"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
April, 2008

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4/30 Dear emt-mb;

Some of us know who you are and continually have you in our thoughts and prayers
for your safe return. Although things may seem the same over the last 7 months, things
are hopping on Capitol Hill and hopefully folks will see some REAL changes in the
near future.

Stay safe and get back soon. We need your dues !!! :)

Casey
4/30 Ralph;

Thank you for your post; an excellent (in the opinion of one who wasn't there, but has "been there" in similar... debacles) assessment of the Thirty- Mile mess.

And thank you for verbalizing my surprisingly mixed reactions to the news; I, too (and suspect, many other FF's), am concerned about the feelings of the families and survivors. WE MUST REMEMBER the survivors and families, otherwise, we dishonor the fallen. We must, as a community, with our actions, support them in every way appropriate and possible, for as long as is needed.

This begins with helping them to understand what happened, and why, and how it could come about; them doing everything we can to change the system (example: your ICT- 3 review team; a good start, but not an end in itself) so that these incidents stop occurring. We can't stop the fires from occurring, but we can minimize the confusion and fatigue...). This will require, of course, some brutal honesty and open communication from those of us who have been placed in these hectic, confused changes- of- command, etc.; sometimes, will even require some painful admissions about the part(s) we played.

But, I still feel very strongly that crucifying a relatively new IC3 will do nothing toward preventing future tragedies, and in fact, would probably contribute to the problem, rather than the solution.

Congratulations, Ellreese, Tina (GREAT job!!), and all his supporters.

Support the Survivors!

Pyro
4/29 Readers,

Check out our Home page, the Wallpaper page and Fire36 photo page with an eye on the photos. "Bubba" McConnell has sent in some great flames photos he took during the Ft Carson fire the week of April15. The photo on the home page will be a candidate for the '09 wildlandfire.com calendar for sure.

Remember as you're out an about this season to take some photos. Ab.

4/29 Wow Gizmo-

Your post from 4/24 was moving. You're absolutely right, we have to do
better, as an agency and as people. You have a strong sense of hope.
I just got done with a three day symposium on fire ecology in the Klamath
Region, and a take home message was hope. Hope that, given the knowledge
base we have, that better decisions will be made in the future. Its seems
to me that many are full of hope right now, hope for better leadership, better
pay, better representation. I have hope that the agency will see the great benefit
of Appropriate Management Response (AMR), a topic much discussed
during the symposium. It will be a better day when we recognize that not
all fires must be suppressed and alot of resources are simply not more
valuable than the life of a fire fighter.

Klamathman

4/29 R5 Vacancies

Here is a website that has close to a hundred R5 Vacancies if not more
that should be known to the Regional Staff. They are not completely up to
date as we have a GS-07, GS-06 and Senior FF positions not listed for our
district handcrew that is shut down due to unstaffed positions. Our
district has no Senior FF positions filled for 5 engines.

This website shows open positions for GS-06 thru GS-11 in R5 for
overhead, hand crews, engines, helitack, and prevention.

www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/trackingdb/postings.phpl

signed just another North Zone Captain

4/29 While I am sure that most of us are relieved that Daniels was able to negotiate a plea, I feel sorrow for the Weaver family and the families of the other brave young people who died in that tragic event. They must be feeling that no one is being held accountable, and that nothing was done to prevent similar future tragedies. I wish they could know otherwise.....

Some of us knew, and more do today, that fatigue is a common factor in many major events such as Thirtymile. Missoula has produced research showing that a 24 hour shift can cause situational awareness loss similar to that of intoxication.
When one looks at the timeline, and reads the report, it is apparent that all members must have been into advanced stages of fatigue. To assign "blame" to a person who reacts to fatigue in a predictable manner is futile and counter-productive.

What can/has been done to prevent future tragedies?

My unit will not dispatch resources to an extended attack incident late at night. Why create a "fatigue" situation from the outset. The GACC has adopted this as SOP and while they give forests a "heads up" resource order late at night, they do not expect travel to begin until a crew is rested.

In addition the testing of ICT3s has identified those who lack the experience, skills or leadership qualities to retain those red-card quals. I serve (still) as a member of a regional evaluation team. We were not shy to remove qualification cards from those who "failed" the STEX test.

With the Weaver family fully in mind, our ultimate evaluation question to panel members was "Would you want your son or daughter working for this IC?"

For me the report on the tragedy of Thirtymile seemed to follow a predictable script.

  1. The crew should never have been dispatched late at night.
  2. The crew boss, squad bosses and crew members should have refused to travel.
  3. Upon arrival, the crew should have been rested.
  4. I don't see that any formal designation/transition of IC to Daniels ever took place (may have been left out of report)
  5. Crew performed in acceptable manner, recognized fire growth and dis-engaged. Most recognized they were experiencing fatigue.
  6. The arrival of the engines (resources that I don't see the IC ordered),
    - the "check-in" that does not appear to have been performed to standard
    -the engine boss instructing the IC to come assist.....
    -the willingness of the crew to re-engage

All indicate poor judgment...... which is just as predictable for fatigued people as if they had been intoxicated.

Lessons learned:

  • MANAGE FATIGUE
  • All crew members can and must turn down unsafe assignments.
  • Evaluate leadership. Remove those who cannot or will not perform.

God bless the families of these fine young people. May they come to know peace, and to know that across the country, firefighters did indeed learn from their tragic loss.....and maybe somewhere, someday, that might save a life.

Ya'll take care.
Ralph

Thanks, my friend. Ab.

4/28 Hey All,

Black Tuesday Wrist Bands that we ordered have arrived. We're making these available for a buck apiece with a minimum order of 10. Free shipping. Proceeds to the FWFSA.

The Abs.

Here's the message on the wildlandfire.com store. Go there. click for the larger picture. You can wear them inside or outside. Get your orders in!

Black Tuesday Wrist Bands - 10 for $10.00

On April 1st, 2008, in complete opposition to and denial of a wealth of assembled statistics, the Chief of the US Forest Service and her boss Mark Rey appeared before a Congressional Committee and provided testimony that an overwhelming majority of shocked and dismayed federal firefighters viewed either as outrageously ignorant or as blatant lies.

Wildlandfire.com considers federal agencies employees' issues of recruitment and retention critical in maintaining the elite firefighting organizations the public is accustomed and entitled to. With that in mind, we offer this silicone wrist band to be worn by any and all persons wanting to show their support for firefighters and others who are truly trying to solve the firefighter retention issue.

All income received from this product will be forwarded to the FWFSA to use as they best see fit to continue their untiring leadership in educating Congress, other elected officials, and an increasingly attentive media.

To help us keep our free shipping costs as low as possible, please note that each $10.00 order includes 10 each of the wrist bands. Any number less than 10 basically isn't worth our processing of the payment. All bands are size large (8 inches circumference) and colored with white lettering embossed on black band.

Black Tuesday Wrist Bands - 10 for $10.00

4/28 Hi Abs, this is emt_mb from Indiana Dunes NL.

I'm deployed to Iraq again and found some free time in my hands to I thought I'd drop in and check on They Said.

I see not much has changed in the last 7 months since I exchanged my nomex uniform for my combat uniform.

Budgets are still a hot topic, 401 series is more jacked up than before, and firefighters are already being killed. And it's only April.

I don’t know which job is safer anymore.

I see someone's signature is 'Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY." For me, Black Tuesday was 9/11/01. Can someone fill me in on that one?

Take care,
emt_mb
<snip>
Kuwait

Hi emt_mb,

April 1, 2008 (Black Tuesday) was the day that Mark Rey and Gail Kimbell (FS chief) lied (or were badly misinformed) about firefighter retention as they testified in a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee (chaired by Feinstein).

There had been a week-long meeting of groundpounders and fire managers who worked on this issue the week of Dec 10, 2007 and none of the information the field supplied that would improve retention was addressed in the FS Retention Analysis or testimony.

Members of the FWFSA have been educating Congress as usual; and following the hearing, the Appropriations Committee came back to the FS and asked for further retention "plans", due June 30. We'll see what develops out of that.

9/11 was a Tuesday. So was the stock Market crash of 1929 (which also was called Black Tuesday).

Be very safe!

Ab.

4/28 Thanks, Yactac, that's what I was afraid of...

On another note:

Please don't forget Michelle Reugebrink's Baskin-Robins firefighter ice cream night. She's one of 31 firefighter honorees nationwide and the only wildland firefighter. Wednesday evening (5-10 PM) is when she'll be rolling up her sleeves and serving 31 cent ice cream scoops at the Roseville Baskin Robbins, 8690 Sierra College Blvd, Roseville, California.

Families go to Roseville Wed evening. No telling who you'll run into. While there, donate to the WFF bucket and eat ice cream. (And check the bathrooms for me to see if the corners on the toilet paper are tucked in and it comes to that point, like in the fanciest hotels. I'm told they will be.)

If you're too far away to make it, send a donation to the WFF in Michelle's name!

Congrats, Michelle! You do us proud. Nice grin yellowshirt!

Mellie

4/28 Mellie,

LOL... well it would be LOL if it weren't so sad. I believe you spelled it out quite well.
The typical avenue of the FS Mgt can be summed up in this statement: " If you call a
white wall black often enough, the white wall truly becomes black" otherwise known
as smoke and mirrors.......
--
yactak
4/28 Dare I say the "errors" in the R5 Retention Analysis might not have been the
result of R5's tinkering but of the WO's tinkering... The WO had that
Analysis for quite a while... certainly long enough for shooting themself in the
foot.

Fedwatcher 007

4/28 To Eastern FF:

If its true Jody is going to R9, may I be the first to open the door to let her out
of R5 with a hearty "See ya, don't let the door hit ya on the way out..."? Gosh,
hope she takes her "award" with her.

Heck if she does go, the morale of the firefighters on the ANF will rise just as
fast as suppression spending...

Fedwatcher II
4/28


~ * ~ * ~ BREAKING NEWS  ~ * ~ * ~ BREAKING NEWS ~ * ~ * ~ BREAKING NEWS ~ * ~  * ~

FROM  ELLREESE  DANIELS'  LAWYER

Hi All,

As some of you know, I believe we have finally reached a compromise with
the government in this case. In exchange for dismissing all 11 felony
counts, the government will agree to offer a plea to 2 misdemeanor counts
of making a false statement in an official writing. I will be recommending
to the court that Ellreese should receive no time, the government may
recommend a sentence of jail time. I strongly feel that this is a case
that does not merit a jail sentence, so I am comfortable with the plea to
the misdemeanors.

As you all know, this is a case which I have felt very passionately about.
I am more convinced than ever of Ellreese's innocence on ALL of the counts,
however, there remains a risk that if we proceed to trial, he could be
found guilty of at least one felony. There comes a time and place to put
some closure on this matter, and Ellreese is comfortable with this
resolution. I hope that the witnesses and families may also find some
peace now.

I anticipate that we will still have a contested sentencing hearing in late
summer.

We currently have a tentative change of plea set for tomorrow (April 29) at
11:00 a.m. in Spokane before Judge Van Sickle. The address of the
courthouse is: 920 W. Riverside Avenue, Spokane, WA. It is open to the
public, and I'm sure that if you can be present, Ellreese and I would
appreciate it greatly.

Ab, if you don't mind, I'd appreciate it if you could go on and post this
for us to let folks know.

Tina

MOST EXCELLENT NEWS. Thanks for your hard work and thanks also to those who have helped and to those who were willing to testify on Ellreese's behalf. Ab.

Hotlist thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3930

4/28
sticky
Forest Service Firefighters, please provide the following Survey information:
  1. Vacancies by Forest/Ranger District/Fire Station by module type, please provide location.
  2. How many engines have been reduced from 7 to 5 day coverage?
  3. What is the Crew makeup regarding experience?
    example for each crew:
    a) all trainees in new positions;
    b) mix but with trainees in overhead positions;
    c) seasoned firefighters in most positions.
  4. How many Crews, engines, prevention units, dozers, Chief Officers are completely unstaffed?

Please let Ab (abercrombie@wildlandfire.com) or Casey (cjudd@fwfsa.org ) know your forest or district staffing levels by answering the 4 questions above. As always, your identity will remain confidential. This is a way for the compiled information from "boots-on-the-ground" to get to those who are truly working on retention issues.

Many "boots" make light work. Thanks, Ab.

4/28 Ab,

Here's the Preliminary Report on the NV Firefighter who had what looked like a heart
attack while doing the pack test.

NV-DOF WCT Cardiac Emergency 041708 Preliminary Report (628 K doc file)

NV Red

Hotlist thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3927

4/28 2008 Calendar Price Slashed to $6.00 each! Limited supply available. OA.
4/28 ms,

I'm not sure I understand about retention efforts, what Congress wants and what R5 is doing under what constraints... Let me get this clear in my head.

At the April 1, 2008 Senate Appropriations Hearing, when asked about FS firefighter retention problems, Mark Rey said, --don't worry, all resources in CA would be staffed by fire season and that there is no retention problem according to the FS Retention Analysis.

Senator Diane Feinstein replied that she didn't believe that there isn't a retention problem, and the Appropriations Committee requested a further detailed plan for how R5 will improve retention by June 30. She added that Congress has already made it possible to offer money incentives to aid retention by allowing the region to tap suppression funding. Do I have this right?

So now there are meetings to further explore retention and provide another plan for retaining firefighters. They're trying to do this by having 4 teams that look at the following 4 areas:

o Mission - Kathy Hardy and Curt Palmer
o Pay - Kathleen Morse, Lorene Guffey, Mike Dietrich, and Jerry McGowan
o Workplace Improvement - Scott Armentrout and Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
o Facilities - Ed Cole, Ken Heffner, and Riva Duncan

Firefighters have said that pay is their biggest issue, but there are 3 other areas that are also being considered.

Pay: The biggest boondoggle here is that the people in charge -- Randy Moore (Regional Forester), Ed Hollenshead (R5 FAM Chief) and Jody Noiron (ANF Forest Supervisor) -- have said any retention plan has to be "budget neutral". That means effectively that no forest can offer a retention pay incentive, even though Congress has said this would be one way they've approved to help retain people?

I might not understand this. Can someone lay this out better?

Mellie

4/28 I've heard a rumor that your Supervisor Jody N. is leaving the Angeles NF
and coming to Region 9 before the end of the year. Can anyone confirm this?

Eastern FF

4/27 ME,

Hope this helps answer your question. If anyone has more updated information, please correct.

In R-5 we are still using the open and continuous rosters. The rosters/announcements are set up for everything from GS-6's to GS-13's. From Dispatch positions to IHC positions to Chief positions. They're open and continuous. The traditional and the traditional outreach announcements for fire positions have stopped as we know them. What has also stopped is individual announcements for fire positions. You won't see announcements for over 99% of the R-5 fire positions. However if you go into usajobs, you will see the open and continuous announcements. Individual job announcements are common for fire jobs that do not have standardized PDs such as Prevention and Training Officers, some Fire Planners.

With an open and continuous announcement, you may put in for ANY position at any location you want to work in R-5, even if the position is currently filled with "someone". If that "someone" moves on, then you have the potential to be selected for that job as a back-fill during a fire hiring round. Example: If you got offered and accepted a job at last week's hiring round, the Forest Hiring Rep could look at the applicants for your old job and make an offer within hours, even minutes after you just accepted your new job.

Actually R-5 has come up with a good system to fill and back fill fire jobs. Problem is after 6 years of complete mismanagement, we have no skill depth any more. With retirements and attrition we are promoting employees faster than ever before (Red Flag) and as someone reminds us, this is the heart of the retention issue. We have seen reduced interest from fire employees in other FS regions and from Interior who don't want to come over to this mess. Not to mention the high costs in CA.

In 2000/2001 when the build up began, the R-5 RO FAM made some good decisions. One was to build-up to 100% and then they allowed for a So Cal Special Salary Rates in 2001 and many were hopefully these progressive moves was the start of something positive. Unfortunately it was not. Not everything was perfect by any means in the first part of this decade, however many had hope and looked at the build-up as a 10 year process to get a balance between available jobs and interested applicants. Things just went downhill faster in 2004/05 and the trek downhill gets faster every year until we eventually hit bottom. We squandered the last 3 years with a complete lack of concern and communication from our FAM leaders. Until we made so much noise they agreed to hold a week long retention meeting in December 2007. Then we got the "sunset" speeches. Then came April 1, 2008, Black Tuesday when we learned that we actually make more money than CAL FIRE, go figure, silly us.

The current RO FAM Leaders just do not get it. R-5 FAM Leadership needs a complete overhaul. Allow me to repeat that; A complete OVERHAUL. They may form all the retention groups they want. I have no confidence in the two people leading all the groups, especially since one of them accepts a Line Officer FAM award the week of April 1. Until someone sends us a group of current and former fire professionals as an intervention panel to work on and fix the problems working with the ground, then we have many more April 1, 2008 days ahead of us. Are you listening WO? R-5 needs immediate intervention.

The only way we will get our issues addressed is to keep making noise (Dec 10th proved that). Our noise must be professional with a high level of accuracy. It must be LOUD and it must be SUSTAINED!

One last thing. How can you ask a person of Mike Detrich's strong character and high integrity to form a pay group and develop pay recommendations and require the group's recommendations to remain budget neutral. Here's your box, sit in it, don't think about what's outside the box and oh and by the way, you have 60 days to get it done. Talk about a crummy deal. Any leader who gives a person responsibility to go find solutions and only gives enough rope to hang himself is a sign something is wrong with the leader. Got WO Intervention?

ms
4/27 There's no recruitment/retention problem on the MNF... because positions are
being filled with people who don't have the quals to do the job that they're hired
for. I guess this is one solution to the problem. It looks good on paper and that's
all that matters. (Word has it that they want ALL positions filled, regardless of
qualifications... a little bit of CYA going on here???)

I'm one of those that has left the FS for CalFire and I can tell you that it is
WORKING ENVIRONMENT not pay that finalized my decision to leave.
I'd take less pay if it meant I'd work with professionals at a professional agency.
The MNF is poster child for all that is wrong with the FS and has tainted my
opinion of the entire agency.

Former FS Captain
4/27 With all of the perceived R5 openings and UTF positions, how come none of these jobs
are being flown? I haven't seen any individual postings on Avue (in honesty, I didn't
expect to see them there), I haven't seen more than a couple 0462 jobs being flown on
the R5 outreach website, and the same for the FS Outreach website.

If you have a job open within a few hours of the Bay area, fly it! I have my app ready!

ME

UTF= Unable to Fill

4/27 To all:

MS and AB are certainly on point. The FWFSA has sent out letters to a number of its members in key positions across the country soliciting such information. It is anyone's guess how the Agency is going to "spin" its numbers so the best thing firefighters can do is do what you've been doing for the past several years... provide accurate, irrefutable data from the field.

One thing I've mentioned to a few folks recently is crew make-up. If an engine crew is made up of all trainees in all positions that might not be an engine I'd send out on something eating up 1000 acres an hour. So just because a crew might be staffed, the make up is critical as well.

If you even think additional information might be important, please pass it along to us at the FWFSA. All information we send to Congress is "cleaned" so the origin is confidential and the only identifying information is either the FWFSA or my name.

Data/information can be sent to us at cjudd@fwfsa.org, or faxed to 208-775-4577. Keep in mind that our efforts in gathering this information is not to maintain an adversarial relationship with the Agency and try to portray them as less than forthright. Your voice and the FWFSA's credibility on Capitol Hill is what has created the increased interest in the issues on the part of many in Congress and maintaining that voice and credibility will pay dividends in achieving all of our goals to ensure our firefighters get the recognition, pay & benefits they deserve as well as creating a stronger, more efficient fire program.

Thanks in advance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
4/26 It's important that everyone reports with a "high" level of accuracy on the vacancies
and modules. No guesses, no maybes. Once those few that were hired last week
are identified, that would be the time to report up using increased accuracy of this
survey. Lets have the same level of integrity with this as the abs had with the survey
back in December on our issues, including the count of those preparing to leave.

ms
4/26 With fire season fast approaching within R-5,
  1. Do we have a method to collect vacancies by Forest/Ranger District/Fire Station by module type?
  2. Do we have a method to report how many engines have been reduced from 7 to 5 day coverage?
  3. Also, how many Crews, engines, prevention units, dozers, Chief Officers are completely unstaffed?

I know R-5 has internal methods, however will they report it upward? Will they also report upward that the fire hire round that concluded Thursday was a complete failure? This fire hire round was hastily put together after Rey's testimony, failed to fix the current large number of vacancies in R-5.

We need to put the vacancy data together and ensure that it's shared with those who need to know the truth. Rey lied !

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY

4/26 Ab,

This is going to sound a little strange, but about 10 years ago I was given one of these
Warthog pins (photo attached) after an especially tough fire assignment in Arizona.

The fella who gave it to me gave me a brief explanation about the criteria for inclusion
into this "fraternity" of Warthogs. On the fire he was my Division Supervisor but I recall
he was a district ranger from Region 6 and getting ready to retire.

I am trying to remember what the components of the " Make SH-- Happen" stand for,
you'll have to read the pin to get this question.

I was just wondering if there are any other Warthogs out there? is this group still around?
a little help would be much appreciated.

Sus Scrofa de Mort,

sting

Put it on the Logos14 photo page. Ab.

4/26 I put a couple of photos on the Handcrews22 photo page. Rupert, send in some info on those and I'll put it on the photo description page. Ab.
4/26 What Tha--

You are right on when you talk about, no one knowing
what the duties are of for Duty Officers. Hell they
can't even decide on what to call it anymore, our
Forest now refers to them as "Duty Chiefs" with
different Status Levels depending on your quals. It's
getting to be real ridiculous. I would really like to
see the S.O. and R.O. supervisors get together and
implement rules on a regional basis instead of
implementing these ridiculous rules as a single
forest. Why should one forest have a different set of
rules than the one next to it, it amazes me.

Also you mentioned why people are not willing to
promote into ADFMOs, it's a simple answer. Why get
promoted into a job that is going to make less money
than your Captain job. I took a promotion and also
took a large cut in pay because, we can't afford to
let you go because we might get a fire on the
district, then what would we do. But the Fire Staff
have no problems getting out on fires keeping up there
quals because they are on "teams" and they are needed.

I really think that I should get paid more for keeping
the "What If" fires in check, I mean just think of all
the money I have saved the government on that
potential complex.

Oh Well only 10 more years till retirement.
4/25 Dear New2Blu:

P&P would be a tool just like proper classification to recruit and retain federal wildland firefighters. By implementing such policies, the Agency would strengthen its depleted wildland firefighting forces and be able to field resources pursuant to the National Fire Plan. For years, the Agency has ignored such losses and has failed to utilize any of the many authorities it has at its disposal to stem the tide of such losses.

With a reduced workforce and no incentive from Congress to be cost effective...until recently that is, the Agency has simply "filled in the gaps" with non-federal resources who, more often than not in the major wildfire prone areas, cost substantially more than their federal counterparts even when taking into consideration the "total cost to the government" of federal employees which includes benefits, etc.

While P&P would be part of pay & benefits reforms, the Agency would also need to reform how it manages its fire program. Most importantly would be to stop the diversion by Agency line officers of hundreds of millions of fire preparedness & fuels reduction dollars which they use to pay for non-fire projects.

With P&P strengthening the workforce and preparedness funds being used for their intended purposes, which would mean more preparedness resources in the field, the need to "fill in the gaps" with higher-priced non-federal resources would be reduced thus reducing the suppression spending and saving the American taxpayer serious sums of dollars.

I would imagine some non-federal firefighters who are on Type I teams and others who make staggering sums each year courtesy of the Federal Government will bristle at these ideas. But again, we are not now,n or have we ever suggested the wholesale elimination of the use of contractors and cooperators. We just feel that federal dollars ought to go to the feds first... Hope that answers your question.

Casey
4/25 Hey Ventura County Fire Guys. Who Makes your brush / type 3 engines? @
http://fire.countyofventura.org/about_us/our_apparatus/brush_engine.asp

The story I heard was your department looked at the CDF model 15s and
USFS model 62s and said "Nope. Neither one." and came up with your own
type 3. I'd still rather have a well maintained model 61 then a 62 or 15 myself.
I got volunpicked for a committee where equipment is going to be an issue.
Any specs or pictures of your brush engines I can get would be much
appreciated.

I always liked the way everything was laid out on them. The number system is
cool and, by gum, those are handsome trucks.

Thanks,

Scrape

4/25 Work Environment & Retention:

The lack of leadership and direction in the Forest Service FIRE organization is as large of a retention issue as inadequate pay and inadequate compensation for work. (but both are closely related)

Here is an example...
Does anyone know the expectations of a Forest Service "Duty Officer" after their 8-hour work day?
I do not know of any direction or expectation that is spelled out anywhere. BCs routinely accept the night duty call because it is the appropriate and responsible thing to do. Leadership has not provided any direction on what is expected of the Duty Officer. What durations of time or hours shall the Duty Officer remain in a state of readiness or on standby? Has leadership identified how to compensate these Duty Officers for their time when on standby?

I am tired of an ambiguous expectation of uncompensated responsibility. Is there any written expectation of an after hours duty officer anywhere? Do I have to take the night duty call at the expense of my personal time? Why would anyone continue to influence their family life and family time when uncompensated?

On some Forests in R-5 there has still been no decision on whether or not Chief Officers can utilize their agency vehicles to respond emergency incidents after normal business hours (as if it is not in the government's best interest to put fires out when they are small).

It may be time to allow District Rangers and Forest Supervisors to assume responsibility for their responsibilities. Does that make sense? Unless authority and ability are delegated, the responsibility should remain with the Forest Supervisors. Once they get their red cards qualified, they will be ready for action. Until then, they can answer calls from dispatch throughout the night.

Does this situation affect overall firefighter retention? When the GS 5s,6s,7s, and 8s don't want to promote to an ADFMO because of the increased and uncompensated duties and responsibilities, I would think many people look elsewhere for employers with career ladder opportunities that don't lead to nowhere.

What Tha----
4/25 Casey,

Just got done reading your paper on P to P, thanks for asking not to just concentrate on CAL-FIRE when it comes to this issue. I agree that all nonfederal agencies in California should be looked at when it comes to this topic, CAL-FIRE is not the only agency that gets P to P on an incident.

Have one question though, how will P to P "allow for the reduction in the over-reliance of higher-priced nonfederal resources"?

New2Blu
4/24 from Firescribe:

University of Wisconsin - SP Fire Crew recruits trained in basic forest firefighting
http://pointeronline.uwsp.edu/apr242008/outdoors/UWSPFireCrew.aspx

4/24 Some things like 24/72 hour reports and Green sheets/Blue sheets are getting posted on the Hotlist but not here. Ab.
4/24 From Firescribe:

www.newwest.net/topic/article/merge_remake_the_forest_service/C41/L41/

Merge, Remake the Forest Service
By Bill Schneider, 4-24-08

Last month, the General Accountability Office (GA0) announced it was studying a plan to take the Forest Service out of the Department of Agriculture and merge it into the Department of the Interior. Predictably, this news was met with a chorus of yawns because we’ve heard many grandiose plans for reorganizing federal land-managing agencies. In every case, after significant wasted staff time and much stress for employees, nothing happens.

But this one wasn’t a yawner for me because something like this really needs to happen. This time, let’s get serious and seize this opportunity to remake the Forest Service (FS), an agency lost in the today’s political landscape.

Interestingly, the GOA study sounds similar to what I recommended three years ago when the FS celebrated its centennial. In that column, I suggested the FS and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an Interior Department agency with a virtually identical mission, be eliminated and then remade as two completely different agencies, one devoted to outdoor recreation and the other focused on resource extraction and other commercial uses of public lands. This same outcome could--and should--emerge as a recommendation in the GAO study.

<snip>

Let’s face reality and stop the downward spiral. Merge the FS into the Interior Department and then immediately and completely reorganize both the FS and BLM into three focused agencies, named something like:

Outdoor Recreation Service to manage outdoor recreation on all national forests and BLM lands (we’ve never come up with a name for them) including the process of protecting roadless lands and wild rivers and assisting state agencies with wildlife management.

Resource Management Service to manage and promote mining, logging, livestock grazing, oil and gas leasing, and other extractive uses of renewable and nonrenewable resources on public lands.

Fire Service to take charge and consolidate the colossal task of preventing and controlling wild fire on all federal lands, even plucking these functions our of the NPS and FWS, a “budget cut” I’m sure both agencies would welcome. Congress should fund this agency directly and remove these budgets from other federal agencies so they can concentrate on managing public lands instead fighting fires, real and political.

[More at the link...]

Fair Use Disclaimer

4/24 Dear AB:

As a result of several postings lately about portal to portal, I thought I'd craft a
briefing paper on the issue as it relates to federal wildland firefighters. Because
of its length, it is attached as a file and perhaps those interested in reading it
can simply click on it.

Thanks,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

Portal to Portal Brief (35K small doc file)

4/24 from the Hotlist thread:

Thanks for posting that yactak.

I met Ken Weaver in the local (Yakima) AM/PM two weeks after the Thirtymile tragedy. I could see the pain and frustration he was feeling, and I was the logical person to vent at since I was in a Forest Service uniform. Venting is probably not the best word to use to describe the encounter, but it was a very painful experience for me. For me, it was both a learning portal and the new beginning of a personal journey towards firefighter safety. I had effectively numbed my feelings following the losses of 1987 on the Klamath, the Wasatch Fire in Utah, and the Dude Fire in Arizona. I subscribed to the checklist and rule theory of keeping firefighters safer.

I never took offense to the things Ken Weaver said to me and never will. He was (and still is) grieving over his loss, and so is the entire wildland fire family. He was treated poorly throughout the entire ordeal, as were we. The Forest Service can and must do better.

The next fire season, I was fortunate enough to meet the folks from the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest as they were forced to visit the San Bernardino National Forest prior to being allowed to return to fire duty.

I remember vividly meeting the Forest Supervisor, the District Ranger, the FMO, and the duty officer during their visit.... and especially the Louisiana Fire (CA-BDF) towards the end of their visit.... when our personal experiences all came into alignment on a fire progressing rapidly into a project fire. Those folks knew their stuff!!!

I also felt an honor to meet them and hear their stories first hand... and without the agency spin (or deafening silence).

Since the Thirtymile Fire, and my experiences with both the families and the managers, "I" don't look at things the same way..... "I" look to fix the underlying latent factors so neither the families nor the managers (fire and line) have to experience that pain again.

"We", as the field going employees of the Forest Service can, and must do better for our families, friends, and co-workers.

Gizmo

4/24 RE: Thirty Mile Fire on the hotlist

During these trying times, I do believe it is imperative that one has the full perspective...
so to that end I have attached the writings of Ken Weaver, father of Devin Weaver...
one of the fatalities on the Thirty Mile Incident.
--
yactak

Why were they there? (323 K pdf file)
4/24 Could somebody please fact check this?

My cursory notes and observations show that nearly the same number of folks died or were injured while either taking, or preparing for the WCT (Work Capacity Test).... as were killed or injured in burnovers since the WCT was institutionalized as a best practice to evaluate fitness for fireline duty.

Why no concerns about the latent problems in the WCT program that was designed by an exercise physiologist rather than a cardiologist??

I'd bet that the NDF employee (who just "had a physical") didn't have a complete 12-lead EKG, a complete stress test "pre-battery" of blood tests (including cardiac enzymes), nor a complete discussion of risks with his/her physician. Best bet, prior to taking a WCT, is to be fully evaluated YEARLY by a cardiac stress test rather than a crap shoot called the WCT (pack test).

Health hazards of smoke also.... no latent problems (tongue in cheek)...... Non Forest Service research proves otherwise in both cases.

Concerned
4/24 Re: Fox in charge on the hen house?

"AB, this document came through lotus notes. Please post.
I would think those that have concerns or suggestions could
propose them to the team leaders. -noname fire"

The fire folks on the list have been sincere and are respected for the most
part in the discussion process.... Maybe the line officer authority should be
delegated to the ranger districts (ie- District Rangers) rather than the Forest
Supervisors?

Team leadership is the issue. The DRs are more connected with issues in the
field and can speak towards the nitty gritty facts that the communities are
most concerned with.

Some of those names being identified as "leaders" are big red flags..... from
fire and line.

/s/ JMHO

4/23 Hey Ab,

On Thursday the 17th of this month a crewboss from NDF (Nevada Dept of Forestry) had a heart attack while taking the pack test. He was on the last lap for the test. He is 38 and just passed a complete physical. He just dropped with no warning and was attended to by the EMT on location and 2 fellow crewbosses. He was transported to the local hospital then taken to a trauma center in Reno, Nevada. He is stable at this time and slowly doing better.

I hate the pack test, but its a evil we all have to do. Look out for your brother and sister fire fighters. You never know when bad things are going to happen. Keep yourselves healthy. Physical fitness is the key to so many things we do in this line of work. The crewboss who went down hit the treadmill every day. So who knows. It will be a while before he can even return to work for light duty. I will post more as time goes on to report how he is doing.

GD

4/23 Readers, here's a fine 4 page newsletter, chock full of good info including info on APA (Accident Prevention Analysis). Thanks for sending that in, contributor. Nice job Bequi and other contributors to the newsletter. Ab.

R3 SW Fire Ops Risk Management Newsletter (214K pdf file)

4/23 Hi Abs,

I wanted to recognize Michelle Reugebrink, from the Tahoe National Forest, for being selected as one of 31 firefighters (and the only wildland firefighter) to be honored by Baskin Robbins and the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation. Congratulations to Michelle!

Michelle will be at the Roseville Baskin Robbins on April 30 – “31-Cent Scoop Night” serving up ice cream. From what we understand, she will be donating sale proceeds from that night (and possible donation proceeds) to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Funds raised across the United States that night go to the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, but Michelle wants Roseville proceeds given that night to go to our Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Great job Michelle! Being chosen out of tens of thousands of firefighters is a wonderful honor!

Readers, If you live in the area, get out there and support Michelle!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Great news! Ab.

4/23 From Firescribe:

www.interfax-news.com/3/387381/news.aspx

Russian wildfires reach Mongolia

MOSCOW. April 23 (Interfax) - The number of wildfires in Russia has
increased over the past 24 hours, the fire area has doubled and spread
to a part of Mongolia, the Emergencies Ministry said.

"Over the past 24 hours the number of wildfires has increased by 74
and the fire area has doubled," the ministry said on Wednesday.

The last 24 hours saw 682 new wildfires erupting in the Far East,
Siberian and Volga Urals districts. A total of 922 wildfires were
registered, 608 of them were extinguished, and 314 still continue on a
total area of 35,932.1 hectares (88,790 acres). [more at the link]

Fair Use Disclaimer

4/23 Address for cards to Mitch, the burned ND firefighter. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Ab.

Regions Burn Center, Room 5111
640 Jackson St.
St. Paul, MN 55101-2595

Hotlist thread

4/23 Re: Bailiff Fire (1967), Mack II Fire (1971), and the Esperanza Fire (2006)

Does anyone know the purpose behind the site visits to the above locations that the folks from Utah (Koyle Fatality) visited/discussed today?

Were they firefighters?..... families?..... line officers?... researchers?... scientists?...press?...interested others?... etc? Was it mandatory that they attend?

Was it similar to the "forced re-education" placed upon the fire managers and line officers from the WA-OWF following the Thirtymile Fire before they could return to duty? Or was it a sincere site visit for learning?

I was supposed to present my research about the Bailiff Fire and the death of BIA firefighter Frank Rios from the Tohono O'Odham tribe from AZ in 1967 to the group today. I chose not to participate today (day off) out of the utmost respect for the fallen and their families, and the friends and co-workers from all three fires, when the decision makers who ultimately were responsible refuse to listen to the latent facts and until they actually communicate their intent and purpose.

My research was based upon first hand accounts, press reports, fire history, fuels strata, and what little data was officially available on the Bailiff Fire (but fully referenced in the Mack II report).

Based upon the recent actions of the RO and WO censuring and ignoring the field (and in some cases outright lying about the facts), I chose to not participate in whatever this field trip was about, and announced to us on such a short notice.

Hopefully, in the future, this whole mess will be described in a future Staff Ride by the new Federal Wildland Fire Service.

Free Ellreese!!!!

Gizmo
4/22 Ellreese Daniels' trial dates

The court gave us his order today with the trial date schedules. I thought
most of you would like to know what that schedule is, so I've attached his
order.

Tina

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/law/OrderTrialSchedule[4-22-08].pdf (39 K pdf file small)

Text:

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON

TRIAL SCHEDULE

THIS MATTER is scheduled for trial beginning May 5, 2008 and
ending July 2, 2008
. Counsel shall meet with the Court in chambers at
8:30 a.m. on the first day of trial. Jury Selection will begin at
10:00 a.m. Trial will be held each day from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. excluding the following days: May 9,
May 16, May 22, May 23, May 26, June 5, June 6, June 20, and June 23 -
27.

IT IS SO ORDERED. The District Court Executive is hereby
directed to enter this order and furnish copies to counsel.
DATED this 22nd day of April, 2008.
s/ Fred Van Sickle
United States District Judge

Thanks Tina. Free Ellreese. Ab.

4/22 Regarding the Deputy Director of Fire and Aviation Management comments:

"The range of WFSU expenditures used in the 10 year average range from a low of $306 million in 1998, to over $ 1.5 billion in 2006. In other words any WFSU expenditures in excess of $ 306 million will result in an increase in the 10 year suppression average and require an offset in agency funds from other program areas."

So. the FY 2008 WFSU (Wildland Fire Suppression) budget for the Forest Service is $911,032,000 (aka $911 million).

I fully understand that if there are any expenditures over $306 million, that it will increase the ten-year suppression cost average. (simple math called averaging). We all know that the WFSU expenditures will range from $800 million to $1.5 billion (situational awareness).

So, I have to ask this. Why would the Forest Service have to "require an offset in agency funds from other program areas" if the WFSU program is properly funded @ $911 million?

I'd like to know what they plan on doing with the remaining WFSU funds ($605 million worth), and why "the fire program" is being set up to be the "bad guy" again in a failed budgeting process?

I know the answer already. The only things keeping the Forest Service afloat right now are WFSU (Suppression), WFPR (Wildfire Preparedness), and WFHF (Wildfire Hazardous Fuels) funding.

No more smoke and mirrors. No more fire program managers acting as, or treating others as mushrooms.

Lobotomy
4/22 AB, this document came through lotus notes. Please post. I would think those
that have concerns or suggestions could propose them to the team leaders. -noname fire

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Region 5 Retention Effort

Intent

Fire management has been at the forefront of the issues of employee retention and morale. Recognizing that these issues affect all employees and locations within Region 5, the Regional Forester has established a priority commitment to develop strategies to tackle four key elements contributing to this problem: mission, pay, workplace improvement, and facilities. He has charged Forest Supervisors, in partnership with the FAM Board of Directors, to provide the leadership necessary to move the Region toward resolution.

Four-teams, each to be lead by one or more Forest Supervisors and including one or more Forest Fire Chiefs, have been established to accomplish this task.

Teams

  • Coordinators – Jody Noiron and Ed Hollenshead
    o Mission - Kathy Hardy and Curt Palmer
    o Pay - Kathleen Morse, Lorene Guffey, Mike Dietrich, and Jerry McGowan
    o Workplace Improvement - Scott Armentrout and Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
    o Facilities - Ed Cole, Ken Heffner, and Riva Duncan

Timelines and Performance

  • Recommendations will be completed and submitted to coordinators by June 30
  • Interim status reports will be provided to coordinators on April 30 and May 31

Recommendation Development Principles

  • Are within the authority of the Regional Forester to implement
  • Provide analysis of consequences (including short- and long-term costs and benefits), opportunity costs (tangible and intangible), and workforce impacts
  • Propose logical tradeoffs in view of budget-neutral (within existing Regional budget) requirement

Team Responsibilities

  • Independently identify and procure support personnel and information as necessary to accomplish the task
  • Include member(s) of the workforce, union, labor relations, and civil rights as necessary to accomplish the task
  • Establish vetting requirements and ensure completion to meet the deadline of June 30
4/22401 Issue again: Message originally from Jeanne P-T, posted on 4/18 and still circulating on the FS Web, plucked from Lotus Notes. Hope this helps. Motley Crew

FYI. It's a start and we are looking for it to be in writing...but at least there appears to be movement in a good direction!
Just so folks know what James Barnett's email means is relative English:

Last Friday the second in command at OPM verbally committed to extending the June 1, 2009 deadline for those erroneously placed in 0401s after February 15, 2005 (30 for the FS and about 40 for Interior). The new deadline will be October 1, 2010.

This applies to anyone who was placed in a GS-401 position after February 15, 2005. 'Erroneously placed' refers to GS-401 folks who relied on NWCG courses and/or courses not documented on a college transcript to qualify for the GS-401.

NWCG voted yesterday to extend the deadline for all others seeking 0401 in IFPM until that same deadline... October 1, 2010.

This refers to since IFPM was been moved under NWCG, there have been several proposals made to change IFPM implementation, including the deadline to extend as the USFS cannot determine what constitutes the correct kind/type of positive education credits will be used to qualify folks for the GS-401.

...no information regarding any non-0401 positions and can state with a reasonable amount of certainty that any position not requiring 0401 will remain under the October 1, 2009 deadline.

There are several positions in IFPM that do not require a GS-401 education. Incumbents in these positions still have a October 1, 2009 compliance 'deadline'. It also means that on October 1, 2009, having the NWCG qualifications, specialized experience and specialized training (if required for a particular position) will become a condition of hire (ie., to be on the certificate, you have to have it all completed).

There has been incredible effort to even get to this glimmer of hope. It's nice that the 'ice may be breaking up' a bit!

Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
Forest Fire Chief, Tahoe NF
IC, CIIMT3
(also R-5's IFPM and 401 guru)

4/22Quick Thoughts for all y'all,

Howdy! Well, I had to give 3 cheers to "4G's" for the line "I would really like to see some creative posts on how to help each other more, and less of the 'us against them' banter."

I gotta tell you, many many years ago I used to read this board for a place to connect to other wildland firefighters and talk about a variety of the issues that were affecting folks. Not that it's bad now, it's just that I don't read it for fun and to relax anymore. It's more likely to drive me to drink, and I don't do much of that anymore (so I don't read the board much either, for my own sanity!). I would look forward to a time when it is collaboration on a number of issues and improving the field overall, professionally, as well as taking care of our own profession. I just see a whole lot of hot button issues going on in the field as well, but I guess I don't see those discussed here as much anymore. Perhaps I am just missing the forum where these discussions have gone.

A couple of random perspective thoughts:

1) The 10-year average numbers everybody always goes throwing around seem to me like kind of a random bit of stuff to be making such large comparisons and decisions on. I am not just making this up, but I am pretty sure that a couple of very reputable fire climatologists have suggested we ought to follow more like a 30-year average when we are looking at numbers, because climatology tends to run in 30 year cycles.

Also, the 10-year average seems more just based on a nice set of handy statistics, although it is arguably not even statistically valid. I am not a mathematician, so I'll leave that to them to argue. It's just that we seem to throw it around a lot and my question is: why. I suspect it's just handy. Unfortunately, the data collection quality and content has changed so much over the last 30-year period in wildland fire that it's probably not scientifically valid either, but I think we should question why the 10-year average is supposed to tell us something scientifically useful. I am not convinced it does.

2) I hate to bring some east coast big city perspective in to this whole discussion, but I don't reckon most voters and taxpayers in this country are even remotely aware of the issues that come up on this board. I am not sure they'd be outraged. The number of things that go on in our government that the public is not outraged about but which scare the hell out of me is quite high, but I study and work in the government, so I suspect that I know more about all that than the average person. Also, my conscientious-ness level is higher than normal, because I've bothered to look. Still, the stuff that makes it on the radar screen for the public's outrage level seems to be pretty thin.

All that being said, it is a scientifically proven fact that the public's agenda follows the media's agenda, or what makes the news. Back when they studied "traditional media", it was connected by a period of a few months. In today's instant information age, I'm sure the dynamics and timelines have changed, but I think it's still safe to say... if you want to get the public fired up, you've got to get the media fired up, and I'm not sure what that would take. When I mention I've been involved with wildland fire, most people also ask me if I jumped out of planes. How did the jumpers get all the fame and attention? And how does the public not know anything else about this field?

Good luck, keep the faith, and be safe,

-with y'all in spirit
(but I might be in a better mood...)
4/22Ab,

I haven't seen any posts on this injured North Dakota firefighter so I thought I
would pass this link along. www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24242517/.

I also forwarded a copy to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. We were told
a couple of weeks ago at the Team Meetings that this was going to be a
"normal" fire season. I don't even know what that means anymore, but it seems
we've already had too many injuries and fatalities out there.

Be careful out there!
NVAC

Readers, please do alert us and the WFF of accidents, mishaps, injuries and deaths. We alert the WFF as well with any helpful contact info we can acquire. We also maintain a private database on the hotlist that is revealed to members every so often. We do post the "incident within an incident" info to the LargeFires /Incidents hotlist subforum, as soon as possible -- after allowing time for family notifications. We also work at timely release of info that may not have hit the mainstream media. You can always Email Ab or text message Ab with a private message at our top header button. We don't want firefighters' families to find out about a loved one here. Firefighters know about following the golden rule: Do unto other firefighter families as you would have done to yours. That holds true of donations to the WFF as well, regardless of agency, vollie, or private sector firefighter. Ab.

4/22Nerd said:

"Historically, emergency response has paid poorly compared to fields demanding comparable training
and dedication because of the glamour factor; we offer adrenaline, camaraderie, and great photo ops
as benefits. When somebody else comes along offering the same benefits and job duties for more pay,
yeah, you’re going to have a retention problem."

I think that, at least as far as the Forest Service is concerned, firefighters (Forestry Aids and
Tech's.) were historically paid low wages because we were seen as a labor force and not as an
emergency response resource by everyone including OURSELVES. I remember the sayings such as "I am
not very smart but I can lift heavy objects" and "you get paid to dig not think" as being very
common in the 70's and 80's which didn't do a whole lot to improve our standing as a professional
firefighting force.

It was not until 1994 (South Canyon) that anyone outside of "Fire" and our families even knew what
a Hotshot Crew was or that they even existed. Up until then pretty much anytime you mentioned that
you worked as a Wildland Firefighter the usual response was "So do you jump out of airplanes?" I
still get that same response but only about 1/2 the time so maybe that shows some higher level of
awareness or maybe it's due to my graying hair and hobbling gait.

Historically we also got paid a lower wage because we had the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
under which you did not pay Social Security tax, so you got to keep several thousand dollars a year
of your pay (maybe enough for your kids education or a mortgage payment?). This benefit want away
in the mid 80's with the advent of the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). Another reason
Civil Servants got lower pay was the fact that we had much more government housing available, some
O.K. health benefits, a guaranteed pension and pretty much bomb proof job security. Ever try to
fire a Federal employee? I have and it is near impossible.

Many of these reasons for lower pay have evaporated and we need to concentrate on helping the next
generation of Wildland Firefighters have a higher view of themselves and their profession and to
increase the public's awareness of the value of the service they provide to the nation.

Moaning and complaining on "TheySaid" to each other about work conditions and pay has become a way
of life on these pages and is frankly boring. We all know what the issues are and we have ways to
address them (FWFSA being one).

I would really like to see some creative posts on how to help each other more, and less of the "us
against them" banter.

As far as Glamour, Adrenaline, Photo Ops and Camaraderie go: All the glamour went out of this job
after the first five minutes. The adrenaline, photos and friendships are what help us forget all
the hard times, pain and sacrifice and to remember the good times.

4G's
4/22Ab,

Attached is a small pdf of the next month's draft changes to the 310-1.
Here's the note included in the e-mail I received:


Folks,
I recently received this sneak preview of the Revision Summary of the draft
310-1 to be released in May simultaneously with the new PTBs. It includes
the highlights of the major changes planned. I've highlighted a few things
that were of interest to me -- significant improvements in my estimation. I
understand that NWCG is finalizing and not encouraging input at this point.
As a reminder - this is the 310-1 and as such is the NWCG parent document.
Additional requirements can be added by each agency.
<snip>
Safety Officer types - the red highlighted section addresses some of our
recent conversation in the Fireline Safety Officer class

Allowing trainees to have taskbooks initiated while they're still working on
required training classes will improve the qualification process.

vfd cap'n

May2008DraftChangesPMS310-1.pdf (small 20K pdf file)

PTBs= Position Task Books

4/22The value of a full time paid fire department: (last post for me in regards to paid v volunteer)

Fire Engine A is full time paid fire engine company. Fire Engine B is a volunteer fire engine company. Both engines have the same number of people with the exact same skill sets. Both Fire Engine A and Fire Engine B are equally trained to fight wildland fire, structure fire, and medical aides.

At Fire Station A/B, Fire Engine A sits right next to Fire Engine B.

The bell goes off for an unknown emergency response. Fire Engine A's company is sitting in the fire station next to the apparatus bay and run out and load up with in 1 minute, they are pulling out en route to the unknown emergency response with in two minutes.

The pagers go off for the same unknown emergency response. Fire Engine B's Captain who is a plumber is down the street from the station on a job and leaves immediately for the station, Fire Engine B's Engineer who is a diesel mechanic is underneath the excavator of Fire Engine B's Firefighter who is a heavy equipment operator (they work together) and as soon as Fire Engine B's Engineer gets out of his oily overalls, they carpool to the station. Fire Engine B's other firefighter who is a veterinarian is in the middle of eye surgery on a dog and decides he'll try and go straight to the unknown emergency after he is done with the dog to see if he can still get in on the action. The last Firefighter off of Engine B has been celebrating his birthday and has had too much to drink so he decides he is in no condition to respond. Elapsed time for Fire Engine B's wheels to turn is ?????????.

Fire Engine A arrives on scene and initiates a hose lay on a wild land fire, a search & rescue operation and interior attack on a structure fire, started CPR & established an airway and IV with first round of drugs on board of full arrest; or has started working whatever that 'unknown emergency response' turned out to be. Fire Engine C, also a full time paid and staffed fire engine, arrives on scene 2 minutes after Fire Engine A.

Fire Engine B arrives on scene with Fire Engine A & C ?? minutes later and kicks butt because as mentioned earlier, both engines have the exact same skill sets in any emergency.

Now speaking strictly as a member of a community and a taxpayer, with in this very simplified example, I want the coverage and response time of a full time paid fire department. Does that mean I think that the volunteers can't handle the job? NO IT DOESN'T! Does it mean that I think that full time paid fire department is going to have better response times, better coverage, better equipment, and more hours training? YES IT DOES!

SO, if we are losing firefighters from any agency in my community due to them not making a LIVABLE WAGE, I want them to be paid more until they are making a LIVABLE WAGE. I want them to know that I as a taxpayer want to take care of them financially so that they take care of my family and community.

If city ff's, county ff's, state ff's, federal ff's are not making LIVABLE WAGE, I'd say pay them more. ANY FF anywhere across this nation who is not making a LIVABLE WAGE should be paid more until they do make a LIVABLE WAGE.

I think volunteers should get paid. If it isn't financially feasible for a town or if that town has collectively agreed not to have people sitting around the fire station getting paid full time, then at least pay them per call. If you as a volunteer could give a rat's <snip> about getting paid then good for you. There is a need for full time staffed fire departments all over the nation, and if you expect to be able to meet these needs, YOU MUST PAY THESE PEOPLE A LIVABLE WAGE.

I honestly don't care about if a volunteer is better then a full time ff or vice versa, I care that the US Forest Service does not pay their firefighters a LIVABLE WAGE.

Does anyone think that we, as a nation, could amass enough people to volunteer and respond in a timely manner to all of the wild fires that burn across this nation every fire season? There is a reason why we as a nation started to employ wildland firefighters full time instead of driving to the local bars creating 'militias' to fight these fires?

DIB
4/22Strider,

This takes us through July: www.nifc.gov/nicc/predictive/outlooks/outlooks.php

I had noticed that we are exceeding the averages for acres burned so far this year.
You're right, the deaths, injuries, and near-misses are spooky for this early in the
season or, for that matter, at any time of the fire season. Heads up everyone!

Still out there as an AD ...

4/22DIB,

Very Nice Post. Stand together, stand strong !!! Keep hammering and keep the chatter high.

* Remember the Rey/Brownie comparisons.
* If we let up now, we won't see real change.
* Stay positive, work the issue and staff out a solution. Every idea is important.

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY
4/22Ab, from our lotus notes from Marc Rounsaville. -Noname Fire

Fire activity continues to increase, most geographic regions have had fires, several have deployed Incident Management Teams, and unfortunately there have been fatalities. Predictive services shows this trend to continue and spread across the Nation as spring transitions to summer. Fuels conditions in many areas are such that significant fires with strong resistance to control can be expected without extreme weather. We need to remain vigilant with a high degree of situational awareness. Don't be fooled by the date on the calendar, pay attention to the indices and to observed fire activity. Don't be distracted by the issues we are facing on many fronts and lose your situational awareness.

Against that back drop we must also remember to use our resources wisely, the first of the WFSU (P-Code) expenditure forecast is out and it is not a pretty forecast. This is very preliminary information but it should remind us of our fiscal responsibility. The range of WFSU expenditures used in the 10 year average range from a low of $ 306 million in 1998, to over $ 1.5 billion in 2006. In other words any WFSU expenditures in excess of $ 306 million will result in an increase in the 10 year suppression average and require an offset in agency funds from other program areas. Therefore it is imperative:

-- to conserve resources for an entire season,
-- to manage resources with a critical eye regardless of the PL
-- to aggressively pursue initial attack in order to prevent large fires
-- to make mindful decisions regarding resource allocation and reallocation
-- to ensure the right resource at the right time for the right reason is used
-- to preposition effectively

Actions the Washington Office is pursuing include a regional limit or authorization on severity and a mock allocation of suppression funds. These management controls are viewed very favorably by OMB. Operational actions include the addition of a helicopter coordinator position at Boise, centralization of some aviation contracts and national consolidation of some aviation command and control functions.

Agility, focus, innovation and discipline are behaviors we value and continue to promote. The NIMO teams have demonstrated these behaviors and should not be overlooked.

The NIMO teams can be used in a short or long team configuration. They can coach, mentor and advise local resources in Type 3 organizations or Type 2 teams to prevent a transition as complexity increases; or they can manage a fire and work with local line officers to determine the best course of action to reduce costs and support land management objectives. They are a flexible, agile and a cost efficient resource.

We encourage you to explore some of the alternative fire management tools available. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns, or take any input or suggestions that you might have regarding these actions. Let’s continue to work together towards a solution and make this a safe and successful fire season.

Remember no structure, or resource is a valuable as our fire fighters and the public.

Thanks
Marc G. Rounsaville
Deputy Director, Fire and Aviation Management

4/21Has the Forest Service thought about taking the money that Congress
says is for fire and not doing any non-fire projects with it like HR (-$300
M in 06), education, etc (-$400M in '07). Spending the money for fire,
preparedness and suppression and fuels.

And when the $$'s gone telling Congress it's gone and stopping work,
like when the NPS closes down monuments when the $$ runs out? until
more money is allocated.

Fire should be budgeted in a transparent way for fire.

Resources should be budgeted in a transparent and fair way for our
forests.

There needs to be a way to separate fire $$ from the rest of the FS
before the FS goes under. Quit "borrowing" from other areas if the $$
runs out. Quit spending fire $$ for other things so you have to borrow
from other areas later. What's so hard about that?

I may be young, but I know how to keep my income and expenditures
straight.

tree girl, love the owls too
One almost ran into my head the other night after I called it. What a rush!

4/21From the hotlist:

Severity of fires this season?

It seems we are already having fires in a number of regions and several that have
required Incident Management Teams.

We have had firefighter deaths from dozer operator to SEAT pilot and burnovers
that have resulted in serious injury with life flight.

Are there any predictions by reliable groups or individuals regarding fuels, fire
severity predictions.

Wondering what the '08 season might bring, more of the same and worse to come?

Be safe!

Strider

4/21

"My department has a plumber, a diesel mechanic, a scrap metal dealer, a geologist,
a GIS expert, a couple of cops, a veterinarian, several heavy equipment operators,
and an electrician."

Nerd, that describes a lot of guys on my fulltime department. Remember most firefighters,
wildland/structural, career/volunteer are "Jacks of all trades, masters of none"

Former Green Soldier.

4/21I’ve been reading the volunteer vs. paid discussion initiated by DIB with great interest. As I understand the original post, DIB was making the point that the transition of these highly experienced folks into other agencies and types of response at least keeps their expertise protecting lives and property. It’s a valid point. However, if the emergency response tooth fairy suddenly placed a 15 year FMO and a 20 year big city paramedic under my small rural community’s metaphorical pillow to run every one of our fire or ambulance calls, it wouldn’t necessarily make life all glorious. Professionals have the luxury of specializing. In big cities and big organizations you can have dispatch triage of calls, paramedic units running ALS calls all the time, dedicated HAZMAT and heavy rescue units. You can do wildland only, structure only, interface only. You can call in the specialists if you’re out of your depth. What vollies bring to the table is that we’re generalists, and we do have outside jobs; these jobs add depth to our skill sets and help us attack problems from unconventional directions. My department has a plumber, a diesel mechanic, a scrap metal dealer, a geologist, a GIS expert, a couple of cops, a veterinarian, several heavy equipment operators, and an electrician. Maybe we don’t spend all our time studying fire, but the things we do spend our time studying sure help out on the line.

I’m not sure I’d trade my GIS guy for most of the FMOs I’ve worked with, because the skills of the GIS guy get used more often than I think the skills of the FMO would in our all-risk world. I wouldn’t trade my diesel mechanic for nobody; if one of my trucks breaks down it’s a ninety-mile tow, and there is no truck to cover the same exposures.

I’ll make another comment, from the EMS side; out here with our more than an hour transport time, I’d rather have a volunteer Intermediate with ten years of 100-call-per-year rural experience than a city paramedic with twenty years of 2000-call-per-year experience, and here’s why: my intermediate has all her experience spending an hour at a time or more with a patient. The paramedic may have spent less than ten minutes with 90% of his patients. 80% or more of my call volume is going to be BLS, and the faith my community puts in the ambulance service is based more on the rapport the provider establishes with the patient that providing the most up-to-date ALS care. With 100 calls per year, the odds of a breakthrough ALS technique being critical to patient survival are slim. But with an hour to the hospital, the assessment skills and habits of observation my hypothetical Intermediate has developed will definitely save lives. Transferring that analogy to fire, I don’t necessarily want a DIVS with all wildland experience showing up to run my structure fire. I’m not saying he hasn’t got incredible skills, they’re just not the optimum skills for the job. It’s like pounding nails with a monkey wrench; it might kinda work, but the wrench has better uses and there’s a better tool for pounding nails.

The Fed Fire agencies have hit a critical point, a mutate-or-die kind of point. Salaries in all fields have failed to match cost-of-living increases, and the Fed wages have lagged the national average. Historically, emergency response has paid poorly compared to fields demanding comparable training and dedication because of the glamour factor; we offer adrenaline, camaraderie, and great photo ops as benefits. When somebody else comes along offering the same benefits and job duties for more pay, yeah, you’re going to have a retention problem. So the PTB (powers that be) can either re-think their mission (ceding fire response to other organizations) or compete for the same candidate pool, which is going to mean more money, better benefits, more flexibility, etc. The Forest Service has a different mission than CALFIRE. If all the key personnel move from one to the either, somebody’s mission isn’t going to get accomplished, even if all the skills, in aggregate, are still there. And a good portion of the people who moved are going to need to train up to fit their new mission, lest ye pound nails with a monkey wrench. So if the personnel move, the mission needs to get reconsidered, because a mission needs to be achievable.

Frozen North, your story broke my heart. It’s a terrible example of how paper quals win out over real-world experience. And it’s a terrible example of big-organization, one-size-fits-all policy that loses touch with what’s actually going on on the ground. A question to the community: who is the highest-ranking individual in the Forest Service who has actually dug fireline?

Nerd on the Fireline

(who is an –ologist, a vollie, an EMT, and doesn’t work for the Feds because of crap like that)
4/21Burnover on Saturday in Virginia - VA DOF dozer operator injured and several others with less major burns...

www.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/buckingham/article/injured_firefighter_expected_to_survive/20634/

from Hickman

4/21I know from reading the posts that there are many people facing 401
problems but I’m wondering specifically how many folks are out there that
are, or soon will be, ‘frozen’ by OPM in their current 401 position? I’m a
‘Parkie’ (and don’t know how many DOI’ers are with me) but, from what I
understand, there are 9 Forest Service employees in my 'frozen' boat.

This is what my boat looks like:

I was deemed qualified for my 401 series job in 2000 and again in 2005. As
you know, however, OPM moved their education target and, within the next
couple of weeks, I will be getting a letter saying that I am 3 credits
short of meeting the qualifications for my current position.

I can keep working in my job but I have 18 months to get those 3 credits
before I am no longer qualified. Not a big deal really. I like education
and would truly enjoy getting a few more science credits but, here’s the
rub; according to OPM “[frozen employees] are not eligible for promotion or
movement of any kind, including career-ladder promotions.”

I’ve been loyal to my current job for the past 8 years but I’m ready for a
new challenge and there are three 401-series jobs that will be flown in the
next couple of months. One job, in particular, is my ‘dream job’ and a
position that I would anticipate retiring in. I can apply for the jobs but
my applications will be rejected because of my 3 science credit shortage.
There is no 'grandfather period' during which one could take a new position
or promotion contingent on obtaining the credits during the 18 month
time-frame.

Ironically, I recently attended a couple of fire courses that were offered
for college science credit. I did not purchase the credits because, at the
time, I was told that I was 401 qualified. Those courses do not count now,
not because I didn’t get an education from them, but because I didn’t
unnecessarily spend tax payers dollars to ‘purchase my experience’. I
cannot believe that my employer is actually telling me that my 17 years of
classroom and on the job training in fire management (FUM2, RXB2, LTAN,
FOBS, etc.) is less important to them than the three science credits that I
didn’t take almost 20 years ago!

If I could get three credits (even in Oceanography!) prior to the
application period I would qualify for these fire jobs but, sadly, I cannot
find an upper level science course that I can complete in the next month.

If anyone out there has found some upper level science courses that can be
taken in the next four to six weeks I would sure love to hear about them.
I simply want a chance to compete for these jobs. As it stands, I am
completely demoralized and, if I can’t ‘dissect enough frogs’ to even put
in for these jobs, then I've committed to making a mid-life career change
and getting out of federal fire management with my sanity intact.

Thanks to all the organizations and individuals that have been taking this
issue to Congress and keeping us up to date on the 401 issue. You’ve got
one more very passionate advocate on your side!

Signed,

“Frozen North”

WOW. In addition to posting replies, I'd also be willing to pass suggestions behind the scenes. Ab.

4/21Hi Gang,
The attachment is for They Said It.
Keep up the good work.
Have a safe season.
Maddog

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

Dear Ab,

Ten years and change past my retirement date, I have to admit to now only occasionally reading “They Said It”; I find the constant reoccurring themes are, literally, the constant reoccurring themes! I was lucky to start my Federal Wildland Fire career the summer of ’65 as a Fire Control Aid II, it did not pay very much, but it was my dream to fight forest fires and the Plumas National Forest was as good a place to follow that dream as any.

In the Bachelor’s Barracks at the Work Center that summer we spent time grumbling about wages and getting an “appointment”, and some of us wondering why the loggers hated piss firs! In ’66, I dropped out of college and worked for the PNF for nine months, and did just about everything, from tree planting, BRC, learning how to fall timber and drive a flat bed tanker fitted with a 150 gallon slip-on unit, to closing the Spanish Peak Lookout in a driving snowstorm with Lee Reis.

We walked out to Bucks Summit and down to Toll Gate; his truck was towed out in the spring. Five months later I was drafted, and my brief wildland fire-fighting career morphed into being a combat medic in a lovely hellhole called Binh Dinh Province, RVN.

I say all of this, to lead to the thought, that the comments, concerns, and considerations of the authors of “They Said It”, are timeless in the history of the Forest Service. In 1975, a group of us proposed a Federal Wildland Fire Service. (Boy, that was really well received!) I sat on the Forest Committee charged figuring out how to implement SAFETY FIRST on the Forest. (Basically a no brainer). In 1976, a bunch of us proposed that at least one member of every fire crew/ engine/ helicopter/ shots be a Certified EMT, in the aftermath of several serious and near fatal fire line accidents. (Powers to be hated that one, but as a former medic it was dear to my heart, as I watch a dear FS friend try to struggle back from near death inflicted on the walls of the Feather River Canyon.

As the years progressed we did get some action out of the stale bureaucracy that was/is the Regional/Washington Office of the USFS. We eventually got struggling labor organizations, which allowed us to leverage some things. We had to weather the endless choppy waves of the budget cycle. Reorganization, consolidation, Consent Decree, more consolidation. Less money. Fewer people. Falling initial attack capabilities.

I was proud to be early dues paying member of NFFE 1995 and then, Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, F-262. I was privileged to be asked to accompany Kent Swartzlander back to Washington DC, where we attended the National Conference of the International Association of Fire Fighters and attempted to get them to support our “classification agenda”, and spent two days on the hill, meeting with congressional staffers for Senators and Representatives. We actually got to sit down with that unending Congressional Rep of Northern California, Wally Herger, who in that great big smiley face way of his greeted us with, “How’s my favorite fire fighters?” He did not know us from Adam until someone whispered in his ear who we were as we waited in the foray.

I remember drawing those offices I would canvas, and setting off down the hallways to my five minute meetings with a staffer generally younger than me, who in most cases, did not really know that:

  • 1) the Forest Service and BLM actually had fire fighters;
  • 2) that they were not really classified as Federal Fire fighters; even through,
  • 3) they could retire on OPM certified fire fighter retirement; and….oh hell, a hold bunch of stuff.

I dare say, you go there today, and spent two days laying out justifications for proper classification, better wages, better safety, more professionalism; you get the same blank stares we received.

The reoccurring themes of federal wildland fire management seem timeless and etched in granite, and I suspect will remain so for some time. However, that said, do not, ever, ever give up striving to be as professional and progressive as you can in pursuit of your career. I once wrote, “you do not fire fires for the money, you fight because you want to; but more money would be nice!”

I have spoken with many members of both USFS & CDF FIRE since that magical day in January ’98, and know that the last years have not been very kind to either agency. But recently driving past the brand new USFS Fire Dozer on its shining lowboy and chase truck; a smile does come to my face and mind. I remember a bunch of us raising hell when we were told that our initial attack fire cats and operators were to be eliminated! It was a bad decision that blackened many acres; luckily years later someone recognized the error; and gives a chance for a knowing smirk to spread across my face.

Stay the course, stand up and be counted. Change takes time, sometimes a lot of time. Change will still eventually occur, but without personal effort and dedication, it just might not be what you wanted.

Fight fire aggressively, but provide for safety first. Head’s up this fire season.

Oh yeah, Ab, I do miss it still! And a convection column on a mid-slope gets my attention every time.

Peace, Maddog

Thanks for the history, Maddog. Ab.

4/21from the hotlist forum:

The funeral services for Gert (Jerry) Marais, the pilot who died when his single engine air tanker crashed April 15 on the TA-25 fire near Fort Carson, Colorado, will be in Fort Benton, Montana, on April 25th at 11:00 AM. The service will be at the Montana Agricultural Center, 1205 20th Street.

Jackson

Thanks, Jackson.
More info: Visitation is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at Benton Funeral Home and one hour prior to the 11 a.m. service Friday at the Agricultural Center in Fort Benton.

Memorials may be made to:

the Marais Family Benefit Account
c/o First Security Bank
PO Box 279
Fort Benton, MT, 59442

4/21The two firefighters in Ordway and the pilot at Ft. Carson who died in the line
of duty this week will be honored at the Colorado Fallen Firefighters Memorial
annual ceremony here in Lakewood on Saturday, May 10.

Each year, the Colorado Fallen Firefighters Foundation hosts the event to pay
tribute to firefighters who paid the ultimate price in Colorado.

There is a parade at 10:30, and the ceremony begins at 11:00 in Belmar Park,
near Wadsworth and Alameda Pkwy. I've gone to the event every year for the
last several years, just as a grateful citizen - not as an agency rep. It's very
nicely done - dignified and touching.

A lot of people don't know the memorial is practically in our back yard, so I just
wanted to let folks know about it, since there will be wildland firefighters honored
this year.

Website for further information, especially if someone wants to put apparatus in
the parade:
www.coff.us/

Thanks for listening, and I hope to see you there.

<snipped name and position>
Rocky Mountain Region

4/21 A good man who will be missed. His voice will forever be etched into the memory
of everyone who ever heard him.

www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008804200343

www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008804170303

SS

4/21Graeagle FF:

Thanks for your good comments on FLAME!

As an FBAN of many years of experience (and working right now) I also want to praise Jim Bishop's contribution to how we do things. We have welcomed his presentation into our S290-S390-S490 classes. BUT....You need to know that FLAME is only one tool in the toolbox. There is so much more to know and I happen not to think that any of these systems that we use are all that good on ROS. There are too many other factors not necessarily encompassed by our numeric prediction systems. E57 comes to mind.

BehavePlus is still the standard at the advanced levels of fire behavior prediction but it definitely has a few problems in the real world.

My choice for just plain-common-sense-keeping-everybody-safe is still Doug Campbell's Fire Signature Prediction System combined with paying very close attention to all of the atmospherics. In the FBAN job I measure all of the rocket science numerology against all of my own common sense and, oh yeah, many years of experience.

Go forth. Keep yourself and those around you safe. Become a good FBAN some day. And, oh yeah, be patient with all of us old far*ts who are just trying to help with all of the above.

KnuckleDragon
4/21JL,

I think when you said 'whether paid or volunteer you should be expected to be as close to 100% standard as possible' was right on. That about sums it up.

Danfromord,

The topic of volunteer compared to paid is so off topic of anything I was talking about originally. You bring up excellent points though, and thank you for your volunteerism. As I said in a post a long time ago, volunteering is how a lot of the stuff in this country that needs to get done, gets done.

You assume too much when you suggest that I or anyone who wants to be paid a LIVABLE WAGE should open our eyes and look at all the choices we have, or should move on to another agency that will pay us that LIVABLE WAGE and stop wallowing in self pity. You assume too much as well as others may, when you infer that we whine and don't stand up for change and haven't made personal sacrifices to further the profession we are passionate about. It reminds me of when I was finishing my apprenticeship with the Forest Service one winter about two years ago, and I heard of a 'high up' in the Regional Office responding to the concerns of retention and recruitment brought up by 'the ground pounders' at a regional meeting. The solution of the Regional Officer was, 'if you don't like your pay and benefits, then quit, because their are plenty of people who are ready to fill your position.' That very next summer as fire season was kicking off, their were numerous news stories of US Forest Service being understaffed due to 'a mass exodus of middle management firefighters'. I was one of the middle management firefighters that quit as well as just about every JAC off my forest that I went to the academy with, we all took the Regions advice and left. So now two years later, I have put myself through paramedic school (by the way Danfromord, I don't get paid for that training, as a matter of fact I pay a pretty penny for that training) and now I am headed back to the Forest Service starting up again very soon. I have rejoined the FWFSA and spoke with them about how to become more active in their cause then just paying membership dues. I hope to possibly one day help contribute to introducing paramedicine into the US Forest Service or some sort of centralized Federal Wildland Fire Department.

All of this 'whining' or 'wallowing in self pity' has created a lot of momentum towards what will hopefully be the change we want. Our refusal to move on to another agency, our refusal to move to another region, and our refusal to listen to those who would peg us as self indulgent has created a strong movement. Never before did we have the issue of retention brought before Congress by a Senator. Never before has a Senator written a letter to the Chief and Undersecretary not only calling them on their B.S., but telling them to fix it before another fire season (Thankyou Casey). Now instead of the region saying openly "if you don't like it leave", they are looking at how to fund/implement retention solutions. We don't have the change we want yet, but don't be so presumptuous as to say that we whine and wallow and don't pursue our dreams.

So no, I won't leave R5, I won't go blue, and I won't stop standing up for wanting to earn a LIVABLE WAGE and have a good retirement.

I will continue to try and preserve and advance the best firefighting community in the world.

DIB

A bit of history: Here's an interesting 1999 archive: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2003_n_before/recruit.php (The Ab there is OA.) Kent Swartzlander, sup of the Plumas Shots and FWFSA president at the time did speak before Congress in 1994 on pay and issues related to retention. (Shots are one of our professional groups and many go on to management positions later in their careers.) Kent was one of the originators of FWFSA with Don Will and Rusty Witwer and some others who exercised their first amendment rights and rose to the need they saw to speak out. Among others, They Said It. It would be interesting to have the history of that early movement preserved here. OA lent his support for the logo link and issues as did Larry Jordan (retired CDF airtanker pilot and AAP webmaster), who hosted the first FWFSA website with the very basic info. It's one part of a proud history that has taken wildland fire professionalism a long way. The action of informing each other, informing Congress and informing the public continues today. Ab.

4/21Petrelli / MTDC Briefing paper that addresses the ISSUE of Short Fire Shelters. Ab.

www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=17537#post17537

4/21Paid vs Volunteers?

Having worked as a volunteer firefighter, I respect the commitment and service that many volunteers bring to the table with little expectation of return or reward. They're a tribute to our nation's values and virtue. That said, this notion that our federal wildland firefighters are somehow merely a lucky "exception to the rule" skims over a great deal of reality. Our nation's wildland firefighters are expected to display great deal of professionalism and competence, born out of first-class training and first-hand experience. They are expected to make significant sacrifices, being separated from their families for much of the year among many other things. Some sort of "show up to drill twice a month and try to make at least three calls" system isn't going to make the cut. The public demands a level of service and professionalism that necessitates full-time firefighters training and drilling, gaining first-hand experience on fires large and small, willing to go anywhere at anytime, and willing to make the commitments necessary to our profession as wildland firefighters. Until we see thousands of volunteers lining up at the door ready to take positions as 0462 Forestry Technicians and willing to give every ounce of commitment necessary to our mission's success, this notion that we are simply a lucky "exception to the rule" misses the target.

Joel
(not trying to burn volunteers, but I don't see anyone lining up to do this for free)
4/20Could anyone send me picture of type 3 and type 4 engines. I am trying to
educate my flatland chiefs on what a wildland engine is.

Our current "brush truck. is a f250 with a 100gallon tank and a 4gpm
powerwasher.

Thank you,
Jason McM (former BLM red card)
Springfield Fire dept (IL)

Have you looked on the engines photo pages? Ab.

4/20Hey Ab,

I have been noticing that when I read and listen to television and radio reports on the fires in Colorado only two of the three deaths are mentioned. And on the rare occasion I did hear the death of the SEAT pilot mentioned, he was not listed as a firefighter. I think this might be a good opportunity for anyone out there who notices this same thing to either let people know to not forget about the third firefighter and to inform them that pilots are also firefighters.

I could be wrong, but just thought I'd mention it.

Jumper553
4/20S-290 and FLAME:

I just finished S-290, Intermediate Fire Behavior today. Passed the final with a bit of studying. This was the 4 day class following the new (12/07) 4 day curriculum. I was extremely lucky to have some very qualified and great instructors. Brenda Belongie- North Ops Meteorologist from North Ops/Predictive Services did a great job of teaching the weather section. Her ability to make us critically think instead of just read the “cookbook” made me a more knowledgeable firefighter. I think it is easy to read tables and hear daily weather without thinking about why things are happening in the weather world. Years of getting the weather on the nightly news made me think of weather in a very limited fashion. One big “light bulb” that was turned on for me was making weather 3 dimensional instead of 1 dimensional, i.e. surfacing winds. I am also indebted to BC Alec Lane and his staff for filling in the remaining instructor list and putting the class on. Their experience and real world knowledge definitely helped me learn more about core concepts related to weather and fire behavior.

As far as the curriculum I am going to concur with previous posts on THEYSAID regarding FLAME. I am not about to generalize all firefighters into the category of “knuckle draggers” but FLAME is a complicated process that most of us will not get or use. I don’t think FLAME will ever be used in the cab of an engine I am working on or on line that is being cut. However, FBAN’s should use this process as it does do a great job of predicting ROS. The South Canyon exercise in the class displayed that Flame does produce quality (as close as you can get) ROS calculations. If an FBAN ended up getting these ROS calculations into an IAP I would definitely consider them good tools in the toolbox. I do also think the concepts that deliver a ROS through FLAME are important for the engine boss/ff/crew level. We all need to understand that an increase in slope and wind will cause and "expected" increase in ROS. I realize that Mr. Bishop (FLAME creator) had an awesome goal of making us look at “expected” fire behavior in order to save our bacon on high intensity fires. I applaud him for making an effort to try to decrease firefighter fatalities and injuries. I also applaud the fact that he did this on a volunteer basis.

It does seem that prescribed fire folks could use FLAME as well to effectively determine ROS. I will say my prescribed fire experience is very limited so I will leave this opinion to the people in the know.

I know there has been previous discussion on Campbell Prediction. So I will not belabor the point but CPS is the way to go. I can easily remember the CPS chart to this day. Alignment makes total sense. FLAME makes sense also. But one is quicker the other, CPS makes sense when things are burning. FLAME makes sense for the FBAN who has a little more time than the guys pulling up in an engine or buggy.

In closing, I would think FLAME is a good tool for the classes above the 290 level. I also think 290 should discuss FLAME as we all need to understand what it is and how it can be a useful tool….. from the IAP.

Graeagle FF

4/20Misery Whip

Here's what Becki Forest-Supervisor (on the Wenatchee- Okanogan NFs)
said on 4/14 theysaid post from Gorge FMO:

I plan on attending as much of the trial as possible. When I’m not
there, my representative will be. I will wear my uniform proudly in
support of all employees and the Agency. I have identified a few
employees that will serve a variety of roles in an official capacity at
the trial, including keeping you informed of the proceedings. Others
interested in attending can do so on their own time, not in an official
capacity, with the use of leave pre-approved by their supervisor.

She may be there in an official capacity, though.

Mellie

4/20cprda,

Here is some info to get you started...I gotta run. I'll be available again in one week.
Thanks for the courteous reply. Be sure to check out the inflation calculator....The cost of living calculator is pretty interesting as well....and I did say "total" of 20.55% in the post. I guess it would have read better if I had said "rates" as well.

Again, thanks for the interest. Check out the link.

http://inflationdata.com/inflation/Inflation_Rate/HistoricalInflation.aspx

Regards,
Joatmon
4/20Joatmon,

Respectfully, how did you come up with 8 year inflation rate of 20.55%?

cprda

4/20cprda

The inflation rate from January 2001 to January 2008 was a total of 20.55%...

$$$

-Joatmon
4/19All,

Does anyone know if the Forest Service is going to advise employees on what they may or may not do related to attending Ellreese's upcoming trial? I would specifically like to know what the Chief's stance would be toward an employee who was willing to take annual leave to attend Ellreese's trial and wanted to wear the uniform as a show of support. I know if I was sitting in Ellreese's place, it would make me feel better to see my brother and sister firefighters wearing the colors behind me.

I haven't felt like wearing the uniform for a long time, but I would make an exception in this case if the Chief says it is OK.

Free Ellreese

Misery Whip
4/19Here is a question.

Background: My agency follows 310-1 April 2006 (NPS)

I was talk to another wildland firefighter today and we came to a disagreement. Here is the question:

You just took a class that included S-130/190 and L-180. You took I-100 online, do you need a refresher (RT-130) before you can FFT2 ICQS qual or better known as a "red card". One more, how about HELM, do you need RT-372 before you can have a taskbook issued?

One of us has the correct answer. We thought we needed other input to solve the question.

Good luck R5, I support you all the way.

Signed Former R5 JAC now NPS Captain.
4/19 Blue Cut Burnover, 2002

AB,

I was wondering if you or anyone else has any info on the burnover featured in this video; www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uIBOL2yrRM

I noticed some interesting things going on with the burnout operation featured right at the beginning.
1.) The firefighters seem to be taking quite a large chunk of unburned fuel for the wind speeds that are evident. Something that would seem to make the holding effort difficult.
2.) Then, the lower of the two firefighters performing the staggered burnout get ahead of the upper firefighter, something that i was taught was a small safety hazard, but a safety hazard all the same. Especially given the steepness of the terrain, the wind speed, and the way the upper firefighter keeps falling down.

Anyway, Just some personal observations. I would love to read what really happened, I spent a season working on the San Berdue and i know how insane those winds can be.

JG

4/19MLK,

I don't care to argue, however, I believe we can discuss these concerns. Some of these issues between us are like comparing apples and oranges, however the rough similarities are there. I will state right now, that I am a "contractor". I will also strongly add that our company ALWAYS receives exceptional performance reviews from a multitude of agencies.

I would like to bring up your point of in 2001 one the entry wages where between $ 8 and $10 an hour and that now, 8 years later they are between $10 and $12+. That is a 20% raise!! Sounds like progress to me. In this time, my wife who is a medical professional has received a combined raise of 7.86% , and she is in a very desirable position to a multitude of employers. Now I looked up my rates that that we were hired out at in 2001 before the best value method and compared them to what I have to bid at now and we have taken a 32% CUT! In this time we have replaced all of our equipment and added numerous years of experience to our employees' knowledge base. I also just looked over our CALFIRE agreement and this year we received a new 3 year contact with a 4% increase over our last 3 year contract issued in '05. At the current fuel prices, this will looks to be a net zero gain. I will not complain about this, because at the end of the day I will still make a few dollars and I love my job! Now I admit that our guys gross around $350 per shift which is comparable to what they could make say in the construction or logging trade as equipment operators. We also know that if we did not pay them this wage they would MOVE ON to somewhere that they could make the wage.

My biggest problem with the whole contracting thing has to do with ROSS and the dispatching process. We have invested heavily in high end and quality equipment and education for our employees and it greatly frustrates me when a team is in need for a piece of equipment with a gizmo on it (GEL, CAFS, a million miles of hose or whatever), and so they place the order out through ROSS and the dispatchers don't know how to find us since this certain "gizmo" is not listed as a search feature on ROSS. It also is a bit depressing knowing that our equipment (new and loaded) is dispatched with the same priority as a pickup with a hand crank pump (yes that was an exaggeration, but you get the point).

It also bugs me when our local dispatch center wont send us out, (even when there are orders for equipment) just because they want us to be around in case if they need us. Now this is common, at times, with paid agency people, but when this happens to us, we are not paid if we aren't out on an incident. How can we pay for good quality equipment if we don't receive any jobs? When an agency employee is held, they are likely getting paid at the same time. Perhaps they are doing project work or "polishing" the engine. Should firefighters be paid more than $12 an hour? Yes they should! Yet remember to look at the plus side too, and they got a 20% pay raise in the last 8 years under an administration that is trying to cut costs....

I will stand up for you guys for a better "living wage" Will you guys stand with me for a better dispatch process for us contractors?

I guess in closing I can say, "see MLK, I guess even I can whine too ;)"

Have a good an safe and yes PROSPEROUS fire season!

cprda

4/19My husband and I own a cabin in the Island Park are of the Caribou-Targhee Natinal Forest, 35 miles southwest of West Yellowstone Montana. My husband is a career firefighter (Division Chief) and has done a lot to keep our cabin "Fire Safe". He has created and good fifty foot defensible space, increased available water sourses, created a sprinkler system to protect the cabin's roof, sides and eves. This part of the forest is protected by two USFS light engines and a twenty-person hand crew in addition to the local Volunteer Fire Department and four private engines and two private water tenders.

This part of the state is protected by mostly volunteer fire departments and volunteer ambulance organizations. Those Volunteer Organization have some very dedicated firefighters and emts. Qualifications include national standard firefighter levels, wildland firefighting courses, emt-basic to intermediate, and hazmat tech. The FS Engines do not respond to any fire or ems calls other than wildland fires on the forest. EMS calls are answered by Volunteer Units (EMT-B to EMT-Intermediate and Private Services (EMT-B to Paramedic). Advanced Life Support (ALS) and HazMat is provided by area Career Firefighters and County Paramedics, I haven't seen any Volunteer Paramedics due to the CE (Continuing Education) Requirements. Just down the road from our cabin is a private engine (6x6 IH, 4 person cab, 1500 gpm pump, 1700 gal. tank, 4 person crew with one being a paramedic), I believe this engine is considered "All Risk".

I've notice that most of the posts on "TheySaid" deal with issues of pay and retention in R5 and that is good but R% Firefighters are not the only FS Firefighters facing hard economic times. Around Island Park gas price average about $3.90-$4.00/gal, a gallon of milk is $4.50 (no walmarts around), homes range from $100K to $1,000.000+, point being most FS Employees here feel the economic crunch the same as those in R5. I agree with one of the earlier posts here on TheySaid "We're all in this together.

Last summer I was on stand-by in Hailey Id for the Castle Rock Fire, My husband was leading a 5-engine task force. There were 25 municipal, rural and volunteer fire departments, numerous private engines along side FS Crews, a lot of multi-million dollar homes were protected by Volunteer and Career Fire Crews (FS had some Light Engines there)...none of those crews stayed in the Sun Valley Lodge while they were in Sun Valley. Some CalFire Engines even showed up. This situation happened often in Idaho last summer...Yea We're all in this together.

Jodie
Flight RN
Idaho
4/19Hello,

My name is John Ristvedt I am currently a resident of Graceville MN, I have my firefighter 1 certification and EMT. I am looking to expand my experience and learn how to fight forest fires. I think there is a three day training that is involved. The purpose behind this inquiry is to be able to move to Duluth during the summer and get a job or volunteer with that effort during the summer while my soon to be wife goes to medical school there. If you could provide me with any information or direct me or my message to the right people that would be wonderful. Thank you very much.

John R<snip>
4/19Re: Jim Barnett's IFPM Memo

"Also, remember that this relief is in addition to those that will be published by NWCG and the Implementation Team by mid-May which will provide some NWCG position qualification relief to about 5 or 6 positions for some or all complexity levels."

Should I translate this to mean those who currently meet the GS-401 education requirement, yet lack the required fire experience, will catch a free pass? Hmmm. Do I sense the development of a double standard for certain positions (FFMOs & AFFMOs) where fire suppression and rx burning experience is considered inferior and inconsequential compared to education in the biological sciences?
Gosh, I hope not! But then again, not much of anything surprises me anymore.

401 Pilgrim
4/19DIB,

Thanks for clarifying your position. I too agree that portal to portal is a must for the FS,
not only for providing a livable wage, but for the purposes of retaining your experienced
employees.

As for who I want coming to my house, I tend to agree with you on that but with a
different twist. I would prefer that medic that has a number of years of service time and
cares enough to know his stuff. Time paid or volunteer does not mean you know your job.
I know plenty of FF-P that I would not want coming to my house in any situation.

I guess what I am trying to get at is pretty simple. Whether paid or volunteer you should
be expected to be as close to the 100% standard as possible. I would anyday take that
guy over "Mr/Mrs. Been There Done That". Regardless of 20 years of paid or volunteer time.

JL
4/19cprda,

I want to reply to your comments. In 2001 an entry level Firefighter made between $8-10 in the RUS. This is for GS-2, 3, and 4 grades. In 2008 those same grades receive between $10-$12.73. Think about what has changed over those past 8 years. Think about the difference between of what things cost in 2001 vs 2008 for rent, home purchase, health care, food, utilities, etc.. We need to do something in R-5 and, for that matter nationally, to help give our new kids a better chance to get started in life and maybe, just maybe, retain them as our future leaders. Our young starting Firefighters deserve a starting salary between $15-22 an hour, now. Giving them and their families a living wage would give us a better chance to hang onto our future leaders.

Other than Lobo, we hear very little about what are the effects of this whole mess, including paying a non-living wage to a Forest Service Firefighter. A starting Firefighter is getting to a Captain level faster than any time in at least the past 30 years. Now add all the extra responsibilities a Captain has these days compared to 30 years ago. I've had Firefighters tell me they have a lot of pressure to get applications in for the next level and refuse to do so, even though they need the extra money -- because they know they're not ready. Think about that for a minute. That is an example of how a Firefighter thinks. It's the exact example and definition of a group of people with "special skills" required to do a job that is outlined in the OPM Group Retention Incentives. If one fails as the Asst. Manager at Payless Shoes, it's much different then failing as the acting Engine Boss or Crew Boss during your downhill hose lay or line construction. The decisions entrusted in that SRB are enormous when compared to the shoe guy. Now go ask your local shoe store manager what they make an hour and what they do, and compare pay and responsibility.

You call us whiners as your 1st amendment right allows you to do so. I identified a week ago, that we have those both inside and outside of R-5 who disagree with our movement. We will be called whiners, out for just our own pocket books, just want to fight management, etc. You need to be aware that a large majority of the posts in this forum are in fact from  management and we care deeply about our agency and our rank and file that we are responsible to train and develop to take our place.

I ask theysaiders not to respond negatively to cprda and his whiner comments. Lead up and stay above it all, no attacks. I ask theysaiders who lived through the past 8 fiscal years to not reply with negative tones to anyone who attacks and disagrees with us.

This is our Forest Service and we care deeply about fixing the errors from this decade. From flat wages to increasing Line Officer mismanagement of a program whose management cannot be learned or mastered with only a Forestry degree. We are the ones who, on occasion, find ourselves coming home and looking forward to the next work day, or have a restless night sleep because of something we look forward to accomplishing at work. We will stay strong until the pay and retention issues are solved, until we are able to take a serious look and fix the mission, and fix how the fire program is managed. We will work hard to expand FWFSA membership, we are not afraid of being called whiners by our peers and we will not attack back at those who disagree with our movement.

We ask for no quarter, we don't ask for the same pay as our cooperators, we ask only to bring back the strong Forest Service we once knew, the employer of choice for the Wildland Firefighter, the pride in the badge. We ask and will ensure that our pay and mission solutions are placed on the table for debate.

We care too much about each other, our families and our Forest Service to allow all this to just stop and go away, close our eyes to the problems and leave these issues for another generation to solve.

Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?

- MLK

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY

4/19Hey Abs, all,

I start working in my seasonal FS spot in a few weeks, and I was curious about ASC and
folks getting paid. Back in February I was hearing rumors and rumblings about the 1039s
hired around that time not getting their first paycheck for several pay periods (i.e., not getting
paid on time for their first few pay periods of work). Does anyone know (1) if that really
happened, and (2) if it did, has it been fixed for the temps coming on for the summer season?

Young and Watching it Snow in Region 1 (Crazy spring weather...)
4/19Forest Service:

Take notice. This is what it is like to have a Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) willing to
speak factually on the issues and solutions to the problems associated with the pay, benefits,
and working conditions within their branch of the federal government. signed: Noname FS

> From: Janine Velasco on WFED Radio
Assistant Director, Human Capital
Bureau of Land Management

(Podcast: requires some audio player to listen)
http://icestream.bonnint.net:8000/dc/fnr/ask_chco/!ASK_THE_CHCO_01-24-2008.mp3

Kudos to Janine Velasco. This is a very clear, direct and positively stated podcast. Didn't seem like spin or talking points and full of good information. A plus. Ab.

4/19JL, vfd:

I apologize if I offended you or any other volunteer firefighters; it was not my intent. The post was in response to some who suggested that portal to portal pay was not fiscally responsible and shouldn't be done, and that most firefighters are volunteers anyways so getting paid at all was the exception to the rule and maybe instead of demanding higher pay (or livable wage), we should realize that getting any monetary compensation was some sort of gift.

I know that volunteer firefighters on an individual level can be more professional then a paid firefighter. I don't think that just because someone volunteers, that they are less capable, intelligent, dedicated, etc.....

My point is this, IN GENERAL, the volunteer firefighter usually has a full time career in something else outside of volunteer firefighting, so the bulk of their work time is spent at that job (unless they are independently wealthy or have spouse that makes enough money for the both or what have you). Therefore, the amount of hours that they can spend training, studying, and gaining valuable experience in the fire arena, creating those slide shows in their heads just isn't the same as someone who is paid to do it for a living. And no offense, but the firefighter I want standing between my house and a fire is the 20 year full time Hot Shot Captain over the 20 year volunteer Captain who make it to fires when they could. The paramedic I want working on my child if they were in full arrest is the 20 year ff/paramedic who has seen their fair share of severe pediatric calls, over the 20 year volunteer ff/paramedic who may have only been to a handful of severe pediatric calls. It's a numbers thing, not a dig at those who chose to volunteer. And as a taxpayer, anywhere there is the need for such services, I want my taxes going to providing that level of experience and expertise of the fulltime, paid, firefighter.

In regards to the financial hardships and pay issue, that has nothing to do with volunteer firefighters. That has to do with those of us who get paid and want to be able to be wildland firefighters for a living, BUT ARE NOT BEING PAID A LIVABLE WAGE, hence one of the major causes of retention problems. If you are a volunteer firefighter I would assume that you have enough money from somewhere, that you can spend free time working as a firefighter for free and I commend you for that. As a matter of fact I think sometimes that I should find a job outside of fire that pays me a LIVEABLE WAGE and be a volunteer firefighter, at least I wouldn't be so financially troubled.

So let me be very specific, I am a wildland firefighter with the US Forest Service in Southern California; those examples are my own. These type of financial hardships are widespread amongst us and are the primary reason as to why so many people are leaving. Many people don't want to talk about such specifics, because it is embarrassing, but I am past that point. I am sorry if I wasn't clear enough about that. It was not an assumption that volunteer firefighters can't pay their bills or a suggestion that you don't deserve respect on the fire line. It was a response to those who feel portal to portal or getting paid at all is ridiculous. The dig was actually on those in the wildland firefighting community who want to suggest that those of us who want portal to portal and higher pay are greedy or act entitled. I think there is tremendous value in paying wildland firefighters a competitive and livable wage so that you retain a group of people in that profession who are the very best at what they do because they do it day in and day out, summer after summer, and concentrate on nothing but firefighting in their careers. This would allow us as taxpayers to have the very best protection that 'money' could buy.

Lastly the post was addressed to specific individuals as well as whomever about specific conversations and posts, I hope you read all the posts to see the context of the conversation.

DIB
4/18cprda,

A few of things.

1) I agreed with your statement that we are all in this together.

2) I also agree that you are "confused" as you stated in your post.

3) The way I interpreted ms's post was far different than your views and interpretation and in a positive note.

I did take offense to the statement of "would the taxpayer" take offense in the original ms post...The "average taxpayer" could give a rats bootie about issues unless it is either a weight in their pocket book, or hazard to their personal or family safety. The rest of his post was right on.

We cannot educate all of the taxpayers..... we can only offer the resources and effort to educate the local, state, and federal elected officials who represent them (taxpayers).... and educate those of us (who several posters have alluded to over the years).... are the wildland firefighting family.

Change comes from communication and actions from within..... that's what we're about.

Lobotomy
4/18DIB,

Your post on 4/15 if I read it correctly is a slap in the face to every volunteer firefighter who reads it.

Being a "paid" firefighter does not make you immune to financial matters. Nor does it mean that I am more worried about how I will make my rent payment since I make a mortgage payment on-time every month. My wife was pregnant and I have a wonderful 6 year old daughter, but never did I worry about a blow out on that bald tire since she drove a well maintained and proper vehicle.

Just because I (or all of us) volunteer does not we are all named Cooter, drive a Pinto or Gremlin and live in a trailer in someone's backyard. Nor does it mean we are not qualified to do a job.

Next time try and see the positive side. I do not nor have I ever treated a "paid" firefighter differently. You guys ought to try that once with the volunteers. Might be surprised at what they have to offer.

JL
4/18I am rather confused by the statement made by MS. Quote "Would they call BS if they knew the federal health care premium they pay as a Firefighter at 12 bucks an hour is the same monthly cost our FAM Director pays, and he makes between 60-70 bucks an hour?"  Is ms implying that a person that makes more money gets ills and needs more medical care than one that does not make as much? That is exactly what ms is saying by suggesting that a higher pay grade person have higher insurance premiums than others.  Insurance rates are made, as I understand them, as pools or groups of people in certain fields trades or offices. Could we take this one more step and say that people in higher pay grades should pay more for groceries or fuel?  Ms seems to be a bit embarrassed that some have to take food stamps and or other means of "help" from the government , however if FAM director would be forced to pay a higher insurance premium to help offset some of the premium s for the lower wage earners, wouldn't this in fact be just another form of welfare???? Come on guys we are all in this together, VFD, contractors, red, green, purple  and blue....  If you don't like your wage and or job  make a change!!! I  for one am tired of reading about all of the whining and complaining from R5. I am not trying to be offensive, but if there is a problem don't just whine , but make a change. whether that would be forming bargaining alliances, moving to blue, or moving to another region.

cprda

4/18Mill Creek shots:

I was on the crew in 1973. It was a 15 person hand crew with George Motschall as the foreman. Around Sept of 73, a contract ship, a Bell 205, with Region 3 was detailed to the BDF and stationed at Mill Creek. We then became the flight crew with smoky Val as the helitack foreman. The following year the ship returned to Mill Creek and the newly formed Mill Creek Hot Shots used it. i believe that this ship burned on a fire on the San Jacinto Dist in 1975 and was replaced by a Bell 204. By that time Smoky had a 10 person fire crew for the ship along with a 7 person helitack.

George Ozanich

Thanks, I added this to the IHC -->Fire Manager" Project page. Ab.

4/18Does anyone know what fire management positions will be required to be 401
series? Specifically I am looking for factual information for Division
Chiefs, Battalion Chiefs, Engine Captains, Fire Apparatus Engineers and
Senior Firefighters.

On my forest, the forest Supervisor and his management team want to "Cut"
my AFMO who is a 462 series with 32 years of USFS fire experience and
replace the 462 AFMO position with a GS-401-9 Prescribed Fire Specialist to
"Move the unit to more combined fire and fuels expertise." What a bunch of
BS that is. My AFMO is the best firefighting AFMO I have ever seen in the
forest service and he is also a prescribed fire and fuels specialist with
loads of NWCG training courses and tons of experience and Type 1 RX
qualifications. In his career he has already been a Fuels Battalion. His
knowledge, skills and abilities will never be replaced by a 401 qualified
individual.

This nonsense is why non-fire, inexperienced resource managers have
absolutely no business having anything to do with managing or supervising
fire management programs and employees.

Does anyone out there know if 401 will apply to the above positions. I have
heard conflicting information both ways.

Thanks,
Magruder Fingers

P.S. Federal Wildland Fire Department
4/18to AV's question about USFS travel/TOS issues, got the following from our HRL. noname

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

Some of you might of seen this already. We had one of the HRLs asked why some of our employees were hearing that the Relocation Contract was not available to our employees. This is the answer we got from B&F. Rudy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This issue has been forwarded to me as it is a ASC B&F Travel Branch issue. It is true we are not offering any transferees the option of entering into a Relocation Services Program where a third party purchases the employees home. We expect the Chief's office to release a letter later today or on Monday regarding this issue.

At this time, my TOS counselors have been provided the following script to inform incoming TOS. "We regret to inform you that use of the Relocation Services Program is on hold at this time. Due to the economic downturn in the housing market, the FS has lost three of its Relocation Services Program (RSP) providers and the one remaining provider is not accepting new orders at this time due to volume. This is a government wide issue and the General Services Administration is involved, working to obtain additional contractors for the Federal Agencies to utilize. The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) is reviewing the Relocation Services Program and evaluating various options. As soon as we receive the ELT decision we will be informing everyone.

Until this problem is resolved with the RSP there are only two options available at this time:

1. You are entitled to the self sale reimbursement of your residence. This reimbursement cannot exceed 10% final sales price.

2. You can delay your home sale transaction pending the decision(s) of the ELT.

If you choose option 1 you may not later request RSP.

If you choose option 2 we will provide you a weekly update as to the current status. We will provide your options to you once the decision is made."

Many employees will be impacted by this. It will also be the employees decision on whether to accept or decline positions based on the fact it may be hard to sell their homes.

We hope to have more information soon, but right now this is what is provided and the Chief's letter should be out by Monday.

Pam <snip>, Branch Chief, Travel and Transfer of Station
USDA, FS, ASC, B&F
Albuquerque, NM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4/18Originally from Steve Holdsambeck, FS Fire Ops Safety Program Manager, Ogden UT

here is a briefing paper that is certainly worth sharing at a refresher or
fire safety meeting.

Also, it is very important that all firefighters get a chance to
"experience" the feel of a real shelter.

Under the stress of a real deployment we don't want folks to be distracted
by the difference between a real shelter and the plastic one.

This was an issue on a deployment recently when a firefighter, who had to
deploy, had never actually felt a real shelter until that moment.
His stress level was already high but when he pulled out his shelter it
must have redlined.
He told me that his shelter seemed so ridged and thick that he imagined
that it had somehow fused or melted together in the heat.

Practice shelters are excellent to train with and an economical tool to
develop "deployment proficiency". Real shelters are obviously expensive
and they won't hold up to repeated practice deployments but they can be
"experienced" before one is ever really needed.

(See attached file: Petrilli brief.doc)

and for more info on the shelter see:

www.nifc.gov/safety/fire_shelter.php

4/18Important info on IFPM from the FS Intranet. I heard about this as from Casey last weekend. Ab.

Making the rounds yesterday:
Regional IFPM Leads

Although I have not seen anything in writing, I am as certain as I can be of the following:

Last Friday the second in command at OPM verbally committed to extending the June 1, 2009 deadline for those erroneously placed in 0401s after February 15, 2005 (30 for the FS and about 40 for Interior). The new deadline will be October 1, 2010.

NWCG voted yesterday to extend the deadline for all others seeking 0401 in IFPM until that same deadline... October 1, 2010.

I have no information regarding any non-0401 positions and can state with a reasonable amount of certainty that any position not requiring 0401 will remain under the October 1, 2009 deadline.

Also, remember that this relief is in addition to those that will be published by NWCG and the Implementation Team by mid-May which will provide some NWCG position qualification relief to about 5 or 6 positions for some or all complexity levels.

If there is more on this breaking news, I'll let you know as soon as I do.

Jim

James Barnett
W O Branch Chief, Fire Training (NIFC)

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

Comment from Jeanne Pincha-Tulley (the IFPM guru for R5) on the same intranet email:

FYI. It's a start and we are looking for it to be in writing...but at least there appears to be movement in a good direction!

Just so folks know what James Barnett's email means in relative English:
Last Friday the second in command at OPM verbally committed to extending the June 1, 2009 deadline for those erroneously placed in 0401s after February 15, 2005 (30 for the FS and about 40 for Interior). The new deadline will be October 1, 2010. This applies to anyone who was placed in a GS-401 position after February 15, 2005. "Erroneously placed" refers to GS-401 folks who relied on NWCG courses and/or courses not documented on a college transcript to qualify for the GS-401.

NWCG voted yesterday to extend the deadline for all others seeking 0401 in IFPM until that same deadline... October 1, 2010. This refers to the following: since IFPM has been moved under NWCG, there have been several proposals made to change IFPM implementation, including the deadline to extend, as the USFS cannot determine what constitutes the correct kind/type of positive education credits will be used to qualify folks for the GS-401.

...no information regarding any non-0401 positions and can state with a reasonable amount of certainty that any position not requiring 0401 will remain under the October 1, 2009 deadline.

There are several positions in IFPM that do not require a GS-401 education. Incumbents in these positions still have a October 1, 2009 compliance "deadline". It also means that on October 1, 2009, having the NWCG qualifications, specialized experience and specialized training (if required for a particular position) will become a condition of hire (ie., to be on the certificate, you have to have it all completed).

There has been incredible effort to even get to this glimmer of hope. It's nice that the "ice may be breaking up" a bit!

Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
Forest Fire Chief, Tahoe National Forest
Incident Commander, CIIMT3

4/18DIB,

In your post of 4/16, you asked readers "...please don't misconstrue this as a
dig at volunteer firefighters." There is no other way to construe your comments.

You can trash talk us all you want, but a paycheck doesn't make a firefighter a
professional. We lost 3 brothers in Colorado this week, because the wildfires
didn't care what uniform they were wearing.

vfd cap'n
4/18To those who would say, "The taxpayers will call it B.S.",

Please read the post a little bit more thoroughly. As I said, I would not take a retention bonus if my crew would not get same or a similar compensation. Why should we only give retention bonuses to those who want to leave? Read the post again, think a little and consider that very few things in history ever were given out, people needed to take a stand and fight for what's right.

Would the taxpayers really call BS if they knew:

  • Most our Firefighters and Apprentices working in the RUS cost pay area only make between 10-12 bucks an hour? Only 2 dollars above the minimum wage in CA!
  • Would they call BS if they knew that many of our Apprentices are unable to take the federal health benefits because they simply can't afford the monthly premiums when you make such a small hourly wage?
  • Would they call BS if they knew the federal health care premium they pay as a Firefighter at 12 bucks an hour is the same monthly cost our FAM Director pays, and he makes between 60-70 bucks an hour?
  • Would they call BS if they knew since they can't afford the federal health care premium, the Firefighter and spouse go uninsured and are forced to take the kids to a hospital under the federal CHIPS program and are forced to ask for federal assistance?
  • Would they call BS if they knew that even those who choose to pay the monthly premium and purchase the fed health care, they must pay large back payments when they come back to duty for fire season, leaving them with an even smaller paycheck?
  • Would they call BS if they knew some of our Firefighters stand in line for food stamps?

To those who would say, "The taxpayers will call it B.S.",
I don't want to see any of my fellow firefighters resign or retire early. We need them to stay and help fight for what's right. As someone said earlier tonight, we must stand together and if we need to make a statement we will in due time and on our terms.

We don't have the flu, we have a movement.

ms

RUS= Rest of US

4/18I'm looking forward to this one tonight. Mellie

Behind the scenes of wildland firefighters focus of new movie
www.times-standard.com/entertainment/ci_8958606
The Eureka Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/17/2008 09:00:32 AM PDT

The wildland fire season two years ago was one of the worst in recent years and Friday you can get a glimpse of how the men and women who fought one of the larger fires that year did it.

”Where There's Smoke,” was produced by “every member of the filmmaking team and HSU alumni,” said Assistant Director Montel Vanderhorck in a recent e-mail.

The documentary was directed by a firefighter, Seean Wilson.

”This documentary provides an intimate look into the lives of wildland firefighters,” Vanderhorck wrote. “His inspiration comes from his years of experience as a wildland firefighter with CDF (now CALFIRE).”

The crews featured in the documentary include the CalFire Helitack Crew from Hemet, the U.S. Forest Service Sierrea Hotshots, the California Department of Corrections Valley View Crew 3, and CalFire Capt. Matt Chamblin, former inmate (and current engineer with CALFIRE) and the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Department.

” 'Where's There's Smoke' was completely locally funded and produced,” Vanderhorck said.

The screening is Friday at the Accident Gallery in Eureka. The show starts at 8 p.m. and admission is $5.

4/18From Firescribe (also on the hotlist)

www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0408/041708cdam1.php

Dems seek to require electronic storage of agency e-mail
By Dan Friedman

The White House and federal agencies would have to step up efforts to keep their e-mails under a bill introduced Wednesday, but a nonpartisan watchdog group in a separate report said the legislation does too little to fix an "abysmal" federal e-mail record-keeping system.

Government rules for keeping e-mails have not kept pace with changes in technology and working habits that have meant federal business occurs increasingly online, experts and open government advocates said in testimony submitted for a House Oversight and Government Reform Information Policy Subcommittee hearing on the bill.

[Click the link for more]

4/17 www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/16/griffin.marshal.training/index.phpl

Hmm, sounds like the USFS isn’t the only federal agency having training and retention problems.

Nerd on the Fireline
4/17Firefighters involved in the Retention effort:

This came from the RO. It appears your efforts might be working. Below is an example of some movement from R-5 to try and organize this mess a little better. Still very concerned about this budget neutral wording, so keep the pressure going to ensure they follow Congress's approval (thanks to Feinstein) to use suppression funds (WFSU) to help fund the R-5 retention plan. Take a look at the 'team responsibilities" section. If you have some good ideas or would like to be a member of these teams, make sure your voice is heard.

Stay strong, stay together and keep hammering..........

Signed,
Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Region 5 Retention Effort

Intent

Fire management has been at the forefront of the issues of employee retention and morale. Recognizing that these issues affect all employees and locations within Region 5, the Regional Forester has established a priority commitment to develop strategies to tackle four key elements contributing to this problem: mission, pay, workplace improvement, and facilities. He has charged Forest Supervisors, in partnership with the FAM Board of Directors, to provide the leadership necessary to move the Region toward resolution.

Four-teams, each to be lead by one or more Forest Supervisors and including one or more Forest Fire Chiefs, have been established to accomplish this task.

Teams

  • Coordinators – Jody Noiron and Ed Hollenshead

    o Mission
    o Pay
    o Workplace Improvement
    o Facilities

Timelines and Performance

  • Recommendations will be completed and submitted to coordinators by June 30
  • Interim status reports will be provided to coordinators on April 30 and May 31

Recommendation Development Principles

  • Are within the authority of the Regional Forester to implement
  • Provide analysis of consequences (including short- and long-term costs and benefits), opportunity costs (tangible and intangible), and workforce impacts
  • Propose logical tradeoffs in view of budget-neutral (within existing Regional budget) requirement

Team Responsibilities

  • Independently identify and procure support personnel and information as necessary to accomplish the task
  • Include member(s) of the workforce, union, labor relations, and civil rights as necessary to accomplish the task
  • Establish vetting requirements and ensure completion to meet the deadline of June 30
4/17Portal to Portal (PTP) question for they said:

I have a question for Casey or anyone else involved in the reclass attempt. A lot has been mentioned about “portal to portal”

For those you do not know in CALFIRE only the fire fighting folks in bargaining unit 8 (California Firefighters) www.cdf-firefighters.org/ get portal to portal. That is something their bargaining unit fought for and won. It is not a “right of passage”. It did not even apply to everyone in bargaining unit 8. The warehouse staff (FLOs), mechanics, and others under unit 8 to not get PTP. Neither do the support folks that work on any type of incident alongside the FF/FAE/FC/HEFO/BC etc.

That means the communications operators (dispatchers) and office folks, support personnel, which are under a different state bargaining units, work hour for hour, even though they are at the same incident camp, doing the same job or maybe even being that fire person's boss under ICS, or working side by side at a dispatch center/ECC. So just to be politically correct, not all the CALFIRE family is getting PTP.

So my question is how you are planning on addressing that with your folks that are not out on the line, fighting fire everyday, but who work along side you on an incident? Is it all 462 folks? Does that include the staff in the dispatch center, the staff at the airbases, the warehouse person, the radio tech, etc? What about the Team members?

I see the same thing that CALFIRE has currently going on. One company, but several different rules for their employees. But it is not CALFIRES fault. It is how the 21 bargaining units for California state workers take care of CALFIRE personnel they represent. How are you going to tell the radio operator, who is a rec person, or Facilities unit leader, who is a “oligest” sorry, but ICS does equal PTP. Will the “militia” start turning down assignments if they don’t get PTP? Now you got a real problem..

Just wondering how you plan to address this now before they come up with a fix. Better to address it now than having to explain it later during fire camp lunch.

As a “X” forest service FF, I wish you all the best and you all need to get some answers for your concerns.

Wondering

4/17I have worked for the green side and we received red dye fuel. The distributor was told to come get it out of the tank. But I  have recently worked for a SoCal County Road Dept; we used red dye all the time. Not sure why some can and some can't.

Also a former green fire gone cal fire; it was for the bennies.

I will always be true to green

4/17Ab you wrote:

"For clarity sake, 4G's brought up the issue of striking, not the original person he/she posted in reaction to. It might be he/she did not understand what was being suggested. Ab."

I think I do understand what the original poster was suggesting but I chose to use the word "STRIKE" to make my point instead of "EXTORTION" or "BLACKMAIL" which is really closer to the Green Monday scenario.

"Imagine the effect if every Apprentice up to every Forest Fire Chief submitted a resignation effective Sept 15th tomorrow morning. Now we probably would not ever see a dime, however we would knock this Presidential campaign off the headlines and by Friday and we would see Casey and Feinstein on Larry King Live answering how the administration got to a point where every Forest Service Firefighter in California submitted a resignation. You're doing a great job Brownie, I mean Reyie! Now that is what I would call a movement."

I was only attempting to point out that the majority of the public would probably not accept the threat of mass firefighter resignations, in an attempt raise their awareness of the firefighters plight, prior to the onset of the Santana season in a kind and loving manner.

Green Monday calls it a "Movement", the cops call it "Blue Flu" firefighters call it "Red Rash"

The taxpayers will call it B.S.

Many thanks for the clarification. Ab.

4/17I was a member of the Converse Hotshots in 61, 62, and 63. During these years Bob Widlund was foreman
in 61 and Gary Bratton in 62 and 63. On occasion Smokey filled in. All were excellent leaders who expected
the best from all crew members. Steve Nehring (from Louisiana), and myself served as squad bosses during the
summer of 63. We were followed by Bob (Moe) Chandler and Bill Shafer.
Moe was kind enough to forward many pictures from those years.
Hard work, comradery, and great crew members.......Great memories.

I would be glad to hear from any former crew members or anyone else who may be interested.

Contact; Wayne King 208 337-3134 E mail is wayne@fillerking.com

Thanks, I added this to the IHC -->Fire Manager" Project page. Ab.

4/174G's

As I read the earlier suggestion about Green Tuesday, I thought the person was suggesting employees putting in a sf 52 for retirement on that date ( if eligible). If things get better, rescind the sf 52. I don't think he was suggesting a labor strike.

You are correct that a strike by public service employees will get you nothing but very bad press. I watched my father in law and others during the Air Traffic Controllers strike. He did not "go out" but we know where that ended. Reagan fired those who did not return! A labor stoppage by firefighters no matter what the grievance would not be received well by the public.

I put in my retirement sf 52 when I had enough of the BS (and retired) and have not regretted it a bit.

Fish01

4/17For clarity sake, 4G's brought up the issue of striking, not the original person he/she posted in reaction to. It might be he/she did not understand what was being suggested. Ab.

Re: Striking

I am unsure who brought up the issue of striking, but federal employees
take an oath upon appointment not to strike against the government.
Striking is punishable by up to a year in jail, and although there have
been several strikes by federal employees in the past, the most memorable
one was the 1981 strike of the federal air traffic controller's union, in
which 13,000 of the 17,000 members walked off the job. Reagan threatened
them with termination if they did not return, and he carried out that
threat, terminating them and barring them from ever holding a federal job
again.

In addition, the public opinion during the strike was almost universally on
the side of the government and against the workers. Despite the fact that
the public now supports firefighters, a strike like this would most likely
turn the tide of public opinion against the strikers.

The FAA also had prepared a contingency plan to mitigate the effects of the
striking workers, and it worked quite well. The strike did not have the
intended effects of a) disrupting air travel, and b) getting them a raise.
Instead, it got them fired.

-midwest afmo

PS. When I toured the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi
Valley a few years ago, there was an audio clip of him talking about
"federal employees" threatening to strike, and how he broke that strike by
firing them. Interesting that of all the public appearances and speeches
that he made, that the library would pick that particular one to play in
the background for the visitors. A Republican's proudest moment in office
must be when he fires federal employees!

4/17Can someone give me some more information on the FS relocation thing
that is going on now? Where can I find more info?

AV
(4/10)
Sticky
for
now.
Re the Feinstein Letter:
SenFeinstein-FF-Retention-040908.pdf (103K pdf file)

You gotta give it up for the good Senator from California. I would suggest each of you send her an email just to simply say thanks, thanks for the letter. She is hammering away just like you. At least someone from CA and Washington DC is shoulder to shoulder with us and our cause.


Note something VERY important in what she said in her letter, page 2:

"I would note that Congress has already provided the agency with the flexibility, if necessary, to use suppression funds (P codes?) to implement firefighter retention recommendations within current budget constraints" (funding levels?).

If you read Ed's memo everything must be budget neutral? Does Ed know that Congress authorized P codes to implement retention recommendations? This would take budget neutral for preparedness dollars out of the equation or at least minimize the effects. If your Forest Supervisor or Chief returns from the BOD meeting and you hear "whatever we come up with it must be "budget neutral" (ie cut resources if you want more pay)" then ask if they discussed at the BOD meeting that Congress authorized, if necessary, the use of P codes to solve this? Go figure!

Of the 6 Fire Chiefs that I know, I trust them completely, 110%.

The Chiefs must remember the old saying; "Know what's in the kool-aid they just gave you to wash done that baloney sandwich.

Signed,

P-codes are authorized by Congress to fund the implementation of the R-5 retention solutions!
4/16I'm curious to know if anyone has accounted for the huge rise in fuel prices on the so called "best value idea" for contractors??? Will it be allowed to use "OFF Road untaxed fuel" while on fires? Or can contractors bill for the higher fuel prices to perform on an incident that is usually off of the roadways anyway? Not to mention all of the cooperators that respond. Maybe if they waved the taxed fuel fee, the big "Gov gods" woould have some extra money to spend. Actually, it may be better to have all of the contracted engines stop working at the end of the work period. Then if overhead needs to continue, past the 10hr bid period, they would have a fuel replacment plan on site. Oh and by the way, all of the newer diesel engines that are 2005 and newer, need to have the low sulfer fuel. Hope ground support has this one figured in. Be safe!!!

1namerif

4/16This is from 9news in Denver tonight
CAFSMAN

www.9news.com/news/top-article.aspx?storyid=90046

Wildfire 98 percent contained, fallen firefighters identified

Crowley County - Two firefighters have been killed as crews work to continue
their containment of a 14-square mile wildfire in the town of Ordway.

The 8,900-acre fire started Tuesday shortly after 2 p.m. on Highway 96 and
prompted a state of emergency.

By Wednesday afternoon, authorities said containment was at 98 percent.
The two firefighters were killed when they drove their truck onto a bridge
that had been burned by the fire. They were both Department of Corrections
Officers.

Officials identified them as Sergeant Terry Davore, 29, and Officer John
Schwartz, Jr., 38. They were volunteer firefighters with the Olney Springs
Volunteer Fire Department. [click the link for the rest] also check the hotlist... Ab.

4/16Another good report from the Idyllwild Town Crier:

Feinstein rejects FS retention report
By J.P. Crumrine, Assistant Editor

In a move unusual for inside Washington politics, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has called the administration’s bluff. Last week, she wrote to Mark Rey, undersecretary of agriculture for natural resources, and Abigail Kimbell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service (FS).

In her letter, she politely dismissed the report on recruitment and retention, which the agency provided at the April 1 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the 2009 FS budget. She also asked several questions contradicting the report’s conclusions.

“Sen. Feinstein is concerned that the Forest Service report denies there is a service problem with firefighter attrition and morale ... She wants answers on why the report differs so much from the draft report,” said Phil LaVelle, her press secretary. “She is committed to ensuring that California has enough firefighters — before fire season begins.”

Normally, if a senator or representative disputes the executive branch reports or actions, they will add money for their favored project or deny money for disputed actions. Generally, the public discord does not surface outside the hearing room but this time it did.

“The Forest Service stands behind the report it has prepared and is looking into the points raised by the senator in her most recent letter,” said Allison Stewart, FS national press officer. “Our analysis does not represent the final word on recruiting and retention.”

The debate is whether the FS has difficulty filling and keeping firefighting personnel in Southern California. In her April 9 letter, Feinstein challenged Rey and Kimbell on three critical points in their report.

She cited the number of vacant firefighter positions and the effects that has on availability of engines and other firefighting resources. She noted the absence of an acknowledgement that FS pay may lag other state and local wages with similar emergency response responsibilities. Thirdly, she accused the FS of reversing, not simply revising, a draft analysis prepared in this region months before the report was submitted late to Congress.

[click for the rest of JP Crumrine's retention story]

4/16Green Monday

I did a little research on firefighter strikes the most prevalent one on the net was the strike in
England in 2002.

Seems like the most supportive articles were from Socialist sites like the International Bureau for
the Revolutionary Party and the Socialist Worker.

Check the links for the full articles.

Make your own mind up on the wisdom of public servants striking. There are better ways to get the
public's support than threatening them with a firestorm in September.

4G's

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2470843.stm

BBC

After months of tense negotiations, the UK's firefighters finally went on strike on Wednesday. BBC
News Online watched the walk-out at one London fire station.

"I keep thinking of a child stuck in a burning building while we're sitting here doing nothing."

www.ibrp.org/english/revolutionary-perspectives/2002/12/01/firefighters-strike

International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party

Government demonisation of firefighters
Firefighters are demanding a 40% increase which would take their pay to £30 000. The Government has
offered them 4% amid the usual barrage of abuse about how irresponsible they are to strike and how
greedy they are to demand a realistic wage.
That great man of the people, Two Jags Prescott, denounced the strike as “completely unnecessary
and completely unjustified”. Some Ministers denounced the strike as “criminal”.

www.wsws.org/articles/2002/nov2002/fire-n15.shtml

World Socialist Web Site

UK firefighters begin first nationwide strike in 25 years
In a ballot earlier this year, firefighters voted by nine to one to take strike action in pursuit
of a pay increase of 40 percent. The average firefighters wage is currently £21,000, lagging
significantly behind similar professions. A pay deal following the last national strike in 1978 had
pegged firefighters wages in line with the average manual wage, which has declined over the last
two decades. Three further strikes, each lasting eight days, are planned before the end of the year
holiday period.
Sir George Bain also fuelled the dispute by stating that firefighters “are generally well
paid”. “Taking into account the very generous pension entitlement, the holiday arrangements, the
good job security, firemen are actually not badly rewarded. The recruitment and retention figures
back this up. There’s about 40 applications for every vacancy in the fire service,” he stated
arrogantly.

www.freechurch.org/issues/2002/dec02b.php

Fighting with Fire

David Robertson
9 December 2002
Firemen are heroes. Every boy knows that. Many will at some point in their lives will want to climb
aboard that fire engine and be someone whose job is saving lifes. The fire service is one public
service that does not have to worry about recruits. For every available job as a firefighter there
are 40 applicants. Everyone loves a firefighter.
All this may be true but surely the firefighters deserve as high a wage as they can get because do
they not risk their lifes for the rest of us? Are these not the heroes who enter burning buildings
which everyone else is running from? Well yes and no. The firefighters job is to save lifes and
there are those who have been particularly heroic and have given their lifes in that cause. But the
modern fire service is very different from what most of us imagined. Modern equipment and practices
means that being a fireman is actually a lot less dangerous than being a lorry driver, farm worker
or refuse collector. Yes you read it correctly. If you are a lorry driver (average wage £18,073)
you are twice as likely to be killed in the course of your work than if you are a fireman. If you
are a farm worker (£15,637) it is one and a half times. Refuse collectors (£16,545), road workers
(£20,343), builders (£19,262) and window cleaners (£13,074) are all more likely to lose their lifes
in the course of their work than a firefighter. Other groups of workers are in far more precarious
jobs – scaffolders (£23,879) are four times more likely to lose their lifes, Merchant sailors
(£31,190) ten times, and fishermen (£15,322) a staggering 17 times (Source: Department of Public
Health, University of Oxford and the Office of National Statistics). The average firefighter earns
£23,343. They are hardly at the top of the ladder when it comes to risk nor is it the case that
they are the bottom of the ladder when it comes to money.
4/16First I would like to express how sad I was to hear of the loss of the 3 in Colorado.

I sat in on the 52 Tracker Conference call this morning, and I am deeply worried about the hiring process this year.

1st of all they started the call letting us know that we would not be talking about fire hire or temp hire...HELLLLLLOOOO - That is what we are trying to accomplish right now.

2nd of all I am sick to death of hearing how hard everyone is working at this. We had a working system before we moved everyone to ABQ Service Center, now it takes over 5 months for people to receive their lump sum, you tell temp employees to show up for work, and they have not processed anything yet, so they are not actually employees. I submitted a 52 in Feb to bring on an employee 4/14. Nothing happened, I could not get the so-called case worker to call me back, or return my emails, we are now spending more time on this crap, what a waste of money. When is management going to stand up and say ENOUGH.....

ktmac

4/16The FS used to have companies that would buy the homes of employees who
had taken a new job and were transferring duty station. This is no longer the
case. See below:

4/16
Transfer of Station:
It is true we are not offering any transferees the option of entering into
a Relocation Services Program where a third party purchases the employees
home. We expect the Chief's office to release a letter later today or on
Monday regarding this issue.

At this time, my TOS counselors have been provided the following script to
inform incoming TOS'.

"We regret to inform you that use of the Relocation Services Program is on
hold at this time. Due to the economic downturn in the housing market, the
FS has lost three of its Relocation Services Program (RSP) providers and
the one remaining provider is not accepting new orders at this time due to
volume. This is a government wide issue and the General Services
Administration is involved, working to obtain additional contractors for
the Federal Agencies to utilize. The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) is
reviewing the Relocation Services Program and evaluating various options.
As soon as we receive the ELT decision we will be informing everyone.

Until this problem is resolved with the RSP there are only two options
available at this time:

1. You are entitled to the self sale reimbursement of your residence.
This reimbursement cannot exceed 10% final sales price.

2. You can delay your home sale transaction pending the decision(s) of the
ELT.

If you choose option 1 you may not later request RSP.

If you choose option 2 we will provide you a weekly update as to the
current status. We will provide your options to you once the decision is
made."

Many employees will be impacted by this. It will also be the employees
decision on whether to accept or decline positions based on the fact it may
be hard to sell their homes.

We hope to have more information soon, but right now this is what is
provided and the Chief's letter should be out by Monday.

<snip>
Travel and Transfer of Station
USDA, FS, ASC, B&F
101B Sun Ave, NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109

TOS=Transfer of Station

4/16Ab,

Oh the grief! It is mid-April and aviators/firefighters and publics are
already dying in Colorado fires.

Everyone: Let's tighten up and not do this anymore!!! Maximum focus
on mission at hand!!!

KnuckleDragon
4/16Three firefighters died yesterday afternoon in two fires in Colorado. Our condolences to families, friends and coworkers. Breaking information is on these hotlist threads:

Ordway: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3690
Fort Carson: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3695

Be safe all.

Ab.

4/16Scrape:

Don't give me credit for everything in the FWFSA's response. You'll have to
give credit to "ff4c" for some of their "numbers" you re-posted.

To all:

I sent an email off to Mr. Pena, Mr. Moore & Mr. Hollenshead yesterday about
the retention bonus memo. Of course I think it would be wonderful to see
everyone submit an SF-52 just to see the response but that isn't very responsible
of us is it?

I explained that these "authorities" have been around for years and that firefighters
are smart enough to realize the memo is a response to Congressional pressure...
nothing more. What will happen to the already dismal morale of those who have
stuck by the Agency or those across the Nation?

Until they truly get it....classification & portal to portal to start, they will continue to
look like a chicken running around with its head cut off. I have yet again tried to
reach out to them to work with them...

Casey
4/16Incentives

The Forest Service should be looking at the bi-weekly option in regards to retention incentives (keeps the employees and management honest, and allows flexibility while not putting up barriers).... A complete description of the OPM 3R (Recruitment, Retention, and Recruitment) authorities were fully addressed, explained, and cited last year (and in 2006) on They Said.

As the information was compiled (at home, own computer, own time by all the participants), it was also forwarded to the Forest Supervisors in charge of the recruitment and retention issue..... under their official request last year.

What they did with the information..... who knows? The info made it to the R-5 committee..... was in the initial draft.... and was supposedly in the "secret final version" that was sent to the WO that none of us were allowed to see. ..... that should answer one of Feinstein's "reply due" questions, but not the way the "Forest Service" would like.

After taking two years of taking Privacy Basics training on AgLearn, factually, doesn't the Deputy Regional Forester's request violate what you were taught in regards to federal rules and laws relating to the protection of privacy? If I was either a Forest Supervisor or Forest FMO (Fire Chief), I'd (call BS) ... send a reply back (in the Correspondence Database so ALL could see) that "If you want the information that you or the Regional Forester requested, please follow appropriate USDA, OPM, and Forest Service procedures, and applicable laws and regulations in your request." My hinge bet is that none of the R-5 Forest Supervisors or Chiefs will have the juevos to do that.. but we all like to be surprised.

One would have to ask.... Did he (Deputy Regional Forester) complete the training and all requirements for requesting the info?...If so.... It would be the basis of whether his acts (and omissions) were either voluntary or unintentional..... More will come. No blame here, just an educational moment.

I'd hate to work in the R5 RO right now..... both California Senators, and almost the entire California House Delegation are asking some really tough questions.... hmmm... maybe some facts are in order from the "line officers"? It's not too late to correct course and be a leader.... a CAPTAIN. For goodness sakes, don't go down with the ship.... Call BS before the ship sinks.

Personally, the Forest Service had a reply due date of February 1st to complete, and report the retention plan. You Forest Chiefs should follow the WO lead in your three day "reply due" that will be delegated to you by the Forest Supervisors to complete in three days "as facts"...... Submit it two months late and as a useless product like the previous one was as provided to Congress......

Fedwatcher
4/16Got Group?

Here is my reply to Pena. 10% to 50% Group Retention Allowance can be approved annually. Read carefully. Unique qualifications? Essential to retain? High risk that a significant number?

Mr. Pena - WE ARE ONE ! Support and remember those that want to stay and make things better and not just those that want to get paid-off to not leave.

If the agency determines that the unusually high or unique qualifications of the employees or a special need of the agency for the employees' services makes it essential to retain the employees in the group and that there is a high risk that a significant number of employees in the targeted group would be likely to leave the Federal service in the absence of a retention incentive.

https://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/html/GRPALLFS.asp

Stand Strong, Stand Together
4/15Sting,

Yes, you can submit a resignation to your supervisor and your Customer Service Clerk. Request them to submit a 52 with an effective date of September 15th (just before Santa Ana season). If at anytime prior to Sept 15th you change your mind, you can withdrawal the 52 with an email or not sign the 52 and advise your supervisor and Customer Service Clerk. A retention bonus can be paid to keep anyone from resigning or retiring. You don't need a job offer to get a retention bonus. What's important here is who's paying for this? I'm working on finding out that answer, because if these are regional funds, hummmm. More soon.

Imagine the effect if every Apprentice up to every Forest Fire Chief submitted a resignation effective Sept 15th tomorrow morning. Now we probably would not ever see a dime, however we would knock this Presidential campaign off the headlines and by Friday and we would see Casey and Feintstein on Larry King Live answering how the administration got to a point where every Forest Service Firefighter in California submitted a resignation. You're doing a great job Brownie, I mean Reyie! Now that is what I would call a movement.

What does the Pena letter highlight the most?

* A complete mess, no planning, no organization. How many of our Firefighters are actually going to see this inquiry which is initiated 5 levels above them? How many are going to get overlooked or even asked if they would like to be considered. How many will even know about this? How come we don't see an official letter sent to all employees regarding this opportunity? Why? This is more show than anything else. This is something that can be put in a report detailing all the things R-5 worked on. If you want to get serious about a retention bonus, it's all or nothing. The majority of us are digging in and will remain loyal to our agency. It might be a good idea to not forget about us.

* The second disturbing fact about this is Line Officers do not understand the instincts of Firefighters. Firefighters by overwhelming majority are not "me" type of people. Firefighters are team orientated. I would not feel right taking a bonus for something that would not be given to my Engineer or for that matter to my entire crew. Non-Firefighters (Line Officers) do not understand this line of thinking. You want to fix the mission and have real transformation? Centralize fire employees directly to the Chief of the Forest Service.

R-5 RO = A complete lack of a cohesive strategy to fix this and a complete misunderstanding of what we are about. They have created a complete MESS!

Signed,

152 days left until GREEN MONDAY - 9/15/2008
4/15AB's-

I first would like to thank Casey @FWFSA for doing all he is doing for us as wildland firefighters. 

I am a Chief Officer for a Forest on the east side of the Mississippi river and spent a bulk of my fire career as a engine captain, afmo, and dfmo in R3- 

The FS Fire program is in need of a change-this is from the west coast to the east coast!  I feel for the folks in R5!  knowing the struggles I go thru here each and every day to have a professional fire program are no match for the issues associated with the problems in R5 and the west!  Here's a quick run down on my unit in the east-  As the Forest FMO, I am also the Forest Aviation Officer (for not only my unit but for 2 other NF's), the Forest Fire Planner (FPU Lead), Forest Fire Prevention Officer, Fire Budget, Forest Safety Officer, Forest training officer, etc------oh and a Gs-11 with no deputy FFMO- I feel fortunate to have 2 DFMOs and a Center Manager to rely on! And ASC is trying take my 401 away from me!

Guess my point of this post is we in the east are counting on Casey and the FWFSA and the efforts in R5 to help make a change!  All my folks in fire have came from the west, and like me, came here to be back home for family!   We are an active unit both regionally and nationally with several of us participating on national teams!

I keep saying to myself, hang in there and things will get better!

Chief on the east side!

4/15Ab,

Regarding the "retention incentive" carrot , here are the OPM ( pronounced O-Pee-Um ) rules. If you are offered and before you sign, keep in mind the escape route that the Regional Forester and Forest Supervisors maintain:

Discretionary
An agency may unilaterally terminate a retention incentive service agreement based solely on the management needs of the agency, in which case the employee is entitled to retain any retention incentive payment attributable to completed service and to receive any portion of a retention incentive payment owed by the agency for completed service.

The full description is here: www.opm.gov/oca/pay/HTML/RETALLFS.asp

The solution to this is: Centralized stand alone Federal Wildland/All Risk Fire Agency, Competent All-risk FIRE leaders in charge not foresters, Abolish the 0401 requirement and create the 0911 Professional Firefighter Classification, National Competitive Pay, Portal to Portal for Incident Assignment, Hazard Pay inclusion in retirement calculations, 3% @ 50 retirement, Incident Command position differentials, Leadership and Command College, Apprenticeship Program, Fire Program administrative positions.... Now is the time!

Make the Federal Agencies THE place to make a fire career, not a seedling farm. If you build it, they will come (and come back)

It is an individual decision, remember to do what is right for yourself and your family, for the LONG term.

sting
4/15This is FWSA / Casey Judd doing a way better job of saying what I was trying to. An excerpt from the FWSA Response to support my latest gripe:

APPENDIX A

FROM A FOREST SERVICE FIREFIGHTER
1. There are 336 total hours in a 14 day assignment. (Cal Fire Captain gets paid for all of them and it seems according to the Forest Service chief he gets credit for working all of them since he gets 24 hours of pay and he works more hours than I do at lower pay).
2. I can only get 16 hours of pay max per day (that doesn't happen often it's more like 14 to 15 hours) for a possible total of only 224 hours of pay or hours worked.
3. That leaves 112 hours I don't get to count for (Is this where the Chief Kimbell gets her idea that Cal Fire works more hours than Fed Fire?).

I have no gripe about being paid less to sleep. Definitely want too get paid more to double shift.
There is way more in the FWFSA Response. Something for everyone here.

Scrape
4/15Re: Deputy Regional Forester Request

Typically, when either the Regional Forester or Deputy Regional Forester send out a request (with a reply due date) to the Forest Supervisors, it is properly archived in the Correspondence Database and sent to the field for proper staff work and research.

I could only venture to guess why the proper process wasn't followed? I am sure that to the Congress, the GAO, and the OSC..... it surely would raise a red flag after press headlines recently from other agencies.

If I were a betting man (and I am), I'd venture to guess that R-5 officials are attempting to hide their actions by using e-mail. This seems to be very common from folks in the RO and WO recently. Hopefully they fully understand that their e-mails, notes, correspondence, etc... are all FOIAable.

I'd hate to see the Forest Service get caught up in a "missing e-mails caper" like so many other federal agencies lately.

Just do what is right!!!

Lobotomy
4/15There was a SEAT crash on the Fort Carson Fire in Colorado this evening. The pilot was killed but his name has not been released. Our condolences. Ab.

www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3695

4/15Ab,

So, If I read Pena's memo correctly... If you have tenured a resignation, or are
in possession of a job offer from another agency, you will be considered a
candidate for a retention bonus.

What about the loyal folks who were willing to ride out this train? where is their
retention incentive? Is all it takes just a resignation to qualify?

Seems to me the making of a "caste", online definition: a division of society based
on differences of wealth, inherited rank or privilege, profession, occupation...

But I really like this definition: a specialized form (as the worker of an ant or bee
 of a polymorphic social insect that carries out a particular function in the colony.

regardzzzzzz, sting

P.S. Reminds me of the decisional time wedge from Fireline Leadership, awhile ago
Region 5 leadership had lots of options and lots of time, now they have few options
and no time, the decision has made itself. This was not thought out very well.

Also, I think the "powers that be" underestimated the simple power of the groundpounders with a voice. Ab.

4/15Lots of activity coming out today on this retention stuff ab's.
More soon when I get a chance to put it together. I'm sure
you're already getting a lot of it.

Still Standing

4/15Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Recent Fundraising:

Hi Abs,

We wanted to show our appreciation to a number of folks who have recently done some compassionate fundraising on behalf of fallen firefighter’s families and injured firefighters.

THANK YOU:

Great Basin Incident Management Teams – Last week they held a silent auction at their meeting in Reno and raised the biggest amount of money for just a silent auction we’ve ever seen - $2,500.

Del Rosa Hotshots held their poker tournament on April 12 and raised more than $6,000. They had 16 more players than last year and according to Burk, they all had a great time and the hospitality was top-notch!

Jim Roth, Storm King Mountain Technology – organizer of the “Lucky Peak Run” held each year in honor of his brother, Roger Roth, one of the 14 firefighters killed on the South Canyon fire in 1994. They brought in an awesome donation of just over $1,000. They had 8 runners participate, and all but one was able to finish.

Brittaney Khong – a young student in Southern California, began a program she calls “Operation Fire Angel” wherein she has put together small first aid kits with fire safety information, with all the proceeds going to the Foundation. (post from several days ago if you scroll down)

I would also like to send out recognition to Joe Sean Kennedy, Captain, Elk Mountain HC, for all his volunteer work on our Crew T-Shirt program. Up and running again, this program is an easy way for an entire crew to support the families of fallen firefighters and injured firefighters by utilizing the program to order their shirts and provide some income to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation’s general fund.

We truly could not do this work without the support of all of you in the wildland community. Thank you, from our hearts to yours.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Click the link to check our some pics, including one of the bands organized by John Cataldo, Supe of the Ukonom Crew. Nice work, All. Ab.

4/15Huge red flag warning, red flag warning covers most of south west:

www.weather.gov/view/nationalwarnings.php?map=on

JG

4/15To Big Blue, midwest fire guy, whomever else, etc.:
 
'City, County, and State agencies pay portal to portal' was referenced in a conversation about California. Please look at the context of the conversation with Jim Reid and my entire post. It's not really a fair portrayal to take two sentences out of an entire conversation.
 
You all bring up interesting points though, such as:
 
'Over 80 % of the firefighters in the United States get paid nothing for
fighting fires, since they are volunteers. Any paid firefighter in the U.S.
is very much the exception to the rule.' (I cut and pasted the post to ensure its accuracy.):
 
Excellent. Both my wife and I are firm believers in volunteerism and volunteer when we can as we believe it's how a lot of stuff in this country gets done that needs to be done. We also believe it to be a core value we would like to pass to our children.
 
If you can find enough people to volunteer for free, to staff the thousands of 'forestry aid technician' positions in the Federal Land Management agencies for an entire summer, weeks on end, and still be able to work another job to support their families, then more power to you. I guess that might solve any retention problem. Otherwise, I think we should probably look at the difference between 'professional firefighters' and 'volunteer firefighters', and please don't misconstrue this as a dig at volunteer firefighters. If only everything could get done by volunteers. 
 
The people I want standing between my house and a wildfire are the highly trained, highly experienced, dedicated 'professional firefighter'. I want someone who does it for a living, so that I know that they are highly motivated to be the best at what they do. In all their hours of training and preparation for the moment they have to make a stand to save my community, I don't want them worrying and being distracted by such issues of can they make rent that month (because they probably can't afford to buy a home), or worry about their balding tires on their pregnant wifes car don't blow out on her commute to work because they can't afford tires until next month (had to pay the rent perhaps), or if they are ultimately leading their family down a path of years of financial hardships, or if they pay the ultimate sacrifice that their wife/husband and children will be left with basically nothing. I want them to have high morale and as close to zero financial distractions as possible so they might be able to concentrate that much more on their job of learning how to save my community. Or how about if one of my kids is in dire need of medical attention, do I want the paramedic who works as a paramedic every once in awhile, or do I want the paramedic who is paid to live and breathe protocols and advanced life support?
 
Sound like a sob story? Please reference Maslow's hierarchy of needs (not wants) which I learned about I believe in Instructor 1A or 1B, and applying that concept to creating an environment that is conducive to learning, or how about applying it to life in general. Your gonna have a hell of a time worrying about things like diurnal winds, box canyons, lenticular clouds, Campbell Prediction System, or concentrating on that rappel procedure, felling that tree that is on fire, noticing subtle wind shifts and weather changes that help predict fire behavior, when your firefighters are worried about financial security and have little to no safety net to deal with accidents or unforeseen illnesses and their adverse impacts on the lives of their family members or themselves. If there is anybody who can do it though it's definitely a wildland firefighter, they have been doing it for decades now; to the detriment of their very own profession and to the detriment of the lives they guard, the communities they protect, and the environment that they take care of. It's the very attitude of tow the company line and what I like to refer to as the Eeyore complex from Winnnie the Pooh: 'ooooh'well, I guess I don't really need financial security, of course I will work for 17 hours and then be happy when they tell me to only charge for 12 hours on the clock for my crew. Maybe things will be better next summer. oooh'well.', that likens itself to some of the major problems facing the world's best firefighters.
 
I want the best of the best on the fireline that's being constructed around my house. When my house and the houses of my friends were threatened this last summer and I learned that there were Hotshot crews working a specifically active flank that was threatening homes, I had a great sense of relief. When I learned that a Forest Service strike team of engines was posted on a certain street where friends of mine lived I had a great sense of relief. I knew that the best trained, most experienced people in dealing with such large fires in the world, were dealing with the situation. Or were they? A Captain on a hotshot crew with 10 years experience left to attend a fire academy in the hopes of getting picked up with a municipal fire department, a Captain on an engine crew with 20 plus years experience left to run an inmate crew for CDF, an AFEO with 6 years experience left to go be a seasonal with CDF, a Squad Boss with 7 years of experience left to go to paramedic school, 3 senior firefighters who were all mid way done with their apprenticeship left to pursue various avenues in the hope of getting picked up with State, or Local fire departments, and trust me the list goes on and on and on.  But wait a minute, there all going to be a part of the ICS that responds to these fires anyways, we didn't lose them, they just work somewhere else now. That 10 year Hotshot Captain is much more useful sitting as fourth man rookie EMT/firefighter on a Type I engine doing structure protection then he was as a Hotshot Captain.
 
So what's the common denominator for all these lower to upper fire positions being vacated? Pay? More Money? Do they all want BMW's with 22' rims and tv monitors in all the headrests and the touch ipod with a razor cell phone and wear Armani suits? NOPE! THEY WANT A LIVEABLE WAGE! They want to fulfill Maslow's hierarchy of needs (not wants).
 
Yet as we all know money doesn't grow on trees. It would be fiscally irresponsible of us to spend taxpayers money on maintaining the world's best firefighting force, it would be crazy to even think of it. It's impossible for it to be done, so 'oooh'well, we'll continue down the path were on to a depleted and diluted wildland firefighting program, maybe next summer it will get better, ooooh'well, I guess I really don't need well trained and experienced firefighters on the hillside, everything is probably going to burn anyways.' Although, I did see something about how the federal government is using tax payers money to pay municipal firefighters to do the job on a incident management team with far less experience then say a federal wildland firefighter, but yet at a rate 3x's higher and a 1/3 longer hours then that more experienced federal wildland firefighter.
 
Pay 3x's the money for 1/2 the experience a 1/3 of the time longer = fiscal responsibility????  (and half the experience is being generous)
 
The FWFSA has some pretty solid ideas out there and done quite a bit of research on this very issue of fiscal responsibility in regards to how tax payers money is spent on wildland fires. Look it up.
 
Oh by the way, every fire I have ever been to I have volunteered at least 8 hours every day, so I guess I'm '1/3 volunteer firefighter' and '2/3 professional paid firefighter.'

DIB 
trying to hang on to the dream of being a professional paid wildland firefighter............................
4/15Dear AB;

The memo below has been categorized by some as "super secret" and not for forwarding, printing etc. While that wouldn't surprise me a bit, the fact remains the Region and Agency have had such authorities for years and is now only scrambling in an attempt to get Congress off its back.

Odd that this didn't get sent out during, or just prior to the Dec. retention meetings.

As is our responsibility to provide accurate information to our firefighters and those that can effect positive change, this needs to be posted here and of course it is already on Capitol Hill so they can stay abreast of the Agency's interpretation of a chicken running around with its head cut off.

I'm sure more to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Forest Supervisors,
The Region has the option of using retention allowances to help retain
critical fire personnel. Some forest's in the Region have experienced
recent losses of critical fire fighters due to resignations that may affect
the staffing capability of our fire suppression organizaiton this fire
season. The Regional Forester needs to know specific needs by forest to
determine whether using retention allowances immediately can assist in
retaining employees who have indicated their intention to resign but have
not yet left the agency for other employment.

Please respond by COB April 18th with the name, series, grade, position,
and duty location of all permanent fire employees who have submitted an SF
52 to resign from federal service or have received a written job offer from
a non-federal agency and have not yet left. Please send your forest
response electronically to Gary Biehl. Negative replies are requested.

Thank you for your attention on this important matter, Jim

Jim Peña
Deputy Regional Forester
State and Private Forestry
Pacific Southwest Regional Office

COB= Close of Business

4/15Does anybody know of any Wildland Firefighting Agencies who doesnt use a Centralized Hiring Database. This AVUE and USAJOBS stuff is BS. I even applied thru Nevada Neats and didnt even qualify as a new foot in the door. Come on now, i have over ten years of firefighting experience. This is cr@p. Agencies need to start making robots to fight their fires. Pretty soon hardly anybody is going to want to fight fires and the ones who do are not going to get hired. I guess i will just go ahead and deliver pizzas. Anybody want to start a pizza chain with me? I also heard IN-N-OUT Burger is opening new restraints. They pay more than Washington State DNR.

Ab you're awesome

SMOKE

4/15Here's the FWFSA Response (112 K doc file) to the Forest Service Recruitment and Retention Analysis presented at the Congressional Hearing on Appropriations on 4/1/08.

The FWFSA Response was posted on the FWFSA member site more than a week ago. After all, there are some advantages to FWFSA membership. Posted here and now with permission and, given its historical importance, linked from the Documents Worth Reading archive. Ab.

4/15Dear AB:

Attached is a letter from Senator Boxer (304 K pdf file) to the
Secretary of Agriculture regarding agency firefighting issues.

Casey
4/15When I worked in the private sector, living in an area with a high cost-of-living and competitive wages within my industry, I was paid significantly more than most of my company's employees in other parts of the country.  Partially it was to compensate for the cost-of-living but primarily the purpose of my higher pay was to remain competitive with other companies competing within the same candidate pool.  Their success as a company was dependent on offering a competitive wage that would draw qualified candidates and keep turnover low.  The private sector understands this concept, and yet it seems some in our government refuse to.  The Forest Service doesn't need to offer wages equal to those had in the LAFD... but they do need to offer pay and incentive packages in California that are competitive (though not necessarily equal) with similar agencies such as Cal-Fire.  This is the way the free market works, and government agencies need to recognize this.

Before anybody claims that California doesn't deserve additional federal spending, in 2005 California received about 78 cents in federal spending for every dollar it paid in federal taxes.  We deserve quite a bit more than we're getting out of the federal government.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
4/15Re: Portal-to-portal:

"... discussion forum..." alluded to volunteer agencies with agreements allowing
them to be paid.

While this is true in many states, for both paid and volunteer fire departments,
the agreements do not allow for portal-to-portal pay. They only allow for 1:1
reimbursements of actual incurred costs. Therefore, these departments can't
bill for portal-to-portal (although it has been attempted and unilaterally denied!).

StumpShot
4/15LM,

Healthy Families is GREAT...

You probably also qualify for WIC as well. It's a program that gives you
something kinda like a food stamp coupon. It'll get you milk, eggs, cheese,
juice, peanut butter and some other staples for free each month...it's awesome.

Apparently, I need to look back into the Healthy Families program for I was
told that IF health insurance was available by my employer, then I would no
longer be able to receive Healthy Families benefits for my kids...and sure
enough, when I went permanent, I lost the program.

-Mike
4/15I was told by a friend that I qualify for IEHP Healthy
Families, it's a program for low income families
(children only). I called and at GS-7 pay, unmarried
and two kids, I do qualify. I pay $15 a month for each
kid and that covers health, vision and dental insurance
with $5 co-pays. Since this is a federal or state sponsored
program it qualifies under OPM's "Life Event" that
allows employees to change out of open season.

LM

Thanks for sharing that. Here's a link for others in the same situation with uninsured children and not enough income to cover them: http://ww2.iehp.org/IEHP/Membership/Our+Products/Healthy+Families/ Now let's work on getting our firefighters (their parents) insured...

I asked LM what he/she meant by"Life Event" the last sentence means.  Ab.

His reply for future reference:

In the FFEHB, a Forest Service employee can only cancel or change their benefits plan two times a year (open season), during a few weeks in the beginning of the year and in December. An employee can only change or cancel their plan out of open season if they have a Life Event (birth, death, adoption or get insured by a State or Federal program).

4/15From Firescribe:

www.pe.com/localnews/rivcounty/stories/PE_News_Local_B_homes15.4393e5b.phpl

Homes planned for Esperanza Fire area, despite concerns about fire-prone zones

10:00 PM PDT on Monday, April 14, 2008
By Sean Nealon
The Press-Enterprise

A plan to build 150 homes on land burned by the Esperanza Fire less than two years ago has raised concerns among Riverside County officials and residents worried about fires and traffic in the rural, mountainous area south of Banning.

A preliminary report issued by a Fire Hazard Reduction Task Force, created after the blaze that killed five firefighters, called for imposing stricter building codes, aggressively fining homeowners who fail to eliminate hazards and having the county buy land to create buffers around fire-prone areas. Officials expect a final report next month.

Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster, who spearheaded the task force's creation, said he is hopeful its recommendations will become part of the county's general plan, which is undergoing an update that takes place every five years. [click the link to read the rest]

4/15<snipped name>

I understand the problems in the process in hiring. Simply said..... low bid.... no oversight. You get what you pay for.

After serving for six years in an ADFMO (Battalion Chief) position, and after 26 years of service to the feds.... I somehow am not qualified (didn't make the quality cert) for my next level as DFMO. Oh well... I'm pretty happy and secure at the GS-9 step 8 level..... and getting paid and compensated at CAL FIRE Fire Apparatus Engineer (FAE) levels. Go figure. I think I'll just retire in place.

ICT2 (T)
ICT3
OSC2
DIVS
STEN
TFLD
RXB2
FIRB
blah... blah.. blah... on quals......

On top of those, did I mention I completed my "0401 requirements" in the very first HSU program with an A- grade point average?

On top of that..... Did I mention, on top of the HSU forced curriculum, I had nearly 100 semester hours of fire science, wildland fire science, and general education before being forced to be a "General Biologist -0401" and pursue another career and educational path?

I chose the Forest Service as a career when they were competitive in pay, benefits, and working conditions as a wildland firefighter........ I signed the dotted line as a wildland firefighter..... The contract was changed.

Lobotomy
4/15Converse Hotshots were on the San Bernardino NF.

TS

4/15Big Bear - San Bernardino NF
Breckenridge - Sequoia NF
Converse - ??
Groveland - Stanislaus NF?? (this is the new crew)
Monterey - Los Padres NF
Ozena - Los Padres NF
Salmon River - Klamath NF

hope this helps,

L -- C -- E -- S
4/15MOC4546

The Groveland Hotshots are from the Stanislaus National Forest.

Lori
4/15Ab, yes, me again...

What would Washington be like if firefighters were in charge? check out this link

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1590969502038856746&q=sprint+nextel+tv+commercial&pr=goog-sl

sting

HAW HAW HAW, ain't it the truth. Yesterday The 4Gs tried to send in what I think was this link through another site, but you had to be a member to view it so I didn't post it. Thanks to both sting and The 4 Gs for the humor. Ab.

4/15Ab,

I found this while checking out a CALFIRE website. The website suggests giving it wide distribution.

Haley Podesta, a senior at Summerville High School, wants to raise money for a memorial to Eva Schicke who we lost in 2004 on the Tuolomne Fire. The flyer contains more info.

Another opportunity for the Wildlandfire family to come together and support a great cause.

sting

from the flyer, is the quilt the one we heard about, created by Nora? Ab.

Any donation from you will be greatly appreciated by all of us that have been
touched by Eva's passing. Your donations will go towards funding the monument. Any
funds received that exceed the cost of the monument will be deposited to the Eva Schicke
Memorial Scholarship Fund, held at the Sonora Area Foundation. Every donators name
will be entered in a drawing for A  QUILT donated by Eva's mother, Joyce Schicke.

Donations may be sent to:
Eva Schicke Memorial Fund
c/o El Dorado Savings Bank
P.O. Box 877
Twain Harte CA, 95383

4/15midwest afmo said:

Over 80 % of the firefighters in the united states get paid nothing for
fighting fires, since they are volunteers. Any paid firefighter in the U.S.
is very much the exception to the rule.

Midwest, what's your source on that figure and are you confident that none of the volunteers listed within your % don't have agreements with various agencies that allows them to get paid under some scenarios?


<Snipped name> - Good post. When Line Officers -- in this case a District Rangers (yes I saw the email as well) -- start telling Professional Forest Service Firefighters they need to go take prozac because he can't handle all the firefighter outreaches within the Forest Service email system, then this proves one important point about what the future looks like------------------------------>Centralized Fire Management today, tomorrow and FOREVER !

To All Involved,

I understand that pressure is really building behind the scenes on the retention issue. This is a tribute to you and all of our collective voices as we are working together to create change. A reminder to all; Even though we may not respect the person(s) in the position(s), we must respect the position. This movement is historic and to be sustained with a high degree of credibility, we must go forward professionally, telling the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth.

Signed,

We are not just a posting to a discussion forum, we are a movement!
4/14DID...............

If only it were true, but alas it is not, the State of Oregon does not pay their fire
fighters portal to portal.

As far as I know, California is the only state paying portal to portal to their fire
fighters. Big Blue is correct, the use of Cal Fire resources is limited due to their
expense.

Another Former Green Soldier
4/14Suppression P Codes:

So basically what Feinstein considers a wonderful new opportunity,
the FS could consider just the same old, same old... ?

Except presumably Congress expects them to come up with a plan.

Tahoe Terrie

4/14Suppression P Codes:

Thanks Lobo, I knew you could articulate that much better than I ever could.

So we now know what can be used to fund agency priorities, it comes down
to what will the retention group(s), Ed and RF do to fund the retention priority?

Lets make sure we all continue to help them, by reminding them what possibilities
look like outside of that "budget neutral box".

Stand together, stand strong people!

4/14Wildfire Community,

Here's a wmv demonstrating Doug Campbell's use of the Campbell Prediction System on the Fayette Fire near the Wind River Range in rugged Wyoming in 1988. In this 1/2 hour segment, Doug walks and talks with Bob Johnson, Ops Section Chief on the Fayette Fire, discussing the history and behavior of the fire to get an idea of the fire behavior in the future. Later he flies with Bagley to look at the fuels. Doug's approach - trying to develop a way for groundpounders to assess fire behavior on the ground so as to plan and institute safe tactics - was remarkable for the times and has saved lives, most recently in Spain several years ago. The Spanish firefighters who had been through the training recognized that conditions were becoming worse and got out when forces (slope, aspect and time of day) came into alignment with wind. Made me extremely sad that all firefighters that day had not had life-saving benefit of Doug's training.

Doug's Fire Signature Prediction Method (what it's called today)  is being used in Europe fairly extensively, as well as in the US by states, counties, and private firefighting companies. Its language and concepts have been integrated into fed training even at the S-590 level. ...Trigger point, alignment of forces, threshold of control, time tagged tactics, hot fuel, cold fuel, fuel flammability....What's the fire telling you? It's taught by Forest Service trainers and others as a stand-alone course. It's permeated the fire culture.

The video begins (after 30 sec of silence, don't be deterred by the silence, this is old video tech) with Doug's explanation of the shadometer that let him determine the Fuel Flammability Curve (which identifies the time period of peak fuel flammability on various aspects) and some other historical tools Doug created and used to test what the hotshot supts had said were the main factors (wind, slope, aspect, time of day, fuels in sun or shade) they looked at to try to anticipate fire behavior.

www.wildlandfire.com/videos/cps-on-fayette88/shadommeter256.wmv

Thanks for your efforts to get this historical video shared with the community.

Thanks especially to Original Ab for taking the 990 Megabyte video on CD and applying his magic to get it into a manageable size. That video file on CD was huge!

Mellie

4/14midwest afmo,

At best, 73% of firefighters volunteer (according to the NVFC), which doesn't account for those volunteers who work a career spot as well, and the many volunteers who are inactive within their department.  Once you consider the disparity in call volume between most career and volunteer departments, I'll wager it's safe to say that most calls are responded to by career personnel - that volunteer firefighting is the exception, even if they offer greater personnel numbers.  Firefighting is a professional career with a great deal of expectation and responsibility, requiring significant skill and commitment.  The expectations placed on federal wildland firefighters are not comparable with those placed on most volunteers, and reflect those of their career brethren.  Whether or not the USFS likes to admit it, it directly competes with agencies such as CAL-FIRE, LACFD, and even SFFD for capable firefighters - and it's refusal to acknowledge this leads to the retention problems costing the taxpayer such staggering amounts on large fires.

maybe if we all stuck our heads in the sand
4/14More on rattlesnakes, hazards and treatment info is posted on the hotlist Ab.

\www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=17149

4/14re: DIB's statement that all state, county, and city firefighters get paid
portal to portal:

Over 80 % of the firefighters in the united states get paid nothing for
fighting fires, since they are volunteers. Any paid firefighter in the U.S.
is very much the exception to the rule.

midwest afmo
4/14Are we getting Mechanics Back in the Forest Service?

From the Siskiyou NF:

The Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest will soon be advertising for a
WG-10 Automotive Mechanic position, please respond to the attached outreach
if you are interested.

(not attaching the outreach)... Ab.

4/14Ab,

Relevant to your question about job offerings on the OPM site:

I plucked one message that makes sense out of a string of frustrated messages on an intranet email. It speaks to me. I will not include the writer's name, but he says what many of us are thinking and feeling about the outreach and job announcement process and the stuff cramming our inboxes:

Subject Re: Vacancy Announcements/Outreaches
Date: 4/10/2008

All these messages should show managers that there are big problems with
the hiring system, problems with the proper use of computer e-mail, the
lack of direction and the lack of communication from the ASC_HCM to the
districts; and this one problem is the tip of the iceberg to the many
problems the Forest Service, like the Titanic, has today.

Why isn't someone with authority sending out a message to stop with all the
messages? Someone like the IT or is it IRM or is it CIO now. Who is the
director of the IRM? Why haven't you sent out a message?

Why hasn't the director of the HCM sent out a message on the proper
procedure for outreaches and job announcements? Who are you? Who's in
charge? One of your Employee Relations Advisors has advised us to just
delete messages. Several people including one person who says he spends a
half hour a day deleting messages is OK. Is this really OK? Is this a wise
use of taxpayers dollars?

One person who worked on a boots on the ground team which looked at
field-time erosion, noted that if you are looking for a job, that there are
websites to go to. What other solutions besides go to a website did the
team come up with, because, obviously, some people don't know where the
website for outreaches is.

This person also noted jobs are announced on AVUE and USAJobs. I haven't
looked on AVUE, but USAJobs announcements are pathetic. For example, there
are job openings that state there are jobs in California when the position
is really on the Black Hills in South Dakota, or other jobs are open all
year and have positions nationwide. In the real world, people apply to
specific jobs in specific locations. Why would a person apply to a position
that may or may not exist, in some place that the person may or may not
want to work and live? Are you reading this HCM director? I have a
suggestion for you, just like the real world, each job vacancy should have
it's own announcement. Then job hunters would know what and where the
position is and decide whether to apply or not. Is that so hard to do?

One ASC-Level 2 Desktop support person, suggested that we all set up a junk
mail folder in Lotus Notes and if we have problems setting it up to call
EUSC. No one I know likes the ticket system, and if you call and listen to
all the messages that state phone lines are down, computer systems are
down, radio systems are down, you'd know that this call and get a ticket
system isn't working.

One district ranger has suggested that we need a giant order of Prozac.

What about a CD with whale sounds or a burning candle for aroma therapy?

District rangers and managers should be listening to employees and be open
to suggestions and real solutions.

So people, you can take your Prozac and go down with the sinking ship or
you can raise your voice, get in the life raft, get to shore and help build
a new ship.

<snipped name>

HCM= Human Capital Management
ASC= Albuquerque Service Center
IT= Information Technology
IRM= Information Resource Management
CIO= ? Chief Information Officer ? guess on Ab's part
OK= okey dokey, all right

4/14We've received an email regarding a 13 year-old who survived a Northern Pacific Diamondback rattlesnake bite in Yosemite NP that is making the rounds in fire emails. It had very graphic photos of damage to his left arm and his surgery followup. I did a search to check the veracity of the story and photos, I found Justin Schwartz's story and it doesn't appear to be a hoax. The incident occurred in July 2002.

Here's the website with photos on the next page; as Normbc who sent in the email said, the photos age graphic.
www.rattlesnakebite.org/

4/14Hey Ab.

Just wanted to throw a quick post down and thank all those who made it to
the Foundation Poker Tournament this last weekend. This was my first year
attending and I have to say it was a great time, I hope this continues to
grow for years to come, Tomaselli and the Del Rosa Hotshots put together a
great venue, and it would be a shame not to see at least a hundred folks
there next year. We have to keep this one going for Vicki and Burk, even
though Burk took all my good cards... Thanks Alot!!!

Mike Calkins

Glad it was a success. Ab.

4/14In response to;

"Also the California firefighters are NOT the only ones paid portal to portal, as a matter of fact, the only government agency that doesn't pay portal to portal is Federal agencies. City, County, and State fire agencies all pay portal to portal."

I work for the State of Washington and I will attest that we do not get paid portal to portal. I have worked with several other state fire agencies folks (Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Texas,) and I am quite certain that they do not get paid portal to portal. In our state, some career structural firefighters have portal to portal in their contracts and because of this are not used as often as we would like. As mentioned before, it is common knowledge that portal to portal is a limiting factor in the use of CALFIRE in neighboring states. I am not against portal to portal but we need to be fiscally responsible to gain the best value with the peoples dollars. That alone is the primary reason you don’t see it in most state fire budgets.

BigBlue
4/14May 5th, 2008 Trial of Ellreese Daniels, IC Type 3 on the Thirty Mile Fire:

Here is a letter from the Forest Supervisor on the Wenatchee- Okanogan NF's
on the upcoming trial for Ellreese Daniels, Thirty Mile ICT3. We need to
keep him in our thoughts as the trial approaches.

GorgeFMO
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okanogan-Wenatchee Employees:

The trial of our employee Ellreese Daniels is scheduled to begin May 5.
He was indicted by a grand jury on four counts of involuntary
manslaughter and seven counts of making false statements based on
actions in his role as crew boss during the Thirtymile tragedy in 2001.
I struggle with the reality of criminal charges against one of our own
employees. I was not here in 2001, but today I feel the anxiety and
fears of the firefighting community. I am also deeply saddened at the
loss families experienced. Yet, in the midst of this swirl of strong
emotion, we must go on.

I intend to support Ellreese by ensuring I do not interfere with a fair
and speedy trial. All we can do for the families, employees and the
American public is cooperate with the defense and prosecution by
providing knowledgeable witnesses to testify honestly and truthfully.
Then, let the justice system work based on the facts of the case. In
the end, the judge and jury will decide the outcome of the trial.

This case will likely generate national media interest. If you want to
speak with the media, then it is critical that you emphasize to them
that you are speaking for yourself, as an individual, on you own time,
not for the Forest Service or in any official capacity. It is your
choice as an individual, representing your personal views to speak to a
reporter. I offer this thought though. Ask yourself, “How will my
comments influence the ability of the court to provide a fair and speedy
trial”? If you are asked to comment as a Forest Service employee, please
refer that request to Glen Sachet (503-808-2790) in the Regional Office.

Some of you will testify as witnesses for the defense or prosecution, or
you will know someone who is testifying. The emotions of the tragedy may
return. Don’t hesitate to talk with your line or staff officer, union
representative, or contact the Employee Assistance Program for help.

I plan on attending as much of the trial as possible. When I’m not
there, my representative will be. I will wear my uniform proudly in
support of all employees and the Agency. I have identified a few
employees that will serve a variety of roles in an official capacity at
the trial, including keeping you informed of the proceedings. Others
interested in attending can do so on their own time, not in an official
capacity, with the use of leave pre-approved by their supervisor.

Maureen Hanson, Bobbie Scopa and I will be holding meetings at HQ and
the Districts next week to discuss the upcoming trial and answer
employee questions.

Finally, this has been and will continue to be a very emotional time.
Please be sensitive and understanding of the feelings of others around
you, and take extra care of yourselves.

Sincerely,

Becki

4/14Hi Abs,

I need some background information regarding California (R-5) Hot Shot Crews.

I asked this some time ago, but lost the information and can't locate it. Can someone
tell me what National Forests these Hot Shot crews are from:

Big Bear
Breckenridge
Converse (disbanded)
Groveland
Monterey (disbanded)
Ozena (disbanded)
Salmon River

MOC4546
4/14Hey Stand together, stand strong people!

I know what we use or can use P codes for severity for. For 19 years I've seen the way our fire managers shift gears or double back on their core philosophy because we, oops they, have a P code or severity or not. What I'm not hearing, reading, feeling, and posting cynically about is this: There is currently no policy, mechanism, or even a plan verbalized to us on the ground on how a P-code will improve my subordinates and my pay, facilities, life quality and such.

Scrape

4/14Re... Suppression P-codes explained:

Stand together, stand strong said,

"Yes, the WO and RO can transfer and sanction the use of suppression p-codes to be used for some agency priorities."

It would have been better factually said as,

"Yes, the WO and RO can transfer and sanction the use of wildland fire suppression (WFSU) funds to be used for some agency priorities."

Sounds trivial, but it isn't trivial.  Based upon decisions related to both agency rules and interpretations of the law that land management folks use in their decision making process.

P-codes are just a tracking (job) code found as just a small part of FFIS, When funds from WFSU are most often redirected, the job code is usually WFSUSV, WFSUPP, WFSU (insert the last two numbers) etc.... Don't confuse P-codes with the greater WFSU discretionary appropriation. P-codes are meant to track fire suppression costs... not fire preparedness expenditures..... lol.

It is important to fully understand that the majority of the Forest Service budget is "discretionary funding" no matter what the spin or take is told to the employees or the public who are expected to be mushrooms. That simply means that Mark Rey says when, where, and how the discretionary funding is spent... fully based upon his priorities.

I fully hope that sometime in the future we get another JWT as Chief... Jack called BS to the political appointee process and being told what to do.

If you are a current employee, or a retired employee, or in the public..... Don't continue to live like a mushroom and be fed Bul#$@&........

Lobotomy

4/14ms wrote......

"...why I want my pilot sleeping in a bed..."

Re-read my statement about long travel times, crew duty day etc. affecting my off time. Riding in a fuel truck for an hour to the nearest town, finding a motel and then going for food are all time consuming. I can have a hot cooked supper and be in the rack long before I can be fed in these circumstances. We are not roughing it. We have cots, air mattresses and tents. Seldom are we out more than 3 nights before the crew moves back to home base. If I do feel the need or the crew thinks I should go to town for a night we ALWAYS do what the manager says.

"I want to say thanks for your service as a firefighting helicopter pilot. What you do is truly heroic. More than likely you probably have a military background as well and if so, thanks for your service to our country as well."

I consider heroes to be much more than people that do their job day in and day out. Remember fire is not an emergency. Heroes are people that do extraordinary things. I do have a military background but I was not a pilot. I was a Forest Service 9 season firefighter (smoke chaser, lookout, IR crew, helitack foreman, forest dispatcher) before becoming a pilot.

"Lastly, would I be correct that you and your fuel truck driver receive a daily per diem for hotel and food even if you choose not to spend it and sleep on the ground and eat taxpayer provided food at fire camps?"

You would be partially wrong, at least as far as my company is concerned. My company pays $X per day for food when we are on contract at our apartment where we have cooking facilities. It pays about 25% more when we are away from the contract base. It is up to us to buy our own food. Fire camp food is provided as a contract requirement but I seldom take advantage of it if commercial food is close buy. I've had enough of standing in line for anything. We do usually take advantage of the sack lunches if they are provided but this also seldom happens. You see, most of our fires are not project fires with fire camps and caterers. Our overnights almost always involve IA or extended IA. We carry food on the fuel truck and of course the Helitack crew carries food on their truck that we chip in to buy. Most of the summer we live off of the trucks.

As far as motels we don't get any extra money for sleeping out. The company gives us credit cards for lodging so there is never a reimbursement to us for sleeping on the ground. We do not receive the federal per diem that is paid. That goes to the company so it actually is better for the company if we do sleep out.

"If this is true, when you eat that taxpayer provided food, do you deduct it from your per diem salary you get from your employer?"

Again, it is a contract requirement for the government to make those meals available at no charge. However, I very seldom eat there. For example, in all of last summer I had 6 fire camp suppers and no breakfasts. My boss will begrudge me those meals.

"Would it be safe to say that you and others in your profession do sleep on the ground at times to help maintain your income and your lifestyle, so you can better provide for your family?"

I can not and will not speculate on other crews and their pay structure or motivation. In my case, no.

"If all this is true, then we have lot more in common then you think........"

I don't think that any of this has to do with Portal to Portal pay and its costs or unintended consequences. Let's talk about funding and costs?

Jim Reid

4/14 www.sbsun.com/sanbernardino/ci_8915091?source=email

Feinstein snubs forest report
Jason Pesick, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 04/13/2008 09:10:50 PM PDT

Try again.

This was the message U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein had for the U.S. Forest Service after reviewing its report on firefighter retention.

Earlier this month, the Forest Service delivered a report ordered by Congress examining firefighter retention and recruitment in the Southern California national forests.

The Forest Service manages the national forests, including the San Bernardino and Angeles national forests, and leads firefighting efforts in those forests.

The report downplayed concerns that firefighters are leaving the Forest Service because of low morale and pay disparities with state and local agencies. It also had little in common with an earlier draft put together by California-based Forest Service officials.

"I am very concerned that the agency's recent report on firefighting recruitment and retention in Southern California fails to acknowledge serious challenges that the Forest Service faces in staffing its firefighting corps in the State," Feinstein wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey and Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell.

Feinstein also said she was concerned about the difference between the two reports. She requested a report by April 30 detailing the Forest Service's staffing plans, the number of open positions and more detail on plans to improve retention.

Also this week, the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association released a response to the Forest Service's report.

It said the loss of federal firefighters is leading to dramatically higher costs to fight wildfires and accused the Forest Service of a "systematic effort to mislead Congress on a variety of issues."

Forest Service officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Click their link: they also have a copy of the letter that Casey sent in and we posted last week Ab.

Fair Use Disclaimer

4/13This came in yesterday early and I overlooked it. Ab.

Mr Aikens, I worked many years on the Angeles. A person I worked with for many was a Paramedic. In fact we taught the EMS first responder course together around the forest and region. That started in the early 90's.

Mr. Reid, I'm not sure what company you work for but a couple of things I have noticed as a manager. Most CWN crews have company provided credit cards. Another issue obviously in the air world is quality of rest. As someone earlier said, most crews are on company per-diem. I have seen many a pilot eat a sack lunch, but not sleep on the ground for just those reasons.

Former Green Soldier.

4/13This is in reference to the link that was posted last week (4/8) by Concerned. Also have it here on the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=17120 In my opinion based on the first letters that were posted on that site, Mark Rey was the "good old boy". Ab.

INTERESTING READ:

www.peer.org/docs/fs/BrownSetsFire.pdf

This is one you must read from start to finish. A simple prescribed burn
escape by a Congressman from his land to NFS lands which would have cost
$250 bucks. Because he felt, as it was an election year, his peers would
use this against him, he pressured the agency to change to law!!! Then Deputy
RF Roberta Moltzen, once the DRF in R-5 wanted the violation notice (VN)
dropped since the Congressman was on the Appropriations committee which
oversees the FS budget and it would create bad relations. Eventually
Undersecretary Mark Rey and Chief Dale Bosworth agreed to break the law and
directed all to cease and desist issuing a VN. Fortunately the case is not
over.

As I read this, the section FSM 5303 (boring but necessary) reminded me of
the conflict that has existed for years between FF@AM and the rest of the
agency. In essence LE must have independence to conduct an
investigation....etc. Some time back, when LE was under a Forest Sup, if
the Forest Supervisor felt the investigation would create "bad relations" or
for what ever other reason, investigations were dropped! Since LE moved
away from that reporting structure, even though the agency has cut it off at
the knees by dribbling it less than needed budget, it has gone forth with
its investigations as directed by law!

Today, the band aids which have been used for years by the agency such as
EFSAs, WFSAs, fiscal oversight teams, etc are yet to address the real
issues of out dated organizations and roles and responsibilities of "line
officers" who didn't show up (join the agency) to fight fire, etc, but
because of the "traditional " organization find themselves stuck in the
cross fire and, with about half the appropriated budget being "fire", they are
in for a long frustrating career, as is management and the leadership in
FF@AM . Moving to 3 or 12 regions does not address the issue which LE still
faces even with their re-organization. Yet, as the agency gets "used" to this
change, it is better. Isn't it time to give the same consideration to FF@M?

While we have according to this investigation, an Undersecretary , former
Chief and other top officials who forgot that the cornerstone of any
organization begins with integrity, wouldn't you rather be in an
organization that lives and breathes integrity with less money than one with
a lot of money based on the good old boy system, and deception?

I'm proud to say I was and, in my heart, will always be a Professional Wild
Land Fire Fighter, but hang my head on this one...

As always
Q

4/13Ab

Thank you for sending the Little Venus PowerPoint to me.

To answer your question about estimating the rate of spread (ROS):
BEHAVE, FLAME and FARSITE all predict the ROS.

My system does not address the ROS because the focus is to recognize the
variations in potential of fire in terrain.

  • When firefighters are sent up or down a canyon they are in a
    topographic hazardous area. 
  • When there is a wind forecast that is aligned with a canyon and folks
    are in the area during the heat of the day, bad things can happen. 
  • When plans are delayed, there needs to be another evaluation of risk. 
  • If  things are getting worse with time, there needs to be a trigger point
    for making alternative decisions. 
  • Following a plan when things are changing around you is sometimes a
    recipe for the plan leading to trouble.

The Little Venus PPT is a good effort.

Doug Campbell

Ab added the bullets above. Doug is author of the Fire Signature Prediction Method. www.dougsfire.com/articles.php Ab.

4/13Avue, 0462 jobs, and the current mess we are in

AB, et al.:

You pose the question as to why most of the 0462 jobs are DOI and there are very few Forest Service. Since I just went through the hiring process as the person hiring and now I'm trying to go through the process as a potential employee looking for a new job (someplace other than where I am now!), here's my take on the situation:

ASC- your overworked, underloved friends down in Albuquerque are eyeball deep and breathing through a straw trying to stay on top of all the hiring, pay, hours, and god knows what else right now. All 0462 jobs are being form fit and shoved into current "Nationwide" job announcements; individual units can pull cert lists from those. There are few to no Tech jobs being flown on AVUE or Usajobs. Usajobs have their own announcement numbers in order to streamline the process.

Basing my opinion on what I've found, and the whole "Outreach/Mass Email" debacle the FS had this week on Lotus Notes, I'd say we, as an agency, are accepting mediocrity as a the best we can do as an agency. Many jobs exist in many locations, but the outreach and notice system for those who are not in the Forest Service or who do not have the time at work to search through the inTRAnet Forest Service servers are not making it to the intended audiences. I make this statement

  • based on the lack of applicants we have had locally for positions we have filled recently and
  • for the fact that I haven't found position notices for areas I'm looking at, where I know there are open 18/8 and Perm positions that are unfilled.

My frustration with the lack of care and onus of being an HR specialist being placed upon ground forces by forest, region and national management is at an all time high. Going back to school for Engineering, Forestry, or some other upper level degree and getting out of the Forest Service looks better and better every day.

We are in a mess, it will take time to fix it. If the Chief thinks everything is ROSY, I'd request her assistance on Monday morning when I have to hire yet again, due to ASC problems and mistakes. Maybe some position clout will get me somewhere.

Thanks for the forum and the allowance of my rant.

ME

I appreciate the info. Ab.

4/13P codes:

Scrape,

I'm very glad you bring this up and no, we do not want to see more hours worked to solve retention. Yes, p codes have been used to move firefighters into place to prepare for a fire. They have been used for some activities that look very similar to what we use preparedness funds for. I've been waiting for someone to bring up your good question. Lobo can probably answer this much better than me, however I will give you some thoughts.

P-codes are used to pay base time, p-codes are used to pay a portion of planned unemployment costs, p-codes are used to pay medical costs if injured on a fire, they have been transferred to pay for some specific aircraft availability costs (not CWN), the NIMO program, severity, communication devices and even on occasion, awards. P-codes have been used for you to work a day off even when your not on a fire.

Yes, the WO and RO can transfer and sanction the use of suppression p-codes to be used for some agency priorities. P-codes are not just for OT. And now we learn that Feinstein and company approved the use of suppression p-codes to help fund the implementation of the retention plan.

Stand together, stand strong people!

4/13Jim Reid, I had written a long diatribe reply to you that included a discussion about federal discretionary spending, pie charts, why I want my pilot sleeping in a bed at night and a bunch of other stuff for your consideration. However I deleted it all, probably to the cheers of ab's and all.

However I do wish leave you with a few thoughts.

I want to say thanks for your service as a firefighting helicopter pilot. What you do is truly heroic. More than likely you probably have a military background as well and if so, thanks for your service to our country as well.

Lastly, would I be correct that you and your fuel truck driver receive a daily per diem for hotel and food even if you choose not to spend it and sleep on the ground and eat taxpayer provided food at fire camps? If this is true, when you eat that taxpayer provided food, do you deduct it from your per diem salary you get from your employer? Would it be safe to say that you and others in your profession do sleep on the ground at times to help maintain your income and your lifestyle, so you can better provide for your family? If all this is true, then we have lot more in common then you think........

ms
4/13Portal to Portal

In a recent post it was stated,

"Also the California firefighters are NOT the only ones paid portal to portal, as a matter of fact, the only government agency that doesn't pay portal to portal is Federal agencies. City, County, and State fire agencies all pay portal to portal."

This statement is too broad to include 50 state wildland fire management organizations, and 1,000's of County and City organizations.

I do not believe that state forestry/wildland fire organizations of Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska (I have some familiarly with these programs) are paid portal to portal for in state, interstate via compacts or for in state or interstate response to federal incidents. More than likely the vast majority of the remaining states do not.

In most states federal wildland firefighters are paid an a higher scale than state employees. Toss in portal to portal and you will see few state organizations being able to afford very high priced federal help unless they know the FEMA tap will be opened.

Midwest Fire Guy

4/13The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated.

For some reason Series 0462 forestry tech jobs used to be only Forestry Technicians but now include DOI jobs as well (BLM, BIA, NPS, FWS), in fact are largely DOI jobs. Anyone know why? Does it have to do with the retention SNAFU (or the Series 401 snafu???) or perhaps that FS jobs get filled first and DOI needs applicants too, or because the FS jobs thing in Albuquerque isn't working out? I'd like to know for sure why the change in format and emphasis... Maybe it's simply because now they're listing jobs as 0462 or 0455? Ab.

3/30The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
4/13 Retention:

If P-Codes are authorized to fund and implement retention solutions that means zero change to me. It seams to me they are going to use overtime, extended staffing, and off forest assignments ( cover stations on the San Bernardino instead of working on our own units fuels or facilities ) to "raise" our pay and "improve" our retention. How is our pay going to be higher when a south zone FS firefighter gets 36 hours of OT with nuisance staffing and working his 6th day when there is actually no fire incident on their unit? If we go off forest we will still be stuck to 16 hour days and 14 day assignments. When a forest service engine captain works his days off he gets to buy new tires for his pickup truck or get his wife's buggy fixed because he wasn't around to do the maintenance on it. If a calfire or county firefighter or engineer works their days they can buy a new pickup truck or pay some serious college tuition for their kids.

Signed,
Scrape

4/13 What the ----, nice. As previously mentioned, they can move numbers anyway they want. You have identified a couple great examples.

Jim Reid, simple answer YES. (Replying to Reid's post yesterday, not the one just under this one. Ab.) Most Feds support the bargaining agreements our cooperating Firefighters have with their agencies, this includes our local, county and state cooperators. They deserve every dime they get for the sacrifices outlined by Anthony Akins. Not just R-5, but all Fed Firefighters deserve portal to portal. Portal to portal is a national issue, currently before Congress, not an R-5 issue. We have our hands full right now getting our portal to portal package approved by Congress. Once p to p is a reality for us, it will make it easier for our contractors to receive similar compensation. We as a community will never give up until we have p to p. Once it becomes law it will help you make a better case to receive it from your employer.

I'm surprised at the lack of opposing emails since BLACK TUESDAY. I see this as a good sign. We know we do have fellow fed firefighters both within and out of R-5 that disagree with what the majority in R-5 is pushing for. What we are pushing for has no borders. Whether we are fighting fire or on an S&R mission in the Grand Canyon, repelling into lighting fires on the Salmon Challis, jumping fires on the Shasta T, setting up a type 3 incident command and closing I-5 in So Cal, or performing infant CPR at the scene of a traffic accident on Hwy 39 using the medical skills that are now required R-5 training for SRBs, we, all of us, are one! We see no regional boundaries. We are not elitists or spoiled. We are Federal Firefighters. We don't expect and ask for everything, we do expect our agencies to understand that change has occurred. Our mission and our responsibilities have escalated and the public will not allow us to go back.

Ed said in a email written 4/4

We can ill afford for these to become distractions. While I've never been one to predict fire seasons, I do know we will have one and that it will be challenging. As leaders, I expect you to ensure that you and those for whom you have responsibility are prepared for whatever lies ahead.

Translation: Fire season is coming, we must be focused on emergency mobilizations (large fire, IA, traffic accidents, medical aids, hazmats etc). He's right. As our focus shifts from "theysaid" to the "Hotlist" and as we begin to become scattered across this nation, we will not allow for a pause from our emails and phone calls. We will not take a step back for the summer and hope something is getting done by the Retention Groups back home. Prior to fire season ensure that your family and friends understand what's going on and, if they can, have them help keep things rolling. Ensure they know how to contact the Abs and FWFSA. Have them spend some time on familysaid. Talk with your Dispatchers and ensure they help keep the chatter high as well. R-5 waited until just before fire season to form Retention Groups. Lets make sure these groups are kept very busy walking the halls of WFTC over this coming fire season. Each of them should be unavailable for assignment and mission focused on the task at hand.

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY

4/13 This post came in at the same time as the one above. Ab.

Portal to portal

My employer would not be paying me portal to portal wages. The Federal government would be paying it as that cost increase would be included in the bid price. But the Federal government wouldn't be paying it, the tax payers would pick up the tab, but then they have lots of money. Or there would be far less contracted machines available for initial attack, contract ships IA... CWN (Call When Needed) ships do project fires as a general rule. When I accepted the job I fully understood the pay structure and per diem.

Motel rooms are not as common in the Great Basin as they are in R-5. My driver and I spend many nights in sleeping bags, but this is often much preferable to an hour drive each way to a motel. I would rather fly until dark and be ready in the morning than to be commuting for 2 hours of my 14 hour duty day. Often, in light fuels I can do my most effective work late in the evening and early in the morning. I would rather do it that way.

So the answer for limited funds in California is to freeze or lay off teachers and inflate fire fighters pay with portal to portal pay? Maybe it's time for the citizens of the great State of California to elect representatives with some fiscal responsibility.

Just because local governments pay portal to portal is no reason for federal agencies to do the same. How often do city units leave their local jurisdiction for weeks at a time? If these local governments can afford this pay structure that is their business. The Federal system is built around the practice of moving large amounts of people and equipment for extended periods of time. But once again it really comes down to the money. When California and the Federal government have their budgets in the black and the tax payers are in agreement then we can continue this line of discussion.

Jim Reid

4/13 Retention:

First off, thanks Casey for all you do. Its good we
have someone fighting for us. As our crews start
coming on, going through training and getting ready
for fire season, getting them ready should be our
focus. Thanks for taking something off our
overflowing plates.

Something that concerns me is the fact that most
everything I read has to do with the retention and pay
issues in SoCal, SoCal, SoCal. I hope if something
does happen that it encompasses all of Region 5 and
not just the three national forests in SoCal.

Its been brought up here before but its not cheap
living in California, period. Whether its the LP, the
Mendocino, the Six Rivers, etc.

Many of us commute good distances to our duty stations
so our spouses can find work in a "bigger city". Fuel
costs are really starting to have an impact. Housing
isn't cheap either. But most folks I know MUST have
two incomes to get things done for their families.

Interesting to note, a CalFire Captain, whether he or
she works on the Lassen-Modoc, Humboldt or Riverside
gets the same pay (recruitment strategy).

I just hope we don't get passed over again. You think
moral is low now..............

Sign me "hoping for a piece of the pie"
 

4/13 To Jim Reid:
 
Yes your employer should ABSOLUTELY pay you for the ENTIRE time you are on assignment working. I worked helitack for a number of years and have great admiration and respect for the contract crews that I have worked for and with on fires, and know that you guys make great sacrifices in your personal lives. I think though that your employer is responsible for paying you portal to portal, just as I believe that the Forest Service is responsible for paying it's employees portal to portal.  Also Jim any contract aviation crew that I came into contact with received per diem for chow and had company credit cards to sleep in hotel rooms.  Occasionally I would see the contract aviation crews in fire camp or pitching a tent in the dirt, but it wasn't very common. Don't get me wrong, you guys deserve to be paid portal to portal, and should get hotel rooms nightly to receive adequate rest for the vital function you perform on fires, as I feel firefighters should get the same.   (SIDE NOTE: it's not about getting hotel rooms vs sleeping in dirt, it's about being compensated for being on the job.)
 
Also the California firefighters are NOT the only ones paid portal to portal, as a matter of fact, the only government agency that doesn't pay portal to portal is Federal agencies. City, County, and State fire agencies all pay portal to portal.
 
Also the state of California does not have tons of money, right now we are facing the second largest deficit in the history of the state, so much so that my wife who is a teacher, whose school is funded largely by the state has put a hiring freeze on much needed teacher positions, issued pink slips to "expendable" positions and not yet fully credentialed teachers, and has told my wife she can't have any more supplies for her classroom. The state is also closing down State Beaches and is cutting the number of state lifeguards. Oh yeah and here is my favorite, they are considering releasing inmates early who have 20 months or less on their sentence that have been incarcerated for "non-violent" crimes to cut back costs.
 
So basically: fire teachers, don't give kids educational supplies, less lifeguards, close access to land, and release convicts from prison early! So I take some issue with you assuming California has tons of money when my wife and I have to worry about her job security.

DIB

4/12 Hey Mark Rey and Chief Kimbell!!!

I hope you READ the 2nd to last paragraph on page 1 of the letter sent to you,
where it wants a concrete strategy to combat not only retention...but the one
thing you all overlook...MORALE!!!! That's the real fire driving this war...
THINK ABOUT IT

ES

4/12  Re: retention report,

I am glad to see that someone has contested the bogus retention
report. I'm sure that Feinstein's office has statisticians that can
figure out the corrupt B.S. that Kinbell's office shoved into the
report.

Here are some things that I think should be examined...
1) The issue to be addressed was the R-5 Firefighter retention... not
the standard government employee attrition rate.
The Southern province of R-5 numbers were diluted once with the
regional data then twice diluted with the national data set and then
thirdly compared to a govt. wide data set, until finally the numbers
Kimbell was looking for had materialized. Why?

2) If a national report was sought after, was the data weighted
correctly? With the majority of fire employees in R-5, the data from
R-5 should carry the heaviest influence.
For example:
Region A has 70 of the workforce; Region B has 5% of the workforce.
The attrition rate of Region B with 5% of the workforce should not
weight equally when finding an average.
Why would someone let 50 employees overpower the rest of the data.
Why does 1 employee in Region B = 70 employees in Region A?

Sample size; Region B should be thrown out.

3) Why did Kimball's office refuse to contact the R-5 office with
disparity in the findings of their report? No attempt to clarify an
issue as important as this might indicate some personal bias.
Irresponsible and unacceptable. These are the actions of the
leadership at the helm?

This report stinks of a Rat! It is unprofessional and unacceptable.
Just because someone shoves a B.S. sandwich in your face doesn't mean
you have to take a bite!

I think someone needs to go through the report data with fine tooth
and expose the lies.

What Tha----,
4/12 Re Retention pay group:

Casey,

I hope you're right and we will find out soon, won't we?  I would suggest that someone ask the pay group lead(s) to see if they're going to consider all current levels of preparedness and suppression when they do the staff work and begin to build recommendations.  If that group is not thinking outside the box on this, then I guess we will find ourselves starting all over in about 4 months.

My points are:  

1) Don't place these working groups in a box.  
2) nothing seems to be organized, nothing seems to be planned out well.

If Ed's intent for that group when they develop the proposals to consider suppression and preparedness funding then we could be on a good path.  However approval to use suppression funds to help fund an R-5 pay retention plan would need to come from the WO, not the R5 RF.  Even a simple update to the So Cal 462 Title 5 Special Salary rates would need WO and OPM involvement.  Since it's now known the pay group can only consider ideas that are within the RF's authority to approve, then the RF and Ed have just placed the pay group in a box that is potentially not the intent of Congress.  A box that forces the pay group to say; here is a 10 million dollar plan for R-5 retention which comes with a 10 million dollar cut of R-5 firefighting resources.  Irony of all this; guess who needs to approve the cutting of those R-5 firefighting resources to pay for that retention plan?  Yep, that's correct.  One way or the other this whole thing is going back to the WO.  Getting this retention subject out of the WO and back in the hands of the R-5 RF with limitations for approval up to his authority is a red flag.  We know how these ad-hoc groups work and if you box them up, it limits thinking and effects the creation of ideas sent forward for consideration.

My intent is to highlight these issues now and get those people who are working on the solutions to start "thinking" outside that box today, so we can avoid another BLACK TUESDAY ............ tomorrow.

Signed,

P-codes are authorized by Congress to fund the implementation of the R-5 retention solutions!  Is the RO and WO placing constraints on the process?

Film at 11!

4/12 "As a funny side note I hear I was the only paramedic ever in R5" 

Sorry to be a spoiler but when I worked on the Angeles, there were many.

"If Cal Fire can afford to keep a fleet of aircraft flying all year long, why can't the US Government?"

Cal Fire does not staff its full complement year round. And on little side note, CalFire does not own the aircraft (do a reg check on the FAA website, you will be surprised who really owns the aircraft). And in regards to the fixed wing, contractors provide the pilots.

\ James

4/12 To Anthony Akins,

You said some good things and some not so good things in your letter to Ab however I have to take issue with this paragraph.
" Oh and hey Feds, by the way, If I am away from my family and home, halfway
across the country, laying in a tent, without a shower for 3 days, I am
WORKING!!! I don't give a horses rear if you say I'm not because I get to
lay down for a few hours of broken sleep before waking up at 5AM to put on
cold boots and eat green eggs. These people are NOT at home, they are NOT
with their friends and family and they are NOT able to do whatever they want
whenever they want, thus THEY ARE NOT OFF DUTY...PAY THE PEOPLE, they're
working! Door to door!"
Are you going to apply this to all the support people and contractors that are sleeping on that same ground or that leave their nice warm home, wife and/or mother for months at a time during the fire season? I am a contractor flying on a 120 day contract with a 12 on 2 off schedule, based hundreds of miles from home like so many other contractors. I sleep on the ground and eat in fire camp too. Are you ready for the financial impact of paying us too? I will guarantee that it will result in fewer air resources, fewer crews and overhead on fires. I am aware of two California state strike teams that were turned around last summer when the ordering fire canceled them because of the portal to portal cost.

Disregarding fire, many professions and jobs require extended travel and primitive living conditions. The California state fire fighters are the only ones that I am aware of that are paid portal to portal. Of course California has tons of money and can afford it.

Jim Reid
Helicopter Pilot
4/12 I just wanted to say thank you to all the cadre and students involved in the academy this year; I really had a good time, met some great folks, and learned a thing or two (especially how to kill cones). For someone like myself to come from out of region and immediately feel welcome in "big bad R5", and share ideas and opinions with other firefighters as well as be challenged academically will stay as a good memory for years to come. Hope to see you all out there this year!

_HOG from Idaho

4/12 Dear Ab:

I am a 15 year firefighter/paramedic. I worked for the Forest Service
briefly in my career, first as a seasonal Type2 CWN crew member and again
for a few months in the summer of '99 while I was between jobs. (As a funny
side note I hear I was the only paramedic ever in R5.) I still live in the
San Bernardino National Forest (Big Bear) and feel close to the organization
as many friends still work there, although it's policies and procedures are
largely a mystery to me.

I'd like to offer some of my thoughts on the issue of retention from an
"outsiders" perspective. In today's world it seems we spend much time
celebrating our differences, yet it occurs to me that people anywhere
represent people everywhere. They want to be treated with respect and
dignity and respond well when they are, regardless of their background. It
appears that while Forest management and Washington likely feel the same
way, it is not being perceived by the boots on the ground as such. Post this
if you think it'll help and feel free to include my name.

First off, while I agree the pay that we give to seasonal staff is far too
low, especially here in Southern California, a quick Google of job
satisfaction surveys and studies will show that time and again pay is seldom
the only reason for lack of job satisfaction!!!

Employees want to feel a connection with the organization, timely resolution
of issues and grievances, they want to receive recognition for their
efforts, have a clear path for career advancement. It was apparent to me in
my short stint that the organization offered NONE of these. I felt like a
faceless brown shirt who was left to fend for myself.

"Is there training available? If so, where and when and is the agency
sending a vehicle to that may have an open seat? If I wanted to switch to
another Engine or maybe say, the tanker base, can I bid for reassignment?
Why not? Can I have a station facility with basic needs such as a working
refrigerator, clean water supply and protection from the elements, and why
can't I remain there overnight rather than being forced to drive over rough
dirt roads ten miles back to town even though I have to be back to work in
the morning? And since the dorm is vacant all winter, why can't I stay there
till the start of next season while I'm going to college, maybe for a fee?"

This is a very short list of the issues I asked myself in just a few months,
answers to any of which would have changed my view on just using the FS as a
source of short term income.

Secondly, as a tax payer living in the within the forest, I damm well expect
that if a green vehicle with a pump, a tank and the word "FIRE" printed on
the side is driving past my house and sees smoke coming from it, they had
better stop, get in turnouts and BA's and make a forced entry to perform
search and rescue. I clearly recall all that equipment on the engine I
worked on as well as conducting structural firefighting training.

Nearly everyday my current company responds to traffic collisions along
Interstate 5 with ANF Engine 35 working with us side by side, the same is
true on Angeles Crest Highway above La Canada/Flintridge If me or my family
are hurt or become ill while out hiking or camping I expect to see the same
green truck arriving to provide EMT-I level care until the local transport
or paramedic providers arrive.

My point is that what our Federal Officials call "Forestry Technicians" are
firefighters and first responders like any other throughout the region. Yes
they cover less populated areas and don't have as many traditional calls.
Yes the seasonality and their primary role as wildland firefighters limits
their use as medical first responders and yes, they often lack the extensive
training necessary to operate confidently in the all risk environment
assumed by more urban agencies, but nevertheless these are firefighters like
any other, they work in the same hazardous environments as any other (more
firefighters are killed by vehicles than fire each year) and deserve the
same pay and title.

Semantics on the part of Congress, and the agency leadership, is simply a
way to prolong the inevitable conclusion that federal lands require a fire
service and first responder agency like any other place in the country. By
using the term "Forestry Technician" they are able to get that basic level
of service without having to pay what professional fire protection costs.

Oh and hey Feds, by the way, If I am away from my family and home, halfway
across the country, laying in a tent, without a shower for 3 days, I am
WORKING!!! I don't give a horses rear if you say I'm not because I get to
lay down for a few hours of broken sleep before waking up at 5AM to put on
cold boots and eat green eggs. These people are NOT at home, they are NOT
with their friends and family and they are NOT able to do whatever they want
whenever they want, thus THEY ARE NOT OFF DUTY...PAY THE PEOPLE, they're
working! Door to door!

So what are the answers. Here are some, I think. I'm sure there are lots
more.

1. With a few exceptions, I'm here 'cause I want a job in the fire service.
Help me get there. Regular frequent training, ICS classes all year long in a
logical order. Assist with some college tuition for all or even full
scholarships for those seeking forestry specific education. Partner with
local community colleges to have distance learning available at ALL FS
facilities. It's 2008, satellite based internet service isn't that
expensive. If they abuse it, fire them.

2. Define career paths. I love my job but I really want to be a tanker
pilot or help make land use policy in Washington. Show me where to go in the
Forest Service to achieve that goal. Don't hire me for some backwood, out of
the way engine company and then just forget about me all season long. Show
me where I can go and how to get there. "Sell the Agency" a bit. When I got
ready to leave high school, military recruiters swarmed all over telling me
"What the Air Force could do for me..." Perhaps the FS should take a lesson
from them.

3. If Cal Fire can afford to keep a fleet of aircraft flying all year long,
why can't the US Government? Buy or contract the aircraft then send them
around the world to fight fire all year long. And do the same with any
other discipline. Contract out engine companies or water tenders or smoke
jumpers with complete crews all over the world, to those in need. I'm sure
lots of people would love to travel the world working fire all year long.
Why am I paying for an engine to sit in a station much of the year when it
could be out earning money? Québec does this with the CL-215 "Super
Scoopers" and many of the contract firefighting aircraft here in the US do
the same.

4. BLM, Forest Service, Park Service the list goes on...Last I checked these
were all US Federal Government Agencies right? If you were to sit down and
draw a map of the country, for the first time. Would you divide all the
federal lands into different agencies with different bureaucratic structures and
policy? Do you mean to tell me that somehow fighting a wildland fire on the
South Rim of The Grand Canyon is so fundamentally different than fighting one
in the Tetons or the middle of The Great Basin, that they require entirely
separate hiring practices, training and equipment specifications and
management structures? It seems that for all it's difficulties, NIFC and
FIRESCOPE have for years, integrated these agencies, largely into a
seamless operation. Use the lessons learned form those groups to centralize
and streamline the US land management fire agencies into a more uniform force
ala the US Army "Land Warrior" project. This will result in better
interoperability and cost savings to help fund the pay raises these
professional firefighters need and deserve. Why can't I go from an engine
in the Sierra Nevada one year, to one in Utah BLM the next, without a
protracted new application process?

5. ACTIVELY use the seasonal hiring to be a farming operation for seeking
out qualified, motivated people to advance into the organization. As I
remember it, I showed up the first day, and set out to remembering the fire
orders and listening to the two and three year "Veterans" that tell how I
wouldn't measure up and I'll never see a season like they saw last year.
Nobody once asked me my qualifications or background (I was already a
paramedic with 7 years in the fire service) or set out their expectations.
It wasn't that I wanted to spout off about what I thought was right or wrong
as much as I brought a valuable resource in terms of EMS training and it was
available to the FS for about $9/ hr. Seems they missed a bargain.

As I said before, I'm sure there are hundreds of other ideas out there about
what the agency needs to do, I may be completely off base. The fact remains
that our public lands are immense. The universe of problems facing them is
even greater. If the Forest Service hopes to pass them on to the next
generation in good repair, they must first create an environment where the
best and brightest among them are compelled to view the Forest Service not
as a stepping stone but as a destination.

Anthony Akins
Big Bear City, CA.

Well put. Ab.

4/12 Angels on Lookout

www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_B_bspot06.44265f0.phpl

By MELANIE LADONGA
The Press-Enterprise

Last fall Brittaney Khong, 16, of Beaumont, created Operation Fire Angel, a charity that helps families of fallen firefighters.

She said she decided to help because she was moved by the firefighting during the 2007 fire season and a fire near her home.

With help from family, friends and members of the National Honor of Society chapter at Beaumont High School, Brittaney assembled Fire Angel kits with brochures and pamphlets from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with information to raise fire-safety awareness.

Each kit costs $5 and features a Fire Angel pin that Brittaney and her mother designed.

The funds received will be donated to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. [more - photo, comments, where to order - at the link]

Nice story. Ab.

4/12 The 4G's:

Not that I don't want to help, but I suggest you call or e-mail Ken
Palmrose, Chair of ADFA, on this.

I for one have given up on that organization as an effective agent of change
and have put my individual and monetary support behind Casey Judd and FWFSA.
My vision of what ADFA could do was exactly the political path Casey has
followed, but apparently the current ADFA Board, some of whom were highly
uncomfortable with my "angering the agency" by reaching out to our elected
officials, apparently those "wiser" heads have prevailed.

But who knows what ADFA is doing these days ... The ADFA Board's outreach to
members --- as well as their response to numerous individual complaints of
both agency and AD personnel that have been posted on this Board since I
resigned --- is, in a word, non-existent. ADFA no longer even sponsors an
ad on wildlandfire.com. I guess this is too much of a "bitch and moan
forum" for the present Board, to use the words of a present Board member.

Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed by the inaction of the present
Board and of the ADFA organization as a whole. It was an organization that
many of us tried to build into an effective and respected organization.

Life goes on, though.

And to end on a much happier note, to show y'all just how good it's gotten
here at 7000' next to West Elk Wilderness here in western Colorado,
downstream my full-tilt boogie gonzo blues show 1900 MDT this Saturday night
at www.kvnf.org - phone is 1-800-KVNF-NOW if you want to chat about the
music - or the state of ADFA -- or of the fire organization in general - or
the IHOG as it relates to particle physics and chaos theory. (Grin) You
all take care out there.

Vaya con Dios.

Hugh Carson
4/11

No doubt, Casey. The Regional Forester Randy Moore said in Feb that R5 is not requesting or providing more information that might prompt Chief Gail Kimbell ask for more fire money. If you listened to the Allocation Committee Hearing, the Chief and Rey both said, "thanks for the extra funding last year; we put it to good use," but said, "no thanks now" on boosting the budget allocation (whether preparedness or suppression). Their failure to say "this is not enough funding" is why I think it's questionable that Ed's recent email will result in any new actions or solutions for retention. I do hope they think outside the box. My opinion, they need the R5 Chiefs to "get 'er done."

On another note: Anyone want to provide a short course for non-agency readers on where the $$ for preparedness and suppression comes from? Is it asked for (by the Agency) and then approved or not in the president's budget by the congress???  What's the thing with P-codes really mean? Who keeps a record of how well the $$ is spent for the areas like fire that Congress appropriates it for? This could be pretty simple, but a flow chart type of understanding could be helpful.

Readers, please keep in mind that the FS and other land management agencies ultimately work for the President, thus falling in the administrative branch of govt, while Congress is the legislative branch, and the Courts/Lawyers/etc/Judicial is the third judicial branch of govt. It's a system of checks and balances -- our strength in this country and also the source of many bureaucratic and political headaches. Ab.

4/11 Dear " P-codes are authorized by Congress..."

This may sound odd coming from me but I'm going to take a stab at inferring what Ed meant by his "budget neutral" comment. I could be wrong of course but perhaps he meant that such solutions could not require additional appropriations above & beyond what has already been appropriated for suppression.

Just a thought.

Casey
4/11 For those considering thanking Senator Feinstein for her support on wildland firefighter issues, namely her recent letter to the Forest Service & USDA, I'd also like to suggest you send a note of thanks to her main staff person we work with on the Interior Appropriation's subcommittee, Rachael Taylor or at least offer thanks to her in any letter to the Senator.

Rachael has been "the key" to bringing the issues before the Senator and all too often staff are not adequately thanked. If it were not for these staff folks, nothing would get done in DC.

She'll probably scream at me for giving out her email but if she gets kind, heartfelt gratitude from California's wildland firefighters maybe she'll cut me some slack.

her email address is:

Rachael_Taylor@appro.senate.gov

For those who would like to thank Senator Domenici for putting the 401 issue on the table last week, his staff person is Frank Gladics. Frank is a tough nut to crack but has been invaluable in getting the Senator to raise the firefighter liability issue in February of 2007 forcing the Agency to take a position on the issue which has led tot he expansion of PLI (Professional Liability Insurance) reimbursement and more recently the 401 mess.

Frank's email address is:

Frank_Gladics@energy.senate.gov

There are more that I can list and perhaps will at another time but these two deserve your thanks for all the work they do behind the scenes. And, if you do thank Frank, let him know you support a wildland firefighter classification series :).

Thanks in advance,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
4/11 Re drug testing, must guard against positives that are unintentional:

This photo came in some time back associated with fires on the Shasta-Trinity NF in 2006. I didn't post it then. I doubt pot growing is a unique situation on our CA forests, north or south. In Fall '06 there was even a photo of Chief Bosworth on a Redding newspaper frontpage looking out from among pot plants.

When firefighters breathe in smoke from the fires in pot growing areas, they'll likely test positive for drugs... How would this fit in with testing? What then? My opinion; my question, and I don't inhale. HAW HAW Ab.

4/11 Hey Hugh Carson, what does the AD association have to say about the mandatory drug testing program
that the government is attaching to our health benefits? I guess us older people are guilty until
proven innocent. I wonder when drug testing will be added to the Pack Test physical?

The following qoutes were copied from the link below;
http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0408/040808b1.php

OPM adds substance abuse services to federal health plan By Brittany R. Ballenstedt
bballenstedt@govexec.com April 8, 2008

"The screening, which will take place during routine visits to the doctor, is not voluntary for
patients, she said, because symptoms of substance abuse are not always physically visible and most
people are not likely to volunteer information on the subject."

"The coverage will be available to active and retired federal employees and their families who
participate in health plans that provide the coverage. Madras said the procedure will prove
particularly beneficial to retirees, as growing evidence indicates that substance abuse,
particularly of prescription drugs, is becoming more common among older people."

The 4G's

Hugh isn't the AD Association "chief" any more, but no doubt some of the retirees have an opinion. Ab.

4/11 Thanks for the info Lobotomy.

Let's hope those working on this issue will think outside the box or at least understand what is available outside the box to use. Boxing yourself in with "budget neutral" language and only within the R-5 RF authority, is wrong and now we know it's potentially violating Congressional intent.

People, I would like to see some ideas on how we can recognize Feinstein for her work without getting into trouble. I'm thinking of writing her initials on my hardhat (SDF) this fire season. Like to hear your ideas.

Keep the pressure on, keep pushing...... I appreciate ab's keeping the sticky on this issue, this is NEW information many of us did not know about. You can rest assured the RO/WO is reading it today.

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY

4/11 Ab:

Thanks for the report on Monica. Although I never met her, I was deeply affected by
her untimely passing and that of her brothers on Krassel Helitack.

I was there and doing air attack supervision. That incident resulted in my not doing
ATGS since. I am now trying to put my grief behind me and get airborne again soon.

Let us all also remember the long list of fallen fire aviators at this time. Nothing
but tears, folks.

KnuckleDragon
4/11 Thought I throw another discussion subject into the fire....

Pay attention to the 3rd paragraph from the bottom. Big Brother at its best.
Could Casey see if something can be done about it?

www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0408/040808b1.php

OPM adds substance abuse services to federal health plan
By Brittany R. Ballenstedt bballenstedt@govexec.com April 8, 2008

Federal employees now will receive expanded coverage under their health plans to receive screening and treatment for substance abuse, the Office of National Drug Control Policy announced on Monday.

More than 5.6 million federal workers will benefit from the added coverage, under which health plans will reimburse doctors who screen their patients for a full spectrum of substance abuse behaviors, including illicit drug use and alcohol and prescription drug abuse or addiction, and then provide appropriate treatment.

The procedure, called screening and brief intervention, aims to break the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. It involves a constructive dialogue between doctors and patients about the harms of substance abuse, addiction risks and strategies to help patients achieve sobriety. Health care professionals then refer patients to an appropriate level of care or specialty treatment, according to ONDCP.

The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more than 20 million Americans met the clinical definition of substance abuse or addiction. The survey estimated that 95.5 percent were unaware of their problem or did not seek treatment or interventions from health care professionals. [etc, click the link]

4/11 Ab...... thank you very much for all the Little Venus ppt and
other info... was able to download if fairly quickly.....

Your help is greatly appreciated!

NPS Cap'n

We aim to please. Ab.

4/11 I'd like to take a moment and remember Monica Lee Zajanc. Below is text from the 2nd slide on the Little Venus Entrapment powerpoint. Here are 2 pics of Monica. Monica 1 and Monica 2. Ab.

Twenty-seven year old Monica Lee Zajanc started her career in the fire organization in 1999 on the Boise National Forest in Garden Valley, Idaho on an Engine Crew. She moved to Lowman, Idaho in 2001 to work on a seven person engine module. In 2003, Monica worked for the Cascade Ranger District on a six person hand crew and then moved to the Payette National Forest in 2004 as a helicopter crewmember on the Krassel Helitack operation. In June 2006 Monica accepted a temporary trainee assignment on the Unaweep Fire Use Module. She was one of the ten firefighters that survived the entrapment on the Little Venus fire on July 18th.

In the days following the entrapment Monica was interviewed by members of the review team and fire shelter technical experts from Missoula Technology and Development Center. As with all members of the Unaweep Module, Monica expressed strong compassion for her fellow employees and was pleased to see the review of Little Venus was focused on learning from Unaweep’s experience.

When the first draft of The Story of the Little Venus Fire Shelter Deployment was completed, the Peer Review team called several members of the Unaweep Module to read them the story; giving them an opportunity to correct, change or add important details. Monica was the last to be contacted. On August 4th she listened to the story and made a few minor changes. At the conclusion of the reading, Monica said the story was powerful and thanked the team the opportunity to hear it and make some changes. She said she wanted to help with getting the story out to other firefighters. She asked if there was anything she could do to help. Our reply to her was - yes, we would use her to help get the lessons of Little Venus out.

Her final words to the team were that she was excited to be a part of a life-saving lesson to firefighters. On Sunday August 13th Monica Zajanc, Michael Lewis, Lillian Patten and Quin Stone were killed when their Helicopter crashed on the Krassel Ranger District. This report is dedicated in the spirit of Monica's wish that firefighters learn the lessons offered by the Little Venus Fire and apply those lessons in future operations.

4/11 WFSU (Wildland Fire Suppression funds) are just like WFPR (Wildfire Preparedness) dollars... both are discretionary funding provided by Congress.

P-Codes are just a glorified management code (funding code) that the Forest Service uses in its financial tracking system. Using WFSU funding to fund fire preparedness isn't new.... Just look how Mark Rey "juggled the books" to make "cost efficiencies" over the last year when the funding for a significant portion of the aerial preparedness program was funded under WFSU...

Congress has given the Forest Service the latitude to do what is right.... but the FS bean counters have to provide the facts and be transparent.

Yes, some of us record each and every double standard.... There is no such thing as "budget neutral"... hence the rising costs of wildland fire suppression... WFSU.

It is great to see Congress coming down hard and providing oversight to a program that has been struggling since 2001.

The FWFSA has provided info for years on how there is plenty of dollars in the federal wildland fire budget.... but it must be used effectively and efficiently.... and with oversight.

Mark Rey and Gail Kimbell got their first true taste of oversight.

Lobotomy
4/11 Hello all....I'm looking for the powerpoint
presentation of the Little Venus Entrapment. I'm
hoping to use this in an upcoming fire refresher. If
anyone has it or info on where I can find it, please
respond here.

Thanks

NPS Cap'n

Found it, huge file, not for emailing. There's a whole packet of presenter's info, too. Will be in touch. Ab.

4/11 BTF,

I will try and send you in a direction that might help. Contact the Crew desk at the Eastern Area Coordination Center and ask where the closest T2 crew is. Ask about pick -up crew or OC type crew. (Basically an AD crew) They are crews put together of non-regular Forest Service folks. Eastern Area GACC has a web page of http://gacc.nifc.gov/eacc you should be able to find a phone number for them on that page. I also know that AR/OK/TX has crews that they send out. Hotspring Dispatch out of Hotspring AR is the dispatch center for them . You might try there if Eastern Area does not have nay crews near by. Good Luck.

R5 Dispatcher

4/10 I guess Wednesday April 9th started the clock ticking for the next phase in this long journey.

This I guess is the R-5 "budget neutral" phase. As the Region develops work groups to work on the issues, we are probably in for another 4 months of waiting to see what's next.

As R-5 begins the new phase, I have a few thoughts for those working on the issues.

1. Do your staff work. Do your staff work and do your staff work.

2. Don't allow for someone to say it can't be done within the region. Never walk away from any idea.

3. Involve the ground, FWFSA and NFFE.

4. Get some people involved that are doers, people that know how to fix problems, seek solutions and people that know how to get things done!

Signed,

1 day, 13 hours and 37 minutes since the start of the "Budget Neutral" retention phase. We are watching and we will continue to push and we will succeed, because we are right !

4/10 Nice, clean tables, MTB.

Only thing I would quibble with is that the 7-day is off just a scosh, describing one day with no overhead. Obviously, losing either of your overhead (to single resource assignments, illness, injury or attrition) puts you on a slippery slope, although it's a little easier to 'hide' the loss with a 5-day engine. Then again, if the worker bees are light on experience (a trend which seems to be on the rise) and you're thin on overhead, you're farther down that slippery slope.

Fire is much like the military in our dependence on the 'non-coms' - they are the backbone of both outfits. For us these are the 5's, 6's and maybe 7's who are filling the gap between pogues and overhead. The very folks we are losing faster than we can grow more. Pretty similar situation on the hand crews. When you put the whole picture together, our ability to field solid, experienced fire crews of all types is on the decline, along with a fireground situation increasing in complexity all the time. As much as I hate to say it, this picture is NOT consistent with gettin'er done and everyone coming home safe and sound - despite all of us doing our very best to make the outcome otherwise.

I don't like 'em either, but I think them are the facts, folks.

Old Boot

4/10 Feinstein criticizes Forest Service firefighting vacancies report
By Erica Werner Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 04/10/2008 04:15:28 PM PDT

Washington—A U.S. Forest Service report on federal firefighters in Southern California "fails to acknowledge serious challenges that the Forest Service faces in staffing its firefighting corps in the state," Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday.

The report on firefighter recruitment and retention, issued last week, said that entry-level federal firefighters in Southern California leave the force at nearly twice the level as in the Forest Service as a whole. But it also said that recruitment levels statewide in California are higher than attrition levels.

The report downplayed concerns from lawmakers about vacancies in Southern California's federal firefighting force, and concluded: "Perceptions around recruitment and retention in Southern California are hard to substantiate based on data."

In a letter to Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell and Agriculture Department Undersecretary Mark Rey, Feinstein said she took issue with that statement. [More at link]
4/10 [Ab note: this was kept at the top of theysaid for several days...]

Re the Feinstein Letter:
SenFeinstein-FF-Retention-040908.pdf (103K pdf file)

You gotta give it up for the good Senator from California. I would suggest each of you send her an email just to simply say thanks, thanks for the letter. She is hammering away just like you. At least someone from CA and Washington DC is shoulder to shoulder with us and our cause.


Note something VERY important in she said in her letter, page 2:

"I would note that Congress has already provided the agency with the flexibility, if necessary, to use suppression funds (P codes?) to implement firefighter retention recommendations within current budget constraints" (funding levels?).

If you read Ed's memo everything must be budget neutral? Does Ed know that Congress authorized P codes to implement retention recommendations? This would take budget neutral for preparedness dollars out of the equation or at least minimize the effects. If your Forest Supervisor or Chief returns from the BOD meeting and you hear "whatever we come up with it must be "budget neutral" (ie cut resources if you want more pay)" then ask if they discussed at the BOD meeting that Congress authorized, if necessary, the use of P codes to solve this? Go figure!

Of the 6 Fire Chiefs that I know, I trust them completely, 110%.

The Chiefs must remember the old saying; "Know what's in the kool-aid they just gave you to wash done that baloney sandwich.

Signed,

P-codes are authorized by Congress to fund the implementation of the R-5 retention solutions!

4/10 AB:

Attached is a letter being sent out to Mr. Rey & Chief Kimbell as well as to the
press by Sen. Feinstein today regarding the recent FS firefighter retention report.

SenFeinstein-FF-Retention-040908.pdf (103K pdf file)

Thanks,

Casey

4/10 CalFire II list cont'd

To re- iterate my point, breadth is the key to success in CAL Fire. Experience is vital, but it counts for 50 points if I am not mistaken. 50% is still failing. All the certs from the NWCG/ feds are crucial, and something many of your competitors may lack, but you can only accrue so many certs before you obtain no further points in that category.

More points: Go to school, finish an AS or BS degree, go to paramedic school if you are really serious, take FSTEP and CSFM classes at your local training center, have met many green brothers in my classes there. Go to a CSFM academy and that all vital 67 hour academy.

Finally to re- iterate, CAL Fire experience garners you a breadth of experience and raises the bar on your max points in experience. You are also able to complete CAL Fire specific training like Firefighter I Advanced and Commercial Industrial Certification and those are big points. If you want it, go get it, you can't expect any agency to instill a system that precludes its own employees from being competitive. I am not lecturing, I am only sharing a new perspective and my own experience, as on the first list, I ranked 11 and did what it took to move up 5 ranks to 7.

new to blue

4/10 posted on the hotlist earlier this morning... I forgot to post it here...

Forest Service Retention Report

The FWFSA has completed its official response to the Forest Service firefighter retention report. It has been sent to our webmaster for inclusion on our web site as well as to a number of congressional offices and press folks.

In the coming weeks we will be following our response up with a discussion draft legislative proposal that virtually hands Congress a package of reforms to fix many problems without them having to do much of the dirty work. Hopefully some will look at it and say "hey, lets just run with this."

I presume it would be easy to post it here but our members, who pay the freight for us to do the work we do deserve the first look which is why it will be in our Member's area on the FWFSA web site. But, like everything else I'm sure it will find its way here soon.

To the stunning and humbling number of new members that have joined the FWFSA since the report came out, our deepest gratitude for your trust & confidence.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

4/10 Thanks for the info on first aid and cpr connected with chainsaw certs.
That's what one of us disagreed with the other one on...

We have the other certs.

boyz in the woods

I heard the FS is working with CalFire on some of the training. Ab.

4/10 boyz in the woods,

Here's a link to a 450 kb pdf
www.coloradofirecamp.com/s-212-chainsaws/2008-agency-faller-policies.pdf (large pdf file)
that we put together to answer the questions we get about faller
certification. It's a collection of policies from FSH 5109, FSH 6709 and
the R2 supplement, BLM Chapter 3 and the Colorado State Forest Service
standard.

It's been 5 years since NWCG acknowledged that the lack of a national
interagency standard is a problem. The new 5109 requires use of the BLM
engine operator taskbook, but FS still won't use the faller taskbook.

vfd cap'n
4/10 Concerning S-290

The revised course has been out for a few months and I know that it is being
taught in the field. I would be interested in what the instructors that are out
there teaching it have to say about the new course. They are the ones that will
be presenting the material to the folks that go to the line.

Tim
4/10 Re Engine coverage:

Someone was asking about seven-day coverage vs. five-day coverage.
How it works:

7-day: seven people are on a staggered schedule with overlapping
days off. In a sense you have two people off every day throughout the week.
This maintains five people every day for 7 days of engine coverage. The
drawback is that some people only see each other three days a week.

5-day coverage is just that, five people all on the same schedule for five days.
This puts the truck off duty for two days, this being the drawback. The plus
is that the crew is together all the time.

M-T-B

Seven day example.

CAPTAIN 31 X X X X X    
ENGINEER 31   X X X X X  
Engine 31     X X X X X
Engine 31 X     X X X X
Engine 31 X X     X X X
Engine 31 X X X     X X
Engine 31 X X X X     X

Five day example.

CAPTAIN 31 X X X X X    
ENGINEER 31 X X X X X    
Engine 31 X X X X X    
Engine 31 X X X X X    
Engine 31 X X X X X    
Engine 31 X X X X X    
Engine 31 X X X X X    

Thanks for that. Ab.

4/10 Figured out how the FS will keep Rey's promise...

R5 Fire planners meeting this week.

Planners are being told that in reporting FFPC (FireFighter Production
Capability), to show all engines as being staffed regardless of vacant
positions if positions are funded. So, numerous Engines that are
unstaffed or 5 days a week instead of 7 days will be being reported
as fully staffed 7 days a week. This is how the FS is going to keep
Mark Rey's promise to Congress.

<moniker withheld>

Firefighters, A little educating might be in order for the non-firefighters reading theysaid and the hotlist:

Will firefighters please explain the difference between a 5 person 7-day effective engine module (requiring 7 firefighters) and a 5 person 5-day effective module (requiring 5 firefighters). (How many firefighters are required on an engine?)

  • What are the effects of going from the 7-person type of module to the 5-person module?
  • What does this really mean for engine availability, say over the course of a week?
  • What effect does this have
       * on engine deployment capability for fuels projects or for on initial attack on the home forest?
       * on engine deployment off-forest on events such as pre-positioning resources for lightning busts? or other incidents where mobility and flexibility of resource positioning are key...
       * on the capability of forming up strike teams of engines for on-forest or off-forest assignments?
  • One additional consideration is how does it reduce off-unit assignments for individuals? A 5 person crew may only have one FEO; if they leave, who's going to drive the engine? It can't be the mod leader. Or, how could the mod leader ever leave for an assignment? (The staffing issue, aside from financial savings, is that they can't get the number of 6/7/8's, isn't it? Those are the drivers, assistants, and leaders.) This leads to...
  • What effect does this have on fire costs both on the forest when an engine is not fully 7-day staffed and on large fire suppression costs?

It would also be good if people on respective forests could provide info on how many of the roughly 275 engines in R5 have been 5-day vs 7-day modules and how many you think are currently 5-day and 7-day modules and how many are not likely to be 7-day modules again due to lack of module leaders and firefighters. This information was not captured in the resource spreadsheets that firefighters have sent in.

There may be aspects of this that I haven't thought of in terms of how this downsizing from 7-day effective to 5-day effective engines will affect our capacity to respond to fuels treatment responsibilities as well as to long and short-term threats including wildland fire incidents... Please chime in. Ab.

4/10 Hey Wildland Firefighting Community,

JP Crumrine at the Idyllwild Town Crier has a fine new article out... and this community is mentioned and linked... Ab.

www.towncrier.com/stories/story.3.20080410.phpl

Federal firefighters feel
no love from DC


By J.P. Crumrine, Assistant Editor

Within hours after the U.S. Forest Service (FS) released a report to Congress on April 1, firefighters were calling the day “Black Tuesday.” The report has gained no support within the firefighting ranks. They have lost confidence in several senior agency officials.

“I’m appalled by it. Nothing has changed. They’re manipulating figures. It’s equivalent to lying to Congress,” said Norm Walker, former San Jacinto Ranger District fire chief, who retired only days before the report’s release.

The FS submitted a report to the Senate Appropriations Committee on its ability to recruit and retain firefighters. Firefighting rank and file have been anxiously awaiting the study for months. [much more at the link]

Hotlist link for the entire thread on RETENTION

4/10 Hello Ab,

Glad the Knox College Rx Fire thing was shared. Great time of year to start thinking fire safety!

A couple of things:

Burning grasslands has to be approached with the same care and respect as any wildfire. When we start thinking we are “Monkey burning”, we put ff and resources at risk. This happened several years ago burning Mississippi Headwaters Grassland with unexpected fire behavior. People got hurt.

For Knox College: I’m shocked they would offer photo’s of their lack of concern or respect for fire and weather. I suggest Knox College engage the Midewin Hotshots from the Midewin Tall Grass Prairie (yep! USFS located only 160 miles away on the old Joliet Arsenal) in an agreement to provide the Rx burn. Students without quals can watch, take notes, and collect data after the burn is over.

The other item: to K. You were detailed to the southeast to do Rx burns. Your post leaves me thinking the detail was with the Forest Service. My experience causes me to think it was with a private timber company or rouge county maybe, although I can’t think who would be that unconcerned about safety, and not the USFS. Just getting burn plans signed off on are just as stringent here as it is west of Colorado. Just looking for a reality check here.

Witness Tree
4/10 Hello,
<snip sentence irrelevant to the issue at hand>
Let me ask a question, when is it appropriate for a firefighter to be introduced to the concept of slope, aspect and time of day, vegetation changes and weather changes.
To help develop situational awareness within a scientific framework that supports firefighters and fire managers. All any fire model does is help fire managers quantify their plans and projections. Firefighters just need a way to do this with a shovel in one hand and a hose in the other, a way for you to be aware of all of the environmental variables that affect fire and its behavior.
Flame is the best way to do that.

Take Care, AnotherDave

4/10 Just out................. this morning...

At the Regional Leadership Team meeting last week, the Regional Forester
charged Forest Supervisors to develop strategies to tackle four key issues
affecting employee morale and retention in the region. Today, the FAM
Board of Directors and Forest Supervisors from nearly every forest in the
Region met in person and via video conference to begin this work. Teams,
each lead by one or more Forest Supervisors and Fire Chiefs, will address
the issues of mission, pay, working conditions, and facilities. We'll
resurrect some of the work done in December to help them, and team leaders
will enlist others as necessary to complete their work and deliver their
recommendations to the Regional Forester by June 30.

There are some fundamental principles that will guide this work. First,
all of the solutions will be within the Regional Forester's authority to
implement. Secondly, many of these issues affect all employees within the
region and the solutions will consider that. Finally, implementation has
to be budget neutral... We go into this knowing it will require tough
decisions regarding trade-offs.

There is strong commitment on part of all involved to accomplish this first
step. However, this is a complex issue and none of us wants to dangle yet
another carrot or promise of a silver bullet. We accept the urgency and
are taking action to develop solutions to these problems. At the same time
we must avoid making hasty decisions that leave even more difficult issues
to the night shift.

Bottom line? The fire organization is a critical part of the agency's
ability to fulfill our resource management mission, and resolving issues
that affect the morale and health of this group affect the entire mission.
We are committed to move forward with this in mind.

-ed-
(Ed Hollenshead, Region 5 FAM Chief)

4/10 SoCal Fundraiser for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation

April 12 - Texas Hold 'Em Tournament (small pdf file) That's Saturday!

For those of you who reside in Southern California, help support the Foundation by participating in the second annual Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament put together by the Del Rosa Hotshots. Last year the event raised nearly $5,000. Download the registration form (small doc file) and get ready to play some cards!

DRHS Alumni Association

4/10 Firefighters,

Thank you very much for your big help...
I'm going to contact Steve Davis,
THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH,

Best
Alexandre

4/10 Jim,

Your intent is admirable... I respect that entirely. I fully appreciate your intent of keeping folks safer.

Your sales pitch though, while properly formatted and well written, doesn't meet the muster of field (peer) review even though it might have met the standards of scientists reviewing it.

You said,

"In the end I find that the FLAME process better recognizes the relative magnitudes of the factors that affect fire spread rates, follows a better-organized more direct process, and provides a better fireline estimate of how fire will move. If I did not think so, I'd have seen no need to work with FLAME for all these years."

The practitioners and experts in fire behavior don't view your process as a valid fire behavior exercise at the S-290 level..... It may be appropriate at the S-390/490/590 levels when models are used, but it is a confusing model that keeps folks from concentrating on real world firefighting activities during limited teaching time.

Simple fire behavior characteristics that kill and injure firefighters are best understood by firefighters who do it day in and day out.... with a full basic understanding of what fuels, weather, and topography mean. With experience and education... comes situational awareness.

Gizmo

4/10 Thanks to the CAL folks for explaining the hiring process.

It is to bad they are not taking a good look at the experience folks have. That is should be worth more than training CAL Fire is looking for. Just about any one off the street can take FSTEP and CFSTES classes. Am I wrong? Once you take the entry level training you can take the next one and so on. Many folks have said here, "You cant get real life experience in a classroom". The FS experience and training is second to none. If CAL Fire want's the best they really need to look at the experience they are turning away.

Signed,
Anchor here, fire it up.
4/9 Concerned,

I think I get your point, if not, this won't make much sense.

You might be on to something. It's a good comparison and may get some legs with the media and elected officials to place Rey and Brownie (FE MA) in the same picture. I never thought about Rey in that light until your post. You're right, good job. I encourage those who are working on your 1st, 2ND, 3rd or 22ND email to elected officials and the media about the events of BLACK TUESDAY that you compare the mismanagement in the Forest Service by Rey has affected the emergency response of the agency, similar what happened with the mismanagement in FE MA by Brownie.

We can make change, YES you CAN!

Keep hammering people. Don't let up. Use the email links provided by many and make sure your voice is heard.

Signed,

Forest Service Centralized Fire Management Today, Tomorrow and FOREVER........
4/9 boyz in the woods,

If you work for the FS in Region 6, as either employee or volunteer, you must have
S-212 (Wildland Power Saws) and annual certification by a C-Faller (C-Certifier
if you are going for a C), in addition to First Aid/CPR.

a girl in the woods,
Missfire
4/9 All,

Does anyone have any information out of the FAM BOD meeting?

Signed,

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY
4/9 To Strider, and others who have reacted unhappily to FLAME

I appreciate your honest expressions of doubt, and I hope I can address them. I invite you to learn more and to get a better idea of what FLAME does, and what it doesn’t do.

No, it was not slipped into the curriculum from a privileged position on some committee. It was in the making for more than 20 years, and to begin with it was new and I was unknown. The conferences, workshops, classes, and discussions all exposed it to critique and suggestions for improvement. As a point of interest, it was Marty Alexander (after his seeing it when it was shown at a major conference for the first time) who suggested the use of the lookup-table for the FLAME ROS-ratios. If you would like Marty’s input, please ask him to contact me for the latest FLAME documentation and materials.

The FLAME project has taken an unpaid commitment of many hours and no small number of dollars. It is not proprietary, it does not have my name on it. It is an effort undertaken for one simple reason: to give firefighters the benefit of a process that can help them better assess fire behavior on the fireline and to support better safety and suppression judgments. That is a goal that I’m sure all of you out there can support.

Doug Campbell has recognized the same need as I have, for a practical tool to help firefighters make decisions in light of fire behavior. We would both agree that a fireline-practical system of fire behavior assessment has been lacking. We follow much the same basic idea in emphasizing observation of what is going on and looking ahead to changes. And he has worked hard to develop his CPS system.

I have talked with Doug, and have carefully read his books and other materials (I wish some of the critics out there had actually talked to me and read more of the FLAME materials). I have considered his concept of “hot” and “cold” fuels (as I considered all other factors in looking at how each affects fire behavior) and made extensive measurements and evaluations of how large the solar-heating effect is in different fuels. I have considered many cases of “alignment” and “non-alignment”. I have looked specifically at the magnitudes of all of the factors that are commonly known to influence fire spread, using both observations and the current model information. I have read the CPS explanations for various fatality incidents, and I have looked carefully at the fire behavior data that is available in case studies and other observations.

In the end I find that the FLAME process better recognizes the relative magnitudes of the factors that affect fire spread rates, follows a better-organized more direct process, and provides a better fireline estimate of how fire will move. If I did not think so, I’d have seen no need to work with FLAME for all these years.

No matter what I say, the basis of CPS will have to be adequately demonstrated to the fire science community, and reviewed and approved, if it is to be accepted as well-based in that science. Information doesn’t make it into training curricula or “textbooks” just on student evaluations and other testimonials. And simply because FLAME is based in current fire-behavior science does not automatically make it too complicated or irrelevant for firefighters. Even CPS references some of the scientific generalizations made in the publications of Clive Countryman, as proposed support for its concept.

FLAME does not, does not, somehow divert a firefighter’s attention from “real-world” considerations and into some kind of irrelevant, arcane, fire behavior model or technical detail. It does not make a decision for anyone; it is not somehow a decision in itself. To assert that, is to make clear a lack of understanding of how it works and how it is used. Every exercise and fatality-case review in the course carries discussion about good use of fire behavior information in safety decisions and implementing LCES.

What it does do is to give a firefighter:

1. A way of getting directly to the two fire behavior factors that will dominate the fire behavior he or she can expect, and how much it will change, making use of practical measures

2. A simple and methodical tool with which to make an assessment of current and expected fire behavior, and in the process a check on whether something important has been overlooked. 3. A step-wise process that allows anything from a quick identification of the fuels and winds that are affecting and will affect the fire, to a specific prediction of a fire-spread time. It is not time-consuming to apply once you learn it, and with a little practice takes no more time than a sling-psychrometer observation of relative humidity.

How can it be a “diversion” for a firefighter to look critically at the current fire behavior and to think ahead to what will be changing in that environment? How can carefully evaluating the current and expected fire behavior be unimportant to a firefighter’s decisions? How can knowing what the fire can be expected to do, somehow distract from a good decision?

Good training does not replace experience, but it does enhance experience. And the less experience one has, the more they must rely on realistic training and good tools. FLAME does not somehow detract from the application of one’s experience, but it does provide relevant training and a practical tool.

I hope that with time the newly-released training will improve, that with fuller understanding the process will be better utilized, and that with experience and application the FLAME process itself will improve. Whatever best helps firefighters understand and assess fire behavior is what we should be providing in their basic training.

Jim Bishop
4/9 CalFire FF II List:

I think some may be looking a little short sided at this list and its implications.

The long term hiring of this list will include many who are Rank 7 who came out of the feds and accepted a Firefighter I position in the knowledge it would help their score. 3 extra points for career credit is significant given the narrow score differences. The likelihood of GS-6 or below coming straight over as a Firefighter II is small. This being said, those leaving team green for DOD Fed fire will rank well diversifying their points; and then potentially make the jump successfully to CalFire like 2 people I know. Those like myself who left for a Firefighter I position will do better as I had time and opportunity to diversify my training in the structure classes the federal mission statement moves so far away from.

The reality is that the 4 people I know of who left fed fire last year and ranked 7 may well find themselves in a FF II job before the list expires and more feds will then occupy the Firefighter I ranks. Peak staff hiring of firefighter I's has not yet occurred and so its impacts this year are not yet known.

For those who are interested in CAL Fire you must embrace and attempt to incorporate the entire mission of CAL Fire in your training and experience to be a successful candidate in the supplemental application; as a handful of wildland certificates maxes the points in that category, diversity is the key.

It is my most serious hope that regardless of retention/ pay issues, and general unease in the direction of the next fed administration in Fire Management, that we can all (Federal, State, Local) continue the close bonds of mutual aid and advancing safety in the wildland that CA is known for.

New to Blue

4/9 Ab,

Notes from the Mega Session at Albuquerque, 3/14/08. (44K doc file)

RL

4/9 CAL-FIRE list...

www.spb.ca.gov/FormEligibleList.aspx?id=672&LangType=1033

Well, the list ranks folks from 1 to 12 based on their supplemental score. The information that I have received from those in the FS that applied in my area (self included...) is that the majority ranked in the 12 position or not at all. A few ranked 11 and I think one ranked in at 9. One fella has something like fourteen years of experience on engines, crews, and helicopters...and is currently a Captain.

As for the impact to retention this round... not much... JMHO.

On the other hand, I must say that on my forest it has galvanized the determination of those who applied to improve their position for outside hire. Some even stating that they want a "leave of absence" to pursue this end.... We'll see, it's most likely the talk of frustration... still, it affects others' morale.

Like I said before, its not how many leave now... its how many applied which shows an inevitable future. It's a massive statement... again, JMHO.

Regards,
Joatmon
4/9 Here is how it works-

Candidates from the top three ranks are eligible to be considered for a position either Limited Term or Permanent depending on whether the position is classified as Limited Term or Permanent and if the candidate is interested in Limited Term or Permanent (therefore there are two lists and I can’t tell if this list you have posted is the limited term or not). In the list you have posted for example, there are 10 people in ranks 1, 2, and 3. There happens to be only one person in rank 3.

Example #1
Let’s say there is a position a unit where the people in these ranks are interested in and reply to the “Employment Inquiry” STD Form 628 (these are sent to every eligible candidate at least on the promotional exams, not sure on the “open” list like FF2. If this happens then only those ten people in the top three ranks will be considered. The eligible ranks in this scenario would be Rank 1, Rank 2, and Rank 3. Any candidate from those three ranks could be offered a position

Example #2
Let’s say that the one person in Rank 3 is not interested in this job inquiry. The next eligible rank then becomes Rank 4 (232 candidates). All of those candidates are now eligible to be considered for the position. The eligible ranks in this scenario would then be Rank 1, Rank 2, and Rank 4. Again, any candidate from those three ranks could be offered a position.

As you can see from the breakdown, there is a high likelihood that Rank 7 will become what we call “reachable” before the list expires (whenever that is).

Many of the smaller ranks may be those with military veteran’s preference points which are granted only on open examinations I believe. As for the USFS retention, your temporary firefighters may jump ship for the Limited Term slots in hopes they will go permanent at a future date, and your permanent USFS folks would probably be looking only at permanent work not limited term. I wouldn’t think someone would leave a permanent position for less limited term position.

Hope this explanation helps.

“Another CDF BC”
4/9 CAL FIRE Firefighter II Eligibility List:

Candidate ID  Candidate Count or Exp Date     Rank   Score
(snipped)
                  2 CANDIDATE(S)                1     98%
                  8 CANDIDATE(S)                2     96%
                  1 CANDIDATE(S)                3     95%
                232 CANDIDATE(S)                4     94%
                 13 CANDIDATE(S)                5     93%
                  5 CANDIDATE(S)                6     92%
                357 CANDIDATE(S)                7     91%
                 21 CANDIDATE(S)                8     90%
                530 CANDIDATE(S)                9     88%
                 23 CANDIDATE(S)               10     87%
                527 CANDIDATE(S)               11     85%
                154 CANDIDATE(S)               12     82% 
Would someone please let us know what this means in the context of CalFire hiring and FS retention. Thanks. Ab.
4/9 Hi Ab, I hope this group can make some suggestions,

I currently live in Omaha, NE, and have recently been recertified to fight wildland fires. I did my original training/classes in Maryland when I was a volunteer for AmeriCorp in 2002, but was never called out. Since then I have gone back to school, and am currently working on my Masters in Recreation Admin and work in the private industry that is not involved at all with fires.

I am searching for a way to share my availability this summer, as I am able to leave work for a couple weeks and return. I was recertified this year with an Iowa County park service at the regional National Park Service Headquarters in Omaha. The Iowa Park cannot add me to their list as I do not live in Iowa, nor am I employed with them. The Iowa Park handles situations like this with the DNR, but apparently Nebraska does not. I have contacted the Nebraska Forest Service and they are not sure how to go about this either. NPS was also asked and they were not sure.

Any assistance in figuring out how to get "on the board" with dispatch somewhere would be great. Thanks.

BTF

4/9 Engine Maintenance, etc.; the suck $$ outfall of outsourcing:

Does anyone have stories of problems finding good and timely engine maintenance for FS
engines, crew carriers and helitenders?

If my info is correct, we have

275 engines in R5,

48 crews with 2 crew carriers each and

more than 25 helitack with helitenders.

These vehicles are all specialty vehicles and can't simply be taken to any old business for
maintenance, nor can they be taken to one shop where all maintenance needs are met.
There are only 2-3 vendors that can work on them for norcal.

Maintenance appointments that used to take 2-3 weeks in our own shops now take
(Dec-April)! and the vehicles have to be driven from one place to replace a pump to miles
and miles away for engine work.

These shops don't know the nuts and bolts of our specialty rigs so they're learning as
they go at taxpayer and forest expense. In addition to their mess-ups, there's added expense
in person days moving the equipment around, wear and tear on the vehicle, and gas. It's
expensive to move these puppies around from Modesto to Reno to Woodland to Sac.

Great idea to run mechanics through the A76 process! NOT!!! As many pointed out back
then, once the support is gone, if the outsourcing fails, there's no alternative to fall back on.

If you don't want your stories on theysaid, please at least send them to Ab so we can see
how widespread the problem is and if it will impact safety... (I can hear 'em reporting now
to the investigation team: "We were caught in the burnover because our engine broke down."
"We went over the edge because x-x-x part fell off." "We had that head on with the family
in the SUV due to problems with the steering column." )

Strider

4/9 Folks,

Please be careful in what you tell an investigation team investigating a Fuels
accident/death, like the death of the dozer operator cutting line for a fuel break.
Call your Professional Liability Insurance lawyer before you talk with any
investigator.

WMM

4/9 AFMOnorth,

I would rather not say which agencies they are in an open forum like this. I had contemplated filing safenets, but was really unclear on which avenue to send it up. I did make sure to voice my concerns to the fire manager for the area, and he was genuinely concerned. He is from "out west" so I felt he could relate, which he said he did. However, the way that it appeared that they wanted to correct the problem was from the bottom up, not the top down. Not wanting to create a agency pissing match, I left it at that. I was looking at getting as much on the ground RX fire experience as I could, not change the way they do business.

I understand my statement earlier was broad, and it is refreshing to hear otherwise. However, I will still be extra cautious when I am in the area again until I experience otherwise.

K
4/9 To everyone involved in the Glen Canyon NPS dorm fire:

Fire guts park housing; one person in Arizona hospital
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/08/2008 12:58:59 AM MDT

A fire that gutted a National Park Service dormitory at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area resulted in one person being flown to an Arizona hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation over the weekend. Firefighters responded to a fire at a dormitory housing 21 people around 8 p.m. on Sunday, said Marianne Karraker, permits coordinator for Glen Canyon. Everyone escaped the dormitory safely except for one person who was found unconscious in the building by emergency responders, Karraker said in a news release.

The person, whose name was not released, was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Page, Ariz., and then flown to Flagstaff Medical Center by helicopter.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. People staying in the destroyed dormitory have been relocated to the park's other four facilities, Karraker said. - Melinda Rogers

GOOD SAVE!

a2hs

4/9 On Knox...not all Illinois schools doing prescribed burning run operations like that one!
Take a look at the Rx program being offered at Southern Illinois University's Forestry
program. They do a lot of prescribed burning (with full PPE and red cards no less!) and
offer up AD firefighters for wildland incidents. The Shawnee NF and several Wildlife
Refuges are nearby. Many a student has gone on to get a wildland fire job out west.
Check the link or google SIU fire dawgs if you're interested.

http://coas.siu.edu/default2.asp?active_page_id=1202

Millard

4/9 MT said,

Earlier somebody sent you a list of State of California Reps and their Emails. Those folks sit in the State Capital in Sacramento. While they are elected officials they actually represent the State level. The average State Rep will at best send you a letter or email redirecting you to the Federal level.

Actually, some of the best tactics for making federal issues go away is to make them have state and local significance. Anyone who has been around the political game for awhile knows how important it is to educate and inform ALL locally elected officials so they can be on the same page and a supporter.

Some of the strongest players when it comes to changing federal practices or legislation actually come from the County Board of Supervisors, City Councils, and the various chambers in State Legislatures. Another key player to consider is the Western Governors' Association who was successful in lobbying Congress for the National Fire Plan.

Lobotomy
4/8 re Knox College prairie burn:

K

Yes academics, farmers, ranchers, good-meaning citizens will burn with out appropriate PPE, training, etc. Sometimes even bring their small children along. However...........

I just figured that anything east of Colorado looked at this as all in a day's work.

That is a broad and sweeping statement. The federal land management agencies will have PPE, training etc. As will a number of state organizations and some of the higher profile national NGOs.

You're dead on with ROS and slope thing. It does not take much slope to get FM3 moving, or for the wind to slack and change the direction of spread, or in the case of a savanna for an eddy to form around the trees and "Ok" can turn into "Oh No".....

R-1 Mom

Yes, 33 million acres of Conservation Reserved Program administered by the USDA Farm Services Agency (FSA) need some management. And Rx fire is a good tool for a majority of it. (not a good idea for the acres with eastern white pine, spruce or other trees that will not tolerate much fire.) And in the near future those acres that are being signed up under easement (federal govt has title to vegetation management rights) as Wetland Reserve Program by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The FSA administers a cost share program to apply prescribed fire. In our area to burn CRP you need a burn plan (no set requirements that need to be in it) and a burn permit from the appropriate regulatory agency. And since this is "ag burning" in most states these burns will be conducted outside EPA/State clean air regs. For the WRP lands NRCS has a pool of money to be used to apply Rx fire. Not sure how they are able to use those federal $'s on fire projects with out NWCG strings attached.

To their credits all of the FSA and NRCS offices I have come in contact with do what they can to foster safe burning. But they have no regulatory authority to say "Thou shalt..." when it comes to PPE etc. Their WO has worked hard at keeping the liability off of the federal govt.

Still Out There as an AD

I did a little searching on Professor Peter Schramm who started the restoration work there at Green Oaks. He was one of the pioneers in tallgrass prairie restoration. You will find his name associated with some of the earliest pieces of literature on restoration ecology in the Midwest. In a nutshell good quality tallgrass prairie needs a fire every 5-8 years to stay healthy.

Nerd on the Fire

Your suggestion that someone work with these folks is a good one. Galesburg is not that far from Joliet, where the Midewin National Grassland is located. It is the host station for the Midewin Hotshots.

www.fs.fed.us/mntp/

www.fs.fed.us/mntp/Hotshots/IHC_Index.php

A little cross training (suppression/prescribed) would be good for all.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) would be another logical partner. They are big into prairie restoration and the use of RX fire.
Looks like they are already active in Illinois. www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/illinois/volunteer/art18037.phpl

Illinois Dept. of Nat Resource could also play a role and via the association of state foresters they are tied to NWCG. (Another story if the follow it on their home turf.)

Midwest Fire Guy

4/8 Rx quals

K,

On my forest east of the Mississippi all Rx burns strictly follow FSM 5109.17 quals. Any units surrounding us that we assist also follows the same MINIMUM qualification requirements. What Agency was the detail for? I certainly dont want to start an east vs west battle here. We do burns from large aerial ignition burns to small 10 acre units. The rules of following the burn plan dont change. Did you file a SAFENET on the safety violations you witnessed? You/ I /, we all have a responsibility to report this type of behavior before somebody gets hurt or worse!

AFMOnorth

4/8 boyz in the woods,

For some reason (fed) OSHA has determined that firefighting chain saw operators come under the standards for those involved in logging activities which is First Aid and CPR. Don't know what CalOSHA requires for CalFire.

The OSHA requirement under 1910.266 Appendix B states:

The following is deemed to be the minimal acceptable first-aid and CPR training program for employees engaged in logging activities.

First-aid and CPR training shall be conducted using the conventional methods of training such as lecture, demonstration, practical exercise and examination (both written and practical). The length of training must be sufficient to assure that trainees understand the concepts of first aid and can demonstrate their ability to perform the various procedures contained in the outline below.

At a minimum, first-aid and CPR training shall consist of the following:

1. The definition of first aid.
2. Legal issues of applying first aid (Good Samaritan Laws).
3. Basic anatomy.
4. Patient assessment and first aid for the following:

a. Respiratory arrest.
b. Cardiac arrest.
c. Hemorrhage.
d. Lacerations/abrasions.
e. Amputations.
f. Musculoskeletal injuries.
g. Shock.
h. Eye injuries.
i. Burns.
j. Loss of consciousness.
k. Extreme temperature exposure (hypothermia/hyperthermia)
l. Paralysis
m. Poisoning.
n. Loss of mental functioning (psychosis/hallucinations, etc.).
Artificial ventilation.
o. Drug overdose.

5. CPR.
6. Application of dressings and slings.
7. Treatment of strains, sprains, and fractures.
8. Immobilization of injured persons.
9. Handling and transporting injured persons.
10. Treatment of bites, stings, or contact with poisonous plants or animals.

Using a minimum standard of first aid as instructed by American Red Cross or American Heart Association will meet this requirement.

Researcher

4/8 Earlier somebody sent you a list of State of California Reps and their Emails. Those folks sit in the State Capital in Sacramento. While they are elected officials they actually represent the State level. The average State Rep will at best send you a letter or email redirecting you to the Federal level.

A more effective group of California elected officials for you to focus on would be the California Delegation to the House of Reps at the Federal level. Below is a link to them:

www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml#ca

MT

4/8 Can someone please fill us in on what the current (sawyer) chain saw requirements are?
Are they OSHA Requirements?

boyz in the woods

4/8 a2hs,

I have just recently completed a detail in the Southeastern area. Coming from "out west" it was extremely hard for me to sit back, and be told that burning like this is normal. This type of RX burning, as well as using people not qualified for the job, IS done on a regular basis without any second thought. I don't know how many fires I was on, and was told things like terrain does not influence fire, while watching mild slopes contribute to a increase in ROS. Seeing biologist, having 2 years of prescribed fire under their belt running squads, clearly lacking the decision making experience when it was needed. I just figured that anything east of Colorado looked at this as all in a days work. My opinions and concerns were suppressed more than once, primarily because I am young, from out west, and even worse I am a Hotshot. I then made it a point to make sure myself, and other crew members all returned home at night.

K
4/8 >From Reality check,

After carefully reading the Fire Aviation Management Recruitment and
Retention Analysis once again... I finally got it!!! If we deny that there
is a retention issue in Region Five, then the problem will be solved! I
knew that the "upper management elite" had a plan up their sleeve, no one
could be that blatant and consider us forestry tecs that clueless!!! So
I decided to run it past my third grade class, that I had been adopted into
as part of their "public servant " theme for a three year period. I
explained to them that we not only didn't have a retention issue here in
Region Five but that we were paid more than our cooperators, and that even
if it were an issue, it would not affect our initial attack capabilities or
the safety of our public and the firefighters, or be the cause of the
ultimate destruction of natural or public resources or property!
Are there any questions?" I ask my class with a smile.

The class became very quiet and stared at me with their mouths open, they
had the "Deer in the headlights look" very similar to the one everyone had
at last weeks Regional Teleconference on the subject.... Finally after a
long pause, one interpreting young lad raised his hand and ask.....
"Mistwer Fiwoman... do we say Smokey the Bear or just Smokey Bear?"

The Moral of the story is.... Don't lie, just deny, and then you can feel
like you're doing something important.. such as fielding those tough
questions about Smokey Bear, while you wait out your high three!

4/8 re prairie Rx burn:

R1 Mom;

I saw that “safety briefing picture” somewhat differently. First, NO ONE is wearing anywhere near adequate PPE. Tennis shoes, rolled up pants, shorts, gardening gloves with synthetic fiber cuffs, and bandanas all caught my eye. The girl with the swatter in the second row, right hand picture is only wearing one glove. Second, the professor is lecturing the students all in one big clump, not broken out into smaller groups. This suggests to me that there is no scope of control in place, meaning that the professor could not effectively manage the incident. I am all in favor of Rx burning, but I oppose what John McPhee calls ‘druids’… I don’t believe in sacrificing people to trees.

A2hs;

In my experience, profs rarely admit that one should have any certs to do anything other than a PhD. I personally believe, from flip-flopping between the corporate world and academe, that academic should be held to the same standards as corporations and land management agencies, when they are managing lands and supervising students. I think that students should have the same rights as any other workers, and professors should have the same responsibilities as supervisors in any other area. Thus, professors should need NWCG burn boss certs to do controlled burns, and students should have FF2 quals and appropriate PPE to participate. I know there are exceptions (and all credit and praise to them), but in my experience, many professors think tenure trumps all. Mellie probably knows more profs who have done this responsibly than I. If you read the prof’s website, he mentions ‘developing an ethical framework for ecosystem restoration’. What about an ethical duty not to barbeque one’s students?

I think there are two issues here: awareness and implementation. This ‘ecosystem restoration’ has been ongoing since the mid-fifties, and this is how they’ve probably been doing since then. Nobody’s ever gotten hurt, so why change? (tongue in cheek). Also, this school is in Illinois, where awareness of wildland fire maybe isn’t as high as it is out West. He’s probably never had a student equivalent to the Redding ‘Shots Mellie brought up. As far as implementation… Nomex isn’t cheap. If you count the number of students in those pictures and multiply by the cost of bunny suit, boots, gloves, hard hat, shroud, webgear, hand tool, and shelter, you’ve probably blown his research budget by a large margin. In my experience, unlike in fire and the corporate world, universities, especially 1,300 student liberal arts schools, don’t have safety budgets or safety officers with a lot of clout. Not a lot of enforcement of safety standards from the feds, either. I can tell a number of stories of students being placed in appallingly hazardous situations by professors with no accountability.

Getting down to nuts and bolts…the only entity that can tell this prof what he ‘must’ have in place for this activity is the University. I might say OSHA, but I have yet to see any OSHA enforcement on any campus I’ve been involved with. I have seen many profs flaunt or try to flaunt federal workplace safety requirements; I have only seen one get stopped, and she was working on a non-university property. Again, Mellie or some of the others who have worked with university-based fire science programs might have some better input. Hmm, there’s an idea, is there any institution near Knox College that teaches fire science? Why not double up and teach Rx burn tactics in combination with ecosystem restoration? I would guess that this university hasn’t thought through the liability implications of doing this activity, probably because it’s been going on for so long that they just haven’t thought about it. If they had thought it through, perhaps with legal advice, I doubt it would still be going on, and I very much doubt the pictures would be posted to their website.

Nerd on the Fireline

PS. Because the Knox College thread got me interested, here are some links to University prescribed fire programs:
Prescribed Fire at the University of North Florida (3.8MB powerpoint)
http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/65521.pdf (47K pdf file)
www.cnr.berkeley.edu/stephens-lab/chaparral/index.php
http://firecenter.umt.edu/index.php/project/Prescribed_Fire_Practicum....php
www.swosu.edu/news/releases/2008/2008-03-10a.asp

There’s a lot more, but those are the ones I could find who were actually doing prescribed burns, not just studying the effects of other people’s.

4/8

Ab, Thanks for giving us a voice.

Here are your reps to the California State Senate:

Senator.Aanestad@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Ackerman@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Alquist@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Ashburn@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Battin@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Calderon@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Cogdill@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Corbett@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Correa@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Cox@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Denham@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Ducheny@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Dutton@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Florez@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Harman@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Hollingsworth@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Kehoe@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Kuehl@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Lowenthal@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Machado@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Maldonado@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Margett@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.McClintock@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.McLeod@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Migden@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Oropeza@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Padilla@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Perata@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Ridley-Thomas@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Romero@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Runner@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Scott@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Simitian@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Steinberg@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Torlakson@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Wiggins@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Wyland@senate.ca.gov,
Senator.Yee@senate.ca.gov

Just wanted all the people in California to have the address of the CA Senators to email them and tell their stories about Region 5 and how our Line Officers are manipulating the facts, Gary Biehl, being one of the biggest, and he has been called out in Reno at the Captains/Chiefs meeting and couldn't even back up his own numbers. Please take a moment and email your representatives about the issues. What the Fed FS does and the Fed Congress influences how safe from fire California's Public is.

And here are your two senate reps from CA to the US Senate:

Dianne Feinstein web form
Barbara Boxer contact

Shrek!

57-Never Forget!

4/8Re prairie Rx burn:

My apologies for not explaining myself a bit better. I find nothing about burning a
prairie appalling, this type of RX burn is great way to revitalize and encourage native
plants. What caught my eye, what I got worked up about was there was nothing
safe about what I saw in the pictures, no PPE, students standing in unburned areas
with fire behind, etc. And as many know a fire in that fuel type can certainly surprise
you.

Nerd on the Fireline, you may know something about this; is there an RX burn cert.
that profs. must have to do this type of activity?

a2hs

4/8Ab,

Just wanted to say I agree 100% with Melissa about the WFF Benefit concert
this past weekend. I was able to make it to the show and it was a good time.
It was pretty cool to see art, music, and firefighters coming together and having
fun for a good cause!

Thanks to everyone who helped pull it together,
That One Guy
4/8Re prairie Rx burn:

OK, bunk me over the head for glomming on to the ecological issues rather than
the safety issues. If the professor had in mind teaching his or her students the
correct way to conduct an Rx burn in the prairie, a2hs is entirely correct to be
appalled ... yikes.

Still Out there (in this case, way out there) as an AD

4/8From the hotlist

My condolences.
SCR

From the OCRegister.com, Orange County -


Operator clearing fire break dies after bulldozer flips over
By Salvador Hernandez
The Orange County Register

Cleveland National Forest – A bulldozer operator was killed Monday morning when the dozer rolled over while the operator was working on a fuel break, authorities said.

Emergency crews from the Orange County Fire Authority and the U.S. Forest Service were sent to Pleasant Peak, near the border of Orange and Riverside counties, after a bulldozer overturned in the area, authorities said. (more at the link)
4/8Re the prairie burn:

Twenty years ago Humboldt State University Range Dept would do a prairie burn up at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park every spring about this time of year. I did not see any more PPE in those days other than gloves. I don't know if safety concerns have changed in the intervening years. I do know that the Forestry Dept at HSU has fire courses and some of the grad students some years have been Redding Hotshots, so I would imagine there could be a greater consciousness of risk assessment and mitigation of risk surrounding Rx fire than in the past. Definitely something to ask your local universities if they perform such Rx burn functions. Would be a shame for a student to get burned while not wearing PPE and/or not having adequate knowledge of fire behavior.

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum also had Rx burns that one of my family members helped with. He only admitted years later that for some days after the burn he had hearing loss and ringing in one ear that was nearest the flames that loss/ringing persisted for some weeks afterwards. He speculated that he had gotten the inner ear fluids too hot or had ruptured his eardrum from the heat. Seems to be OK now.

You all know academics. Fire as you think about it (or model it) can be far different than fire on the ground. It's what you don't know that can hurt you, not what's in your experience or training.

Mellie

4/8Regarding the Prairie burn…this is apparently the professor in charge:

www.knox.edu/sallison.xml

Anybody in the area interested in contacting him and offering to do a guest lecture in firefighting techniques and safety? If I was closer, I would. It’s been my (recent) experience that safety culture is not a big part of university life. I’ve been frankly appalled by some of the things that professors ask students to do (I’ve been that student). I’m not sure if this is a function of the university mindset, or ignorance on the part of students or faculty. I would happily draft a letter to the guy, but I’m just some random firefighter, so I don’t think it would carry much weight.

Nerd on the Fireline
4/8>From: http://www.peer.org/docs/fs/BrownSetsFire.pdf

"As noted above, since 1993, the agency has promulgated directive after directive to
ensure that FS managers throughout the agency do not engage in the very things
that top agency officers did in this case
. There is also clear direction about how to
handle situations when (as will likely be claimed in this case) the FS Chief was "just
acting on orders from the Undersecretary"...


"In this case, <insert name> had several alternatives that he could have pursued as to
any inappropriate direction from Undersecretary Rey, but he failed to anything."

Mark Rey... caught in the act of an official action of illegality.... and those who allow it to continue are complicit through either act or willful omission... The true to life experts in law said so.. go figure. FACTS ON FILE.

When a Regional Office SAC and a Regional Office Patrol Captain say it's so... Presents the Facts... and documentation.... It is time to listen... They are experts. They were not listened to.

Read each and every word: http://www.peer.org/docs/fs/BrownSetsFire.pdf

No more BS

Phoenix
4/8a2hs:

I haven't worked in a grasslands so my knowledge of the ecology is sketchy at best, but I suspect those working on the prairie fire had sound ecological reasons for their actions. I do recall talking with a forester-type-person in Missouri once who said the exclusion of fire and the presence of farms (that broke up the continuity of the fuels) has resulted in forests overtaking what had been grasslands in the past. Whole types of prairie have virtually disappeared for similar reasons, and non-native species have also put tremendous pressures on the existing prairie ecosystems. Once you lose the supporting habitat (in this case prairies) a whole host of plants and animal species will go away too, usually (it seems) with less desirable non-native species taking advantage of the situation. I'm also a big believer in using Rx fire as a safer way to give wildland firefighters their initial experience in working with fire in an open environment.

Still Out There as an AD

4/8Ab -

This is in response to a post by a2hs regarding the prairie burn. I don't understand why this person is "appalled". Prescribed burns are often part of restoration. In my neighborhood we have tens of thousands of acres planted in native grasses as part of the Conservation Reserve Program. When the cheatgrass gets out of control, it is common for the landowners to burn their fields. Did a2hs note the first picture which showed the safety lecture? My perception is that the students were being taught to conduct a safe prescribed burn for restoration purposes. This is a good thing.

R1 Mom
4/8Hey Ab,

I saw these pictures on the web. It's a scary thought that someone is
"teaching" these people how to burn a prairie. To tell you the truth I
am a appalled that this could happen.

a2hs

Here is the link: www.knox.edu/x20672.xml#

4/8Re: A problem with Data (Facts) on Recruitment and Retention?

Yes, I "trust" everything Mark Rey does or says... or the folks he supervises by intimidation. NOT.

Mark Rey is a bigger failure than Michael Brown in leading a complex federal program.... "Brownie" only existed for a short period and was replaced by an emergency manager... a firefighter.

Mark Rey on the other hand has existed and led the Forest Service towards oblivion since nearly the start of this current administration. What is truly shameful is that nobody in the press thought to compare the similarities .... Brown (Katrina)... Rey (Forest Service)....

Both Rey and Brown had similar effects during their tenure.... both fiscal and personal of nearly the same levels when it comes to folks affected and dollars wasted. What scares me the most is that Mark Rey has been allowed to continue his tyranny and mismanagement of the Forest Service without regard or proper oversight.

Fact Sheet: www.peer.org/docs/fs/BrownSetsFire.pdf (about Mark Rey, not Brownie)

Concerned
4/7Thanks to those who have sent in Steve D's contact info. Ab.
4/7Abs and the Wildland Community:

I wanted to share with everyone that there was a rockin’ great concert in Boise this past Saturday – all thanks to an awesome CALIFORNIA wildland firefighter, John Cataldo with the Ukonom Handcrew at Six Rivers NF. John started working on the concert a couple months ago, telling me of a friend of his in Boise that had a band. Before I knew it, John had 3 bands lined up, two of them with firefighters and/or Smokejumpers as members, and numerous raffle items from businesses in Boise that he himself called – all while training for a half marathon, going to school 2 nights a week, and working full time!

The evening was a big success with all ages welcome. The whole night was a good time for many fire service people in Boise and some in town from many other places!

John, you and all your friends ROCK! I’ll post again when I get the official list of everyone that deserves our thanks – as well as some pictures of the concert. Thank you for making this happen – judging by the response we received, looks like we have an annual Boise benefit concert to look forward to each year.

If you haven’t checked our website lately, be sure to do so, we’ve added quite a few events that are coming up in the next few months. We are thrilled at the creative, energetic, and fun ways that our wildland community is coming together to raise funds and awareness for the families of our fallen firefighters and for those firefighters who will need our help this fire season.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Good news! Way to go John. For those who don't know him, this is a fine young man. Another project he's working on is firefighters donating frequent flyer miles to the WFF. Ab.

4/7Dear Blue Zebra:

While all agencies are stuck with "flat" budgets the FS seems to always hit the Hill in the early Fall and say "gosh, its been a bad year, we need another supplemental appropriation" and voila, another $500 million for the leadership to waste.

The "pressure" Chief Kimbell & Mr. Rey might feel is the need to veil the Agency's fiscal mismanagement with respect to fire so tougher questions aren't posed.

I am of the firm belief that sufficient dollars exist to improve pay & benefits so as to strengthen the infrastructure of the federal fire programs. This will require fundamental changes in the way the fire program is managed... like fire folks managing the program... what a concept. Ultimately, strengthening the inherently less costly federal forces and eliminating the systematic diversion of fire preparedness & fuels dollars to non-fire projects will ensure proper preparedness resources will be in place to keep fires smaller, less dangerous and ultimately less costly to the American taxpayer. If the Agency is unwilling to make these organizational changes, I believe Congress will ultimately mandate the agency adopt such changes.

As a footnote, the FWFSA has already received commitments from several members of the California congressional delegation (working on more) to utilize part of their May district work period to visit forests and meet with firefighters to discuss the issues. They want to assure the firefighters that folks in DC are aware of the issues and know that, despite the Forest Service report, they are aware of retention problems that must be corrected.

More to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
4/7 Check this out! Rey and Kimball are living in dream worlds!

Picker

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

Senators on panel vow to reverse Forest Service cuts
www.missoulian.com/articles/2008/04/03/news/mtregional/znews09.txt
By Noelle Straub of the Missoulian D.C. Bureau

Washington - Senators on the powerful Appropriations Committee vowed Tuesday to reverse proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Forest Service and toyed with the idea of moving the agency from the Department of Agriculture to the Interior Department.

President Bush's proposed 2009 budget would reduce funding for firefighter readiness, hazardous fuels reduction, law enforcement, construction and maintenance, recreation and research, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, who chairs the Interior subcommittee.

“I don't know how anyone could really consider this a serious budget proposal,” she said.

The administration requested $4.1 billion for the Forest Service, a full 8 percent below 2008 levels, Feinstein said. But she added that the cuts are actually much deeper because the budget did not fully account for increases in fixed costs, including salaries and firefighting expenses.

“The way we look at it, the Forest Service is being cut nearly 15 percent,” she said.

Feinstein pledged to work with the top Republican on the subpanel, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., to undo the cuts.

Allard said the Forest Service was targeted more than other agencies, which was “not justified.” He said escalating firefighting costs shouldn't come at the expense of the agency's other programs.

“With fire seasons becoming worse each year, I can't understand why we would reduce the funds that go to train and equip our firefighters,” he said. “This will lower the agency's initial attack ability and lead to more catastrophic fires.”

Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey said the budget request did decline, but that last year's levels were historic highs.

He said the lower request for wildfire preparedness funding reflected, in part, cost savings the agency has achieved. He also said the cuts to state and local forestry programs are offset by increased funding in the 2008 farm bill.

The Forest Service will maintain the same number of fire crews and equipment, Rey said, and its rate of extinguishing 98 percent of fires on initial attack.

But asked whether the agency would have enough money to pay for fire suppression without raiding its non-fire programs for funds this year, Rey said, “Past experience would say that that's not likely.”

Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell said the funding request reflected some “very difficult strategic decisions” at a time of tight budgets and that the agency continues to be a good investment.

Allard said the unequal treatment of the Forest Service's budget made him think that moving the agency into the Interior Department might “be worth some serious thought.”

The Government Accountability Office is looking into the possibility, at the request of House appropriators. Rey said the study will likely be finished late this year, leaving it to the next Congress for debate.

[more at the link above]

Fair Use Disclaimer

4/7I wanted to congratulate all the candidates for 490 this year. We had a 100% success rate this year for the first time in a bunch of years. It was a good 2 sessions and the classroom and overall facility, at the Wildland Fire Training Center in McClellan, was great.

When I first started on the cadre for 490 Jim Bishop was an instructor for the course. He taught the unit on models and I made sure I caught his unit because of the energy he showed as a teacher and the way he conveyed a most difficult subject.
We not only have to understand fire behavior (become a student of fire) we also to be able to quantify fire behavior and its effects. As a Fire Behavior Analyst the transition from current to expected fire behavior can have dramatic consequences.
We have been told over the years that we each have to be our own safety officer for our safety priority might have to be #1. There have been times when we have to be our own meteorologist, and make an on the spot short range forecast, I would say to all of you become a student of fire, become your own FBAN.

Take Care,

AnotherDave

4/7French Television / Special Request:

Hello,

I'm a French journalist for the prime-time magazine "Les 30 histoires" ("The
30 stories"), broadcasted on the first national channel, "TF1". I'm
working on few reports I will shoot in California in April 2008.

I try to contact Steve Davis a firefighter who was in Big Sur / Monterey
when they found a man (alive) trapped in his car.
Here is the story :
http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/strange/news-article.aspx?storyid=95518

Maybe you can help me,
Best regards,

Alexandre.

Alexandre Barbera
Journalist
"Les 30 histoires"

4/7Re prostate exam:

Northnight:

I understand what you are talking about, Over forty and looking fearful on my
first exam. Got a few good ones the same day and in the same way, only I had
almost all the CSFM certs as well, still only ranked 11th. Hoping WO/RO will
come to the table with some way to make it equitable for all sides.

Best of Luck to you brother
smokeater

4/7JG,

Here's to guessing that unstaffed engines will be declared "management efficiencies" and hailed as a success by the agency. This'll be my first season with the Forest Service and I'm pretty excited, but looking at some of what's been posted, I'm wanting to know if some engines are supposed to have 5-day staffing, or if each engine expected to utilize 5-day staffing is doing so due to recruitment/retention problems?

Run So

Thanks for running TheySaid, Ab. It's a unique style for a forum, but one of the most informative on the internet, and I've learned a lot here.

You're welcome. It's largely the community makes it so. We learn a lot, too. Ab.

4/7Northnight,

I feel for you. Been there and done that.

You think it is bad to have a prostate exam (a normal procedure for males including a PSA test over 50 or with risk factors) (not to be confused by normal DREs performed to detect problems with organs or other structures in the pelvis and lower belly in common firefighter physicals at all ages), wait until you experience a colonoscopy in your later years as a Fire Manager. Then you'll feel violated and betrayed. That is how the the Fire Managers feel after Black Tuesday.

While you may be experiencing some discomfort by your DRE, the older fire managers have been through it before and actually feel they have been betrayed and assaulted on a personal level this time.

Don't worry too much... with good detection and actions, and follow-up... even if you feel violated initially... Your safety is protected by those tests and the eventual actions of those charged with your protection.

Join the FWFSA and NFFE and keep positive. Better things are on the horizon. Don't let anyone make you feel like you have no voice or don't matter.... But as folks (ie. MDs, PhDs,, other experts etc...) recommend action.... Don't wait for things like recruitment and retention (pay, benefits, and working conditions) to become cancerous in your life before making sound personal decisions. Be proactive versus reactive and keep the faith.

The reason you feel violated was that the Forest Service leadership didn't act in protecting you and your family and speak factually on your behalf...... and you weren't proactive in getting the CFSTES and SFM certs that would have given you an "out" in a timely manner... You have a right to feel violated.

The FWFSA.... says "It's Your Future". Time to speak up and contribute to the discussion. Leaders will step up eventually and correct this mess, but it takes membership and stories from the field to provide the facts and leadership.

Rogue Rivers
4/7Another former "green solider",

Well said, you have said everything that I have wanted to say for sometime. The main reason I left the FS, is because I saw a number of folks retire from my former Forest and, within months, were looking for work because they couldn't make ends meet or help their kids out when needed.

I looked for another job with better retirement and benefits that would keep on going after I retire. I know pay and reclassification is a big issue with the FS, but I would suggest you look into the future and see where you -- if you're GS-6 & GS-5 now -- will be when age 57 comes. When I left more then 80% of the GS-6 and GS-5 kids were not contributing to their TSP because they weren't offered it. I know a pay increase will help out greatly for them to contribute, but to be honest, I do not see a change coming anytime soon. Remember you're dealing with politicians, a war that is costing the Government billions, a core of leaders that think everything is alright, and OPM for reclassification.

When I left, my bosses commented that I was making the right decision to leave because they could see how bad things where getting. My family and myself now live a more comfortable life; we don't have to live paycheck to paycheck for the first time in years; and I will be able to retire with peace of mind. The one big positive the FS and FWFSA has is a hard working man: Casey -- if he succeeds in the fight he is waging assisting federal firefighters -- will benefit every employee that works for the Forest Service and the other fed firefighting agencies. Casey deserves the highest honor anyone could give.

Good luck in the fight........

New2Blu
4/7Dear Mr. Hollinshead,

Sir, I am concerned, though not surprised, that the upshot of your vacuous 'response' to complaints from the field is to suggest that the rank and file are whining about things they don't really understand.

"The Forest Service as an agency has given national attention to the issues we face and has committed to look at the issues we raised across the national landscape. There is implicit support for the Region to pursue any avenues available to the Regional Forester to overcome the consequences of our issues."

But your own testimony, and that from the FS 'leadership', unequivocally stated that there WERE no 'issues'. And where, oh where, is the evidence of this 'support', implicit or otherwise?

"The figures indicate that our recruitment and hiring exceed our attrition...Also, the figures indicate that, on a per-hour basis, we are paid at a rate that equals and exceeds the hourly rate paid equivalent positions in CalFire."

See? No retention problem. No disparity in pay between federal and state/municipal departments. Said so yourself. But perhaps you're not quite certain of that, given that a lot of the Fed attrition is from the upper ranks and most of the recruitment is at the lower GS levels. Perhaps you realize that some of the income figures posted here and elsewhere, comparing the FS to other agencies, DO show a disparity when applied to the real world. That may explain what you wrote next:

"Arguing around the figures is rather pointless, and does nothing to move us forward. The national debate and a variety of efforts will continue, we need to focus on what is within our discretion to fix...To that end, Randy Moore has asked that the Fire Board of Directors meet with Forest Supervisors...on Wednesday of next week to begin this work. While we know it will take time, Randy's commitment is that we will give this important issue priority and emphasis."

'National debate?' 'A variety of efforts?' 'What is within our discretion to fix?!' Um...excuse me, but wasn't that WHAT THIS LAST INTERMINABLE ROUND OF MEETINGS WAS SUPPOSED TO ACCOMPLISH? And it didn't. As with your own letter, it ignored/sidestepped/discounted every single concern that's been raised. So now you're telling people that, somehow, this NEXT GROUP OF INTERMINABLE MEETINGS is going to be different? Pardon my skepticism, but throwing around a lot of words like 'important', 'priority', etc. is not the same as ACTUALLY TREATING THE ISSUES AS SUCH. And you and the other leaders have neither comprehended nor addressed these issues, in any way, in any testimony or letters so far.

"I want you to know that I have a great deal of pride in you and respect your professionalism. We all need to act like the leaders and professionals we are, and with an eye on the job we are here to do....I want to ask each and every one of you to focus on the task at hand. There will always be decisions and other sources of angst and irritation. We can ill afford for these to become distractions..."

If you're so proud of this professionalism, sir, may I point out, again, that throwing the word out there is very different from ACTUALLY TREATING YOUR FFs LIKE PROFESSIONALS? Your last paragraph is basically saying that 1) the rank and file are always gonna bitch about something, so 2) maybe right now they should just shut up, do their jobs, and let the leaders lead as they see fit. Please, correct me if I'm wrong here. Give me some indication that the 'leaders' actually realize this isn't just another whine-fest from the field, that something's not right here, and it needs fixing.

After all this time, the troops deserve some proof that THEIR concerns are not still falling on deaf ears. Yet another collection of vague statements isn't going to do it.

Sincerely,

KB (Formerly of R-4, where the grass is still a little greener, but not much.)
4/6Can anyone answer the question of whether or not the USFS is counting the positions
on unstaffed engines as vacancies? Are they shutting down 1, 2, 3, or more engines per
forest and parking them in some sun baked parking lot to rot, and then conveniently
forgetting about the 5-7 empty slots and just focusing on the partially staffed engines?
Or, will the unstaffed engines count towards Mark Rey's 100% operating power come
fire season?

JG

4/6Ashamed of our R5 and WO bureaucrats,

Good point. It is my hope the new moniker “Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY” is a temporary moniker. Always the optimist I guess. Something good will come from our efforts eventually and BLACK TUESDAY will hopefully be long forgotten. Our goal is to one day see the WO/RO Decision Makers, R-5 Rank and File Fire, NFFE and FWFSA working together, shoulder to shoulder, using each groups strengths to find solutions and eventually have an agreement on a pay package that is fair to all R-5 fire employees in both northern and southern California. Divided we fail, working together we can find solutions and strengthen our response to national emergencies. We are a proud group, we want our agency to succeed and. We do not wake up every morning to figure out how to cause more problems. We wake up every morning looking for leadership and a partner from those in the RO/WO to sit down and staff out ways to solve the problems. The RO and WO would not of seen a response like what happened this week if they would of been honest and said: "we want to implement retention bonuses, update special salary rates etc, etc, however we don't have the funds to do so". At least then we could have agreement on what we should do and then focus on how we needed to get there. Well, what did we get instead------>"Yes, Senator Feinstein, all jobs will be filled by fire season". Lunacy!

All,

I think the RO and WO are just starting to realize that we are not going away and things are only going to get louder, so hopefully they will respond positively. We are not a fire community throwing things up on a wall and seeing what sticks. We are a community that knows what's right and fair and that equality in the form of pay, mission and potentially organizational changes (centralized fire) will come to us if we as a community hold firm. We need not forget that many of our cooperators both fed, state and local support us and we need them shoulder to shoulder with us, not used as a tool for comparison. We would fight for them and their issues as we ask them to understand and help with ours. I remember when CAL FIRE years ago received the new bargaining agreement under the Davis administration. All the CAL FIRE Capts I knew started calling and telling me about the excellent benefits they just received with the new agreement. I was glad for them, they deserved it. None of us expect a similar deal, however we expect and demand a BETTER deal then we currently have. Someone said quality vs quantity. We continue to push employees to leadership roles faster than ever before. I actually saw an application from a GS-6 AFEO for a BC position and the crazy thing is they made the cert. Employees are becoming FEOs and Capts faster than ever before. If we cannot make our Forest Service more attractive to work for, then I fear the worst.

I know some of the groundpounders and some management officials that were at the Dec 10 meeting. What we have not heard to date is what was actually discussed. Did they actually spend a week comparing hours worked by CAL FIRE and Feds? Was the issue of experience or lack of experience discussed? Maybe more details will come out this coming week. I hope so, because the people that I know that were at that meeting are solid people, very smart and hard workers who don’t attend meetings just to sit trough another meeting. What was actually worked on?

To the RO and WO lurkers; We are not going away folks, this is a different era and a strong movement. We our collectively the strongest wildland fire workforce on the face of this earth. Work with us, empower and challenge us to create and delivery better solutions to the problems. Or you can go hire more PAOs to answer all the incoming calls from CNN, ABC, LA Times and elected officials. It's your decision.

To the 3 R-5 Line Officers who are most likely very deserving of your LO Fire Management award for all your good work, please do not accept the award. To be awarded the same week your fire employees were slapped in the face with lies from testimony and reports on both coasts is not right. Remember the faces of those in your fire organization who labored, who sweated, swung a tool, hiked a hose pack, wrote a report and delivered accomplishments and targets to you. We are those faces. We ask you to say enough is enough and do the right thing.

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY

4/6I am a little over half way to fifty and I now know how it feels to have a prostate exam.

April fools was a horrible joke on me.
First I find out that our "LEADERS" in the W.O. just continue to ignore the facts and truth of what is happening. Prostate exam #1.
Next I get the results of my FAE/FF2 test. Prostate exam #2.
Talk with Cal fire hiring specialist about non-existent ranking even though I have every NWCG cert on the supplemental hiring. Realize point system slanted heavily towards CSFM certs and experience. FED experience and Certs. worth a quarter same experience in CSFM fields.
Prostate exam #3. Wife in school and unable to work full or part time. FS salaries not going up. No cal fire job to help support. Prostate exam #4.
Realization that my family is spiraling deeper into bankruptcy. Exam #5

Thanks,
Mark, Gail, and Tom

With Regards,
Northnight

4/6I'm sure the only people that believe we have leaders in-charge in R5 and the WO, are those that are in-charge in R5 and WO. The majority of the rank and file, in my opinion, believe they are bureaucrats not leaders. Sadly to say in this case that is not a good thing. I'm sure there "might" be a few good ones in the herd, I'm not sure who they are, but I think the rest have madcow disease and need to be cut from the herd. As Forest Gump's momma said "stupid is, what stupid does", geesh is this circus being run into the ground by some of the smartest "stupid" people around? Open your eyes, be leaders and stop being stupid bureaucrats. I'm sure when you fist started moving up the ranks, the person you have become (not who you think you have become), isn't the person you wanted to be. I expect if the younger you met the older you, the younger would probably kick your a$$, and tell you to do what's right (like a leader should).

I can't wait to see what comes out of this week's R5 BOD meeting, more spin, more bureaucracy, and more BS? Are our R5 FMOs bureaucrats or leaders, I hope the latter? Let's see them put a positive spin on BLACK TUESDAY.

I say we all start wearing black wristbands with the word Tuesday on them. If somebody knows where to get them made I'll buy a dozen or more to wear and hand out. Maybe some of the proceeds can go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, just a thought.

Sign me:
Ashamed of our R5 and WO bureaucrats
4/6From today's paper in the San Bernardino Sun:

Burning questions
U.S. firefighter report raises concerns
Jason Pesick, Staff Writer

JW

Firescribe posted the beginning of that this morning on the hotlist thread on Retention: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3519 Ab.

4/6AB,

I have been reading the retention and pay discussion with great interest. It is my personal opinion that the problems within the Forest Service are a much larger and longer issue than the current administration. The fact is changes have occurred within the Forest Service several times during my 40+ years of life.

In 1979 I graduated from HS, spent the summer in South America, and returned in the Fall looking for employment. Since I grew up on a cattle ranch, I decided I wanted to work "outside", and the FS seemed a natural choice, as many kids attained jobs with the FS before heading to college. Naively, I did not realize those jobs were mostly seasonal, summer-time only jobs. I attended HS with the District Rangers children, so I knew the DR well-enough to feel comfortable walking into his office and asking for a job. Well.............. in 1979 (Carter Administration 1977 - 1981) the Forest Service was in a time of lowered funding and "reducing" positions. He explained the normal hiring processes, however, they did have some money for the Young Adult Conservation Corps program and they had an opening. Looking back on it now, I was very fortunate to be hired heading into the fall and winter season. The advice I was given ..................... go to college and get a degree in something besides forestry. OK. I figured I would not mind being a teacher, so I headed off to college to get a teaching degree. During the summers I continued to work for the FS on an Engine crew.

I graduated from college in 1985 and decided to "take a year off" before starting my teaching career. Sometime during those years in college, the FS began to realize that they were losing a lot of experienced fire fighters with Knowledge and Skills (sound familiar?) and that they needed to start hiring and bringing up the next generation of fire fighters. So, in late 1985 (Reagan Administration 1981 - 1989) I was offered a permanent position within the fire management program. I was having so much fun, that I said "yes". I never did become a teacher (formally) but I do believe I have used many of those teaching skills over the years as a forester and fire fighter.

In 1990 (GHW Bush Administration 1989 - 1993) I decided to move into the Timber Sale Administration program. Timber was a strong program, especially in R-6 during those years, and moving into Timber was a good career move. I completed the TS Certification program and became a GS-10 Timber Sale Administrator. We all know what happened to the Timber Program in R-6. In 1994 (Clinton Administration 1993 - 2001) the rug was ripped out, I was a recipient of the Reduction In Force process and directly reassigned to a fire management position on a neighboring district. Shortly thereafter, I made the decision to leave the Forest Service. It was an arduous decision, made with a lot of prayer and thought, and certainly not made lightly. When I made the decision, it was like the world had lifted off my shoulders.

A year later I went to work with "the state" doing forestry and fire. For me, leaving was one of the best decisions I have ever made, however leaving is not an option for many people, as numerous of my colleagues told me at the time. I admire those who choose to stay and fight, and I feel for those who can not leave, but must stay and put up with whatever comes their way. Unfortunately there will always be a "fight" of some kind, but your efforts will (hopefully) make life better for the next generation. (After reading the post about "Courage", maybe I lacked courage, but I will say that it also takes courage to leave a job, and move into the unknown).

For those who are contemplating leaving, DO IT! You will never be happy if you stay, because you will always wonder if there is something "out there" that would make you happier. I left the FS for a variety of reasons, and I have not looked back, or regretted that decision. Every once in a while I will wonder if I should have stayed but then I will talk to some of my FS friends, former colleagues and co-workers, and I realize that I made the right decision for me. Is "the state" a perfect organization? No. But, they have offered me a variety of opportunities and challenges, and I am very happy, and looking forward to many more opportunities and challenges.

My hat is off to those who are willing to stay with the FS and "fight the fight", but I would also say, "do not discount other options that are available in other agencies." Lastly, I submit that a change of Executive Branch Administration, for the sake of change, is not going to change the internal issues of the FS.

Another former "green soldier"

Regardless of agency, we're glad you're here. Ab.

4/6Readers, this article on drones has been a thread on the hotlist for the last few days. Ab.
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3558

Here is an article about what the Forest Service really is concerned about. Helping "Big Brother"
to spy on everyone all the time. Guaranteed this is not just about pot plants.

The 4 G's

Pilotless Drones to Battle Pot Growers
By MATTHEW BROWN –

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has bought a pair of flying drones to track down
marijuana growers operating in remote California woodlands.

Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the Forest Service, told The Associated Press on
Thursday that the pilotless, camera-equipped aircraft will allow law enforcement officers to
pinpoint marijuana fields and size up potential dangers before agents attempt arrests. [more at the link]

and another from the Sacramento Bee:

Aerial drones will hunt California pot growers in national forests
By Chris Bowman

(snip)

The drones will allow agents to assess potential dangers before making arrests, he said.

Once the plane's front-mounted camera finds its target, operators can switch the craft to circling
mode and activate a telephoto camera that transmits wirelessly to ground crews, De La Torres said.

Operators pilot the craft by clicking and dragging markers across maps on a laptop computer. The
plane can fly one hour on its battery charge.

One of the two Forest Service-purchased models has a "thermal camera" to record heat signatures at
night, he said.

Ruch, the employee group representative, said he learned about the aerial monitoring devices from
Jack Gregory, a recently retired Forest Service official, and filed a federal Freedom of
Information request to find out why the agency wanted to use drones.

Gregory, who supervised agency law enforcement for 32 years, said he cannot see how spy planes
would give agents an edge on criminals in the forest.

"Finding meth labs and marijuana plantations in the national forest is not hard to do. We used real
airplane overflights," said Gregory, who last worked as an agent in charge of enforcement in the
Southeast.

"Our problem is we don't have enough officers to take them down." [more at the link]

4/6The post below just fell out of the server. I'm checking to see if there are others... Ab.
4/6Oliver:

You have some good points, and to a certain extent they are true. However, you must look at the big picture.

The Bush Administration is cutting domestic (inside the US) spending to fund the tax cuts and the Iraq war. This is being done so the Bush Administration can claim the deficit is falling, even after the tax cuts. So, all non- Pentagon budgets are getting cut every year, or at least their budget growth is well under inflation. DOI, Agriculture, Education, Energy, you name it. The only budget that is “optional” (not Medicare and Social Security, which are more or less mandatory raises every year) that has grown consistently, and certainly well above inflation, is Defense. This has been going on for at least the last 6 Fed budgets. Only the current economic crunch has messed with this plan.

So, to meet these budget goals and cuts, something has got to give. As salaries is the biggest portion of most governmental budgets, what do you think gets cut or otherwise manipulated so little or no growth occurs?

That is the sort of pressure that I am sure is placed on Kimball and Rey when they testified to Congress. I am sure they were told to deny that there was a retention and attrition problem, because the solutions would be very expensive, and possibly cause tremendous division among all Fed employees. And to come up with some glossy bureaucratic spin on the problem. That is how I read the statements given April 1. Who do you think told them to spin it that way?

I am not trying to make this a argument about your political views. Just about what has actually happened.

BlueZebra

Readers, please recognize that this view is not some kind of slam or lack of support for the military. Our troops are as blame-less for the current fiscal reality as our groundpounders are. Ab.

4/5Used Dell Laptop:       $500
Caramel Macchiato:         $3.80
Cafe Internet connection  $2.00

Bashing your favorite government
agency in an email to your senator...... PRICELESS
4/5From an interview yesterday:

Real change is measured by the amount of risk people are willing to take.
Joan Baez

She was speaking about musicians singing out a social conscience, but it's true
of all jobs where you risk censure for not continuing to toe the line. I would add
that to achieve change you need to put your body into action to write letters,
make phone calls, do what you haven't done before or haven't done often. And
then organize and inspire others to do the same.

Mellie

4/5To the 3 Line Officers who are recipients of the Line Officer fire management
awards the week of April 1, 2008:

What is Courage?

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also
what it takes to sit down and listen.
~Winston Churchill

"Courage is fear holding on a minute longer." - General Patton

"Courage is resistance to fear, the mastery of fear-- not the absence
of fear."
- Mark Twain

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments
of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of
challenge and controversy.
--Martin Luther King Jr

“A time comes when silence is betrayal.” Rev. Martin Luther King

Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.”
Albert Einstein

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
Albert Einstein

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period
of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but
the appalling silence of the good people.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And finally one for ALL of us, including ALL Line Officers =
"The only tired I was, was tired of giving in."
Rosa Parks


Signed,

We Will Succeed Because We Are Right!

Keep making those phone calls and sending those emails.......
4/5Here is a photo from the Loop fire memorial. Only a few have had the honor to hear
the story from Gordon King and Chuck Hartley. I do know folks can hear the audio
file from the Jim Cook interview.

Thanks,

SG

Those who want to meet Gordon King, go to the El Cariso Hotshot reunion April 12-13 (Friday and Saturday) in Temecula at the Pechanga Resort and Casino. Registration is $35. A good time should be had by all... Ab.

4/5I don't know 2 of the 3 Line Officers listed. So I cannot pass judgment on the work these Line Officers did to earn an award for fire management. I am sure they all work hard. However if I was one of these individuals and a true supporter and advocate of my fire employees, I would not accept any fire management award the same week as BLACK TUESDAY and the same week Rey testifies and guarantees Congress that all my jobs will be filed prior to fire season. Any Line Officer who is truly committed to fire employees and stands shoulder to shoulder with us and our issues will consider something..... unique.

It is my sincere hope these 3 Line Officers are doing a good job on behalf of fire employees. We congratulate them for the outstanding work. I ask and hopefully you will join me to ask each of these 3 Line Officers to reject, renounce and not accept these awards. Each of these Line Officers need to think about the events this week and remember the slogan "The Greatest Good". Each of these Line Officers should think about the fire employee, who's hard labor helped them to get to the point of being a recipient of the award. We ask for your solidarity to our issues. We ask you to remember who lied this week. We ask for some Leadership. Hanging a fire management award on your wall that you received during the week of April 1, 2008 will only bring disdain to any fire person you invite in your office. However, we can guarantee you one thing. By rejecting, renouncing and not accepting the award, you will NEVER be forgotten within the Wildland Fire Community..... Never !

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

Date: April 2, 2008
Subject: Fire Line Officer Team 2007 Leadership Awards - Region 5
To: Regional Forester, R5

For the past 10 years, the Fire Line Officer Team (LOT) has presented Leadership Awards to those line officers who excel in four award categories: Commitment to Firefighter and Public Safety; Commitment to Restoration of Fire Adapted Ecosystems; Commitment to Partnership Efforts in Fire Management; and Commitment to Build Suppression Resource Capacity. We are pleased to recognize the following Region 5 line officer for her commitment to fire leadership:

Commitment to Build Suppression Resource Capacity
Jody Noiron


Today’s natural resource leaders face complex responsibilities. Whether nurturing the firefighters and the fire leaders of the future or ensuring interagency relationships are sound, a line officer in the fire arena requires hard work and dedication. The LOT is pleased to recognize line officers at every level of the organization who have excelled in meeting the fire management needs of today while preparing the organization for the future.

This year a significant number of nominations were received for a limited number of awards. Region 5 line officers who were nominated but not selected include: John Exline, Commitment to Partnership Efforts in Fire Management; and Ray Haupt, Commitment to Restoration of Fire Adapted Ecosystems. These nominations clearly reflect your commitment to fire management and leadership. Please extend our thanks for their exceptional efforts.

Congratulations! Award materials are being shipped to your Regional Fire Director.

Sincerely,

/s/ T.C. Harbour
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

/s/ Mary Wagner, Chairman
Fire Line Officers Team
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Signed,
Never Forget - BLACK TUESDAY

4/5I just wanted to say thanks to the person with all the info about our senators. I just got done writing Feinstein, Dianne- (D - CA) I hope everyone will take advantage of this. We need to stick together now more then ever, and let everyone one know that we are getting treated badly when it comes to pay and retention.

bj

sticky
for
now
Pulled this off the Links page under fed [practical]

Some information about your congressional reps: (Posted it on the Sending Letters Hotlist Thread as well.)

Contact Your Congressional Representative

From InfoSearch, simply click on the map and you're linked. Speak your mind. Email your views.

Also for snail-mail addresses and phone numbers:
US Senate Directory
House of Representatives Directory

If you don't know who they are, go HERE, enter your zip code only and your reps in both houses will be selected.

I listed the California Senators below. A message on the web form followed by a followup snail mail letter may be the best. I don't know current protocol for type of message, security concerns and timeliness. Jump in with suggestions if you do.


Feinstein, Dianne- (D - CA)
I 331 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-3841
Web Form: feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactU...


Boxer, Barbara- (D - CA)
112 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-3553
Web Form: boxer.senate.gov/contact

4/5R-5 retention historically has been pretty poor and predictable in the GS-3 to GS-5 ranks.
But in the last 2 years we are losing FEOs, SFEOs, GS-7s and above to other agencies
on the lost madres. I would think that would be a red flag to the GS double digits, but it
appears it's more a flag for them to rally behind.

Hiding in R-4 with a very pleasant downgrade.

Scrape

4/5Ab,

I've been trying to bite my tongue on the retention issue. But since we do our part on federal recruitment, I will make a comment.

This year Colorado Firecamp will run about 250 students through our S-130/190 classes, most of whom dream of fighting fire for the U.S. Forest Service. If the FS wants to retain these firefighters, here are my 3 suggestions:

#1 - Make all primary wildland firefighters (no matter what their range or forest tech classification) eligible for the GL law enforcement officer base rate (440K pdf file) . A GS-5 firefighter in the Los Angeles area is paid $32,898 annually, while a federal LEO would get locality pay of $40,570 as a GL-5. See attached 4-page pdf with comparison of GS and GL rates.

#2 - Make all seasonal federal wildland firefighters eligible for federal health insurance coverage.

#3 - Make seasonal firefighters eligible for the federal firefighter retirement benefit.

Or, the FS could keep doing as Mark Rey says, and not worry about the retention problem that he says doesn't exist, because FS can pay triple for all the former FS firefighters on the same fires anyway. Okay, I'll shut up now.

vfd cap'n
4/5Jj, you wrote: "Who ever wants to blame an administration is just p*$%^ing
in the wind cause they're not seeing/ looking at what is happening. WE ARE ALL
THE DESIGNERS OF OUR OWN DESTINY, NOT THE GOVERNMENT, DON'T THINK FOR
ONE MINUTE THEY WILL JUST ROLL OVER AND GIVE YOU WHAT YOU WANT JUST
BECAUSE WE THINK WE NEED IT OR SHOULD HAVE IT, WE HAVE TO MAKE IT
HAPPEN, FIND ANOTHER JOB, OR BE HAPPY WITH WHAT WE ARE GETTING."

Agree whole-heartedly. However, I think you may have misinterpreted what
myself and others are saying,

I strongly feel one must first identify the causal factors for this "accident," and
in my view it is very much agenda-driven.

And I do not agree at all with you when you say complaining about the
administration is just "p*$%^ing in the wind." If you don't find the causes,
then how can you identify solutions?

I think you also mis-characterize my and others' objections when you talk
about people "complaining about the administration." We're just id'ing the
root cause. I see no complaint in my posts about the administration: what
is, is. I have to accept that fact.

But whether I agree or disagree with their approach is a whole different
story. Disagreement is too soft a word. ... my anger at what has been done
to this country is beyond description.

However, I feel that we may be in agreement, that it IS we who are in charge
of our own destiny, and through efforts such as FWFSA's, letter-writing, and
voting, we can be accountable for and influence outcomes. I'm going to
reiterate below what I said in my first post that started this discussion:

"So, in the end, it is up to each of us individually and collectively to
hold our leaders at every level accountable. And we CAN do it!! Look at what
Dick Mangan engineered in Montana when ex-Senator Conrad Burns made his
idiotic comments about fire crews. We will have that opportunity on Nov 7.
We had the opportunity in 2000 and 2004, and were diverted by both the
liberal and conservative media by the "hot-button" issues like prayer in the
schools, abortion, etc. These issues are important to some. However, in
terms of importance relative to a once-great country rapidly going down the
tubes, they should not divert our attention from the issues of true
leadership.

"Because that's what it's all about, folks - leadership.

"Which one of those candidates can provide a good command climate, describe
an end state for this country, use SMART criteria to develop objectives, and
turn intent into action?

"And we will all live for 4 more years with the results of our collective votes."

Hugh Carson

4/5My apologies to Jim Bishop and Don Whittemore. Next time I'll work harder at
making the contact to ask the questions behind the scenes.

Strider

4/5The 24 Hour and 72 Hour Reports, of the Charles Taylor Road Fire Burnover are out. These came in 3 days ago and I haven't had time to post them. I appreciate those who send these reports so quickly. Many thanks. Hotlist link. Ab.
4/5Defining the issue:

I would like to start by saying that it is sometimes difficult to be objective about answers that do not agree with our intuitive perspective. Reviewing the statistics on the retention paper it is difficult for me to say there is a true issue. The high percentage of GS-04's leaving the agency is pretty high. We know what is going on there, especially in R-5, the apprentices (and others) are taking jobs with City, County and CalFire departments. There are also a percentage leaving for other reasons and jobs, one does not have to be an actuary to understand those facts.

Comparing salaries with another agency or business certainly has some pitfalls. I think of that in some comparison with my wife, she is a school teacher. In simplest terms, I make more money than she does. She works less hours than I do, Divide her salary by her hours worked, then if I would do the same, brings things on to level playing field. Or does it, not really I work my share of overtime, she coaches, her benefits are better, as well as retirement, but I have TSP to help balance things out. OK enough, I think there is a point there.

What then is the issue with USFS-FAM? No strategic thinking, no vision, little true leadership. That said we need to anchor to those programs that are working. What is needed in general however, is reform of organizations. A Federal Wildland Fire Agency is what is needed. The are so many issues that would be solved by establishing that agency and moving forward. Probably one of the biggest benefits would be a huge savings at the National, Regional, and to some extent the local levels. It seems obvious. What about, Doctrine, well it would have to stand on its own merits, but would be a better fit with a pure wildland fire organization.

How many issues would be resolved, how about a wildland fire classification all federal fire fighters. How would HR be handled, let ASC do it, eventually it will work, my prediction is by 2010. Why not have all IHCs, SJs and Helitack work under one set of rules and leadership. It will give the NIMOs a better home. If the agency works under DHS, funding will be better and there will be a higher level of awareness and support for the programs.

So retention is thinly hidden by the fact of wanting more pay. I do not work in Southern Cal, I do not need more pay. My issues are more that I am starting look at my career in the rear view and it looks better than it does out the windshield. Lets make a difference together, lets get the issues correct. Lets win the battle and the war.

Intothewind

4/5Silly ed, carrots are for rabbits... amen brother firefighter

It is all about quantity vs. quality.... yeah, we're filling the slots about 80 percent of the time nowadays... but our hiring standards have hit rock bottom. Likewise, 80% of everything Mark Rey said was complete and utter nonsense and not verifiable by the field. Shame on you folks in a position to call BS for not doing so,

What happened to the goal of making the Forest Service the employer of choice.... rather than the employer of last resort.


When I started and signed the dotted line decades ago... the Forest Service fire program offered me better pay and shorter hours worked than our CDF brothers. I made a whopping $18,918 dollars... and it was a busy fire season. I was on top of the world. I was "rich". Best job in the world.

Each year, the Forest Service slipped further and further, and further behind in recognizing how pay, benefits, and working conditions factored into the equation..... and then in 1987... I was offered a job on Boggs Mountain Helitack (CDF).... I turned it down because, even then, I made more money on a Hotshot Crew at years end with only 400 hours or so of overtime.

Flash forward to 2008.... Now look at the BS overtime figures provided in the "FS Retention Study" in their salary comparisons at all levels... CAL FIRE isn't the problem..... The lack of action by the Forest Service to address an ever evolving program is the problem. Line Officers, and GS-15 and SES leadership failed us.

Let's get the facts simply straight so everyone understands... No smoke and mirrors...No influence by political appointees or folks who have to answer to them without PEER REVIEW..... Let's look at the bottom line. No us vs. them as some folks would like as the WO would prefer. LET'S FOCUS on the recruitment and retention issue we have, and simply stick with facts that can be substantiated, verified, and recreated...... We have the data and fire experience... and we love our jobs.... We can't be manipulated or forced into non-communication by threats.

Like I said before.... <smooch>... You (WO/RO) have a chance to redirect course.... Your data and actions are corrupted, but the folks on the receiving end are real folks and families, and not willing to put up with the crap or carrots anymore.

Black Tuesday was REAL for us. Tom, Ed.... grow a set and show us you are leaders please.... if not, please retire. Sorry for being blunt. Ten years of being offered carrots is not enough.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Southern California Chapter Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
4/5Carrots, I hear exactly what your saying. It's like, what is the man trying to say? It makes no sense. I'm trying to be positive here, however I can't figure out what or which point he is trying to make. It's just like the video conference, it had no cohesive presentation outline.

What the_____, don't trust those numbers. The creators of those numbers can massage them to make any point you want. Obviously they did just that or the RO would allow for an independent panel of rank and file employees to be part of gathering the statistics. Did any of the ground pounders at the Dec 10th meeting work on building the numbers? Or was that completed in the back room? I'd like to know the answer to that one.

Question on one of the proposed actions of the analysis - Does anyone know what this could look like? What are we going to do here, make Cooperators pay for our p to p? Any FS agreement experts out there see what the possibilities could look like?

* Renegotiate cooperative agreements to provide more equity for Forest Service employees.

How about this one. Any ideas. Maybe give Dist A and B a retention bonus one year and Dist C and D the next year?

* Strategically apply individual retention allowances and/or special pay authorities within the discretion of the Agency.

If we are going to update Title 5 special salary rates for So Cal and start them for Nor Cal we better get moving. Data is due into OPM by Oct for a Jan 09 raises to be implemented (I know dreaming). It bothers me that it seems like, well let's just have another meeting, seems to be the answer. We need action and doers involved. Make a freaking decision RO, give us the direction, bring in some doers to get it staffed out and get the implementation phase rolling.

Keep hammering people, don't let up on your emails and your phone calls. We need to put as much pressure on now in advance of next weeks LO/BOD discussion on this subject. Finally, would someone tell Pena and Moore to read Ed's memo. I'd like to know if they find it as confusing as we do. Head scratching moment to say the least.

Signed,

Never Forest BLACK TUESDAY
4/5For the WO bean counters:

To aid you in correcting your mistakes and errors in data, please note the proper calculation factors in two of the attached documents. The other two documents are just supporting documentation.

Hopefully one of our friends from CDF Firefighters Local 2881 can send in the most recent documents for Bargaining Unit 8 so we can set the record straight.

Lobotomy

www.lao.ca.gov/2006/mou_fiscal/MOU_Unit8_060206.pdf
www.dpa.ca.gov/collbarg/contract/BU8TentAgreement5-12-06.pdf
www.dol.gov/esa/REGS/COMPLIANCE/olmS/cba/pdf/cbrp0380.pdf
www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060325/news_1n25fire.phpl
4/4Hotshot 75 and others who perceive some opinions as "whining/complaining/crying":

I think there is a common misunderstanding that if someone expresses their discontent in regards to some aspects of their job, that they are "not happy in their work", or like to whine/complain/cry without doing anything about it or don't have ideas about solutions to their problems.

I also think that those who want to cast such a light on those of us who are vocal in our opinion about current leadership and want change, are perhaps complacent in their work, to the point of ultimately being detrimental to the overall survival of the best firefighters in the world.

One might say just be happy and accept what you have. Others might say don't be complacent and fight for what you want your life to be.

I respect "old school firefighters" and have learned much of what I know from them, and from them I have learned "asses and elbows", in everything you do!

Today is 40 years since Martin Luther King Jr. life was taken. Any of us can only hope to have an ounce of strength and resolve that he had. I found some quotes of Dr King's that I thought were relevant and truly inspiring at the very least:
  • "An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law."
  • "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
  • "Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."
  • "The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."
  • "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
  • "When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative."
  • "Whatever your life's work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better."

Dan B.
my moniker: looking forward to getting back on team green

4/4on your side

First off I just got back from the memorial for LA Firefighter Brent and it was an awesome tribute! To the family, friends, and co-workers I want to say it was an honor to be a part of the memorial and our prayers go out to all of you. May you find peace and comfort during these difficult times.

I want to apologize for any comments I made that you feel is an "us vs. them (Cal Fire)" argument. I value every firefighter no matter what. I feel we all need and do work very well together. I simply stated some facts. If you truly feel that Cal Fire or any other non-federal fire gets paid less than Fed Fire folks and you truly work more hours than we do then there is something I'm missing. I don't see a mass move of non-feds coming over to join the feds. I know your work week is 56 hours and the rest is your planed overtime. I think it's great that you have a union that can stand up for you and get things like this done. I started my non military fire career with CDF and remember when it wasn't so good and quite a few, including myself, joined the feds. I look back at my entire CDF and Fed Fire life and the only the things that have changed for the most part are on the CDF and now Cal Fire side. Our pay, benefits, and quality of life has pretty much stayed the same. I don't think you would like it if the shoe was on the other foot. I agree with you that overtime is not all that but with our pay scale I don't have a choice, I need to grab as much as I can while it's there. I'm sorry you feel you're "stuck at your station for a week or two and I get to go home." I would gladly trade with you. Lets run some more numbers so you can have a little better look into my great work schedule.

Fed fire works a 5 shift per week regular schedule. That means I get to drive to work 5 times and back home 5 more times. My station is 72 miles from my home (144 miles round trip per day). That's 720 miles per week and 2,880 miles per month. My car get fairly good gas mileage at 350 miles per tank. It takes approx. $80 to fill the tank and at that many miles per month I get to fill up approx. 8 times for $658.28 per month.

Some non-fed fire folks work a 3 shift per week schedule and only have to drive 1 round trip during that week. That would be 144 miles (using my situation) per week and only 576 miles per month. At the same $80 to fill my tank and 350 miles per tank it would cost only $120 for that same month (only 1.5 fill ups). That's just going on regular days. If we take even 1 more shift, that number can increase big time.

This fuel cost and distance from my home forces me to stay at the station a bunch during the summer, not allowing me to spend time with my family. I would bet that this situation is pretty common during parts of the fire season for alot of us feds. We don't get that planned over time for when we stay at the station and I work at a co-op station with Cal Fire. I have a great relationship with my Cal Fire brothers and sisters.

I would bet that our hours worked per year are fairly even, if you add all the time we are on an incident or staying overnight at the station for whatever reason, but I would also bet that our total days worked for the entire year wouldn't even come close. Cal Fire (working 3 shifts) work about 144 days a year while us feds (working 4 10 hour shifts for the winter and then 5 8 hour shifts for the fire season) work about 216 hours. My numbers may be off but it doesn't matter. No matter what way you run them, it would be about the same.

The issues I bring up here are all to help us "fight our WO and our leaders" who pretty much have proven they don't care about their firefighters (I mean forestry techs. and aides) and I'm glad you are on our side. I will continue to work along side all the professional fire fighters no matter what agency or how much we each get paid or how many days or hours we work. Change for the better needs to happen for us, just as it has for everyone else.

Take care and God bless!!

ff4c
4/4Good ol' ed,

He never seems gives up holding out that golden carrot. Am I reading his letter correctly? In paragraph 3 he states we do not have a retention problem, "The figures indicate that our recruitment and hiring exceed our attrition."

Yet in paragraph 5 he states the Regional Forester wants to fix the retention problem, "To that end, Randy Moore has asked that the Fire Board of Directors meet with Forest Supervisors to identify the opportunities we have to overcome the issue of retention."

We have already seen the Smoke and Mirror trick, it's gotten old. Once a liar always a liar!!

They have made their stand, now it's our turn. If you're not an FWFSA member, JOIN NOW! It's time to force feed them legislatively!!

Silly ed, carrots are for rabbits...

4/4Regarding note from ed-

I think it is NOT OKAY to say,... it is what it is, and... we have to accept it!
I'd like to see the data used by the Forest Service report to congress challenged by a 401 qualified statistician.
A stats. expert can distort and twist numbers to represent almost anything that Ms. Kimball wanted to see. I believe that is what we all witnessed earlier this week.

If the data is corrupt or has been skewed then it may represent a lie. If there were false statements made in the report then they should be exposed. I don't think that is as pointless as you put it.

For example; If I.A. success was at 98% of 1 million fires in 2000 and are 98% successful at a season with 2 million fires this is not a static accomplishment. Can you see the additional success required to maintain 98%?
I think you can. It would be an additional 980,000 success stories going untold!

I think that if explained, this type of thing could expose misleading statements by the Chief as lies, and discredit the report in its entirety. Congress asked for a statement on how the Forest Service is addressing the Firefighter retention issue. They did not ask for a report on if there is an issue or not.

I understand the notion of picking up the bone that R-5 has been thrown... to give input on where the F.S. fire program is going in the future, (Oh -Boy! I can hardly wait!), but I am sad to say that won't matter either.

We could assemble another group of SMEs in the Regional office this December and give the report to the W.O. By the following April fools day they will unveil the NEW and IMPROVED report that has complete disregard for everything resembling field input.

It may very well say that all urban interface and structure protection should be Assistance by Hire from "Cooperators" and that all wildfire should be contracted A.S.A.P. --- you know for cost containment and all.

As you can tell, I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO FAITH IN STAYING THE COURSE! I guess because things are going so well and all.

What the ----
4/4Hotshot75

Yes I did go to another agency. I am not against you or anyone else giving advice. Like something else, everyone's got an opinion and is entitled to give it. I was given advice from my direct supervisor (twenty + years at the time) and my FMO (thirty + years at the time) to get out. The agency was heading down. That was in 1996. After a lot of soul searching, I did. I loved my job. What I didn't like was living in the barracks for 8+ years because the only apartment I could afford was in a section 8 area. Getting the "evil eye" for daring to ask for a few days off in July. The hustle of trying to find winter work in the other shops because I was not going collect unemployment until I got my 26/0. Unpaid lunches in the dirt. Unrealistic workers comp support. Not even a simple title of "Wildland Firefighter".

As far as perspectives for a young employee, I worked on two different NF's. Engines, Hotshots, pushed Blue cards, taught classes, Teams etc. Fought fire in 10 different states. But in the end, I liked coming home to my R-5, South Zone Forest.

I tried to change the system like many others are trying to do now, But I admit I gave up and lost hope. But I couldn't work where I loved to, and raise a family in the barracks... So like you say, I saved myself. I agree, a National Fire Service is the answer. But when there is no leadership above the forest chiefs, it's going to be a long battle.

Former Green Soldier
Changing my moniker to "Still doing what I love."
4/4Want to know where the budget goes.....

Forest Service buys flying drones to help find marijuana growers...

www.kxmb.com/News/225179.asp

JR

4/4Former Green Soldier.

Why Former? Did you go to a different agency or what.

My answer is not always to leave R-5, I was only trying to let a potential firefighter know that it
is not the only place on the planet. You are right, not everyone wants to or is able to pick up and
move to somewhere else but it can help your career to have a different perspective on things and
for a young person it can add to the spice of life to do a bit of traveling.

CLR has not even started a career and is having second thoughts partly due to the constant and
interminable complaining, whining and crying from Theysaiders who think the government owes them a
50% raise. Guess what it probably ain't gonna happen no matter who is in the White House.

And it most likely ain't gonna happen without a total revamp the land management agencies fire
responsibilities being integrated into a National Fire Service, some people should get to where
they can ride the storm out and work at changing the system in an environment where you can at
least have the hope of buying a home and raising a family without becoming one of the 28 million on
food stamps. Some of you need to wake up and save yourselves. I don't say this out of arrogance or
meanness, but out of the hope that some will listen.

If you don't like my advice give the kid some of your own.

I was always told that if I was going to complain about something then I should have some sort of
rational answer to the problem.

Like my old Ranger says "Be happy in your work".

Hotshot75
Thinking of changing my moniker to God,Gold,Guns and Guts
4/4striking the blinding hot iron

With great interest I have been reading all the posts from those upset with the "stellar" performance by Mr. Rey, I hope everyone will look at this as an opportunity given.. He dropped his hand and allowed us to see. Its not everyday that a public official does that. They are most often smarter then that.

I have been thinking all week how we can make an impact on the public (striking while the iron is hot) and our elected officials. Remember we (federal employees) are public servants.... so is congress, the senator's and our commander and chief. The general public has not a clue what federal wild land fire fighters do. Whether you go to the church of global warming or not, the general public did not have a clue about THAT until documentaries and other scare tactics were put in living color in front of them on the idiot box. So shall we contact Al Gollib (sp) or some other journalist that are willing to show how we sleep in the dirt, show how the bell only rings when we die, NOT WHEN WE ARE PUT INTO SERVICE (that's a respect thing that CDF does). Show the struggle a family goes through to make ends meet, to see the tears when mom or dad is gone during a birthday.... so on. To show the pain of family and friends who must go on without the ones they love, who do not return from an assignment.

You really can't blame an administration Reagan, Carter, Bush, Clinton, Bush, they are all corrupt, the idea of smaller government was distorted with the cutting of public services like our armed forces (to protect and serve its people not the will of government) and public services like federal recreation technicians (I could go on) that make sure the the visitors to Federal PUBLIC lands have a clean toilet or even make sure the campground is clean, Shoot, the FS can't even get that done right. When in fact we are allowing our ELECTED government officials to spend our hard earned easily taken (taxed) money and fund bureaucracy. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

I will gladly tell you I can not complain about my job, but I do not like how our rights granted to us through the "Bill of Rights" and the "Constitution of the United States" are being stripped from us every day, through ignorance of the people NOT the Government, we allow them to take. If we did not, they would not.

Who ever wants to blame an administration is just p*$%^ing in the wind cause they're not seeing/ looking at what is happening. WE ARE ALL THE DESIGNERS OF OUR OWN DESTINY, NOT THE GOVERNMENT, DON'T THINK FOR ONE MINUTE THEY WILL JUST ROLL OVER AND GIVE YOU WHAT YOU WANT JUST BECAUSE WE THINK WE NEED IT OR SHOULD HAVE IT, WE HAVE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN, FIND ANOTHER JOB, OR BE HAPPY WITH WHAT WE ARE GETTING.

PS. I am not a leader, never was, never will be, I am a public servant, a wife to one of the best in leadership and the mother of two more coming up behind him. Its my job to raise them so that they know that nothing is fair, nothing comes without focus and endurance, and if you let it, things can and Will be taken way from you. So I teach my children their rights as free citizens and not to eat the <snip> that our elected officials are trying to feed them. "just because they feed you <snip> doesn't mean you have to eat it" When you are sleeping in the dirt or sweating through your boots and leather belt that statement just doesn't seem so harsh.

PSS read the "State vs. the people"

jj

4/4BCMx3 and AB,

It was asked back in March what wildland fire entrapment was the subject of the Discovery Channel show on the human brain's reaction to fear. BCMx3, the show was about the Little Venus WFU entrapment that involved the Unaweep Fire Use Module. Speaking as a survivor of that burnover, the Discovery Channel show did not portray the events of the burnover as accurately as I would have liked (I.E. the lone survivor they interviewed was credited as being the "crew boss" when in fact he was a detailer). It would have been better if the show had interviewed more survivors to get their "reaction" to the event. But, it was good to see this entrapment get some attention.

All of you have a safe upcoming fire season,

John Norton-Jensen
Lead Range Tech.
Grand Junction BLM
4/4Colleagues...

I am concerned, though not surprised, at the amount of energy and emotion surrounding the Forest Service response to Sen. Feinstein's request regarding firefighter recruitment and retention in California. I am concerned that many of you feel like something was lost, and that we are as a Region in a worse place than before. I think quite the opposite and want to tell you why.

The Forest Service as an agency has given national attention to the issues we face and has committed to look at the issues we raised across the national landscape. There is implicit support for the Region to pursue any avenues available to the Regional Forester to overcome the consequences of our issues. Also, there is the opportunity for this Region to help frame and define national debate on the Forest Service fire and emergency management mission in this increasingly urbanized environment. In short, this is not the last word and we are going to take what we were given and move forward as a Region.

The figures indicate that our recruitment and hiring exceed our attrition. The data show that the loss of skills and personnel we have experienced have not affected our initial attack effectiveness; in fact, the data also show that in spite of significant increases in firefighters since 1999 our initial attack success rate has remained rather constant. Also, the figures indicate that, on a per-hour basis, we are paid at a rate that equals and exceeds the hourly rate paid equivalent positions in CalFire.

Arguing around the figures is rather pointless, and does nothing to move us forward. The national debate and a variety of efforts will continue, we need to focus on what is within our discretion to fix... and that is our intent.

To that end, Randy Moore has asked that the Fire Board of Directors meet with Forest Supervisors to identify the opportunities we have to overcome the issue of retention. Everything within the Regional Forester's authority is on the table, including pay comparability options. This group will be meeting (both in person and via video-conference) on Wednesday of next week to begin this work. While we know it will take time, Randy's commitment is that we will give this important issue priority and emphasis.

I want you to know that I have a great deal of pride in you and respect your professionalism. We all need to act like the leaders and professionals we are, and with an eye on the job we are here to do. For me it is equally important that we understand that the issues surrounding this debate can rob us of the situational awareness required to do our job safely and effectively. I want to ask each and every one of you to focus on the task at hand. There will always be decisions and other sources of angst and irritation. We can ill afford for these to become distractions. While I've never been one to predict fire seasons, I do know we will have one and that it will be challenging. As leaders, I expect you to ensure that you and those for whom you have responsibility are prepared for whatever lies ahead.

-ed- (Hollenshead) (not sent in by ed, but on the FSweb notes; sent in by someone in the community.)

4/4Strider,

I think its great you want to discuss the relevant merits about FLAME being in 290. It’s completely inappropriate, however, to make accusations and question Jim Bishop’s motives and integrity without having your facts straight.

1. The S-290 cadre originally did not include Jim. FLAME was brought to the cadre’s attention from the NWCG Fire Behavior Committee; they asked us to look at it as a potential inclusion into the new curriculum. Once the 290 cadre made the decision to include FLAME, Jim was invited on to the team.

2. To the best of my knowledge, Jim never received any compensation for the hundreds of hours he put into FLAME; he never received any compensation for the weeks of meetings, Alpha tests and so forth relating to the development of the course; and never received any compensation for the rights to the FLAME model. The only the exception is that some of his travel and per diem during the requisite trips to Boise and the test classes was covered, as it was for all cadre members.

Jim has volunteered many, many, many hours and spent countless dollars out of his own pocket with the single goal of keeping firefighters safe. So, please keep it to issues, have your facts right and hopefully you can regain some faith that there are people out there who actually care about doing the right thing.

Don Whittemore

Posters, fact checking is an important part of posting. Please send that extra email or make that extra phone call. Ab.

4/4It's coming to a station near you soon

Fireys fined for speeding | The Daily Telegraph | Australia
www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,23480540-5001021,00.phpl

FIREFIGHTERS are being issued speeding tickets by the Iemma Government for rushing to life-threatening emergencies in fire engines.

In an astounding case of bureaucracy gone mad, the Government is sending infringement notices to the homes of individual fire truck drivers.

It is then left up to the officers to sign statutory declarations or take the matter to court to avoid paying fines.

Workers are threatening to refuse to speed or break any road rules on their way to incidents unless the Government immediately overturns the rule. [more at the link]

4/4401 quals update:

A press release from Senator Domenici states, "Domenici today raised
concerns about confusion over training criteria being determined by the
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for the U.S. Forest Service during a
Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Forest Service’s
FY2009 budget requests... Domenici suggested that Congress should be ready
to 'step forward to keep this from happening,' possibly by enacting
legislation to waive some college-accredited training requirements or
extending the period allowed before the requirements are fully enforced.
Domenici received assurances from both Subcommittee Chairman Dianne
Feinstein (D-Calif.) and ranking member Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) that they
will work with him to resolve the issue."

See http://domenici.senate.gov/news/record.cfm?id=295424 for the whole
press release.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
4/4Ed H in Region 6

Have you seen the Type 11 engines designed for retired fire management officers?
Mine is going to have real-time mapping capability so I can remember where I am.

Fire Geek

I put it on the Engines 19 photo page, not on the Equipment page. I want one, but powered by solar, maybe that one is? Ab.

4/4Oliver:

I too must go on record in total disagreement with your support for the current Executive Branch
administration. They are definitely the real problem for federal wildland firefighters these days.
My vote goes otherwise soon.

I spent many, many years as a firefighter/manager under repressive federal politics handed down
by the party now in power. They have only made things even more repressive lately. They are
more so, now than ever, putting firefighters and the public at greater risk.

You did get it right in mentioning that FWFSA is properly representing all of us. I thank you, too,
Casey, for all that you do.

NMAirBear
4/3Ab, many thanks to Brain B. and Linda L. for developing and expanding the
program for many ECCs. Excellent informational tool in and out of the Centers.

The Picker

We agree. Ab.

4/3OLIVER - Gawd forbid that I should ever agree with ANYTHING that Hugh Carson says, but in this case (as in many others topics he raises) Hurricane Hugh is right on the money: as a wildland fire community, we're in the spot we're in right now because of our ignorance of/or biases towards, the political processes.

Do you really think that the messages posted by Casey Judd and others like Ken Kempter don't reflect the political reality of our world? Should we as a fire community remain oblivious when an ex- US Senator says that says one of our crews did a "piss poor job" and "didn't do a God damn thing"? I think not! Mark Rey would love to see us talk tactics/strategy/pay/OT/boots/training/jobs among ourselves, and ignore/forget that the real changes in our world will not come from within us, but from our knowledgeable supporters in Congress and our State legislatures.

Like it or not, wildland fire is in the political spotlight, and we as firefighters are the best ones to tell our stories to the world (public, media, politicians, bureaucrats)! This web site offers just such a tool for change!

Organizations like FWFSA and IAWF are our voices into the "Big Picture" political world in DC: you, as an on-the-ground firefighter, can/should/must be our voice in your local community/county/State if things are ever going to get better for the women and men of the wildland fire community that protect our wildlands every day!

A few years ago, the Evangelical Christian churches in the US decided to take the messages about political issues that were important to them out of the Sunday services and into the public/political arena: looks to me like we could learn from them?

Hurricane Hugh: keep blowing and generating lots of wind - - it sometimes clears the air!

Mollysboy
4/3Engine bosses are in higher demand across the States than I've ever seen before, that could translate to increased negotiation leverage on pay and location. The Jobs Page has quite a few new entries over the last week. State, private, and feds all have vacancies. There's even one organization looking for cross cut sawyers for wilderness area projects. See 'em all on the Jobs Page. OA
4/3"On Your Side" CDF FF:

You're definitely right with "there shouldn't be a US vs. THEM" attitude amongst agencies. The point isn't that USFS works more then CDF, it's that we have comparable hours and commitment away from home, which is contrary to what our Chief told Congress members. Looking at this day compared to that day and this month compared to that month, I believe is confusing and convoluted. If you look at it from a annual perspective it makes a little more clear, for me anyways:

CDF: 72 hr week x's 4 weeks = 288 hr/month x's 12 months = 3456 hrs annually
USFS: 40 hr week x's 4 weeks = 160 hr/month x's 12 months = 1920 hrs/annually
(Ab computation: It's actually 80 hr/pay period x's 26.5 pay periods in 2008 = 2120 hrs annually)

That is a difference of 1536 hrs that a CDF FF is assigned to work more than a USFS FF is assigned to work.
(A difference of 1336 hrs that a CDF FF is assigned to work more than a USFS FF is assigned to work in 2008.
Other comps will bump a bit below.)


Here is a very important point that brings it all home for USFS FFs:
for every hour of OT earned on assignment, there is an hour of uncompensated time.
(24 hr day: 8hrs base, 8hrs OT, 8hrs sleep for free)

SO I am going to count time that a USFS FF sleeps in the dirt, on the fireline, as time that should be compensated and hours "worked".

So I go back to the 1536 hrs difference.
A decent OT accumulation for

  • USFS engine is approximately 800 hrs OT
  • USFS helitack 1000 hrs OT
  • USFS HotShot Crew 1000hrs+
    (These hours are an estimate based on my experience working for the USFS for 7+ years)

If you take these OT hours and consider the fact that for just about every hour of OT earned on assignment, there is an hour of uncompensated time, we can roughly double these numbers to add to a USFS FF's total. If I take a 1000 hr season and double the time to consider "sleeping for free", I add 2,000 hrs to the 1920 to get 3920hrs.

CDF: 3456hrs USFS: 3920hrs

USFS ff now has 464 more hrs per year then CDF ff. 464 hrs divided by 24 hr shifts equal roughly 20 additional shifts for CDF ff to equal USFS FF's total hrs.

I have friends in CDF who have told me 20 additional shifts is decent for a year but not the maximum that some guys choose to work. So yes, there are guys with in CDF who work more hours then a USFS FF.

But here is the major point of contention and has nothing to do with Cal-Fire: WE WANT TO BE COMPENSATED FOR THE HOURS WE ARE ON ASSIGNMENT, WE WANT TO BE COMPENSATED FOR THE TIMES WE RISK OUR LIVES AND ARE AWAY FROM OUR FAMILIES. Just as you are. How many additional shifts you choose to work in a year is your choice.

The hours between CDF and USFS are comparable, not 4,457 vs 2,768, for a difference of 1,689, which was reported to Congress by our "WO technicians". OUR "CHIEF" DIDN'T COUNT THE HOURS WE "SLEEP IN THE DIRT FOR FREE."

Dan B.

4/3Hey all you old hotshots, young hotshots, friends and groupies.

Give Gordon King an email and get to the former El Cariso Hotshot 50th year reunion! It'll be held April 12-13 (Friday and Saturday) in Temecula at the Pechanga Resort and Casino. I know Gordon King would love to know we DO appreciate him! You all can get together and trade aprons...

email: GKING1 @bak.rr.com (take out the space)

Registration is $35.

Mellie

4/3The new WildWeb page is up and running. Any dispatch centers that are planning on running WildWeb -- that don't appear on the map or list -- should contact Ab. I'll pass them on. Apparently if they are not active now, Original Ab may not have them on the map, even though they are ready to go.

Thanks! And thanks OA for keeping the wildweb, news, etc updated. Nice new format for some of the pages. I like your old dispatcher photo you found years ago and posted here. You must be older'n'dirt.

Ab.

4/3FOR OLIVER: I appreciate your viewpoint but I disagree totally with you on
everything you stated, with the exception being your statement that "The blame
can easily be shared by numerous policy and decision makers over the last
several decades." I stand corrected on focusing my post too much on the
present.

In particular, I disagree with your opinion that "some people give VP Cheney too
much credit as a puppet master." Cheney --- via Departmental Secretaries and
their political, agenda-driven appointees like Mark Rey --- have inspired a
intimidating climate of fear of retribution in the professionals - from the WO
all the way down to the District Ranger level.

The threat of firings and the euphemisms "replacements" and "reassignments" has
had severe and negative impacts on what we perceive as "the right thing to do."

Look at the recent history of generals who dared to contradict the SECDEF on
troop levels required to achieve victory, if you want what I consider the most
egregious and damaging example. "Reassigned" or "Retired." Certainly a hot
button issue but look at the effects that those decisions regarding Iraq have
affected --- and will continue to affect -- domestic spending in critical areas
such as health care, education, and, yes, land management and domestic emergency
response. For decades to come.

In all fairness, the blame can certainly be spread across party lines and
administrations. Look at courageous Forest Supervisors such as Gloria Flora who
used to be Forest Supe on the Humboldt-Toiyabe and who dared to contradict the
Bill Clinton agenda.

There are candidates who advocate true change to "politics as usual" and those
who pay lip service to it. The issue for each voter is trust. That was my
point. I listen to Fox almost as much as I listen to MSNBC; I read both the
Wall Street Journal's and New York Times' editorial page every day to get the
breadth of perspective necessary to make good decisions. Anyone who listens or
reads only one or the other is guilty of one of my top 10 worst sins, that of
willful ignorance.

TO MAGRUDER FINGERS: I agree totally with your addition/correction to my post.
I too feel we have some excellent leaders in fire at DO/SO/RO/WO level but
their dedication and commitment is effectively blocked by the line officer
contingent and their ill-defined vision of leadership - excuse me, vision is
the wrong word, version of leadership is more appropriate --- since vision
connotes exactly that, Vision, which I consider a good thing.

A deep understanding of the "way the world works in Washington" or doesn't, as
the case may be, is crucial to our success at the local level.

In summary, I see the current administration is simply the Perfect Storm that
appeared just lately (2000) to bring matters to a head, but the Storm had its
roots in a multi-decade degeneration in leadership at the very top of the
agencies.

Hopefully, we can keep this discussion of, not only the obvious and immediate
problems but also of the deeper underlying causes, on an illuminating and
productive basis.

One thing we hopefully all can agree on is, "Thank God we've got Casey Judd as
an advocate."

Pax

Hugh Carson
4/3Casey:

The way I got in contact with ABC 7 news in Los Angeles was called their main line
818.863.7777 and asked for their assignment desk. They said they would look into
it and call back but haven't as yet and I'm really not expecting them to. Perhaps if
enough people called with the concern of the accuracy of the story and why the hell
they are asking State PIOs about Federal issues?

Dan B.
4/3Hotshot75,

No offense, but why does your answer always seem to be to leave R-5? That might have worked for you but maybe not others. People can not simply pick up their whole lives and move to the Lincoln, the Prescott or the Boise. I am old enough to remember picking up guys from the bus station or the airport when fire season started in May, but was young enough to know when something is broken it needs to be fixed or the whole agency will be sucked down with R-5.

What if if there was a federal fire and only the red and blue armies showed up???

Former Green Soldier

I would say the same if Hotshot75 and others didn't. It's about balance. Some younger people can move. I could and did move often when I was young. It was exciting. The West is beautiful. My parents thought I was crazy to "be so far from home". This comment is part of the mix of viable options and opinions expressed here. Ab.

4/3ff4c,

You offer an interesting take on how folks get paid.
Regarding "This number should be added to his base salary".
No it should not. It is overtime.

"which he doesn't have to work any more hours to get"
Our work week ends at 56 hours. We then work an additional19 hours. It may be scheduled, but it is still overtime.

Now who works more hours and days?
So you work a day of overtime, 8 hours right, then go home. The CDF guy works one more day for 24 hours. 16 hours more. I do not understand where you are going with this.

I'll tell you , I work a lot of overtime and it is not all that. Yea, sure we all like to be out on fires but that is not always the case. When I am stuck at my station for a week or two and you get to go home at night, who do you think is getting the better deal?

We need to stop this US vs. Them gibberish right now. I know your frustrations, I used to work there, the fact is we here at CDF have more scheduled hours per month. 288. Period. That is not where the fight needs to be. Fight your WO, fight your non-fire forest supervisors. Do what LE&I did and stop reporting to your district rangers. Getting all hot about how much or how often we get paid here has nothing to do with the fact the your current leaders seem to want nothing more but destroy the fire program and the terrific history and legacy of Forest Service Fire.

On your side....
4/3"They Said" should be a relevant source of information on Wildland fire issues and less of a forum to attack our President and the current administration. I don't share the belief that there will be political salvation if the opposition party is elected. And I'm not real comfortable with the candidate from the party on the right. I've came to this conclusion after careful examination of all of the candidates and statements they have made about the issues that affect the way I live, work and pay taxes. I've been through enough change so when someone says change I want more definition on what the change(s) will be. When a Governor and Mayor abandon the people of their state and city the issue for me is less about comments the President made about how a FEMA political appointee is performing in the early stages of the Katrina and more about system failures at the local and State levels. It is also my opinion that some people give VP Cheney too much credit as a puppet master.

I support the efforts of FWFSA and FS fire fighters on the current issues of retention and pay but I don't lay the blame on the current administration and this Congress. The blame can easily be shared by numerous policy and decision makers over the last several decades. The solutions, on the other hand, need to be identified and acted on by the current Congress and President. The 800 pound gorilla seems to be with the agency and their failure to accept that there are problems. Casey and others are working within the political system identifying the issues and working with all of our elected officials to find solutions. I applaud and support their efforts.

Change...from digging hand line around pot plants outside of Cave Junction Oregon in 1972 to identifying and mitigating the hazards to our fire fighters from discarded meth labs in the forests outside of Portland Oregon in 2008...the one constant is the job. The summer job that turned into a career. At work it never mattered me who sat in the White House. I'm not saying my work life hasn't been affected by who was in office...I'm just saying my circle of influence at work has never extended beyond a much smaller geographical area. At home it matters... On April 15 it matters...On They Said? My vote is no...

Oliver
4/3>From reality check,

Addressing the recent bogus "Recruitment and Retention Analysis Report"
(read it yourself, link above)

Page one paragraph 7:

The overall Forest Service attrition rate in Southern California (9.4%) is
actually lower than the national Federal attrition rate (13.4%)

Are you serious? How could the attrition rate for GS-4s be 46.6% as
reported on the next page then? Did they just include PFT's? for the
(9.4%?) Hey! those firefighters with less than a 26 an 0 tour are people
too!

By the way fella's, even if it were 9.4% attrition rate of let's say our
fire module leaders, that percentage would be huge in our already
experience depleted workforce and in our complex fire environment.

And why isn't the (46.6%) GS:4 attrition rate considered significant?
Our GS-4s are not only the backbone and future of our organization, they
also are the ones who actually put the fires out! In perspective, the GS:
4 firefighter squirts water, calls in aircraft and cuts line with a
chainsaw, does medical aids, throws dirt, falls trees and protects
structures as opposed to the "PFT upper management elite" who effectively
hinder or obstruct the firefighting effort by supporting such obstructive
programs as Ag-learn and the constant nickel and dime-ing of firefighter
hours and equipment under the guise of "cost containment" and allowing
layers upon layers upon layers of administrative requirements, check lists
and useless qualifications to be in place before we are even allowed to
fight fire.

And why does the agency refuse to count our temporary employees when it
comes to retention or diversity statistics? Last I checked they are still
real people, who we pay salary and unemployment and who it takes at least
a month of red tape fingerprints, ag-learnin, refresher training, physicals
wct testing. etc. before they sweat and bleed, get injured and die with
the rest of us on the fireline!

Here's the cold hard fact, the only time that temporary employees are
counted as a statistic... is when they are injured or when they die on
fires such as the 30 mile, then they are magically turned into wildland
firefighters and become a statistic.

You know, I'm starting to agree with the "upper management elite" our
retention issue has little to do with pay or benefits. It may be the fact
that we don't like to be lied to is the reason people are quitting.
(BS'd) to those of you in the "upper management elite"

Its a Shameful state of affairs in the Forestry Service!

4/3>From Reality Check,

I just read the Fire and aviation management Recruitment and Retention
analysis with disgust once again. I would recommend that everyone checks
it out and then write their congressman, and ask for a congressional
inquiry or investigation asking why the report was crafted to
intentionally mislead both the senate subcommittee and the public (Erica
Werner with associated press did an article on it titled "Report downplays
federal firefighting vacancies in So Cal") An example of just one of the
statistics that were spun to mislead, is on page one paragraph five "the
total number of permanent fire and aviation management staff in the region
nearly doubled between 1997 and 2007 from 1,257 to 2,290. an 82% increase
indicates successful recruitment efforts, not the opposite.

Of course the report neglected to include information about the MEL
build-up in 2001 which would effectively discredit the observation.

If our "upper management elite" were just to say something to the effect
such as "It aint gonna happen because of the budget issues and I'm
leaving in two years anyway" or "we hate you guys because you pesky
firefighters use 52% of our budget so you ain't gonna get our support" You
know, something truthful. I think many of us would be good with that and
we could move forward. But to make us sound like idiots because we report
that there is a retention problem and be told that there isn't, in my
opinion, is throwing down the gauntlet and/or further demoralizing an
already demoralized workforce.

Ab, I agree that it would be beneficial to list the E-mail # and phone #
of local congressmen and senators when you have time and maybe post the
Analysis. http://fsweb.fire.r5.fs.fed.us/retention/

Thanks

Reality Check, as I mentioned, Casey's fax just after the Hearing was the same report. The graphs and tables were not the clearest. Thanks for pointing out the info was getting lost. Thanks also to whomever sent in a "clean version". I put a link to the doc version at the top of this page. It is interesting to see the email that went out to all employees that says you should not talk with the media but call the RO's PAO number. I want to let you know that each of you as an American citizen has the right of free speech, and in my opinion, the responsibility of making your voice heard to your congressional representatives. Carry on. The comparative salary analysis below is one of the analyses that wasn't done before the Hearing by the Chief's bean counters... Ab.

4/3Please forward this e-mail to all Region 5 employees.

Chief Kimbell provided testimony this morning before the Senate
Appropriations Committee. During the hearing, she fielded questions
regarding our Agency’s response to language attached to the December 2007
Omnibus Bill. The Chief shared some of the results of an analysis of
firefighter recruitment and retention issues that the Region and the
Washington Office conducted. I want to share these results with you.

During the past several years in Region 5 there has been increasing concern
among field firefighters and fire leadership surrounding morale and the
quality of work life. These concerns have been expressed in many ways,
including a desire for increased pay and greater recognition for the types
of work conducted in the field. Some forests have experienced an
increasing number of firefighters leaving the Agency for positions with
State and local fire departments.

In the recruitment and retention analysis we found that while some Forest
Service fire employees have left the Agency for positions with State and
local fire agencies, the employment data does not indicate that employee
retention in California is unusual, or that it is affecting our capacity to
effectively respond to wildfires. Our recruitment rate is greater than the
rate at which employees are leaving. In addition, the rate at which
employees in Southern California forests are leaving is below the national
average.

Pay has often been cited as a reason for firefighters leaving the Forest
Service, but for agencies such as CAL FIRE, increased employee pay is
achieved by working more hours not higher salaries. Forest Service hourly
pay rates are greater than for comparable CAL FIRE positions. Pay
disparity with non-federal positions in Southern California is comparable
to national averages, and lower than several other high cost of living
areas.

As we studied the retention issue, it became clear that the nature of
wildland firefighting is changing in the face of increasing urbanization.
Because of this, we must re-evaluate the Forest Service wildland
firefighting mission to respond to changing needs and resources.

The analysis indicates the Forest Service’s greatest challenge for
recruiting and retention is at the lower GS levels, which tends to support
the Regional focus on improving recruiting and hiring processes. Since
July 2007, the Region has begun offering “open and continuous” vacancy
announcements for firefighting positions, which has resulted in more than
1,000 vacancies filled. Offering open and continuous positions gives
employees the opportunity to apply for positions, regardless of whether or
not there is a current vacancy. This allows the agency to develop standing
rosters of qualified applicants that can be offered a job as soon as a
vacancy occurs.

Finally, I want to emphasize that this analysis does not represent the
final word on these issues. In order to recruit and retain quality
employees, the Forest Service will continue to study strategies that will
ensure a highly capable workforce and protection of our National Forests.

To read the analysis go to http://fsweb.fire.r5.fs.fed.us/retention/

Randy

RANDY MOORE
Regional Forester, R5
Phone: 707.562.9000
Fax: 707.562.9091
4/3To all;

I am a frequent they saider but first time poster and a proud member of the FWFSA. I have been with the Federal government now for 18 years (3 in the military) and have spent time in several wildland fire agencies. I love my job but every year it is getting more difficult to enjoy for several reasons (including all mentioned this past few days). I started when I was single and now have a family I don't spend much time with every fire season. (the other agencies work more hours than we do?) I think most Fed. Fire folks would agree the job we get to do is the best anywhere but the benefits, pay, and the quality of life for us with everything that is going on nowadays makes it so much more apparent we need change and for some of us that means moving on. I for one do not want to move on but I am currently looking at my options for one main reason, my family. I will keep fighting for a better Fed Fire life no matter where I end up. I am currently at a co-op fire station with Cal Fire, so I ran some numbers (Fed Captain-State Captain) to kind of get an idea where the "chief" and her lovely assistant got their salary and work hour numbers. I did this on a 14 day fire assignment we both were on.

1. There are 336 total hours in a 14 day assignment. (Cal Fire Captain gets paid for all of them and it seems according to the "chief" he gets credit for working all of them since he gets 24 hours of pay and he works more hours than I do at lower pay).
2. I can only get 16 hours of pay max per day (that doesn't happen often it's more like 14 to 15 hours) for a possible total of only 224 hours of pay or hours worked.
3. That leaves 112 hours I don't get to count for (Is this where the "chief" gets her idea that Cal Fire works more hours than Fed Fire?).

Now lets look at our hourly wages for a minute.

1. Cal Fire Captain (at my Station) gets $21.25 (212 hours a month for a 72 hour work week, 3 days per week, and 2,544 hours per year) an hour for his base salary for a total of $54,060.00 (this does not include his planned overtime amount he receives whether he works any overtime or not).

2. I get $26.73 (160 hours a month, 5 days a week, and 2080 hours per year) an hour for a total of $55,598.40 a year (I don't have any planned overtime).

By these bare facts, it looks like I make more money then the Cal Fire Captain. Now lets add in his planned overtime money (which he doesn't have to work any more hours to get) and see what he really makes.

The Cal Fire Captain gets $2,119.64 as a second check each month and doesn't have to work extra hours to get it. This number should be added to his base salary to get a more accurate amount. Times the planned overtime amount by 12 months and it comes out to $25,435.68 add that to his annual salary and it now becomes $79,496.36 per year. If you divide this amount by his total yearly hours worked of 2,544 (212 hours per month times 12 months) and his base hourly rate now becomes $31.24 per hour. Now who makes more per hour? Plus he gets about 4 overtime shifts per month (4 days a month of overtime or 1 extra shift per week for a total of 4 days per week) which almost doubles his income. In order for us Feds to work 1 extra shift per week for overtime, we would have to work 6 days a week! Which is normally the case during the fire season. Now who works more hours and days?

I know we can't look at anything but the raw base salary numbers, but this is the reality! Also the Cal Fire Captain's salary is entry level while mine is almost top step. This is just the beginning, I haven't even added his or my benefits. I know this could go on but for now I will end by saying keep up the good fight, keep the words flowing, and become a member of the FWFSA!!

Take care and God bless!!
ff4c

Thanks so much for the detailed analysis. It demonstrates the power in interagency sharing of information. Please give our thanks to the CalFire person who provided his information for comparison, ff4c. Greatly appreciate your writing in. Ab.

4/3Hello, there appears to be some miss understanding here as far as the pay and work hours of CDF. I am a former Forest Service firefighter that now works for CDF.

I am a FF1 in San Diego. I work a 9 month "season".
My hourly wage is less now. By many dollars per hour.
My work week is 72 hours up from 40.
Yes, we get OT, but after 56 hours not 40.
I did my taxes yesterday and I made 38,000 this past year.


Regarding "sleep time", you will be woken up during that time by calls for service, at my relatively "slow" schedule B station we will be woken up a couple times a shift, occasionally a few rimes a night.

While this is short and sweet, I hope it helps.

Good luck in your fight with the WO.

JS

4/3Just a thought:

I see a lot of people comparing salaries with a state FFT1 and a fed FFT1
and was wondering if they know these are not the same positions. Our FFT 2
is their FFT1 and their FFT1 is our FFT2. I dont know if it even makes a
difference but I thought I would throw that out there.

NoRcal AFEO

4/3Hi to all:

Gosh its great to get home from DC at 2:00am...!!!

There is an awful lot going on and I will try to be a bit more definitive and detailed later on our FWFSA web site. For now I can tell you that I didn't speak to one Senator, House member or staff that believed the FS report or the verbal assurance from Mr. Rey that staffing would be at 100%.

That is why it remains critical for those in CA to continue to contact Sen. Feinstein AND Senator Boxer as well as your local area congressional representative. Speaking of that I received commitments from several of them (working on more) to personally visit our firefighters on the Forests during the week of May 26. Obviously things need to be worked out but I think they want you folks to know there are many in DC who recognize the issues and are committed to making changes.

It is also important for those of you in Colorado to contact Sen. Allard, those of you in Idaho Sen. Craig (yes he's still in office and was very colorful at the hearing, especially about the 401 issue), those of you in New Mexico to contact Sen. Domenici, those in Utah to contact Sen. Bennett.

Perhaps the best news out of all of this, especially for the FWFSA, and I guess I should personally thank Mr. Rey & Chief Kimbell, is the humbling number of new members received in just the days since the hearing. We are truly honored at the support which will allow us to continue the work we do.

With respect to the alleged IAFF/Mark Rey connection, I sincerely appreciate AZ Firefighter's comment. I don't know that the FWFSA has done anything to the IAFF to warrant such efforts if in fact they have occurred. So for now we will investigate and see what we come up with but the primary focus is continuing to harness your voices and resonate loudly among your elected leaders.

Again, an awful lot of stuff going on in DC and the heightened awareness and understanding among those in Congress and elsewhere (sorry for now I've got to be a bit cryptic) , as well as the genuine support from those who can't speak publicly to that support, is rewarding. It tells me that we are doing the right thing. If anyone needs to know their specific representative they can go to our web site to "link's where there is a Senate & House member link.

Just as important is the staff contacts we have in many offices who often are the warriors that carry the issue to their boss. So feel free to contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or by phone at 208-775-4577 to see if we have a contact in a particular office that you can communicate with.

Thanks...more to follow.

Casey

Good your airline didn't go bankrupt and shut down. Ab.

4/3Thanks to all who are posting comments and questions about the revised S-290. Like Jim Bishop (see his comments below), I was on the Subject Matter Expert (SME) cadre and like all members on the team, took that assignment very seriously. I know all of us believed that 290 is one of the most important wildland fire classes.

Having just taught the finalized new curriculum for the first time, I strongly believe the revised 290 is a much better course than the 1994 version. With that said, however, the final product falls short of my expectations on numerous fronts. There are several reasons for that, which I’ll address in a separate post. For now I’ll echo comments by Jim and others that the errors and omissions in the final package are disappointing and frustrating.

There have been several comments about FLAME; some question why it was used over the Campbell Prediction System (CPS) and others question its appropriateness or usefulness in 290 at all.

With regards to the first issue, I can say that the CPS was discussed as a possible inclusion into the 290 curriculum. To the best of my recollection, that consideration was short-lived due to proprietary/copyright/financial issues. I admit I don’t know the specifics, and suggest that comments and or questions be directed specifically to NWCG or the Fire Behavior Working Group as that decision was above our pay grade so to speak.

As to the second concern expressed, I’d like to offer several thoughts. First, a great deal of thought, concern, discussion and debate occurred among the SME cadre as to the appropriateness of including FLAME into 290. (BTW - Jim Bishop came on the cadre only after the decision to include FLAME was made.) I, for one, came to the conclusion that it was indeed appropriate and, after just having taught that unit, feel that it was the right decision. Ironically, my support for FLAME is for many of the same reasons folks have cited as their trouble with it.

In my opinion, S-290 is a 32-hour class in situation awareness—how does a firefighter see and interpret the various components of the fire environment to develop an accurate understanding of current and predicted fire behavior. The process in the course is to 1) present the three areas of fuels, weather and topography individually; and, 2) “connect the dots” to show relationships, cause and effects, and present the “so, what does this mean to you.” We felt the 1994 version of S-290 fell short in #2 of connecting the dots and thus it was one of our priorities to see that loop closed.

Certainly FLAME can be taught as a head-down, pencil-pushing, box-checking, number-adding task that generates a meaningless output—much the same as a nomogram or an Appendix B output. On the other hand it can be approached as a teaching tool or process that facilitates firefighters to “connect the dots.” In much the same way many teach nomograms in 390, students should be encouraged to utilize numbers (outputs) to illustrate concepts and to understand the relationships and interactions. In the case of FLAME and 290, once students understand the concepts and drivers of significant change, then during the exercises have them make gut predictions or educated guesses before completing the exercise. This serves as a measure to the instructor as well as the student as to how well they understand those concepts and relationships.

Anyone who has taken 190 should know, as Tim wrote, that fire moves faster uphill than down hill and that a grass ROS will be faster than one in timber litter. The question that developing leaders need to be asking and the answers they need to be understanding are “how much faster” and “how does that affect what I am doing or planning to do.” FLAME, like any other model, is no substitute for experience; it is not a spiral-bound brain. In my opinion, however, it does indeed provide a method and context to ask and answer those questions. With that approach, it parallels and enhances experience.

During the course I just taught, the students actually found the FLAME exercises as the most useful part as it required them to engage and apply what they had learned. Outside of the classroom, aspiring engine/crew bosses should use the model and worksheets in the field much the same way they use any other tool—to make sure they are accounting for the multitude of variables and developing a systematic means of evaluating them—whether that is via a worksheet or mentally.

As with any new tool, the true measure of it value will take time to play out. Firefighters will need to be taught it, use it, grow with it and then have enough time under their belt with it and in the field to be in a position to honestly and thoughtfully reflect back upon its relative merits. In the meantime, I would hope S-290 instructors spend the time to learn it, teach it and continue a dialogue concerning concerns, questions and even successes.

With regards to other concerns and ideas expressed about the new 290, I’ll attempt to address those in another post here shortly.

Don Whittemore
Assistant Chief
4/3Some answers to Tahoe Terrie's question showing up on the Hotlist. Ab.
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=16668#post16668
4/3AB, Bitter as Always:

I went to ABC 7's website and watched the news report they did with a CAL Fire PIO about federal firefighter staffing levels for the 2008 fire season. I can't believe that a CAL Fire PIO would make suggestions about a totally different agencies staffing levels. That's exactly the kind of media coverage we don't need!

I called ABC's Los Angeles assignment desk and told them they needed to talk to federal firefighters about federal firefighter issues, not CAL Fire. They said they would look into it and call me back. I think that we all need to start actively reaching out to local media as well as national media to get our message out. If numerous people made contact the media I think they would eat this story up, especially with another fire season approaching fast!

Our PIOs unfortunately from my experience are not well informed on fire issues. The forest I work on none of the PIOs have any real fire experience and most of them have none. We need PIOs who are firefighter's!

DIB
4/3I am a long time "lurker" to they said, and can no longer sit on the sidelines. I would like to speak to the Chief of the Forest Service:

I don't know where you are getting your facts about retention/recruitment/morale issues but perhaps you should go into the field and talk to the frontline firefighters. Visit us at our stations, we'll put on a barbecue for you and we'll invite our families so you can maybe see us as people and not these twisted statistics that you got from who knows where. For example:

Quick background of myself is I entered the Forest Service to gain experience to make my resume more attractive to get hired with a municipal fire department in So Cal. It didn't take long for me to absolutely fall in love with fighting wildland fire and I soon forgot about municipal fire departments and planned on staying green for the rest of my career. My frustrations grew with each passing year about many of the subjects that I hoped would be discussed in front of members of Congress and Sen. Feinstein at the hearing.

I left the Forest Service 2 years ago as a GS-6 as well as many of my good friends who I went through the apprenticeship with. I left because I got married and now have children. Where I use to get angry at not being paid for "sleeping" (more like 7 hrs of being in and out of consciousness) in the dirt on the fireline in some remote part of the country fighting fire, once I had children, I became livid for not being compensated for the time that I "slept in the dirt" away from my children night after night. I became extremely frustrated that I couldn't afford a decent house for my family, I lived in fear that if an unforeseen expense such as a car accident were to occur, it would devastate my family financially as we have to live PAYCHECK to PAYCHECK.

So I left 2 years ago and since then have worked as an EMT to gain the necessary experience to get myself through paramedic school, of which I will be finishing in May of this year, and get hired by a municipal fire department. I have missed my job as a wildland firefighter and I have missed the people who I went through life and death situations with. I have missed being part of the best firefighting team in the world that was charged with the responsibilities of protecting communities across these 50 states summer after summer. I have never stopped following the issues of the Forest Service over these last two years with the hope that something would happen that could justify to me and my family of me going back to work as a wildland firefighter, and I thought when Sen. Feinstein asked you to draft a solution to the Forest Service's retention/recruitment problems, that this would finally be our turning point. I was so hopeful that on April 1st, you were going to stand up for what was right, what is fair, and at the very least, what is TRUTHFUL, that I reapplied and accepted a position a couple weeks ago back on the district that I use to work.

As I sat there and listened to you and Mark Rey from my computer, I had a very similar feeling as when I learned my grandfather had terminal throat cancer. My heart sank and it would seem that the two of you don't realize or have received erroneous information or possibly have even twisted the information to misrepresent what is real.

What is real is you have a shadow of a fire program that you used to have, you have the hardest working with some of the most talented firefighters in the world who are leaving. Chief Kimball, you need to get in touch with what is real in your fire program: don't call friends of mine "forestry technician's" when some of our friends have died fighting fire as FIREFIGHTERS. Do not make comments and keep your staff from making comments that local or state firefighters are better trained and more professional then federal firefighters. My father, who has been a municipal firefighter for nearly 30 years, sent his son to the Forest Service to gain a work ethic and learn about firefighting; and municipal firefighters from the many fire stations I have walked into, have given me instant respect just because I have solid experience fighting wildland fire. I challenge you to ask any state or local firefighter what they think about such comments that local or state firefighters are better trained and more professional then federal firefighters.

My desire to return to a fire fighting program that is moving forward within the Forest Service is not unique to me. I have many friends who are currently working for other fire agencies that would love to return if they were able to be part of an organization that sees what is real. We all used to say to each other when we were working together for the Forest Service that we would stay forever if we could just get some better pay to support our families. Why don't we just start at giving us the respect of the title of firefighter and paying us for the entire time we are away from home out on the job. CDF would seemingly work more hours because they get paid to sleep while they are away from home, as is fair! ADD UP ALL THE HOURS WE ARE ON FIRES THAT WE ARE OFF THE CLOCK!

This is my last effort to stay with the Forest Service, and the clock is ticking, Chief Kimbell. Come meet with us, get to know your troops, hear what we have to say face to face.

Dan Blaul (please include my name with this text)

4/3Jim Bishop,

1) Didn't you get to be on NWCG review and push your FLAME model? I think
when I retire I'll get on the coordinating group committee that reviews what I want
to advocate. [This is about issues, Ab. Similar to retirees or non-feds getting on teams
and hiring people from the company they also work for sometimes. Undue influence?
Insider trading? Conflict of interest? (At least in working for the FS it's clear that
I can't push an agenda that makes me money.)]

2) If I remember correctly, even Rothermel's work was not exactly peer reviewed
and journal published. No disrespect meant. The science was pretty new. I'd
simply like to hear from some truly independent fire behavior professionals who
have been involved in journal peer review processes and who put their findings
out there for the whole world of scientists to comment on. Posting here is a good
start, but only a start.

I have great respect and regard for Marty Alexander.

Marty, sir, what do you think about the value of teaching FLAME in S-290?
About the assumptions underlying FLAME as a model? Is it going to keep FF
safe, allow them to be responsible for themselves, follow their Commander's
Intent? Apply the safest tactics to the current fire behavior? How does this stack
up against Campbell's method and FF's evaluating how quickly fire moves?

Ask those FFs in Europe while you're at it...

Seems to me that teaching FLAME and basing your decisions/actions on the
output makes decision making easy and maybe makes you dead! You don't have
to really think, just do what the FLAME output says. If you die, your death can
be blamed on the model. Wouldn't it be better to teach people the logic of what
to look for. Make the risks very real with a bunch of slides and stories. Get
firefighters to evaluate, use logic, to think. FF counting on a program is like counting
on a helicopter bucket drop or a helicopter pickup to stay safe. I don't do that...

Strider

Strider said on 4/5: My apologies to Jim Bishop and Don Whittemore. Next time I'll
work harder at making the contact to ask the questions behind the scenes.
(This is in reference to his comment about Bishop on the NWCG coordinating group committee; Bishop was asked to be on the committee after NWCG decided to include FLAME in the 290 re-write, not before.)

4/3PIO muttering on walking away from Rey in DC:

What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know,
it's what we know for sure that just ain't so.

(First attributed to Mark Twain.)

Bystander at the Water Fountain...

4/3Regarding IAFF, I'd recommend searching the Archives of this site to find some comments that Casey Judd has posted about the relationships with IAFF in the past, and why FWFSA exists as it does today. As I recall the posts (or maybe it was just some one-on-one conversations with Casey), wildland firefighters are just not big enough players to surface in their political agenda.

IAFF was very visible in the 2004 Presidential election, but their guy lost; this year, the IAFF yellow T-shirts are conspicuously absent on the National political scene.

If Mark Rey can bribe them with some big FIRE grant $$ for the next 9+ months before he returns to his Lobbyist roots, I'm betting I know who's side IAFF supports.

Hundekot

4/3This came in a while back; I'm just getting around to posting...

The new FSM 5130 and 5120 chapters are now posted.
If Forests choose to have red lights, then compliance is required by 2011.
If Forest choose not to, then they should plan on conversion to amber (or
removal) by 2011.

National Red Light & Siren policy

4/3There's a new Type 10 Light Engine in the works to save money.

Compliments of Ed H in R6.

I put them on the Equipment 11 photo page, last 2 pics. They don't even rate engine page status! HAW HAW... Ab.

4/3Kenneth Kempter:

As a member if the IAFF for a municipal fire department that is active in wildland fire fighting, PLEASE pass along any information you have on if the IAFF is working against the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association. I will NOT stand for that. I stand in SUPPORT of the federal wildland fire fighters; for your improvement in pay, working conditions, title, etc.

I would assume most IAFF fire fighters would feel the same. Please keep us informed, and if you need action from the lower ranks of the IAFF, we can do that. WE, the members, are the union.

AZfirefighter
4/3Re: Letters

I just wanted to say thank you to the Redding Home School Network for taking notice of the Forest Service retention issue in Region 5. Your letters to Senator Feinstein and Chief Kimbell are most appreciated.

Lets write a new future.

-Joatmon

Writers, if you provide module information and perhaps numbers in your letters, consider getting someone you trust who knows the info you're trying to convey to give your letter a "factual proofread". We want to be as completely accurate as we possibly can. Ab.

4/3
A CALFIRE firefighter posted this comment below on theysaid some time back in Dec last year. I don't know the truth of it. Normally it wouldn't matter, but I am trying to figure out if the FS Chief's statement in the Retention Report handed out at the Senate Appropriations Meeting on April Fools Day is true: The report basically says it only appears CALFIRE firefighters make more money than FS firefighters. When you factor in the hours, they do not. FS firefighters make pay comparable to CALFIRE. (OK, I found the exact words the Report used and pasted them at the bottom...)

What pay rates might the FS Chief's beancounters have used to come to that conclusion?

Did they use the CALFIRE and FS Base Hourly Wage for comparison? the annual salary? What about compensable hours on fire assignments? CALFIRE works 24/7 to do the job while FS personnel would work 15.5 hours. We need to all get on the same playing field with pay. It seems CALFIRE Firefighters do make more than FS firefighters. Any help in understanding the comparison from some of you willing to chime in? Maybe the Report was just BS... but I'm trying to rule out that it is true...

Thanks in advance for any help. My dad worked for CDF.

Tahoe Terrie,
a FWFSA member (but we're an Association, not a Union so we have to figure this out ourselves)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CALFIRE firefighter's statement last December on theysaid:

I caution all of you who want to leave the Forest Service for CDF for the money. Look at the hourly rates and compare. A firefighter 1 makes a little over 8 dollars an hour and you work 72 hours a week so you get 19 hours of ot on their plan. You may bring home more money, but you will work tons of hours to get it. You will work in a week 8 hours short of what you would work in 2 weeks with the Forest Service.

Sure schedule B Captains and some Engineers can make 100,000 in the year but they will have put in sometimes twice the hours of a USFS contemporary.

Please don't think everything is equal, it is not. You may earn more but you will put in many more hours with CALFIRE than you do in the Forest Service.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
what the FS Retention Report handed out by the FS Chief on Tuesday said:

"Pay has often been cited as a reason for firefighters leaving the Forest Service, but for agencies such as CAL FIRE, increased employee pay is achieved by working more hours not higher salaries. Forest Service hourly pay rates are greater than for comparable CAL FIRE positions."
4/3I have no idea which spreadsheet Pena & Moore sent to Abigail & Rey. I
had thought the whole reason for forest's to provide the Data in the 2008
pre-season capacity projection, was so they could be briefed on the
reality of the situation, but who can say what really happened.

As to numbers of engines staffed, according to the spread, there are 124
seven day a week engines, and 128 five day a week engines. Staffing at
less than that was not considered or reported. Total numbers of filled
positions on all 7 & 5 day a week engines is projected at 1510.

TC
4/3Hugh and Misery Whip,

The problems in the agency are not just from the current administration or
the past 7 years. The agency decline has been going on for over 20 years. A
slow and sometimes rapid decline in traditional agency principles and
knowledge and skills in the woods. The agency has not been promoting/hiring
leaders in many of the upper level positions for a long time. This includes
the S.O. R.O. and W.O. Line Officers can't even stand on their own two feet
and manage a district. They have to hide behind the group think of a
management team and management by consensus. Now it is not just a lack of
leadership, but an inability to lead. I have worked for the FS for over 30
years and I have seen this decline for a long time. Administrations have
changed many times over the decades and the agency has continued to go
downhill. A change in administration will have no real positive effect on
what the agency has become. The old traditional forest service employee
with a strong background in the woods and with an ability to lead, make
decisions and forge ahead is just not there anymore in the positions that
guide the agency. The agency can no longer provide leadership, because it
has no leaders.

Now then, our firefighters are the best in the world. We have some
excellent fire management leaders but I do not think we can, in the present
state of the agency, overcome what the agency has become. It should be
clear to all of us now that there is no support for the agency's fire
management employees. That was made very evident on April Fools day. I will
say what I have been saying for years as I have watched the decline of the
agency and lack of support and understanding of fire management and fire
management organizations by the agency ...Federal Wildland Fire Department.

Magruder Fingers
4/3Hey ab, here's a bit of humor, if it is too "vulgar" don't post it, but i think people will enjoy it.
signed, norcal firegirl
`````````````````````````````
See, now this is the kind of universal mathematical truth that gets those "numerology" guys all up in arms...

Combine this with the fact that studies show 75% of all statistics are made up on the spot and I think we have solved the riddle of the Forest Service decision matrix.

Now I'm off to solve the unifying string theory...

This is a strictly mathematical viewpoint... it goes like this:

What Makes 100%?
What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?
Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%.

How about achieving 103%?

What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:

If
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Then:
H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

and
K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

But,
A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

And,
B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T
2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

AND, look how far ass kissing
will take you.

A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G
1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that while Hard Work
and
Knowledge will get you close and Attitude will get you there;
it's the Bullshit and Ass Kissing
that will put you over the top.
4/3CLR, don't let the negative tone of the majority of the posters on "They Said" get you down or
dissuade you from becoming a Wildland Firefighter if that is what you really want to do with your
life.

Many people are frustrated with the Forest Service overhead and are venting that frustration here
over and over again, myself included, and I am retired so go figure. Most of the negativity seems
to come from individuals who work in California because of their cost of living, the fact that
other firefighters get paid more than they do, and mostly the fact that the government is
ineffective at changing itself for good.

I don't know where you live but the Forest Service is a national institution and you don't have to
choose to live where the above mentioned problems are compounded by the additional stresses of
higher living costs, to many people and comparing yourselves to the Yuppies driving the Beemers.

No place is perfect, no job is perfect. We all want to make thing s better for our families and co-
workers. Support FWFSA and NFFE in their work towards that end. But you need to look out for
yourself as well and there are many opportunities in places that have less problems than California.

And for all you R-5'ers I was born and raised in San Bernardino County and worked on that forest
for years. Over the span of my career I have worked fires on almost every forest in California, so
I do know what I am talking about.

Once fire season gets going, we will have more entertaining things to talk about.

Hotshot75
4/3For now I would like to post the following comments on the website, as
they are relevant to a number of actual and implied questions as to how much
review FLAME has received before entering S-290.

Thank you, Jim B.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The FLAME Review Process
It is reasonable to wonder what review and examination the FLAME process has received, and where it came from, so here is a summary:

1. The beginnings of it go back well over 20 years, though it was not yet called "FLAME", and took the form of "guidelines" (based then on BEHAVE) for estimating how a change in the fire environment would affect fire spread. Some the basic ideas were incorporated by Paul Gleason in simple form into older versions of S-290 as diagrams in old Unit 10 (drawings of firefighters next to advancing flame fronts, etc.). The guidelines were also incorporated, as supplemental information, into some of the fire behavior courses taught in Northern California in the 1980s and 1990s.

2. FLAME has been presented at 7 major fire-behavior and fire-safety conferences (regional, national, and international) where it was exposed to review and critique by fire scientists, FBANs, and professional firefighters.

3. It has been formally peer-reviewed by fire scientists at the Fire Sciences Lab in Missoula and elsewhere, and described in a draft technical report. It has also been the subject of discussions over many years with (now retired) fire scientist Dick Rothermel (who led the original fire-behavior research team). The technical report is currently being divided into a "user" part and a "technical basis" part. (By the way, some of the excerpts I see quoted by folks are from outdated versions of FLAME documents.) The current FLAME table is based on a combination of the BEHAVE-Plus model and actual fire-spread observations.

4. It has been reviewed and approved by the National Fire Behavior Committee.

5. The parts related to wind-speed variations have been reviewed and accepted by a panel of fire-weather meteorologists. The weather features of FLAME examples and illustrations in the course have been discussed with fire-weather meteorologists, and relate specifically to meteorological processes discussed in the S-290 course.

6. It has been reviewed and approved by NWGC and by the S-290 SME-cadre.

7. It has been informally discussed over a number of years with members of the S-490/590 Steering Committee and other 490/590 course-cadre members.

8. It has been presented in S-290 test courses, in various workshops, and in many independent classes.

So while FLAME is new in the sense that it is part of the new S-290 course, and is being seen for the first time by many of you, it is not a new idea. It has been thoroughly described in full technical detail, and critically reviewed by fire-science professionals. It is based on current fire-behavior science and ties smoothly into the more advanced applications such as BEHAVE-Plus (though it greatly simplifies the inputs and process).

It has been taught many times, to audiences that range from volunteer firefighters to veteran hotshot crew supervisors. The experience with teaching the basic ideas early on, and later the "FLAME system", has led to improvements in both the basic process and in the instructional presentation.

Given an instructor who has had the opportunity to learn FLAME, it is not hard to teach or to learn, and students can see its immediate relevance to their needs on the fireline. Truthfully, the only parts that cause some students trouble are the basic arithmetic involved in adjusting wind speeds and in making spread-time predictions (and they can still master the central point even without the arithmetic). I'll comment on the value of dealing with those specific quantities in another installment.

Jim Bishop

4/3My Friends,

I too was flabbergasted at the 'April Fools Day' Report which came out Tuesday. I was mad. I was angry. I felt absolutely betrayed.

We have been told over and over again by our BCs, DIVs, and Forest Supervisors to 'hang on,' that "Good things were going to happen"... and this is what we get? The Report was a slap in the face!
Our Overhead lied to Congress. We trusted them to take the Facts, but they lied about those too.
It wasn't just a lie. It was more of a twist and massacre of the facts than anything else.
Apparently I make more than a CalFire employee, and work less.
Apparently it really isn't that expensive to live in SoCal. (We are pushing $4 a gallon now, and don't even get me started on the housing market...)
And one of my favorites is that apparently we are not 'Firefighters.'

I will happily hand over my W-2 for comparison. I can keep a months-worth of my receipts from the gas pump. I can even take a picture of my face of the look that I give someone in Fire Camp who is destined for a hotel bed that night, and getting paid for it...

Still, I have the best job in the world. I work for the Forest Service. I earned my Hot Shot title, and I keep going back for another helping every year... I do this job because I love it. I do this job because of the places I go, the things I do and see, and for the people. I have a Family with the Forest Service (in fact, it includes my biological family - which makes 'biological' family dinner's a little tedious sometimes...). I do this job for the friends and the life-long memories I make.
Not everyone is destined to be a 'lifer.' For some, a season of fire is all they need. For others, it is an addiction.
You take that experience wherever you go, for life. The CEO of Stater Brothers (a large grocery store chain in SoCal) was a Del Rosa Hot Shot. I am pretty sure he hasn't forgotten that.
I am proud to say that it is not the money that drives me to do this job. It is the bond I have with my saw-partner, for the gal swinging a pulaski behind me, for my main man in the back doing line control with a mcleod.
But I am young. I was an 18 year-old kid straight out of high-school with a still-in-high school mindset. Now I am 22, and getting ready to enter my 5th year as a seasonal (my mindset might be the same though...). I really don't need money just yet. But, I can see that it is an issue. I can see that my friend, who just became a dad, needs to support his family, and buy a house...while not being home for 6 months out of the year. I have a growing number of friends and co-workers finding themselves in that situation, and that someday, I will be in that situation. I can recognize Change.

Time and money aside, the biggest slap in the face is that I will not be recognized as a 'Firefighter.' I am a 'Land Management' worker, and I specialize in wildfires. Does fire change when it leaves a tree or bush and enters a home? We have SCBAs on our Engines, is it too much to ask for permission to use them to their full capacity? Isn't most fire equipment equipped with BLS equipment? We had a Crew Carrier go over-the-side on our Forest last year. It happened right in front of a couple of my Crew members, and they didn't just stand there.
We can treat our own. Why can't we treat the public?
Try this one on for size:
http://groups.google.com/group/LAFD/browse_thread/thread/15b338d607ac2ddf
They say we were from SB County Fire, but everyone knows that the Del Rosa Hot Shots are a part of the Forest Service.
We were headed home after our first tour on the Zaca Fire and stumbled upon that little doozy, and we didn't just drive by. We acted. We mitigated and handled the situation: the report, the medical treatment, traffic control, - as we were trained to do. We even worked around the language barrier. The LA County/City IC came up to one of our Crew overhead and said he was grateful that we were the first ones on-scene, and that he would have frozen up if we hadn't been there. We acted; a Hot Shot Crew working on a MCI (Multiple Casualty Incident). How does that sound Mr. Rey?
As for the fireline, well, I will keep pressing for one more chain. I will work to tie it in. After all, I can't hold my breath for those shiny Pavement Princesses to get out and start swinging a tool. They can sit in their air-conditioned engines all day and make that 12 or 13 thousand dollars per assignment...
How come we are only 'Firefighters' when one of us dies? I went to 5 funerals after the Esperanza Fire. The Forest Service lost 5 Family members that October morning. Is the R5 Regional Office going to bury them otherwise?

It is always darkest before Sunrise.
Things will get better. When? I can't say. If anything, this makes me want to work even harder. I hope this motivates you to act. It is easy to be mad and give-up (especially when you can't afford to stay in this fight). After all, the joke would be on me when the new-guy who took my spot got that raise, those benefits, and that title. I am going to work hard for this in the way that I can: I'll stay in school and finish my B.S. in Forestry: Fire Management. I am going to give the FWFSA my support. I am going to push my co-workers to act, and not just complain. I am going to ask my friends and family to act. I am going to ask you to act.
I'm a 22 year old 'lifer' with four seasons in the game. The Forest Service is where I want to be - I'll work for that.

We can 'OK' a war that costs us 10.3 billion (unbudgeted) dollars a month. Why can't we get a couple bucks for the Home Front?

Thank you Casey and the FWFSA for doing your thing.
Thanks Ab for a place to rally. After all, 'Communication' is one of those key LCES things...

Fight the Good Fight,
Playing with Fire

Readers, see post below for the story Playing with Fire is referring to... Nice job on the help Del Rosa! Ab.

4/3So much for "mission creep"..... Based on the testimony yesterday, the hotshot crew should of kept on driving since it wasn't a wildland fire.....

Good thing they didn't just drive by and say, "Oh, look, there is an accident... call 911".... Those folks injured were somebody's family members and some of us fully understand the duty to act and help to the best of our abilities when we are the closest trained and equipped responders!!!

Thanks for sending me the link Seth... Hope your time at Humboldt is being spent well....

Lobotomy

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

For Updated Information Please Refer to www.lafd.org/blog.php

VEHIC
EB 210 FY x Paxton St.
Sylmar
Saturday, August 11, 2007
TIME: 8:54 AM
INCIDENT #: 0300

On Saturday, August 11, 2007 at 8:54 AM, 5 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 5 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 1 Heavy Rescue, 1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit, 3 EMS Battalion Captains, 1 Battalion Chief Officer Command Team, the Del Rosa Hot Shot Crew from SBCo Fire, LACo Engine 74 and Squad 19, DOT and the LAPD, all under the direction of Battalion Chief Ronnie Villanueva responded to a Traffic at the EB 210 FY x Paxton St. in the Sylmar area.

The initial report to the OCD Dispatch center indicated a minor traffic accident on the Eastbound 210 Freeway. The first arriving resources on scene was the San Bernardino County, Del Rosa Hot Shots, returning home from the Zaca Fire in Santa Barbara County. The Hot Shot crew were instrumental in providing the initial assessment and patient intervention until additional resources arrived. Once the men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department arrived on scene, the incident was upgraded to a Vehic with multiple patients and involving 3 vehicles.

The incident began on the 210 Freeway with a driver being cut off, starting a chain of events which included a vehicle fire, a collision and a vehicle over the embankment rolling over and landing in the alley behind a row of small commercials.

There were 7 patients, 3 minor children under the age of 7 and 4 adults, transported to area hospitals complaining of minor pain to the neck and back, minor facial lacerations from broken glass and abrasions from the activation of air bags. No fatalities in the incident can be attributed to all occupants using of seat belts.
###
d'Lisa Davies
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Emergency Public Information Center
Los Angeles Fire Department

4/3I got an e-mail stating that Mark Rey was meeting with senior members of the IAFF to bring problems to the FWFSA and try to bankrupt us in terms of "union busting".

Seems there were some concerns with NFFE and FWFSA being on the same page (partnering) when it comes to federal wildland firefighter issues.

If this is true, that either Mark Rey (FS et al) or the leadership of IAFF are communicating to the detriment of either an AFL-CIO local (NFFE) (Bargaining Unit), or an independent employee association (FWFSA) (Legislative Advocacy) in both exercising their rights under statutory law and Constitutional Rights.... bring it on.

I'll leave it at that... Simply said... Over 20 violations of federal law if it is happening... <SMOOCH> ....

The ball is in Mark Rey's and the IAFF court to make things right and cease..... If not.... Time for corrupt federal officials and corrupt union officials to meet the federal legal system. Their call. Facts on file.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Southern California Chapter Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
4/3Set It in Motion:

I have to admit that I am still young when it comes to the Forest Service but I have spent the last 15 years as a federal employee. Although I cannot claim to understand the decisions that are passed down to us, they do not surprise me. As I take in and process all the information of the last few days, there are a couple things I keep coming back to.

First, I am disappointed in our leadership and their "findings". I did not expect anything revolutionary but at least some half-hearted attempt to appease those asking the tough questions. Even if they were given bad information, the truth is hard to ignore. I am afraid that this situation will continue to be swept under the rug until something truly tragic occurs and that is unacceptable.

I am also surprised at the willingness of so many of the fire community to throw in the towel just when the spotlight is starting to turn onto us. We need to break out of this negativity and self-loathing. I know the people that I have worked with since becoming a "forestry technician" and this attitude is not an accurate reflection of those great people.

This is the time when we need to be heard. I would hope that this is a "call to arms". We need to stand up and fight for what we believe in!

We need to become a voice so loud that they cannot continue to ignore us. Use the system to let the truth be known. Join the FWFSA and the NFFE. Call or write to your Congressman. We cannot sit back and wait for someone else to fix this because we are that someone else!

-Underfunded

The example of a good letter was posted yesterday. I put it in bold so you can easily find it. Each of you have your own stats and examples you can substitute in the last 2 paragraphs. Local newspapers have a section for "Letters to the Editor". Modify it a little and send them off. Ab.

4/3Today it was brought to my attention that ABC in Los Angeles did a report on National Firefighters leaving for more higher paying state or local agency jobs. http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/state&id=6055921

However, ABC used a PIO from the San Bernardino Unit of CalFire. Where are the Forest Service PIOs? Here someone finally wanted to do a story about what we are going through and they used the very agency that most of us are trying to go to. I can't blame CalFire for getting its newest engines on the nightly news but come on. The guy being interviewed stated that he didn't think there was a problem with our retention. For crying out loud, ask me or one of the many that got letters showing our rankings from CALFIRE, what we think.

Usually I sit on the computer and read all these post about our problems. I try to not get all pissed off about what our higher ups say and think. The beautiful sunsets and sunrises, we make more than other agencies, blah blah blah.... Give me a freaking break. I mean, I have to work all summer taking as little days off I as I can. I have to hope that once I do get an assignment, that the county/state div. I am working under is going to sign my CTR for 16 hours even though we are heading to camp a bit early. I pray for winter assignments like going to Texas, teach as many classes on the home unit as I can, and help out at the 2 South Zone Engine Academies just to make sure I can pay my mortgage at the beginning of each month. I work just as hard as the guys in red if not harder on fires and I won't be compensated to rest in the dirt away from my wife and family.

I have NO confidence in our leaders and wonder if I ever will. Do they really give a crap about us??? I challenge Abigail ( I refuse to call her Chief because that is a sign of respect) to come work on my engine this summer. Not just some crummy detail, I want the whole summer. From May till Turkey day. Hike hose, cut line and sleep right next to that cow turd in Kennedy Meadows or any other wonderful sleeping area across the U.S. The invite doesn't stop at just her. Any of you W.O/ R.O folks wanna join me, I will welcome you with my arms full of hose for you. I have a guy on my engine that leaves the fuels crew and goes right to IN N OUT to work a shift till 2am. He has a little kid and a new baby that he doesn't even see because it would mean they wouldn't be getting their bills paid and food on the table for the kids. That makes me sick to my stomach. Look into our eyes, live in our shoes and then you can tell me if we are compensated enough.

Anymore ranting right now will only stir up my ulcer even more than it is at the moment. What can we do to get the word out to the media? Are we allowed to make contact and do interviews regarding the issues? Someone help me out, I don't really mind going out on a limb to get our point across to everybody.

Bitter as always

4/3How many of those CalFire work hours that were identified are actually
CalFire sleep hours they get paid for? Somebody needs to do that math
and push that info back up the line.

FPLR
4/3REAL ID - no problem this year.

No more worries about flying this year except for the normal SSSS stamped on your boarding pass for the "TSA turn and cough".

www.news.com/8301-13578_3-9909928-38.phpl?tag=nefd.lede

Homeland Security announced Wednesday that all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be technically Real ID-compliant by the May 11, 2008 deadline--even though many states actually have rejected the concept and have zero plans to embrace a national ID card.

This means Americans will face no new hassles when using their licenses to enter federal buildings or fly on airplanes starting on May 11. That's a good thing.

But the way this turned out is so odd it's worth repeating. States including New Hampshire, Maine, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Montana have enacted laws saying "hell no we'll never comply with Real ID." And Homeland Security officials carefully ignored those public votes of condemnation, instead pretending that those states really intend to acquiesce by the next major deadline of December 31, 2009.

wrench

4/3Ab,

Would someone who understands the numbers help me out? I am looking at three sets of staffing numbers and they do not add up.

1. The “Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module Organization” for R-5 list 275 type-3 engines (226, single apparatus stations and 49 type-3’s at dual stations).
2. The R-5 staffing report that was posted yesterday lists 273 type-3 engines for the region.
3. The “2008 Pre-season Fire Capacity Projection” that was posted yesterday lists 252 type-3 engines for R-5.

Questions

1. Clearly, the “Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module Organization” is the MEL list from a number of years ago. Is the “2008 Pre-season Fire Capacity Projection” of 252 engines what the R-5 RO sent to the WO?

2. What does that 252 engine number indicate? Can an engine be on that list if it is staffed only one day a week? Or, does being on the list signify that it is fully staffed and available 7 days a week throughout the fire season?

3. I have talked with a number of people who have indicated there will be very limited staffing on their forests. A few have stated that at best, only 50-70% of the engines on their forests will be staffed this season, and that might only be accomplished with limited availability. Is the 252 staffed engine projection a complete numbers “shell game”?

4. The big question-- Does anyone actually know how many R-5, fully staffed, 7 day a week engines are going to be fielded this year?

5. The “Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module Organization” lists 2072 positions to fully staff the 275 type-3 engines. That number is more interesting than the total number of engines. Engines can be “shell gamed,” but an employee can only be counted once. Does anyone have solid data stating how many of those 2072 positions are filled?

Highly confused and looking for answers.

Thanks, FOBS 73
4/3Ab and Casey: How about posting on wildifre.com someplace (if not already done) mailing address for the people in Congress and the senate we need to contact? I know senator Feinstein is one, but are there others that we need to contact to have our voices heard and that are willing to listen to us? I am more than willing to write letters, just need the best place to send them to and to have the address easy to find. Yes Casey I will make sure you get a copy. As for the preseason fire capability that was just posted, it too is wrong. I know the forest I work on will not meet those numbers, due to shortages on my district.

DLGM

I'll work on that when I get a chance. Ab.

4/3A new lawsuit about retardant, but really about fire suppression policy:

www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-23/1207184344241970.xml&storylist=orlocal

Hundekot

4/3Ab:

I'm afraid your comment:

Please, contributors, let's avoid references to politics unless they're direct
comments from candidates regarding their stand on forest or fire issues. Most
people have their minds made up regarding the political scene or are in the
process of deciding. There are lots of forums to get into candidates and
political issues.

will be misinterpreted. I am in agreement that comments like "Vote the
O........" are not appropriate.

However, Misery Whip's post is right on target and highly germane to the issues
being discussed in this forum. The neo-conservative agenda is well-known and
openly admits their desire to dismantle and deconstruct the federal government
(Justice dEpt, FDA, USDA, DOI, the list is endless.) We in fire, with their
advocate Mark Rey, are seeing the results of that agenda. And it has a direct
result on our firefighting community.

So I hope you are not discouraging using the Swiss Cheese (god forbid!!) to
trace the causes of this "accident" in wildland firefighting back to its root
cause at the organizational level.

Which, at least in my view, in this case is not 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue but
rather to the Executive Office Building where I believe the true mastermind of
this attack on the very core of the American Way resides. That being of course
Vice-President Cheney, who for 7 years has engineered both an overt and covert
dismantling of just about every facet of the regulatory and management
structure of this great country.

It's one thing to recognize the ill effects that over-regulation has on both
individuals and business. But what we have seen over 7 years is a conscious
deconstruction of the government that protects us in some very critical areas (I
know you libertarians out there will cringe at that one! - grin). This has
been done through the appointment of either incompetents like Michael Brown to
FEMA or Gonzalez to DOJ, or through the appointment of very smart people like
Mark Rey.

So, in the end, it is up to each of us individually and collectively to hold our
leaders at every level accountable. And we CAN do it!! Look at what Dick Mangan
engineered in Montana when ex-Senator Conrad Burns made his idiotic comments
about fire crews. We will have that opportunity on Nov 7. We had the
opportunity in 2000 and 2004, and were diverted by both the liberal and
conservative media by the "hot-button" issues like prayer in the schools,
abortion, etc. These issues are important to some. However, in terms of
importance relative to a once-great country rapidly going down the tubes, they
should not divert our attention from the issues of true leadership.

Because that's what it's all about, folks - leadership.

Which one of those candidates can provide a good command climate, describe an
end state for this country, use SMART criteria to develop objectives, and turn
intent into action?

And we will all live for 4 more years with the results of our collective votes.

Hugh Carson

4/2A few replies to some posts and a comment for your consideration...

Two thumbs up Misery Whip. Nail on the head and you hit it........ They're hoping for 4 more years of the Bush administration. We have the power to stop the insanity. I say send'em packing. Vote the O........

Name, I will follow your leadership. My emails to elected officials and the media will now include also they meet directly with Chief Officers, Superintendents to Apprentices and anyone in between. Line Officers remember what you learned about the penalty for retaliation.

Casey, I don't know where your at tonight, but I guess where ever you are, your probably very tied. Just want to say thanks man, thanks for everything.

Good night all..........

Signed,

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY

Please, contributors, let's avoid references to politics unless they're direct comments from candidates regarding their stand on forest or fire issues. Most people have their minds made up regarding the political scene or are in the process of deciding. There are lots of forums to get into candidates and political issues. I'd be happy to copy and paste messages back and forth behind the scenes. Thank you. Ab.

4/2All,

Don’t kid yourselves. To an administration that from Day One openly vowed to reduce the size of government and limit the regulatory ability of government agencies, the present chaos within the Forest Service and other agencies is seen as a GOOD thing. I’d be surprised if Mark Rey’s performance evaluation is anything less than Fully Successful (“heckuva job, Brownie”).

Our agency’s supposed leaders are hypocrites for pushing us to behave ethically while they distort the truth and allow our firefighter culture to be decimated without offering any public resistance. Leadership, Doctrine, High Reliability Organizing, and developing a “just culture” among firefighters will never achieve their lofty goals as long as our “leaders” systematically lie to us on matters of importance.

History will record what these people did when it mattered most. I just don’t think you could do much more damage to our firefighter culture than the present administration and their pet flunkeys even if you tried.

As an old friend used to say, one of the key points to recognize in a fight is when you are getting your ass kicked. The only real question left is, how much of the soul of the old Forest Service can we hang onto until the new administration takes over and cleans house?

Misery Whip
4/2liar, liar, liar, please don't tell me Rey actually said that only So Cal goes to accidents and medicals aids? This guy is under oath isn't he?

Please don't tell me our so called leaders on both coasts yesterday have just made complete A**** of themselves all in one day. April 1, 2008 will go down as the Forest Service's Black Tuesday.

HARBOUR, what do you have to say about today? You must step up and say something, do something. I ask for a reaction in this forum.

I ask those rank and file types at the Dec 10th meeting to speak out.

The only thing missing is Rey and Moore claiming MISSION ACCOMPLISHED on board an aircraft carrier. Oh that’s right, saving that for tomorrow during one of those "sunsets" we hear so much about.

To those higher up lurkers, it's time to prep the PAO types in the RO and WO, it's time to work on your talking points and baby hold on. A wave of emails are going out all over the U.S. to elective officials and media types. Words Matter ! Hang on..........

BLACK TUESDAY !
4/2
sticky
This is what R5 Forests have submitted as to their best guess on what's
actually going to be staffed this season. Quite different from what we're
supposed to staff.........

2008_preseason_fire_capacity_projection.xls (31K excel spreadsheet of resources in R5)

(Ab snipped initials)

Compare to www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/retention/r5_fire_staffing.php posted yesterday.

4/2Noname's letter to Diane Feinstein; you can use it as a model to craft your own letter. It's good because it has some down-to-earth examples to make the main points. Thanks, Contributor. Nice. Send it to Barbara Boxer too. Ab.

Dear Senator,

I'm writing to you today in regards to the retention issue we are
currently facing with the Forest Service. I want first to thank you
for all the work you have done and help us with this battle for
better treatment which will let us serve the public better.

I have been following the meetings and the hearings closely. I really
hope that Congress does not believe what our chief has pulled out of her
hat. The data that she has does not represent what really goes on.

I firmly believe that for a honest answer you need to go to the
superintendents, the low GS-4 firefighters, and of course, Casey Judd
from FWFSA.

I am outraged when I hear that we make more than Cal Fire; why don't
we compare W-2s and see who really makes more even after accounting
for hours worked? I have worked on a helicopter module in Northern
California and we performed all duties that a Cal Fire helicopter can do,
if not more. I've been an EMT, have had to do medical aids, fires, and
even search and rescue. While doing my engine time, 70% of our calls
were medicals, so when Chief Kimbell says only 4 SoCal forest do medicals,
this is crazy. I risk my life for the public and only get paid 11 dollars
an hour; I can make more by working at a burger joint, and not have to
work 900 hours of overtime every year just to get by.

Regarding staffing, I'm from the Lassen N.F. and we currently have a 10 person
crew that is disbanded due to the lack of overhead; we have GS-5 employees
working as assistant engineers because we cannot fill the spots; we have
engines only at 5 day (instead of 7 day) effective because we cannot find
people to work. Regardless of what the Chief says, there is a retention problem.
Many of the people we are losing are experienced people we cannot replace
without years of training and firefighting under their belts.

Name

4/2Was I the only one that was appalled by the misleading and somewhat bogus
Fire and Aviation management Recruitment and Retention Analysis that the
Chief recently presented to the senate sub committee, The spin that was
put on the "Data" was just barley short of criminal perjury. Once I regain
my wits about me, I will attempt to analyze the document, I'll be back.
In a nut shell there is no retention or recruitment issue, in fact our
percentage is lower than the rest of the nation's, and Cal- fire gets paid
less than we do here in Region five.

Casey Judd, are you still with us or is your mouth still hanging open in
wonder like the rest of us ?

KJ

4/2I am sitting here, looking out the window, wondering what my future holds. I have decided to take a leave of absence from my career. I am a USFS firefighter. A hotshot foreman. A stones throw from Hotshot Superintendent, the best job in wild land fire. For the first time in over 15 years, I am going to spend time with my family on the 4th of July. I am going to take a serious look at an alternative career.

And as the agency spirals further and further out of control, I cant help wondering why I would want to come back.

After all, the agency will survive. There is no recruiting and retention problem. as long as the agency can hire a gs-3 apprentice fresh out of high school every time a gs- 5/6/7/8 leaves, things will be ok. staffing levels will meet the paper expectations.

And it turns out we do get paid enough for the broken families, bum knees, and bad backs, so I can rest assured that someone will fill in behind me, do the job, and get everyone home for thanksgiving (or Christmas at least).

In fact, I have heard that some in management would like to put an end to the 1000 hour OT benchmark that so many crews live for (or is it live off of?) That would be great. More time at home, not having to work more than base 80's. That will keep them coming back for sure.

So anyway, I'm looking out my window. I can see the ocean. I'm thinking about a boat.

Good luck all, and please have a safe summer.

L -- C -- E -- S
4/2I don’t think the testimony given was anywhere near accurate in describing
the problem up my way. The ENF, TNF and MNF are all short trained
qualified personnel right now.

Norm

4/2I want to share some memorial photos of Dave Edgar with you. He was such a fine man.
These are 2 pages that came out from his family and friends. Life is so much about family:
Biological Nuclear and Extended Family, Fire Family, Forest Service Family.

Please take time today to appreciate those you love and those who love you. Sometimes
life is shorter than expected and, I'm convinced, those moments are key to our existence.

Dave1
Dave2

I love you guys and gals,
Original Ab, you're tops!

Mellie

4/2FS FF Issues:

Over the years I have desired to become a federal wildland firefighter, or as they put it a forestry tech. But browsing thru "TheySaid" and actually talking with current and former FS employees, my enthusiasm has waned. It really saddens and disappoints me to see so many firefighters face these types of issues. There's no reason why "any" GS level firefighter should have to struggle to make ends meet, given the sacrifice these people make on a daily basis. And for Overhead to disregard this is a SHAME. I truly Hope that change will soon come. Not just for the forest Service, but for all Federal Wildland fire agencies. and help young people like me re-establish the hope of one day having a great, Satisfying career as a wildland firefighter.

CLR

4/2Hello,

I am the last one standing in my extended family, the last one still working for the USFS. My husband left (see his parting message below) my mother, father, uncle, father-in-law retired, brother and brother-in-laws have left the fire end of the agency. Every day I wonder how much longer I will stay. For me, though, it is different. I make a good living doing what I do, for a person with limited higher education, the agency has done me good. Everything I know about fire came from my supervisors and the training given to me by the agency. I have had some of the best mentors through out the 18 plus yrs I have worked for this agency and, if I had wanted to promote, I guess I could have. This agency has allowed me to do my job (fire prevention) and still raise a family. I just can't complain.

I can b*tch about the real cause of all this sadness and anger, since I grew up in the FS -- when it was a family and district rangers went out into the woods to do a day's work -- but since there are so few of us left that remember that time I fear that time and age is lost. We promote to quickly now and just set young eager folks up to fail and maybe die. It's more then just retention, its the loss of owning our destiny, feeling or knowing that we have no control over what the top heavy end of our government machine is. Let's put it this way, it's no longer the Government for the people.

I stand by my statement that we allowed it to happen and it hasn't even hit bottom yet. I also want to remind everyone that if something is worth fighting for, then step into the ring, but understand that the battles are long, sometimes taking a whole career and not all of us will win or come out the other side whole. That is our choice.

I strongly urge any young, strong, smart, person looking for a job with the USFS to NOT GET TUNNEL VISION, to keep options open and to apply with other agencies that see the true value in you. Don't allow yourself to become a victim (it's always our choice).

My husband's parting words still make my eyes sting, as I know how much he loved what he did and the people he worked for when he was with the agency.

thanks for your time
jj

```````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````
Hello friends,

This is my last week working for the Forest Service. If you don't know me, I have grown up in and around the Stanislaus National Forest. I am a Fire Dozer Operator. I was a Stanislaus Hotshot. I started here in 1989 in Pinecrest and was so happy to become a part of the Forest Service family that I had seen while tagging along with my father during summer months in my childhood. My father retired after thirty-plus years of working here, both of my brothers worked here, my wife and her mother and father, her brother and uncle are all part of the Stanislaus family. The Stanislaus is and always will be family to me.

I love my job here, I have often said that I have the best job in the Forest Service and I do mean it. I am leaving to work for another agency that considers the job that I take so much pride in doing here, to be a Fire-Fighting job. They are offering more money, more time off and a better retirement. That is just too good of an offer to pass up, to do the same job, on the same firelines, in the same dangerous situations. I'm now part of a trend that I hope the Washington and Regional Offices will soon notice; the money does matter when your job is risking your life to protect others. The U.S. Forest service employs a Fire Department. It is the best trained, highest skilled and lowest paid Fire Department in California. Not calling it a Fire Department doesn't hide the fact that it is one. Think of how few people would be leaving this agency, after years of training, mentoring and experience, if we were just paid comparably to those who we work next to on the firelines. I wouldn't be leaving.

Having said that, I want to thank all of you who have helped me and my family through the years, It's not easy to leave when I hear the voices and see the faces of my forest service family everywhere I look.

thank you,
(name snipped)
4/2Unbelievable

I cant believe the chiefs opinion is true. Either she is just yes sir/mamming the person above her and turning a blind eye to ……. you know all the rest of us whom she er, ehem “represents”, or she is very out of touch with reality.

If this ever gets back to you Chief Kimble, then here is what I would like you to know about life here on planet earth for the rest of your employees.

I speak for the people who specialize in suppressing wild land fires on the United states federally held lands. These are the people who do the work equivalent of six to eight thousand calories per day. This is on par with professional athletes or at least a hard laborer. The difference is, us wildland firefighters attend enough annual mandatory training to compile bachelors degrees. The difference is quite simply between the life and death of our colleges. It takes nearly ten years of specialized service, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of training and equipment to get us to this place where finally we are blessed to lead others in our job.

The difference between my specific position and say a hard laborer, is that there are only around three hundred people in the world that are currently trained and (trusted) to do what I do at present. I would say that qualifies me as a specialist in my field. As I sit and pour through the excruciating minutia that it takes to bring on eighteen firefighters account for all their annual refreshers and try to do my best to keep their careers and qualifications moving in the right direction, it is a slap in my face to hear you say to congress that we do not deserve a pay raise. If the workload that a specialist and technician does is not enough to loosen the purse strings for you, or the fact that we are in a business where safety is paramount, and still we allow our best and our brightest to be pulled away, then allow me one more chance to reach you on a human level.

Quite simply stated, this job has become discriminatory. This job excludes all those who have families or intend on having them. A person who supervises up to ten people can still be eligible for welfare. The reason is, my wife cannot have another job with my schedule. The I’s and T’s do not dot and cross. She would literally be working simply to pay for the extra expense of all that is commensurate with the dual career family. I am literally GONE from May to November these days. There are so many mandatory trainings and refreshers and hirings that also go with my job scattered throughout the rest of my year, that I can’t be counted on for anything more than an income. Trust me this, with a daddy/mommy who is gone as much as we are, you need a strong constant companion at home to keep the kids “OK”. Ahhhhhhhhh so there in lies the dilemma….. I simply make too little annually.

So what do we do? Exclude those of us who intend on trying to raise a family from this career, or give us a little more money? There is also the question of why is this not a readily understood problem in our agency. Let me suggest that it is, and the folks who have the executive power to help us are generally done putting their children through college and have long since gained their buying power in the real estate market. O ya they are GS-14 step 8's as well. Well here is another update for those who haven't noticed. The price of fuel housing and groceries have quadrupled in the past ten years. Guess what has not?

-stickthrower

4/2retention issues:

I have to ask the unasked question...

Was there any communication between the W.O. and the R.O. with regards to the Chief's response to Congress?
If the Chief's cronies could not make sense of the issue brought to them by the Region 5 Leadership, did they communicate back in an attempt to clarify the issue?

This is an issue that has gained Congressional attention. This is an issue that has potential for significant effects to public and national resources. I would think that the problem poised would deserve some communication with those that have raised the issue and the office that makes the decisions.

Was there some clarification and dialog with the Regional Office that has raised the issue? Especially if the issue has been found to be non-substantiated it would seem necessary to go back to the source in an attempt to make sense of the misunderstanding. I thought that was the purpose of the extended deadlines. THIS FINDING SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A SURPRISE TO ANYONE!

I would think that it would be possible to trace the chain of events and identify the person/position of disconnect with the reality on the ground and the irresponsibility of someone's personal agenda. I would think that an action like that would have some type of disciplinary action. I'll take a breather now-- maybe some sick leave...

What the----

Take a look at the documents provided so far. Chief Kimbell looks bad because the Region gave her the info to do it. Rey is clueless anyway. Pena (R5 Deputy Forester) requested (on 3/24) from each forest, their forest resources numbers that went into the table (sticky post). He has to be aware of how different actual staffing is from staffing that was budgeted based on need and preparedness allocations. Why was that info not given to Gail and explained? Regionally, the buck stops with Randy Moore (R5 Forester). Ab.

4/2I can't say that I expected much from the retention letter yesterday.
We ARE obviously losing more people than the political hacks say but I
think the important part is that we are losing the most experienced people.
When an SFEO, BC, DIV etc with 15-20 years in leaves that creates a much
bigger hole than losing a few GS-4 apprentices. (Not to say that they
aren't important) When a Division and Battalion Chief "retires" to go to
CDF that shows up as a retirement in the books but we all know that they
would not have retired unless they had that much better option.

In response to Mr Rey, I'm on a forest in North Zone and have been
to two medical aids in the last two weeks. I'm not surprised that he
perjured himself, but how are we supposed to trust and even believe
anything that upper management says. Perjury obviously isn't a big deal
but has anyone checked to make sure he has his AGLEARN done yet? We are
supposed to be developing a solid work ethic for our younger firefighters,
oops (Forestry Technicians) but why should they put forth any extra
effort when the WO and RO have already set their bar at 50%. Well I'd
better get out and help finish our targets so the RO and WO people can get
their cash award this year.

PS I sent a picture of a sunset to my mortgage company and they sent it back.....

NZSFEO

4/2Remember everyone... Tom Harbour (Chief of Fire and Aviation Management) and Hank Kashdan (Chief, Business Operations) invited honest communication on their blogs.... They so proudly announced there would be honest communication and questions answered.... I have it that they were exercising the utmost in sincerity when they made those statements. I hope that is true when lies were told to the Senate by Mark Rey, to the American people, and to the press.

DUTY RESPECT INTEGRITY

Let's give them honest communication they can share with the Forest Service Chief (Kimbell) and the Undersecretary of Agriculture (Rey).

Disregard the threatening e-mails to everyone by the various forest, region, and WO PAOs to shut the hell up and only let the PAOs speak "factually" from talking points. If you are at home, not on govt. time, not using govt. computers, or not representing yourself as an agent of the Forest Service... Exercise your First Amendment rights as an American Citizen.

You think they can keep up with honest, factual, and cited communications that refute the "April Fools Day" press releases, WO talking points, Senate Hearing proceedings, and R5 Video Conference fallacies? I think not. Facts speak far louder than lies we were given today. They broke the Oath of Office I signed twenty something years ago by deliberate lies and half truths as they reported to... and lied to Congress about.

Consider this another Whistleblower Disclosure as repeated in both Congressional Testimony (cited) from the past; reports to the OGC/OIG; reports to the OSC; and repeated attempts (some heard/some unheard) to educate Congress throughout the years through the voices of others.

My greatest pleasure and honor was being cited two times in a book by an "ologist" who considers me to be a friend........I too consider him to be a good friend.

Facts speak louder than words or opinions...... They Should!!!! Facts are facts.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Southern California Chapter Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (1997 - Present)
Duty Respect Integrity

PS - Ab, yes, I want this posted. At this point, I'd be ashamed to continue my career without addressing the facts and putting the hammer down on folks who want to play the game at the expense of the safety and efficiency of our federal wildland fire program.
4/2How would they like it if all of Region 5 was to take 5 days of sick leave.

smokeater

4/2Would people be willing to post letters they write for others to use
as a template. Some people are just better writers then others.

AV
4/2FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRIS GALLEGOS
APRIL 1, 2008 (202) 224-7082

DOMENICI WANTS FOREST FIREFIGHTER TRAINING REQUIREMENTS RESOLVED

Senator Concerned New OPM Standards Will Force Qualified Firefighters Out

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today suggested that Congress should be ready to act before new training requirements force dozens of experienced firefighters out of service in battling wildfires in the national forests.

Domenici today raised concerns about confusion over training criteria being determined by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for the U.S. Forest Service during a Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Forest Service’s FY2009 budget requests.

Domenici warned that an OPM requirement that training be provided through an accredited college curriculum, rather an in-house or on-the-job training, would cause veteran firefighters to leave or be disqualified from fire management positions as soon as the beginning of FY2009.

“I am concerned that we could lose the Forest Service’s most qualified firefighters over what appears to be a disagreement between the bureaucrats at OPM and the Forest Service and Department of the Interior,” Domenici said. “The confusion between OPM and Forest Service Human Resources is causing some to give up applying for firefighting positions because no one knows which training courses might be acceptable to OPM.”

“As a result, we are on the cusp of having several hundred highly-trained and experienced wildland firefighters quit because they feel the rules are being changed unfairly,” he said. “We may be filling key positions with recent college graduates who have little or no real wildland firefighting experience but who have the sheepskin required by OPM.”

Domenici suggested that Congress should be ready to “step forward to keep this from happening,” possibly by enacting legislation to waive some college-accredited training requirements or extending the period allowed before the requirements are fully enforced. Domenici received assurances from both Subcommittee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and ranking member Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) that they will work with him to resolve the issue.

During the hearing, Domenici asked Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell what actions the Forest Service might take to address the situation, including continuing to press for waivers for experienced firefighters caught up in the training requirement situation.

“I understand that deadlines are looming, and that OPM has refused to grant a waiver to their new standard that would re-instate the Forest Service’s ability to grant credit for in-house training courses. I worry that for many employees it is questionable whether or not they have the time needed to take the accredited college course work necessary to gain their qualifications under OPM’s new standard,” Domenici said.

Domenici also expressed frustration with OPM actions that have made it difficult for Forest Service human resource personnel to answer questions about specific course work requirements. He urged Kimbell to focus on getting firefighters the answers they need.

Many Forest Service human resource personnel now work from the U.S. Forest Service Albuquerque Administrative Service Center.
4/1This is what the region has required your Forest staff. They must be staffed to the
R-5 module configurations. If you cannot staff these resources due to vacancies,
report it immediately to Feinstien, Casey and anyone else you think would like to
know the truth about the lies that were reported today.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/retention/r5_fire_staffing.php
(The table didn't fit across the page or I would have posted it here. Ab.)

We lost a battle today, however we will win this fight and we will succeed because
we are right!

Hold 'em to it!

We'd be happy to compile any info folks are willing to send in. Ab.

4/1retention issue:

I, am so totally shocked at the blatant disregard of facts by Kimble and Rey. What magic hat are they going to pull captains and engineers out of to fill all of the vacancies. On my local forest alone there will be a minimum of 3 engines unstaffed this summer. OK, so maybe they did hire 1000 new employees, but what positions are they filling? are these leadership positions? or just seasonal, or both? In the 4 years i have spent on this forest, this is the first season i have seen any engines unstaffed due to lack of qualified personnel, much less three simultaneously. Another thing, a captain that i know of first hand, has moved from a hand crew assistant sup. to engine capt with one season as an engineer, all in three years. Now, correct me if i am wrong AB, i may have all my facts mixed up but this reminds me of the incident in the northwest where a certain incident commander was under qualified and under experienced, resulting in 2 firefighter deaths. As far as only four forests respond to TC's that's a load and a half, I know that on this forest we do, and often, especially since we are 20 min from the nearest local agency station (also BLS), and 25-35 min from the nearest ALS medic or fire unit. Not to mention all of the medical calls. With a town population of over 1000 we see our fair share.

Again, all i can say is wow, i too will do all in my power to open the eyes of our congress, i am not a permanent employee but this is my future... i hope, and the future of a lot of friends. Not to mention the all of the public, and the service we provide to them.

Dazed and Confused

2008 Retention Draft: www.wildlandfire.com/retention_2008/retention_2008.php

4/1Whats in a title?

"Supervisory Forestry Technician Assistant District Fire Management Officer Suppression Battalion Chief" ...lets see thats 91 letters at 989.01= 90000.00 per year with 1000 hours unplanned overtime....

" Fire Captain, CALFIRE" ...ok thats 18 letters at 5111.11 a letter = 92000.00 per year with planned overtime but not including unplanned overtime... this could go even higher!

To be fair I left out " United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, " because I wasn't sure if it would cause me to actually pay money.

Its a drop in title and level of responsibility, but I would say that is better pay.
feel free to give my statistics to mark and gale.

sickupandfed
4/1Ab,

Although I was expecting somewhat of a let down today, I also was stunned at what came out of the briefing paper.
Instead of ranting, I would just like to say:

Thank you Casey for all that you do on behalf of our community. It is our honor to have you represent us in Washington.

Thank you to all the FWFSA members out there. Keep spreading the word.

And thank you to whoever (I think it might have been Don Will?) asked Randy and Ed if there was any thoughts about teaming up with the FWFSA during the conference call.

Change will come, illegitimi non carborundum!

Palos

4/1I feel that actions of the Forest Service Regional and WO managers
are increasingly polarizing and radicalizing fire. I wish it wasn't so.

Randy, Gail, Ed, Tom, isn't there a different way to do this that can
yield more productive results for this Agency?

Mellie

4/1the other end of the retention issue...

I am retired from the FS myself, got out shortly after my 50th birthday. I was burned out (no pun) and no longer wanted to be part of the impending train wreck. I walked completely away from fire and never looked back -- no AD, no contracting. Started a second career in a field totally unrelated to fire or emergency services. This website is my only contact with contemporary fire issues.

I was surprised at the number of my fellow fire retirees, who after retiring, walked completely away like I did and want nothing to do with fed fire anymore. One former captain described his retirement as "like a rat deserting the Titanic before it hit the iceberg." Another said "I am too old and too tired to continue hoping things will get better." These are common sentiments. All are now happier than they have been in years and have no regrets whatsoever.

GN

4/1Pardon me while I vent for a moment . . .

I recently began reading "they said" and trying to follow some of the talk regarding these issues. This is my first time ever posting. Reading about what went on is making me sick to my stomach. I currently work in south zone region 5 for the last 6 years. I left a management position at a restaurant to pursue my career as a firefighter; not for the money but because it's what I loved. As with any employer I have my complaints, but I have been happy working for the F.S.

While I admit I have kept my options open, CDF, for multiple reasons, has been my last resort. Hearing the actions of upper management in the agency, however, is causing me to lose the last shred of confidence and pride I had in being a member of the Forest Service.

The restaurant I left was a FAST FOOD chain that treated their employees better. As a low level manager my annual salary was more than my engineers! Upper level managers are currently bringing in over 100,000 a year, a position I would have been in now if not for changing careers. I'm actually considering going back into FAST FOOD . . . lol

In talking with fellow workers on my forest, it's not about the money . . . it's about the quality of life. A firefighter that faces the risks that we do should not have to work two jobs or a thousand hours of overtime just to make ends meet. This is so wrong!

I hate crying about the problem and not trying to be part of the solution, so whatever advice is out there on how someone at my level can try to effect change please let me know . . .

Future burger flipper

4/1Casey, you're truly the best.

Fedwatcher: Ray actually said that?

Hammer everyone, hammer away at all of them. Email out as much as possible.

I listened to the conference and was amazed when asked about the data for fire starts and successful IA's they said, they needed to go back and look at the data again. They could not explain the data and had no one at the conference who could explain the data. When told about the CAL FIRE vs FS pay, it was well CAL FIRE works more hours. UNBELIEVABLE!

They clearly do not understand what to do, they seemed lost throughout the entire conference. Completely lost to the point I was starting to feel a bad for them. They clearly were not prepared. Can you imagaine a Type I IC or Forest Chief not having all his/her facts at hand for a big call like this? Not gonna happen.

This is what happens when LINE OFFICERS are in charge. We must and we will get out from under LINE OFFICER control. At a minimum we must report through a fire chain of command to the Chief of the Forest Service. Why? These Line Officers are looking forward to the next job, they will follow the party line. When your the Chief, your done, no place to promote to and we might have a chance to get better decisions. Just like LE&I did, we must get out from under LO domination. To some of the superb LO's that read theysaid and work with the fire crews and understand what's going on, tell me I'm wrong for demanding centralized fire, join us today and send in your emails as well.

It was our voices that got them to the Dec 10th meeting. It will be our voices that will get them back to the table. We must have a 7-day sustained phone and email barrage in advance of the BOD meeting next week. The 7-day barrage must be to all levels of the US Government and media. Do not let up !

KEEP THE CHATTER HIGH! HAMMER AWAY!

I heard Rey say what Fedwatcher quoted as well. I was surprised. Ab.

4/1In response to Senator Domenici,

Mark Rey also lied to the Committee when he said that only the four
Southern California forests respond to traffic accidents or provided
medical attention to injured forest visitors.

Please reference www.wildcad.net/.

Liar, liar, liar!!!

4/1Regarding retention:

***PLEASE WRITE/CALL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES*****
***********************PLEASE WRITE TO CHIEF KIMBELL**************************

************************DON'T SLACK IT OFF .... JUST DO IT**************************

Let them know your concerns ASAP...

This IS the time to strike if there ever was one. The Iron is hot.

Writing letters tonight,

-Joatmon

4/1Casey and Mark Davis,

Save these quotes (below) for Mark Rey's Contempt of Congress hearing this June when our vacancies due to recruitment and retention cause engines, crews, and helicopters to have critical leadership positions unfilled. You can only lie to Congress for so long Mr. Rey...

Senator Feinsten (to Chief Kimbell): "So, we can anticipate when we come to fire season, and I look at this, every position is going to be filled?"

Undersecretary Mark Rey: "Yes."

Senator Feinstein: "I heard that definitive yes. I appreciate it. it is noted in the record."

Undersecretary Mark Rey: "Occasionally we can give short answers."

Fedwatcher

4/1retention issue:

Wow! Zero.

My son is currently a sought-after apprentice employee in R5. I will be urging him to finish up his training and head for the hills. Blows me away that they did nothing to compensate those, all of you, that RISK THEIR LIVES to suppress wildland fires. $12.00 an hour? Give me a frickin' break! No retention problem? CDF making less than we do? Hey, I'm retired after 31 years and pissed. Maybe because, at one time, I was loaded with pride for the outfit. Not any more...... Thanks for the email for Ms. Kimball. She will be hearing from this source....

Casey, our gratitude to you will not pass in the wind......

The Picker

4/1Clearly there's a lot of work to do on the retention issue, but there were
very encouraging signs on the GS-0401 front at today's FS budget hearing.
Audio of the hearing and written testimony submitted by Undersecretary Rey
and Chief Kimbell are at http://appropriations.senate.gov/hearings.cfm?s=int.
You will not be able to play the audio on a FS computer because it requires
RealPlayer, which has been removed from them. It works fine on my home
computer. The first several minutes of the audio are blank -- it starts up at
about 8.5 minutes.

Here's where specific issues we're working on came up -- you can move the
play button to go straight to them:

Feinstein starts exchange on retention at 45 min.

Domenici starts at 1 hr 3 min on the GS-0401 quals issue, then goes to
CA emergency response issue ("mission creep").

Craig strongly supports experience over college and bashes OPM at 1 hr
12 min -- those who've met our brother who staffs the Senator will
appreciate these comments. The Chief also supported experience. Craig:
"OPM listen! Don't hide your head in a bunch of paperwork."

I'd climb on my soapbox, but don't have the time. Gotta go -- there's
still follow-up to get done tonight.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
4/1Re: WO Data (Comparing Apples to Oranges)

1) The first rule of data collection is to make sure you are comparing apples to apples, or oranges to oranges.

2) The second rule is that the observations from the data must be re-creatable.

3) If the Forest Service wants to use the national attrition rate as the variable to to use in making its decision, let's look how the elements of that variable really stack up factually.

On today's Video Conference, the Regional Forester, Deputy Regional Forester, and Fire Director kept mentioning the 13% national average for federal attrition. So lets call that an (apple). The Executive Branch national attrition rate (apple) is 13.47%. The Forest Service national attrition rate (apple) is 35.36%. The Region 5 attrition rate (apple) is 40.85%. The Region 5 Forestry Aid/Technician attrition rate (apple) is 52.31%.

So now lets compare oranges. The Executive Branch national quit rate (orange) is 4.76%. The Forest Service national quit rate (orange) is 12.34%. The Region 5 quit rate (orange) is 11.64%. The Region 5 Forestry Aid/Technician quit rate (orange) is 14.42%.

Now, just for fun, lets throw in a curve ball called a pear. 31.10% of all Forestry Aid/Technicians are employed in Region 5. So if you use a stratified (weighted) average (like the Forest Service is so keen to use nowadays in justifying the rise in large fire costs) you will actually get to the root of the problem.

Findings

Attrition (apple)

1. The Forest Service attrition rate is 21.89% over the national average.
2. The Region 5 Forestry Aid/Technician attrition rate is 38.84% over the national average.

Quits (orange)

1. The Forest Service quit rate is 7.58% over the national average.
2. The Region 5 Forestry Aid/Technician quit rate is 9.66% over the national average. It is over 3 times the national average.

General

1. The Forest Service is in a world of hurt unless it recognizes it is losing the best of the best due to poor pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Lobotomy

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

Ref: Office of Personnel Management (OPM) FedScope

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

As of September 2007, the combined federal employment within the executive branch was 1,862,404 employees.

For FY 2007, the executive branch had a total of 250,779 separations (13.47%):


-- 62,244 Retirements (3.34%)
-- 88,673 Quits (4.76%)
-- 10,383 Terminated (Discipline/Removal) (0.56%)
-- 55,919 Terminated (Expired Appointment / Other) (3.00%)
-- 29,392 Agency Transfer-Out (1.50%)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As of September 2007, the Forest Service had a total of 39,185 employees.

For FY 2007, the Forest Service had a total of 13,857 separations (35.36%):


-- 1,297 Retirements (3.31%)
-- 4,834 Quits (12.34%)
-- 123 Terminated (Discipline/Removal) (0.31%)
-- 7,171 Terminated (Expired Appointment/Other) (18.30%)
-- 367 Agency Transfer-Out (0.94%)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As of September 2007, Region 5 had a total of 7,752 employees in California.

For FY 2007, Region 5 had a total of 3,167 separations (40.85%):


-- 225 Retirements (2.90%)
-- 902 Quits (11.64%)
-- 53 Terminated (Discipline/Removal) (0.68%)
-- 1900 Terminated (Expired Appointment/Other) (24.51%)
-- 65 Agency Transfer-Out (0.84%)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As of September 2007, Region 5 had a total of 4,320 employees working within the Forestry Aid/Technician series.

For FY 2007, Region 5 had 2,260 separations within the Forestry Aid/Technician series (52.31%).


-- 70 Retirements (1.62%)
-- 623 Quits (14.42%)
-- 36 Terminated (Discipline/Removal) (0.83)
-- 1488 Terminated (Expired Appointment/Other) (34.44%)
-- 29 Agency Transfer-Out (0.67%)

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

4/1Listen to Audio Webcast Recording of April 1 Hearing on the US Forest Service Budget.
This is the hearing that Casey, Feinstein and other senators, Kimbell, Rey... participated in
today.

It takes time to load. Audio starts at 8:27.

http://appropriations.senate.gov/

Gizmo

I listened this morning. Readers, it's worth listening to. Good congressional support (Casey agrees) on the 401 issue. Ab.

4/1retention issue:

WOW! Kind of what I have become accustomed to expect form the Agency but still amazed at the stupidity.

It is obvious that the extensions needed to address the retention plan were needed to water down the issue with shoddy Statistics work. Hell I learned that in the first session of TFM!.. I hope the Agency knows I won't be doing any B.S. Stats or smoke and mirrors to tow any company line!

I thought it was illegal to be intentionally deceitful during any type of hearing. Can anyone challenge Ms.Kimbell and bring her to her knees? How are we filling a 1,000+ vacancies last year with only a 9% attrition rate? How many vacancies are still left? Did we fill vacancies or shuffle people around to make it look like jobs were filled?

Forest Service Firefighters make more money than the comparable CALFIRE?...REALLY?... bring in the W-2s. I understand that the Chief and her cronies searched high and low to get the Base Hourly Wage for comparison, but what about the annual salary? What about compensable hours on fire assignments? Did the Chief mention that we were paying other Agencies 24/7 to do the exact same job that we are discussing while we might give our own personnel 15.5?

If the Chief spent her time and energy studying the issues at hand rather than trying to squash the Firemen we would have a solution already.

signed,
what the----

4/1To all:

In all I did 3 radio interviews this afternoon. I believe one was live, the others were to be used in stories. Additionally, I spoke with press from the Press Enterprise in San Bernardino and the AP at the hearing whom I've worked with before.

I was pleasantly surprised by the understanding of the issues by both reporters and radio folks even before the interviews started. This is a perfect opportunity for our firefighters to contact their friends, neighbors, family etc and communicate with congressional representatives, your regional forester, Chief Kimbell etc.

I found it ironic to hear that some in R5 were told not to talk to the press. Heck, they don't need to, the press already has the goods!

I am disappointed that both Mr. Moore & Mr. Hollenshead told so many in Reno recently about all the hard work they were doing on this issue only to toe the company line on the teleconference call, but they are beholden to the WO and it should be expected.

Many of you now can chose to bail, vent and curse, or become more resolved that you have the ear of Congress and the press, and move forward and help to effect the changes the Agency has refused to make.

It ain't cheap coming to DC and if there are folks out there wanting to take control of their career, we at the FWFSA would be honored, and quite frankly could use your financial support as a member. You can choose to buy a 12 pack and a half a month or invest in your future...

I've invested my future in all of you... As cliché as it sounds, this is just a bump in the round. Approach it, address it, move over it and move on. This provides us a perfect opportunity to start moving our legislative initiative which I will begin in earnest as soon as I get home later this week.

Thanks for the honor of allowing me to be here in DC on your behalf.

Casey
4/1Retention issue:

"Pay has often been cited as a reason for firefighters leaving the Forest Service, but for agencies such as CAL FIRE, increased employee pay is achieved by working more hours not higher salaries. Forest Service hourly pay rates are greater than for comparable CAL FIRE positions. Pay disparity with non-federal positions in Southern California is comparable to national averages, and lower than several other high cost of living areas."

That's funny. I'm an IHC Captain, I worked 1000 hours of overtime last year and my friends who are CAL FIRE Captains made more than me with their BASE salary. One of the guys went to ONE fire and made $100,000 by covering shifts and other various ways he got overtime. He spent most nights at home with his family too. Took vacation in July. LOL.

To be honest, I'm really not surprised with the findings our "leadership" provided.

Keep up the good work Casey, I hope one day all your effort bears fruit.

Sign me: hotshot capn

4/1In reference to the CDL requirements for the Forest Service or Fire Agencies. The posts are correct in that a special license is not required, provided the number of axles or weight are not exceeded.

HOWEVER, because air brakes and high profile vehicles (like the crew carriers) drive differently and have unique characteristics, at a minimum (emphasis added) additional training is required. In the past, some crews, districts or forests have found it easiest to require that drivers get a CDL. This gives the driver an additional DOT qualification and insures that the driver has been tested by an outside agency and certified. New requirements from the DOT are only going to tighten regulations for those driving such vehicles. While it is not required by law, it it should be recommended that drivers get the added license and better yet, allowed to do on the job.

The military does have a system in place to provide on the job training and licensure, however it is not always followed. Only those in a particular MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) like a Truck Driver, Scout, MP, etc. receive a course and certification in a specific vehicle type. But because the vehicles that the Army utilizes and the conditions they operate in, requires an additional license. You can have a CDL and still not be certified to drive a truck in the Army.

The reality is that the USFS and other agencies should have a policy in place for vehicles below 26,000 lbs., and in most places it is easiest to allow the firefighter to take the time and training to get a Class B at the least. As the Haz-Mat and Tank endorsement are only an additional 10 or so questions each, you might as well get those additional endorsements. However the DHS requirements, it costs an additional $90 to get the Haz Mat certification as fingerprinting and background check are required.

Unfortunately this issue is being handled differently in every region, forest and district. I got a CDL on my own to help with my job prospects and as far as I know I am only one of perhaps a dozen on the entire forest that are legal in driving vehicles with tanks, haz-mat and/or airbrakes. But because the forest has a variety of equipment in dis-repair and I always feel rushed to drive something, I no longer drive anything 'big' for the forest.

Engine Crews have some license requirements, but again, they are different depending on where you go. As an Engine Boss, I was lucky enough to have support from my Ranger and my entire crew was given time to take and pass the CDL.

If you really want to open a can of worms, look at the trailers used to transport drip torch fuel, saw gas, diesel, unleaded, ATVs, etc. Most are not in compliance and many are downright illegal, but most everyone turns a blind eye as it would be expensive to repair or retrofit this equipment. My own forest thinks it is safer to transport 50 filled drip torch containers on a trailer with two fifty gallon tanks for drip torch fuel, then build a placarded tank trailer and require a driver with a haz-mat endorsement. By the time we get to the RX fire site, the trailer is soaked in fuel, we may have bounced a few drip torches out and damaged a few more, but it's all ok, as we kept the load under the legal limit'. They both carry the same amount of fuel, but the placarded tank trailer is 100 times safer.

Aardvark
4/1Good interview Casey, did anyone record the interview? If so,
can you post it so we can download it?

Thanks.

FP

Very fine interview... Ab.

4/1Great job on the interview, Casey. More or less it went somewhat like this from my notes:

Reporter/Interviewer: A hotly contested report regarding attrition of Forest Service firefighters came out today. It was ordered by Senator Diane Feinstein to address a high rate of wildland firefighter attrition and was 2 months late. The Forest Service made no recommendations to deal with the attrition. With us today we have Casey Judd of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association. Welcome Casey, you've talked with us before.

Interviewer Q: Is money the reason why firefighters are leaving the Forest Service?

Casey: Money is part of the reason. Federal employees can't negotiate pay and benefits as can State and Municipal Firefighters and they get paid less. However, lack of support from the Forest Service, any support -- pay and benefits, working conditions, other issues -- more and more make wildland firefighters feel like the Forest Service (pardon me) doesn't give a damn about them.

Interviewer Q: So young people find Forest Service fire a great way to get their training and go on to other departments?

Casey: Not just young people. There are permanent career, firefighters coming out of the Academy, temps that come on seasonally, permanent part time 13/13 or 18/8... that are moving on.

Some come in as low as "GS-3" receiving very low pay and risk their lives. They receive no benefits. Three of the five firefighters who died on the Esperanza Fire were temps that did not have benefits. They don't come in for the pay, but soon find it hard to raise a family and pay the bills.

Interviewer Q: They have no health insurance or other benefits?

Casey: The feds hire temps and they have no health coverage, no Federal Employee Group Life Insurance; if they are injured they have a Workers Compensation process to go through, not right for firefighters who risk their lives.

Interviewer ... ready to wrap it up...

Casey: (presses on, good man!) I hope the public understands that the Fire Program of the Forest Service is in dire shape. The report from the Forest Service does not acknowledge this or provide suggestions to retain firefighters. I hope that the public living in or near national forests contact Senators Feinstein and Boxer to urge them to support firefighter issues...

4/1It feels good to pay my $10 dues to the FWFSA every pay period. Thanks Casey, for doing all you did. What a stupid response from the Forest Service. Hopefully the public will step in now too, and turn the heat up. I intend to become fully involved in this as we all deserve it. The entire FS community has the full support of my family too. All my friends are frustrated and upset too, and intend to get involved in this too. Some email accounts are about to be STUFFED with nasty grams.

ES

Join FWFSA. Ab.

4/1Current rundown of news reports regarding FS failure to address Wildland Firefighter Retention.
The station says the SoCal firefighter topic will come up at 4:10 PM CA time.

Listen online.

1610 (4:10 PM California time)
Casey will be on KGO News 810 San Francisco
www.kgoam810.com/listenlive.asp (Click "Listen")

4/1To All;

While I know the temptation is to vent here about the retention report, I would like to encourage all of you posting your comments here to also email them... not from a Gov't computer, to:

akimbell@fs.fed.us

and inundate her email account. Or call her office at 202-205-1661. Heck make up a new screen name and just preface the email by saying you are one of "her" firefighters, or whatever and say what you have to say. You have the right. But besides that I want EVERYONE to know that every senator, every congressman and every staff person I spoke to today knows the report for what it is... BS What the report has done has re-energized some on the Hill to recognize that the FS is in denial and so dysfunctional that it will take a number of initiatives to fix the problems the FS has had the opportunity to fix themselves.

Mr. Rey will tread water and slither through any and all testimony knowing full well his days are numbered as this Administration comes to an end. On the other hand, Chief Kimbell may have more to lose and she should be the focus of your comments.

Perhaps the most glaring realization to Congress and the press so far is the great work product the retention meetings in Sacramento put together and the unabashed, completely blatant denial by the FS leadership that problems exist.

Perhaps the FS leadership doesn't realize that when Congress pokes and prods on an issue and seeks a plan or response from an Agency on a particular matter, they (congress) already have the answers to their questions. Congress has now gone through the formality of providing the Agency the opportunity to acknowledge a problem, respond to the problems and offer solutions. The Agency has failed to grasp that opportunity.

Sooo, your voice will continue to resonate and ensure change... with or without the Agency's help.

More meetings tomorrow so more to follow.

Casey

I think I speak for all when I say, Thanks, Casey. Ab.

4/1Didn't hear anything on this one:

1515 (3:15 PM California time)
Casey will be on KFWB News 980 Los Angeles
www.kfwb.com/ (click "Audio" in top header or "Listen Now" to the Left)
(I hope this is the right place and that it's live; but sounds like sports. I'll continue to monitor until the next one at 4PM.)

Ab,

I've been trying to call you. I will be on a live radio interview with
KGO out of San Francisco today at 4:00pm CA time. I don't know
what stations around CA that entails but maybe you can post
something about it.

Casey

www.kgoam810.com/
I think this is the live news feed below; anyone know different?
www.kgoam810.com/listenlive.asp (Click "Listen")

4/1Retention issue:

I'm at a complete loss. Ever the optimist, I was expecting empty promises
of further analysis. To completely deny there is a problem is just mind
boggling to me. After sitting in on the RFs conference call, I was very
tempted to walk out the door and keep walking, but I've got less than a
year and half to go till retirement, so will stick it out, although not
with the same amount of vigor that I have in the past. I really don't know
what to say to the young folks just coming into the organization, but if it
was me in their shoes, I'd be looking elsewhere. That seems to be what the
agency wants.

TC

4/1Retention issue:

"FIRE" on our trucks should now read "F.I.R.E" which stands for:
Forest Incident Response Equipment. Lets take the lights and sirens
off too... we all know how much drama that caused.

Bummed

4/1Retention issue:

Outright disgusting!! shame Shame SHAME! on the Forest Service. After all the times we were promised word on the retention strategy and all the extensions the Forest Service got, this is what they come up with? Everything is great?! This really is a circus. Casey, bless your heart man, thanks for working so hard to battle these fools that fight us so hard. Kinda funny how they made it VERY clear that we are NOT firefighters. We are Forestry Technicians who happen to go to fires every now and then. Only when one of us dies are we firefighters. And even then it's not for very long. I am extremely disappointed in this agency. I really hoped that they would talk about doing SOMETHING. ANYTHING. But we got NOTHING.

Signed,
Blah

4/1Retention issue:

Wow, as to all the hope and months waiting, this is what they come up with! Very disappointing to those who are with the Agency!!!!! I can't believe that Agency thinks nothing is wrong. And it really all does not have to deal with pay, also retirement but that's not mentioned.??? What next? Who's listening now??

Not waiting anymore!

GA

4/1Retention issue:

It is very sad. I have keeping my head up and trying to keep positive
environment, but it is hard when this happens. What was stated is very
clear for all to read and understand.

I think we all need to recognize Casey and everyone else for the good fight
he gave 'em.

SG

Casey and the FWFSA are not done by a long shot. Ab.

4/1Retention issue:

This saddens me to see how blind they are.

Chief Kimbell provided testimony this morning before the Senate Appropriations Committee. During the hearing, she fielded questions regarding our Agency’s response to language attached to the December 2007 Omnibus Bill. The Chief shared some of the results of an analysis of firefighter recruitment and retention issues that the Region and the Washington Office conducted. I want to share these results with you.

During the past several years in Region 5 there has been increasing concern among field firefighters and fire leadership surrounding morale and the quality of work life. These concerns have been expressed in many ways, including a desire for increased pay and greater recognition for the types of work conducted in the field. Some forests have experienced an increasing number of firefighters leaving the Agency for positions with State and local fire departments.

In the recruitment and retention analysis we found that while some Forest Service fire employees have left the Agency for positions with State and local fire agencies, the employment data does not indicate that employee retention in California is unusual, or that it is affecting our capacity to effectively respond to wildfires. Our recruitment rate is greater than the rate at which employees are leaving. In addition, the rate at which employees in Southern California forests are leaving is below the national average.

Pay has often been cited as a reason for firefighters leaving the Forest Service, but for agencies such as CAL FIRE, increased employee pay is achieved by working more hours not higher salaries. Forest Service hourly pay rates are greater than for comparable CAL FIRE positions. Pay disparity with non-federal positions in Southern California is comparable to national averages, and lower than several other high cost of living areas.

As we studied the retention issue, it became clear that the nature of wildland firefighting is changing in the face of increasing urbanization. Because of this, we must re-evaluate the Forest Service wildland firefighting mission to respond to changing needs and resources.

The analysis indicates the Forest Service’s greatest challenge for recruiting and retention is at the lower GS levels, which tends to support the Regional focus on improving recruiting and hiring processes. Since July 2007, the Region has begun offering "open and continuous" vacancy announcements for firefighting positions, which has resulted in more than 1,000 vacancies filled. Offering open and continuous positions gives employees the opportunity to apply for positions, regardless of whether or not there is a current vacancy. This allows the agency to develop standing rosters of qualified applicants that can be offered a job as soon as a vacancy occurs.

Finally, I want to emphasize that this analysis does not represent the final word on these issues. In order to recruit and retain quality employees, the Forest Service will continue to study strategies that will ensure a highly capable workforce and protection of our National Forests.

To read the analysis go to http://fsweb.fire.r5.fs.fed.us/retention/

hotshot_up

That's the internal FS web link. Link to a faxed 8 page pdf file of the analysis from Casey is posted below. Ab.

4/1Casey faxed this with the following very brief message:

Here's the document on retention provided by the FS to the
Appropriations Committee Hearing this morning. Please dissect
it, refute it, and shoot the info to me. (Mellie, deep breaths,
we will all keep working on this.)

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/retention/retention.pdf

Please email me with your comments at cjudd@fwfsa.org.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

4/1I didn't get to hear the entire CSPAN Capital Hearings.org feed this morning,
but would someone please send in the doc the FS put out? They don't have a
plan. They don't think there's a problem with retention. Do they really have no
plans to deal with retention besides continuing to "study" the situation???! Did
the FS really say that FS firefighters get paid more than CalFire firefighters
when you factor in the increased hours that CalFire firefighters work???

That's just a blatant lie!!!!!

I need to calm down...

Mellie

4/1O ya the yellow zip ups. Where did you get that shirt? Here is the link

http://www.pia.ca.gov/

Once there, check out the catalog and order you one of those cool zipper
shirts.

SG

4/1Jerry, Here's a link to the CAL-PIA California prison industries. I
believe you can purchase online with a credit card.

http://catalog.pia.ca.gov/store.php?t=1207070039

TC
4/1He there all you R5'ers I was wondering how to procure the Prison Industry
Zip-ups and info would be great as I am in another region but our Fire
Cache Manager would like to stock these in the Cache.

Jerry Serabia
Medford BLM
4/1I understand the BIA has cut two HS crews. Is this a sign of things to come for agencies?
Are these disbandments temporary, can they come back when the money is there?

a2hs

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