"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
Saturday afternoon…temps hovering around 100, RHs below 5%,
expected to blow thru Thursday, at or near historic ERC’s, plenty of grass
on the ground, dry as a bone and a smoke column to the west around
Silver City, …buckle up and hang on!
Um hum, and which state is your Silver City located in? Idaho? New Mexico?
Nevada, Montana? Ab.
The same thing is happening in Arizona as well. The regional office
isn't releasing any 'Severity' dollars, so, in turn, nobody is receiving
any overtime. Also, we did start our yearly sister swap with the Helena
National Forest during pay period 10 and they were receiving 8 hour days as
well. They have since gone home.
The downward spiral of this Forest Service organization is frightening.
USDA Forestry Technician
Your statement that 6/7th day and extended staffing must be paid out of WFPR
is incorrect. Below is the current national direction since 2005. WFPR and WFSU
are both approved for use for 6/7th and extending staffing. The decision process
to use either one is based on the following (read the first sentence carefully):
51.11a - Firefighter and Equipment Charges (pertinent text below)
Do not spend in excess of the planned and budgeted WFPR account for replacement
personnel and their support. Replacement of personnel and
equipment assigned to emergency incidents is authorized only when local
fire danger justifies the replacements.
Ordered stand-by, pre-positioning, and move-up-and-cover are charged as follows:
1. Use WFPR if the order is based on a perceived threat (high fire danger).
2. Use WFSU if the order is based on actual starts in the immediate initial
attack area and the order is for time outside normal work hours or work
If a unit uses WFPR only for extra staffing, they could violate direction by
spending in excess on planned WFPR budgets. The national direction
wants/requires a fair distribution between WFPR and WFSU with these anticipated
events and associated costs. Line Officers need to allow Chief Officers to make
good judgments with these definitions.
I suggest we not get all excited about this now since we have been implementing
these rules successfully the past two fire seasons without much ado except for a
recent spike in chatter on this subject.
However, if Line Officers or someone in the Regional Office, even if it's RO FAM,
who are heavily influenced by Line Officers, are responsible in this spike in
chatter and are not allowing local Chief Officers to follow national direction,
they need to be reported immediately for violation of not following national
direction. Local Chief Officers must have the flexibility to define the above
direction and implement usage of WFPR or WFSU staffing based on ground
experience, historical patterns and the good old gut feelings about what's the
right thing to do. They need to have the same flexibility Tom Harbour had when
he ordered WFSU usage for himself and the Angeles fire organization when he was
a local Chief Officer.
Centralized Fire Management = Professional Actions, Fiscal Responsibility,
Decision Making Efficiency and Maximum Production from Properly Paid
Centralized Fire Management Today, Tomorrow and Forever!
So how do we respond to "leaving the Forest Service" post? Simple. Do exactly as
I did when I heard about a Los Padres Battalion Chief leaving. Open an email and
write your US Senators and local Congressional Rep and tell them "the story" of
yet another Forest Service employee who is leaving. When all 4000+ of us do this
in honor of everyone we know or hear about who leaves, it gets a strong point
across and information to the one group the Line Officers are afraid to hear
Speaking of communications, another example of a complete disconnect between
Line Officers/RO FAM and rank and file occurred today. TODAY marks the
second reporting deadline for the retention sub-groups progress reports to the
retention group leads (see April theysaid email from RO about group
responsibilities). We received no information from the April 30 required update
and again, nothing from todays update deadline. If you have any meetings,
inspections or reviews planned with your Line Officers in the coming weeks, I
recommend you ask them why no communications and remind them behind the scenes
much is in the works to hold them accountable for complete mismanagement.
Leaving the forest service...............
I think you've gotten some bum information R5 has not issued direction for
no overtime. What they've done is said that if a Forest initiates extended
staffing or 6th/7th day staffing, it must be pad for out of their WFPR
funding (pre-suppression). This has been a national policy for years, but
some R5 Forest have ignored it and charged to WFSU funding (suppression).
So the decision for extended staffing is still a Forest decision, it just
needs to be paid for out of WFPR funding. Now the rub is that most
Forest's don't have adequate funding in WFPR to cover this on a regular
basis, so it makes for some difficult choices.
Intothewind, Tim, Mellie, & All,
I appreciate your questions about HROs, but please don’t consider me an expert
on the subject. I have attended seminars lead by doctors Weick and Sutcliffe,
but I’m just another pilgrim like you, trying to understand what culture based
safety in the wildland fire arena looks like. My only real credential these days
is DIVS, and I like it that way.
Like a lot of They Said readers, I was inspired (driven?) by the South Canyon
Fire to re-examine everything about firefighting I once thought I understood.
Dave Thomas gave me my first copy of Managing the Unexpected in 2002, and I have
since given it and several other copies to friends.
Dr. Weick has suggested that we might be better served by using the term High
Reliability Organizing instead of High Reliability Organizations, the
distinction being that real HRO is more like an ideal state you constantly need
to work toward instead of a destination at which you arrive or a label you get
to wear. I like that idea. Too many good organizations have come to grief
because overconfidence caused them to let their guards down.
As to whether I think HROs are scaleable, yeah, but….
I look at it this way. The Forest Service has lots of good crews and small fire
management organizations that have good internal leadership, even some that use
HRO principles in their daily operations. However, they work in a system where
our small unit leaders spend more and more of their time on administrative and
management responsibilities, and less on providing quality fire related training
and mentoring with their personnel.
The erosion of forest and district administrative support has forced thousands
of fire supervisors to take on time-consuming additional duties that have
nothing to do with firefighting or safety. Through no fault of their own, our
crew supervisors and fire program leaders are increasingly hindered from
focusing their attention on their most important mission; training and leading
Major shifts such as the centralization of Forest Service administrative and
support functions, downsizing, and a greatly increased reliance on the use of
contracted wildland fire resources are rapidly changing the culture of Forest
Service fire management in ways that have yet to be meaningfully measured.
It occurred to me that the Forest Service fire management organization today is
like a train barreling down the tracks with no brakes while “management
efficiency” gnomes are busy "saving money" by removing every third tie, pulling
every fourth rail spike and unscrewing the bulbs from the signal lights. It
doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see more misfortune ahead.
Another big hurdle to developing a high-functioning culture is the sinister turn
in Forest Service wildland fire accident investigations. Until PL 107-203 is
revised or rescinded, and the Forest Service can prove it is capable of
conducting fair, professional investigations while protecting firefighters from
undue punishment, the fear of personal civil or criminal liability will continue
to interfere with our ability to learn from our accidents.
In a decentralized organization like the Forest Service, our communal safety
depends on firefighters feeling empowered to share lessons from near misses and
accidents. If we don’t share lessons, we will inevitably repeat errors that
could have been prevented had we been able to speak openly about our failures
without undue fear of liability and prosecution.
And we need to be able to share hard learned lessons across boundaries of crew
and district and forest and region and agency, which is why we shouldn't settle
for a “circle the wagons” approach to HROs. I applaud those fire leaders who
operate using HRO principles, but I don’t believe an organization comprised of
pockets of isolated mini HROs will ever be as high-functioning as one that was
able to share critical lessons throughout a wide spread network. What you see in
your piece of the world as an isolated and unimportant incident may actually be
an indicator of a dangerous organizational trend when viewed from a wider
Tribute to Ron Smith:
Working for Ron Smith as a Texas Canyon Hotshot was and
always will be the greatest honor of my Forest Service career.
"U.S. Forest Service Hot Shot Crews were doing a prescribed burn in the Logan
Creek area and were headed back to their vehicles after seeing thunderstorms and
lightning in the area when lighting struck two trees, injuring both
"Now, USFS officials are trying to sort out exactly what happened."
Lets hope the wildland firefighters are the peer reviewers described as the
"USFS Officials" reviewing what happened.
Duh... It is pretty easy to comprehend and quantify. Forestry workers work in
the field. And weather factors are real. Sometimes the field throws punches that
none of expect or can quantify.
In response to GA Peach, below:
The changes pertain to private landowners using prescribed fire.
The 'old rule' was ambiguous. One way to read it was this: if a private citizen
(1) intentionally set a fire, and (2) that fire then got away, the citizen was
automatically guilty of a federal crime. Legislators were concerned that these
rather significant consequences were discouraging private landowners from using
prescribed fire on their property.
The 'revised rule' creates a shiny new piece of law for private persons using
prescribed fire. The new law says that private citizens who set prescribed fires
(presumably in some kind of conjunction with the Forest Service or National Fire
Plan -- but if that is required, it is not super clear) will not be prosecuted
under the 'ordinary rules' of Criminal law. After June 2008, they will now be
subject to the new rule, which requires they (1) set the fire intentionally,
that (2) the fire gets away, because (3) they were negligent in their control of
Part (3) is the new part. (See the "old rule" I described above? No part 3! ).
Without part (3), people were guilty no matter what they did after setting a
fire that got away. Now, by making prosecutors to show that third part
(negligence) in cases of prescribed fire, people are less likely to be
The bottom line is that the scope of landowners' liability for escaped fire has
been reduced (again, presumably so long as they set that fire in accordance with
the National Fire Plan, or with some kind of head-nod from a Federal Agency).
Theoretically, that change will encourage private citizens to do more prescribed
(. . . which makes just a boatload of sense, by the way. Because we all know
that the kind of landowners who are prone to producing escaped fires also
studiously read the Federal Register . . . )
Anyway, I hope that helps a bit. If you were concerned about going to jail
because you set prescribed fires on behalf of the government, my reading (which
is, of course, conjecture) is that the answer is "don't be." This law isn't
aimed at you.
You introduced but yet another "Health Hazard of Smoke" or another byproduct of
risks that have not been properly studied in the wildland fire community.
I've butted my head against walls for years trying to educate others that the
"Health Hazards of Smoke" published by MTDC were flawed by design standards that
excluded known problems, and inadequate controls that fostered results that
could not be repeated ... hoping that somebody (preferably a PhD, or MS Student)
would take the lead on mycotoxin exposure in soils and smoke..... especially
Fusarium Mycotoxin.. et al..
The same PhD that lead(s) the "Health Hazards of Smoke" program is the same
person for the WCT process... A system (WCT) with direct and causal losses and
injuries (burnovers) near par with the WCT program losses and career ending
Finally, somebody is listening.
Two hit by lightning near Whitefish
Two hospitalized after Whitefish lightning strike
Reporting from KAJ in Kalispell
Two firefighters are now out of the hospital after being hit by
lightning on Thursday.
The 25 year old woman and a 29 year old man are both members of the Flathead
National Forest Hot Shot fire crew.
They were working on a prescribed burn west of Whitefish when the lightning hit
a couple of trees near where they were working.
The U.S. Forest Service is still investigating the incident.
A pair of U.S. Forest Service workers remained in the hospital on Friday morning
after being struck by lightning some 10 miles northwest of Whitefish on
Officials tell us that a 25 year old woman was flown by LifeFlight to Kalispell
Regional Medical Center and a 29 year old man was taken by ambulance to North
Valley Hospital following the hit, which happened west of Whitefish near Star
Meadows Road. The two were listed in stable condition after the incident.
U.S. Forest Service Hot Shot Crews were doing a prescribed burn in the Logan
Creek area and were headed back to their vehicles after seeing thunderstorms and
lightning in the area when lighting struck two trees, injuring both
Now, USFS officials are trying to sort out exactly what happened.
"While back in route to the vehicles a downstrike hit a tree or was a
groundstrike," explains Brett Pargman with the Flathead National Forest. "A
couple firefighters were in the vicinity of that area and they you know received
some either direct or indirect contact from lightning strike."
A lightning strike doesn't need to be direct to injure and if it hits a tree or
object, and the electrical discharge can run through a person.
(from May 29, 2008)
Two Forest Service workers are in the hospital after lightning struck them about
10 miles northwest of Whitefish on Thursday afternoon.
The Life Flight medical helicopter flew one of the workers, a 25 year old woman,
to Kalispell Regional Medical Center while a Whitefish ambulance took the other,
a 29 year old man, to North Valley Hospital.
Both the employees are now listed in stable condition.
Forest Service Hot Shot Crews were doing a prescribed burn in the Logan Creek
area. They saw the thunderstorms and lightning coming in, and began to head back
to their vehicles. That's when lighting struck two trees and injured two of the
Brett Pargman with the Flathead National Forest, says they are investigating
what happened when the strike came down.
"While back in route to the vehicles a downstrike hit a tree or was a
groundstrike, a couple firefighters were in the vicinity of that area and they
you know received some either direct or indirect contact from lightening
A lightning strike doesn't need to be direct to injure -- it can hit a tree or
object, and the electrical discharge can run through a person.
Fair Use Disclaimer
One Squad of the Flathead Shots on the Big Bar Complex in 1999 from Mellie
Just a reminder to have everyone lookup, look down and look all around.
Lightning strikes two firefighters
Posted: Friday, May 30, 2008 - 08:20:16 am MDT
The Daily Inter Lake
Two members of the Flathead National Forest Hot Shot Fire Crew were
struck by lightning Thursday afternoon while working on a prescribed burn west
of Whitefish in the Tally Lake Ranger District.
The lightning strike occurred shortly after 1 p.m. near the intersection of Star
Meadow and Logan Creek roads about three miles west of Tally Lake. The
firefighters reportedly were near but not inside their vehicle when they were
Two trees next to the firefighters also were struck, and authorities aren’t sure
whether the firefighters were hit directly or the lightning struck the trees
before jumping to the firefighters, according to Denise Germann, Flathead Forest
public information officer.
The ALERT helicopter transported one of the firefighters, a 25-year-old woman,
to Kalispell Regional Medical Center. The Whitefish Fire Department transported
the second firefighter, a 29-year-old man, to North Valley Hospital.
Both firefighters were in stable condition Thursday evening.
Fair Use Disclaimer
Flathead Hotshots Website
In Memory of Mike Kessler:
Mike passed away Wednesday from an apparent head injury at his home in Roswell,
Mike was a consummate Fireman. He worked many years on the Cibola NF and became
the defacto AFMO on the El Mapais National Monument where he spent several more
years. He was well known in the suppression business as a great division
supervisor. Anybody in New Mexico who needed help on prescribed fire projects
knew Mike. He was always ready, willing, and able to come and assist and he was
very good at all aspects of Rx. He finished his career as a fire manager in
Atlanta...the Southeast Regional Office of the NPS.
Services are tentatively scheduled in Corona, NM on this coming Monday where
Mike had deep roots.
We will all miss Mike. He was a great guy.
Lost a legend today..
Ron Smith, ex-superintendent of Texas Canyon HS passed
away earlier today.
I worked for "The Old Man" during the late 80's and early 90's on TC and even
as a newbee could tell how respected he was in the fire service. I'm sure there
are those on this site that knew him and worked with him that can better express
the importance and impact he had on wildland fire, just wanted to get the news
Hotlist thread for condolences:
If anyone wants to send photos, I'll post them. Ab.
Quote from Albert Einstein:
"INSANITY is doing the same thing over and over
again and expecting different results."
"We need to stop waiting for something to happening from on high and start doing
things needed to build a High Performing-High Reliability Organization from the
You are 100% correct! Thanks for putting all of those thoughts into words.
This keeps coming up so I am going to finally take the bait and answer.
I was hoping that I could rely on my dear friend Mr. Vail to answer for
me, but that is not to be.
So here goes:
I worked on the Lassen Hot Shots in 1976 and 1977.
I imagine that Glo's season started earlier in 1976, so she retains the
national title for now.
Although I may have been on a crew in R5 before Deanne Shulman, I want you
all to know that she was and will always remain the better hot shot,
female or otherwise.
She truly is an amazing person, firefighter and pioneer in so many ways. We
all owe her a great debt.
I think that there were women on crews in Region 6 before1976 and I have
sent out a note to a reliable source.
When I find out you will all be the first to know.
No need for a pseudonym
Fire Management Officer
Pacific West Region
National Park Service
Thanks, Sue. I was hoping someone like you would send in the "facts". I think
you had to have been there.
A few of us know how much a pioneer you were, as well. We appreciate the
Ukonom Crew (SRF) certified as hotshot
First Hotshot Crew to be certified on the Six Rivers National
Orleans, CA - Saturday, the Ukonom Crew stationed at the Orleans
Ranger District was the first crew in the history of the Six Rivers
National Forest fire management program to be certified as a hotshot
They will now be the 16th Type I Hotshot Crew positioned across the
northern part of California in Region 5 to assist other crews during
this summer's fire season.
"Hotshots are the most highly trained crews we have to fight
wildfires," said District Ranger Bill Rice, whose Orleans Ranger
District will host and support the crew. They are utilized in the
most difficult and hazardous terrain in the fire environment.
The Ukonom Hotshots, led by Crew Superintendent John Cataldo, will
also be available nationally to respond to wildfires outside
"The crew worked hard over the last three years to meet the strict
training and physical requirements to become a "Hotshot Crew"," said
Rice. "This is a huge accomplishment because of the commitment it
takes to retain leadership and crew cohesion to be efficient and
"Leadership is essential to sustain a hotshot crew over the long
haul," said Rice. "Even though they are a national resource, these
crews become a high value community resource and role model for the
communities they serve in," said Rice.
Release Flyer with pictures... nice. Ab. (doc file)
CONGRATS UKONOM! You've worked for it. Carry on. Ab.
page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462
(Forestry Technician) &
Series 0455 (Range Technician) &
0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
Hadn't heard of this. Thought it would be worth sharing.
Cryptococcus is a tiny (microscopic) yeast-like fungus. A variety of this
fungus, called Cryptococcus gattii, has been living on trees on the east
coast of Vancouver Island since at least 1999. More recently it has also been
found in lower mainland of B.C. and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
Infrequently, people and animals exposed to this fungus will become sick with
what is called Cryptococcal disease. Cryptococcal disease is a very rare fungal
disease caused by the Cryptococcus fungus that can affect the lungs
(pneumonia) and nervous system (meningitis) in humans. It often affects
otherwise healthy people with no obvious signs of immuno-compromise. In rare
cases, this disease can be fatal. Animals also can develop cryptococcal disease.
How do people get infected?
The infection is caused by breathing in the spores of the Cryptococcus
fungus. Once the fungus is established on trees or in soil, disturbance such as
forestry operations, landscaping, and road-building suspend the fungal particles
(spores or dried cells) in the air where they can be inhaled. The disease is not
transmitted from person to person or from animal to person. A person with
cryptococcal disease is not contagious.
Where is this fungus found?
Varieties of the Cryptococcus fungus are found naturally in the
environment in SW British Columbia and in other places with tropical and
subtropical climates such as Brazil, India, Australia and New Zealand. The
gattii variety of the fungus lives on trees (10 or more species, including
Douglas-fir, cedar, alder, and oak) and in the soil on the east coast of
Vancouver Island, B.C. and on eucalyptus trees in Australia. Recent human and
animal cases in the lower mainland of B.C., Whatcom county and Orcas Island, WA,
and two cases in Oregon (one near Portland, the other in Junction City), suggest
that it has spread to these areas as well. The strain in Oregon is different
genetically than the B.C. strains of C. gattii. The pathogen has not been
found in the environment in Oregon and the two infected Oregonians had not
traveled to B.C. or other areas known to have C. gattii. It is not known
whether or not the fungus will become permanently established in the Pacific
Why did the fungus appear in the Pacific Northwest?
It is not clear why Cryptococcus gattii appeared in B.C. and Oregon. It
may have been imported on plant material from Australia or other areas, or it
may have always existed on Vancouver Island and increased in prevalence due to
climate or environmental change (warmer summers appear to be correlated with
increased cryptococcal disease in B.C.). The genetic differences between the
Oregon and B.C. strains suggest that Oregon did not get it from B.C.
How does the fungus spread?
The fungus can spread through the air as an aerosol, and over long distances
when infested soil or plant materials are transported by humans on vehicles,
plant material, footwear, or other products.
Can I tell which trees contain the fungus?
more on the hotlist thread:
Re: San Diego Grand Jury Report
Honest? Seems to be.
Bottom line- the county/city was not willing to put the money to fully implement
what 2003 said should be done but that the people on the ground pulled together
and majorly improved over 2003. So good job ground pounders, get it together
county managers, and we need to prepare better for next time.
I read the whole report yesterday when I was waiting for something to process on
my computer. I am out of the wildland arena but it's my county and I still care.
During the Witch fire of 2007 I was talking to a SDFD person (management level-
not wildland focused) on day 2 or so. He said with a weary voice- we didn't
think it'd happen again, we really didn't think it could be this big this bad so
soon. We are going to have to start treating these fires like earthquakes- not
if, but when.
I am work in Region 5. I am an Engineer here. I am now looking to go elsewhere.
The reason I'm leaving is that Region 5 Forest Service has said there will be
no overtime authorized (extended staffing, working 6th day, etc.). This is where
we all know that we make our money, often it's money we need to make ends meet.
From now on I will not work my 6th day when offered even if I need the money. In
addition, I will be looking for a new job elsewhere on my days off. I am going
to apply everywhere. I know I will be able to secure a job elsewhere. I already
have my application in with CALFIRE and I am on the list to be hired. I am also
going to go to municipal departments. A few have seen how I work and have been
asking me for years to apply.
Currently we are short drivers on the forest where I work. One just left to
go to CALFIRE. I am sure there will be more to leave, having talked to the other
FEOs, AFEOs, and Lead Firefighters. When we heard the other day that no overtime
will be given unless we are on a fire, the other firefighters that work on the
same engine I do were upset. Again this is how we make our money.
The RO and WO better wake up because before you know it, they will be waking
up to having fewer drivers and very few firefighters to complete engines and
crews. I will refuse to work my days off for any reason other than fire, so they
will have to shut engines down due to no drivers. Wait until we are on drawdown
and we won’t be able to staff the engine because I know I won’t be in on my days
off. If I were working for CALFIRE, they would give me 19 hours of overtime in
the same situation.
When will the region wake up and quit messing with us here? Upon completion
of this I will be contacting Feinstein, Boxer, and my state representative, who
by the way, has been active in working for better pay for federal firefighters.
I advise all to do the same and let them know what is going on. Let them know
that when that big fire hits us here in California there will be less engines to
staff because of FS implementation that R5 put in place a few days ago.
I would like all to comment on this if you can. If you did not know about the
no overtime, talk to your chiefs to get the scoop on it.
Leaving the Forest Service
Aloha to all:
Yes, I'm heading to Hawaii for a few days but I was born & raised there and I
have to go visit my Mom and I will have my laptop...
Anyway there apparently was some concern expressed by the R5 RO and others about
a press quote from me which expressed concern about the need to rapidly fill
overhead positions causing perhaps "premature" promotions; concerns about the
Agency pushing GS-4s to take GS-5/6 developmental positions before they
themselves knew they were ready and simply the fact that in order to fill the
many vacancies, there will be a number of folks in uncharted territory this
I did not suggest that any particular crew or person was not qualified. I did
not suggest FMOs were running engines and other crews with less than fully
qualified personnel. In fact those that I have spoken to all agreed that they
would not run engines or crews that were not fully ready. However, I simply
passed along concerns raised by many fire staff persons about the number of
trainees and, as some saw it, a rush to promote to show positions filled.
Given the history of the Agency to show things that aren't quite sure, I simply
passed along the reality of concerns raised by those in the know.
In the next few days I'll be sending detailed information to the Hill about
staffing, coverage etc., as well as the nexus between ordered standby and portal
to portal. I'll have access to email if anyone needs to contact me.
Have a relaxing time communing with the ancestors. Watch out for the
big surf. Ab.
On HROs -
Nut Island can be a very accurate prediction if we keep on our current path as
Another consideration different from an HRO is to look at Deming's 14 points.
#10 - "Eliminate slogans,
exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new
levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships,
as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the
system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force"
Keep the 10/18, Keep Commander's intent, Keep Doctrine. Just ditch all of the
latest and greatest catch-phrases that keep getting regurgitated out of the WO
like bad Chinese food.
Ah, wait - that gives us something to chuckle about on the fireline after 5 days
spiked out without a shower and working in near vertical terrain.
The reason for the ASC "hiring fiasco" was a multitude of reasons. It has direct
links to the "Mark Rey Miracle"." Do more with less", and "increased management
efficiencies" that have been shown to be a complete fabrication of truth
throughout the last seven years.
1) By delaying temporary firefighter start dates, after the fact of them already
reporting to duty, many units placed these firefighters as AD and paid them
under provisions of the AD Pay Plan (WFSU funded),
2) By delaying temporary firefighter start dates, asignificant discretionary
savings of WFPR was realized that could be used for other Forest Service
3) ASC works well (tongue in cheek) in assigning blame, but they receive
Centralized Direction from the WO,
4) The "Farm Bill", as initially vetoed and subsequently overridden, provided
another $450 million in WFSU to finally fulfill the last steps of the "Mark Rey
This is the LARGEST WFSU discretionary appropriation ever to supplement an
already funded $1.4 Billion Forest Service Wildland Fire Program!! It is also
the largest fund of discretionary funding ever given without proper oversight.
FOLLOW THE MONEY my GAO friends,
/s/ There is a reason for the Increased Costs of Federal Wildland Fire
Management.... It is simply called MISMANAGEMENT.
Here is a link to the Grand Jury Report on San Diego County's preparedness for
wildfire. It is, shall we say, a scathing indictment of a county that refuses to
take care of its own. Makes for interesting reading.
goes directly to the pdf download file)
Re: Problems With Temporary Employees
It has come to attention that a fairly wide problem exists in the hiring of
I cannot address any place but my local area, but on my district alone, nearly
20 employees were given a start date of May 11th and reported to work. Since
that initial start date, many of these employees have been told that "due to
problems in paperwork", their start dates officially won't start until June 8th.
On my district also, the employees with dates to report to work on May 25 are
being told similar tales.
We've been working these folks to cover engine and crew modules (3 weeks and 1
week respectively), but are now told they aren't "on the books yet". Gotta love
How do we properly compensate them?
Is NFFE aware of this problem?
Evening Ab and all
The SD County Grand Jury came out with a report on fire protection in the
It is a scorcher for some parts of the county. Can't believe the first part of
"Fire Next Time". Wonder where they got that?
I have not read the whole report yet. Basing my scorcher comment on radio news.
So here it is for the community to review and comment.
In response to what bee in the bonnet states: OK I was not going to bite on this
If we used all the knowledge of the retired fed fire management employees to
replace the State, County & Muni folks now doing the job at $1000 + a day
(because the fed's existing workforce sure can't muster up the requested
orders), how much savings to the taxpayer could occur over a fire season? That
is, assuming the retired fed would work under the paltry AD pay schedule. Many
Greed?? I hardly think so...
Great post, NWRG. I am in the mining industry, and I think we’ve got a long way
to go before I would say the industry as a whole is even aware of the benefit of
moving in an HRO direction. Ironically enough, when you last posted that HRO
paper, I printed out a bunch of copies and spread it around my office. I tried
to get some discussion going, but without luck. I think the closest I’ve seen to
HRO values and behavior has actually been in the petroleum industry, especially
pipeline and refining. I think the US Post Office, believe it or not, is a
commonly cited HRO.
And your point about becoming intimately familiar with the workspace is
insightful. Wildland fire and mining have in common that we basically destroy
our work area as we go; if we stick in the same place for too long we aren’t
accomplishing our mission! We also share a transient, physical, dominantly rural
workforce. What mining has fought for at least a hundred years and that wildland
fire is starting to encounter is “absentee leadership” by folks who have not
come up through the profession and who are unaware of the “field-fit” realities
on the ground. The mining industry is also facing huge issues with an aging
workforce, loss of “brain trust”, and hostile local and national legislation. I
think there are good parallels there that could make for a cautionary tale for
the wildland fire world. We call it “talking safety and walking production”.
Now, thanks to the slump and then rise in metals prices, we’re seeing a
dangerous mix of a high proportion of rookies, a high proportion of
“short-timers”, many of whom came into the industry via the 1970’s uranium boom,
and nothing in between. I expect a big upswing in medical issues in the aging
portion of our force (on the job MIs, diabetes, stroke, etc.), and an upswing in
traumatic injuries due to inexperience in the rookie portion. Can wildland fire
expect the same?
That was something of a digression, but I think you’re right that a wildland
fire HRO is going to have to be different, because we rely so heavily on
qualitative, rather than quantitative clues and predictors of changing
conditions. Our job cannot really by automated or mechanized, which means that
we are incredibly dependent on experience, leadership, and, really, intuition.
We’ve also got a lack of “metrics” by which to measure success. All our
indicators are trailing indicators; lack of injuries, lack of fires escaping
containment, etc. What would be quantitative measurements of leading indicators
in fire? When I first learned about HROs (in a non-fire context) the focus
seemed to be on reproducibility, on performing the same task many thousands of
times with complacency, slackness or error. In a gross sense, we do the same
thing on every fire, but we never really fight the same fire twice. Maybe HRO
isn’t the right template for us. Maybe we should appropriate some aspects of the
HRO concept, but maybe fire needs something new and different, more flexible,
more proactive, with more emphasis on experience and leadership and
communication, and less on reproducibility.
Intothewind asked about scalability. I think that HROs not only can be but have
to be scalable. There needs to be personal commitment to the overall mission at
every level or it all falls apart. When you get Mini-HROs within a broken larger
organization, you get the Nut Island effect:
I submit that perhaps the fire service within the forest service is experiencing
a grand-scale Nut Island Effect. I don’t have any ideas for making it better,
aside from the obvious complete restructure as a federal wildland fire agency,
which I think the PTBs will fight tooth and claw.
Nerd on the Fireline
Regarding AVUE and not meeting basic qualifications...
Hrslave is correct - if you miss a box on the Basic Qualifications
page, you'll basically kick yourself off the cert.. It is also
important to note that for the career ladder positions those
crucial check-boxes need to be clicked in two spots.
However, there is a very easy way for every applicant to check to
see if they've met Basic Qualifications after submitting their
application!!! In other words, you can check to see if you've
accidentally missed one of those important boxes. If you have
missed a box, don't be afraid update your application after you've
submitted it (as long as you do it before the deadline).
Please see the attached
Tip Sheet to see how to check the status of
The Tip Sheet is a portion of a larger, step-by-step AVUE handout
that I developed for my Federal Resume and Application Development
Workshops - which are specifically designed for Forest Service fire
management programs. Please give a shout if you are interested in
having me come to your District to teach your employees how to put
together effective applications and federal resumes - and how to
successfully get through the AVUE process.
Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah
Thanks Bethany. Ab.
I just spoke to Deanne Shulman. 1977 was her first year on LP shots.
Deputy Chief-Admin Fire and Rescue Branch
Governors Office of Emergency Services
OK, so "Glow" aka Gloria Eighmey is currently the first female shot as far as we
know. Anybody know more? Ab.
Here's the way early fire fighter retirement was explained to me by my personnel
officer when it first was established in the Forest Service about 1974 or so:
It is not designed to be a benefit to the employee. The process is designed to
benefit the organization by keeping a younger fire fighting force. The extra
percentage earned is to make it comparable to a retirement earned by a non fire
fighter employee working 30 years. She went further to say that because it is
not a benefit to the employee, they could reassign me to a non covered position
for any reason and it would not be classed as an adverse action.
The idea did not work. The current agency employees are not stepping up to fill
the fire fighter positions. I have never asked to be reemployed. Every
assignment I have filled since I retired was requested of me by the agency
because an agency employee was not available to fill the position.
By the way. Do the math on an AD-J working 14-16 hour days for two weeks
compared to a GS employee. the Ad compares to about a GS 5 or 6. Greed...I don't
AB sign my name, I have no fear of a fisherman.
Hi Tom, great to see you're still out there. In my opinion as
long time editor here, the greed comment was a "troll" on the original poster's
part. Remember the guys that would write in here in the early days of
theysaid-it to "fish" and see who got the greatest number of knee-jerk
responses? They kept track. The winner got taken to dinner or bar hopping by the
losers or some such. Ah, those were the glory days... Ab.
Finding New Firefighters
I believe a fine solution for finding new young men
and women to work as seasonals would be to advertise nationally. If I had
only known how great the job of fighting wildfires is, I would have joined years
ago! A simple television commercial and some press releases would certainly
generate a lot of attention. And, if that message was intended for those looking
for adventure, extremely hard work, a good way to put a bigger dent in college
bills/class requirements and a great "summer job" (good stories to tell your
friends who flipped burgers/folded clothes all summer!) I'm sure the numbers
would increase... let's not forget a lot of young people like me just don't know
about these jobs and may come from regions where there isn't any interaction
with wildfire but could provide a great service.
For hrslave, someone please let the computer tech's at AVUE know about this
problem... this can easily be fixed by accessing the database and creating a
prompt "you must select all to qualify" if the applicant does not select all.
Thanks for all the information on the site,
--still thinking of a clever nickname
There were some great photos taken at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Family Day. Check 'em out.
Thanks for putting that on!
Kudos to SoCal Team 3!!!! Way to go!!!!!!!
OVERTIME MEANS "ONE HOT" DONATION FOR THE WFF
The folks on the Southern Incident Management Team (Southern California
Team 3) decided to dedicate 1 hour of overtime pay to the Foundation
each time their team is activated. Their first activation was on the Santa
Anita Fire. The Team donated nearly $2,000!
Your list cuts a wide swath and I agree that most of them are trying to be HROs…
The industry most similar to wildland firefighting of that group is mining, yet
most folks probably don’t see that as an HRO.
The rest of the groups have something in common that mining and wildland
firefighting do not have: they all involve workers who become intimately
familiar with their workspace. Whether it’s an aircraft carrier or nuke plant,
each worker has their “turf” and tasks. They practice doing the same thing and
there are only so many variables that can occur. I’m not trying to minimize what
they do, but they are generally watching dials, switches, or looking for
specific anomalies within a very specific set of parameters and floor plan. So,
to build a system of checks, it is fairly simple.
In wildland firefighting, we are faced with different turfs and differences in
our tasks on every fire. We don’t have an alarm or breaker pop off when there is
trouble, we have change which could be subtle or drastic. Every inch of ground
on one fire is different than our last fire; there is no task or procedure
exactly the same as before.
Our challenge is to build communication, trust, and integrity into our system as
we learn from ourselves and our past. I think the doctrinal approach is a good
start, but we need to realize that a wildland HRO is going to look different
than others, and it will take time to get there.
I was wondering how to find out if I was the first women ever to be on a hot
I was on the morman lake (ARIZONA ) hotshot crew in 1976. The year 3 crew
members were killed.
"Glow" aka Gloria Eighmey
Hi Glow. You can look here:
Minds Want to Know (IMWTK) Whether you were first or not, you were one of
the first. I'll add you to the list.
Does anyone have contact with Deanne Schulman. If you do, would you ask
her if she remembers her first year as a hotshot?
In poking around for more info, I found this:
1991 Gina Papke became superintendent of the Zigzag Hotshots, the first woman
superintendent of a hotshot crew.
A lot of discussion on High Reliability Organizations these days.
Why not "Just Do It" to steal the Nike motto, take the initiative for your
sphere of influence.
If you are a Single Resource Boss start turning your crew, helitack, engine or
IA module into an
FMOs you can influence your District, Forest, Region, Ranger Unit, by setting
the example and
being a High Reliability Person.
We need to stop waiting for something to happening from on high and start doing
the things needed
to build a High Performing-High Reliability Organization from the boots up.
Match your actions to your wishes.
Question authority, take your leadership training seriously, stop accepting
unsafe assignments and
be consistent in your reasons for accepting or rejecting an assignment. Be able
to explain your
reasoning to your supervisors, subordinates and yourself.
Originally from Gary B in R5 and making the rounds behind the scenes...
Subject: Extension of Application Period for new IHC Announcements
We have added all the missing duty locations to all the IHC announcements.
We will wait until 6/17 to generate those referral lists, the same date to
generate the Developmental GS-5 referral list. Last day to apply is 6/16.
Please let your recruiters and Hotshot and Type 2 IA crew leaders know of
Dear "Pls leave my name and org out of this",
You made my day with your post!!
When you said "EDINA", I hope that I fully understood your meaning as being
"I" meaning "IT" (IT = the
communities and resources we all protect) need daily attention? If not, I hope
you re-read my post and discuss it with peers who are familiar with both
FIRESCOPE and the Forest Service in general.
Things will get better for you... my fire community brother or sister. I don't
know what is eating at you, but the facts will set you free.
"The United States Congress chartered the FIRESCOPE project in 1972 and directed
the Forest Service to assist the Southern
California fire agencies in a program to review research, development and
"The Initial funding (1972-1977) came from the Forest Service research Funds and
5 million dollars was spent on system design."
"The federal government would allocate 2.4 million dollars to assist in this
initial implementation. In 1979, an additional 10 to 12 million dollars would be
spent on full implementation. The partner agencies assumed costs for operation
and maintenance of the system. In 1976, the operations coordination center was
established in Riverside for Multi-Agency Coordination (MACS) of the FIRESCOPE
In terms of all risk training and experience... my CV is verifiable and rates
highly on both current municipal quals (Chief Officer level) and current
wildland quals (Senior Chief Officer level).... I could leave the Forest Service
in a heartbeat, but I choose to stay in the trenches with the troops I am
supposed to lead.... and follow their guidance from below. I won't run until I
see the leaders above me run.... at which time, I'll run the fastest.....
Regarding Mellie's post on HROs:
You did not mention submarines; I think they have had the lead in HRO for a
century. Particularly in the last 50+ years with nuclear submarines. I will give
you that some of the others you mentioned have more instant inherent danger;
such as Aircraft Carrier flight operations; submarines must be at alert 24/7 for
the smallest problem. Heck there was the day that flushing the potty could flood
Today considering the Nuclear power plant (actually pretty safe all things
considered) and the dangers of being totally underwater, it requires the highest
state of preparedness all the time. I am a little biased having been there 12
years. One wrong turn of a valve can have disastrous consequences. Same as
ignoring LCES and the 10's and 18's.
A discussion point. Just curious ..... Firefighter retirement - after 20 years
in service and no older then 57 - was established because the job is physically
arduous and health tasking... Those who fall under firefighter retirement
collect substantial larger amount of money then the rest of the fire employees.
Yet the same retirees are going back on the fires in the same position we are
saying are only for younger (under 57) people. And we all know this is a fact,
from agency directors to measly GS 6/7. Sort of you can have your cake and eat
it too, no?
Curious on how everyone will try to justify this one. I gather there will be a
lot of "old knowledge disappearing".... Did we not know 10 years ago that baby
boomers will be retiring??? Did we ever heard of mentoring, bringing
My thought behind this, we are dealing with basic old fashion human greed. That
should get this discussion started....
signed bee in a bonnet
I have recently had a question on how, or if, HROs would be scaleable. So can a
20 person handcrew operate as an HRO, or squad thereof, or going the other
direction, a fire organization on a district or forest level. Or can an IMT or
an Operations Group of an IMT, perform as an HRO? Or is HRO based at the Agency
level and more culture than practice? I know what I believe which would to some
degree differ from your perspective.
With that said, how do we get there? As you discussed let's look at Sensitivity
to Operations with concern with what is happening in the USFS at this point in
history. ASC has zero to do with Operations, and is a total detriment to
anything resembling operations. The IFPM and 401 atrocities somehow may be
related to operations, not in my mind not how it has gone. Go down the list of
issues that we can get our heads around. How about the R-5 folks needing their
GOVs at home to respond to fires with appropriate management response? I would
call that situation Sensitivity to Bureaucracy.
So as leaders, what do we do? You better get your folks ready to go, tomorrow
and for everyday you put them in harm's way. Don't give in, work it hard.
GOVs = Government Operated Vehicles
I agree with most of the points you made in your recent posts. In reference to
wildland firefighter teams and crews that currently practice HRO principles, you
said, "In some cases they operate the way they do with agency support, in others
they operate the way they do in spite of lack of agency support or while having
to deal with agency interference."
If our agency was really committed to operating as a HRO, firefighters would
have agency support and wouldn't have to deal with agency interference.
I'm as supportive as anyone of the fire leaders who have taken it upon
themselves to learn about and use HRO principles. Our Chief and Fire Director
both have publicly come out in support of HROs and Doctrine, but I just haven't
seen the kind of meaningful action and support from them that could bring about
major positive cultural change throughout the Forest Service. My guess is that
they are at least partly impeded from doing more by the Rey factor.
We still have huge impediments to becoming a real HRO, including a lack of frank
dialogue with our leaders. We certainly don't have a preoccupation with failure,
we have HUGE failures that scarcely raise a peep. Commitment to resilience or
sensitivity to operations? Don't make me laugh. And if we really deferred to
expertise, we wouldn't have antagonistic political appointees and unqualified
line officers making the most important decisions about how USFS fire programs
are managed across the country.
Other major barriers to cultural improvement that have yet to be frankly
addressed include a lack of trust over accident investigations, PL 107-203,
civil liability, and the criminalization of firefighting.
Maybe it is impossible for the entire USFS fire organization to become a HRO
under any administration. I don't know. But aircraft carriers work under a
government management structure too, and they seem to be able to pull it off.
I don't think mini-HROs in a decentralized organization will ever fully benefit
from their mindful actions as long as they work for and with others who don't
Regarding lobotomy's email...
The USFS provided $million USD over a 5 yr period .........
"the USFS was to assist in the development" as the document says.... here is a
link to FIRESCOPE
http://firescope.org/firescope-history/past present future.pdf
Before you start flaming me..... The OTHER agencies picked up the ball and
started it moving it along and if the USFS doesn't get mentioned for EVERYTHING
it has contributed, it feels left out..
There is an acronym for this EDINA .......... Every Day I Need Attention
So yes the USFS did this and that Katrina, Shuttle etc. Does this mean USFS is
ready for earthquakes??? Other all hazard incidents???? Get over yourselves and
learn what is coming down the pipe. If some agency "borrows" PLAGARIZES ETC YOUR
idea, too bad. The DHS just did. We are all students of fire and if somebody
isn't always patting the USFS on its back for EVERYTHING it says or does, I say
Read the document. it is not all a bout USFS and its activities
Pls leave my name and org out of this.....
HROs (High Reliability Organizations) in a Risk-laden environment.
Whip, I wonder if the Forest Service can be a HRO under any
administration even though I feel like the current one has certainly let us down
Tim, I agree with you that the main impediments to the Forest Service being a
HRO are "decentralized management of the programs and the lack of agency
commitment correcting major deficiencies that are out there." I also agree that
there are "pockets of HRO" within crews, within IMTs and within some dispatch
shops. One thing that drew me to fire in R5 is/was the excellence and
professionalism of the HRO type program and the focus and dedication of the
leadership at all levels.
AL, you asked about other industries and organizations -- in addition to
wildland firefighting -- that operate under HRO structure or are trying to;
these are high risk industries which have fewer accidents and mishaps in spite
of the fact that one error or an accumulation of errors can have
health care/medicine- hospitals
nuclear power industry & nuclear waste storage
electrical energy industry
air traffic controllers
worldwide financial network/world bank
Still thinking on this...
For now let me leave it at that...
Cabela’s has gone crazy and is offering all firefighters, EMS,
law enforcement, military
and veterans our employee discount on June 2, 3 and 4, 2008.
It’s our way of saying thanks to our Hometown Heroes.
Please pass this on to anyone who would be interested.
Employee discount is up to 25% off in-store merchandise, with a few
Thanks – hope to see you in June!
Glendale Avenue and Loop 101
Glendale, AZ 85305
ARRG! This drives me crazy...>From the article's text next to the Gov's speech,
"During last year's firestorms, for example, GIS allowed firefighters to
through the smoke-giving them a more accurate, real-time view of conditions
on the ground."
The GIS cannot SEE anything! It can display what infrared interpreters see
in thermal imagery in context with other available datasets. Emitted
thermal heat can be 'seen' or detected, through smoke, by the right sensor.
The National Infrared Operations Program at NIFC flies two aircraft with
such sensors and there is a Nation-wide cadre of interpreters that provide
this intelligence to the SITL. We've been doing this for over forty years.
We flew over 1,600 fires in 2007. NIROps takes advantage of other thermal
infrared aircraft/sensors as well. For more information, visit the
And, to mitigate any flaming replies (pun intended), GIS also displays the
GPS data collected from airborne and ground-based technical specialists.
Thank you to all the GISSs that put in long hours to put all this data
together and get it into the hands and pockets of the firefighters.
I just wanted to let you folks know that you can have the best KSAs in the
nation but you won't get that job if your application comes up as Not Basically
I did a candidate review this morning for a particular position and found that 8
out of 35 applicants didn't basically qualify. I knew what I was going to find
but looked at the apps anyway. It confirmed that people aren't reading the
When you apply for a job and you get to the Basic Qualifications page,
please note that it states "Click the checkbox of the following statements
that apply to you." This doesn't mean choose one out of the three. You
must have all three marked in order to basically qualify for a position. The
statements are as follows:
1. I have experience performing wildland fire
suppression duties as a member of an organized fire suppression crew or
comparable unit that utilized knowledge of fire suppression techniques and
practices under various conditions.
2. To determine your eligibility for a primary firefighting position,
indicate whether you meet the following age requirement: I am under age 37; OR,
after subtracting the months of past Federal service in covered firefighter
positions (includes both primary and secondary designated positions), I am less
than age 37.
3. I have 90 days of on the line wildland firefighting experience gained
through containment, control, suppression or use of wildland fire.
I hate to see qualified people that widen our candidate pool disqualified for
simply not checking boxes, but that is the reality of AVUE. Make sure you
thoroughly read ALL the directions when completing your application. Some places
you must mark more than one choice and others you will choose only one.
The Governor "gets it" too. Attached is an excerpt from his speech given
at the GTC West 2008 Conference on California's Future in which he
emphasized the role geospatial technologies will play; he cited wildfire
examples from the 2007 SoCAL fires.
It's a wmv file. If anyone wants to view it, email and I'll send
it along. Ab.
Re: Evolution of FIRESCOPE
FIrefighting REsources of Southern
California Organized for
Potential Emergencies (1970-1986)
FIrefighting RESources of
California Organized for Potential
National Incident Management
System (post 09/11/2001)
The role of the Forest Service in providing expertise and federal funding (or
educating others on the federal processes) is often overlooked in the role that
the current NRP (National Response Plan), SEMS (Standardized Emergency
Management System), and the one-eyed DHS-NIMS (National Incident Management
System) played. Don't even ask about the FMAG program that went terribly awry.
Under the current Forest Service representation by Ed Hollenshead, I wonder if
he knows the "story" about the folks he is charged to represent and honor? I
know Q knew the knitty gritty and represented "his firefighters" and would fight
to the bitter end to represent them.
NIIMS (National Interagency Incident Management System) and the role that
federal wildland firefighters played (and continue to play) in 21st
Century emergency and disaster management should not be overlooked
as LAND MANAGERS decide "our" future over the concerns
of the community and resources we protect..... Their decisions, and recent
actions over the last 7 years..... are a detriment to the community and
firefighter safety.... things they know little or nothing about.
Even the FIRESCOPE history downplays the role of the Forest Service..... thank
goodness some of the Founders of FIRESCOPE (all agencies) are still around to
tell their stories as they remember. Hopefully, their stories will be heard
first hand and repeated by others, and not repeated by a poge like me trying to
capture "lessons not learned".... rather than air their true stories of how it
happened and why.
You can't prevent another Hurricane Katrina or the flawed federal response to
the actual emergency, but you can be prepared and offer lessons learned of why
it went wrong, and offer positive suggestions towards the proper path to take in
> From FIRESCOPE(2008):
The FIRESCOPE Program originated in Southern California, organized under the
acronym, "FIrefighting REsources of Southern California
Organized for Potential
Emergencies" in 1972. By legislative action, the FIRESCOPE Board of Directors
and the Office of Emergency Services (OES) Fire and Rescue Service Advisory
Committee were consolidated into a working partnership on September 10, 1986.
This consolidation represents all facets of local, rural, and metropolitan fire
departments, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and
federal fire agencies.
Through this partnership, FIRESCOPE was established as a
statewide program under the redefined acronym "FIrefighting
RESources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies." To
further support FIRESCOPE's statewide program, CALFIRMS
(CALifornia Fire Information Resource Management
Northern California joined with FIRESCOPE as the Northern
Operations Team. Under provisions set forth by Senate Bill 27,
chaptered on October 2, 1989, under Health and Safety Code
Section 13070, the Office of Emergency Services (OES),
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) and
the State Fire Marshal (SFM) are to jointly establish and
administer the FIRESCOPE Program.
The FIRESCOPE program is intended to complete the legislative attempt to
unify these various fire agencies together into one voice and direction. The
character of this group is comprised of diverse fire agencies derived from the
founding legislation. The synergy created by these diverse fire agencies truly
provides valuable input to the Director of the Governor's Office of Emergency
Services in addressing the future of fire/rescue services in California and
assures excellent representation for the continued development of FIRESCOPE
The organization/program of the OES Advisory Board and the
organization/program of FIRESCOPE are to deal with mutual aid, cooperative
agreements, and fire/rescue regional policy issues and to advise the Director of
OES in matters of statewide importance.The decision-making process for these matters rest within a majority-rule
process based on the size of the Board and limited discussion time; minority
viewpoints are also forwarded to the OES Director for consideration.
Mellie or anyone,
Do you know of other High Reliability Organizations beyond
aviation. What have they done?
To the writer of the resignation letter,
Well my friend, as usual you have expressed well with words my thoughts. Sorry
to leave you a position so wrought with problems from above. When I read your
letter all of the emotions I felt when I sat in that same office and position
three years ago and decided to retire came flooding back... Thirty-two plus
years ... Not an easy decision, good times, many friends, many great teachable
moments and many years of public service.
I could have stayed another five years, but at what cost? I had a great
career... the lack of support and the line officers blatant attempts to "reel
fire in" finally took the toll on me. As I said, I had a fantastic career with
the Forest Service as a Wildland Firefighter and realized that the road to
continued progress was being blocked and diverted backwards.
What I finally came to realize is that it is the Foresters & line officers
"house". They make the rules, they bend and break them anyway they see fit to
suit their needs. As you noted, Fire in the Forest Service has progressed into
the 21st century, unfortunately, the folks in charge are intent in making sure
Fire returns to the 1930's. It is their house to tear down as they see fit...
hopefully the public and their representatives in government will catch it
before the frame falls... or maybe that is what is needed for the rebuilding as
the Federal Wildland Fire Agency process........
My best to you in your new path... it is a wise choice!
No name please...
ESF 4 - Firefighting: Lead role under the National Response Plan - Forest
/s/ Mission Creep ?... or preventing another Hurricane Katrina?
Disaster Earthquake Scenario Unveiled for Southern California
Released: 5/22/2008 10:00:00 AM
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Editors' notes: A telephone conference call is scheduled for 10:30
a.m. PDT for a brief presentation and opportunity for questions with the
principal authors. Call 605-990-0100, and enter conference code 1009678#
B-roll animations and high-resolution images are available at
Scientists today unveiled a hypothetical Scenario describing how a magnitude 7.8
Southern California earthquake -similar to the recent earthquake in China- would
impact the region, causing loss of lives and massive damage to infrastructure,
including critical transportation, power, and water systems.
In the Scenario, the earthquake would kill 1800 people, injure 50,000, cause
$200 billion in damage, and have long-lasting social and economic consequences.
This is the most comprehensive analysis ever of what a major Southern California
earthquake would mean, and is the scientific framework for what will be the
largest earthquake preparedness drill in California history, scheduled for
November 13, 2008. [more at the usgs link above]
To all the many people (14) who sent this in over the last week, I sent an
email to get permission. The author replied, "Just state that you have
permission to post the letter and that it was edited by the author. Hopefully,
Senator Feinstein can use this as a tool to make something happen." Ab.
Dear Senator Feinstein,
I appreciate your interest and energy in helping to resolve the issues facing
retention of fire personnel with the US Forest Service in the State of
California. I am a 24 year federal (fire) employee of the USFS and in my career
I have never seen such a blatant disregard for the welfare of the employees of
this once great agency. The information you are receiving through the Federal
Wildland Fire Service Association is the most accurate you can get. I am a
member of that association and we basically tell it like it is. I was an
employee of the -redacted-, located in -redacted-, on the- redacted- National
I have just resigned to accept a job with the State of California as a Fire
Captain. My position for the last 2 years with the FS was as a Fire Battalion
Chief. I thought long and hard about this decision to leave but the pay,
benefits and work environment with the State are far more conducive to being
successful that it was fairly easy. The hard part was leaving my friends.
The burden shift on FS supervisory employees has been tremendous over the last
few years that we can hardly spend any time in the field supervising our
subordinates, where we really need to be. The move of all personnel servicing to
Albuquerque has created a vacuum where we literally get NO service whatsoever.
Supervisors have been told that we need to accomplish the administrative tasks
that were previously done for us by on site personnel specialists. We ARE NOT
personnel specialists, we are Forestry Technicians and Firefighters.
The ridiculous AGLEARN training requirements require my fire crews to leave
their stations and travel up to 50 miles just to access computers with high
speed access. This affects their ability to respond to wildland fires and could
increase incident costs but leadership puts more emphasis on AGLEARN. Our Forest
Leadership MANDATES completion of these courses and threatens holding payroll,
disciplinary action and stand downs during fire season. This is not commonly
known but it happened in 2007.
I am fortunate enough that I have made a career change in time to maintain a
positive attitude but I feel sorry for those I leave behind. They are my peers
and friends and I would love to see their work environment improve. -sentence
redacted to prevent retaliation on a current FS employee-
Below I will paste the text from my letter of resignation so you can see what
issues I have addressed and why I left.
"Dear -name redacted-, District Ranger
I hereby submit my resignation from my position as Assistant District Fire
Management Officer, Battalion Chief, effective -redacted- after nearly 24 years
of federal public service. My last actual day of work will be -redacted- to help
the district staff through the weekend. The remainder of the pay period I will
use accumulated annual leave to take a transition break before my new job.
The main reason I am leaving is to fulfill a personal goal of mine to become a
Professional Firefighter. Also, I am leaving because I no longer have confidence
in the leadership of the U.S. Forest Service. The fire program has evolved into
the modern era while management has chosen to stay in the past. Line officers do
not have the experience and decision making capacity to operate in an emergency
operations environment. Gone are the days when Line Officers held Command and
General Staff positions in the Incident Command System. Line Officers should
either resign themselves to a support role, or be mandated to become fully
qualified fire managers just as fire personnel are mandated to become
"Professionals" i.e. IFPM and 0401, or be removed.
The best immediate solution is an absolute Centralized fire management
organization led by experienced fire management leaders. I do hope those in
charge realize this soon or the whole organization will collapse; they owe it to
the folks who ruin their backs and knees in wildland fire. Provide housing for
the lower grade employees in high cost areas, pay them a living wage, treat them
like family, like the Forest Service was when I started in July of 1985.
Classify them as Professional Wildland Firefighters; give them the title they
deserve to work under, not just a title to die with. This organization has the
ability, all it takes is commitment, real leadership and the ability to make
decisions for the "greater good", namely its employees. All leaders should serve
I have accepted a position with CALFIRE as a Fire Captain. The pay and benefits
are far superior to anything the Forest Service is offering (regardless of what
the Chief says).
The good news is that I will remain working in the local area and will provide
my new agency with all of my experience and corporate knowledge of geography,
fire behavior, fire history and Forest Service culture, policy and procedure. I
will return all property that has been issued to me prior to my effective date
of resignation. I will handle the disposition of my health benefits, TSP and
I personally wish you good luck and a sincere hope for the Forest Service to
correct from its current downward spiral. I have enjoyed my career with the
Forest Service and will treasure my friendships, memories of hard work, good
times and great people.
Sincerely, -name redacted- "
Senator, please continue to press the Washington office to resolve the issues.
Hundreds of my comrades are suffering from a level of work induced stress that
their safety on the fireground could be compromised. The micro management from
Washington, lack of support for Incident Commanders, burden shift, mission creep
plus the current low employee morale is making the Forest Service a toxic work
Respectfully, -name and location redacted-, California
Readers, I wish you could know what really awesome, experienced fire
managers these are who have left and are leaving the FS. Some of you do know
because you, like me have gotten the letters behind the scenes. I feel honored
to call a number of them my friend. Ab.
I agree with you Tim. The fire management organization on my district
operates as an HRO and I think many crews and programs do. On my district
we do it without agency and forest support. It works well for us. We have
highly trained, safe firefighters, fire suppression and fire use programs.
I don't think the greater USFS fire management program operates as an HRO.
But there are pockets of excellence within the greater USFS fire management
Just a quick reminder that AVUE collects all of the applications (and shuts down
maintenance) at 2100 Pacific Standard Time.
If you are putting in for this round of R5 Fire Hire, be sure to submit your
before 8:59 tonight.
For reference, the announcement numbers for this next round (and direct links to
USAJOBS) are listed on my website:
Hope this helps.
Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah
Does anyone know what this legalese below means?
Final rule "Clarifying Prohibitions for Failure to Maintain Control of Fires
that Damage National Forest System Lands".
The link to the Federal Register (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-11731.pdf)
was posted on this Hotlist thread by AZ 148:
36 CFR Part 261
Clarifying Prohibitions for Failure To
Maintain Control of Fires That Damage
National Forest System Lands
AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.
ACTION: Notice of final rule.
SUMMARY: This final rule revises regulations to establish a new prohibition
for starting and negligently failing to maintain control of a prescribed
fire. Proof of criminal negligence is required for this offense. The rule
also clarifies that the prohibition for causing and failing to maintain
control of all other fires is a strict liability offense, not requiring
proof of criminal intent. In implementing the National Fire Plan, the Forest
Service has encouraged adjacent landowners to develop integrated fire
management plans for the use of prescribed fire for the restoration and
protection of private lands adjacent to National Forest System lands.
Without these changes, adjacent landowners might be discouraged from using
There's more in the pdf but I don't understand what it means.
"I fully disagree with the above statement."
What it was is what it was. HR decided that in their mind "Reasonable
Cause/Suspicion" was a criminal arrest or having someone that was willing to
testify that they had witnessed the illegal use of drugs. A drug testing program
is much easier to manage. What other professional emergency management
organization in the U.S. does not have a drug testing program?
I would like to clarify that I do strongly believe that there is a great
potential for smaller HROs to exist in the fire organizations and I don't think
you have to look hard to find them. Some engine crews, IHCs, helitack programs,
jump bases, dispatch centers, overhead teams, etc. follow the HRO model and
would fit into that definition. Those organizations constitute the major reason
that we can do a difficult and dangerous job safely. In some cases they operate
the way they do with agency support, in others they operate the way they do in
spite of lack of agency support or while having to deal with agency
interference. What is currently lacking is the HRO potential for a fire program
at the agency level. This is because of the decentralized management of the
programs and the lack of agency commitment correcting major deficiencies that
are out there. The USFS was willing to take those problems on in Law Enforcement
and established a stove-pipe organization that reduced local meddling in LE, but
there has been no movement to correct the issues associated with fire. To the
folks out there that are committed to running their programs using an HRO model,
I would like to express my deepest admiration for a job well done under
difficult conditions. Keep up the good work!
Without the Forest Service participation in FIRESCOPE's development of ICS and
nationwide emergency response since the early 1970s.... there wouldn't have been
The Forest Service has an integral responsibility in the National Response Plan.
The 2008 "exercise" will be the first test to see if everyone is on the same
I'm not including the Disaster Communication News from Wrightwood CA, but we
applaud their efforts to be prepared from communications on down. Practice makes
perfect. Nice job, John, and the Wrightwood Communications Group. Ab.
"The bottom line on this is that no organization such as fire in a
resource management agency has the potential to be a HRO."
I fully agree with your above statement, but "lessons learned" from folks
heading in the right direction.... Region 5 and other areas in the past, with
sound leadership and education of the goal ... have been often blindly
overlooked either by intentional or unintentional cultural and personal acts or
omissions (latent errors).
"When I was was a supervisor with the USFS and had an employee with a
drug problem my hands were tied. HR told me he had to be arrested or that I
had to observe him using drugs prior to taking any actions."
I fully disagree with the above statement. As a supervisor, you and HR should
have both been aware and trained to recognize and circumvent illegal drug use
affecting mission delivery. Since the early 1990's, the USDA Forest Service has
had "Reasonable Cause / Suspicion" training available to supervisors. This
training allowed a supervisor, with verifiable second party "cause or suspicion"
to request through the "designated agency official" a drug test of a suspected
employee. The FS has several drug testing authorities available (see 5/24,
During the Clinton/Gore "Reinventing Government Project", the Forest Service
Region 5 "crews" already had an abnormal make up as it compared to the rest of
the nation... Their make up was (and is still) at the minimum:
1 - Supervisory Forestry Technician (GS-9, Supt, 26/0); 2 - Supervisory Forestry
Technicians (GS-8, Hotshot Captains, 26/0); 2 - Lead Forestry Technicians (GS-6,
Squad Bosses, 18/8); 4 - Forestry Technicians (GS-5, Senior Firefighter, 13/13);
and 4 - Biological Sciences Student Trainees (GS-0499-03/04, Firefighter
Apprentices) assigned to each Hotshot module. These positions all had full
benefits and retirement. The remainder of the crew was hired at GS-2 through
GS-4 temporary (1039) appointments without benefits or retirement.
The grading and structure of the Region 5 Hotshot Crew organizational structure
was challenged indirectly twice, and upheld twice by OPM and by the Agency,
during two reviews of directly associated positions during the first and second
"Engine Captain Reviews (Desk Audits)".
This is the same structure (although grades and titles have somewhat changed
throughout the years) as has been used since I was an R-5 Hotshot in the early
80's. My past mentors and leaders set the course and direction and the love for
the job I do..
I understand that other agencies, as well as other regions within the Forest
Service use(d) other organizational structures for their Hotshot Crews and their
engine modules in the past.
Readers, for those that dwell in the past as a land manager.... First:
Recognize history, learn from it, embrace it, accept it, experience it, teach
it.... and and then, Second: live in the 21st Century of communication and the
rights of a Just Culture of not repeating the same latent errors again.
Keep safe and those around you safer! I know it's hard to understand....Baby
steps... I've been a "supervisor" since 1990 when I first became a GS-7....
Eighteen years later.... I'm still doing the same job by choice (but now OPM
decided my job rates a GS-9, albeit with another agency and another title).
P.S. - Mark Rey (USDA-FS) = Michael Brown (DHS-FEMA). One was incompetent... one
was ignorant.... Both were political appointees who never should have been put
into a position of leadership and direction of a program they didn't have
experience in, or fully understand. The differences between ignorant and
incompetence are blurred when the incompetent one (Rey) lives on to wreak
ruin.... while the ignorant one (Brown) was simply replaced by a
firefighter..... go figure.
Lobotomy, Small Clarification: Maybe I didn't read one of your sentences
correctly, but the "rights of a Just Culture" does not necessarily have to do with
repeating (or not) the same latent errors again but with a climate of
communication in which there can be lessons learned.
Here's a definition of Just Culture from James Reason in
Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents.
“A Just Culture is one in which there's an atmosphere of trust in
which people are encouraged, even rewarded, for providing essential
safety-related information, but in which they are also clear about where
the line must be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.”
I was wondering, where are these jobs listed that have a closing date of
I looked on USA Jobs and Avue. Have any ideas?
I don't think that this administration has a corner on not having HRO
potential. During the Clinton administration all of the USFS IHC Squad
Leaders were changed from "Supervisory" to "Lead" as a part
of Al Gore's "Reinventing Government". What this did was to
allow him to claim that he had flattened organization charts through
"decreasing" the number of supervisors. The bottom line on this
is that no organization such as fire in a resource management agency has the
potential to be a HRO. One of the fundamental characteristics of a HRO
is "Deference to expertise". It would be very difficult for an agency
to make a case that its fire program could become a HRO when critical decisions
are consistently made by managers with no fire background, experience, or
Concerning drug testing, I am a believer. When I was was a supervisor with
the USFS and had an employee with a drug problem my hands were tied. HR
told me he had to be arrested or that I had to observe him using drugs prior to
taking any actions. He was eventually dismissed because of behavioral
issues, but the process was considerably less budget neutral, more emotionally
draining, and more inconvenient than any drug testing program.
I think that we will eventually see a Federal wildland fire service agency.
It won't be the end of politics or being a political football, but it should
take firefighters out of the position of having crucial decisions made by people
who can't even spell fyre. It will be a sad time, fire is a major part of
the history of the USFS. The Air Force was formed when it was determined
that the Army could not manage major aviation assets. We are seeing some
of the same issues in the land management agencies.
Tomorrow is the last day to turn in applications for the Mark Rey miracle. I was hoping to get some information rounded up, if there is any.
On AVUE, it appears the only jobs closing on 5/27 are engines and helitack. Does anyone know if they are going to fill hotshot positions or patrols in this round?
Also, who are they going to get to be SMEs this time of year? Does anyone have any news on TOS, is the government buying any houses yet? Will official or unofficial job offers come in July? If it is unofficial will
there be a long wait for the official offer from ASC, or are they going to try and speed it up?
If anyone knows the answers, please share - trying to plan, thanks.
Supervisory Forestry Tech
SMEs (Subject Matter Experts); TOS (Transfer of Station); ASC (Albuquerque
Service Center) Ab.
Ab note: this is similar to many lists we've gotten. Thanks contributors.
Inyo National Forest R5
Mnt. Whitney RD
Unable to Staff 1 T3 Engine
Missing 1 GS 7 FEO
Missing 1 GS 6 AFEO
Missing 2 GS 5 Firefighters
Missing 1 GS 8 Assistant Helicopter
Missing 2 GS 5 Senior Fire Fighters
White Mountain RD
1 T3 / Water Tender Five Days a week
Missing 2 GS 6 AFEO
Missing 3 GS 5 Senior Firefighters
1 T3 Five Days a Week
Missing 1 GS 7 FEO
Missing 2 GS 5 Senior Firefighters
T2 Crew Trying to go T1
Missing 1 GS 6 Squad Boss
Missing 3 Fully Qualified Senior Fire Fighters
1 T3 / Water Tender 7 DAYS a week
Missing 2 GS 5 Senior FF
1 T3 5 Days A week
Missing GS 8 SFEO
Missing GS 6 AFEO
Missing 1 GS 5 Senior FF
Fire USE Crew
Missing GS 7 Captain
Missing 2 GS 5 Senior Firefighters
1 T3 Engine 7 days a week
Missing 2 GS 5 Senior Firefighters
1 T3 Engine 0 Days A week
FEO GS 7 only position staffed (whole engine unstaffed for 3 years)
2 Fuels Battalions Unstaffed
Seatbelts: Click It or Ticket
CLICK IT or BE STUPID!
Ending the 1st week of the Seatbelt campaign (May 19-June 1). I hope all have
a new resolution to wear seatbelts and get your friends and crewmates to wear
- It's the LAW.
- Vehicle accidents account for a huge percentage of firefighter deaths each
- Failure to wear your seat belt may compromise your family's PSOB if you
dust before your time.
- "Set an example; model the correct behavior; get your fellow
firefighters to do the
same," as one R5 Engine captain has said.
- It's the smart thing to do and is a simple habit you can develop if you're
one of the *stupid* ones.
Details about the Click It or Ticket campaign can be found at:
read on from another source, originally from the Safety Officer Michael C.
on the Shasta-T
For Your Safety, Protect Your Life, Wear Your Seat Belt:
Remember this from last year? (Ab note: hotlist
When this crew buggy went off the road and rolled some 300 feet down the
slope, the crew portion separated from the chassis ... and there were NO
Amazing ? Yes !
Seat Belts ? Yes !
Seat Belts Save Lives !
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
News of the Weird?
Fake seat belt to fool police causes death of New Zealand driver
The Associated Press
Friday, February 22, 2008
WELLINGTON, New Zealand: A New Zealand driver who used a fake car seat belt to fool police was killed when it failed him in a head-on crash,
local media reported Saturday.
Ivan Segedin refused to wear a seat belt while driving and had been fined 32 times in the past five years for not wearing one, a coroner's court
Segedin, 39, died in a crash on July 22 last year from multiple injuries when his car crossed the road and collided head-on with an oncoming
vehicle on North Island, coroner Carla na Nagara said.
"Ultimately Mr. Segedin's actions in driving without a seat belt have cost him his life in an accident that he may well have survived had he
worn one," the New Plymouth Daily News quoted her saying.
Though his car was fitted with seat belts, an extra belt with a long strap had been knotted above the seat belt on the driver's side,
providing a belt to simply sit over the driver's shoulder, Nagara said.
This created the illusion to a passing motorist or police officer that a seat belt was being worn when it was not.
Segedin's fatal injuries were caused when he was thrown forward on to the steering wheel in a low-impact crash. No blame or responsibility for the
crash rested on the other driver, Nagara noted.
Saw a report that a firefighter on the Santa Cruz area Summit Fire a
few days ago had a medical emergency from breathing poison oak
smoke. Lots of hazards that may not be apparent. Add this one to
Here's a link for those who want to listen to Dean Talley's live interview on
his book Flyboys Risky Business. Scroll on down the page to get more
info. Dean's interview is tonight at 8 PM at the radio station, 91.7. You
can hear the live feed tonight at 8 here:
Click Listen Live
Choose your format and listen.
I'm going to try to if I get home soon enough. Go Dean. Nice job on the
My hats off to our VETS. My thanks to them.
My mom was a WAVE, trained at MIT and one of the first women to teach
radar to Navy men at Bremerton during WWII. She didn't see combat but did
her part. (She did see some naked men on submarines who didn't expect a
woman below decks even though they were warned...)
My dad was captain of a ship in the Pacific during WWII. I remember as
a little kid awakening to him screaming from a "bad dream". My mom
me he was dreaming that time about a kamikaze attack on his ship. There
were other dreams and strange moments. He came home physically whole
from that war, but it took him many years for the dreams and flashbacks to
diminish. He was lucky that he got through it and carried on. Fine man...
My love especially to those vets (and firefighters) who pay the "hidden
for our freedom, safety and security.
I wanted to take the time to say THANK YOU to all the vets in our family here. My father was in the Army over in Korea, but never talked about
it... and I never asked. It wasn't until his death last year that I found out a portion of history that nobody knew. As I helped my mother clean out his things, I came across a wooden box that hadn't seen the light of day for years. I pried the lid off and inside were 7 boxes of slides and his service medals. As I went through the images, I found out that dad was at Inchon and Heartbreak Ridge. My dad was always my hero but until then, I never knew the caliber of that title I had placed on him.
On this Memorial Day, my feelings run a bit deeper for the appreciation of the man I called "dad". It also makes me reflect on the other veterans who may have packed away that part of their life, for reasons known only to them. I raise a toast in your honor, for your service and sacrifice.
To the ones we have lost and those still with us... THANK YOU!
I too grew up chasing the lights and sirens. I was a Forest Service brat. There was little doubt what I would do when I grew up. In those days the FS had a special appeal to it, it was a much sought after job, I recall much of my
community working for the FS and how they always seemed to be there when things needed to get done.
But I do not agree that our mission is different, what is our mission? Isn't it the Protection of life and property? and if so is that not the same as every other fire
dept. in the US. They protect the states, the cities or counties interests and we protect the federal
interests. So some one tell me what is the difference?
We must remember that we are and always will be PUBLIC SERVANTS. The public is who I serve, and I will do it with pride no matter what color engine I drive.
PS GOD BLESS OUR SOLDIERS.
On this Memorial Day,
I want to extend a heartfelt "Thank You" to those men and women who have
made the ultimate sacrifice for my freedoms. I would also like to thank those
who have served continue to serve today, as well as their families, who sacrifice
more than we'll ever know.
I also want to thank the families of our fallen brothers and sisters, today. We
are thinking of you today and everyday.
I looked into my baby boy's eyes this morning, and even though he can't talk
yet, I knew what he was trying to say: "Come home safe, Dad. Come home safe."
And he meant ALL of us.
Stump Shot, I would add to your thank you for the "ultimate
sacrifice", a thank you to the warriors and fire warriors who have come
home from an engagement scarred physically or psychologically. It's hard to
continue to love and support those who have flashbacks, PTSD, erratic behavior,
anger or pain management issues or who are dealing with missing limbs or other
body parts. As individuals and as a society we need to do that. Good treatment.
They have done us great service whether as wildland firefighter or as military
warrior. Thank you. Ab.
Honestly, I don’t think the Forest Service Fire & Aviation program is capable of acting like a High Reliability Organization under this administration. We have been studied and outsourced and contracted and centralized and downsized and Aglearned and Avued and EmpowHR’d and demoralized and REPEATEDLY LIED TO to the point that it is ludicrous to consider ourselves a high functioning organization. I’d say we’re more like a Medium Reliability Organization, and I would only rate us that high because of the professionalism and dedication of our employees who work at the sharp end of the spear. Unfortunately, the people at the sharp end are handicapped because the butt end of the spear is cracked and bent and burnt and covered with political slime and bullsh*t.
One of the underpinnings of a high-functioning culture is that the good of the many requires people at all levels of the organization be open and honest. How does that square with Mark Rey’s repeated deceptive responses before Congress about staffing levels and retention, or the steady stream of administration propaganda that Forest Service employees have to endure? The WO seems to be not much more than a Mark Rey puppet show these days.
If safety in large risk-facing organizations is culture-based, as Dr. Reason and other experts would have us believe, where does that leave us, with our leadership failures and demoralized culture?
We have spent a lot of effort in recent years on APAs and FLAs and other ways to improve near miss and accident investigations. Problem is, if you’re looking at an accident, the horse is already out of the barn. What we really need are better mechanisms to ferret out latent precursors before accidents happen.
In the past 10 years or so, the US Navy and Marines adopted from the Air National Guard a revolutionary safety program that relies on cultural assessments of military units called Culture Workshops. Trained facilitators interview people from different levels of management and rate their co-workers and managers on three “pillars of culture”; Communications, Trust, and Integrity. All information gained through interviews is anonymous, the findings stay with the unit leader, and facilitators are sworn to secrecy.
I know this sounds weird, but in the years since this process was developed, Culture Workshops have actually been proven to drastically decrease the numbers of accidents in high-risk programs. Here’s a link to the Navy Culture Workshop website if you’re interested:
How do you think our Forest Service leaders would fare if we could rate them on Communications, Trust, and Integrity?
I have not seen this any where else, so post if you want. JHM
Rattlesnake bite victims showing extreme symptoms
Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The potentially deadly symptoms used to be fairly rare, but toxicologists in Arizona, Colorado and California say they're seeing some or all of them more than ever, and that they could be contributing to an increase in fatal rattlesnake bites in Arizona.
more at link, interesting...
I was wondering if you could pass on a sincere thanks to the writer of the
reply to Smoke's Post. That was extremely well written and expresses what
most all of us think and feel. Thank you.
That was from the poster "Never Forget Black Tuesday".
that post to the Documents Worth Reading
The Never Forget Black Tuesday poster said what i said, with
much better explanation.
I would like to tell you and everybody else a little of my story. If it's long, i apologize.
I grew up chasing the sounds of sirens when i was a kid. Every time i heard them, i was dashing out the front door with my fingers crossed hoping it was a Wildland
Firetruck. I used to make my Dad drive as close to the smoke i saw without getting us in any
trouble or danger. You should have seen my first year with the new scanner. I always looked for the big Green trucks with the bright lights. I knew about the Red ones, but man, the Green ones were always the attention grabbers. When i was a Junior in High School i joined the CA Army National
Gaurd, i wanted some extra cash LOL. At the age of 18, right after my Senior year i applied for CDF. We had a family buddy who was a Battalion Chief, so i kind of got the hookup. No, it
wasn't the Green Trucks, but it was Firefighting. I had already done a year in the Gaurd with Seven left. I loved firefighting, but honestly at the time
i don't think i was at the right maturity level yet. With Seven Guard years left, i switched to Active Duty Army. I enjoyed my Ten years in the Service. While in the Service, i got alot of training
completed EMT, more firefighting qualifications, Honor, Courage, and the most important thing i got out of it, Leadership Skills.
Now i have the dream job of working on a Green Truck, but i am not feeling the excitement i did when i was Ten and running out the door to see them Code 3 responding to a fire. I am hoping this will all change. I would love to put
together the Leadership Skills i received in the Service with the Firefighting
Knowledge i have gained and give it to the younger guys. This is why i am Green and will always be Green. CALFIRE can have
their 72 hour straights and their overtime. They have a different mission than
I feel I am a part of the greatest fire organization in the Nation. I will always have Smokey's back. I believe the combined agency is a great idea, but i know it will take a long time before that happens. I am going to stick with the situation at hand, and that is to protect the lives and property of this Nation from
catastrophic fire. This season is already starting off HOT and its not going to stop anytime soon.
Everybody Stay Safe
"The drug testing of Public Safety (think firefighters) should be a no-brainer. I have always thought all appointed firefighters should be cross trained to drive an R5 engine at a moments notice. Getting everyone on the CDL program may not be budget neutral but all driving employees should have a CDL to facilitate their options for advancement. This would subject all to the CDL random drug testing that presently only the engine folks are subjected too. I suspect many engine folks would love to see this condition of employment extend to all in the FF community. It only makes sense. A pre employment test is just that. A person dries out, gets hired and then is free to go about their previous behavior."
It's not just that simple in the USFS to do that. According to the NFFE union, just possessing a CDL does not automatically place you in a tested position. The union has been clear that incidental drivers of Class B vehicles sre not in the testing pool. Only positions with driving Class B vehicles as a PRIMARY duty are supposed to be tested. Yes, a lot of units look the other way at this ruling, to test all their employees, but that does not meet the
requirements of the NFFE. A letter explaining this circulated around the country 2 years ago, maybe it's time to dust it off and circulate it
I suggest you take it seriously and your ideas and involvement are needed.
Your idea is a good one and one that has been talked about many years. It’s one of many outstanding possibilities. A Fed Fire agency would have responsibility (with oversight) for our own budgeting, training, fiscal matters, agreements, HR including hiring and benefits. We would adopt a dynamic approach using the options currently available to federal employees to improve pay, facilities and mission. An agency committed to improving communication up and down the chain-of-command. Best of all, we could leave behind those confusing national directives with weekly contradictory letters of direction, regional supplements and local unit directional twists. Fire Managers would then create new direction that is clear, concise, doctrine principled, coordinated and communicated to all. The best reason to reorganize is to cut the current multi-layer bureaucracy. As the new agency develops and grows, we would need strong disciplined and principled leaders in place to minimize the development of a new bureaucracy.
What's in the way of all this? Many things and the #1 issue is the old guard within each of our agencies. Secondly, the other issue in the way is some of us. Some of us don't want change within fire management at our Parks, Districts and Forests. They have it pretty good and change brings confusion and uncertainty. I talk to people everyday that are worried about change and feel secure in the comfort zone. However, we should think about the change that has occurred with land management since these agencies were formed. Population has exploded (WUI) and public priorities have changed. As a federal fire agency we can still implement each
unit's land management priorities. We can be a centralized agency that works with local units to ensure we continue to implement LMP priorities. A fed fire agency can support WFU on the SQF, YNP and KNF, while at the same time protecting communities in So Cal WUI. We have this capacity.
Because of internal resistance within some of us and those old guards who write policy papers and increase RULES and REGULATIONS
every day, this will be a rough road. However it's a road that needs to be driven. As a Forest Service employee, it might be more realistic to make change within the Forest Service first and then see where that road takes us with the other agencies in the future. Conceptually speaking SMOKE, you’re dead on. Realistically speaking we might need to take some baby steps first. Although some parts of Forest Service Fire Management are working well outside of R-5, some areas outside of R-5 are seeing a similar implosion of the fire organization with similar issues. It might be best for Forest Service Fire to break away or at least centralize, blaze the trail, learn from the mistakes before we join into one fed fire department.
The Old Guard in Washington needs to remember one primary benefit of allowing for a centralized fire organization or one large fed fire organization is our Line Officers may go into agreement for protection with anyone they choose. They may pick the most cost effective and productive fire organization available. I have no doubt about whom that group is, however it’s important that any new organization not lose sight of the founding principals of physical fitness, crew cohesion with diverse skills and strong leadership while managing emergencies. Skills that include jumping or rappelling into the middle of a wilderness, implementing coyote tactics with our crews, managing feeding stations and a morgue outside of New Orleans, a structure protection assignment in the WUI with our engines or looking into the eyes of our younger employees who are usually the ones each morning doing the inspection on that trauma kit because they will be the first ones to reach for it at that head-on collision in the afternoon. The diversity of assignments for those of us managing emergencies on and off federal land has never been greater. This diversity makes us unique; it's our trademark, our brand. It's in our blood and it's those slides we depend on even during this horrific crisis. This tradition is one reason we look forward to the next shift. It's what keeps us hanging on for that day when things get better.
What Former NPS Cap'n posted is happening everyday, everywhere. We are seeing the very young (those getting started) and the very best (those with years of experience) leaving because of complete mismanagement. We usually think about the day to day retention effects of this mismanagement. However, imagine the long term potential effects of today’s losses on the future. Was that young Firefighter who just resigned the next Gleason or Quintinar, Shulman or Swartzlander, Walker, Oplinger or OA? The next Hawkins or Husari, maybe the next Dietrich, the next Misery Whip or the next “Just a Hotshot”, BLMboy, the next NorCalTom? Perry or Perkins or the next Linane, Lobotomy or Larsen? We will never know, however what we do know is; everyday a Federal Wildland Firefighter turns in his or her gear, shakes the hand of the Captain, Superintendent or Chief and simply walks away.
What progress have we seen since that cold week in December, 2007 where the theme was; “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” We have seen lies, perjury, false reports and charts developed in a backroom and presented during an unorganized video conference call. We have seen a hastily written email (an extension of the unorganized conference call) sent to selected Line Officers (not to all employees) from a Deputy Regional Forester asking for the names of those who are leaving so maybe we can cut a deal (disgusting). Additionally, we have seen the faces of more of our friends both young and experienced simply walking away. GONE...........
To borrow a few lines; “We are the change we have been waiting for.” We must continue to believe in our collective ability to bring change to this current situation. We shall not stop, we shall continue to email, we shall make those calls, we shall maintain professionalism and we shall remember the hard work of that man in Idaho, that man in No Cal and that man in So Cal who fight for our issues everyday. We shall not stop until SMOKE’s weekend day-dream becomes our reality. Or until we can develop a centralized organization that allows us to manage emergencies with fully staffed modules while fulfilling the expectations and increasing the confidence of the public in our ability to provide a truly diverse, multi-skilled, all-risk organization.
We will succeed, because we are right!
Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY
Terrific post. Ab.
Clarification from another unnamed poster:
In reality, the tern "ignorant" is a positive way to factually explain the paths our Line Officers have taken the Forest Service fire program towards..... "They know not what they lead".
Merriam-Websters definition of "ignorance":
ig·no·rant Listen to the pronunciation of ignorant
1 a : destitute of knowledge or education <an ignorant society> ; also : lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified <parents ignorant of modern mathematics> b : resulting from or showing lack of knowledge or intelligence < ignorant errors> 2 : unaware, uninformed
- ig·no·rant·ly adverb
- ig·no·rant·ness noun
I just read a good post here and grabbed a qoute that I think sums up our leadership.
I want to ask this question to Randy Moore, Ed Hollenshead and all the Line Officers
that think they know what is best for a fire organization that they have no experience in:
Are you all "either woefully ignorant or blatant liars"?
FS Engine Guy;
This is addressed as though you are going to be moving into a seasonal firefighter position.
I too left the USFS, after 13 years, for CDF (in 1987- aack! 21 years ago!) and can offer some insight into the two organizations.
First and foremost, the "corporate culture", for better or worse, is very different between the red army and the green army. Since the CalFire mission is almost completely dedicated to private land protection, the notion of "fire management" is foreign to most of the work force. Fires are put out with lots of equipment, etc. Even after 20 years, this policy rankles me a bit, having seen some of the damage that industrialized fire suppression puts on the land. However, it's not our call, being private land and all.
Secondly, CalFire stresses the hierarchy of command, with an emphasis on referring to chiefs as "Chief", etc. Some are quite comfortable with a first name basis. Again, this is not a
judgment on the organization; it's the way it is. And you're expected to wear a uniform most all of the time, even in fire camp. You've probably noticed that.
Firefighters are expected to do all the cleanup and maintenance at the station, and the engines don't leave the station to do projects, as we did back in the day. A good engine captain will put a lot of time into training his/her crew every day. Days off can be cancelled at any time, and you don't go home at night. On the other hand, ordinarily, you work 3 days a week and have four off, with 19 hours of guaranteed OT per week. Don't even ask how the OT is calculated.
Just as with any organization, the personalities involved are what make the crew and station life work well. Most stations are comfortable but spartan. Some are in nice locations, some aren't (not quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there). Some stations have specialized training opportunities dependent on their location. Meals are as good as the firefighters make them, and the cost runs around 2.00-2.50, usually. Again, hard to explain.
And finally, yes, the pay is great, especially for the amount of time you actually put into the job. And, if you stick with it, the benefits and retirement are exceptional.
It's a bit of a longwinded post, sorry about that. I don't regret the move, but I don't engage in the agency bashing so common elsewhere. I work at a camp, and out of the ten captains there, five are FS transfers. Good stories all around. If you want more detailed info, Ab can forward my email address.
FS Engine Guy-
If you only have 6 seasons in with the USFS, take the job with CAL FIRE, get
8 months in and take the next FAE examination. Before the exam, get as many
certificates as you can, get your 4 year degree and EMT and you’ll be on your
way. Don’t look back.
You’ll be working for an outfit that sees lots of action and hopefully doesn’t go
down the path that USFS has by hamstringing their fire supervisors and IC’s with
unrealistic and over burdensome engagement rules.
You’ll start earning service credit towards retirement (3%@50) as a FF1, great
benefits right away, lifetime medical after 20 years of service when you retire
after age 50, and a strong Union working for you all the way.
"Another CDF BC"
Yo FS engine guy
RUN-don't walk to sign your Cal Fire employment
papers. The pay, opportunities, benefits and security
are priceless. Five years from now you'll wonder why
you even bothered to ask the question.
After 35 years of "been there and done that" I have no
the old ranger
I am looking to post something in the information exchange to get some advice.
I am currently a GS-05 Permanent with the Forest Service and have been offered
a position as a Firefighter I with Cal Fire. I am hoping some people could chime
in on their experiences. I have been with the Forest Service for 6 years and this
is a difficult decision. If anyone out there has made the jump from FS to Cal Fire
and would like to share information I am all ears.
FS Engine Guy
I started fighting wildland fires in 1987. The one Federal Wildland Firefighting Agency idea was around then.
NOW, it is a possibility. It has strength of numbers behind it. The old school holdouts are retiring, or can't afford the liability insurance (dig at pay rates, dig at current legal environment). But in all reality, the individuals who fight to keep the Federal Wildland Firefighting Agency from existing, they are on their way out. Next 5-10 years, no old schoolers will be left in positions of power. Congress is starting to realize that the ones they normally talk to and get their information from are either woefully ignorant or blatant liars. Your one separate agency idea is a good one, and it’s a future reality. Read the last 3 years worth of posts (if you have time that is), you will find you are in the majority.
Don't take life seriously, it isn't permanent
Re: drug testing
Regardless of the philosophical or logical arguments on drug testing, the devil is certainly in the details. With all the difficulties getting people cleared by CHS (for some regions), hired, paid, housed, trained, and the reams of redundant paperwork such as yearly background checks for temporaries completed, I’m personally not enthusiastic about more administrative actions until we clean up the mess we already have.
Drug testing is logistically complex with time sensitive testing kits and potentially long travel times to medical appointments from remote stations. It is also very difficult to manage during fire season, and is certainly not “budget neutral.” If we move the fire workforce to all PSE 13:13 appointments (yeah right!), I’m all for drug testing. So long as we continue to misuse 1039 appointments, it’s just one more headache on top of all the other headaches we already have. I have many years of experience with the CDL testing,
and I'm not convinced we could handle the entire workforce. Let's say for example, you hire three new temporaries for a crew. One new hire fails a drug test the week before training starts (I assume the testing will be linked to the pre-employment CHS screening). Do they have appeal rights if they are not yet hired? Could you realistically backfill that position before fire season was over? And how do you effectively complete the replacement's training in the middle of the season? And what will be taken off my plate to make room for drug testing? At a certain point, we just can't do more with less.
The Forest Service has a terrible track record of implementing policies with no clear idea or consideration of the impacts on the field (Empower, 401, ASC, Aglearn, etc.). Let’s not have another fine abstract idea from an office of permanent employees that causes a host of new problems because we don’t have the capacity to administer it properly.
|5/24||Mark Rey's 100% staffing takes another big hit!
Cal Fire just approved 4.0 staffing. Our district has lost 5 people in 3 days.....should be losing more in the coming days. We have lost key GS 5 and apprentice GS 4's off 3 of our engines. These positions have been lost off 3 of our engines, so staffing is now a nightmare. There is talk of having a mini fire-hire in Sacramento next week to try and fill these positions. Cal Fire still has 18 positions to fill, so we are expecting even more departures as fire season gets going around
here...... guess we'll see what happens..... Hopefully Mark Rey gets called to the mat about his 100% staffing statement, and is finally held accountable for what he's been saying.
If we had some sort of retention package by now, maybe this wouldn't be
happening.... because we all know that these work groups will make recommendations that will fall on deaf ears at the RO and WO level....
Former NPS Cap'n
|5/24||The Forest Service currently has several Drug Testing Authorities available for use:
1) DOT Commercial Licensing (DOT Administered)
2) Post Accident Testing (DOT / USDA / USFS Administered)
3) Reasonable Cause / Suspicion Testing (USFS Administered)
4) Executive Order (USDA /USFS Administered)
First, I have to say Mark Rey has always looked like someone who should be tested, and based upon his actions of driving a train towards an obvious train wreck, he was given ample notice to avoid but kept laughing and waving fingers at those offering warning.... He willingly, without due regard or circumspect... or without recognizing either safety controls or orders to correct course, drove the Forest Service back 50 years.
Mark Rey should be the first one in the drug testing pool.
Since President Ronald Reagan, each and every President has issued Executive Orders relating to a Drug Free Federal Workforce and the importance towards the safety of federal employees and the importance in federal mission delivery.
The most significant Executive Order came during the Clinton administration and the changes in implementation procedures that were implemented by the executive branch agencies. At that time, all range and forestry technicians with firefighter duties (USDI) were required to undergo pre-employment drug testing and submit to random drug screenings.
At the same time, NFFE (representing the majority of affected FS employees) and AFGE (representing a significant number of FS employees in R8, R-9, and in Texas)
vehemently opposed the following direction:
Sec. 7. Definitions.
(a) This Order applies to all agencies of the Executive Branch.
(b) For purposes of this Order, the term "agency" means an Executive agency, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105; the Uniformed Services, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 2101(3) (but excluding the armed forces as defined by 5 U.S.C. 2101(2)); or any other employing unit or authority of the Federal government, except the United States Postal Service, the Postal Rate Commission, and employing units or authorities in the Judicial and Legislative Branches.
(c) For purposes of this Order, the term "illegal drugs" means a controlled substance included in Schedule I or II, as defined by section 802(6) of Title 21 of the United States Code, the possession of which is unlawful under chapter 13 of that Title. The term "illegal drugs" does not mean the use of a controlled substance pursuant to a valid prescription or other uses authorized by law.
(d) For purposes of this Order, the term "employee in a sensitive position" refers to:
(1) An employee in a position that an agency head designates Special Sensitive, Critical-Sensitive, or Noncritical-Sensitive under Chapter 731 of the Federal Personnel Manual or an employee in a position that an agency head designates as sensitive in accordance with Executive Order No. 10450, as amended;
(2) An employee who has been granted access to classified information or may be granted access to classified information pursuant to a determination of trustworthiness by an agency head under Section 4 of Executive Order No. 12356 ;
(3) Individuals serving under Presidential appointments;
(4) Law enforcement officers as defined in 5 U.S.C. 8331(20); and
(5) Other positions that the agency head determines involve law enforcement, national security, the protection of life and property, public health or safety, or other functions requiring a high degree of trust and confidence.
Please folks, don't confuse the Drug Testing Requirements found under, and administered by the US Department of Transportation. Two completely different critters.
Contrary to the actions taken in the 1980's and 1990's by some groups, hopefully, we as a community finally recognize "the protection of life and property, public health or safety, or other functions requiring a high degree of trust and confidence" meet the definition of being a wildland firefighter...... regardless of whether the USDA or the Forest Service sink or swim in these changing times.
Based upon what I read from the earlier post and recent "talking points", I'd assume the FSC and the Partnership Council had either an
epiphany experience or a calling back to goals when it comes to keeping folks safer.... OR THE LINE OFFICERS were finally put on the spot and had to make a decision on the record and try to damage control again?
|5/24||Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am off until Sunday so i have been doing alot of thinking, especially about this R5 Retention B.S. I would
appreciate all your insight of my thoughts. Am i thinking too blindly or is this a great start to a great idea?
What about all FS, BLM, and NPS joining as one fire suppression agency? The National Fire Agency? This way USDA, DOI, and NPS can still have
their agencies and not have to worry about their fire programs. I think budget wise, this would make a great idea. It seems like guys are switching too much,
quitting, retiring, or not having the passion for the job they once loved. With one fire suppression agency, this would allow congress to give a huge budget, allow for more jobs for new interested people wanting to join this field of work, and allow the fire suppression leaders to be leaders again. I think this will open alot more positions in both the higher and lower end of the ladder. Having one agency will probably save congress alot more money since all the agencies will be one. Plus, i think this will save alot more headaches.
This is just an idea. Please, let me know what you all think.
Have an exciting and safe season.
|5/23||Misery Whip, Lobotomy, Hugh Carson, Nerd, anyone
else...ICs, FMOs, Safety Officers, etc.
What exactly is the STRUCTURE that the aviation folks settled on for their
High Reliability Organization (HRO) after the fatalities that turned their
heads, their culture, their organization around, that galvanized them to
action? Did they continue with their same conceptual structure or did they
reinvent themselves? What did they change or add?
Let's pretend we're going to create a firefighting HRO that has
firefighter safety as paramount. What would we need conceptually?
Need to manage risk (LCES, fire behavior, human factors, have
a plan or a variety of plans for this)
Need to create a safety culture, in which just culture
with lessons learned are the status quo (tools for that are that
happening now); need security when learning from and sharing with each other;
freedom from fear of criminal prosecution for no good reason; freedom from
fear of self-incrimination in sharing and exploring experiences.
Need a feedback loop to change and grow the organization and the people in
it; a way to see if your HRO/safety system is working as planned,
at the organizational level, like theysaid gives feedback from the ground
(especially when it's not working), collects data, also safecoms,
investigations when necessary; a way to change the system when it's not
working or to make it more efficient for safety sake (different than
efficiency for $$ sake).
Anything else you can think of? What did those fly boys come up with?
Anything for recommended reading, Misery Whip?
Great insight in your 5/22 post. You said,
"I hate to say it, but "Commander's Intent" expressed to inexperienced "troops" is a recipe for disaster."
The success of doctrine is predicated on having an experienced and knowledgeable wildland firefighter workforce that is capable of safely executing the intent of their commanders. The Forest Service is currently being mismanaged in a way that is demoralizing and driving away our best and brightest. What does that say about our leaders' commitment to doctrine and firefighter safety?
You don't need a crystal ball to predict what will happen when you decimate the experience level in an organization that relies heavily on experience to keep employees out of harm's way. We are being set up for failures of the worst kind. Our leaders in the regional offices and WO will share the responsibility for future firefighter deaths....
|5/23||Don't worry about being called "Whiners." When working for positive and
improved change keep in mind there are always the negative people within
the agency that will stoop to name calling. These people are to be
discounted. They are losers and quitters. We don't need them on our team.
On the other hand positive people, real leaders, such as many of us in fire
management will look to improve our program and the level of fire and
emergency service we provide the public and in the protection of our homes
and communities and natural resources. These are the types of people who
have the integrity and leadership ability that built the forest service in
the first place. In general, the forest service is suffering greatly today
because of a lack of integrity and leadership within the agency.
Black Tuesday and many other recent events indicate a clear lack of support
for fire management employees and programs by agency administration elites.
I say the forest service should give up fire and I support legislative
action to create a Federal Wildland Fire Department. Change comes hard and
slow, but we have developed great momentum working with FWFSA and I know
many senators and congressmen know the score. Battle on!
The drug testing of Public Safety
(think firefighters) should be a no-brainer. I have always thought all appointed
firefighters should be cross trained to drive an R5 engine at a moments notice.
Getting everyone on the CDL program may not be budget neutral but all driving
employees should have a CDL to facilitate their options for advancement. This
would subject all to the CDL random drug testing that presently only the engine
folks are subjected too. I suspect many engine folks would love to see this
condition of employment extend to all in the FF community. It only makes sense.
A pre employment test is just that. A person dries out, gets hired and then is
free to go about their previous behavior.
CDL = Commercial Drivers License
|5/23||So has anybody thought of how much its going to
in just fuel, to suppress fires this coming season?
Our leaders are concerned with the cost of fire
suppression, correct? Budget neutral is a word I've
heard a few times............
Just think, every fire engine, crew buggy, supt truck
dozer transport, etc is run on DIESEL. Ya think our
fire costs are going to go up a bit because of the
current high fuel costs?
I shudder to think of the fuel costs for air tankers
There's really no way to offset this cost. We gotta
get to the fire, just going to cost a more to get
|5/23||A few things.
What tha---, what does your moniker reference? I have been trying to figure it
out the past couple months. Must be going over my head. Easy for that to happen
Back to business - Centralized Fire Management Today, Tomorrow and FOREVER
is what I've been saying for years. I've worked under both and without question
centralized fire management is the best. Centralized fire works great when you
have strong leaders leading (see BDF today, also see LPF back in the 90's and
early 2000's). If this agency wants to do something for retention and mission,
centralized fire is THE way to allow for positive change. One hurdle to
centralized fire is some of us. Yes, we ourselves are hurdles as some within our
ranks work well with the local Line Officer. Each of us as must put aside how
well we get along with our Line Officer (or not) and Forest Fire Management
Officer (or not) and determine what is the best way for fire management to be
managed. Change is hard, but change is needed. Line Officers are good,
hardworking people, who should never be forced to collide with the management of
emergencies. Does an LAC Battalion Chief have an LA County Board of Supervisor
out in the dirt them doing an "inspection" (as required by Forest Service Line
Officers)? Does the Mayor of Redding get out and complete a complexity analysis
with the IC (as required by the Forest Service)? This is so out of bounds it's
harmful and some would say distracting.
Yes Mellie the LP is losing a Battalion Chief to CAL FIRE. This Battalion Chief
is a great leader and IC…….Gone. 20 + years of experience with many years still
available to serve……..Gone.
I was wondering about this the other day; Whatever happened to the Pena email
asking for who’s leaving so the RO can put together a retention offer?
What happened to the April 30th update the retention groups were to give to
Retention Coordinators Ed and Jodi (see April theysaid), did you hear anything?
Are we communicating still? May 31st is the date for another update. Will we
hear anything then? June 30th is the date for the final report. Is this
continued lack of communications ever going to improve under current leadership?
Don’t let your Line Officer forget about the report dates. Ask them the status.
Word on the street is we are being called the W word by a few non-fire
colleagues. Yes, Whiners. The name calling was predicted a month ago, so it
should not surprise us. Throughout American history many who have called for
change have been also called a Whiner, so we should stay above it all and
continue to fight on.
Keep your email volume high and make sure our elected officials keep the
Wildland Firefighter folder close by.
Randy, Ed and Tom – Your turn. 1) To Randy and Ed, please provide an update on
the retention efforts in this forum. 2) To Randy, Ed and Tom can each of you
outline in your view of the pros and cons of portal to portal pay? 3) To Randy,
Ed and Tom, can each of you create a post with each of your names on the Hotlist
Forum-General Discussion area so we can begin a dialog, a positive discussion,
with all of us communicating to improve our agency? Our forum is your forum.
We welcome and look forward to your reply and involvement.
Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY
|5/23||Re: Rogue Rivers
"Line Officers speaking up"!?!?!?!?!?
The are drinking the Kool-Aid hand in hand with the Regional Forester
and Mark Rey...
at least here in R-5.
Instead of supporting the biggest most successful program in the FS,
they seem to be intent on trashing it!
|5/23||I'm all for drug testing of firefighters, no
why we shouldn't have this implemented already. We
have a dangerous job and you need to have your head
screwed on straight.
But does this mean the Forest Service is going to
recognize its employees are actually "firefighters"?
Upsets me that when the agency calls us firefighters
to fit their needs..........
|5/23||Re: Forest Service ELT Decision Making in the Fire
Hopefully, the new drug testing standards apply to them (ELT) as well as
the program they supposedly LEAD and SUPERVISE.....
The decisions they've made (ELT) recently make us all think they (ELT)
are smoking crack while screwing up everything that worked in the
First person in line for a Drug Test.... Mark Rey.
I've always opposed the actions of NFFE and AFGE as they opposed random
drug testing of federal employees, and hope they will embrace the
Presidential Executive Order for a drug-free workplace environment.
Based upon the actions of the last few weeks, I'd suggest someone at the
helm of the ship was incapacitated for some reason. (Ref: Exxon Valdez).
When the ship has problems and runs aground, look towards the supposed
leadership for why they were steering the ship towards the known
Hopefully, in the future, wildland firefighters will lead the wildland
Mark Rey will tell you he didn't inhale. haw haw. Ab.
I wanted to send in a quick post regarding our Family Fire this past
weekend (May 17 and 18). What an amazing and wonderful weekend it was!
Our families were treated to a jump by the Boise and McCall
Smokejumpers, a Kachina helicopter fly-by and landing, Rappellers from
the Lucky Peak Helibase, engine crews: Grayback Forestry, CalFire, and
DB Jet Enterprises, and Lucky Peak Nursery staff and manager. It was so
awesome to see the demonstrations. The kids had a great time, as well as
Saturday afternoon there were breakout sessions and a barbecue where we
honored and recognized John Bolin for the two guitars he made and
donated for the Castle Rock benefit concert (and subsequently put on
Ebay to raise money). We also had entertainment by Josh and Amy
Brinkley’s girls, Brit and “Abs”, followed by Jagermeister and Crown
There are so many people we would like to thank, I know I’ll probably
forget someone – but I’ll give it a try:
USFS Honor Guard – Dan, Eric, Bob, Linda, Todd, and the most fabulous
BLM Honor Guard – Christine, Jessica, Matt, and Tommy
CalFire Honor Guard – Believe it or not, I don’t have names but what a
wonderful showing we had from these firefighters – I’m trying to get a
list put together soon!
Lloyd – Our Local BagPiper
Joe and Josh Brinkley
All the CalFire Firefighters that came as escorts for the Stone, Will,
and Johnson families – you guys ROCK – you really fit in with us Idaho
And, my many “Purple People” (long story….)
Dale and Carol Ransdell
Mike, Joy, and Chris Warren
Dee Burke and Matt Holmes
Kathy and Ken Brinkley
Brent and Kris Martindale
Sandra Sorrells (thank you for being a “surrogate mom” to Montana while
she was in Boise!)
And, thanks, Ken Kempter, for being right there whenever I needed any
help at all.
Without the amazing support of all these people – and others – we would
not have been able to support these families and provide them a relaxed,
family reunion-type atmosphere. This is just the first post, of
hopefully many, sending a shout out to everyone.
Thank you all from our heart to yours!
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Glad it was a success. Ab.
|5/22||And a "heads up" of yet a third kind that's
Originally from Michael Cobbold, Safety Officer on
the Shasta T and Mendocino.
Imagine you didn't use your truck for a while during the season when
are being built....
wasps nest picture)
You might want to think this might happen in buildings, or on tools,
materials that have not been used or moved since last year.
And make sure that you flag the danger until it can be addressed...
More on Bees, Stinging Insects, Allergic Reactions,... - - - > See
Bees-YellowJackets - Stings and Safety.doc (45 K doc file)
Shasta-Trinity and Mendocino National Forests
It was "rumored" today that the Chief announced a 25% reduction in the wildland
program today during a conference call with the Forest Supervisors.
1) Is this true?
2) If it is true, it would probably directly correlate with the 25% reduction in
over the last three budget cycles that were "hidden" somehow through "increased
management efficiencies" (smoke and mirrors) and improving FFPC (an increase
defied both logic and common sense)....
The "Mark Rey Miracle" is upon us..... it is just a miracle that he has been
plunder the Forest Service for so long without Line Officers speaking up.
|5/22||Another kind of "heads up" when fighting fire in
Utah Rattlers 1
Utah Rattlers 2
Utah Rattlers 3
Utah Rattlers 4
Utah Rattlers 5
Originally sent out by Jeff Fenton/EYEO/NV/BLM/DOI
I took some time and read your post. GREAT POST WITH GREAT INFORMATION!!! I
fully support getting benefits to temps and pay raises. If we could have a
budget that allowed that, I am sure it would be done. Hopefully it ends up
happening. I, as a now non firefighter, always voice my support to my fire shop
and the districts. As one of the 5/7/9 LEO's I still know where i came from. I
do deal with different things (1 shooting and 1 shots fired call/man with a gun
call in 2 days) but I respect the hell out of the nomex wearers. They are my go
to guys and gals if I need a little helpo, advice, or just a good place to drink
coffee in the morning.
Guns n Hoses
|5/22||Getting tired in R5 (no not Socal) and its only
I would love to work for you!/ with you!
Very well stated! You have stated, again very well, something that I have been
thanking about for along time. Retention, housing, pay, grade and a Wildland
Firefighter series are issues that go beyond just R5, they affect us all, no
matter the unit and regardless of the geographical area. Hiring issues,
recruitment and ASC also affect us all. When we support organizations like FWFSA
and NFFE , we can, all be slow at time, make changes. (My plug for Casey and
crew, helping them keep up the great job they are doing!).
We still need to continue to support the young Firefighters coming up. Tell them
the truth as we see it and prepare them to take on the role of leaders and “old
salt Firefighters”. We need to be able to teach them how to take on the role of
mentors and leaders. Pushing them to be the future of the fire organization. Be
it in the Agencies as we know it now or in a combined national fire organization
that the future may bring.
What we need to work toward is a firefighter that is trained, paid, supported
and be recognized as a professional Wildland Firefighter.
On personal note, I would like to talk with you one on one, Ab can pass
addresses back and forth, if you are willing.
|5/22||As one person said, "Heads Up!" Ab.
Forest Service Partnership Council Briefing Paper:
Drug Testing for Forest Service Firefighters (78 K doc file)
|5/22||Having known many forest service firefighters who
worked for the outfit in
1955, the forest service as an agency, and its line officers, knew more
about fire and supported their firefighters a helluva lot more then, than
they do now.
|5/22||We still have not been able to convince our
"leadership-Forest Supervisor and her Deputy" that vehicle storage and local
locations are a benefit to the agency. Even our Forest Engineers are affected. I
just heard this from our Forest Engineer here on the Los Padres and thought
others may find this as humorous as I did.
On Wednesday he got a report of a
broken water piper flowing water across roads at Los Prietos. He was working a
project in Piru Ca. He was instructed to drive the 33.5 miles from Piru to Ojai
in a gov. vehicle, pick up his personal vehicle, drive to Goleta (S.O. where the
Santa Barbara engineer vehicle sits) @ 50 miles, than drive this gov. vehicle to
Los Prietos, @ 19 miles, to do the work. Once finished he could return to Goleta
and drive his pov home. All this because our "leadership" feels that he would be
benefiting himself by not using his personal vehicle (even during work hours).
They are now in the process of creating another committee consisting of 2 line
officers and 2 fire staff to chair the vehicle issue. How much labor and time we
have spent on this issue is ridiculous. I think we should start another
committee to study the cost and time spent on this one issue. Its a wonder we
can ever get anything accomplished.
|5/22||On Monday, May 26th, Memorial Day on 91.7 - public
radio in Chico - Dean
is being interviewed on the radio from 7-8 PM and it is a call in talk to the
"talk show" so everyone, try to listen and support my hubby's time to shine with
Flyboys Risky Business...
That's Dean Talley, AirTanker pilot, and he wrote a very good book:
|5/22||Kudos to 'Getting tired in R-5'. While I can't
vouch for your numbers
(although they sound about right), as a 30+ year fed fire guy, I agree
wholeheartedly with your message. You hit the big nail squarely with the
big hammer. I've never heard/seen the whole fed fire picture summarized so
eloquently. Like the outfit, I wish it were otherwise. Unlike the outfit,
I do all I can for the folks coming up behind me, as I know plenty of my
compadres out there do. I think even we old salts are coming to realize
that's no longer enough. As a believer in the outfit and it's history as a
land management agency, I have not been a proponent for pulling Fire out,
but I am coming around. As you said so well, it isn't 1955 any more.
Good for you…kudos for joining the fire world, and kudos for taking the
initiative to research your boots and your chosen field. What to buy: in
addition to good boots, get good socks. Good, wool (Smartwool, merino, something
like that) socks make a huge difference. I carry a spare pair in my pack as
well, because a change of socks can feel really wonderful if you can’t get out
of your boots just yet. I know that everybody has their own set-up for a fire
pack, and the links Ab attached are awesome, but I recommend a good knife (I
carry a leatherman and a fixed-blade), about 20 feet of 550 cord, parachute cord
or 3mm accessory cord, and I always wrap my water bottles with 5-6 wraps of duct
tape, fiber tape, and electrical tape. Handy things. I really like having a
small notepad or sketchbook, to write notes, weathers, random doodles while
sitting around waiting for something to happen, that sort of thing.
I guess the best advice I ever got about what to put in my pack (Hey Jim!
Remember the 36 hour sausage McMuffins?) was never to carry anything that has
less than five uses.
Nerd on the Fireline
Shall we guess what the other 4 uses of the sausage
McMuffins were besides eating? or did the advice follow that incident? haw haw
|5/22*||I just got word a great fine FS firefighter on
the LP has resigned the FS. I heard through the grapevine that another on the
Angeles is retiring very soon, as soon as possible. Good managers are leaving,
in my opinion before their time -- It makes me sad and more than a bit
apprehensive for the rest of the newer firefighters that will not have their
mentoring and experienced oversight.
It's easy to rely on Doctrine when those who are on the receiving end of a
"Commander's Intent" have the experience to make good tactical choices for those
on the ground. I hate to say it, but "Commander's Intent" expressed to
inexperienced "troops" is a recipe for disaster. Speaking as a stress
psychologist, most well-functioning human beings that have some experience but
lack critical experience in a certain area, tend to over-estimate their ability
to handle a given situation. Unless clinically depressed, we humans think well
of ourselves and our experience.
Are we setting our fire forces up for failure ... and then blame?
For the sake of firefighter safety, I think that FIRE needs to be taken
out from under the FS umbrella or given a parallel status with its own budget.
Firefighter management, groundpounder training, experience, focus, safety is
simply not right any longer in this day of huge interface, fuel loading, drought
and bug kill, potential global warming and budgets that catch the FS money
managers between managing the natural resources of the country and fighting fire
on the interface. It's not the line officers fault. They're doing the best they
can, and not knowing fire as an experienced wildland firefighter does, they
think they're doing a good job or the best they can do under the
When someone dies or is burned or burned over, the structure of the
decentralized FS/fire system is at fault, each person involved at the forest
level can write it off as "NOT MY FAULT". Each person involved at the Regional
level can write it off as "NOT MY FAULT". Each person involved at the Boise WO
deputy FAM Chief, FAM Chief, PIO, even the "risk management" levels can write it
off as "NOT MY FAULT".
I submit there is collective FAULT for the next thing that goes wrong! At the
"least fault of all" will be the groundpounder who made the best choices they
- their training (lacking in fire behavior, lacking human factors
knowledge and lacking actual practice in refusing an assignment);
- their supervision with mid-level managers leaving;
- their line officer's understanding of fire and firefighting;
- the fed bean counters who may or may not know fire but are out there
pressuring the system to do what needs doing with less;
- a SYSTEM that is not streamlined and focused at keeping them as safe and
knowledgeably determining their own fate as they could be.
Sign me up for Congress or to talk with Feinstein or whatever needs to be
done. I don't want to deal with reporters (except maybe
|5/22||Got a big fire going in SoCal. Check the hotlist:
Thanks to the Mods, especially the new one -- Mod-Blue -- who is doing
duty while SCR (Mod-Red) is recovering from surgery. Get well soon Mod-Red. Ab.
Please contribute to the
Foundation if you haven't already done so. (52
Club link "buck a week to help a buddy") Our WFFoundation is there for
support of our firefighters and our families IMMEDIATELY when the unthinkable
and unspeakable happens. The govt can't do it. Usually people are in shock and
need support. We provide it by supporting the Foundation with our buck a week to
help a buddy. Good grief, we toss $ in a boot. This is an important funnel for
our support ahead of time, our own insurance policy.
Ken Kempter just sent in this link again as he periodically does. Thanks
Ken. It's a great reminder.
If you can watch this clip now, you should. If not, make a note and watch
it later. Some of these people in it I've never met in person, some I have. Most
have posted here at some time or other. They are part of this community. They're
doing their share to contribute in all ways they can. They make a difference.
It's good to see their faces. Thank you all! Ab.
|5/22||Sorry to drag the retention issue back onto the
main stage, but I happen to think it is important.
I don’t believe those in the agencies who claim to be “working on the issues”
are really giving us their best effort. Why do I say this?
Well first of all, the system needs a major overhaul (I think we all know that).
We still function as though it is 1955. In reality our “seasonal” work force
isn’t. The 1039 is a complete abuse these days, more and more we work these
people well in excess of 6 months or we do without and bring them on whenever
their 1039 hours reset (in some cases late June or even July).
Every year for the past several years, it has been a race for me to get my crew
on, trained and ready to fight fire before “fire season”. Usually we are already
getting fires before the crew is ready to go, often before they have even
reported to work.
The 1039 was intended to be used for LESS THAN 6 MONTHS employment of a
recurring nature. The fact that these people are often working a minimum of 6
months, frequently using every last hour and then some, this should have been
stopped by OPM years ago. It is clearly an abuse of the system and the 1039 was
in fact adopted to prevent exactly the game we have now (it replaced the old 180
There is absolutely no reason not to hire these people on 13/13 career
appointments at a minimum. Not only would this allow us to actually finish the
work we need these people for, it is also morally the right thing to do, the
government should not be acting like some slumlord skirting the fringes of the
law. Federal law prohibits state, and local government as well as private
business from doing what the Feds do. Anyone else that employs a person 40 hours
a week for 6 months must provide benefits to that employee. Perhaps there are
pockets around the nation where the fire season and fire related work load is
only 3-4 months and makes the 1039 appropriate, but not anywhere I’ve been in
the west. Maybe being able to work these employees 8 or 9 months when conditions
were not extreme we could actually get some thinning and RX burning completed.
At the very least it would help us fully utilize those 5,6,7+ year seasonal
employees who hit that magic age 37 and suddenly become a knowledge base we can
not promote in the organization.
The militia has its place, and just like a volunteer fire department when it
works it is a great thing for the organization (community). However when it
doesn’t work it is very bad for the organization. Those of you who are or have
been volunteer firefighters will probably know exactly what I mean. When you
have a program that shows 50 people on the roles available to respond but in
reality only 5-10 are active it destroys the very thing they have signed up to
support. Management (city council, WO/RO what have you) will point to those 50
bodies and say what’s the problem, you have plenty of resources. However
management isn’t the one out at midnight trying to drive/pump, captain and
operate the nozzle alone at a fire. I seem to recall comments from the RO/and WO
about how the militia does a huge amount of work, again I think they are stuck
in the 50’s when district rangers responded to fires to do more than taking a
peak at the fire.
These shortages in overhead are not just a short term thing either, it’s not
like fixing everything next year will make the problems go away. When we start
running 5 day modules, it means the overhead is tied to the module and can not
go out and get training assignments so they will be ready to move up when its
time. As more and more people start to top out in those GS6 and GS8 jobs it will
make it that much harder for those below to move up and the bottle necks for
crew boss, strike team leader and division supervisor will just get worse.
We hear that retention solutions must be budget neutral, why? The fire
organization is a drop in the bucket to the rest of the government, 15 maybe
20,000 employees out of 1.7 million (not including the military). On top of that
the average GS level of the fire organization is well below the average GS level
of the government. According to OPM in 2005 GS 9.9 (almost 10, not 9 step 9) was
the average grade held. While I do not have a similar figure for fire it is
obviously well below that since our largest group of employees is at the GS 3-4
level. How much of an impact could improving pay for fire really be? Even a 50%
pay increase (considerably higher than I think most are advocating) would keep
this relatively small group of employees below the average base pay for
government workers nationwide.
78,000 people held GS3 and 4 positions government wide
389,000 people held positions at the GS5-8 level
575,000 were employed in the GS9-12 level (GS12 accounted for 227,000 of those)
364,000 held a GS13-15.
There were more GS14s in the government than all GS1-4 employees combined
(99,000 vs 86,000).
The government employs 3-4 times as many GS15s than the fire organization of all
5 land management agencies combined (there were 61,000 GS15 employees in 2004)
Kind of ironically since it is the “average” government position GS10 (nearly
18,000) accounted for fewer positions than any other grade except for GS1 & 2
(which combined only account for 7000 positions).
Mission, now this part is a fantastic slap in the face. Talking to a recently
graduated apprentice the regional “leadership” stated in a speech to the class
that the USFS needs to refocus its mission. They were not hired to do the job of
the guys on the big red trucks; they were hired to work in the forest. If they
wanted to be firefighters they were in the wrong job. Ironically to me, if the
mission were realistic the pay issue would largely go away. If our position
descriptions were truthful we would be getting compensated for the job we were
doing, not the job the agencies say we are doing.
It is claimed this “mission creep” is just a SoCal thing, funny their own
Firestars proved that wrong (when it was working). The Shasta Trinity gave many
of the southern forests a good run for “all risk” responses. I’m sure other
northern forests would have as well if they had done better reporting. Funny
thing with this job, we get to actually go to these “other” places that “prove”
SoCal is an anomaly. I have yet to go to one and find the urban interface,
affordable housing and “all risk” responses are not a concern to the crews
there. I’ve talked to engine crews in Region 3 and Region 6 that only wish they
had the support for the SCBA and medical equipment you find in R5. They need it,
they respond to calls that require it but mentioning it is a good way to get the
door slammed in their face. In some of the National Parks wildland crews cross
staff rescue trucks, hazmat trucks and structure engines, but they don’t receive
any additional compensation and are still “forestry techs”. Several of the
National Park helitack crews have a strong “all risk” component doing as much
search & rescue, medical evacuation and law enforcement work as they do fire,
but they still operate with the same “National” helitack pd. A few weeks ago,
there was a link to a nice story about a couple of Yosemite NP helitack guys
getting a valor award. Not to take away from them, as they deserve the
recognition, but activities like that happen many times each summer with NPS
helitack crews in the larger parks.
If you look at the PDs for the 0081 firefighter series you will see the
difference. Firefighter (just plain sitting backwards firefighter, fighting
fires and no other duties) rates a GS5, when medical or hazmat duties are added
it goes up. First responder medical OR Hazmat first responder operations (both
of which are appropriate to wildland firefighters where ever they work and
required of USFS apprentices) rate a GS6, raising the medical requirement to
Emergency Medical Technician raises the position to GS7. Instead of a temporary
workforce based on the GS3 and 4 we should have a seasonal career organization
based on GS6 or 7s. Captains in the 0081 series are rating as GS9s and 10s in
many locations and having worked in both systems I know for a fact the wildland
GS7 and GS8 captains have far more responsibility in the day to day operation of
How many higher level employees, AFEOs, Engineers, Captains, AFMOs are doing
work at the GS9, 10, 11 levels they are not credited for in their PD? OPM can’t
provide an appropriate GS grade for the position when 30-40% of our job is
“other duties as assigned”.
So that is structure fire (which often also has a large wildland component, just
ask the guys at Camp Pendleton or Ft Hunter Liggett).
Law Enforcement in the land management agencies now have GS9 positions as their
primary operational position (frequently flown 5/7/9). These also receive
special law enforcement pay rates pushing them well above a comparable fire GS9
It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact these positions are in a job
series specific to them now could it? I know for a fact that the land management
agencies have more wildland firefighters than the Department of Defense has
structure firefighters and also more than the land management agencies employ in
law enforcement. The land management agencies don’t use the 0083 Police Officer
series; they have a law enforcement series specific to land management agencies.
How is it that the wildland firefighter doesn’t rate a series when there are
How about some simple recognition, law enforcement in each of the agencies use
their own badge, patch and vehicle marking unique to law enforcement. Why is it
when fire tries to do something like this we are being divisive?
Some people call us whiners, say we knew we wouldn’t become rich, but it’s a lot
more than that. I’m tired of feeling the need to encourage my subordinates to
look elsewhere for a career. I’ve made my choices, but I can not in good faith
encourage a temporary employee to make a career as a Federal wildland
firefighter, I do all I can to get them training and experience so they can go
work for CDF, or a city / county fire department. I would love to be able to
tell young eager kids that yes; this is the place to make a career.
Thanks Casey, I appreciate all you do for my measly $10 a Pay Period.
Getting tired in R5 (no not Socal) and its only May.
Basic requirements are 8 inch leather, lacing
style boots with non skid lug soles. No steel toes. That about it. Having said
that you will find as many opinions on boots among forestry.. err.. Wildland
Firefighters! as their favorite beers. The really important thing is fit. Sore
feet will case you more grief than just about anything else on a fire
assignment. A better built boot will cost more, but because they can often be
rebuilt at 1/2 the cost and be like new again the cost evens out.
My career boot track went from a department store work boot meeting the basic
requirement which got me through my first two years to the more elaborate 12
inch high Whites brand. Now that I am retired and do AD non line assignments I
am looking at the La sportiva style hiking boot which I was told in a recent
refresher is approved by the R-5 Fire Management.
Good luck and I strongly urge you to consider Casey's invitation to join the
Buy the best pair of boots you can afford. Your feet, ankles, knees, and hips
will thank you as you progress throughout your career.
In regards to the other creature comforts of what to carry... You'll learn and
decide what is best for you.... Listen to your leaders in the first week. Often,
your career and future depends on the leadership you receive in the first week
On my first week on the job, I wrongly bought a pair of boots from K-Mart boots
and they literally fell off my feet on day three on a fire on the Angeles
National Forest.... Luckily, they were willingly replaced by a gratis pair of
Whites from my former superintendent and mentor. I still own and wear those
boots today.... 24 years later.
Welcome to being a wildland firefighter!!! It is the best job you'll ever
Might I suggest you "purchase" a membership in the FWFSA...at
Probably the best investment you'll make in your career. Good luck.
I agree, excellent investment. Ab.
|5/21||I was just recently hired with the forest service
to work this fire season. My paperwork
is being processed as i type. I just want to know what equipment other than my
that i need purchase before i get my assignment. Also i want to double check
boots meet all specifications. A quick response would be greatly appreciated.
What to take:
Readers, basic boot standards?
One question that often comes up is Do they meet the 8" standard? With some
lighter weight alpine boots this is harder to meet for women than men.
There are threads on boots here, although I don't think they cover standards:
|5/21||An interesting article regarding CDF and ROSS.
Followed by some interesting comments and observations:
|5/21||From the hotlist (www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3647)
thanks to roadrunner...
Staffing for fires worries senator
Vacancies stir Feinstein to rip Forest Service
Jason Pesick, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 05/20/2008 11:08:51 PM PDT
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is concerned the U.S. Forest Service has too many
firefighter vacancies heading into the fire season.
A letter to Feinstein from Mark Rey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
undersecretary who oversees the Forest Service, shows that there are 363
vacancies in Southern California out of 4,432 positions.
Feinstein, D-Calif., said she is concerned that many of the vacancies are among
"These are key fire leadership positions. Without them, some fire engines
might sit idle just when they're needed most. This is unacceptable. We simply
cannot afford anything less than a fully staffed firefighting corps in
California," she said in a statement.
Casey Judd, business manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association,
said that Rey, in his letter, backed off from an April 1 commitment to
Feinstein that all positions would be staffed in time for the start of the
state's fire season.
"I want to reiterate that we feel ... we have the resources to meet our
firefighting mission this year," said Jason Kirchner, a spokesman for the Forest
Service's California region.
"Our intention is to fill every single position that we can. But what's more
important ... is understanding that we staff our positions to ensure that we can
fulfill our mission," he said.
"There's always a certain amount of positions that will go unfilled."
Judd and Robert Ethridge, president of the local chapter of the National
Federation of Federal Employees for the San Bernardino and Angeles national
forests, questioned the accuracy of Rey's vacancy numbers.
"What it appears that he has done is lower the staffing numbers to make that
vacancy number look lower," Ethridge said.
(more at the link)
fair use disclaimer
|5/21||To: What tha........?
Your post is one of hundreds of examples in today's agency why line officers
should not have anything to do with fire management. It is one of hundreds
of examples why the forest service should give up fire management. The
agency does not and will not support firefighters and the fire management
program and organization. There is no more forest service. The old forest
service "District Ranger" is no more. Sure, there are a few good L.O.'s,
but a very few and not enough to have a positive impact on the workings of
Too bad the agency won't give up the power and still wants to keep fire
management under its heavy hand. The public deserves much more than that.
I tell my firefighters that our job is public service. Our job is to
suppress fires to protect public lives, property, homes and communities and
that firefighter safety is priority number one! Over the decades forest
service firefighters have SAVED and protected thousands of public lives,
homes, and communities. Just think of all the fires you've been on over the
years. That is the importance and value of the federal wildland
firefighter. The public likes us even if the agency does not.
The public deserves a federal wildland fire department. I was at a burn
boss conference this past winter and I heard a agency Line Officer and and
an agency FMO give a talk on the management of fire use and wildland fires.
They related to us that they tell the public "You're on your own to
protect your homes and communities, we're not going to protect your home,
call your local fire protection district or FEMA for assistance." If I had
the authority to do so, I'd fire them both so fast it would make their head
spin!!!! That IS NOT public service. But that is what the agency has sunk
to. There is a lessons learned center, but the agency pays no attention to
it and learns nothing from it, the agency doesn't even make an attempt to
learn and improve. Our firefighters do, and they are the real public
servants. The public deserves better from the agency but I see no
improvements in the future. The forest service non-fire agency head elites
are in a leadership drain. There is no leadership, just quitters.
I will ALWAYS, as a forest service employee, protect and defend public life
and property to the best of my ability, and so will my suppression
resources. We will do it to the best of our ability and as safely as we
can. Our goal and priority is safe and aggressive initial attack to keep
fires small and less costly and to protect life and property and resources.
When it is time to conduct prescribed fire or fire use we will do so safely
Federal wildland fire department as soon as possible. Come on forest
service administrative elites, If you're going to quit on fire, then lobby
to give us up to our own federal fire agency.
For all of us remember........."Whenever you think you're smarter than the
fire, you're in trouble."
"For this reason San Bernardino National Forest Fire & Aviation
Management continues to request a Peer Review to be
conducted by a small group of individuals with the kind extensive, in depth
background dealing with late season, Santa Ana wind driven fires in the
Southern California Wildland Urban interface/intermix. The Peer
Review process is a foundational, core component of Fire Suppression
Doctrine and needs to be utilized for what it is intended. Gaining
understanding why fire ground decisions were made, and what can be learned
from this. The report as is, unfortunately misleads the reader,
and will likely give firefighters reviewing it a false sense
of security by thinking they are not making the same
decisions, when all the while they may be following the same path. "
Yeah, the Line Officers without FIRE EXPERIENCE are more qualified (Tongue in
Cheek) to comment on agency concerns and direction... First step towards
firefighter safety... 1) deny a Regional Forester who is a Soil Scientist (not
a wildland firefighter) from ever serving as a CO-LEAD INVESTIGATOR in a flawed
investigation of wildland firefighter deaths.
So, does Foundational Doctrine mean anything? Right now, the actions of the
Forest Service, once again, scream of lessons not learned,
The CDF folks on the road trip "to keep folks safer" should give it a break for
awhile. From a federal employee to a state employee who has been there and done
|5/21||.......Guess fire season is getting busy all over
- here is latest on a fire in Alaska!
The Homestead Fire - burning on the Kenai Peninsula north of Anchor Point and
south of Ninilchik. Reported at 175 acres at 1429 on Tuesday, May 20. Fire is in
logging slash and beetle-killed trees.
Fifty-five personnel are assigned to the fire. Two tankers, two helicopters, a
dozer and other equipment also have been brought in, said Bruce Richards, a
public information officer with the Division of Forestry.
A 20-person crew of firefighters and eight smokejumpers were on the fire Tuesday
afternoon. Plans called for bringing in another 20-person crew. The second crew
was to arrive later Tuesday and would be prepared to spend the night on the
..reported by the Fairbanks New-Miner (newspaper)
R6 forestry tech
|5/21||Dear "What tha"
The best thing you can do is utilize your voice as you are doing but
also share it with those in a position to change things. I would suggest
you contact Steve Lavagnino in Congressman Elton Gallegly's Solvang
office at 805-686-2525.
Steve has met on several occasions with firefighters impacted by the
nonsensical housing policy on the "LP" and Rep. Gallegly is engaged in
that issue as well as the entire retention issue. We are hoping the
Congressman will be able to make some fire house visits soon on the LP
to chat with folks such as yourself.
I wish I had an answer for the "3 Amigas" i.e. Hernandez, Noiron &
Wade-Evans. But put things in perspective. They are line officers
without a clue about fire trying to set policy for fire. A recipe for
disaster as we are seeing unfold in R5 and elsewhere. Hopefully the
movement in Congress to consider getting the line officers out of the
fire mix will gain momentum and in the near future you as well as all of
our firefighters will enjoy fire policies based on sound fire department
management principles and developed and implemented by those with some
semblance of fire experience & expertise.
|5/21*||Re: The Federal Wildland Fire Program
Recently, while at NIFC, I picked up a brochure describing the FY 2009 budget
request for the USDI agencies (BLM, NPS, BIA, and FWS).
In that brochure, it described that the fire programs for the four USDI bureaus
would no longer have separate Fire Preparedness and Suppression funding
allocated to the bureau level. It stated that funding would be USDI inclusive of
fire need, and allocated from the Secretary and Undersecretary level in the USDI.
In my perspective, I thought of it in a positive way as the first step in having
a Federal Wildland Fire Service with USDI taking the lead......... I also
flashed back to the GAO "request" that the Forest Service was asked to provide
information for regarding combining the Forest Service into the USDI..... Also,
playing devils advocate, I also saw it as an absolute negative way that another
political appointee can continue the carnage in the federal wildland fire
program until it is completely privatized.
Being from the bureaucracy known as the Forest Service for most of my life, I
fully understand that they (FS bureaucrats) will do everything in their power to
maintain status quo rather than focus on improvements to safety, and defeat
efforts to improve mission delivery cost effectiveness and overall efficiency.
The National Fire Plan, while admirable and well intended, and as a proven model
of success, is a dismal failure without WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER program leadership
Ref: NIFC "Leisure Reading" material in the Jack Wilson Building lobby. (If you
visit, it is next to the comfortable couch just outside of the National Wildland
Firefighter Memorial.... big stack of brochures)
|5/20||Re: recruitment / retention
I'll try to be
discrete... On the Forest that I work for (initials L.P.) decisions and actions
at the Forest Supervisor level are creating a work environment that is driving
Example: Home to Work Vehicle Usage (AD-728) requests for Duty Officers are
still under review. The Forest Supervisor is using her discretionary authority
to determine if it is in her interest to have Duty Officers or Fire resources
respond to after hours incidents. There will be a group assembled to determine
if she even has a need for Duty Officers at all. The requests from her line
officers (District Rangers) are falling on opinionated and deaf ears. Fire Staff
recommendations are being scrutinized, minimized, and muted.
What this type of environment is doing is driving away the high level
professionals that have a desire to serve the public to the best of their
Why would a Firefighter want to work for an employer that does not fight fire?
Tenured Firefighters and Fire Managers are disgusted at the lack of support and
disregard for professional input. Up and coming employees are looking at this
example as a warning sign that says "Watch out!... mismanagement ahead!"
Should Forests operate independently on fire suppression and fire organizational
It seems like there should be some sort of consistency within a Region.
Wasn't that the intent of Randy Moore's policy in the first place?
What tha--- ?
|5/20*||To Noname, DMC, et al, Re: Esperanza Travesty
The problem with the Esperanza dog and pony show being put on by CAL FIRE
employees are legion.
But, I will speak to only one. The “Factual Report” is
anything but, how this happened
is open to debate, but the Captains that were closest to the tragedy have gone
record as to the flaws in the report.
So, when folks go to Rancho Cucamonga for a lessons learned session they do not
have any real basis from which to learn lessons. They have an inaccurate report
power point presentation that bolsters the falsehoods in the report. While these
be well meaning (I doubt that) they are doing a great disservice to the fire
You cannot learn lessons from inaccurate information!
The current Regional Forester (and co-lead on the report) is aware of the
analysis of the
report by the captains, yet he has opted not to act on the information.
Therefore, he is
as much to blame for this travesty as the two CAL FIRE employees that continue
irresponsible tour of untruths.
Yes, we all want lessons learned, but they need to be factual.
“Not happy with CAL FIRE or USFS”
Several that have heard/seen the presentation have said it sounds good and
seems to address issues that could keep firefighters safe. The maps and the GIS
are pretty sweet. It's really too bad it doesn't have all the facts right. Ab.
This was included in our 19-page 2008
of Conduct that we agree to and sign each year. It comes from the "TABLE OF
OFFENSES AND PENALTIES" section. I am not sure why but I just got an uneasy
feeling about this when I read it. I have strong feelings about the
investigative process that I see developing on incidents now. It is no longer a
Lessons Learned session; it is more about CYA and OIG. I don’t know where to go
with it or what it would accomplish to post it.
Last year I was interviewed as the result of an ENGB making a serious complaint
about a DIVS. The interview was more like an interrogation and I expressed my
disapproval of the setting and tone at the time of the interview. We have been
reassured that if we are making a reasonable decision for the right reasons we
have nothing to worry about. But then I think…”Who exactly is going to decide
‘reasonable’ and ‘right’?”
So we are being forced to provide information when criminal charges are not
anticipated. But what happens when what we provide is reviewed later and
criminal charges are deemed appropriate…against us or someone else?
I don’t like the current climate and the direction of these investigations.
Seems like it is going to push people towards more of a CYA mode and impact our
ability to do our job when it gets a little dicey out there.
Hopefully with the different investigative tools that have recently been
AAR to SAI) and Risk Management's and Fire Safety Officer and firefighter
focus on Just Culture, some of the apprehensions will be laid to rest. A lot of
the disquiet stems from Cramer and 30mile legal injustices re criminalization of
decision making under stress and the way the DOJ jumped in. Some of the best
minds of the FS are working on FLA and APA alternatives. I firmly believe we'll
get through this time of no legal precedents to a more sane working environment.
There is no such thing as a personal provider giving a "waiver". Your personal
physician can retest for a problem or provide an opinion stating that the CHS
issue is mistaken or can be accommodated. If you have a CHS issue and feel it is
in error then you can appeal the finding, but you need to provide some kind of
professional evidence. There is a NIFC committee that will review the appeal and
makes a final determination (no appeal once the determination is made). I found
our rep (former firefighter) on the committee to be very responsive and helpful
in walking us, and our SHRO, through an appeals process and eventually an
accommodation process. Just don’t expect CHS personnel to be helpful or
understanding if an issue develops. We fought for almost 2 weeks just to have
the correct physical test results faxed to CHS vs. the incorrect paperwork.
If an existing temp seasonal can’t pass a physical and can’t get it corrected
quickly, they’re done. If a perm or career seasonal can’t pass a physical then
they can’t take the Pack Test and thus can’t get Red Carded. Once they lose
their Red Card they are not eligible to go on fires and lose the ability to
fulfill their job description. Officially they could be terminated or
reassigned. In reality we work with them to get whatever is the problem either
accommodated or corrected. We actually passed the hat for one person to get
retested for an issue. We had one person receive a severe injury and couldn’t
pass the physical. We moved him into a temp job in our fuels program and did a
temp promotion to another ENGB into his slot. So 1-1/2 years later he is still
unable to pass the physical, in a perm fuels position (doing a great job) and we
have a new Captain (also doing a great job). Bottom line for us, it really
depends on the FMO and how willing they are to work with the individual.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of temps there isn’t too much understanding,
they are gone. We work with our perms or career seasonals as much as we possibly
can. There is no firm or clear direction from above and that is probably the
best thing about the program; flexible and adaptable. I tend to focus on the
person and the issue; then do everything we possibly can to get through it. So
far it is working...slow, painful, frustrating... but working.
|5/20||AB or Casey Judd:
Regarding the CHS physicals, what happens if a PFT or PSE USFS forestry tech
pass a CHS provided wildland firefighter physical (for whatever reason) and does
have $$ to go to personal provider for a wavier?? Some of us are in that boat.
CALFIRE Esperanza Presentation: They are trying to provide lessons learned, to
knowledge. Hats off to them. Be a student of fire, not a student of liability.
Re: Black Tuesday Wristbands, Where do I get one?
Click the Black Tuesday wristband link above right. Ab.
|5/19||Ramifications of bad drug testing
normally chime out to anything unless it's something that I know about.
On-The-Spot drug testing is, and will always be in contest, simply because of
the nature and setting of the test itself. I've stood in many a line that
required one to piss in a cup, and have the construction Mgr. drop a slip of
paper in, to judge who you really are. Not being tested in a "clinical" setting
leaves a lot of room for debate. The tester, is not a forensic chemist,
therefore, that alone dismisses the test as invalid. Cross-contamination and
altered "evidence" are typical for this setting. If we like you, you're
clean.... if not, you're dirty. Simple as that.
During one such "on-site" test -- being an EMT-I -- I questioned the method
of testing at hand. I was told that the site super was God and there were to be
no questions asked. Being the person I am, I asked where he got his medical
degree and exactly how he arrived at his final conclusions. I was dismissed
immediately. Seems that some people have the "I Am God" syndrome and there is
nothing else that needs to be said.
I trust a clinical setting 40% of the time. Most lab techs are under-paid and
could care less about the truth. Case in point. I was prescribed Welbutrin for a
time for depression. Because of an "on-the-job" injury, I was let go as showing
positive for amphetamines. When I produced proof of the prescription, I was told
that it didn't matter... I was dirty and that was the end of that. Imagine,
taking meds given by your DR and not being able to work!
The years before and after, I have taken many drug screens... every one of
them clean, every one of them in a CLINIC, not in a coffee cup, in the
porta-potti, by the foreman's trailer. My point is, on the spot testing is at
best a hint. To get to the fact of the matter takes a professional, in a lab....
NOT IN THE SUPERVISOR"S TRAILER!
There are many things that will throw off a simple drug screen. Over the
counter meds for allergies will do it in a heartbeat. I know. Certain
aftershaves will show you as "drunk". Your breakfast will prove you to be a
heroine addict, forget about what MythBusters claimed.
In this day and age, a world of "witch-hunts", we are all targets of our own
making. Be careful of what you choose and how you apply it. These
"false-readings" are a hard fight in court, but can be won... armed with the
right knowledge. I DO NOT... IN ANY WAY OR FORM, suggest that if one is in fact
dirty, you should fight the clinical setting... you'll loose in the end anyway.
However, if you were termed "dirty" and you are honest about your intentions,
fight it for all that it's worth. You may not get the job but at least your good
name will be clear!
|5/19*||Re: False (or erroneous) Statements to
Investigators vs. Perjury in a Court of Law
Lessons Learned From Fatality Fires: Existing Latent Failures and Why "Lessons
Learned" From the Past Matter .
Recently, an un-named poster to They Said stated, "I have attended several
presentations on the Esperanza, including the one you refer to as a "Travesty".
I didn't see any bias, accusations, or inferred blame on any employee Federal,
Cal Fire or Local Government. What I saw was a report on many of the elements
that combined to create the tragedy."
The poster also said, "If we, the wildfire community which includes all
firefighters in this age are to prevent future tragedies, we must learn from the
past. If we hide these tragic emotional events in the bureaucratic
investigations that take years, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes
possibly before the investigation of the last one is released."
I agree fully with the un-named poster in his/her quest for Lessons Learned, but
offer a completely different perspective as someone who is a federal wildland
firefighter.. and someone who has taken over 2500 hours of personal time to
research the works of Reason, Weick, Sutcliffe, Thackaberry (and many others),.
and researched the findings of numerous flawed "investigations" and "factual
reports" presented for corrective action. (Note: I only offer the above in
response to offer different perspective and in response to "Noname": "While no
investigation is perfect (I have done many criminal investigations)" . AND
"While federal law usually trumps local law if local law is less restrictive,
federal jurisdiction doesn't automatically trump local jurisdiction."
The different perspectives during an investigation (18 USC § 1001) and during
the trial of the accused arsonist (CA, PC187) in the Esperanza Fire DOES MATTER
as folks go on speaking tours with dozens of factual errors in a "factual
report". 18 USC DOES trump state law in federal investigations.
First, let me first acknowledge, I do have a bias. It is a personal bias, and a
community bias. Having a bias is not bad if it is understood. I seek to find
Lessons Learned while honoring those we lost, and most importantly, telling the
truth to the friends, families, and co-workers of fallen firefighters, the truth
of why something that we can't understand happened.
My bias started like many in the wildland fire community in 1987. We all seek
Lessons Learned from past tragedy fires that affected us in some way. the
Esperanza Fire, the Cramer Fire, the Thirtymile Fire. even South Canyon etc. In
each case, the inclination to put blame over Lessons Learned has set us
backwards in keeping folks safer.
Like all factual reports, investigations, or from "the investigators". I succumb
to the same human factors that we in the firefighting community are just now
starting to research and try to understand.
While the Riverside County DA case is being presented; While the USDA Office of
Inspector General continues a "legislative" investigation intended to provide a
report to Congress that may provide unintended (criminal) consequences to
others, and while Lessons Learned are lost again... Go figure.
On 01/15/2008, there was a pretty good post on They Said explaining the flaws in
the joint CAL FIRE / Forest Service "Factual Report". (One of the links was
lost). The background INFO was sufficient enough to change things in the final
OSHA findings that the CAL FIRE presenters do not address in their "road
trips".... SUBSTANTIATED FACTUAL ERRORS.
The CAL FIRE speaking tour should take a break and wait for Lessons Learned. At
the minimum, and listen to the families, friends, and co-workers lost from the
/s/ JMHO (Feel free to Quote if you want to communicate)
|5/19*||I would like to add to the last post regarding the
Travesty Post. Having worked right along side three of the 5 firefighters who
died, and having known them on a personal level. I don't see why CDF shouldn't
be able to tell the story. I don't know about all of the So Cal Forests or
districts, but i can speak for the San Jac. of the BDU. The USFS firefighters of
that area work very closely with the CDF firefighters, and know most of them by
their first names. They have been in the same classes together, they have
partied together, and most importantly they have sweat and bled together. They
felt the loss just as bitterly as the rest of us who knew and have worked with
those fallen brethren. Don't stop! Tell the story, show the immensity of the
situation, and the confusion that would result in the deaths of those five
highly trained and highly experienced firefighters. I say, the sooner this story
get out, and the more firefighters see what happened, the less likely it is to
happen again. After all, the leaders of those exhibits are not laying blame,
they are telling an important story, and having known Lotzy and Gus. I feel very
confident that they would want the same.
Except some of the "facts" they're sharing are not correct, and because
of the ongoing investigations, those points cannot be corrected at this time. Ab.
|5/19*||CALFIRE Esperanza Presentation:
Perhaps the two
CalFire firefighters who are presenting should consult a lawyer that
really knows about Title 18 and Title 7 of USC and the perceived "state
I'm not even sure the CalFire lawyers know enough. So much of this is
Unfortunately, TALKING creates DATA which can then be scrutinized by
the legal system
if someone wishes. I don't know where the two CalFire firefighters who
presentations fit into the Esperanza tragedy, but until all the legal
sorted, unknowing people can get sucked in, even if it's by some lawyer
not wanting an
ongoing investigation to be compromised.
This isn't about First Amendment rights of Free Speech, but about
presenters with the
best of intentions needing to know enough to be sure they're protecting
Why not wait for lessons learned through a Legislatively Protected
Peer Review Process?
|5/19||In response to questions about Mike Woods, the
lost hiker during the Biscuit Fire, I found the following information. I recall
the outcome but forgot the details, so I researched the newspaper accounts with
help from Jeff Duewel, a reporter from the Grants Pass Daily Courier.
Here's a story of when the body was found, and another when it was officially
IDd (almost 2 years later).
Nov. 5, 2002
Body found in wilderness believed to be missing hiker
By Jeff Duewel
of the Daily Courier
SELMA — A body found by hikers Saturday morning on the edge of the Kalmiopsis
Wilderness evidently is Michael Woods, a 32-year-old Grants Pass man missing
since early July. A positive identification has not yet been determined,
Detective Sgt. Ron Goodpasture of the Josephine County Sheriff's Office said the
remains were found two or three miles north of Pearsoll Peak near a ridgetop at
about 4,000 feet in elevation.
While the body awaits an autopsy and identification at the Oregon State Police
crime lab in Central Point, items found near the body "are consistent with the
things that we knew he had with him," Goodpasture said. One of those items was a
blue backpack, Goodpasture said. Goodpasture didn't release details about the
hikers, who contacted the Sheriff's Office.
Two sheriff's deputies flew to the site in a helicopter later on Saturday to
retrieve the body, which was flown to the airport in Merlin, then taken by
Chapel of the Valley Funeral Home to Central Point, according to Goodpasture. A
family friend in touch with the Sheriff's Office told Woods' family that a body
It is not known if the victim perished in the Biscuit Fire, or by some other
means. Further forensic examination is required to determine that. The Biscuit
Fire was ignited by lightning on July 13, but didn't burn in the area where the
body was found until around July 25.
Goodpasture wasn't sure whether the body was found in a heavily burned area.
Woods was last seen leaving Miami Bar along the Illinois River on July 11. He
had camped with a friend for three days, and said he was headed into the
Kalmiopsis Wilderness for several days, possibly via the Salmon Creek drainage.
When the Biscuit Fire became a huge fire in late July, it was unsafe to send
searchers in to look for Woods. Also, the details of his destination were
Josephine County Emergency Services Coordinator Sara Nicholson and Lt. Brian
Anderson conducted a helicopter search on Sept. 5, flying over the Illinois
River from Store Gulch to Panther Bar. Prior to that, aerial searches were not
done because of heavy helicopter traffic that was part of the firefighting
effort. Nicholson and Anderson flew over drainages to the south of the river,
including Salmon Creek, but did not see any sign of Woods. Nicholson said the
body was found on the other side of the ridge from upper Salmon Creek.
On Oct. 23, former Galice District Ranger Phil Wickham led another search in the
Salmon Creek drainage. While Wickham stayed at Miami Bar with a radio, three
other men scrambled up the steep slopes for several hours, but saw no sign of
Wickham guesses that they got within a few hundred feet of where the body was
found. There is a small basin at the top of Salmon Creek, Wickham said.
"He might have decided to set up camp there," Wickham said.
Goodpasture said the autopsy will be done in the next couple of days.
Aug. 18, 2004
Remains of hiker who vanished in Biscuit Fire officially ID'd
Long thought to be a casualty of the huge Biscuit Fire in 2002, Michael Woods of
Grants Pass killed himself, the Josephine County Sheriff's Office reported
On July 8, 2002 — 11 days before his 32nd birthday — friends said they dropped
Woods off near Miami Bar on the Illinois River.
He was expected to be hiking in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness for two to four weeks,
and was reported missing in early August of that year. Family and friends
theorized he might have been injured in a fall.
Hikers found Woods' body in early November 2002 near Salmon Creek, about three
miles from Miami Bar. Sparked by lightning, the Biscuit Fire had swept through
the area in late July and hampered the search for Woods.
Three men had spent a day in late October 2002 trying to find Woods in rough
terrain in the Salmon Creek drainage near Miami Bar.
A memorial service was held in November 2002.
Although the body was tentatively identified days after it was discovered, the
state Medical Examiner's Office couldn't confirm it until last month, mostly
because of problems in getting military dental records, the Sheriff's Office
The Examiner's Office ruled that Woods killed himself with a gun.
|5/19||Here is my run in with CHS.
When i was working for USFWS. I took the physical in Jan 2003. I thought that
i was cleared to fight fires for that year. Well in Aug of that year I get a
letter in the mail from CHS. They said that I was not cleared to fight fire for
that fire season. The reason was the Dr office that I did my physical with
failed to do a eye test on me. So I had to call and then set up appointment with
my eye doctor. Then have them fax it in. I was finally cleared like in oct. We
always take the physicals in Jan.
This year was about as bad. I got picked to take the full physical. Like the
first one we took when they came up with using CHS. My FMO told me that they do
You are all right we need to come up with something better.
Old Fire Suspect Not Yet Identified (Update)
Authorities Say Suspect Secure
By Michael P. Neufeld
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Update — Saturday, 4:00 a.m.
San Bernardino, CA – Officials remain tight-lipped about the identity of the
person of interest in the Old Fire arson investigation but assure the public the
individual won't be setting any more fires.
Authorities contend the investigation is ongoing, as it has since the 2003 Old
Fire, and that the person of interest is secure. When asked if the person was in
custody countless law enforcement representatives declined to provide additional
information. (Interesting article with interesting pictures...)
Re: Ramifications of a bogus drug test.
The last time I had to deal with something like that was about 10 years
when a former employee of mine failed an on-the spot drug test and was
scheduled for termination. He called me for some advice, and I told him
that at least at that particular unit, he had to have a second , more
reliable drug test done to ensure that the first one was right. The
drug test had a standard ten percent false positive rate (as well as a
percent false negative rate), The agency used the first test since it
cheap and would follow up with a more accurate test.
Check and see if that's the case with your agency. It might also be a
bargaining unit issue. With the amount of incompetence demonstrated by
I would hope any drug test they did would be immediately suspect.
From: Midwest AFMO
I'm glad your Paramedic/Firefighter (Firefighter/Paramedic) made it out
of that clinic alive. Did your agency file a complaint against that
healthcare facility? Why didn't your Paramedic/Firefighter set the
Cardiac Tech straight? Maybe somebody should check into her credentials?
All the Firefighter/Paramedics I know can interpret EKGs or they
wouldn't be Firefighter/Paramedics, maybe your buddy just got off a long
shift and didn't want to go through the hassle of explaining to the poor
woman what she was supposed to be looking for?... after all it is his
heart and his life at stake. What did your Paramedic/Firefighter buddy
see when he looked at the monitor? Sounds like somebody needs to step up
and report these Incompetent Healthcare Professionals before somebody
doesn't make it out of there alive.
We have a clinic that is so unbelievably incompetent that the Doctor can’t even
follow the basic instructions on the exam paperwork. So I feel your pain. But
the FMO is correct that he cannot dictate where the employee can or cannot go.
Where the employee is sent is based on the employee’s home address and the
closest vendor. However, the FMO can call or email CHS and relay the vendor
problems. I have done so myself. We have actually told CHS we will no longer
send our folks to a specific clinic and they have agreed to abide by that since
there is another vendor in our city. So the problem can be addressed but it is
up to your FMO and their willingness to get involved and/or stand up to CHS;
which can be a daunting task at times.
The deal with the clinic not willing to call an ambulance sounds like a
“continuation of care” issue. OK, not to mention the clinic personnel sound like
complete idiots! I would register a complaint with the clinic’s medical director
and/or the state’s regulatory agency. People/clinics like that do a whole lot of
damage to the community…and their patients.
|5/19||I have a question out there for some of you in
charge of arranging the annual physical for both permanent and seasonal
Recently my federal structural fire department started sending our firefighters
through the wildland physical through the government health program that
arranges the physicals to be done through private healthcare facilities to meet
the requirements of the Red Card program.
There were three approved health care vendors who were close to our department,
two at hospitals and one at a clinic that does health screening for employers,
and drug and alcohol urine testing.
Those who went to the hospital facilities had no problems. But everyone who went
to the clinic facility had non-stop problems, including lost reports, damaged or
contaminated urine and blood tests, incompetent healthcare workers, and very
long waits even with appointments.
One of our firefighters, who is a Paramedic, was given an EKG to look at his
heart rhythm and was told he was having a full-on heart attack. He looked at the
reading and told the clinic worker she did not know what she was looking at,
that either the machine was wrong or she hooked it up wrong. He felt fine and
knew very well what the signs and symptoms are of a heart attack.
He told her "If you think I'm having a heart attack, why don't you call me an
The worker told him "We can't do that, you'll need to take yourself to the
hospital or go visit your doctor."
He left with a note from the clinic that his heart had problems, including signs
of heart disease and possible heart attack, and that he needed to seek other
medical care before returning for another physical.
The Paramedic/Firefighter involved returned to the station, informed the Asst.
Chief on duty of the incident, said he felt fine and that the people at that
clinic screwed up. The Asst. Chief placed him on Sick Leave, told him to either
go home or go see his personal doctor to verify the problem, and that he would
be off until he had another opinion about the problem.
The Paramedic's personal doctor was called, he said to come in immediately and
he'd do a workup on him. When he got to the doctor's office, the doctor examined
him personally, did an EKG, and diagnosed him as having no problems with his
heart. The medic had to come back to work with proof that his heart was fine.
When we talked to the FMO managing the physical program, he said he had no
control over who goes where.
This kind of problem occurred at the same clinic with all the firefighters we
sent there, but when we told the FMO in charge of the program, he told us that
these physicals were not of his control and his FMO crew had no problems going
to that clinic.
The problem is you have incompetent workers making documentation and give
opinions on health issues that can cause a federal fire service employee to be
forced on sick leave or not employed due to an erroneous diagnosis.
What do you do if the clinic contractor gives a wrongful diagnosis to an
employee that gets back to his employer, and the federal employer will not pay
for a second physical to be done. That employee's job is on-hold until he or she
foots the bill themselves to disprove an idiot's opinion, which could be very
expensive to the employee, due to someone's incompetence.
When the federal office in charge of the physicals makes a choice as to who the
employee will see, and are sent to a place with regular problems in diagnosis,
can the employee ask to go somewhere else? Does the FMO have the obligation to
make a report to his superiors to bring to light the problems that have
Things regarding health issues of our federal employees or drug testing for
federal employees are very tight, and if a drug test is contaminated or mixed up
due to a clinic's incompetence and shows the employee testing positive for a
substance, that employee is suspended or terminated on the spot. A second test
won't do any good if you use the same vendor that made the error, and the
government won't accept a report that the employee provides if they pay for a
drug test themselves to prove themselves innocent.
My fellow firefighters have to do two physicals per year now, one for our
regular job and now for the wildland physical, and an erroneous report can cost
someone a career.
What can you do if the clinic contractor you are forced to use can't do their
As a rookie firefighter for the BLM, I just wanted to share my experience with
I arrived for my health screening appointment on time to Kaiser Permanente and
first spent 20 minutes waiting at the counter while the receptionist, very
flabbergasted and confused, tried to assign me a "Kaiser Number".
Then, she directed me to a waiting area and told me that someone would call my
name from door number 3 shortly for my physical. 20 minutes later, a nurse
called me from door number 4.
Next, the nurse proceeds very quickly and hastily to check my eyesight. I wear
glasses. She takes my "corrected vision" but fails to take my "uncorrected
vision" without my glasses and for some reason crosses that section off the form
out. More on that later... The nurse then proceeds to take my height, blood
pressure, and weight without any incidence.
Then, the doctor comes into to see me. In an even more hasty manner, he
"breezes" through the health questions (half of which he never even bothered to
ask me), wishes me a safe summer, and sends me on my way.
Halfway out the door I look down at my screening and notice my color vision was
never tested. I walk back into the exam office and ask for my color vision to be
tested. I am only EMT certified, but I am pretty sure "Can you tell what color
book that is on the shelf" does not qualify as a valid color vision test... I am
then hastily sent on my way while the nurse faxes in the results to my home
Out in the parking lot I look down at my medical screening again and notice I
did not pass. WTF?? I read the reason why not. Like I said, I am EMT certified
and I also come from a medical family so while I am not a doctor I do know a
thing or two about health and medical practice. The doctor had misread one of
the health criteria. After a careful reading, it was obvious. So...
I went back into Kaiser, told the receptionist I was back and that there was a
mistake on my health screening, and that I needed to see the doctor. I waited 20
minutes again and was called in by the nurse. I told the nurse the problem. She
looked down at the paper and told me "No, your wrong. The doctor read the
criteria correctly." I told her: "Ma'am I'm sorry but I believe the doctor
misread the form. Could I please see the doctor. This is very important for me."
Visibly scowling at me, she walks back to the doctor's office and after speaking
to him for a moment, motions me back. I explain the the doctor the problem and
he looks at me with a confused look and tells me: "Your right. You did pass. I'm
sorry". He send me back out to the nurse to whom I explain that the doctor DID
misread the form and that I DID pass the questionnaire, and I asked her to
resend the paperwork to my home unit. With a sigh, she responded, "I won't have
time until this afternoon, but I should get to it", and she sent me on my way...
... 2 weeks later...
I get a call from CHS and they inform me the form was not filled out in its
entirety. The portion of the form where my uncorrected vision was supposed to be
recorded was crossed out (remember from earlier in my story?). They tell me to
either fax in my glasses prescription OR take another full exam. I tell her I
will fax in my prescription. I ask her if she will call me back after she
receives the fax. She tells me she will. After I fax in the sheet, no call back.
So I call her... "The person at the extension you are trying to reach is not
available" is the recorded message I get. This is on a Friday. So, I call back
Monday. I talk to the same lady. I ask her if she received my fax from last
Friday. She tells me "I haven't checked the faxes yet, let me go check..." After
several minutes, she returns to the phone: "Yes, we got it." "Is everything
Kosher with my paperwork now?" I ask. "I'm not sure. The doctors upstairs will
have to look at everything". "Will you guys call me if there's a problem?" I
ask. "You should be hearing from us if something's not right" is the response I
I have yet to hear anything, so I assume everything's in order!?
3 hours at Kaiser for a medical exam + 3 hours on the phone altogether with CHS
+ several weeks of frustration and waiting = I'm hoping my medical paperwork is
in order and complete!?
Another well-run sub-contracted government program!
The interagency medical standards are a great concept - ON PAPER.
- the unintended consequence of highly qualified firefighters losing
their jobs or being
offered non-fire jobs
- a program manager who refuses to answer questions about the program he is
supposed to be managing - or will just hang up on you, instead
- a group of vastly unqualified and incompetent individuals (read: CHS) with
medical procedure and policy - yes, that is what they were hired, and are
sums of money, for
- at least several subcontractors to CHS who don't give a rat's a$$ about
than filing people through office so they can claim their checks
AND... you have a very poorly executed, great idea. I am sure you can think
of at least a couple of those "great on paper..." ideas that never made it off
Maybe the program manager is better equipped to do his job now. Maybe CHS has
worked out the bugs. Maybe the system runs more smoothly now.
Doesn't sound like it though...
|5/18||Midwest Fire Guy,
Is this your first season with
CHS? If it is, trust me, you are not the first to come up with
problems and issues with their system (or the last ones). We have the same
every year and then we add a couple new ones as well. For us the baseline is
for perms and career seasonals. For Temp seasonals only an annual is required.
can hire someone if they have a current physical from another agency. About 50%
folks have no problems, then 25% get scheduling issues that include the wrong
among others, and then there is the serious stuff. We had a guy with minor
hearing loss; it
took 2-1/2 months to get an accommodation even though they told us 95% of all
issues get accommodations. Then one of our folks was sent a letter by CHS to see
doctor immediately due to a major organ failure. Yeah, that was not a lot of fun
with; really freaked the employee out for a couple weeks while they saw their
waited for additional test results. Turns out the CHS tests were faulty. We even
problem with passwords; turns out that if you include certain characters in your
it causes their system to not print any of the exam paperwork. It took them 2
figure that one out and I think they still haven’t added a warning to their page
I like the idea of the CHS concept but the implementation has been a bit bumpy.
all of us firefighters will benefit from it.
From Normbc9. This is interesting. I thought the state was broke but evidently
they have money socked away some where. n
California-MayReviseEmergencyResponse051408.pdf (47 K pdf file)
|5/16||Medical @%$&&*! Standards (ie CHS)
Medical Standards is just like the pre-employment drug test and
background investigation. Personnel will not move forward until they
have passed their Base Line Medical Exam for new hires. If you kept your
seasonals in "Intermittent" over the winter you can bring them back on
but will need to have them take their "Annual Exam" before they can take
the Pack Test. If you did not keep them on intermittent or they are
applying for a higher grade then they will need to pass their Annual
Exam before personnel will complete their hiring paperwork.
And getting a timely answer from CHS can be frustrating. The program was
5 years old when our GACC started using Medical Standards. It was very
frustrating having to work out some of the wrinkles. I found it hard to
believe that 5 years into the program that we were the first ones to
come up with some of the problems that we had with Medical Standards and
CHS. And it still galls me when I call CHS and they answer "Wildland
Midwest Fire Guy
Could you find out if the Mike Schweitzer, that was killed in the
vehicle accident was a former employee on the Shawnee National
Forest as well.
I sent a personal note to one of the people on Mike's forest. Ab.
Here's his reply 5/17:
That is correct, He did work on the Shawnee
NF around 2002 - 2003. (I
don't know how long, just looking at my personnel folder records) I do
know he was a Shawnee employee when we promoted him to the Salmon River
Thanks for the "Posting"............................... The family
up a service in Ashland, OR. on Monday at 1500 hrs. let me know if you
need additional info. Its such a shock for this District to have Shawn
Woodman last year, and now Mike this year. Both Excellent individuals and
just going home after work. Thanks again for CONTACTING me direct. That's
the great thing about "Wildland Fire. Com" You folks do an excellent
service to the wildland Firefighter community.
and a followup just popped in:
Cards and Notes to Mike's Family can be
sent to his wife Lea - -
228 Talent Avenue #16
Talent, OR 97540
Mike's funeral will be in Ashland, Oregon, on Monday at 3:00 pm, at the
First United Methodist Church
165 N Main St,
and the Memorial Flyer:
In Honor of Michael J. Schweitzer.pdf
|5/16||Basic Talking Points for the upcoming fire season.
This is different from
previous seasons, so please read. Looks like we're going to try and
expectations and create public acceptance for heretofore unconventional
2008 Fire Operations Key Points 4-08.doc
484 K doc file; Text below)
2008 Fire Operations Key
Executive Summary for AC/IC
April 4, 2008
Background: As fire seasons lengthen and generally become more
challenging, the standard messages to the public and news media are
becoming less realistic. For years, messages have centered on slight
variations of several basic themes: We have enough equipment and
personnel; we will protect your home if it is threatened; and we will
fight all fires aggressively. But the nature of fire season is changing,
and given budget realities, it is time to alter public expectations and
increase public education regarding what the wildland fire community can
and cannot do.
Themes for 2008
• The world of fire suppression is changing. Fire seasons are longer
and fire behavior often more extreme. The primary reasons for these
changes are weather (climate change), wood (abundance of fuels) and WUI
(structures and increased values at risk).
• Traditional means of containing fires (anchor, flank and pinch) are
changing. More often, firefighters use multiple tactics on a single
incident such as confine, contain and provide point protection. Under
the Interagency Wildland Fire Policy, fire managers have available a
full range of options from monitoring a fire to aggressive suppression
• Determining the available fire management options include these
- Safety is always the primary concern in choosing a selected
strategy and incorporates mitigated or reduced risk to firefighters
and the public.
- Suppressing a fire effectively means we wisely pick our tactics.
Incident managers constantly evaluate the fire situation and
initiate actions based on the likelihood that the selected
suppression tactics will be successful.
- Suppressing a fire efficiently means no wasted efforts.
Firefighting resources are used where they are needed most and where
they are most likely to succeed.
• We will focus resources into initial attack. Catching fires early
is still the best way to prevent large, costly and dangerous wildfires.
• Three excellent sources on techniques for homeowners to help protect
their property from wildfire can be found at:
www.firesafecouncil.org. Homeowners must
not assume firefighters will step in and save their homes, especially if
they have not taken precautionary measures.
• Steps to reduce costs and maximize efficiency without compromising
safety will continue to be a priority. Challenges to reducing costs
include longer seasons, increased complexity of incidents, more WUI
fires and a rise in contract and fixed costs.
• Local communities and citizens can contribute to firefighter and
public safety and protect their belongings by taking responsibility to
ensure there is a defensible space around their homes and businesses.
The Firewise program provides information and techniques for homeowners.
Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) are becoming increasingly
important for coordinating these efforts.
• The primary responsibility for structure protection lies with the
local protection authority based on local agreements. The federal
wildland firefighting agencies follow federal policy of protecting life,
property and natural resources, and provide structure protection
assistance on incidents in support of the local protection authority.
• The agencies and states have implemented cost accounting measures
through improved business practices that provide line officers and
incident commanders with real-time information, and create benchmarks of
accountability as costs rise.
• Decision support tools are available to help agency administrators and
incident managers make more informed decisions in how and where to
respond to a wildfire. The Fire Spread Probability (FSPro) program
assesses the probabilities and direction of fire spread over time. The
Rapid Assessment Values At Risk (RAVAR) program assists managers in
determining property and natural resources values in the fire area that
National Response Framework – All-Hazard Response:
• The primary mission for the agency wildfire qualified personnel is
wildland fire management. In the case of a national disaster, the
agencies will respond to all-hazard priority assignments based on our
• The National Response Framework (NRF) establishes a single,
comprehensive plan for managing domestic incidents. The Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating NRF
activities and provides Mission Assignments, sometimes referred to as
‘taskings’ to the federal agencies.
Smoke and Smoke Impacts:
• Fire and smoke are an inevitable and natural part of fire seasons
around the country.
• Fire managers take smoke effects into consideration when planning
tactics. As they develop their strategies for fighting a fire,
firefighters consider fire behavior and weather forecasts, topography
and proximity to communities – all factors that can affect smoke.
• Fire communicators will work with state air management agencies to
keep the public informed of anticipated smoke movement and the state’s
assessment of the health risks associated with smoke levels.
Wildland Fire Use:
• The goal of the WFU objective is to protect, maintain, and enhance
resources and, as nearly as possible, allowed fire to function in its
natural ecological role as defined within the context of the agency
mission, defined boundaries and approved land use/resource management
• Benefits of actively managing fire on the landscape can include
restoring and maintaining healthy forests, rangelands and wetlands, and
supporting ecosystem diversity.
Not being a Forest Service or Cal
Fire Employee, I can’t fully appreciate all of the emotion the Esperanza
Fire stirs, but as a member of the fire service and wildland community
for nearly 3 decades, I do know the deep emotion such a horrific
incident brings to us all. With that said I am very troubled by many of
the accusations and assumptions made in the “STOP THE TRAVESTY” post. I
have known Jeff for many years and yes he is a devoted Cal Fire
Employee, however he would never be willing to slant facts or issues of
firefighter safety to help CYA his agency. Trying to prevent another
tragedy should be our first and foremost consideration in the
after-action of such an incident.
While no investigation is perfect (I have done many criminal
investigations), no matter what the process, thoroughness or resources
committed are, all parties won’t agree on all of the facts. The issue of
jurisdiction is often a complex legal one with no clear lines; however
who has authority is usually the jurisdiction where the incident
occurred, not to whom it occurred. While federal law usually trumps
local law if local law is less restrictive, federal jurisdiction doesn’t
automatically trump local jurisdiction. While Cal Fires investigation
process may not be perfect it is well thought out and executed. Federal
investigation process seems to be multi faceted, designed to take a
lengthy period, which time is one of the most critical elements of a
successful investigation. After studying the South Canyon incident and
subsequent Federal Investigations and other reports, and the Thirty Mile
Investigation, I don’t see how the case can be made that Federal
Investigations are more objective and accurate than Cal Fire?
I have attended several presentations on the Esperanza, including the
one you refer to as a “Travesty”. I didn’t see any bias, accusations, or
inferred blame on any employee Federal, Cal Fire or Local Government.
What I saw was a report on many of the elements that combined to create
the tragedy. The sadness of the loss of Four Brothers overshadowed the
entire presentation, but I also walked away with just how close other
engine crews, including Type One Structure protection ST’s came to being
injured or worse in the same run. The presentation didn't go into any
Cause and Origin information to stay clear of prosecution issues,
obviously discuss with the prosecuting District Attorney.
If we, the wildfire community which includes all firefighters in this
age are to prevent future tragedies, we must learn from the past. If we
hide these tragic emotional events in the bureaucratic investigations
that take years, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes possibly
before the investigation of the last one is released. Brad and Jeff have
dedicated their careers to the fire service and made more personnel
sacrifices than most. Presenting this program is a huge sacrifice, it is
time away from home, an emotionally draining presentation to give or
attend no matter how many times you have been through it. This program
is no Travesty; it is a program to prevent the need to have this very
same debate in the future.
Yes….and No to the CHS question;
for BLM anyways. If a person is CHS,
exam is a prerequisite to taking the Pack Test; Pack test is a
getting hired. So if a person is currently Red Carded, then we can hire
But before they can get Pack Tested they have to have a physical. We
went through the situation multiple times for the fire season and perm
Just wait till you run into a situation where something shows up through
physical process. OMG… that’s a treat!
|5/16||Comments on contractor employee pay
for the first 40 hours worked and
$13.50/hr for any overtime hours worked during the week.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 January 2008 )"
Lots of the big contractors are doing this! o/t is time and a half minus
the government fringe of 3.00 per hour or something. The biggest
contractor of wildland firefighters did this for over a decade. Trust me
it is still going on. Some contractors are actually paying a man time
and a half. 12.00 regular means 18.00 on o/t but they are a small
outfits and have to treat their people well to keep them. The big guys
and the fly by nights are the ones that take a worker in the end, so to
Been seeing guys on the contract side work hard for years with nothing
to show for it, but year after year they're back digging line.
In my best Rodney Dangerfield impression "looks like we all get no
happily watching from the sidelines
|5/16||Some clarification on contractor employee pay
What the contractor site failed to mention was that last year ('07)
$3.01 out of the $12/hr for straight time came from the employees
mandatory health and welfare benefits (based on annual Federal DOL wage
determination). Once the initial 40 hours for the week is worked, the
Health & Welfare benefit stops. $12-$3= $9x1.5=$13.50, so that seems to
be fairly close to the Contract industry standard right now.
I worked for another contractor for 6 1/2 years before heading out on
my own with a partner, and always hated making nearly the same hourly
rate on OT as I did on straight time. I have started paying $10/hr for
1'st season entry level people (anything less isn't worth getting out of
bed for), then add the Health & Welfare on top of that for the first
40hrs. At least then when the employee hits OT and the H&W drops, they
are still making an extra $5/hr for their hard work. They look at the
extra $3.01 H&W for the first 40hrs as a bonus.
Signed "an engine contractor in R-6"
|5/16||From The 4G's:
$190 Million in "SAFER" Grants For California Fire Departments
May 16, 2008
SACRAMENTO - Today, Office of Homeland Security Director Matthew
Bettenhausen encouraged local fire
departments to apply for federal grants under the 2008 Staffing for
Adequate Fire and Emergency
Services (SAFER) Grants.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today posted the Program
Guidance document, beginning the
Congress appropriated $190 million dollars for SAFER grants under the
DHS Appropriations Act of
2008. The SAFER Grant program was created to provide funding directly to
fire departments and
volunteer firefighter interest organizations in order to help them
increase the number of
trained, “front-line” firefighters available in their communities. [read
more at the link]
|5/16||We have been told at my local unit that we cannot
EOD an employee
until they clear their CHS medical. Does anyone know if there is
written guidance on this or is this just local policy? We want to bring
this person on the books ASAP and want to know if there is a way
to do it.
One of many "Confused FMO's"
|5/16||Original Announcement from John Schuyler
Natural Resources Staff
Klamath National Forest
As Acting Forest Supervisor and with a heavy
heart I need to share with you
that one of our employees, Mike Schweitzer, was killed in a single
accident on Highway 3 as he was commuting home yesterday. Mike worked in
fuels on the Scott/Salmon Ranger District. The accident is being
investigated by CHP and Siskiyou County Sheriff Department personnel,
assistance by Forest Service law enforcement. More information will be
shared as it becomes available. Arrangements are being made to help our
employees to deal with the stress and grief this incident. John
note added by Mike P:
If you don't see this in the Hotshot mailing list...
Mike was a Salmon River Hotshot, promoted to the Fuels Captain
the Scott River District. We held a short District gathering where we
talked about his Leadership, excellent work ethics and a friend to all.
His wife and Father in law let us know how much he loved being a
note added by Ron B, Fulton IHC Supt:
Very sad news.
I found this on a contractor's website:
"Wildland firefighters can expect to work long hours, averaging 12-14
a day (80-100hrs/week). You may be dispatched to wildfire assignments
to 14 days straight, excluding travel days to and from the fire. The
starting wage is approximately $12.00/hr for the first 40 hours worked
$13.50/hr for any overtime hours worked during the week.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 January 2008 )"
It seems to me that a firefighter would be cheated out of $200-$300 a
in overtime that should be paid at time-and-a-half.
I have put together a webpage that has direct links to both USAJOBS and
announcements for each announcement number being used in this next round
of R5 hiring.
I know that many people have trouble navigating/searching USAJOBS and
AVUE when it
comes to finding the announcements - this should help ease the
The announcements that I've posted are the same numbers that were posted
the Demonstration GS-05/06) except for the ADFMO/Battalion Chief
which I have taken the liberty of listing the number that is in the R5
tracker instead of the one
they listed (because it is nowhere to be found)... *If someone knows
something further about
the ADFMO announcement, please let me know.
The page can be found by clicking the link at the bottom of my homepage
Any feedback on how to make it better is appreciated!
Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah
Thanks, Bethany. Again, you fill a need.
Link to the jobs info is at the bottom of the page above. Ab.
|5/16||GS-0401 Legislative update
Legislative Conference is next week, May 19-23. In three more
days, two dozen intrepid souls -- Forest Service employees who have
up to work for the greater good through the NFFE Forest Service Council
will be walking down the corridors of power in Washington, DC. Their
mission: to speak truth to power. Their goal: to make our agency and
agencies better places to work and better able to serve the American
citizens who pay the bills. Fighting together to make the world a better
place. (Forgive me if this is over the top for your taste -- but if I
didn't believe this stuff I wouldn't put in the long hours.)
We've been so busy preparing for this opportunity that there's been
time to keep folks abreast about what's going on. One of NFFE's top
priorities this legislative season is restoring standing to in-house
courses that were stripped away from those seeking to enter GS-0401 Fire
Management Specialist positions by OPM's "diploma mill" policy. Our
Congressional brief's summary states:
The Forest Service and Department of Interior (DOI) are in the
a 5-year transition of their fire management positions from a
to a professional series. Early in this process, the Office of
Personnel Management (OPM) promulgated a policy change to keep
earned from “diploma mills” from counting toward meeting
for federal positions. This change had the unintended consequence of
disallowing credits for specialized wildland fire courses that were
crucial component of the new professional GS-0401 Fire Management
Specialist standard. OPM’s policy change was not communicated to the
field until over two years after its implementation, during which
field employees expended significant time, energy, and funds in
completing coursework that, unbeknownst to them, no longer counted.
has refused to grant a waiver to its “diploma mill” policy to
the standing of these specialized wildland fire courses. As a
significant numbers of top field fire managers may be pushed out of
their jobs. Further, the eviscerated fire program manager standard
excludes applicants for vacant positions whose experience and
are directly related to these critically important jobs. Unless this
problem is addressed, this bureaucratic fiasco will cause a
drop in experience and leadership and seriously undermine safety and
effectiveness on wildfire and other incidents. Action is needed to
avoid putting employees and the American public at risk.
For more information on the GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist issue,
including our final briefing paper, recent developments, and employee
comments from the field, see
www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/IFPM/Fire_Index.html. There's also links
to help you get involved. Perhaps some of you live in Congressional
districts where we lack legislative reps. If this issue is important to
you, maybe you can open the door for us to carry the story into your
elected representatives' offices.
In addition, we will hold a number of meetings to with California
who question the credibility of the agency's April 1 report on
There are no easy legislative solutions for this issue, but we will
continue to follow up on it to keep the pressure on for a just solution.
We all learned in elementary school, by reading Dr. Suess' fable "Horton
Hears a Who," that the little guys can be heard, but only if they raise
their voices in unison. We cannot forget this important lesson, that we
are in the same boat as our working brothers and sisters all around us.
That's what the union is all about: working men and women raising their
voices together in order to be heard. If you are a member, thanks for
standing with us. If you are not and wish to be, you can find out how to
join on the Council website at
Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
Thanks for your good work, Mark. Ab.
|5/16||I've heard that the plan to cut funding to the ROs
by 25% is occurring
only in Region 5. The other regions are waiting until after the
I've heard that Ed and the Regional Forester are charging on ahead.
Will the cuts impact firefighter safety?
|5/16||Re: Black Tuesday Wristbands
"A certain Forest Supervisor is fighting mad and wants to ban them. I guess I'd
be mad too..... especially when her District Rangers are wearing them also."
Great first steps in communication and support of issues. The support of the
District Rangers is critical.
Next step, educating the Forest Supervisors so they feel comfortable wearing a
"wristband" and fully supporting their fire programs and FACTUALLY communicating
upwards to the Region, and downwards to the troops. If the Forest Supervisor
can't be educated, work to replace them.
Next step after that, Regional Foresters wearing "wristbands" and asking hard
questions and demanding answers (upward and downward leadership), and providing
hard facts in relation to the safety, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of the
direction being provided by POLITICAL APPOINTEES at the highest levels.
I haven't lost faith.... or jumped ship to OES... I see and appreciate the baby
steps forward..... I also know, if it gets too bad, I'll jump ship before the
boat sinks, or before I can't provide for my family, or before I go to work
knowing that nobody cares any more about what wildland firefighters do in
protecting our communities and natural resources.......
It has been said before...... DUTY ... RESPECT ... INTEGRITY. Apply those
principles upwards and downwards.
|5/15||The official News Release of the DOI Valor
Yosemite National Park Accident and Rescue also
Nice work and nice valor award. Ab.
There are things afoot on the "geoweb" that will impact fire reporting and
firefighting on the interface, including information the public gets via
computer, cell phone or PDA. Several of us were in discussion with folks from
ESRI at a R5 Chiefs Meeting in 2003 or 2004 and, standing around over coffee, we
talked about this potential development that would be coming on the internet.
For the FireGeeks, the GIS girls/guys and the Fireline Nerds and "Firewhirl"
out there, who support firefighters through mapping, etc, here's something being
made real now that is profoundly exciting to me.
We all know that geography is a way to organize, look at and understand the
world and a way to plan resource needs, movement, and use during all risk
events. Who could function without the morning briefing firemap and the
community and web firemaps? the handheld GIS device during Katrina SAR in New
Orleans when streets were under water, etc? (Heck the hotlist needs the naming
protocol of state-unit identifier-firename as an organizer to try to keep
breaking incidents straight!) Geography and location are critical and important
info in any firefighting communication... and to visualizing the emergency
Anyway, here's a link to a 30 minute video of the keynote speech of
the Where 2.0 2008 Conference:
- John Hanke from GOOGLE and
- Jack Dangermond founder/president of ESRI
lay out and discuss the future of Geomapping. (Many of you know ESRI does
firemapping and is the leader in GIS. They've been supporters of this site
(sponsor the News
page) and our firefighting community for some years. Their link is on the
Classifieds page under software.)
Watch the clip. Toward the end you'll see the part that we discussed
at the R5 Chiefs Meeting in theoretical terms some years ago. The interface is
growing across the US. Wildfire in the wildland-urban interface is growing
simply because fires are often caused by humans. Fire danger to large numbers of
humans living on the interface is high and can be killer. SoCal may be the focus
now with the 2003 and 2007 firestorms, but the problems and solutions needed are
coming to large urban areas abutting National Forests, range and wildlands
across the US.
Very interesting stuff. Carry on...
I'm glad mellie brought up the hiker who turned up missing during the
I was on that fire and have recently wondered the same thing. Maybe some
friends on the Siskiyou will fill us in.
|5/15||Maybe the magazine would have done better if it
was called Forestry
Technician I know I would then subscribe to this new magazine. It could
have articles on how to tie knots in trash bags and put a rock in the
bottom so they don't blow away! or better yet an article on fencing, no no no
wait, there should be an article on the Forestry Technicians that fight fire
98% of their time and have to be gone from families, work weekends and
complete their DOI LEARN and AG LEARN before they are red carded.
|5/14||Stop the Travesty,
I agree with you and understand how mucked up things are right now. We should
have seen leadership from the upper levels of the Forest Service, but we got
deafening silence and the endless promise of keeping firefighters safer without
action. In return, we got the Investigation Team Leader as the Regional
The CAL FIRE folks who have been on speaking tours post-Esperanza (et al) need
to understand that state statutes don't trump changes in federal "legislation"
relating to the deaths of federal employees. As result of PL 107-203, the USDA
Office of Inspector General investigates the deaths of Forest Service employees
killed through entrapment regardless of who was ultimately responsible or who
goes on speaking tours. (See important note below). One could
argue that PL 107-203 stated an intent of Congress, but didn't change Federal
18 USC Part 1 Chapter 51
§ 1112 (as properly investigated by the FBI in the past, but investigated by
USDA OIG post Thirtymile Fire).
Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. It is of two kinds:
Voluntary-Upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.
Involuntary-In the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony,
or in the commission in an unlawful manner, or without due caution
and circumspection, of a lawful act which might produce death.
PL 107-203 didn't change any provision of 18 USC in it's (107-203)
simple wording. In fact, as codified in 18 USC and in the CFR's, and in the
Federal Register, the USDA OIG should have relinquished their investigatory
authority to the FBI if they believed the death of a federal employee was
wrongful in any way. The FBI is charged with the responsibility (by statute
and provisions that weren't changed by PL 107-203) to investigate potential
wrongful deaths of federal employees.
/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Southern California Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
|5/14||Ab, some thoughts about FLAME and CPS
In a few weeks I will once again travel to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, as part
of a South Canyon Fire Staff Ride cadre group. This will be my eighth year on
the mountain and it is one of the most gut wrenching experiences I go through. I
freely admit that I cannot walk by those crosses without sobbing like a child.
It has come to the point where I have to get on the mountain the day before the
staff ride, so that I can sort through emotions that range from confusion,
blame, and compassion, to pure sadness over the loss. While staff rides are not
about the who, I struggle immensely with some of the decisions that were made
that day. By all accounts, almost every individual on the mountain that day was
an experienced, physically fit, qualified, wildland firefighter, and as I once
again, re-read the reports, books and articles related to the event I constantly
ask myself “why and how” did this happen.
As with all events, different people will make different decisions, which in
turn, alters the outcomes. When I sit on the West Flank Fireline I wonder if
“tacticians of fire” such as Linane, ‘Lanky”, Cook,
“Rax”, Gleason or similar
individuals would have made those same decisions. If their decisions had been
different, and the outcome was that everyone came safely off the mountain before
the blowup, I then struggle with why that didn’t occur. Is it training,
experience, mentoring, or some intuitive process that is yet to be defined? My
gut, non-scientific, purely anecdotal reaction tells me these “tacticians of
fire” would have made the decision to pull people off the mountain before the
blowup. I believe each of these “tacticians of fire” would have arrived at that
choice by fundamentally different paths. Some of these individuals or as Gleason
termed, “students of fire” would have made the decision to come off the mountain
based on years of self study, course work and extensive “fire behavior
observation and analysis.” For other “students of fire” the decision may have
been driven, by an “old crusty salt” who took the time to sit on a ridge and
transfer knowledge about fire behavior to the people who worked for him (they
still exist- to the Holt’s, Lookabaugh’s, Hawkins’s and many others who spend
the time and take the effort to transfer knowledge and experience, I thank you).
After almost 25 years of teaching adults, I am convinced that by whatever
combination of training, mentoring and experience a firefighter becomes a
“master” of their craft, it is completely different for each person. Everyone
uses a slightly different set of course work, training, mentoring, experiences
and “tools” in their decision making process.
Our argument should not be about the scientific validity of FLAME or CPS, nor
should it be about which one is the “best” to use. As Gizmo stated, it should be
related to when or where in the student’s career, the training will most likely
have the greatest impact. If presented at the correct time in a firefighter’s
career, some students will surely decide that FLAME is the “tool for them,” just
as others will gravitate towards CPS as a useful tool in their decision making
system. Many, hopefully most, might use both. I first took CPS with Doug in 1995
or 1996. After the class, I purchased a high-end “heat gun,” which I have
consistently used to check surface and aerial fuel temperatures on fires. As
with other components of the CPS system, the “hot fuel, hot-slope” theory works.
I remember Doug telling us how much resistance he had when he first started
using CPS and that sounds very familiar to some of the current discussion about
FLAME. I have heard similar stories about Nomograms and the old “TI” calculator.
Let’s keep up the discussion related to when, where or how FLAME should be
delivered, but try and keep an open mind about FLAME itself. It’s just another
tool. Maybe (hopefully), in a few years we will have a case study where a
lookout calls an overloaded, over committed, and under staffed IC or Division
Supervisor and says “my trigger points have just been met and full alignment is
one hour away,” followed by another lookout stating ”I just ran a FLAME
prediction and the fire will run to the ridge in 7 minutes once it crosses the
drainage.” The IC then uses their experience and knowledge of both systems and
pulls everyone off the line well before the blowup. That would make a wonderful
We lost 14 firefighters at South Canyon, if either or both of these tools can
prevent another firefighter fatality; let’s find a way to use them both.
Ab, As always, thanks for the site.
FOBS73 thanks for resending. I didn't get it the first time. Ab.
What We See, You Never Want to See
It's hard to explain to "civilians" what we do. These writings might help to
"I WISH YOU COULD"
I wish you could see the sadness of a business man as his livelihood goes up in
flames or that family returning home, only to find their house and belongings
damaged or destroyed.
I wish you could know what it is to search a burning bedroom for trapped
children, flames rolling above your head, your palms and knees burning as you
crawl, the floor sagging under your weight as the kitchen beneath you burns.
I wish you could comprehend a wife's horror at 3 A.M. as I check her husband of
forty years for a pulse and find none. I start CPR anyway, hoping against hope
to bring him back, knowing intuitively it is too late, but wanting his wife and
family to know everything possible was done.
I wish you could know the unique smell of burning insulation, the taste of
soot-filled mucus, the feeling of intense heat through your turnout gear, the
sound of flames crackling, and the eeriness of being able to see absolutely
nothing in dense smoke-- "sensations that I have became too familiar with."
I wish you could understand how it feels to go to school in the morning after
having spent most of the night, hot and soaking wet at a multiple alarm fire.
I wish you could read my mind as I respond to a building fire, "Is this a false
alarm or a working, breathing fire? How is the building constructed? What
hazards await me? Is anyone trapped?" or to an EMS call, "What is wrong with the
patient? Is it minor or life-threatening? Is the caller really in distress or is
he waiting for us with a 2x4 or a gun?"
I wish you could be in the emergency room as the doctor pronounces dead the
beautiful little five-year old girl that I have been trying to save during the
past twenty-five minutes, who will never go on her first date or say the words
"I love you Mommy!" again.
I wish you could know the frustration I feel in the cab of the engine, the
driver with his foot pressing down hard on the pedal, my arm tugging again and
again at the air horn chain, as you fail to yield right-of-way at an
intersection or in traffic. When you need us, however, your first comment upon
our arrival will be, "It took you forever to get here!"
I wish you could read my thoughts as I help extricate a girl of teenage years
from the mangled remains of her automobile, "What if this were my sister, my
girlfriend, or a friend? What were her parents' reactions going to be as they
open the door to find a police officer, hat in hand?"
I wish you could know how it feels to walk in the back door and greet my parents
and family, not having the heart to tell them that you nearly did not come home
from this last call.
I wish you could feel my hurt as people orally, and sometimes physically, abuse
us or belittle what I do, or as they express their attitudes of, "It will never
happen to me."
I wish you could realize the physical, emotional, and mental drain of missed
meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities, in addition to all the tragedy
my eyes have viewed.
I wish you could know the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of helping save a
life or preserving someone's property, of being there in times of crisis, or
creating order from total chaos.
I wish you could understand what it feels like to have a little boy tugging on
your arm and asking, "Is my mommy O.K.?" Not even being able to look in his eyes
without tears falling from your own and not knowing what to say. Or to have hold
back a longtime friend who watches his buddy having rescue breathing done on him
as they take him away in the ambulance. You knowing all along he did not have
his seat belt on -- sensations that have become too familiar.
Unless you have lived this kind of life, you will never truly understand or
appreciate who I am, what we are, or what our job really means to us...
I WISH YOU COULD!
|5/14||ESPERANZA FIRE PRESENTATIONS BY CAL-FIRE
It’s time to STOP.
There are several presentations scheduled next week in Southern
California -- Rancho Cucamonga and Op Area C (LA County). And who knows
how many are scheduled or in process!
Tragedy vs. Travesty
Esperanza was a tragedy. It will live forever in the annals of wildland
fire fighting. It will live forever in the hearts and minds of the
families and our fellow firefighters – regardless of agency.
Esperanza presentations are a travesty. The dog and pony shows of Cal
Fire employees represent the lowest of the lowest forms of
professionalism and common decency. Quite frankly, it is abysmal that
Cal Fire allows these presentations to continue.
Rocky and Bullwinkle
As presented, the presentations should be considered to be Fractured
Fairy Tails. That is to say that frequently presented myths are soon
become facts by virtue of being presented frequently.
It needs to STOP.
Why, do you say? What could possibly be wrong with this? After all there
the accident investigation was done on an interagency basis! After
reading the following, please ask yourselves this question again.
Still under Investigation
The Esperanza Fire is still under active investigation by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General. This is done
under the auspices of Public Law 107-203, also known as the Cantwell
Bill (30 Mile Fire in Washington State). There has been no report issued
Not only is Esperanza under investigation, but all aspects of Esperanza
and its Serious Accident Investigation Team procedures are under
investigation. This could also include OSHA and it haphazard
investigation and conclusions. The record shows the OSHA investigation
reversed two of it findings and modified the four other “Serious”
The U.S Forest Service cannot participate in any proceedings which are
under investigation – period. Hence, the presentations represent only
one version of what happened – without rebuttal.
The conspiracy theory exists! Is Cal Fire presenting this to protect
their own? What a perfect audience! The USFS cannot rebut the claims
against its own.
Factual Report Analysis
An analysis of the Factual Report was submitted and accepted by the USFS
Designated Health and Safety Official (DHSO) and included in the record.
This acceptance of the report by the DSHO admits there are significant
errors and conclusions in the report.
FS employees are not allowed to speak on the accuracy of the SAIT
Cite a specific example: The report states that Captain 54 called into
FICC to request assistance at approximately 0800. It was actually
Captain 52 (FICC dispatch logs). The point remains that the ‘forever
record’ says it was Captain 54. This is non-consequential in terms of
the events! However, it is consequential into the basic validity of the
So, as such, the alleged Factual Report is not Factual at all – even if
it contains ONE error. The record suggests there are many “factual
Accident Investigation Procedures
Esperanza is unprecedented. It is the first fatality fire investigated
on an interagency basis based on Command and Control. The procedures for
investigating fires for Safety purposes only are a thing of the past.
The legal implications are severe and different (Ellreese Daniels 30
The USFS Safety investigation procedures are outdated and do not reflect
the current legal world. OIG’s investigation focused on potential
criminal responsibility of the commander(s). Hence, statements made as
part of the SAIT could possibly turn into criminal evidence.
The SAIT was composed of well meaning people. Think about it! The USFS
team leader and Chief Investigator had not a clue on the operating
procedures and consequences within California.
The Cal Fire SAIT leader had been an employee of the Riverside Unit of
Cal Fire and Riverside County Fire. Cal Fire investigation procedures
preclude the investigation team leader from investigating incidents
where they have previously worked! This done to eliminate any knowledge
of the Units past practices, knowledge of prejudices.
The real question regarding investigation team members is their
experience. For most members this is their first experience. That
practice was good 50 years ago.
Given today’s environment, all agencies need to focus on “real”
investigators for fatality fires. It is unfair to our employees who have
a passion for safety to investigate cause of death for employees. The
FBI is the federal agency normally charged with determinations of death
of federal employees.
The OIG record when it comes out should speak to these procedures.
Did you know? FS employees needed to be compelled to speak to
investigators under threat of losing their jobs? That delay resulted in
all FS employees being interviewed until nearly 2100 in one day? That 2
FS employees were told to talk to investigators so that they could
participate in the family visits to the fatality site? That the
investigation team was “part time” until the final report was issued?
That there may be parts of statements excluded from testimony because
the recording device failed?
These may seem like minor concerns, however they are real.
There are proscribed timeline for accident investigation. The measure of
success is to meet the timeline and not the accuracy of the report. This
standard is wrong. We need to get it right!
The investigators of record all have other jobs. The investigators met.
Did someone fail to mention the criminal trial of an alleged arsonist!
The fire cause is arson. FACT It is being tried in Riverside County. As
such, the criminal portion of killing 5 firefighters has not been
Brad and Jeff -- Do you realize the damage you are doing by your “dog
and pony show”!!!
The legal world is real.
Under California State Law there is the notion of “absolute immunity”.
This is a great law – in California. However, under federal law, federal
law trumps state law. Hence, the attorneys for CA may be in a legal
battle on the immunity issue if OIG should find some sort negligence.
If Cal Fire is allowed to do these presentations on Esperenza while
still under investigation and without FS participation, it would seem
appropriate for the USFS to present the Factual Report for the Cal Fire
burnovers which occurred last year. This includes the Inyo Complex,
Pines and Harris Fire. The common denominator is the WUI!
Esperanza could be re-investigated. However, since it is still an active
case, it cannot. The case is further complicated by the fact that the
USFS Esperanza Team Leader is now the Regional Forester in Region 5.
Draw your own conclusions.
The mis-representation of some-what facts become facts!
Such is the case here.
Firefighter safety and response is paramount! Sometimes thing just
Stop the Travesty
|5/14||Lobotomy where are you?
Hope you haven't gone to OES. Fight the fight!
Apprentice of yours for many years, from the old days.
|5/14 ||Since the Biscuit Fire (OR) days in 2002, I've
often wondered if anyone ever found Mike Woods, the missing hiker.
Mike Woods, a 32 year old Army Vet, set out on a wilderness trip in the
Kalmiopsis Wilderness at Miami Bar on July 9. He hasn't been heard from
since. Woods is 6' tall, 170 lbs. with dark brown hair and blue/green
eyes. He's described as slender and fit and has an extensive knowledge
of the wilderness area.
His tentative plans was to hike down the Illinois River and proceed
upriver seeking a waterfall, possibly Salmon Creek. From there, he
planned to hike upstream toward Selma and spend time on Queens Island in
the Illinois River. From Queens Island, he planned to find a lookout,
which could possibly be Pearsoll Peak.
|5/14||Nomad and Ab-
We agree that it is sad to see the demise of "Wildland Firefighter"
magazine. As Ab
said, it was an excellent publication. However, I'd like to remind you
that there is
another magazine "with content that is completely dedicated to wildland
that has been published continuously since 1992, and that is "Wildfire"
More information is at
The IAWF also publishes, through CSIRO Publishing, the International
Wildland Fire, a professional journal containing peer-reviewed papers
dedicated to wildland fire.
International Association of Wildland Fire
|5/14||It is with great sadness I inform you that Matt
Fire Management Officer for the Lakeview Interagency
Office, passed away last night. Over the course of
the last several months Matt has fought a brave battle
against cancer. Throughout the duration of his
illness Matt maintained a positive attitude and served
as an example of how to make the most out of the hand
you are dealt in life.
Just prior to Matt's passing, a tremendous honor was
bestowed upon him by the BLM and Forest Service by
presenting him with a Silver Pulaski. Matt was
presented with the Silver Pulaski award in a simple
ceremony attended by Shirley Gammon, Karen Shimamoto,
Cal Joyner, Carl Gossard, Ken Snell, David Summer, a
number of Matt's friends and fellow firefighters, and
Matt's family. During the ceremony and upon his
death, Matt was wearing his Interagency fire shirt and
was covered by a quilt made by his mother from his
collection of fire incident shirts.
Matt has asked that his body be donated to science to
provide insight into the nature of his cancer. There
will be a Celebration of Life held in Matt's memory in
Lakeview the first weekend in June. I will keep you
informed of the date, time and location as this
information becomes available.
Cards may be sent to Rebecca and Matt's family at:
7001 SW Bouchaine St, Wilsonville, OR 97070
Please keep Matt and his family in your thoughts and
prayers during this very difficult time.
|5/14||I find it very interesting that the Rey told
Feinstein that there are only 373 vacant
positions in R5 when the list of vacant GS-5 positions for R-5 has more
positions listed on it.
The list can be found at
but can only be viewed from a FS computer. It is updated as of May 13th.
-No name on this one......
Maybe he couldn't access the data on the FS web? Maybe he didn't
You asked how the Combined Federal Campaign works. I'm no expert on it,
but it basically works like this.
Every fall, there is a published
booklet of hundreds of Charities,
Foundations, Organizations from international to local levels, etc that
distributed to federal offices. Employees can chose one or more
fill out a form, and make a donation to that organization, which is
usually, but not always, tax deductible. You can either write a check or
have it taken out of your paycheck by payroll deduction spread through
rest of the year, so its a fairly painless way to donate money to your
favorite organizations. Many offices, districts, forests, etc also have
some activities to boost donations, such as auctions, dinners, or about
other fundraising function you can think of. Since its for a good cause
(YOUR favorite good cause, like the newly announced Wildland Firefighter
Foundation) and spread through the year by payroll deduction, its not
uncommon to see some rather large donations made for relatively
auction items, I've seen $300 pies and $75-$150 for a dozen cookies. One
person on our district makes custom pottery, she usually donates an item
that goes for $300-500, about 10 times what she would normally sell it
So, at the end of the event, a total for the district, forest, etc is
announced, employees go home with their new purchases, fun was had by
and thousands of $$$ goes to hundreds of charitable organizations from
federal employees. There is usually about a month in the fall, (November
believe), where emphasis is placed on the Campaign, but I believe anyone
can sign up anytime.
I'm sure there are other folks that know a lot more about it than me,
hope this helps.
Overspent again another year, but WORTH IT!
I received my issue of Wildland Firefighter Magazine yesterday, my very
last issue, it seems. According to the editorial, Wildland Firefighter
Magazine is being incorporated into Fire & Rescue Magazine, and the
remaining subscriptions will be applied to that publication. Maybe not
much of a big deal in the larger scheme of things, but I, for one, will
miss having a magazine with content that is completely dedicated to
wildland firefighters. A small consolation is that there will be a
website (currently under construction) that will feature articles from
all the back issues and content included in current issues of
So long, Wildland Firefighter, you were our voice in print and you will
be sorely missed.
It was an excellent publication. First one I ever read was in
a bathroom in the barracks when I was taking FF1 training. Perhaps we
should create a wildlandfire.com "print" section to which people could
contribute. Articles could get printed off by deployed firefighters to
take with them if they desired. They're going to need something to read
in those public and private places in firecamp. Ab.
|5/14||Re: Retention Group
How about if someone created a system to receive input from the
How about evaluating and responding to the needs of the field going
Those two ideas might be a good place to start if someone wanted to
retain a workforce or improve a work environment. It seems that even
with the creation of the Retention Group in Region 5 we are under "Ops
Normal". Management IS determining what the field needs... through
personal bias and assumption.
On my Forest, the Forest Supervisor has taken over 3 months to determine
if keeping after hours I.A. fires small is in the interest of the govt.
-- As if there is a difference at 18:00.
So now a Forest Implementation Strategy for Duty Officer Vehicle Use has
been established. Duty Officers must financially justify and articulate
exactly how providing oversight and responses to after hours incidents
will save the Forest money. What was the 3 month study with the
Implementation Plan for? The Implementation plan seems to justify the
cause to me.
But still the Duty Officers have not heard a response from our
applications, nor have we been granted the authority/permission to do
the job that we need to do. It simply IS NOT A PRIORITY. This week
predicts very warm, dry windy conditions a.k.a. Fire Season. I won't be
responding after hours.
That is my choice, but what if a Duty Officer relied on public
transportation to get to work?
I figure that the Forest Supervisors think Duty Officers are lucky to
take a vehicle home at night.
I figure they are lucky if I will answer my phone after 18:00.
So retention and the work environment... Forest Supervisors that are not
responsive to needs of the Firefighter workforce might have something to
do with low Morale, poor Quality of Work Environment, and an overall
lack of Job Satisfaction. (leading to a retention issues)
This is just one example of how mismanagement can negatively affect Fire
Retention Issues that don't officially exist on our forest.
Nice work (and I'm sure it was a LOT of work) providing the links and
on IMTs -- thats part of what makes this site THE go-to place for info.
One slight correction -- Southern Area Blue Team DPIC is Mike Wilkins,
As always -- THANX.
Thanks. I corrected that. Anyone else sees something needs fixing,
please alert me. Ab.
I IIM Teams (National)
Type II IIM Teams
|5/14||Re: Black Tuesday Wristbands
It seems that the Black Tuesday Wristbands are well received and understood
within the wildland fire community. The wristbands represent support of the
issues within the wildland fire program, and more importantly, a focus towards
A certain Forest Supervisor is fighting mad and wants to ban them. I guess I'd
be mad too..... especially when her District Rangers are wearing them also.
/s/ Current NFFE Supporter and Future ACLU Supporter
I heard one was even
worn by someone who met the President. When the time is right, someone please
share that story. Ab.
|5/14||Its about time we got the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation into the Combined
Federal Campaign! They will be getting my money this fall for sure. Makes
paying exorbitant prices for a plate of cookies at our auction well worth
it. I'll bid $150 a dozen for Mrs. Paulett's Danish Butter Cookies to
start. Going once, twice....please somebody top me!
Ab, sign me: Overspent again another year, but WORTH IT!
I've gotten a
question. Would someone please explain how the Combined Federal Campaign works?
|5/14||Can you post the following question for me-
I have heard that this some movement to get an Attorney Generals Opinion on
limiting access to private insurance companies firefighting foam vehicles. I
understand AIG insurance crossed some boundaries and did not work within the
ICS system at the recent San Diego Fires. What is the fire service doing to
prevent this type of freelancing.
|5/14||This past weekend was the Mother Lode Round-Up
here in Tuolumne County. A big part of the weekend is the parade that is
held on Saturday. It is the second longest parade in California coming
in just behind the Pasadena Rose Parade. We here in Sonora and the
surrounding areas are very proud of our "small town" parade which brings
in entrants from all over the state. This year, CalFire, the USFS and
Tuolumne County Fire all got together as a combined unit for both the
Fire Department Entry and the Walking Honor Guard Entry. They won top
honors in both classes - Congratulations to everyone involved!!
side note, the Stanislaus NF and Yosemite NP law enforcement also
combined together as an unit in the Sheriff's Posse entry and won that
category hands down! Quite an achievement considering the Monterey
County Sheriff's Posse has won it for years. Way to go guys!
In my opinion, this is what it is all about - folks coming together
from the federal, state and local levels, combining their efforts and
talents and achieving the best possible outcome. You folks should be
|5/14||Red Flag Warning
A RED FLAG
WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR ELEVATIONS BELOW 3000 FEET IN
INTERIOR NORTHERN CALIFORNIA FOR WEDNESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY.
RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE OVER THE REGION INTO THE WEEKEND BRINGING
ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES AND LOW HUMIDITIES. NEAR RECORD TO RECORD
MAXIMUM TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED ON THURSDAY INTO SUNDAY. GUSTY
NORTH TO EAST WINDS ARE EXPECTED THROUGH FRIDAY WITH THE STRONGEST
NORTHERLY WINDS EXPECTED TOMORROW AND SHIFTING TO THE EAST ON
THURSDAY INTO FRIDAY. THE GUSTY NORTHEAST WINDS AND WARM
TEMPERATURES ALONG WITH LOW HUMIDITIES AND POOR OVERNIGHT RECOVERIES
WILL BRING CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS. THESE CONDITIONS
WARRANT A RED FLAG WARNING FOR ELEVATIONS BELOW 3000 FEET IN
INTERIOR NORTHERN CALIFORNIA FOR WEDNESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY.
THE WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO DECREASE FRIDAY INTO THE WEEKEND.
SOUTHERN MOTHERLODE FROM 1000 TO 3000 FT. INCLUDES PORTIONS OF
NORTHERN MOTHERLODE FROM 1000 TO 3000 FT. INCLUDES
NEVADA-YUBA-PLACER-AMADOR AND ELDORADO UNITS-
330 PM PDT TUE MAY 13 2008
...RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 5 AM WEDNESDAY TO 12 PM PDT
FRIDAY FOR LOW HUMIDITIES AND GUSTY NORTHEASTERLY WINDS...
...WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM WEDNESDAY TO 8 AM PDT
More IA action on the hotlist yesterday. Ab.
Wasn't sure if you'd received these yet or not.
r-df-fsstaffing.doc (29 K doc file) Text of Feinstein press
Statement of Senator Dianne Feinstein on Forest
Firefighter Staffing Levels in California
“I recently asked the Forest Service to report on
firefighter staffing in California, and this letter makes it clear that
the agency has more work to do. It shows that out of 4,432 Forest
Service firefighter positions in California this year, there are 363
vacancies – about 8 percent of the firefighting force. And I understand
that the agency has had particular difficulty in filling mid-level
firefighting positions, where the recent vacancy rates for certain
personnel grades have ranged as high as 39 percent.
These are key fire leadership positions. Without them, some fire engines
might sit idle – just when they’re needed most. This is unacceptable. We
simply cannot afford anything less than a fully staffed firefighting
corps in California.
The Forest Service says it plans another round of hiring in July, and
will recommend ways to improve firefighter pay and retention issues by
June 30. Unfortunately, time is not on our side. Fire season has already
begun, and every indication is that the risk is high this year. So I
expect the Forest Service to work aggressively to fill these vacancies
with qualified firefighters, to come up with a concrete retention plan
that keeps these positions filled.”
Rey-FF-Response-May7th.pdf (170 K pdf file) Click the link to
I don't know if this has made the rounds. Specifically, the list of ICS
positions the Forest Service has determined to be authorized for
The letter and table are located at the link below:
Date: March 14, 2008
Subject: Reimbursement for Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) Expanded to
Include Temporary Fire Line Managers
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and
I have good news. I know potential liability has been a significant concern for
many wildland firefighters. Important recent legislation extends protection for
our firefighters, beginning in the upcoming fire season. I have the pleasure of
relaying the details.
On December 26, 2007, President Bush signed Public Law 110-161, the Consolidated
Appropriation Act, 2008. Section 429 expands coverage for reimbursement of
professional liability insurance to our “temporary fire line managers.”
To qualify, these “temporary fire line managers” must meet one of the following
ETC ETC ETC [click the link above for the tables, lists, details. Ab.]
ABIGAIL R. KIMBELL
|5/13||Excellent and thoughtful piece here:
Conundrum of Followship and Policy Change: Opinion Piece
We wanted They Said readers to be the first to know that the Wildland
has been approved as a charity for the National Combined Federal Campaign!!!!
This fall, as you sign up to make donations during the Combined Federal
remember the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.
We wouldn’t be here without the amazing support of the wildland fire community.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
EXCELLENT news! Ab
|5/13||I added a number of photos to the following
and Fire 36
and Handcrews 23
and Engines 20
Click the words under the photo to read the descriptions and contributors.
Contributors. If you have more info to share on your photos, please do so and if
you want me to give credit with your name rahter than initials or moniker, I'm
happy to do that.
As always, thanks to the page sponsors. Click their link and give them a
visit. Hmmmm, I need some new chaps for chain sawing... Ab.
|5/13||Re death of a MO firefighter:
I am a former
volunteer firefighter of over 15 years of service (RCoFD, EFPD, VVRFPD and RCoFD
again); a federal career wildland firefighter of over 24 years of service; and a
trained NWS Weather Spotter (RIV 116) of nearly 8 years. I also grew up in
tornado alley, and own retirement property in the Ozarks. I qualify (and have
served before) as an expert witness in a Court of Law.
I was also one of the weather spotters who reported the excessive rainfall
rates, the rising waters in numerous local creeks, and the severe winds that
weren't showing up on radar.... On December 25, 2003 (aka The Christmas Day
Flood)..... that prompted the first in a series of Flash Flood Warnings that the
NWS issued that saved lives on that fateful day. I was enroute to check on
possible damage of our District Office, got diverted to a mudslide with victims
trapped in a car that I was closest to (right near our District Office).... and
then it just became a long day of memories of things that went well, and some
things that didn't that are etched in my RPD slides. I did what I was trained to
do, had the experience to do, had the equipment to do, and had either an agency
sponsored, or a personal duty to act on the behalf of the safety of others
Hotlist Mods, I believe you confused "Storm Chasing" and "Storm Spotting", and
wrongly followed the information initially posted on another firefighter safety
/ information exchange website. The inference, "Please do not go out in the face
of a storm and take on "Storm Spotter Duties".... was hopefully offtrack.... If
not, it was disrespectful, even though well intended, to firefighters and others
who go out each day just doing their jobs they are either paid or volunteering
to do AND HONORING the loss of a fallen brother or sister firefighter. Like it
or not, the fact that firefighting is hazardous means there will always be LODDs
while protecting others. DONT CONFUSE that with doing everything to limit LODDs
that we all hope to.
Storm Spotting is often done through trained volunteer weather spotters
interested in protecting their communities, and by trained co-operative (CoOp)
weather observers (fire, law, public works, airports, etc) who report severe
weather to the NWS as a regular part of their normal duties.
9 out of 10 times or so I've made spotter reports to the NWS, those reports were
during the normal performance of my field duties as a Forestry Technician. Most
of my reports have been severe thunderstorm development, rising creeks where
folks were recreating downstream where it is sunny and unware of the impending
hazards, and yes, even a "whip tornado" associated with a thunderstorm with
rotation (Ref. - NWS, 2006, San Gorgonio Area). Other reports focused on wind
speeds associated with either damage, or wildfire threat.
Yes, even a few of my trained "Spotter Reports" prompted an upgrade to Red Flag
Warnings from a Fire Weather Watches in the past....... Who knows, maybe that
saved some firefighters or others from peril?
|5/13||Tyler Casey, 21 year old firefighter with Seneca
Missouri Area Fire Protection District died May 12th
as a result of injuries sustained in the performance
of his duty during the May 10th tornado. A moment of
reflection in his honor would be appropriate.
|5/12||Available on the
I IIM Teams (National) &
Type II IIM Teams
Area Command Teams &
Fire Use Management Teams
Please let me know of any updates or corrections. I do have some ?? on the
Type 1 and Type 2 Team pages. Thanks very much contributors. Ab.
|5/12||Steve Makowski, longtime member of the wildland
fire community, passed away
at 0300 this date. A long bout with cancer now over. Memorial service at Cedar
Creek Campground, behind the Smokey Bear Ranger Station in Ruidoso, New
Mexico at 1400 on Saturday, May 17.
Sorry for his passing. Ab.
|5/12||Phew, I think I'm done with the Type 2 IIMT
page, given the info available on the web and from contributors.
If anyone wants to clarify the DPICs on the T2 Teams, or send in rosters,
I'll strip contact info and post 'em. After that I'll work on the FUM Team page
|5/12||All Risk Firefighters,
Please do not go out in the face of a storm and take on "Storm Spotter
A young firefighter in Missouri did that and was reportedly struck and killed by
lightning. Our thoughts and prayers to family, co-workers and friends.
This is truly sad.
Hotlist safety thread for lightning:
Later: Hotlist thread with more details on the incident:
|5/12||I think I'm done with the Type 1 IIMT page,
given the info available on the web and from contributors.
Please check to see if any of you know any more . Let me know if any links
don't work. There are ??? where I don't have a link. In addition, I don't have a
link for the two new NIMO teams.
Working on the Type 2 Teams next. Then I'll create a page for the FUM
Teams. This always takes so much longer than expected. Let me remind everyone
Links page under federal has a permanent link to these pages (and to the FS
lookup page too). Ab.
|5/12||Pics of the
2007 Chester Flight Crew with Shawn Walters
Will try to get those on a helicopter photo page soon. Ab.
|5/12||In response to DMC from 5/10 on the Department of
the Interior, Medal of Valor:
Congratulations to Dan Gleason and Shawn Walters who will receive the Department
of the Interior Medal of Valor, tomorrow in Washington DC. Shawn is currently a
captain on H510 out of Chester, LNF and Dan works out of R-6.
The Valor Award, established in 1957, recognizes an employee's demonstration of
unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger.
The heroic act or rescue performed does not have to be related to the nominee's
official duties nor occur at their official duty station.
Here is basic information regarding the rescue:
Just before dusk on June 2nd,
2002, Yosemite Valley rangers received a report of a significant rock fall and
subsequent shouts for help coming from the Direct North Buttress route on Middle
Cathedral. Using a spotting scope and a PA system, rangers were able to
determine that 33-year-old John Kurth of Durango, Colorado had been caught in
the rock fall and that he was suffering from neck pain and a possible shoulder
dislocation and fractured elbow. Due to the loose rock in the area and the
difficult position of the climbing party at the base of a long chimney, it was
decided that it would be safest to wait until morning to begin the rescue
effort. Kurth's climbing partner held his arm in traction throughout the night
as they bivvied on a sloping ledge without overnight gear about 1700 feet above
the Valley floor. The following morning, rangers John Dill, Dave Horne, Greg
Lawler and Ed Visnovske and fire helitack personnel Dan Gleason and Shawn
Walters rappelled from the park helicopter to a spire about 300 feet above the
injured climber. Horne was then lowered to Kurth. Working in a tight area with
an abundance of loose rocks, the rescue team raised Horne and Kurth to the top
of the spire. From there, Horne and Kurth were short-hauled under the park
helicopter to El Capitan Meadow near the base of the wall. Kurth was taken by
park ambulance to the Yosemite Medical Clinic, then flown by air ambulance to
Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. After the victim was evacuated, the remaining
rescuers and Kurth's partner were all short-hauled to the meadow. In the
aftermath of the recent climbing incidents on Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood, media
interest was extremely high. The park's Media Relations Office conducted over 30
press interviews, and the Sacramento ABC affiliate station's helicopter filmed
the short haul. The news footage was shown on ABC stations and on Good Morning
America as "The Picture of the Day." Kurth and his partner, Casey Shaw, have
about 37 years of climbing experience between them. According to Shaw, Kurth's
climbing helmet saved his life. [Todd Bruno, IC/PR, YOSE, 6/4/2002]
Subject: No change in policy
regarding use of PPE at Incident Bases
A couple of questions have recently surfaced regarding use of PPE by
non-fireline qualified personnel at Incident Bases.
There has been no change in policy regarding this. Non-fireline personnel
are not required to have and wear PPE at incident bases.
If you are aware of any individuals that have been misinformed on this
topic please share this information with them.
|5/12||I see there will be an announcement for fire
positions that ends May 27th for a
R-5 July hire?? This is nuts. By the time these folks are notified of a
move to their hiring location, get trained and become part of and integrated
functional fire suppression module, it will be FIRE SEASON 2009!
Oh Yeah, and Mark will be gone. ( and a few others I hope).
Cal Fire opens fire season today 5-12-08 in R-5 with 24 hour staffing. They can
act as cover at 3X the price.
The largest acreage gains occurred at
night... burning in alignment with the wind (downslope).... but out of alignment
with slope... towards the community.
I was on this fire too.
Actually since two forces, that of sunlight and slope were out of alignment with
And during the day all forces were in alignment (full sun, steep slope, upslope
But the acreage growth was greater when the forces were NOT in alignment.
How does the CPS account for this and many fires behavior on the coastal plain
in spring time or at night?
Behave + can account for this behavior by accounting for the effect of Live Fuel
moisture and wind vector.
|5/11||Here are some shots of the new CA OES engines,
these are off the same contract
as the CALFIRE Model 34. The first five go in service this month, 3 to San Diego
(San Diego City, Escondido, Oceanside) and 2 to Riverside .
Thanks, I put them on
Engines 20 photo page. Ab.
|5/11||Does anyone have any info or insight regarding TOS
and the next R5 FIREHIRE. I'm planning
on going back to R5 in the next round. Without a TOS it will be more difficult.
Any info would
Also, any word on recruitment bonuses in the next round? A bonus might be good
some new blood in there from another region. I'm sure the region is getting
tired of robbing Peter
to pay Paul and dishing out a TOS along with it.
TOS= Transfer of Station
|5/11||I just wanted to acknowledge my wife of 17 years
for her unwavering support of me while I have been a wildland firefighter.
Every year she assumes her rightful place as Incident Commander of the home and
family ( 3 kids, 2 grandkids ) to allow me to focus on my personal safety and
for those that I am responsible for. I would not be who and what I am today
She is my confidant, advisor, friend and sounding board. Most of all she is my
wife and mother of our children, and I love her for who she is and what she does
to make me successful.
When I am gone I talk to her every day, looking forward to hearing her calming
voice. She deals with issues at home, which are many, but never burdens me with
trivial problems as she understands where my focus needs to be on assignment. I
don't second guess her daily decisions.
I know she reads this board, to keep up with the issues that affect me. She is
also a veteran, serving 2 of her 15 years with the Forest Service as a wildland
I wish everyone had a Wife as great as mine on this Mothers Day.
Here's to all the great Wives and Mothers out there, Happy Mothers Day!
Salute to wives and mothers hotlist thread:
Kern County Fire H-408 on a fire near Lake Isabella, 2007.
Photo by Casey Christie. (TD0508)
Nice photo. I put it on
Helicopters 23 photo page. Ab.
|5/11||Re: The Bailiff Fire and the Loss of Firefighter
Firefighter Frank Rios was from the Tohono O'odham Nation (formerly Papago
Tribe) near Sells, Arizona.
He was part of a contingent of Southwest Native American firefighters to travel
to Southern California during the fall siege of 1967 on the San Bernardino
National Forest. He was one of two people killed by the Bailiff Fire.
With the exception of newspaper articles and limited factual accounts, very
little is known about Frank Rios or the Bailiff Fire.
If anyone has additional info, please contact the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation or the Forest service Honor Guard,
Here is what I posted on 2/9/2007 (and a link to 12/20/2006):
Re: Wildland Firefighter Frank Rios, Bailiff Fire, October 1967.
Through various means, I have been able to track Firefighter Rios' roots back to
the Tohono O'odham Nation (Formerly known as the Papago Nation) in southern
As many of you will remember, Firefighter Rios was fatally injured on the
Bailiff Fire of 1967 and there is no written record or memorial dedicated for
his service (See post on December 20, 2006).
In an effort to honor his sacrifice, several folks are working to gain
additional information so that both he and his family can be properly honored
and remembered through "stories" and remembrance.
Here are our simple goals:
1.) Firefighter Frank Rios' name added to the National Fallen Firefighter
2.) Firefighter Frank Rios' name added to the California Fallen Firefighter
3.) The family of Firefighter Frank Rios to obtain a statue from the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation for their loss,
4.) That a written record documenting and honoring his sacrifice becomes
available for lessons learned, and
5.) A local memorial is erected to honor his service and his family's loss where
the story can be told.
Thank you to my CAL FIRE friends for getting me focused again.
|5/11||NIMO team ICs:
Portland- Tom Cable
Boise- Steve Gage
Phoenix- Jeff Whitney
Atlanta- George Custer
Area Commanders- Bob Anderson, Mike Lohrey, Tom Zimmerman, Loach
those sending in info. Appreciate it. Ab.
|5/11||Could someone explain to me if we are going to
DEMO straight 5's or not. I don't
need 5/6 positions filled, I need to keep my GS-5 slots filled because they
and/ or leave for other agencies faster than we can convert apprentices into
slots. I don't get how the 5/6 helps the issue of having to stick to apprentices
for senior firefighters.
|5/11||Re: Santa Anita Fire - Fire Behavior
I agree with you.
The two most active periods on the Santa Anita Fire were on the day of ignition
(2000-0500) (story factually told by the IA/EA folks).... and the second day
from 2100-0500 (story experienced by the incoming IIMT who listened, watched,
During the upslope run on the first day, the fire ran out of momentum by hitting
green grass, higher live fuel moistures, and a predominant fuels change from
chamise (high dead to live ratio), buckwheat, and cheatgrass, to a more classic
mixed chaparral stand with a broadleaf component (ceanothus, mountain mahogany,
scrub oak, and manzanita). What is important though, is that the daytime "run"
set the fire into alignment for an active night of fire behavior in the lighter
Th largest acreage gains occurred at night... burning in alignment with the wind
(downslope).... but out of alignment with slope... towards the community.
|5/11||Re: The Mark Rey Miracle
Just for info these vacancy announcements do not exist in AVUE:
This may be a reason why no one is applying.
|5/11||Did anyone's mom encourage them to be wildland
Mine did. She was quite a woman who thought girls could be athletes and could
compete. She loved the woods, hiking til her muscles burned. She knew girls were
smart and had some incredible staying powers working in the garden. She was a
stay at home on the farm mom, but she got me involved in many activities at home
and out there that gave me the KSAs important to firefighting and working on
Here's to you Mom! No longer around, but still a major influence in my
you lasted long enough to see me fighting fire in our original home state (OR).
Couldn't have done it without your support. I love you.
Today is Mothers Day! Ab.
|5/11||Today is the day (traditional start of fire season
preparedness for R5) that Mark Rey said every position would be filled. Guess
what,,,, Big lapse in promises over actions in the recruitment and retention of
wildland firefighters that were promised to elected local, state, and federal
officials..... AND THE PUBLIC.
MANY KEY ENTRY LEVEL, LEAD, and SUPERVISORY POSITIONS remain unfilled contrary
to the Official Testimony of Mr. Rey. Note to Congressional Staffers: Run
towards anyone who will let "the boss" know that once again, Mark Rey lied
before Congress without being held accountable. This isn't a partisan politics
issue, but rather an issue of incompetency of the mission.
Mark Rey lied to Congress again...... for the 6th consecutive year in
Congressional testimony as to preparedness and actions of the Forest Service
Fire Program!!!!! Facts are FACTS .
While it is a good step to bypass some of the requirements of the Apprenticeship
Program in the recent program to support the mission , it is asinine to think
folks off of the streets are going to be able to fill Senior Firefighter (GS-5)
or Assistant Fire Engine Operator (GS-6) positions to save Mark Rey's a%s. EVEN
THE FORESTRY TECHNICIAN SERIES has minimal qualifications for its firefighters,
and with IFPM, there are ABSOLUTE standards of minimal qualification that can't
be circumvented as to safety.
Most folks would go to jail for lying to Congress as Mr. Rey did in his
statements and influence..... but after getting away with crap allowed by the
USA (US Attorney) after the SA fiasco from the Southern Region of the Forest
Service..... Things that both the Regional 8 Special Agent and Region 8 Patrol
Commander both offered in sworn statements as facts to criminality were
discounted.. Mr. Rey thinks he has a get out of jail free card... or a license
to misuse pubic trust once again.
Yeah, I'm pissed. Every statement and observation can be confirmed factually.
From the Campaign Trail in the great state of Oregon. In the spirit of fairness,
I did try and find some information about McCain and our issues, I know he is
involved since he's from Arizona, however apparently he's not in Oregon, yet.
Question to Obama:
What is your position on federal forest management and logging on federal lands?
The Register Guard 5/10:
Answer: My general philosophy is that we should not be afraid to tap our natural
resources for economic growth as long as it’s done in an environmentally
sustainable way: Protecting old-growth forests while looking at ways that we can
potentially work with second-growth forests. That’s the kind of balance that we
can strike. But the federal government has to listen to people on the ground.
And what we can’t allow is our natural resources and the extraordinary beauty of
Oregon to be degraded because of short-term thinking.
Clinton repeated portions of her Oregon Compact, saying she favored restoring
federal payments to timber-dependent counties, and criticized Obama for voting
for an energy bill that took away states' authority over siting liquefied
natural gas terminals. She also called for thinning forests to provide jobs and
reduce the danger of wildfire.
|5/10||Now this is what I would call good use of fire
NERON PROJECT: Firefighters safety in urban interface (Spain) (400K pdf
Does the US have a better example?
FYI, the Atlanta NIMO Team’s IC is George Custer now. If you go to their
they still have Joe Ferguson on their home page as IC, but if you go to their
Custer is IC. Joe stepped down in December.
As always – thanks for running such a great site!
Hi Info Diva. I need to update the three teams pages.
Type I Teams
and Type II
Teams and add or update Fire Use Teams. It's always a crap shoot for
when I have time to do it and when I can find all the info on the web or from
the community. If anyone has updated ICs, DPICs or team links, please let me
know. I've blocked off Monday morning for the job. It may take all of Monday,
usually does take longer than I think, we'll see.
Unless something really pressing comes up like breaking fires and working
non-stop on the Hotlist, I plan to work on trying to catch up photos
starting Tuesday. A request: Please try to send in only 3 photos max.
Pick your best. The photos I typically don't get to are the 10 photo collections
where I have to figure out which 3 to choose. Send in the first 3. If you think
you have more that might be considered for the calendar or another one that you
simply like a lot, please say so and we can work something out. The day of
digital cameras has increased the photo contributions quite a bit.
Thanks contributors. You all make this website run as smoothly as it can,
even if it is sometimes like herding cats with tales afire. Thanks for your
excellent communication skills and for those that don't quite have them, thanks
at least for trying! HAW HAW.
Be safe. Ab.
Firefighter Frank Rios (from this
tribal Nation) died in the 1967 Bailiff Fire on the San Bernardino NF, CA.
Anyone with additional info for contact information for the family, please
contact the WFF or the Forest Service Honor Guard.
Federal, state, tribal firefighters join to battle Baboquivari blaze
Arizona Daily Star
A wildfire is burning in the Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson.
The Solano Fire started Friday about seven miles south of Kitt Peak and was
estimated yesterday afternoon at 200 acres, said Lorraine Buck, a spokeswoman
for the Bureau of Land Management.
Cooler weather overnight and re...
|5/10||Mark Davis, NFFE
Did you see my post on 5/6 regarding the current Forest Service (ASC) processes
violating DEU authority? Big problem. It is a great big ULP (Unfair Labor
Practice) or MSPB (Merit Systems Protection Board) appeal problem in the future
if the Forest Service doesn't correct it immediately.
ASC also took it a step forward on another issue when they sent out direction to
the field that "they" (ASC) could ONLY approve the initial
treatment of injured employees..... NOT the supervisor as codified by
both statute (law) and by former agency policies for implementation of the
statutes. These statutes (laws) are found under the US Department of Labor,
Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP).
It primarily affects your rank and file membership of NFFE who might be applying
for jobs, or who might be injured in the performance of their jobs. I'm sure
fire managers and supervisors, and line officers would like to be aware of the
implications of an out of control ASC that is throwing grenades towards the
field that even most Regional Foresters (Line Officers) are unaware of.
In four days, two USFS wildland
firefighters, Shawn Walters R-5 and
Daniel Gleason R-6, will be awarded the DOI gold medal of valor.
Both are former members of Yosemite Helitack, where they were
nominated for the award. They will be presented the medal in Washington
D.C. on may 13th.
It is great to see firefighters (forestry techs) getting an award like this.
Keep up the good work.
Congrats. Do you know the story behind the award?Ab.
Thought I'd share a link to the unveiling of the 'Esperanza Firefighter
Memorial Highway' sign in Banning...
Engine 57 ~Always Remember~
Thanks Gloria. Ab.
|5/10||Re: Santa Anita Fire
"The fire stalling half way up a south-west aspect is a signature. The
cause of the
fire slowing could have been a change in solar preheating of the fuel bed
smoke shading. Then you have 2 signatures on the same aspect. I have seen
this occur at times. What do you think may have caused the fire behavior
change? Maybe you could run FLAME or BEHAVE + to determine the cause?"
I was on this fire, and while the above may have had some influence, I
believe it have more to do with the greener grass and possibly higher LFM as the
elevation increased. When the fire had "momentum" it was able to climb the
ridges, but at higher elevations where the grass was green, it could not sustain
itself. As with any fire there were many more variables that I will not go into
I have thought in terms of a fire's momentum for years but am not smart enough
to model it like Dr. Viejas.
I appreciate CPS for its utility on the ground, I also appreciate the other
models for what they do. But, I always remember what an old FBAN told me years
"All models are wrong; some are useful."
LFM=Live Fuel Moisture Ab.
|5/9||The Mark Rey Miracle
Lori, the dates you mention
are correct. However the GS-5 you speak of is actually a GS-5/6 (see below).
This 5/6 can be hired on all module types (Eng, Crews, WT and Helo).
Not much time, get your applications in.
Hoping to Pull Off the "Mark Rey Miracle".
REGION 5 FIRE ANNOUNCEMENTS
Applicants can apply to the following announcements until May 27, 2008, to be
considered for the Region 5 July FireHire.
Applicants can apply to the following announcements until June 16, 2008, to
be considered for the Regional July FireHire.
DEVELOPMENTAL GS-05 Announcements
*This position is a target GS-06 grade level
Also note. Apprentices may be hired at the GS-5
To date thru May 27
June 23 thru July 3
June thru September
|Focused outreach by Fire & Aviation Management, Forest Civil
Rights Officers, and HR Recruitment Specialists.
Opening date for qualified GS-05, developmental to target grade level
GS-06 announcement. This will include developmental requirements
for Assistant Fire Engine Operator, Helitak, Hotshot, and Hand Crew
Last day for employees/applicants to apply for positions GS-06 thru
Regional referral lists issued for each Fire vacancy announcement
GS-09 and below.
Closing date for qualified GS-05, developmental to target grade level
Regional referral lists issued for the developmental GS-06
Fire subject-matter experts meet to prepare referral list packages for
RST (up to two weeks).
Initial RST hiring
session with two selecting officials for up to two
weeks, offers being made, HR process completed.
hiring sessions will be set up based on Regional need during the
GS-0462-02/03/04/05 outreach and recruitment.
Deadline for applications for the next round of Fire Hire is May 27. Also,
opening up GS-5 positions to everyone with a deadline of June 16th (I believe
is what I read....it was a hit and miss morning). So, if you know someone that
to apply demo as a 5, let them know. I know that it will help out some folks
here. If the date for the deadline of June 16th isn't correct, I will amend it
Have a great weekend all and if you're on a fire - BE SAFE!!!
|5/9||Don't quite understand what this means relative to
fire, but thought I'd share it. GQP|
From: WO-RO-Area Transformation
Sent: 05/10/2008 01:05 AM
To: All FS
Subject: Transformation Talk - May 5
with Hank, Joel and Tom
May 5, 2008
Since the April 8-9 National Leadership Team (NLT) meeting, Forest
Service leaders have talked with many of you regarding the NLT’s first
four topic area decisions as part of the WO/RO/Area Transformation.
More information about our strategic decisions for the
Vegetation/Ecological Services, Engineering, Minerals and Geology
Management, and Acquisition Management scenarios is available on the
Transformation internal Web site.
Decision Rationale and Next Steps
Our decisions for these scenarios address three key reasons for
· our need for more integrated organizational structures to accomplish
our mission and respond to the emerging issues of the 21st century,
· our need to be flexible, dynamic, and adaptable in responding to our
· our goal of increasing efficiency in light of declining budgets and
increasing fixed costs.
Yes, budget realities led us to address these concerns, however we chose
to embrace more than short-term budget goals. Our vision is to create
healthy organizational structures that promote long-term value and
benefits – to our employees, our partners and the public we serve. Now
we’re asking the tactical “what” and “how” questions. What are we going
to be doing differently? How will our work processes change so that we
can operate more efficiently within budget constraints? How will
employees be affected – in terms of how they work and their individual
positions? Bottom line, what cost reductions and other benefits will we
These questions are a critical part of the next step in the
transformation process – the “design phase” which will involve:
· a design analysis of each of the approved scenarios;
· identification and design of specific process improvements;
· identification of changes in roles and responsibilities and the way
work is accomplished; and
· analysis of implementation and transition costs
We’ll have more answers to the tactical questions posed above as we
complete the design analyses and begin making more decisions on how to
begin their implementation.
Some of you looked at our decision for the Vegetation/Ecological
Services scenario which integrates five staff areas and asked why we’re
not reducing the number of Director positions. Here’s why:
Ø Whether you're working for a federal agency or a private business,
you need your senior level leaders to maintain and grow relationships
with external contacts. These leaders proactively advocate and
strategize for expanding our support base. In a time of decreasing
budgets, we need the information flow between us, the Department,
Congress and our partners has never been so vital.
Please stay tuned as we continue to work on other scenarios. Also,
please note that the ELT will be meeting July 22-24 to make additional
decisions regarding transformation.
If you had questions during the meetings over the last few weeks that
were not answered – or if you have questions as you review the materials
– please do not hesitate to submit them via the Web and we will respond
as soon as we are able to provide an accurate and timely answer.
The hard work and professionalism of Forest Service employees
contributes to our daily success. We appreciate your continued
interest, dedication and participation in helping us better deliver our
mission programs and services.
Hank, Joel & Tom
Hank Kashdan- Deputy Chief, Business Operations
Joel Holtrop, Deputy Chief, National Forest System
Tom Tidwell, Regional Forester, Region 1
|5/9||Some old wisdom|
Thanks, old retired dude, from another old retired
Watching a fire burn and asking the question,
- "What is the fire telling me?"
is a good start.
One thing it is exhibiting is that it is burning with variations
of intensity and rate of spread.
- The next thing to find out is what is causing
When you identify and isolate these causes for the variations,
you then identify places on the terrain where the causes are aligned in a way
to produce one of the variations.
- Next, you need to communicate the prediction so that others see the method used
to make the prediction.
You only need to predict in thresholds. By that I mean
what firefighters need to know is where it is safe and within the threshold of
control and where and when the area will burn beyond the threshold of control.
After a fire goes to crown
firefighters do not get any benefit from computed flame length or rate of spread
calculations, for the fire is beyond the threshold of control.
- What I try to do is to identify these areas in front of the fire on a map, using
of change in intensity etc, to in-alignment runs, the track the fire will take,
and the first run perimeter.
All this from asking a simple question, "What is the fire telling you?"
yesterday it might well repeat today given the causes are the same. One good
example is the much talked about Butte fire. Noting crown fire runs on two days
previous, is it logical to consider the potential for a third day crown fire run
the afternoon, below a constructed fire line atop a ridge with a SouthWest
below? "If it makes a run below your holding location, fire out from the ridge
was the plan. Firing out would produce a backing fire under the timber and would
no way inhibit a crown fire from below. How could this set of circumstantial
be missed by so many well trained people? I learned a lesson from this story, but
the bulk of firefighters who have heard the story of the Butte fire learn what
need to learn to avoid repeating the error?
Can students identify hazardous areas and avoid them after taking
one of the courses titled Fire Behavior? It all goes back to what firefighters
need to know, I suppose. Why can't we produce an IAP map with wind forecast
direction arrows on it as well as in-alignment slopes identified by previous
signatures displayed? Why can't we have maps with fire behavior potential
displayed on them. Maybe because we don't think firefighters need to know
Old fire dude, its good to know you're keeping in touch for you have much to
give from your experience. How about a thread from the old fire farts that
deals with what firefighters need to know?
To all, have a safe and prosperous fire season
My bold above. Good thread idea. After posting them here, I could start
a thread on the hotlist and copy them over there so the knowledge offered is all
in one place. Here it is:
Old Wisdom Thread. Ab.
|5/9||Old retired dude|
You hit the nail on the head about taking the classroom info and applying it in
the real world. As your experience in the fire business accumulates, when you
take future classes the info seems more relevant.
Many years ago I finally went to S- 490 presented in Ione, the Cal-Fire training
center. The class was about 60/40 FS-CDF.
Many of the people in this class were long term firefighters. Ten or more years
for most. Many of us were not that educated on the HP-90 computer used to
predict spread and intensities.
Most of us stayed up late each night studying the material.
The day we took our final exam the cadre leader listed the spread of grades
among the class pool.
We were the first class that had a %100 passing rate that he had ever taught and
he had been teaching S-490 for some time.
Most of us had years of watching fire behavior and I know for me, and talking to
others we used that real world knowledge to figure out the "black box" even if
we weren't the most computer savvy folks in the field.
|5/9||For several days I have been reading the ongoing
discussion or however one wishes to view it on the new S-290 vs CPS in relation
to fire behavior training. I have taught many classes of the old S-290 and am
awaiting delivery of the new version for future offerings. I have not been
fortunate enough to attend a CPS class, however I have spent time on fires where
Doug was the FBA and have learned the basics of CPS in one on one discussions
with him over the years. Having said that, I have incorporated some of the CPS
basics into S-290 classes when the information fits and clarifies the discussion
so that the students understand it.
The thing that disturbs me the most is that there appears to be a thought
process not only in fire behavior training but in all fire training that a
person attends the class and they "know" the subject. Seldom have I heard any
discussion with students that classroom training simply provides you the basics.
You learn it by applying what you learned in the classroom out in the field
WATCHING fire behavior. Module leaders need to take every opportunity to be the
teacher for their crews. When your sitting on the ridgetop, road or any other
place, take the opportunity to have the crew watch fire behavior and not be
sleeping, writing in journals and playing hackisack. Seeing the real thing and
discussing it is how you LEARN the lesson taught in the classroom.
Old retired dude
|5/9||Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY,|
"So I ask you what's the end game here?"
The end game is an improvement in the pay, benefits, and working conditions for
federal wildland firefighters. As a result, the recruitment and retention of
qualified wildland firefighters, and the retention of qualified wildland fire,
fuels, and aviation managers will be stabilized. This stabilization will result
in a safer, more cost effective, and more efficient delivery of the federal
wildland fire program.
You also asked,
"What comes out of the the pay group in your opinion?"
Time will tell, but I do have hope with the new regional leadership if he
provides oversight and demands factual info from the subsaffs. During the 1991
initial SoCal Special Salary Rate Request, and the subsequent 2001 review and
update (Table 0256, OPM, 2001-2008), FWFSA members and supporters were allowed
to research, compile the data, fact check, and present the findings to the
Agency, OPM, and OMB as to the need.... and to address the underlying cost
savings..... and DEFEND the presentation. As a result, during those reviews, the
exodus was slowed.
Hopefully, with the new leadership in R-5, the employee association members of
the FWFSA will be viewed as partners and not excluded in the groups hoping to
get Region 5 of the Forest Service, and the national wildland fire program back
What I do believe is that if we had our current Regional Forester (Moore) and
our previous R-5 Fire Director (Quintanar) in place, there would be a full
understanding.. and a positive course towards correction.... of the problems we
face in the recruitment and retention of federal wildland firefighters.
If folks ever get serious, we eventually have to look at the root problem of
duties, classification, and compensation within our fire program..... The duties
and responsibilities of series 0462, 0455, 0401, or the dozen or so other series
afforded "firefighter retirement" that never had a proper classification series.
/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Southern California Chapter Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
|5/9||Fire Behavior/modeling in S-290|
I have noticed the large volume of posts relating to fire behavior courses
and modeling tools and thought I may as well throw my two bits in for what its
I would like to share a "philosophy" so to speak that several highly respected
leaders in the fire community, (some retired and some not) have come up with and
applied over the years to the S-390/290 curriculum in Northern California. I can
share with you that in my opinion there is a definite place for some type of
modeling in the "old" and now "new" S-290 curriculum. Should it be CPS, FLAME,
Nomo's, or Appendix B? We'll come back to that thought!
It is no secret that the last version of 290 was a watered down 390, and I
would prefer to leave the can of worms that is the re-write process alone as far
as this message is concerned. It is no secret that NWCG courses are designed to
be strengthened and encourage instructors to enhance the package and make it
their own. How many times have you sat through an S-course and had an instructor
read word for word from the slide (and these days the PowerPoint)?
Both old and new 290's were broken down (basically) into the fire
environment, fuels, weather, and topography. Nomograms or predictions was an
optional unit that based on my observations not many cadre wanted to touch.
After all who would admit to wanting to or even enjoy teaching Nomograms?
Several folks who are way smarter than me decided to keep that optional unit in
the lineup because they were able to see thru the haze to the value of that
crazy piece of paper with boxes, lines and numbers on it. The thinking was then
as it is now, we spend almost an entire week talking about the inputs to the
fire spread model, (fuel model, slope, wind speed, fine dead fuel moisture/live
fuel moisture, etc). Why not take it that one last step and show students the
outputs they could get after plugging them into some model like the Nomo, and
appendix B. For some people this is what is needed to paint the picture in their
heads and make a slide. For others it served to create confusion, especially the
I believe the same can be said for other models and processors. Some work for
folks better than others it just depends on the person teaching and the person
taking it in. I can tell you that the appendix B and Nomogram worked for me (I
don’t use nomos anymore). I believe I get what I need to out of them to help get
myself and the people I work with home for the holidays. Like many others, I am
still unsure how FLAME is going to fit in to the 290 world. I have high hopes
for it because despite knowing darn well that no matter how hard I look I am not
going to find that one "special thing" that will keep firefighters from paying
the ultimate price, maybe FLAME will serve to be part of that "special thing"
for someone out there who is new and in need of the slide it will provide. If it
can serve to help just one person make the right call it is worth it in my
opinion. I have a hard time believing that there are many out there who could
disagree with the intent, and that is to make safer firefighters and crew
As I said I am still struggling to find how this new tool can/will fit into
my world. I can assure you that I will afford all the energy and time I can and
not simply shrug it off or sweep it away because it represents change. It may be
that I will use a combination of multiple processors or tools as I continue to
teach fire behavior, and as long as I don’t forget that the most valuable and
important processor sits on top of my shoulders I should be alright! Now who can
argue with that?
I must say that I am happy in a way to see all this debate over fire behavior
related topics. Just when I thought all eyes were permanently fixed upon
retention, pay, facilities, etc. I am encouraged by all of you who are keeping
at least one eye where it should be as this season of record setting dryness
(here in NorCal) spools up.
Ab, Thank you for your time and the work you do here. Like so many others I
truly appreciate it. (don’t know why I haven't written till now) Don’t quite
know how to go about posting on they said. If you think my words are worth
pasting over there please go ahead.
DH, thanks for bringing your viewpoint. Hope you'll write in again. Ab.
Glad you and your people were able to get some face time with the RF.
Thanks for the update. So I ask you what's the end game here? What
comes out of the the pay group in your opinion? Your thoughts with
specifics as to pay would be appreciated.
Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY
|5/8||I.C.s (of every type):|
As the season starts to ramp up, please remember to keep the safety of each and
every firefighter under your purview at the forefront of your mind.
Please remember that while you have a delegation of authority with the
benefiting agency, you have a responsibility to support the firefighters
assigned to your incident. Valid concerns of firefighters and incident personnel
getting the run-around for supplies, sleeping areas placed next to generators,
food that barely meets contractual standards (if at all), and many, many more
are way too common these days. I ask you to remember what it was like. If you
have never fought fire, ask someone who has or does. Spend some time on the line
with the crews, if at all possible. Take the opportunity to sit with
firefighters at chow, see how they are doing. ASK how they are doing. And then
LISTEN, and help any way you can. A suggestion box is never enough...
One more request:
Can we turn the ICS chart 180 degrees, so the firefighters are at the top of the
page, supported by all of the overhead, with the IC as the foundation? Just a
Senator Feinstein's office has informed me they have received the Forest
Service's response to the Senator's April 9th letter but have not yet completed
a full review of the information. Once they do they will make it available. Upon
our review of the Forest Service response, we will submit to the Senator and
others the field data we have been compiling over the last several weeks.
More to follow.
|5/8||Como Fire burning approximately 17 mi east of
Carson City, NV and approximately 7 mi south and east of Dayton, NV. Appx 100
acres and growing.
|5/8||More on copyright and CPS or Fire Signature
FC180 comment: I believe “Solid Terrain Modeling” is also a
trade name and the “idea” is copyright protected.
Doug reply: What are you saying? So someone invents a new product and
you are worried about copyright? Buy it if you like it and don't buy if you
FC180 comment: And those things are VERY expensive.
Doug reply: About $500.00 per sq, ft.
FC180 comment: And not necessarily a new idea. Remember
the plastic Vac-U-Form (probably copyright protected too)
topographic maps? The ones I have are made by Hubbard
Doug reply: If that is what you like, keep buying them. Are they
FC180 comment: By the way on the recent Santa Anita Fire the
fire stalled halfway up the slope on a south-west aspect in mid
day. Is that a signature?
Doug reply: Here's Solid Terrain models :
www.stm-usa.com/. I have
plastic relief maps also, but check out the website above for all the
The fire stalling half way up a south-west aspect is a signature. The cause of
fire slowing could have been a change in solar preheating of the fuel bed due to
smoke shading. Then you have 2 signatures on the same aspect. I have seen
this occur at times. What do you think may have caused the fire behavior
change? Maybe you could run FLAME or BEHAVE + to determine the cause?
I hope this helps you.
|5/8||from the hotlist:
Assembling this discussion (CPS/FLAME) into a single thread is very helpful.
It's the kind of discussion this subject needs. I took Mr. Campbell's course
about six years ago, and have incorporated its sense and wisdom into my fire
work. I hope to persuade my superiors to offer it again to a new batch of
firefighters with my home unit soon. I have not yet had a chance to work through
in detail on the use of FLAME, though I read the materials offered by Mr. Bishop
and others enough to have a sense of it. I see real value in it as well,
especially in the way it addresses the geometric expansion of ROS during blowup.
This seems to me to fit well in general terms with the research Dr. Viejas has
reported from Portugal on eruptive fire behavior.
I understand, I think, the motives of those who inserted FLAME into S-290. They
wanted to give crew bosses some tools to take more direct charge of their own
understanding of current and expected fire behavior at the most critical
moments. From the discussions on this subject, it isn't clear to me yet what the
intended audience thinks of the plan. Is it something they asked for? If not,
then that may be the reason for much of the PUSH BACK. We don't like new stuff.
That's no reason not to offer it, though.
CPS is a valuable tool, but I think Mr. Campbell is absolutely correct to insist
that the entire course be offered as a stand-alone event, rather than
incorporated piecemeal into existing S courses. There is so much of value in it
that to dilute any part of it by blending with other objectives would be
I understand the attitudes of those who would wish it otherwise, but there is
enough of the observation/ experience-based knowledge of other researchers to
provide valuable knowledge to those taking S290 to fill the needs of students.
Perhaps a mistake made in the design of the new 290 was to put too much
information in the hands of students for one course. Perhaps it was to
misunderstand what level of information the students themselves were comfortable
understanding. The value to me in the making the progression from 190 through
490 over time was that I had time to assimilate one level before proceeding the
next one. Any curriculum that has fire modeling at its core should be directed
at those who are expecting it, hard as it is. FLAME itself has three layers of
detail, and maybe it would be better to expose students to those layers
separately, just as in fire behavior, S390 introduced us to the principle of
nomograms with the knowledge that we wouldn't have to actually think about them
much unless we were geeky enough to choose to do that.
Each of the processes that are being discussed here are visualization tools.
Attempts to help firefighters see in their mind's eye what will, may or is
likely to happen to their fire, and give them a fighting chance to act correctly
to mitigate all risks associated with their assignments. The intent of each
process is the clarity and precision with which that vision can be communicated
to subordinates. On the line, CPS has the advantage of expressing itself in a
language that firefighters can understand without having to think in complex
I do see great value in using FLAME as a more sensible field calculation system
when dealing with rapid changes in burning conditions. Probably at the Strike
Team or Div Sup level, though.
Thanks again for pulling all this together.
I emailed the folks in charge of the SJ
reunion and and asked them to
pass along the posts to Tom Decker. Hopefully, we'll get a story from
him that way. If not, I've tracked down a snail addy for him and will
send him a letter.
|5/8||Copyrights and CPS:|
I believe “Solid Terrain
Modeling” is also a trade name and the “idea” is
copyright protected. And those things are VERY expensive. And not
necessarily a new idea. Remember the plastic Vac-U-Form (probably
copyright protected too) topographic maps? The ones I have are made
by Hubbard Scientific.
By the way on the recent Santa Anita Fire the fire stalled halfway up the
slope on a south-west aspect in mid day. Is that a signature?
I loved your story and can definitely
remember the days of "free love". I was growing up in the Bay Ar
ea during that
time and a trip to Haight-Ashbury was a real treat.e were some interesting
However, the show I was watching was filmed in the early 60's so the fire he
was talking about had to of occurred much earlier than 1970. I am hoping that
someone who knows Tom will see his name being bantered around and will get in
touch with him. I would love to hear the story from him first hand.
Gee, will all these X rated stories.... no wonder John loved being a wildland
|5/8||To PB regarding his comments on 5/6 on PLI:|
I do agree with you about professional liability insurance for wildland
firefighters and supervisory personnel. I don't know one way or another if
insurance companies are stalking firefighters, But your point about sovereign
immunity is well spoken and well taken. I am an EMT as well as a firefighter and
I HAVE to have it.
Regarding negligence, it should be mentioned that the definition of gross
negligence and what proofs are needed vary from state to state.
|5/8||This came in:|
Highway dedicated to fallen
Esperanza firefighters Friday
State Highway 243 will be officially dedicated as the Esperanza
Firefighters Memorial Highway in a special ceremony Friday.
State Assemblyman John J. Benoit will speak at the dedication, set for 10
a.m. at the Silent Valley RV Club in the small mountain community of Poppet
Flats. That's near where five U.S. Forest Service firefighters based in
Idyllwild were overrun by the Esperanza wildfire on Oct. 26, 2006. Four died
at the scene; the fifth five days later.
more at the link
|5/8||A REMINDER TO RETIREES|
DID YOU KNOW: You can pay your health insurance premiums on a tax-free basis? A
provision in the 2006 Pension Protection Act makes it possible for retired
"public safety officers" to request that up to $3000 from their annual pension
be deducted to pay medical insurance and long-term insurance. The IRS defines
public safety officers as firefighters, law enforcement officers, chaplains and
members of a rescue squad or ambulance crew.
The pension law applies to both CSRS & FERS. Retired federal public safety
officers whose pensions include a direct payment to a health insurance company
or long-term care insurance company may claim a tax exclusion on their federal
tax form and lower their federal income tax.
Below is the information from IRS Publication 721:
Distributions Used To
Pay Insurance Premiums for Public Safety Officers
If you are an eligible retired public safety officer (law enforcement officer,
firefighter, chaplain, or member of a rescue squad or ambulance crew), you can
elect to exclude from income distributions made from an eligible retirement plan
that are used to pay the premiums for accident or health insurance or long-term
care insurance. The premiums can be for coverage for you, your spouse, or
dependents. The distribution must be made directly from the plan to the
insurance provider. You can exclude from income the smaller of the amount of the
insurance premiums or $3,000. You can only make this election for amounts that
would otherwise be included in your income. The amount excluded from your income
cannot be used to claim a medical expense deduction.
For this purpose, an eligible retirement plan is a governmental plan that is:
* A qualified trust,
* A section 403(a) plan,
* A section 403(b) annuity, or
* A section 457(b) plan.
The CSRS and FERS are considered eligible retirement plans.
How to report. If you make this election, reduce the otherwise taxable
amount of your annuity by the amount excluded. The taxable annuity shown on Form
CSA 1099R does not reflect this exclusion. Report your total distributions on
Form 1040, line 16a; Form 1040A, line 12a; or Form 1040NR, line 17a. Report the
taxable amount on Form 1040, line 16b; Form 1040A, line 12b; or Form 1040NR,
line 17b. Enter “PSO” next to the appropriate line on which you report the
I think the "X-Rated" fire you refer to was very near the town of Takilma back
in '70 and believe it was called the "Moonlight Dome" fire. It had a large
population of "Hippies" and they were definitely Free Spirits when it came to
dress code. If I remember right, Al Bersagleari (sp) was the "Fire Boss". He was
an ex CJ jumper working on the Illinois Valley RD. There were jumpers from CJ on
the fire by the time I got there, but at the time I did not know any of them. (I
rookied in '73). The IA was performed by the Takilmanites with various tools,
including pots and pans. Once the FS was on scene, the locals were pulled off
the line. One of the folks showed up nude and apparently got a bit close to the
flames and some of his hair was on fire. (Story from Al goes that it was not the
hair on his head either.) Al had the guy stand out in the open and put a bambie
bucket drop on him.
The District Ranger at that time was John Hoffman. He had been brought in to
help with relations between the Takilma folks and the Cave Junction folks. There
were several businesses in town that had signs in the windows "We do not
socialite Hippy business". Hoffman ordered up a pickup load of boxed chicken
dinners and drinks (including beer) and had it taken to the fire. I was in the
pickup that hauled the garbage back to the ranger station and can remember
seeing beer cans flying out the back every so often. (That was also back in the
days when it was deemed okay to stop at the local tavern on the way home from a
fire to "Rehydrate".)
I believe it was after this fire that some training was put into the
Takelmanites and a fire tool cache was established out there. This was before
fire shelters, nomex and plastic hardhats. (Remember orange fire shirts?)
I started with the FS in 1970 and this was the second or third fire I went to
after "Guard School". I remember thinking this firefighting could prove
For those of you that recognize the terms "Fire Boss" & "Guard School", and
fought fire in Frisko's, orange fire shirts, and metal hardhats, you could be
REALLY OLD!! Bet you can even remember those old canvas FS backpacks with
leather straps you used to haul your gear in to project fires before the red
gearbags came along! And if you were a Crew Boss or overhead, you took your
paperwork with you in one of the canvas/leather strap briefcases? I still have
the orange fire shirt, metal hardhat, packpack and briefcase around here
(1970? That was along time ago!)
|5/8||Thanks for your reply Doug.|
You asked, "What is my personal roadblock?"
My roadblock is my complete understanding that your concepts should be taught at
the entry level, and expanded upon throughout ones career as experience levels
(and RPD slides) change.
For years, it has been obvious that we should be concentrating on fire behavior
training and experience for field going employees, rather than concentrating on
S-290, S-390, S-490, and S-590 programs that are highly dependent on
mathematical fire models that rarely can be recreated in a real world setting.
Yeah, it's easy to teach and grade a math class, but was it relevant to fire
My personal opinion, as well as many others throughout the fire program, is that
we need a revamping or refocusing on fire behavior as a basic skill for wildland
firefighters..... NOT fire modeling.
We need to return to the days of Fire Behavior Specialists
(experts/practitioners of fire behavior prediction) instead of Fire Behavior
Analysts. Ab had an excellent point..... maybe there should be two different
Doug, I caught your reference to pages 10-11. I agree.
|5/8||Thanks Happy Cow -- for some reason the Fam link I
had in my favorites
just wasn't working right any more.
Still Out There ...
We had a Q&A with the new Regional Forester for Region 5 (Randy Moore) on our
I was impressed and pleased to see how in touch and educated on the issues he
was (although he did have some bunk info from his current and former subordinate
sub-staff). I was really impressed, especially when he fired back towards folks
who were venting out of frustration in describing their current situation.....
and he offered facts and hope. That was leadership.
While I didn't agree with some of the things he said, he was sincere. For the
first time in over ten years, we finally have a Regional Forester that can
communicate with the field and who is willing to engage and communicate with the
field on the issues affecting mission delivery.
The only advice I could offer is: 1) Embrace and engage the Federal Wildland
Fire Service Association (FWFSA). The FWFSA is an employee association with
members from GS-2 through GS-14; 2) Check and verify information provided by
your sub-staff before you present it as facts to the field; and 3) Kick your
Regional Fire Director is the a$$ to get re-engaged with the Region 5 Fire Board
of Directors and with the troops in the field. Good info and facts are presented
upwards to the LOT by the BOD Without an engaged Regional Fire Director, you are
missing alot of factual info from the fire program.
I was pleased to hear you read They Said... It is a great communication tool in
the wildland fire community. Thanks Ab(s).
/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Southern California Chapter Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
Good story about creative
problem solving, people stepping up,
and generosity of the fire family/ persistent retired law enforcement
officer. Photos of those who died.
Small (Colorado) fire company regroups after loss
A bridge collapse last month during a devastating brush fire took the lives
of two firefighters and destroyed one of tiny Olney Springs' three firetrucks.
But since the tragedy, four men have joined the volunteer fire department in the
southeastern Colorado town of 300, nearly doubling the size of the unit.
And Fred McKnight, a volunteer firefighter from Ouray County, coaxed a
California fire department into donating a fire tanker to Olney Springs, which
has a fire budget of only about $4,000 a year.
|5/8||Re: Home Storage of Fire and Law Enforcement
It is time to put this discussion to bed and end the misinformation that keeps
re-circulating at the highest levels (WO and RO). The home storage of law
enforcement or fire vehicles IS NOT a taxable fringe benefit under IRS
Feel free to save (cut and paste) the information for the next time the issue
26 C.F.R. § 1.274-5T - Internal Revenue Code.
(k) Exceptions for qualified nonpersonal use vehicles-(1) In general. The
substantiation requirements of section 274(d) and this section do not apply to
any qualified nonpersonal use vehicle (as defined in paragraph (k)(2) of this
(2) Qualified nonpersonal use vehicle-(i) In general. For purposes of section
274(d) and this section, the term qualified nonpersonal use vehicle means any
vehicle which, by reason of its nature (i.e., design), is not likely to be used
more than a de minimis amount for personal purposes.
(ii) List of vehicles. Vehicles which are qualified nonpersonal use vehicles
include the following-
(A) Clearly marked police and fire vehicles (as defined and to the
extent provided in paragraph (k)(3) of this section),
(3) Clearly marked police or fire vehicles. A police or fire vehicle is a
vehicle, owned or leased by a governmental unit, or any agency or
instrumentality thereof, that is required to be used for commuting by a police
officer or fire fighter who, when not on a regular shift, is on call at all
times, provided that any personal use (other than commuting) of the vehicle
outside the limit of the police officer's arrest powers or the fire fighter's
obligation to respond to an emergency is prohibited by such governmental unit. A
police or fire vehicle is clearly marked if, through painted insignia or words,
it is readily apparent that the vehicle is a police or fire vehicle. A marking
on a license plate is not a clear marking for purposes of this paragraph (k).
|5/8||Re: NFDRS Pocket Cards|
Why are the following areas missing?
Angeles National Forest
California Desert District (BLM)
San Bernardino National Forest
Yosemite National Park
All FWS Areas
All BIA Areas
All CAL FIRE Areas
All Contract County Areas
After the Thirtymile Fire abatement items and checklists, and the unilateral
stressed importance of pocket cards in keeping folks safer by the review
board, it would appear that there is a big swath of So. Zone that isn't safe
to fight fire in?
|5/7||GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist update|
In going through the documents on the GS-0401 issue, I discovered a mistake
in my earlier post. It appears that the commitment for agency funding to
purchase NWCG courses retroactively is limited to the Forest Service. The
April 25 USDA/USDOI Update states, "For the Forest Service - where
agreements are in place, agencies will pay for any past credits when they
are creditable toward GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist standards through
October 1, 2010." While we are pleased to have achieved this for the
employees we represent, we also feel all wildland firefighters should have
the same opportunity.
Also, to answer a question that's come up: In subsequent discussions with
agency leadership, we were told that this was intended to apply to
incumbents, not necessarily to folks whose next logical position would be a
GS-0401 position. We will continue to work for a legislative solution that
renders this point moot by restoring the standing of in-house courses, and
also internally with the agency to extend the same offer to non-incumbents
who have also been harmed by the mid-stream change in rules.
Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
No one figured out his secret - they
barely understood what he did! The closest one person
got was when he was asked if, when he got stuck in the tree, his pants came off.
I wonder if
Tom has ever seen that old clip. I must give kudos to the host of the show - he
agency correctly and spoke of how brave the men and women who protect our
Of course, we all know that, right?
|5/7||Still Out There....
There is a website for pocketcards.
http://fam.nwcg.gov/fam-web/ Just click on the
left side, on pocketcards. I'm not sure where you are going, but I just checked
site and it is working. Hope this is what you're looking for.
Happy California Cow
|5/7||Lori and Weren't those the days...|
I went to the
website and looked on their '07 Boise Reunion list.
Thomas Decker is listed on the R4 Idaho City '64 SJ crew (that crew
has dates from 1948-1968). Someone should email him and ask
him to write in and tell his story here and also tell the "I've Got a
Secret Story". Did anyone figure out his secret, Lori?
|5/7||Ab and All|
Can anyone recall the X-Rated fire
outside of Takilma OR in SW Oregon
(behind Greyback Mountain). That fire was on or butted up to one of the
oldest nudist back-to-the-earth communes and occurred in that time frame.
Don't remember a SJ Tom Decker on that fire, but could of been. The Cave
Junction SJs were there fighting fire with greatly heightened Situational
Awareness of more than just fire behavior!
I could add that fire to my "Just One More Time" list.
Weren't those the days...
Just One More Time thread. Ab.
|5/7||I saw something last night on tv that made me laugh
and I thought it might strike you folks as funny also. Last night was one of my
"no sleep" nights and I decided to watch The Game Show Network and catch a
couple of the old series from the late 50's, early 60's. One of these was "I've
Got A Secret". A young man came out and introduced himself. He said that he
was attending a seminary and was also a smokejumper during the summer. First he
had to explain what a smokejumper was and believe me, those people were
His secret was that on his very first jump, he landed in the middle
of a nudist colony. Now, how many of you can top that story?!?
This young man's name was Tom Decker and he was from Emmett, Idaho. I was
wondering if anyone out there knows Tom or was on this smokejumping crew?
I heard that occurred in Oregon (Cave Junction SJs ? and that the people
there were fighting fire naked. Ouch?) Readers, any more info? Ab.
|5/7||Replies to KCK from Doug Campbell:
KCK: Doug, You said, "CPS addresses important things that fire models do
not factor into the calculations".
You then went into describing things that SHOULD be taught in the
basic I and S courses.. but provided a caveat that they shouldn't be
taught "in any existing course".
I am not criticizing the content of any S-course.
I was talking about having the entire course squished into an existing
would cut a lot out of the presentation. I did not mean to suggest that
the subject matter should not be included in S-courses because it has
happened. I just happen to think that cherry picking CPS training apart
my preference. Linking human factors and observation/prediction skills
important in that without the right mission and vision, ethics, the
not result in the same approach to firefighting.
KCK: Doug, you mentioned both Will and Drew..... how about trusting
the rest of of us?
Doug: I will trust all who have an interest in taking the CPS course and
work that it takes to be able to present the concepts
KCK: It is a real small world we travel in...... Some of us really
hate roadblocks and wrong
turns when we are finally heading in the right direction.... Your
call my friend and mentor.
Doug: I do not want to be a roadblock. Some folks have assumed that since I
copyright on the book that this is a block. If some want to make it a
I guess they can, but I did not foresee my work constrained by
I have offered to share the graphics with Germany for instance if they
take my stories out and replace them with theirs.
I have spent thousands of my funds to publish the book and workbook, as
for instance: his book has been purchased by many
While I was still employed by the FS I asked the WO to assist me in
course. I was asked to provide an overview for them to look over. I
$1,500.00 on the printing of the paper. This resulted in no assistance
the agency and forced me to develop the course on my own and at my own
KCK: I'm really confused on your message.
Doug: What is your personal road block? How are you confused?
I hope my reply helps you understand what my opinion is and that I do not
to contest another course of study that exists, nor do I wish that CPS
any NWCG course. I am not in a contest with FLAME, BEHAVE, FARSITE or
other fire behavior course. If some agency wants the training, I can help
achieve it by either myself or others. The Forest Service already has
material and does training, such as Redding Hotshots each year; as well
Colorado Fire Camp, Los Angeles County Fire department and more.
I think that you made some assumptions beyond my meaning.
Doug says anyone can call him to discuss any confusions.
From my perspective, perhaps the real question is: What is the purpose of the
S-190, 290 etc classes, which in my opinion point toward fire behavior modeling,
unless the current FLAME inclusion in 290 serves only a simulation training kind
Doug's class helps firefighters on the ground make observations and
predictions of the fire from their observations of fire on the ground where they
are. To large extent, historically, the other classes were devoid of training on
observational skills. Like Tim, I would ask trainers (and trainees) what their
more recent experience is. Perhaps there should be two paths with different
purposes since fire modeling and on-the-ground fire prediction are both
critically important. Just a thought. Ab.
|5/7||Ran across an article relating to accident|
investigations and Freedom of Information Act.
"The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.)
reached an unsettling conclusion last week when it
allowed the names of 23 federal employees to be
withheld after they were investigated following the
death of two U.S. Forest Service firefighters in July
rest of article
www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/. . .openelement
And There I Was
You said, "CPS addresses important things that fire models do not factor into
You then went into describing things that SHOULD be taught in the basic I and S
courses.. but provided a caveat that they shouldn't be taught "in any existing
Doug, you mentioned both Will and Drew..... how about trusting the rest of of
- Trigger Points of fire behavior change and or decision points in
time and place.
- Situational awareness of the fire ground getting worse or easing,
a crucial need to know in spotfire and many other tactical situations.
- The alignment of force concept, true cause and affect factors.
- The ground truth of fire signatures and how to make predictions
of change from observed fire behavior.
- Ethics of a firefighter, human factor information.
- The threshold of control determination that assist the
firefighter in making a decision as to where the suppression forces can
- Using Solid terrain models that are new technology and actual fire
situations as well as applying the lesson to solving fire problems are
utilized. How to describe a wildland fire and predict variations in behavior
over time, on the terrain.
- How to display fire behavior potential extremes on terrain maps.
It is a real small world we travel in...... Some of us really hate roadblocks
and wrong turns when we are finally heading in the right direction.... Your call
my friend and mentor.
I'm really confused on your message.
|5/7||I've been updating my fire links and have not been
able to get into the Pocket Cards |
for fire behavior. I usually download the cards on my way out the door to an
Have these gone away for some reason or is there a computer glitch somewhere?
Still Out There ...
|5/7||The argument of pay-- it is as old as overtime,
hazard pay and cost of living allowance (COLA). The Law changed in the federal
registrar in June 2002, if you are at all familiar with that, I certainly was
not until this new law came to light.
Bottom line: if you worked overtime in a COLA area after June 3, 2002 such as in
Alaska as an federal employee like a hotshot, smokejumper or fire specialist you
were under paid during record fire years as some employees worked hard or fires
for over a 1000 hours. We are talking in the range of $4,000-$8,000 per average
GS employee depending on GS scale and number of overtime ours worked.
The BLM agency discovered this enlightening fact during the spring of 2006. What
good news they were going to back pay with interest there employees. Great so we
thought, except the agency only saw fit to go back two years claiming that this
is a “FLSA” back pay issue and that two (2) years is applicable rather that
going six/four years to get those that were affected all monies that were
Interesting since when I am over paid they go back six (6) years. Whiskey Tango
Foxtrot WTF. This is wrong. The agency has made little effort informing current
and past employees of this grossly negligent error that has cost them the hard
working employees thousands of dollars $$$.
The National Weather Service has a union that represents them. They settled by
going back two years calculating pay and then multiplying it by two to cover the
four years that compensation was not provided.
I encourage fire personnel to inform others that may have been impacted by this
to contact senator Murkowski’s office and voice concern. Her office has been
most helpful and following this closely with OPM.
Step two to cover themselves they need to file a back pay claim with OPM.
There are a number of ways to do this like hire an attorney as I have. He is a
good one in Boise and has represented many firefighters in the past mainly
pertaining to retirement. He is competent with a high success rate of winning.
The other option is that on could file a claim themselves and there are
instructions as how to do so on the OPM web site. This should be done before the
statute of limitations is out which six years is coming June 3, 2008.
The calculation for monies owed is fairly simple:
1. Base (1.25) (Overtime hours worked) = monies should have been paid
2. Base (Overtime hours worked) = monies actually paid
Subtract line 2 from line 1 as to actual monies not paid to claim in your back
pay claim to OPM.
There has been some positive movement legally and getting a claim in before June
3 of this year would save your statute of limitations.
Pull out your LES and OT books and get this done ASAP. For the rest of you out
there save all records of pay such as SF-50’s, LES, OT books and position
Good luck and buck a little bit when your are shoved around.
AK GS Firefighter "Wildland" and proud change the job series
|5/6||Quote from a post on They Said:
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
The CPS training program is used by many of the people whom I have taught the
program to. Will Spyrison of the Los Angeles NF, River District and Andrew Smith
of LA County Fire Department, are two of many, with the graphics furnished to
them by myself. The only place that copyright issues are in play are the CPS
books and Workbooks. I would gladly offer special consideration to overcome
hesitation to adopt the course and material as I have done in Europe.
However, inclusion into any of the S-courses would not be my desire. CPS is
not contesting fire modeling and should not be mixed in with current course
material any more than its terms and concepts already have been. It is a small course that is based on old wisdom of successful
CPS addresses important things that fire models do not factor into the
calculations, such as:
Trigger Points of fire behavior change and or decision points in
time and place.
Situational awareness of the fire ground getting worse or easing,
a crucial need to know in spotfire and many other tactical situations.
The alignment of force concept, true cause and affect factors.
The ground truth of fire signatures and how to make predictions
of change from observed fire behavior.
Ethics of a firefighter, human factor information.
The threshold of control determination that assist the
firefighter in making a decision as to where the suppression forces can
Using Solid terrain models that are new technology and actual fire
situations as well as applying the lesson to solving fire problems are
utilized. How to describe a wildland fire and predict variations in behavior
over time, on the terrain.
How to display fire behavior potential extremes on terrain maps.
All of these subject matters are not part of fire modeling.
I therefore do not recommend, for what that may be worth, inclusion of CPS
training in any existing course.
P.S. See page 10 & 11 for viability of fire modeling.
FS Wildland Fire External R&D Peer Review, '07
|5/6||Lots of talk about liability insurance lately, this
is a subject I know a little about.|
First if it helps you sleep at night, buy the insurance; it is about $300 per
year; if you are a Fed firefighter in a supervisory or manager role half the
cost will be reimbursed.
Secondly, there will never be any sort of immunity. You may believe you are
doing heroic work but blanket immunity could be a license to kill.
Police officers, Doctors and to a lesser degree Structural Firefighters have
endured enough incidents involving the loss of life and subsequent charges to
build a set of case law that defines negligence. In the wildland fire business
there is no such case law. Additionally, these other professions have boards
that assist in defining appropriate actions, again wildland fire does not have
such an entity.
We all live under the cloud of negligence every day, we just don't think about
it. If we are negligent, as defined by case law, then we may have to pay the
The plea agreement in the 30 mile case, as well as the results of Cramer begin
to define the limits of negligence.
BTW if you buy the insurance, you have to have it when the incident occurs and
still have it when the trail is over. If you are operating within the scope of
your employment, you will be fine. The government has stepped in for employees
in cases when it was clear they could have stepped aside. For what it is worth,
I would find something else to worry about.
|5/6||Re: Forest Service Violating Delegated Examining
Unit (DEU) Authority|
Someone briefly touched on the problem the other day when they asked about
the 0462 jobs gone'. Since the Forest Service decided to centralize at ASC and
hiring to Avue Digital Services, it has consistently violated the terms of its
Public Law 107-296, Chief Human Capital Officers Act of 2002, codified in Title
5 U.S.C. 1103 (c);
Title 5 U.S.C. 1104, "Delegation of authority for personnel management";
Title 5 U.S.C. 1402, "Authority and functions of agency Chief Human Capital
Title 5 U.S.C. 2301, "Merit system principles";
Title 5 U.S.C. 305, "Systematic agency review of operations";
Title 31 U.S.C. 1115, "Performance plans";
5 CFR Part 250, "Personnel management in agencies";
7 CFR Part 2.92, "Director, Office of Human Resources Management";
OMB Circular A-11 (2006), Sections 51.8, 85.1 and 85.3; and
Interagency Delegated Examining Agreement, DOA-1, dated August 29, 2000.
|5/6||I too have concerns about the 30 mile incident. One
interesting comment that you made rings deep inside of me. It has to do with the
fire command requesting/ ordering additional resources and the orders where not
filled in a timely manor. From what I have observed in R6 over the past 10 or so
years is that, that response is more common than uncommon. So many times I have
heard through the grapevine (reliable one) that incidents requested various
materials/ equipment/ personnel and the orders where not processed in a timely
manor. I know I will step on some undeserving toes here but if you're one of
those dispatchers that work hard, then no offense is meant towards you. My
offense is meant for those that take time in processing orders.
I have one order here on my desk from last year. It states that the IC
requested "x piece of equipment" at 07:00 on a Saturday, my dispatch received
the order at 13:00 on Saturday, they, dispatch, where staffed this particular
Saturday until 23:40hrs, I d id not get called from dispatch until 11:07 on
Sunday. so, 1 hour to hit the road and a 7 hour drive later, we arrived at 20:00
hours. in the meantime property was damaged and destroyed. Could have lil 'ole
me stopped that outcome??? Who knows? Could have we possibly reduced or
prevented some of the damages? Well I am not sure, but we would have fought hard
to protect the properties! The IC lost over 24 hours of use of " x piece of
equipment". I would love for someone to look into ROSS to see what personnel and
equipment was available to support the 30 mile incident during IA or even
Many times I have gone by our dispatch, even on "heavy" days and they work at
the same pace.... I know, one has to be thorough , but come on guys! Yes I do
have more than one bone to pick with dispatch, but look AB I kept this note to
one topic:) And that being efficiency!
I'm fairly sure ROSS wasn't widely in use in 2001. As I understand it, the
kinks are still getting worked out of that program. Last year or year
before some dispatchers were still doing the work by hand and transferring info
into ROSS some time after the "crisis" when things slowed down. Ab.
|5/6||Re: Recruitment and Retention of Wildland
In a effort to be competitive in the restaurant business, as well as being
competitive in the recruitment of entry level employees and retaining future
Burger has raised its entry level wage to $10/hr. In addition to a
competitive wage, In-N-Out offers its full-time employees:
1.) Flexible schedules to accommodate school and other activities.
2.) Paid vacations.
3.) Free meals.
4.) Comprehensive training.
5.) A 401k plan.
6.) A medical, dental, vision, life and travel insurance coverage package.
In-N-Out Burger is spreading throughout the Western United States due to a
very simple business model.... focus on the mission.... recruit and retain the
best employees... and provide the product to the consumers at the most cost
|5/6||Did Ellreese have a Trainee Crew Boss working with
him that fateful day?|
If you have ever taken someone out as your trainee you know it is a
balancing act. You want to stand back and let them try their wings, make
their own mistakes and learn what it feels like to make decisions affecting
others. The chain of command becomes muddled under those conditions. Was
there a moment when one of them said, "OK, I am the boss now." Or was it
more like a couple of cooks in the kitchen creating more chaos? Remember
this possibility during the current fire season if you have the opportunity
to train someone.
I also like the suggestion to "lawyer up" if you are questioned during an
investigation. Did Ellreese have a lawyer present when he made those
statements? I bet he was pretty disoriented and not thinking clearly. We
could all be charged with that after a long siege on the line, especially
with those conditions.
|5/6||Does anyone know if the Angora Burn Over (peer)
report is ever going to |
be released or is it just being brushed under the carpet? We are just about
a month shy from a year of the incident.
||Misery Whip said,|
"A dangerous precedent has now been set that could cause wildland
to view future investigations, FLAs, and APAs as witch hunts. Even
errors in AARs could be construed as admissions of personal fallibility or
character traits that could later be used against you in a court case. If
liability and jail time is what firefighters can expect for providing open
testimony about accidents, how long do you think it will take before the
dries up? The CAL FIRE response after Esperanza is probably a good indicator
of things to come."
Ellreese’s situation in the aftermath of that incident is bad enough; can you
what "they" would have subjected poor Lotzi to (with Ellreese as the precedent
refer to), right this moment, had he survived his crew?
I shudder at the thought.
(The Esperanza report made me weep. 'Nuff said.)
Peace... and be safe out there, everyone. Fire season has arrived already, and
going to be a doozie.
Please forward to fire personnel.
We have already made progress based on the NWCG courses front. Based on
Congressional pressure that was a direct result of our legislative work,
the IFPM deadline for conversion to GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist
positions has been pushed back to October of 2010. Further, the Forest
Service and DOI agencies have committed to reaching an agreement with a
university partner to obtain retroactive credit for incumbents (those in
401 positions or in 462 positions scheduled for conversion) and to pay the
necessary fees. It would not have happened without the tremendous response
from the field.
This is good progress, but it's not good enough. You may have heard that a
legislative remedy is "dead." I can assure you that NFFE was not sitting
at the table when that deal was struck and we have not signed off on it.
We will continue to work for an outright waiver. It makes no sense to use
limited training funds just to get documentation on a sheepskin instead of
an NWCG certificate. It makes no sense to leave those for whom a GS-0401
is their career path out in the cold. It makes no sense to have
second-class 401s -- those placed in their positions based on the old
qualification standards -- who cannot be promoted, lateraled, or even
detailed into other 401 positions. It makes no sense to diminish our
training capabilities by spending more money for training we can do better
For more information, including our continuing efforts on your behalf, see
our Fire webpage at
Recent developments and our analysis of them are on page 3 of the
Congressional Briefing paper.
Before signing off, I have to thank the many employees who responded to our
request for information from the front lines in only three days. The
magnitude of this response is what convinced a key Congressional staffer
and his boss to put this issue on the table at the April 1 Forest Service
budget hearing. This is what solidarity is all about. If we speak the
truth, and speak it loudly, we can be heard. This is what your union is
all about. It provides the framework within which this can happen. But it
only happens if we all step up to the plate.
Take care all -- and be safe.
Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
|5/6||To Colorado Firefighter,
Gross negligence is voluntary disregard of the need to act in the
way that a reasonable firefighter would act. It is conduct that is
more than mere inadvertence, but it is still shy of being
intentionally malicious. If negligence is being careless, then gross
negligence is being REALLY careless. Think: careless to the point
that it is almost impossible to believe the person didn't know what
they were doing.
With all due respect to Nomad, I can't help but shake the feeling
that well-meaning firefighter types are being played by the insurance
industry on this one. I don't profess to give anyone advice in this
area, but . . . private liability insurance for government employees
acting within the scope of their employment? Really?
Sovereign immunity cuts a pretty wide swath through tort liability. My
hunch is that most incidents serious enough to exceed the scope of that
immunity will also void an insurance policy.
Just my two cents. Which are worth even less.
|5/6||CA-CNF-Aguanga Rx lessons learned
Bit the Bullet…
I feel your pain…even from the State side of fire.
How many Oregon Department of Forestry fire personnel out there are
firefighter liability? Do you feel comfortable with the AG's opinion on the
Can someone define "Gross Negligence" as it pertains to wildland
Gross negligence is the intentional failure to perform a manifest duty in
reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of
another. So, gross negligence consists of conscious and voluntary act or
omission which is likely to result in grave injury when in face of clear and
present danger of which alleged tortfeasor is aware. Apply this definition to
anything you like as it pertains to wildland firefighting.
|5/6|| RE: 0462 jobs,
Ab, I don't know why there have been a lot of DOI 0462 jobs open lately (most
that I've seen are 4- through 7-level positions too), but as someone who has
watched USAJobs very closely for about 4 years now, I am reasonably sure the the
DOI jobs are more obvious now because most of the USFS jobs are being flown on
the big continuously open announcements. Before this year I'd see several USFS
0462 jobs a day, ranging from real forestry tech jobs in TSI or pre-sale type
stuff to the district FMO level fire positions. Maybe that's the pattern you're
seeing, or not. It's the pattern I'm seeing though. As I said a while back, it's
difficult to know what positions are open in the Forest Service when you have to
rely on outreaches instead of individual announcements like the DOI is doing.
Young and Taking a Guess in Region 1
"E704 could have been returned and worked through
the night to pump out the spots. Additional engines and crews would have
eliminated the hazard of a sleeping beast"
"but I find it strange that the resources weren't punched out and continued
until the emergency was abated"
"Rather than focus on disengagement and other foolish concepts"
assume a lot. Were you up in WA, during this incident? Do you know the
availability of resources? I work for CalFire as well and we use the "foolish
tactic" of disengagement all the time. Your post reeks of ego driven bravado
which I would guess the administrators of this web site frown on and I am
certain will cause you serious problems on the line.
|5/6||I just read the 5/5 post by CalFire re: 30 Mile. He
hit the nail on the head. The safest fire is the one put out during initial
attack. There is no substitute for rapid , aggressive I.A.
I have read all the
reports, McLean's book, and walked the site. When I asked a member of the
investigation team why I.A. consisted of 3 people in a pickup, the reply was
"You're from Calif., aren't you?" (This was not a criticism; merely a statement
that the culture of rapid, overwhelming I.A. may not be the norm everywhere.)
If the Forest was short of engines, why wasn’t a local govt. (structure)
engine dispatched to supplement I.A.? With an unlimited water source next to the
road, the deck gun from such an engine could have taken much of the heat out of
this fire when still small.
I suspect there may not have been a history of this type of cooperation/
mutual aid between the Forest and Local Govt. If this was the case, have steps
been taken to remedy this attitude?
CalFire (Ret.); now local govt. Volunteer
|5/5||If no one said "come off the rocks", why did the
one female firefighter who was on the rocks --and went down to the road
before the fire blew through-- decide to go down, thereby saving her own
life? Just wondering. Ab.
I believe that Rebecca Welch made the decision for herself. As I
understand it, she felt uncomfortable with the situation on the rock
slide and left the rock slide without prompting. Shortly thereafter, she
saved the two civilians by inviting them into her shelter. Correct me if
I am wrong, but she was one of the leading proponents of seeing the
report rewritten because of inaccuracies.
I have watched this website for a while and have not seen anyone ask
what I consider to be the most important question, Why wasn't the fire
put out immediately? Both the Entiat and NWR 6 crew supervisors /
Incident commanders ordered additional resources, but did not receive
them, or the resources came in piece meal, without support (i.e. Copters
that can't dip from the Chewich River, pumps and handtools that did not
work). This fire has always seemed strangely similar to the Storm King
Mtn tragedy, not because of the terrain and fuels, but because of the
complete lack of engagement of the senior leadership and lack of support
from the organization.
Resources could have been released from the Libby South Fire to choke
the 30 Mile Fire, before! the sun rose and the fire intensity increased
exponentially. E704 could have been returned and worked through the
night to pump out the spots. Additional engines and crews would have
eliminated the hazard of a sleeping beast at the foot of steep slopes in
thick fuel by putting it out.
Perhaps it is because I am from California; we have a large number of
resources available, and use them, but I find it strange that the
resources weren't punched out and continued until the emergency was
abated. I would also like folks to consider the old adage that my dad
taught me when I was young, "Playing with fire is dangerous." Fighting
fire is an emergency and should be treated as an emergency. Hitting it
hard will keep it small, and when the burning conditions are easy,
fighting the fire aggressively will be easier in the long run.
Rather than focus on disengagement and other foolish concepts, I would
encourage people to stay engaged, and put the fire out. Being engaged is
not inherently unsafe; it eliminates the hazard. Being engaged means
taking the most advantageous approach to firefighting, and eliminating
Before anyone asks, I do work for Cal Fire.
Be Safe and PUT IT OUT!
When I read the news release concerning the "deal" Ellreese received,
I'm afraid to say that I was not at all surprised. History has
demonstrated time and again that there will ALWAYS be blame assigned to
SOMEONE. Blame doesn't adhere to agencies or chains of command and
supervision... it is always an individual who must be impaled on the tip
of the spear. A clear instance of scapegoating, or, picking the low
hanging fruit on the tree. Let me summarize for you briefly a couple of
Pearl Harbor: The passage of time and intense research has revealed that
there was plenty of culpability up the chain of command, right up to
FDR. But it was the commander, Admiral Husband Kimmel who got sliced and
diced because: (a) lots of asses to cover back at the Navy Dept., State
Department, and the White House and (b) Public opinion wanted SOME ONE
not something to blame.
The sinking of the USS Indianapolis in July of 1945: This sinking was so
horrible (the survivors of the torpedoing were literally left to die for
nine days in the water and many were attacked and eaten by
sharks-because nobody back at Pearl bothered to check why the "Indy" was
overdue) that the Navy left no stone unturned in their efforts to skewer
the Captain, who survived the sinking. A new low in the fine art of the
blame game occurred when Navy JAG called as a key witness the JAP SUB
COMMANDER WHO SUNK THE "INDY" to testify that the ship was not on a
zig-zag pattern at the time of the sinking. (Though finally absolved a
number of years later, the captain committed suicide).
The lesson is clear, I think. If the poop hits the fan and you are on
deck at the time, get lawyered up fast. I'm afraid Liability insurance
is a must.
Here's an answer to "Confused Colorado Firefighter's" question as to a
definition of "gross negligence:"
For an accusation of negligence to hold up in court, four specific
elements must be present:
Duty, Breach of Duty, Damages, Causation.
Thus, four questions must be answered:
(1). Did Ellreese have a duty and what, specifically was it?
(2). Was there a demonstrable series of actions on the part of Ellreese
that constituted a breach
of his legal duty to those under his command?
(3). What damages were incurred as a result of Ellreese's alleged breach
(4). This is the tough one: It must be proven that the actions, or lack
thereof, by Ellreese actually
caused the damages being alleged.
Gross Negligence is basically negligence on steroids, to put it simply.
I hope this helps.
|5/5||I'm not sure which Ab keeps posting the rage about
DOI agencies and 0462 jobs...Stop...remove foot from mouth.
DOI and for that matter any federal agency can use 0462 for primary
firefighter positions. In fact, many, many DOI firefighters are under
this series and have been for decades. The distinction is the fuel type
in the area. Meaning mostly forest = 0462; mostly range = 0455. BLM
hires many jobs as 0455 or 0462; NPS and USFWS hire mostly 0462. By no
means is 0462 a "USFS Fire Series."
It's the one and only Ab, me. I'm commenting on a pattern that
I have never seen in the jobs posted on the 0462 series, ie almost the
entire first page of 0462 all being non FS jobs. Thanks for the
clarification. I'd still like to know why the pattern exists. Ab.
To answer your question
do the more outraged families realize that Ellreese going to jail
may have a
negative impact on fire fighter safety?
No they don't. They see it as forcing a bunch of cowboys (not my
term, I have
seen one of the families or Cantwell use that term) to behave more
expecting it might save some other parent from suffering the way they
their fire experience is limited to Thirty Mile and various sources of
If you look at fire fighting training material and the 10 and 18 with no
fire suppression looks fairly black and white. The investigation report
black and white also. So in their minds, they can see no reason why
the decisions that he made
Unfortunately, I believe that Ellreese is also going to have to pay for
the Agency made in the investigation and with how it was presented to
Remember that PL 107 is an outgrowth from comments made about their
ones who died. PL 107 would not be around if the investigation would
have at least
made an attempt cover the two potential scenarios: about if Ellreese did
or didn't say
"come off the rocks". (Rather than conducting the investigation in
if they had checked their conclusions or at least the controversial ones
with the crew
members before going public with the report, imagine where we would be
Hopefully the Agency will learn from its mistakes.
If no one said "come off the rocks", why did the one female
firefighter who was on the rocks --and went down to the road before the
fire blew through-- decide to go down, thereby saving her own life? Just
|5/5||Bit the Bullet…
I feel your pain…even from the State side of fire.
How many Oregon Department of Forestry fire personnel out there are
firefighter liability? Do you feel comfortable with the AG's opinion on
Can someone define "Gross Negligence" as it pertains to wildland
Confused State fire fighter
page Wildland Firefighter
(Forestry Technician) &
(Range Technician) &
(Biologist) have been updated.
Again, let me ask why so many of the Series 0462 (forestry techs)
are BLM jobs, which have largely been 0455 (range techs)? Same with 0401
(biologists); now that makes a bit more sense since DOI agencies had
lead on that whole fiasco following Storm King and most of those that
were FS offerings were frozen.
Take a look at the jobs pages. "Forestry techs" are being hired by
BIA, BLM, NPS, FWS? This used to be a Forest Service firefighting job
series at least in higher numbers than now. What's up? Or did DOI just
figure out how to get positioned on the search engines? Or has the FS
shot itself in the foot regarding the firefighting job market...
Locally, in the past few months I've had 2 excellent young people ask
why it's so hard to find FS firefighting jobs...
I think you answered your own question when you say your FMO and
friends back HOME.
Good luck and stay safe.
To the R-3 BLM Engineer,
It is pretty much a "No-Brainer". Take the R-3 offer!! You are obviously not
getting the support of your local management and in my opinion, (Amid the
current atmosphere in the wildland fire service today), you have attempted to do
right by your seasonals with little to no support from those above you. Not sure
about the BLM organization chart, but where is your AFMO and FMO in all this?
You should not base your decision on the national review at the end of the
month. If you think a good review will change managements mind, I believe you
will be sadly mistaken. It is interesting that with a national review coming up
there is not more support from your management folks. I always felt a bad review
was more a reflection on management (Lack of training and direction) than on the
troops on the ground!
You mention "Perks". Those are usually short lived and can easily be taken away
at managements whim. Sounds like you have an FMO back there you respect, and you
mentioned friends. As you get older, you realize the true importance of friends.
(Just ask Ellreese)
TAKE THE JOB!!!
Confused and don’t know what to do:
I can hear the frustration in your post.
Is it that management is setting you up for failure or are they actually setting
you up for success? A lot depends on management styles. There are many different
Could management actually be allowing you to make decisions and be trying to
mold you into that leadership role or hanging you out to dry? There are many
supervisors that “micro manage” and many that are just too “lackadaisical”.
Unfortunately it is difficult to find the perfect mix. I have found that the
best leaders just don’t require much supervision. This is not to be confused
with management and that is where the support needs to come from. Moving from
the firefighter ranks to the Engine Captain ranks is a big step. I think there
are too many reasons to determine why task books may or may not be certified at
a certain time (fire type, quality of assignment, assignment length and
location, policy etc). The role of a GS-7 Engineer and GS-8 Captain on a Type
III engine is huge. Back when Region 5 upgraded these positions it was
classified that these are very complex positions and required highly qualified
and highly experienced people and would require minimal supervision. It might be
that you are acting in the position as it was intended.
In this time of all the retention and recruitment problems I have to ask, is
training and the allowance of additional training assignments being provided?
There are many supervisors that just won’t allow people take assignments and
this is hurting our organizations.
If it is information that you need don’t hesitate to use this forum.
Give it time…. Task books are very subjective and every manager wants to be
assured that when they sign that final evaluator’s block, that you are ready to
take everything that is dealt.
Confused and don't know what to do.
I transferred to the BLM out here (Cali)
last year and started at the same time with my captain, who has since left and
gone off to bigger and better things, (which I don't blame him for). His leaving
has made me acting supervisor of my crew. Since mid-March, we have been without
a captain which has placed our engine out of service. My seasonals are now on,
and I'm in the process of getting them their fire refresher, and 130/190, and
doing other stuff in the process. I have received little or no help from
management. There's been a lack of information sent to me in a timely manner.
Right now I'm doing my best, with thanks to my crew from R-3 who taught me well.
But right now, I have to make a decision.
I have been offered to lateral back home to R-3 BLM. I would like to stay in
Cali, I've gotten used to the area, we have a new engine, I like being on a T-3,
along with the other perks that I can't do back in R-3. But when your engine is
out of service because you have no captain, and you have your engine boss/ crew
boss task book completed and it just needs the final signature, you turn it in,
only for it to be given back to you and told that you have not been in Cali long
enough, and to wait until fall for a signature, that just brings down morale and
makes one think. So for now, I will sign the R3 offer and fax it back. I still
have a lot to do to get my folks prepared and get our ducks in a row, with our
national review coming up at the end of the month. Then will see what comes
after the review, if management well finally see that I'm not some dummy from
R-3. If nothing changes after the review, then I will have no choice but to
return to R-3.
So do I leave, and leave this crew without both an engineer and captain, or do I
stay and let down my FMO and friends back home?
I am not sure at this point, only time well tell at the end of the month.
I have a sick feeling in my gut, because as a ICT4(T), it was recommended
to me that I purchase personal liability insurance. This recommendation came
from levels above, and it boiled down to trusting the agency to back our play.
I feel that I am very safe and observant in the duties that I perform, but the
of the matter is we can't control mother nature, or all people around us at all
times. I sometimes feel that I could take the fall for the incorrect actions of
and I know that if lawsuits followed, I would be left high and dry. It is going
be a long season, and I pray that all stays safe, and that at the end we all
bit the bullet
I guess I'm kind of curious on what these new
committees mean by short term
fixes to our facilities.
Why do we need ANOTHER committee to tell the region
and the agency what
we've been telling them for years,
OUR FACILITIES ARE DETERIORATING
AND THERE IS NO SHORT
TERM FIX. I'm so tired of new committees
the same old issues and nothing ever happening. If we
are to maintain
a "budget neutral" fix then are we
really going to see any changes or is this just
another resume builder for some of our out of touch
higher ups. You know we
could flood the inboxes of the
groups and let them know what we think but are
going to listen is the real question.
The information you provided about fire behavior modeling was excellent… thanks.
I just want to clear up the information about the European gentleman currently involved
in further development of a model. His name is Dr. Domingos Xavier Viegas, a Professor
at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. Here is a link to a presentation he made about
“Eruptive Fire Behaviour in Past Fatal Accidents” at the Safety Summit in Missoula in
Firefighters and Firefighter Managers:
Have you seen the letter below? Have you been asked for comments on the facilities you work at
or manage? Have you been allowed to be a part of the discussion and provide input on this?
This is your Retention Facilities Work Group..... at work.
Demand to be heard! I would suggest you flood some inboxes about right now on your issues If you
think these Work Groups will be working for us for the next 10 years, your wrong. We would be
lucky if they're still in place 10 weeks from now.
Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY
While you're at it, take some photos/videos of the "facilities"
and send them in if you like. Condition of facilities is one issue.
There's no way to demonstrate the lack of facilities, but this lack is
one of the big issues with retention and recruitment. Ab.
Date: April 29, 2008
Subject: Fire Facilities
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors
The Region has recently stood up four work groups to address key areas impacting the ability to perform our fire mission. These four groups include Pay and Retention, Mission, Workplace, and Facilities. With regard to the Facilities Work Group, headed by Ed Cole, they are currently developing options leading to an overall strategy to address Region 5 Fire Facility (including quarters) deficiencies, which impact the fire mission, and result in a negative impact on retention.
To most effectively and expeditiously identify needs and implement remedies in line with our projected needs, their efforts have been split into two parallel approaches; short-term, and long-term issues. The “short-term” issues are those which have a current, direct impact on the safety of personnel and/or are having a distinct negative impact on the ability to perform the current Fire Support mission. The long-term issues shall address those issues that are of strategic nature in terms of identifying the type, number, and location of fire support assets necessary, to successfully execute both the current, and projected regional fire support mission.
Addressing the short-term issues, they will commence by gathering data which accurately identifies short-term issues across the region, and develop a means to prioritize and rectify as soon as possible. To gather the short-term data, I am tasking each Forest Supervisor to ensure input in the following categories is provided in enclosure (1), as gathered from the appropriate members of your staff. These short term issues, as described above, should be limited in scope, with the ability to be rectified quickly with the appropriate resources, resulting in an immediate visible or quantifiable difference. Provide your input within two weeks directly to Ed Cole, or no later than May 12, 2008.
1. Health & Safety, i.e. FAD asbestos, water contamination, vermin/vector control,
electrical hazards, heating system failures, lack of weatherproof integrity, food
preparation & storage, etc.
2. Mission, i.e. communication system failures/inadequacies (phones, computers),
vehicle protection, exercise facilities, power generation, etc.
The input should consist of 3 prioritized items per category, include cost estimates utilizing “Means”, and draw upon data from recent safety inspections and INFRA, as well as staff input.
This information will then be categorized into common groupings. The group will also be looking at all available resources in order to rectify the short-term issues as quickly as possible. Future correspondence will outline the details regarding the approach and proposed remedies regarding the “long term” issues.
/s/ James M. Peña
JAMES M. PEÑA
Deputy Regional Forester
Enclosure: (1) Short-Term Prioritized Fire Facility Issues
cc: Edward Cole
Short-Term Prioritized Fire Facility Issues
Health & Safety
Q1: Do you have assigned facility site managers at each of the fire facilities to address day-to-day facility and housekeeping needs?
Q2: Do you have a published Forest policy addressing housekeeping at these facilities, and to hold personnel accountable in the event of facility damage beyond routine wear and tear?
Thank you for your steadfast and resolute support for the firefighters around
Like the climb up a steep ridge, you do it one foot at a time.
Your words about families and feelings really hit home. It is
difficult to find meaning in
these tragic losses other then hurt and pain. Healing does not come in
you, I wish peace for each member of the families who lost a loved one.
journey to Idaho might be the first step in that process.
From the thread Converting Chains per Hour to Acres per Hour and modelling:
One of the biggest problems with mathematical modeling of fire behavior is
the use of "constants" in an ever evolving equation.
Recently, two researchers (one from Europe and one from the US) began studying
the variables that were left out of the Rothermel 1972 equation because they
were too hard to quantify at the time.
From those two initial researchers, nearly two dozen scientists and
practitioners of fire behavior world-wide have started to study (and try to
explain) "momentum" or "exponential growth" to describe
blow-up (eruptive growth) fire behavior.
While it may seem trivial, chains per hour vs. acres per hour cannot be properly
calculated or discussed without fully announcing that there are known errors in
every model, table, or job aid that folks are often relying upon for safety and
Case in point: Often, the Rothermel adapted equations used in Behave (et al)
often over predict rates of spread in NFFL fuel model 4. Conversely, in
several well documented tragedy fires (Europe, US, and Australia), the Rothermel
model under predicted rates of spread more than ten fold.
Dr. D.X. Villegas (Europe) and Dr. Jo Ann Fites (US)... as well as countless
other scientists and fire behavior practitioners are working on the problem. One
of the first HSU capstone projects was able to recreate the observed rate of
spread and acreage gain on a past fire (Louisiana, CA-BDF, 2002) and apply the
research of Dr. Villegas and Dr. Fites in a real world, predictive services
setting for wildland firefighter safety. It is just a baby step forward.......
but if Forestry Technicians can grasp the concept and do the math.... go figure.
It isn't rocket science..... it's Fire Science.
We can do better in keeping our folks safer.
Reading most of the comments about FLAME and CPS started me thinking of how
to describe the differences between the two concepts. Most of the fire
behavior models do not address the human factors that are responsible for
distractions and loss of situational awareness. CPS begins with the ethics
of a successful firefighter. This information comes from Hotshot crew
leaders who have excellent safety records. What is their attitude and what
are the ethics that guide them?
Knowing fire modeling or other methods of predicting fire behavior are not going
to prevent fire behavior related accidents. Attitude and an ethical
approach to suppression action are needed. Some have it and some don't and
have paid a price for the lack of proper ethics. It shouldn't be separated
from fire behavior training.
Realizing that a good mission and vision statement was necessary for successful
long-term firefighting I included it into the CPS class.
Another difference is in the reliability of fire behavior models to make
predictions that are relevant to the tactical actions on wildland fires. During
my years as an Operations Section Chief and I.C. on initial attacks and large
fires, calculating rate of spread and flame length were not useful to
tacticians. What is needed are certain perimeter lines where the fire behavior,
fuel density and steepness of slope are within the threshold of control for the
resources available. Areas where there are reasonable expectations of
successful suppression are identified and directly affect the tactical plan.
The best guides that I have found over the years are the actual fire behavior
signatures that are the ground truth. Understanding the cause of
variations in fire behavior is the key to predicting where these causes will
host replications of the variations in fire behavior (signatures).
CPS is designed for working firefighters based on experience in the field.
It is a logical system focusing on what is useful and necessary to be a safer
The course outline is included here to help understand what CPS is all about.
Wildland Fire Signature Prediction Methods
8 to16 hour course
To present the elements of wildland fire experience
A segment of human factors, ethics and mission and vision of a firefighter.
How to use Logic, Information and Language on the fireground.
How to gain successful outcomes on wildland fires.
Students will pass the pre-test with less than 6 incorrect answers.
Students will participate in classroom discussions.
Pre-class study guide.
· Mission, Vision and the ethics of a successful
firefighter, the human factors segment.
· How fuels are really dried, how fast and how
· How to describe a wildland fire and know if it
is getting worse or easier.
· Fire modeling and logic model uses
· What to do when meeting a wildland fire
· Scientific concepts, tools and applications
· The alignment of forces concept.
· Fire situation exercises using solid terrain
· Course summary
· Final test
· Course evaluation
Thanks, Doug. I knew your program was considering firefighter ethics years
ago. Visionary. Ab.
Well said. There is still a great deal of work to do on the firefighter liability issue. The Agencies will tout the expansion of PLI reimbursement as a major accomplishment but as we start the season, the responsibility of who actually will be covered has been handed over to
Albuquerque, the hub of dysfunction. I am personally concerned that with frequent promotions due to losses of FEOs, captains, B/Cs, division chiefs and others, there will be some who are thrust into a command decision-making situation this season without knowing whether they are eligible for such reimbursement.
Additionally the reimbursement is apparently going to come from WFPR funds so how many preparedness resources will that mean are not in the field as they should be?
The reality is that we must continue to see that legislation that ultimately led to PL 107-203 is either clarified or amended to ensure a nexus does not exist between investigation and prosecution. Part of our legislative proposal is to amend PL 107-203 to require the USDA OIG to report to Congress precisely what policies/procedures are in place to train its investigators to be proficient and how they secure the expertise needed to conduct fatality fires as compared to cattle rustling. It is clear from the actions of OIG Investigator Parker in Thirty Mile and his "sniffing around" Esperanza that there simply aren't any standards for creating such an investigatory body as authorized by the law.
I do believe that, had the case gone to trial, there would have been overwhelming evidence & testimony to demonstrate that no firefighter goes to work on any given day, or responds to any given incident with the expectation or desire to harm themselves or their crew and that while firefighting is inherently dangerous and often times requires split-second decision making, the wildland fire landscape and the dynamics of such fires that are not confined to structures amplifies these dangers even more.
I truly don't want to inflame feelings about this issue but I think a realistic question for those family members that still want "blood" for the loss of their loved ones is: if your son or daughter was a firefighter for NYC on 9-11-01 and was one of the 343 who perished on that day inside the towers, would you seek prosecution and support manslaughter charges against the NYC fire department chief officers who sent crews into those towers even after they had been struck by large frame aircraft? Or, if your son or daughter were in Iraq and their squad leader made a decision to turn down a road which contained a buried bomb and killed your loved one, would you support prosecution and manslaughter charges against the squad boss for the decision he or she made?
I am of the firm belief that if any investigatory body had five years to look at the firefighting careers of all of us in the business, they could find something on some incident that made us look negligent. I am convinced everyone in this business, whether they be wildland firefighters or structural firefighters, go to work to do the best they can in stunningly difficult conditions and circumstances. While we all want to learn from each incident to try and reach the ultimate, yet perhaps unrealistic goal of no more firefighter
fatalities, the firefighting community must band together when those, whose motives are political or questionable at best, seek to criminalize the best efforts of our brothers & sisters while engaged in some of the most dangerous work and under some of the most horrific circumstances anyone can face.
I can only hope that those families who may remain bitter about the deal cut for
Ellreese reach out to Vicki Minor and the Foundation as well as the many families who come together each year at the Foundation for Family Day, this year happening the weekend of May 16th. There, the families of those lost in wildfires can share their stories and feelings and begin the healing process by realizing that so many other moms, dads, siblings and children have chosen to focus their feelings in positive ways.
For children of those lost, the event is especially important and Vicki & her staff do an incredible job of harnessing the feelings of all into positive messages and actions.
Although I was pleased to hear that prosecutors have dropped all felony charges against Ellreese in return for guilty pleas on two federal misdemeanor counts, I don’t think that celebrations or congratulations are appropriate. As I understand it, Ellreese could still face time in jail under this agreement.
A dangerous precedent has now been set that could cause wildland firefighters to view future investigations, FLAs, and
APAs as witch hunts. Even self-reported errors in AARs could be construed as admissions of personal fallibility or character traits that could later be used against you in a court case. If personal liability and jail time is what firefighters can expect for providing open and honest testimony about accidents, how long do you think it will take before the well dries up? The CAL FIRE response after Esperanza is probably a good indicator of things to come.
James Reason says that in order to have a true safety culture in a large organization like the USFS, you must first foster a “reporting culture” in which people feel empowered to openly share information, which may include admissions of personal error, for the greater good of the organization. But before you can have a reporting culture, you must first establish a “just culture” in which people can feel confident that recorded statements about what they saw and did on the fireline will not be unfairly used against them.
All wildland firefighters are the losers in this case. We lose the ability to have open discourse about accidents and near misses, which diminishes our ability to learn and share lessons from these incidents, which makes all of us less safe.
In the years since Thirtymile, I have participated in dozens of wildland fire safety discussions in which someone has referenced some aspect of the Thirtymile Fire to illustrate a particular point. I would venture to say that it is likely that there are firefighters alive today because lessons they learned from the Thirtymile Fire helped keep them out of harm’s way.
It makes me sad to see that some of the Thirtymile families are still calling for Ellreese’s punishment. I wonder if they understand that if Ellreese goes to jail, more firefighters will quit sharing important lessons, the kind of lessons that could save future firefighters from experiencing what their children faced at Thirtymile.
I wonder too if the families realize how much the wildland fire community reveres the memories of their children, our fallen comrades. We also feel cheated because these fine young people didn’t get a chance to accomplish all of the great things we know they were capable of doing. Jessica, Devin, Tom, and Karen will remain alive in our memories for as long as firefighters fight fire. That lonely rockslide on the Chewuch River has become hallowed ground for us.
Warhog Pin (Sting, Lobotomy, Warthog's Posts)
That's a picture of a Warthog Pin, alright. There's been 3 'Keepers of
the Pins' over the years. The 'Keepers' give out the pins at fires when
they work with folks who perform according to 'Warthog principles': SH$T
Principle (as described in the earlier post), etc.......... Every
once and awhile there will be a reunion for all Warthogs to come together and
party (I didnt say 'celebrate'); most of these lately have been retirement gigs.
The flipside of the pin has your "official Warthog Number": The lower
the number the longer you've been a "HOG"....... This is all stuff
I've heard as I've never really met one of the Warthogs!
The coin (photo) that Sting sent in looks just like a "challenge coin" that was
by military units for years.... and in the Hotshot Community following the
War. It has become a pretty common challenge item in the Hotshot world.
Recently, the "challenge coin" has had a resurgence in unit pride and
past and present.
Those of you that have a coin.... You know when to drop it.
Catching up on some photos:
Engines 20 photo page and
Handcrews 23 photo page:
Southern Fire 1 & 2: Photos from the Southern Fire,
March 22-24, 2008. This was west of Phoenix near the City of Avondale, burning
in the Gila River bottom. I believe the Phoenix Fire automatic aid system worked
this as a second alarm brush on the 22nd, then turned it over to BLM and Arizona
State Forestry. Units from the Central Arizona Wildland Response Team, other
Arizona FDs, BLM, and Arizona Dept. of Corrections hand crews worked it on the
23 and 24th, contained at 200 acres. Photos compliments of Todd F. (0408)
AZ E-362: Photo of a crewmember from Arizona State Engine 362 on the
Middle Fork Complex, Boise NF. August 2007. Photo compliments of AZfirefighter
Thanks for the link to the
map instructor guide! I am making the purchase!
The Mandarin and Navel analogy is fantastic! I am gonna steal that one from you!
(you will get credit!)
While your end deals with the technical, geek "stuff" ... I find that the rest
of us out there in the field deal on a day to day basis with more of the
operational aspect of maps, gps units and lat longs, etc... In other word we
don't always know how stuff works, just if we push the right buttons, stuff
With that in mind, I have attached a great briefing / teaching paper written by
the USFS R5 Regional Aviation Safety Officer a few years back regarding
Latitude/Longitude formats and reporting... (112 K pdf file) We use
it when we instruct folks in which format and why in their handheld gps units.
Hopefully one day all will have this stuff down to avoid confusion.....
Krassel Crash article from JR:
Report renews questions about helicopter crash
Accident claimed the life of former valley resident, pilot Quin R. Stone
By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer
A report released in March calls into question a prior conclusion citing
pilot error as the cause of a August 2006 helicopter crash that claimed the
life of a former Hulen Meadows man.
Quin R. Stone, 42, most recently of Emmett, was the pilot of the Eurocopter
A Star 350 B-3 helicopter that went down Aug. 13, 2006, in the Payette
National Forest during a fire-fighting mission. Stone, who grew up in the
Hulen Meadows subdivision north of Ketchum, was killed along with
firefighters Lillian Patten, 34, of Olympia, Wash.; Michael Gene Lewis, 37,
of Cascade; and Monica Lee Zajanc, 27, of Boise.
An earlier report, questioned by Stone's friends and family, was released in
June 2007 by the National Transportation Safety Board and claimed that
intentional low-altitude flight was the cause of the helicopter crash that
killed the crew.
The accident occurred about 18 miles west of the remote hamlet of Yellow
Pine. Stone was flying the firefighters to the Krassel Guard Station in
support of fire-fighting activities.
But in the new report released by David Rupert of R.J. Waldron & Co., a
company based in British Columbia that investigates aircraft accidents,
investigators claim the accident was actually caused by the loss of 5-gallon
water containers and refuse from the right side of the helicopter's cargo
basket. [more of this interesting article at the link]
Readers, yesterday we got an email from Aaron Long of Extreme Makeover --
Home Edition. Here's what he said:
My name is Aaron Long and I am writing
from ABC's Extreme
Makeover: Home Edition. We are hoping to build a home for a
heroic firefighter in our upcoming season. I have attached a flyer
that includes the appropriate email address to send nominations.
Feel free to contact me with any questions. All family nominations
should be sent to:
EMHE: Family Casting
I sent out a number of private email messages and made some phone calls, but
evidently Aaron wants the message spread widely and posting it here is fine. If
anyone has questions or clarifications, email and I will contact him with
questions if appropriate.
Here's a link to the nomination
If we can get a wildland firefighter family nominated, Extreme Makeover
will highlight the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, which as Melissa and Burk
say "would be AWESOME!" National TV exposure would help gain recognition for the
work our WFF does every year in protecting our families in times of
crisis. This alone would be a tremendous gift to our whole wildland
firefighting community. Please share any and all ideas you have for nominees.
We'll keep it behind the scenes. Ab.
Technically (because I am a geek)
There are two things that influence your location on the earth as defined by a
coordinate- the coordinate system used and the datum.
Let's take an orange as an example- so the whole orange is the earth.
Coordinate system- when you peel the peel off the orange and smoosh it on
the table- the shape of how you smoosh it is the coordinate system. Examples are
leaving it unsmooshed- geographic coordinate system (lat/long), smooshing it
into a square- UTM (military based- universal transverse mercator), or in the
state's version- Teale Albers.
Datum- the actual shape of the earth as defined by a mathematical model-
so a mandarin orange is a different shape than a navel orange. So even if we
smooshed them the same (coordinate system) after the smooshing they will be
different b/c they started out a different shape.
California State organizations in 2006 were typically using the North American
Datum (NAD) from 1927- the federal agencies tend to use the North American Datum
from 1983 (something about better math :-P).
In California the difference between the two data points is typically
approximately 100 meters. The closer you get to the center of the US the less
the difference. If you go to Hawaii, it's about 400 meters I believe. This does
not take into account if you are using two different projections -- locations
from different projections need to be converted before comparison.
And there is more than you EVER wished to know about why the state is telling
the feds something and because one is using NAD83 and the other is NAD27... well
it just isn't the same place.
A dork who instructs on this stuff regularly,
p.s. and just for the record WGS84 (what all helicopter people tend to use) and
NAD83 are so close mathematically that the difference is negligible.
p.p.s. for all those with kids, get the book "there's
a map on my lap" it is the best- I use it to teach all my managers
For California First responders, EMT's and Paramedics:
The CA DMV is working with EMSA to create and implement a special license plate
to showcase the talents of hard working EMS professionals. You can get info on
program at: www.ICEMA.net Looks to be a really cool program where the
collected for the plates goes right back into training and EMS awareness. The
should be available soon, so check the site often.
GPS note that may relate to communication during a fire:
standard is NAD83; use degrees, decimals, minutes.
Wildcad should be in NAD83.
CALFIRE uses Albers; this may be different from Nad83 by as much as 30 mi.
In Response to Tim Chavez’s letter:
I think it’s great to see former federal firefighters that are now CAL-FIRE or
Local Govt reaching out to politicians to let them know about the USFS retention
issue. When I saw the first article in the local paper about the retention issue
and the response from the USFS Chief I could not believe what I was reading.
They (USFS Management) are so out of touch with what’s really going on. Tim, you
have inspired me to compose my own message to Senator Feinstein. In it I will
include stories of the screwed up things that go on in their pay structure and
how a friend of mine was hit by a car while on duty working for the San
Bernardino National Forest while working a wildland fire on the 15 freeway in
the Cajon Pass and how the USFS did not consider this an occupational injury and
required him to sue them to pay for his medical bills. He left a full time
engineer job to go work as a seasonal with CDF because he knew he would be
working for an organization that actually looked out for its employees a little.
It’s not just the pay that’s screwed up over there.
Some of the best wildland experience I ever had was while working for the USFS
as a hotshot. I loved the mission but fell out of love with an agency that I
gave a 100% to but clearly could give a rat’s a$$ about me.
Andreas “AJ” Johansson
Photos from Michelle Reugebrink's WFF Fundraiser at the Roseville Baskin
Robbins. The owners said they hadn't seen so many customers there ever.
It was a party with Smokey and kids and Michelle, who was honored as the only
wildland firefighter of
31 firefighter honorees chosen nationwide. Good to see FS supporters and
their families and Michelle's family in the photos. Thanks, Michelle for
supporting the WFF. Ab.
from the hotlist
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=4003 It's good to see
professional discussion going on there.
I retired last June but I still A.D. and I still care.
Sounds like you're still banging your head on the same wall (education,
training, quals, ed for temps/seasonals, resource management valued above
personnel and incident management, land management agencies unwilling to admit
that they even employ FF's, etc) that ultimately caused me to take my 10 years
of FS experience and go to the blue- shirts back in the mid 80's.
Some things have changed.
But the root problems remain.
Having jumped ship so long ago, I normally keep my mouth shut regarding Fed
internal problems, policies, etc; but it's nice to see that it wasn't just me.
Best of luck. (I still believe you guys have the best WLF programs out there;
the problem is it still seems to be driven from the bottom... ).
Hotlist thread with responses to Harbour's message.
I would like to see this letter evaluated by the firefighters who visit this
site to learn and offer their own insights on the issues that affect us all.
I'll start with the 4th paragraph:
All firefighters, especially leaders of firefighters, must be lifelong
students of fire behavior and human behavior. In our dynamic, complex and
hazardous environment, understanding both is critical to meeting our
operational objectives safely. The Forest Service relies on the judgment of
firefighters on-scene and we always will. Therefore, our focus must be on
the training and development of our fireline leadership and continuous
monitoring and critique of our actions. We recognize the weakness of ‘group
think’ and encourage each other to use our individual reasoning along with
our collective courage in every decision every day. We understand that true
safety lies in embracing the lessons learned from our tragedies, near misses
and success stories.
This is what we have been saying for years, Tom, welcome aboard.
To truly be students of fire and human behavior, we need to have the training
that is relevant to these disciplines. The fire behavior part has been fairly
competent but up to only a few years ago have we been give actual leadership
courses and these don't even count toward any position qualifications, ie,
GS-401 series positions, though they do count towards Red Card quals. Weird how
that one works isn't it?
The way to fix this is to establish a Wildland Firefighter series and get rid of
the antiquated Forestry Aid and Tech position classifications.
Establish which college courses are out there that fit a Firefighter
classification. Leadership, Management, Emergency Personnel Management, Fire
Officer, EMT and Paramedic courses and the like. They are already established
but FS personnel get no credit for these because they don't equate to natural
resource courses. I have had employees with 4 year degrees in Fire Services
Administration that could only qualify for a GS-5 Senior Firefighter position
because they had firefighter experience and worked on the family ranch. This is
If we wanted to be Foresters we would have gone to Forestry school. We want to
be Fire Leaders and Managers so, we need to go to Fire Leader and Manager
school. It's pretty simple. OPM will do whatever the Agencies ask them to do;
they have no ownership in the GS Forestry Tech. series; they only care about the
qualifications the FS and other agencies are requiring for whatever position is
I am sure with the support of agency "leadership" colleges would be very happy
to modify Emergency Management courses to better fit the need of those
professional emergency responders who specialize in the area of Wildland and
Urban Interface response, ie, Forestry Range Techs.
As far as the "lifelong students" part goes, we cannot send our TEMPS to
training in the off season under the current personnel regs; we can't even sign
them up as volunteers and pay for their room and board and courses.
Might want to fix that while you are at it.
It's time to "fish or cut bait".
Thread with Harbour's letter:
To All & ms:
First to those that have ordered Black Tuesday wristbands...thanks. The work the
FWFSA does is expensive and the only revenue we have is through our wonderful
dues paying members. We have not yet looked at fund raisers to increase our
working capitol and I am well overdue in seeking corporate sponsors.
As an example, an advertisement in the Rollcall newspaper that EVERYONE reads on
Capitol Hill can be $5000 for a full page ad. That's a chuck of change. We are
hoping to do some kind of ad in Rollcall when our legislation gets introduced so
please buy up the initial order of wristbands for yourselves, family & friends
so more can be ordered.
Regarding P&P, I don't get a lot of information out of the WO of the Forest
Service. I know it seems odd but I don't think many there care too much about me
or the FWFSA. However, the issue of P&P has been hammered on the WO,
particularly its legislative affairs department by me personally as well as many
in congress. There are a number of proposals in the works and its anyone's guess
what the FS will roll out next. I guess anything is an improvement over nothing.
So I don't have any detailed information about specific efforts on P&P at this
time. However those that are in a position to make change, both in the agencies
and in Congress are well aware of the concept and its positive impact on many
issues facing our firefighters. Obviously if something more definitive comes out
we'll let folks know.
Response to Tom Harbour:
Understanding human factors
Understanding fire behavior is key.
Both of these relate to firefighter training and experience and to
the retention of our best trained and most experienced firefighters and
dismissal or sidelining of those who don't make grade.
Most important, however, are cultural and organizational factors
(predictable patterns inherent in the Forest Service or 4 DOI agencies) that
may be causal of this accident or others. In my opinion, latent factors that
must be addressed include
- RETENTION of EXPERIENCED WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS, and
- LINE OFFICERS' SUPERVISION of firefighters, even if only by
exercising their "Commanders Intent" and managing the firefighting budget so as
to put safety first regardless of political pressures.
If the Firefighting Agencies' cultural and organizational factors are not
identified and mitigated, they're likely to enable another accident. Hopefully
the new just culture / lessons learned approaches to accident analysis will
foster our understanding of ALL THREE categories of factors
leading to tragedy and all will be mitigated.
If it's predictable, it's preventable. Some things are more predictable
Message from Tom Harbour, FS WO Fire Director about 30 Mile plea agreement.
U.S. Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Message from the Director
May 1, 2008
On April 29, 2008 the case USA v. Ellreese N. Daniels was legally settled with a
plea agreement. Now we must personally resolve our own questions and issues
related to the last seven years and the developments surrounding the Thirtymile
On July 10, 2001, four Forest Service wildland firefighters; Tom Craven, Karen
FitzPatrick, Jessica Johnson and Devin Weaver died in the line of duty. To
remember them always, we offer the highest form of respect that the Forest
Service can pay to our fallen firefighters by embracing the painful lessons we
learned from this tragedy and incorporating this learning into our every
decision. By using the knowledge we gained, we better manage the risks and
protect each other in the inherently dangerous world of wildland firefighting.
In 2006, the Chief of the Forest Service affirmed the foundational principles
that are to guide all fire suppression efforts. The first principle describes
our operational environment: “The Forest Service believes that no resource or
facility is worth the loss of human life. We acknowledge that the wildland
firefighting environment is dangerous because its complexity may make events and
circumstances difficult or impossible to foresee. We will aggressively and
continuously manage risks toward a goal of zero serious injuries or fatalities.”
All firefighters, especially leaders of firefighters, must be lifelong students
of fire behavior and human behavior. In our dynamic, complex and hazardous
environment, understanding both is critical to meeting our operational
objectives safely. The Forest Service relies on the judgment of firefighters
on-scene and we always will. Therefore, our focus must be on the training and
development of our fireline leadership and continuous monitoring and critique of
our actions. We recognize the weakness of ‘group think’ and encourage each other
to use our individual reasoning along with our collective courage in every
decision every day. We understand that true safety lies in embracing the lessons
learned from our tragedies, near misses and success stories.
I want us, as unique individuals that comprise the whole firefighting community,
to be personally resolved to offer the highest tribute we can pay to our fallen
colleagues and friends by reading, learning, participating in, and teaching the
lessons we have learned from our past.
Stay vigilant, watch over each other and be safe.
Tom Harbour, Director
Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management
April 30, 2008
Dear Ab (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here are a few things the wildland firefighting community may find of interest
regarding the conclusion of the Government’s case against Ellreese Daniels,
settled through a plea bargain agreement on April 29, 2008. In this agreement,
the government dropped all felony charges against Ellreese. In return, Ellreese
pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of making a false statement in official
1) Please read online the Wenatchee World April 30, 2008 article “Plea Deal
Reached In Thirtymile Fire Case – Manslaughter Charges Dropped”
2) Your readers may be interested in the status of the “Thirtymile Legal Defense
and Employee Assistance Fund”. Our board of private citizens recently
reactivated the fund at Cashmere Valley Bank in Leavenworth; to reimburse
individuals’ expenses occurring as a result of any pretrial and court
appearances (i.e. gas mileage to attend depositions, outside lawyer expenses,
etc.). We encourage people associated with the court case, who do not have
financial resources available; to send a request for reimbursement (include
copies of receipts). Send requests to: Fund Administrator, Thirtymile Legal
Defense and Employee Assistance Fund; 622 Cedar St., Leavenworth, WA 98826.
We will keep the fund active until Ellreese’s final sentencing in July 2008.
After that time, as per our charter, we will send the unspent amounts to
Foundation in Boise, ID and/or to the
National Fallen Firefighter
Foundation in Emitsburg, MD. After that time, the 30-Mile Legal Defense Fund
account will be closed.
We thank the wildland firefighting community, and the general public, for their
generous support to this account over the past year. It has been very much
appreciated by those who have needed the assistance.
FYI – here is the info from our February 2007 charter: "A legal defense and
employee assistance fund has been established to provide financial support to
Forest Service employees (current and former) who need assistance to respond to
administrative and criminal charges resulting from Thirtymile fire."
Finally, we will never forget our four National Forest firefighters lost at
Thirtymile: Tom Craven, Karen Fitzpatrick, Jessica Johnson, and Devin Weaver.
Our hearts and prayers continue to go out to their family and their friends.
Heather A. Murphy
Thanks for your good work, Heather. Thanks the other
participants from all of us. Ab.
Photos of the Trigo Fire as it began a 5000 acre run. This on April 30 @ 1630
taken from I-25 just south of ABQ. There was so much dust in the air from the
high winds that the photo is a bit washed out. That is the Rio Grande Bosque in
Thanks Tim. I put them on the
Fire 36 photo page and on the
Trigo Fire hotlist thread. Ab
Reply to Sting...
Yes, Sting. The herd is thinning rapidly, but Warthogs can be found in
some surprising places, even the R-5 Regional Office. Wathogs make
S.H.I.T. happen - (S)afety; our number one focus. (H)appiness;
troops happy, keep the bosses happy, have fun. (I)ntegrity;
we do what we
say, and we do it well, every time. (T)actics; we
learn, we train, we use
the best and smartest tactics to suppress the fire; and always keep our
people and ourselves out of harms way. That's why the "running Hog" on the
pin has LCES branded on its ham.
Share as you wish, but this hog prefers to stay
anonymous in my wallow, aka warthog
I'm a free lance writer in Bellingham WA trying to put together a piece
on the aftermath of the Ellreese Daniels fiasco. From reading the headlines
at wildlandfire.com, I gather there's been a significant problem in recruiting
and more importantly, experienced firefighters leaving the Service.
What can you tell me about it? I like getting the views of the line people
or recent knowledgeable retirees rather than the company pitch from DC.
I'm also interested in following up on the budget cuts problem, referred to
on your home page. I've been talking with state DNR people who're worried
that their own wildland firefighting will be squeezed with the federal
You got a take on that? Any other contacts you could suggest?
Any firefighter retirees or firefighter managers, groundpounders, etc
who'd like to help Bob out? Ab.
Portal to Portal
What are you hearing about p to p? Any update? Rumors are that another
strong push is coming soon for it and support is going daily. Any thoughts?
Get your Black Tuesday wristbands.
Support those seeking solutions to firefighter retention. Click the image link
Reply to me from Senator Feinstein.
Dear Mr. Chavez:
Thank you for writing to me to share your concerns about U.S. Forest Service
retention issues. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue,
and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
Like you, I am troubled by the high attrition rate of Forest Service
firefighters, particularly in California. The retention issues currently facing
the Forest Service could reduce the number of available responders, damage
morale and jeopardize the agency's firefighting mission. The lives and property
of many Californians are also at stake. The retention issue must be promptly
addressed to ensure that the Forest Service has an adequate and professional
On April 1, 2008, the Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at
the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mark Rey, and the Forest Service Chief, Gail
Kimbell, appeared before me and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the
Interior, Environment and Related Agencies to discuss the fiscal year 2009
Forest Service budget request and report on retention issues. I remain concerned
that the Administration's budget is inadequate and would compromise firefighter
I also believe that the recent Forest Service report failed to acknowledge the
serious challenges the agency faces in fully staffing its Southern California
firefighting corps. As you may know, on April 10, 2008, I sent a letter to
Undersecretary Rey and Chief Kimbell urging the development of a concrete
retention plan that provides short-term and long-term solutions for filling
critical firefighting vacancies and improves morale. Please know that I share
your concern and will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue working to
address the retention issues facing the U.S. Forest Service.
Again, thank you for writing. For your review, I have included the text of my
letter to Undersecretary Rey and Chief Kimbell. If you have any additional
questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C.
office at (202) 224-3841.
I posted this letter earlier; if you want to read it, search the archives.
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