June, 2008

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6/30from today's Charlotte Observer
Firefighters struck by lightning in remote terrain
The Associated Press

Lenoir, N.C. --
Eight members of a crew fighting a North Carolina wildfire were taken to a hospital because of a lightning strike in a remote part of Caldwell County, officials said Sunday.

The firefighters were taking a water break Saturday afternoon when the lightning struck a snag nearby and apparently traveled through the ground, said Rusty Dellinger, Caldwell County ranger with North Carolina Forest Service.

The workers were about an hour from their own vehicles, so responders used all-terrain vehicles to reach them in the remote and rugged terrain.

Dellinger said six of the firefighters remained under observation at Caldwell Memorial Hospital on Sunday. One had been released. An eighth was transferred to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

"Everybody's in good condition," he said.

The firefighters had been working to improve containment lines around a small wildfire. Dellinger said there were no signs of lightning before the bolt struck. (more at the link)
6/30I read somewhere earlier today that NICC went to PL-5. I date back to the days of
Campaign and Project Fires and No Planning Levels. Is this the earliest NICC has
gone to its highest Planning Level? Any "Old Farts" care to share some history?

Also, we are into a period that we all become susceptible to accidents. Look out for
you and your buddy. Talk about it before doing it.

JQ Public

I agree, since 9/11 occurred, a lot has changed within the infrastructure of what we consider a normal and sane government. However, the thought process involved does not take the "big picture" into consideration. If USFS firefighters are leaving because of discontent within the organization, and there are agencies sucking them up, what picture does that paint? Until the USFS get's the balls to stand on it's own feet and merit, they are going to loose everyone and everything that isn't bolted down.
Being ex-CALFIRE, I sympathize with those leaving the agency. If CALFIRE had treated their people the way USFS is doing right now, California would be nothing more than an escaped control burn that got away. I name it "controlled burn" only for the fact of covering one's A**!

Get rid of the "fire" in USFS. Start anew, with all the government will give you. At the same time, organize the air attack snafu into the same category. We can do this. Let the USFS worry about Pine Beetles and old growth. The main objective should be protection of life and property. If the USFS is not ready and able to step up to the plate, make your voice heard and run (RUN) in a different direction, as this proves that politics takes immediate priority over you, your community, and your loved ones. I really hate to mention the name... but does Joseph Goebbels sound familiar? He was the minister of propaganda to the Nazis.
We are all in this together. We all fight fire the same way. We save lives at every opportunity. We all need to stand as one for the common cause, it's a fact no one else will!

Good Lord, what would DC think if we all went on strike to prove the point? Too much destruction and death. That's not what we stand for, regardless of what our personal feelings are.

Keep the faith, know in your hearts that you are appreciated...whether you see it or not...and fight the good fight. A new day is coming. Have patience and believe in yourself and your mission. The road is not going to be smooth, but filled with political potholes. Keep going, that's what we do.

Washington may want to slit your throat, but those you serve will be your best protector. Your best friend is the community you serve. Never forget that.



I heard this morning we are going to national PL 5 tomorrow morning.

From a number of sources...

6/30Also from several sources. Thanks, contributors. Ab.

MCAD Letter... Early Alert

June 29, 2008

To: Geographic Area Coordination Groups
From: National Multi Agency Coordinating Group
Subject: Military Support

In order to field a military battalion as firefighters, the National Multi Agency Coordinating Group directs the following Geographic Areas to provide the military crew advisors (MCAD) and strike team leaders (STLM) identified below. It is acceptable for these resources to be provided by States or local government cooperators with required qualifications. Please make sure individuals are rested and ready for assignment duration of 30-33 days. Individuals must report to Boise, Idaho no later than 0800 MDT on July 3, 2008 for a mandatory briefing at the NIFC Training Center.

Quotas for Areas follow:

		                    MCAD STLM
		Southern Area        3
		Eastern Area         3
		Rocky Mountain       2     1
		Southwest            3
		Eastern Great Basin  3     1
		Western Great Basin  2     1
		Northern Rockies     3     1
		Southern California  4
		Northwest            2     1
		Alaska               1     1
Thank you for your support.

/s/ Karyn Wood
Chair, NMAC (Acting)

My name is Mike Bradley. I am the Deputy Incident Commander of the Northern Arizona Incident Management Team. The helicopter collision that took place in Flag yesterday was only a couple hundred yards from where I live; I was at the scene from early on. I just wanted to mention what a good job the first responders did and how professional they were. The following agencies were involved: Flagstaff FD, Flagstaff PD, Guardian Medical, Coconino County Sheriff, and DPS.

Good work USFS. The crash caused a 10 acre fire which was promptly picked-up by firefighters from the Coconino NF. Well done to those folks!

My very sincere thanks to the responders and deepest sympathy to the involved families and those that were injured.


6/30FS Briefing paper: EMS Helicopter Crash in Flagstaff AZ


USDA Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Briefing Paper
Date: Sunday June 29, 2008 2100

Topic: EMS Helicopter Crash in Flagstaff AZ
Sunday June 29, 2008

Two EMS helicopters collided in flight near the Flagstaff Medical Center. This resulted in seven fatalities. On board one of the helicopters included a firefighter being transported to the Medical Center. This also resulted in three critical injuries. Fire and rescue crews worked to suppress the fire associated with the crash.

The firefighter killed on board was a member of the BIA, Chief Mountain Hotshot Crew. He was being transported to Flagstaff Medical Center for treatment related to an allergic reaction to insect bite while working on the Walla Valley fire. The Chief MT Crew has been in Region 3 supporting the fire activity. They are a BIA Region 1 Hotshot Crew from northern Montana and the Blackfeet Tribe.

Current Situation:
The name of the fire fighter has been provided and the BIA is handling notification of family and crew members. The Crew has been transported from the fire to the Park Service headquarters in Grand Canyon AZ. Critical Incident Stress Management has been arranged by the Park Service. The Park Service has set up an Emergency Operations Center EOC for information and support.

The FAA has been notified and will be conducting the aircraft accident investigation.

Contact: EOC contact is IC Robert Walters and Operations Lisa Endy 928-638-7846

Thanks SS. Ab.

6/30Mid Air Collision - Flagstaff

6 dead after 2 medical helicopters collide in Flagstaff

Officials including the Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board are in Flagstaff to begin an investigation into Sunday afternoon's mid-air collision between two medical helicopters. Six died and the lone survivor is in critical condition.

All three people on one of the helicopters were killed in the collision that happened about 3:45 p.m. east of Flagstaff Medical Center. A neighborhood a few hundred yards away was spared the falling debris.

Three people were aboard the Bell 407 owned by Flagstaff Medical Center and operated by Air Methods.

They're identified as the Air Method's pilot, 50-year-old Pat Graham; the flight nurse, 36-year-old Shawn Shreeve; and the patient 54-year-old Raymond Zest.

The other four were aboard a Bell 407 operated by a company called Classic Helicopter Service of Utah.

They are the pilot, 54-year-old Tom Caldwell; 36-year-old paramedic Tom Clausing; and a 26-year-old patient, Michael McDonald.

Sent in round robin behind the scenes, not directly from Don:

From: Don Smurthwaite

A BIA representative confirmed that a member of the Chief Mountain IHC,
Greg McDonald, was killed yesterday when two helicopters collided over
Flagstaff, Arizona.


From Tim  Murphy and circulating behind the scenes:

BIA Chief Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) member, Greg McDonald,
was killed yesterday when two EMS helicopters collided near the Flagstaff
Medical Center. Seven fatalities, 3 critical injuries. McDonald was being
transported to Flagstaff for medical treatment following a reaction to an
insect bite while working on the Walla Valley fire, Grand Canyon NP.

Tim  Murphy
Deputy Assistant Director (NIFC)
BLM-Fire and Aviation Directorate
National Interagency Fire Center

Our thoughts and prayers for the families, crews and other co-workers. This is a great tragedy for all involved. Ab.

6/30To: Student of Fire

I did interpret your post as a slam on CalFire and specifically Del Walters. As I stated, this is not the time to be nit-picking comments made by anyone from any agency. The troops on the ground are getting worked harder and longer than anything I have ever witnessed. The Dispatchers, GACC staff, team members IMETs and FBANs are absolutely stretched to their limits. IMHO, they are kicking a~~. Support, not second-guessing is the order of the day.

Ab has my contact information and is free to give it out to anyone who requests it (or with a quick search of this site you can determine who I am). Please feel free to call me at any time and we can continue this conversation.

Thanks, FOBS 73

I'll pass on any more communication behind the scenes. Ab.


You may not be far off. I was there when the National Fire Plan came out of the WO Real "Think Tank" and outlined by S&PF and the Legislative Affairs Staff. We had real leaders in position that told the truth, communicated and stood up. Call them old farts if you want, but they stood for something! They were looking outside of the green and into the communities. When the "Mitigation Component" came up (lands adjacent to federal lands), the $ollar figure shot out of sight. How could they justify that dollar amount to Congress? They knew then FS Fire and other agencies were going to be in trouble. It never got completely funded or thought through to resolution because 9/11. If it wasn't tied to Homeland Security funding, it wasn't going to happen. The mass exodus of leadership had begun. The Rest is History!

STAY SAFE. I Want All of You to Come Home This Year!

JQ Public

6/30Attached are the projected Weather Forecast and Significant Fire Potential
predictions for June 23rd through June 28th, 2008 as provided by the
Geographical Area Coordination Centers. This information is obviously
subject to change but should be given every consideration when determining
operational goals, physical activity, work/rest cycles and hydration needs.
Pay particular attention to what is currently being predicted for Southern
California areas this Thursday and Friday, June 27th and 28th.

Please give this information wide distribution for the purposes of
discussion, planning and Tailgate Safety sessions.

Dave Teter
Battalion Chief - Department Safety Officer

WeatherForecast6-22thru6-28-08.pdf (344 K pdf file)

6/30How to Protect Your Family from the Health Effects of Smoke
(Has a map of northern fires and the smoke; check it out.)

Dust masks aren’t enough! Common masks will not protect your lungs from
small particles in smoke. HEPA masks may filter out the small particles but
are not suitable for people with lung diseases. Those with lung diseases
should follow your respiratory management plan. Call your doctor if
symptoms worsen.

Tech Tips

California Air pollution Control Office

Office of Environmental Health
Wildfire Smoke and Your Health

Stay hydrated to prevent Pulmonary Disorders. (Thanks Ed Hollenshead
for the reminder.)

It is so important to stay hydrated for several factors: To help with
fighting off fatigue to over all health! (You do not want to get the Camp
crud in July and be out for months.)

Avoiding dehydration may prevent thickening of secretions


Hydration Tips

Be Safe and Be on the look our for the Deer. They are running from
the smoke too.


6/30To: "FOBS73"

You asked, "Is the point of your posting to agency bash?"

Simple answer.... NO. Sorry that you may have taken it that way for some reason or other.

In regards to your claim that my statement on 6/23 was "not correct" regarding the claims of an "unprecedented event".... I have the meteorological data, fire history data, and experience to support that this was not an unprecedented event, but rather "an unplanned for event" that was predicted, and verified with an over a 48 hour period lead time by some meteorologists AND several wildland firefighters closely watching the "weather" and fuels. I was also around during the 1987 "Siege", if that dates me some.

As with the last ten or so years, "predictive services" are woefully lacking. There is a big disconnect between the NWS meteorologists, the GACC meteorologists, the fuels specialists, the FBANs, and the practitioners in the field.

Here is but one example of a predicted, and non-unprecedented "event":

1987 fires in NorCal: ~1,600 initial ignitions, over 750,000 acres burned.

/s/ Student of Fire Science

I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with an old friend of mine who is an SFR2 with CALFIRE. He is no stranger to interagency response and the inherent problems that sometimes arise. We got on the subject of the USFS retention issue and he shed some light that I thought was interesting. In his dealings with the R-5 admin's, the common thread, vocally expressed behind office doors, is that upper level USFS is purposefully and intentionally "gutting" the agency. The Washington folks are being pressured to eliminate the "fire" responsibility from the USFS and cover it up with budget cuts and the "we are fine" statements. There are plans in the works for a general privatization in R-5 in the near future.

According to him, CALFIRE is not happy to be in a position to accommodate any private contractors that will come along should there be a hardcore failure of the USFS, nor are they prepared to assume responsibility for the expanded response area that would be created. Sound's like CATCH 22 to me.

I guess hearing that CALFIRE has grave concerns over just what the USFS is up to add's a bit of pretentious assumption to the thought that CALFIRE is a "stand alone" agency. The USFS actually wants their firefighters to leave and CALFIRE wants most of them to stay with USFS. Granted, they are getting hired by the state, but selectively.

I suppose it will get really interesting when there is nothing left to burn in NorCal, and SoCal torches off. Personally, I think that the "fire" section of the USFS would be better off severing it's self...similar to the separation of the Army Air Corps leaving the Army and reorganizing as the US Air Force. A totally different command structure with focused priorities.

STAY SAFE, we're all in this together!


6/30Right on Cache Queen

Great job of calling BS on things. You hit the nail dead on the head with doing dumb things
and then getting the ole marketing campaign going to show how hip slick and cool things
turned out. Haven't heard from you in a while and have wondered if you were lurking or
had bowed out totally. I am glad to see that your still lurking.


She's also still having those knee jerks. Ab.

6/29Regarding BLM Boy post:

I've kept my trap shut for one heckuva LONG time....Know nothing of what people are talking about the Fire Cache Data Call...or any of that.....I "could" check it out, but choose to tailor my post to a much more important direction...... This quoted from a previous post ...

"As far as the camp burn over last year…sure they got away with it but how much is due to politics is subject to question. Any burn over is considered a critical safety issue…but when a burn over is planned and executed as part of the fire fighting strategy…well, I think some questions need to be resolved before everyone is absolved. And there where medical issues at the time and there are still lingering medical problems for some of the camp staff. I know as an ICT3 I would never think of using a burn over as a tactic. I am sure if I did…I would be fired immediately (and rightfully so)."

So here's the deal -- that whole Burn Around -- burn by -- stay in place -- whatever anyone wants to call it...should not EVER be considered something to be held in esteem.....All the B.S. Powerpoint "Look How Great We Are" == YOU TUBE videos, whatever, should be totally banned from any kind of fire standards for small, large, intermediate, illiterate, stupid, wannabee, type 86 or whatever team you want to be called -- taken away from any kind of training -- unless it is to be used as a DO NOT DO!! I've know Mr. Broyles for years, and am not trying to bring the reign of fire down on him or others. I have children, neighbors, nieces & nephews, friends and foes that may see this bunch of SHIT stay in place, burn around -- shown as gospel -- because it was a type I team doing it and promoting it for all it's worth. DO NOT BUY THIS B.S. Remember the Orders and the Watch Out situations.....This really yanks my chain....I thought it was over and gone, until I saw the continuing post. STOP this NONSENSE. Somebody stand up to the NIFC Nazis and say NO -- this is wrong....And BLMboy is right -- the type 3 that BLMboy is would be whipped and hung out to dry -- but he is looking out for his folks and following orders. Let's demand the same from the Ivory Tower NIFC upper management that in most cases don't have one F----- clue to what it means to be a real fire person......I AM so glad I am not associated with that bunch of horses you know what.....

So much for the rant...The bottom line is. Follow the orders. Do not place yourself between two opponents (i.e. two separate fires that WILL burn together), and do not place your support personnel in a ridiculous, precarious position -- and THEN, DO NOT pat yourself on the back -- put out a "look at us" powerpoint, and do off season presentations promoting idiocy, that will feather your nest at the expense of the well being of firefighters everywhere. 

Good on you BLMboy for recognizing this piece of crap and doing the right thing. I would never fire you.

Cache Queen
6/29I have also heard the rumor and have heard nothing out of any mac groups. I heard last 
week nmac got asked the question. The other regions are drying out quickly and 
puckering up so I hope they dont got there, we did fine in supporting nocal in '99, 
however there are less fire fighters ten years later (thanks GW) the recourse is in the 
red book the home unit must approve the "extension" I sent one of my IA engines as 
it dries out here I will be getting it back soon. Wave good bye to the eoy fuels $ as 
ca is spending them at a great pace, keep ordering those type one cost attainment 
teams. Fire season has just begun I hope nocal releases these folks from other regions 
and lets them get home and re arm for the next fire.

Bushman 82

6/29 Just heard a rumor and I was wondering if anyone can confirm or deny it,
North Ops is going to hold all resources regardless if they hit their 14 or
not. For Feds it will be a mandatory extension and for contractors they
will put them up in hotels or hold them in camp for their two days of R&R
and reassign them. Does anyone know if this is true?

6/29 Just spoke with an Engine Captain off the Tonto. When they advertised for this year's GS-3/4/5 firefighters they got zip for the 4/5 and 13 applicants for the 3; 9 first year folks. When they flew a Type 3 Captain position they got 1 applicant, when they flew the Type 6 Captain position they got 1 applicant. When they flew the Type 3 engineer position they got 1 applicant; the Captain off their Type 6. Man, whazup with that? 

Is it like that in most of the west? I thought ole Mark Rey said everything was just fine... 


6/29 To Old Fire Behavior Analyst:

#1 – Completely agree...plus add drought in our area with an abundance of fine fuel.

#2 – I have not experienced the understaffing issue this year on our district or seen it on neighboring forests. Actually we have been staffed up very well with severity resources since March. But I did hear that ID is lacking engine crews; especially ENOPs.

#3 – Haven’t seen this yet either. All the fire we have been involved with has been handled very well by all IC’s and Line Officers. As with all fires it would be easy for us to second guess but all has gone well with minimal property loss and only the most minor of injuries (i.e. sprained ankle, etc.).

#4 – Politics has been at a minimum in our area and with BLM in general I think. Although I have noticed “distractions” with our USFS brothers/sisters…and understandably so. CA is a raging issue right now and has got to be resolved. Go CASEY!

#5 – AMR has served us extremely well so far this year, especially in terms of safety and costs. It has been very refreshing to do the commonsense tactic vs. go get it or let ‘er burn. Nothing I have heard of has blown up with AMR yet.

As far as the camp burn over last year…sure they got away with it but how much is due to politics is subject to question. Any burn over is considered a critical safety issue…but when a burn over is planned and executed as part of the fire fighting strategy…well, I think some questions need to be resolved before everyone is absolved. And there where medical issues at the time and there are still lingering medical problems for some of the camp staff. I know as an ICT3 I would never think of using a burn over as a tactic. I am sure if I did…I would be fired immediately (and rightfully so). 

With all that being said I agree that this year has the potential to rock the wildfire community. The number of deployments, fire related injuries and close calls have been high, especially this early in the season. And with CA starting to burn so early no one knows just how bad it might be overall this year. You are right on the money with your observations and concern. Thank you so much for pointing out some of the issues to watch out for and making us think. Let’s not count on luck…everyone stay safe!

6/29 Desperation turns to panic. Panic turns to more lies. Why must Line Officers act this way?


Randy, you want to solve the retention problem? Do you want to solve the growing crisis within your region? Open a dialog with us. Lets roll up our sleeves together and bring this region back to what it once was. You and a small group of thinkers from the rank and file need to meet and work on solutions in your office with mutually agreed to goals. The leader for this group is you and not someone who's looking out for the next promotion and looking over the shoulder every minute.

Get involved Randy. If you truly care, you will get personally involved with finding solutions.

In our lifetime Randy we have examples of Americans who were not afraid or intimidated for standing up for what is right. I have confidence that you can be another one of those individuals. Do something unique. Do something positive to bring closure to this crisis. If you do, we shall ensure your name and results will not be forgotten by our elected officials, including the new administration. We look forward to the day when we can highlight your strength and your leadership in our emails and letters to our elective officials.

In your heart you know something is out of balance with pay and you know R-5 has serious problems. Lets get started and fix this Randy.

As is often said: "Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right thing."


6/29 An important consideration from bcjack on the Poison Oak thread of the hotlist:

Be careful you don't screw up your worker's comp stuff by skipping MEDICAL treatment.

6/29 I have grown up on the six rivers N.F. and have also fought fire there for years. I get am so reactive to the plant that I have had my eyes swell shut and gotten it on my feet so bad that I could only walk on my heels for about a week, without bursting the bubbles (sorry about the image) The best preventative/ cure is dawn dish soap. As you know it is the oils that cause the problems but I would always keep a bottle in the shower, and use it every time I had a suspicion I had been in it! It also works well even after you break out to keep the spread down. There's my suggestion. Hope it works for others.

show me almost poison oak free on the Six Rivers
6/28 Fire Cache Data Call:

Well this is a great time for our Fire Caches to be working on a data call. 
Could someone check this out to determine if this data call violates federal 
law? As you remember in 2008 Forest Service was barred by law to not 
spends any funds on any competitive outsourcing studies. Casey should 
we get this to Feinstien?

On November 4, 2008 please help stop this madness. Get out and vote. 

6/28 I read mellie's post where she mentioned firefighters
with cases of poison oak.

An absolute remedy is Manzanita leaves/twigs
boiled into a 'tea'.  As rich as possible.

The tea sprayed onto the affected areas brings
immediate relief, stops the spread, and
rids 'you' of the poison oak in a few
hours for most.   Continue
spraying until there is no more itch.  And yep,
it does stop the itch almost immediately.

The resin in the tree leaves encompasses the
resin of the poison oak under the epidermal
layers of the skin. 

Some folks drink the tea as a precautionary measure.

The manzanita tea is good for topical use
for 3 days,  much longer if kept frozen,
as we keep it, or even kept on ice.

Take care,
Lauren C.
6/28 As many know lightning is approaching norcal where lighting fires are burning. These have been lumped into complexes of fires. Some are watching lightning on the hotlist:


The Iron Complex is reporting in with experiences there on the SHF:


Be safe, All.




Here's a link to what's happening with the ROSS System:


AK Old Timer
6/28 Friends,

Everybody actively engaged in wildland firefighting efforts in Western America needs to be very careful over the next few days if not months. This includes all of you camp folks.

Things are much worse right now in many places than they have ever been before at this time of year. What these "things" are include but are not limited to:

1) EXTREME fire danger/fire behavior conditions.

2) Understaffing at all levels, particularly in the watchdog safety and operational ranks.

3) Inexperience at leadership in this type of wildfire response, particularly in the federal ranks. This is a subject that has long been discussed on this board.

4) Politics that prevent the alleviation of 3) above and, of course, politics in general.

5) Appropriate management response, which is a great concept but is also one that has not been proven in the face of what I believe is still to come. 

Everybody please be very careful of where you are related to the fire(s) around you. Last year a fire camp was burned over and we got away with it without injury/death because of a number of good things done by that esteemed team. I am not very sure right now because of 1-5 above, and some other things too, that we will stay so lucky this year with the fire behavior that is certainly ahead of us.

s/Old Fire Behavior Analyst
6/28 Ab, 

The LLC IMT TEAM WEB site was cleared a few days ago, and is back up.



Type I Teams and 
Type II Teams
Area Command Teams
FUM Teams

Thanks, Mark. These have permanent links on our Links page under Federal and the Lessons Learned Center IMT website teams pages are now safe to go to. If anyone has updated info for any of these pages, please send it in. Ab.

6/28 Status of MPRD Engine 71 

Many have been asking about the status of the crew since the incident so I
will try to provide some current info.

Captain Roberto Moreno is expected to be released to home, with follow up
at Sherman Oaks 2-3 times per week, by this Saturday the 20th. He is in
good spirits and asked to thank you all for thoughts and calls. MPRD
Captain Chris Wright is with him providing support.
FFT Sean Allois is back on the unit on light duty.
FFT Frank Heilman is back on the unit on light duty.
FFT Chris Lyons is back on the unit on light duty.
Engine Operator Timothy Rogers, receiving no injuries, is back to work.

Cards etc. may be sent to the District Office C/O Engine 71. If you have
something specific for Roberto, the crew will pass it on.

34580 Lockwood Valley Road
Frazier Park CA 93225

John Abell
Battalion Chief, Los Padres NF

I've heard Roberto is home now and going to outpatient care. I hope those guys get well soon. Ab.

6/28 Safety Statement: Predictive Services, North Ops
Subject: Smoke, Inversions, and potential changes in coming days
Issued: 1900 PDT, Wednesday June 25, 2008

Current conditions: Smoke from the growth of our many lightning fires has now become widespread across much of northern CA. Since Sunday the 22nd the atmosphere has been generally stable which, along with shading caused by the smoke itself, has tended to limit smoke rise. In the most-affected areas inversions have lasted into the afternoon hours, and even where they break or lift, the vertical lapse rates have not become as steep as they could under totally sunny conditions. Due to these factors, some (or most?) of our fires have probably not yet seen the maximum fire behavior/ spread rate/ spotting potential that they could see. 

What could change soon: We expect to see a trend toward less airmass stability over the next few days. It may well begin Thursday p.m. over the Sierra Nevada fires, from about the Plumas NF southeastward, and continue into Saturday. But for most other portions of northern CA the trend will start Friday and continue through the weekend. This will be due to a low pressure area west of CA slowly deepening and gradually expanding its area of influence toward the state. While the overall shift toward less stability might be gradual, the effects seen locally on a given fire complex could occur within one day's burning period. In fact, the switch from barely stable to moderately unstable can occur in as little as 1-2 hours. A change like that could cause a fire to vent much better and become considerably more active (compared to previous days) in short order. [It's not all negative - a couple of upsides associated with these type changes would be better air quality, and increased opportunity for Air Ops].

What you should do: For reasons varying from firefighter safety to aiding tactical success, we strongly recommend that you keep these things in mind:
  • Over the next few days, the atmosphere will trend toward being less stable than it has been the past few days. 
  • Smoke will begin to lift better, and probably earlier in the day, in many areas on Friday. 
  • On a given fire, the stability lid 'could come off' in rather short order, leading to rapid fire behavior increases, while also allowing for increased winds at the surface. 

And take these steps:

  • If a vantage point exists, have someone monitor for changes in observed smoke behavior (such as the ending of smoke pooling /layering in your area, or increasing rates of smoke rise, with smoke thinning quickly). 
  • Be aware of the possible indicators of increasing instability, which can include: 
    - winds begin to blow after a previous calm, or existing winds become more gusty
    - indrafts to your fire begin to strengthen
    - clouds (if any are present) become more vertically oriented
    - faster-growing columns and/ or they are reaching greater heights
    - increased up and downdrafts
    - in some cases visibility starts to improve quickly. 
6/28 Ab,

Thank you for starting the Family Said area on the Hotlist. I needed a little 
pick me up and to feel normal. My husband hasn't really been home and the 
one time I did talk to him, he was heading to an area that wasn't that safe. 

Thank you again, you make life a little easier until his comes home.

CDF Wife

Good enough. Ab.

6/28 Abs and Casey, this email came out via lotus notes a few minutes ago. (yesterday) Read the highlighted section. This is yet another quote were they call us Firefighters when it looks good in their interest and never back it up with a series and/or better pay. 

To All Region 5 Employees,

Cailifornia is experiencing one of the highest, if not the highest, levels of fire activity early in the fire season on record. We have significant fire activity on all of our Forests in Northern California and a majority of our Southern California Forests. The Regional Forester and I are proud of the outstanding work being accomplished by all Regional employees, either actively engaged in the suppression effort, supporting the suppression effort or keeping the rest of our business going. We are getting assistance from our cooperators and resources are arriving daily from across the nation.

We want each of you to focus on accomplishing your job safely. Fire behavior is predicted to increase and likely become more erratic with increasing lightning activity beginning today and through the weekend. We are likely to be fully engaged with these fires for the foreseeable future. We want all employees and managers to plan for managing fatigue to be able to accomplish your assignment safely.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication. The fire situation we are facing is serious. I am impressed with our response and professionalism. This situation is what the Forest Service, in particular Region 5, does best. 

Mailrooms, please forward to all employees.

Jim Peña
Deputy Regional Forester
State and Private Forestry
Pacific Southwest Regional Office
707-562-9000 FAX: 707-562-9091

noname fire: I think he's particularly careful to address it to all R5 Forest Service employees and not single out firefighters... Ab.

6/27 Heads up folks LAL's of 6 predicted for the Six River N.F for Saturday.


6/27 (See attached file: Statewide Cal Fire Intel Summary 06-26-08.pdf)

It is a PDF file, I"m not sure why it has an unknown parameter value.


Thanks, Jason. It's a good report, but more than 450 K, too large to post and too large to benefit most firefighters on slow download. Is there a state website that people with dsl can go to to download it on the state's bandwidth? Not too useful otherwise... You'd think the producers of such reposrs would consider the internet capabilities of the people who need to know. Ab.

6/27 Thanks for the updates.

Ab, could you post some links to fire team websites?  They are another great online timely resource.

As an ex-fire team member I am imagining the chaos and efforts and energy being put forth by all the firefighters in northern CA. I am praying for energy, calm strength, wisdom, and plenty of open radio channels/air attack freqs/cell phone coverage (my old job!). I'm told firefighters from 41 states are there or on their way to the fires, and what a coordination effort that will be. Back in Wenatchee in 1994, some of the best information that came into morning strategy meetings was from one of the overhead who would visit the firelines every night. Without dependence on other's reports or endless meetings in the office, and avoiding the various distractions that somehow keep overhead types busy with no accomplishment, he would walk in every morning to Area command with the latest knowledge of where the fires had blown up the previous night. And the old direction is still true - no resource is as important as human life, so be safe out there.

sign me Pie Maker

We were warned by reliable sources that the New Federal Incident Management Teams website that we linked to via our Type I and Type II teams pages had a virus. We have not been told the virus is cleared, so we are not sending anyone there. If someone knows that all is OK, please let us know. Those sites are valuable for information but not if it causes computers to crash at critical times. Ab.

6/27 Hi Ab-

I am a former USFS firefighter, and my husband is a climatologist. We look at the forecasts everyday and think about how they are affecting my many friends still on the lines, and I wanted to find a venue to get critical information out there that I don't think is getting to the troops. IMETs and Predictive Services are pretty busy and often don't get to look at the big picture (and they haven't paid attention when we tried to notify them in the past--my husband predicted the heat wave that contributed to the Angora Fire last year and no one paid attention to his emails), so I would like use They Said as a place where we can get our forecasts to the people who needs them the most. You all decide if it's post-worthy.

NEXT WEEK: the long-lead forecast is for a cut-off low to develop over the middle of California by Friday. This is highly abnormal for this time of year, and right now the forecast shows that cut-off low moving over the central Sierra Nevada right about the middle of the day on July 4th, with 70mph winds on the back side of it. This will be during a major heat wave for this region, and likely means lightning may develop as well.

THIS IS A WATCH OUT SITUATION! Folks in California are already taxed, and the public won't help by being out and about on July 4th during a hot 3-day weekend, setting more fires. For any of you already on fires or headed out soon, please keep this in mind, the cut-off low may bring highly abnormal North winds that will likely come up suddenly in the afternoon as the low passes. We all know forecasts can change rapidly, we will continue to watch and keep you up to date throughout the coming week.

You can see the loop here:

300hpa wind and height fields, trough coming through noCal on July 4, cut off low forms over W Nevada with strong localized wind gradients

Dr. Thunder and FireGirl

6/27 A Denny Property Owner

Most of the information priorities are set by trying to get information out to the most people at once -- that can include working through local commercial radio stations, phone trees, traffic information services, going face-to-face and posting information at gathering spots (cross-road stores, post offices, and places where people have stopped along the road because there's a good view of the fire).

Some incident management teams (and even local Forest Service managers) have tried to set up house-to-house routines. You may have experienced that in the past, but it is not a good idea because in a large, rapidly changing situation (like you have in California now) that simply cannot be supported, and it leaves people who are expecting information, without the news they feel they need. Hang in there. People are really trying their best to get a handle on all the fires.

Still Out There
6/27 Denny Property Owner,

The reality is that there are FEW RESOURCES. With this much fire everywhere, there is mostly point protection, although the hotshots have been working hard to contain the Ziegler Fire on Goodwin and Dyre Creek at the ridge line. Then they can work at keeping it off the Denny Road. There was a rumor that the road was closed in the Goodwin Creek drainage. From what I hear, it's not. Supply trucks have been bringing in MREs to hotshots spiked out beyond that section of road.

I don't know which resident you are, but Paula should have pretty good intel through Eric. Ask her.

The reason we haven't gotten IAPs is because Ed, the Division A chief is spiked out too, hasn't been back to the Junction City Incident Command Post.

I understand your anxiety. Fire is burning in the wilderness near you and could slop over into Devil's Canyon; that area hasn't burned in, maybe, a century or more. It is full of dead fuel, actually criss-crossed with it; full up with it; un-hikeable with it. It needs to burn, just like Ironside Mt with its blowdown needs to burn and is burning. Key will be to protect your structures. 

If you haven't called a community meeting, do so. Get residents to clear their properties to make them defensible, secure their water sources as best they can. Come up with a community plan. Look, we've all had lots of practice at this now, with three big fires in 9 years. Incidents stimulate learning, or they should.

Get together, get organized. Choose a leader, a safety officer, a liaison to get info and share info; you'll need someone to handle logistics of food, water, fuel for chainsaws and your little buggies, etc; you'll need planner and ops folks. I know you're self-reliant. Firefighters may show up to do what they can as the fire gets closer, but right now they're protecting structures in larger communities off Hwy 299.

Thank gawd for the Larry McLeans of the world. He's awesome, guess you got missed. It happens. Don't waste time. This is your time by options wedge of opportunity to get ready. Use it well. Network with your neighbor to get the info. Get the Information phone number and call the PIOs at camp. Be proactive.

Good luck. Make your own luck! Firefighters are more likely to defend defensible structures, especially when resources are scarce.


more fire info

6/27 To; Kevin, San Jose BC

Re: LPF E-71 Captain Update

It's people like you that keep me coming to work everyday. You are truly
an outstanding individual.

From all of us green pants out there, we thank you.


6/27 Norcal Fire:

Thank you for your recent kind thoughts about my hanging it up.

There is a lot going on right now and I really do regret hanging it up when so many of my friends are answering the bell that is ringing loudly now all over Western America.

Hanging it up in my 40th year of wildland firefighting is not easy. But I do need to state a few reasons.

1) Retirees who have worked as ADs for many years are being compensated at way lower rates than everybody else, regular government employees and contractors alike. All of whom did so are now feeling pretty stupid for doing so. Retirees who work as ADs are viewed now as scabs against the real cause here, which is better compensation for everybody. I really do finally agree with that.

3) Retirees who have succeeded as contractors, and that is only still regionally accepted in America, are doing pretty well at being reasonably compensated. But there is still a long way to go for that category. i.e. what do we do about the liability issues?

4) The Rehired Annuitant Authority has been totally underutilized by all federal agencies in recent years and has in fact been recently misused to some extent to only favor the recently retired politically connected very high GS levels.

So please everybody stay safe!!! Appropriate management response with the safety of our people first all of the time. And, oh yeah, let's not forget the public we serve!!

6/27 Fire Fired, NOT Hired

My supervisor tells me most if not all of the GS-8's and 9's have been offered and some of the 7's are offered as well. If this is correct, I know of many Captain and maybe a few Supt positions throughout the region that are not filled (MARK REY LIED TO CONGRESS). Sounds like we will need to keep on blocks dozens of engines across the region that should be out fighting fire right now (MARK REY LIED TO CONGRESS). I never thought we would actually fill everything, however I didn't think after all the priority placed on this hiring round, the results would be this bad. I heard the applicant pool ranges from a moderate number of applications to no applications. Mostly no applications available (MARK REY LIED TO CONGRESS).

It's time to turn FIRE HIRE to FIRE FIRED. I can think of 10 Forest Service officials off the top of my head who need to be FIRED.

I thank all the people at WFTC trying the best they can to improve staffing levels. We have done everything we could. We have encouraged our colleagues to get applications in. We have walked employees though the AVUE process. We have had meetings to inform employees about the opportunities and staffed booths at job fairs. It's not working and everyday a firefighter walks away. Our Regional leaders stand guard of a crumbling organization with a complete lack of creativity, initiative, understanding and interest in bringing to the table real solutions (MARK REY LIED TO CONGRESS).

Copy my email and send to all your congressional representatives. Please tell them R-5 needs immediate intervention from the complete mismanagement that is currently occurring.



6/27 Hello,

I just got a notice of non-renewal from Allstate Insurance because, "Dwellings located in a wildfire designated area must meet Wildfire Hazard underwriting guidelines." As I understand these guidelines (Allstate's) are fairly ridiculous, eg, "No trees within 200 feet' etc. The agent said Allstate was getting out of the house insurance business in CA. No bigee I guess but when will Allstate pull out of Oklahoma because of tornados, or the Mississippi Valley because of floods, or upstate New York because of deep snow. Could it be corporate cowardice!

The recent Lightning storm probably is unprecedented as far as recorded history goes but that is a very short timeline for us, geologically speaking. The graph attached shows average strikes for the month of June. The data is from ALDS and was compiled by WRCC, DRI.

The firewhirl that caught the engine on Del Venturi road is not a isolated or rare event, fire whirls are probably daily occurrences on fires, some are stronger than others some are larger than others. I was on an Indians Fire in the same canyon I'm gonna say in 76 or 77 and firewhirls were a daily occurrence. One place on the San Antonio River there is a trigger point for vortex initiation, just before Milpitas road. Firewhirls are documented in Clive Countryman's 1971 research paper " Firewhirls.. why when, and where" His summary begins,' Fire whirls appear frequently in and around wildland fires' Everyones fire training library should have this paper, followed shortly by 'The Fire Environment Concept' also by Mr. Countryman, this may be available through the PMS. There is also a dvd by nwcg 'Extreme Fire Behavior, Vortices and Wildland fire' That I think is available from pms.

As far as Misery Whips mention of the 30 mile I believe the is a picture of a dual counter rotating vortex above that fire, Anybody remember that photo? I may have it somewhere.

Be Especially careful out there!!


6/27 To Whom It May Concern:

I am a property owner in Denny. Not one forest Service personal has come to my house with any
Information or maps about the fires. I have to
Learn what's going on from my neighbors, the closest are 1/2 mile from me. What's up with this lack of
Communication from the forest service? Larry McLean
Was here yesterday in Denny going house to house, he
Never bothered to stop here- I just don't get it, why are some of us left out of the information loop? It would be
Nice to know that our road is being closed down-Thanks for nothing forest service!!!!!

Signed- A Denny Property Owner
6/27 LPF E-71 Captain Update


Sitting here in the fire station last week reading the posts, watching all the fires burning around us, I started to wonder about the firefighter sent to our local burn unit from the burnover at the Indians Fire. Since I work in San Jose, I decided to go to Valley Medical Center's Burn Unit to see if the member of E71 was still in the hospital. He was. He seemed genuinely glad to have a visitor. He had been receiving treatment all week and was doing very well and was looking forward to going home the next day. After taking a couple of calls during my visit, we exchanged numbers and e-mails as it was getting late and he was getting tired. LPF was doing a great job of taking care of his needs as they had two fire folks in town as liaisons all week. I felt bad that we didn't know they were in town, or we would have been better hosts. If any firefighter ends up in a local hospital, no matter what the jurisdiction, please feel free to post it on this site. The brotherhood and sisterhood extends beyond the green or red or blue. And if any of you are ever taken to the burn unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, please feel free to contact any member of the San Jose Fire Department. Our burn foundation is one of the largest contributors of that unit and we have plenty of folks to assist you. It would be our honored privilege to assist your family in your time of need. Please be safe and watch out for each other.

Kevin, San Jose BC

6/27 Norcal Fire:

Thank you for your recent kind thoughts about my hanging it up.

There is a lot going on right now and I really do regret hanging it up when so many of my friends are answering the bell that is ringing loudly now all over Western America.

Hanging it up in my 40th year of wildland firefighting is not easy. But I do need to state a few reasons.

1) Retirees who have worked as ADs for many years are being compensated at way lower rates than everybody else, regular government employees and contractors alike. All of whom did so are now feeling pretty stupid for doing so. Retirees who work as ADs are viewed now as scabs against the real cause here, which is better compensation for everybody. I really do finally agree with that.

3) Retirees who have succeeded as contractors, and that is only still regionally accepted in America, are doing pretty well at being reasonably compensated. But there is still a long way to go for that category. i.e. what do we do about the liability issues?

4) The Rehired Annuitant Authority has been totally underutilized by all federal agencies in recent years and has in fact been recently misused to some extent to only favor the recently retired politically connected very high GS levels.

So please everybody stay safe!!! Appropriate management response with the safety of our people first all of the time. And, oh yeah, let's not forget the public we serve!!

6/27 My supervisor tells me most if not all of the GS-8's and 9's have been offered and some of the 7's are offered as well. If this is correct, I know of many Captain and maybe a few Supt positions throughout the region that are not filled (MARK REY LIED TO CONGRESS). Sounds like we will need to keep on blocks dozens of engines across the region that should be out fighting fire right now (MARK REY LIED TO CONGRESS). I never thought we would actually fill everything, however I didn't think after all the priority placed on this hiring round, the results would be this bad. I heard the applicant pool ranges from a moderate number of applications to no applications. Mostly no applications available (MARK REY LIED TO CONGRESS).

It's time to turn FIRE HIRE to FIRE FIRED. I can think of 10 Forest Service officials off the top of my head who need to be FIRED.

I thank all the people at WFTC trying the best they can to improve staffing levels. We have done everything we could. We have encouraged our colleagues to get applications in. We have walked employees though the AVUE process. We have had meetings to inform employees about the opportunities and staffed booths at job fairs. It's not working and everyday a firefighter walks away. Our Regional leaders stand guard of a crumbling organization with a complete lack of creativity, initiative, understanding and interest in bringing to the table real solutions (MARK REY LIED TO CONGRESS).

Copy my email and send to all your congressional representatives. Please tell them R-5 needs immediate intervention from the complete mismanagement that is currently occurring.

6/26 No problem with retention? When we checked ROSS this afternoon, there
were 91 pages (approx 900 orders) for overhead personnel that have gone
unfilled. I can only imagine what the crew pages look like! It's going to be
a long frustrating summer for all.....


6/26 Ab,

I got a kick out of this....seems to fit the current situation.....lol

Fire Orders for the New Firefighter and Above.

F ind a good Lawyer.
I nvent a story that supports managements current interpretation of policy and Law.
R esist the urge to take any direction without triplicate documentation.
E stablish a good Alibi.

O ffer no info without a lawyer present.
R emind supervisors they trained you.
D estroy incriminating documentation that does not match managements current interpretation of Policy and Law.
E scape to Mexico if things go bad.
R emember next time to turn down all assignments that involve supervision.
S ay you were scouting when the bad things happened.


6/26 Mellie -

I have been so impressed reading your posts - your "word pictures" put me right
there with you and your family/friends and my thoughts and prayers are behind
you all the way. Ever think about writing a book?

I am a fire mom - and have had fire on our property up north. I am ashamed to
say, I loaded up and left.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us all!

6/26 There's an excellent, and timely, article, "Under Fire", in this month's (July 2008) National Geographic magazine. Includes some outstanding fire photos.

Here's a link to an accompanying video:


AK Old Timer
6/26 Thanks to firefighters who are working so hard to deal with the lightning fires raging across norcal. 

Nine of my family fought fire with 7 other fed firefighters several days ago (6/24). (That line has held.) Only 2 of my family had nomex shirts and hardhats, but the fire was low "good" fire. I'm "dispatch" for our family with talkabouts. I can locate our dozer and kabuto? operators, fallers, our handcrew and water system specialist family members. Our IC calls me and I tell people who need a new job where to go...

We organized in ICS with IC, safety, liaison, logistics (for things needed from town as youthful friends who are helping rotate in and out), planning (meetings then I keep the list and am at our command center to pass on tasks/assignments) and ops (who walks the line at 0500 and is present for briefings). The engine crew also has a talkabout to be able to hear what we're doing.

The real danger that first day of fighting fire with almost no resources was not from the flames, but from the old growth firs that are shooting, as if launched, thousands of feet down the mountain (Fire Scuds) or large boulders that fall alone or cascade down, dislodged by falling firs. Sometimes they sound like wind blowing only to crash with tremendous force that shakes the ground. In one instance on that first day the flames arrived, a large boulder landed where my partner and the first firefighter assessing the scene had been standing 2 minutes before. Our first firefighter (DIVs qualified) has been awesome. Thanks, BLM Andy Murrin from LaGrande area! Excellent man!! Excellent with fire and with people. Made me proud of our BLM firefighters. Thanks also to Jim Mackensen (safety); Pete and Alec (Ops) who came to talk before the fire did; Robin Wills (our team DIVS); and to my long time SHF friend, good with mules and hauling, mines and mining rules... Larry McLean..

I'm losing track of the days, it's one thing after another, lots of resources came in the next day (yesterday), then many went away pulled out of here to fight the fire spanning hwy 299 that's a lot like the Pigeon part of the Bar Complex. You don't think as well in the smoke. Key is not to forget something critical that could put you at risk.

In addition to fire coming from our side of the river and sooner than expected, we also have fire coming very quickly down Ironside Mountain. The lookout was closed, evacuated, wrapped and rumor had it that it was burned, but it hasn't (yet) that I know of. There are 8 fires that have joined, and an equal number on the other side of Ironside. Night tells the true story with giant pyrotechnic shows and more sound and scudfall/rockfall, earth shaking booms -- like a war zone. Not comfortable.

The fire on Ironside went off yesterday afternoon. Built a huge column, squirrelly winds, overhead pulled the 2 shot crews (Black Mountain and Lone Peak) off the ridges and the 2 type 2 IA crews back to our place. Engines went on alert. Lots of lookers even among the fire folks. Then, for some, Tool time, naps, conversation as the elements raged. Spotters spaced around the meadow to make sure that any of the myriad of floating blackened leaves and glowing stuff didn't get a place to start another fire.

I have met some fine young people last few days: Ben, Justin and Zeus with a giant engine from Colorado, Tim Craven and crew from Cle Elem, Some young folks on the Mt Baker-Snoqualamie IA crew, many of whom are from the inner city and having a great, hard-working time and learning a lot; Gerald and Tom are some of their overhead and good trainers. Jim Yacoub, Warren, SHF E-32 from near here, Junction City... The engine that remained at the ranch last night (as the others left to go help with the other new fire) is Mt Baker NF E-91. Its captain Andy is a former ZigZag shot. Rebecca is asst capt, two Nicks and a Dana on the crew. Others, too, that I don't remember the names of... Thanks.

Photos coming when I can. A plume is going up across the river, too close. Need to make sure folks are alerted.


6/26 Ab it appears that I was a little quick to place blame on NIMO TEAM Cable, After receiving more information it seems to have been the Forest that gave the Oliver Fire To the state. My apologies to Cable.


Apologies for overlooking this one yesterday. Some are falling through the cracks. Too much going on. Ab.

6/26 Pause for a moment (today) to honor the memory of the six firefighters that perished on June 26, 1990 in Walk More Canyon on the Tonto National Forest north of Payson, Arizona.

Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire
6/25 Regarding the OES post by Shreck:

OES doesn’t care about getting an admin fee. While the CA OES System has its flaws, it works pretty well. They are just trying to keep track of resources. History has told us that not tracking resources in these situations leads to disaster as priorities move from fire to fire in the future.

The 14 hours a day pay limit is beyond belief! I will send another letter to Senator Feinstein, I hope many in the Fire Service outside of the federal system are doing the same to try to bring a reasonable wage to all the Federal Firefighters.

North bay FC

6/26 To: “Student of Fire”

Is the point of your posting to agency bash? It appears that you are trying to take a comment made by Del Walters and imply that CalFire should have… ????? Put an extra firefighter on every engine, wait- they already did that. Have their entire air fleet tooled-up, trained and available, wait- they did that also. Have all of their crews complete full readiness exercises well before fire season, wait- they did that too. What did you want them to do? Redeploy resources north? The forecast did not support that move.

Your comment, that is listed below is not correct.

Not an unprecedented lightning storm in California, but a similar event that occurred (with similar results) in the late 1960's, mid 1970's, late 1987, and late 1999... The big difference was that this event occurred in late June as opposed to late August / early September as in previous events. The slides were ALL the same.”

You left out 2002 when in fact a different forecast did support moving resources, and CalFire staged significant amounts of equipment in the north state for an event that never materialized.

I do remember the 1987 fires and I was on one of the type 1 teams that worked the Nor Cal 1999 fires and they were not the same (the 60’s and 70’s is too far back for me). The fires in 1999 were just a fraction of this week’s fire. They were not spread out in the same manner that they are today. The subsequent weather pattern was different; we had clear skies, heat, and wind on most of the 1987 and 1999 fires. If we had been cursed with that same weather pattern this week, this result would have been catastrophic. As typical lightning storm sequences go, this weather pattern is very rare. Most of the Northern California lightning moves up from the Sierra Nevada Crest, not directly off of the pacific as this storm did. It is wonderful that your “slides were all they same,” but the 100 years of combined forecasting experience by the North Zone Weather Team saw the event setting up differently.

What your post does is slam the fire weather forecasters more than anyone else. But, I forgot, “you predicted it”. Maybe you should send your daily predictions to North Zone, and we will see how your predictions stack up against their product development. Your “fire studies” failed to indicate to you that the frequency, intensity and duration of lightning, from ANY type of storm is one of the most complex issues facing forecasters. While there is significant interest, there is very little research into that particular area of forecasting. Every fire weather forecaster I have ever worked with has indicated that the reliability of predicting lighting frequency, intensity and duration has very low accuracy probabilities.

Over the last few days, what I have witnessed is CalFire, Forest Service, BLM, Park Service, local government crews and engines busting their butt’s to fight an “unprecedented lightning storm” in California. Handcrews have been cutting line for literally two straight days [a personal thank you to the two Antelope Camp crews that along with three dozers (including 2442) looped a steep terrain, old-growth Manzanita, 500 acre fire in forty-six hours without any significant rest]. Yesterday I met up with crews from a Shasta County Local Government ST that had worked IA for me on Monday and they were now on a different fire after three straight days of firefighting. I know of Hotshot crews that have been running basically non-stop since Monday.

Maybe, just maybe, instead of “Monday morning quarterbacking,” based on your incredibly “deep slide’ tray, you should be thanking everyone; particularly the firefighters, weather forecasters, dispatchers and command center staff who have been moving at warp speed to SOLVE this “unprecedented lightning storm.”

Ab, had too rant, this one really fired me up.

Thanks, FOBS73

6/26 Re: Firefighter Health and Safety

New NWCG Working Group under the Safety and Health Working Team

Incident Emergency Medical Task Group

IEMTG Tactical Plans: http://www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/iemtg/tactical-plan.phpl

6/26 Hello ab

I just got home from the Indians fire. I was on a type 3 strike team from BDF. I am an engine boss. I was there when the ic pulled us aside to talk to us. First thing: I have never before in the IAP seen a message from the IC just to fed folks. But there was one, saying the IC wanted to meet with us. Then right after briefing with the state folks still there, the IC pulls us aside. He says about what has been said on here already. But he did say he was behind us all the way. You know, the tension that day between us and state folks was thick. This all happened before we left to go to the fireline. It bothered a lot of us. That should not of happened for two reasons:

  • One is we are all there for one goal, to put the fire out safely.
  • The second reason is the moral of the firefighters went downhill fast, at least for the fed folks, I could see it in their faces.

My feeling after that meeting: i was mad as hell. Well that is my side of that. I am sure someone else will have more insight on this.


6/26 smokeater is misinformed, from the Oliver Complex 209:

The transition of command to CalFire of the Oliver Fire will occur at 0600 on 6-25-08 based on direct protection responsibility. Over 95% of the fire is located within CalFire's direct protection area. Transfer of command will occur on Wednesday 6-25-08 at 0600. The Oliver Fire is 1000 acres at 0% containment. Westfall is 105 acres at 100% containment; Silverknob is 480 acres at 60%; Chiquito fire is 52 acres at 60%; Star Fire is at 30 acres at 0%. Poison and Gaggs fires are 1 acres each and are 100% contained.

6/25 Hi to all:

While we all, and yes that includes I/Cs, NIMO team members and others scratch our collective heads about Accountable Cost Management, the FWFSA is communicating directly with Congress and the Office of Management & Budget regarding the application of this plan to the FIRE program.

Ideally we'd like someone in DC to tell the FS to stop this nonsense with respect to the Fire program.

From the ACM to the veiled threats at Fire Hire about consequences if selections aren't made, regardless of qualifications, there is more than enough for us here at the FWFSA to tackle. Please keep yourselves and your crews safe, please try to keep your sanity...even if I'm losing mine, and most importantly know there are an awful lot of folks trying to resolve these issues on your behalf.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
6/25 California Wildfires
  • State EOC is not activated; remains at Duty Officer level.
  • Governor declared State of Emergency for Trinity and Monterey Counties on 23 Jun 08.
  • No fatalities reported
  • 3 injuries; 1 in Basin Complex Fire, 1 in Mendocino fire and 1 in SHU Lightning Complex fire.

Walker Fire - Lake County

  • 8,000 acres
  • 0% contained
  • 35 residences threatened
  • Rapid rates of spread

BTU Lightning Complex - Butte County

  • 17 fires; 3,900 acres
  • 5% contained
  • 413 residences threatened; evacuation in progress for 200 residents north of Concow Lake
  • State Responsibility Area (SRA)

SHU Lightning Complex - Trinity County

  • 153 fires; 8,000 acres
  • 5% contained
  • 150 residences and 20 commercial properties and power transmission lines threatened
  • 58 residences evacuated

Mendocino Lightning Complex - Mendocino County

  • 131 fires; 13,000 acres
  • 0% contained
  • 525 residences threatened

Basin Complex Fire - Monterey County

  • 2 fires; 8,500 acres
  • 3% contained
  • 500 residences, 20 commercial properties threatened
  • Mandatory evacuation order in place
  • Landslide south of fire closed Highway 1
  • Federal Responsibility Area (FRA)
  • No Nationally Significant Infrastructure has been reported to be threatened or impacted.
  • Shelters: 4; Population: 104
  • 5 residences destroyed (Monterey)
  • 16 residences destroyed (Butte)
  • Federal Support: Request sent to the Joint Director of Military Support (JDOMS) 24 Jun 08 for two additional
  • C-130 air tankers capable of transporting and employing the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), along with appropriate Command and Control and support personnel to assist in fire fighting. There are two MAFFS C-130s already deployed to the State. (Region IX)

JQ Public

6/25 UTF

On our mini-MAC call last night we were told there is over 400 UTFs for
overhead...mostly CA.


6/25 Ab just wanted all to know that NIMO Team Cable turned the Oliver fire
over to Cal Fire. This fire is 95% FRA. Sure like to see how much cost of
this fire is going up. Beat FS still gets the Bill on this one. Funny thing is the
state didn't want the fire during IA. Must be above my GS level.


6/25 OES, is now canceling name request orders for local government they are also wanting all orders to go thru them regardless of local agreements. They want to get paid an 18% administrative fee for dispatching people. These people are needed on the fires and OES is getting involved. This is not the time for them to try and stuff their wallets and throw money in the states huge budget mess. The feds are now coming after the Forest Service Employees on fires and saying they can not get paid for more then 14 hours a day. Great to see they come after us for cost savings, that 60$ I make working 2 hours of overtime and then sleeping in a tent unpaid.

6/25 Hey anyone on an IMT....

Where are those fire perimeters? Just chatting with some folks and noticing the lack
of perimeters out there...

checked OES, Fire Planning and Mapping Tools, GEOMAC... Just so you know
(we know you have other priorities) people are looking for them...

The world wants to know where you all are :-)

Take care and stay safe,

6/24 Fire Hire BC

Believe when I say this we aren't bashing you or
anyone down there (well maybe the morons who are
keeping you there). We know it isn't right to have you
down there when we have this siege we have now. I
can't believe that they are keeping some of you down
there until the 8th of July how ridiculous. Hang in
there and try not to strangle some of the clueless
line officers that think this is more important than
fighting fire. But really, do these people think that
our new hires are going to be moving to a new forest
while they are having this type of season?

Thanks for all the work you are doing down there.

6/24 Fire Hire BC

I don't think anyone meant to bash the fire folks who are busting their tails trying to make something work under our current direction. The problem lies with the way we "qualify" our applicants. Due to not being able to use IQCS qualifications as a leveling tool, raters are required to find other rating factors to use. Forget IFPM, etc as it doesn't apply here!

This all comes back to a professional series for fire folks. Those of us in the field often confuse OPM requirements to get a job with IQCS requirements to do the job. All of the fireline requirements we are used to are not included in the Forestry Technician PDs. That means Engine Boss is not required to get a Captain or Engineer position on an Engine, as Helicopter Manager is not necessary for Helicopters, and Crew Boss is not needed for Hotshots and/or Handcrews. This also means little to no requirement at the Chief Officer levels. Those of us old enough to remember "ability to achieve" statements used in the past, must also remember those statements still exist in the OPM regulations.

This is how our leadership can say they only hire qualified people to fill fire vacancies. Many fire modules currently have detailers that are qualified to do the job in place. It is possible that once the positions are filled permanently, they will have to be shut down due to folks not meeting the IQCS quals needed to run a fire module. This may be possible due to our leaders commitment to fill every job.

It is amazing that the "ability to achieve" statement has been argued for over my 30+ years, yet it still exists. This is just one more reason a fire series is necessary, to eliminate this hypocrisy from our leadership.

Job offers start this week, it will be interesting to see where this all ends.

Another SZ Chief Officer

6/24 Accountable Cost Management

I came to spout a few words about the Cost Management “BS,” but scrolling through the past days I found that just about everything I wanted to say had been said in one fashion or another, and I’m glad for that; a lot of folks on the same page. (Can that many people be wrong?)

One thing I didn’t see stated was how Molumby, and maybe it didn’t happen for all, pulled all of the Fed crew and engine bosses and above aside after briefing and tell them that they were being audited, and that they need to be able to justify any shift of 16 hours. I wonder if in a few week after the fire if they will go as far as requesting 214’s to justify shift length.

Another fun thing was indeed the early release of Fed resources in the name of “crew staggering.” All of which were replaced by R1 crews the next day. I wonder how Accountable Cost Management is going to gauge their success, perhaps by some estimated monetary value inflated to float a sinking ship.

A side note, Kern County Fires’ Rio Bravo Hotshots has made a deal with the state of California to have that crew paid portal-to-portal on all “state” fires. Maybe that's some outside the box thinking we could try.

The Green Gestapo
6/24 Abs,

Attached is the 6/23 0800 map for ca fires
Getting into any site for it has not been working.
I just got lucky and here is the updated map.

6/24 AB's and All,

Randy Moore and his side kick Jim Pena just conducted a news conference here in Sac. at McClellan to discuss the current fire situation. Of course they mislead the public again with our state of readiness. The best part was their lack of SA of regulations. The question was poised about fireworks and if they were looking at imposing a band on USFS lands. Randy Moore states and I quote that 'they will be addressing that issue with CAL FIRE and others'. Even the beginning FF knows any and all fire works are illegal on USFS lands. And we are suppose to trust these two leaders?????????????????????

Many of the R5 Fire Hire folks were in the conference room asking after that remark what is going on with our leadership.

Please sign me: Fire Hire Confusion
6/24 Abs,

Lots of readers are looking for Northern California fire information.
The NorCal GACC has a pretty good summary at this site http://gacc.nifc.gov/oncc/predictive/intelligence/situation/fireinfosummary.php

Hope this helps...


6/24 KnuckleDragon,

I don't know you or much of anything about you, but what I do know is what I have seen here on the forums and They Said. Your knowledge and expertise will be sorely missed, I am sorry to hear you say that this is the end for you, but I wish you the best. Keep posting, and keep sharing your knowledge of the business in whatever way you can. God knows, us young'ns need it.

Nor Cal Fire

6/24 your scanner feed

I have to say your scanner has been very busy and is one of the best feeds that have
been up for this lightning event. I have sent lots of my listeners in my group your link
to your feed. Thank you for the feed. Looks like we could even get busier this week
with more dry lightning moving in . Just so we don't crash your feed how many listeners
can your feed hold?


6/24 Abs:

You folks are great. Thanks for what you do.

I just spent most of an hour in total hug time here with my kids in SoCal. I had to admit
to them that I will not be working in wildland firefighting any longer. What prompted that
was a final acceptance on my part of the fact that I can no longer participate as a federal
retiree in wildland firefighting in America because of the way we get treated. I stuck it
out for six years beyond retirement....No mas.

What is coming up is very ugly. Everybody please be very careful. I will miss you one and

6/24 "One by one we are getting pulled out of the R5 fire hire to provide DO coverage (80% of those at the fire hire are BCs and above), team commitments and to keep from going below draw down. There were calls into the forests for more help and I'm sure we will not see anyone and rightfully so. Just about half the forests in the region have teams on them now. The good news is Mr. Mark Rey assured Sen. Feinstein and others we would be fully staffed by fire season. WE ARE NOT."

Some of us BC's and Div Chiefs actually volunteered to come to Sac to try to find the best available candidates to replace the leaving/retiring workforce. Yes, some of us DO care about the FS and R-5, and are concerned enough to come here and do FireHire.

The lightning had not hit yet when we got here, and over half of the Chiefs here have left now, to return home to fight fire.

So, a few of us are still here, trying our best to do SOMETHING to get qualified Firefighters on the trucks with all of you. Not just complaining about vacancies, or pay, or whatever. yes, I can make a lot more money if I went home to my Forest and got on a fire.

But how would that help the Agency in the long run? I think the bashing of us here at Fire Hire should calm down, as we are trying to HELP Forests, not keep a certain political appointee out of trouble.

We ARE looking for the most qualified candidates, but you would not believe some of the lousy, ill-prepared applications we are sorting thru to find the good ones.

Try being locked in McClellan, with no windows, for 10 hour days, 7 days a week, sorting thru thousands of apps. If you havent done Fire Hire, I recommend it. It will open your eyes.

Now, all of you on the line, be heads up, and I will be there as soon as I can to help, but this really is important, too. So be safe, and I will try my best to get you some quality Captains, FEO's AFEO's, and others to help.

Can't sign my real name this time...just call me, " a FireHire BC".
6/24 Dear South Ops,

The fire fighters on the Inyo National forest are begging you to send some piece of Equipment somewhere from our forest to help the many struggling fires around the state. We watch many pieces of Forest Service Fire Equipment drive up and down 395 past us to go to fires North and South of us. Currently available we have 8 type 3 fire Engines, 2 Type 2 Tactical Water Tenders, 2 type 4 Engines, 1 type 2 IA crew. We realize we are small compared to all the big South Zone Forest but certainly we could spare something from our forest. If you send more strike teams maybe you could include a few of our Engines. If our Forest is on draw down could someone please tell us so we know the Forest is turning down orders. I know everyone at South Ops is extremely busy doing there best for everyone but could ya try to include the Inyo on some of those orders, please, pretty please.


Please Let Us Help
6/23 Ziegler Fire of the Iron Complex... Fire coming from 3 directions.
Ash is falling on Five Waters structures -- hopefully not on its flashy
fuels in the meadow -- coming from the West... after that, from the
South and then, East.


Be safe all.
Peace out,


6/23 Making the rounds on the fs-web:

Attached is the latest version of the APA guide and the version presently
being used on the Los Padres burn over incident.

Please replace the version of the APA guide you have posted on the LLC
website with this one.

(See attached file: APA Guide 2008 version 6-5-08.doc)

We are labeling each revision with a date to emphasize that while this is a
formal and rather comprehensive safety investigation procedure, it is
explicitly designed to foster a learning culture. We believe the APA
guide must itself be learning document and consequently we will apply
"lessons learned" from each APA performed to make the guide more effective.

We held a fairly large after action review and dialog on the APA guide
last winter which resulted in several little improvements to the guide.
The Risk Management Council met recently again where we discussed the
recommendations section of the guide. This meeting generated this most
recent 'upgrade' to the guide.

In a nut shell, this version separates the recommendations from the rest of
the APA report. The rationale is because while the APA team is
(obviously) intimately familiar with the details of the accident - and
should use this knowledge to develop recommendations - the team likely
doesn't have the fuller perspective needed to recommend changes to a huge
agency like the FS or to a broad culture like wildland fire management.
In other words, we've learned from experience that the recommendations
coming out of an APA need some type of a vetting process.
Therefore, the recommendations section is now separate so as not to impede
release of the rest of the report with what could be a time consuming
vetting of the recommendations.

Comments and feedback to the guide is always welcome.

Steve Holdsambeck

Nice job, Steve. Thanks for your contributions to Fire Safety and Lessons Learned. Ab.

6/23 To Retention,

Orange County Fire Authority plans to hire 40 Firefighters, Cycle 1 (testing) starts this weekend 6/28. (I was told they plan to hire Forest Service employees.) As other County, City and Department of Defense Agencies hire this and target Forest Service employees our agency will take tremendous hits. I personally want to stay but I ultimately work for my family as a provider and I love my job and co-workers but am I just having fun, I have friends and I go off forest. While my family and I barely make ends meet, living check to check, sometimes with the utilities getting shut off. I hope our fighting pays off and we get what we deserve.

Thank You Casey and AB for all that you do for me and my family.


This Community wouldn't be what it is without the great members! Ab.

6/23 Ab,

hope this concerns someone at a higher GS level than myself who will ask
some questions... 8 engines on the Inyo staffed and no movement...

Act Now
6/23 Re: It couldn't be predicted, or prevented?

"Moments later, a top state fire official standing at Schwarzenegger's side offered a grim update: The figure was actually 842 fires, said Del Walters, assistant regional chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. All but a couple were in the northern part of the state."

"This is an unprecedented lightning storm in California, that it lasted as long as it did, 5,000 to 6,000 lightning strikes," Walters said. "We are finding fires all the time."

Not an unprecedented lightning storm in California, but a similar event that occurred (with similar results) in the late 1960's, mid 1970's, late 1987, and late 1999... The big difference was that this event occurred in late June as opposed to late August / early September as in previous events. The slides were ALL the same.

One event was the result of instability as the result of in-bedded shortwaves moving ashore northwards and into a high pressure system that was retreating, during a period of heightened drought and a heat wave..... while the four other events were the result of predicted monsoonal moisture as a result of an intensifying four-corners / Rocky Mountain high with in-bedded shortwaves hitting the south and into Mexico.... same triggering mechanism.... same results with the exception of SoCal rainfall.

/s/ Student of Fire Science
6/23 Folks:

It is with a sad heart that I announce that Lana Follansbee recently passed away. She was a member of the Kern County Fire Department Training Staff. We often forget those folks who support the wildland community, she was one of those.

I had the opportunity to work with Lana as a student, instructor and as a colleague. I am not sure how many folks out there have certificates that went thru Lana’s hands, but I have a feeling that it would be in the thousands. It is important that we remember those who support us in our jobs, as they are just as important to our mission and the fighting of fires. Without their support I am not sure we could accomplish what we do. I know that as a colleague and with the privilege of managing the Vandenberg Interagency Training Center, she made my job easier. As an instructor she helped me when I needed it the most. I know that I will miss her and although most of you did not know her, the fingerprints of her life are on your certificates.

sign me: A representative of "All of Kern County and those folks who attended training at Olive Drive"

6/23 Re: "We are going to hire every qualified applicant."

Forest Service to beef up firefighting ranks

Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, June 21, 2008

"We are going to hire every qualified applicant," said Janice Gauthier, the U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman covering the 18 national forests in California."

What every happened to hiring the most qualified applicants? . and retaining them?.... not hiring every qualified applicant.

Rest of story needs fact checking also.... There seems to be a disconnect over whether these positions are the current or future leadership positions, and whether temporary, term, apprentice, permanent career seasonal (PCS, 13/13, 18/8, 20/6) are all being fully included in the data and talking points coming out of the RO and WO. All of the fore-mentioned steps are some of the hurdles in providing successful recruitment and retention initiatives..... People don't "jump" to Permanent Full Time (PFT, 26/0) in the FIRE PROGRAM........

Mark Rey (USDA, Forest Service Preparedness 2002 - Present) = Mike Brown (FEMA, Katrina Response). One got sacked, the other continues......

6/23 I had heard the FS had gotten a new "super server" to handle InciWeb ...
which has been down all day.

Anyone know anything?

Uncle Louie
6/23 Thanks Chuck,

I am cc:ing this important advisory to They Said at wildlandfire.com .

Issued a day late and a dollar short. Most field users still have not seen the advisory in the field.

This should have been issued by NoOps/SoOps Predictive Services two months ago proactively, rather than reactively. Normal winter rainfall following years of drought, followed by a record lack of rainfall in the spring growing season for shrubs and chaparral. This has contributed to an abundance of fine flashy fuels, and a significant lack of moisture during the chaparral and shrubland "green-up" periods.

The early fires in Southern California in April and May should have been an easy "eye opener".... but no advisories...... or no "heads up" from the Intel community.

Best place for it to have widespread viewing is on TheySaid.

From: "Chuck Bushey"
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2008 4:40 PM
To: firenet@lists1.safesecureweb.com
Subject: [Firenet] California Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory

There has been a "Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory" issued for California, USA. Please see the attached PDF and share with your wildland fire contacts and within training sessions as appropriate. Especially share and discuss with those that may soon be dispatched to California.

With 911 new ignitions over the previous 48 hours and long-term persistent drought this California wildland fire season shows all the signs of being with us for a long time to come.

Chuck Bushey
IAWF President and FireNet Moderator

6/23 Kevin,

Link to The Supply Cache (a site sponsor) that has some of the items that you are looking for.


6/23 In answer to Kevin looking to fill his kit with publications, here is a
web site with the catalogue and links to how to order. You need to FAX in
your order form printed from the site along with credit card info and
shipping instructions. For the Mob Guide NFES 2092 and the Red book go to:
www.nwcg.gov/ and choose the Catalogue link. You may also want
to get an IRPG, Incident Response Pocket Guide while there.

For the Business Management Handbook go to :
www.nwcg.gov/teams/ibpwt/index.php The whole thing is available
on-line or you can order a CD which would be easier in your travels,
assuming you will have a computer.

White ash
6/23 Dear Just Curious:

I have 4 email addresses you should send your post to:





Remember, in her post-Esperanza video message, Chief Kimbell said it
was a "virtue" to challenge questionable actions. Maybe you ought to
remind her. Do yourself a favor though and don't use your federal email

Fedwatcher II
6/23 The IMT web sites may have been hit by the same Trojan virus that hit the
LLC sites. The message below has a link that may help fix the problem.



Subject: LLC websites hit by Trojan virus.

Hello LLC customers,

Our websites have been hacked and redirected to other sites that install a
virus code that injects code into our sites and those who come to our
sites. This has happened to over 510,000 other websites over the weekend.
We can expect to hear from many of our customers concerned about their
computers becoming infected with this virus.

We want to help them all by directing them to the link below and advising
them to get with their IT folks in order to ensure that they have their
sites and computers cleared of the virus code.

Best regards,

David A. Christenson, Center Assistant Manager
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

6/23 Re possible virus on the fairly new fed IMT website


Late last night I was doing the same thing, same site, with the same result,
but I just shut down and called it a night. I figured I had too much stuff going
on at one time and locked up the computer but now I am a bit worried.

So what virus is it, clues to remove etc sure would be nice.


Hopefully, someone will let us know. Ab.

6/23 Kevin:

Try, www.nwcg.gov/pms/pubs/catalog/catalog.pdf.
Hopefully you'll find the stuff you're looking for.


6/23 Accountable Cost Management

Just curious, does anyone know where the Accountable Cost Management team, or the Deputy Forest supervisor from the LP are staying while assigned to their incident? My bet is that it is not at the firecamp, standing in long lines for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and showers or sleeping in tents. Seems they may be spending more money trying to save in many instances. I am sure their per diem will be more than the Fed Fire Fighters working on this Fed fire. Quite a shame to have a "titled" leadership type person doing the things that are happening to Fed workers, while no worry about paying the 24 hour shifts to others. Come on- limiting tours to 10 days while all this is going and cutting hours to our employees. I would like to see the hours that these "Accountable" teams are accruing and are they really working their documented times. Hmm, what GS level does it take to monitor which crews may be in camp early - must be higher than an 11. Do they have a calculator degree?

Just Curious

6/23 The Ab email account received the following info this morning regarding the fed Incident Management Team website. After insuring all safety features were turned on, I visited several of the links to get more info. While I didn't receive any virus warnings, the pages did fail to load, most likely due to the fact that I wasn't allowing any "scripts" to run. Here's a cut/paste from the reporting email:

I did a google search for "incident management teams" and it hit the link from your wlf.com to the IMT center where all the teams are listed "old" site "new" site. I opened the link and my computer went wacky. It froze up, I logged off and when I logged back on my computer would not open windows and it stated I had a virus.

Sooo, I went looking for my local CTSP (Computer Tech Spec). All three came over and they started working on it. They went into safe mode and found the virus and deleted it. One of the CTSPs is an expert and virus removal. One of the CTSPs asked me where I was on the net when this happen. I told him I was going into the IMT site. He stated (much to my surprise), "oh yah someone loaded a virus on that site and your the second person we heard of getting the virus".

If anyone has further information on this issue, please let us know. Thanks, OA

6/22 as "Never forget Black Tuesday" said:

It is imperative those with an opinion/voice on what is going on share that with their elected officials.

I know he's gonna probably learn to hate me for this but all of you in R5 who are witnessing this nonsense called the Accountable Cost Management and any other pertinent, relevant information from the field about lack of resources etc., need to email Devin Rhinerson in Senator Feinstein's office at Devin_Rhinerson@feinstein.senate.gov. Rachael Taylor is maxed out on issues so we can pile it on Devin for a while!

I have communicated our concerns about the impact of this "plan" on the fire community with Mr. Moore and will talk further with him in a couple of weeks when we meet in Vallejo along with Mr. Pena and Mr. Hollenshead.

The Firehire going on now is a joke and was presented as such in DC. How anyone could assume that B/Cs and others could "vacation" in Sacramento in June/July hiring folks without concern for being called to actually go to fires during the summer (what a concept) is about as silly as calling FMOs and ICs to a "seminar" on the Accountable Cost Management Plan in Sacramento July 1st, something that should have been done in December or January. Obviously those 600+ starts allow for plenty of time to go and discuss an accounting plan that might have merit for static FS programs, but not a dynamic one such as FIRE.

Anyway, Congress is already aware of this and it'll be interesting to see OMB's take on the use of this plan with FIRE i.e. cutting crews loose after 10 days while non-federal folks being paid 24 hrs a day by that same Forest Service go unscrutinized etc.

I have to try and accept the possible fact that the folks in R5's RO are simply following orders from the WO and maybe they too think its idiotic but who the heck is going to stand up to the Chief and tell her so. It is amazing the commentary coming out of the WO about all this from folks who wish to heck they could make their comments public but have to consider their paychecks.

Personally, I hope those at Firehire don't find a single qualified candidate. If they do, is it illegal to have them sign something saying they'll stay with the FS for 10 years or more (tongue in cheek).

While I have the immense honor & pleasure of dealing with this nuttiness, I can only hope that all of you stay safe, take care of yourselves and your crews and try (I know its hard) to ignore the bean counters. As several senators from both sides of the aisle told me in DC last week, the Forest Service will lose its fire program through default, i.e. mismanagement. Applying the ACM to FIRE is about as looney as I've seen. Yes, that is a personal opinion based upon 25 years in the fire service inclusive of time as an Asst. Chief of Ops in charge of hiring, budgets etc.

Stay safe, use your non-degreed heads and get home to your families safe.


6/23 Ab,

I've been a member of your site for a year and I've been very satisfied with the forums and the content on them. I do have a question for you or someone out there but I didn't know where to post it. I'm currently an Single Resource Boss trainee and in assembling my kit I would like to obtain a few publications. I'm looking for the National Interagency Mobilization Guide NFES 2092, Interagency Standards for Fire & Aviation Operations (red book), and the Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook (I have an old version of this book and am looking for the updates). I have attempted to go through my department wildland coordinator who in turn referred me to my state FMO/AFMO who have given me the run around stating the they don't have extra copies and that I need to order my own. I don't mind doing this since they come bound and professionally printed but they can't seem to put me in the direction of where I can order them. Is there a website that I can order these from or another method of obtaining them? Seems to me they should have warehouses full of stuff like this and should be more than happy to send me a copy, especially since it could directly effect how I do portions of my job.

Thanks for your help,

Kevin <snip>

Anyone have an answer? Thanks. Ab.

6/23 In this crazy stressful time of frustrated hiring and congressional statements... a positive note...

To the CNF engine 33 and the other FS attendees at the "a Journey for 9/11" event Saturday in San Diego- Thanks. It was good to see the green Type 3 next to the red Type 3. Also thanks to all those other fire folks for coming out in the blues and pavement pretties. It was fun for a morning to be around folks dedicated to each other (first responders regardless of classification) and honoring all of those who responded to 9/11.

FS you were a class act and it was a fun to chat with a few of you- you reminded me why I miss wildland... the people. If you ever head out to the city of SD get Ab to send you my contact info and I'll buy you a cold one if I'm in town.
If you want a moment of positive energy check out: http://www.ajourneyfor911.info/

Take care and stay safe out there,
6/23 Map of all the fires or complexes of fires burning in CA.

Write your congress people.


6/22 I just completed emails to my congressional representatives.

I wrote briefly about this historic fire situation that is now upon us. I explained in detail the effects of those firefighting resources that no longer are staffed on various units. I used examples provided in this forum and info gathered from speaking with my peers. I provided detail on how fire hire is in progress in the middle of this historic event. Fire Hire is trying to pull off the Mark Rey Miracle. I ENCOURAGE EACH OF YOU TO DO THE SAME... EMAIL. Contact a family member to help. Keep the pressure on.

Fact: More Type 4 and 5 incidents are going to escape because of Forest Service mismanagement on the retention issue in Region-5.

Fact: More Type 3, 2 and 1 incidents are going to occur because of Forest Service mismanagement on the retention issue in Region-5.

Fact: The cost difference of a fire picked up during IA vs a large fire would of paid for retention payments for all FAM employees in R-5.

Fact: This region-wide event is going to now increase the surplus fire preparedness funds at year end. The Region should be asking today for approval to use those funds to supply retention checks to each R-5 FAM employee.

We don't get blue flu, we don't decrease production, we will go forward and do our best. However, we will not be quiet about these facts.

SA to All............ Keep the emails flowing. People are listening........


6/22 The new fire activity has stimulated the Jobs Wanted section of the Jobs Page. There is also a Type 4 Engine for sale on the Classifieds Page/Heavy Equipment area. OA.
6/22 Go to www.nepenthebigsur.com/images/weather-cam.phpl for Gallery fire cam.

Keep up the good work!

old lpf

6/22 Well it has happened just as Mr. Rey said that it wouldn't.

The North end of R-5 is lighting up with lightning fires and folks are screaming for resources. Appears that there are not enough to be had as there are not enough staffed to meet the large fire needs as well as Initial attack. Also doesn't appear that the prepositioning of resources worked either.

Large fires are being micromanaged by bean counters and line officers that are clueless while very competent ICs hands are tied for strategic and tactical decisions by the same people.

Hand crews are being released to transfer costs off of the incident and put it on local units only to be reordered in 3-4 days.

While the incompetent Forest line officer plans for the fire to last 90 days which will suck up resources that can be better used elsewhere.

Hummmm, this smacks of fire use with no plan, hiding behind AMR. Engine crews are in short supply due to staffing levels and Chief officers are buried in the BS of fire hire. Its about time to crank off a couple good sized fires in Socal due to the hot dry weather there to suck up resources. I sure do hope a Feinstein staffer is tracking all this stuff and keeping good notes so that Mr. Rey can be crucified at the next hearings.

It is time for him to go and for the agency to pull their head out of the dark place and allow the only program in the agency to function as it can and does damn well.

Old Green and Gray guy

6/22 Casey, AB's and Senator Feinstein,

One by one we are getting pulled out of the R5 fire hire to provide DO coverage (80% of those at the fire hire are BCs and above), team commitments and to keep from going below draw down. There were calls into the forests for more help and I'm sure we will not see anyone and rightfully so. Just about half the forests in the region have teams on them now. The good news is Mr. Mark Rey assured Sen. Feinstein and others we would be fully staffed by fire season. WE ARE NOT.

So with IA success low and I'm sure it can be contributed to lack of engines and crews not being fully staffed and available 7 days a week. It appears that mother nature is on our side this time. Multiple starts along with Mr. Rey being in the region this week is priceless as he will not be able to hide the facts that we are understaffed, un-supported and tax payers are being lied too about our readiness. Oh yeah, lets not forget we are still paid more then CAL FIRE. The drop dead date for having all job offers out (342 vacancies) was suppose to be July 7th. They have moved it to July 8th. And I'm sure they will move it again.

I would like to see and hear Mr. Reys and Jim Pena's reaction when they see only 10 or so folks left to try and skimp the hiring process along as we work for line officers NOT them. PRICELESS


6/22 Ab,

Thought some people might be interested in hear about this...

Senator Bingaman visited the Dripping Springs Fire today for a tour and update. He was very engaging and interested in what was happening on the fire and was responsive to the media that attended. I had a chance to spend some time 1-on-1 with him (and his assistant) while driving around the fire. He was interested in hearing from the boots on the ground concerning fire preparedness. I brought up the hearings that were conducted recently where Casey Judd testified. He mentioned he was very impressed with Casey and felt Casey had a clear picture of what was happening. The Senator inquired about fire preparedness and he specifically asked about our firefighters and how much of the year they worked. He was shocked when I told him that they did not work year round. We also talked about the fact that our firefighters are not firefighters at all but rather range and forestry technicians. Again he was shocked and mentioned he had never heard that before. We also managed to get a little discussion in about the weird 401 issue. His assistant took notes and asked me to call her for additional information. The final thing I would like to relate is the discussion concerning the concept of a single federal fire agency. He is aware that the discussion has been going on for a long time. He also knows that it is more about territory (and 50% of the USFS budget) than efficiency or anything else. He was not encouraging that it would get resolved like we would want to see. We then talked about it really being a legacy project for someone since it would take a tremendous amount of time and political capital to accomplish.

All-in-all it was a great 3-hour opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. What I got out of it was he cares about wildland firefighters, is aware of the pay problem, knows about the single fire service concept, and mostly is not real encouraging that anything significant will get done anytime soon BUT issues are being worked on.

The one thing he said that I thought was interesting “The Department of Agriculture says they are ready for fire season; but I guess the fire season will say if that is true or not.” I did mention to his assistant that verifying Mark Rey’s information might be a good idea and Mark Davis and Casey Judd would be good routes for that.

His ear is good, his heart is with us…but he is a politician; the proof is in the pudding.


6/22 Come on Casey you know it is all about the money; it has nothing to do about them not understanding. They know exactly what they are doing…what their genetics drive them to do...look at the details and forget the mission. By diverting attention to inane worthless exercises in stupidity (i.e. removing jerky from camp or cutting crew hours) they can justify their own jobs by showing cost reductions. I don’t see anyone who in the upper management structure that wants to tackle the big issues…so they wallow in the little ones that they can control and win.

Lose an engine from a forest then bring in a contractor. Lose qualified IC’s and other overhead then bring in Accountable Cost Managers. Lose experienced personnel then hire new untrained people. Lose more people and then just recalculate the figures. You know the drill all too well.

The non-fire admin types have no clue other than paper, budgets, costs, and ensuring their own job survivability. It won’t be fixed till there is ONE federal fire agency run by solid fire leadership with our own budget. In the mean time…keep up the good fight Casey all of us paying members are behind you. We are shooting for a 100% FWFSA shop this year!


6/22 Ab,

I hope that your will post this following article on L.O.D. Firefighter Brother Kevin Pryor that was forwarded to me.



A funeral mass honoring Brother Kevin Pryor will be held next week.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 24th, 2008. Services will begin at 12:00noon.

WHERE: St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church, 5801 Kanan Road, Westlake Village, Ca 91362. CLICK HERE FOR A MAP

ATTIRE: Class A or Station Uniform

A graveside service will follow the mass at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks-Griffin Memorial Park, 5600 Lindero Canyon Road, Westlake Villiage, Ca. 91632

A reception will be held in the church hall immediately following grave side services.

APPARATUS: Public Safety Agencies wishing to send apparatus and personnel to the services please contact Captain Mike Liberto via email at mliberto@nbfd.net , or call (949) 910-8991 with the number of personnel and apparatus planning to attend.


Ron Serabia


As you may know, Newport Beach Firefighter Kevin Pryor died of an aneurysm shortly after returning from a strike team assignment to northern California. His death has been ruled LOD. The following is a great story of his transport from the hospital to the funeral home.

----- Original Message -----
Subject: Fw: Kevin Pryor


Fish called me last night and informed me that you had worked with Kevin in
Pismo Beach. If I had already known this I forgot, blame it on age I guess.

I wanted to tell Fish this story to relate to you but I got a little emotional
and couldn't get out, so I thought I would write to you as the story is worth
telling. I won't get all the facts down as they exactly occurred, but will get
most of it right as told to me the Newport Fire OPS Chief, Dave Mais, who
was in charge of this operation.

Kevin had been on life support since Monday so that his organs could be
harvested, that was finished late Wednesday afternoon or early evening. At this
point the funeral home was to come to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana
and transport Kevin to the mortuary in Ventura. Firefighters and police officers
from Newport would accompany him in procession from Santa Ana to Ventura,
this is about an 80 mile trip. As you know this is standard for us and the cops,
Kevin will have firefighters standing vigil around the clock until he is buried
on Tuesday.

So there they were at West Med with firefighters from a number of other local
agencies there to honor Kevin as he is to be moved from the hospital to hearse.
Except there is no hearse. Dave makes a call and discovers a communication
breakdown and the hearse won't be there for an hour and a half. Unacceptable.
Dave orders a Newport Beach Fire Department ambulance to respond code 3
to the hospital and they will transport Kevin themselves to Ventura.

You have to love the initiative. Well, the first problem with the plan is that
the hospital staff are reluctant to release Kevin to the Fire Department, and
there is no casket, Kevin at this point is in a body bag. Dave says tough, we're
taking him. The hospital capitulates and the plan is to take Kevin in the body
bag in the ambulance to Ventura.

You would think the problem is solved, but no. They now have all these
firefighters and cops lined up at attention from inside the hospital out to
ambulance to pay tribute to Kevin. Dave realizes that to properly honor Kevin
they need an American Flag, which the hearse driver was to bring to drape the
casket. They have no hearse so they have no casket and now no flag. So Dave is
mulling over this situation and notices one of our guys lowering the flag in
front of the hospital, he thinks; "cool Mike is lowering the flag to half staff
for when we drive by with Kevin". But the flag doesn't stop at half staff, Mike
lowers it all the way down, unhooks it, walks over and hands it to Dave. "Here's
the flag."

By now it's almost 10PM as they are leaving Santa Ana for Ventura. What was
unexpected, though, was that on the way, at almost every freeway overpass, fire
units were lined up with the firefighters standing at attention. Where there
were ladder trucks, they had the ladders up with the American Flag flying, the
local cops had the intersection blocked at those locations also. That's a lot of
overpasses and a lot of firefighters and a lot of cops. As they entered LA
County they were joined by a group of LA County Sheriff's motor officers, Dave
guessed 15 or so, who provided a traffic break in front of and behind the
procession though the Sheriff's jurisdiction. I've been in a couple of
procession for both cops and firefighters but have never seen a scene as this
was described to me.

When they now arrive in Ventura, nearing midnight, Ventura fire units were lined
up at the bottom of the off ramp and escorted the procession to the mortuary
where more units were staged. They all lined up at attention as Kevin was then
moved into the mortuary. Kevin's family was there and I guess pretty happy with
the honors being bestowed on him.

None of these activities were planned or asked for, I found this amazing, but
then, maybe not. I know that as Kevin's Dad is retired LAPD the law enforcement
community took a special interest in this, yet I don't think that's all of it.

So anyway, Dave tells Kevin's Dad this whole story and informs him that he will
provide a new flag for the funeral. Apparently Kevin's Dad is taken with how the
flag came to be "the flag" that it is now "The Flag".

So now you know why there will be an old tattered flag covering the casket during
the services.

Anyway, I think I got most of this story right with very little embellishment.

See you soon.

6/22 OK... Mark Rey's comments are on the record as well as the Associate Deputy Secretary (James Cason) from Interior during the recent hearings in regards to the year 2008 preparedness levels.

Got a chuckle when the Committee Staff posted the Rey and Cason testimony as the " Rey and Casey Joint Testimony " on their website. It showed that staffers weren't doing their work and fact checking and following up on needed actions. It's funny they would make such a simple mistake since the testimony of Rey was 180 degrees from the testimony of the FWFSA that Casey provided.

Now that fire season has started in earnest throughout California (Region 5), as well as in Regions 2, 3, and the southern portion of Region 6..... I wonder how the fire managers and line officers really feel about "increased management efficiencies" and the "ability to move resources where needed"?

Over all, the United States Forest Service and other agencies "are not as prepared for the wildfire season as the agencies would like us to blindly believe".... lessons learned and not forgotten by the leadership of the FWFSA, firefighters, and fire managers throughout the US..

When is the point that the public and Congress need to call BS?

6/22 Ab,

R5 Hotshot crews on the Indians Fire are being sent home on day 10…with an expected
“re-order” date that is four days later? What this means is.. per the fire business handbook
“paid” days off can only be charged to the incident p code if a resource has been assigned
14 days. By sending them home early, days off are a “forest” decision and subsequently a
forest expense. The LPF may get some hotshots back… but don’t expect the same crews
back. They may get none, if all are sent to the lightning bust fires. Nothing like trying to
finesse cost savings...

Penny Pincher

6/22 Some photos of the Iron Complex of fires on the Shasta Trinity National Forest.


Ironside Lookout area got hammered. We had 9 starts on our side, 10 if the Big Mountain
snag holds over. Amazing thunder and lightning, started in the afternoon of the 20th, wow,
only yesterday. Blasted us again last night, actually this morning at 0230-0315. Very cool.

I hear there are as many starts on the other side of the mountain. Swartzlander's NorCal I
Team is coming to manage.

Initiation for the new lookout. <grin>


6/22 I just heard a rumor that they're considering reducing the shifts from 16 hours to
14 hours as a cost savings measure on the Indians Fire. Can anyone confirm this?



I sure hope you're wrong about Molumby being made a sacrifice but fear you may
be right. It is irresponsible for the Forest Service to put a non-trained, non-skilled,
bean counter "technician" and a non-trained, unqualified, non-professional line
officer in charge of tactical decisions.

We don't put these constraints on "non-professional" line officers who make poor
decisions that end up costing lots of money with no consequences but we will put
these constraints on firefighters that can cost lives. So, are they willing to accept
the potential consequences of their actions as "decision-makers"? My guess is no,
they'd be protected while the firefighters would be left holding the bag.


6/21 I spent 5 years on initial attack for the BLM, in the 1970s. We contended with the unprofessional and ignorant actions of the untrained and arrogant biologists, archeologists and land managers inserting themselves into our decision cycles, crew manning, and readiness. We spent hours painting outhouses or picking up garbage instead of readying or testing our equipment or ensuring crew cohesiveness, physical fitness, and training. I respect those of you who make the difficult task of squeezing readiness and adequate equipment and personnel out of the BLM or the Forest Service.

Old Smoke Eater

6/21 I thought others may find this amusing.

I think we are all aware of the current fire situation we are experiencing in the west. Large fires in the south and the recent lightning busts occurring in the north. Listening to the North Ops conference call, it appears many resources are or will be ordered to staff the many fires caused by lightning.

I want you all to know that currently there are approximately 15 division/ IC 3's, and other qualified folks working on the Region 5 fire hire, to appease and keep Mr. Rey out of jail. The time frame was pushed up to get all this done before the Congressional hearings of which Mr. Rey is appearing to discuss our suppression preparedness.

We must hurry in this task and hire anyone with an application to make this work for him. Sorry we can not help you on the fires, but I must get back to the apps.


6/21 While it is true that most agencies have a policy that say's that they accept other agencies qualifications, that does not apply to resource typing. That has been delegated to NWCG, which both Feds and state folks have representation.

One June 5, 2008 NWCG issued a memo that states all Type 1 crews now have to meet IHC standards. http://www.nwcg.gov/general/memos/nwcg-004-2008.doc (NWCG download 124 K doc file)

6/21 Too Young To Be So Numb:
Thanks for the chuckle. But for a healthy sense of humor, most of us fire folk would be institutionalized or have our pictures up in the Post Office by now. As usual, irony is sweetest when painfully accurate.

I remember the 1985 Butte Fire with the 70 or so deployments (not sure we had that term yet). It was a tad west of Montana, on the Salmon NF. I still have the slides and the spooky memories. I remember the original videotape with the familiar names and faces. I don't recall a witch-hunt or a hangin' tree after that one, but then, we were awfully naive in those days. We've learned so much since then, haven't we?

Old Boot
6/21 Yactak and Fish01,

Please, nowhere in my post did I state that CAL FIRE
crews don’t do good work. I’m fully aware of their
capabilities. I didn’t infer that our standards are
“almighty” in any sense. Nor did I infer that their
leadership is lacking in experience or knowledge.

In my honest opinion, which, along with 2 bucks will
get ya a cup of coffee, the Type 1 crew definition,
what I envision when I order a Type 1 crew, doesn’t
fit with the CAL FIRE crews.

Again, I never said they don’t do good work but as far
as being able to split into separate squads and take
on multiple tasks, having the overhead structure and
qualifications to run divisions, dozers and still
field a crew, etc. etc, there’s really no comparison.
That’s what I was getting at.

And when it comes down to it, we just all still move

And yeah, unfortunately for our agency a lot of former
hotshot captains and superintendents are running CAL
FIRE crews. That was their choice and more power to
them, our loss is their gain. Some of my friends and
co-workers have made the jump and have told me that
they know the tactical limitations of their Type 1
crews and act accordingly.

But as you've explained to me, perhaps I should worry
about cleaning up my own house and not worry about
what other agencies may or may not be doing.

Carry on and have a safe season.

6/21 Management of the Indians Fire on the Los Padres National Forest:

I think Molumby (IC on one of the CAIIMTs in charge of the Indians Fire) is being made the ultimate first sacrifice in the Accountable Cost Management process. (Molumby is not someone I know or talk with; this is through the grapevine.)

He's had a Cost Apportionment Technician tell him that a tactical (and associated cost) deal he (Molumby) made with his counterpart will not be paid by the USFS. Ken Hefner, Deputy Forest Supervisor, is singly signing the daily cost apportionment sheets – the ones that ICs sign that say the IC knows how all resources are used each day and who should pay for which. If I were an IC, I'd be furious – all the responsibility and decisions are being made by people who have neither the qualifications nor the experience.

As someone said on theysaid isn’t it ironic that Line Officers are not in professional series positions, but IFPM is attempting to put the majority of Fire into professional series?

Maybe Congress needs to investigate. How can safe professional decisions be made with nonprofessionals who don't know firefighting looking over your shoulder?


6/21 Thank you yactac.

I was going to enter the fray on the slight to CDF handcrews but you said it all.
I have several "retired" FS friends who now lead and train those crews.

NO lack of leadership or experience there!


6/21 I'll be out of service (OOS) for a few days (or so until the weather cools down some) until I can complete the WCT under other "real world" scenarios not provided for by the initial researcher and peer reviewers.... Tried it today.... 10 seconds short of a passing test. Their test, based upon a flawed concept developed post South Canyon without adequate controls or options....

Took the WCT under "real world" firefighting conditions today.... ~100 degrees F and low RH (Excessive Heat Warning from the NWS in place). Worked my butt off, but couldn't meet the standard developed and peer reviewed in Montana as "work capacity related" and a standard for all areas that was instituted. While I feel bad for failing my WCT, I'm in pretty good shape, and know the standard was based upon bad info, and the researchers controls, assumptions, and thesis of why the standard is needed.

I won't be able to resume my duties as ICT2(T), OSC2, ICT3, Duty Officer etc.... until I pass a test that is "supposed to be demonstrative" of the work capacity I (and others) perform. Hmm... how much effort does it take to push the transmit button on a King Radio... or use a Cell Phone...

The WCT standard needs to be looked at factually... and critically....and how, why, and from whom it was approved and WHY it was initially supported... if we ever expect ourselves to be an HRO trying to reduce or eliminate our injuries and deaths, we NEED to oppose a FIX (WCT) that is injuring or killing more through stupidity in action.

6/20 To waterdog on "portal to portal" and to all on "Accountable Cost Management"


The FWFSA is not looking for support from Line Officers regarding portal to portal pay for firefighters. They do not pay dues to the FWFSA and our responsibility and loyalty is to our firefighters, not line officers who, in many cases, seem intent on dismantling the fire program of the forest service.

The issues facing our firefighters contain a number of ironies, one in particular about portal to portal & line officers.

Given the fact that line officers are responsible for diverting/siphoning (you choose the term) hundreds of millions of dollars in preparedness funds away from the field to pay for non-fire projects, ologists etc., and, given the fact that if those dollars weren't misused and actually funded the fire preparedness resources they were intended to fund, then there would be sufficient preparedness resources in the field to REDUCE the number of incidents (24 hrs +) that portal to portal would be compensable thus REDUCING the cost of portal to portal to the Agency. That to me is ironic.

As for this "Accountable Cost Management" stuff, I only learned about this a few days ago while in DC. Obviously it was a surprise to many FMOs too. I am rather surprised that it apparently was not presented to the R5 BOD but rather "sprung" on the region. I'd have the same feelings a number of FMOs have shared with me about this...that the WO & RO apparently don't trust them to do the job they've been doing for years.

Oddly, the bean counters want to focus on when federal firefighters get dinner and trivial things like that while ignoring the cooperators and other non-federal resources that are sitting idly by while those same bean counters are paying them ( the non-federal resources) for a full 24 hrs...

Fortunately, I was delighted to hear from the R5 RO today and will be traveling to Vallejo to meet with Mr. Moore, Mr. Pena and Mr. Hollenshead on July 7th. Hopefully, we can find some common ground because no one on the fire side seems to understand what the heck is going on.

If the RO hasn't seen enough losses of its firefighters to date, this inequitable cost accounting stuff is likely to send a few FMOs packing. Hopefully when I meet the RO folks I can try and convey that it isn't the federal infrastructure they need to look at as far as costs, it is their over reliance on resources that cost far more.

I personally don't understand the difficulty in understanding that if the Agency "strengthened" the inherently less expensive federal infrastructure through simple pay & benefit reforms, inclusive of proper classification and understood that in the 21st century the fire program has to be managed by fire people and that fire funding MUST get to the field and not diverted, the need for expensive non-federal resources would be reduced SAVING $$. I simply don't understand the difficulty for some in understanding that. All those non-degreed fire folks and even degreed fire folks seem to understand.

Anyway, lots, going on in DC. More to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
6/20 noname51,

As you may (or may not) know, most agencies have a policy that say's that they accept other agencies qualifications. The Federal Agencies (including the US Forest Service) adhere to this. As far as CAL FIRE's crews being type 1 crews, if one looks at the type 1 standards, the Cal Fire crews meet them. Notice I did not say "Hotshot" standards.

That being said, I have worked with numerous inmate crews that put many hotshot crews to shame. It is all about the leadership. And let me tell you, more and more CAL FIRE crews are being run by ex FS captains and bc's.

Since you infer in your post that the US Forest Service standards are almighty high.... One of the reasons I left the US Forest Service after 32 years was due the R5 forest I was on letting their FFMO and AFFMO act as IC's on major incidents with NO Incident Commander qualifications. That forest also added qualifications to Incident Qualification Cards of line officers and non fire personnel that the individuals were not qualified to fill.

So, before one throws stones at other agencies, one should clean up one's own house and not worry about what other agencies may or may not be doing.


6/20 MOC4546,

All of those crews you mentioned are not IHCs, some
of them are Type 1 Hotshot crews (the ones that are
certified, with proper overhead in place, etc.,
etc.) but are a regionally funded resource. If the
crews don't meet the standards, they are Type 2 IA.

IHCs are funded nationally (If I'm wrong, please
someone correct me.)

Also, there was a note that came out from NWCG about
all Type 1 crews following IHC standards in being
qualified as a Type 1 crew. I believe this was a post
on this site a couple weeks back.

Still boggles my mind about CALFIRE and their "Type 1
crew" standards. Inmate crews are not Type 1 crews.
They can't do a lot of things IHCs and Hotshot crews

Hope I didn't confuse you,

6/20 AG HS to AG IHC:

Way to go, AG!!

Does Fogata-san know about this?

s/: an old "competitor" from RV

6/20 Peace out

After 7 years with the Forest Service I am heading out to safer pastures. To all of you out there in this conudrum of an Agency, I wish you all the luck in the world.

To Casey, Vicki and others, I thank you for your unending support over the last few years. You are truly angels! Please watch each others' backs out there, and remember to "make the Forest Service work for you" and realize when you need to start seriously looking at your escape route.

Be safe, remember the brother (sister) hood and make sure you pass on the knowledge you have gained. I will miss my time in the woods and working with a great bunch of people.

Knowledge is only power if you share it!

Montana Firefly

Sorry to hear you're leaving, another FS casualty, losing a good one. Thanks for your contributions to fire. Please don't be a stranger here. Wishing you great adventures. Ab.

6/20 Hotshots:

The CA - LPF Monterey crew NEVER made Hotshot status. Currently the crew is lacking a supt
and a couple of captains... also lacking other key positions as well as firefighters.

On a HAPPY note: The old CA-LPF Arroyo Grande Type 1 Helishot Crew just passed their
hotshot review yesterday elevating them to "Hotshot" status!

Congratulations to the LPF Arroyo Grande Hotshots! !


Great News! Ab.

6/20 smokeater

I don't think anyone would disagree with you on moving
people up too fast but the sad issue is, we don't have
a say so in who they hire. With the great mass hiring
system we have in place, we can say that the person
isn't ready to be moved up but, ultimately, the hiring
officials make the final decision and if the person
qualifies, what do you think they are going to do? Most
of our line officers don't care, they just want warm
butts in the seats. Plus, how do we get these people
experience when the region limits them on quality
assignments. I mean really, how many engines made it
out of state last year and how many excuses did we
hear on why that happened? The thing I can't figure
out is if we were not letting personnel leave the
state, then why did we have to call in so many
resources from out of state when the Moonlight broke?
We had one fire and you thought the state was burning
up with all the people we had on the fire and staged
in Northern Cal. The bad thing is if one of these
people get hurt or killed, they will pass the buck back
down the line and say why didn't you train them

and they wonder why people are jumping ship
6/20 Retention and more

It doesn't help that IC teams have people in dinner line with clipboards checking which people are eating dinner and which crews are charging 16 hour days...While we have other non-fed hires ...making $75.00 an hour to do the same tasks we do for a fraction of the cost. Also, we always have available personnel that can serve in Overhead positions on the fire. All they have to do is ask. So why do we pay good ol boys $1,000.00 a day and take hotshots off the clock because they eat dinner???

They try to plug one hole, while another bigger, much more apparent hole is right in front of them...

Pay the hard working people that are trying to be the last ones raising the Forest Service flag... Do it without questioning their integrity...Or there won't be anyone left to fly the flag, unless that's what they want.



6/20 Ab,

You are 100% correct re: burn severity. Often times, as you well know, it takes days for the true severity to become apparent. And due to the outstanding efforts of some individuals working behind the scenes, we are finally starting to see the beginnings of some real change in "forestry tech" burn treatment standards, and burn SOGs (yes, I chose to say "guidelines"; only time will tell if what we now have becomes a functional policy). These people refused to give up, even when it seemed as if no one was listening. Few of them will ever be recognized for their efforts. Recognition has nothing whatever to do with why they've been pounding their heads against the wall. This effort has been ongoing for literally decades.


Let me offer thanks to Ken Kempter who has been the most persistent in educating all of us -- including Vicki at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation -- to the burn policy issue. THANK YOU Ken from all wildland firefighters. I know you don't want the recognition, but you're getting it anyway. (CalFire still needs to work up to fulfilling its standing guidelines for burns. Other states and agencies may not recognize the damage that can occur if burn treatment is delayed.) Ab.

6/20 Hi "Ab" --

I'm the reporter of the article that was posted in your excellent forum this morning.

I just wanted to make a couple of comments: one, I've spent the past month alongside firefighters all around the Central Coast and have spoken by phone with many more in other areas. Many have told me they are alarmed this month about so many burnovers, -- hence my statement about firefighter sentiment. While I'm sure not everyone feels that way, I heard it said enough to include it in the story.

As far as implying a coverup -- no, I do not expect officials to immediately know exactly how bad burn injuries are. However, we were told repeatedly that all four firefighters were treated and released. That turned out not to be true, and the public has the right to know that some brave firefighters were hurt on the job and the public officials entrusted with that information chose not to tell us for unknown reasons. That's all.

People need to know about the sacrifices being made by firefighters to save their lives and property.

As far your "forestry technician" comment, I don't understand. I don't use that term.

I have nothing but awe and respect for all of you.



Julia Reynolds
The Monterey County Herald
831 648-1187

Thanks for clarifying. The "Firefighter" name issue is a big one right now. Technically Fed firefighters are not even called "Firefighters" but "Forestry Technicians" or "Range Technicians" or Biologists. When burnovers occur they or their professional firefighter managers are blamed for the burnover and even criminally charged, rather than having a thorough evaluation of the STRUCTURE of the Agencies that put firefighters more at risk, like firefighter oversight by non-firefighters, even by those who are only concerned with the budget. My apologies. I saw your article through eyes biased by our current, very pressing issues. I posted your response in the Hotlist thread as well. Ab.


I wonder how long it will take the FS and Congress to wake up and recognize that fire on the interface is a national issue, one that requires a different kind of streamlined wildland firefighting force with its own budget, training, firefighters coming up through the ranks, incentives to recruit and retain them, etc. Safety is at stake here. We need a High Reliability Organization, from the top to the bottom.

It's time for some changes in Fed Land-Use Agencies structure. Fire needs to be removed from their jursdiction.

Wait until you all see what is coming down the pike with the Forest Service Accountable Cost Management process. I realize that the FS is in an untenable position with their budget, but the best alternative is not to destroy the wildland firefighting organization. CONGRESS, the best alternative is to create a separate wildland firefighting organization and fund both the FS and wildland fire. Similarly, it would make sense to have ONE wildland firefighting force, not the 5 we currently have, although the FS is the largest and seems to get blamed of everything federal connected with fire.


6/20 Ab,

Pic of Dripping Springs Fire in Las Cruces, NM on the first night.

We closed that Type 3 fire out yesterday. Only thing that saved our bacon was a Rx from Feb.

Picked up a Type 2 fire out in the eastern part of our District.

Picked up a Type 4 fire up north yesterday as well.

We called in severity engines, etc. SEATs coming in tomorrow or the next day.

We are getting hit with lightning every night now.

Senator Bingaman coming in for a tour today. Emailed Casey since I will have some 1-on-1 time with the good Senator. Gotta deliver the right message to help out the "cause".

Lots of fires and starts in NM now and same projected for at least the next 7 - 10 days.

Yup! love fighting fire when its 107!


Thanks BLMboy. Fine pic. Ab.

6/20 In light of the pay and retention disappointment as of late, thought this was a good dose of comic relief:

Four old retired guys are walking down a street in Yucaipa, CA.. They turned a corner and see a sign that says, "Old Timers Bar - all drinks 10 cents." They look at each other, and then go in, thinking this Is too good to be true. The old bartender says in a voice that carries across the room, 'Come on in and let me pour one for you! What'll it be, Gentlemen?'

There seemed to be a fully-stocked bar, so each of the men ask for a martini. In short order, the bartender serves up four iced martinis... Shaken, not stirred,and says, 'That'll be 10 cents each, please'

The four men stare at the bartender for a moment. Then look at each other... They can't believe their good luck. They pay the 40 cents, finish their martinis, and order another round. Again, four excellent martinis are produced with the bartender again saying, 'That's 40 cents, please.' They pay the 40 cents, but their curiosity is more than they can stand.

They have each had two martinis and so far they've spent less than a dollar. Finally one of the men says, 'How can you afford to serve martinis as good as these for a dime a piece?'

'I'm a retired tailor from Boston,' the bartender said, 'and I always wanted to own a bar. Last year I hit the Lottery for $25 million and decided to open this place. Every drink costs a dime - wine, liquor, beer, it's all the same.'
'Wow!!!! That's quite a story,' says one of the men.

The four of them sipped at their martinis and couldn't help but notice seven other people at the end of the bar who didn't have drinks in front of them, and hadn't ordered anything the whole time they were there.

One man gestures at the seven at the end of the bar without drinks and asks the bartender, 'What's with them?'

The bartender says, 'Oh, they're all old retirees from the Forest Service. They're waiting for Happy hour when drinks are half price.'

Too Young to be so Numb...

6/20 Inexperience: It will catch up with us.

We have had a burnover last year because a person was running an engine and did not have the slide show to tell them that they had gotten too far away from their engine, anyone remember the Angora. The slide show only comes with time in the field.

I received a phone call from fire hire yesterday about a very good person, but they just do not have the time in to properly develop the slide show that one needs to run a module.

Managers please do not let time in grade be your sole justification as to if these people are qualified or not. We almost lost people last year because of that. Let us not make that mistake again. Don't allow filling your quota of have to have a certain amount of modules fully staffed to take any lives.

Also to MOC4546, Groveland Hot Shots are on the Stanislaus.


6/20 Rich Fairbanks hit the nail on the head....

Agency Officials (GS-13, GS-14, GS-15, and SES Levels 1 through 4) (most started their career at either GS-9 or GS-11, or above nowadays) in the various Biological Sciences series in the LAND MANAGEMENT AGENCIES..... continue to do battle with the wldland firefighters who generally start out as GS-2, GS-3, and GS-4 level employees PROVIDING EXPERT AND PROFESSIONAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER services.

Folks entering federal service at the GS-9 and above levels know little about the sacrifices they ask of others below them that actually GET THE MISSION DONE.

6/20 Hey Ab,

A correction to the recent post regarding the N. Ca type 1 crews. The Tahoe crew based out of
Foresthill is called the American River Hotshots. The person who posted the info called them
American Canyon Hotshots.

Thanks for the awesome site and keep up the good work!!!


6/20 mmm crab legs

Good to see a "lighter" post. Wish I was going to Fairbanks. Boy does that bring back memories.

Back in 1978 we had a cook who prepared Prime rib for Sunday's dinner for the McGrath
BLM station. We kept it quiet but I had to send in the food order on Wednesdays over the
teletype to Anchorage. Anybody who has worked in AK knows anything on the teletype
was " public" knowledge. The jig was up! I worked in dispatch and on Sunday's it was
amazing to see the # of flight plans filed for McGrath. Those were the days!

6/20 in regards to the hotshot crews list below the Groveland Hotshots are located on the Stanislaus National Forest.


6/20 MOC4546

The Groveland shots are from the Stanislaus NF, not the Sierra. Also, they
are not new. They have been around for years.

6/19 To, Left behind

I will be working with your friend, and I was in your boat many years ago and feel
your pain, but I an thankful that I will get to work with him.

6/19 I've never posted here before, never thought I would. Things have changed so dramatically in the USFS that now I find it important to write.

Today was the last day of work for a R-4 USFS veteran fireman and close friend that is headed to CALFIRE. We now lost a top-notch BC on the Boise N.F.. I'm glad for him and his family. When he is gone I will miss his friendship, his experience and his leadership that will now benefit another agency.

His many years on IHCs, and other positions have armed him with experience that only could have been gained with the FS, and now CALFIRE is willing to compensate him well for it. This is an opportunity of a lifetime that I know he would never have imagined taking even two years ago. We used to joke about how we would never go work for them. But now it's different.  Now we joke about how we "stare at the land and serve the computer", I feel left behind already.

I'd like to think that things will get better at some point for those of us left behind. I hope it will. It is tiring always responding to more change when there is no endgame. Hiring constraints, new rules imposed to appease the critics that curse us from the safety of their cubicles, new management that smell like jet A, line officers that seem to not care that we even exist, of course until there is an important fire to fight. It is different now. The loyalty is diminishing among my friends that are still here. Many of us learned to bleed green by the tough old firemen that taught us the way. Those old tough guys are nearly all gone and it is sad to see a lot of the next generation of tough old firemen leaving. Who will be left to pass along what needs to be taught to the next generation?

My posts intent is not to complain as a victim, but to salute a friend and wish him well in his new position. I hope that things will turn and begin to change for those of us left behind. Any line officer you ask today when the topics of the current challenges we face in the USFS answer us with, "There is nothing I can do about it". I ask with frustration and beg someone to tell us, who can do something about it? And then, do something!

Good luck to you buddy, we will miss you, you're a good man.

Left behind

6/19 From Washington, a NFFE info release.

NFFE News 06/19/908.pdf


WASHINGTON, June 19, 2008 - Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer will
tour Ramona Air Base and participate in a press briefing on the U.S.
Forest Service’s wildfire preparedness plan Friday, June 20, at 10:00
a.m. PDT in Ramona, CA. If interested in attending, please arrive by
9:45 a.m. in order to allow time for set-up.

WHO: Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer

WHAT: Tour of Ramona Air Attack Base and Wildfire
Preparedness briefing

WHEN: Friday, June 20, 2008
10:00 a.m. PDT

WHERE: Ramona Air Base
2498 Montecito Road
Ramona, CA

Anabele Cornejo
Assistant Public Affairs Officer
Cleveland National Forest
6/19 Everyone,

I am trying to correct some information regarding California's Region 5 Type 1 HotShot crews. I asked this before, but I need to try again because the information I have gotten is not correct.

With additional funding, correct me if I am wrong, these are the NEW Region 5 Hot Shot Crews:

Northern California Crews --

*Salmon River IHC (Klamath NF)
*Feather River IHC (Plumas NF)
*Beckwourth IHC (Plumas NF)
*Shasta Lake IHC (Shasta-Trinity NF)
*Trinity IHC (Shasta-Trinity NF)
*Ukonom IHC (Six Rivers NF)
*American Canyon IHC (Tahoe NF)
*Tallac IHC (Tahoe Basin Management Unit)

Southern California Crews --

*Arroyo Secco IHC (Angeles NF)
*Palomar IHC (Cleveland NF / Reactivated ?)
*Monterey IHC (Los Padres NF / Reactivates ?)
*Mill Creek IHC (San Bernardino NF / Reactivated ?)
*Breckenridge IHC (Sequioa NF)
*Rincon IHC (Sequioa NF)
*Springville IHC (Sequioa NF)
*Groveland IHC (Sequioa NF)
*Crane Valley IHC (Sierra NF)
*Kings River IHS (Sierra NF)

Of these new, and reactivated, IHC Hot Shots crews how many are actually rated as a Type 1 Handcrew, and actually have the designation of "Hot Shots"?

I know most of these crews were funded in the last few years, but when you look up the Region 5 Fire & Aviation webpage under Hot Shot Crews, there is no listing there for them.

Could someone take a moment and let me know, for factual reasons, which are considered "Hotshots" and which are considered as something else? If they are all certified as "Hotshots", why has the resource websites not been upgraded to show that?

And does Vandenburg IHC still respond as a national Type 1 Hotshot crew, or are they permanently attached to the Air Force Base?

I'd just like some clarification for factual purposes.

6/19 Some good news for those of us eating our young here at the Alaska Fire Service: ...
We will be having Crab Legs all this next week at the mess hall. Anyone in town is
invited to stop on by for some of the "deadliest catch".

mmm. Crab legs.
6/19 Re: Another Mark Rey Lie re: UTFs and that they only occur in PL 5

Why have most GACCs stopped publishing their daily UTF records on their intelligence pages?

Any of the thousands of folks with ROSS access can run a UTF query to factually disprove the statements of Mark Rey (and to whomever he looked back to in the crowd of the Congressional Hearing, to confirm his false statements and provide support).... and anyone in the nation can request a FOIA of the correct info..... including elected officials and the press.

There are still two GACCs providing very limited UTF info.... SWCC and NoOps GACC. Even with their limited info, what Mark Rey says is again factually incorrect and not supportable.


Southwest Geographic Area Coordination Center
Unable To Fill Lists

June 1 - Present

May 1 - May 31, 2008

March 1 - April 30, 2008

Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center
Unable To Fill List May 2 - June 7, 2008 (Note: Does not show recent fires).

Is what all the BDF folks heard at the recent fire management days. If this is the case, I hope nobody is following. We are tired of being force fed spoonfuls of cr*p and having management trying to pacify us with stories of how CAL FIRE is going to be out of money soon, which is not the case; the state is just getting stronger and will continue to gain strength at the USFS expense : as the green team will only get weaker as people with as little as 6 seasons are now being promoted to captains and engineers with as little as 4 seasons are now in charge of peoples' lives. Our forest has been stretched to the limit and now past. I just hope nobody is injured gravely in the process of us "Leading the way"


6/19 NVAC and Fish 01 are right.

Remote duty stations can be difficult at best when it comes to wage vs. cost of living. I have spent my entire career in remote duty stations. Now those of us that are stationed at such locations are truly feeling the crunch... Just like everyone else. Add a remote duty station in R5 ie. Mammoth and you will find the crunch REALLY hurts. I am going to spend around 30k on rent alone this year. I am an engine captain. How do I do it? combined income.

Like so many of us I do this for the love of the job. Working outside, the variety of tasks in my day, Being near the fire, feeling that I make a difference, mentorship of young people. I cannot think of anything else I could do that would give me the deep satisfaction that I gain from being a Forestry Technician....

There is the rub. I AM NOT a Forestry Technician. I do not even know what that really means. I am a firefighter, The people I train are firefighters. I give my 100% and I demand the same from them. Would I get a different caliber of folks on my crew if they were called "firefighters"? Maybe. I am fortunate to have a great crew. On the other hand they came to be with a "summer camp" attitude. Forestry Technician just does not capture the essence of what we do. I noticed in Rey's testimony that he cited a statistic that people in the 0462 series are paid a comparable rate to people in the private sector who do the same type of work... I wonder what profession he used to make the comparison. Landscapers?

We cannot make the same wage as Calfire. If we did I would make more than the District Ranger. Not that I would complain. But I cannot believe that the FWFSA is going to get much support from the line officers if that is an ultimate goal. Portal to portal would be nice. The main thing I would like to see is reclassification and comparable pay. I'll go off the clock and get my 2 to 1. I applaud Senator Feinstein's efforts. I dream of the day that Mark Rey moves on and lets our agency heal. In the meantime we must face the worst. Little or no support from Forest level supervisors, shrinking budgets, and no new recruits. I suppose it could get worse but it seems like we HAVE to be pretty near the bottom now


6/19 Yep, the housing market in Southern California has "crashed" so much that you might be able to find a house for $350,000.... if you were willing to live in a ghetto and not be alarmed at the high crime rates, or by the occasional drive by shootings. Compare that to your median housing market setting.

For someone to qualify for a $350,000 house locally, they would have to minimally be at the GS-11 level. Rightfully so, most lenders will no longer offer sub-prime mortgages anymore to federal employees in depressed areas, or in areas that their outlay of funds might not be recovered in the prospect of default.

I agree entirely with the thoughts today, but to a more extreme, that this problem exists outside of Southern California and is widely known and documented.... and is being addressed. The FWFSA is not a California association, but an association comprised of membership from GS-2 through GS-14 across the US.

Some Examples:
Flagstaff, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Carson City, NV
Portland, OR
Burns, OR
Spokane, WA
Yakima, WA
Boise, ID
Idaho City, ID
Santa Fe, NM
Albuquerque, NM
Billings, MT
Missoula, MT
Salt Lake City, UT
Provo, UT
Cedar City, UT
Boulder, CO
Denver, CO
Colorado Springs, CO

While the agencies' talking heads (Rey, et al) might want to continue saying nonsense... there are several groups out there willing to call BS and fact check.

It is important for folks to join their voices with others in these groups, and stop repeating the divisive lingo from agency "talking heads"... and repeating "talking points" that were not developed or fact checked from the field.

Stop playing into their hands (and their wishes) by making this a SoCal vs. CONUS issue... or a CA vs. Rest of the United States Issue. These are federal wildland firefighter issues.

6/19 Attached is Mark Rey's and James Cason's testimony to the Senate on
Wildland fire preparedness.

Mark Rey Testimony


6/19 Ab's and all,

I'm just feeling the need to speak up for all of us that live in the sticks...

While I agree that there are pay and retention issues in R5 I truly hope that you all are looking at the bigger picture. Yes it is expensive to live and work in SoCal. But what about your rural counterparts in the rest of the nation? Many live in rural areas with NO locality pay whatsoever, for those that have never lived in a rural setting it is often 30 miles or more to a grocery store 50-75 miles is not uncommon, our homes are run on propane, our commutes can be quite long (often 4-wheel drive all the way in the winter) and I can assure you the gas prices can be higher than anything you have in SoCal right now. I used to fill my propane tank with $200, last week it got me up to 30%. The cost of groceries is also quite high at the closest 'mom and pop' store with no Safeway, Costco or major chain in sight for competition. With no locality pay, soaring gas and real estate prices compared to our pay scale our cost of living can be as high if not higher than those in more urban areas.

Ask your friends on the Modoc, Fremont and Malheur National Forests. How about that other agency, the BLM? I'm sure the folks in Tonopah NV, Burns OR or Miles City MT aren't living a life of luxury either.

I just wanted to try and tell the rest of the story.

6/19 A short comment about the cost of living in SO CAL. Many statements about wages seem to dwell on that. We need to get off that horse. Living cost in Calf and along the Sierra foothills are all much higher than most of the CONUS. I suspect living cost in the Sierra foothills, Lake Tahoe and Mammoth are as high if not higher than the Big 3. (ANF, BDF, LPF). I appreciate the fact that historically it was the SO CAL forest that were the earliest hit by the cost of living dilemma, but those cost have migrated throughout the State and adjoining border areas.

Even though we are in a temporary reprieve in housing cost with the real estate decline, huge increases in food & gas are canceling out those temporary reprieves in housing. Hopefully when it comes down to paying our FF a living wage, for the skills set they are being asked to do, SO CAL will not be the center focus but a comprehensive regional solution for the entire country will be looked at. Perhaps a WG pay plan is a solution. Just my thoughts.

Fish 01
6/18 Forest Service Plays With Fire
High Country News

... "Casey Judd, Business Manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, says retaining firefighters could be a relatively simple matter. "If you properly classified these folks and at least made them eligible for portal-to-portal pay," he says, "overnight you'd see a change in those retention rates." (Forest Service firefighters are currently classified as "Forestry Technicians" or "Range Technicians.")"

"Rich Fairbanks, California Forest and Fire Program Associate for the Wilderness Society and a 32-year veteran of the Forest Service, agrees. "In [the 1970s] when I was fighting fires I could save enough money to go to college in the winter," he says. "There's no way anyone's doing that now. What they're making now is not remotely a living wage." Fairbanks blames the high cost of living in Southern California and an agency "at war with its workforce." ...
6/18 Casey, excellent write up.

People, don't pass up the excellent read from Casey's testimony. Portal to Portal would significantly slow the drain immediately. You nailed it by giving the example of how the Forest Service already authorized and implemented 24 hour pay during the So Cal Fire siege.

Firefighters, make sure every federal elected official in your district reads Casey's testimony. Fire up those emails and tell them your opinion.

We are coming up on the June 30th deadline for the retention group reports. Over the past two months, small changes have occurred such as GS-5 Apprentices, Pena's wild email on selected retention bonuses, hiring Apprentices at the GS-5 level. They are developing a check off list in the RO. On that list are all these insignificant changes. Don't let them get away with it. If your committed to an incident, speak with your spouse or a family member and tell them how to keep the emails flowing. Don't let up and don't allow them to get away with trying to solve this with an insignificant effort.


Never Forget Black Tuesday
6/18 RRD,

I agree with you, I think cyclonic fire events are far more common than many firefighters realize. I started paying more attention to this phenomena after the Thirtymile Fire. It doesn't get mentioned often, but the Thirtymile fire blew down hundreds of trees upcanyon from the deployment site.

Attached are some photos I took of the aftermath of a cyclonic event on the B & B Complex in central Oregon. I used my hardhat to show the scale in one photo. In the Twin Springs area on the sisters RD, there was a roughly circular area hundreds of yards across in which hundreds of conifers from 20 to 36 inches dbh were blown down or snapped off. From the air, it looked like a giant circular cowlick on the back of a kid's head, except the "hairs" were blown down trees. A large plume-dominated column was a contributor, I don't think anyone really knows precisely what happened at the site. Fortunately no one was in the area when this happened.

I would like to see more emphasis placed on firewhirls and cyclonic events in fire behavior training. They may not be everyday events, but the results can be so devastating that we should put more effort into training firefighters to recognize when conditions may be conducive to such events.

Misery Whip
6/18 A couple questions about the letter for the 24-Hour preliminary briefing for E-71 posted on 6/16.

1) Why did Peggy Hernandez write a letter to herself (see "to" and signature blocks).

2) What does a "Forest Health Supervisor" do (see title of signature) for a living? I know what a Forest Supervisor does, wondering what a Forest "Health" Supervisor is. What GS is that job?

It's one thing to threaten eviction of employees and families from LP gov houses using armed federal agents. It's one thing to limit Chief Officer capabilities. It's one thing to interfere with one of the best IC's in these United States while he is trying to put out your fire. It's one thing to treat employees as disposal trash. It's one thing to allow your Dep FS to run amok. However, it's a sad day when you can't even write a letter correctly that relates to your firefighters getting injured.

Centralized fire today, tomorrow and forever.


Concerned about our LP Brothers and Sisters

6/18 Article from today's NY Times online about the testimony before the Congressional Committee:

Don't know what it will look like in the print edition, but it was "above the fold" on the website when I saw it.


(beginning text)
Anxiety Grows in West Over Firefighting Efforts
Published: June 19, 2008

SAN DIEGO — As fire season arrives in the West, there are growing doubts about the region’s ability to attack the kind of sweeping blazes that devastated parts of California last year.

The cost of fuel in fire trucks, a scramble to hire new firefighters and new budget constraints have sowed anxiety as a persistent drought worsens in California and elsewhere, even as heavy rains cause flooding in other parts of the country.

Here in San Diego County, where eight people died in two big fires last year, a long-recommended regional county fire department has still not been created, and the San Diego city fire chief has warned that a number of homes built ever closer into wild lands face peril in another major blaze.

On Wednesday, the union representing federal firefighters testified before Congress that nearly a third of the federal fire engines in California are unavailable because of staffing shortfalls. Many firefighters have retired or moved to higher-paying jobs, said Casey Judd, the union’s business manager.

Over all, the United States Forest Service and other agencies “are not as prepared for the wildfire season as the agencies would like us to blindly believe,” Mr. Judd said in an interview.

In other Western states, high gas prices are battering firefighting budgets, tough economic times are making it harder to recruit volunteers in some rural areas, and the prospect of deep cuts in assistance from the Forest Service is darkening the horizon. (click the link to read the rest)

6/18 Re: Senate Hearing on Federal Wildfire Preparedness

A great job and thanks to Ron Thatcher (NFFE-FSC), Casey Judd (FWFSA),
and Debbie Miley (NWSA) for your testimony in support of the federal wildland
fire program, and changes that are needed.

It was great to see (as Paul Harvey would exclaim).... "the rest of the story".



Senate Hearing

Hi AB and all:

I understand today's senate hearing might not have been on C-SPAN, although I know some were able to view it on their computers via the committee's web site.

Both NFFE and the FWFSA said what we went there to say, although I have to tell you compressing all the issues into a 5 minute oral testimony is impossible.

The testimony from Mr. Rey was in essence the same it is each year. NFFE's representative, Ron Thatcher focused on the 401 issue and I focused on Agency organization/pay & benefits etc. Attached is my oral testimony.

I am hopeful we made an impact of some sort and it was interesting to hear from a reporter that according to Mr. Rey, I was only there to get "firefighters more pay." Just a wee bit narrow-minded.

I'll be meeting with Sen. Feinstein's staff tomorrow and provide them with the great staffing information many of you have provided to the FWFSA. Again, thanks for the honor of speaking on behalf of so many of you.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

6/18 Re: RealPlayer


•    End users with a legitimate business need for RealPlayer will need to contact EUSC.  EUSC will collect information from the user, create a ticket and transfer it to Level 2.  Level 2 will assist the user in determining whether the user has a legitimate need for RealPlayer and provide the FS RealPlayer solution if indicated.

NOT ALL FOREST SERVICE USERS had RealPlayer removed.... myself included.

There is a legitimate need for such a player when viewing online training materials, news stories, or other work related media that is often only available in RealPlayer format.

6/18 Howdy folks,

Reading about early female participation on shot crews got me to thinking about Suzie. I pulled a 6 week detail on the Kernville Helitack crew on the Sequoia NF back in 1974. Dusty Voss was detailed over from the Cibola NF as the Helitack Foreman. Suzie was a dedicated hard working young woman. As I reflect back on things now… she probably had more than one cause to yell foul! All of us guys gave her such a raft of crap… not because we didn’t like her, we did. I truly don’t know what we were thinking. We wouldn’t do that today, I wouldn’t allow it today. Perhaps that is why I still remember her first name… because she bore the injustice with dignity and prevailed. Women had to be brave and strong in more ways than one back then. I’d like to know if she remained in the fire organization . Help me out if you can!

Witness Tree
6/18 Great slide show from the Humbolt fire (need Flash)



6/18 Here are the links to Ken's photos from the Gobi March. They are well worth watching - beautiful scenery and fantastic people. Of course there is the odd camel or 2 thrown in there also....it just wouldn't be a race without them! Thanks again Ken for all you do!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Upgb95cCLnA (Beijing
before the race)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUPfV55nOM0 (Part 1)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf6er_2Zyh0 (Part 2)

6/18 So... has anyone noticed those numerous advertisements for FEMA positions in Sac?

This position is located in the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency
Management Agency, Disaster Operations Directorate, Field Operations Division.
The incumbent will serve as the XXXXX on a National Incident Management
Assistance Team (IMAT) and will provide technical expertise in emergency management
at Level I disasters.

So far I saw SITL, PSC, Resource Unit Leader, etc....

No GISS though.... ;-)
6/18 John, Thanks for that.

The Forest Service doesn't even value its PROFESSIONAL, experienced large incident managers. A retired friend told me that maybe half a dozen R5 forests including the Los Padres NF have just been selected as guinea pigs (by Ed) for a NEW WO initiative: Accountable Cost Management (ACM). No warning, no field input, I mean, you can't go changing these things just as fire season is blasting through interface and hammering the public, let alone forests... and how will this save $$?

If any designated forests get a large fire, you can also count on getting:

  • a NIMO Team to do all the planning, strategizing, and "making it so"
  • a Chief's Principle Representative (Regional Forester from another region than R5) to babysit
  • Regional forester's Representative (Forest Supe, line officer with fire management "experience"; like they've had "Firefighting 101" at some time or other) to babysit the babysitter... and
  • an Incident Management Team

The WO's idea with Regional Line Officer buy-in:

more bureaucratic layers = saving more $$?

I doubt that...

If it doesn't work, it's not the WO that looks bad or has to bear the local forest and interface consequences.

NorCal Tom

6/18 Ab:

I passed Casey's FWFSA testimony on to one of my networks populated by people with a strong interest in the wildfire and forest management business. The response below was somewhat of a surprise and interesting. If the Forest Service and other federal agencies don't value their firefighters, there are apparently other options.

John Marker
This testimony makes good sense:

Competition for FWFSA workforce in some areas of the U.S. is not solely coming from non-federal firefighting or EMS departments. Other demanding private sector dangerous-condition industry workforce needs cannot safely be met with warm bodies, so head-hunting other industry becomes an option.

A single federal "Range Technician" hired out from under fire-watch detail by a company in our local oil and gas patch last year, so impressed a slew of private sector employers with his work, safety ethic and common sense, that almost any wildland firefighter could now have their choice of employment; inclusive of stable living for their family and great local educational and recreation opportunities for themselves and their kids.

The three-corners area of WY-CO-UT are gaining talent out of what the federal gov't (including some military) is losing; trained personnel in their 20's and 30's. This is very attractive to our private industry (mining, fluid minerals, energy transmission) having an aging workforce when considering past costs of fully training someone off the street or straight out of college with minimal work experience or discipline.

The lure to work in dangerous and exciting fields, outside of fire, where average wages w/benefits earned reach $78K/yr and more for those who commit - along with room for quick advancement - is an added incentive.

6/18 LPF 72 hour report

Hi Ab,

The 72 hour report from the LPF E-71 entrapment indicates an unexpected cyclonic event contributed to this happening. I have observed large cyclonic events on recent fires that posed serious potential for harm including

  • the Day Fire in the LP,
  • the Murphy's Complex in Idaho and
  • the Pines Fire in San Diego County.

Lines were abandoned in order to get to safety in both the Day and Pines Fire examples.

There have been others that I have read about in review reports as well as in one excellent video from a few years ago and have seen many that, while large, were in the middle of a burned area and not a threat. The point I am trying to make is that I do not believe these are all that rare and perhaps we should spend more time looking at the set up for them in terms of topography or conditions as well as watch out signs of them, given that they are causing firefighter injuries. Maybe others can shed light on how many they have noticed to see if they are common or not. My 2 bits.

Ventura County FD

6/18 Question of the day going round robin:

If the agency is so bent on making Fire "professional" by putting us in a
"professional" series, even like 401,

why are they handing over more and more of Fire's job, direction and
control to Line Officers who are not in a "professional" series?

The Riddler

6/18 NM-Big Times Might Be Coming Up

Combustible conditions and dry lightning predicted for southern NM later today Hotlist thread


6/18 72 hour Report Indians fire E-71 burnover.

Hotlist thread has text and link: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=21928

6/18 Re: Congressional Hearing on Wildland Fire Preparedness
I hate to pop FedWatcher's bubble, but Real Player was removed from ALL
Forest Service computers in the dark of night (via Tivoli) back in January.

(See attached file: rn-2008-05.doc)


6/18 Ab,

I've just finished reading Casey Judd ’ s written testimony for June 18, 2008
on behalf of the FWFSA. As a "temp" from the mid-90's, I can say the issues
are not new but it's very nice to see Casey fighting on behalf of all those who
stayed in the trenches.

Please see that Casey gets this message of encouragement , because it's not
always easy to fight the good fight.

Keep it up Casey!


6/17 The funniest thing I've ever seen.... is the commonly held belief by folks at the highest levels of the Forest Service (and USDA) trying to intentionally be non-constructive by their personal bias..... that the FWFSA and NFFE (both representing employees)... ie. members -- while one representing the "rank and file" has limited bargaining rights, and the other being an employee association fully seeking legislative change has other rights -- don't communicate well together.... LOL.

I'd hope..... Two voices in Congressional Testimony... send the message home. If they think we are in opposition to each other.... so be it.... Facts are facts.

FWFSA Vice Pres
6/17 Re: Congressional Hearing on Wildland Fire Preparedness

Full Committee Oversight Hearing: to consider the preparedness of Federal land management agencies for the 2008 wildfire season (SD-366) Wednesday, June 18, 2008
02:00 PM (Eastern) 01:00 PM (Central) 12:00 PM (Mountain) 11:00 PM (Pacific)

The hearing is at the Dirksen Office Building, Rm. 366. Most (if not all) Forest Service computers have RealPlayer and are able to view. Alternatives for home users are to use RealPlayer or iTunes options for viewing:
www.capitolhearings.org/ (Click Dirksen 366 on the right menu).

If the Forest Service servers can't handle the bandwidth... so be it.... but I disagree with my esteemed friend and colleague when he said,

"You should be able to view the hearing in real time or after the fact; however, you should do so on your own time using your own equipment. Streaming video eats bandwidth and should not be done on govt computers even on your own time. Most govt computers cannot be used to view Congressional webcasts in any case because they lack the software."


This hearing is not a FWFSA action, nor a NFFE action... it is a regular mandated Congressional Oversight Program (hearing) of our wildland fire preparedness program as prescribed under the U.S. Constitution. As such, it is more than appropriate for wildland fire managers and wildland firefighters to view (hog band-width from the "ologists" and their "mission") on government time, as well as use government computers, to be fully educated on the issues that relate directly to our mission; our program delivery; our cost efficiency; our effectiveness; and the overall safety of our firefighters, and the safety of our communities that we all protect.


6/17 R3 BLM'er

Why do you feel that having a DIV ,TFLD, or STEN is necessary for a module leader
to keep their people safe? I have been in the business for over 30 years and I don't
need these people to keep me or my crew safe. Think about it.


6/17 they said koolaid thread

NFEE (Mark Davis),

Nice of you to update all whilst you are on "vacation".

I wish that y'all would quit "drinking the Koolaid", get off of the 401 "professional"
debacle and truly represent FS wildland firefighters .... DEMAND a Professional
Firefighting Series!


6/17 Dear AB & All:

It appears the hearing of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee on land management agency fire
preparedness will be on CSPAN or CSPAN 2 at 2:00pm EASTERN time or 11:00am west coast time.

Hopefully if it is on, firefighters can tune in.

6/17 Ab, brief update for posting. -Mark

Interior/FS stick to 401 -- NFFE to testify in Congress for credit for NWCG courses

This will be a brief update as I am on annual leave preparing for my
daughter's wedding this weekend. But I felt I owed you a least a brief
update on what's going on.

Per our June 10 message, Council President Ron Thatcher and I met with
agency leadership and key Congressional staff to explore the 301 option
last week. The bottom line, without going into details, is the Forest
Service and Interior agencies decided to stick with the 401. Thus, we will
continue to fight for re-instating the standing of in-house NWCG courses as
counting toward the 401 education requirement.

As part of these efforts, Ron will be testifying at a hearing on wildfire
preparedness before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources this Wednesday, June 18 at 14:00 Eastern time. See
http://energy.senate.gov/public/ under "Hearing Schedule."

You should be able to view the hearing in real time or after the fact;
however, you should do so on your own time using your own equipment.
Streaming video eats bandwidth and should not be done on govt computers
even on your own time. Most govt computers cannot be used to view
Congressional webcasts in any case because they lack the software.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

6/17 Scrape,

I understand your quest for answers about the burnover on the Indians Fire, but be patient. The truth will come out. I work on the LP and I am on the same district that the firefighters who were burned over are on. Unfortunately, I can't give you some of the answer that you seek. The investigation is still in progress and we have been directed to not talk about what happened until it is over. But I can tell you this what happened on the fire line was unpredicted and dynamic. And to clarify, regardless of the agency that the DIVS was from, he was the first one to come to aid our brother firefighters.

And as far as the whole gloves issue, you are correct. There are certain functions of our job that require us to take our gloves off. And I can assure you that this was the case in this incident.


6/17 Hanford Fire in 2000

Ab, you can post this or answer if you have one. Has anyone had any medically related problems from this fire?

For Ab, I'm just trying to figure out some medical issues I have at the moment. I am little to young to be having a few problems that I currently do and was just trying to track down a possible source so I can better inform the doctors. Thank you for your help.


6/17 Wildland fire community:

I could use some information.

I would like to hear from someone that is Knowledgeable of the Facts
and Correct Procedures for Recertification into IQS/ROSS. Please
contact me at: randy10553@yahoo.com


Former Green and Grey

6/17 Ab,

This morning we had a CalFire employee who is part of the CalFire PPE committee come in our office telling us about this safety stand down deal they are doing. Among other safety concerns relating to PPE, apparently they are having issues with some new large fire shelters not fitting the in the holders correctly. In our case it is not the holder as much as it is the fire shelter itself not being packed the same every time; some seem to have more pushing the end out making them not close correctly.

We at Eagle Gear have always done what we need to do to correct any problems we find and will do so in this case. Anyone running an Eagle Pack with the new large fire shelter that is having a problem with the shelter fitting correctly can contact us for a free replacement or alteration. This issue seems to be happening to more than just our company and you should see this from more of the pack companies out there. We wanted you to get this first and ask if there is a way to post this in the community to let everyone know what is going on and that we are ready to do something about it.


Steve Wyatt
Sales Manager
Eagle Gear

Thanks for the heads up. Ab.

6/17 I'd like to know which of my friends got their ass kicked on the Indians fire.
Also I'd like to see what agencies the STEN and DIVS came from.

There is a trend on the LP to use overhead from other agencies so they can
staff all the engines they can. Zero opportunity for USFS member fire
qualification development. A big Zero for Leadership with local knowledge.
Once we went off forest with a STEN from a pacific beach city municipal
department. I don't want to slam the people just, the functions, process, and
actions of our managers that go out of their way to make us line up the holes
for disaster in the Swiss cheese model .

Before anybody slams Engine captains for not wearing gloves,
Quit Making Us Reprogram Our Radios on the Fire Line!

B*tch*n' anchor points for ya,

Thanks for the clarification. Ab.

6/17 Thanks for the Hotlist, Ab and Mods,

My son-in-law is on the Indians fire. He's with the Park Service in Yosemite but is
an engine captain for Stanislaus on this fire. I appreciate all the updates, as we in
New York have little way of knowing what's going on.

Thanks for all the hard work.


You're welcome. Ab.

6/16 The CDF Blue Sheet on the Nicolaus burnover is worthless as written. If it's to be used as an accident prevention tool, some facts are necessary

In the NEU incident, what kind of attack was in progress??? What pump/hose/nozzle was employed ? What type of engine is BR-75 and why was it allowed to make an attack with one man ?

The report insinuates that PPE was not utilized by the crew on BR-73. If that's the case, say so.


That info is more likely to come out in the 72 hour Green Sheet or Incident Accident Report, don't you think?
Here's another one that came in just after noon... CalFire Safety Stand Down Ab.

6/16 Geeez, it's only June, fire season has just started, and we already have people
being burned over. Who was the DIV, STEN, & TFL on the fire where the
burnover occurred?


Good news yer' back in R3; you've escaped the most recent extreme fire behavior in R5.

I heard from a very experienced firefighter located near the incident that the winds became extremely bad, shifted and created a vortex that was laying over on its side, breaking off oak trees like snapping matchsticks. I don't know the benefit of asking for names when we had firefighters from 3 agencies and a volunteer that were caught in similar extreme fire behavior situations in a 72 hour period. Lessons learned, yeh, we need those. Names of FF to blame, I don't think so. I'm sure more info for lessons learned will be forthcoming. Ab.

6/16 Blue Sheet (24 hour report) CA-NEU-Nicolaus Fire Burnover


6/16 Preliminary 24-hour Briefing of Engine 71 Burn Injuries CA-LPF-Indians Fire


6/16 CA-CZU-Martin fire person of interest

I don't know if I can post this on the hotlist so I am e-mailing this link to you I got
from a news agency. Here is the link

There is also a link with a sketch of the person of interest.

Be Safe!!!


6/16 Firedog,

I can say to you the same foolish thing.................. where did you get your information? CDF/Cal Fire is staffing to 4 on this monday in the unit I was referring to. This is a FACT! They are hiring an additional 70 seasonal this coming Monday, part for their academy, and part returnees for 4 staffing.............. this is straight form those that do the hiring. I try my best in my old age, not to speak until I have a little facts in order..... this time the facts are there.


6/15 MOC4546,

Excellent post. To add to it, the best interview I've ever seen showing teamwork was in a press conference during the 2003 CA fires. When being questioned about evacuations, coordination, tactics, and methods, Dallas Jones, CA OES Director at the time, stated very plainly that if reporters or anyone else thought they could do a better job, they would be wrong. He said that the only way we manage emergencies well now is by working together, lessons learned well after years and years of fires and other emergencies. That if we didn't, Riverside County would be evacuating right in to San Bernardino County and there would be chaos everywhere. That the emergency services are made up of professionals who work together and know what they are doing.

The coolest part of the whole interview is that he clearly indicated we all work together, and we do a good job, and do it well, and that hey, sometimes there is just a disaster. Look at Iowa right now... here's a state that looks like they're doing a good job of managing the disaster, but the disaster is still kicking their @$%.

I also will always remember going on a fire department tour in the southeast. The fire chief went on and on about "his" program and things "he" had done (he used "I" and "my" almost constantly)... when so obviously his staff were the reason the programs were successful. I have always remembered that, and whenever I see his name on something or somewhere, I think about how glad I am I don't have to work for someone who doesn't seem to understand the concept of teamwork, and who seems so motivated in simply promoting himself and not the people he works with.

Be safe...

- seven principles
6/15 It appears I'm the first region 4 engine foreman to loose an FEO to CalFire.
He took a seasonal job on the Santa Clara Ranger Unit for the pay and
health benefits. Also AHC was taking state withholding taxes out of his
paycheck for a state he didn't and never resided in.

Good use of trigger points?


6/15 Hi to all:

As I prepare to leave for DC tomorrow to testify on fire preparedness on Wednesday, I wanted to express my sincerest gratitude to our FWFSA members and the federal wildland firefighter community for the opportunity to share their voice with Congress. Indeed, the responsibility I carry to articulate the collective voice of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters is enormous.

However the job is made that much easier given the affection, respect and admiration I have for all of you. AB, I have attached a copy of our FWFSA formal written testimony since its been on our web site for a few days.

I am also taking back with me to share with Senators, a letter written by the wife of an LPF firefighter to offer the perspective from a spouse/family member of the impact so many frustrating issues have on families as well.

Again, my sincerest thanks to all of you for this incredible opportunity. I'll let folks know how things go via TheySaid from DC.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Good job. Ab.

6/15 As a family member who was notified of the loss of my
son in the most humane way possible, i am grateful
that you hold in reserve the names of firefighters
involved in an incident until you are sure that the
families are notified! How awful it would have been to
hear of the loss via the media! And not only for our
family, but for the families of the other crew members
if they had heard it in the media first, and not from
their firefighter!


6/15 AB,

Here is the timeline for the June Fire Hire. Please post so those can see
when they may get a call for a reference check or job offer. Thanks

Noname Fire

6/15 MT FS land selloff:


For those of you who are unaware of this developing story, our "friend" Mark Rey has been secretly negotiating with Plum Creek to revise Forest Service easements so Plum Creek can sell off timberlands in Montana for real estate development. Following the Dick Cheney ethics manual, Rey has thus far rebuffed efforts to learn the substance of these secret negotiations by county commissioners and even Senator Tester. If he gets away with this, Plum Creek will make bazillions of dollars, the land will be lost to timber production forever, and State and Forest Service firefighters will have to provide structure protection for the new homes built on these lands. If Plum Creek and Rey get their way, firefighters will one day face risks defending homes from fire that would not exist without the misplaced efforts of this former (and no doubt future) timber industry lobbyist.

Here's a link to an article from a Helena newspaper:


With "friends" like Mark Rey, who needs enemies? No wonder the Forest Service fire program is going down the tubes.

Misery Whip

6/15 Thanks for the Reply to my comments on Censorship, Ab. My Apologies if I misspoke.

Perhaps I should have been more clear. More and More I have seen over the years that the federal government and the California State government wants to censor, or remove names or unit identifiers for incidents that occur in the wildland environment.

After the early 1990s it became more common that those officials making reports started leaving out names of those involved rather than come out and just say "Joe N. Smith was the Captain on BLM Engine 999 who's crew was burned over on the Hookie Fire, and FF Sam Sneed and Forest Chump were both burned and evacuated to a hospital."

I understand the problem with mentioning names and the possible retaliations that can occur, especially for federal firefighters, when they leave comments that are meaningful enough to be posted on this forum (my mispeak of "blog").

There are those who post comments about Mark Rey and Tom Harbour and those names are left on there and the bad deeds they have done. But there are others who have done similar behavior that have been detrimental to wildland or other firefighters as a whole, perhaps on a smaller scale, whose names are left out.

I absolutely understand the need to restrain information that may not have been passed on to loved ones about their family members who possibly may have been injured or killed in the line of duty, and this forum is not the place to let those family members know.

My point is that more and more I see reports about these things occurring, fire incidents or political decisions affecting policy, where those involved are not mentioned. To this day I do not know who the CDF captain was on the 2003 Cedar Fire whose firing actions may have caused the death of a Bay Area firefighter, but most especially what disciplinary action occurred for his actions, or lack thereof.

When I view training videos about incidents, I have seen over the years the leaving out of names and agency units they worked for on incidents, and what their roles were. I use the Altered 1985 Butte Fire training video as an example. The original video shows those involved their names, positions, and who was involved in their interviews and statements. The newer version of that video has that information censored.

There have been videos and reports from the feds and especially the State on these matters where the names are covered up. When an incident happens, and we can learn from it, then it should be told in total. That is the point I was trying to make.

As to CDF, more and more I see their Public Relations people and PIOs treading out in front of the cameras and taking credit for things that other agencies do successfully on fires. And to me it gets to be sickening because on a major fire like the Humboldt Fire, there are at least 8 Bay Area Strike Teams there, and many Federal resources, and when something good happens the CDF PR people are right up there to take the credit for it.

I have seen three PIO people, two whom I know personally, getting up there saying, "CAL-FIRE is doing this to protect homes," rather than, "The hundreds of Mutual Aid Resources on this fire are doing this to protect homes." We all work hard on an Urban-Interface Fire as a United Team, and there are resources on the fireline that don't belong to CDF who are ID'd as CDF. This is my opinion and my bias on this matter. I want CDF to address what factually happens on a fire, and not do it in a way that promotes their agency as the only agency responsible for the successes on that fire.

My apologies to you and those who feel I crossed subjects. Perhaps I was wrong in my original comments and it may have upset someone.

Humbly Chastised,


Well spoken, my friend. We are all in this together. Ab.

6/15 Re: Censorship

I think the Ab(s) , as usual, cut through the BS to show true leadership and a focus on what really matters. No need for me or others to further comment on the thread and confuse the issue.

Folks wanting to comment or explore other ideas, (or gain support on other developing ideas), while listened to by a collective panel of supposed experts, have to prove their thoughts and thesis before relative peers..... another story.

Often times... there are grey areas that folks agree and disagree..... but are on the same page. While disagreeing or agreeing.... folks can remain friends and still communicate as peers.

I think the Ab(s) play devils advocate too much and apply a little strong arm tactics (well deserved) sometimes.... when the Ab(s) know the correct course of action, exercise the trump card. JMHO.

The leadership is there..... use it or lose it.

Your good friend, and always a friend focusing on safety and efficiency,


L, This is "the Ab" and I always play the trump card, even if it sometimes is not your trump card played in as much of a strong arm fashion as you would like it played. I agree to disagree with you on some issues and one of them occasionally is how to run this forum. (haw haw) Take this as me playing Devil's Advocate or strong arming you, if you like. While not the first, it is the second when necessary. I take what I do here as my job, 24/7/365, done with 100% commitment and focus, just as you do, Our styles, perspectives and responsibilities are different. Regarding leadership, I'll let others decide, probably some years from now when I'm gone. I appreciate your contributions. Feel free to post your ideas on the Hotlist. And also your friend,.. Ab.

6/15 Re: Burn Injuries and APAs for future Improved Safety (Look at Latent Factors):


The LPF firefighter who had the first, second, and third degree burns on his hands is being treated at a CA Regional Burn Center in Santa Clara, CA. Great work by folks getting him seen there. Also, great work on getting the other three LPF firefighters seen at a Regional Burn Center.

That burn center (Santa Clara) specializes in hand injuries
... treatment (initial and surgical), and rehabilitation. The majority of their burn injuries are to the hands and come from a majority of migrant field workers and children.

Other Regional Burn Care Centers
(all that meet minimal specialized burn care specialties for immediate "closest appropriate facility" standards in pre-hospital EMS care protocols) that also have unique "specialties" outside of emergency care.

Some (a very few) Regional Burn Centers specialize on full service (ICU/CCU to out-patient) such as Grossman Burn Center-Sherman Oaks, University of California-Davis, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center - Colton, and University of California-San Diego .... others specialize primarily on cosmetic reconstructive surgery... some on rehabilitative services.... some on psych support... some on other outpatient services.... all.... after patients are received from the pre-hospital care setting and stabilized prior to transport to the "closest appropriate medical facility"... regardless of "injury" described from the initial receiving facility or EMS evaluator.

It is common for the initial receiving Regional Burn Center to transfer an injured person directly to another Regional Burn Center for specialized follow-up treatment for their injuries . This is the accepted Standard of Care in California.

The missing link is when, in the pre-hospital EMS setting (EMT and EMT-P providers) decide wrongly to transport to the "closest appropriate medical facility" is delayed, or is not the closest appropriate medical facility for the injury, and/or when, in the case of a non-Regional Burn Center Care (aka Hospital Care, Clinic Care, etc), doctors failed to appropriately refer patients to a Regional Burn Center for proper evaluation, treatment, and follow-up care for significant, but under also under-diagnosed, injuries.


/s/ When it comes to burns or potential airway injuries.... No more "treated and released"
6/15 Dear Ab. Reply about Censorship. I support you and your position on information released early.

In 1953 I was nine years old when the Rattlesnake fire happened on the MNF. My father was a part of the CDF personnel who responded to this fire. He worked with the crew all afternoon and did not go down the hill with them because he was requested to stay on the road with the fire and line boss.

Information coming out over the am radio was that my father was one of the firefighters who perished. It was the next morning when we received the call that said my dad was not one of the 15.

Now my point is that if someone thinks that their need for information is greater than the accuracy of the facts being released or the needs of the family, then that person should revaluate their position on this.

I also was on fires where accidents took placed on the fire line. I believe that “ My crew is my responsibility and my responsibility alone.” Having said that I know that fireline accidents are not always just the crew leaders fault.

Now if you think that I don’t know what I am talking about, I can quote my experience just like so many others do. 30 plus years for CDF with over 25 as an Engine Captain. I also ran a dozer for CDF as well as running hand crews for CDF. I begin going on fire with my father when I was about 12 years old.

My feeling on how long you worked is only relevant to how committed you are to improving yourself. I seen in my career, people who were lops when they were hired and were still lops when they retired. Maybe the quality of the individual is more important then the length of time the wine is cured.

I hope I am able to say what I intended to. If you decide to use this I would appreciate not posting my name, those who know me will realize whop it is and those who do not know me would not care.


6/15 Maybe the contractor for Inciweb, and the ISO folks for NIFC should consider?:

1) A basic rate contract to provide the anticipated service (daily rate, weekly rate, monthly rate, yearly rate), and

2) A surge capacity to meet ever changing needs of mission delivery (ie- exceeding server capability, changing mileage costs, etc...).

I mention this for two reasons only:

1) As with problems in Inciweb, both the user (agency) and stakeholder (public) got tired of going to blank screens to respectively either update the stakeholders, or for the stakeholders to receive info from the agencies. Teams stopped updating info, and visitors (stakeholders) stopped trying to use the source for updates.

2) NIFC seems to be in the same boat with continual outages, even in periods with minimal stakeholder use. No surge capacity.


P.S. - While wildlandfire.com was slowed down a little during the recent fire siege, it was the only online source to provide near-realtime updates to all of the on-going major fires without going offline... as well as continue the news and discussion on other related wildland fire issues in areas not affected by the fires. Great job Ab(s)!!!

Sometimes this is no small feat. Thanks for the thanks. Ab.

6/14 Thanks for the responsible approach here on the TheySaid regarding names and identifying information. With our incredibly connected world, it would be too easy to spread this information before families are notified. I was on a fire back in the early 90s where the widows found out about losing their pilot husbands via the media. Everyone on the incident was furious and the best we could figure is that enough identifying information about aircraft was floating around for the media to piece the data together. And this was before do-everything cellphone connectivity!

Still Out There ...
6/14 Censorship:

Hi Ab,

As a firefighter for over 20 year in California, more and more I keep seeing reports of near miss and fatality incidents that have occurred where names of those involved are censored, names of crews are censored, and information on the incident's resources on-scene are being censored.

Does everyone remember the 1985 Butte Fire in Montana where there were several dozen shelter deployments that occurred on the fire? It was over 70 firefighter shelter deployments. The original video, which I still have, shows everyone involved discussing what happened to them, who was involved (by name), and what crews were involved.

Then I view the listing today about the incident with an Engine Burnover in the CDF Butte Ranger Unit in today's They Said, and here we go, the engine numbers are censored.

ENOUGH OF THE CENSORSHIP!! For those who make these posts on the forum, tell us what Engine and Crew was involved. Who was injured and to what degree. I'd like to know because I used to work in Butte County and I'd like to know who was involved (because maybe I knew the crew) and the engine (because I have have worked on it some time ago).

Every time I see a name, a team name, or resource identifier come up on here with the <SNIP> the first thing that comes to mind is "COVERUP", "SPIN CONTROL", and the infamous "COVER MY @SS SO LATER ON I CAN BLAME SOMEONE ELSE". This sounds to me like another CDF spin control method to make sure they come out of every situation looking good. This forum should not go down this path any longer.

AB, I want the censorship to stop. That most recent blog regarding this burnover on the Humboldt Fire should not have the engine numbers or strike team / task force number removed. I know that some will say "We need to keep that information quiet so as not to panic anyone who might have been on that team or engine". I say BS! There are a large number of Strike Teams on that incident right now, and it could be anyone, thus you are causing more or a hardship on those who read this site and want to know who was involved.

How about the "THEY SAID" page adopt a NO CENSORSHIP POLICY from now on? IF a member posts a log about someone who caused problem on the line that resulted in a burnover, loss of equipment, injury, or God forbid a fatality, we should know the factual information.

I know that this instance was from a participant of this forum, but there have been times where the operators of this site have done the same thing, exercise the <SNIP> function. I say we do away with the <SNIP> from now on. If there is a (unbecoming term of endearment) CDF captain or chief who made a bonehead decision that got someone burned, perhaps we should be aware of it incase we have to work with this person in the future.

That is my piece on this issue. Lets stop hiding the names and units involved. There should be no such thing as Political Correctness and Spin Control in the Fire Service, wildland or structure.



Hi MOC4548, my old friend...

I took the numbers off <snip> because some of the family members had not yet been contacted and we didn't know who had been and who had not been. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation was still working to get the family support to the firefighters who needed it. My plan was to put them into the posts today.

WE WILL NOT BE DICTATED TO. What we do behind the scenes is BALANCE between 1) the often rabid demand to know and 2) the families' right to be contacted and supported by a member of our fire family first, including the managers (who are reeling as much as the injured are) and the WFF supporters. You have no idea how many emails and phone calls go into the research behind posting ANY questionable info on either forum. Beyond that, I've freely provided the information to the 7 people who have written in requesting it. They've expressed appreciation. I have no problem with that.

If this is censorship, so be it... you'll just have to live with it.

On another issue regarding a website term - Blog.
We're not a blog. Theysaid is not a blog; the Hotlist is not a blog. We're a firefighter community, a newsgroup. As editor, I have the responsibility of considering the entire community, not just a few with an issue.

Unfortunately, there's only one of me receiving emails like yours, in contrast with there being many of you with many different issues. The result is that I get lots of cr*ppola, much of which I don't post on theysaid or the hotlist. Oh well, the hassles come with the job.

Sounds like you didn't consider that it was my <snip>. Some of this might not really apply to your intent. Thanks for the opportunity to educate, yet again.



There are some people I ask to rewrite their posts focusing on "the what not the who". Most are willing; most even appreciate it. I often provide an example of an edited version. Thus, I act as editor. Those that aren't willing, usually they quit posting. It's OK with me. Some do not post for a while and later get over it. That's OK too.

There was also one community member that I liked and trusted who privately emailed me but then also blind-copied their demands to some circle of their fire friends for whatever their own purpose. I did not post and will not post that person's emails, even if good ones, until things get worked out between us. (Unfortunately, I can't email them because who knows where that would end up, maybe in a firefighter's memoirs.) That person has been requested to work things out with me if they'd like to resume posting. Loss of trust, now that's a sad state of affairs. Whatever the case, the choices I make are usually not capricious, but take the whole or "a whole lot" into consideration.

6/14 Well, it's done. Ken finished the Gobi Desert March in a time of 51:24:54. He did the last two stages, the 50 mile and 6 mile in times of 17:34:46 and 1:31:54, respectively. I bet he is one tired boy who, no doubt, will be back on the job at Fox Field this week! Congratulations to Ken for finishing another race, thanks to Wendy for supporting him through all his training, and thanks to all those who sent out emails or have donated money to the WFF in his name!

Way to go Ken!!!


GREAT JOB! Ken, you're remarkable. Ab.

6/14 Beer at lunch

It used to state in the master agreement that you could have a beer with lunch, but that was taken out in the early 90's. The FS has a hard enough time as it is, the last thing we need is people drinking on the job. If you cant go a full 8 hour shift with out a beer, get some help. Call the EAP, or find an AA meeting near you asap. As an engine Capt. I have enough to worry about these days.

Call me AZ Eng. Capt

Thanks Ab for makin Living the Dream, less of a nightmare.

You're welcome. Ab.

6/13 To "JM" and all:

The R5 press release really shouldn't surprise anyone. It is Mr. Kirchner's job to say what he is told to say and it would be occupational suicide for Mr. Moore to say anything other than we are "adequately prepared."

The irony about those two words is that they are the same two words Mark Rey has offered to congressional committees since at least February of '06. Based upon Senator Feinstein's comments and communications to Mr. Rey & Chief Kimbell along with that of other members of Congress, elected officials "ain't buyin' it."

Notice the "98% initial attack" success rate...a figure annually used by the Agency but which has never been validated by documentation from the Agency.

Common sense would dictate that if the Agency was adequately prepared, it wouldn't need to go before Congress annually and seek a supplemental appropriation of a HALF A BILLION DOLLARS. Something is a wee bit askew.

Additionally, despite putting together a "retention team" in December of last year and creating yet even more "teams" on the subject after Black Tuesday, there is no reference to the retention issue in the press release by Mr. Moore. That is pure, unadulterated 'SPIN."

The Agency seems content with crossing their fingers hoping the season isn't a catastrophic one. Yet we are already seeing burnovers and crazy fire behavior with many, many vacancies that will remain unfilled. The Agency's report to Congress and the press that there will be hiring in June & July will have virtually no appreciable impact on staffing this season. With the hiring debacle and many forest supervisors placing the training priority on AgLearn rather than training to be prepared for the season, maybe new hires will be ready for next year... If they aren't picked up by Cal-Fire or another agency before then.

It would be nice for the Agency to be honest with the public. However, if they can't even be honest with their own firefighters and Congress, we can't expect them to portray the truth to the public. Perhaps as the season continues and UTFs become pages and pages long as they have the past two seasons, they should be faxed to the RF as a commentary on the Agency's "preparedness."

Finally, the press release sends a message to Senator Feinstein and others in Congress that they (Congress) don't know what they are talking about yet as soon as the Senator speaks, the WO & RO seem to jump.

Congress can now see through the smoke & mirrors and the Agency's credibility has taken a huge hit in the last year. The most important thing all of you can do while those of us working the political/legislative side of things travel to DC next week is 1) stay safe and 2) keep providing accurate information from the field.

Thanks to all of you.

6/13 R5 resources

As far as staffing numbers go I don't think we are at
the numbers stated in the article. But when you read
it, Randy Moore says we will be at those numbers by
the end of JUNE. Whether that happens remains to be


6/13 It's been a long sucky week. I've been checking Theysaid for all the fire stuff watching and praying for my friends out there to stay safe and their spouses and kids to stay sane during the wondering hours.

Northtree GIS- thank you for your post.
#1 it was informative and helpful to those out there who want an easy way to look at the fire perimeter... you guys rock.
#2- you just made me feel like the things that I did when in agency land actually made a difference and that the dream we had as fire GIS people back in 2001/2002 has made a difference in getting the information from the incident to the public.

Someday I'll be back in agency land...
Take care and stay safe,
6/13 R5 Resources:

I don't know if I'm being a conspiracy theorist (never have in the past), but ever since I cut and pasted the resource status matrix for T3 engines off the OSCC page (showing 46 engines unavailable), the WILD CAD pages don't match the resources status reported by OSCC. Now I know wildcad changes throughout the day, but engines that I know are on days off are being shown as committed. I know of 2 engines off the top of my head that are on days off today yet OSCC is showing only 1 engine unavailable from the LP. Something fishy...


6/13 Ab,

I posted this to the Hotlist /hotlist/showthread.php?p=21490#post21490,
but since there was lively discussion on TheySaid, it deserves a post here, too.

No update has been posted to the NWCG training website yet about FLAME becoming optional in S-290. http://training.nwcg.gov/twt/sect_course_updates_suppression_s290.php

vfd cap'n


from the May 2008 Training Working Team minutes

S-290 FLAME Portion
The recently revised version of S-290 was supposed to introduce students to the new fire behavior tool FLAME. The GATRs have identified that there is little field knowledge of FLAME and that they have to import members of the Fire Behavior Committee or other experts to deliver this portion of the 200 level course. Support tools for FLAME that were supposed to be available on the web are not complete.

The inclusion of FLAME, in its current depth, is too complex for delivery in this course by the historical instructors.

Decision: FLAME will become optional in the S-290 course.

Action Item: Convey the decision to make the FLAME portion of S-290 optional to the Fire Environment Working Team and the Fire Behavior Committee. (Koontz)

Action Item: Develop a Course Update and Implementation Plan for the removal of FLAME from S-290 – due May 31st. (Epps)
6/13 From the R5 website 6/13/2008. Do your Figures agree with this?

More Than 4,000 FS Firefighters are Ready for the 2008 Fire Season


VALLEJO, Calif., Jun. 12, 2008—The 2008 wildfire season has arrived in California and the US Forest Service is prepared with more than 4,000 firefighters statewide.

"As the Region transitions into fire season, I am confident that we are well prepared to respond to wildfires in our national forests and to assist our firefighting partners in protecting local communities from wildfire," said Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore. ETC


3/16 Hello,

NorthTree Fire has posted a Google Earth perimeter map of the Humboldt Fire using data downloaded from the USGS FIre Planning and Mapping Tools: http://wildfire.cr.usgs.gov/fireplanning/

You can view the map in Google Earth via this link:

Or you can view the overlay in Google Maps, using this link:

NOTE: NorthTree Fire is not officially assigned to the Humboldt Fire. This mapping comes from the CDF Team on the fire, via the USGS Fire Planning website. We are this posting this as a service for friends and family in Butte County. We will attempt to post updates as we get them, and you should be able to get them by using refreshing these links.

Good luck and stay safe,
NorthTree Fire GIS

Hotlist thread

6/13 Ab, Just wanted you to know that all of our SNF five day engines had been told
to staff all engines and crews through the weekend.

This has came down from the Region 5, complete with a management code.


6/13 fuel conditions

If you have Google Earth available and want to see what the bug-kill is like
in central Colorado paste in these coordinates and snoop around some.

40 03'N 105 50'W

Keep in mind these are not IR photos, those are the actual colors.


6/13 From the Burn and Burn Center thread on the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=21404

Enloe Medical Center (Chico, CA) Guide to Services:

Adult & Children's Health Clinics
Behavioral Health
Cancer Center
Emergency Services
Heart Program
HomeCare & Hospice
Mother & Baby Care Center
Occupational Health
Outpatient Services
Rehabilitation Center
Stroke Program
Surgical Services
Weight Management Program


CAL FIRE used to be a leader in the proper initial evaluation, treatment, and follow-up for burn injuries (regardless of predicted severity) by insisting that all burns and burnovers go to Regional Burn Centers. Regardless of presentation to EMS prehospital care providers, or the presentation to hospital staffs not familiar with the many complications that can occur (even with 1st Degree Burns). People have died, or received life-long injuries from "minor burns".

My good friend NormBC9, with the help of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, has been trying to get CAL FIRE back to the policy that was in place until the "new" CDF medical director muddied things up so bad re-writing policies and procedures that neither the troops in the field, nor the IC's, nor the ECC's, nor the duty officers could make sense of "his direction".

The old CDF policy...(firefighter proof)... If you are burned (regardless of severity), or if you are in a burnover..... you are transported to a burn center for EXPERT LEVEL evaluation, treatment, and follow-up care.


From the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=4814

There was a burnover on the Humboldt incident, near Paradise in Butte County this yesterday afternoon.

From SPFDBC just after 1700 hours:

Ab: KCRA channel 3 at 5 pm reported that a CAL FIRE engine crew was overrun on the Humboldt Fire this afternoon. The Cal Fire PIO (Janet Upton) confirmed this report in taped interview. No reports of injuries to firefighters, status of engine unknown. Another near miss within the last 72 hours.

From Retired CDF'er:

Ab, The information on the fire over running the engine crew was posted on the KCRA 3 website. They were rescued by a career CAL FIRE employee who was assigned as a FIO / PIO in his pickup truck, with camper shell, which looked scorched. It appears the FFs made it out okay, status of apparatus unknown.

Later: I went back to the KCRA website, the video I saw is not there now. I viewed it between 5:00 - 6:00 pm. I also received this info below from someone who routinely gets CDF / CAL FIRE info from an official source:

From: North Ops Intel
To: North Ops Intel; Ault, Dave; SAC Duty Chief Notification
Cc: North Ops Duty Officer; Northern Region Duty Chief Notification List; Northern Region Operations Chiefs; Northern Region Unit Chiefs; CNR Report on Conditions
Sent: Thu Jun 12 16:06:13 2008
Subject: Humboldt Fire Hwy 32 near Chico Update

It involved E-<snip> from Butte County (CAL FIRE contract), assigned to ST<snip>0B. There was a sudden wind shift, catching the firefighters. A CAL FIRE employee drove his pick up truck / utility into the area and made a rescue of the FFs. They were transported to Enloe Hospital (Chico) with minor burns, treated and released. The utility and engine were damaged but drivable.

From someone who posted to the CA-BTU-Humboldt thread.
(It was removed.)

* BURNOVER reported with minor injuries: E-<snip> (Butte County) from strike team <snip>0B was caught during a rapid wind shift. One FAE drove into the area to rescue the crew and all received minor burns. All en route to Enloe for treatment. Both engine and utility were damaged but drivable.

Contributors, it's best if you email Ab as most of you did. There are family members of strike team engine crews reading here. It's not fair to provide unconfirmed information. We have to be careful. We don't know all of you. Rumors fly. If something bad happens there needs to be time for families to be notified in a humane and loving way. Heaven forbid if the outcome was worse and a mom or dad or sibling read it here.

6/13 From the Burn and Burn Center thread on the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=21404

Here is the draft collaborative standard posted on They Said (07/2007) for review and comment. While it is hard to read (meets OWCP and other BS language so the "line officers" understand), it simply says... if you are burned, or involved in a burnover -- you go to a burn center with rare exceptions.


Attached is a draft burn care management protocol. (32 K doc file)

It is based upon the recommendations of the American Burn Association,
the American College of Surgeons, Grossman Burn Center, and comments
from various fire management professionals.


6/13 Sting and all:

The comments and numbers attributed to Sen. Feinstein in the recent Chronicle article demonstrates the "real time" efforts of her staff to get her up-to-date information from the field and all of R5's federal wildland firefighters owe a debt of gratitude especially to Rachael Taylor from the Senator's Interior Appropriations Subcommittee staff.

More evidence that Congress is "getting it" is former "tough to convince" staffers are finally conceding our position on the issues. The upcoming hearings ought to provide yet another opportunity for your voices to resonate throughout Congress and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to testify on behalf of so many. Hopefully it will lead to real action and real reforms soon.


Keep up the good work, Casey. Ab.

6/13 To All,

First off, beer at any point in your work day is unacceptable! This should be common sense. When every one around us (myself included) wonders why a FS "Firefighter" does not get the recognition they deserve, issues like this come up on "They Said"!!!! Figure it out!!!! If you want to be paid like a pro then ACT like one. Do you see cdf or muni folks doin that! no! even if they do get paid 24's who cares if you are off the clock; that does not justify "havi'n a brew!" cause i am not driving.

What do you think by drinking a beer in front of your subordinates shows them? (to work the system as best you can?!) What kind of leader are you?! (NOT A GOOD ONE IN MY OPINION!) Figure it out! Don't be a d*ck (remember those old bumper sticker's.)

Last but not least, to the seasonal who loves his job but is havin a hard time, hang in there brother/sister we all wish we could get paid what we are worth. Support the fwfsa. Make some noise when you can. Thing's will turn out positive always as long as you pour your heart and soul into the job you love. (i left a 30-45 $ an hour job to do this, and to all the whiner's you knew what you signed up for when you took the job!!! instead of venting on they said why don't you do something like making it known what we do, contacting your local, state, fed reps for god sakes give casey a hand!!) and in the mean time, do the job you are gettin paid to do!!!

(you singed the papers not me! so do your damn job!) and do not forget we are the best wildland firefighters in the world. not state not the county us! the green truck's! Be proud hold your head high! (by the way i do live in So cal. and have a nice home, a boat, a new truck and a beautiful fam. a gs wage ain't that bad, could be worse!)

lovin the lake

6/13 Dannyboy:

In reference to your comment that the governor “find a way to staff up all CALFIRE engines”. CALFIRE has staffed all engines at 4 persons and is at peak staffing per executive order. In addition, a staffing pattern has been in effect for 2 days adding to that staffing level. Don’t know where you got your information.


That's what this site is for, getting the details, sometimes the big picture. Ab.

6/12 Here is a quick Ken Gobi Desert Run update.

He has finished stages 3, 4, and the brutal 50 mile stage 5. His times were 8:06:58 for stage 3 and 10:00:02 for stage 4. Still no update on stage 5. He finished the last 8 miles of stage 5 in the dark and sure was glad to be done with that one! He finished up tomorrow with an easy 6 mile run.

Once again, Ken has done an amazing feat! I sure hope that all of you were sending him emails. I know it means alot to him to have that kind of support when the going gets tough. Thanks to the fire community for standing behind Ken on his 2nd of 4 desert races!!


Great job! Ab.
email link:
photos link: www.4deserts.com/gobimarch/

6/12 See the bit about Senator Feinstein at the end in bold. Sting

Firefighters hope their luck holds in Santa Cruz Mountains
John Coté, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, June 12, 2008

(06-12) 15:52 PDT BONNY DOON, SANTA CRUZ COUNTY -- Firefighters cleared space around houses and nervously hoped the weather would hold out as they struggled today to contain a 700-acre wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains that has chased 1,500 people from their homes.

The Martin Fire has destroyed

<snipped middle>

None of the homes in that area had burned, said Jerry Kuras, the battalion chief for the Santa Barbara team.

Although state fire officials said they were in good shape, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., raised questions today about whether the U.S. Forest Service was adequately staffed.

In a letter to Forest Service officials, Feinstein said that the agency's vacancy rate among firefighters was 8.5 percent, which she called unacceptable.

" I am also concerned about reports that as of Friday ... only 186 of the agency's 276 engines were available to respond to fires," Feinstein said. "With the hot, dry and windy conditions ... in California, I believe the agency should have been able to muster a stronger force."

Feinstein noted that several major fires have broken out in the state within the three days. Besides the Martin Fire, two other major blazes are burning out of control in Northern and Central California. In Butte County, the 2-day-old Humboldt Fire has burned 6,000 acres 10 miles east or Chico, with 10 percent containment, fire officials said.

No structures have been damaged, and one firefighter suffered moderate injuries. Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in the county, where another fire earlier this week destroyed 21 homes in the town of Palermo.

In Monterey County, the 5-day-old Indians Fire burning in the Ventana Wilderness west of Kings City has scorched nearly 17,000 acres and is only 16 percent contained. A home and some outbuildings were destroyed. Five firefighters have suffered injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to hand and ear burns.

6/12 It is an absolute outrage that you can start a fire and kill someone and NO CHARGES ARE FILED!

No charges to be filed in fire; father of firefighter angered


6/12 Everyday I look at 2 different wildcad sites for status and resources, etc etc.
(Stanislaus and Cleveland) They have not been updated since May 27 or
June 4. Is Wildcad down???

6/12 Lunch Break:

Aardvark and others,

A 10 oz beer at lunch if they are not driving sounds like an urban legend. I doubt you will find that in any agency policy manual. But if you look at your agency's ethics policy you will most likely see a list of things that one can not do during one of the "official" breaks. You will not find a list for what you may not do at lunch. The difference here is breaks are compensable time. So you should not be doing things that you would not be doing during other parts of your work day. Your lunch break is not compensable time. (Sound familiar?) So having a beer with lunch may not have been technically against policy it does make the public (and fellow employees) question a person's judgment.

Hopefully the selecting official is openly supportive of this person and they can weather the storm.


6/12 Ab,

Regarding the consumption of alcohol while in travel status:

If you are on your own time, you can drink a beer while you are
in travel status, but some conditions exist. You must not be in
pay status while having that beer. You must show a break in
travel for that meal. You are then on your personal time.

When you go back on the clock, you must be fit for duty.

Same thing goes when you are at your duty station. If you go
out for lunch and have a beer while you are not in pay status,
you are on your own time and are free to do as you choose.
You must be fit for duty upon return to pay status.

If you are wearing the "uniform" of your unit while you are having
a beer, you could, by implication, be considered "on duty", as
you are representing your agency or your unit.

If you are driving a government vehicle, you must adhere to
state and federal laws and regulations, as well as to your home
unit's policies regarding drinking and driving, and regarding
blood alcohol levels.

However, if your home unit has a policy regarding any or all of
the above, and it is more stringent than what I've outline above,
and you are not in compliance with that policy, you can be
terminated, or other less severe action can also be taken
against you by your employer.

If you are ever in doubt, you, as a supervisor, are setting the
standard and the example for your employees and for the
community with whom you have contact throughout the day.

6/12 Aardvark,

Having a BEER while on duty, or in a government vehicle, or wearing any part
of the uniform should be absolutely forbidden..... even if it isn't, common sense
should tell one to NOT have the beer. Pretty simple to wait until off duty. The
PUBLIC EYES are always upon us.


In looking at the past few days of wildland fires in california, you would think that
the governor would find a way to fully staff up all cal-fire engines........ but it is
NOT happening...... citizens are not getting what they pay and paid for. Sad deal.


6/12 Anyone know how long Inciweb will be down? I haven't been able to get on all morning.


AL, There are some heavy duty interface fires in some high density population areas. My guess is the inciweb site is getting hit hard by the public as well as firefighters wanting info. Yesterday afternoon we maxed out on bandwidth again on our dedicated server and I couldn't post theysaid. Original Ab is looking into yet a larger version of dedicated server to meet our community's ever-growing needs... Ab.

6/12 Ab,

It is alarming to see so many burn injuries and near misses early in this fire season. After retiring from CDF as a Fire Captain after 34 years in 2003, I have been at work with Cal Fire as a retired annuitant ATGS the last two years at Ramona AAB. Last year and already this year, I am seeing ground resources engaged in tactics, which raise a red flag. LCES, the Ten Fire orders and 18 Situations are not being addressed and failure to establish an anchor point in the initial stages of suppression is a cause for concern.

I know that a majority of fire crews have just finished their early season training and are now responding daily to wildfires. Therefore, I ask that all crews review, discuss and fully understand why we have the LCES, 10 Fire Orders and 18 Situations, as it is for every ones fire line safety. Also you may want to start using another acronym SEE.


Safe is it?

Effective is it?

Efficient is it?

Think Safety and all Cal Fire Air Attacks monitor CDF A/G 151.220

AA-330 Captain
Ron Serabia
6/12 I know there are lots of rumors on the line, that's why I provided the summary several posts down. I have checked and there were NO FIREFIGHTER DEATHS yesterday or this morning. Some of you that are texting in from cell phones need to know my replies to you may not get through. Ab.
6/12 Thank you to the overhead who are making it happen for the burn victims
who deserve nothing less than a REAL BURN CENTER.

6/12 Aardvark,

I too have heard that there is a regulation that allows a person to have a 10 oz. beer with lunch if they are not driving, but I'm not sure where to find it.

I have a little different take on the situation. Let me preface that I'm sorry that the individual is always being watched, that is a horrible feeling to occur at the workplace.

Personally, if there is a regulation that states I can have an alcoholic beverage with lunch, I would never do so, especially in a crew setting. Was the individual in nomex, crew shirt, etc...It just does not represent very well. He represents the government and just does not look that good. Having been a crew boss for awhile and taken crews all over the country, I would not allow this to happen. It just does not look professional.

Again, just my opinion on what I would do personally.

Please do NOT sign my name!!...Thanks
6/12 Thanks so much Ken-

I will add this to the home page.
Prayers for calm'r times,


6/12The Jobs page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
6/11 Ab,

The Inciweb news summary that included info on the firefighters injured
on the Indians fire has been pulled. Why isn't it archived to the right side
of the page like news releases usually are?


It wasn't really a news release in my opinion, just a summary. The info is still in the table. All in good time. Ab.

6/11 Ab,

Here's another head's up for fuel conditions in Colorado this year, for fuel type "X" (frost killed gambrel oak.) Think: Battlement Creek and South Canyon.

vfd cap'n

Subject: Frost Kill

As we suspected after Monday morning's low temps, we had a confirmed report yesterday from the Cadastral Survey Staff that Gambel Oak on Arkansas Mtn. has the characteristic blackened leaves associated with recent frost

FYI, these local stations recorded the following low temperatures early Monday morning:

Copper Gulch 28
Deer Haven 29
Lake George 25
Willis Creek 29

Pay attention to the brush fields while in the field over the next few weeks and advise us of any other confirmed locations with frost killed oak.

6/11 The world of the firefighter burn "week in review": June 4-June 11, 2008

June 4th, 2008 on the Jungle Fire near Winterhaven CA (AZ-FYA-Jungle) a Diamond Mountain Hotshot got 2nd degree burns on his feet from being in hot stuff for too long. His Whites are fine, but his feet are blistered. He was transported to the Maricopa Burn Center in Phoenix. He's now recovering in the Bay Area at a family member's house. That was on Wednesday, June 4.

Yesterday (Tuesday, June 10) a Sacramento Metro Fire Captain was burned over on the CA-AEU-Jackson Fire. He is being treated at UC Davis Burn Center for severe burns: third-degree burns to his hands, and second-degree burns to his forearms and nose. He reportedly had surgery. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. The captain and two of his engine crew were protecting a mobile home when the wind and flames suddenly shifted direction. Two crew members were able to get inside the cab and escaped injury. The captain didn't make it in time and was caught by the flames.

Three firefighters were burned this morning (Wednesday, June 11, before 10:30AM) while fighting a vegetation fire (CA-NEU-Nicholaus) near Lincoln (NE of Sacramento). The CalFire engine crew members were using Brush Truck <snip #> to make a mobile (direct attack) when the wind shifted and the blaze overcame them. Two CalFire firefighters were flown to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where they were taken to the emergency room and transferred to the burn unit. They suffered moderate to severe burns to their faces and arms. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. The third firefighter, identified only as a Placer County volunteer, was driven to UC Davis Medical Center for treatment of relatively minor facial burns and later released.

This afternoon (Wednesday, June 11 about 4PM) three firefighters LPF Engine <snip #> were burned over on the Indians (CA-LPF-Indians) fire. The wind shifted as they were taking action on a spot fire and they were cut off. I heard they deployed shelters but have not confirmed that. It was reported that two of the injuries were minor burns to the ears, and the third firefighter had partial thickness burns to his hands. (In addition the Indians fire had a firefighter that sustained a leg injury and one that had smoke inhalation.) Of the 3 burned firefighters, one was airlifted to a hospital (Fresno Burn Unit) for further treatment. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. Hopefully all will get to a burn center to rule out inhalation injury and verify the severity of their burns. I've heard that the wind was terrific, a horizontal vortex that was snapping off oak trees.

The 24 and 72 hour reports and Lessons Learned will shed more light on all four incidents so that we all can work more safely or pull back and perhaps not work at all when the risk is too great.

The LPF is having a stand down for safety tomorrow.

Let's all take some time to reflect. We all need to be aware that we could be dealing with another unprecedented and dangerous fire season. Seven of these 8 burn injuries (all except the first) occurred in flashy fuels with capricious wind-driven fire behavior.

Heads up. Be safe.


6/11 Chief,

In CA, things are going south real quick.

Over the last 48 hours, there have been 7 burn injuries to firefighters and one smoke inhalation injury to a firefighter, All of these injuries were from wildland fires in light/flashy fuels.

On the Indians Fire (Los Padres NF, Southern CA):

"Five firefighters were injured today on the Indians Fire: one sustained a leg injury; one was treated for smoke inhalation; two received minor burns to their ears; one sustained burns to his ears and serious burns to his hands and was transported to a hospital for further treatment." http://inciweb.org/incident/1298/

The #1 thing.... firefighters with either potential burn injuries or potential inhalation injuries ARE sent to Regional Burn Centers for proper evaluation, treatment, and follow-up.

Nothing less.

/s/ Ken Kempter
Battalion Chief
US Forest Service

6/11 Dear AB & All:

There has been some information posted here lately about NFFE's consideration of accepting OPM's offer to place firefighters into the 301 series if the 401 series isn't working. The premise for doing this is that 301 doesn't require higher education coursework.

After speaking to Mark Davis and Dan Duefrene of NFFE along with several of our FWFSA Board of Directors and members, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer some insights into this issue.

First and foremost, we have been delighted and honored to work with NFFE on a variety of issues affecting our Nation's federal wildland firefighters from liability issues to outsourcing. Further, it is my understanding that NFFE fully supports the development of a stand-alone wildland firefighter classification series. As most know, this has been likely the # 1 issue of wildland firefighters for decades.

You may also recall that the FWFSA was successful in getting a bill passed by the House of Representatives in Dec. 2006 that mandated OPM to create such a series. Unfortunately the Senate, despite all of our hectic efforts at the end of the session, lost the bill. We firmly believe that had it not been lost it would have passed the Senate and we would likely have the series done by now. This would of course have precluded the current 401 mess from even happening.

Given my meetings with OPM Directors in the past, my personal belief is that they continue to be woefully ignorant of the fire business and what our wildland firefighters do and lack any interest in understanding. On many issues that they could have taken action on by now, they have simply failed to act. Thus, if OPM suggests "why not move them to 301" I consider it to be a way for them to rid themselves of this mess and take the easy way out. That, however, is a mistake because the pursuit of a wildland firefighter series will not end until it is achieved.

Although OPM has drawn a line in the sand with respect to accepting NWCG course work, the testimony and commentary at the April 1st hearing I attended led me to believe that Congress was in fact willing to tell OPM what to do on the subject. I believe a concern of NFFE is that a legislative solution may not be forthcoming this session with just five months to go, so an alternative might be to go to the 301 as a temporary measure. I am also concerned that if we accept a "temporary" fix now, it will be even harder to convince Congress to make a permanent fix as in a series later.

Although there are only 5 months left in the session, there are still ample opportunities (in my view) to move for a series through legislation. I base this on the frustration shown by many in Congress towards the Forest Service, not only on the 401 mess but also its management of the fire program in its entirety. Obviously, it would expedite the matter if the Agency leadership itself recognized we're in the 21st century and supported such a series.

All that being said, I offer these assessments based upon our responsibility to our FWFSA members. NFFE represents a far more diverse membership than just firefighters but I am delighted to see their efforts in the past year with respect to firefighter issues. More specifically, Mark Davis has immersed himself in the fire business in an effort to understand the dynamics of all that you face.

Both NFFE and the FWFSA will be testifying on the 18th before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee and I am confident we'll be on the "same page" with respect to our opinion of the Agency(s) preparedness for the season. And, while we will continue to work with each other, folks need to remember that ultimately, each organization needs to do what it thinks is best for its members. In the case of moving firefighters to 301, NFFE thinks it might be a good move for the time being. The FWFSA simply believes the time is right to pursue the series idea rather than accept something less, even if it is temporary.

With the "extension" to 2010, working collectively together now on a series, especially when both the FWFSA and NFFE have firmly established their credibility on the Hill with respect to wildland firefighter issues, is our preference. However, as we work towards that end of a wildland firefighter series, we will not do anything to take away from the efforts of NFFE on behalf of its members.

I hope this makes sense. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or by phone at 208-775-4577.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
6/11 Ab, et al.

A friend of mine, an exceptional firefighter, is in some hot water on his forest. Several people on his crew have been gunning for this individual for the last several weeks, as he was made the crew lead over several others. While in travel status coming back from a fire in their support truck, they stopped for lunch and he had a beer with his meal. He was not driving, they were not in fire status as they had been out for 14 days and were returning to take their two required days off. No big deal, right? Well they are making it one. We always used to joke that we were allowed an alcoholic drink at lunch or dinner, that somewhere it was written that this was permitted. On my own forest, we wish we could have a stiff drink before, during and after breakfast, lunch and dinner, but that is another story.

Is there a rule, reg or statement that does or does not allow the consumption of an alcoholic beverage at meal time in the Forest Manual or Regulations, and if so, where is it?

The firefighter in question is a great asset to the crew, has already made some beneficial changes, a highly qualified C Faller and instructor and will no doubt move on to be the crew supervisor there or elsewhere. Unfortunately, there are people on his district and on his crew that feel that the job should have gone to 'one of the good ole boys' on the district and they have been watching his every move and loudly and often commenting on his shortfalls (even though there have only been a few of these).

As they say, 'Its never the job, its the politics and personalities that screw things up'

I look forward to your response.


6/11 AB,

Just heard that another Cal Fire run incident has "scarce resources available", both air and ground. Anyone care to comment on when Cal Fire will realize that there are professional, highly trained and well equipped fire fighters out there with no 911 responsibilities?

Seems like closer resources that won't burden the 911 system would be better than waiting four hours for a strike team to form 200 hundred miles away.

Ocean Fire
6/11 Ab,

KCRA, Channel 3 in Sacramento has ID'ed the injured Sacramento Metro Fire Captain as Steve E, 46. The link to the story is: www.kcra.com/news/16580469/detail.phpl

As always our thoughts & prayers are with him and his family, friends, and co-workers.


6/11 Remark from kkempter@fs.fed.us: 2008 Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week: Committed to Long-Term Results, June 22-28, 2008

Saturday, June 7, 2008

2008 Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week:
Committed to Long-Term Results
June 22-28, 2008

Committed to Long-Term Results encourages long-term investments by chiefs and firefighters to enhance their health and safety. The ultimate goal is to institute a strong culture of health and safety within the fire/EMS service.

This year’s theme reflects the need for organizational action that supports and encourages a safety culture. Recommended activities and materials will incorporate three key areas where standard operating procedures, policies and initiatives—along with the training and enforcement that support them—can l imit fire/EMS personnel’s risk of injury or death:

Fully implement NFPA 1500, especially sections addressing PPE:
Provide compliant PPE.
Train and enforce use of PPE, including respiratory protection.
Fully implement the Wellness-Fitness Initiative:
Provide annual medical and physical evaluations.
Provide equipment and time for exercise.
Provide nutrition information.
Initiate an emergency vehicle policy, to include:
Always buckle up.
Always stop at red lights and stop signs.
Always drive at speed limits and defensively.

Focusing on these 2008 key safety areas from Sunday to Saturday provides maximum flexibility, allowing for all duty shifts—both career and volunteer—to participate in your department’s selected exercises at some point during Safety Week.

6/11 Ab,

Is there a connection between 301-series proposal and Tom Harbour's comment about
FS firefighters becoming "pupils of paperwork"???

That's sure gonna help the recruitment/retention problems: 1) drive a red truck and be
firefighter; or 2) drive a green truck and be a General Clerical and Administrative

vfd cap'n
6/11 The 10 Standard Orders

I think Tim laid them out very well and I much prefer having them flow to an end point "Conclusion". Having memorized the orders is different from understanding them and being able to apply them. I was able to discuss the 10 orders and LCES in the early 90's with Paul Gleason. What left an impression on me was Paul relating his belief that a simpler system was needed and thus LCES was born.

I also think that you could apply Tim's outline to any and all high risk endeavors.

Situational Awareness
Hazard Mitigation
Safe Operational Procedures
Implementation (Tim's "Conclusion")

I would suggest updating the last Fire Order to be in line with current policy.

* Having provided for safety, implement the appropriate management response.

You could also rephrase this for most any other operation.

* Having provided for safety, start the truck.
* Having provided for safety, launch the boat.

Or a universal "Conclusion"

* Having provided for safety, implement operations intelligently.

6/11 from the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=4725

File Code: 6540-8
Date: June 10, 2008
Subject: Travel Ceilings - FY 2008
To: All Employees

The Regional Forester sent a letter to the Region on May 16 advising Forests and the Regional Office to reduce travel to meet previous direction. The Mendocino's previous direction was to reduce our travel expenditures from FY 2007 to FY 2008 by 23%, with a ceiling cap of $230,573. To date, we are at an expenditure rate of 95.8% and should instead be at 67%.

The Regional Office (RO) is seeking a partial relief from the Washington Office (WO) for the following:
" Emergency supplemental funding for the southern forests
" Wildland fire hiring and retention increased costs
" Transfer Funds/Collections and Cost Recovery ceiling reduction (i.e., ERFO, RAC, Fee Demo, Cooperative Work-Other)

The WO has not yet responded to the RO, and we cannot depend on any such relief. Therefore, we need to proceed cautiously in order to comply with the Regional Forester and Chief's direction.

The Mendocino Staff met on June 9 to discuss this situation. The Forest will immediately adhere to the following actions:
" Utilize video conferencing whenever possible versus overnight travel.
" Utilize government vehicle rather than privately-owned vehicle (POV) whenever possible (USE/FOR expenditures are not included in travel ceiling reporting.)
" Ensure travel vouchers are processed timely so travel ceiling reports are accurate - Per Federal Travel Regulations (FTR 301-52.7(a), ALL TRAVEL CLAIMS NEED TO BE SUBMITTED WITHIN 5 WORKING DAYS AFTER YOU COMPLETE YOUR TRIP OR PERIOD OF TRAVEL. Complete all outstanding travel vouchers by June 13.
" If expenses were charged to the wrong unit, contact Budget by June 13 for an accounting adjustment.

The Forest will be held accountable for meeting our travel ceiling. Everyone needs to do their part in this effort, and I expect supervisors to ensure their employees have had prior staff or line approval before approving travel vouchers.

/s/ Thomas A. Contreras
Forest Supervisor, MNF

6/11 Information Diva and all A-Ds or not:

If you have any questions about your travel: contact the person that completes your travel vouchers for payment.

An official memo has come out (my DOI govt-employed husband shared it with me....), and it stated that for the government to pay "additional costs" they needed to be approved prior to your travel: which means it needs to be amended/ON your travel authorization....As Mob Guides describe: we are all limited to our weight limits and only approved team members and OH that have special equipment: they are approved to haul around to do their job: maybe you would fit into this category? I don't know off the top of my head.

Of course, just because you WANT more stuff with you...it might not be in the best interest of the govt, so you might have to pay it out of pocket on a credit card at check in. Finding myself in this situation already this summer: I knew it was well-worth the $25 to have that additional suitcase!!!???

Yes: you can always go back and request additional charges, to your travel voucher: but i'ts sure a pain for all involved, and will delay processing of your voucher, no doubt. You also risk becoming that "pain in the rear, more work for us in dispatch" A-D hire!!!! Been there, done that. I try to stay on the internet and self-teach myself on a number of things out there that are vital for my job. Thank God for the 'net!!!

Which leads me to some websites: there are many links off GACC websites to the "travel rules" such as www.gsa.gov and see "for federal employees" tab, then go to the word "travel"...this is where you will find the latest per diem rates, and the POV reimbursement rate, etc.....It follows the govt fiscal year Oct 1-Sept 30th....

Good luck in your travels and be safe!!!
Ex-dispatcher/travel processor/admin geek.....

6/11 Re: Region 5 BOD and the Forests (six in total) who centralized in Regions 3, 5, and 9.

The lack of fire leadership set the course and continues the course towards oblivion through continued inaction by current "line officers" who have decision making authority, but no fire experience, no fire education, nor relevant fire accountability of fireline leadership standards to prepare them to manage and supervise a wildland fire program they blindly agreed to lead.

It is win/win for them as they view things and try to return reality to 1944.

Lose/Lose for us on the pointy end of the stick who try to stay around long enough to improve both safety and efficiency and somehow become focused "targets" for the non-educated and non-experienced in wildland fire program mission delivery who somehow wrongly believe they have somehow become the experts..........

Chao... Touche.....Adios.... We'll see who is still around after the next administration change.... The facts have been the same for the last two administrations...... If root problems aren't addressed, the root problems will continue.

6/10 Dear AB & All:

The FWFSA's formal written testimony for its appearance before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee on June 18th has been sent to the committee. A copy of the testimony has been sent to our web master for inclusion into our FWFSA web site member's area.

I presume at some point it will make its way here onto TheySaid but since our dues paying members are footing the bill for us to get to DC to testify, they ought to get the first shot at reviewing it. Hopefully it will be up soon.

Additionally the FWFSA was contacted by Kathrene Hansen, the Executive Director of the Federal Executive Board who is preparing testimony for a hearing June 24th before the House Gov't Reform Committee on pay issues. We will work with the FEB along with NFFE who will be appearing at the June 18th Senate hearing to ensure our message on behalf of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters is consistent.

Should anyone have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
6/10 Ab here are some photos of my yard, 16:00 June 10, 2008.

Climate Change You Can Believe In.


P.S. AIG did not send the "Private Firefighters" to apply the foam.


Wow, Ab.

6/10 Ab -

Fire season may be a little late in these parts. These photos were
taken this morning in Pullman, WA.



6/10 CA-SCR-Sacramento

Firefighter Injured By Flames
Blaze Burns South Of Jackson Highway


SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. -- A Sacramento fire captain was hospitalized Tuesday with severe burns after a wind-driven grass fire unexpectedly changed direction and intensity.

Sacramento Metro Fire Department Capt. Jeff Lynch said the captain was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento with second-degree burns to both hands and arms. Second-degree burns cause blistering of the skin.

The captain and two members of his engine crew were protecting a mobile home from a blaze just south of Jackson Highway between Bradshaw and Excelsior roads.

Lynch said the two crew members were able to get inside the cab when the wind and flames suddenly shifted direction. They escaped injury.

He said the captain didn't make it in time and was caught by the flames. Lynch did not immediately know the captain's condition at the hospital.

Video and slide show links: www.kcra.com

fair use disclaimer

Lots of fires on this windy CA day, also in CO. Hotlist Ab.

6/10 Ab, please post.

Local Officials, please forward to fire personnel. (Ab's bold.)

This is to alert you that there is a potential for change in the agency’s
current plans to convert certain fire program management positions to the
GS-0401 series. We believe input from the field is important in informing
agency leadership on this issue so they may make the best possible
decisions. Accordingly, we are providing you with this brief update and
opportunity to comment. We suggest you register your thoughts through your
chain of command. Or, if you prefer to preserve your anonymity, you may
also route your comments to mwdavis01@fs.fed.us and we will forward them
confidentially. (Ab's bold.)

To briefly summarize the history, a GS-0401 Fire Program Specialist
supplemental qualification standard was approved in 2002 and certain fire
management positions scheduled to be converted as of 2009. The 401 added a
minimum education requirement; however, certain NWCG courses relevant to
the duties were afforded academic standing to meet it. Subsequently, an
OPM policy change removed the standing of NWCG certificates, which
effectively gutted the supplemental standard.

NFFE-FSC has listened to the field on this and we have acted. We managed
to get this issue on the table during Senate hearings on April 1, and as a
direct result OPM and the agencies agreed to a one-year delay, until 2010,
for transition to the 401. Some were satisfied with this outcome; we were
not. In mid-May, two dozen employees designated as union officials
traveled to Washington, DC and explained the seriousness of the situation
to roughly 200 Congressional staff and elected representatives. We asked
for re-instatement of the standing of NWCG courses. For comments from the
field and our briefing paper, see

OPM has been resistant to this proposal, and the odds of finalizing a
legislative solution during a presidential election year are slim.
However, our advocacy has opened a different door. OPM has suggested that
if the 401 no longer meets agencies’ needs, then they should consider using
the 301 series. This is an administrative series which has no minimum
education requirement. NWCG course requirements and other necessary
qualifications could be included in the PD. Employees excluded from fire
management jobs by loss of NWCG credits could remain in their positions and
compete for new ones. The drain in experienced leadership would be
reversed. Further, the series does not limit grade level: NIMO teams are
staffed with 301s at the GS-13 and GS-14 level.

On the fire line, a change in wind speed and direction calls for a
strategic reassessment. We feel the same is true in the world of policy.
On learning of OPM’s suggestion, we researched it and found (1)
reclassification of PDs from the 401 to the 301 series is a relatively
simple matter, (2) firefighter retirement need not be affected, as it is by
law based on PD duties, not classification series, and it is within the
authority of the agency head to determine, and (3) OPM is willing to work
with the agencies to facilitate this change in course. Given the abrupt
change in the regulatory winds, we feel this option deserves strong
consideration. Thus, NFFE representatives will travel again to DC to meet
with agency leadership and key Congressional staff to explore the 301
option. Shortly thereafter, Congressional staff with whom we’ve worked
will meet with OPM and agency officials. In addition, we have received an
invitation to testify at the preparedness hearing before the Senate Energy
and Natural Resources Committee on June 18. We will continue to work for a
positive solution.

The best decisions are not made by a few deliberating behind closed doors.
The best decisions come out of a transparent, open, and honest process in
which many are engaged in working toward the best solution. Again, if you
have thoughts on this issue, this is the time to make them known. What do
you recommend? Decision-makers make better decisions if they avail
themselves of the expertise of the field. Our job is to help convey this
wisdom and advocate on its behalf. But we can only do so if you speak up.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

PS - my one regret about the April 18 Senate hearing is I won't be able to
attend myself, missing another chance to buy Casey a beer. But my
daughter's getting married that weekend, so I'll be here is Wisconsin. One
of these days, Casey... -md
6/10 Ab, This is to all those who are my superiors over R5...

Have you “hugged” your temp today?

I have read Hotlist for awhile now and I am one of the frequently talked about…”the temp.” I look around me at work on a typical day on my Forest Service engine module and I see people with years of experience who don’t care anymore. Let me re-phrase that - the battle is wearing my superiors to the point of exhaustion. I hear their stories of the good ole times and want to grow up like them in the Forest Service. I don’t want to work on a red fire engine. I want to ride in the big green engine and do such great (and dying) things such as project work (outside, even!), spike out on a line overnight, ride a helicopter to the top of a fire, and sit on a ridge overlooking a big valley with nothing more than my gear, my tool and the rest of my crew. However, in the current times of despair I wonder if my fellow firefighters can still see any of these perks. I too am struggling trying to pay my bills and help provide for my family on a GS-4 paycheck. I am not a twenty something year old who has minimal commitments. Like everyone else, some days I do not know how I am going to make it through the pay period, much less the winter. I love my job though so I stick it out. No politician or overhead will take away the joy of the job, the adrenaline rush we get going to a fire or the camaraderie I have with my co-workers.

The challenge I have for all the module and crew leaders, regardless of what type, is this… look at your crew. Do you have a firefighter who has that drive and heart, one that truly wants to be there? You know who they are. They have that look that you couldn’t take the love of fire out of their blood even if you tried. Mentor that crew member and show them the way of fire. In a time of small paychecks and big gasoline bills life is rough. Your temps can’t help that the world is what it is. Many of us are naive to what the future of the Forest Service will bring. However, you can make a difference in our lives. We can’t pay you more, watch your children, change the mind of a politician or anything truly extravagant even if we wanted to. We can carry on your legacy and make you proud, and fight fire like you do. Please don’t forget that you too were one in our shoes. And please, please, please stop telling us to get ours while the getting is good. Most of us are educated on the retention and pay issues. We too want better pay and work schedules. If we are still temps year after year, we probably want to be here.

My personal choice is to stay with the Forest Service and I have been told I am crazy. I don’t care. There is nothing wrong with working for any other agency but I firmly believe the “grass is greener” (or redder). I would love to be recognized for the work we do with an appropriate job title and a paycheck that equals the risk and work we do. My heart goes out to those who miss their children’s birthdays and their family time. I wish I personally could make a bigger difference but I know I cannot. It is a group wide effort and I am inspired by those around me who have taken up the call. It is a huge goal to work toward and I believe if we as a culture pull together and fight the battle we can prevail. Call me naïve and untrained if you will but maybe that is what is needed. So rally your temps and train them up, because we are the next generation of firefighters that will be saving our forests one fire at a time. Give up hope and a reason to come to work.

Thank you.

R5 temp
6/10 Re: Randy Moore's Letter

"This will be the first time GS-5 qualified employees can enter the training program at the GS-5 level." WRONG.

I am not going to even waste my time addressing this factually incorrect BS once again that a person in a position of leadership gives without knowing the factual background, but I will give him (Randy Moore) credit for seriously trying, and listening to Ed and Willie who are supposed to be our "fire management voices"... WRONG.

I am going to state something that is widely known (hopefully it will get posted and not redacted) throughout the wildland fire community. Ed and Willie don't represent the collective knowledge and experience of the R-5 Board of Directors (Forest FMOs) nor the collective experience of the boots on the ground they (R5-BOD) represent.

The Regional Forester (Line Officer) and the Deputy Regional Forester for State and Private Forestry (Line Officer) are both unfamiliar with the reasons that R--5 implemented a BOD, as well as several forests that implemented a centralized fire program to improve safety, efficiency, and mission delivery. The R-5 BOD worked as well as the Centralized Forests.

Most Forest Supervisors (Line Officers) recently appointed without adequate relevant fire experience, just don't have a clue about the complex leadership over the last 40 years they are over-ruling (or being directed to) to have dismantled.

Randy, as a soil scientist, if you want to lead a wildland fire program in the 21st century, I humbly recommend that the R-5 Board of Directors (wildland firefighters) be listened to with both ears, and with an open mind. While they (fire managers) aren't rocket scientists, they ARE the experts in wildland fire program management. If you want to be a leader..... LEAD.

6/9 BLM hotshot got 2nd degree burns on Jungle Fire near Winterhaven CA (AZ-FYA-Jungle)



Early Alert

Date: June 4, 2008

From: Arizona State Office

Through: Jeff Krauss, WO Public Affairs Group Manager

Subject: Burn Injury Sustained by BLM Diamond Mountain Hotshot Crewmember

What: Potential second degree burns to both feet.

Who: A crewmember from the Diamond Mountain Hotshots, stationed out of Susanville, California.

Where: The crew was assigned to the Jungle Fire near Winterhaven, California.

When: The accident occurred on Wednesday, June 4, 2008. Exact time is currently unknown.

Background: The Jungle Fire was reported early Wednesday morning, June 4, 2008 on Bureau of Indian Affairs land. The BLM-Arizona Yuma Field Office has assumed operational command of the Jungle Fire. The crewmember was transported by ambulance to Yuma, Arizona, where it was determined that the burns were severe enough to require transportation to the Maricopa County Burn Unit in Phoenix, Arizona.

Contact: Elaine Y. Zielinski, State Director, Arizona, 602-417-9500

More notes here on the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=20851

6/9 The following is an excerpt from a letter sent out by Randy Moore -

"On May 8, 2008 I approved the “2008 July Fire Hire” schedule and the July through mid-September selection period process. The GS-0462-02/03/04/05 apprenticeship announcement will be issued by the end of this week. This will be the first time GS-5 qualified employees can enter the training program at the GS-5 level. This will be the opportunity I have mentioned during my forest visits to fill your senior firefighter vacancies.

The temporary employee program in FAM is an important tool for recruiting entry level permanent employees for the apprenticeship program. To maintain that relationship, our goal for the number of seasons an employee works as a temporary without moving into the apprenticeship program should be limited to 3 or 4. Maintaining turnover of our temporary firefighting workforce is important if we will be successful in using our temporary workforce to transition to permanent positions. Yet I am told we have a number of multi-year temporary fire employees. I ask that you encourage any qualified temporary employees to apply to this vacancy announcement. I have asked FAM and HCM to review this situation, and develop viable recommendations/alternatives. These will be shared in a subsequent communication."

That being said, here is the announcement number for the apprentices program. It is:

ADS08-R5-WFAP-2345G & ADS08-R5-WFAP-2345DP

At least two selection rounds will be held. The first round of selections requires that applicants apply by July 2 to be considered.
Only GS-05 selections will be made during this round. The second round requires applicants to apply by September 2 to be considered; selections from all grade levels will be made during this round.

Please pass this information on to any temps who are thinking of applying and please note the 2 different cut off dates for applying. Make sure you read the directions of the application CAREFULLY!!


6/9 I am just a resident, not a fire fighter but I do want to thank you for the site AND for how well you moderate it.

During the Cedar fire we were grateful to have the site and it allowed us to evacuate in an orderly fashion (we stayed but got the livestock out well ahead of the fire, which never quite reached us although it was within a quarter of a mile).

We also feel that without the site we would have been in much worse shape after the recent Witch Creek fire here in Ramona; thanks to your site, we were immediately able to match the smoke we saw with the incident location and response and get our livestock and ourselves out of the way of the fire fighting crews and save much of our property (emptied of critters and prepared for water trucks that came and used our well and our propane generator to RUN the well).

I just wanted you to know that I think you personally do such a great job keeping it friendly, informational and helpful. In some cases it has even been life-saving (we evacuated the kids’ grandparents and their neighbors moments before the fire took one home and barely spared the other – the neighbors would have been injured or killed had we not had your site to tell us which way the fires were running so quickly during the Witch Creek fire in Ramona, CA last October).

Simply put – thanks.


We have to say, it's nice to be appreciated and none of us could do it alone. We have 3 very helpful Moderators on the hotlist AND a huge bunch of Contributors from across the US and growing... Thank you Marla. The Abs.

6/9 Here is the update on Ken. He has finished stage one in a time of 6:19:40. This puts him at 65th out of the 164 competitors that are still in the race. So far 8 racers have withdrawn.

I will be giving you the details but wanted to show you the more personal side of what's going on over in China. Hopefully Wendy will send me emails every day that I can share with you. Here is the email I received this morning:

I talked to Ken early this morning (3 am) when he finished stage 1!! Yes, there is actually cell phone coverage in Taxpuxkha, China!! I was so surprised to hear his voice. Anyway, he told me the BEST story and he wanted me to share it with you.

Maybe you already know that Racing the Planet is selling frisbees to pass out to the local children as the runners go through the villages. They are charging $25 (yes, it's a profit deal!) with all proceeds going to the earthquake victims. So it's a cool thing and frisbees are something these children have never seen before! Ken said the first stage was a lot like a marathon here in the states - hundreds and hundreds of spectators, lining the streets of the villages and towns, cheering for the runners.

So when they come to a populated area, the volunteers will hand the runners frisbees, and they would toss them out to the crowds. Ken said he noticed this one little girl, looking kinda sad because runners had passed her by and she didn't get a frisbee. So instead of throwing his out to the crowd, he went up to her and handed it to her. He said the look on her face was unforgettable - a big smile on that sweet face. And the best part is that Ken is pretty sure a RTP videographer caught it on film!! Did you just feel that rush of warmth going through your heart??!! I love that story!

If you get a chance, you really must check out the pics as they are updated each day. This is such a different kind of race than the Sahara was, and I have a feeling Ken is experiencing some pretty amazing moments.

Love and thanks for your support!!


Make sure you check out the photos page - they had some great ones of Ken last race and hopefully you will see alot of him this time around.

Have you sent your email yet?


6/8 I got this email from Wendy Perry on Saturday but didn't have time to send it in until now:

Stage 1 begins Sunday, June 8 (by the time you get this email, it may already have started since they are 13 hours ahead of us PST!) I got to talk to Ken one last time in Kashgar before they got on the buses to head to the starting line. He sounds great and is really ready to run. He's been in China almost a week now, so he's adjusted to the time change and got his touring out of the way (Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City). Now it's time to do what he went there for - run 150 miles through the Gobi Desert!!

Here's the link to email him:


You can email him daily if you have time - I know he'd love it. Be sure to identify yourself in the text of your email, as he doesn't see the return email addresses on the ones he receives.

Also, if you go to the photos page at 4deserts, there are already some of him, checking in!!

I really believe Kenneth Perry is the coolest, bravest guy in the world!!

Thanks for your support,


I agree whole heartedly with Wendy - Ken is the best!! Let's get the emails going everyone. I will update the race when I get the information. Nothing is posted as of 1:51 am here in California, but I am expecting the results for stage 1 to be up later this morning. Temps for stage 1 were at 100 degrees.

Go Desert Runner Dude!


6/8 A little bit of history


I ran across this in reading and thought you would find it interesting
that the US Forest Service had a hand in teaching the first PJs.



6/7 Hi to all:

I don't think there are too many others out there that want to see Tom Harbour take command and lead us all into battle in order to stop the systematic dismantling of the Forest Service fire program more than I. However from my perspective, I get to see the restraints put on him by the non-fire WO leadership. Granted, I certainly couldn't stay in a job where leadership rendered me ineffective, especially when thousands of the world's best wildland firefighters were looking to me for leadership.

I certainly am not looking to make excuses for Tom, but he is an SES employee and on any given day, Chief Kimbell could see him in the hallway and say "I don't like your shirt, you're fired" or worse yet, I don't like you talking to that "pariah" Casey Judd and the FWFSA, you're fired..." That is what he faces each and every day.

So, at least for the next five months under the current Administration and the puppeteering of Mark Rey, if you expect to see Tom gallop across the West on a while stallion...forget it. That being said I wouldn't race to tar and feather Tom just yet. What folks read about on TheySaid and what even our FWFSA members know on any given day is a fraction of what is going on behind the scenes with Congress, loyal folks in the WO, and many, many others.

I don't like doing business that way. I would much prefer to be above board on absolutely everything we are doing, who we are working with etc. However the actions, or lack thereof by the Forest Service for the benefit of their firefighters demand that some things are kept low key. That process is working as evidenced by the FWFSA's invitation to testify before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee on the 18th of this month.

More evidence is Senator Feinstein's continued denunciation of the rhetoric coming from the Agency regarding retention and what it (the Agency ) is doing about it. Suffice it to say, the credibility of the Forest Service and the USDA with respect to the management of its fire program has been utterly destroyed. Unfortunately rather than acknowledging that fact and actually coming to grips with the reality that, like Mr. Harbour stated firefighting is year round and the Agency must manage its fire program as a fire department i.e. by fire folks, the Agency will do what bureaucracies do...deny; promise to work with Congress to fix things then hope everyone forgets about the issues for another year when they once again conjure up the smoke & mirrors magic show for Congress. Fortunately, most in Congress are no longer buying it.

It is your voices that have gotten the FWFSA to the table to finally put everything on the table and peel the remaining layers away from the actions/policies that have left the FS fire program imploding. Tom may not be on his trusty steed with sword in hand visibly side by side with all of you, but I can assure you that despite the appearance of being "MIA" Tom shouldn't quite yet be the target he seems to be.

Speaking of his "year round" comment on fire, that bodes well for the classification issue. Some staff on the Hill have suggested that fire isn't year round and thus a wildland firefighter series is not needed. Tom's comment, as the FS FAM Director places that argument in the round file. In fact in a number of his comments, both verbal and written, I have picked up on frequent subtleties that let me know his support for his firefighters is strong. He's just a bit hog-tied at the moment.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
6/7 RE: Tom Harbour’s letter

I find your letter insulting and demoralizing. If only it were that
easy. You are just so out of touch wit my reality. I have a lot of
bad days. Every day I sit here behind this computer and do AgLearn, or
52 Tracker, or sit on hold with ASC, I’m having a bad day. And my bad
day doesn’t immediately go away when I do manage to get out from behind
the computer, because the administrative work load doesn’t go away by

So your direction is effectively don’t worry about fixing anything, just
compartmentalize and hope it goes away. What exactly is your vision of
this fire organization, and what is your role in achieving it? More
specifically, what are you doing to help me compartmentalize and reduce
the ‘noise” as you call it? For example, what has been taken away from
supervisors since 1990 or even since 2006? We just get more “noise” all
the time as new processes are added. But nothing goes away or gets
easier. Every new administrative twist just eats up more time and
energy that then can’t be applied to training or building a better

I’m not sure you have adjusted to the new reality of hiring, training,
equipping, keeping paid, and dealing with the paperwork of having actual
employees. All this on top of the most important job I was actually
hired to do; firefighting. I am still expected to be safe and effective
and focus on safety, but I now have to do many times more bureaucratic
crap to get the work done. And if I don’t do the administrative
functions, who will? Tom, can I just “compartmentalize” my ASC issues
and you’ll solve them for me so I can focus on safety? So far, I
haven’t seen any help from above, and compartmentalizing doesn’t get my
people paid.

I may be forced to eat a crap sandwich, but I’ll be damted if I’m going
to compliment the chef on my meal. Tom, you helped make the meal, so at
least acknowledge that you’re feeding us a crap sandwich. If the
“noise” is a known hazard, don’t ask people to ignore a known hazard.
You have a duty to reduce the “noise” in your organization. That’s what
leaders do. Don’t ask me to ignore a problem; fix it.

6/7 A High Reliability Fire Organization must foster several kinds of "cultures" to achieve a safety SYSTEM. To name a few:
  • Just Culture
  • Adaptive & Flexible Culture
  • Reporting Culture
  • Learning Culture promotes safety

Safety is an outcome. To focus only on safety isn't enough, though, because it's difficult to measure safety and assess improvement in safety. Not only is it hard to quantify with fire that's an uncertain environment, but also with hurricane, tornado, and other extreme weather. In aviation they assess safety by measuring accidents per flight time (or pilot time or "risk exposure" time). For fire, would you figure it on: "So many accidents, burnovers, deaths per hours worked on the line in a year?" How do we reliably measure RISK EXPOSURE? Fire frequency and fire behavior conditions vary from year to year. Do you count those "hurry up and wait hours"? As it is, we look at 10 year moving average for acres burned in figuring budget because of the wide variation in acres burned on a yearly basis.

In my opinion, we can promote safety outcomes by fostering the different "cultures" listed above. On the ground the focus needs to be on risk assessment and management; just culture; reporting without fear; collectively and individually learning from incidents; and changing to reflect the lessons learned... but you have to go beyond the ground to minimize risk and maximize safety. You have to address the organization at a higher level, an Agency level.


6/7 Re Harbour's letter:


I want to thank those folks who post agency related documents (such as the 6/6 posts of Tom Harbour's letter and the 2008 DOI and FS Direction to Leaders). As an AFMO, DIVS and ICT3, my EXPECTATION is that I would see these documents through the appropriate FS channels (FAM and email). However, as of today (6/7) neither of these documents has been seen in Lotus Notes, or other channels. The ongoing lack of communication is not only frustrating, it daily points out why the firefighters of the agencies realize that the only one watching our backs, is us. Certainly not management. Despite some of the BS you have to wade through on They Said, I check it often so I can keep up with the "official" messages that somehow rarely seem to make it down to the field level. Thanks to those who are keeping watch and keeping us informed.

R1 Blockhead

6/7 Re Harbour's letter:

Sorry Tom,

But one of those burdens that I and so many of my brethren face each day is paying the mortgage, putting food on the table, and how am I to pay for our children to go to college. These are the things that cause my mind to wonder when I am out on the fireline for fourteen days and I had not made it to my little girls birthday in five years, all the while you sit in your Marble Palace, thinking of another check list for me to go over when I and my brotherhood have the bad day.

You have the ability to help end the Bureaucratic Burdens, but you're doing nothing for those of us that have the bad days. Still you chose to form committees to find out what the problems are and how to retain firefighters, why not just ask US.


6/7 Re: agency policy for burn victim care

MJ has hit squarely upon the difference between being safe and being reliable, with his story of how the BLM and USFS reps view federal burn treatment policy. Pasted below is an excerpt from a paper by Karen Marais, Nicolas Dulac, and Nancy Leveson from MIT. http://sunnyday.mit.edu/papers/hro.pdf

I know there's a big push for High Reliability Organizing in the wildland community, but it's worth noting the downside to the HRO theory.

vfd cap'n


"Reliability in engineering is defined as the probability that a component satisfies its specified behavioral requirements over time and under given conditions. If a human operator does not follow the specified procedures, then they are not operating reliably. In some cases that can lead to an accident. In other cases, it may prevent an accident when the specified procedures turn out to be unsafe under the particular circumstances. Examples abound of operators ignoring prescribed procedures in order to prevent an accident.

"If the goal is to increase safety, then we should be talking about enhancing the safety culture, not the reliability culture. The safety culture is that part of organizational culture that reflects the general attitude and approaches to safety and risk management. Aircraft carriers do have a very strong safety culture and many of the aspects of this culture observed by the HRO researchers can and should be copied by other organizations, but labeling these characteristics as "reliability" is misleading and can lead to misunderstanding what is needed to increase safety in complex, tightly coupled systems."
6/6 I wonder how long they're going to drag this one out?

Trial for Esperanza Fire defendant postponed to Nov. 3 - PE.com - Daily News D

6/6 Re Lightning crashes:

Making the rounds...

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers.

As you may already know, two members of the Flathead IHC were hit by
lightning last Thursday May 29. The story goes like this. Nine members
of the crew were out on a prescribed burn lit the previous day on the Tally
Lake RD about 15 miles NW of Whitefish. The crew was tasked with securing
the edges and falling hazard trees. At approx. 1300 a fast moving cell
blew in over burn area bringing with it heavy rain, large hail and
lightning. The squad leader in charge decided to pull the crew off the
burn and ride the weather out in the buggies about a .25 mile away through
the brush to the road. As the crew was making their way out, lightning
struck and 80 foot larch tree right next to the containment line at the
bottom of the unit. Crewmembers Beau Morin and Heather McEvoy happened to
be hiking by directly underneath this tree at the time of the strike. The
bolt spiraled down the tree and pounded them into the ground. The crews
lead EMT happened to be about 50 feet away and was on the scene immediately.
The remaining crew facilitated the rescue and evac of the injured to local
hospitals. Beau and Heather were treated and released on Thurs. night and
are currently recovering. The actions taken by our squad leader, lead
EMT, and all crew involved were outstanding and Harv and myself could not
be prouder of the way they handled an extremely high energy event. Thanks
again for all the support and thoughts and prayers from our fellow fire

Any questions give us a call.


6/6 2008 DOI & FS Direction to Leaders:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/fed/doi.fs.direction.to.leaders.2008.pdf (1469K pdf file)

6/6 Doc file (39K), text below:

USDA Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Message from the Director
June 5, 2008

In our business, distraction can lead to disaster.

We are halfway through the calendar year and heading into the summer months that used to be considered ‘fire season’. Not any more - we manage and suppress fires all year now. But at this midway point in the year, I want to openly offer my thanks to all who are already engaged in this program. I especially recognize the men and women in Regions 8 and 9 for their tremendous work in prescribed fire and for being the first-rate professionals in sharing their knowledge and energies with our state partners during a very active spring season.

I remain concerned about the potentially grueling pace ahead of us this summer in the west and this fall in the east. In addition to being students of fire, many of you find yourselves also as pupils of paperwork. I know the challenges in your daily lives just winding through our business systems, wondering what transformation talk really means on the ground, and seeing sporadic starts and stops in our hiring. There are definitely organizational hazards from this “noise” in the system, which heightens my concern about the flames before you. I ask you to mentally compartmentalize the noise; you must maintain your focus.

As firefighters we know well that losing our focus and our situational awareness leads to horrific tragedies. We cannot afford even one bad day. Since 1990, just four bad days resulted in a total of 29 burnover fatalities. Events on the Dude Fire in 1990 (6 lives), the South Canyon Fire in 1994 (14 lives), the Thirtymile Fire in 2001 (4 lives) and the Esperanza Fire in 2006 (5 lives), will never be forgotten. Three more bad days since 1990 resulted in sixteen firefighters dying in driving accidents. In fact, from 1990 to 2007 we’ve had a lot of bad days: a total of 319 wildland firefighters died in the line of duty on the fireline, in vehicles and aircraft, and from snags, heart attacks and other causes. Hundreds of firefighters suffered injuries, some so severe that their lives are changed forever.

I believe that as we become more self-aware and attuned to each other, there will be less bad days. While solutions are being implemented that will gradually resolve impacts from transformation, budget reduction, HR issues, and election year politics, they won’t immediately improve our ability to manage risk. What will keep us on track today is a belief in the fact that well focused and well prepared firefighters are safe firefighters.

I urge you to prepare for the hazardous mission that you face each day by continually focusing on your physical and mental fitness. Train your body and mind to withstand the rigors of the job, but recognize your limits and those of your crew. We must not to allow any bureaucratic burdens to distract us from our first obligation to bring all firefighters and aviators home when the day is done.

Tom Harbour

6/6 Forest Service to Fire Service:

Ab and all,

I got a call this morning from one of Greg Walden's (Oregon, U.S. Representative) aides
in response to a letter I sent to Greg's office regarding Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PLT) owed to
the Counties where the Federal Govt. owns a majority of the land. We talked for about 15 minutes
about the Forest Services mismanagement of our resources and the treatment of its firefighters.

The aide told me that Greg Walden is going to submit legislation to change the name of the Forest
Service to the Fire Service when fire budget meets or exceeds 1/2 of the total Forest Services
Budget which it is getting close to doing.

I am sure that this would be a symbolic bill that would not be expected to pass but it shows that
the USFS's problems are being kicked up to the higher levels with increasing frequency.



"Anyone (FED) have an experience of trying to get a firefighter to a burn treatment center? What problem did you have? With ASC (Albuquerque Service Center for approval)? How did you solve the problem? We should each be prepared to LEAD UP!"

I had a problem with this. It was in 1996, before ASC. I got a 2nd and 3rd degree burn completely around my lower leg on a prescribed fire. After seeing my local Dr, I went to the local hospital. They were NOT a burn center. They told me I'd be back to work in 3 days. By the next morning, it was so swollen and painful that I returned to my doctor, who took one look and had me admitted to a hospital. I was in there 3 weeks, they just happened to have a great burn specialist/plastic surgeon on staff. A coincidence. The USFS told me their responsibility ends when they get you to "Qualified medical care". They said they can not, and will not, refer someone to any advanced care or specialist. No burn center. End of story.

I missed an entire season with this burn. As I was not PFT at the time, the next year after collecting OWCP payments while off work for this on the job accident, I tried to put in for unemployment here in Calif. They told me that OWCP payments are not considered income, so I did NOT qualify for UI while laid off. So, I had to go on Welfare that winter to feed me and my wife. For an on-the-job injury. Then had to pay the State back for the Welfare the next year. Thanks, USFS...

So, fast-forward to this years' Wildland Safety Officers Conference in San Diego. This topic came up as an Agenda item. A spokesman for BLM got up and explained how, as a FED agency, they get all burn victims to a burn center now. How they work the paperwork to make it happen. Then, a USFS rep stands up and says that BLM is doing something against the rules by doing that, and the USFS, by policy, would only get people to "Qualified medical care" (sound familiar?)... So, I stand up and ask why BLM can do it, as a Fed agency, and the USFS won't or can't. After some uncomfortable looks, the USFS spokesman says the BLM is doing this illegally, and the USFS will never do this as long as it's against policy. I explained my story, and he says, "Sorry", but these are the procedures". That was it. Denial. He didn't even seem to care about the employees, or the hardships incurred. Policy. That was all he cared about. I was disgusted. It sounds like this is STILL IN PLACE, after all these years, all these injuries.

How can we lead up, when the $20,000 bill will go to the employee? And the region guys only care about Policy? This is a shame, and I wish the NFFE would take this on as an issue. Or the FWFSA would bring it up to Congress. I tried for 5 years, no one would listen, so I had to give up...

Another issue is counseling. I heard a Storm King survivor talk this spring about all she went thru after the fire. About how the USFS only gave her the 3 paid counseling visits allowed under the EAP, then OWCP ok'ed 3 more visits. About how 5 years later she still could not work, woke up screaming... can't work because of this... and the USFS will not pay for counseling. The Employee Assistance Program, commonly known as "Concern" , only pays for 3 visits. Even after Critical Stress, such as fatalities on your crew. three. That's all. How does this help the employee, to get them into help, then stop paying for it? The whole USFS system for supporting injured employees is broken, and needs badly to be fixed....


I believe change is underway. There should be a memo out of the FS Risk Management group soon. Thanks to all who have shared stories here through the last few years and to those who persist in raising the issue on theysaid and the hotlist. Ab.

6/6 From NWCG

Type 1 Crew - Typing changes (small pdf file)



To All:

I am delighted and honored to announce that staff from the office of Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources has contacted the FWFSA to offer an invitation to testify before the Committee on June 18th at the committee's annual fire preparedness hearing.

Although representatives of the FWFSA have testified before Congress previously, this is the first opportunity to do so since the FWFSA has begun educating Congress on the nexus between the Agency's management of their fire programs, their policies and the continuing decline of preparedness/staffing levels and the needless skyrocketing increase of suppression costs.

Once the FWFSA's formal written testimony is complete it will be posted on our web site. More to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Nice Job! Ab.

6/6 Amusing read:


Spotted this AP article tonight on MSNBC. Not a word mentioned here in Boise on the local news.

Idaho: Forest Service sued over helicopter access


6/6 I read the postings regarding burn treatment for firefighters. One question I have is what kind of pre-hospital care was available for them? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like very little. Pardon my EMT mentality, but did these firefighters have anyone checking for airway patency and adequacy of breathing? Was O2 available or administered? How involved was the ICU medical unit in the initial size-up and treatment? Again, I may not be accurate in my assessment, but I have the distinct impression that their care was inadequate from the get-go.

Actually, I am really disturbed at the postings I have read about the stuff going on in the agencies, especially the USFS. I have never worked for the government so I do not understand a lot of the dialogue, but I wasn't born yesterday and I know FUBAR when I see it. ( The sum total of my fire experience is with private contractors). I also can feel through the dialogue that a lot of damn good people are being shoved through the bureaucratic bullshit shredder and are coming out the worse for wear, at the very least. I had experience with some USFS bureaucrat types on a fire last season. Lets just say it was an education for this civilian! For every five good folks, it seemed there was one who didn't know whether to scratch their watch or wind their butt. I hate to say but one of worst "butt winders" I encountered was a medical unit leader. I don't know what level of training he had, but I saw him make a couple of judgment calls that left me wondering if he was trained at all. Both incidents involved pre-hospital evaluation and care. It was scary!!

I wish there was some way us privateers could support Federal firefighters. Every one of the USFS and BLM dirt diggers I have met impressed me with their attitude and professionalism. And I do mean EVERY ONE. It just seems that, from what I have read so far on this website, a lot of GOOD PEOPLE are being ill used.

One more thing....would someone out there explain Black Tuesday ? What led up to it?

Stay safe....


Black Tuesday: You can go back and read through theysaid from April 1st 2008 forward. Its origins are in the Region 5 meetings that explored retention solutions last November (2007) but were never brought forward.

Readers, anyone want to provide an overview?

More here as well: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3519

Very brief explanation at shop.wildlandfire.com

6/6 Just as an aside and for future reference,

I did my surgical residency at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and had rotations and consults in the burn unit there. It is the best unit of its kind that I've ever experienced, ram-rodded by two excellent trauma surgeons. As someone pointed out, time is of the essence regarding burns and regional snobbery can have serious consequences.

Joe Hill

Joe, I think it's more about the human factors confusion surrounding the whole process than regional snobbery per se. Once we all know the process, better decisions can be made and supported. Ab.

6/5 Concerning the 10 Standard Fire Orders, one of my frustrations about the FIRE ORDERS was that many firefighters had the orders memorized (under threat of push ups if they didn't) but did not comprehend what the reasons for the orders were. I have never made people memorize the orders, I required them to be able to articulate the importance of each of them.

I like the way they are ordered now, they provide a logical thought process that corresponds with the way we currently teach people to engage fires:

Situational Awareness
1. Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts.
2. Know what your fire is doing at all times.
3. Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire.

Hazard Mitigation
4. Identify escape routes and make them known.
5. Post lookouts when there is possible danger.

Safe Operational Procedures
6. Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively.
7. Maintain prompt communications with your forces, your supervisor and adjoining forces.
8. Give clear instructions and insure they are understood.
9. Maintain control of your forces at all times.

10. Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.

In times of high stress you cannot process very much information anyway. That is why Paul Gleason looked at the fire orders and synthesized them into the LCES process to be used as a starting point.

Just my thoughts,


6/5 Burn Treatment:

Terrie, burn treatment and transportation is actually written into our dept's Operational Procedures. It is also covered in our employee MOU through the union.

As far as the R-5er who refused finally going to Salt Lake and wanted to go to Grossman... Time is of the essence in treating burn injuries. You should be transported to the closet facility ASAP that can handle the burn injury. No need to get into inhalation burns, infection etc., but with burns, time is not on your side.. I am only guessing had you opted for Salt Lake, transportation would have been by ground or air ambulance. But I wasn't there...

Former Green Soldier.

6/5 firefighter vehicles and "firefighter series":

I agree with most of what you said in the past, but there needs to be some clarification for facts and consistency. I didn't comment earlier on your 6/2 post because I was on needed days off away from my volunteer "work".

On 6/2 you said, "Also in accordance with the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) we should be compensated for this request" in reference to home storage of vehicles (and "standby" vs. "on-call" discussions). It is a great discussion point within a far greater problem we are facing in the future of the wildland fire program.

If we are to be creditable to those above us we are trying to educate on these important issues, we must note that our GS-8 and above duty officers are FLSA "exempt" employees. Simply said, they are not covered under FLSA unless serving in a temporary capacity in a "non-exempt" position.

Hours of work for FLSA "exempt" employees are covered in 5 USC 5542a and 5 CFR 550, not by 5 CFR 551 (Implementation of 29 USC for Federal Employees).

Many of us have collectively said it for years.... root cause fix.... correct 5 USC 5545b and what the definition of a "firefighter" is.... the rest will follow.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Southern California Chapter Director
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

Important Notes:

United States Code (USC) = Laws passed by Congress.

Code of Federal Regulations = The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. These "rules" are either implementation provisions of FEDERAL LAW (United States Code) or agency interpretation of decisions to satisfy mission taskings. Once these "rules" are published in the Federal Register, only voluntary re-submission for codification by the executive branch agencies (for corrections or clarification), changes in law by Congress (USC), or court decisions can change them once implemented.

Office of Comptroller General, General Accountability Office = The highest ranking decision maker(s) in legislative branch in the federal government that provides binding oversight to the executive branch. Decisions of the Comptroller General are binding decisions unless over-ruled, corrected, or clarified by the courts. The Comptroller General is appointed to a 15 year term by the President, and confirmed by the Senate. Decisions of the Comptroller General must conform to USC and court rulings.

Forest Service Manual (FSM) = Forest Service policies and rules to implement the Forest Service mission in 7 USC. Note: FSM direction must be consistent with USC, CFR. and Comptroller General Decisions.

Forest Service Handbook (FSH) = Field level tools for guidance on how to implement the provisions found in the FSM. FSH guidance must be consistent with all levels above.

6/4 Terrie,

I was involved in a burnover in Northern Nevada in 2006 (at the time I was working for the BLM). We were taken to the local hospital and the Doctors there told my firefighter and I that we had mostly 1st degree burns with a little bit of 2nd degree burns. They gave us both a bottle of Vicodin and sent us (that night) to a hotel room. It takes 24-48 hours to truly show the severity of the burns.

The next morning my firefighter and I looked worse than the day before. I finally demanded that we go to a burn center. Finally the doctors agreed that we should go to one. The IMT team kept us an additional extra day so we could be interviewed by the Investigation Team. DO NOT be bullied! The Investigation Team can come to the burn center and interview you. I wish I had known better! Then IMT team wanted to send us to Salt Lake's Burn Center, but being from Region 5, I demanded that we go to Grossman Burn Center in So California (they have an amazing reputation). So the IMT team put us on a COMMERCIAL airline and flew us back to CA (We got some weird looks on that plane).

When I got to the burn center they admitted me and my firefighter at once. It turned out that I had 3rd degree burns, full thickness (meaning I was burned through every layer of skin, to the muscle and bone). My firefighter had 3rd and 2nd degree burns. I actually was checked into the burn center without OWCP authorization. But thank God my agency made sure they I got the proper authorization! OWCP is another story and nightmare that I don't wish on anybody!

As a Firefighter (FED or State/Local Gov) you have the right to request, regardless of the extent of the burn, to go to a burn center. And Supervisors should be fighting any opposition to you being sent to a burn center (every one of mine, up the chain of command, all the way to the state director of the BLM did for me!).

Brushfire (Still w/ the FEDs but driving a green engine now)

Thanks for sharing. We all learned a thing or two from your experience. Ab.

6/4 Tahoe Terry,

Maybe those Dumba$$ ER Docs in Podunk-ville USA need to go back to where you got your medical degree?. Have you ever treated and then transported a burn victim to a hospital and witnessed the treatment of the victim?. No? didn't think so. When you have and if the Doc's care doesn't measure up to your expert evaluation then YOU need to LEAD UP and get that dude or dudette fired. Last summer I transported 4 firefighters from different incidents with burn injuries and seen no problems with medical care they received from the receiving ER Departments. apparently those receiving ER Docs knew something about gases, airway burns and systematic effects of burns or they wouldn't be working in Level 1 and 2 Trauma Centers. Next big one you're on get with the IMT's Medical Unit Leader (MEDL) and ask them what their burn injuries resources for the area are, that is where definitive burn care starts. Everyone be safe out there this summer.

Flt RN/Paramedic

PS: Remember Folks...We're all in this together.

Good grief, get a grip. Tahoe Terrie is asking questions to be ready if needed so he/she knows what to do. There are lessons to be learned. Doctors -- wherever they are -- are not omniscient, especially in situations in which they have little experience. Some hospitals are not Trauma Centers. Similarly, fire managers who have never had firefighters burned over may lack experience regarding what to do and what SOGs with OWCP make for reimbursement later. Lack of experience is not a "sin" but it should be a wake up call for lessons learned for all of us. Ab.

6/4 Double Wide Pride,

You might be interested in a Comptroller General Decision (B-258930) that stated the following:

"If a mobile home used as a residence at the old duty station is sold separately from the land upon which it is located, a transferred employee may be reimbursed a fee or commission paid for the sale even if the broker or salesperson is not licensed to sell real estate."

In that decision, the Comptroller General upheld the right to sell, but denied the right to receive reimbursement of sellers incurred costs based upon other circumstances.


6/4 R-5 RO and Los Padres management are at it again with this letter that is indirectly telling employees who own mobile home on Los Padres rental spaces they may not sell these mobile homes while on government land. All this while other National Forests continue to allow employees to sell them.

An unfair practice !

File Code: 6440-2
Date: May 30, 2008
Subject: Quarters Policy
To: Forest Supervisor, Los Padres National Forest

Region 5 Acquisition Management (AQM) Asset Management would like to assist in the implementation of the new Quarters policy. AQM has responsibility for establishing policies and administrative guidance in accordance with FSM 6445 and FSH 6409.11. We feel Asset Management can aid you in transitioning to the new policy as smoothly as possible.

As indicated in previous discussions, we suggest a telephone conference call to confer on options regarding the tenants. We also suggest use of a “Town Hall” style meeting to address the concerns of the employees who may be affected by the transition plan. This would allow the tenants to openly discuss their concerns and receive direct answers on this matter. AQM would gladly participate in such a meeting.

I hope you will discuss these ideas with Asset Management in the very near future.

This will in no way affect any change in participation of the parties involved that have been working on this matter from the start. I appreciate all they have done and wish to ensure that no issue is left unaddressed.

We have the utmost confidence regarding the Los Padres National Forest’s ability to very ably implement the Quarters policy, but AQM would like to assist in the transition and implementation of this policy.

Please telephone Acquisition Management Director, Bill Whitson, or Realty & Property Management Manager, Gary Peña (707-562-8907), to discuss how AQM may assist in this matter. Thank you.

/s/ James M. Peña (for)
Regional Forester

cc: Ken Heffner
Gwen Bryant
Janet Brandt-Jackson
William C Whitson

Noname just sent in the memo. I won't list the phone number here, but if someone needs it in the future from some remote location and you don't have it, feel free to text or email Ab.

Here's part of the memo thread without the phone number. Evidently the FS Risk Management Council is working on a communication to give docs. It will explain the need to refer firefighters to burn treatment specialists. Part of the issue is that if the treating doc doesn't write a referral for the FF to get specialized follow-up burn treatment, OWCP will deny coverage. The other part is that we need firefighters who are burned to go to burn centers. (This process is not exclusive to burns. It's also for other injuries that need OWCP coverage.)

I had the chance to test the new after hours ASC emergency phone number
(snipped number) while facilitating a hospital visit for a crewmember.  In
short, it worked well.  The phone number is a duty officer cell phone that
is carried by a claims person during off-hours.  The duty officer picked
right up and within 20 minutes had contacted the hospital and faxed a CA-16
for treatment.  The duty officer on call was very helpful and
knowledgeable.  The next morning I received a phone call from another
person at ASC guiding me through the remainder of the process.  The IMT on
the fire at the time had no claims person and no federal employees with
knowledge of the system, so we were left to figure it all out.  The
availability of the phone number simplified things tremendously.
Be prepared for the fact that not all IMTs will have the up to date
knowledge about the process.  I was told by the OWCP rep at ASC that they
are discouraging the use of APMC because you never really know whether you
will need to return for further care on an injury.  It makes sense, and if
its truly this easy to get a CA-16 initiated and forwarded on, why mess
with the APMC.  But IMT's are naturally going to continue to use this
process because it seems the easiest for them.
<name snipped>

AMPC = Agency Provided Medical Care (See link at bottom of post for the 3 types of compensation.)


Here's a lessons learned from our first team assignment in Washington this
year. There is a 24 hour "duty officer" help line to the Albuquerque
Service Center established to advise injured Forest Service employees as
they seek medical care. Most of our Forests no longer have this expertise
locally. Finance sections should at least be aware of this phone number so
they can advise assigned Forest Service employees as most may not be as
tuned into this as our IHC folks are............ <name snipped>


FYI, one piece of the puzzle when it comes to dealing with payment for
treatment of work-related injuries -- burn injuries or any other type.
Larry Sutton
Fire Operations Risk Management Officer

(And more than you might want to know about med compensation)

6/4 From the hotlist...

Tahoe Terrie

There is a memo making the rounds through the FS Fire community that has the
hotline number for a special "duty officer" at the ASC that will handle burn incidents
and see that the injured firefighter is taken care of properly. Progress is being made.


6/4 I haven't seen anything on theysaid yet about Jake's accident,

Here's a copy of obituary from Lewiston paper and a link, whichever works
best for you!



Jake was a new member of the Salmon HeliRappellers this year.

Not much more info on accident yet.

I are IR

(Nice photo of Jake at the first link... Further explanation at the second link. Condolences. Ab.)

Jacob Fredrickson, 23, Grangeville
Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jacob (Jake) Fredrickson, 23, of Grangeville, passed away Saturday, May
31, 2008, near Salmon, Idaho, from injuries he received from a fall.
Jake was born Dec. 11, 1984, in Grangeville, a son of Mike and Lynne
Westberg Fredrickson. He attended Grangeville schools, graduating from
Grangeville High School in 2003. He was active in sports, excelling in
track. Following his graduation he enrolled at the University of Idaho at
Moscow and belonged to Sigma Nu Fraternity. He was scheduled to receive
his degree in forestry this December.

He loved fly fishing and he enjoyed playing his guitar. He also loved
working in the woods, having been a seasonal employee with the Idaho
Department of Lands and most recently was working with the U.S. Forest
Service in Salmon, with the helicopter rappelling crew.

He is survived by his parents, Mike and Lynne Fredrickson of Grangeville;
his grandfather Ron Fredrickson of Grangeville; his grandmother Ruth
Westberg of Grangeville; his sister, Jill Fredrickson of Meridian, Idaho;
his brother, Matt Fredrickson of Twin Falls, Idaho; and his nieces, Mindy
and Madison. He is also survived by several uncles, aunts and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his grandmother Maureen Fredrickson; and
grandfather Gus Westberg.

Services will be conducted at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Blackmer Funeral
Home in Grangeville. Rev. Harold Gott will officiate. Graveside services
will follow at Mount Idaho Cemetery.

The family suggests memorial contributions may be made to the Grangeville
High School Track Program, c/o: Blackmer Funeral Home, 305 N. Mill St.,
Grangeville, ID 83530.

Condolences to the family may be sent to www.blackmerfuneralhome.com.

6/4 Making the rounds behind the scenes:

The following was sent out by Michelle G. Ryerson, BLM's National Fire Safety Manager.
All - the NWCG Safety and Health Working Team (SHWT) just met with the
Lessons Learned Center (LLC) and viewed the new Devil's Den Fatality
Lessons Learned video.
As with many fatality situations, there are several
contributing factors and LLC and Richfield Fire Management did an
excellent job of focusing on two key elements to this fatality that
firefighters can really learn from.

I encourage you to share this with your field units to use this video (only
10 minutes in length) as a learning tool that can augment fireline
refresher training, S-130/190 courses, or Six Minutes/Tailgate safety

www.wildfirelessons.net/Additional.aspx?Page=131 (12 minute wmv file)

Well worth watching and remembering. Ab.

6/4 Getting firefighters to a burn center. Problems and solutions? (From the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=20476)

FED Firefighters,

Has anyone tried to work with ASC to get proper care for a burn victim when time is of the essence and the ER doc in Podunk-ville, USA thinks it's just a minor burn? Often they don't know much about hot gasses and airway involvement if they don't have experience with burns... Airway symptoms may not show up for 2-3 days.

State and Local/County/Volunteer firefighters,

This is an issue for you, too. Some of the less burned firefighters on the Inyo Complex last year that should have gone to a burn center right away were kept in a motel room for 72 hours until an accident investigation team arrived. It was those investigators that figured out the firefighters were having difficulty breathing at which point they went to the hospital. You also need to develop some Standard Operating Guidelines. LEAD UP!

Back to my main question:

Anyone (FED) have an experience of trying to get a firefighter to a burn treatment center? What problem did you have? With ASC (Albuquerque Service Center for approval)? How did you solve the problem? We should each be prepared to LEAD UP!

Tahoe Terrie
6/4 Ab.

We need some help here on the LP. Our Deputy Forest Supervisor has produced a housing plan that will possibly take hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the pockets of mobile home owners on this forest. He is a member of the Recruitment/Retention committee and a voice in the facilities group. He has produced a terrible plan for the people on this forest. As a member of facilities, his plan may become regional, and will affect us all. The LP folks are working on solutions to this "not able to sell clause" in the policy. If people have questions about this plan "policy" feel free to give them my email address.

It is not about making money, it is just that the original policy stated that you could sell your home to any other F.S. employee. People have invested many dollars into these homes and this new plan does not allow an owner to sell the property while it sits on Government land. Any resale value is lost. According to the interpretation of our Deputy " they would be profiting off of the government", and this is not allowable.

Request: If reps from other national forests that have mobile home parks, could please pass on their forest and number of mobile home dwellings, that may help our work.

Double Wide Pride

Any lawyers reading that might like to advise this group? Ab.


I want to say thank you to the Redding Hotshots for coming to the Regional
Office and giving us their time to maintain our
Fitness path.
(There is still about 6 more hours left of work, but we are grateful for
what has been done.)

I am so excited for the employees to have a trail that is weed free to walk
on and thank the Redding Hotshots for this.

Thanks again & Be Safe!


Ab note: Let me add that this regional shot crew provided this service on the way to TMU to prep a number of burn units. It was good use of resources that wanted to help, good economy and good use of time: two days work for the price of a very little more than one trip's gas. My thanks to Robert and Michelle for setting it up.

6/3 Rob Holt,

Acronyms, smackronyms! The reason your old crewmates remember the FIREORDERS is because
of the Pavlovian response from all the pushups you and Lanky made them do when they missed any of
them. You called them, they heard your voice and subconsciously their arms started to quiver and
quake, then their autonomic responses kicked in and they spouted the FIREORDERS and 18 Watchout
Situations verbatim.

The same reason I always remember the 10 Standard Fire Orders and the 13 Situations that Shout
Watchout I learned from Regan and Raditz in the 70's. "My arms hurt, when do we eat."

When you get your papers on the subject sorted out, put them up on the Hotshot group at
myfirecommunity.net so we can see what your buds came up with.

Be safe.

Dan Fiorito

6/3 AD Texas –

I have the same concern about the extra airline fees as well. I have no information, just assumptions, and you know what those are like!

I would assume that government travel agent purchased tickets for fire duty would be excluded for this. In the past couple years travel has gotten easier for me, they seem to see a red pack and they don’t unpack it at all, it just goes through. Thank heavens given how much stuff is packed in there!

My second assumption would be that if there was a charge for a second bag and/or overweight bag that it would be a reimbursable expense. I know I’d at least try to claim it. I strap my red pack, tent and yellow pack together as one piece of luggage and it weights over 50 pounds. Again, these are just my assumptions! Best wishes for a safe summer!

Information Diva

6/3 To Rob Holt:

Whoo Yah! Good job! and look forward to working with your
crew on a fire this season or supporting you with a hoselay, portable
pumps, etc.

As time goes on and we get back to testing our metl, discipline,
brothers and sisters and giving our Owners (the taxpayers ) the biggest
bang for the buck, we will be safe, weigh risk vs gain, have fun, earn
that MRE, sack lunch or bait.
Snafus are part of the pie, and having back up plans, and more back up
plans pre- thought out, we most hopefully will make it to every Thanks
Giving. Especially the ones hunkered down on some God Forsaken ridge
with the warmth of a space blanket and the sharing of the remnants of
the days earlier Bait.
A day in the field is better than a day on a compound, station, work
center, etc.
Take Care All and remember as it was written on a wall at the Mill Creek
Station I Believe (my memory gets clouded as the more sunsets I get to


Signed: Forestry Technician/Wildland Firefighter Still Living the Dream

6/3 Mike,

Your orange fire shirt was for Nora Chambers' senior project quilt. Nora completed 4 quilts, 1 donated to Eva Schike's airbase, 1 donated to our family in memory of John, and 2 were given to the WFF. Vicki and the gang are preparing to put those up for auction, I think they are going to do it on Ebay (not positive, but this has been the talk).
I know that there were lots of patches and nomex material left over. Marian, Nora's mom, is going to be retiring soon and has talked about starting some more quilts. If not, I believe that we could get all the materials and perhaps get volunteers to create more quilts.
I believe that there may be a picture of Nora with one of the quilts in the picture section.
As far as getting your shirts to the WFF, just go to the website and their addy is right there on the home page!


I'm also passing on Cara's email addy for the quilt project she's doing for the WFF. Ab.

6/3 Robert,

I have to disagree... in order to agree with you. I am glad to see that you are focused on providing for firefighter safety and continuing to provide quality public service. However, firefighter retention and working conditions are not issues that can be turned on and off like a switch. (I believe there are some upper level personnel that wish it could be that way.)

The retention issue is directly affecting firefighter safety and resource staffing abilities (public service). To turn the retention issue off for the fire season and then back on in the winter would be detrimental to the entire effort. We are continuing to lose high level, experienced leadership positions. This loss is contributing to a less efficient organization and less productive modules (in some cases unstaffed).

I agree that the issue is distracting to the overall mission of providing for the protection of the public and the public lands. It is even more evident when the loss of a key leadership position shuts down a module or the loss of an ADFMO sets the knowledge of local agreements and particulars back 10+ years.

There are human factors involved with these issues and ignoring the matter will not make them go away. When our firefighters and their families are evicted from a govt. leased lot in mid fire season, the retention issue is back on the table. We will find that it continued to grow and fester while we were at fire camp. There is no more Ops. Normal for now! The game has changed forever.

We need to find a balance between staying focused on improving the quality of our firefighter workforce in order to retain them and minimizing the distractions created by the issue. Providing for firefighter safety now includes addressing this problem.

What Tha---

6/3 To everyone in the Southwest Area, especially you fire managers:

Everyone in the Southwest Area in Southern Arizona, most of New Mexico, and the mountains and wildland plains of West Texas needs to be aware of the fire danger that will be upon us over the next few days.

We have had baking hot and dry weather in the past few days and it is only going to get worse through this week with the addition of much higher winds. Wildland fires that have occurred so far this fire season, and they have been relatively few, have already exhibited EXTREME fire behavior in all fuel types.

What is coming upon us is the most EXTREME fire behavior potential we have had yet this year.

Make your first priority the safety of firefighters and the public. They may not know what to expect and may not be anticipating what they will be dealing with when a fire occurs. EXTREME fire behavior will occur in places it has not been anticipated. This has happened recently especially in New Mexico. Stand replacement EXTREME crown fire behavior can be expected in timber and PJ in many areas. Brush can be expected to burn in EXTREME fashion, especially in the foothills and plains.

The high wind event compounding the recent baking of fuels at all elevations will make the USFS timbered lands particularly vulnerable to crown fire by the early afternoons Tuesday into late week. Also, riparian fuels along the rivers will pose especially dangerous situations. The BLM found that out today on the Kincaid Fire along the Pecos River north of Carlsbad. Grass and other herbaceous fuels, where it is heavily loaded and some-to-mostly cured, can also be expected to present serious control and safety problems.

Pay close attention to those folks and websites that are there to assist you with "Keep Informed on Fire Weather Conditions" and "Base All Actions on Current and Expected Behavior of the Fire"!!!! These two Standard Fire Orders have kept folks safe for many, many years now. Failure to follow them has also killed some of our compadres.

Following these orders can best be done by talking to all of your area fire weather forecasters and fire behavior personnel and forming your initial/extended attack plans and operations accordingly. The National Weather Service and Southwest Area Predictive Services folks are on top of this event and know well what is coming this week.

Do not be distracted by other issues. A severe fire season is upon us for at least several days, probably until July. The safety of firefighters and the public on or near any fireground has to be everyone's primary concern.

Check out the SWCC page for up-to-date fire weather and behavior information and participate in all other conference calls and informational discussions. Let's all get through this safely.

6/3 I was wondering what folks know about the new charges airlines have for checked luggage?

I have been looking around and most airlines seem to be charging $25 for the second checked bag each way and some are even charging $15-$25 each way for the first bag.
There seems to be a lot waiving the fees for active military, first class etc
But how is this going to effect those of us flying to fires this summer?
I know if this year is like last year it's going to cost me somewhere between $500 to $1000 depending on number of incidents and whether I'm charged for one or two bags.
I don't think I pack heavy (especially considering I'm female). I take one large bag which carries everything including sleeping bag (the only time I left it behind supply was out at camp so I learnt my lesson) and my second piece is my tent. But to get it down to one bag is going to be hard
Has anyone been told if per diem is going to be increased to cover this? Or are they going to wave the fee for government travel agent bought tickets?

AD Texas...
6/3 Ab-

The time for discussing work conditions, retention, and pay are over; it is
now fire season, and it is time to do what the taxpayer pays us to do-
fight fires efficiently and safely, and to solve any public emergency
situations that might arise in the coming months. If we carry these
complaints over into the season, it will do nothing but damage the morale
of our junior firefighters and ultimately affect safety. Continue to give
the FWFSA $10 per pay period, and let Casey tell us when to act.

Therefore, I'd like to turn the discussion back to the basics:

I have stewed for several years since Karl Brauneis published his thoughts
on the "Original Intent" [of the] Ten Standard Fire Fighting Orders. In his
brief essay, he mistakenly implies that the Fire Orders were originally
"designed to move up and down in sequence in an engagement process." He
goes on to imply that acronyms that are used for memorization of the Orders
are detrimental to firefighters' hazard mitigation processes.

Although I won't go into details because I don't want to take away from at
least two folks who are writing rebuttal papers with actual scientific
examples and APA references, I would like to point out that there have been
multiple studies over the decades that indicate acronyms do indeed aid
behavioral changes.

In addition, since Mr. Brauneis uses his experience as a qualifier to the
legitimacy of his thoughts, it has been my experience as a 22-year Hotshot
that our switch from "Fire Orders" to the "10 Standard Fire Orders" has
been detrimental to inexperienced firefighters quickly learning correct
fireline procedures. Furthermore, young students of fire have been stuck on
reciting by rote the new (old) 10 Standard Orders in exact order. Gone are
the intent of the Orders, much less moving on to the Watch Out Situations
and how they relate back to the Orders. In essence, the Fire Service has
worsened learning instead of improving Situational Awareness.

To test my informal observations, I called five of my past crewmembers from
15 to 20 years ago. None of these crewmembers made fire a career, and all
of them only fought fires for a couple of years. All of them could remember
the "Fire Orders" we had in the 80's and 90's, and all of them could talk
about how each one of the Fire Orders triggered a recollection of a
Watchout Situation. This indicates that the "Fire Orders" are an effective
tool that should not be abandoned just because we have had a couple of
fatality fires; they weren't a "mode du jour" that should be casually
tossed aside without serious consideration as to organizational learning

As a final note, I would like to point out that the authors of the rough
draft of the 1957 "Report of Fire Task Force" - Mays, Countryman, Moore,
Parker, Lowden, and especially Greeley - realized the importance of
acronyms in behavioral learning when they included in the Appendix their
"Suggested Draft of "Standard Firefighting Orders"". Note that the ORIGINAL
Orders are grouped and form the acronym "FIRE SCALDS":
  • FIRE WEATHER. Keep informed of fire weather conditions and predictions.
  • INSTRUCTIONS. Know exactly what my instructions are and follow them at all times.
  • RIGHT THINGS FIRST. Identify the key points of my assignment and take action in order of priority.
  • ESCAPE PLAN. Have an escape plan in mind and direct subordinates in the event of a blow-up.
  • SCOUTING. Thoroughly scout the fire areas for which I am responsible.
  • COMMUNICATION. Establish and maintain regular communication with adjoining forces, subordinates, and superior officers.
  • ALERTNESS. Quickly recognize changed conditions and immediately revise plans to handle.
  • LOOKOUT. Post a lookout for every possibly dangerous situation.
  • DISCIPLINE. Establish and maintain control of all men under my supervision and at all times know where they are and what they are doing.
  • SUPERVISION. Be sure men I commit to any fire job have clear instructions and adequate overhead.

I hope this email generates some good safety refresher discussions amongst
our troops. I welcome any countering thoughts, and would like you to post my real name-

Robert Holt
Superintendent, Redding IHC

6/3 Cara was asking for near new t-shirts for a quilt or two to be donated to WWF. I have two brand new/never worn t-shirts from 1987. One was our district fire mgmt shirt and the other was from the two complexes we had on the district in '87. How do I get them to her?

Also, some time back I sent in an almost new old orange fireshirt for a quilt to somebody. Any idea what became of the project?

6/3 T-shirt Quilts:

I googled "t-shirt quilts" and there are a plethora of sites that will make a quilt from your shirts and others that instruct you on how to make your own. You could probably ask the folks at your local quilt store for advice as well. I have my own pile of fire shirts to make into a quilt one of these days. It took me a year and a half to get my son's done after he graduated from high school. I think it is better than a scrap book and it keeps him warm while studying. (Sure, right, mom.)


6/2 Trailer Trash in management eyes,

SRLPNFR5 = Classic!

Keep fighting TT. The "legal" interpretation the SRLPNFR5 is imposing with a new housing policy related to the sale of a trailer on gov property should be treated equally across all federal agencies all fed lands. If the OIG interpretation is correct, then you are being held to a legal standard most other Forests and fed agencies are not implementing, and to be honest, they are probably oblivious to its existence. If they knew about this OIG decision, it's possible a different legal interpretation could be rendered. I would recommend exploration into the possibility of an Unfair Labor Practice.

Continue to email elected representatives
Keep FWFSA briefed on the situation!

Mike P, these folks need your help.

Hang in there TT, we are all with you!

Duplex Doug

6/2 Ab Comment: Let me preface this post from vfd cap'n by saying that the Lessons Learned Center in April came into possession of this document he describes in his post below.

Developing a Cooperative Approach to Wildfire Protection (144K pdf file)
Charles Perrow, Sociologist PhD Yale

Paper presented to the Federal FAM Leadership Council (FFALC)
Boise Idaho
January 6, 1998

They found it as they were digging for all documents relating to the approaching TriData 10 year anniversary. (If anyone has more of the dusty old docs, send 'em in!

Many things are coming together between Lessons Learned Center and the Safety and Health Working Team. The LLC is gathering all the information together, which means "digging into" the documents in desks, file cabinets, etc and digitizing it.

Part of the effort beyond that will include a wildland firefighter survey follow-up to the TriData survey to discover what's been done in the last 10 yr. that worked well, what still needs to be done and what might be irrelevant. Everyone will be able to contribute, especially to the "What still needs to be done" category. A link to the survey tool will be available later in the summer. We'll let you know and you can participate. They're also interviewing (or will interview) major people from yesteryear who are still available (or alive) for their personal insights and opinions. Since a number of them are retired, I'm sure they'll tell it like it is.

Stay tuned. Ab.


re: HRO discussion

The links that Ab posted for the TriData study show part of the problem: the Wildland Firefighter Safety Awareness Study was supposed to have 4 phases. But just about anywhere you look (like the NIFC or FS websites) all anybody has information on is Phase I, II and III. Somewhere along the line the agencies forgot about "Assisting, Monitoring and Evaluating Implementation."

We just digitized a 7-page, Phase IV report written by Charles Perrow (who developed the Normal Accident Theory) and presented to the Federal Fire & Aviation Leadership Council in 1998.

Hopefully there will be some renewed progress made at the 10th IAWF Safety Summit next April in Phoenix. www.iawfonline.org/blog/2008/05/10th-wildland-fire-safety-summit-preliminary-announcement/

re: Shirtless in Seattle

One idea we have been kicking around for awhile is to start a wildland firefighter thrift store at Colorado Firecamp. We know that there's lots of used firefighter clothing and gear stashed away in garages and attics around the country. We see a couple hundred rookies in our classes each year. Many of these are deserving kids who would greatly appreciate some help getting outfitted.

vfd cap'n

6/2* History:

Hi Ab,

Been enjoying the site here for a long time. Keep up the great work! I worked for the big green machine 1971-1979. Oak Grove Shots Sup. in 1971 was Chet Cash, who replaced Larry Boggs who went to the Coffee Creek Dist. on the Shasta - Trinity. Earl K (Skip) Pyke was the Foreman. I remember the big open crew trucks, rain or shine very well.

1974 I was an original member of the Ojai Shots. Bob Burnett was the Sup. Terry Raley & John Szalay were the foremen. I worked there until the end of the '75 season when I went to the Cleveland with a 13/13 appointment.

1978/79 I worked at Tanbark Air Attack, on the Baldy District, ANF. Lew Yazzie (the best fire fighter I ever met) was my foreman. It was one of the two night fliers. Lots of fond memories there. They actually sent Rich Hawkins, the college boy, to work on our crew 7/B to see what fighting fire was all about in 1978 .We had a female FF on the helishot crew in 1978. Patti ? She came over from the trail crew and I remember she could out hike just about everyone. She married John O'Sullivan a fellow crewmember a couple years later.

I am currently a Fire Captain/Paramedic with 22 years at a small Central Coast department. I am a STEN and SOFR. We contract with the USFS and send a lot of our folks out. Some of the best years/memories of my life were with the Forest Service. I've been seeing some old friends on the fires. (fewer each year)

Keep up the great work! Good Luck.

Still bleeding a little green - Tom

Thanks, Tom. I'll add this to the HS to Fire Managers page. Ab.

6/2 Circulating behind the scenes... I didn't call -mc- to get permission to post this... Ab.

Re: Injuries & Accidents: Current Trends - - - If it's predictable, it should be preventable - - -
Information that might save you some grief: What happened and how it could be prevented.

A review of recent Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVAs) in the Region (5), in the Fire Community and injury reports in the Safety and Health Information Portal System (SHIPS) provide some clues as to what tends to happen at this time of year, and in some cases, what can happen at any time if we do not pay attention.

The best type of incident is the one we learn something from without injury or damage. "Anonymous" was almost in a motor vehicle accident (and at fault) because he/she lost focus on the driving task and failed to pay attention at an intersection. Thanks to Anonymous for sharing their experience with us and for their thoughts on how to stay out of trouble. Please read the write-up and see what you can get out of it for your own safety... (See: Near Miss Report - MVA.doc)

- Motor Vehicle Related: 3 types of accident/incidents continue to occur with surprising frequency, but there are others, too:

* Heavy Vehicle Roll-Overs seem to have been characterized by excessive speed for conditions, a momentary loss of Situational Awareness, a front tire off the pavement, an over-correction and loss of control resulting in a roll-over or vehicle off the road.

- Prevention: It has been noted that newer trucks are comfortable at higher speeds and that it is easier to drive faster than your think: keep your eyes moving to gather clues and check the speedometer regularly. Remember that posted speeds may be too fast for conditions and that heavier vehicles tend to have longer stopping distances and be more prone to roll-overs. Avoid the distractions that can cause your focus to stray from the driving task. Avoid the "instinct" to steer back onto the roadway at high rates of speed which can result in an over-correction. The best reaction may be to grasp the wheel firmly, steer straight or slightly back on the road while applying brakes.

* Backing Accidents continue to be too common. Thankfully these are usually minor, non-injury accidents, but they are also the most easily preventable. It seems that spotters are in use on about half of all backing accidents.

- Prevention: Use a spotter when backing and make sure you talk about how you will work together. Spotters: stay focused on the task and make sure the driver can see and hear you. Drivers: you are still the one responsible for driving the vehicle. Half of all spotters may be wrong ! It is always better to stop, get out and take a look that it is to think that you can probably make it.

* Vehicle Roll -Always are in the news again... One vehicle rolled away while warming up as the employee went back into the office for something .... and hit a parked vehicle. In another incident, a Helitender with 1,000 gallons of Jet A fuel rolled away .... and crashed into a barracks. No injuries in either case, but the potential for injury is certainly significant. In one case the parking brake was applied; in both cases the transmissions were left in neutral, and no chock blocks were in use.

- Prevention: Develop good habits and always: park with the transmission in gear, the parking brake firmly applied, the wheel turned into any natural chock blocks and always use the chock block when the vehicle can roll. Do not leave an unattended, unchocked and running vehicle. Making sure your parking brake is fully applied means more than pressing down to the first click or two. Applying the brake and testing to see if it holds when the transmission is put in gear is one way of checking that you are adequately applying the brake and that the brake is properly adjusted.

* Hitting Engine Bay Doors: There is often little clearance between the door frames and the engine mirrors but there has been damage to the bay doors, mirrors, engines and compartment doors. In one recent case, the engine compartment door was opened and hit the bay door frame as the engine pulled out of the bay.

- Prevention: Always use a spotter when backing into tight spaces, especially as into engine bays. Back straight in so that mirrors provide a good view of both sides. When pulling forward, always use your mirrors to clear obstacles. Use the mirrors to also see the side of the vehicle to ensure that all doors are closed. Travel at idle speed or less when backing and when clearing tight spaces.

* Seatbelt Not in Use: driver crashes into tree while distracted as he put on the seat belt. (Wouldn't you hate to have to report this one ! ) Thank goodness the air bags deployed!

- Prevention: Develop good habits and always put down the cell phone, make sure mirrors are properly adjusted ... and put the seatbelt on ... before driving ! Don't let being in a rush or thinking about work put you at risk because you are not paying attention to the driving task.

- Physical Training Injuries:

* Trips and Falls associated with PT are back.

- Prevention: Review the JHA on PT for good ideas on preventing injury, including: choosing the right shoes, trails and surfaces to prevent injury, allowing space between runners to be able to see the trail ahead, and start slow, warm up and then stretch to cool down.

- Heat Related, Hydration Issues will be next ... it WILL warm up again !

- Ticks and Poison Oak:

* Several tick bites on the SHF and MNF ... it's that time of year !

- Prevention: Do daily tick checks and know how to pull them out. Clean the site of a bite to prevent infection. Know the symptoms of Lyme Disease. The sooner ticks are pulled the less likely they are to transmit disease. You can also save the tick for future testing if Lyme Disease is suspect. Information on ticks, Lyme Disease and other vector borne illnesses is found at: J: drive/fsfiles/office/safety in the Vector-Borne folder. - Poison Oak is still out there and we are getting it ! Take advantage of Identification, Prevention and Cleaning up and Treatment to keep it from getting bad. Remember that the visit to the doctor for a shot should be the last resort.

Thanks, Take Care and Enjoy,


P.S. - Thanks for reading this message. I have a prize for the first person from each forest that contacts me to claim a prize.

I don't think he meant the last statement for this extended readership. Ab.

6/2 Hello All,

We’ve posted information about Ken’s Gobi Desert Run…check our website for links to his blog, email, and the official website for the run.

Thanks, Lori, for your wonderful post reminding us all again why Ken runs and how much he has done to raise money for the wildland community.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
6/2 Fully staffed must mean 46 engines unavailable in south ops on any given day.
Here's today's resource report.
35mph winds on I-5 and 46 less engines...hmmm.
ANF     28  17  0  11
BDF     25  21  1   3
CNF     28  24  0   4
INF      8   4  0   4
LPF     25  17  0   8
SNF     13   7  0   6
SQF     15   9  0   6
STF     12   8  0   4
Totals 154 107  1  46
6/2 Ab,

I have been collecting shirts for my Aunt to make a t-shirt quilt for the WFF for awhile now and could use some more shirts if people are willing to donate them. She is very skilled at quilting and has offered to make one or two quilts depending on how many shirts she I can get for her. The t-shirts do need to be in very good condition (near new condition is best). If anyone is interested please give them my email address and I can give them more information. Thanks!!

-Cara Scott

Sounds like an excellent idea. I was wondering if the WFF could find quilt makers who would take that on... It's better to offer the them proceeds from quilts than have WFF drum up extra support. Ab.

6/2 Another SZ Chief Officer,

I could not agree more. It is odd to me how Chief Officers must make a request for and justify the need for Night Duty Coverage and the storage of a govt. vehicle at a place to facilitate a night response. Shouldn't this be a request from the Line Officer?

Many of the justifications that I saw identified historical fire start times in relation to "normal business hours". In some cases 33% of Stat. fires occurred outside of "normal business ". Rates of spread and potential fire growth with a delayed responses or no response were correlated with potential containment sizes, suppression costs, and considered for firefighter and public safety. I thought cost containment, minimizing fire size, and providing for the welfare of the public were in the interest of the Forest Service.

If these justifications have to be requested upwards, something is wrong. The mission from the top is either unclear or misinterpreted at fragmented unit levels. The Line should be requesting this service from the Duty Officers. Also in accordance with the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) we should be compensated for this request. It is unreasonable to direct a group of employees to work or to be readily available for work... for free. I don't see the Forest Botanist or Hydrologist tied to a night duty.

What is going on around here? Why are long term employees becoming disgruntle and leaving this once great Agency(FS)? Lack of employee and program support? Lack of direction? Lack of leadership? Lack of management? Lack of budget?

Instructions and assignment are unclear.

What Tha---

I'm told that by clarifying FS policy (whether interim directive or final FS Manual draft) the line officer will be held accountable for a number of things, including for the decisions that keep their fire staff from getting to get to a fire start in a timely fashion. Imagine the Zaca Fire or one of the other large fires that got away in a highly populated area that could have been caught. Please firefighters, keep records on this. The buck stops with the Forest Supervisor. The changes in policy I'm told are to make line officers accountable, especially Forest Supervisors. Transformation. It's what it's all about. Ab.

6/2 I think a sinking ship is an excellent summation.

I was going to write out a long point by point analysis of how the USFS fire program has gotten to the point of sinking but I don't care anymore. I learned a long time ago that when you have been betrayed by someone in your life, when someone consistently lies to you and twists reality to try and hide the lies, that you're better off to walk away. It's not a healthy lifestyle to continuously live in that kind of conflict and uncertainty. I can't look at my wife and kids in good conscience anymore, knowing that there are a ton of lifeboats out there, and ask them to hang on because I hope the ship will right itself. So in the very near future, I will walk away and never look back. There are a lot of good organizations out there who treat their people with respect and dignity.

Something I was wondering was can Mark Rey be held criminally or civilly liable by people whose homes burn down this season because he answered 'yes' to Sen Feinstein's question about being at full staffing for the upcoming fire season, which we all know is not true? You know, as an employee of the agency, at least I have an idea and some insight as to how the level of fire protection this fire season is going to be severely diminished, meanwhile 99% of the public who live in areas at risk for wildfire haven't the slightest clue; they're going to be completely blindsided.

Lesson Learned.....time to move on
6/2 response to shirtless in seattle

I, like most of you, have a number of shirts that probably should find other homes. One of the more creative uses that I've seen is to have them made into quilts as gifts or retirement pieces. Obviously this necessitates having someone who can sew. I have seen though that the gift is usually appreciated greatly.


Lots of the SJs have sewing skills. Ab.

6/2 They're Baaack!

To the Socialist Republic of the Los Padres National Forest of Region 5 and to Mr. Randy Moore and Ken Hefner, Castro and Stalin wood be Proud. Yes, a new round of battling for the right to sell personal property (Mobile Homes) on government land has just raised its dormant head again on the Los Padres. Letters from the Forest Supervisor signed by the infamous Deputy, have reached the mail boxes of all mobile home owners on the Los Padres that have Not signed the New mobile home agreements. They have 90 days to sign the agreement or face administrative action which may include eviction.

Mr. Moore allowed Ken Hefner to be on the Regional Facilities Group, the mastermind behind the housing policy. Since the region has not brought forth any information from its committee groups, I guess Mr. Hefner knows something the rest of the R-5 mobile home owners do not know.

Be prepared, this is his only claim to fame. Employees, on the Los Padres, were informed at a district meeting, that a Region Housing Policy was being worked out in the regional facilities group. Just another white lie to appease the helpless. We tried to warn the rest of R-5, so be prepared when you only have 5 years in the government house you rent or the mobile home you cannot sell.

I guess the Forest Service does not believe there is a Retention problem and I guess Mrs Feinstein does not have any power, in their minds.

Caring for the Government and not the Employees

signed: trailer trash, in management eyes

6/1 Another SZ Chief Officer is right. Line must be held accountable for sinking the ship.

* I see my peers no longer answering the cell as often on the weekends.
* I see years of built up pride of ones work ethic and the feeling of the urgency of now, taking a back seat.
* I see the passion and enthusiasm no longer at historic levels.
* I see mistrust, disdain and disgust in the eyes of fire leaders for those who are systematically dismantling a fire organization.
* I think this fire season more and more people will not be answering that phone. Not all, just more.
* After Pena acknowledged and openly questioned Ed's ability to communicate and relate to fire employees in Reno and after the April 1, 2008 fiasco, I thought maybe communications would improve. Maybe they realized how much they messed this up and open a channel, a bold initiative to improve communications. April 30th retention update? May 31st retention update? I was wrong.

The Moore's, the Ed's and Pena's types within this organization may be winning this battle, however they will not win this war. We shall continue to take our issues to the people, the press and our elected officials. Line, if your intent is to sink the ship, then hold on because your coming along for the ride.

6/1 Lobotomy:

I stand corrected. Apparently setters of escaped fires DO read the Federal Register after all.

6/1 I am another long time reader but first time poster. The recent post from "what the...." regarding home storage of vehicles for Chief Officer's (Supervisory Forestry Tech's) hit a nerve with me. I am another SZ Chief Officer that finds the whole home storage thing a huge debacle by the Forest Service Line Officers.

I really think the Chief Officer group as a whole missed an opportunity on this. Without coming together as a group and demanding a policy, the group just accepted going back to the same old way of doing business. This was partially based, in my opinion, on what was best for them individually. The few holdouts who were asking for clear policy and guidance were dismissed as troublemakers. If the Chief Officer group couldn't stand up for themselves, what is the message they are sending to the field? Don't make waves because it might come back to affect you later? That is not leadership. What do those folks think is going to happen next winter???

For those that think home storage is a perk, I can tell you it is not. Being "available within a reasonable amount of time" means different things to each one of us. Does that mean going to your kids various activities in two cars because you may have to leave, or not going out to dinner with your wife because the winds are blowing and it's hot and dry? Driving past the post office and store on your way home because it violates policy to stop, then getting in your POV and driving back? This may not sound like much of an inconvenience, but after parking my government vehicle and being able to do this again was eye opening for me on what some of the sacrifices are.

It's time for fire personnel to stop trying to fix everything, and let Line Officers be accountable for their decisions. When fire folks are unavailable, maybe something will get fixed. As long as we continue to make things work, we have no ability to effect change. If management believes they have the authority to make people be on call without compensation, let them ask for an OPM ruling to clarify that authority. That ruling should state exactly what they expect for free, and that is all they should get. For example, if the ruling states on call status is only 1-2 nights per week, then when the bell goes off and many leave for fire assignments, that same rule applies. Under current direction it is not uncommon for someone to be on call 7-14+ days in a row. The ruling should be on what is expected under all conditions, not just when everyone is home and the duty call is rotated among several folks. The "can do" attitude that made us a great agency in the past, is now becoming a tool for management to allow them to do nothing. Empty rhetoric and meaningless promises do not make changes, regardless of how promising they sound.

One last note to Casey.... keep up the good fight, what you and the WFSA do are the only lights at the end of the tunnel!!!

Another SZ Chief Officer

Thanks for resending this; your email must have gone into the spam filter the first time around. Ab.

6/1 Hey all,

Ken and I will pledge $100.00...

Run Ken Run.

Ken and Kathy Brinkley

6/1 HROs

Misery Whip, you said:

"...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 perspective."

I agree that "isolated mini HROs will never be as high-functioning" as an organization that fully
embraces the change in culture that is needed for it to become a High Reliability Organization.

But, I am convinced that the isolated HROs will be the catalyst that is needed to change the
culture of the organization. Furthermore, I really believe that the organization's culture has to
change from the bottom up as well as the top down, but if the top doesn't wanna play then change
still has to come up from the bottom.

South Canyon was 14 years ago and the recommendations put forth by Tri-Data have yet to be
implemented fully. We can't wait for the muckety-mucks to catch up, after all it is not they who
are the ones who die when "S--- Happens".

Circling the wagons was a way to organize a culture (Wagon Train) to keep people from getting
killed. It is as valid today as ever.

If we value the organization we need to practice Upward-Leadership.


Tri Data Firefighter Safety Awareness Study:
Phase I   Phase II   Phase III
Permanent link on the bottom of the Links page under Safety. Ab.

6/1 Hey AB reference the T-Shirt disposal,

I had a bunch and had someone make the old T's into a pretty cool quilt.
I have also seen companies that do this advertise. Just an idea.


6/1 Does anyone have any traditional methods of disposing of old crew and project fire shirts?

My wife and I recently moved into our first real house, and she has mandated (she'll say "asked") that some of my old shirts head down the highway.

I don't want to see my crew's logo displayed via Goodwill-type or garage sale distribution... following in the "be one, love one, kill one" tradition of shirt acquisition.

Any suggestions?

For today sign me "(soon to be) Shirtless in Seattle"

Fold it like the flag and burn it? Give it to the WFF? Other suggestions? Ab.

6/1 1) Michigan - Huron Manistee NFs, East Zone (Mio RD and Huron Shores RS)
2 - Engine Module Leaders (Eng. Capt) GS08
1 - Engine Operator GS05
3 - For. Tech - Season Engine Crew GS03/04

2) We have a total of 6 engines on the Zone 2 Type 7, 3 Type 6, and 1 Type 4. We have never been funded for 7 day coverage. During fire season, most of the crew(s) work a 13 on, 1 off schedule.

Type 7 - An unstaffed engine. Gets staffed with other fire crew/collateral folks during period of high fire danger.
Type 7 - An unstaffed engine. Gets staffed with other fire crew/collateral folks during period of high fire danger.

Type 6
EML Seasoned Captain
EnOp Seasoned (ENGB qualified)
Seasonal Seasoned (14+years)

Type 6
EML Seasoned Captain
EnOp Seasoned (ENGB qualified)
Seasonal Vacant

Type 6
EML Vacant
EnOp Seasoned (ENGB Qualified)
Seasonal Vacant

Type 4
EML Vacant
EnOp Seasoned (ENGB qualified)
Seasonal Vacant

Type 4 - An unstaffed engine. Gets staffed with other fire crew/collateral folks during period of high fire danger.

2 Type 2 Dozers, both staffed with seasoned operators (both have one of more SRB qualifications).

Vacant EML positions have been filled using detailers and/or ENOPs this fire season. Operators have been back filled with seasonals and/or collateral duty folks (most who are not FFT1 or ENOP qualified).

4) We have a total of 3 engines that are unstaffed, but they are not shown as staffed on the forest org. chart. Holdover equipment from the collateral fire shop days, but are still needed and used to meet staffing guidelines.
We have one vacant Fuels AFMO position that is not going to be filled. The Prevention AFMO will be vacant in the next 2-3 years due to retirement, and as of now will not be filled when vacant.

I hope this is what you are looking for.

R9 Captain

Thanks Capt, we'll add it to the rest of the data. Ab.

6/1 FYI

Ken Perry is leaving tomorrow, June 2, heading to the Gobi Desert for his second desert run. I know that all of us in the fire community wish him well and hope that this run will be as successful as his Sahara run. The race will begin on June 8th in Kashgar, China and will finish on June 14th with a total of 250 kilometers being covered. This race will be very different from his Sahara run as he will be running in altitudes of 10,000 ft in some places.

Ken has once again listed the Wildland Firefighter Foundation as his charity - thanks Ken!! I know that times are financially hard on everyone right now and the WFF is not making a pledge page, but if you have a few extra bucks to spare, let's show Ken our gratitude for doing so much for our firefighters and their families. Being Ken's #1 fan, I will start the ball rolling with a $10 per mile pledge.

If you can't donate, you can support Ken by going to www.4deserts.com and send him emails as the race goes along. You can do this by going to the Multimedia link, click on "Email a competitor" and simply fill out the form. When Ken came back from Egypt, he told us that he received more email than any other racer - pretty impressive!! Let's stand behind him again....

Run Ken Run!


Good luck Ken, Be safe! Ab.

6/1 Kimberly Brandel, currently a District Ranger on the Payette NF (Idaho), was on the Mt. Hood Hotshots (Zigzag RD, Mt. Hood NF, Oregon) in 1976. I don't believe it was her first season on the crew.

In 1976, Sue Husari (now Regional Fire Director for Western Region of NPS) and another woman were on the Lassen Hotshots. And there was a woman on Los Prietos Hotshots (Los Padres NF) that same year.

Merlin in 1976

Thanks Merlin, I'm updating that info on Inquiring Minds Want to Know (IMWTK) as it comes in. Ab.

6/1 PB,

There was a root cause (reason) why the law was changed:



By changing the law, the folks who are "short-timers" in very high and influential places will no longer have the US Attorney Office (tongue in cheek) bearing down on them after the next administration. It could also be viewed as they would no longer have US Attorney protection for their wrongful actions. By changing the law, it gave them a defense for their actions in the next administration, regardless of party.

In turn, the folks at the lowest levels will have to continue to bare the burden for mistakes made from above.

One of the basic tenants of peer review, whether it be a FLA et cetera, is that if something comes up that is potentially criminal in nature or obviously false, it is referred to the proper channels for correction.

6/1 Ab,

Attached is a photo of Mike Kessler. This was taken June 8, 2002. Mike is the one on the far right. (and closeup) He was serving as the extended attack IC on the Cherry Fire, El Malpais National Monument. I remember he gave me one of the best briefings ever when I arrived on the fire.

Tom Jones

Thanks Tom, it's nice to put a face to the person. Sorry he's gone (but not forgotten). Ab.

6/1 Attached are some Ron Smith Texas Canyon Hotshots Sup pictures from the 50th Reunion CD.

ron-engine: he is second from right

oldman-engine: he is all the way right


Thanks FC-180, I added them to the the Handcrews 23 and the Engines 20 photo pages. He's missed... If anyone knows the others in the engine crew or the year, please chime in. If anyone knows the photographers on these, please let us know. Thanks, Ab.

6/1 these are from the 2007 fire season in cali

taylorsville / happy camp

please add to your pic archives.


Thanks, I added them to the Engines 20, and Fire 37 photo pages. Please check to make sure of the fire info. If that's not you Happy on HappyCamp, please let us know who. Ab.

6/1 Here are some pictures from this year's prescribed fires we have done here in our county. Hibernia County Park is located on Wagontown Road in West Caln Township, Chester County PA. The Parks and Recreation department has a fairly progressive land management program which has it's own prescribed burn crew which I am a part of. So if you can post these we would appreciate it.

First one - Rice Farm Burn - Hibernia County Park - Wagontown Pa. - April 2008

Second One - Vernon Farm - Hibernia County Park - Wagontown Pa. - March 2008 - Burn Boss John Vickers

L. Todd Ziegler

Thanks, Todd, I put them on the Handcrews 23 photo page. Ab.

6/1 Ab, something for the hotshot to fire manager database:

I was the superintendent for the Rogue River Crew after Roy Skelton in 1973 and 1974. I left there to become the AFMO on the Hood River District of the Mt Hood. Got into Helicopters and Airtankers.

Was the Airtanker Base Operations Specialist for R6 from 1991-2001 when I retired. I served as the AOBD and ATGS on various Type II teams during my career. As you can see, I found a job in my retirement in Alaska, doing what I enjoy in the airtanker business and a lot of fishing.

Dale L. Alter

Thanks, Dale, I added it to the Hotshots to Fire manager page today. Readers, if you have any more info, please send it in. Ab.

6/1 Everybody,

I've been getting more and more emails lately inquiring about the video/film I am doing for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and I have to say that the interest level is great and I hope that we can make this happen (Go here and scroll down a bit for more info: www.wffoundation.org)

Just need to keep reminding folks to spread the word and submit your music and your videos as you get them and hopefully we will get enough usable media to make this happen and make some money for the WFF.

Also, I am still interested in hearing your opinions and ideas on how it should look and feel, so go to earthfire productions to send me an email or print out some flyers/posters to help the event.

EarthFire Productions

P.S. Yes (dearest-friends-of-mine) I know I sound like a goober on the 'instructions' video. That is why I stay behind the camera to film you dorks.
6/1 TC,

The Forest Service upper (WO) leadership got nailed hard for violating the Antideficiency Act a few months ago.

"The Forest Service violated the Antideficiency Act, 31 U.S.C. sect. 1517, when it exceeded an apportionment limitation of $100 million for aviation resources to be used for forest fire suppression activities. The emergency exception to the Antideficiency Act is not applicable because the Forest Service had received an appropriation that was sufficient for these activities; the need for emergency funding was based on the apportionment limitation, which was well below the amount appropriated. "

The current course is a result of mismanagement from above, and another misguided attempt to correct course at the expense of mission delivery cost effectiveness and efficiency.


Mark Rey... Caught In the Act again. (See Congressional Hearing Testimony, 2002 to Present).

"Increased management efficiencies" will be the death of the Forest Service..... also known as "Do more with less"

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