compound received a National Registry Eligibility determination several years ago. It was one of the original CCC camps in California and continues to serve as the home of the DRHS.

Today (yesterday), a meeting was held between a key DRHS alumnus and the local congressman who coincidentally is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. The DRHS alumnus was on the crew in the early 1950's.

The Congressman said he would not allow the DRHS compound to be sold by the Forest Service after hearing the historical significance.

The DRHS Alumni Association will be working to get the compound eventually through the hoops... and placed upon the National Register of Historic Places.

Oliver, I wasn't trying or intending to gain support, just stating the facts and asking for some guidance on getting the place on the registry.

DRHS '84-'88
1/12Years ago the FS had a small pocket-sized book/pamphlet titled something like "Weather Forecasting from Clouds" or similar. It had situations like 'If you get up in the morning and you have ground fog and these clouds are in the sky, then expect XXX weather in the afternoon'. Simple sketch illustrations. Haven't seen it in years, and when I mention it to the current younger generation of employees I get a glassy stare.

Does anyone have a copy of that?

Also, another booklet described various techniques for sharpening knives and axes, including different sharpening techniques for different types of wood (hardwood, softwood, etc), and how to fell a tree and other axemanship (an increasingly lost skill nowadays).

If any still exist, please post back here. I would like a photocopy. Ultimately I would like to post it on the internet.

1/11All, including retirees and current employees, just do like me.

Copy and paste and email all that you think Feinstein and the other Congressional Reps will find interested in knowing what we are being spoon fed. We need to keep hammering, keep the chatter high and awareness of our issues even higher. Copy/paste, email, copy/paste, email, copy/paste email.

They know a big change is coming the first Tuesday in November of this year. A change they probably think will be more favorable to our situation. After all these years, I can see the politicos in the WO trying to bring out the "compassionate" word and to show how much they cared about employees ever since 2000 in the hopes of staying employed after Jan 21, 2009. Funny how we haven't heard the words "Compassionate Conservative" since the 2000 campaign. Now that they know the jig is almost up, it's time to play nice again.

Harbour said;

to be the leanest, most efficient organization we can be in the atmosphere of today’s static and declining budgets.

So what does this mean? = Less IHCs? Less Engines?, Less Type 2 IA Crews? Everything you read that is negative to our goals as Fed Firefighters and fed fire management, needs to be brought to the attention of our representatives. Email away!

Keep hammering, hammer away. Keep the chatter high and awareness of our issues even higher. Oh and by the way, you can purchase your Under Secretary Mark Ray Countdown to Forced Out Retirement Clocks on sale now at a store near you.

One more thing.
Thanks for keeping your word and getting that Retention Report out today R-5. Now you wonder why the ground has a hard time connecting with false leaders in far away offices. If a crew says they're going to tie the line in at 1800, they tie the line in, or keep working until it's tied in. They don't take the weekend off and worry about the line Monday morning. It's called honoring your word. Have a good weekend.


Change it coming. YES WE CAN ! O

1/11Dear Confused firefighter:

I'm sure Mark Davis of NFFE will chime in here as he should. Congress has become frustrated with a number of processes the Forest Service performs. In recent years, thanks in large part to NFFE and others, Congress has come to realize that the outsourcing study process by the Forest Service is a mess and does nothing except waste tax dollars.

Thus because Congress is less than thrilled with the study process of the Forest Service they have simply "defunded" the Forest Service study process for a year. Therefore the Agency cannot spend one penny on outsourcing studies. In other words, the Forest Service got a "time out" for outsourcing.

NFFE has the daunting task of protecting many occupations from outsourcing while the FWFSA has somewhat of a luxury to focus on fire & fire related occupations.

During this next year the FWFSA & NFFE will work together to ensure the Forest Service doesn't do any funny business by trying to get around the "de-funding" issue or try to pair up with DOI and use some of their $ 3 Million for studies.

This year the FWFSA will also try and convince Congress to permanently place a moratorium on outsourcing fire & related occupations such as training & dispatch. Federal firefighters employed by DoD have enjoyed some protection for years with language in Title 10 USC prohibiting the contracting out of their jobs except under very limited circumstances.

DoD continues to try and chip away at those protections but I don't foresee any changes, especially with a Democratically controlled Congress. However it should be noted that Duncan Hunter (R-CA) led the fight to place the moratorium language into law years ago.

If this doesn't clarify things for you, hopefully Mark can.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
1/11confused firefighter

I was a budget coordinator in the WO for a resource staff. This language means just what it says. That is, don't spend any funds working on competitive sourcing. Sure, folks will have to do some administrative work such as meeting with Congressional investigative staff. But no proactive work can be done on competitive out-sourcing.

This language is part of the omnibus appropriations act, now law. Appropriations are only (usually) for one fiscal year. Therefore, the prohibition can only be for the time period covered by the appropriation.

Friend of Q
1/11Mark Davis and Casey:

Harbour said:

The Feasibility Studies for Dispatch and Wildland Fire Training we finished as a prelude to any further competitions or reorganizations will be presented to the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) this month for consideration. Some organizational changes may still be coming based on the Chief’s acceptance of any of the recommendations in the Feasibility Studies. We still have an overwhelming need to be the leanest, most efficient organization we can be in the atmosphere of today’s static and declining budgets. In addition, we are continuing the work we started last year in aviation. More on that to come…

Are the actions described in the paragraph a violation of federal law? Mark, can you go ask Tom to clarify this wording? Appreciate that if he clarifies, to not just post it on his blog.

As previously posted, the bills says...........

(2) None of the funds made available by this or any
other Act may be used in fiscal year 2008 for
competitive sourcing studies and any related
activities involving Forest Service personnel


1/11Regarding Agency Payment for PPE, including Boots, Under New OSHA Rules.

The proposed rule contains exceptions, which read as quoted below:

The proposed rule included exemptions for safety-toe protective
footwear, often called steel-toe shoes, and prescription safety
eyewear. The proposal would have placed conditions on these exemptions:
(1) The employer permits such footwear or eyewear to be worn off the
jobsite; (2) the footwear or eyewear is not used at work in a manner
that renders it unsafe for use off the jobsite; and (3) such footwear
or eyewear is not designed for special use on the job (64 FR 15415).
The final rule contains a similar condition; employers are not required
to pay for these items when they are permitted to be worn off the

In the proposed rule, the Agency reasoned that safety-toe
protective footwear should be exempted because it was sized to fit a
particular employee and is not generally worn by other employees due to
size and hygienic concerns; was often worn away from the jobsite; was
readily available in appropriate styles; and was customarily paid for
by employees in some industries (Id. at 15415). OSHA also noted that
the 1994 policy memorandum exempted safety shoes from the employer
payment requirement (Id.). The Agency proposed to exempt prescription
safety eyewear because it also was very personal in nature, could
generally be used by only one employee, and was commonly used away from
work (Id.).

While the text does not explicitly say "fire boots" the reasoning for exempting steel-toed boots and logging boots applies just as aptly to fire boots. So, I wouldn't go blow those pennies you have been pinching for new boots just yet!

(Well, actually knowing me, *I* probably would, but *you* might not want to follow my lead on this one!)


1/11Maybe the fire community can clear this up


I went through the language on the Omnibus spending bill and frankly I’m confused.

(1) Of the funds made available by this or any other
Act to the Department of the Interior for fiscal year
2008, not more than $3,450,000 may be used by the
Secretary of the Interior to initiate or continue
competitive sourcing studies in fiscal year 2008 for
programs, projects, and activities for which funds are
appropriated by this Act.
(2) None of the funds made available by this or any
other Act may be used in fiscal year 2008 for
competitive sourcing studies and any related
activities involving Forest Service personnel.

Does this include spending hourly time on competitive sourcing?

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

The Committee notes that the Forest Service has done a
poor job of implementing its competitive sourcing
program. Section 414 in Title IV general provisions
includes bill language providing a one-year moratorium
for the Forest Service on this matter. The Committee
notes that its investigations staff previously found
widespread management lapses which required
legislative action. P.L. 109-54 Sec. 422(d) requires
the Forest Service to report, `in accordance with full
cost accounting principles, all costs attributable to
developing, implementing, supporting, managing,
monitoring, and reporting on competitive sourcing,
including personnel, consultant, travel, and training
costs associated with program management.' This has
not been implemented. The Committee understands that
alleged savings are not substantiated. The Forest
Service has inadequately considered the potential
impact on its ability to provide emergency wildfire
staffing when engaging in competitive sourcing which
could dramatically alter the Federal workforce.

What do they mean by a one-year moratorium for the
Forest Service?

SEC. 415. Continues language restricting the amount of
funds available to the Department of the Interior for
competitive sourcing activities and prohibits from the
Forest Service from spending any funds available to
the agency for competitive sourcing and related
activities. This restriction shall apply not only to
competitions conducted under OMB Circular A–76, but
also to associated pre-planning activities, including
feasibility studies. The Committee notes that the
Forest Service’s lack of demonstrated savings and lack
of compliance with congressional directives regarding
the program led Congress to request an investigation
by the Government Accountability Office. As this
investigation is ongoing, the Committee believes it
would be imprudent to allow the agency to continue its
outsourcing program until GAO’s findings are known.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

confused fire fighter


The jobs page is heating up. Those who want to advertise, remember that the sooner you get your ad in, the higher on the Jobs list you'll be. Job listings are posted in the order received. Contact advertising@wildlandfire.com to place a jobs ad.

The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated.

There's some good discussion for newbies and others applying for jobs on the hotlist discussion forum.

Team announcements are out in R5. Not posted on wlf.com though.


1/11 Anything you have to enter through AgLearn, I'm not interested in,
however good the sharing of information is. Our computer lines are
so slow out here in the forest that it's a loosing proposition. It's a
wonder we get through online training. Two steps forward and one
step back. Dark ages...


1/11 Knuckledragon,

You are spot on with your inquiry regarding the blog .. I had the same questions
and reaction myself after reading Tom's message. I figured it was an oversight
on the FS side or possibly security issues...

At any rate, good questions....
1/11 Abs,

The list for Cal Fire open list just came out. 306 people on the open list.
I think my letter said 196 from Cal Fire. Should get real interesting soon.


1/11 DRHS asks about getting a structure on the National Register of Historic Places. The starting point should be talking to the District or Forest Archeologist, maybe not on the job site (if the move to preserve the structure is "politically incorrect"), but at the local tavern over a cold brew. They can be a key contact for starting the eligibility process. Next, at the State level, contact the SHPO (State Historic Preservation Officer); they're not Feds, but have a lot of power over Fed activity since the US Govt. has signed off on the Historic Preservation Acts that Congress has passed, and that must get SHPO "clearance" before taking any actions that compromise a potential Historic Structure. Also, check with any local community Historical Society or Association and let them know your concern - they too are outside the Fed system, but wield a lot of power.

If I can offer an aside about my comments above: I'm a Forester who spent over 30+ years in Fire with the USFS working in an interdisciplinary environment with other Foresters, Wildlife Biologists, Landscape Architects, Engineers, and yes, even Archeologists. We talked every day, drank beers after work, hunted and cut firewood together, and shared knowledge about each other's expertise. I learned, for example, that the Forest Arch on a large eastern Oregon National Forest was a world class Ham Radio Operator: we got him involved in the Fire Program as a Comm Unit Leader. It's also how I learned the hoops to jump through when preparing Wilderness Fire Plans that might threaten/destroy old USFS Line cabins. The day-to-day relationships and trust that developed among us would never have occurred if we were structured as a "Fire Department" instead of all working together on natural resource management issues on the National Forest.

DRHS - keep fighting the good fight to preserve part of our history: the history that we're making these days doesn't have nearly the mystique and credibility that the early 20th Century history holds!

Dick Mangan
1/11 DRHS '84-'88

Statements like..."tribes are foaming at the mouth" and "overlooking the simple fact that the adjacent Native American Reservation has the "first right of refusal" on accepting the land for $1.00" are not very helpful when looking for support ... Instead you might want to meet with the Tribal Leaders to see if they would support retention and maintenance of the facility as a historically significant resource. If so I think the $1.00 price tag would be well worth the money and your support.


1/11 Tom Harbour,

I respectively submit that by confining your "Tom's Blog" site to the USFS intranet you have lost a very important source of information for what seems to be your cause in developing it. Retirees and ADs, who work tirelessly in many and varied capacities to support federal wildland fire, have no access to the USFS intranet. Does this mean that what we might have to offer on any issue is not respected by your office?

Assuming there is no way to rectify this situation, you had better keep an eye on TheySaid as we all see things with a very critical but supportive eye and we will all continue to be posting here.

1/11 To roadrunner on ICQS, IFPM, FS FPM standards,
and Thanks to those now sending in the email circulating in R5:

For those in R5, here's some basic information on who's covered by which standard in Region 5 and who is not covered. This info from JP-T went out to R5 Chiefs yesterday and is circulating on FS emails. I put it in a table for easier reading. It's good the R5 BOD planned and standardized and organized when these DOI standards were accepted by the FS (a DOA agency with different structure than the DOI agencies). It's good Pincha-Tulley knows what-is-what in this confusing situation. Ab.


1/11 Soon, A Portion of Wildland Firefighter History Will Be Lost

Does anyone know how to get a facility that has been determined to be eligible (big step) under the National Historic Registry to be actually registered as a historically significant resource?

We are having a hard time in protecting it and keeping the Forest Service from selling it as a way to build a Supervisors Office in Northern California or to fund other CIP programs in the state.

So far, local congressionals and senators, local & state elected officials, key former members, and others are working to preserve an area of historical significance to the wildland fire community. Local businesses are also involved. The local Tribes are also aware and foaming at the mouth waiting for the Forest Service to release the property.

Somehow local and regional Forest Service "leadership" keeps overlooking federal law in hopes to win big and make big bucks to make up for the underfunded CIP program.... They are running blind to fund the new SO in Northern California..... overlooking the simple fact that the adjacent Native American Reservation has the "first right of refusal" on accepting the land for $1.00.

Thanks in advance for anyone who can help out on getting from the step of "eligible" to "registered".

DRHS '84-'88
1/11 Hi Ab,

Has anyone caught wind of any agency response to OSHA's new rule on employer provided PPE wrt fire PPE such as boots?

Note specifically:

Table V-2.--Examples of PPE for Which Employer Payment Is Required
[If used to comply with an OSHA standard]
Fire fighting PPE (helmet, gloves, boots, proximity suits, full gear).
Hard hat.
Hearing protection.


Shoeless, shoeless are we...
1/11 Does anyone in the FS understand the differences between IFPM and FS FPM (??)
and what FS fire fighters are covered by what? HR is NO help...


1/11 Coming in from a number of sources:

U.S. Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management

Message from the Director
January 10, 2008

Happy New Year! I wish all of us health, happiness and the ability to go home safely.

There is a lot going on, as usual. Our FY08 budget was decided through the Omnibus Bill passed by Congress and signed by the President in December. Hearings on the ’09 Budget will begin soon after the President announces it in mid-January. We are still working through the FY08 allocation to determine the dollar figures for hazardous fuels, preparedness and suppression. There were several interesting items in Congressional direction included in the Omnibus Bill. Between House, Senate, and Conference language, there are about forty noted items of intent or direction. For example, Congress has a special interest in how we allocate hazardous fuels funds and took note of the difficulty of retaining firefighters in southern California with a request that the USFS to give them some solutions. Also included in the budget language was permanent authority to expand the reimbursement program for firefighter liability insurance. The budget shop will have all the details soon and we’ll keep you posted.

Obviously, we will obey the language in the 08 Omnibus Bill directing that no money be spent in 2008 for A-76 studies – what many of you may hear called competitive sourcing activities. The Feasibility Studies for Dispatch and Wildland Fire Training we finished as a prelude to any further competitions or reorganizations will be presented to the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) this month for consideration. Some organizational changes may still be coming based on the Chief’s acceptance of any of the recommendations in the Feasibility Studies. We still have an overwhelming need to be the leanest, most efficient organization we can be in the atmosphere of today’s static and declining budgets. In addition, we are continuing the work we started last year in aviation. More on that to come…

One January event I’m really looking forward to is starting my Blog. “Tom’s Blog” is on the Forest Service intranet site and I’m very excited about using this technology to reach across the physical distance between me, the Deputy and Assistant Directors here in the WO and all the folks in the field who want a forum to share some concerns or ideas about the Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management Program. To get to my Blog, employees can go the FSweb site, click on Beta: FS Blog, enter your EAuth information, and then stop in Tom’s Blog. Before we get started, I wanted to review the Policy for the FS Blog sites so we are all clear on what will happen:

Blogger and Commenting Policy
• We will tell the truth. We will acknowledge and correct any mistakes promptly.
• We will not delete comments unless they are off-topic, spam, or defamatory.
• Bloggers will reply to comments when appropriate and as promptly as possible. However, there will not be a response for each comment. Many comments may not receive a response.
• We will link to online references and original source materials directly
• We will disagree with other opinions respectfully.

I won’t be able answer every thought or opinion and that’s not really what a Blog is for, but I will do my best to read and understand your points of view. If there are questions or misinformation my staff can answer, they will log in and address some of the postings. I may send my moderator some thoughts from the road on occasion if I can’t get on to post them myself. Rest assured she will post them word-for-word and her moderator duties and ethics are solidly behind the policy statements above.

Remember you need your EAuth information to get in to Tom’s Blog – the same you use for your AgLearn User ID and Password - which also means there is no anonymity.

I hope you access Tom’s Blog and join in the dialogue. I want to hear about what going on from the White Mountain NF fire program to the very different experiences on the Cleveland NF, in Florida and all across the nation.

Once again, let’s make this another great year.
Tom Harbour

1/11 This is an excerpt from the NFFE 1/10/08 conference call notes. I guess Feb 1st is the magic date for the retention report.

Dan: Fire Retention in Region 5 will affect Nation. A letter came out from Congressional that gave management till February 1st to how to retain firefighters in the Forest Service. Will meet with RF Randy Moore regarding this Jan. 25. This is a major work on position descriptions for these firefighters (initial response). Firefighters want parity of pay with other firefighter organizations in California. This should be on the FSPC agenda in March or May.


1/11 From CalFire, a Safety Alert regarding Wet weather retarder use:

Please remind all your folks to be very cautious when using secondary braking, (Output shaft retarders, Jake Brakes, exhaust brakes) in wet weather.

The DMV Commercial Driver Handbook recommends:

Retarders Some vehicles have “retarders.” Retarders help slow a vehicle, reducing the need for using your brakes. They reduce brake wear and give you another way to slow down. There are many types of retarders (exhaust, engine, hydraulic, electric). All retarders can be turned on or off by the driver. On some vehicles the retarding power can be adjusted. When turned “on,” retarders apply braking power to the drive wheels only whenever you let up on the accelerator pedal all the way. Caution. When the drive wheels have poor traction, the retarder may cause them to skid. You should turn the retarder off whenever the road is wet, icy, or snowy.

International Truck and Engine Corp. Recommendations:

! WARNING: Do not use the vehicle retarder, engine or exhaust brake on slippery road surfaces. Doing so may cause wheel slippage and/or loss of vehicle control, which could result in property damage, personal injury or death.

Gordon L. Gholson
Southern Region Fleet Manager

1/10 Home buying for temps.

Just thought I would drop a line, since I have not recently had much to say that would be productive. However, I am reading about the home purchase for temps and it piques my interest. I am no longer a temp, however from my recent loan application experience, I must say that your record of solid income and employment with a federal agency should help out. And the wages you bring in for a few years will be of great help. I have a decent credit score and am looking at buying my first home soon.

Remember that there are things that mortgage broker can do to help out with your payments and the down. I am looking at putting down 6% by using a program or loan that helps me out. Make sure to make your mortgage broker work for you, since you are paying them. Tell them what you have available to spend, what you would like to spend and plan on a good 2 hours plus with them.

Best of luck


PS: Hope to see some of you on a fire or two this summer. Look for me sitting as a SEC1, since I wont be able to go out on the line much, if at all ,since the LEO job popped into my life. (But I will try to sneak out to the line if at all possible. It may not be in my PD, but it's still in my heart.)
1/10 Home buying for temps.

Thanks to SUPER P and Still renting, but not giving up!!! for their info on purchasing a house as a seasonal employee. So far things are going fine. It seems at least with the prices of houses here in Oregon the lenders don't really care that I am a seasonal, although they say I should avoid including my unemployment income if I can qualify without it. Actually, they seem pretty desperate and as long as you have good credit you could easily get a loan for much more than would be affordable on a monthly basis. Of course they make it sound easy I am slightly worried about what will happen after I make an offer. The whole process of verifying I am employed when I am on unemployment sounds interesting to say the least. Lets see if the FS hr people tell them if I have "rehire eligibility" or not...


1/10 Abs,

JPA asked yesterday what's going on with Ellreese Daniels trial on the 30
Mile Fire. It has been postponed to 4/14/08 according to his lawyer. Stay
tuned as we get closer, and I am sure there will be more info on the exact
start date and time.

Gorge FMO
1/10 Spoke in person with fed Congressman Kegan of Wisconsin yesterday, who is on the Agriculture Committee, and asked him to listen to association and union reps if they should show up in his office in Washington, concerning wild-land firefighters issues. He says he is willing.

He's new. It would be a good idea to get our views to him while he's fresh and not jaded.

Bear (not smokey)

1/10 Circulating behind the scenes at OES, CalFire and the FS:

SoCal Fires' Economic impact

To a variety of people in the agencies named above:

<snipped names>, I wanted to make sure you were aware of this report
www.calmis.ca.gov/specialreports/SoCalFires-Oct2007.pdf, which was
prepared by the EDD’s Labor Market Information Division. It details the
economic losses from the fires late last year. One of the more interesting
conclusions drawn from the analysis is that if the fires had been allowed
to spread just another half a mile past the boundaries of the actual burn
areas, the total economic losses would have more than doubled. This
certainly suggests that fire managers made some very wise decisions while
battling these blazes. I thought this might inform your post-fire wrap-ups
and deliberations.


Paul Feist
Assistant Secretary for Communications
Labor and Workforce Development Agency

1/10 Some good dialogue in the LA Times about an insurance surcharge in
California to pay for fire protection. Interesting ideas about individual
choices versus community responsibilities.


1/10 Ab: this may be silly, but had to write anyway: in the same quandary w/ loan co. and realtors!

oohello, Re: your adventures in house-buying.

Had to write as my experience with loan companies and realtors, is that they tell you that you can EASILY qualify for a loan that turns out WAY more than you might decide you can come up w/ financially! Buyer beware.

Decide yourself what your financial limits are and be prepared. They say it's a buyer's market, but I haven't found that. Maybe I'm wrong???

Helpful used books can be bought cheaply on amazon.com, or the public library: see the "For Dummies" books on first time house buying, mortgage books, "Idiot's Guides"..and see www.suzeorman.com, writes a fine book that actually compares renting vs buying and questions to answer.... internet sites are helpful and realtor.com etc. has all kinds of free information to get you started.

I don't own a house, but I found out there are so many "hidden" costs to buying a house. Do your homework and it will cost anywhere from $20,000-$30,000 up front or more to just get into a $100-150,000 house it appears??? Obviously not in CA, either! It's a great investment, though.

Signed: Still renting, but not giving up!!!

All financial planners say that home ownership is the key to building wealth. Keep at it if you can. Ab.

1/10 Ab,

I must have been tired when I patched together that summary (posted 1/7) because I left out the examples under the last category of directing deployment of equipment. I got a question on that category today, and so I've fixed it on the Council competitive sourcing webpage, at www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/CSIndex/CSIndex.phpl (third entry down). Sorry about that. I've been running on fumes lately.

And thanks to Misery Whip (whew, what a handle). It's good to get a pat on the back every now and then -- makes up for the kicks in the teeth that come my way from time to time.


Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

I added the last details to your original post. Ab.

1/10 L -- C -- E -- S,

Touché.... you partially got me on the "rehire eligibility" vs. "rehire rights. Fact is, three days ago, a person in the R-5  shop was still saying that it was being discussed at the Regional level since ASC isn't talking with anyone or providing direction. If this happens, it will not only affect fire management temps, but temps throughout the agency.

Long ago, R-5 set a precedent in an agreement with the R-5 Partnership Council. In the discussion of rehire eligibility for temporary employees, it was decided as a best practice to rehire temporary employees unless there were substantially documented circumstances to the contrary good of the government (ie. - unsatisfactory performance evaluation, lack of funding, reorganization, etc.)

This agreement was based upon the NFFE Master Agreement:

"Temporary employees, who have been selected competitively and successfully
completed their tour of duty, will be eligible for rehire the next season without
further competition in accordance with the provisions of the applicable authority.
Rehire eligibility will remain in effect for up to 3 years from the date of separation
from the appointment on which eligibility is based."

That agreement often was mistaken as "rehire rights" after R-5 forests were required to document in writing and provide to the employee a statement that they would not be rehired... an effort to stem unfair labor practice complaints.  By defacto application,  "rehire eligibility" became rehire rights as interpreted by many.

As far as permanent employees go, the term is reinstatement eligibility.  I used the process after going to DoD for a short stint, only to want to return to the Forest Service some 12 years ago.

It's no joke

1/10 Ab,

Years ago, you gave me some leeway to introduce a successful business model called In-N-Out burger and contrast it to the pay and benefits of wildland firefighters (Thank You). It actually got published and submitted to the Region 5 Division Chiefs and submitted upwards where it went "poof"..... It got published by one of the greatest employee groups around...... the Region 5 Engine Captains Group.

Originally, In-N-Out began in Southern California (just like McDonalds), but rapidly spread throughout California. Now, In-N-Out burger is found in California, Nevada, Arizona.... and future locations in Utah for 2008. As the business grows, expect to see them in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho in the near future. Their business model always out performs their leading competitor in the markets they enter.

Unfortunately, they competed for our federal employees and have actually gained many good folks. They have a successful business model rooted in company core values of offering competitive pay, benefits, and working conditions.... and offering the best burger found west of the Mississippi.

Recently, I mentioned Stater Brothers Markets for several reasons...... Their successful business model... their philanthropy... their history.... their support during the Esperanza Fire.... and their support to make sure the Del Rosa Hotshots stay at the historically significant Del Rosa location (more to come on that).

Info on Stater Bros. Markets (Fortune 500 Company). One of numerous employers competing for the "forestry technician" market, completely exclusive of the fire, EMS, and law enforcement competition that exists.

1/9 Ab's, I'm with Lobotomy on this.
  • No excuse for the Deputy RF for not being at the meeting, especially after getting spanked by Feinstein on this issue on 2 different occasions.
  • No excuse for not meeting agreed-to deadlines.
  • No excuse for redacting portions of the discussion or proposals not agreed to by the RO.
  • If they toss out options, those ideas need to be known to promote learning, understanding and education of other possibilities. We might want someone to work on those ideas for us outside of the halls of Mare Island.
  • No excuse for not calling upon as many resources, including working weekends to complete this report on time.

I can't picture anyone who was strong enough (mentally) and respected enough (leader) to be invited to attend this meeting would be clamming up in front of them. Now I may or some may clam up in front of Incident Commanders, very respected peers, or true fire management leaders, but these RO guys, I don't think so.

Release the report in its entirety, immediately!


We will succeed, because we are right!

1/9 Hey Ab,

There was a major incident in Florida today. Apparently smoke from a control burn ran by Florida's Division of Forestry mixed with fog and helped cause an accident on I-4. 4 fatalities reported so far. The scene was apacolyptic. 70 cars. Down here we are in that small window of good weather where we can try to do some mitigation burning (before our fire season starts in a matter of weeks.) Even without the droubt we would be busy by March. With conditions how they are, I am already getting some small IA action. (1 call out last night, 1 today.)

Anyway pray for the injured, the families of all involved, and also for the Rangers who will live this event for ever.

It made me think hard about some of the burns I have been on and what I will do differently in the future.

Sorry I don't have anymore inside information about the incident, but it was well away from my area, so I heard it from public broadcast news. I do expect a safetygram though.

Anyway, Be safe even while your resting up and prepping for next season.

Flash in Florida

Thanks, Flash. This has been on the evening news. I first got wind of it via some posts on the HOTLIST, on IA, starting at 0800 this morning as well. Ab.

1/9 Ab,

There's a message making the rounds on the FS web. It's for USFS
personnel only:

There's a change underway in the HSQ (Health Screening Questionnaire)
process for the USFS. Larry Sutton, Fire Ops Risk Management Officer, is
working on the official info for the WCT Administration Guide.

Word is that forests shouldn't send anything regarding HSQ approval for
2008 until after they are informed of the changes.


HSQ = Health Screening Questionnaire, pre-requisite to the Work Capacity Test (formerly called the "Pack Test")

1/9 From Firescribe:


Tarnished terrain
A fire plane dropping retardant in the Sierra left an unfortunate graffiti mark behind.
By Marek Warszawski / The Fresno Bee

An air tanker working for the U.S. Forest Service last summer dropped a load of fire retardant across the summit of a pristine High Sierra peak, leaving a bright red stripe that is visible for miles.

Investigators still are trying to determine what took place July 8 in the skies above 13,200-foot Feather Peak, about 15 miles northeast of Florence Lake in the John Muir Wilderness. No fire was burning nearby.

The incident went unreported until wilderness rangers from the Inyo National Forest began fielding questions from hikers and climbers about the large, red stain across an otherwise white granite mountaintop. (more, with pic)

1/9 The Ride... making the rounds:
from Jay Perkins retiring from the Klamath NF, participant in the recent R5 retention meetings.

Well, the time is here. It is time to turn in my badge and move on. When
I moved to R5 24 years ago as a District Fire Management Officer on the
Ukonom District, I was overwhelmed by all things R5. But I learned that I
could learn alot from my peers and my leaders. I count each of you as not
only as fellow leader but as friends. I thank you for your faith and trust
in me as a Chief Officer. I thank you for the southern California
wildfires; now there is laboratory within which to learn. I thank you for
the plume dominated fires on the Shasta-T. I thank you you for your
bravery to move forward with fire use (some may not be as brave as others,
but we have to move on). And I thank you in advance for the time that you
will invest in our employees as you embark on the retention strategies that
are to unfold. Nothing is more important than the people that we have
working for us!!

I have more to say but it is time to go home. So, I will see you again,
sometime, somewhere. Stay the course. Stay safe and please make sure that
everything you do has a good, solid anchor point!! This is a great place to
live and work and I wish you well with the future!


Thanks, Jay, for your service. Ab.

1/9 Anyone know if the NTSB report on the DC-10 tree strike is out yet.

Did I miss it?


1/9 Lori said:

"...And please, don't say rehire rights when talking to temps. No one, not even permanents who are going for reinstatement have rights. It's always eligibility."

Thank you Lori! I was all set to chime in with the exact same thing. I have spent a lot of time correcting this misconception with my temporary employees over the years.

If there is in fact anything close to rehire rights, it is the guarantee of re-employment for subject to furlough permanent seasonal employees following a period of non pay status ( 13/13, 18/8, etc...)

Rehire eligibility is a special consideration given to former government employees (typically 1039's, but this is relevant for permanent employees who leave service after gaining career status as well) with regards to a position which they at one time occupied. this means that a temp on my crew who rated successful in performance does not have to re-apply/compete for the same job next summer. It does not give them non competitive rehire to a different position (helitack crew, etc...) in the federal govt (or even on the same forest).

L -- C -- E -- S


"EVEN those with rehire rights as temporary employees will need to re-apply for
their jobs -- may need to reapply and compete for their temporary jobs."

I certainly hope that is not the truth, what a mess. I can hear it now "You did a great job last year....we would love to have you back next season. Providing that you deal with that whole heap of paper work all over again and we aren't forced to give your 5th year seasonal job to a brand new apprentice that we picked up at the mall last month." Come on. Give us 1039s a break!


1/9 Ab - As much as it hurt to watch the aerial deliveries of cargo, this old
smokejumper just about burst a belly watching the high boots crash and
burn. Oh what memories, glad that now I can can get a chuckle since I'm
over the pain -

thanks old Alaska jumper for sending in! Made my day!

-- fork in the trail
1/9 AK Old Timer & Rod,

Wow, I always thought Creedence sang, "There's a bathroom on the right" and
I never got what that mattered... The lyrics show it's really "There's a bad moon
on the rise."

Firefighters, I learn some of the strangest things as a spin off from this website...


1/9 Rehire eligibility

No, there will still be rehire eligibility. I asked our FCRO and he
said that on a conference call it was discussed and it will still be in
place. And please, don't say rehire rights when talking to temps.
No one, not even permanents who are going for reinstatement have
rights. It's always eligibility.


1/9 Curious as to the status of charges against Ellreese Daniels -- haven't
heard anything in a while. Keep up the good work.

1/9 Accountability in Missouri.

Firefighter gets prison term for fatal crash on way to fire
by KY3 News
By Gene Hartley

AVA, Mo. -- Dominic Gillen of Seymour received a three-year prison sentence on Tuesday for a fatal traffic accident on Nov. 25, 2006. Gillen pleaded guilty last July for voluntary manslaughter for the death of Jacob Yeates, 17.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol estimates Gillen was speeding at 84mph and passed a family of four in a no-passing zone on a blind hill on Missouri 76. His car hit head-on a car driven by Yeates, a junior at Ava High School. Gillen, a volunteer firefighter for the Goodhope Fire Department, was heading to a brush fire in a personal vehicle with no lights or siren. He received minor injuries in the crash.

1/9 At a local fire management meeting recently, a local Regional Office employee said that it appears that temporary employees -- EVEN those with rehire rights as temporary employees will need to re-apply for their jobs -- may need to reapply and compete for their temporary jobs.

Was this a decision by Vicki Jackson who was GOING TO RETIRE, but didn't -- or a negotiated change allowed by NFFE locally?

In either case, both the hiring authorities of the federal agencies, and the Master Agreement should be looked at regarding these potential decisions or interpretations.

Someone joked at the meeting, "It's part of the Region's recruitment and retention plan".

It's no joke.

I have no knowledge of the truth of this message. Readers, verification? Ab.

1/9 Why was it that if the recruitment and retention of federal wildland firefighters in Region 5 was such a big issue, why didn't the Deputy Regional Forester for State and Private Forestry spend more than 30 minutes in the four-day meeting in December?

It's not so amazing that the R-5 FAM staff has to bring the Deputy Regional Forester up to speed before he attempts to bring the Regional Forester up to speed. It's called un-needed BUREAUCRACY.

If both the Regional Forester and the Deputy Regional Forester actively participated in the discussions and recommendations, maybe more folks would think they were sincere. With nearly 50% of the Forest Service budget now going to "fire", you'd think that calendars could be cleared.

Ed's excuse for the inaction wasn't needed, nor is a "communication plan". Ed is stuck in the middle of either a "lose/lose" situation or a "win/win" situation.

It's called a test. Pass or fail. No grades given or expected.

Communicate the results of the meeting ASAP without redaction. The "scrutiny" will be whether folks leave to CAL FIRE, other fire departments, other public service agencies...... or to Walmart, Stater Bros. Markets, or In-N-Out burger.... all competing in the "Forestry Technician" market in California.


Lobotomy, I understand your frustration, but let's let the process work a bit longer. If it comes up short, the facts exist. Whenever people, including foresters at the RO, really get into the retention issues, they find it more complex than they thought it would be and hopefully they find some un-thought-of approaches to be possible solutions. As for who attended when, often more creative solutions come out of meetings not attended by the big bosses. People closer to the ground may be more likely to step up to true brainstorming and then, leadership, as I think has occurred in this case.

That said, the CalFire hiring clock is ticking closer to offers... Remember ...
"All fuels get treated eventually -- one way or another." wlf.com/quotes.php . Ab.

1/9 On 12/07/2007, a e-mail was posted on They Said from the R-5 Deputy Regional Forester for State & Private Forestry.

Here is one quote from the letter:

"The draft will be finished by Wednesday of next week (December 26th). 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."

Today (01/08/2008), the Regional Forester Team was finally briefed.

I'd expect something soon...... Fingers crossed.


1/8 Mark Davis,

You rock dude.

Thanks for helping restore a little dignity to employees of the Forest Service.

Misery Whip
1/8 To Hundekot:

Thanks for the post. I've been in touch with Eve to thank her for her article and to bring her into the loop of good press folks interested in really understanding what the heck is going on.

With respect to the Hank Kashdan memo...I get the sense the Forest Service leadership doesn't like being told by Congress how to do things or how not to do things. If they don't start recognizing the seriousness of the scrutiny they have brought upon themselves with respect to the management of their fire program, they better get used to being force-fed change.

Rest assured the FWFSA, NFFE and others will be on the Forest Service and other agencies like you-know-what if they try to interpret "no funds" in any funny way.

1/8 Just got this, so looks like the retention strategy will be a few days


"At this point the FAM staff and Jim Pena are still trying to make sure
that numbers are correct and that the statistics are consistently comparing
"apples to apples" for resignations and workforce numbers. They thought
they would be ready to present the document to the RF yesterday, but
getting consistent numbers has been more difficult than they thought and
the RF has been tied up with other regional issues. Currently, the plan is
for the RF to review the retention recommendations either Wednesday or
Thursday. Following his review and approval, we'll finalize the
communications plan. Sorry this is taking so long, but the more they get
into the details surrounding the retention issue, the more complicated it
has gotten. Because they recognize how much scrutiny the final set of
recommendations is going to get, they are most concerned with making the
document as accurate as possible, rather than completing it as quickly as
possible." - snip

1/8 A note sent in by JL:

Congratulations to Dave Conklin on his promotion to the Angeles Fire and Aviation Management Officer (Fire Chief) position !!!!! He was offered and accepted the job today. His effective date is January 20. Dave is currently the District Fire Management Officer on the Santa Clara Mojave River District on the Angeles. Please help us welcome and congratulate Dave on his new assignment.

This is a milestone for us to have all of our Forest level fire overhead positions permanently filled. Thanks to all who have helped carry the workload while these positions were vacant. And a very special thank you to Don Garwood..... Jody

1/8 Some of the Western media folks are starting to pick up on the
Omnibus Bill's ban on outsourcing studies for the USFS:



1/8 Everyone,

The 2008 Red Book is on the web at:





1/8 Kewl video, AK Old Timer. Like laughing when someone walks into
a telephone pole. Smokejumpers beware...

I like the song too. Since I didn't know the words, I googled them:



1/8 Ab-

Recently there's been some discussion about the military using aerial delivery methods to get engines and other equipment to the fire-line.

Here's a video (with good music) airdrop-mishaps1.wmv that shows what can happen:

Two comments:
  1. I don't want my engine delivered this way. It would take 2 years to get a replacement.
  2. I can just hear that paratrooper in the last clip screaming: "Who put that #*!!#@# pick-up in my landing zone!!"

AK Old Timer

Thanks AK Old Timer. What a gut buster... Hard to imagine an incident within an incident like those. It feels good to laugh. Ab.

1/8 It warmed my heart tonight to see the post about the ICE program!!!

I know it was in October when i came here asking everyone to
and talked about the ICE program.

I am still spreading the word through the internet and newspapers.
I love each and everyone of you more than you'll ever know and pray daily for you all!!

Be safe and Happy New Year.

Brenda {Jason McKay's sister}

The ICE word is circulating. Ab.

1/8 Hank Kashdan,

Spend even two cents furthering outsourcing discussion of Forest Service positions on official time.... You'll be violating federal law.

Only thing being discussed should be simply cease and desist ANYTHING relating to outsourcing of any Forest Service positions.

Hank Kashdan said,

"Any large scale "outsourcing" is clearly off the table, as well as even thinking about competing an activity between an employee group and an outside contractor. It is possible we might look at the potential for some very limited outsourcing truly for efficiency sake, but that would be highly "micro" in nature and would require some extensive external dialog."

It is pretty simple...... "No funds" appropriated under discretionary and mandatory appropriations are to be used for even the smallest A-76 comparisons..... even ONE position, or several positions even in informal discussions.

You lost the ability to "...look at the potential for some very limited outsourcing truly for efficiency." Congress took it away.

"None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used in fiscal year 2008 for competitive sourcing studies and any related activities involving Forest Service personnel."

/s/ Gotta Love When The System Works as Designed (1787)

Balance of Power

1/8 SoCal noname,

Once again, great articles from JP and local fire managers.

If JP Crumrine is interested, he should submit his article(s) to Government Executive Magazine or the Associated Press as supporting information on how nationwide or regional problems directly affect local program delivery.

Often times, local problems are the same nationwide. Sometimes folks are just a little louder at getting their issues heard.

GovExec.com Editorial goals include:
  • Covering news and trends about the organization and management of the executive branch;
  • Helping federal executives improve the quality of their agencies' services by reporting on management innovations;
  • Explaining government problems and failures in ways that offer lessons about pitfalls to avoid;
  • Creating a greater sense of community along the elite corps of public servants to whom the magazine circulates;
  • Educating our non-government readers about the challenges federal officials confront.
1/7 HUUFC,

I’m at the CDF Firefighters Local 2881 office and I’ll be glad to send you a copy of the annual Cal Fire-Cal Trans Agreement to use the two Cal Fire old Mobile Camps for their activities up on the east side of the Sierras where Cal Fire has no camps for 250 miles. The CDC personnel do the supervision and also furnish the camp support functions. DF&G also uses inmates at the Mt. Whitney and Nimbus Hatcheries when the spawning and roe recovery operations are happening. They, too, are supervised by CDC personnel. Most of the day labor used to construct additional inmate holding facilities inside CDC grounds such as Cell Blocks use inmate labor, supervised by Skilled Craftsmen to do the work. Daily, there are two surplus CDF CCVs that leave the gates of CMF under CDC supervision to perform community projects in Napa, Solano and Yolo Counties. Cal Fire has nothing to do with those agreements.

In regards to the CDC and Prison problems, I invite you to bring up www.Gov.ca./proclamation/4278/ and see what the real problems are in the prisons today. In my city (Vacaville; #2 in the US for incarcerated offenders) use your Cal Fire computer link to ww.fire.ca.gov and see what are the facts as presented now. Cal Fire has reduced the number of Camps housing CDC and CYA offenders (they have cancelled the CYA Agreement) from 44 Camps to 39. The CYA Camps at Bullion, Ben Lommond, Washington Ridge have been converted to house adult felons. Other camps at Minnewawa, Black Mountain, Joaquin Murrietta, Don Lugo and SlackCanyon have been deactivated and now the CYA Camp at Pine Grove will be converted later this year to house adults too. The reasons? Violence as you can deduce when you read the Governor’s Emergency proclamation relating to prison overcrowding. The only other things I have to add is Cal Trans has separate agreements with both Cal Trans and L.A. County to utilize state sentenced inmates for their work exclusively. It doesn’t involve Cal Fire and when the system is built to house 87,000 inmates and, in fact, is housing 140,000+ where do you think they sleep? Here it is on the tops of the lockers, in the halls and now in the gymnasiums too. If that isn’t inhumane treatment, maybe my views are too liberal. We are charged to detain and house them, not crowd them into overstuffed boxes like rats in a lab experiment. The CDCR acronym stands for Rehabilitation doesn’t it?

Re Type 1 crew: The state's inmates may never leave the boundaries of this state without the receiving state having signed a formal reciprocal agreement. To date Nevada and Oregon are the only states to have done so. So the Type 1 crew point is a moot one.

I’m really looking forward to hearing from you. You are paying your dues, so you should be brought up to speed about the functions of the organization who pays you monthly. I’ll even be glad to take you over to the CDCR HQ so you can meet the Captain who supervises all of the CDCR activities, like the Camps which are all based out of an Institution somewhere here in the state.


1/7 Happy retirement Jay Perkins!


1/7 Making the email rounds. I'm posting this here to make sure it gets into the archives with its colors. Thanks to FWFSA and NFFE for their work on this and their continued oversight! Ab.

To follow up on Casey’s post of 12/18/07, NFFE has been working with the Forest Service and Congress on the issues of Professional Liability Insurance reimbursement.

PLI Reimbursement for Federal Firefighters
December 27, 2007 Legislative Update

For years, law enforcement officers and agency supervisors have been eligible for 50% reimbursement for personal liability insurance (PLI). One of NFFE’s priorities for the FY2008 legislative cycle was extension of this benefit to firefighting personnel who, as recent experience has made all too clear, have significant liability exposure as well.

The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out language in the FY 2008 Interior appropriations bill that would have extended the PLI reimbursement benefit to some, but not all, fire line supervisors. This language would have modified the law pertaining to PLI reimbursement to read as follows (proposed changes are in blue):


(a) AUTHORITY.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, amounts appropriated by this Act (or any other Act for fiscal year 1997 or any fiscal year thereafter) for salaries and expenses shall be used to reimburse any qualified employee for not to exceed one-half the costs incurred by such employee for professional liability insurance. A payment under this section shall be contingent upon the submission of such information or documentation as the employing agency may require.

(b) QUALIFIED EMPLOYEE.—For purposes of this section, the term ‘‘qualified employee’’ means an agency employee whose position is that of—
(1) a law enforcement officer;
(2) a supervisor or management official; or
(3) a temporary fire line supervisor.

(c) DEFINITIONS.—For purposes of this section—
(1) * * * * * * * * * *
(4) the term ‘‘professional liability insurance’’ means insurance which provides coverage for—

(A) legal liability for damages due to injuries to other persons, damage to their property, or other damage or loss to such other persons (including the expenses of litigation and settlement) resulting from or arising out of any tortuous act, error, or omission of the covered individual (whether common law, statutory, or constitutional) while in the performance of such individual’s official duties as a qualified employee; and
(B) the cost of legal representation for the covered individual in connection with any administrative or judicial proceeding) relating to any act, error, or omission of the covered individual while in the performance of such individual’s official duties as a qualified employee, and other legal costs and fees relating to any such administrative or judicial proceeding; and

(5) the term ‘‘temporary fire line supervisor’’ means an employee of the Department of the Interior or the Forest Service, the duties of which include temporary supervision to manage a wildland or managed fire, including an employee that is—

(A) a type 1, 2, or 3 incident commander;
(B) an operations section chief;
(C) a division group supervisor;
(D) a fire use manager; or
(E) a prescribed fire manager or burn boss.

We felt this language unfairly excluded positions with significant liability exposure. For example, it seemed to imply that single resource bosses, squad bosses, and a number of other positions would not be covered. We contacted Congressional staff to express our concerns, and were advised to work with the agency to develop a consensus on how the language should be modified. After much back and forth with Legislative Affairs, Human Resources, Fire Officials, Department lawyers, the Whitehouse Office of Management and Budget, and Congressional appropriations staff, we were successful in expanding the coverage significantly. It is no longer limited just to upper-level fire-line supervisors, but now extends to temporary fire line managers, defined in broad terms as:

an employee of the Forest Service or the Department of the Interior, whose duties include, as determined by the employing agency -

(A) temporary supervision or management of personnel engaged in wildland or managed fire activities;

(i) a type 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 incident commander;
(ii) an operations section chief,
(iii) a division group supervisor,
(iv) a fire use manager,
(v) a prescribed fire manager or burn boss,
(vi) a single resource boss, or
(vii) a squad boss

(B) providing analysis or information that affects a decision by a supervisor or manager about a wildland or managed fire; or

(i) a fire behavior analyst,
(ii) a safety officer, or
(iii) a long term analyst

(C) directing the deployment of equipment for a wildland or managed fire.

[Note: Statutory language is in blue. The examples of covered positions are given in the Report that accompanies the statute and gives guidance on its implementation. Report language is in green.]

This provision is in the FY 2008 omnibus appropriations bill, which the president signed into law on Dec. 26, 2007. NFFE will continue to work with the agency and Congress to ensure that implementation of this PLI provision is consistent with the intent.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

1/7 Dear Abs,

Here is an updated link to the Arizona Forestry Division (AFD). They are sort of becoming a separate entity from the Arizona State Land Department. AFD does the fire side of things, and the land department is now mostly sales, leases & resources.



I replaced the link on the Links page under states. Anyone else have an update on your State's fire links, please let me know. I'll update it on the page. Ab.

1/7 R-5 Retention,

As I sit here taking a break from my supplemental application to Cal Fire, I can't help but to hope for two things...
  • One, I get offered a job as an FAE or FF2-DO.
  • Two, I get to tell the state, "Thank you for you consideration. The USFS however,
    has decided they want to retain me. I appreciate your offer."

...Planning on leaving, hoping on staying...

R-5 Squadleader

There should be some kind of word out from the R5 Forester or Deputy Forester soon if they adhere to what they promised.
Rumor has it that CalFire is getting closer to hiring. Guess that's expected, eh? Sounds like they have many captains' positions to fill to be at an acceptable (legal) level of staffing. Ab.

1/7 making the rounds...

ICE campaign "In Case of Emergency"

We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends.

If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this " ICE" (In Case of Emergency)Campaign

The concept of "ICE" is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name "ICE" (In Case Of Emergency).

The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as "ICE".

Please forward this. It won't take too many "forwards" before everybody will know about this . It really could save your life, or put a loved one's mind at rest.

For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc.

Be sure it's in your kid's cell phones also! .....

A great idea that will make a difference!

Let's spread the concept of ICE by storing an ICE number in our Mobile phones today!

Karen Kay Brown
Dispatch Captain, Sycuan Fire
Monte Vista Interagency ECC

1/7 making the rounds...
Competitive Sourcing and the Omnibus Bill


We're getting many questions something like this: "Is it true
Competitive Sourcing is prohibited for the Forest Service in the Omnibus
Appropriations Bill? What do we do with our current ongoing studies?"

This is a heads up while Ron Ketter's staff is preparing a memo that
clarifies where we are at. That letter should come out in a few days.

Basically, we are done with competitive sourcing in the Forest Service for
FY 2008. This is a result of the Omnibus Appropriations Act that funds the
Forest Service through 9/30/08. We are inventorying what activities the
employees who have been assigned to competitive sourcing duties are
performing. We will discontinue any and all of these activities.

Regarding the current ongoing Feasibility Studies: A lot of work has gone
into looking at these functions. We need to continue with an effort that
looks at how to improve efficiency, but none of that look will involve the
study of options leading to or associated with "public-private competition"
as required under A-76. Any large scale "outsourcing" is clearly off the
table, as well as even thinking about competing an activity between an
employee group and an outside contractor. It is possible we might look at
the potential for some very limited outsourcing truly for efficiency sake,
but that would be highly "micro" in nature and would require some extensive
external dialog.

Stay tuned for more.

Hank Kashdan
Deputy Chief, Business Operations, USFS

1/7 Hi AB:

I was hoping you could do us a favor and let folks know that updates to the
FWFSA web page will be a bit delayed due to the impact the severe weather
in Northern California has had on our web master's property.

Hopefully all will be mended in a few days. Thanks,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
1/7 Another good article -- this one on retention -- from JP Crumrine of the Idyllwild Town Crier

idyllwild-town-crier-retention.pdf (35K pdf file)

It should be on their website sometime soon.

SoCal noname

Readers, this morning I linked to the first two files in the 2008 doc files folder on the server. Looking back through the 2007 files was memorable for me. This community sent in some amazing documents, research, reports, maps and commentaries in 2007. Some were attachments that were circulating on the fed agency webs, others were from CalFire or other sources. Some were notes from meetings or compilations of data that inform all of us. Some were communications that we held or hold for later when the moment is right to share them. Thanks to All, including the un-named, who contribute so we can all be better informed. Ab.

1/7 HUUFC said...

"CDF has about 200 type 1 crews in camps in California. While not fighting fires they work for various local, state, and federal agencies doing everything imaginable. Before anyone gets upset they are type 1 crews, check the National Mobilization Guide."

Chapter 60, section 62.1: www.nifc.gov/nicc/logistics/references/Type_1_Crews.pdf references a list of 89 type 1 crews which are recognized as such by the National Interagency Mobilization guide

Chapter 60, section 62.2, of the mobilization guide: www.nifc.gov/nicc/mobguide/Chapter60.pdf

A type 1 crew must be able to break up into squads. They must also have an assistant supt/foreman and 3 squad leaders. They must also have a minimum of 5 programmable radios. They are comprised of between 18 and 20 firefighters. Obviously, there are more requirements, such as specific qualifications for the overhead positions, but these are the ones that I know contradict the statement above.

A type 2 IA crew must be able to break up into squads as well, and must have a minimum of 4 programmable radios, and 18 - 20 firefighters. Type 2 and type 3 crews do not require breaking up into squads, but they do require the same numbers, as well as the communications capability.

I could not find the section in the mobe guide which refers to accepting other agency and/or cooperator qualifications, so i am not sure if that is what the original reference was aimed at. But i do know that the non federal type 1 crews listed in the mobe guide all adhere to the minimum crew standards for type 1 crews.

L-- C -- E -- S

1/7 Cal Fire Hand Crews

I worked hand crews a few years ago, 1970s. My first crew had seven inmates in for murder. Having said that, it was one of the best crews I had in my eight years in camp. They were convicts, not inmates. They had a lot of time to do and just wanted to do it the easiest way they could. I checked into their records and found out that they were all crimes of "passion".

I sat on the classification committee at a prison and saw that the inmates going through were getting more violent, and not fit for camp. When the possibility of violence started on the crews, I left the program.

I do not know the present situation in the camps as I retired 15 years ago, however I would not be surprised if tighter screening is now in place.

Cal Fire Mossback

1/7 Hi Flash,

The "Common Denominators of Fire Behavior on Tragedy Fires" is on page four of
the Incident Response pocket Guide in both the 2004 and 2006 editions. As
things come up it may be a good idea to spend some extra time practicing the
use of the Table of Contents in the IRPG and the Fireline Handbook.

Fire Gnome
1/7 Thanks ab,
I found exactly what I needed. I remembered it from S190
as soon as I saw the first example. 
Flash in Florida
1/7 Hey ab,

I am working on S390, and I need to know "the four common denominators of fire behavior on tragedy fires" I have a stack of books and am having trouble narrowing my search. Could anyone let me know where this is detailed, (fireline handbook, pocket guide, fire weather handbook, S290 textbook, etc...) Or any really helpful sympathetic soul may just tell me the answer?????

Thanks Guys,

Flash in Florida

No sympathy here, but here's an easy find... Search wlf.com on "common denominators" using the search button in the header. When you get to the archive page, simultaneously hold down the Ctrl button and the F button and enter "common denominators". You'll skip down to the description. Good luck. Ab.

1/7 The past few years the safety community has stated frequently that the BLM had the best safety record of wildland agencies. If you take a look at the frequency numbers in the attached data you may see a different situation. This information came from the DOL/OSHA. (See attached file: Fed Land Mgt Safety Data.xls (22K excel file))

The numbers tell the story.

no name

1/7 HUUFC,

CDF (CAL FIRE) has always said that their correctional inmate firefighters were incarcerated for non-violent crimes and sold that to both the public and to "free firefighters" working alongside of them. Obviously that has been a half truth.... The most recent "Fact Sheet" from CDF says, "They are carefully screened by custodial agencies for their suitability for the program, including physical, emotional, and intellectual aptitudes, as well as a lack of arson in their records."

Something changed in the program delivery somewhere.

Contrary to what you said, other state agencies utilize incarcerated state inmates exclusive of CDF control. While CDF folks would like to think they have the monopoly on "captive labor", other state agencies use them (not usually from CDC/CDF Camps).

Normbc9, hit it right on.... The "best of the best" state inmates are being used in other service jobs..... Same provisions for good service off their sentences.... Often times, the same provisions for $1.00/hr. pay for their services.

Rogue Rivers
1/6 To: oohello

I was a temporary (1039) 11 years ago and was able to secure a decent home loan at the time. However, I was not able to use my unemployment insurance as reportable income. You will have to ask your loan officer if it is reportable now. Basically, I had to use my yearly income and divide it by 12 to give the lending institution a monthly income amount. I was on a Hotshot Crew then and had some good overtime years (the bank wanted proof of income for at least 3 previous years of which all 3 were on a IHC). Good luck with your search for a home (and be ready for all of those wonderful home improvement projects)!

1/6 From Noname...


A 995 motion is a standard motion to dismiss a complaint or charge. It happens frequently in criminal trials.

Notice the court received ex parte letters in June and Aug.

but just prior to the Dec 14 hearing, but only recently on line


the following appeared on Dec. 26
the closed hearing is postponed and may or may not be rescheduled




This brief article was published in the Idyllwild Town Crier on 12/20.

12/20/07 on page 2
Oyler 3

By J.P. Crumrine
Assistant Editor

Raymond Lee Oyler, accused of starting the Esperanza Fire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters, had a day in court, Friday, Dec. 14. As expected, his trial was not ready to begin.

Unexpectedly, Judge Jeffery Prevost decided to close the next court date, Jan. 25, 2008. On Friday, the prosecutor, Michael Hestrin, and defense attorney, Mark McDonald, met with Judge Prevost in chambers, but the Judge sealed the transcript of that meeting.

Records indicate that correspondence pertaining to the case was filed with the court on Dec. 11, prior to Friday’s hearing. This document is labeled confidential.

Following the closed hearing in January, the judge set Feb. 22, 2008 as the date to listen to a motion to dismiss the indictment on procedural grounds. If this motion were upheld, new charges could be refilled against Oyler or the court could let the prosecutor correct the error.

The trial would resume on March 21.

McDonald, Oyler’s lawyer, did not respond to questions prior to Friday’s court date.

J.P. Crumrine can be reached at jp@towncrier.com.

Fair Use Disclaimer

Hmmmm, interesting. Also, check out the article about approval of the new subdivision in a "chimney". This is part of the interface problem as JP Crumrine's article suggests. Ab.

1/6 Ab,

In the sprit of AK Old Timer post of 12\30 I would like to present a late response to Normbc9 erroneous reply to your request for information about a fight on one of CDF's fire crews last year.

CDF and Los Angles County Fire Department use inmates from the California Department of Corrections to staff their fire crews. CDF has about 200 type 1 crews in camps in California. While not fighting fires they work for various local, state, and federal agencies doing everything imaginable. Before anyone gets upset they are type 1 crews, check the National Mobilization Guide.

CDC does not hoard inmates for their "For Profit" prison industries program. First off the program is anything but "For Profit" and secondly there are plenty of level one inmates available. Normbc9 is also wrong about Cal Trans, Fish and Game, and other state organizations have some type of camp set up. CDF crews work for those agencies, they don't have camps.

Normbc9 complains that CDC dehumanizes the individual inmates, does he have a better solution? If so I would like to hear it. My swamper and his accomplice gave a welfare mother a ride to the bank to cash her check. After she got the cash they beat her with a hammer and dumped her off the side of the road. He plea bargained a guilty plea for robbery and was sent to camp. Did CDC dehumanize him? No, he himself did. Will prison make him worse or better? It's up to him.

So to make long story long, yes there was a fight on a CDF crew. There were probably fights on other agencies crews as well.

1/6 From Lobotomy on the Raymond Lee Oyler trial:

From a program allowed by the laws of California, there is a program called "Open Access" that allows folks to follow cases.

Being frustrated with the information coming out on trial of Raymond Lee Oyler and the recent ruling of the judge to seal records and exclude the public, and the recent decisions to exclude the press, the public, and those interested in the actual trial, I used "Open Access" to look at the case status. IT APPEARS the press doesn't know about the program or the case status.


You can seal the record, but you can't seal the future dates in the trial.

OBVIOUSLY, Mr. Oyler's attorney and the press didn't catch this.... a 995 PC Motion


(a) Subject to subdivision (b) of Section 995a, the indictment or information shall be set aside by the court in which the defendant is arraigned, upon his or her motion, in either of the following cases:

  • (1) If it is an indictment:

    • (A) Where it is not found, endorsed, and presented as prescribed in this code.
    • (B) That the defendant has been indicted without reasonable or probable cause.
  • (2) If it is an information:

    • (A) That before the filing thereof the defendant had not been legally committed by a magistrate.
    • (B) That the defendant had been committed without reasonable or probable cause.

(b) In cases in which the procedure set out in subdivision (b) of Section 995a is utilized, the court shall reserve a final ruling on the motion until those procedures have been completed.

(a) If the names of the witnesses examined before the grand jury are not inserted at the foot of the indictment or indorsed thereon, the court shall order them to be so inserted or indorsed; and if the information be not subscribed by the district attorney, the court may order it to be so subscribed.


  • (1) Without setting aside the information, the court may, upon motion of the prosecuting attorney, order further proceedings to correct errors alleged by the defendant if the court finds that such errors are minor errors of omission, ambiguity, or technical defect which can be expeditiously cured or corrected without a rehearing of a substantial portion of the evidence. The court may remand the cause to the committing magistrate for further proceedings, or if the parties and the court agree, the court may itself sit as a magistrate and conduct further proceedings. When remanding the cause to the committing magistrate, the court shall state in its remand order which minor errors it finds could be expeditiously cured or
  • (2) Any further proceedings conducted pursuant to this subdivision may include the taking of testimony and shall be deemed to be a part of the preliminary examination.
  • (3) The procedure specified in this subdivision may be utilized only once for each information filed. Any further proceedings conducted pursuant to this subdivision shall not be deemed to extend the time within which a defendant must be brought to trial under Section 1382.

I don't understand what this means given that the records are sealed and the public excluded. I googled 995 PC Motion. It's a request made by a defendant to dismiss a count of information. We don't know if the "count of information" is a report, testimony, or something else. Presumably if it's not dismissal of his lawyer, his lawyer would have filed it... Don't know what this means in this context. Lobotomy or any Legal Beagle reading, what do you think this means? Ab.

1/5 Hello all,

A longtime lurker with a different sort of question.

Working seasonally for the last few years in the forest service has provided
me the opportunity to save a fair amount of money, and I would now like
to invest it into a home.

How easy is it to count unemployment as income when getting a home

Have seasonal firefighters been able to get decent loans in the past without
resorting to "stated income" type loans?

I am sure that I am not the first person to try this. Please share your
knowledge and past experiences.

1/4 RE: They Said posting

AK Old Timer is correct in asserting that certain federal job series offer
a higher percentage so as to retain personnel in a give profession.
He cites that of engineers (e.g., civil) which has existed for more than
25 years. Most recently (in the last ten years) is the GS-2210
Information Technology Specialist. This was developed at a time when
computer and networking personnel were difficult to retain. The Forest
Service continues to use this series with 'very wide latitude' within its
MEO organization that was launched in late 2004 when, in reality, the
shortage of networking and computer personnel is no longer valid since the
dot com crash.

1/4 NMAirbear,

I know what you mean - I used to be an ADFA member,
too, but it seems like since Hugh left, it has just
fallen by the wayside. Is the organization still out

I, too, have had some very bad experiences the last
couple of years working as an AD. The verbal abuse and
disrespect has become rampant in many areas toward
ADs. Funny though, for all the bad-mouthing they do,
they sure use enough of them when the going gets
tough! I'm still debating on whether or not I want to
endure another season of abuse, so not sure if I will
be an AD or not in 2008.

With the increase in large fires every year, I sure
hope things can get changed for all fire personnel -
be they Fed, City, State, Contractors, ADs, etc. We
all need to be treated with the respect we deserve and
have our pay and benefits reflect that.

...old goat
1/4 -----old goat:

I cannot be much help with your questions about changes in 2008 AD rates, contracts, etc. Your questions are certainly something that the AD Firefighter Association should be checking into right now. As a former member of ADFA, and possibly a former AD (because I am so fed up with being abused as one), I will defer to somebody who collects dues to answer these types of questions.

As Hugh put it a while back, ADFA seems to have become a "toothless tiger". ADFA??

I am certainly not getting my hopes up that anything will get any better for ADs, retirees, state-employed ADs, or Native American/Hispanic crews anytime soon because I doubt anybody anymore is providing the necessary advocacy. ADFA??

1/4 AK Old Timer-

Thanks but I can deal with tents too. My favorite assignment I worked in
a tent (with an A/C unit and propane heaters) in a meadow. Our plotter
stood on blocks and our computers were on folding tables.

While I like the comfort of the trailer I preferred the communication and
bustle of the sit unit tent. Put me wherever you like... just give me a decent
chair ;-)

GIS girl
1/4 A "Digger Pine" fell on the electrical?! You're showing your age. Those are now grey pine, like me.


In our Abs' families they will always be digger pine... too much ranch and gold mining history over the generations to call them otherwise no matter how PC things are elsewhere. Grandpa always told the young'uns with pride that they were named after him. Ab.

1/4 AK,

You're right-on about retention pay as far as being the quickest to implement with OPM discussions. Hopefully "Group" Retention Incentives (GRI) was discussed. In the past, I've seen staff work that showed GRI costs implemented regionwide at various amounts and options based on a fire position/rank. Costs are high, relatively speaking, however you tell an employee several thousand dollars from the GRI will direct deposit into the bank account every December, that's going to help hang on to employees and increase recruitment of new ones. When comparing the costs of such a program to all discretionary spending, one can use your flea on the elephant's butt analogy.

GRI and P to P (or ordered stand-by until Portal to Portal is passed) will begin to correct years of mistakes.



The deadline is Jan 8th, keep the chatter HIGH !

1/4 To Outside of What Box

Some sound ideas if anyone is reading, lurking...

You ever see some of those LAPES drop with 5 tons, BFV's and
some assorted equipment??

Some of those accidents are pretty stellar coming off the tailgates...
BUT i don't think the land management agencies could afford
replacing engines that fell of the pallet, rolled a few times, if they
are worried about aircraft costs....

But there are success stories coming off the tailgates also.


1/4 Scanner is down. Digger pine fell on the electrical and telephone lines...

Won't be fixed until tomorrow at the earliest.

Everything's working where I am at the moment. Good there's two of us. Ab.

1/4 Just wondering - maybe Hugh or NMAirBear can shed
some light on this - has their been any word on what's
going to happen with ADs this season? Any pay raises
or reductions? There has been a rumor floating around
this winter that the AD program might be drastically
changed and go to something like a "private
contractor" type business, plus the paperwork for the
next season has not been sent out yet which it
normally is around the end of Dec - at least in our

AK oldtimer - I agree, we used tents for many years
and did just fine. The added cost to have all these
yurts, etc that are luxury items to many of us - and
paying firefighters to stay in a motel, is the most
ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Guess firefighters
and teams were tougher in the old days - we didn't
need any stinking cell phones, satellites phones, air
conditioners, computers, etc. LOL!

.....old goat
1/4 Ab

Its that fun time of the year where I get to look through the latest resumes as
I hire my seasonals. Most every year there are a couple of stand outs. One
was describing the thrill he gets from his extreme hobby and said "...pretty
much danger is my middle name."

Perhaps you could start collecting Things that Showed Up in a Resume that

Danger Mitigation Is My Job

I'll make a list. Send 'em in. Ab.

1/4 CalFire Announcement from Deputy Director Jarvis

Chief Van Gerwen is a top hand in my book. They couldn't have found a more
articulate and knowledgeable person for this task. Norm


Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 9:03 AM
Subject: Announcement from Deputy Director Michael Jarvis

Paul Van Gerwen has been named to the position of CAL FIRE Battalion
Chief/Public Information Officer for the three units adjoining the San
Francisco Bay Area effective January 2, 2007. Chief Van Gerwen will be
working with Bay Area media and highlighting CAL FIRE's focus on a proactive
and preventative approach to wildfire threats, including a commitment to
strong management of fire prevention and natural resources. Chief Van Gerwen
will also inform the public of CAL FIRE's role as a diverse all risk fire
agency providing world class emergency response during disasters. Chief Van
Gerwen will work directly with the Unit Chiefs and staff of the San
Mateo-Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Sonoma-Lake-Napa administrative units of
CAL FIRE. The position was created by re-assigning a Sacramento
administrative position from the Communications office to the field. Van
Gerwen will be based at the Santa Clara Unit's Almaden fire station. A
26-year veteran of the fire service, Chief Van Gerwen brings a well-rounded
depth of experience to this position including 16 years as a fire captain
with CAL FIRE's San Luis Obispo Unit. He has experience in both wildland and
municipal assignments as an engine company officer, fire crew supervisor,
peace officer and serious accident team investigator.

Mike Jarvis
Deputy Director for Communications

1/4 To: "We will succeed, because we are right!"

Sorry, I can't accept your challenge to make a list of how many Feds it takes to review the retention report. Far too many, but that's the "system".

Plus the report may not recommend what you're wishing for.

First of all, as far as the number off Federal employees involved, the Forest Service is like the flea on an elephant's butt. About 30,000 total employees out of over 1.5 million. And even fewer employees directly involved with the fire program. The FS makes the headlines only when we're fighting fires or being sued.

Second, the FS can only make recommendations to the political hacks in the Secretary of Agriculture's Office. The politicians may or may not take these recommendations to Congress for implementation. All agencies in the Executive Branch are expressly prohibited to take their proposals directly (i.e. lobby) to Congress.

Third, the FS has very limited options. Salaries are the exclusive responsibility of Congress. The President can recommend, but Congress must approve and appropriate the funds. It's Congress who created Locality Pay which is "supposed" to compensate for the local wages in the immediate area. Unfortunately, locality pay is based on an average of many job categories besides wild-land firefighter so it has not kept up in some categories. At least your locality pay is included in the "high three" average that determines your retirement. Our COLA, which is used in Alaska and Hawaii, DOES NOT...and we do not get any locality pay!

Base on my 40+ years of Fed experience, I believe the best solution for the FS is to seek to use "Retention Pay" to improve salaries in job categories where there is substantial competition with private industry or state and local gov't for specific types of employees. In the past, the FS has used this to hire and keep Engineers and Landscape Architects. They were (are?) given an additional 25% of their base pay (up to and including GS-11's) to work for the Feds. The only bad part of this alternative is that I believe Retention Pay has to be approved by OPM. But, it may be the easiest and quickest solution.

One last comment. There is fierce competition for every Federal dollar. Every agency except DOD has been ordered to down-size and reduce costs. Just look at all the memos directing Incident Teams to have a least cost alternative in their plans. Every dollar used to increase wild-land firefighters pay has to come from somewhere else. Just where do we cut? Maybe we should stop renting air-conditioned, modular office trailers and yurts and go back to tents. Well, maybe one air-conditioned trailer for GIS Girl. Tents worked just fine for many years. Also, being an "Old Timer" (or as some of you would prefer to call me, an "Old Fa*t"), I have a very tough time agreeing to pay firefighters while they sleep in motels. But, that's another posting.

AK Old Timer
1/4 Ab,

You said, "Look, L, it's pretty clear he's anti-govt and has been for years. No one I know takes his political extremism seriously just as no one takes the Bircher 101 sign in Willits seriously."

I agree for the most part, but as he and his group (and others) spreads their views to the public and elected officials who know little about wildland fire (or other issues they flood the press with)..... or the complexities involved.... They actually increase the risks to communities and firefighters. Their ideas and goals form a life of their own when experts from wildland fire agencies don't refute them.

Unfortunately, the leaders of CalFire and the Forest Service seem to be afraid of defending the actions of their agencies.

Three cases in point:

1) Both CalFire and the Forest Service have both been failures in educating the public, elected officials, and insurance agencies about the risks residents take in either living in, or adjacent to wildland areas, and

2) Both CalFire and the Forest Service haven't defended their air programs from groups who have outside interests that run contrary to public and firefighter safety, and

3) Just like 2003, the issues of 2007 echo that both CalFire and the Forest Service are doing what is right in balancing the risks and gains of those they are protecting, making adjustments within, and learning, but

Wildland fire agencies must educate the public that when Santa Ana's are blowing, regardless of what the response of the federal. state, and local government is..... Folks in those areas are experiencing a natural disaster..... one they can either choose to mitigate or not.

It is just like not building a hurricane resistant building and living on the Gulf Coast or in Florida... or not having a basement or storm room in tornado alley.... or building a house in a flood plain. Eventually your home is going to be affected by disaster..... prepared or under-prepared?

Should the federal, state, or local government be allowing you to make stupid decisions as a resident? Should the federal government (FEMA) keep reimbursing stupid decisions by local and state planning and development agencies, while not listening to the firefighters from the state and local agencies who are well aware of the risks, and what needs to be done to keep the communities and firefighters safer?

Wildfire is the same.

Half of what came out of the Blue Ribbon Panel of 2003 was simple crap driven by partisan politics and a need for unfounded "blame" towards CDF, San Diego City, and the Forest Service...... Just like the supposedly benign "Bircher 101 sign in Willits"...... Latent problems exist when the public believes more airtankers and more helicopters from the military would have prevented the fires of 2003 and 2007.

It is often the small and often overlooked errors and distractions in the cockpit..... Often too small to been seen by many who ask the questions "why" after an error happens?.........Why did the accident happen?

Cockpit Resource Management (Crew Resource Management) basics....... Nobody spoke out about identified hazards before the accident happened!!!! Some in the cockpit downplayed the hazard before the impact.

Build a better cockpit. Sorry for the rant.

1/4 fireuseman,

Thank you for providing the list of wildfires that exceeded the $5,000,000
per fire threshold.

In looking at the ICS 209 start date of the fires and seeing how they were
initially managed, I was amazed to see how many of those large cost
wildfires (WF) initially started out as Wildland Fire Use (WFU).

I don't think there is a query function for that. I had to manually search and
filter the results.

It would be neat to see the results comparing the costs effectiveness of the
incidents initially managed as WFU incidents in both 2006 and 2007 and
then converted to wildfires, contrasted with WFU incidents that were
managed and met resource objectives.... and see a comparison of costs
per acre of each.


Rogue Rivers
1/4 Ab,

Bare with me on this.

I think N*m#ch&k is on to something. But to be most effective it needs to be taken a step or two further. And those steps are developing a fleet of DC-10 airtankers and utilizing the Air Forces KC-10 aerial refueling planes.

We would have two types of KC-10's. One type would be the traditional aerial refueling role. The other would be loaded with water and have a retardant batch mixer on board.

We would then develop staffing plans for the airtankers and their supporting KC-10's. Staffing levels would range form lift off in 4 hours to airtanker and support KC-10's orbiting anticipated trouble spots.

We would have an Eastern Super Airtanker Operations Center (ESAOC) and a Western Super Airtanker Operations Center (WSAOC) each with a base for the aircraft and reporting/ordering directly to the air craft desk at NICC. That way you would avoid any hording and be able to move them where ever in the nation they are needed. These would be located at existing Air Force Bases that scheduled to be closed. That way they are not impacting civil aviation.


When in the orbit mode the Supertankers could do IA. Maybe even install an array of IR sensors and they could even do the detection job as well. They could easily beat most ground crews to a fire in remote country.

By having the fueling and retardant reload done on the fly it would save time and we would have just the two air tanker bases to keep open and support. More money saved.

With the amount of room in the DC-10 and KC-10 we could double staff the aircraft and always have fresh crews and be able to operate dawn to dusk. Heck you could load em up with como gear and they could be flying repeaters. Never have to worry about gaps in radio coverage as long as they are overhead. (This may be best in the KC-10 planes as they would be staying high and wide and provide a better repeater site.) You could go days with out having to land the Airtankers. And we all know its the number of landings and takeoffs that determine the life of an airframe. Think how much longer we could keep these in service.

We could also utilize the KC-10s to transport personnel at night when the planes are not needed for aerial resupply. When they are empty of fuel you could easily get 200 firefighters on board. That would save a lot of money and time. No more trying to line up commercial flights or having to worry about over committing our current 1 transport jet or all the standing in line that is done waiting to a 20 person crew through security (Lets see you have 20 persons several of which have two way radios, they all have these boots with heels large enough to hold a 1/2 pound of C4 all with 1 way tickets bought within the last 24 hours by some one who is not going in this flight. For the TSA that's pretty much all the watch out situations)

Even if we do not go the supertanker route we could utilize the KC-10's with existing aircraft. Heck those P-3's have lots of room in them too.

That's enough for now. Some time I will fill you in on my idea to use C-141's to move engines around the country and if the Air Force can drop jeeps and tanks and stuff out the back of a C-130 why can't we drop engine's? Think of it. Your on some ridge and you order a strike team of engine. The next thing you know the C-130's are coming in low and kick the engine's out the back. Think how much money we would save in mileage not having to drive the engines every were.

Outside What Box?
1/3 From GA Peach's HOTLIST post of the USFA provisional report Year-to-Date Statistics -- 2007 Statistics of FF deaths that will be presented in USFA's annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2007.


1/3 Lots of money being spent on what? Obviously not WFU.

07CostliestFiresYTD121807.doc (57K doc file)


1/3 Hey All,

OA has turned on the wildlandfire.com scanner as of January 3 2008 @ 0815 for the Northern CA weather event.


For those inquiring and for those who want to follow what's going on in the Sierra via scanner, happy listening. Some Sierra areas could get a foot to a number of feet of snow in a very short time period.

Be safe.


1/3 Hello,

I was just wondering what ever was the outcome for the Monterey
Hotshots and the ordeal they had to go through to go to a fellow
firefighter's funeral ?

Did anyone ever pursue the so called overhead that wouldn't let
them go ?

Did anyone ever find out who this "overhead" was that has no heart ?
I'm sorry if this has been brought up this past month, but right after
the season ended i went to Europe for vacation so i hadn't seen the
outcome. I hope someone got their punishment for this !!!!

I hope this doesn't ever happen to a crew again !

Also does anyone know how to get ahold of Jimmy H or Tony V,
they are both members of Monterey Hotshots, i would like to talk
to them about the incident.

Swamp This

Try the FS lookup utility. There's a link to it on the links page under fed. Ab.

1/3 Re: Follow the Money

California State Attorney General  - Take Notice
United States Attorney General - Take Notice

Why am I pissed off?

Read below.

1)    You don't tell Forest Service or CAL FIRE firefighters that they are committing ".defacto serial arson and murder for profit spanning over a decades."
2)    Follow the money.
3)    Educate the public that air resources are just a part of the toolbox for firefighters.



"We should contact every public official there is and demand the U.S. Forest Service utilize the DC- 10 in the beginning of the fires that turn into holocausts we endure and further investigate the U.S. Forest Service officials for defacto serial arson and murder for profit spanning over a decade."

"Meanwhile we should urge the Cal-Fire state agency to bring back into service the Boeing-747 Supertanker aircraft that the U.S. Forest Service also refuses to use. It carries 24,000 gallons of retardant which is twice the load of the DC- 10. See www.JBS.org (search: wildfire) and call every public official to stop this domestic terrorism by fire by our own U.S. Forest Service." ~~ Ed Nemech*k

Tanker 910 Quick Info:

  1. Omni Air International, in coordination with Cargo Conversions LLC created the DC-10 airtanker program. They utilized modified tanks provided by Erickson Air Crane. The company is known as 10 Tanker Air Carrier.
  2. While the Sawtooth Fire (CA-BDU) was burning in California, then Victorville Mayor Mike Rothschild contacted California State Senator George Runner (R-17th District) for assistance to find out why T-910 hadn't been approved as an airtanker in the State of California. http://www.ci.victorville.ca.us/news/06_stories/07-18_tanker.phpl
  3. Senator Runner then contacted the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and an expedited approval was obtained in a few days.
  4. Ed Nem*ch*k (Landers, CA - Victorville, CA - ) and Larry Hambl*n (Hesperia, CA) have been strong vocal activists for the contracting of "Supertankers" and both sent OpEds and contributions to main stories nationwide and overseas for the last several years. As part of their activism, they have incorrectly stated many facts and figures about airtankers or their use on wildfires.
  5. CAL FIRE provided one of the most lucrative contracts ever for a single airtanker that didn't undergo proper testing or approval.

Some of the statements being sent across the nation to both the public and elected officials:

"I think it's obscenely evil that the U.S. Forest Service is still deliberately refusing to use DC-10 and 747 type Supertankers to stop wildfires (for more than 12 years), fires that have reportedly destroyed over 30,000 homes and scores of human lives over this time. This apparent scorched earth policy of the U.S. Forest Service for over a decade, see: JBS. org (search: wildfire) must be stopped and the officials prosecuted." ~~ Larry Hambl*n

"The ongoing problem however is the refusal of the U.S. Forest Service to allow Supertanker aircraft to stop fires on federal land causing our tragic local and national holocausts. We must encourage Gov. Schwarzenegger in this courageous effort and demand congress force the U.S. Forest Service to utilize Supertanker fire fighting aircraft and quit mismanaging our forests to cause wildfires as reported at www.JBS.org (search: wildfire)."

"It is estimated that as little as six Supertankers can solve the uncontrolled wildfire problem in America but we have to get the Forest Service out of the way to do it. We should abolish the Forest Service, locally privatize that activity, and prosecute the officials who have burned our forests, homes, and families for over a decade."~~ Ed Nem*ch*k

"10 Tanker Air Carrier is a private company that has developed the 10 Super Tanker without any government funding.  The Company will grow its fleet of DC 10 Super Tankers to accommodate the requirements of local, state and federal, fire fighting agencies world wide." ~~ 10 Tanker Air Carrier http://www.10tanker.com/

Follow the Money: John Birch Society

"Hi : I'm Ed Nem*ch*k (local John Birch Society member and Ron Paul supporter) and I wanted to mention that we're having our monthly meeting at Mc Donalds' resteraunt conferance room on Bear Valley Road (accross from Target store, west of Apple Valley Road) Saturday, Jan. 5, 2008 at 10:30 AM . I wish to invite everyone to attend the free video presentation, literature and action opportunities. Through our efforts a great new day is dawning on America! Call Ed Nem*ch*k-760-<***-8059-for more info."

/s/ Lobotomy

Look, L, it's pretty clear he's anti-govt and has been for years. No one I know takes his political extremism seriously just as no one takes the Bircher 101 sign in Willits seriously. I would venture to say that if the DC-10 folks really knew his reputation and what he's about, they'd probably be a embarrassed by his advocacy, misspellings and all. I would be. Ab.

1/2 I'm with Fedwatcher II,. My resolution is the same, as soon I see, absorb and agree with this TOP SECRET Dec 10th retention report. Until then I intend to keep the chatter high for as long as long it takes.

It's been 15 days and 6 hours since the Pena memo was sent to all R-5 employees telling us we will be briefed soon after the Regional Forester is briefed. Maybe we should get AK Old Timer to do a list for us to tell us how many weeks and Feds does it take for Pena to brief a Regional Forester? C'mon AK, how about it?

I call for the immediate release of all information, documents and proposals from the meeting. If not, those in attendance or those who have been briefed "in the shadows", need to begin to release the information on Jan 8th. The other option will be a FOIA.


"We will succeed, because we are right!"
1/2 It's still burning Downunda. From Firescribe:

Goldfields bushfire rages as temperatures set to soar

A deadly bushfire that has torn through the Goldfields and killed three truck drivers who were trapped by flames on Great Eastern Highway is still raging, with forecast extreme temperatures making the task even harder for firefighters.

More than 130 firefighters from the Fire and Emergency Services Authority, Department of Environment and Conservation, the Forest Products Commission and volunteer brigades from the shires of Coolgardie and Yilgarn are still fighting the bushfire that has torn through the Boorabbin National Park. (click the link for story, map and pics)

1/2 Rats...

I started reading about the changing of the Guard on the Angeles and I got
excited thinking that maybe Jody finally had enough of her firefighters, the
FWFSA & Congress and was deciding to bail...

Ab, I promise...I'm starting my New year's resolution of being pleasant and
polite when talking about R5's RO and their respect for their firefighters(???)
as well as certain Forest Supervisors and Deputy Forest Supervisors.........

Fedwatcher II
1/2 Ab,

See below on Joe Cray. If you could post this on Theysaid, it would be greatly appreciated. Joe has insurance but it's only going to pay for 60% of his costs for a liver transplant. That doesn't include the 3 month rehab costs in Portland afterwards. Needless to say, Joe could use some support, be it through thoughts and prayers or financial support. Joe is a heck of a hard worker and ALWAYS has a smile on his face, a good person to be around. ANY kind of support from the wildland fire community would help!


Sign me~ Junior Ranger

An account has been set up for Joe Cray (pic of Joe), long time employee of Walker Range Fire Patrol Association, for his liver transplant. Joe has liver damage resulting from Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) is an uncommon chronic liver disease in which the bile ducts inside and outside the liver progressively narrow due to inflammation and scarring. He has been accepted for the donor list as of December 27, 2007. This account is to help Joe pay for his doctor bills and expenses due to the liver transplant.

The account is located at any South Valley Bank & Trust. Please make the donations payable to Joe Cray Liver Transplant Fund in care of South Valley Bank & Trust. Donations may be dropped off at any branch or mailed to the Joe Cray Liver Transplant Fund, South Valley Bank & Trust - Gilchrist Branch - P.O. Box 831, Gilchrist, Oregon 97737.
Thank You, Walker Range Fire Patrol Association

Our best to him for a fast recovery. Ab.

1/2 Lobotomy, et al..

I searched his name, and quite frankly got bored after
reading a few of the articles. But I did notice that
in several he posted his phone number...which must
mean that he really likes taking calls.

I'm one of those that is of the opinion that one (or
two) opinions and ideas of how we, as a fire
.....oops.. land management agency, do business may
work. However, his (just like our) continued ranting
(without any substance) turns the powers that be off.

I read some real doosies (sp?) after the BRP in 2001
and 2002.

Anyway....maybe give him a call?? <snip> If you're so
inclined. Me? I wouldn't waste my hard earned money
(if you catch my drift).


I snipped the number. Google it if you want to call him. Ab.

1/2 RE: Nemech*k

I had no idea that this 'fine american' was enlightening the general population with his
vast knowledge and superior wildland firefighting tactics. (tongu-ectomy from cheek
scheduled soon - sorry)

I'm glad that Mr. Ed N. is not in charge of the use of the supertankers on wildland fires.

Follow the dollar. Methinks this person has quite a few of them riding on the
companies that own the supertankers.


Oh, OK, that one, the self-appointed authority on leaf blowers, not a race car driver. Lobotomy, I don't think you need to worry; who cares what he says, and yeah, I know he's never been a hero of yours... Sorry 'bout that. Ab.

1/2 Ab,

My wish for the 2008 New Year.

I'd hope that Mr. Nemech*k fades away in his repetitive attacks against CDF and the USFS..... or that either CDF or the Forest Service starts rebutting his slander on our profession and finally shuts him down.

While I would usually ignore him, his OpEds and Main Stories in newspapers and blogs throughout the United States are influencing the uninformed public and our elected officials in their decisions.

Hopefully, we can educate the press, the public, and our elected officials that Mr. Nemech*k is a fraud and spammer who has been duping the press for nearly 10 years.


I haven't heard of him. If anyone wants to look him up, replace the * with an e.

Ah, Lobotomy, is he just a race car driver or someone else? What does he know? Well, if the race car driver, how to go f-a-s-t. Or is he someone else? Ab.

1/1 Circulating behind the scenes...

Subject: Changing of the Guard Angeles National Forest


John Thomas will be at the helm of the Forest until a Chief can be
selected. Add him to your mailing lists and give him access to the BOD
Agenda site and the Agreements FTP site. I expect John to attend
the BOD meetings and Monday AM conference calls with his characteristic
energy, straight talk and common sense approach. I am leaving the Forest in
excellent hands.

I started attending the Fire BOD meetings ten or more years ago. Cruz may
have been the director. It was a lively group. I felt like the outsider
among the likes of Kohut, Myall, Hatcher, Swanson, Bacon, Capplinger and
others whose names elude me. I noticed over the years the group got more
cohesive. There wasn't as much open conflict. Egos didn't enter the room
before the person did quite as often. But there are lessons to be learned
from conflict.

Anyway now I am the old goat I complained about. Remember the "FFMO" group
had and has the purpose of keeping the Regional Office folks in touch with
where the service to land and people takes place, the tip of the sword so
to speak. Don't loose sight of that. I hope to see more of all of you in
the future so I won't say good-bye.

Many of you have been wonderful help to me over the years. I have learned
so much from so many I can not express it here. Many of you were
inspirations, provided encouragement and mentored my career and did not
know it. The Angeles has benefited from your advise and counsel. Thank you

Don Garwood
Chief Fire & Aviation Management
USDA Forest Service
Angeles National Forest

Best Wishes to Don Garwood in his retirement. Ab.

1/1 From Firescribe:

Brush removal was brushed off
For a long time, city officials knew uncleared land was a huge fire hazard

Fire threat and brush clearance map for San Diego area (3,152 K pdf file)

1/1 Hundekot,

Thanks for sharing the article on FS granting access to private lands.
Key question of "Who Pays?" is appropriate.

Assuming the public wants and demands....

  • Protection from fire
  • Response to vehicle accidents
  • Search and Rescue
  • Animal control
  • Medical emergency response
  • Air medivac
  • Domestic violence response
  • Universal health care

Who pays? Some would like to have the "deep pockets" neighbor (FS)
to pay for all services. Gee, that would make it Free??? Hardly.

In most of the real world, those who want services are charged with paying
for them.

  • Private companies or locally financed ambulance services supply medical
  • VFDs, counties or cities provide structural home protection.
  • County sheriff's or other agencies do S&R and animal control.
  • Subdivisions should have a negotiated fire protection plan (and financed via
    local property taxes).
  • The days of a federal agency spending thousands of dollars per private home
    (wrapping) are probably coming to an end.

It's time for folks to be willing to tax themselves for services they "demand".

Old Fire Guy (ret)

Ab comment: OFG, Good points and a good way to think about mission and vision. Should we add in

  • protection from hurricane,
  • protection from tornado,
  • protection from earthquake,
  • protection from landslide,
  • protection from flooding,
  • protection from terrorist attack?

Good morning.
Happy New Year.
Have we told you lately how much we like our jobs?
What a great wildland fire community.
Here's to 2008!

The Abs.

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