March, 2008

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3/31Never Fear folks:

I have finally (travel day from Hell) arrived in DC at 1:00 am. I'll be at the
hearing and according to Senator Feinstein's staff it should be the first order
of business. I'll make some calls once the "secret" is out for those who
cannot listen to the event.


Glad yer not sleeping in a tent tonight. Ab.


There is a R-5 Conference Call @ 11:00 tomorrow to address the R-5 Retention Strategy.

Since the majority of the R-5 Fire Managers will be in Reno all this week for the CA Team
Meetings (Nice timing once again by our "leadership" in providing timely info and making
sure it is heard by all by the way)...... Shameful.....

Could someone record the Conference Call for those of us not able to attend?


The Senate hearing starts at 7 am pacific time.... the R-5 Conference call starts at 11 am pacific time.


3/31AB, yes you are free to reprint and also grant all of your readers permission to utilize the 3 documents in the 2008 Fireline Safety Refresher Training. The documents that I submitted are:

Structure Triage and Defensible Space

LCES Flow Chart (NIFC Training Staff reorganized our Flow Chart and made it much easier to follow.)

Basic Fire Behavior Estimate

AB, the concepts that I have used are simple training tools to help what I call the LAY- FIREFIGHTER. In my training over the years, I've seen that the number of Firefighters who actually perform Structure Protection do it very irregularly. Even LAC has many interface fires, but in maybe 5 out of 21 battalions, and then with 3 shifts of FFs the chances of being on the first burning period are slim...

Regarding Fire Behavior, I have been through S-490, and was on the LAC RX burn team for many years, however I have always said what I received from Campbell"s Prediction Method served my needs ten fold of what I learned in the 290, 390, 490. And that is just my opinion.

To understand the concept behind the three documents above they are intended to be utilized in conjunction with Alan Simmons and my new DVD INTERFACE FIREFIGHTING for FIREFIGHTERS by FIREFIGHTERS.

To Tahoe Terrie and others who have already purchased this set, we are going to send out a revised Vol 1 and 2, as we added a couple of important issues. Also we will be sending out the 3 documents above and a written quiz as many of you asked for it.

Thanks to all. BE SAFE, Utilize LCES in conjunction with a FBE.

jp harris

Thanks, JP. The Basic Fire Behavior Estimate shows how Doug Campbell's method has been integrated into structural training as well as being the focus of Wildland Fire Signature Predictions courses. LCES (stands for Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes and Safety Zones) was coined and developed by Paul Gleason. Ab.

3/31I haven't been able to read or understand what much of the fire behavior or social science related to FLAME actually entails. Seems that there was very little peer review of fire behavior experts or sociologists before being added to the S-290 curriculum.

I do have my concerns as it seems to have been written (below, 2007) as another "cure all" in preventing wildland fire entrapments.

We've had a big problem with our fire behavior curriculum above S-190 for many years..... relying too much on nomograms, Behave, FarSite and other applications that folks can't use while they are "running and gunning" (military term)... and not getting back to the very basics of fire behavior and human factors affecting our ability to recognize worst case. The best fire behavior instructors teach by the story telling method, and by giving visual presentations of fire behavior and first hand accounts.

"Unforeseen change is a major contributor to fireline accidents...".... this is a human factor, not a fire behavior factor.

The biggest human factor out there is experience and situational awareness.


> From the 2007 Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR):

Unforeseen change is a major contributor to fireline accidents, a universal common denominator. Even though firefighters know about the factors that affect fire behavior, they can be caught by unforeseen dangerous changes in fire behavior. The FireLine Assessment MEthod (FLAME) is a unique, fireline-practical application of fire-behavior science to support safety and suppression decisions. It can identify and evaluate potential changes in fire behavior, especially the large, short term changes. These are the kinds of changes that can occur in a few feet or a few minutes on the fireline and threaten firefighter safety.

FLAME applies fire behavior prediction science to the implementation of LCES and the Standard Firefighting Order "Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire". It utilizes situational awareness based observations combined with an easy to use paper-and-pencil pocket guide. FLAME takes account of the "current" fire behavior as a baseline, directs attention to the "next big change" and evaluates the magnitude of that change. Utilizing current fire behavior and the expected conditions, it provides two directly usable outputs: how rate-of-spread (ROS) will change, and the fire spread-time to a given point.

An introduction to FLAME is a component of the soon to be released 2007 revision of Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior, S-290. FLAME will also be available on-line at training.nwcg.gov as an interactive, self pace training. This training product is expected to be completed in the spring of 2007. As soon as the product is available, a link to the FLAME training website will be provided from WFSTAR.
3/31Fighting the Good Fight

Thank you for your kind and informative reply. I read the referenced directive
and found it enlightening. Also encouraging that there are PDs at the 8 level. I
doubt that the complexity of my local program would be complex enough to
rate an 8.

Outside Looking In
3/31A couple things.........

The retention discussion on the hill (Washington DC) will be a small portion of a larger discussion on many topics.

The R-5 retention video conference broadcasting from the R5 Regional Office that is scheduled for tomorrow is what we need to listen to. It apparently is set-up to start the same time the House committee hearing begins. For those without the video conferencing equipment a conference call # is also available. Does anyone know when this will start? Does anyone know the conference call in phone number?

Are the California ICs going to discuss ordered stand-by this week at the team meetings? Are the teams going to develop criteria when they will implement ordered stand-by on fed fires? No extra cost for the non-fed cooperators as most already get portal to portal on our incidents. Does anyone in Reno this week have the ability to lead on this issue as the LPF first did in the Fall of 2007, then followed by ANF and BDF? Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

To listen live to the Senate hearing tomorrow morning, go to www.capitolhearings.org and select the Dirksen 124 (SD-124) audio link on the right hand screen.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008
10:00 a.m.  Interior, Environment and Related Agencies (Chairman Feinstein) 

Location: SD-124, Senate Dirksen Office Building

Agenda: Examination of the FY 2009 U.S. Forest Service budget request.
Mark E. Rey, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Abigail R. Kimbell, Chief, U.S. Forest Service.


How To Use CapitolHearings.org

   1. For Senate Hearings, review the Congressional Hearings Schedule on the left side of the screen to find the hearing you wish to listen to. Committee names provide links to the Committee home pages on the U.S. Senate web site.
   2. Locate the Senate Hearing Room Number at the lower right of each Senate schedule entry. You may need to scroll right to find the Room Number. Room Numbers provide quick links to audio feeds of Senate hearings in progress.
   3. Alternatively, locate the Senate Hearing Room in the list on the right side of the screen.
   4. When a Senate hearing is scheduled to begin, click on the appropriate Hearing Room link. If no hearing is in progress, you may hear a tone.
   5. For House Hearings, click on "House" at the top of the page or scroll down.
   6. House Committee names link to each committee website. You will find the audio/ video link for the House Hearings from these Committee websites.

3/31Through the years I have heard this often...

Mr Bishop, What drivers of changes in fire behavior does Campbell's method fail to consider adequately?

Tahoe Terrie

Ab, didn't you have a link to the Wildland Fire Signature Predictions article published in Europe? That gave an overview of what is, in my opinion, the best and most useful on-the-ground method of evaluating fire behavior. TT

Wildland Fire Signature Predictions (3,278K doc file)

3/31Instructors and students of new S-290 FLAME section

There have evidently been some frustrations with the new S-290 materials and the FLAME section. It is certainly a challenge to teach new material on a subject that one has not taken themselves, and unfortunately some glitches crept into the final presentation materials. So I can understand the difficulties folks have encountered in this “shakedown cruise” of the new course. But let me offer some encouragement for persisting.

The FLAME section has been successfully taught in test courses and other independent presentations. Student scores on the Final Exercise have averaged over 90%. And it has been taught by new instructors.

But why do we bother with what it anyway? Here are some of the reasons.

1. Only a small fraction of S-290 students ever go on to further fire behavior training. The material in S-290 must serve most firefighters for most of their careers as the basic fire behavior training on which they base their life-safety decisions, from the newest member of a volunteer company to the hotshot crew supervisor. It needs to be the best we can make it.

2. The history of wildfire fatalities, as well as other non-fatal incidents, makes it very clear that firefighters get caught by changing fire behavior that they did not see coming. That is true even though they had taken S-290, and the fire behavior could have been anticipated. Simply looking at the present fire environment, as important as that is, does not always reveal coming changes.

3. Even when the threatening fire behavior was observed, firefighters have been overtaken by fire that moved much faster than they expected. There is a need to have a better sense of the actual time it will take a fire to move a given distance.

I agree with Tim that S-290 is a good and important course, and we ask a lot from it. But the sad fact is that it has fallen short in some ways to prepare firefighters to understand and anticipate fire behavior. In about ½ day of training the “FLAME Introduction” can provide a firefighter a systematic method that can direct attention to critical factors, and a means to make practical predictions of how fast fire will move. That is a very useful addition to the basic training that S-290 provides.

The FLAME process directly addresses the firefighter’s need to foresee big changes in fire behavior and to appreciate how fast the fire will move in response. It is a graded process that ranges from very simple observations, of fuel type and wind (the dominant change-makers), to a specific prediction of fire-spread time. The full process is taught in S-290 so that a firefighter will have the tools to serve them in any situation, but only the needed portions are applied on the fireline. That might be as simple as assessing the current and expected carrier and driver of the fire, and the next big change…nothing more than adequately applying the fireline order to consider current and expected fire behavior. Or it might be the prediction of a fire-spread time.

FLAME asks the firefighter to identify the fuel type and wind (effective wind, to include slope), what the next big change will be, and what the fuel type and wind will be after the change. In completing the Field Guide form, the firefighter methodically addresses the key information needed (and becomes aware of what information might be missing). A firefighter can then make very credible predictions of how long it will take the fire to reach a given point…if they need to. To simplify it any further is to potentially leave out something important.

However, a firefighter uses FLAME only to the degree it is needed…clearly not in full written form in the middle of a busy operation. With practice (in S-290 and at appropriate times in the field) a firefighter becomes more adept, and can often do much of the assessment mentally. But it will be a more complete and useful assessment for being conditioned by the application of the FLAME process. It enhances situational awareness. It also provides a refresher-training tool, and an organized means of reviewing any given incident in light of fire behavior.

We owe our firefighters more of the benefit of fire-prediction science in a practical form. FLAME can provide that capability. It has been tested against several fatality cases, and has been reviewed by fire scientists for technical validity. FBANs and others can provide valuable input to the planning process, but they can’t directly assist on the fireline. Yet that is where people do get in trouble when they don’t adequately address fire behavior.

Consideration of the Campbell prediction system is worthy of another whole discussion. Briefly, to its credit it aims at providing practical guidance on the fireline (and I fully appreciate Mr. Campbell’s intentions in that regard), but it doesn’t adequately consider the relative magnitude of the important drivers of changes in fire behavior.

To help instructors and students, the course materials do contain an “annotated key” that explains every entry for the exercises. And hopefully the “online presentation” can be available fairly soon. I’ll be glad to communicate with any new instructor on questions they have on the FLAME material. Any new training takes time to get on track, so please stick with it. We need to give firefighters the best tools we can to help them assess fire behavior on the fireline.

I’d welcome any of you in this conversation in a FLAME class that I give, and the chance to discuss fire behavior in light of your own experience. I think you can better judge the worth of the FLAME component of S-290 if you have had the benefit of learning it and the reasons for it, and I’d be glad to learn more from your real-world fire behavior experience.

Jim Bishop

3/31Further discussion of vfd cap't's question about retaining a modicum of water in the engine... Can be found on the Hotlist thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3503


3/31vfd Capt,

The reason that Esperanza is not being discussed in any public way is
that there's still an "alleged" arsonist being tried for five murders.

Sock it to him!

There's a new DVD Series that JP, Tony and Alan Simmons produced
that is excellent: Interface Firefighting for Firefighters by Firefighters. It's
at Alan Simmons' link on the Classifieds page.

Tahoe Terrie

3/31Here is the decision that the BIA has made on the Reduction of IHCs
within the BIA.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/retention/ihc-disbandment-memo08.pdf  (57K pdf file)



Attached is the "Structure Triage and Defensible Space" unit by JP and Gary Harris, from the 2008 safety refresher student workbook. Great use of the Campbell Prediction System and LCES.

I was disappointed that there is nothing from Esperanza in this year's refresher, despite the action plan completion date for that item being March 31, 2008.

vfd cap'n

vfd cap'n, that workbook is copyright by the authors. Folks can order it.

3/31Outside looking in

Thanks for your information. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the
new direction that came out a few years back with respect to engine
captains, but supervision has been taken out of the equation and replaced
with complexity of your WUI, proximity to high value improvements and
regular and recurring all-hazard incidents. Plus working with interagency
jurisdictional issues. Check out Chief Bosworth's directive dated May 30,
2006, "Results of Review of Engine Captain Positions." This was all part
of the sub-committee that was put together in 2005 to come to an agreement
on the fire engines. The sub-committee agreed that supervision was not a
critical aspect.

I do understand FS policy as I am a union steward, so my comments are not
from the cuff. What I was not sure of was the CDL requirements. It looks
to me like CDL stuff is a problem that needs to be addressed..... Or maybe

Former Driver Examiner, thanks for the information. So, do we have to
abide by Forest Service policy or the policy of the state that we live

Fighting the good fight

3/31There was another use for the vertical component of the fire finder.

In good visibility "Seen Area" maps were made using this feature. Once these 360 degree maps were made a lookout or dispatcher could locate a fire at night when surface features were not visible given the azimuth and vertical bearing to the fire.

The map was made by setting the finder on a degree such as zero. Then the vertical cross hair, usually the upper one, was aligned on the closest ridge to the lookout on that bearing. Both readings were plotted on an official form that resembled graph paper. Then the vertical sight would be moved to the next ridge out and recorded. This was repeated for all 360 degrees.

The prominent features were labeled and the ridges were defined by connecting the dots. This was a time consuming process but once it was done properly it gave a very good picture of the range of a fire at night that could not be crossed by another lookout. When I was on the Nez Perce NF in the early 60's the number of active lookouts was down from 40+ to 23. It was not always possible for two lookouts to see the fire especially at night.


Thanks J, interesting. Ab.


Re your question about the cross hairs on the sight of the Osborn fire finder. There is a single vertical horse hair which is used to determine the azimuth to the fire. Its purpose and use is obvious.

There are also two horizontal cross hairs which not many lookouts use any more or even know what their purpose is. They are used to determine the vertical angle from the lookout to the fire. Sighting through the sliding peep hole on the sight, only one...either the top or the bottom horizontal horse hair... will cross over the fire being spotted. The peep sight must be slid up or down the sight to line one of the hairs up across the fire. The vertical angle is read from numbers that line up with a line on the sliding peep sight. If the bottom horse hair is used the angle is negative and if the top one is used the angle is positive.

The dispatcher, or way back when, probably the Fire Control officer or "Fire Clerk" or "Recorder" had a clear plastic template. That template had a vertical line on it with tick marks labeled vertical angle, and a little red dot labeled "Fire" right in the center of the vertical line.

In the dispatch office there was also a set of panoramic photos that were taken from the lookout. These photos had a horizontal line lined up on the horizon which would be a vertical angle of zero. The photos also had azimuth tic marks labeled with degrees across the top. The "Fire Clerk" placed the template on the panoramic photo with the templates vertical line lined up on the azimuth on the photo and vertical angle given by the lookout on the Horizon line on the photo.

Now if I have remembered and typed all this correctly you are probably ahead of me and have already figured out that the people in the office could actually see that the red dot laid over the spot on the photo where the fire was located and could see on the photo where the fire was, the terrain, the timber type, best access etc.

I worked in fire control and fire management for the USFS for 32 years, retired nine years ago, and only saw one of these templates in a dispatch office that whole time. That was on the Heppner Ranger District on the Umatilla National Forest. I showed all this to the District Archaeologist and she put all the panoramic photos...in some special paper to preserve them and I think I put the vertical angle template in the box with those photos. So, maybe there is at least one vertical angle template still around.

Tom Jones

Thank you, Sir. Ab.

3/31Re: CA IIMT Meetings

An Hour
per team assignment... it's that easy. A challenge to
ALL incident management teams. Bump up.

A good friend came up with an idea...She rocks.... What if each
person who goes to fires and makes lots of overtime donates one
hour of the assignment to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation?

Yeah, we all give $52 a year to be either a 52 Club member, or
have our teams listed as a Gold Members. 

What if we could do more to support the WFF? What if we could
outreach to our "militia" and non-federal folks who comprise the
majority of our IIMT membership?

As the meetings begin, one team is leading the way... Is yours?

Have thoughts, concerns, or comments..... contact the HRSP...

3/31Re: Osborne Fire Finder

These links might help, especially the Fire Management Today article at the bottom.

/s/ Cajon Mountain


http://webmain02.fire.ca.gov/Pubs/Issuance/8600/8651.pdf (pdf file)
www.fs.fed.us/fire/fmt/fmt_pdfs/015_04.pdf (Fire Management Today article: pdf file)
3/31If the vehicle isn't 26,001 or more pounds, isn't capable of carrying 15 or more passengers, isn't a tank vessel, or isn't carrying hazardous materials or hazardous waste, or has less than 3 axles.... It doesn't meet the definition of special licensing by the US Department of Transportation and most states as a commercial vehicle.

Most Crew Carriers, as an example, have air brakes, but do not fall under the commercial vehicle licensing requirements. As such, the drivers also do not fall under the pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing programs required by DOT.

The military has a pretty good standard for dealing with out of state employees operating both commercial and non-commercial vehicles.

Hope that helps. The issue was discussed in depth on They Said a few years ago with comments from CHP experts and links to various federal and state laws being referenced.

3/31Re more on when CDL is required,

So if I understand you, Former Driver Examiner, if the vehicle is under 26,001 and it has air brakes then you don't need a CDL? As an ex-commercial driver I have always understood that if a commercial vehicle of any size has air then the driver must have at least a class-B with air endorsement. I am wondering about some crew carriers, I understand they may be under 26,001 but even with air wouldn't the operator need the class-b with air? Or do crew carriers not fall under 'commercial vehicles'?

Which begs another question: which laws do federal vehicles of that type fall under, you've got multiple drivers with multiple endorsements from many many states driving these things around. Why is there not a federal standard license that all fed operators must have? Sorry for all the questions I have just been wondering about this for a while?


3/31For more info on the firefinder - check out the
National Fire Lookout Association website or ask the
folks on the firelookout@yahoogroups.com mailing list.
There are some members on the list who have been
lookouts for 30+ years and would be a wealth of
information on firefinder questions.

Former R5/R6 lookout
3/31Re: R-5 Housing Issue (It's not just a LPF problem)

Peggy Hernandez, Forest Supervisor, Los Padres National Forest

The Law:
* 5 U.S.C. 5991(e);
* 18 U.S.C. Sec. 208; 5 CFR Part 2635 Subparts D, E and G;

How the bureaucracy interpreted the law:

* Forest Service Manual 6445.03
* Forest Service Manual 6445.04c;
* Region 5 Supplement to Forest Service Manual 6400-92-2;
* OMB Circular Nos. A-11 and A-45

As a Forest Supervisor, you should be working towards correcting how the Forest Service and OMB interpreted the laws, not adding another bureaucratic determination and decision to the problem.

Bureaucratic SNAFUs can be corrected with the swipe of a pen by a competent leader..... Stupid laws just take "simple" changes in legislation to either clarify the intent, or to correct unintended consequences not originally envisioned as legislation was developed.

It seems lately that if one Forest Supervisor makes an ill informed decision, the surrounding Forest Supervisors often follow  their lead to maintain conformity.

Since the Forest Supervisors all work for the Regional Forester.... the buck stops there.

3/31Famous Quotes:

While this quote is not of fire service origin, there are those that may benefit from its meaning.

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. --Harry Truman

BDU Steve

Isn't that the truth; I added it to the Quotes page. Ab.


I Goggled the "Osborne fire finder" and Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation.
Truly just a fancy "Adelaide" (Bearing measuring device) but allowed person to
make a rough estimate of distance. Had noting to do with the sights though. They
were for the bearing.


more info: www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/html/03511311/03511311.phpl



I was looking information on how to properly use an Osborne Fire Finder
found in lookout towers. I have the azimuth thing down, just wondering
about the crosshairs for distance and elevation.


3/30The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
3/30 On the Front Lines With America's Wildfire Pilots (with video)


3/29 Ivan Cupp - Safety Officer
"Remember, it's a very short distance between 'OK' and 'OH HELL'."

John Caffin - Safety Officer
"It's so dry, we're just a dragging muffler away from chaos!"
"There are no secrets in the Forest Service, just a time delay."

Lewis Kearney - IC
"Whatever you do, Don't strut!"


Haw Haw. Nice ones. I added them to the Quotes page. Ab.

3/29 Just to let folks know that Region 5 Dispatchers just had their Yearly
Workshop and there was a silent auction that raised over $1,000 for
the Wildland Firefighters Foundation.

R5 Dispatcher

Good job. Ab.

3/29 Dear Shameful and all:

With respect to the LP housing issue, there continues to be dialogue/meetings between some of those affected and staff from Congressman Gallegly's office. Additionally, I've received at least two calls from the Congressman in the last month and will be meeting with his legislative director while in DC. Additionally, I believe an attorney has been retained and I hope to speak to both the attorney and the district staff person before meeting in Gallegly's office Wednesday afternoon.

A couple of things to remember. The policy is a negotiated document between management (Forest Supervisor) and the Union, NFFE. The fact that the Union has exercised its rights under Title 5 of the USC on behalf of bargaining unit members likely cannot and will not be ignored by any congressional office or attorney.

That being said, the fact remains that many employees affected by the policy are non-bargaining unit members and perhaps the assistance from certain folks can nudge the Forest Supervisor to look at alternatives to the negotiated agreement.

I concur that the likely focus will be on those owning mobile homes and the financial impact to them... especially those who may have signed a previous agreement or bought not knowing that the Forest was engaged in a years long plan to create a new policy. I think if there is a "damaged" party, it would be those folks.

In all honestly I have yet to review all the sources Ms. Hernandez referred to in her letter to me that apparently made its way to TheySaid (not by me). I will do so in the coming days to ensure those working on behalf of the affected employees are all on the same page.

I think the most important issue at the moment, however, is the fact that District Rangers on the LP have apparently been placing before affected employees to sign, a document containing provisions that are not close to what was negotiated. I have heard of words being blacked out, others scribbled on these "agreements" employees are expected to sign or face eviction. I've encouraged those who have seen such documents to let the union know.

I am pleased that some have refused to sign or have signed, annotating that they have done so under duress or some other coercive pressure. In the meantime, I think it great, and vitally important that many of the affected employees have banded together to meet with congressional staff, hire an attorney etc. Hopefully in a week or so I'll have a better handle on precisely what the congressional opinion/angle is on this issue.

3/29 Los Padres housing situation:

The Los Padres housing situation continues to go forward with no follow up from Forest officials to the many questions that are being asked. Management's decision to require a 5 year rotation for those living in a Gov house seems to me as a good decision. It gives a family 5 years to find another place to live and encourages home ownership. Although many can list pros and cons to this decision, I think in the long run it's a non-issue.

However, the second part of the Los Padres housing policy that requires those who purchased a modular that is on a gov pad, must move after 5 years is ridiculous. The new housing policy also says that you cannot sell the modular while it's on gov property. To sell the modular after your 5 years are up, you need to pull it off its foundation to the county road, make the transaction and bring it back to the pad. Ridiculous. While affected Los Padres employees are left to consider hiring lawyers and other representation, this is a still non-issue on the other Forests who continue to sell modulars on gov property.

My questions are:

  • If this new rule was based on an OGC opinion, why isn't the Forest Service enforcing this on all Forest Service units?
  • Why is this only affecting Los Padres employees?
  • Can you imagine the effect this would have on our more rural National Forests?
  • Are the words "common sense" ever considered in the rule of law? 

Casey or Mark - Any thoughts? 


3/29 JSB,

I am assuming that you are referring to the 2007 (not 1997) version of S-290. 

I was one of the people who reviewed the class while it was under revision and had thought that FLAME was to be an optional section.  I was very surprised when it came out as part of the main curriculum.

I had some major reservations about FLAME:
  1. I don't think crew bosses, engine captains, and other single resource bosses should have their head buried in a paper exercise of marginal value.  They should have their eyes open looking at fuels, weather, topography and what the trends are.  Anyone at that level that should know that fire goes faster uphill than down hill and that a grass ROS will be faster than one in timber.  If they can't figure that out without running a model in the middle of a hotline operation they are in for some serious problems.
  2. All models have their limitations but the proponents of FLAME seemed to have missed that point.
  3. I had always thought that S-290 was one of the better classes that we put on and had always received excellent feedback from the students about the curriculum.  I have not had time to look at the class in the final form, but I am wondering what they took out to put FLAME in.  I don't think the students got the better end of that deal.

I think that I might be too much old school. 


3/29 Fighting the good fight!

I infer that your reference to "National PDs" for fire is US Forest Service PDs. A component of IFPM is the establishment of national standard PDs for the 14 Key Positions. I would assume that USFS is working on developing its PDs for the 14 Key Positions and they would be very similar to DOI. The DOI National Standard PDs (finalized in 2003) Max out the "Engine Module Supervisor" at GS-7. And the difference between a GS-6 and 7 turns on the number of persons supervised. GS-6 supervises up to 3 persons, and GS-7 supervises 4+ The distinction between Type 6 and Type 3/4 engines (at least in DOI) is Type 6 normal crew size 3 and Type 3/4 have a normal crew size of 4+.

Being that I am on the outside looking in I'm not sure what staffing structure is used for a Type 6 engine on 7 day a week coverage but it would seem that would be at least 4 persons.

I do hope that as the USFS comes on line with its standard PDs that we end up with GS-8 that would be appropriate for Engine Module Leaders of Type 3/4 engines. That would be a help for all of us.

From my battles over grade levels I have learned the following.
  • There is a direct correlation between # of people supervised and grade level and the cleanest way to drive grade level.
  • The number of different complex tasks you do is more important than the number of times you do a complex task.
  • Workload determines the number of people needed to do the job and has little bearing on grade level.

Sun Tzu said - "Know your enemy".

Paul Gleason said - "Be a student of fire".

So understanding how personnel policy works will go a long way in helping you get what you are looking for.

Outside Looking In

3/29 Fighting the good fight!,

You can put air brakes on a pickup truck if you wanted to (not sure why) and it wouldn't qualify as a vehicle requiring a commercial drivers license. You could even put air brakes on a motorcycle.... still not sure why.... but air brakes doesn't equal what requires commercial vehicle licensing.

Much like the air brakes on some stake-sides and crew carriers, the primary determinant for commercial vehicle licensing is GVW of the vehicle, the capacity of the vehicle for passengers potentially carried, or whether hazardous materials are carried.

In California, if you are the operator of a Class A or Class B Commercial Vehicle, you will take both a written test and skills test for air brakes. Your license will NOT say "Air Brake" endorsement. Class A and Class B Commercial Vehicles operators are assumed to be operating multiple classes of vehicles and air brakes are a requirement of the licensure with few exceptions. There will be endorsements for passengers, hazmat, tank, etc.... In rare cases, DMV will issue (on a case by case basis) a license with a hydraulic brake only restriction.

In California, if you are the operator of a Class A or Class B Non-Commercial Vehicle (ie - Firefighter Restricted), depending on the vehicle you test in, you will receive a general license with endorsements/restrictions for:
1) Air Brakes or Hydraulic Brakes Only
2) Automatic Transmission Only (restriction)
3) Passengers
4) Hazmat
5) Tank

Per both FS Manual Direction and H&S Code, Forest Service operators of vehicles carrying 26,001 lbs or more, or meeting state requirements for the number of passengers carried (varies by state and DOT standard) are required to obtain a Commercial Drivers License and not a Firefighter Restricted or Non-Commercial operators license.

Your results may vary. Prior to purchase, test drive and receive a free two-day trip to our time share property being sold by Eric Estrada from CHiPs at our exclusive firefighter and police retirement community. All references to California Vehicle Code and Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) Commercial Vehicle program standards. Check with and verify your local standards prior to purchase. If you should require additional assistance, please attempt to contact a qualified classifier at ASC (You won't find many left) to provide help or guidance. Additional assistance is available from members of the FWFSA and NFFE. Member FDIC. OAC.

Former Driver Examiner
3/28 I read your Congressional Briefing paper and footnotes regarding the 0401 
component of IFPM.

Simply said...... AWESOME work.

I'm glad to see the rank and file membership of NFFE, and the employee 
association membership of the FWFSA coming together for a common 
cause. That cause is so important to the survival of both the Forest Service 
and the federal wildland fire and fuels management programs.


It is well done, isn't it. Ab.

3/28 Kudos to Mark Davis-

I was one of those who managed to hammer out a response to the NFFE survey within the snug window provided. I was pleasantly shocked to receive a personal e-mail back from Mark himself. After hitting today's link and reading through the relevant documents on the Council website (esp. the draft briefing paper for congress), I am very impressed. Mark's folks have digested a significant pile of diverse personal experiences, thoughts and opinions on some complex and interwoven issues, packaging it into a logical, solid and well-crafted eye-opener for the folks on the Hill, all in short order. Well done! You and the indomitable Casey make one fine team to have on our side.

Old Boot

3/28 Type 6 engine issue

This may be new to some, but not to others. One problem with these upgrades appears to be a PD issue. Coming from the high ups in the Region 3 RO, the classifiers are having an issue making captains of a type 6 engine GS-8's because the PD implies that this level is only supportable for a Type 3 or 4 engine. I checked out the PD in AVUE and it seems a bit vague. It does say that it is a PD for Type 3 and 4 SFEOs, but, in the next few paragraphs, it states that "If operating a Type III Engine, the incumbent will be required to possess and maintain a valid commercial driver's license (CDL). So, what exactly does that mean? Are there Type 3 and 4 engines out there that aren't equipped with air brakes? Don't all drivers on an apparatus with airbrakes have to have a CDL with an airbrake endorsement? Please correct me if this is inaccurate.

Anyway, that is one of the hold-ups. Next week there is going to be a PD meeting in ABQ, to address the need for "National PDs" for fire related positions.

Fighting the good fight!

3/28 Does anyone (student or instructor), have comments / feedback on the 
1997 version of S-290? Especially FLAME?

The comments posted on 3/18 THEY SAID by vfd F.C. were 
appreciated; as were Doug Campbell's remarks. I always wondered 
why NWCG doesn’t give Campbell's product more recognition.

Anyone else out there have thoughts?


JSB, Many of Doug's training points have been incorporated into NWCG courses. His US trainees are widespread in fire and many are now FMOs, other fire managers and FBANs. Some who are benefiting from his course are line officers. In the early days, the government wanted it for free, in my opinion.

I think fire history will show that Doug was a truly inspired innovator in teaching fire behavior. His method of evaluating fire behavior is the backbone of firefighting in many countries around the world. It has saved lives in Europe and South America to name two places he or his instructors have taught outside the US. 

Kudos, Doug. Ab.

3/28 Casey,

Keep up the good work and know how much we appreciate all you do for us.
Your efforts are already starting to pay off.



3/28 The pay issue is not a new issue! No duh!

Below are direct experts from the official report: The Inaja Forest Fire Disaster, January 1957

"Surely these men gave their lives in defense of this country, for without the strength of our forests, water, and other natural resources, this Nation would not be a leader in the free world today."-Richard E. McArdle, Chief, Forest Service

Recommendations of the Investigating Team
A. It was strongly brought out by the investigation that better knowledge of fire behavior must be developed as an essential means of preventing future fire tragedies. (Then the rest of the paragraph elaborates on research, ICS, fuels, topography, aerial attack.
B. More experts on fire behavior must be developed for assignment to critical fires. These highly skilled experts would evaluate situations and assist fire bosses in making decisions for safe, effective fire fighting.
C. The investigators pointed out that in general, although not related in particular to the Inaja fire, present Government salary and wage rates make it difficult to obtain and hold competent fire control personnel. Controlling mass forest fires is a difficult and highly technical job. The specifications for these positions should further reviewed with appropriate Department and and Civil Service commission officials.

Seems to me that A. and B. have been done.

Not in the above mentioned report, just feelings from a ground pounder who has been to war, worked with the Navy, Marines, Army and Coast Guard and still wears green. I take no credit for developing the following ideas/ programs of pay that have and do work for other federal agencies.

1. Proficiency pay: ie. Jump pay, Hazard pay, Dive Pay, Combat pay, Rappeller pay, Linguistics pay, medical pay, flight surgeon pay, etc. Works for the military.
   a. Why not do the same for the USFS, BLM and DOI?
   b. For example: ICT5 extra nickel and hour, RXB2 extra nickel and hour, Smoke Jumper extra nickel and hour, Hotshot crewmember extra nickel and hour, OPC2 extra nickel and hour, DIVS extra nickel and hour. 
   c. Get my drift right now a Captain who is ENGB qualified and that is it gets the same pay except for step level as a Captain who is current and qualified as an ENGB, ICT3, RXB2, FALC, DIVS, OPBD, STEN, FIRB. To me the second Captain in this example should be compensated more and Proficiency pay is one way the military does it; why not us?

2. Average OT or 30% or some % of your overtime (OT) is considered scheduled OT and thus contributes towards your retirement. Anything more than which is now calculated.

3. Boot allowance or being able to use the uniform allowance towards boots.

4. Retention bonuses used more regularly. The military has found dangle a $50,000 dollar retention bonus and you get that high speed low drag highly trained sergeant, gunny etc. still serving their country and not a contractor or sub contractor trained by the US Government, but now costing us taxpayers three times or more in wages

5. Quality Step Increase (QSI) Now the USFS has a tiered performance appraisal plan, why not give those who achieve:
   a. Outstanding Summary rating - a QSI
   b. Superior Summary rating - a $2000 cash award
   c. Fully Successful summary rating - a plan on how to improve performance
   d. Marginal summary rating - should be on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)
   e. Unacceptable summary rating - PIP and be prepared for finding new line of work if.

These ideas above are not new and some Forests actually use the Retention Bonus system to keep their programs functioning. We are better off than we were ten years ago when most engines had a Captain GS-7, Engineer GS-6, AFEO GS-05 and that was it.

One last note: with the increased work load maybe desk audits are in order. Squadies to GS-07, Captains to GS-09, ADFMO to GS-10's and convert apprentices to GS-06 Step 5. With the apprentices starting them at step 5 levels out with promotions. We need to keep as many folks from all ranks from leaving the organization.

Signed: enough babbling for now

3/28 Hey AB,

I am a "Lurker" on WildlandFire.com for several years now. Former USFS AFEO.
Just wanted to let you know, as many have been waiting in anticipation, that the
letters for non medic FF2/FAE were mailed out today March 28 per the CAL
FIRE hotline.



Thanks for the info John. Ab.

3/28 Re Los Padres Housing:


If these rules are Forest Service rules, why are they only being enforced on Los Padres employees. Forget about the housing rotation for Forest Service houses, that is management's right. However being told you need to leave you module home after 5 years and you cannot resale it while it's on Gov property is not fair. The more pressure we can put on this the better chance we can get this overturned. It's in the regions hands now. They should be the ones getting letters from FWFSA requesting them to stand down from this new policy.


File Code: 1600-1
Date: March 11, 2008
Casey Judd
Business Manager, Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn.

Dear Mr. Judd:
Thank you for your recent letter concerning the Los Padres National Forest quarters policy.

As Forest Supervisor, I am responsible for the fair and equitable assignment of Government housing on the Los Padres NF. To that end, I have approved a revised quarters policy that is intended to: 1) provide greater consistency in the assignment and management of housing among our ranger districts; 2) provide us with the flexibility to meet changing employment conditions; and 3) make housing available to a wider segment of employees now and into the future. The new quarters policy also brings us into compliance with U.S. laws and regulations, Department and Agency policies, and ethics rules contained in the following:

* 5 U.S.C. 5991(e);
* 18 U.S.C. Sec. 208; 5 CFR Part 2635 Subparts D, E and G;
* Forest Service Manual 6445.03
* Forest Service Manual 6445.04c;
* Region 5 Supplement to Forest Service Manual 6400-92-2;
* OMB Circular Nos. A-11 and A-45.

The new policy appropriately reaffirms Government quarters as primarily “transitional” in nature, providing employees with an opportunity for interim housing until they can find permanent housing in their community.

I am very aware of the financial challenges and stress our employees face living and working in this high cost-of-living area. It is unfortunate that deficiencies in past housing practices on this Forest were not remedied earlier; however, now that we are aware of the problems, we cannot allow them to continue into the future. While it does not mitigate all employee concerns, the new quarters policy does include a “transition plan” to help soften the impacts to existing tenants.

If you have specific questions about the new quarters policy, please contact me or Deputy Forest Supervisor Ken Heffner at (snip).


/s/ Peggy Hernandez
Forest Supervisor

Readers, I'm posting this expecting no reply from Casey. He's busy working the DC stuff. The logic and, I expect, the legal ramifications of your criticism are excellent, ms. Thanks for this. Ab.

3/28 Ab, We got this info this morning:

Cibola National Forest, incendiary device

I posted the BLM alert on the Hotlist. www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=16418#post16418 Ab.

3/28 The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) has released an After Action Report for the Santiago Fire.
Here's the link with info on the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2166

Posted there by SCR. Ab.

3/28 vdf cap'n

Your practical question has got me thinking. On a wildfire, does water in tank
equate to air in lungs? Is water in tank a vital element to LCES? What if you're
down to your last 75 or 100 gallons and a spot pops up by your hose lay,
threatening your work, not your life? If you do need that last bit for engine
protection, what if something breaks?

Water management is important, but running out should be an AAR topic, not
a "time out". (Especially these days) if water and pump capability is a matter of
survival, it time to change tactics.


3/28 This is an update on our work on the GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist
education requirements. We will continue to work on this issue; but I
wanted to let folks know about what we've already made key Congressional
staffers aware of. I've set up a Fire Issues page on the Council website,
at www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/IFPM/Fire_Index.phpl, from which our
current draft briefing paper is available. Right now, this link is the
only way to access the page; we'll deal with that down the road.

If you have additional information on the issue of IFPM implementation,
please send it to nffe@fs.fed.us, with "IFPM" in the header of your email.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

Thanks, Mark. Ab.

3/28 Ab,

I wanted to let everyone on They Said know that Ken Perry is getting ready to do another race! In chatting with Ken, we’ve agreed that we aren’t going to do a pledge page for this run, as he is going to do a series of races and we’d like to get everyone on board for the later races, as some of you may remember, Ken ran in Egypt late last year (the first in the series of desert races). Now, he’s going to tackle the Gobi Desert. For the past four years, we’ve asked folks to pledge support for Ken’s efforts – and we certainly welcome any donations of support for his efforts in the Gobi race – but we aren’t going to have a formal pledge site until much later in the series of races.

Ken’s Gobi race is June 8th through the 15th. He will be running through the Talamaken Desert (which is commonly referred to being part of the Gobi Desert, but some Geologist consider it an entirely different

desert...much like the Mojave and Sonora deserts). The Talamaken Desert is in extreme western China, tucked in between Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The name literally means, "Go in, and you'll never come out." It feature dunes, not unlike what Ken saw in Egypt, but also rocky desert much like what we are used to here in the Southwest and Great Basin. It is said that one cannot get any further from an Ocean or Sea than in this region. It is the geographic center of Eurasia.

The Sahara is considered the hottest place on Earth. The Gobi is the windiest (and other than Antarctica, one of the coldest). The course includes many river crossings, and elevations of approx. 13,000 ft. It will end in the city of Kasgar (know by the west as Kashi, and where the movie "The Kite Runner" was filmed) where three routes of the ancient Silk Road converge. There will be close to 200 competitors from 26 countries, including many that I ran with in the Sahara Desert last fall. As in all 4 Deserts Races, this is a self-supported race, which requires all competitors to carry all food and equipment through the entire race. The only thing provided is 9 liters of water per day.

I didn’t come up with all this great geographic information on my own! Ken and I have talked for the past few months about his desire to continue the Desert Races and I wanted to start getting the word out. Ken will once again wear the WFF patch and has listed the WFF as the charity he is running for. Ken understands this is pretty soon after the Sahara Race, and the timing of this race may not be affordable on the seasonal wallets of our wildland firefighters, however if we can raise even a few donations, it’s a great idea....mostly to keep the idea alive for Ken’s other races in Atacama and Antarctica which will take place next year.

Run Ken Run!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
3/28 As long as were talking about the 401 series, I have been considering getting my master degree in Fire management. I have a BS in Natural Resource Management and seven years of fire experience. I plan to stay with the federal government and I am wondering if people think a masters degree would help in my long run goals of becoming a FMO and above. If so, how much would it help?

And since the government is pitching in for people to take classes to meet their 401 quals is there a program to help pay for a masters? If the government is looking to keep and retain good qualified employees I would think there is some program. Thanks.

Future FMO

3/27 To all:

As I prepare for my trip to Washington next week, I wanted to once again thank our members for the opportunity to advocate on their behalf and thank Mark Davis of NFFE for all the work he has done on the 401/classification issue.

In speaking with staff on the Hill this week, not even high level staffers are aware of what the Forest Service will unveil with respect to retention. The feeling is that the refusal by the FS to release anything before the hearing April 1st foretells a less than progressive plan.

It is imperative for all to know that as you prepare for the coming season which has actually arrived in some places, regardless of what the plan entails, the FWFSA, NFFE, TheySaid and the Foundation and others will continue in our own ways to do what is right for the wildland firefighting community.

Regardless of the retention plan, firefighters need to know there is a heightened sense of awareness on Capitol Hill about the fire programs and issues facing our firefighters. There are already a number of proposals being introduced as a result of Congress recognizing that the status quo is simply not an option. However as we have said over and over, dealing with congress and focusing them on initiatives that will both benefit our firefighters and taxpayers is surprisingly not an easy task.

Many in congress still believe complex problems need complex solutions. At other times it seems that no matter the amount of rhetoric to the contrary, no one in Washington truly wants to effect positive change. With it being an election year we also need to recognize that the priority of those in Congress is to get themselves re-elected. So, all that being said, I just feel a bit melancholy when I head to DC knowing I won't be able to return with all that I'd like to accomplish for our firefighters in as timely a manner as we'd all like given the stunning lack of support from the Agency(s) and the complexities of navigating congress. Nonetheless the pride and passion I feel while being there on your behalf remains overwhelming.

Just know that as all of you do during the fire season, the FWFSA and others will continue to give everything we've got to make your career a better one. Not only because of the admiration, respect and affection we have for all of you but because it is simply the right thing to do.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

Thanks, Casey. Ab.

3/27 The FS professional liability insurance (PLI) reimbursement notice just came
out (don't believe the date on the letter). You may recall Casey's work to
get this issue on Interior's agenda some time back, and NFFE's more recent
work to broaden the scope of those who qualified under the program when the
legislation passed. Together, we got a good bill passed.

Of course, then there's the matter of getting it implemented right. As we
promised at that time, NFFE also worked with FS Fire and Aviation
management to make sure the list of covered positions was broadened to
include as many positions as possible. Our efforts expanded coverage by
about 2 dozen positions over the agency's initial list. If your position is
not on the list and you feel it should be, you can contact us at

The wheels sure turn slowly, but with the right pushing, sometimes they
turn in the right direction.

Fyi, I've been burning up the candle on the 401 issue -- thanks again for
the numerous and fantastic comments -- and will get back shortly with info
I've pulled together. Sorry, but catering to Congress has to be the first

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee


3/27 Add on to the discussion of PhD of NWCG

Another waste of agency money and time:

I do have a BSc. and MSc. in Forestry and went the fire management route.
Despite all that coursework, I was told I had to go to all the NWCG courses
"just so they were on my records..."    So why bother to have to qualify for
401 if you show up with a degree or two and the agency still spends the
time and money to "educate" you?

R1 Blockhead

3/27 more on 401

In the private industry, when they fly a job, does their qualification of requirements make statements like our fire management announcements do:


B. Combination of education and experience: courses equivalent to a
major in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resources
management, or at least 24 semester hours in biological sciences,
natural resources, wildland fire management, forestry, or
agriculture equivalent to a major field of study, plus appropriate
experience or additional education that is comparable to that
normally acquired through the successful completion of a full 4-year
course of study in the biological sciences, agriculture, or natural

Typically not! Usually you’ll see statements, as an example: “Must have a bachelors degree in business administration plus 2 years of equivalent experience in the business industry”. They don’t chop up college degrees, because they are not qualified or certified by the board of education, to determine which course counts and which does not.

Who in OPM or agency personnel specialist are qualified/certified to make those determinations to slaughter college degrees?

My degree has nothing to do with natural resources, but I made the choice to make a career out of wildland fire management, started out as a GS-3 and worked my way up to a GS-12. Yep! I had to go through TFM to qualify for 401. At that time in my career, TFM taught me nothing. I already had the TFM course work knowledge, through government training programs (resource and NWCG), plus 20 years of experience with land management agencies in fire.

Don’t get me wrong, degrees are good, but they should not be picked apart. Any type of 4 year degree should be counted, especially when weighting equal applicants, the person with the degree would probably get the job, but a degree should not be a requirement for a wildland fire management job.

Our specialized education comes with the job as we move up the ladder, no college degree can be substituted for it. 27 years of wildland fire experience has provided me with a PHD in NWCG.

Think about it folks, how many hours through out a wildland fire career do we spend in class? Now weight that to how many hours it takes to get one 4 year degree, I’ve got about 11 B.S. degrees.


3/27 Need help for Colorado:

Anyone with a shower service in/near CO- I've got a few questions...

What are the daily rates?
Is there any availability right now?
Do you need on-site water or can you truck it in?
Would anyone be able to donate services?

In case folks have missed it there is a salmonella outbreak in Alamosa Co. The local citizens are unable to use water for showers or anything other than flushing the toilet. So far it has been determined that the salmonella outbreak has affected more than 200 people and is waterborne.

People will most likely not be able to use tap water for weeks.

This is a local/state disaster with limited- but some resources. Here is a link to an article.

Ab- can you forward any information to me? I want to pass it onto a friend who is working with some of the health folks. Apparently someone floated the idea of bringing showers in for the responders/community to a few folks and they were unsure how to implement this.

CO- I know you've to the resources... anyone got some contacts?


GISgirl (from CA in FL and thinking of those CO citizens)

Hotlist thread here: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3470

3/26 Rumor has it that CAL-FIRE is going to exhaust the most recent open list
this July. Have a couple of friends that have gotten a call asking if they are
still interested. Anyone have any info?

3/26 The 401 series is not representative of wildland firefighters. I say scrap
401 and OPM should develop a Wildland Firefighter series. Education is good
but the biological curriculum isn't something that should be required of
wildland firefighters. There are some pretty good fire
training/education/leadership courses available. Extensive fire
experience, good judgment, a solid work ethic and demonstrated leadership
ability is what makes good fire management leaders and supervisors.

No one I talk to even knows for sure who is supposed to be included in the
401 series. Do NWCG courses count or not? They should. Much more than a
biology course. I'm an FMO with 34 years in and I have a B.S. degree (Not
in biology or a related 401 qualifier). I was only allowed to count 1 200
level class (Physical Geography). I graduated from TFM (College
Transcript). I've attended numerous NWCG courses at the 400 and 500 level
and am an FBAN and OSC2 among many other good fire qualifications and now I
understand I may not even qualify for the 401 series! I worked my way up
through the ranks like most folks do, engines, hotshots, IHC
Superintendent, AFMO, FMO and I may not qualify for the 401 series.

Example: A resource person (Timber, range, wildlife, etc.) who has NEVER
been in a fire management organization, or come up through the fire
management ranks, but has dabbled in fire, attended some training courses,
and earned some quals in the militia can qualify as an FMO under the 401
series with a biology or related resources degree, or enough credits. Then
match that against someone who may or may not have a BS or BA degree in an
unrelated field to biology or resources but has worked in fire management
for 20 or more years, experienced lots of fire behavior, attended numerous
NWCG and other fire training/leadership courses, and has demonstrated the
ability to be an excellent fire management employee and they may not
qualify for their own job under the 401 series rules? No, it does not make

In my region, which we refer to as region X, some forests are continuing to
advertise ADFMO positions as GS-462-9. On my forest, the "management team"
is removing the GS-462 ADFMOs from their positions by June of 2009, and
filling in behind them with GS-401 Prescribed Fire Specialists. The
rationale "To move the unit to more combined fire/fuels expertise AND
implementation of IFPM standards." This is comical. The AFMO they want to
move out of his job has seen more fire in one day of his 32 year fire
career than everyone on the "management team" has ever seen combined. This
is how power and authority over fire management programs can be abused by
agency personnel who have no knowledge, skill, or ability in fire

So what are other regions and forests doing? 462 and/or 401? 401 applies to
FMOs and AFMOs on the districts and zones? Some have to qualify for 401
and some do not? I thought this was "Interagency Fire Program management."
A national IFPM qualifications system or program.

Scrap 401 and develop a wildland firefighter series. Scrap Ag-Learn and
EUSC, dissolve ASC and return Personnel/HR, IT (Radios, phones, and auto
shop) and business management to the forests, districts and field where it
needs to be.

If fire management has to go 401 then District Rangers and Forest
Supervisors and anyone in the RO or WO who has any influence over fire
management programs has to have been in fire management for at least 10
years as a prerequisite for the job. After all, if you're going to
supervise fire management officers and programs and be in a position to
develop and implement fire management policy then you must have experience
and knowledge about what you're doing. As a minimum, they must also be
Division Supervisor qualified and maintain this currency.
Those 10 years must include time on Engines and at least 3 years on the
Hotshots. Jumper, Helitack and Fire Prevention experience will also count.
So, all line officers must go out and get their 10 years of fire management
experience working in a fire management organization (At least 3 years on
the Hotshots) by June of 2009 (Better get started, you don't have much time
left) or they will be removed from their position and a fire savvy and
highly experienced GS-462 FMO will move in and take over the line officer
job. I think that sounds fair.

Magruder Fingers
3/26 Oklahoma Firefighter Burned in Grass Fire

A large grass fire in Dewey County injured several firefighters Monday night,
including one being treated for second-degree burns, officials said.

One firefighter was taken by helicopter to an Oklahoma City hospital with
second-degree burns to his hands and lower legs and three firefighters were
treated for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, Dewey County Undersheriff Clay
Sander said.

The fire, which burned nearly 9,000 acres, was extinguished by 9 p.m. without
any damage to homes or buildings, but did damage a Cheyenne fire department
truck, Sander said. (More at link above)


3/26 Ab,

I have a practical question about dealing with human error: how should an IC
or agency/department handle the situation when an engine on a wildfire uses
all their tank water for fire suppression, without leaving 75 or 100 gallons
for engine protection?

I got to thinking about this while talking with a local fire chief about
"air management training" for structural firefighters, as taught by The
Seattle Guys. See attached flyer for a training in Cripple Creek in May, or

Their rule of air management is "Know how much air you have, and manage that
air, so that you leave the hazard area before your low-air alarm activates."
Effectively this means using three-quarters of the air tank for the
citizens, but reserving one-quarter for the firefighter (and his/her

Seattle firefighters are immediately send to the rehab unit if they exit a
building with the low-air alarm sounding. No matter what the fire is doing,
firefighters who can't manage their air go to "time-out."

Does anybody have an effective method of dealing with engine crews that
can't manage their water usage?

vfd cap'n

I'm on the road until Sunday and don't have easy ability to upload any attachments. Ab.

3/26 Keep your heads up. Critical fire weather forecasted next four days. I even heard of a fire in Montana yesterday. In March!

  0356 AM CDT WED MAR 26 2008
    VALID 261200Z - 271200Z

More ... www.spc.noaa.gov/products/fire_wx/print.phpl#Day1

Still Out There ...
3/26 Hey Diamond,

I think we have a good video for you. We're at a workshop right
now....we'll contact you next week.


Chester Fly Crew

3/25 We want to welcome Thermo Technologies, LLC as a new advertiser and supporter here at WLF. Perhaps best known to fire suppression professionals for the effectiveness of their widely used Thermo-Gel product line, they also offer a variety of innovative and leading edge products geared towards professional and individual homeowner use.

After talking with one of their staff and reviewing their website, it’s easy to believe they take their mission, “to lead in the development, manufacture and sales of new and innovative fire products” and commitments, “to provide reliable service and to be innovative within a competitive price structure”, seriously.

As shown on their website, Thermo-Gel ® products are available from distributors throughout the United States. Two of them, National Firefighter and Mallory Fire, are also featured on our Classified Page. As always, we encourage you all to give our supporters the first chance to meet your needs. OA

3/25 Thanks to all those writing in with info and contacts for Steve regarding Lessons Learned on the 1989 Eagle Fire burnover. Ab.

To the BLM Engine Captain,

Your statement “Education is one thing that can separate employees equally.” Thus having the government pay for folks that truly want to go and learn is what levels out the playing field to some degree, when it comes to formal education. I know many and am one who worked to go to college earning a days wages for a days labor and then going to school at nights and weekends when there was a college in commuting range. Some folks have their college paid for or earned scholarships for hard work, dedication, grades and/or physical abilities. Many other in this nation join the Armed Forces for the GI bill and college Fund. Anyhow anyway we get more folks educated the better off we are I believe.

A Division Group Supervisor usually takes 15 plus seasons of wildland firefighting or more to achieve. A four year college degree may take four or more years to achieve. I am thankful that the government will pay for higher education. On a tangent, I am not thankful that managers shut down applications for boot camp and TFM and they never make into the pool. I thought the word application meant to apply. Persevere to Endure and patience, persistence and prayer don’t hurt. Managers’ vs Leaders? Hmm I like a good leader out in the field and good manager in the warehouse.

Signed Forestry Technician/Wildland Firefighter Livin the dream baby!

3/25 From Firescribe: Link to a similar and less extensive article from AP was posted last week.


Forest Service May Move to Interior
Some See Agency As Out of Place Under the USDA

In Washington, the organizational chart helps bring order to chaos, sorting the many federal agencies of the vast bureaucracy into manageable boxes. Among some lawmakers who hold the purse strings, there is a belief that the U.S. Forest Service is out of place.

The 103-year-old agency, which manages 193 million acres of forests and grasslands, is part of the Department of Agriculture. Its bureaucratic cousins -- the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, which manage 84 million acres, 96 million acres and 258 million acres of public land, respectively -- are in the Interior Department.

3/25 Ab, in regards to the Eagle fire. If I am not mistaken this is the fire where the CDF engine was
caught in front of a massive fire whirl and a firefighter got burned.

I have seen the video at NIFC in the video library. It is labeled the Eagle fire. Have Steve give
Bob K<snip>? a call. They can make him a copy.

3/25 Ab,

Thank you for the access to the Wildland Entrapment Zone on the Hotlist.
(You have to be a hotlist member to view it.) What a wealth of info.

Did I actually see this?:

1 Fatality while preparing for the WCT from Northern California
1 Fatality while taking the WCT in Idaho

The two fatalities weren't Forest Service employees, but they were fatalities
from a Forest Service developed "testing" process with known latent problems
that have contributed to many deaths.

3/25 Re 401 quals

Hi Ab,

I agree that a simple 401 qual is not going to "create" a better firefighter. There is no substitute for years of suppression experience. It is understandable that those 40-something FMOs are resistant to education after years of successful performance without a degree. I am trying to be objective as I am pushing 40, have 18 years experience, and posses the 401 qualification.

The first thing the 401 qual brings to an employee is credibility. Sure the old fire dog has the respect of the line officer when smoke is in the air, but does that change any of the winter budgeting and planning processes for fuels or FPA? Believe it or not paper quals mean a lot to the folks that paid their dues "ologists", that said; being qualified on paper is nothing if one does not have the brainpower and ability to support, oppose, or compel others to make a decision. The fact remains that managers "outside" of fire sign off on Burn Plans, Fire Management Plans, Fire Use Plans, and yes Fire and Fuels Budgets. Having fire managers with the background to plan and defend is a must when dealing with ologists on every level. To participate with or lead an Interdisciplinary Team, one must be able to speak the language and not be confused when a "scientist" dominates the discussion. Firefighters are not in charge of "Managing" public lands. A group of ologists supposedly has the responsibility to manage the black spot left behind years after rehab. So during the "off" season, it is not a bad thing to have an "educated" fire manager, or hopefully a group of them. Simply saying "bull" doesn't cut it anymore.

The pros and cons are many. The cost is certainly high. (you aren't in it for the money, right?) If you want to fight 401 that is your right. If you want to be proactive, apply for TFM or UNLV. You could even enroll online (out of pocket, because you are already an expert in planning, budgeting, and economics by now) and get a degree from Oregon State never having set foot on campus. The final outcome is probably years away, but if you are truly an old fire dog, you will figure out a way to adapt and overcome. It is time to look deep into the issue and find out why 401 is important to our institutionalized agencies; liability comes to mind. I have faith in you to continue in your current position happily or go back to school and compete at the next level for the job and lifestyle that you love! It won't make you a better firefighter short term, it could make you a better fire manager long term. My vote is for better fire managers across the board.

Good luck with whatever path you choose.


3/25 Interesting how these things come in behind the scenes... from Dick Mangan via the FS web... OK folks, you can stop forwarding this one to Ab... although it is nice to hear the community is doing all it can in support. Ab.

I met with Ellreesse's Federal Public Defender Tina Hunt here in
Missoula on Thursday: she seems well prepared for the May 5th trial
date, and hopes that the Judge will approve a site visit for the jurors.
We talked about many of the issues that are well known to all of us, as
well as some tactics and qualifications issues.
Tina still expects a 6+ week long trial.
There will be lots of witnesses, especially on the Government side,
telling their stories about what they saw, heard, were told,
experienced. The 10/18 will be an important focus!
Maybe by July 1st, we'll have a clearer picture of the impacts of this
attempted mis-carriage of justice.
Tina was highly complimentary of many of the R-6 Fire Overhead that she
has interviewed.
She encouraged firefighter attendance in support of Ellreese at the
trial, yellow Nomex shirts and all!
Keep the Faith!

Dick Mangan

3/24 First Responder Cert:

Forest Service Fire Folks, this note came in Ab.

A First Responder Medical course is scheduled for next month at McClellan WFTC.
Forests that have been finding difficulty providing this training are encouraged to send
students to this class.

If you have questions regarding who is required to attend First Responder Medical
training see the Manual Supplement.

3/24 Dave Edgar, Safety Officer on the BDF, who was critically injured in a vehicle accident, has passed away. Sad news. Our condolences. Ab.

It is with deep regret and sorrow that I must inform you that Dave Edgar passed away today, March 24, at approximately 5:25 p.m.

We will follow up with more information but wanted to get word out as quickly as possible. Please watch for more information soon.

Once again, the family has asked me to express that they truly appreciate the support and concern they've received from so many folks during this difficult time.

Our deepest condolences go out to Dave's family, friends and co-workers. Please continue to keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

Valerie E. Baca
Public Affairs Officer, BDF

3/24 I am looking for any information, reports, footage, maps, pictures etc regarding
the Eagle Fire that occurred near Susanville in July 1989. I know 48 hours did a
special on the fire some time after and would like to find a copy of that episode
or any other information/footage. Thanks.

Steve Shaw
Superintendent, Diamond Mountain IHC

I'll pass any info along or you can email Steve... Ab.

3/24 I would just like to add some thing about Ellreese Daniels to the Free Ellreese thing that you have going on.

Ellreese was a dear friend to my mother and me. To me he acted like a father. I personally think that Ellreese would have never done anything to put those persons who died in harms way. This is from knowing him for almost nine years. He is an amazing person and i think that he would never have put anybody at risk. He knew what he was doing and how to do it. The whole thing just seems a little off to me.


I've added this to the Free Ellreese page. Thanks for the info, Dennise. Ab.

3/24 Ab,

I'll take a stab at one of your questions, from the (admittedly myopic) view of a simple
fire grunt who once considered becoming an -ologist.

'Why doesn't Series 401 work for FS firefighters?'

Perhaps this is too obvious to warrant repeating, but there's little in fire that's analogous
to, say, wildlife biology. Most forests, parks, etc., have, at most, a handful of permanent
biologists. The competition for these positions is pretty fierce. At least in the wildlife bio
world, it's impossible to land one without at least a grad degree and some field time as
a seasonal (with almost no OT) or volunteer.

I know several capable, motivated folks who chose another career because they can't
afford to pay those dues. The current method of implementing a fire 401 series, IMHO,
risks creating the same issues of inaccessibility - only worse, since the requisite
coursework often has no relevance whatsoever to our jobs.

At a time when half the nation is 'financially challenged', gas in my neck of the woods is
pushing $4 a gallon, and college classes aren't getting any cheaper, there are a lot more
people in that boat then when I was in school. Heck of a time to be bumping up against
the ol' 2009 deadline, whether you're 20 years old or 40.

I'm not high enough up on the food chain to even guess at how to fix this, except to
restate everyone else's pleas for a little more flexibility in either the deadline date or
the requirements.

3/24 yactac seems to know a lot about the Cobra program. I'm curious to find out the cost
of this program from inception to its current status. This would include acquisition,
refurbishment, equipping, training, operating expenses. Maybe he can shed some light
on the true cost of this program. For instance what is the annual budget? If fires were
charged for the use of these resources and if so how much?

3/24 Firehorse,

During the early stages of the Millard Complex (July, 2006) the decision was made to abandon an entire division based on the real-time video feed supplied by the Cobra into the ICP. A couple of hours later the fire overran that location of the fire. It is a great tool to have for increasing situational awareness and enhancing FFTR safety. Here is a link depicting the video downlink the following morning in the Millard ICP. The datavan was parked outside the door and a cable ran from it into the building and connected to a large monitor so everyone could what was happening. Yactac narrated from the helo.


Fire Geek
3/24 Firehorse,

Can't forget the "rest of the story"....

Each Firewatch module comes with a "data van" staffed with a "Data Technician". One of the responsibilities of position is to project the GIS mapping shape files for the incident and to provide any technical assistance to the Incident in regards to the Firewatch products. This individual is highly knowledgeable in the Firewatch program and provides the needed interface with the Incident (teams, unit, etc) that allow for a smooth transition of data and information.

So each firewatch module consists of four team members directly attached, pilot, atgs, data tech, and mechanic / fueler. The module comes with these folks along with the data van, fuel and mechanics trailer.

The module can set up at helibase or at an airport (air attack base). The Data Technician can be split away from the module to facilitate data / information transition.. ie, platform, fuel and mechanic at helibase or air attack base and Data Van and Technician in fire camp to interface with the incident.

Again, this is a USFS owned platform, components and data van.

3/24 wrench (and others),

Thanks for the kind replies.

I know the reasons why I have been unable to get a permanent spot so far, and it relates to
high-grading locations, wanting to stay in aviation, and being a student working on finishing
a BS degree, and hopefully starting on an MS degree in the near future. Those three things
narrow the opportunities down to next to nothing, but I'm fine with that for now. I am, however,
starting to weigh the benefits of getting an MS versus the benefits of getting status... We'll see
how that one works out in my mental calculus.

Most of my points, though, are valid for a lot of my co-workers who have finished school and
are hunting jobs without any constraints. It's been my observation that there are a lot of
quality folks hunting permanent positions right now, so maybe things will start looking up for
FS hiring in the near future.


Young and Still Learning in R1
3/24 Firehorse,

There are two Firewatch Cobra Helicopters in R5 that belong to R5 Forest Service. They are both Regional platforms available nationally. Original one at Redding (North Ops / Redding Tanker Base) for the Nor Cal coverage and the other at Lancaster (Fox Tanker Base) for Southern Cal coverage. Both staffed daily with a USFS ATGS and statused daily as initial attack air attacks.

The purpose of the USFS ships is strictly command and control and intelligence gathering. This is a proof of concept (human aided technology) platform. They are fantastic initial attack ATGS platforms. No hooks, tanks or water dropping capabilities are planned.

Missions include: ATGS, HLCO, close in intelligence support for ground troops, Infrared, GIS mapping, real time color video and IR downlink capabilities. This is an evolving "Human aided Technology" proof of concept platform that is utilizing state of the art equipment and technology. Private industry has come together with the USFS in R5 to help create and update this program.

Call sign for the Redding based ship is "Air Attack 507". The Lancaster ship call sign is "Air Attack 509". When the platforms are in the intelligence gathering profile they use the call sign "Firewatch 507" or "Firewatch 509". Being staffed daily with a fully qualified ATGS helps ensure seamless transition and into the Fire Traffic Area (fire airspace) when in the intelligence gathering mode and high service to the ground troops when in the close in tactical intelligence support profile.

If one googles "USFS Firewatch Cobra" many good articles will come up.

3/24 Young <and well spoken> in R1 -

Very well said. I agree there are issues with the hiring process. AVUE and USAJOBS are killing us with the one-size-fits-all-never-close job postings. Regarding the outreaches - I carpet bomb my fireline/firecamp email address book with the outreach notices. (relax everyone - I don't use the "All FS" option like some people have used before) It's up to my contacts to get the information to their crewmembers, or not, if they so choose.

Have you thought about this in a different light as to why you are not getting a temp/perm job? Is it your overhead that is looking for that one little thing from you before they bump you up the chain? Are you squared away and they are waiting for the right position to nudge you into? Do you "work well with others?"

Networking is the key. Does the Batt. like fly-fishing or anything else you're interested in? Be friendly but not fake, do your job as best you can, ask for anything else that they need done or what they would like to see happen. Maybe then the resources will be made available to you to find the inhouse information you seek.

3/23 Photo of Tanker 21 making a drop on the Mud Lake fire April 13, 2003 just north of Detroit Lakes MN. Photo courtesy of Detroit Lakes Tribune.

Steve S.

Thanks Steve. I put it on Airtankers 24. Ab.

3/23 Ab,

With all due respect, I was at the Chief Officers Conference... oops, I should say workshop or special mission or anything but conference, and I too saw some hope in what the Regional Forester said. Rather, I should say I saw some sincerity in him, I did not like a lot of what he 'said'.

The message I got out of the conference was, "You fire folks in R-5 have been playing without adult supervision for far too long!" They continually talked about how the line officers needed to be more involved. Then there was a laughable segment on Line Officer Certification... Wow! The fundamental problem is that in this day and age line officers know very little about the complexity of Fire Management, especially in R-5.

Now, before my brothers and sisters freak out on 'another rant from SoCal', I want to remind everyone of the obvious that you pointed out, what happens here will occur in your neighborhood soon...

FireScope, ICS, color brass, you name it...

A friend said to me at the conference, "maybe if we did not continually import folks from out of R-5 we would not waste so much time educating them to our problems". As Lobotomy points out, the WO does this on purpose to 'reel us in'. Hopefully our new RF is smart enough to realize he is the leader of the leaders in Forest Service Fire management and not an appointed WO nanny.

Mission creep is not a problem, it is the future of a professional emergency response organization that is responding to the needs of the public in a changing world! The sooner the managers in the RO and WO realize this, the better.

Ab, you said the line officers are not incompetent, they just have a different focus. Fair enough, but don't you think all the competent, committed and long suffering FIREFIGHTERS in this region deserve to have LEADERS that know and focus on our issues?

OK, 401...

a debacle.

Why? ologists or otonist do not a professional firefighter make. Public admin classes, poli sci, budget and finance might be a better fit for GS 11s and above. OJT still works for 9 and below if you ask me.

Sending seasoned FFs to dendrology classes is absurd! (BTW, I loved dendrology, but it does not help me keep my folks safe.)

NO ONE should lose their jobs if they are competent in them, regardless of formal education!

At to the above point, HR shops have shown a horrendous inconsistency in determining 401 educational qualifications...
I have a friend with a wildlife biology degree and R-5 folks took forever to decide if he met the quals... DUH!

He and I both have degrees and we both agree that that parchment from 20 years ago has nothing to do with keeping people safe.

Engaged leaders know which of their people have gained the knowledge necessary to lead and advance...

isn't that what performance ratings and IDPs are for?

Oh, that would assume that 'line officers' have faith in Fire Managers...

and that takes me back to the Chief Officers Conference...

The RO and WO and many line officers do not trust us, or are jealous of us, or both. Hence, the silliness with vehicles, color brass and the slow recognition of the retention problem.

OK, I have more bottled up, but I have been on the soap box for too long.

Been Bummed

Please, don't hold back... (tongue firmly in cheek) Ab.
3/23 Firehorse

There are two cobras I know of used by the Forest Service, one is out of Redding
Ca, and the other somewhere out of So CAL.

I know they are FLIR capable, do a lot of mapping and sometimes are used as air
attack. they are also capable of sending real-time thermal video to people on the
ground. That is about all i know about them.


3/23 Ab,

I think you misunderstood my reference re: the pay for folks in the Vallejo area or the importance for them to understand and lead. I want the folks who are getting the highest pay in the highest Locality Pay area to fully understand since they rarely talk or communicate with the troops in the field who are trying to do the work.

Often, folks think federal employees in the Southern California area are the highest paid in the nation, which factually they are not. These misperceptions often come from folks in the WO who often have no clue what they are talking about.

The highest Locality Pay area in the nation is SAN JOSE-SAN FRANCISCO-OAKLAND, CA . Their rate is 32.53% over the national base GS rate. The counties covered are here.

The LOS ANGELES-LONG BEACH-RIVERSIDE, CA . Their rate is 25.26% over the national base GS Rate. The counties covered are here.

The Southern California Special Salary rate is capped at 30% on a sliding scale. It starts at 30% at the lower levels (GS-2 through GS-5) and then steeply underperforms locality pay.

Contrary to what the WO "talking points" say.... pay is an issue in keeping the best of the best focused on why they became wildland firefighters..... and providing for their families.

The Rest of the US gets 13.18% over the national base GS rate.

The ANF Forest Supervisor is incompetent (below) for the duties she, and other Forest Supervisors have been selected for recently (If you want to blame someone... blame Mark Rey and whomever is the current CHIEF providing "leadership" for not listening to the field), have been tasked with to reel in the wildland fire program instead of embracing it as a way to save the Forest Service..... She has been the one briefing (and leading) the R-5 Line Officers Team (LOT) down the wrong track regarding recruitment and retention of employees for years... and providing "facts" to the Chief for her (or Mark's) ultimate decision.... on OUR future.

Once again, JMHO, and my facts can be checked and verified. The WO put the fox in charge on the hen house and still want to supply eggs.....

Like I said before, the R-5 Captains Group needs to step up. Sorry for the links not being provided, my original post had them as hyperlinks until the "radcombo call back error" happened again on our webmail server and I had to skip over to Safari.. We'll have to work on that in the future.

3/23 Some nice photos of the Day Fire, 2006 on the Engines 19 and Fire 36 photo pages. Thanks to Brennan.

Some nice photos of the Warm Fire 2006, posted on Engines 19 and Fire 36 and Helicopters 23. Thanks to KL. Ab.

3/23 In response to the 3/22 note about the fire shelter bag retrofit. The marine adhesive method for reinforcement is not the only approved method for retrofit. If you have access to an industrial sewing machine (many jump bases and rappel bases have these) you can sew a reinforcement to the pull strap attachment area. Contact MTDC for specifications or more information. A side note: If MTDC is not familiar with your sewing ability they may ask for a first article (example of the repair) before approval.

It's been so long since I've posted my moniker's been hijacked so now sign me

Another old rotor head
3/23 R5 BLM Captain, AB & All:

I may get bashed too.

Ab I completely agree with your summation. This is certainly not a knock on a college degree but I would suspect that almost everyone with any significant time in the fire service has seen someone with certificate after certificate, a degree in this or that, in fact enough educational transcripts to wallpaper a house then, when that person faces a dynamic force consuming 1000 acres an hour...they, like many, pee their pants while the firefighter without the degree but with 20 years on the line in the field doesn't bat an eye.

I'm sure there are those on both sides of the debate with equal passion. But AB is absolutely right...when someone has 15-20+ years in the field, you don't send them off to college to become an "ologist" just because the employing Agency wants to demonstrate they have "professional" firefighters or because the agency wants to be flexible and use them for something other than fire. The term professional firefighter should not be predicated on a degree. It should be predicated on a classification with increasing coursework requirements in the wildland firefighting field.

With all due respect, I don't believe a wildland firefighter with 20 years of experience needs to go back to college and become a botanist, zoologist, horticulturalist etc., simply to progress to the position of FMO.

But let us recognize that this 401 series debacle was created by ologists with little fire experience. It is part & parcel to the other dysfunctional operations of the Agency fire programs. Its failure, the failure of the Agency to communicate with OPM and promptly communicate with its employees about 401 is just another broken cog like the outsourcing program.

I am all for wildland firefighters choosing to become ologists. However mandating they become degreed for doing a job they have done for decades seems utterly idiotic. I speak from the fire side, as a firefighter who rose through the ranks to be an assistant chief without a college degree. Maybe not book smart in the sense of a college degree, but fire scene smart so perhaps I'm biased.

The mere fact that the vast majority of current FMOs and those moving up the ladder disdain 401 should give someone a clue.

A wildland firefighter series with the "other duties as assigned" being the "other disciplines" R5 BLM Captain refers to is the way to go. R5 BLM Captain, although you mentioned work in timber, I don't know any wildland firefighter who (according to current OPM text for 462s) "markets" timber.

Fedwatcher II
3/23 R5 BLM Captain, AB & All:

I may get bashed too.

Ab, I completely agree with your summation. This is certainly not a knock on a college degree but I would suspect that almost everyone with any significant time in the fire service has seen someone with certificate after certificate, a degree in this or that, in fact enough educational transcripts to wallpaper a house then, when that person faces a dynamic force consuming 1000 acres an hour...they, like many, pee their pants while the firefighter without the degree but with 20 years on the line in the field doesn't bat an eye.

I'm sure there are those on both sides of the debate with equal passion. But AB is absolutely right...when someone has 15-20+ years in the field, you don't send them off to college to become an "ologist" just because the employing Agency wants to demonstrate they have "professional" firefighters or because the agency wants to be flexible and use them for something other than fire. The term professional firefighter should not be predicated on a degree. It should be predicated on a classification with increasing coursework requirements in the wildland firefighting field.

With all due respect, I don't believe a wildland firefighter with 20 years of experience needs to go back to college and become a botanist, zoologist, horticulturalist etc., simply to progress to the position of FMO.

But let us recognize that this 401 series debacle was created by ologists with little fire experience. It is part & parcel to the other dysfunctional operations of the Agency fire programs. Its failure, the failure of the Agency to communicate with OPM and promptly communicate with its employees about 401 is just another broken cog like the outsourcing program.

I am all for wildland firefighters choosing to become ologists. However mandating they become degreed for doing a job they have done for decades seems utterly idiotic. I speak from the fire side, as a firefighter who rose through the ranks to be an assistant chief without a college degree. Maybe not book smart in the sense of a college degree, but fire scene smart so perhaps I'm biased.

The mere fact that the vast majority of current FMOs and those moving up the ladder disdain 401 should give someone a clue.

A wildland firefighter series with the "other duties as assigned" being the "other disciplines" R5 BLM Captain refers to is the way to go. R5 BLM Captain, although you mentioned work in timber, I don't know any wildland firefighter who (according to current OPM text for 462s) "markets" timber.

Fedwatcher II
3/23 Hi from the Mediterranean Sea!

This is one of our fire helicopters working in the island of Menorca. If you want
more photos from the Balearic Forest Service, just ask! This photo was taken
on the island of Menorca (in the Balearics, Spain) August 1, 2006. Photo was
taken by an 11 year old girl out her dining room window.

Josep Maria Mayor Perez

Thanks, I put it on Helicopters 23 photo page. Ab.

3/23 Just saw the pics of the Firecobra. Did not know of this. It has a Forest Service
sticker and tail number. Where is it based and what is its mission?

Firehorse (the original!)
3/23 Ab,

You're right that '40' something Fire Managers shouldn't get thrown out of their jobs
because of the new 401 series, but should people in 401 series be thrown out if they
don't "qual out" by 2009 also.

The 401 series is probably the best series I can see at this time. I would like to see
another series, but a lot of the work fire fighters do is in timber, recreation, trails,
wildlife, and other similar disciplines. Fire Managers are the ones working with other
"ologists" to get this work done. A lot is due to saving 2810 money etc.

Formal education should be the foundation we build our fire knowledge on to. It is
beneficial these days because of NEPA work, complicated fire software (BEHAVE
etc), and not to mention public contact.

Should new firefighter be "fostered along" with their education? Not GS-3's and 4's
but permanent 5's and beyond.

No one knows what's going on in HR shops. One day you'll rate out as a GS-5 the
next you might be a GS-9. Anybody's guess.

All this and what you mentioned before need to get addressed, and I know there are
"wheels turning" to do so. I'm not foreseeing any questions answered in the near future.

We'll see,
R5 BLM Engine Captain

Thanks for the reply. Ab.

3/23 ACW sent in a fine collection of Moonlight, North Fire and Zaca 2 Fire photos last September, including quite an airshow on the North Fire. I have just posted them on Equipment 11, Engines 18, Engines 19, Helicopters 23, Airtankers 24, Handcrews 22, and Fire 36
photo pages. Catching sight of Marc Mullenix's photo on one of the pages made me realize again how much we are missing him...

My best to all in this community on this fine Easter day. Ab.

3/23 Here's a thought about all the whining about the 401 series that not many will like,

I'm not happy that the Govt. is paying people to go through TFM and other classes to qualify for the 401 series when some of us paid for four plus years of college to do so. Education is one thing that can separate employees equally. Everybody knows someone that has fast tracked through the system to become a fire manager, been signed off as a DIV, ICT3, etc. It's pretty tough to fast track through college. This is not to mention you only need approx. 29 credits to qualify when most degrees require 130 credits to graduate. In most BLM of Forest Service offices everybody notices that other disciplines look down on fire. Most of these disciplines require an education, fire should too. Stop complaining and go to college. I know I'm going to get bashed for this, but I know a lot of others that think the same.

R5 BLM Engine Captain.

R5 BLM Engine Captain I appreciate what you're saying. Saying that is fine for 20-somethings, but not for 40-somethings who have been doing a professional fire job for years and who live and work in areas very remote from any college campus. Agencies and organizations have historically offered additional professional training to career employees.

There has to be some way to make this equitable for all. I haven't heard too much wining about going to school and bettering yourself, only about the type of subject matter that makes you a "fire professional" and that getting the number of units of education is difficult with all the other responsibilities of your FS job.

If we want to discuss this, the issues need to be separated out, not reacted to in a knee jerk fashion. Let's brainstorm the issues.

  • Why doesn't Series 401 work for FS firefighters?
  • What would work better? Why?
  • In this day and age, is more education of the right sort reasonable?
  • Should anyone who's a professional firefighter manager in their jobs for years be "fostered along" to achieve the quals?
  • If people don't meet the 401 requirements by the 2009 deadline, what happens to our firefighting work force? How much will it be decreased by? What are the safety concerns and can we mitigate the safety concerns that go along with that decrease?
  • Why do some HR shops recognize some as having the 401 while others do not?

And I could go on... Am I missing any? Ab.

3/23 Wow, I'm totally amazed at the attitudes about ADs that Im hearing on the list!!!!

Geez, I haven't been on a fire in years that there weren't tons of ADs in positions from dispatcher to line personnel. Just for the record, 98% of them have been highly qualified, intelligent and great to work for!!!! The vast majority have many, many years of fire experience that no "youngster" will ever get. Why in the world would anyone want to throw away and ignore the vast experience the ADs have to share????

If the feds would get their "regular employees" to go to training and be available for assignments, maybe there wouldn't be a need for so many ADs. As another poster put it: supply and demand.

ADs pay seems high to some "regular" employees but figure this: for the same job "regular employees" are doing, they get less pay, no benefits at all, no overtime, no hazard pay, and never know when there next check will come or if they will be working. Their computers, cars, etc that may be requested for them to use on a fire are not covered if something happens to it on a fire, although it may be "required" for their position.

Another point - NOT ALL ADs are retired from government/state service! Many, many ADs are folks who worked as a "regular" employee (myself included) for USFS/BLM, etc for many years and decided to go back to college or work another job, but love fire and want to keep involved during the summer. We are available when needed to fill positions that can't be filled by federal or state employees. If you don't want ADs - who the heck are you going to fill it with?? (Evidence - look at the hundreds or more positions UTF'd each fire season !!!)

Wildfires don't care who fights them - regular fed/state employees, local personnel or ADs. We should spend more time trying to fight the fires and get qualified personnel to go then spending time whining about who the person works for - themselves or the government. As long as the position gets filled by a qualified individual, it shouldn't matter.

****Fight fire first, stay safe and get the critical positions filled - that should be the concern !!!

Sign me,
.......Qualified, hard-working AD - over 15 yrs exp in fire, aviation, etc
3/23 re: radio use

Thanks for the kind words. However, I can't make any claim to expertise concerning the use of cell phones and radios while driving. That must have been another poster. And oops on the "Foscheck;" I had even Googled it and came up with that spelling, but didn't notice that it wasn't the company's site. (Try picturing a Phos-Check truck when you really need to. Maybe I just need to be smelling smoke in order to spell correctly?)

Still Out There as an AD

3/23 An excellent series of articles in Sunday's "Missoulian" about the on-going issues
surrounding aerially-delivered retardant.


Dick Mangan

3/23 AB, just wanted to send you a few pics of the apparatus I operate here in Florida for the state Division of Forestry.
  • pic 004 is Myakka (my District) - 44/45 a 2007 Sterling transport with a 2006 John Deere 650J Dozer and
    (I believe a 1975 Mathis double disk fire line plow)
  • pic 007 is Myakka 104 a 1994 International/Ferrara (donated by FEMA) Type 6 brush patrol/wildland engine 125/750/5(A) and 4WD. normally only operated by 1 firefighter, and usually only used for prescribed burning and mop up on larger fires.
  • pic 014 is of my assigned station , Punta Gorda Forestry Station in southern Charlotte County Florida. Normally assigned are 3 Forest Rangers and 1 Senior Forest Ranger. We normally work 7 days on, 2 days off, 3 days on, 2 days off, and on-call 1 or 2 nights per week, staffing 2 transport/dozer units and the brush engine.
  • pic 013 is of the lookout tower, though this is not normally staffed anymore, due to the number of people with cell phones and each district has it's own patrol aircraft.

All these pics were taken by myself, hope you can use some of them.



Thanks JP, I posted the first two on Equipment 11 and Engines 18 photo pages, respectively. Ab.

3/23 Ab, here are some Lone Peak UT Crews and engine logos.

Ben H

Nice ones, I put them on the Logo 14 photo page. Ab.

3/23 Steve,

Your Deputy Forest Supervisor must first understand Locality Pay IS NOT the Southern California Special Salary Rate and stop letting the WO guidance compare apples to oranges. Your Deputy Forest Supervisor must also need to understand that the Angeles Forest Supervisor (WO plant, much like ours on our Forest) has no idea what she is speaking about or trying to lead in the Region or the Nation. They were sent to specific forests in R-5 for a reason from their insignificant previous "leadership posts"..... Real in the rogue fire program from California they were told..... A program that isn't rogue, but la program leading the wildland fire program forward that they weren't qualified to lead.

I usually don't get so brash to say this on fears of offending folks, but some people who have been given jobs are incompetent and will never understand.

The highest paid federal employees in the country aren't from Southern California, but from Vallejo and surrounding areas.

Don't cave in to the BS of folks who haven't done their research on the issues such as your Deputy FS.... and surely have never been a career federal wildland firefighter.

The "Mission Clarification" you hope for is not the "Mission Clarification" that the RO and WO are heading towards. They continually try to "divide and conquer" and offer non-substantiated facts,

If folks want to speak factually, I sure hope the R-5 Captains Group gets back on track and focuses.



--It's not incompetent, it's having a different focus than fire. I have found some of those folks very competent in their focused areas. If they can be made to see that the FS across most of the country will be dealing with fire
interface issues as CA is already being forced to do, maybe some of their attitudes will change. R5 has always been the bellwether for what happens in the rest of the nation within 10 yr or less.
--I don't see what pay has to do with it when you're talking about managers living in any of the high cost of living areas in CA.
--I was and am hopeful following what I heard of the R5 Regional Forester's comments at the Chiefs Meeting. Maybe you need to have been there or have heard a tape of his presentation to understand he may well be a reason for hope. I hope he stays very involved with fire at the ground level and continues the dialog. He should get a fire person who reports directly to him and then reports back to the fireground and works at maintaining the conversation. In my opinion, if not, communication, rumors, and distrust will continue to be a problem. Ab.

3/22 you've got to start somewhere.... retention, etc...

We just finished up our forest chief's and captains meeting. On the last day our Forest sup as well as line and staff folks came in also. We were told by our deputy Forest Sup that the things that the chief was taking forward are: Locality Pay and Mission Clarification. Locality pay is really only a stop-gap measure. Southern CA locality pay has been overtaken by cost of living and this pay never really did retain folks anyway. Mission Clarification though is something that could set us up for long term solutions such as re-classification and other Work environment benefits.

I'm guessing that this is common knowledge among the line folks as far as what the Chief is pursuing. Has anyone heard anything other than this? This is the first thing that I've heard come out of the Dec. get together. Since it was brought out in a very public forum, I'm going to assume that while this wasn't the official rollout it was certainly OK to share............. Thoughts?

Steve Diaz
stevenfdiaz @ sbcglobal.net

3/22 Ab,

AZ-AZS-A1S Photos. A few from the fire in phoenix today.


Thanks, MG. I put them on the Fire 35 and Fire 36 photo pages. Ab.

3/22 Hello Ab,
Long time lurker,
There aren't many Cal Fire Handcrew photos.
Here is one of my guys on the
Bluff Inc. Div C
Owen's Valley Crew 3

Taken and Sent in by Sue Jorgensen.

Thanks, Sue. I posted it on Handcrews 22 photo page. Ab.

3/22 still out there as an AD,

I agree with almost everything you've written in last couple of months, including your views on the current AD thread, with only the following exception.

I still feel the issue of whether or not a responding BC/resource should use a cell phone/radio while driving a vehicle IS analogous to a pilot being required to fly and communicate simultaneously. All the drivers in the driving study you linked initiated their conversation prior to entering the simulator and continued them throughout their simulation. That type of communication would not be considered tactical, ie: get or give the important information and get back to the task of navigating. To me, that's an important difference. I've started to actively look for and now often see structure engine rigs from various city Fire Depts being driven by a FF with a radio headset on. I would be very interested in a more specific study, should you know of one That being said, I truly appreciate the link you provided. Good stuff and point taken. I'm noticing folks of all types driving erratically. Upon further observation, from a safe distance, the majority of the time they are talking on a cell phone. Cell phone-talking drivers are now part of my situational awareness. I also shared the study with my ground based right-seater/mission commander/wife and my militia employed 22 yr old (AD) offspring. It took me quite some time to filter thru all the reference material listed at the end. I learned much from it all. Thanks for that.

Also, thanks for your level-headed response on the AD issues. AD is how I started in fire, and where I'll probably end up (soon). Thanks for that, too.

Finally, just a couple spelling corrections, if I may. Phos-chek (retardant) is what I think you were referring to. And, as I too learned much from "Airplane, the movie", it's spelled Otto-Pilot. : ) Roger, Roger. Oveur is out.

student of flight
3/22 Form the Oregonian. 3/21

Obama said he wanted to find some way to help restore federal aid to counties with major federal forests. Rural counties are facing drastic budget cuts because a program ended that had funneled more than $200 million a year to local governments in the state.
Obama said he wanted to find a "long-term, sustainable solution. . . . "We have to have something in place that people can count on."

Form the Register-Guard: 3/22 interview with Obama

Question: Are there things in the Pacific Northwest, like forest policy, that you’ve taken a look at?
Answer: On forest policy, dealing with these county payments in a serious, long-term way so local counties can have an opportunity to plan their budgets, I think is going to be very important. And by the way, that’s not unique to Oregon. When you go to states like Nevada that also have a lot of federal lands on them, you don’t have a clear, systematic policy on how to balance the federal government’s legitimate interest in preserving our natural resources and states’ interest in keeping economic development going, and supporting communities … you have to have, I think, a thorough review.
Question: Would you consider continuing payments if that were brought to your desk?
Answer: I would. But I think it’s important that it not be just an ad hoc, year-by-year thing. I think there’s got to be a method to the madness. There’s got to be a system in place that puts the state on a solid economic footing but also points to how we’re going to preserve these natural lands over the long term.
Question: The Clinton Forest Plan was initially expected to allow about 1 billion board feet a year from federal lands, and actual harvest levels have been well under that. The county payments situation is creating pressure to increase logging. Is that something you’re interested in?
Answer: As I said, we’ve got to do a review. But the most important principle I have heard and seen wherever I go in the West is the need for the federal government to listen to local and state communities — something that all too often the bureaucracy doesn’t do. We should be an honest broker between the various interests. I feel very strongly about preserving the natural beauty and the resources of the Northwest for future generations. But I don’t presume to know everything about it, and I think the federal government has to show the kind of respect for local choices that ensures strong support and sustaining support for these policies.
Question: How far do you have Oregon going in the NCAA tourney?
Answer: (whispered) Not very far.
Question: One and done?
Answer: Yes. Now, I could have picked Oregon if I wanted to pander.

Good to see a little honesty admitting he doesn't know everything about Oregon issues and to not do the old foot in mouth routine as someone did with the New York Yankees.

3/22 104 days, 12 hours and 31 minutes since the start of the R-5 Retention Meeting.

Olbermann Wannbe.........
3/22 To Still Out There As An AD:

Well put.

Hugh Carson
3/22 Ab, please post this as a lessons learned

electrical-incident-lessons-learn.pdf (33K pdf file)

Never know when you might need the "slide" as many here say.
Luckily no one was hurt. Expect the unexpected!

Red Bluff FF

3/22 Young <and insightful> in Region 1

Here are my observations of 19 years with big green machine in FS Region 2 and 1, seven being a seasonal employee and 9 years now in DOI.

USFS tends to not invest training in seasonals. My sample is limited to my personal experiences on 3 NF but is reflected in what I have heard from others with USFS seasonal experience. The 5109 stipulation that all NWCG 310-1 “suggested” training is “required” may have changed that. However if you are taking up all of your training time and budget with NWCG 310-1 “suggested” training rather than NWCG 310-1 “required” it takes a long time to get to single resource quals.

In large organizations (ie large RD) chances to shine are limited. You are a small specialized gear in the big machine. Where as in smaller organizations you will need and be expected to do a number of different task/jobs. This will expose you to more ways of doing things and broaden your life experiences.

As a selecting official I have had to make selections from certs based upon the better of two minimally qualified candidates and having to select from a list of 5 over qualified candidates. I’m sure you can figure out which situation I and my fire crew leader preferred. And in both cases the unspoken but very real evaluation criteria had dominated. Ability to work well with others.

As far as being a GS-5, in my book there are three reasons to offer a GS-5 position to someone.

  • 1 – They are or are close to being single resource boss qualified. (With out them it is hard to get my FFT2 and FFT1’s out)
  • 2 – You have been with me several seasons and know your way around. (Not having to hold a persons hand is well worth the money as well as rewarding a persons loyalty.)
  • 3 – You are someone with great promise to go far in wildland fire management and I want to give you the chance to get started.

All three of these relate to your comment about building a quality program that people want to work for.

You stated:

I hate to say it, but people tend to high grade by location. I'll admit it too: I'm picky about where I apply. If I've heard bad things about the program, or the location, or both, I won't apply. As a result myself and many, many others cherry-picking like this, I end up getting beat out for the entry-level 13/13 GS-5s I do apply for by folks who are massively overqualified for the position.

This is all a personal decision. If you want career status you may need to look other places. If you will only accept a position in a highly specialized discipline (Helicopter Module only) then you have narrowed your opportunities just as much as saying I will only work in western Mt..

Those of us (USFS, BLM, FWS, BIA, NPS) in obscure parts of the country or with little known agencies have had to struggle with making our programs worth a second look. Some have been successful some have not. Definitely a leadership thing and works best when there is good leadership from the local station to RO up to national office.

It's amazing how many people are unaware of what opportunities exist on the forest next door.

Or the little agency just down the road.

Small Agency Fire Guy

3/22 Young and ___in R1-

Gotta agree with Abs, you need to upgrade your 'handle'. Great feedback, well-written. You got my attention. I'm assuming you're already a frequent & regular visitor to usajobs? Are you currently working as a temp in a quality organization, showing your stuff and 'buffing' yourself for those permanent opportunities? Have you got some face-time with district FMOs/Fire Staff? Don't be scared off - they put their pants on the same way you do. With all the turnover these days, crew leads, AFMOs and FMOs, at least on my forest, have their eyes and ears open for 'hot' prospects.

Good luck. Believe it or not, times are a lot better than they used to be. Back in the 'good old days' I spent 16 long years as a seasonal. You can't imagine how many really good folks just dropped out of the race and got a 'real job'.

Old Boot

3/22 This was forwarded to us by a handcrew supervisor. It's circulating among firefighters on the fs web. Good diagrams and directions for all on how to retrofit fire shelter bags.

Fire shelter bag retrofit: This is something to take a look at during readiness reviews.

On the National Fire Shelter Advisory Board conference call 3/20 it
was noted that some units were assuming "someone" was going to do this
retrofitting for all the shelters that need it; perhaps by a national recall.
That is not the case.
The "someone" is you!
The cache managers are working within their system to contract retrofitting
but shelters that have already been distributed need to be retrofitted locally.
This retrofitting is very important and not optional.
FMOs should take appropriate steps and checks to ensure it has been done.
(See attached file: shelter bag retrofit.pdf [432K pdf file])
Also, I have heard on one instance of a bag tearing below the sewn seam.
If any of you have had a similar experience, please let <your regional fire safety officer>


3/22 re: who are ADs?

Believe me, not all of us who get called out as ADs are bumbling retirees who don't know their Foscheck from Metamucil. So who are ADs? Some of us are folks who have moved onto other jobs or locations due to changes in our families, but still answer the fire bell. Some of us are employed by state forestry agencies that don't have the kind of agreements in place to send employees to federal incidents, so we take our vacation time and respond as ADs. Some of us come from places like CalTech and UC Davis when certain special skills are needed. (Possibly by contract too). Some of us are native Americans who represent our homes as a crew and will share our wages from fire with the rest of our communities.

And what about the retirees? Many have given years to working fire and have a depth of knowledge that you can't get after just a few years of throwing dirt. I'm not just talking fire skills -- I'm talking people skills, the ability to know how the fire organization works -- how to get things done. Quite frankly, there are some retirees out there who I would love to see show up in fire camp again.

Folks also have a very skewed view of history. The Forest Service built one of the finest fire fighting agencies in the world (in many ways the first) using ADs and the militia with very few who just worked fire. In the east, some of the original Weeks purchase units (before the National Forests were actually organized and named) employed call-when needed crews from the communities who competed among themselves to show their abilities. I'm not saying we need to go back to the "good old days:" the urbanization of our culture calls for a different set of skills, but the idea of bumbling ADs who mess it up for the "pros" is just plain wrong.

Are we all equally competent and willing to work hard? No. Neither can you say that about everyone currently employed as a federal or state firefighter. And quite frankly, I'm always happy to see the bad apples weeded out. Open up your eyes, dudes, to the real people that surround you, many of whom do an excellent job.

And no, not all of us will refuse assignments to prove a point. I had an old ranger growl at me early in my Forest Service career: "You're either available or you're not available, and if you work for me, you better have a good reason to be not available." I have tried to live up to that ever since.

Still Out There as an AD

3/21 On NFFE's "data call" -- thanks to everyone who's responded. So far, we
have 114 responses. We'll be sending them to our contacts on the Hill and
also to Casey so he can use them when he's in DC week after next.

If folks didn't get the chance to send comments before today's -- oops,
look at the time -- I mean, yesterday's "deadline," feel free to do so at
your convenience. I just put up the short turn-around because of the
time-frame for getting them to Congress. But there's other, internal
battles to be fought as well. So keep 'em coming -- I can pormise you
we'll do the best we can to put them to good use. The address is

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
3/21 Jodi, BLM

A friend sent me this the other day. It sounds like Dialogos might be key in determining the future of the FS.


Date: March 7, 2008
Subject: National Leadership Team Meeting April 8-10, 2008
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

The next National Leadership Team (NLT) meeting will be held in Washington
D.C., April 8-10, 2008 at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade
Center. Reservations ... <snip details> ... ensure that the reservations are made at the
correct rate and under the appropriate block. Additional rooms have
been added to the block to accommodate the National Executive Assistants
(NEAT) for the evenings of April 9th and 10th.

With few exceptions, participants for the April NLT meeting have
received the initial training from Dialogos. This was the first step to
change the decision making model, structure, and operational process for
our National Leadership Team meetings.
I have asked Chief of Staff
Tim DeCoster to lead the agenda planning in consultation with Dialogos.
As discussed in our training sessions, our intent is to develop an
agenda with limited topics, emphasizing focused discussions,
deliberations, and decisions.

Feedback from our recent sessions indicates a strong interest in
focusing the April NLT on three topics: Transformation; Human Capital
Management; and the agency response to climate change
. While numerous
other important topics could be added to the agenda we want to maximize
the time we allocate to these three key subjects. If you have
suggestions for higher priority or additional agenda topics, please send
them to Tim for ELT consideration.

We will distribute final agenda, pre-work materials, and additional
information well in advance of the meeting.

/s/ Abigail R. Kimbell, Chief

3/21 On the post "Failure to Comply with Mandatory USDA Training Requirements
May Result in Not Receiving a Paycheck" -- Give me a break! We were on
that faster than you can spit. We've been assured that "of course folks
will be paid" even if they do get locked out of their computers.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
3/21 Wrench, RE: FS positions and retention.

Speaking as a seasonal who is trying to get a permanent GS-5 or GS-6, I'll add some opinions and views on FS hiring and retention.

#1 - As a seasonal, I do NOT have access to many FS outreaches. The only way I can get outreaches is if my supervisor is kind enough to pass along any that he may see. In my experience, this usually is not the case, although there are exceptions. In any event, my supervisor usually will not be looking at all of the outreaches, only those that he gets sent via LotusNotes. How does this affect FS hiring? Real simple. Because AVUE only lets me choose 9 locations on the catch-all announcements that people are pulling certs from, I have to know who has openings before I can choose locations, unless I start throwing darts at the map of the US hoping I get lucky. Since I don't see the outreaches, I don't know who is hiring. The result? I can't apply because I didn't know there was a vacancy. This past winter I missed out on at least 3 certs because I found out about the vacancy after the cert had been pulled. Make it easier for us seasonals to see the outreaches, and you'll get more applicants for GS-5 and 6 positions.

#2 - This is related to #1 in way. I have noticed a trend on some forests of only advertising their GS-6s and even some GS-5s as Merit/Status only. Guess what? Once again, this keeps a seasonal like me from being able to apply. Is this really the way to get a quality applicant pool?

#3 - I hate to say it, but people tend to high grade by location. I'll admit it too: I'm picky about where I apply. If I've heard bad things about the program, or the location, or both, I won't apply. As a result myself and many, many others cherry-picking like this, I end up getting beat out for the entry-level 13/13 GS-5s I do apply for by folks who are massively overqualified for the position. For most of the forests in R1 and R4 that I've applied for positions on, there are so many applicants that it takes being overqualified to be competitive. Honestly, it shouldn't take being single resource boss qualified and ICT4 trainee to get a GS-5 position. The last 2 GS-5 Senior Firefighter and GS-5/6 Squad Leader positions I applied for (on helitack modules), I got beat out by a candidate who was either already helicopter manger and ICT4 qualified, or had a taskbook for the quals. And it's not like I'm underqualified either - I've been in fire for 8 seasons now, and am fully qualled for the 2009 IFPM requirements for Senior Firefighter spots.

So, if the applicant pool is small, maybe that should tell you something about the reputation the program is building, or the location you're at, or simply how effective your outreaching has been. If it's reputation, well, deal with that as you see fit. If it's the location that is causing the problems (ie cost of living, or just way out in the sticks), think of ways that you can entice people to come work for you, like giving more training to your employees, or working to get better assignments for your crew. Or if it's the outreaching, maybe just find more ways to let people know who you are, and what you offer. It's amazing how many people are unaware of what opportunities exist on the forest next door.

Anyway, that's just a few of the ideas bouncing around in my head. Take them with a grain of salt if you wish, but that's how I'm seeing this from my end.

Young <snip> in Region 1

Young in Region 1: I deleted "and dumb" from of your moniker. You have outgrown it here. We all know how bright and capable you really are. Ab.

3/21 To All of You Nay-sayers to AD/retirees:

You nay-sayers to AD/retirees need to be aware of the fact that right now whole towns
here in South and West Texas are being threatened daily by massive wildfires. Almost all
of the overhead managing these fires (minus the Texas Forest Service, an extension of
Texas A&M University) are retired AD folks who have taken time out of their retired lives
to help protect the people of the Great State of Texas.

Everybody is completely qualified by federal standards. There are hundreds of years of
experience here.

Most of the resources fighting fires for the TFS right now are other-state resources and most
federal resources are listed as unavailable These state resources are from all over the US and
they are also compensated on parity to federal ADs.

You anti-AD folks need to change your attitude and become Americans willing to protect
America! Shut up and get over here!

3/21 Abs

The comments on the Sun Opinion about the funeral procession for Capt. Capt. Vance Tomaselli has
generated some heat. If any one needs to vent there is the place to do it. If I were Mr Johnson, I
might consider changing my name and moving.


Thank you to all for your hard work each season.
Be safe

Good job guys and gals. I do believe I recognize a fair number of you... based on your locations if not your name or moniker... Now that's a firestorm of replies. Ab.

3/21 Dear upset and embedded,

Since I retired two
years ago I am have been contacted repeatedly by TI and T2 ICs asking me if I can make a team commitment.
The one standard I have as a fire management retiree is that I will not make a team commitment.
I don't think it is healthy for ADs to occupy team positions.
I do think it is healthy for regular employees to make team commitments rather than serving themselves on the freelance circuit.
Twice last season I was begged by ICs, who had already accepted the assignment, to fill positions so the team did not have to
stand down
due to the
unavailability of regular
I felt obligated to again put my personal plans on hold, because of an ingrained commitment to serve others instead of self.
have met my commitment
with 37 fire seasons behind me, which included many years assigned to teams and much sacrifice to family.
By the way, I continue to maintain the arduous fitness level, which is so much easier than the standards real firefighters used to meet.

You incorrectly
characterized ADs as not being accountable to Line Officers and
not sharing the same liability as regular employees.
When an individual is hired as an AD employee, they are an employee for the duration of the emergency.
I would suggest that ADs
have more liability because they
can say no when requested and go
fishing without
any liability.
By accepting the assignment they risk losing everything when they do not have to.

I am a firm believer that the primary use of ADs be to
coach/mentor less experienced employees.

Maybe you could benefit from this if your attitude were a bit more mature.
At a minimum, you might learn a little respect for a group of folks
who have accomplished what you obviously can only dream of.
Another great use of ADs is to cover the home unit role of fire managers so the regular employees can take fire assignments and gain valuable experience.


"Upbeat and Free"

3/21 Ab,

We received this message in our Lotus Notes today on the Stanislaus. Another sad day.....



Throughout life's journey, we experience many emotions. We feel at times joy and happiness. Other times we feel pain and sadness.
Over the last couple days we have unfortunately experienced several moments of pain and sadness.
As many of you may or may not know, Ron and Lonna Bollier lost their son Scott (Scotty) Bollier on March 19, 2008.
Scotty was 20 years old and full of life. He was on an engine crew last year on the Stanislaus N.F. and was looking forward to following in his father's footsteps this season, as he was going to be a Hotshot on the Eldorado IHC.
Our most heartfelt condolences go out to Ron, Lonna and the entire Bollier family.
Services pending. We will let you know as soon as possible.
In lieu of flowers the family has requested donations be made to the following:
Teen Challenge
P.O. Box 1011
Bakersfield, California
Payable to Teen Challenge in Honor of Scott Hester Bollier.
If you would like to send cards to Ron and Lonna they can be sent to:
Bollier Family
P.O. Box 343
Glennville, CA 93226

Condolences. Our hearts go out to Ron and his wife and family and all Scotty's friends. Ab.

3/21 Upset and Imbedded <snip>,

Good thing you are not in charge of anything of consequence regarding the use of ADs.

You seem to base your opinion of ADs on the actions of one individual and your opinion of retirees
on the actions of your predecessor who may or may not have been incompetent. How many current
employees are equally incompetent or worse?

As far as Microsoft bringing back retirees how do you know they don’t? Many companies use their
retirees as consultants or contractors because they know the business and have the connections to
make things happen.

The following is straight from Microsoft’s web site.

“Microsoft benefits are generous and personalized, to give our employees the coverage they need to
keep them healthy and happy.”

I don’t think we can say that about the govt’s employee and retirement benefits. If we could there
probably wouldn’t be as many retirees working as ADs, or firefighters retiring as soon as they
reach the minimum age.

As far as expense to an incident goes who costs more? Have you looked at your own cost to
government figures. Your wages + your benefits + employee taxes and overhead like providing you a
vehicle, all your gear and a place to park your a_ _ all winter when your are not out being a
<snip> firefighter. O’yea, add in your overtime and hazard pay that ADs don’t get.

ADs have to pass all the same fitness tests and attend fire refreshers etc just like any other
person who is red carded for a given position.

They answer to a line officer, FMO or dispatch office and they get evaluated just like everyone
else. If ADs screw up on a fire assignment they will be held to the same standard as far as
liability and blame as you would be.

Yea, after an incident they get to go home, why not? Did they not pay their dues when they were
regular employees? Spending months away from home and hearth just like I assume you do.

Get off your high horse and maybe you will learn something from an AD. Many of them have seen a
h*ll of a lot more fire and dealt with more complex situations than you have.



Hotshot75, tsk tsk, you know it's about "the what not the who"... Ab.

3/21 In response to the cynic-

You're exactly right I don't know the facts and probably shouldn't have
bothered with sending a comment in. But, I felt that BLM FMO was on to
something, and obviously was dealing with issues that most of us were
unaware of. As so many times in the wildland agency we stick together and
back each other up. I was just trying to empathize with the BLM FMO, being
an ally. But, I can tell you one thing, like so many important issues that
the federal government is making decisions on, shooting from the hip is a
common practice, and then we wonder why we have so many problems. Some
examples would include: IFPM, Medical Standards, retention, AD rates, etc.

3/21 Retirees as ADs


Once again you take a hot topic and analyze it so eloquently. It wasn’t that long ago when, after you retired from Government fire service, all that was available to you was to drive a crew bus if you still wanted to contribute. I am one of the fortunate ones who landed a job that I love immensely doing some of the same things I did as an FMO. I still provide a needed service during fire suppression operations and my boss, who also retired from the Forest Service, wouldn’t dream of charging the Government for what we do (within reasonable expectations).

I would suggest that retired federal firefighters, who still have a lot of life in them, are not “dodging the coffin” and want to continue to make a difference, get a job that pays what they are looking for in a fire related field. The private sector has a lot of opportunity for experienced retirees. All you have to do is attend any of the national fire management conferences and you’ll see a lot of old familiar faces working in the exhibit hall. I realize that not every corporation has supervisors as generous as mine but there are many out there that will permit their employees to respond to fire emergencies on company time.

Just an example of what worked for me.

Fire Geek
3/21 Failure to Comply with Mandatory USDA Training Requirements May Result in
Not Receiving a Paycheck

What Employees Need to Know?
The Chief Information Office (CIO) sent out an email on March 14 informing employees who have not completed the mandatory USDA Security Awareness and Privacy Basics trainings that they will be denied access to the FS computer
network. This denial of access will begin the week of March 24, 2008. By denying access to the FS computer network, access is also directly cut off to Paycheck 7.

Beginning with Pay Period 6 (March 16 - 29, 2008), HCM will not be processing "manual payments" for affected employees who are denied access to the FS computer network due to failure to comply with mandatory training

What to Do When Access to the FS Network is Restored
Affected employees will need to access Paycheck 7 to submit any missing Time and Attendance (T&A) sheets.

For any questions, please call the ASC-HR Operations Contact Center at: 1-877-372-7248, Press 2

3/21 Can anyone fill us in on what's happening with Dialogos and the FS?
I heard (here?) things might be a bit stagnant??? Is that true?

Wishing we'd hear what is the outcome of the 401 series, OPM and

Anybody know how this stuff impacts BLM and NPS? I'm evaluating
fire job change and maybe agency change. It's what you don't know
you don't know that can jump up and bite you a'ways down the trail.

Thanks for the site Ab and all. Always interesting. Mellie, cool SA
example on the hotlist.

Jodi, BLM

Stay tuned on those Qs. My guess is that the FS transformation is proceeding. Don't know the impact on BLM, NPS if any. DOI might like its current direction and feel no need to redefine or clarify its direction. Some solution has to be reached on the 401 fiasco. Ab.

3/21 Charles Maxon Ross of CalFire, and friend of many has died

Charlie lost his battle with alcoholism last week on March 12, 2008, he was born June 14, 1959 and was 48 years old. He left behind his three sons age 19, 15 and 9. Charlie was well known in the wildland fire community as one of the best Air Attack officers, (ATGS), Helitack Fire Captain, and Dispatcher in the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE). He also worked as an engine and crew Fire Captain. Charlie started his career as a seasonal firefighter and served for 24 years. He worked at Ukiah Station, Riverside County Fire Department, Alder Conservation Camp, Kneeland Helitack, Fortuna Interagency Command Center, Rohnerville Air Attack Base, Fortuna and Klamath Fire Stations.

As much as he loved fighting fire and flying he excelled at training. He conducted countless classes for CDF, local government and Federal (esp. USFS) employees. He enjoyed fire weather and fire behavior and was able to present those complex subjects in a manner understandable to the lay person. He also taught classes relating to ground and air attack, and ICS, throughout the state.

Charlie was an impassioned advocate for the staff in the Humboldt Del Norte Unit. He fought tirelessly for the members as the Rank and File Representative for the Chapter. The positive working environment enjoyed in the Unit today is the result his work ensuring that the simple rules in place were followed.

The devastating disease has left the family with severe financial hardships. A fund has been established for the benefit of his sons. Donations may be sent in care of CALFIRE, Fortuna Interagency Command Center, 118 Fortuna Blvd. Fortuna, CA 95540. If anyone has questions please call me 707-725-1255.

Charlie was my friend and the world is a lesser place without him. I am glad he is at peace.

Dennis Scales, Director
CDF Firefighters, Humboldt-Del Norte Chapter

Condolences. Ab.

3/21 In Response to BLM FMO,

Your sentiments are right on about AD attitudes. The funny thing is there
is more money tied up in these so called retirees mucking up the system
early on in their careers so that we would be forced into the situation of
hiring folks to fill, and sometimes unnecessarily order, ADs for team
positions. I think we should have ADs 2, 3 and 4 and thats it! If you're
retired, bottom of the list. I don't see microsoft calling back its
retirees to fix computer programs...

The reason why I am whiny about this is because I when I was on the Cascade
complex this last summer, I worked for a retired Boise BLM FMO assigned as
a branch chief (who wasn't exactly all there his last five years before he retired).
This guy was running around moving resources out from under DIVS and TFLDs
to accomplish HIS PLAN, which was paralleling fireline before it went into the
Frank Church Wilderness. I grew up in McCall and know the area well, this fella
didn't know were he was (even though he said he did).

I don't think these AD folks have an attachment to the fireline supervisors
anymore. He was a pain in the butt, didn't listen, slandered people and probably
had something to do with the trash truck incident (Broyles covered him). I
really hope this touches someone from that team and questions what
positions they really NEED to fill on large incidents, because a coffin
dodging Branch Chiefs, even under the situation we were under nationally in
August last year, doesn't need to be filled on an area were the fire is
moving away from developments.

What I take out of this experience is:
ADs don't realize the magnitude of making mistakes on the fireline
anymore. We internal gov't folks that don't have a cushion of
retirement in front of us, risk our jobs when we take assignments now.
We don't get to make a mistake, get paid to go through an investigation
and then go golfing for the rest of the winter!

Why come back and tell people how inexperienced they are? You don't
have the leverage to do that, and to put it in terms you understand, the
next time you might get taken behind the woodshed, "like we used to do."
I work for a line officer, who do you work for? There is no reprimand
if you screw up, just go back home and hang out with your wife!
We (gov't FMOs) have to deal with all kinds of issues all year long.
When we get on fires, we manage them because we are mandated to spend
the gov't money (your money) appropriately. Tell me were the cost
savings is when we fill positions with older AD folks (that can't pass
the arduous pack test) just to have all our minimum overhead on the
fireline. Lets look at appropriate actions instead.

What we need is a permanent solution to the intake problem and focused
budgets and money towards that issue. We hide behind the suppression money
we spend on AD's because its available and "we need to throw them a bone."
Its a poor culture and bad business.

Good luck folks! Wish I could go golfing or whine some more, but I have to
go figure out how to get we are going to get our acres for the year to pay
for our employees (Ecologically, of course), because the retiree prior to me
didn't do NEPA and wanted to burn things in 5 acre chunks, great risk

Upset and imbedded

Thanks for your input, Upset and Imbedded. Seems there are several issues here: ADs and the behavior of one AD person on the Cascade Complex. (I understand carbon monoxide inhalation had many -- ADs and non-ADs --not knowing their a*s from a hole in the ground. Maybe your guy was one of the more obvious cases? Sorry for my language Mom.)
Please don't stereotype all ADs with a broad brush. The vast majority of ADs are extremely competent and those who read here clearly understand the impact of legal ramifications of their behavior. Like any group there are bound to be those who really should get out of the business. Hopefully those in charge will recognize their limitations and kindly show them the tent-flap. Ab.

3/21 Much of the discussion about using retirees as ADs seems to boil down to the simplistic concept of "the Law of Supply and Demand": if the Agencies are able to "Supply" the folks they need for Incident assignments, then there is no "Demand" for ADs to fill those positions? Conversely, when agencies run short of their own folks, they turn to other available sources of "Supply", like ADs.

In 2007, I never signed up with my local Dispatch Office to work as an AD, and yet was called 5-6 times to fill Ops and SOFR positions - - there must have been a "Demand" that the Agencies were unable to "Supply", hence the unsolicited phone calls requesting my help.

Will 2008 be any different???


3/21 Fuels Officer -

On my own time today I researched the FS outreach page.

Did you know -
  • There are 125 fire positions advertised for the 0462 series between the 03-08 GS level?
    Most of those positions are at the 05-07 level? (engine ops, assistant captains, shot crew
    squaddies, etc.?)
  • There are 15 fire positions open in the 0462 level at GS09 and above?
  • There are 12 fire positions open in the 0401 series level above a GS-07?
  • Three years ago, I had 72 people on a cert for an engine operator. Last year I had less
    than 18; Demo and Merit combined.

I applaud your forest or grassland for holding onto their people, however you have done it. Unfortunately, most forests do not have the luck you are having.


3/21 BLM FMO

I appreciated your more insightful response.

It would seem you could benefit from looking at things a little more
realistically. You can support ADs just by understanding why they feel so
disrespected. All they (we) would like is to be paid a reasonable rate for
comparable work. What can you do about it? You can listen. You can say it
isn't equal treatment when one person deserves overtime but an AD doesn't.
You can pass those concerns up when it is appropriate. Outside of that,
unless you are serving on some kind of committee tasked to deal with these
kinds of things, you don't have a lot of leverage here. So don't get bent
out of shape with folks who want you to do something you can't do. Most
people understand that. If you take on responsibilities that are not yours,
your career will be ended prematurely by a stroke or a heart attack. All
you can do is all you can do. Generally, that is enough. So don't beat
yourself up, don't develop a negative attitude towards ADs, deal with the
problems you can solve, and, most importantly, enjoy your job with all the
wonderful opportunities that come with it. If you can't do that... find a
job where you can.

During my 33 years with the Forest Service, there were many times I was
asked to "make things happen", to do things that weren't by the book. My
usual response was, "yep! I could do that. But then, eventually, the
Forest Service would fire me and you would have to break in my replacement."

It sounds like you are doing a lot of good things. Keep it up. Help those
you can and refer those you can't help to a higher level. Remember what I
mentioned in my last post. A job is worth what someone is willing to do it
for. If I use my AD pay for a dream vacation or for my grandson's uninsured
medical costs is not my employer's or coworker's business and should have no
bearing on what I'm paid.

Who knows.. we may have already worked on a fire and got along fine. I
hope we meet this season, even if we never know we communicated on They

Hang in there...

Witness Tree

Haw haw on the last comment about theysaid. Isn't that the truth... Ab.

3/21 All,

The smoke has cleared. Where is the "mass exodus" to CDF? We seem to still be in intact.
Earlier posts identified this as the end of "corporate knowledge" for the Green Machine.
Maybe California isn't the end all for the "state of the union" when referring to the U.S.
Forest Service

Fuels Officer
3/21 Mark Davis, NFFE

The OPM issued the revised Job Family Standard for Professional Work in the Natural Resources Management and Biological Sciences Group (large pdf file) (Sept. 05), well after the "draft" version of IFPM and the "supplemental qualification standards" were developed.... and then went through several revisions by the land agencies that OPM never really agreed to (but OPM offered objections). The 0401 series is under that family.

In that document, the following was referenced:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI)
requested the establishment of new occupations for fire program management and recreation
science, respectively. Alternatively, they asked that we establish fire program management and
recreation science as options under the General Natural Resources Management and Biological
Sciences Series, 0401.

In discussions with USDA and DOI, we noted that if employees were placed in fire program
management and recreation science occupations, those employees might have difficulty
qualifying for positions in other 0400 professional occupations
. Both USDA and DOI wanted
the flexibility to move personnel into and out of the fire program and recreation science
activities. Accordingly, they agreed to use the 0401 series for the two activities.

We instruct agencies to use series 0401 when work of a position matches work of the
occupational group, but does not match any occupation in the group. To meet agencies needs,
we have added narrative descriptions of fire program management and recreation science
(which we refer to as recreation management) to the description of the 0400 occupational
group. Agencies that have fire program management and recreation science work that matches
the work of the 0400 occupational group will not find a matching occupation in the group. By
default, agencies may classify the work to series 0401.

The work of the Outdoor Recreation and Planning Series, 0023, resembles closely the work of
recreation management that we describe as applicable to the 0400 group. The "Additional
Occupational Considerations" section of this standard distinguishes between these occupations.

The FWFSA has been following this fiasco since it started. Ask Casey about our "cool" (hostile) meeting with OPM in 2004 as "the standard" was being developed and we expressed our concerns to deaf ears. We were all a little tired after 40 something meetings on the Hill in less than three days....

Ref: OPM Requirements, They Said, Nov. 20, 2006 by Lobotomy

3/21 BLM FMO,

Now you are talking and it does not sound too harsh to me. You were successful in pushing some buttons and getting some responses.

If ADs are calling you wanting something done about the rates I see a few possibilities. Perhaps they see you as someone that has a lot of pull when it comes to the rates, maybe those AD folks look to you as someone who might care based on the way you look out for your regular employees (boy were they wrong, huh), they are knuckleheads for thinking an FMO can do anything about the rates. I have no problem with the ADs being a low priority for you, in fact I kind of wonder why they are even on your radar? I think the tone of your original message is what got some of us going. No harm, no foul.

In a nutshell, if I was still working I imagine I would be doing about the same things you are with an emphasis on taking care of the troops.

Hang in there, but beware the light at the end of the tunnel these days is very likely the train and there is a good chance there is another one right behind it.


A note of caution, shooting from the hip one seldom hits what they thought they were aiming at and are just as likely to hit their own foot. Playing the taxpayer card is quite the hoot!

the cynic

3/20 BLM FMO,

Thanks for the civil reply! Your true colors may be showing through your frustration with the agencies.

To answer your questions, I retired 2.5 years ago after 32.5 years of service, and to set the record straight, I had a fantastic career with the Forest Service that I would not trade or change, except maybe take more time off during fire season when my real kids were on vacation.

I carried professional liability insurance. I too was worried about losing my home and hard earned assets. I counseled the “kids” regarding their liabilities, responsibilities as well as pay and retirement disparities between the land management agencies and local government. I have helped GS-4, 5, 6 & 7’s out monetarily so they could pay to take their children to the doctor and still pay the rent and put food on the table. I still get calls from some of those folks requesting help… so things have not changed. I dealt with line officers who were only concerned with the “problem or issue” of the moment passed down from on high with seemingly no vision into 5, 10 or 30 years out.

I dealt with personnel issues stemming from the “decree” of the month, Consent, Hispanic, etc, etc… All decrees with valid issues but implementation problems. The list goes on… Human resource hiring, inability to promote / detail folks into positions they were performing in, slow to no computer access for stations, no money to rebuild stations, etc, etc, etc… All which affected morale and ultimately safety. I also “robbed peter to pay paul” just to keep things working.

What would I do if I were in my old Battalion Chief job right now? Same as I did then, as you are doing, set priorities, objectives and goals for myself, the folks who worked for me and in issues where I had control or responsibility, the agency.

You have made choices, as I did, to deal with the hand you are dealt. One of my choices was to not work AD. I stated the reasons in my last post. Those are factual, hard reasons. IF the agency wants to do attract more folks into the AD program and keep them available at a lower cost than local government, then my thoughts are that it needs to replace or re-vamp the AD pay system.

I understand where you are coming from that this is not a priority for you, as it would not be for me if I were working today, as one only has a limited amount of time. Some of us see it actually as a way for the Federal Government to reduce cost in the long run. So, we will continue to exercise our right to speak out in this forum as well as any other forum including elected officials, where we feel we can be heard.

Good Luck to you and all the folks still working.


ticity tac the airtack
aka yactak
3/20 T43 & Patrick Henning

On Tuesday I baked a cake and took it to Station 43 for the crew of T43 as a personal thank you for the respect, honor and compassion shown for Patrick and his family. I did not know Patrick or his family but when I mentioned how much it was appreciated and that I knew they didn't have to do it, they replied "Yes we did he was a brother firefighter". The crew did not know Patrick personally but they knew he was a firefighter by his uniform and thus a brother firefighter. One of the men choked up as he was telling me they didn't even have a chance to try and save Patrick. They also attended his viewing and service and spent a lot of time with his family, and his father read the poem "He Served" at the service.


Thanks for once more closing the circle, Annette. I like it that you take action for yourself and for those of us too far away to offer our thanks in person. (Your cakes must be getting pretty famous...) Ab.

3/20 Hotlist thread on the wildfire situation in TX.



3/20 BLM FMO-

You and I wear the same moccasins. Thanks for saying so eloquently what is
in my own heart.

Old Boot
3/20 Ab:

Been enjoying the posts on AD rates, IMTs and such. While the AD are low (look at what ATGSs are paid) I find the "threats" of not being willing to work very funny. The fact is we are fielding less and less fully staffed IMTs and it will continue to decline. From my experience, I applied for three years in a row for IMTs and never even got on the alternate list (was and still am qualified DIVS, ICT3, HEMG, FBAN) so at that point decided free-lancing was the only and ever way to go. Apparently the leadership doesn't care how many IMTs are available, but who is on them. How does that involve the ADs? On more than one team, there have been the same ADs in the same positions for over five years. So the few ADs who threaten to not play just doesn't matter. Do what some ADs have done, go get an engine or a water tender and make twice or more per day than you can with AD rates. As they say "Work smarter, not harder."

Sign me: Better Than Reality TV

With ATGS it's harder to go get your own air attack ride and just play... We also really need our air folks who have huge experience in fire from the air and from the ground. KSAs here are vast. Some may not realize what we stand to loose. You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone... Ab.

3/20 BLM FMO:

The first time I worked as an AD almost 40 years ago the local ranger solicited me and some buddies for our help at a downtown market in the small western town I lived in. His offer was for more money per hour than we had made previously as seasonals. I knew our town was threatened and I was happy to make a few bucks so I signed on....

As has been mentioned, the entire AD thing has turned into something it was entirely not meant to be back in 1951 and it needs to be revamped entirely. The whole thing is a rip off to any of us who are doing it as retirees and I consider myself more as a volunteer while working now than as a paid employee.

If you really think about it the "RETIREE ADs" are also your folks. So as "(you) move forward taking care of (your) folks and trying to provide the best for them that (you) can" you need to realize that you have become a big part of the problem by not supporting better compensation for ADs. The only difference for most of us who are retirees working as ADs is that we can just walk away. Unfortunately, if we do that the system collapses because it is so reliant right now on us.

Your comment "In the past most have admitted to me openly that their fire season money is to pay for vacations and hunting trips" is a boldface insult to all of us. When you have two personal laptops required of your position fried due to fire camp power surges, had your personal air attack kit stolen, and had hit/run damage to your POV in fire camp, all of this uncompensated, you may change your tune. And we are all on our own for liability insurance and lawsuits and if the USFS won't even support its own folks, do you think it will support ADs?

Please, sir, don't even begin to blame retired FMOs for where we are now. We have lost wage parity and EERAs and a whole lot more in only the last few years and most of us retired long before that happened. Evidently we have also lost respect as well. <snip>

Most of the retirees now have very short lists of folks they will work for because of past bad experience with people having attitudes like the one you express. For now the BLM has just fallen off of my list. And, as a reminder, there are a whole bunch of us considering taking a large chunk of the upcoming fire season off. Most of us will be very busy for the next 6 months except during the period 6/15 until 8/1.

Ab: I hate being this way but I really am trying to stay with the issues. I did not start the personal stuff....

Don Coyote

It was clear to me from the BLM guy's post that he was speaking out of frustration with what exists and how that impacts his already stressful life. Sounds like you're replying in kind. From my perspective the main issue is that the AD system is broken. How do you fix the system? Is there any way to fix the system?

One of the things I heard from the R5 Regional Forester in part of his talk on recruitment, retention and work force is that there are ways to hire fire retirees and the FS should do that. I assume he was not talking about hiring them through local California FDs that are using the broken system to inflate their income. If the AD system is not the right one, what would the right one look like, one that would not force people to work through, say, Santa Maria FD or a similar pass-thru entity? One that would be more fiscally responsible for the American taxpayer? Just a couple of thoughts... Ab.

3/20 AD Program:

Thanks Cynic and Ticity Tac. The AD program is in dire need of an overall. So, as you both mentioned, go on to a municipal entity. That costs the government more, but they haven't figured that out yet, obviously. I do this AD stuff because I like the camaraderie of the older generation that has been there and back. On the other hand, I have always believed that one should be compensated for the nature of the business. And that ain't happening. Look at the CA T1 IMTs. Between 17 and 24 of their rosters are filled with local government, portal to portal to portal to portal. What does that equate to??? Dah. Do ya think the AD pool should be compensated for the work they do? Managers, WAKE UP! Get off your horses and look at what's happening to the regulars. They are RETIRING or going to other departments that pay them for the job. The Feds have not figured that out yet and they need the experience pool (ADs, local gov't, etc.) to survive sound incident management! Case closed....

Mike Polovina

3/20 AD Program:

Cynic, Ticity Tac and Witness Tree

Your replies are well taken but you are not standing in the current administrators' shoes, so to speak. I have had at least 15-17 retiree AD folks calling the last two days wanting something done about the AD pay plan. They all, of course, want more money and overtime. They have also threatened not to be available at critical times this summer. So my question to the group is why should I put up with people who make demands? Whose interest are they benefiting? Their own? These same people were past supervisors, who would never have stood for this during their reign, now expect me to work miracles just for them and all of the AD folks out there.

My current and future focus is to hold together an Interagency program that provides sound leadership to the modules I have. We have lost a number of people this year to municipal departments and even Cal Fire in California. All of them had the same reason for leaving.... better pay. OK, I am a reasonable man and can understand that, gods only knows how I ever survived as a GS-4 WAE. I also would be the first to say, go do what you need to to provide for your family. But I draw the line when RETIREE ADs come complaining that they are not being taken care of. In the past most have admitted to me openly that their fire season money is to pay for vacations and hunting trips. So I ask you, who I should put my effort into? My current and future employees or the retired ADs?

I am trying to fix things but my way revolves around building a long term work force and bringing the permanent militia folks back into play. The AD program was there to bolster the ranks when you needed it. It was never a permanent fix, nor was it meant to be. We lost sight of trying to build the programs to where they should be because we were ALL too busy trying to meet the cost containment ideas of people thousands of miles away. The real problem goes back to all the Band-Aid approaches we have used for years. Maybe it is time for IMT ranks to falter due o the amount of ADs in the ranks. The longer we limp it along, the longer it will take management to see the truth. I am on an IMT and can tell you that there are still a modest numbers of ADs. What scares me is the fact that we are still not mentoring enough people into these jobs. We were behind 25 years ago, so why hasn't it changed? I have 30 years in and can honestly say that back then it was mostly centered around the old "Knowledge is Power" philosophy. That very issue from our past is still kicking our butt today!

I realize all of you had your challenges years ago but let me ask you a question. If you were in my shoes right now with people leaving due to low morale, low wages and a management that is still only concerned with the final numbers what would you do? The dynamics of these jobs have changed and the management that is suppose to guide us no longer comes with in depth field experience. How would you function in your last job if you came back today? How many of you carried Professional Liability Insurance? These are just a few things to think about and I welcome your responses. I have pulled so many rabbits out of hats the last two years that I have run out of rabbits and I have come to realization that I, too, have been part of the problem.

So for now, I move forward taking care of my folks and trying to provide the best for them I can. It is pretty sad when you have someone working for you with a small family that dropped their health benefits to pay the bills and put food on the table.

Maybe now you can understand why I am so harsh about all of this!


Well said. Ab.

3/20 I am in agreement with BLM FMO, not happy-don't do it. Like most things in
life, pay is a driving force. As a taxpayer I have a problem with ADs, I
look at it as double dipping. Besides if you retire from the fire service
give yourself a break and leave it behind. I am always tired of hearing the
wining about AD rates. Most of the readers on They Said are not controlling
forces in regards to AD rates. So take your issues and go join an AARP


Oh my, Cowboy, if you really investigated you'd find the AARP is a very powerful force for change. The ADFA could be more powerful than it is. Joining a "club" and collectively empowering it is an excellent way to effect change. Logical and eloquent "whining" here with facts thrown in is also powerful. Carry on. Ab.

for now
NFFE Data Call:
Please respond to nffe@fs.fed.us- by this Friday, March 21

We are working with Congressional staff to address the new OPM regulation
that prohibits use of NWCG, FPM, or USDA Graduate School coursework to meet
the positive education requirements of the GS-401 Fire Management
Specialist position. We need the quick response because there is a
one-time opportunity to air this issue at a hearing that is scheduled to
occur soon.

We may be in a position to help turn this thing around, but we cannot do it
without information from the field. We’ve been asked specifically for your
stories – the impact this is having at the field level. A list of specific
questions follows; however, please add any information you wish to share.
We need first-person accounts as well as data. Also, if you cannot provide
complete info asked for, just provide what you can. A brief chronology is
appended at the end of the message to give you signposts for your

**What is your Region and Forest?

**How many years have you been in fire?

**What are your highest current red card quals?

**Were you placed in a GS-401 Fire Management Specialist position after Feb. 15, 2005?

If yes:
--How were you placed in this position (e.g., new hire, promotion, position converted, reassigned, lateral, etc.)?
--Did you meet the positive education requirements?
--If you didn't meet the positive education requirements:
--How many semester hours did you earn prior to learning of OPM's new rules? How many were NWCG, TFM, USDA Grad, or college?
--Did the agency certify you as qualified after you earned these semester hours? If not, how many semester hours short were you?
--How did your quals status change after the review under the new rules? If short semester hours, how many now?
--Do you know with confidence what courses you need to take to fulfill the new quals requirement?
--How do you plan to meet this new requirement? Is it practically do-able?
--Please describe how this has affected you personally and also effects on your unit.
--Are you or anyone you know about planning to bag the thing?
--Why or why not?
--Anything else you want to add about this situation?

**Have you applied for a GS-401 Fire Management Specialist position since Feb. 15, 2005?

If yes:
--When and where (Region/Forest) did you apply?
--Were you found to meet the education requirement?
--If you didn't meet the positive education requirements:
--What explanation did you receive for this finding?
--Please describe how inability to meet education requirements with in-house coursework will affect your career advancement.
--What effect does this issue have on your plans to stay and advance within the agency?
--Anything else you want to add about this situation?

**Is your Forest having trouble filling GS-401 Fire Management Specialist positions? Are personnel leaving these positions? Provide data if you can.

**Same questions for your Region.

Finally, if you feel like getting on a soapbox, here's a few more:
**Does the GS-401 Fire Management Specialist education requirement have any impact on safety? Does it "professionalize" fire management?

**If you could ask the Chief a question (and you knew OPM would hear about it), what would that question be?

**Anything else? This is your chance to be heard.

We will redact your name and provide your information confidentially unless you indicate we may use your name.

Thanks for your help. We'll do the best we can with the info you provide.

Brief Chronology

August 2005: Incumbent declarations distributed (may have been delayed in some Regions)
March 2007: HCM notifies many employees of quals status (yours could be different)
May 31, 2007: WO letter on OPM rules change
November 29, 2007: New qualification review begun

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

Please copy this post and send it round-robin on the FS Intranet. Ab.

3/19 401 situation in DOI agencies

Can folks from DOI agencies give me a brief run-down of status of 401
there? When did DOI agencies inform their employees about the new OPM
education requirement? I'd also like to hear from anyone who has applied
for a 401 in different agencies and gotten a different finding as to their
education qualification.

Send responses to nffe@fs.fed.us. Thanks.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

3/19 Mark Davis, NFFE

You said, "We are working with Congressional staff to address the new OPM regulation that prohibits use of NWCG, FPM, or USDA Graduate School coursework to meet the positive education requirements of the GS-401 Fire Management Specialist position."

It's not new... It was discussed nearly three years ago when OPM advised the USFS and DOI agencies of changes in legislation that directly affected implementation of the 0401 program.... and as recently as last month it was discussed again... and again. Somebody dropped the ball. I hate to say it, the FOREST SERVICE ignored a "reply due" date..... Seem familiar?

The Forest Service "leadership" chose to ignore the law, and not comment on the interpretation of the law by OPM as they (OPM) published their new rules in the Federal Register.

Hopefully with the partnership of NFFE and the FWFSA working together, the 0401 fiasco will end, and result in a wildland firefighter professional series from GS-2 to GS-15.

The hope is for better pay, benefits, and working conditions for all federal wildland firefighters.

3/19 BLM FMO,

As cynic posted, I would pretty much agree in principle with what you said, although I think your tone was overly harsh, and your rationale for being harsh was weak at best.

I also am a retiree who continues to work on a call when needed basis in the wildland fire and instruction arena. I, unlike cynic, Don Coyote and a host of others, do not and will not be available as an AD. Have not been since I retired.

My reasons have to do with the AD pay plan... not so much the "wage" as with the fact that all hours worked are paid on "straight time" and there is no environmental pay. So we have a wage that is low by comparative standards, coupled with no overtime or hazard pay. I do have a choice, and I chose to sign up with local government, which it seems the Fed has no problem paying, and I now make am compensated commensurate with my operational duties and everyone is happy. Including the agency I signed up with as they are making a percentage in the form "administrative" costs.

Now if the antiquated 1951 AD pay Plan were updated to include overtime over 8 & 40 (FLSA ring a bell?),hazard pay was paid as it is to regular govt employees, and the wage was bumped up just a little to a wage that more closely resembled the wage I retired at, I would have no problem with the AD pay plan or performing as an AD.

Actually kinda glad that the FS and BLM can't get this accomplished as I am much better paid now that I am affiliated with local govt. As a taxpayer though, I am concerned with the business practices of the agencies.

Also as cynic so aptly put it :

"Sorry things are so tough in the agency, I sure am glad when I was an ADFMO (Battalion Chief) there were no challenges to deal with."

ticity tac the airtac
3/19 BLM FMO

Get a grip dude! I'm siding with "the cynic" on this one!
We all know AD hiring authority came into being so the District Ranger could
drive into town and load up anyone who was able onto a flat bed truck to go
fight wild fires. At that time the pay pretty well matched the work. Now,
the whole thing is way out dated. It would be great if it was overhauled so
we could keep well trained people involved in fire longer.

You indicated that retirees had their change to "fix" things... that must
mean you are now having your chance to "fix" things. Good luck and I wish
you well. I'd like to know just what it is you are doing since it is your
turn, as you might put it.

There is one thing that seems to get lost when retirees are discussed. What
difference does it make if the AD is a retiree or not. If you go into an
emergency room with your kid to get him stitched up, do you make sure the
doctor isn't a retired military doctor? Or in some other way receiving a
pension or retirement pay? Cuz' if he was, you would want to deduct his
retirement pay from what you pay him! The job should pay what its worth.
If it pays enough, someone will do it. When it doesn't pay enough it will
be harder and harder to find people to do it. As an AD, I make what a GS-5
with overtime makes on a fire. I have never met a GS-5 that has the
experience, training and skill to do what my quals require. As you
mention, there are other jobs we can do that pay better. If we didn't get
something other than the pay out of the job, many of us quit committing to
Incident Command Teams, training others to do what we have done, and serving
the fire fighting community in any way we can. Just glance down the team
rosters and notice how many are ADs.

BLM FMO, I'm hoping your attitude improves towards those who are helping
hold things together. I'd hate to see others begin thinking the same way.
It is dangerous. When we go to work, pay, benefits, "employment status" all
need to be set aside so we can all focus on the job at hand. You have to
show respect for your coworkers. I'm thinking I'd have a hard time working
next to you, depending on you, or trusting you if you come across on a fire
as you did in your post. So who is the real you?

The Witness Tree

3/19 BLM FMO,

I am a retiree that does some AD work each season, and I would pretty much agree in principle with what you said, although I think your tone was overly harsh, and your rationale for being harsh was weak at best.

I personally do not have a problem with the wages I am paid, like you said it is my choice whether or not I want to work for what is offered.

I will make a couple comments.
I seriously doubt most ADs are working through municipal departments, before one throws out things like "Most" might want to do some fact checking or at least relate to your particular area where that might be the case.
I have been doing this for 8 years in two different regions and I know of no one working through a municipal department, maybe I should look into that deal though, thanks for the tip.

On the pay deal, some AD rates may have gone up a little bit this year.
How much did they go up last year, year before?
How much was your cola last year, year before??
It is just kind of the principle of the deal.

Depending on the situation, if we decide not to take a particular job it can affect a lot more than just us.
Case in point, I stepped in and managed a Type 2 CWN helicopter for several days last year for the local unit.
At the time it would have taken 48 hours plus to get a manager out of the "system"
Was I the only one that benefited from taking that assignment?

To complain about costs of retirees vs cost containment is pretty weak.
If you don't want the resource at that cost then don't take it, it is that simple.
Like a retiree on AD wages is having a huge impact.
What about the type 1 helicopter sitting down at the helibase, what does a load of retardant set you back,
the examples are endless.

Sorry things are so tough in the agency, I sure am glad when I was a DFMO
there were no challenges to deal with.

the cynic
3/19 Nerd on the Fireline-
Well said and well done.

Old Boot
3/19 Nerd,

Well Said!

3/19 For those who have been asking about chat being down, it's back up.

Feel free to visit. Folks might gather this evening between 700 and 1000 pm pacific time. Ab.

3/19 Mark,

You asked if the 401 series was having an impact on safety. I would say yes, and not a positive one. Since creation of the series I have seen many people fast tracked in regards to the acquisition of operational qualifications because they met the educational requirements of a position but not the operational requirements. I think many of us know that the required compliance with the 401 series is a knee jerk reaction meant to create a safer work environment when in fact it is only going to make things worse. Many may disagree but I would suggest getting rid of the 401 series all together.

3/19 re: safety

I've been thinking about this for a while; now it's time to speak up.

In a few months, fire season is going to snort its smoky breath down all of our necks, as it already has in places like Texas and New Mexico. Yes, there should be a series for firefighters, better leadership, better pay,and the grass is always greener in another agency, but we should be asking ourselves right now, what are we doing to make sure every shift is a safe one? What can we do to make sure each of us, and our buddies, make it back to our home units 100 percent safe and sound?

How about your fitness? Are you just gunning to pass your pack test or are you giving it 100 percent to be you personal best (and have that extra push to give when it might be all you have?). Even if you're posting time in fire camp, you need to be able to work long hours under stressful conditions, and don't forget that camp that got burned around last summer.

Are there skill areas you can improve? Never mind if it's not in your task book, the more you know about your own job, and the ones being performed around you, the better and safer you can be, even if it means some self study on your own time.

What about your attitude? To some extent, it doesn't matter what the chief wrote in her last letter or what that other agency is doing if you, or someone elses, ends up in a body bag.

Cohesiveness, though critical within an individual crew, is also important within the parts pulled together for an incident. The we-they stuff (FS vs state, regular employees vs casuals, etc.) has got to stop. If you're thinking it now, it will carry over to how you act on an incident.

Is you gear in top shape or is it lulling in its winter doldrums? Now's a great time to get those new boots and get them broken in, replace that tent that was a pain in the rear all last summer (if you have to supply your own stuff), etc. I'm sure some of you will howl that the agency doesn't have the money to replace what you think your crew needs. Take care of what you CAN control.

I am extremely concerned by the level of sniping and complaint that has been almost non stop all winter. I'm not saying that there aren't real problems (and that we should vigorously use whatever means we have to make change where we can) but the bottom line remains fighting fire aggressively and providing for safety first.

Still out there as an AD

3/19 Last Friday, I went to Jay, Jami, and Jay-jay Wright’s funeral.

I didn’t know them personally, but Jay and Jami were firefighters, and friends of friends. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about firefighters, and what it means to fight fire and to be an emergency responder. The funeral was on a cold, strange day, alternately snowing and sunny. Responders trickled in, lining up along the sidewalks. Looking down the line, I was struck by the variety among us. There were fire boots that had seen a few seasons, boots that had been spit-shined, polished, patent leather and tennis shoes. Uniforms from full Class As to station duty uniforms to Nomex, EMT pants with shears in the pockets, reflective jackets and ‘Shot sweatshirts. I recognized vollies, paid municipal folks, seasonals, ADs, Federal and state folks from many agencies. At a guess, I would say more than twenty different organizations were represented. A firefighter was there from NYFD; I never caught his name, and I wish I had, because I’d like to thank him directly. The BLM national honor guard was there. I didn’t know there was such a thing. I’m glad they were there. Somebody made a joke, “geez, where’s the staging officer?” and a ripple of laughter went down the sidewalk. It started to snow, and people put on jackets, and turned their collars up, but nobody made a move to go inside. There were firefighters from eighteen to eighty in the line, firefighters in wheelchairs, on walkers, on canes, from under five feet tall to well over six. I saw patches from over 200 miles away. I saw a lot of purple ribbons and WFF pins. A lot of pain in a lot of faces.

I read the letter by Mr. Ken Johnson to the San Bernardino Sun, and at first it made me angry, especially just after the funeral. Then it made me sad. How much richer we are to be able to give ourselves to this larger idea, “the public”, and what a tremendous privilege it is to be a firefighter. If we didn’t do our jobs so well, if whole cities burned like Chicago and San Francisco at the turn of the last century, or whole states like during Peshtigo, we might be more appreciated. And if bodies piled up on the side of the highway, EMTs would be more appreciated, but we wouldn’t be doing our job. The fact that people like poor Mr. Ken Johnson take us for granted is actually recognition of our dedication. Honor isn’t a word that gets used much in our society today. The fire service is one place the concept is remembered. It is an honor to serve. It is an honor to remember people like Jami and Jay Wright. It is an honor to belong to this family, to this extended tribe. We hold funerals for the living, not the dead. We shut down roads, line sidewalks, mourn together as a tribe for ourselves, to remind ourselves that we are part of something huge and special. We remind the public that we’re here, and we’re ready, and that we care. Fighting fire is hard, dangerous, frequently unpleasant work, and sometimes the only payback we get is our sense of community. Maybe that’s “official arrogance”. But I didn’t feel official or arrogant last Friday. I felt sad, and I felt proud, and I felt humbled. I felt like a punk kid who stumbled into something much bigger and older more important than I ever imagined, before I started to fight fire.

Nerd on the Fireline

3/19 Followup info someone sent me on the simple honor afforded Patrick Henning after his passing. Our Community thanks to those involved, those who got the flag and did it well and those who took the picture and wrote the message down. If Patrick were my son, it would have eased the pain to have him so acknowledged and remembered, to know he was a part of a much larger group of wildland firefighters that call him "family". Mellie.

He Served (550K doc file -- photo and poem, posted on 3/6)


>From CDF Firefighters:

Subject: Honor and respect

If you have not seen this already, please read the story from Orange County and take a look at the photo in the attachment. It is amazing how simple honor and respect can touch so many people.

From: Durfee, Craig
Sent: Saturday, March 08, 2008 11:07 PM

Many people have asked about the story behind the photo from our call last Saturday on the 241 freeway . Where did the flag come from and how did it get there?

The call came in around 7:20 Saturday morning with C shift going off and A shift coming on. T43 responded with Larry Kurtz, Jeff Weiss, Justin Neville, and Gerry Zeledon with B3, Orange E7 and other OCFA units. Orange E7 arrived on scene first and cancelled everyone except T43. Orange E7 declared the patient doa and left the scene with T43 to extricate the body and wait for the coroner. Because of the length of time it was going to be for the coroner to arrive, B3 called station 43 to have the on coming shift go out to relieve the crew. Larry and his crew wanted to stay and finish the call but because of the time it was going to take for the corner to get there B3 thought it best to have us relieve them. It was at that time that we were informed our patient was an off duty Firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. Before we left, Bruce Brown got our back up flag from station 43 to take with us.

When we got on scene, the off going crew had all the equipment set up for us to use when the coroner arrived. When the coroner arrived I informed her that the victim was a Firefighter and that we would like to remove him and carry him to the van ourselves. Because there was no hurry, we took our time to remove the body and handled him as carefully as possible. Bruce had given his camera to a CHP officer to take pictures of our extrication operation and he was the one who took the picture all of you have seen.

The family had the photo enlarged 2ft. by 3ft. and had it next to Patrick at the viewing Thursday and at the burial Saturday. His family and crew were so grateful for the picture and the way Patrick was cared for while in our care.

His uncle told me the picture was getting a thousand hits a day on Patrick's web site. We had no idea that such a small gesture would have this kind of response.

But as one of our Captain's told me "isn't that the point." Thanks for the kind e mails and phone calls.


Doug Allen, Teacher-Consultant
Running Springs, CA

3/19AD rates:

OK, in plowing through the interim directives, I see these points that are relative to some of our discussions:

As far as changes to previous direction, there's a new limit of 90 days to the length of time an AD may assist after an incident on administrative and follow-up work. (Although the term "normally" is added, perhaps to cover the Biscuit type situation?)

Not sure if this is new, the directive specifies that those who have left federal government can be reinstated with their authorities needed to function as a buying team leader or contracting officer.

Regarding the social security question: "If a casual is receiving Social Security benefits or equivalent, casual earnings may be subject to limitations. Casuals should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) office for further information." It also states, "Federal retirees may be hired under this plan without a reduction in annuity. "

Seems to beef up requirements to ensure no illegal aliens are hired with further specifications regarding social security numbers etc.

Don't remember seeing this before, but it could be important when showing those *&*#% meal breaks that you so rarely get to actually take: "The minimum compensable time allowance for each work period is 2 hours." (i.e. if you have to show a second meal break toward the end of the day, make sure at least two hours show up after that break, or at least that's how it reads to me.)

Seems like there's more FEMA-related entries in the jobs matrix at the end.

Still out there ...

3/19 Question for Mark Rey, Tom Harbour or Chief Kimbell or other "panel experts"

Can you explain your firefighting experience and your actual on the ground experience as either an Engine Boss, Division Supervisor, Incident Commander Type 3, etc...? If you were qualified at any of the fore mentioned positions and further qualified to comment and show your expertise as a subject matter expert, does the 0401 series, the 0462 series, or the 0455 series accurately reflect the complete duties of a wildland firefighter?

This should elicit a response from only Tom... and if he wants to do what is right, he'll answer factually and under oath. Last chance for Tom to stand up and lead with help from below.

/s/ Ken Kempter
Southern California Chapter Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
3/18 Don Coyote,

Explain to me why you should get more than the 2.8 percent when most Federal workers got not that much more this year. If you are retired you choose to be an AD and no one is twisting your arm to do it. Take yourself off of peak season all you want because the only person that is affected is you. You should also know that our system changes slowly and complaining doesn't make it happen any faster.

We are dealing with budget issues and trying to keep our own permanent forces' salaries covered. I'll be the first to say it is great to have ADs but I would rather take care of the people still working. I can think of a lot more jobs that pay more than the AD system and you should be able to as well. Most retirees have signed up with municipal fire departments that pay them portal to portal and rake off a nice admin fee on top of that. Not much I can do about it but it really bites the big one when you are told to control cost. How can we do cost containment when we are paying three times more for that ex-employee than when they worked for us.

If I sound a little harsh, I intend to. Things are tough out there and we are busting our rumps to deal with retention and budget issues and the last thing I want to hear is a retiree complaining. You had your chance to make it better and the rest of us are still trying because we are the ones still being held accountable!

3/18 Don Coyote,

I, too, saw the new AD rates today and they did not surprise me. Considering the employer and the "non-subject matter specialists" that determine the rates, I was not optimistic about any increase. None of the Dispatcher rates moved, with the exception of EDSD, up a bit from $17. The IPO (Initial Public Offering) for Aircraft Dispatcher came out as AD-H. That surprised me. In fact, that is sorry!! It is ever so obvious to me and others that the brain surgeons that developed these rates haven't a clue. They are out in the pasture somewhere, LOST. Move on, do the best you can, or sign up with a local entity (County, City, etc.). The system never ceases to amaze me!!!!

Mike Polovina
3/18 OK so we ADs get a whopping 2.8% raise and there is still not even lip service to issues of EERAs, liability, taxes, training/trainees, rehired annuitant status (yes, I am a retiree), etc.

I am going to exercise my right to not work at all from 6/15 until 8/1. This is prime time for the Southwest Area, the Southern Great Basin, and the Rocky Mountain Area. If enough ADs take some or all of this time off maybe the USFS will get the message that they just have to do better than 2.8% and total silence on everything else.

The first thing to collapse will be the dispatch system.........

Don Coyote

1. Rates Paid Per Hour for Work Performed at Classification Levels AD-A through



Pay Rates (Per Hour)


48 Contiguous States























































*These pay rates will remain frozen until the calculation formula aligns with the annual cost of living adjustments (COLA).

3/18 Quick insert here: I just got an Interim Directive for the Forest Service Handbook, Ch 10 Personnel -- no time to read to see if there's relevance to rates for ADs... Thanks to all who are sending it in. Ab.
3/18 Link to new AD rates:



Would someone who has access to the internal fsweb please copy and paste those to Ab in an email? Thanks. Ab.

3/18 FC180,

The footage is from the Narrows Fire (also called the TP Fire) that burned 18,000 acres from Azuza to Wrightwood, CA.
I worked with the National Geographic crews who came out from Boise to film.
They had six cameras in the air at one time and their own Pilatus Porter with ex-Air Attack pilot who was cleared to fly formation with the tankers.
The final product also appeared in a wide screen film about Wild Fire.


3/18 Have you voted for USFS Wildland Firefighter Jeff Vance today? www.amw.com/allstar/2008/nominee

Regardless of page, Type "Jeff Vance" in the SEARCH box, click search, find him, then under Jeff's picture, click VOTE >>.

That's all it takes. We each can vote once a day. Let your friends know. We can get one of our own wildland firefighters elected as an America's Most Wanted ALL STAR finalist. Ab.

3/18 Just a quick thank you to you folks who have gotten me pics!
Quick response! Thank you so much!


3/18 re: AD rates:

In previous years, they've put this into the legal mumbo jumbo about AD rates:

"In the event there is an emergency in progress on the effective date of this pay
plan, the emergency workers (casuals) on that emergency shall be paid under the
provisions of the AD pay plan in effect at the start of the emergency."

The same is likely true this year. I've been looking for the new rates, but haven't seen a word.

Still Out There as an AD

3/18 Friends,

Rumor here in fire camp in Texas is that there is a new AD Pay Plan effective today
and that ADs currently employed are not covered under it for the duration of the
incident. Anybody have a source of information on this?

3/18 Applying for Jobs:

After my recent experience with AVUE, some software problems were found. I am a WG employee applying for GS jobs. One of the many problems with AVUE is that it cannot rate WGs applying for GS positions. ASC has come up with a solution. Any WG that submits an App for GS positions must email the hiring official, explain the problem, and ask that person to request the application because I won't show up on the cert. The one unit to do this so far, was accused of pre-selection.

I am curious to know how many WGs out there have been applying for GS positions and how many haven't made the cert even though they are qualified. (Abs, feel free to pass out my email to those who are suffering from the same issues)

Also, is there any way to force ASC and AVUE to correct this issue?


[WG is a wage grade employee. Heavy equipment operators are typically in the wage grade schedule. The Department of Defense handles all of the policies, locality pay, and pay increases in regards to these positions.]

3/18 Hey Casey,

I'm working on the 401 issue right now also. We floated it week before
last when we were on the Hill and got some interest. It's a steep learning
curve for me, but I'm getting there. That's why I'm up so late -- pulled
tons of documentation out of the database and wanted to get some stuff down
on paper before it faded from memory. I was gonna slap up a post seeking
info and call you tomorrow or the next day, after I had my head wrapped
around it better. But now that the train's left the station, let me jump
in and ask folks that send info to you to copy me as well. We've just set
up the inbox at nffe@fs.fed.us for this (so my limited employee inbox
doesn't explode). I may have a few more questions to tack on for folks in
a day or so. This one is so butt-stupid that it's hard for me to believe
we won't be able to make some progress on it, if we can just collect enough
truth and deliver it to our contacts on both sides of the aisle.

Funny how representational demarcation aside, the work I've ended up
working on lately is good for both sides of the labor-management divide.
Competitive sourcing, PLI, now the 401 issue. Does your 401s good, does
our 462s looking to climb the ladder good too. And good public policy --
keeping folks with the right stuff out there instead of shipping 'em off to
study manure management or something -- is good for everybody.

Give a call tomorrow and let's talk about a united front -- but not too

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
3/18 Some great footage of some older tankers on the Curve or Williams fire in 2002? from National Geographic



3/17 Brown Recluse Spider and other Recluse Spiders common to the socal deserts, etc.

Compliments of one kind'a twisted member of Elk Mountain HC. Add these to your slideshows of risky creature injuries... (My old AZ auntie g leg and it left a big divot.) Ab.

This is pretty graphic... If you only look at one picture, be sure you take a look at the last one, so that you will know what the spider looks like. With train travel, these may be found outside their home ranges.

It's almost springtime & cleanup is going on. Be careful where you put your hands. They like dark spaces & woodpiles. Also areas in the closed up barracks, attics, etc. Recluse spiders like the darkness and tend to live in storage sheds or attics or other areas that are not frequented by people or light. If you have a need to be in your attic or some other place that's been closed up, dark and dry, go in and turn on a light and leave it on for about 30 minutes before you go in to work.

This guy was bitten by a Brown Recluse spider, but other kinds of recluse spider bites can have the same results:

  • Day 3 The following illustrates the progression of a brown recluse spider bite. The affected skin actually dies on his body!
  • Day 5 Some of the pictures towards the end are pretty nasty, but take a look at the last one - it is a picture of the spider itself.
  • Day 6 The Brown Recluse Spider is the most dangerous spider that we have in the USA
  • Day 9 A person can die from its bite. We all should know what the spider looks like
  • Day 10 (end of the gross pics)

The Dangerous Brown Recluse Spider -- what it looks like -- (spider picture only)
Please be careful. Spider bites are dangerous and can have permanent and highly negative consequences.

Where recluse spiders live, their ranges: brownreclusespider.com/info.php#live
American recluse spiders
more on recluse spiders ranges from UC Davis.

3/17 As most of you already know, my brother Jerry, on Wed. March 12, took his own life.
My family and I want to thank you all for your thoughts and prayers during this very
difficult time.

Services for Jerry Arellano will take place at

Rose Hills Memorial Park
3888 Workman Mill Rd
Whittier, Ca 90660

Wed. March 19th 3:00 pm at the Hillside Chapel
For those wishing to, a viewing will be available at the
Rose Hills mortuary viewing area between 10:00 am
and 2:00 pm, just before the service.

Again let me thank you all for everything,

With love,


Additional comment from Arnold:

For folks who can't make Jerry's funeral, you can send thoughts, prayers and a card to his family at
1559 Nevin Ave., Ventura Ca. 93004

My earlier post didn't do Jerry Arellano justice in trying to describe his spirit and attitude. He dearly loved his daughter and family. For those who knew him or simply consider him a part of the fire family and community, it would probably make a world of difference if you have the time to send off a little well wish to his family. God Bless.

Richard, so sorry for your loss. Arnold, we feel your pain for loss of your friend and for his family. It is a difficult time. Do you have a photo to share of Jerry? Ab.

3/17 Readers, for those who haven't heard, Dave Edgar, Safety Officer on the BDF was critically injured in a car accident the end of last week or last weekend. I got a personal email and didn't post it. Here's the update from Valerie. Please let's keep him in our thoughts and prayers. If you're nearby his hospital, please visit. I'll be hoping for the best outcome for Dave. Ab.

Update on Dave Edgar, SBNF Forest Safety Officer

Many forest folks have visited with Dave and his family today at Arrowhead
Regional where he remains in critical condition and on ventilation. He
will continue to be monitored for the next 7-10 days to allow for swelling
to go down and pressure to be relieved on his head injuries.

Visitation is encouraged and now available 24 hours with two visitors at a
time allowed in his room. Doctors and family are encouraging folks to
visit and especially to speak to Dave. During daytime hours visitors can
enter through the main entrance, but after 8pm, visitors should enter
through the ER entrance and mention you are there to visit Dave Edgar in
room 2310. Let the guard know that Dave can have visitors at any time.
Please remember that Dave is in ICU and visitors should be in good health
to visit. No flowers, food or drink are allowed on the 2nd floor.

Cards for Dave and his family can be mailed to the hospital at:

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center
ATTN: Dave Edgar, Room 2310
400 N. Pepper
Colton, CA 92324

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Dave Edgar's name at:

WF Foundation
FOR: David Edgar
2049 Airport Way
Boise, ID 83705

For more information on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, visit:

Forest contacts are Steve Seltzner at 909-573-5217, Betty Ashe at
909-754-1428, or Ken Harp at 909-382-2698.

Please continue to keep Dave and his family in your thoughts and prayers,
as he needs them more than anything now. We will send updates as we
receive them.

3/17 A copy of the new Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook
(IIBMH) is now posted on the web. Please visit the website below for a

3/17 Dear Forest Tech:

First...join the FWFSA...Not a union.


Call Dan Duefrene, NFFE (National Federation of Federal Employees) Regional VP and Local 1771 President off the Shasta-Trinity at 530-226-2440. He should be able to explain what the CNF needs to do.

The Union represents firefighters under rights & responsibilities pursuant to Title 5 of the United States Code. The bargaining unit members consist of those in grades below captain (for wildland firefighters). The FWFSA represents all wildland firefighters in all grades in a legislative/political capacity.

Both NFFE and the FWFSA work closely together on a number of issues on behalf of the Nation's federal wildland firefighters so for those in the ranks below captain, being a member of both is the best of both worlds.


As a result of the efforts of NFFE and the FWFSA, the Senate is planning on taking a SERIOUS look at the classification/401 mess.

That being said the FWFSA is soliciting the following:

1) We want to hear from any FMO who has or is deciding to "pull the plug" because of the qualifications issues between the FS & OPM as it relates to the 401.

2) Data on how many red carded fire personnel will be at risk because of the new OPM requirements

3) 3-4 questions that can be asked by the Senate on this subject to either Mark Rey, Tom Harbour or Chief Kimbell.

Hearings on this matter may be a reality by next month so time is of the essence in putting this information together. Please email me on any of the 3 items referenced above at cjudd @fwfsa.org or you may contact me by phone at 208-775-4577.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/17 Forest Tech,

NFFE's page on this, such as it is, is at
www.nffe-fsc.org/WebPages/HowToJoin.phpl. The Recruitment Chair
link gives a very brief description of the process. You can also contact
your Region's VP for more info -- there's a link with that contact info.
You can also send an email to nffe @fs.fed.us and I can run down a contact
for you.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
3/17 I'm currently a "forestry tech." from the CNF.

I was wondering what the process is on getting a union implemented on our
forest. ie. who do I/we contact? Any and all help would be appreciated, thanks.

forest tech.

3/17 Hello!

I am doing a powerpoint presentation that involves methods of burning machine piles. I was collecting data instead of taking pictures during the actual pile burning.
Now I am in need of any photos of USFS personnel (in proper PPE) using drip torches to light machine piles. What's more, I need these pictures as soon as possible!

Please let me know if you have any you are willing to share and I will send you my email.


It would be very helpful if one or more of you folks that document pile burning with photos could help out here. Drip torch and proper PPE are preferred. Thanks. Ab.

3/17 Hello Friends!

APRIL 5th: Come hear three great bands at a benefit concert for the
Arts Collective at 3638 Osage Street, Garden City, Idaho.

Things get underway at 7 pm and end at Midnight. Tickets are only $10
advance and $12 at the door. Enjoy beer, wine, dancing, and bid on silent
auction items and enter to win a door prize.

Tickets are available at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, 2049 Airport
Way, Boise.

Please support this excellent volunteer effort by getting tickets, and the
word out, about this concert!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Readers, here's the flyer for that: concert-flyer.doc (1823K doc file). Send it to friends. Print and post it in prominent places. Anyone have access to the university campus? Campus radio station? Great place to drum up business for a great concert!

If you're too far from Boise to attend, hop on over to the WFF website and make your donation to the 52 Club. This organization is our community's safety net when our wildland firefighters are injured or killed. Last year the WFF helped something like 35 injured firefighters. We need a bunch of small contributions as well as the large fundraising efforts to maintain this kind of "Firefighter Safety Net". Thanks NWSA for the great effort made by the private sector. Ab.

3/17 2008 Midwest Wildfire Training Academy Courses. June 3-8th, in Jefferson City, Missouri. In conjunction with the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute Summer Fire School.

The Big Rivers Forest Fire Management Compact is a partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa Departments of Natural Resources, and the USDA Forest Service’s Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry.


Still alive and kick’n


Good to hear from you Greg. Ab.

3/17 Joatman-
I couldn't agree with you more. The number of applicants in itself is just wrong. Imagine if they were handing out those FF2 and FAE positions to Feds like they do with the Camp FC jobs? Then we'd really be done in. I can not express how short we are on our new career employees. Of the 4 new apprentices on my side of the district 3 are testing with other departments and are just using the Forest Service as an all to infamous "stepping stone to something better".

From now till May is another critical mile marker. Cal Fire is starting to conduct their interviews for seasonal positions. This is another crucial deadline for making a decision that a lot of bright young Forest Service firefighters will be making. It is unfortunate that the WO staff will let this time pass with no sweat off their back. They must understand that a young firefighters' anxiety with its agency can be put to ease if you just give a little. Just give a little support to your FIRE employees. Obviously it's harder said then done. Lots of things being said..... nothing really being done.

Green to Blue=Happy
I wish the best for you. It's a shame to loose those quals. Interviews are out. I may do as you did and accept that seasonal spot just to get in the system. Not because I don't love what we do or with the people we do it with, but for my future and the future of my family.

3/17 Hiring Permanents in the FS

Does anyone know what is going on with PSE and PFT
hiring in the Forest Service right now?

It is my understanding that there is no way for
employers to get referral lists right now. I've heard
that the issue may not be resolved until May or June.
By that time many resources; engines, IA crews and
IHCs, etc will not be able to meet their
requirements and thus unavailable for dispatch.

Is this another ASC-HCM issue, an AVUE issue or some
other acronym? FUBAR is what it feels like or perhaps

Seriously though, does anyone know what is happening?


3/17 Jeff is now on page 6, I think votes push them up on pages.. (gotta love multiple email addresses)
If you don't see him just type jeff or vance in search.



Good idea on the search suggestion. Now he's on page 2, link above. This community is pushing him forward.
Readers, go on with that voting. Let's keep him up there near the front. Ab.

3/17 In response to 3/12 - America's Most Wanted All Stars

Hey Jeff! Way to go! Hope all vote for you...here's the link to vote for an great guy who deserves to win.


You can vote for Jeff one time every day.


Ab note: the page Jeff is on changes. If you scroll along pages, you can find him. Let's get one of our own chosen! Just click on the "vote" under his picture and name. (Can anyone who's been following this tell me if the semi-finalist for that week has already been chosen? or do they have a list of nominees and once a week choose the one that gets the greatest number of votes?) Ab.

3/17 Casey,

I appreciate the humility of your response. You are however the most visible member of the FWFSA
staff and therefore someone who gets to be on the receiving end of our good natured barbs. I really
don't want to offend with my frustrations and poor attempts at wit.

I had the pleasure to meet you personally last spring in Portland, Oregon at the Safety Conference
we talked at some length. I was the one asking the WO guys the hard questions about portal -2 -
portal, position classifications, pay issues and retirement calculations that they chose to answer
with double speak, arrogance and aplomb.

I absolutely support financially, verbally and prayerfully the FWFSA and all your efforts to make
the lives of firefighters better. An believe in fighting the fight.

I also believe that the wheels of government grind slow and exceedingly fine, which can be a good
thing when they are in the process of doing the people harm but bad when we want some positive

I retired after 34 seasons, 26.5 years of service with the FS without becoming too bitter to still
go and help out as an AD when the need strikes. So I do have some sense of the way things work, at
least in the Forest Service. I understand the frustrations and celebrate the victories however
large or small they may be.

Like you said there is a lot of stuff going on in DC, trashing the dollar and crushing the economy
takes a lot of hard work, as does making sure that the inflation index is manipulated to exclude
food and energy so even though it feels like your going broke you can’t quite figure why. Fighting
fire is expensive on its face so the politicians will give it some small attention, but it is
nothing compared to a couple of wars that are costing 12 billion a month and the need to check
everyone’s emails and cell phone calls to keep us “safe”.

We might want to remember what things looked like in the 1930’s and get ready for the new “New
Deal” and the possibility of running another CCC program. Then there will be some real personnel
issues to deal with.

But now I am rambling so I will close with one last thought.

Promises are only as good as the people or organizations the make them.

3/17 My friend...

Jerry Arellano Funeral Arrangements

There will be a viewing for Jerry on Wednesday, March 19th between 10:00 am and 1:00 p.m. at Rose Hills Mortuary, Whittier Cal. The funeral service will take place at the same location the same day at 3:00 p.m.

For those who didn’t know Jerry, he was full of life all the time. He was a good friend and coworker and always had our backs. He was very proud to wear the Dalton Hotshot shirt and he earned it. He was also proud to represent his colors when he jumped out of Redding. He will be missed dearly; let's try to keep him in our prayers. If you have any questions you can call Arnold Ramirez @ 626-512-4547. Thanks.

Thanks Arnold, we will keep Jerry and all friends and family in our thoughts and prayers. Ab.

3/16 Green to Blue=Happy,

I agree that there won't be very many...there will be some however, and R-5 doesn't really have enough room to lose any. A few here...a few there...it's been happening for a couple of years already. A few more at this point in the game is major. Quite a few ranger districts can't afford to lose one more.

The main point that I was trying to express though, isn't whether or not anybody from the Feds gets hired as an FAE or FF2, its the fact that so many have applied in the first place. That speaks volumes about the situation. If it's not CAL-FIRE now, it'll be something else soon....or a seasonal application next year like you decided to do.

So, if the majority of our folks want to leave, and there is a woeful lack of quality employees looking to join, then how long can we last? Any guesses?

Maybe someone can answer this for me, I've been curious...When forests report their vacancies and somewhere a nifty pie-chart is crafted by a GS-BS'er using fat Crayola Crayons that shows a percentage of vacancies region-wide, does it take into account modules that have been disbanded due to the inability to find a qualified leader to run it? Or, does a disbanded module count as just that....nothing, therefore no vacancies to report to the Crayola monkey?


P.S.- You are a prime example of the federal retention failure Green to Blue....Strike Team Leader to seasonal..?!?...Sheesh....
3/16 Just wanted to write in to say, congratulations to Doug Aversano (Supt.1) who will be
retiring in 2 weeks. Had a great time in Pozo yesterday at Doug's get together, was
great to see some old friends. The Forest Service and the LP are losing a quality Firefighter
and a man that has inspired and fought for his employees through out the years.

Doug, good luck in your new adventure with Cal-Poly and it was an honor and a privilege
to work with and to know you.

New 2 Blue
3/16 The Wildfire Entrapment Zone (WEZ) is available for viewing by HOTLIST members. Ab.
3/16 Joatmon,

To be honest with you I really don't feel there will be many feds getting offered positions with CALFIRE for FF2 and FAE. I was with the feds for a long time and have been on the last 3 supplementals and I couldn't get any better than rank 10 (82%) for both positions, I have my degree, Academy, EMT and completed both the basic and advance academy for the feds plus strike team leader, S-390 etc and still was in rank 10. So I made the move to go to CALFIRE as a seasonal, got 8 months of state time and waiting to see my results.

P.S To all my friends on the green team.......... I hope you guys will rate out better than I did when I didn't have state time and if you decide to stay all I can say is good luck!!


Green to Blue = Happy
3/16 Northnight and FWFSA FF,

It is also my understanding that CAL-FIRE is hoping to fill as many FAE and FF2 positions from within its own ranks. There will be undoubtedly however, some Fed folks that will make it through the process.

The point of concern ( in my opinion...) isn't necessarily how many Feds are offered positions this round, but the staggering amount of Fed applicants overall.

In the days prior to the Supplemental Application deadline, the engine and crew offices on many districts and multiple forests had zero federal work being performed and copy machines were running in over-drive. That's a HUGE statement to me.

Also, when the CAL-FIRE FF1 positions are filled this year, we will watch some of our GS-6 ( a dying...almost dead breed...) people take an entry-level position. Some of the experience levels and qualifications of our Squadleaders are astounding. Many have been detailing as Hotshot and Helitack Captains for the last few years due to personnel shortages. CAL-FIRE will score huge....my hats off to them.

As for GS-5, 4, and 3's?...the 5's are already as slim as the 6's and some will be offered CAL-FIRE FF1 positions as well....and accept them. Again, another huge loss. Fed temps in R-5 have mostly been offered jobs for the 2008 season, but once the State makes their seasonal job offers, I'd be willing to bet we'll lose a few more employees right at the start of things.

Any current employee who has applied for a job outside of R-5 or with another agency that doesn't receive an offer now, will keep trying until successful.

Wouldn't you?

3/16 Dear Hotshot 75

I actually started this post last night but got rambling (no surprise there) and thought I'd try again today. I guess I want to reiterate that while I appreciate your referral to me, I am not the FWFSA. I just get to have the best job in the world advocating on behalf of our members and all federal wildland firefighters.

The "help" you referred to is the voice of our firefighters. All I do is harness that diverse voice and focus it in what I hope is the right direction. Of course along with that comes a great deal of educating and politicking these days.

I inferred one promise when I entered the federal system in 1981... the idea I had a job for life. Of course that was before BRAC, the Base Closure & Realignment Commission became someone's brainchild.

If everyone in the fire business was to subscribe to what we were handed decades ago by the "leadership" we'd still be using steam engines pulled by horses; hydrants would be underground; there would be no SCBA, etc.

Fire agencies have been influenced by a number of factors over the years, whether they be economic, social or political that have led such fire organizations to PROgress with the times whether that meant fiscal issues like pay & benefits or equipment, safety protocols etc. On the other hand the land management agencies, with respect to their fire programs, have not progressed and have either remained stagnant or now, in some cases look to REgress.

he obvious difference is that progressive fire agencies are managed by those with fire experience & expertise and run like a fire department. With the land management agencies, the programs are managed as they were decades ago, by non-fire ologists who fail to have the experience & expertise necessary to embrace the necessary progress to stay abreast with the complexities of wildland firefighting. This leads to fiscal inefficiency and policies that lead to a weakening of the infrastructure of our federal wildland firefighting forces.

The "promises" I believe Lobotomy is referring to are issues that have been on the minds of firefighters for decades... since the time he came into the system whether it be classification, portal to portal etc. Perhaps what he is saying is he has done his part to progress in this dangerous business but the Agency has simply refused to make any progress when it comes to taking care of its firefighters.

The "voice" I referred to is being heard loud & clear. It can no longer be ignored by the Agencies because while the Agencies have ignored our pleas and efforts to help, Congress has begun to understand the debacle and recognize that the diverse voice of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters is credible and needs not only to be heard and recognized but dealt with, whether or not that includes Agency support.

Right now there is an awful lot of stuff happening in DC, so it is important for us to ensure whatever actions Congress takes are the ones supported by our firefighters. That is no easy task and it remains incumbent upon all of our firefighters to remain focused & determined so that we can achieve positive changes.

Casey Judd
Business Manager


There is a scammer that's picking up on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and soliciting donations. It has a name very much like the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Its rep has called our most recently bereaved fire family requesting money FROM THE GRIEVING FAMILY after which they say they will send the family money. Often, the only reason the family listens is because they think they're talking to our well known, supportive nonprofit Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Luckily, so far as we know, no one has fallen for their request for money.

Some members of our wildland fire community are conducting an extensive online and offline investigation of that association and info is being passed on to appropriate authorities. As I recall, we started getting questions about this association when it popped out of nowhere following the Esperanza tragedy. (Often individuals and communities with questions about the WFF and other charities that benefit wildland firefighters contact us and we direct them to others who can verify the organization's legitimacy and whether it is non-profit 401(c)3.

Please, community, if you have any questions regarding dubious claims or requests, please email us and we'll forward them to those who are investigating. Beware of myspace, and other online groups or "communities" where people can create an anonymous front, complete with photos, and appear to be legitimate federal, state or private wildland firefighters. (Melissa at the WFF recently created a myspace page to accommodate those who wanted that. The page itself is legit; don't know about anyone or any org on the WFF community list there.)

As Lobotomy said several weeks ago, to separate the good charities from the bad, reference this for guidelines:

> From the California Office of the Attorney General

also on the Oregon DOJ website, there's a utility for searching the US Charitable giving database:

Our Wildland Firefighter Foundation is listed there as a legit 401(c)3 nonprofit. The scammer that has "Wildland Firefighters" in its name is not.

One thing that we adhere to in our family is that we give no donations over the phone or via some online chat. We research, we plan and we donate. It's the safe way to go. The Wildland Firefighter is safe and donations to it are tax deductible.

Wildlandfire.com is here to network for the good. We abhor internet scammers. They fall in the same category as those who rip off homes of our grieving families during services honoring our fallen. Please, send us any complaints or information of suspected wrong-doing and we'll pass it on behind the scenes.


3/16 Hog-

L-380 is provided to all advanced academy JACs at Sacramento. I agree it is a great class for providing the new FFT1 and CRWB good leadership training.


From what I'm told from Cal Fire friends they still believe the FF2 and FAE spots will still be hired in house for the majority of the state. But, I guess we don't really know for sure until the hiring happens. I believe it will still be in house and the only reason we are losing so many of our excellent Captains to Cal Fire's Camp FC jobs is due to the fact not a lot of Cal fire employees want those jobs. Sorry that's just what I observe.

Along with that, a recent Cal Fire 67 hour basic wildland fire academy was held. Of the 36 students in the class 15 of them were current USFS or BLM employees ranging in grade from GS-4 to GS-6. If you were wondering why we are in such shortage of middle management and up incoming firefighters that's your reason.....wake up WO Staff!

3/15 Don's request for contact info has been provided and forwarded, although I haven't heard back from him. Thanks contributors, Ab.
3/15 Hi Ab,

Here is the Red Team Logo for the logo page.
Also the Orange Team Logo, that is the Southern area Type 2 team logo.

Thanks, Mark

Good enough, Mark. I put them on the Logos 14 photo page. Ab.

3/15 Sting,

For whomever else is interested:

Cal fire just released the FF2/FAE paramedic list yesterday. HR is stirring heavily. Next week
is the 2nd month after supplementals were due. Rumor I've been hearing up north and a buddy
has been also hearing down South is the list for FAE/FF2 non-medic will be out next week. So
how is the FS gonna deal with this? There is obviously going to be more people on this list from
the Fed than the Captains list. The non-medic FAE/FF2 list is going to be the proverbial second
flush of the toilet.

3/15 Hello all,

Just returned from attending L-380 put on by MCS this last week and walked out of the
class on friday extremely satisfied. Although right now the class members are mainly
crwb/engb, I really felt it would be great class for fft1/senior firefighter. It was one of the
best if not the best fire class I've ever taken and worth every minute and cent. If you're a
afmo/fmo/ and looking to beef up your gs-5/gs-6 level, get your folks into this one; it's
a real motivator.


Ditto on that eval. Ab.

3/15 Lobotomy, this will be my last post on this thread until the subject comes up again which is about
every month or so.

I don't remember hearing any promises related to pay or anything else when I was a young lad in
fire except the promise that I would get my butt kicked out the door if I did not keep up with the
rest of the crew.

I guess those were the kind of promises that could be kept in those days. Everyone knew that we
were not going to get paid as much as some but would have more fun than most so I guess we figured
it was worth it.

I would love to see you get the promises that were made or inferred to you but somehow that doesn't
seem likely with or without Casey's help. But we would not be human if we did not have hope that
we could make things better, if not for us then for those who follow.

Hang in there and fight the good fight.

3/14 Consolidated dispatch NOIDC and PICC:


FMOs - This email announced our consolidated dispatch please share with
your staff as appropriate -

To: All employees, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests

Last week, a decision was made by Deputy Regional Forester Liz Agpaoa to
consolidate the Pendleton Interagency Communication Center and Northeast
Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center into a combined Interagency dispatch
center located in La Grande, Oregon. This decision follows the
recommendations of a study we conducted locally on the feasibility of
combining the two centers, and is intended to result in more efficient
Dispatch operations, more effective sharing and use of firefighting
resources, and ultimately a greater share of the limited fire preparedness
dollars to the ground.

We have a goal of having the two organizations merged into one, and located
into one facility, by field season 2010. However, there is a lot of work
to be done before this can happen. We will need to develop an operational
plan, oversight committee, and organization, along with reporting
relationships. This work will include the cooperating agencies every step
of the way.

This was not an easy decision to reach. There will be effects on employees
as their duty stations and/or jobs change, and we do not take these changes
lightly. However, we believe that this change is responsible and
forward-looking, and will result in better, more effective, and safe fire
operations in Northeastern Oregon and Southeastern Washington.

Our state partners - Northeast Oregon District for Oregon Department of
Forestry and the Southeast Region of Washington Department of Natural
Resources will accommodate this decision made by the Regional Office and
will remain as partners in our Interagency dispatch organization.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

William Aney,
Fire and Aviation Staff Officer
Umatilla National Forest Wallowa-Whitman NF
2517 S.W. Hailey Avenue
Pendleton Oregon 97801

Matthew Reidy,
Aviation and Fire Staff
1550 Dewey Ave.
Baker City, OR 97814

3/14 Sting,

That was excellent! Thanks for the memories.....Times do change. It is unfortunate
that the outfit has made it extremely difficult for dedicated and balanced employees
to navigate a course toward accomplishment and success.

3/14 Remembering when:

... I drove 100 miles to the FS Supervisors office and filled out my first application sitting in the lobby
... I got the call from the district clerk offering me a job 2 weeks later at a station I had never even heard of and answering " yes " before she even finished
... after 4 seasons, I was encouraged to apply for the roster because " I had proven myself "
... my AFMO said : " I watched you on that fire and you're ready to be a crewboss"
... every November, hand writing letters to recreation, engineering and anyone else begging for winter work
... my district ranger walked the fireline, talking to the troops, wearing a shiny metal hardhat and yellow nomex cruiser vest
... I received my first uniform, badge, nameplate and how proud I was to wear it
... hearing that Jack Ward Thomas cried when he was told about South Canyon deaths
... I was mad because we were sent home after 31 days on fires because we needed R&R, I was enjoying the adventure and really needed the money

Looking at now:
... navigating an electronic application process designed by a nerd in some software company in Ohio
... hiring is done 300 miles and soon will be done 900 miles away
... social engineers hijack hiring for diversity instead of quality
... watching a competent Op's chief get his quals taken away because he cant a find a certificate for S-230
... every november, watching the seasonals scatter to South America while collecting unemployment checks equal to a base salary
... my district ranger threatening to "stand down" fire crews in August because the latest spreadsheet shows numerous incompletions of aglearn training
... feeling somewhat ashamed to wear a uniform I was initially very proud of
... Listening to Mark Rey speak at the Esperanza memorial and noticing his "I was told to be here" body language
... I was mad because I couldn't get extended to 21 days on a recent fire assignment because I was enjoying the adventure and I really need the money

at least one thing hasn't changed,


3/14 Subject: GAO Review of Options

The Forest Service has received notice that the Government Accountability
Office will be conducting a review of options that might exist for
consolidating the Forest Service into the Department of the Interior. This
review is at the request of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on
Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. The topic was broached by
Members of the Committee during this year's budget hearings.

GAO routinely conducts scores of reviews of agency operations during the
year, normally with agency involvement, and we have a standard process in
place to handle such activities. The breadth of this review may entail
greater involvement and coordination among officials throughout the
organization, and we will have a better sense of the steps to be taken
following the entrance conference that will be conducted with GAO in the
near future. We will provide additional details on the review logistics to
those who may be involved as that information becomes available. Beyond
the Forest Service, officials from the Departments of Agriculture and the
Interior will be involved in the review.

Employees should be mindful that a GAO review of this nature is usually
requested by a Committee as a preliminary information-gathering activity,
and does not indicate a preference or likelihood of any subsequent action.
This topic has been discussed numerous times over the years as government
leaders ponder the most efficient organization for federal land management

Tim De Coster
Chief of Staff
U.S. Forest Service

3/14 Looking for an old AD bud ASGS Ken Crawford. Lives over in that Tahoe country
on the left coast. Anybody help me contact him?

Still white in north MN but we are getting geared up.

Be safe


3/14 Ab,

This 'opinion' is in response to the LODD of Capt. Vance Tomaselli and his
funeral procession. I was fortunate enough to have worked with him during
my CDF days. As soon as my nausea passes, I'm going to write a letter. I
encourage others to do the same.

Official arrogance , from the San Bernardino Sun


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ his reply:

I was sickened and disgusted as I read ‘Official Arrogance’ on March 13, 2008.

I apologize to everyone who was inconvenienced. On March 5, we honored Capt Vance Tomaselli of the San Bernardino County Fire Dept., who gave his life in the Line of Duty.

To most of us, he was a brother firefighter. To some, he was ‘Captain 15’. To Ken Johnson, he was “one dead guy.”

“Another firefighter?” as you stated. No, Mr. Johnson, a firefighter. You know the one that shows up in your time of need. When you or your family is sick or hurt. When your house is threatened by fire. No matter the day or the hour. The one that solves your problem; under any circumstances. Regardless of whom you are, or what you think of us. We are there. Always.

On any given day, myself or one of my thousands of brothers or sisters, may pay the ultimate price. We accept that for you.

We sacrifice our families, holidays, and daily events, for you. At a moments notice. Without a second thought.

It is an honor for us to serve you. Please allow us to mourn with our tradition, honor, and values.

Jeffrey Ohs, Captain
Long Beach Fire Dept.

3/14 To Mike Re S-290 evaluation:

Good morning Mike

I read with interest your evaluation of FLAME and thought you did a
good job explaining the limitations of the concept.

One thing that I have noted is that when fire danger and fire behavior
elements are mixed and lumped into a predictive model it becomes
over complex. I once asked Mr. Bishop if he knew of the model 48
computer that seems to accomplish what his FLAME concept does.
He did not know of this computer.

This was a program that was taught in advanced fire behavior courses
in the 60's. The program was not accepted by the older officers and
fell by the wayside.

Next was BEHAVE Plus that could be done on a PDA. That found more
favor but mostly among the academics rather than on-line firefighters.
What has found acceptance by on-line firefighters is my prediction

Separating fire danger elements from fire behavior elements simplified
fire behavior prediction. Using the fire signatures as the ground truth
that modeling attempts to replicate further simplifies predictions.
Once the fire is on the terrain does it make sense to chase the fire
with a model? Not if somehow one can use the ground truth to predict
hen and where changes will occur. That what The Campbell Prediction
System and the course; Wildland Fire Behavior Signature Prediction
Methods presents.

I just wanted to express my respect for your heads-up critique of the
modeling limitations for on-line firefighters use.

The Campbell Prediction System book and workbook are being accepted
throughout Europe for inclusion in the training for all ranks of firefighters
fostered by the Fire Paradox grant and program.

Many fire departments have utilized the CPS training program here in the
US but NWCG has largely ignored the course. The cadre that is currently
teaching S-590 is incorporating CPS. Why not consider CPS for inclusion
in S-290?

Best regards
Doug Campbell

ROS calculator

3/14 Forwarded Update on Texas conditions


They have just revised the weather and fire forecasts. The NWS says they
have never seen the RH's (2-4%), the winds, the temps aligned like they
will be tomorrow, and they say we may see the most critical fire behavior
conditions ever witnessed in West Texas and SE New Mexico tomorrow, (west
of the 100th Meridian).

TFS is tapped out and has created a number of new task forces in the past
24 hours and moved them to West Texas. It is likely that air operations
will be shut down or ineffective this afternoon and tomorrow.

I have talked to LAMR, GUMO, and BIBE today. They are all pretty nervous.
I have been advising that under certain conditions you just can't have
enough resources on hand, and that they need to be thinking about people,
(both FF's and public), and evacuation and sheltering plans, if they don't
catch something immediately on IA.

BIBE, in particular, feels very vulnerable because of their inability to
mobilize the Diablos and because of their distance to other cooperators.
They (Superintendent and <snip>) have been in major contact/negotiations with
Homeland Security, the casual payment center in an attempt to find a waiver
or alternative to the new regulations. Their discussions may become
levated to the State Department if CIS (in Homeland Security) turns them
down. TFS is interested in raising this issue to the governor as they have
requested Diablo crews twice in the past 2 days and been unable to get

Stay tuned...

DR FMO, NPS, Intermountain RO - Santa Fe

3/14 Seasonal Outlook with maps. Especially this one: seasonal_outlook.jpg
Add wind to the red areas and political pressures and we have potential for a bad cluster of fire days. Ab.
3/14 Whooo hoooo!

Dylan Rader is the recipient of the 2007 National Wildland Fire Safety Award.


3/14 I don't fly much anymore... too afraid of low bid/best value concept that was decided upon by non-wildland fire professionals to save money at the risks of others and their families...... Decisions are made without a true understanding of the risks interpreted by the contracting officers and line officers who are making life and death decisions about OUR safety.

Noname Air
3/14 Some important issues (boots, hiring, gear, careers, family, etc.) and some old
fashioned wildland firefighter community topics are being discussed on FireChat
in the evening.

The western half of the US is usually lurking to chat between 7 - 11 pm PST. It
has always been cool to see the folks from AU and NZ step in as they begin their
day and offer their often described unique experiences of being a wildland firefighter.

3/14 Re: Transfer of USFS


Lets take a look at the USFS sister agencies in the USDA.


Now lets look at DOI agencies


Given the Forest Service mission is a land management agency, which list has agencies that have similar missions?

I was visiting with a retiree today who keeps abreast of fire management issues at the national level. I asked him if he thought we were headed to a national fire service. His reply was he had been working in federal fire management since 1962 and that the Nixon and Regan administrations had proposed various restructurings plans for the federal land management agencies he believed that any new proposal of consolidation would meet the same fate. Any reorganization that would reduce the need for a congressesional/senate committee of sub committee would be defeated by congress. Politicians want to protect their turf i.e. committee chairmanships.

I was not around to see what the Nixon administration proposed by the Regan administration wanted to get lands bunched up. FS lands in the great plains ND, SD, NE, KS, west OK and Texas, plains portions of NM, CO, WY and MT while the more heavily forested portions of BLM land to the west would have been transferred to FS. A big study was done and meetings with employees were held to discuss it but it died. To me it made a lot of sense to have one stop shopping and not have to be dealing with two agencies with intermixed lands.

Small Agency Fire Guy


Close to retiring is a relevant description for many of us... For my current position, I have 4 1/2 years left to fulfill my commitment to Uncle Sam that I pledged allegiance to back in 1982... and 4 1/2 years left for "Uncle Sam" to fulfill the commitment sold to me when I was young and able to be influenced easily without question.

I can leave at anytime and continue service without disgrace, but the promises made by "Uncle Sam" of a career that would be competitive in salary and benefits... and competitive in family values and support... failed far short under the "leadership" and direction of Mark Rey et al.

Somewhere the agreement of equitable federal service was lost in the realm of political appointees and processes without checks and balances focusing on the true MISSION... the MISSION as directed by the PEOPLE. It was a known and understood understanding of risk vs. gain when many of us started as wildland firefighters.... and an understanding that those above you always had your back and would make things right.

3/13Lobotomy, I feel your pain, you are trying to do the right thing but the social engineers at the
S.O. and R.O. are winning the battle for now.

I am thankful that I left R-5 pre-consent decree and before the apprentice program got entrenched
and changed from a way to help the experienced long term temps get a leg up and a foot in the door
with a PSE job, to a numbers game of diversity and enforced hiring practices from on high.

Many good firefighters have come through the apprentice program but so have a lot of culls. I was
forced to hire an employee under the student requisition program even in my region who was known to
have no interest in working in fire or the Forest Service for that matter but knew it was a good
way to get the govt. to pay his way through college, but it helped the forest's numbers so they
went and wasted thousands of dollars on school for a scammer who went to private industry as soon
as he finished his free education.

On the bright side I was never forced to hire another person by HR or the overhead.

As far as fingerprints and back ground checks our HR folks were always relentless and made sure
that employees complied on threat of their jobs. They even caught a few who omitted a fact or two
on their applications and were disciplined for it. Fortunately the individuals offences were minor
and they were employees that were worth fighting for to keep. However if they had been employees
that were needing to be shown the door the case would have been easier to make to let them go.

As far as I know we did not do fingerprints and checks of temp. applicants any disqualifying
information usually came out in the course of talking to former supervisors and co-workers. I had
several CDC guys apply that said they worked for X-years for CDF and when I asked them where they
worked it usually came out that the were from one of the camps.

The thing is we need to let supervisors make the decisions on hiring within the confines of the
rules. If they abuse the hiring rules then discipline them. not the perfect system but a far site
better than letting Albquerky or the R.O. do the hiring. But the way things sound like they go
where you work the pendulum has to swing a long way to get back to the center. And the rest of the
FS is going to be in the same hiring boat very soon with all the big wigs bowing to the god of

I think I know who you are and you got to be close to retiring, aye? But maybe not.


Here's some good info for anyone teaching the new S-290 class:
"Mike Bournazian, Wyoming State Forestry Division, compiled a very accurate errata sheet for the new S290 course I encourage you to read and share as warranted. I have attached that document below, thanks Mike for sharing.

"Also if you are going to teach S290 which includes the Fireline Assessment Method (FLAME) to predict changes in fire behavior I recommend you read the attached RMRS document. This is not included with the S290 course materials."

My view is that NWCG is wrong to endorse FLAME (Fireline Assessment MEthod) by making it such a big part of S-290, while Doug Campbell's Fire Signature Prediction concept has greater utility on the fireline and is something that can actually be taught to young firefighters.

In several areas of the NWCG training curriculum, there is a push for "academic" classroom exercises that are not really applied in the field (like the friction loss calculations in S-211 with test answers that students can't get with the inaccurate slide rules stocked by NIFC.)

That's my opinion.

vfd cap'n

3/13Where have all the GS-6 folks gone?......that's easy, most have promoted.

The question really is "Where are all the qualified GS-5s?" AND if we ask
that question then surely we must take it one notch further..."Are the majority
of our GS-4 apprentices and temps sticking with the agency?".


"Kill the roots and the whole Dam* tree dies, no matter how long its been

3/13Ab, could you post these links to obituaries and service arrangements for the Wrights? thanks.

Jami Lyn Wright - www.legacy.com/ElkoDaily/Obituaries Jami

Jay Michael Wright - www.legacy.com/ElkoDaily/Obituaries Jay
3/12Dear IR Girl:

We are likely to see a number of requests from Congress to the GAO to conduct studies and submit reports on a variety of topics dealing with the land management agencies and more specifically their fire programs and the management thereof in the coming months.

One thing I've noticed over the years is that regardless of the number of GAO reports and recommendations made in them, little changes. However, we may see GAO reports on FMAG costs; the costs of non-federal resources versus non-federal resources; consideration of FIRE being taken away from the land management agencies and the creation of a separate wildland fire agency etc.

The Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior is Norm Dicks (D-WA). I will be meeting with his legislative director Pete Modaff in a few weeks as well as the Budget Analyst at OMB for the Forest Service and others on this and other matters.

The FWFSA has been asked by both OMB and members of Congress about these subjects, and as I have posted previously, there is an incredible amount of activity in Washington regarding wildland firefighting for this time of year.

Budget hearings are occurring and I sense that changes are forthcoming. There is no better time for firefighters to speak out about the issues. Sadly, I am not confident that any Agency action towards positive change for our firefighters will be genuine or include much substance, but we'll see. That is why it is critical that firefighters keep the pressure on.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/12I am looking for an EMT- Dispatcher class in central Ca.

Any help please..

3/12FS into DOI?

Check this out...Here we go again.


www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/fed/fs-into-doi-gao-notify-031108.pdf (177K pdf file)

3/12 Murrieta firefighter hospitalized with rare disease dies (near San Diego CA)


This disease (caused by a parasitic amoeba) is getting quite a name for itself.
It really makes one wonder about the water out there. There have been
several deaths in the Southland due to this?


3/12where are all the GS 6's?

Maybe someone can tell if and how other Regions are hiring Demo 5's.
I was just informed that my engine would most likely have to go 5 days
a week because there are no GS 6's to be found. I have a person who
is qualified for the 5 position but doesn't want an apprenticeship spot.
Why can't I hire this person? and where are all the GS 6's? Surely
Cal-Fire hasn't taken them all already. My engine has not had to go 5
day staffing as far back as I can remember. Is the Region management
seeing this?


3/12 FIRE WEATHER/ West Texas

Red Flag Warning


3/12Re: America's Most Wanted All Stars

After clicking the AMW link below to see what the all star thread was about, I was shocked to read the Mendocino National Forest has apparently taken the lead in seceding from the US Forest Service and reorganized themselves as part of the United States Department of Fire. Anyone have any idea how they did that????

SteveM (with tongue firmly in cheek)

Deputy FFMO Steve Decker left on Feb 29 to go to the CDC; FFMO Sinclear may be retiring; some FF are going or have gone to CalFire. Maybe it was / is a final act of defiance! Ab. (Also tongue in cheek. No slur meant against our terrific MNF firefighters! We're going to miss those who are leaving.)

3/12I'm not sure if the firefighter that is being nominated for the AMW All Star award reads TheySaid, but if he does, I have a message for him. If someone sees him, please send him here to read this. Thanks.


It's been too long since we froze your butt off in the back of the van on your (second) bachelor party. It's been too long since the long nights at some of the fires: Raven Rock Road, Pen Mar Road, too many others to mention. It's been too long since the last time we had a cool adult beverage at what ever the Chestnut Logs restaurant was called then. I keep looking for your name on IAPs when I get to go out your way. You are missed back here by the rest of the gang. Good Luck with your award, you deserve it!!


3/12Thanks to FEDS for taking care of our firefighters. Ab.

The ADFA "press release" seemed to miss key folks involved? Hopefully, the ADFA leadership knows and understands that the FWFSA has been, and continues to be a friend.



Pay Plan for Emergency Workers

Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS) has recently determined that personnel hired under the Pay Plan for Emergency Workers (AD Pay Plan) are considered "federal employees" for purposes of eligibility for benefits and membership in the FEDS program.

Through our relationships with such organizations as the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA), AD Firefighters Association, Wildlandfire.com and other groups and individuals involved with federal wildland fire fighting, we learned about a group of individuals called ADs who were hired by federal agencies to support the federal government's wildland fire fighting mission. We received many inquiries as to whether these individuals would be eligible for liability protection under the FEDs program.

We have determined that individuals who are hired under the Pay Plan for Emergency Workers (AD Pay Plan) are eligible for membership under FEDS. Eligibility for benefits under FEDS, however, is limited to those instances when you are performing a federal function under the direction and control of a federal agency (i.e. within the scope of federal employment and are an employee under 5 U.S.C. 2105(a)). Accordingly, we at FEDS are happy to continue our support of the federal wildland fire fighting community by extending our coverage to ADs in this regard. When signing up on line at www.fedsprotection.com simply select AD Pay Plan when asked to identify the federal agency for which you work.

Now, more than ever, the need for liability protection is necessary for all federal employees-especially those engaged in wildland firefighting. In light of the dangers associated with wildland firefighting, and the scope of the criminal and administrative investigative inquires into firefighting fatalities due to entrapments or burnovers, professional liability protection is an absolute must for all line officers, fire management officers, incident commanders and any employee involved in firefighting or fire management.

Both FEDS and its claims administrator have a demonstrated commitment to and understanding of the federal and wildland firefighting community. FEDS has also assembled a nationally recognized panel of attorneys to provide the legal defense under the benefit plan who have a vast amount of experience in representing federal employees and who have had specific experience in defending federal employees involved in the recent Thirty Mile, Cramer and Esperanza fire tragedies. We believe that it is this commitment and understanding of the federal wildland fire fighting community, along with the quality of the legal defense provided under the plan that sets FEDS apart from other professional liability programs.

The FEDS liability protection offers its liability protection for $270 a year. Sign up here or if you are interested in speaking with someone at FEDS, our telephone number is 866-955-FEDS.

3/12To my fellow forestry technicians,

Thanks for all the memories, thanks for the good times, and especially all the hard work.
  • Remember to hold on to what little standards and traditions you have left in this ever-so-political environment we like to call work.
  • Remember when we could kick some butt and vocalize it.
  • Remember when you could get rid of an individual because they couldn’t cut it?
  • Remember taking over someone else’s hoselay?
  • Remember when there were only 60 something Hotshot Crews?
  • Remember when even Rappellers had physical standards?
  • Remember when you only got 7 practice jumps?
  • Remember not expecting a pat on the back for giving your 100%?
  • Remember the camaraderie from a hard day's work as a team?
  • Remember when sensitivity wasn’t as much of a hot issue that it affected the safety of everyone because the strength of crews was compromised?
  • Remember not wanting to be a municipal firefighter?
  • Remember when chiefs weren’t trying to be municipal firefighters?
  • Remember not caring how much we got paid?
  • Remember looking at your old lady and being proud of what you did for a living?

I do and I’m sad that it’s not like that anymore. I’m glad I got to see the fight in a once elite and proud agency.


3/12Hotshot75 said,

"I do not think it is right to have aggravated felons and illegals enlisting in the military or be allowed to work for the government. Sounds like we are on the same page on that one, correct me if I am wrong in reading you."

Over the last six years, we have had to deal with numerous employees (all citizens at the time) who would have never been allowed to be employees if the simple fingerprinting and NCIC/NACI checks were done in advance of employment.

The WO can continue to say 'we don't have a recruitment problem', but we have "finally" recognized that "we" have a retention problem and are no longer setting the standard of HIRING THE BEST OF THE BEST.

After death threats, repetitive crimes from felons employed in the public trust without adequate background investigations, and almost ten years of the Forest Service turning a blind cheek to all of the issues of recruitment, retention, and benefits..... It sure isn't rocket science on where we were, or where we're heading.

We have had to hire former and present inmates or non-documented aliens as "quality employees" to continue the farce that the Forest Service doesn't have a recruitment or retention problem.

3/11Letter regarding NEPA outsourcing!




From: USFS, WO
Date: February 20, 2008
Subject: NEPA Activities Business Process Reengineering
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

Last fall, our agency team completed the NEPA Feasibility Study and we have subsequently considered its recommendations to streamline NEPA processes. Options included Business Process Reengineering and competitive sourcing. After careful consideration, however, we will not pursue these options at this time. Rather, we will focus energies toward completing other efficiency-gaining efforts including Washington Office-Regional Office-Northeastern Area Transformation. These ongoing efforts will increase agency effectiveness in the near future. At a later time, we will revisit recommendations from the NEPA Feasibility Study. We, however, expect local managers to consider the Feasibility Study as they seek to increase NEPA efficiencies.

Several significant factors prompted this decision. Language in the recently-enacted Omnibus Appropriations Act directed that we not use any funds for further competitive sourcing activities. At a time when we are in the midst of ongoing Transformation efforts and the continuing transition to the Albuquerque Service Center, we want to avoid additional disruption and confusion that could come with overhauling our critical NEPA processes.

Recognizing that NEPA processes are at the heart of our decision-making, it is important that we retain a strong linkage between Forest Service employees and those analytical procedures. It remains important, however, for us to seek long-term strategies to improve NEPA efficiency. I appreciate the comprehensive analysis and informative data in the Feasibility Study. It serves as a foundation for future work. Results from the Study-coupled with open communication-will help us identify and analyze best strategies for streamlining NEPA processes in the future.

For now, we will move forward with ongoing efforts to increase efficiency. Please accept my thanks for your involvement. Moreover, I am grateful to our employees for their support and candor. I look forward to discussing this topic on a regularly-scheduled National Leadership Team teleconference.

/s/ Abigail R. Kimbell

3/11Please vote for a fellow wildland firefighter on America's Most Wanted
All Stars.



3/11Terrible News:

It is with the greatest sadness that I have to inform you of the passing of
two of our employees.

Jay Wright (ENA crew, Wells and Elko engine crews, Ruby Mountain Hotshots)
and his sister Jami (ENA crew, Carlin engine crews) were killed in a
traffic collision near Lages Junction south of Wells on Saturday, March 8.
Also killed in the accident were Jay's toddler-aged daughter and one other

Jay started his fire career with the ENA hand crew program, and then spent
several years as a BLM seasonal, bouncing around between several crews
before finally landing a career-seasonal position as an Engine Operator
with Ely BLM about a year ago. About a month ago, Elko BLM was successful
in it's bid to get Jay back in the Elko program, and he was scheduled to
start work with us as an Engine Operator in Elko in about 3 weeks.

Jami also spent several years as a BLM seasonal in Carlin and Battle
Mountain after also spending several years on the ENA handcrew. Jami was
also a member of the Wells VFD and was extremely active as an EMT and
ambulance attendant on the Wells Ambulance Service. Jami was scheduled to
begin work again with us on an engine crew in Carlin this summer.

Details about the accident are sketchy at this time, and we don't know when
services will be yet. As we receive more information, we will share it. We
have offered the full assistance of the BLM to the family, as well as the
services of the BLM National Honor Guard.

please keep Jami and Jay's family in your thoughts and prayers during this
most difficult time. Jami and Jay will be missed, and won't be forgotten.

The local fire program contact will be Mike Pope if anyone needs anything.
We are working on activating a Critical Incident Stress Management
function, and we'll let everyone know what's happening with that aspect as
soon as we know.


Condolences to all. Words don't begin to express the sadness when tragedy befalls our fire family. Please let us know when services are scheduled. Also, if there's anything we can do, anything that's needed, please let us know that as well. The WFF has the word as well. Ab.

3/11Good morning, All,

We're going to be making the WEZ subforum (Wildfire Entrapment Zone subforum) visible to hotlist members for a limited period of time. The WEZ is a database that we updated on the fly as the hectic season unfolded. We were all amazed at how dangerous a season 2007 was and how easy it was to miss details of a SEAT crash or a vehicle rollover as first R3 and then Idaho, Montana, and California burned.

The 2 Hotlist Mods and I have been checking the info that was gathered last season as accidents, mishaps, burnovers, etc. occurred. There are posts copied from fire threads, news articles, some photos and press releases. Some of the incidents have reports associated with them; some do not, probably because no one sent in the report to us. There are lessons to be learned from each incident. This is the reason we're making this list viewable by wildland firefighters. It may also be that you'll have additional info, reports, first hand accounts or photos to add.

If you're not signed up for the HOTLIST and want to register, please do so. It's a two-step process and you have to answer a Smokey Bear question to deter spam registrations. You register, our program auto-replies to confirm a viable email, we accept or deny your registration. One problem that might come up for some relates to the auto-reply step in the process. Accounts at CalFire stations and some private spam filters, for example, don't accept the auto-reply. For our program, when we don't hear back from you, the registration process stops as though you're a spam registrant. Needless to say, some CalFire hotlist members have signed up from another computer. That works. If you have problems registering, send a message to me in the hotlist message window. That way I can check where in the process you might be stalled. There are several hundred people whose registration is stalled. I may need to delete those for you to try again. Let me know. Once signed up, you can access your account from anywhere, even from your blackberry or cell phone. Some posts have even come in via remote devices.

We'll give this a day or two to let people sign up, then we'll make the subforum visible. We haven't decided yet for how long.

Carry on.


3/10Hey did anyone watch the discovery channel last night about the human body?
They were showing something about wildland firefighting and a burn over,
does anyone know what fire they were referring to? I just caught the end of
that part of it. I am just curious. And ya'll should watch that program it is
pretty good.


P.S. Casey keep up the good work

3/10Red Flag Warning for SW North Dakota

328 PM CDT MON MAR 10 2008



And fishing report from this morning on Lake Sakakawea said "Still had 29 inches
of ice where the house sat."

How I love the Northern Plains

Small Agency FMO
3/10From Reuters news service -

Six villagers die fighting forest fire in China
03 Mar 2008 13:07:15 GMT
Source: Reuters

BEIJING, March 3 (Reuters) - Six villagers died in central China's Hunan province as they tried
to battle a forest fire in an area ravaged by severe winter storms, state media said on Monday.

The fire broke out on Saturday, trapping more than 200 people in the village of Xitai, Xinhua news
agency reported.

"The main cause can be attributed to illegal fires set in the forests," Xinhua quoted Hu Changqing,
vice head of the Hunan Forestry Department, as saying.

Forest fires had killed 22 people in the mountainous southern province this year and more than
1,500 forest fires had raged in 89 counties since Feb. 6, Xinhua said.

Click on above link for more

Fair Use Disclaimer

We will be clinking glasses as we toast John' memory and you faithful
dedication for the betterment and safety of all Wildland firefighters here
at the Cleveland's workshop. Side note: Trish says she will always
remember when John gave her a kiss here at Humphrey's.

3/10From one of our southern neighbors.

Sad news from Honduras:

Seven firefighters killed in blaze
From correspondents in Tecucigalpa, Honduras
March 10, 2008 02:07pm

SEVEN firefighters died in Honduras, overwhelmed by a raging forest blaze
on the outskirts of the capital, the military said.

The firefighters, four soldiers and three forestry workers, were part of a
200-strong team been battling to contain the fire on a mountainside close to
Tegucigalpa since Friday.

They were working to put out the fire and suddenly there was a change of
wind direction and they were engulfed by flames, General Orlando Vasquez
told local radio.

Honduras is at the start of its summer and forest fires at common at this time.

fair use disclaimer

3/10God bless you, Lori Greeno. By the way, I still have the super ball found in a parking lot
in Placerville on this day a few years ago. It's still in the truck and reminds me of Johnny
daily. Thanks for all of your efforts, and the cookies, and the pies, etc. "HEY"

3/10For John AND Lori


I also plan to have one (or two) in honor of Lori. What an inspiration she is!

Fire Geek

3/10Dear AB & All:

Just wanted folks to know that the FLAME Act (HR 5541) is one of many proposals being offered & discussed on Capitol Hill with respect to dealing with the land management agency fire programs; the actual management of those programs and how to stem the tide of suppression costs while strengthening the federal forces. Many of these proposals are well-intentioned but little is done to understand the impact to our firefighters such as the case with the liability legislation & subsequent law.

Representatives from NFFE were in DC last week and I'll be heading there March 31st to meet with Rep. Dicks (D-WA) Jerry Lewis (R-CA) as well as the Forest Service OMB analyst to continue dialogue on the issues and solutions that the FWFSA has forwarded to Congress.

I will also be discussing the problematic decision by the FS to send the issue of who will now be eligible for PLI reimbursement pursuant to the recently enacted expansion of reimbursement in the Omnibus bill. It is problematic given that the season is upon all of you and as we have seen ample evidence of, the Forest Service' ability to do anything in a timely manner is lousy at best.

There will be a number of other meetings in the very short period of time I'll be in DC on topics ranging from the Forest Service "retention plan" to the housing policy on the LPF; the 401 mess and of course the FWFSA's pending legislation.

More will follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/10Ab, I don't know how widely the Ford recall info (7.3L diesel engines) has been circulated.
It came out on Dec 6, 2007:

The problem is the cam sensor. It can overheat causing the truck to stop for a while.
To check if it affects your work or home Ford, go to Ford's Recall Information page & enter
your VIN#: www.ford.com/owner-services/maintenance-service/recall-information

Voluntary Safety Recall Involving Cam Position Sensor for more info.



They're short crew bosses for the Academies that are coming up.
Anyone who's interested, call Scott Whitmire.


3/10From the Ab account:

Newest directive info on fire management, preparedness, lights and sirens and other topics... FSM5120:


3/10Greeno Forever

Today marks the day that we lost one of the best. So,
brothers & sisters - Please take the time today to
stop & remember him or someone who meant so much to
"our mission". I feel "Our mission" is being that of
the ground folks that live, love, & give to the depths
of of souls for our friends, our families, our
forests, & our fires.

So raise a glass of whatever you've got and toast John
& all who have given everything today.

"To us, those like us & those who are always with us"

Thank you,

3/10The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. The Jobs Page has new additions and a couple of updates over the last week. Ab.
3/10 Here's a request for information on Campbell Airstrip, in Anchorage, Alaska.
Some vintage firefighting aircraft photos and interesting information at this site.

Sitka Spruce

3/9 Lobotomy,

Thank you for sharing the Civilian Friends -vs- Firefighter Friends
post on 03/04, I find that so true.

3/9 I am somewhat surprised that someone didn't have the foresight to post some kind of law enforcement outside of the Tomaselli residence. We had 2 law enforcement vehicles present on the day of John's memorial service - one at our house and one at the entrance to our subdivision. I hope they find out who did this. They are the lowest of the low and it probably isn't the first time they have done this. I was glad to hear that his kids had at least gotten his personal items out - those are things that can never be replaced.

3/9 The Jobs Page has new additions and a couple of updates over the last week. Ranging from university professors to fire managers to dispatchers and helicopter rappel crew members, I don't recall a wider variety of openings. Check 'em out and pass them to a friend. Thanks, OA.

From Webster's online dictionary, "rappel: to descend (as from a cliff) by sliding down a rope". Though in the aforementioned job, it would be descending from a helicopter at around a 100' AGL (above ground level).
3/9 Lobotomy,

Got no problem with govt employees getting fingerprinted and issued ID cards from the agency they work for. I had it done to me in the 80's. All personal information must be secure which in most places I ever worked it was not, anyone could get into your personnel files any time they wanted just walk into the office and open up the file drawers. Things have slowly improved over the last couple of years as far as the security of those files.

The thing I am opposed to is a national id card or system of tracking individual law abiding citizens such as RFID tags in drivers licenses, passports and the like especially when our borders are wide open and illegal aliens are given special rights over legal residents.

I do not think it is right to have aggravated felons and illegals enlisting in the military or be allowed to work for the government. Sounds like we are on the same page on that one, correct me if I am wrong in reading you.

"I have a concern that we are having our rights vanish before our eyes in the name of security and safety when the real problems go unaddressed year after year and the real criminals go unpunished, lose both.”
Benjamin Franklin


3/9 Here is the link to the Captain Vance Tomaselli Website with pictures of the memorial
and procession.
There is a place for you to leave comments to the Tomaselli family.

Almost a thousand people paid their last respects and the procession of fire apparatus
took over an hour just to clear the parking lot.

Vance Tomaselli's website

3/9 Regarding the REAL ID ACT -

I don't think HOTSHOT75 is fishing for anything that the FS may be accountable for. As he said it's bigger than fire. On Friday I heard an interview with the Governor of Montana regarding Montana's decision to not submit a letter stating that Montana will accept what ever standard is determined some years in the future. Here is some background info. You can hear the interview (its very entertaining) with Gov Gov. Brian Schweitzer on the NPR web site.

Montana Rejects Real ID Mandate, Joins Rebel Forces
By Ryan Singel April 17, 2007 | 2:03:31 PM

Montana forcefully rejected on Tuesday the requirements of pending federal identity document rules that would create a de facto national identity card, as Governor Brian Schweitzer signed into law a bill forbidding the state from implementing the rules and requiring reports to the government if the feds try to enforce them.

Maine was the first state to reject the requirements, which would require that states standardize their drivers' licenses starting in 2008 or face having their citizens' identification papers made useless for entering airport security or getting federal benefits.

"In January, the state of Maine held a 'Boston Tea Party' when they became the first to declare their opposition to Real ID by passing a resolution," said Tim Sparapani, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "Today Montana has taken that rebellion to an entirely new level by issuing what amounts to a 'Declaration of Independence' from the act."

The bill (.pdf) reads in part:

The legislature finds that the enactment into law by the U.S. congress of the REAL ID Act of 2005, as part of Public Law 109-13, is inimical to the security and well-being of the people of Montana, will cause unneeded expense and inconvenience to those people, and was adopted by the U.S. congress in violation of the principles of federalism contained in the 10th amendment to the U.S. constitution.

(2) The state of Montana will not participate in the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005. The department, including the motor vehicle division of the department, is directed not to implement the provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005 and to report to the governor any attempt by agencies or agents of the U.S. department of homeland security to secure the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005 through the operations of that division and department.

Midwest FMO

3/9 I am absolutely sickened after reading the article about the theft from Capt. Tomaselli's

family during his services.
I sincerely hope that the local law enforcement can

apprehend the individual(s?) responsible and that they're prosecuted to the fullest

extent of the law.

Best wishes to Capt. Tomaselli's family and friends.

3/8 www.sbsun.com/sanbernardino/ci_8497402

Fallen firefighter's home ransacked
Stacia Glenn, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 03/07/2008 08:56:10 PM PST

Angelus Oaks - Someone ransacked San Bernardino County fire Capt. Vance Tomaselli's house Wednesday while 1,000 people gathered to mourn his death.

Sheriff's deputies are trying to identify the burglar who kicked in the back door on the mountain home where Tomaselli lived for 38 years and dragged out a five-gallon water jug filled with $2,000 in change.

"You can't even mourn the loss when something like this happens," said Tomaselli's son-in-law, Joe Todd.

He and his wife, Caryn Todd, discovered the break-in Thursday afternoon when they stopped by the house to pick up some of Tomaselli's personal items.

Because neighbors didn't see a thing, deputies believe the burglary took place Wednesday morning during memorial services at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland.

Tomaselli, 60, died Feb. 21 after suffering a severe stroke the week before while driving a fire engine to a cabin fire at Camp Edwards in Angelus Oaks.

He spent 28 years as a paid-call captain at Station 15 in Angelus Oaks, meaning he was compensated each time he responded to a fire.

The burglar also took two Stihl chainsaws worth $1,000 apiece and several items the family has not yet been able to identify.

"Vance would know immediately what was taken, but he can't tell us," Joe Todd said.

The family had already removed family heirlooms, jewelry and firearms from the house before the funeral services.

To help Investigators ask anyone with information call the sheriff's Yucaipa station at (909) 790-3105. Anonymous tips can be called in to WeTip at (800) 782-7463.

3/8 Joy for Joy, I will be 62 in April, retired under LE/FF retirement and still work as an AD. This is a tidbit of information worthy of passing on, any one knows anything different, let me know. rbbrower@juno.com

Social Security - AD Hire in Region 2 had a notice from Social Security that wages

earned over a certain amount will reduce SS annuity; HR confirmed that wages earned

as an AD do count towards the maximum allowable earned before a reduction is

applied. Mary Ann will recommend language added to the 2007 AD pay plan that AD's

under a SS retirement could have their annuity affected by working as an AD. For more

detailed information go to the SS website.

This is good to know too.

3/8 Somehow, in the recent past (1998 - near present), the Forest Service somehow "forgot" that it was supposed to provide adequate background checks (including fingerprint cards) as a process in the hiring of permanent employees who hold a PUBLIC TRUST position.

Most permanent wildland firefighting positions are identified as either "Public Trust - Low" or "Public Trust - Moderate" and require a thorough background investigation and fingerprint record on file.

As a comparison, most Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers are required to undergo a "Public Trust - Moderate" background investigation.

Last year, the Forest Service began sending out notices to thousands of employees who "somehow" slipped through the cracks. Go figure... the Forest Service in crisis again by not doing something that has been on the books prior to the 1980's?

3/8 HSPD-12 (Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors) does not equal

the Real ID Act


Yeah, you got some folks to take the bait. What were you fishing for?

Simple facts:

1. HSPD-12 (2004) had 4 to 8 month timelines for compliance of federal agencies. The Forest Service must have thought that it was a "4 to 8 year" timeline.

2. All permanent federal employees are required to submit to a background check and fingerprinting to ensure a NCIC/NACI clearance at the absolute minimum prior to employment. This requirement (in various forms) relates back to the 1950's and early 1960's as modified and continued to the present.

3. Over the last three years, the Forest Service apprentice program has allowed non-resident aliens to apply and occupy positions of public trust, and then convert to permanent federal positions within the Forest Service upon gaining either "naturalized status" or US Citizenship without adequate pre-employment background checks or fingerprinting.

So, what are you fishing for? Get at it, most of us already know the Forest Service is circling the drain and not following the wishes of the stakeholders.... ie.. the public in preventing known latent problems that exist.

3/7 From Firescribe, who says, "Here's the article on that press release from this morning...":


House bill aims to start fire fund
By Noelle Straub, Gazette Washington Bureau

Washington - The federal government would revamp how it pays for firefighting and take some of the burden off the U.S. Forest Service by creating a permanent fund for devastating blazes, under legislation introduced Thursday by key House Democrats.

Over the past decade, the cost of fighting fires has eaten an ever larger portion of the Forest Service budget - now about 48 percent of it.

The new fund would be used only for catastrophic, emergency wildland fire suppression. It would be separate from the money budgeted each year by Congress for anticipated and predicted fire suppression activities for the Forest Service and Interior Department; that allocation would continue.

The amount of money in the new fund would be appropriated annually and based on the average amounts spent by the Forest Service and Interior to suppress catastrophic fires over the preceding five fiscal years. [MORE at the link]



Burning Down the House (and Trees)
Fire Spending Overwhelms Forest Service Budget
By Josh McDaniel

"The trees are turning red and dying, and the public expects us to do something about it," says Phil Bowden, a specialist with the White River National Forest in Colorado. Bowden now spends almost all of his time studying the bark beetle outbreak-which has left hundreds of thousand of acres of dead forest across the Rockies. "We can't chase the bugs, but we can put in some buffers and try to protect communities," he says. [MORE at the link]



Annual fee for homes in fire zones suggested by state analyst's office
$310 per home per year proposed to offset fire costs
Keith Matheny • The Desert Sun • March 6, 2008

With state costs for fire protection now exceeding $1 billion, some are beginning to look more seriously at whether those who build homes in dangerous wildfire areas should bear more of that cost.

The nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst's Office, in its recommendations for the state's 2008-2009 budget, calls for a fee on homeowners in areas where Cal Fire has protection responsibility to offset half of the state's General Fund cost for fire protection.

The fee as proposed by the analyst's office would amount to $310 per home per year. [MORE at the link]

3/7 ME,

Someone wrote in and said that was The Fireman's Prayer. I deleted their email by mistake. I suppose you can find it by googling it. I think it's pretty famous. Ab.

3/7 Ab,

As another NWSA (National Wildfire Suppression Association) auction comes to a close, I wanted to share a few things with They Said. Over the past several years, the NWSA has strongly supported the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Their meeting falls just at the right time of year when the WFF needs support the most. As I attended their meetings and spent time with these folks, I was so touched to see their big hearts. I see the so called “wedge” between agencies and contractors deteriorating because when it’s all said and done, and an injury or fatality occurs, we are all human and all grieve the same way.

My hat is off to the NWSA - they raised over $56,000 in just two hours for the WFF to continue our mission with the knowledge that their fundraising efforts allow this money to be used for any wildland firefighter. They do this knowing that statistically, assistance to contract firefighters is much smaller. Compassion truly does spread like wildfire! Thank you so much NWSA members.

Burk Minor

Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Nice job, NWSA! Ab.

3/7 Hey Ab,

I know this forum is about the "what", but with all I've read about the "who" I came to the same conclusion today and it reminded me of the famous quote from the movie, Blazing Saddles when the Sheriff was asked if it's true what they say about your kind, "It's twue, it's twue"!

The question was asked during the WUI conference closing statements to Undersecretary Mark Rey if the cutback in logging in the last 15 years, that has also resulted in the loss of many fire qualified timber professionals, has any impact on the high cost of fire suppression we're seeing today. He replied that he hasn't seen a correlation. I was impressed by his unique sense of humor, though. He told the audience that he was happy to have the opportunity to attend the conference instead of "being someone's girlfriend" in light of last week's events.

I was also informed by several of the IAFC Board members that the excellent Esperanza Fire presentation, complete with all the video footage, maps and GIS animations would be made available as part of the conference proceedings package. Time only permitted the condensed version but the complete presentation takes two hours and provides a more in depth explanation of what happened than what is published in the investigation report. Check out their website later for details:


Fire Geek

Does Rey mean he hasn't looked statistically for a correlation and therefore hasn't seen one or that he has looked and there is none? Remember, this was the man who didn't know that the FS had spent 140 million suppression dollars to move FS Finance and HR shops to Albuquerque in 2005. Ab.

3/7 Donating...

Re: Firefighters, Families, Friends, and others

Be informed. There are lots of scams and trolls out there trying to take donations away donations from legitimate 501(c)3 organizations such as the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and line their own pockets. To find out if places are legitimate, please follow the suggestions <at the link> below.

There are illegitimate "charities" all over the place.

> From the California Office of the Attorney General


More importantly while you're at it, please send in your 52 Club Wildland Firefighter Foundation donation. It's for the good of our families and all of us. Ab.

3/7 Wow, some of you people have really taken the bait.

Some subjects are bigger than fire so I have to rant about this a bit

The Real ID act is an abomination. Think about it. How will it make us safer or more secure to
have the federal government (Homeland Security) in charge of all of our "legal" identification?

They cannot even get it together enough to efficiently deal with wildfires and the people they hire
to fight them are disrespected and treated like serfs. That is until the "Big One" happens and then
they all rush to the scene to have their picture taken with the local heroes.

What happened to states rights and our freedom to travel.

Do some research on the subject of governments requiring "papers" to travel, work, and acquire food,
etc. Remember the fascists of the 30's and 40's and the abuses of those governments and communist
governments against their own people in the name of security and safety.

Montana and several other states are opposing Real ID with good reason.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
George Santayana


3/6 Here is a link to State Dept site regarding the new Passport Card.


I agree that we all should have legitimate federal id cards. Even my seasonals
have to go through an FBI screening that the agency has to pay for. Once we
have been anointed by the FBI as not a terrorist or felon, the government should
issue us a get into the country free card.

Midwest Fire Guy
March 6, 2008

Allyson Groff, 202-226-9019 (Natural Resources) Natalie Luna, 520-622-6788 (Grijalva) George Behan, 202-226-1175 (Dicks)

Rahall, Grijalva, and Dicks Introduce FLAME Act to Help Fight Catastrophic Wildfires

Washington, D.C. – Faced with increasing numbers of catastrophic, emergency wildland fires and diminishing resources with which to fight them, U.S. Reps. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Raśl Grijalva (D-AZ), and Norm Dicks (D-WA) today introduced legislation to establish a new federal fund to cover the growing costs associated with fighting the devastating blazes.

“Increasingly, tragic fire seasons across the country have threatened lives and taken a toll on our treasured public lands. As a result, the dramatic rise in federal costs to fight these fires has eroded critical funding for non-fire programs and severely altered the core mission of our Federal land management agencies. The Administration’s budget request continues this sad trend – turning the Forest Service into the Fire Service. This legislation aims to turn this situation around by ensuring that America has the necessary tools to combat wildland fires,” said Rahall, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

“Our nation will be facing longer and more intense fire seasons due to factors such as climate change and drought. This bill will help public land managers finally get ahead of the curve by having regular funding available for prevention and protection without having these accounts gutted every year by the expense of fighting catastrophic fires. Without the ability to be proactive, programs that work to protect our communities will go unfunded, leaving our citizens at grave risk,” said Grijalva, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Dicks is also a supporter of the FLAME Act. He said he believes the bill represents “a very constructive response to the problem of escalating fire costs, which are threatening the ability of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to carry out their core functions as land management agencies.”

The Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME Act) (H.R. 5541) will establish a federal fund designated solely for catastrophic, emergency wildland fire suppression activities.

Federal fire suppression spending has increased substantially over the past 10 years, with 48 percent of the Forest Service budget accounting for these activities today. Much to the detriment of other programs under the auspices of federal land management agencies, the Forest Service and the Interior Department have been forced to borrow funds from other agency accounts to cover these escalating costs. In the case of the Forest Service, two percent of fires today account for 80 percent of the costs the agency incurs.

The FLAME fund established by this legislation will be separate from budgeted and appropriated agency wildland fire suppression funding for the Forest Service and the Interior Department, and is to be used only for the suppression of catastrophic, emergency wildland fires. The annual agency budgets will continue to fund anticipated and predicted wildland fire suppressions activities. Monies for the fund will be appropriated based on the average costs incurred by these agencies to suppress catastrophic, emergency wildland fires over the preceding five fiscal years.

In light of recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) and USDA Inspector General (IG) reports that found these agencies lack sufficient systems and strategies to plan for and prevent wildland fires – the FLAME Act requires the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to submit a report to Congress one year after enactment. That plan will lay out a cohesive wildland fire management strategy that implements the GAO and IG recommendations.


Re ID Issues:

Something to keep in mind is that the Fed Govt is working on a 'Passport' for Canadian
issues for crossing the border.
They are developing a 'passport' that will look much like
a driver's license that will take less time to get and cheaper than the regular passport.
has restrictions as far as travel but will work in countries like Canada that don't require
a visa to travel into or through.
It is being developed as a result of those States that
border Canada complaining about the need for a passport to cross over.
It will work as
an 'ID'.


3/6 Re ID Issues:

Passports are relatively easy to get and in the grand scheme are not that expensive.
If they ask where you are going, simply state that you are planning a trip or are trying
to meet the new requirements to enter the country. I had no issues when I applied for
mine and I was never asked to provide evidence I was leaving the country.

Frankly, it is about time that the USFS get around to providing a real ID to their
employees. I have a laminated "Federal ID" in my pocket that a 3rd grader could have
made for a number of years now. It's embarrassing to produce it on request.

Re Insurance:

I've used Adventure Advocates as my catastrophic insurance coverage for a number of
years. If you ski, climb, or do any other "extreme" activity in the winter, be very careful to
read the insurance policy, it may not cover what you think it should.


3/6 coming in from multiple sources...

Hi Ab – not officially signed up yet on the WebSite, but I’ve been involved in the wildland community for years in SoCal. Thought you’d like to review the poem and photo taken of Patrick Henning as he was walked from his vehicle following the fatal accident by one of the Orange County Fire Authority truck companies. We’re all in this together, regardless of where we are or who we work for. May he never be forgotten and rest in peace.





ORC T43 responded to and extricated USFS Firefighter Patrick Henning after his unfortunate passing as result of a single vehicle traffic accident. He was treated with the full respect of a fallen brother. The picture included is all that needs to be said…the nice poem was written or otherwise contributed by our Comm Section Supervisor…




He Served (550K doc file)


Thanks for that, guys. Beautiful and touching. Ab.

3/6 Ab,

I hope you'll post this letter. It is in no way a put-down of our FS Chief.
Instead, to me it demonstrates the leadership of our nation's Foresters.

May we ALL have the integrity to stand up and Tell the Truth.

nasf-letter-to-gail-kimbell022008.pdf (401K pdf file)

please sign me

Sitka Spruce - Age Rings & Fire Scars

3/6 re: more on travel

Thanks for the info regarding Real ID -- unless I'm being brain dead, the posted info is contradictory and shows the lack of clarity regarding this issue. The states may not face a deadline until 2009, but the DHS info states: "Per the REAL ID Act, beginning on May 11, 2008, citizens of States that are not REAL ID compliant may not use their driver’s licenses or identification cards for official federal purposes such as boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft ..."

I agree, a passport is probably the only failsafe option, but that's not cheap, and the state department discourages people from just generically obtaining one. If memory serves me correctly, the forms ask when and where you will be traveling ....

Still Out There ...

Just say you travel from time to time and need to be prepared. I have had no trouble renewing mine. Ab.

3/6 Re the fingerprinting process someone asked about, part of a memo circulating from Hank K, Deputy Chief of Business Operations, FS, 3/4/08. Ab did some snips:

I want to give you a heads up that in the near future we are very likely to issue a contract to a firm that will begin the process of fingerprinting a huge number of FS employees. This is part of the President's Homeland Security Directive commonly referred to as HSPD-12. The current expectation from USDA and Homeland Security is that we will achieve a target fingerprinting level of roughly 70% of close to 23,000 FS employees by October. It is possible that target will be relaxed a bit, but not much. Eventually the expectation is that all permanent and many term/temp employees will have to go through this process.

This will be a challenging logistical effort using a "traveling roadshow" and new electronic fingerprinting equipment. Angela C<snip> from NFS is <snip>
helping with long term policy/procedures and getting this effort underway. In the near future either Kathy B<snip> or I will be sending out formal letters covering these logistics. This will be a challenge that has some long term positive benefits for the Forest Service. In the immediate future it will be a headache for many of you and your employees. In the long term it will assist us with better password management, an increased ability to implement "electronic signature," and other security enhancements that will reduce some of our current frustrations. Stay tuned.

3/6 the Prescott AZ fire Dept "Granite Mountain Hotshots" have officially completed all the requirements to become a fully certified IHC, they hold the honor of being the FIRST MUNICIPAL IHC in the country (Meaning from a CITY Fire Dept) {California has a County FD Hotshot Crew, but there are no other CITY FD Hotshot Crews}

The Northwest Fire District from Marana AZ has just gotten its new hotshot crew going "The Ironwood Hotshots(t) start this season as a trainee crew


Congrats to the Granite Mountain IHC. For more information on these crews Ab has phone contact info on two people that would be happy to discuss their new programs with you. Ab.

3/5 Does anyone that may have gone to Capt Tomaselli's service today
know what the long poem about a firefighters spouse is named? It
was pretty moving, and I'd like to share it with my wife.



3/5 Ab:

Excellent reply to vfd cap'n's concerns. Folks should take note of your
take on Doctrine.

I am in the midst of trying to incorporate my vision of Doctrine into the
Air Ops Plan for the air portion of a Type 2 Team Operations Plan: end

(Yes, I've joined a Team for next fire season, despite the 12-Step Program
John Maupin had me on for 2 years to rid me of the fire addiction.)

This incorporation of Doctrine into team air operations at every level (team
players, air tanker bases, dispatch, etc.) is a first effort, though the
"Tactics" portion is the Air Ops Plan I used for a decade.

We'll see how it work and ties together.

Any AOBD out there - or for that matter anyone's who's interested (Lobotomy,
Misery Whip?) - and who wants a copy should e-mail me at airops @ paonia.com


Hugh Carson
3/5 Most of us have heard by now about the loss of one of our R-5 brothers from
the El Cariso Hotshots. His family was proud of what he had accomplished
and it would mean a lot to see the support of the wildland fire community.
Send your condolences to his blog on www.patrickhenning.com


3/5 Thanks again Abs. Today the family has gotten confirmation on the
Honor Guard. Everything is starting to come together for Pat's
service. In a time like this, your help is greatly appreciated.


This wildland fire community is so strong with its support, with its caring and its love. Thanks to each and every one of you who makes a difference, who shows up, who contributes when you're called to, whether with information, with education for congress, with education of each other and management, with honoring our dead. We couldn't do it without you. In the midst of sadness, appreciation. We're proud to be a part. The Abs.

3/5 Ab,

Participants attending WUI Conference in Reno just heard a very detailed account of the Esperanza Fire Investigation Report by Chief Brad Harris and Jeff Brand. It contained the timeline, maps, still photos, video footage and GIS animations to explain the events leading to the tragedy of October 26, 2006. The presentation is also given during the CAL FIRE Academy. Perhaps the event sponsors; International Association of Fire Chiefs, will make it available as part of the conference proceedings.

Fire Geek
3/5 Thanks to Ab and everyone for the info on health insurance!

After looking into it, I decided to go with Blue Cross Blue Shield's
Simply Blue plan. It's got a $5000 deductible for major stuff, but
the first $1000 for doctor visits is also covered. It also covers
generic prescriptions. So, it covers both the small stuff and the
major incidents and runs me $120/month.

Thanks again for all the input...it definitely helped with making this choice!
3/5 Still out there as an AD –

I went to the DHS website, and copied and pasted a couple of questions and answers related to your concerns. My state has requested an extension and has not decided whether we will, or will not, follow the REAL ID Act.

I would recommend applying for a US Passport. The application process may be a hassle in the short-term, but could save you a lot of hassle in the long-term. Besides, a Passport is required to fly into/out of Canada, and it will most-likely be required for land and water entry in 2009. Would be a shame to miss a fire assignment to Canada because you do not have a Passport.

What if my State does not comply with REAL ID?
If a State chooses not to comply with the provisions of the final rule, its driver’s licenses and identification cards will no longer be acceptable for official Federal purposes. Individuals of the non-compliant States can still present other forms of acceptable identification such as a U.S. passport to board federally regulated commercial aircraft and access Federal facilities.

What will be the impact on individual citizens of non-compliant States?
Per the REAL ID Act, beginning on May 11, 2008, citizens of States that are not REAL ID compliant may not use their driver’s licenses or identification cards for official federal purposes such as boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft or accessing federal or nuclear facilities. If these citizens do not have other acceptable forms of identification (e.g., a U.S. passport), they may suffer delays due to the requirement for enhanced security screening. REAL ID-compliant States are those that have both requested and obtained an extension of the compliance date from DHS, or have been determined by DHS to be in compliance with the Act and the final rule.

For additional Q & A proceed to the following site www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/programs/gc_1172767635686.shtm

3/5 RE: Real ID issues

It will not affect this season.


The first deadline for compliance with REAL ID is Dec. 31, 2009. By then, states must upgrade the security of their license systems, to include a check for lawful status of all applicants, to ensure that illegal aliens cannot obtain REAL ID licenses. Some states are expected to be compliant well before that time. Compliance will be needed for access into a federal facility, boarding commercial aircraft, and entering nuclear power plants. Federal agencies will continue to accept licenses for official purposes from residents of states that comply with the law. [MORE at the link]


3/5 Does anyone have a clear idea about what will happen after May with the Real ID issue? This will affect our ability to board commercial flights with our state-issued drivers' licenses right at the start of fire season. We already get enough hassles with our last-minute tickets getting us branded as high risk passengers. As I understand it, some states, including Montana, are refusing to comply. Others are asking for extensions. At some point, we will not be able to get on a flight unless our driver's license carries a federal security endorsement and my state hasn't done anything yet. (I doubt that our federal licenses will do any good because there is no photo.)

Still Out There as an AD
3/5 A warning about upcoming Public Service Radio
Technology. The problem with these types of radios is
that they are software driven, with all the bugs and
updates that plague current radios. The BLM just got
rid of their RACALs made by Thales due to similar
problems. Note the price of 4 to 6 thousand dollars
per radio, I bet all FED Agencies to go to these, like
the P25 requirements we have now.

http://mccmag.com/news.cfm?lnNews=DHS Contracts Thales for Multiband Radio Project (2/27)


DHS Contracts Thales for Multiband Radio Project (2/27)

The public-safety community's long-standing request for a multiband radio could be close to becoming fulfilled through a new $6.3 million contract between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Thales Communications. At a demonstration at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE), officials demonstrated a Thales radio talking with four other manufacturers' radios in four spectrum bands.

The radio communicated with Kenwood, M/A-COM, EFJohnson and Motorola radios at VHF low and high bands, UHF, 700 MHz and 800 MHz. Dr. David Boyd, director of the DHS Science and Technology's command, control and interoperability (CCI) division, said the radio would be ideal for command and control during a major emergency that involved numerous local, state and federal agencies.

DHS and Thales will hold pilot projects throughout the year with public-safety users with production scheduled for year-end, said Steve Nichols, Thales marketing communications manager. The software-defined radio (SDR) will cost from $4,000 to $6,000 and is equal to other Project 25 (P25) radios in cost, size and weight, officials said.

Boyd said he has spoken with other vendors about a multiband radio, but Thales was the first company to meet DHS requirements. He noted that although Thales was awarded a contract, the manufacturer "came in with a significant investment."

Jesse Cooper, communications and information technology project manager for the city of Phoenix Police Department, said he had to carry three different radios during the Super Bowl earlier this year to communicate with all the agencies involved at the event. "We've very excited to have a radio for command-and-control purposes," he said. "We have regional interoperability, but it's not easy."

"We are committed to identifying innovative technologies aligned with the communications needs of first responders," Boyd said. "By enabling seamless radio communications among multiple agencies, the multiband radio project represents a significant milestone in overcoming the communications challenges our nation's emergency responders face during large-scale disasters."

The contract has a performance period of 12 months, and CCI will manage the multiband radio demonstration to determine how well the technology meets the critical needs of frontline emergency responders.

Officials noted that while the P25 Inter RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) works to address network interoperability, the Thales device would help address device interoperability.

Fair Use Disclaimer

3/5 I agree completely with Burro's post below. I read the Guide with great
interest, then I realized this was coming from the Lessons Learned Center,
not through any Official Forest Service Channels. I agree that the agency
likes to use all the buzzwords, but getting them applied consistently while
one of our own still awaits trial in WA, while we seem to learn very little
from our mistakes, while mistakes are still judged as failures, while we
struggle with completely unrealistic timelines for hiring people, while we
see less and less names every year on our referral lists, while more and
more of us want to bleed green forever but have to feed the kids so must
look elsewhere for a real income, on and on, same old story.

BUT, it is encouraging to see these principles at least starting to be talked about,
and see human factors finally becoming important. Wasn't it way back in
1994 that one of the members of the South Canyon investigation team refused
to sign the final report because he felt it didn't adequately address the
human factors? But lately, we are beginning to see more and more "Lessons
Learned" reviews, which are great and I hope the agencies don't choke with
the first court case and quit doing those. Reviews like the Little Venus,
I-90 Deployment, Nuttal Fire, and others are just the kind of thing we need
to learn from, not suppress due to fear of the courts.

Like Burro said these principles will probably apply more at the crew level and not
regionally or nationally, until more and more of us are doing it at the
crew level, and demand it up the line and lead upward in getting the bigger
organization to "get it!" I will do everything I can at my crew level to
try and apply them. If I don't believe the agency can do it, at least I
can try to do it at my level. If one of my crew makes a mistake, its
because I didn't train them properly. I'm lucky to have two very sharp
crewmembers with degrees in Psychology on my crew, they eat this stuff up,
it makes my job so much easier!


Ted Putnam (psychologist from MTDC) refused in '94. Ab.

3/5 Ab,

I respect JerseyBoy and his point of view very much, but I would like to share
my thoughts with respect to his remarks on documentation.

First, the vast, vast majority of investigations do not end up in court. Failure to
document out of fear of suit does a great disservice to those investigations, and
to the potential lessons they hold.

Second, even if notes become evidence at trial, documentation cuts both ways.
As part of the record, they are just as likely to save one's butt as they are to burn it.

Third, nothing, and I mean NOTHING will do more harm to the Agency and its
employees than the odor of poor credibility in court. And nothing looks less credible
than a set of notes that say "I followed policy" when that just doesn't square with
what happened, or even worse, "I neglected to document because I didn't want my
notes to end up here."

The bottom line is that, barring magical circumstances, notes taken at accident scenes
will be discoverable at trial. But I don't think that's a good reason to avoid taking them.
If anything, it is just the opposite.

3/5 Burro,

The HRO research of Weick and others has focused on the incident management teams and jumper/hotshot crews, not really on the agencies themselves. IMTs are organized for high reliability. The teams and crews are the organizations being studied for their work on this stuff.

Judging from how the Washington Office twisted and reshaped the outcome of the Pulaski Conferences into the official FS Doctrine, here's what I think the agencies will embrace as the officially-sanctioned HRO tenets:

* Preoccupation with Success
* Reluctance to Complicate
* Insensitivity to Operations
* Commitment to Silence
* Indifference to Expertise

At least, that's what we've seen from South Canyon, Cramer and Thirtymile.

vfd cap'n

I appreciate the 5 general points, however I would like to know: Did those scientists actually attribute those 5 items to those tragedies and systemic failure of the federal agencies or is that your opinion? Please be absolutely clear here on what is your opinion and what these scientists have said. If they did specifically analyze those tragedies and make those attributions, I'd like to see their words and the document they come from. If that's your opinion, please make that clear in comparison with what they would say.

Weick-Sutcliffe's list that gets at the Mindfulness aspect of HROs are:

  • Preoccupation with failure
  • Reluctance to simplify interpretations
  • Sensitivity to operations
  • Commitment to resilience
  • Deference to expertise

As far as the original Pulaski Conference and further use of Doctrine to reshape the Forest Service, I think you lack knowledge regarding the process. Definition of FS Organizational Principles (Policies) have not kept pace with changes that have occurred in the past hundred years. Perhaps a better way to say this is that what they are has become unclear as we have evolved -- from resource managers being firefighters and on the ground, to resource managers sitting at desks -- and also as the academic and scientific knowledge regarding organizations has grown. In any org, mission and vision must be clear and the principles underlying decision making in the org must be clear. Accountabilities and responsibilities depend on having the principles codified, in our FS case in the FS Manual. This re-codification is going forward with rewrites of sections of the FSM 5200, 5210, 5220, 5230, 5240 and the handbooks and guides containing best practice guidelines that result from that. My kudos to the FS for attempting this clarification wherever the original "vision" came from, even if borrowed from Fire. It's a necessary starting point. The dialog is imperative even if we (Fire) don't agree with what the FS thinks are the important policy points. In dialog we can try to understand to find our way, or we can chart a new way. So you know, there are a number of fire people involved in the manual re-write.

The FS is responsible for the Fire Organization at this time. The Fire Organization is a High Reliability Organization focused on learning; or it's striving to be a HRO. Like the military, it is better if its Fire Principles (hard and fast rules for achieving a goal) are minimal, but training and best practices for risk assessment and lessons learned are maximal. There are safe ways to fight fire and unsafe ways, under an infinite number of conditions and with resources available. Too many hard and fast, black and white generalized rules and checklists can impair safety. Flexibility and best practice risk-assessment guidelines are key. Experience fighting fire is key; knowledge of fire behavior is key; judgment is key; knowing yourself and being aware of human pitfalls so as to avoid them when your life depends on that self-knowledge is key.

Safety is based proximally on judgment, on leadership, on work overload, on human factors like sleep that impair judgment, etc. Safety is also based upstream on 1) all the Weick-Sutliff HRO factors for the Fire Organization and also 2) on the clear Principals the FS or "parent organization" has in place. All are necessary for firefighter safety.

None of this is black and white as we would like.

Life was simple when I was a child and even a teenager. My parents had excellent communication. Often what was expected was communicated as "what if" this happened, what would you do? We talked it through. I followed their rules which I thought were my rules for safety. Their rules made sense because they got me to "buy in". As I grew, when their rules didn't make sense, I questioned and we worked it out. They trusted my growing KSAs and judgment. Rules for safety gave way to good, solid flexible judgment.

It's simple when you can simply follow rules (standard operating principles), and the rules work all the time. But what happens when you're in a situation where following one rule violates several others; or following rules on a checklist gets you burned up while you're checking rules off; or you're following what you think are rules in a linear process, but Nature-Fire is following no rules you know from your perspective and it's happening exponentially? Judgment, fire behavior knowledge, experience, risk-management, best practices... Even with all that, even within a HRO you can go to work in our business, do everything right from the narrow individual human perspective and die, whether from fire or a rock rolling down a mountainside. Wildland firefighting is a high risk profession. None-the-less, we need to strive to minimize the risk that can be identified and minimized.


3/4 A good friend and mentor sent this to me today... I had to share it!!!!! Perfect timing and from the heart while many hearts are aching.

It is what the entire wildland fire community means to many of us.... and what it means in the greater collective of being in the firefighter culture.



Civilian Friends -vs- Firefighter Friends:

Civilian Friends: Get upset if you're too busy to talk to them for a week.
Firefighter Friends: Are glad to see you after years, and will happily carry on the same conversation you were having the last time you met.

Civilian Friends: Have never seen you cry.
Firefighter Friends: Have cried with you.

Civilian Friends: Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.
Firefighter Friends: Keep your stuff so long they forget it's yours.

Civilian Friends: Know a few things about you.
Firefighter Friends: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.

Civilian Friends: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
Firefighter Friends: Will kick the crowds' ass that left you behind.

Civilian Friends: Are for a while
Firefighter Friends: Are for life.

Civilian Friends: Have shared a few experiences...
Firefighter Friends: Have shared a lifetime of experiences no citizen could ever dream of..

Civilian Friends: Will take your drink away when they think you've had enough...
Firefighter Friends: Will look at you stumbling all over the place and say, "You better drink the rest of that before you spill it!!" Then carry you home safely and put you to bed...
3/4 Patrick Henning, a Fire Apprentice on the Trabuco RD - Cleveland NF, was
killed in a single-vehicle accident last Friday evening on his way home
from work. He was member of the El Cariso Hotshots this past season and
currently worked on the district fuels crew. Our thoughts and prayers go
out to Patrick's family and friends during this difficult time. He will be
missed !!!

Carlton M. Joseph
Deputy Chief - Fire Operations
Cleveland NF

> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> <>< <>< <>< <>< <><

Services for Pat Henning will be at Ascension Cemetery, 24754 Trabuco Rd.,
Lake Forest, CA at 1:00 pm Saturday March 8. Viewing will be at O'Connor
Laguna Hills Mortuary, 25301 Alicia Pkwy, Laguna Hills Thursday March 6
from 7-9 pm. Cards may be sent to Matt Henning at 9 Gaviota, Rancho Santa
Margarita, CA 92688. Those that are on duty will be granted 4 hours of
admin leave to attend the funeral a uniform shirt and tie required. Those
attending off duty may also appear in uniform.

> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> <>< <>< <>< <>< <><
Gordon P. Martin - Division 2
Fire Management
Trabuco R.D. - Cleveland N.F.

3/4 I read with great interest the APA guide, but something stuck out at me that I'm worried about.

Step 1 encourages Personal Note taking - a person's account of what happened. Later on in the document, the paper notes that the APA should not share these notes with the OIG or OSHA or other investigative branches.

My question is this - will that really hold up in a court of law? It seems that any enterprising attorney would seek to have those notes entered as evidence, and used if they differ from other "official" accounts or later findings. I think the FS using the APA as a shield wouldn't be able to stop those notes from being used in investigations. Furthermore, if an employee didn't put down any notes, an attorney could ask why they were not following "guidelines" in not doing so. As you can see, this could lead to a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario where an employees accounts can be used to create doubt as to actions taken, or if omitted, may be breach of duty.

Not trying to start a fight over this, but seeing how the legal world works (both in fire, and in my new career in the medical field) anything that is put down on paper or that deviates from accepted guidelines/policy is an invitation for a lawsuit.


They're working on that... Ab.

3/4 To EB:

You can get individual health insurance through private policies. Blue Cross Blue Shield has a pretty good one. The policy has different levels of coverage. The ones that cover you better cost a bit more per month but, if you look at cost of getting sick or hurt, it is still cheap. It really is just a gamble. I think for the most part you can expect to pay about 100 to 150 dollars a month for a decent plan. You can check out web sites like einsurance.com and others. Hope this Helps: good luck.

3/4 LMD;

Last May I was able to do the official staff ride with a lot of those involved, due to the legal action currently underway all participants gave disclaimers. They wanted to do this so others could learn, so they did not speculate, or suppose, but stuck to what they remembered, saw, experienced. Likewise we spent the whole day there and afterwards the group was somber. I will leave the determination of guilty or not the the court and jury, they have a tough job ahead. Visiting the site and doing a staff ride even on your own with what's out there sheds a lot of light on the subject. I am biased. I know the players, my mission is to educate my staff on how to avoid similar situations. Let's not forget all those who survived this and as they re-live this through the legal action, hope they can have closure and lay these memories to rest.

Bushman 82


“When people can’t do anything about what they see, they feel helpless and
lose hope. If they see things that are wrong and can’t act to fix them. If
they bring up observations and suggestions and aren’t heard. It isn’t long
before they stop seeing, stop speaking up, and stop trying to act. When
people feel helpless, they tend to act mindlessly. “

This quote is taken from page 30 of The First Basic Teaching Guide for
Introducing High Reliability Organizing to the Wildland Fire Community
. The
Guide itself is really quite handy, but I challenge anyone to explain how
current experience for the Forest Service relates to this sentiment? Does
anyone consider the Forest Service a high reliability organization?

It seems high reliability organizing occurs most on the module or crew
level where there is personal accountability and trust. Looking at the
fire organization collectively or even a region/forest level it is hard to
say that the HRO principles are consistently met, yet the HRO terminology
is getting used a lot lately. I worry that this a symptom of the desire to
claim the HRO title (if such a thing exists) without doing the difficult
self analysis to identify and correct the underlying problems. One of the
principles is preoccupation with failure. If you can say ASC and HRO in
the same sentence you might not be preoccupied with failure. Using the
jargon does not mean much if there is no improvement. The title doesn't
mean anything in itself; it's an ongoing process. As soon as you claim to
be an HRO maybe you're missing a new problem.


3/4 Ab & All,

Kudos to whoever put together the APA guide. This is one of the best
documents our agency has ever produced.

Misery Whip
3/4 Thanks to the several people who have sent this in with the note below.

Here's the Accident Prevention Analysis Implementation Guide


Here is the Revised APA Guide -

It was revised in response to the numerous comments received from the
dialogue session, several After Action Reviews and numerous emails over the
past several months.

We will be distributing this guide at the National Safety Conference next

Unlike a typical reference document such as a Handbook, we expect this APA
Guide to mature along with our growth and experience in Doctrine, Just
Culture and human factors.

... In other words, expect continuous revisions and updates (learning).

We've come a long way from "peer reviews" and our destination continues to

Thank you,

Thanks for all your focused, hard work, Steve and to others -- like Ted Putnam our mindfulness, attachment, and human factors guy -- who have contributed to the APA evolution. Readers, remember we now have a variety of proven Lessons Learned options: from After Action Review to FLA to APA to Serious Accident Investigation. None of us wants accidents or near misses, however when they occur we need to learn from them. Here's a table to remind you of the options available and when you might choose to use them. Ab.

3/4 Does anyone know more about the fingerprinting of FS employees
that I heard from a line officer should be starting in the near future?


3/4 JNI,

Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, our guru on the topic of IFPM-FSFPM and Series 401, gave
a powerpoint presentation on where R5 is in the process at this time. All 401 hires
are held up at this time until some of this gets resolved.

At my request, Jeanne sent the ppt to me and said I could share it. Other regions did
not make decisions or follow quals, etc as a region, as I understand it, but forest by
forest. If anyone outside R5 knows more about what's going on elsewhere, chime in.

I hope this helps: www.wildlandfire.com/ppt/ifpm-fsfpm-08-feb.ppt (71K ppt file)

People coming for R5 jobs from regions outside of R5 may have a steep learning curve
on this.


3/4 Ab,

Did we ever hear any more on IFPM qualifications and the 401 problems?
Is R5 any less in the dark than the rest of us?


3/4 Ab,

I was just reading through the 2008 Federal Employees Almanac... yes I'm bored. In Chapter 1, page 5 there is a section on Special Salary Rates, I think someone higher up the chain needs to read this and decipher it. As far as I can tell its a relatively simple process... it references recruitment and retention. I wasn't able to find anything on the web site for the almanac which is www.federaldaily.com to copy and paste a link but federal employees should be able to get a copy. If you post this, post it as an anonymous source. Thanks for all the good work you do.


You're welcome. Special Salary Rates have been in place in SoCal for a number of years. The problem is that the rates are fixed and do not take into account Cost of Living increases. I've heard that one of the thoughts right now is that FF Salaries in CA should have Cost of Living Increases figured in with Special Salary Rates on top of that. Ab.

3/4 Here's the 52 page HRO Teaching guide.

The First Basic Teaching Guide
for Introducing High Reliability Organizing
to the Wildland Fire Community:

From the Field to
Line Officers

Take a look. www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/safe/teaching-hro.doc 307K doc file


3/4 Important HOTLIST thread on payment for fuel on large, remote fires. I hope the Business Office and the IMTs are paying attention to possible problems resulting from the new payment rule.

And check this hotlist item: Response to the CA-BDU-Springs Fire. Can anyone dismiss or verify? Ab.

3/4 Hey All-

When I lived down in Chico (California) I'd go around in the spring
talking to the crews about my injury, how it happened & that sort of
thing- Everyone called it "safety training".

Ron Marley at Shasta College started it all. Then someone from Redding
saw me & invited me over. Tahoe got the word & asked, so there I went.
Then it snowballed. Lassen. Eldorado. Plumas. North Lake Tahoe VFD.
Klamath. Various district meetings all over the place. Couple of BLM
meetings. Portland for a Timberfallers Roundtable. I even went all the
way down tSoCal & talked to Laguna. I've been to the R3 IHC
conference, and am oing back to Flagstaff this year. Pretty much I've
been to so many paces I can't remember where all I've been anymore.

So now I'm up in Oregon. Corvallis to be exact. It's where school is.
I know there are crews around here. 13 National Forests in Oregon
alone. Not sure if anyone up here has heard of me, but if you have &
would like me to talk to your crew / engine / district meeting /
whatever let me know & we'll schedule something. If you haven't and
are wondering "Who the heck is this guy?" check out
http://krstofer.org/poplar/ for what happened & then if you wish
ask... Well pretty much anyone who was around back in '01.

Anyway, I'm here & offering myself as a rather unconventional hazard
training guy. Just ask anyone who's seen me. Apparently I made an
impact else why would they ask me back?
What do I need to make it work? I don't need much. Get me to you &
back. Feed me & give me a corner to sleep in if necessary I'm happy &
hopefully when I leave, you are as well.
I'm in school so mondays & fridays work best if you are more than a
day away. What's the schedule so far? Look here:

Thanks Much-

Good to hear from you Krs. You have an important message to share. Ab.

3/4 EB:

I'm no expert on insurance, but can offer a few observations. The types of situations you mention make me think you're concerned about sustaining an injury as a firefighter. If something happens on the job, it should be covered by worker's compensation. Be careful to document everything, even if something originally appears to be minor. As for other coverage, I'm guessing you are single in your early 20s? At that age, I just carried a catastrophic policy which is relatively cheap with a very high deductible. I covered the routine stuff, but carried the insurance in case I got run over by a beer truck or something and needed to be hospitalized.

Still out there as an AD

3/3 Ab -

My son is a seasonal wildland firefighter who faced the same medical insurance
situation as the person who posted. He found individual medical insurance
through www.ehealthinsurance.com. They offered many choices and he found
a plan that seems to be reasonably priced.

Hope this helps.

R1 Mom

3/3 While the Aetna PPO Health Insurance through ANPR is probably entirely legitimate and well meaning, there are some glaring red flags to consider depending upon your circumstances and comfort level.

1) "Maximum coverage annually of $10,000 for inpatient care."

2) $1,010.24 per year (individual) and $2,464.48 (individual +1) premiums ---- All for a $10,000 maximum of coverage?

3) No direct link to terms of the policy and/or limitations.

There are other options for temporary firefighters such as FSA/HSA accounts in conjunction with either a high deductible health insurance plan, or a catastrophic medical insurance plan. FSA/HSA accounts are considered pre-tax. When folks are young and/or healthy, often times the tax deferment and lower costs are an investment inn their future.

In the absence of a fairly low deductible, high coverage coverage plan such as is offered by the FEHBP, I'd hope that folks look at all options available.... and continue to support the efforts of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association to bring full FEHBP coverage to temporary/seasonal firefighters.

A one week stay in the hospital can run well over $250,000.

3/3 AB,

I found this song by the punk rock band called Strung Out. Ironically it is named
"Mission Statement". With all of the talk from Ed about our mission statement
for the Forest Service in R5, I thought it portrayed what we are trying to say perfectly.
I know, I still believe, as R5 Firefighters we can make a difference. I believe our
voices can be heard!

"Mission Statement"

I believe you own your soul
Gotta feel the pain and grow
Our best intentions blowing in the wind
I got trouble on my mind
You've got a little on your mind
We both turn running but we don't belong

I still believe in the changes
I still believe in the sound
My voice is screaming out
We are forever bound

I still believe in all that we can do
When the valley gets too dark
We'll lead the drum into the marches
I still believe

Hollow insincerity
You've got to come to sing with me
We are the change that we've been screaming for
Who's gonna help us now
Who's gonna show us how
We got a story now
Lets write a song

I still believe we can make this
There's something bigger than what breaks us
My voice is screaming out
So never let me down
Forever bound

I still believe in the song of the underdog
In the bottom of my heart along the railroad tracks
I still believe

I got the WORLD on my mind
Do I have you by my side
There's more to this than meets the eye
There's more to life then we can buy

Forever bound
I still believe in all that we can do
When the valley gets too dark
We'll lead the drum into the marches
I still believe
That we still got a chance

Along this lonely road
We're never who we say we are
I heard the word
I feel the change
And I see something in the way

-Brushfire (R5 Engineer)

P.S. Thanks to Casey and the FWFSA for all of the hard work in our behalf!
Your effort is not in vain!!!

3/3 In response to EB,

Congratulations on the new job. I have only recently
heard of this option for seasonal health insurance, below,
but I think it is legit. The Association for National
Park Rangers offers health insurance to its members.
Membership is open to non-Park employees at $70
annually or $45 if you are a full time student. Rates
and application info can be found at:


Just a hotshot
3/3 I'm a friend of Patrick Henning, age 21, who taken away from us this Friday.
His body was found on Saturday 3/01/2008. He died on his way home from
work. He was recognized by emergency workers because of his El Cariso
Hot Shot shirt, green nomex pants and whites boots he had on. Patrick's family
is in shock but coping with the loss of their twin son (both men work for the
Forest Service). His parents are proud he had accomplished his goal of becoming
a Firefighter. For information on funeral visit his dedication page. All agencies
and departments are welcome to attend the loss of our brother.


Gone but not Forgotten!

Thanks jl for the link to the nice tribute. Ab.

3/3 LMD - you're right on the money with your comments about the Thirtymile fire.
Your only misconception is believing that this trial is about seeking justice and
punishing wrong-doing, when in reality it's about politics and the attempt of the
Spokane US Attorney to make political points to further his personal agenda
(read that, becoming a Federal Court Judge).

3/3 Hope to see everyone in RENO for the WUI conference!

signed Firehog!
3/3 Hi! I apologize for my lack of knowledge when it comes to
posting/chatting/etc, but I do know how to email, so here I go:

I just accepted a temporary seasonal position with the Forest Service
at the GS-4 level. I asked my crew boss if there was any health
insurance available. He looked into it for me and said that there
isn't because it's just a temporary seasonal position.

Since I'm sure many other firefighters have been in this spot, I was
just wondering if anyone had any suggestions...basically, I just want
to make sure that I don't wipe out my entire season's pay and then
some because of an injury, illness, or airlift.

If you have any advice, I'd appreciate it!


You did it right.
Readers, any comments or suggestions for EB? Ab.

3/3 LMD:

Welcome to the world of firefighter Satori.

Many years ago I was burned over in a deep canyon and survived with only minor burns because I got in the creek. Several of us did the same thing and we all still tell the story.

I spent many subsequent years as an FMO. My primary training device to keep all of my people safe was to show and tell what I had already learned the hard way in real places and with real fire behavior information. Everybody stayed safe and as a retiree I am proud of that.

The judge and jury must visit the site and soon with some good fire behaviorists to explain it to them!! As I understand everything, Ellreese Daniels did everything right in giving orders to go to the river but those who perished evidently for reasons we may never know chose another route of escape. God bless their souls.

3/3 AB,

Below is a quote from Wenatchee Worlds' staff writer, Jay Patrick's article, "Judge delays decision on jury visit to Thirtymile site, pushes back trial".

"Daniels' lawyer wants the jury to see the site because, they say, pictures and videos do not provide enough detail for the jury to judge if Daniels was negligent in not getting his crew to a safe spot.

"To deny the jurors the ability to view the scene will significantly impair Mr. Daniels' right to present the defense of his case," Daniels' lawyer wrote in a recent motion.

Prosecutors say the site is so well documented that there's no need for the jury to see in person the place where 10 firefighters survived the fire in a wide spot on a road, while four died in their fire shelters on a rocky slope above.

I am absolutely appalled by the statement by the "prosecutors" both as a former wildland firefighter and as a civilian.

I will admit that I too thought I understood everything that happened at Thirtymile. I never imagined I would have anything else to learn other than what I had already.

After all, I'd seen the reports, investigations and insider views. I was once a rookie firefighter myself on aggressive fire line assignments, and many years later, a Crew Boss trainee in charge of a crew of rookies.

I thought I had it all in perspective.

That was, until last June when my husband took me to Thirtymile for a simplified version of a "Staff Ride" that had been given to his suppression module as part of fire refresher training last spring.

Whatever I thought I knew was erased the moment we entered the canyon.

From all the reports I'd read, I thought it was so simple. I could not have been more ignorant.

Looking at the topog map in my lap, and looking out the windshield in front of me, I knew I had never understood what those crews faced that day.

As we worked our way to the site, recounting the day as it developed, I was humbled.

I was in awe of how subtly and inconspicuously the fire had transitioned.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon at the actual site of the entrapment.

Talking it out and going over scenarios. We only left when the light faded, forever changed.

Never again will I assume to know a site until I've walked it.

I want the prosecutors to know the same!

Is there any way to ensure they get a real "Staff Ride" from firefighters that were really there??

Thank you for letting me vent.


Same feeling I got from actually going to Storm King. The Power of Nature, even without the presence of fire in that moment, lets people know they are but mere humans. Prosecutors would rather create the jurors' mindset, in my opinion. Ellreese's lawyer (thanks Tina) is working to make their experience different by letting Nature speak for Herself. Ab.


Celebrating the life not the death of a fallen brother Patrick Henning.
You have left us physically, but remain strongly alive in our hearts.
We know that some day we will all meet and get together again,
but when still remains. Til then you will guide us as we walk the
grounds that the devil dances, for you will be known as the Trabuco
guardian angel
. Remember once a hotshot, always a hotshot.
You will be missed on and off the field, brother.

Gone But Not Forgotten!


3/3 AB & All:

According to the Senate Interior Approps Subcommittee, still no Forest
Service retention plan to Congress as of yet. Agency still asking for more
time. Hopefully a plan will be forthcoming by the time the April 1st
hearing arrives.

3/3 Hey, Fuels Folks,

I've heard there's some neat biomass conversion momentum in Fuels on the Six Rivers NF. Is anyone else working on or helping the public or private sector work on that program? I've heard that in Idaho and Montana there are some businesses that have long worked in biomass conversion.

Wasn't there discussion of thinning and harvesting pole-sized trees here some time back? Are there incentives? Seems a needed business in this day and age.


3/3 New trial date for Ellreese is now 5/5. This change was made, in part, to
accommodate getting up to the site if possible. The judge wants to visit
the site prior to making a decision whether or not to take the jury up
there. The government (prosecution) is opposing that request.

Thanks for your help.
3/2 R.I.P
Patrick Michael Henning
My condolences to a fallen brother's
family and friends....

Gone but not Forgotten!


3/2 Informative post on the hotlist by Oswego, one of our East Coast firefighters (NJ Pine Barrens) who comes west sometimes during western fire season. He's described fuels, weather, topography, fire behavior, fire season, and command structure of his agency and has drawn contrasts with the West. Quite interesting. Thanks Oswego. Ab.


Perhaps other firefighters from western Pennsylvania, Missouri, somewhere in the Midwest, Minnesota, or South or the Texas Forest Service or from Canada would be willing to do a similar informative post on the hotlist. Ab.

3/2 NorCal Fed,

In Region 4, I am seeing this starting to happen on our teams. Certainly not at the
level that you in Region 5 are experiencing. But it sure is tough to do the same job
as the next guy and only get paid 1/3 of what they are making on that assignment.

I feel the itch sometimes to find my self a gig like that. I have even seen people from
county serve as a grunt in supply and you know they are making 4 to 5 times as much
as the AD crews that are the norm.

R4 Fed.

3/2 from the hotlist:

Two Teenagers face felony charges for Angel Fire last September near Julien

JULIAN – Two Julian teenagers, accused of starting the 850-acre Angel fire that destroyed one house and a large part of an Episcopal church retreat, will appear in court later this month for a preliminary hearing on felony charges of recklessly starting a fire.

If convicted, Francisco Javier Abarca, 19, and Mario J.W. DeLuca, 18, both of Julian, could also be held liable for the $3 million cost of fighting the September fire, officials say.

The blaze, caused by an illegal campfire, forced the evacuation of hundreds in the mountain town on Sept. 15. Seventeen buildings were destroyed at Camp Stevens, which was purchased in 1952 jointly by the Episcopal Dioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego.

Abarca and DeLuca are charged with a form of arson that does not require prosecutors to prove they intended to burn forest or buildings. If convicted, the teens face a maximum of three years in prison. (MORE at the link above)

3/2 SoCal CalFire

Your post reflects what is happening on ALL California Type 1 & 2 Teams. Most Teams have an average of 40-50% of their team being local govt. folks. Not only are those non-feds on the team making this kind of money but their backfill as well. Then the Dept. gets to add a 15 to 18% admin fee to it as well. So in essence that one person costs the tax payers $100K plus a year to be on a Fed team.

They tell us that they cannot pay us (Fed Fire) what other departments make and are OK with it. They say that when we lose a person to a state or local govt. fire agency that they still will be on the fireline fighting the same fire.

My point is that they cannot afford to raise our salary to pay the fair market rate but they can pay double or triple the amount for us to leave for another agency and fight the same fire.

Sounds like good business to me!

NorCal FedFire
3/2 There's a discussion on one of the informal CalFire posting sites about salaries being posted on the internet, specifically in this case, Chico (Butte Co) firefighters: www.chicoer.com/salaries. (The Supreme Court has said that government salaries are public information and different groups post them from time to time.) One CalFire firefighter said: If we are doing ok, then Chico City Fire is doing GREAT. We had zero Fire Captains over $150,000. They had four. They also had several Captains above the $125,000 mark, we had one.

The interesting part to me is the Chico firefighter who made $179,000 last year. Chico firefighters work long hours for the pay (56 hrs per week), but he's also a DIVS on a Type II Team and you guys (or all of us, the nation's taxpayers) pay his OT. Apparently, the top Chico Captains are on fed teams. They have a couple FAEs and 1 FF also on the teams. The one FF made $111K.

Thought we all should know...

SoCal CalFire

hotlist thread on salaries & hours worked

3/2 From jl:

Firefighter dies on way home

U.S. Forest Service firefighter dies in crash
Patrick Michael Henning was found dead in his car this morning along the 241.
By Angela Potter, Orange County Register


A 21-year-old off-duty U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service firefighter died after a Friday night crash on the 241 southbound, north of the 133 in Irvine.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Christopher Berry said it was still unclear what caused the accident or exactly what happened, adding the incident likely occurred between 8 and 11 p.m.

California Highway Patrol officers found the vehicle off the shoulder of the 241 after receiving a report of a truck down an embankment just after 7 a.m. today.

The driver has been identified as Patrick Michael Henning, 21, of Rancho Santa Margarita. Henning's truck, a green 1996 Toyota Tacoma, was found with Henning's body inside. Henning died of injuries sustained during the crash, which caused the truck to flip several times, Berry said.

He said there was no evidence that another vehicle was involved in the accident.

Our condolences. Ab.

3/1 Nice CPS article in the January Fire and Rescue, by Doug Campbell, posted with permission. Thanks for your great contributions to firefighter safety, Doug. Ab.

Wildland fires in Greece plus CPS (3,278K doc file)

3/1 Ramona Air Attack logo


I got a kick out of the Ramona logo, it's been around for quite awhile in its various stages. Find attached two jpg's from my father's slide collection showing the Ramona logo as it appeared on Hemet Valley's TBMs at the time.

TBM 72, John Norman's TBM reloading at Ryan AAB May 7, 1967

TBM 71, Shelly Knudson's TBM at Hemet for winter maintenance, January 6, 1966 (never mind the "ramp-rat" in the red shirt LOL)

Tom Stein

Thanks, Tom, I put them on the Logo 14 photo page. Ab.

3/1 Hi to all:

First & foremost my sincerest gratitude to the many new FWFSA members and those who have supported the organization for years and years who gave me the time to chat with them while in Reno. Having the opportunity to be a part of such conferences reaffirms my passion, commitment, respect, admiration and affection for all of you.

One thing that shone through all the uneasiness, uncertainty, low morale and a true sense of futility was the camaraderie amongst the firefighters, old & young, seasoned or not and the mutual respect and admiration they all have for each other.

That, above all else will keep this fire program alive, progressive and the best in the world despite what appears to be efforts to "reign in" such progress.

Watching eyes light up when folks saw Ray Q, or the immense respect for the comments of Norm Walker speaking about Esperanza, a talk that should have been attended by Ed, Randy and every line officer there at the conference, and it was clear these folks are truly hurt by the lack of genuine support from their Agency but still very, very proud of who they are and what they do.

I too spoke with Mr. Moore for a few moments and did acknowledge to him that he was far more candid, accessible and personable than Mr. Blackwell and more recently Bernie. That being said, he did concur that proper classification is something that should be looked at but he was adamant that he didn't agree with a Forest Service "Fire Service."

I suppose that would be a common thought for anyone coming in to R5. However, in my opinion, for anyone at that level, RF, FAM Director etc., who comes into R5 must be willing to accept the fact that R5 is what it is... that what line officers and others perceive to be a movement by FIRE away from the land management agency is nothing more than the absolute critically necessary progress the program must make to keep pace with the complexities of wildland firefighting in R5 and to stay in tune with the multitude of fire agencies on any given incident in California and much of the West and most importantly, to stay as safe as possible.

As we tried with Chief Kimbell, we have offered to work with Mr. Moore to make the land management agency fire programs the place to make a career. Hopefully in time he will realize that such an end result will necessitate un-encumbering his firefighters from archaic pay & personnel policies and recognizing that what he sees in R5 will, at some point in time, be a necessity in most of the country.

Further, although heard second hand, Mr. Moore indicated he was tired of hearing that wildland firefighting is like a war, and that it won't be on his watch. Perhaps he was referring to fatalities and in fact while there apparently is an "acceptable loss" mentality in the Armed Forces, we all strive to ensure everyone goes home safely after a wildfire incident.

I concur and we all would like to think & hope that no one will ever lose their lives again on a wildfire. But, as we have seen, regardless of the lessons learned, the advancement in science, technology, training etc., as Norm so eloquently said on Wednesday, in this business you can go to work and do everything right...and still lose your life. Simply stated, Mother Nature doesn't play by the same rules.

In my opinion line officers and leadership must come to grips with that reality rather than trying to cover their rear ends with senseless policies that may in fact increase the risks to our firefighters. REgression is not the answer. PROgression is. And, as long as the fire program is managed by non-fire folks, the program will continue to cost too much money; lose its best & brightest and continue to display, as we have seen in the recent GAO report on outsourcing, an ineptitude at fiscal management.

What will save this program is what I saw in Reno amongst the firefighters; their camaraderie; the understanding of key players in Congress; the fact that both democratic senators & OMB budget analysts share the same concerns about the mismanagement of the fire program and even agree on some ideas to save the programs and above all else, the voice of these firefighters whom we all owe so much to.

Thanks again,

3/1 To all,

It's time to join the FWFSA and help Casey with all of these issues!
I did, so get involved!


3/1 Howdy AB,

It's been a while since I visited. I was recently given a book to review. It's titled On The Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters by Matthew Desmond. Matt is a Sociology student at the University of Wisconsin and was a member of the USFS Elk River Fire crew for 4 seasons. Matt's book is a very good explanation of who we are and why we are the people we are. Matt talks about the cultural challenges that are facing the USFS as well as FD's all over. I feel this is excellent reading for those in supervisor positions and those that are planning to move up in the Fire world. It's not a book full of "War Stories" (it does have some) and it does help explain many of the reasons we have some of the pitfalls we constantly complain about in our fire world.

I rate it 4 chainsaws on the AB scale.


I'll have to check it out. I added it to the Fire Books page. Added a few more new books and several DVDs also. If you order through Amazon, wildlandfire.com gets a small kickback. Ab.

3/1 gone but not forgotten
Psssst, I'm sure you've heard... just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not
out to get you...

Thanks to the firefighter (?Klamath hotshot?) who told me the trick about warding off the
black bear from destroying my wilderness satellite dish (again). Please remind me who you
are so I can mentally thank you from our wilderness retreat. I talked with so many people
I don't remember which person gave me the tip.

By the way, the tip to keep black bears from eating the Cat 5 Cable, satellite dish and
other things:

Get a clean, dry plastic container like a gallon milk jug. Fill it several inches full with moth
balls, replace the lid and hang it near the thing you're trying to protect. The bear goes for
plastic first. Evidently, biting into a mothball container tastes very, very bad.

For what it's worth, I like our new Regional Forester Randy Moore quite well. I think he's
genuinely seeking solutions and inviting dialog. His communication style is that of a leader.
Felt to me like a breath of hope. I only hope the region with all its complexity, steep learning
curve, and occasional legal problems (connected with diversity, environmentalists, etc) doesn't
burn him out. We've had 3 new Regional Foresters in the last 7 or 8 years. I hope Randy
sticks around to give this a real go.

To the two other guys who emerged who think they might also need a lawyer, I don't know any
nor have I heard of any in Sacramento that do "job action" or "civil service" work. If anyone has
any Sac lawyer contacts for these firefighters, please let me know. Ab can pass the word on, I'm


3/1 I have to say that it is pretty dis heartening to see R5 fire circling the drain like everyone says it is.
They talk about secret meetings and clandestine retreats between FS and Cal-fire.
Instead of secret death of the Angeles meetings maybe they are talking about trading acres in DPAs?
Remember the blue ribbon panel is still out for the Basin after the Angora.
The proposal was for the State to take back their land and drop four Cal fire engines in the Basin.
The report is due out at the end of the month.
Being that it is March 1st.
Not everything is a conspiracy to get Socal forests. I don't trust the WO one bit, but at the same time wow!
Paranoia is just that paranoia.
Everyone is a bit fixated. Can you say tunnel vision?
I'm guilty too, but there is other stuff going on.

I've made it no secret of my intent to leave just waiting for the list.
For the acting AFEO that was asking about the time for the list to come out...
Expect something in your mailbox from today till the end of April.
I'll bet sooner or later that something will show up.
I've heard two weeks to two months.
Just depends on how long it takes Cal-fire HR to run through and verify 3000 apps.

In the end good luck.
Lots of well qualified candidates applied.
Gonna be a tight race for the first three bands.
I'm almost willing to bet 99, 98, 97 percents make those three bands.
And Riverside would be the best bet to get hired.

gone but not forgotten

3/1 Fly on the Wall,

That paragraph is such a "downer"...

"I, nor the public value your wildland knowledge, skills, and abilities,
as much as municipal skills, and we really don't expect as much from
you anyway".

Hog-wash. You don't feel that way Tom and you know it. Neither
does the public.

3/1 I can’t believe that all we have heard here at
They Said from the Chief’s Meeting was the question
from Rocky (though it was a solid question). With all
of the issues that the R-5 Fire and Aviation Program
are facing right now, nothing was said regarding the
long overdue report from the retention meeting? Or
how the Division Chiefs are expected to deal with the
continued loss of upper and mid-level module

Quite frankly, I find the lack of leadership in R-5
at both the Forest and Regional levels absolutely
stunning. I have talked to many of my counterparts at
the Division Chief level in the last several months
regarding what is going on within the R-5 fire
program, and the general consensus is that every
single one of them has a complete lack of faith that
anything will change under the current leadership.

Isn't the purpose of getting into leadership positions
to lead, address the issues of your subordinates, and
try to make the changes necessary to make a positive
difference? It seems to me that many of our current
“leaders” are acting more like politicians, afraid to
make waves rather than riding the good reputations
that got them into their current positions and
grabbing the bull by the horns. Love him or hate him,
at least Q made things happen, and you always knew
where he stood.

A close friend of mine, who long ago left the
FS to join an LG department, attended the Hotshot
workshop and said that the writing on the wall was
clear to him, from what the Deputy RF had to say. I
think it is time to accept the fact that we are
witnessing the systematic dismantling of the R-5 Fire
program, but they can’t say as much because they do
not want to draw unwanted attention to what is
happening from Congress. But if you put the pieces
together ‘we’ll still be working under a Unified
Command’, rumors of secret discussions with CalFire to
cover FS stations, and the complete lack of interest
to address the exodus of the FS’s best and brightest
with any real meaningful dialogue, ideas, or actions,
the future starts to come into focus.

I also heard that there was talk at the
Hotshot Workshop about discussions to have CalFire
start covering the Angeles NF stations as soon as this
year, any truth to that one?

Thank God for Casey and the FWFSA! Keep up the good

(the original one)

3/1 So after talking to several Captains and a battalion chief on the Eldorado, and
as it lays right now, only 5 out of 9 engines
will be staffed this summer, unless
they can find some new captains and engineers.


3/1 Tom Harbors Blog

I have been just watching and learning a lot through the current threads but I have a few questions.

Tom Harbour stated,

"The more fundamental, long term point of my apprentice speech is that pay is derived from the knowledge, skills and abilities we ask of our firefighters. Those abilities are cogent only in terms of what we ask our folks to do, which stems from our mission. I’m button-bustin’ proud of USFS firefighters, they are the best in the world at what they do. What we do in the wildland community is different, in some key aspects, from what the society expects of municipal firefighters. As long as there is a differentiation between the skills expected of wildland firefighters and municipal firefighters, we’ll be paid differently."

Well I have to ask the question: Does society still have such separate expectations? On my Northern California forest we have yearly exercises to train to stay current on the use of SCBAs; we keep people with EMT and first responders skills on our engines, "with the purpose of taking care of ourselves". We do cross training with the local VFD.

How can we live, work, and train in these rural communities and not help when the traffic accident is a mile from the station?
Can the Public tell the deference when their house is burning and we are suited up for our safety that our missions are different? I am not saying that we are exactly the same, I know that there are differences fundamental in focus but I think the larger the interface becomes the more the line blurs. I think part of the problem is the longer we are in the services we become indoctrinated, and we focus on the color of things.

We have to remember that we may notice that the two engines parked next to each other are two different colors. The public just sees two fire engines.

I know that the Forest Service is a national service, and not every region has the same issues, but how long before these issues get to your neck of the woods?

Sign me

Fly on the Wall

3/1 Wallflower,

I am confused this Saturday morning. I just read your post about your qualified friend leaving the USFS with a pay cut for another job... I thought everyone was complaining that R-5 doesn't pay that much? So is this friend now paying his/ her employer for the privilege of working for him/ her? (tongue in cheek) Now I would agree there are times to leave a job for another with a cut in pay, to which those reasons would either be personnel conflicts or the employer has GREAT problems. Maybe you could clarify for me on how a person in R-6 (which everyone knows the employees there do not get paid a decent living wage), would leave his/her job for another with a pay cut? Perhaps what I am saying is that a post like wallflowers hurts all those points that are stating that R-5 doesn't pay well.

just observing....

Hi just observing. A number of firefighters taking our Nov/Dec'07 survey of wildland firefighters potentially going to CalFire stated that they were applying for positions below positions they currently hold simply to get their foot in the door. They feel they can advance reasonably quickly once in as they prove themselves. Then they're on their way: they get better benefits, job security and retirement. It's like planning for your career and lifetime of earning. Often those who plan can take a step back in changing jobs with the expectation of having better chances of security, promotion and retirement. Ab.

3/1 Could someone please share with us what Region 5 Regional Forester Randy Moore said to the Hotshot group at the Chiefs Meeting in Reno on Wednesday morning of the 27th?

I heard that in response to questions about the "perceived" retention issue, he basically parroted Mark Rey's detrimental and demoralizing 2/12/08 interview comment to reporter Erica W. In so many words... at least you get to work with our own good, well trained people on the fireline, who have joined our cooperators.

Apparently some people in our own agency are not really convinced yet that there is a retention issue in California. Its seems that we only have a seven percent "quit rate". Of course that count is from several months ago... you know, before the mass Cal Fire hire and most likely doesn't take into account "insignificants" such as, retirements, temporary firefighters or.. not yet converted apprentices.

The deal is that even if 7% were a vaguely realistic or usable number for the permanent fire work force, it would be very significant at a time like this when we already have a very depleted workforce. As experienced firefighters retire, take jobs with other agencies, or quit and get a higher paying job with benefits at places like Starbucks or Burger King, it's becoming impossible to keep crews "type one" due to lack of qualified overhead. In addition, engines go from seven to five day coverage and/or are being shut down completely.

Does the Swiss cheese model have any significant meaning to anyone as latent factors are quickly being set up for another major fatality fire? Will the public be satisfied with foresters, upper management elite and "ologists", protecting their property instead of the time tested best wildland firefighting force in the world?

Hopefully, something positive will happen soon with of all of this, things are escalating quickly on a downward spiral, patience and sacrifice will be a key factor.

Do I have any confirmation or discussion on any of this from anyone who was at the Reno meeting?

Professionally yours,
Reality check.

PPS: ******To Casey Judd, You're doing a great job Mr. Judd! Keep up the good work... you are greatly appreciated by the fire community.

I called around and attrition of leadership is 7% the way it was figured by the regional office, counting only permanent firefighters and before the first CalFire hire. I heard that attrition is 13.5% for feds nationally across agencies, so the 7% number does not raise any red flags. I also heard that at the meeting some chiefs on the southern forests said loss rates for them are much higher with the CalFire hire:
26% turnover on the Angeles NF and 23% on the San Bernardino. This is worrisome when peoples' lives depend on competency of the middle manager leaders who are leaving. For example, when a 15 year captain leaves and a 2 yr apprentice steps in, competency is lost and firefighter safety is impacted. Ab.

3/1 Noname fire,

In regards to Randy Moore becoming engaged, He came into the captains group for a few minutes and ended up staying 2 hours. He was VERY engaged, when was the last time a regional forester came to talk to engine captains? He is VERY aware of our issues. I believe that he cares for the firefighters and is willing to go to bat with Washington for us. there was a positive buzz in the captains group after he left. Also believe it or not Ed H did a better job of communicating with us too.

Original Hugh

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