"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
Re: Wildland Firefighter Burn Treatment/Transportation
Michelle and NWCG-SHWT Members,
I wanted to send a quick note of thanks to you and your group for taking up...
addressing... and correcting the issues relating to the standard of care for
wildland firefighter burn injuries.
Without your steadfast commitment to the issues, there would have been
insurmountable interagency hurdles to overcome. We all know there will be more
rounds of educating others about OWCP (or other agency) processes and roadblocks
that stand in the way when firefighters are injured, but by setting a national
standard of care (burns or otherwise), the NWCG SHWT has shown true leadership.
Your commitment to providing the best standard of care to our injured
firefighters, regardless of agency or affiliation, is a great example of our
emerging 21st Century trend toward high reliability organizing within the
wildland fire community.
In terms of the not so "rare event" you mention where the attending physician
will not authorize transfer to a Regional Burn Center, several action oriented
groups such as the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, the Federal Wildland Fire
Service Association, and others (CDF Firefighters Local 2881, NFFE, AFGE, IAFF,
etc.) have regular contact with burn care treatment specialists willing to offer
their services and recommendations, if needed, to help streamline the process(es).
Take care and keep those around you safer.
/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
"Give me a break" & others:
Senator Feinstein's office is looking closely at the engine availability i.e.
those at 7 day, 5 day, 3 day and not moving. They are fully aware of the fact
that those hired or promoted may not be on board as soon as the Agency would
like Congress to think.
Unfortunately the Agency fails to state the facts that just because you have
people, it doesn't necessarily mean you have people in the spots you need. The
ANF had a lot of GS-5s but no overhead.
The Senator is obviously aware that if you promote a bunch of folks you create
vacancies elsewhere so do the numbers really increase? So please be assured that
the full impact/details of firehire and any other issue will be provided to
Congress by the FWFSA and others without the obligatory spin, smoke & mirrors
Now, if the Agency could/would explain to Congress just how long folks will need
to try and be on computers during a very active season doing admin stuff whether
they are new promotees, new hires or their new supervisors, I might be
It would certainly be a breath of fresh air if the Agency would actually be
straight forward with Congress rather than try to hide the details. The Agency
should know by now that organizations like the FWFSA and others will get the
facts to Congress anyway so why not be aboveboard rather than looking foolish by
offering half truths and slight of hand tricks.
Maybe they are still in denial that they have a fire program that is falling
apart. Who knows. Keep the info coming to us and the Feinstein's office.
Individual Forest info will be forwarded to the congressional reps who cover the
Stay Safe & thanks,
72 hour Report on Andy Palmer's death.
72 hour Expanded Report, Dutch Creek
Incident; Iron Complex; Shasta-Trinity NF, Region 5, July 25, 2008
Ab and all,
First my and my co-worker's deepest sympathy's on our latest losses.
When we lose one of "our" own it really hit's home. And when i say "our" i mean
all agencies not just the FS. WE are all in the fight together, differences
Second to add to the firehire comments. I think Gimme a Break hit the nail right
on the head!
I know in my district alone, a lot of positions (like probably 95%, i have
not done the exact math) were filled by our own 5's and 6's (PROMOTION/already a
5 and got the developmental position) and the only 7 spot was filled by someone
who seems (at least on paper, we have not met him yet due to the drug testing
hold back) to be a competent, yet engine boss unqualified! (smell an
underqualification here, i know you don't have to have it to get the job, but i
think it's quite funny that you must to take a "detail") firefighter.
I really am enjoying the stats that everyone are posting as far as nitty
gritty #'s etc.. I would encourage everyone with the knowledge to collaborate
and let's get a break down of #'s of spots filled/available etc....... and
really break it down to each forest/district and we can do our own math and with
some good solid #'s to present this to Casey and the wonderful folks of the
FWFSA for them to use in upcoming "BATTLES"
just a thought,
Lovin the Lake
FWFSA and Casey have been collecting. Ab.
Regarding the FireHire -
My guess is that we robbed Peter to pay Paul. How many vacancies were created
by filling the FireHire jobs? Are they reporting these numbers??? Filling
with unqualified or marginally qualified firefighters is ludicrous. Where is
Silly of course of me to ask...as long as they meet the X-118's they're
Give me a break!!
Does anyone have input on working for the BIA?
May I add my condolences for Chief Packer.
Chief Packer's body arrived home yesterday afternoon via USFS DC-3.
Below is the
link to the article in The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), as
well as video story
from KOMO-4 (Seattle ABC affiliate), and KIRO-7
View Entire Article Here
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Memorial Service Set For Firefighter Andy Palmer
A memorial service for park firefighter Andy Palmer, who was killed while
fighting a wildland fire last week, will be held on Monday.
The service will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, August 4th, at
McCurdy Pavilion in Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. Director Mary Bomar
and Regional Director Jon Jarvis will be joining park employees at the service
and will be spending time with park staff at park headquarters afterwards.
An incident management team (Denny Ziemann, IC) will be arriving over the next
few days to organize the NPS participation in the service and to assist with
logistics. A CISD team is also in the park to provide assistance.
God Speed Andy.
Memorial service is Monday at Fort Worden for Andy Palmer, fallen firefighter
Memorial service is Monday
A public memorial service, a celebration of life for Andrew Jackson Palmer, is
scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 4 at McCurdy Pavilion, Fort Worden State Park
in Port Townsend. Everyone is welcome.
The pavilion can seat more than 1,000
people, which may be necessary because Andy has deep connections in both Port
Townsend and Port Angeles.
As a fallen firefighter, a large number of emergency services personnel from
around the region are expected to attend.
This is a really nice article about Andy with pictures.
His loss is felt deeply here in Montana, here in Missoula. I have friends
that knew him well. They are devastated.
Condolences, Cathie. Please let your friends know we are grieving as
The fire hire really did help the Inyo, the management on the forest did a
job filling and recruiting, we will be better staffed next season and the forest
some excellent new employees. With that said, we are not at the numbers Mr. Pena
7 Forest Service Type 3 Engines
3...7 day engines
3...5 day engines
1 GS 11 FMO
1 GS 8 SFEO
3 GS 7 FEO
2 GS 6 AFEO
18 GS 5 senior firefighter positions. ( we have a some new GS 5 apprentices,
GS 4 apprentices and a quite few SCEPs all great employees.)
And another with info forwarded on to Casey.
I have seen the data published by Jim Pena and have run the numbers on my
forest. When you do the math without all the vacant GS 5 Senior Firefighter
positions the numbers are pretty close. When you include all the vacant GS 5
Senior Firefighter positions the percentage of positions filled is about 68%.
Senator Feinstein and Congress would be shocked to discover the true number of
vacant jobs. The jobs they did fill are with under qualified employees. Jim may
argue the GS 5's are filled with apprentices but until they convert the spot is
vacant. Jim Pena is doing the firefighters of the USFS a great dis-service by
changing the imput data and excluding all the vacant GS 5 Senior Firefighter
positions. Thank you for getting the message out that the numbers are incorrect
the data is tainted.
To: Just another Digger and all others:
The briefing paper about the recent FireHire put out by the Forest Service
leaves out a great amount of detail as to the actual impact the FireHire/Promotion
Party will have immediately or in the future.
As expected, the Agency has issued a briefing paper which would suggest they did
a marvelous job filling positions. Fortunately, those in the federal wildland
firefighting community and Congress know the details of the FireHire and the
less than immediate impact the event will have for any given Forest.
Lots of FEOs...but few have a CDL and everyone is on fires so who's going to
train them? Some Forests have gotten some captains from out of state but we all
know you don't just throw a new captain on an engine in R5 and the crew is ready
to roll... although from my discussion with Mr. Pena, I believe he thinks that
to be the case. Some won't be on the books until the end of the season.
The briefing paper fails to address the actual time frame for getting these
folks ready to respond and the added stress hiring level 3 employees will have
on their new supervisors.
Further, although the Agency has addressed entry level hiring, it has still
failed to offer any [emphasis added] insight as to what it plans to do to keep
I would strongly urge you and any others who have factual information on the
impact, or lack thereof of the recent FireHire to communicate directly with
Devin Rhinerson in Senator Feinstein's DC office at either: 202-224-2004 or by
A reminder: when contacting congressional staff please don't use your government
computer/address or phone.
If anyone has any questions or if they feel more comfortable sending your
information to the FWFSA as many already have, please feel free to do so at
208-775-4577 or email@example.com.
As you probably know the LA times is running a story about wildland fires.
Here is the link to part two
I was in the left front seat of the CWN Jet Bell Ranger 206 Helicopter that
crashed on the
Strayler Fire on July 26, 2004, and I am looking for any photos that may have
of the crash site and the rescue. I have some photos of the crash site after it
was burned over
by the spot fire but I hear that there may be some photos of the site prior to
the burn over. I
would like the photos in order to illustrate story of the rescue operation that
CAL-FIRE – Mendocino Unit
Green Sheet As I recall, it was quite dramatic. Ab.
To Whom It May Concern,
The July Fire Hire Briefing Update Paper dated July 29, 2008 issued by Jim Pena
is inaccurate about the staffing levels here at the Tahoe Management Unit.
We currently have 2 engines 5 day effective. 1 watertender vacant. 1 squad boss
fuels vacant. 1 prevention position vacant.
Just Another Digger
The article mentioned "Olympic National Park Firefighter Andrew Palmer".
Yo, this is your old friend Groundpig. I've been underground for some
time, but this brought me up.
This came out from the USDA. I find it very interesting there is not one
mention of the term FIREFIGHTER. My gut feeling is this is by design.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20250
Message from the Secretary:
Each year, USDA's brave men and women in the
Forest Service battle wildfires to protect both public and private property
and ensure the continuation of our Nation's forests as ecological and
recreational centers. Over this past weekend, two gentlemen tragically lost
their lives assisting the Forest Service in its mission. While neither was
a direct member of the USDA family, each was working side-by-side with our
employees to battle wildfires in California.
On July 25, while securing a fire line on the
Eagle Fire in California, Olympic National Park Firefighter Andrew Palmer
died from injuries suffered during mop-up activities. Mr. Palmer, who was
based out of Port Angeles, Washington, was only 18 at the time of his
death. On July 26, a fire suppression team was scouting the Panther Fire,
also in California, in preparation for the team to take over fire fighting
activities the next day. One of the team members lost his life when he was
overrun by the fire front. The probable victim has been identified as
Daniel Packer, Chief of East Pierce County Fire and Rescue in Bonney Lake,
Washington. He was 49.
In honor and memory of these brave gentlemen,
flags at USDA are being flown at half mast from dusk on July 28 until
sundown on August 2. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and
join with me in extending my deepest gratitude and most heartfelt sympathy
to their families.
Thanks, Groundpig. Ab.
National Interagency Fire Center
3833 S. Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705
July 29, 2008
To: Geographic Area Coordinating Group Chairs
From: National Multi Agency Coordinating Group
Subject: Safety Stand Down: August 1st
Two fatalities occurred over the weekend in two separate Northern California
fires. A recent spike in accident/injury trends has also created concerns for
firefighter safety. To date we have exceeded the number of deaths in wildland
fire operations for 2008 that we experienced during all of 2007. In an effort to
draw attention to wildland firefighter safety, NMAC is requesting that all
geographic areas take one hour during the operational period of August 1st to
emphasize safety practices.
Firefighter safety is and continues to be our first priority. The commitment to
and accountability for safety is a joint responsibility of all firefighters,
managers, and administrators. Individuals must be responsible for their own
performance and accountability.
Suggested areas of emphasis are:
- Primary means of safe wildland fire operations is through aggressive
- Consistently evaluate fireline tactics and adjust tactics as environmental
and human factor conditions change—Review Risk Management Process in the IRPG, Page 1.
- Exercise extreme caution when working in timber canopy areas—assume
every tree has some level of hazard associated with it. Review “PRINCIPLES
OF HAZARD TREE RISK MANAGEMENT” at:
- Driving standards and limitations need to be applied and enforced.
Drivers should not be exceeding 10 hours behind the wheel driving time
(state CDL limitations may be more stringent). This applies to all drivers
including agency employees, ADs, and contractors. Every effort should be
made to avoid driving between 2200 and 0500 hours.
- Dehydration and Fatigue – constantly monitor firefighter’s water and
electrolyte intake to avoid dehydration episodes. Dehydration and long work
hours coupled with poor air quality all impact fatigue—monitor and provide
rest opportunities for firefighters and support personnel.
- Avoid complacency in aviation operations and reinforce the aviation risk
assessment process to increase awareness of flight hazards and risks,
attention to risk mitigation, and to assert added attention to the following
For additional wildland fire safety information, please refer to:
We ask that every fire manager take this time to emphasize firefighter safety
and appropriate management of risk. We appreciate all the efforts of every
firefighter and support personnel. Let’s do everything in our power to return
everyone home safely this fire season.
/s/ Lyle Carlile
(orig pdf file for printing if desired:
The ultimate packing machine
Man just to think no more hose pack hikes..... watch the whole vid for some
The slow motion is very interesting. Ab.
Thank you for clarifying your previous post. Very well said. Amen.
Dear AB & All:
It's hard to decide when sufficient time to reflect on the losses the wildland
firefighting community has been dealt this past weekend has passed in order to
follow up on questions/responses here on TheySaid. Thus AB, I defer to you as to
when you feel it appropriate to place this on TheySaid.
When I hear the word "snag" I immediately think of Danny Holmes of the Arrowhead
Hotshots. A few days after my birthday I think of Heather, Steve & John from the
Stanza Fire and the memorial in Chester California for them. In October it will
be BDF Engine 57 and throughout the year, so many names of those who gave their
lives in this truly honorable profession.
With that said, I hope I am not out of line, or being insensitive in responding
to a couple of posts that showed up prior to the wildland firefighting community
learning of the deaths of Chief Packer and Andrew Palmer. However the sharing of
thoughts and ideas is what makes this site so vital to the community.
The simple answer to your question of whether P&P would even be an issue if
Cal-Fire wasn't getting it is: ABSOLUTELY. The issue has been around since a
time when feds were actually better paid than "CDF" firefighters.
The issue is that the employer of federal wildland firefighters, the Federal
Government via federal land management agencies is paying non-federal
firefighters P&P based upon salaries that are already significantly higher than
their own federal firefighters.
Our point is straightforward. P&P is a part of a series of pay & benefit
components which, if implemented, would strengthen the infrastructure of our
federal wildland firefighting forces by making a significant positive impact on
retention of well tenured/experienced firefighters.
Strengthening the infrastructure of the inherently less-expensive federal forces
would allow the federal land management agencies to reduce (not eliminate) their
current over-reliance on higher-priced non-federal resources and ultimately save
the American taxpayer staggering sums in suppression costs each year.
I would encourage everyone to read the current multi-part article on fire costs
by the L.A. Times. While it fails to address the nexus between federal land
management agency fire program policy with the proliferation of contracting &
cooperators on fires, some of the examples of spending on such wildfires should
be a wake-up call to Congress and the American Taxpayer.
The FWFSA is certainly cognizant of the traditional role the militia has played
on fire assignments. We know that for many years, the number of those actually
responding to such assignments has diminished significantly to the point that
even the General Accounting Office (GAO) referred to it in one of its reports.
Candidly, there is no incentive for the "militia" to spend days or weeks away
from their families in support of wildfires or other emergency incidents.
As I previously posted, the original intent of our P&P language was to create as
broad an application as possible. However, with the current climate in Congress,
the mandated "flat budgets" required by the current administration and the
ever-present "what's it going to cost" and "how are you going to pay for it"
questions from those in Congress, the FWFSA's obvious priority must be its dues
paying members, the vast majority of which are those employees eligible for
federal firefighter special retirement.
We know that what the FWFSA accomplishes will benefit far more than the number
of dues-paying members we have. We know that there will always be those who want
to "play" but don't want to pay. This is an expensive business and as a result
our absolute priority is to our loyal, dues-paying members.
Many militia personnel are members of NFFE which we have worked very well with
over the last year on a number of issues. What we have encouraged folks like
yourself to do is to become better informed as to NFFE's case history as it
relates to firefighters and who is defined as a "primary firefighter." Decisions
have been rendered that make that moniker very broad.
Ultimately, if the FWFSA is the organization that spends the bucks to get the
language crafted, authored and introduced, then we obviously have to focus on
our members. There is current interest in Congress to create a P&P "pilot
program" since there are so many variables that would impact the actual cost of
P&P in any given season. The idea is to run such a program for 2-3 seasons, look
at the costs and then make some permanent program decisions.
As some may be aware, Sen. Feinstein has recently sought an additional $904
Million for the fire season, specifically directing $25 million of that for
"retention." We are currently working with her office to define precisely what
she meant and whether such funds could be "earmarked" for a P&P program.
Thanks for the opportunity to respond. Our prayers and thoughts continue to go
out to not only the families, friends and co-workers of those lost and injured
recently, but to all of you on the lines.
Memorial for Chief Packer is scheduled for
Thursday, August 7th, 1400 hrs;
at Christian Faith Center,
33645 20th AVE South, Federal Way, WA.
The public is welcome to attend. I'll post information about apparatus/honors
as it becomes available.
There is a memorial fund set up at Washington Mutual Bank - Fire Chief Dan
Packer Memorial, Acct # 3170484930. Checks may be mailed to:
East Pierce Professional Firefighters, L3520
PO Box 7500
Bonney Lake, WA 98391
More info as it becomes available.
You betcha the FBANs have one of the toughest jobs out there, and one of the
most important to get right. And many years have gone into producing their
analysis tools. I wouldn't want to see them or the IMETs dissed, which is what
started me writing in the first place ...
Still Out There ...
Panther 24 hour Report is out from NWCG.
Eagle Fire - Iron Complex 24 hour Report is out from NWCG. Ab.
I guess maybe I was less articulate about my thoughts than was needed.
So often when we hear about a firefighter lost, we think it won’t happen to us.
Then it happens to a friend. Someone my age. Someone who was fought fires as
long as I have. Someone who held the same job, held the same positions, someone
I fought fire along side. Someone who made good sound decisions, who preached
and followed all the safety guidelines.
And you realize, yeah, it can happen to me too. Despite all the years, all the
fires, it can happen to you too.
Complacency comes in many forms. Sometimes it comes from believing you’ve seen
it all and you know you’ll never cross the line. This isn’t a indictment of Dan…
it’s a realization that anyone on the fireline lives with a real risk. Even us “oldtimers”.
Thanks for the clarification, islander, and so sorry for your and
your community's loss. Ab.
This was written several years ago...seems appropriate to share at this time to
let sawyers and fallers know how important they are to the other fire fighters
on the line.
Broken topped snag
busted at its base.
The faller sizes up the forest giant
a grin upon his face.
Vented flames midway up,
cracks in the trees armor.
Two pulls and the saw roars
echoing across the forest floor.
Trees of black rise to the sky
surrounding the sawyers task.
Ear plugs in to quite the din
goggles worn like Zorro’s mask..
Undercut to sway the fall
as he moves around the tree.
The back cut made and a “timber”
shouted warning for all to heed.
The snag came down
with a thud and cloud of dust.
The safety for incoming crews
A quick check for widow makers
that might be waiting to fall,
fire crews listening for the
all clear call.
Moving across the hill
another fire holding tree
Taking out a snuff filled
tin... pausing to take a dip.
The faller protecting others
from the hazards of the snags.
Face to face with natures entities
in a deadly game of tag.
CA-MMU-Telegraph Fire (near Yosemite):
<snip 10 sentences... Ab.>
Why does Cal Fire keep their maps secret and the feds post them openly?
The state is reporting the Telegraph fire here:
www.fire.ca.gov/index_incidents_others.php Oh look, new map up now... (Inciweb
is a fed reporting site. Sometimes it's down too.) There have been a number
of requests for a briefing map for the Telegraph, showing division/branch
breaks. etc. If someone has a digitized version, we'll post it. Ab.
One recent poster said regarding fire behavior prognostication/science: "it is a
developing science with no crystal balls". Of course I cannot argue that Fire
Behavior Science is still developing as it always has but you just cannot deny
the many, many years of education and experience that most Fire Behavior
Analysts have behind them. The Fire Behavior Analyst position has the toughest
education curriculum and the most rigid experience requirements in this wildland
firefighting business. Folks still doing FBAN, and there are few, need to always
be completely on top of their game and exercising their education, their many
years, and above all the graveness of their position as it relates to
firefighter safety. Most, if not all, are.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Chief Packer. Thank the Almighty
for Vickie and the WFF for helping to somehow soften this horrible blow to all
"I get almost embarrassed when people make issues about bravery - I guess
I don't see firefighting in the same light that outsiders do. There are
risks, but the risks are just something I live with. when things are going a
bit sideways, when they get a little dicey, I get excited instead of scared.
After 23 years of doing this I still love feeling the edge. I still don't
think I'll ever go off it. People like me don't die. We're too experienced,
our judgment is sound, and as supervisors we are less often in the way of
danger. Or if we are in the way of danger, we always know how far we can we
can move from safety and still make it back."
Blue, I think he meant this as an assumption he has had about himself and
those he sees as similar in KSAs to himself. You have to admit, it's a rude
awakening when you find out that when fire behaves badly or you've missed some
cue, sh** happens to the best, even to excellent, highly trained and experienced
firefighters. Reality Check of our human limitations! Risks must be consciously
evaluated and re-evaluated... situation by situation... Ab.
Loved ones mourn fallen East Pierce fire chief
by Mike Archbold
A tight-knit family of East Pierce firefighters remembers Dan Packer as a man
of compassion and strength.
As the shock of losing one of Pierce County’s most respected and well-liked fire
chiefs in a California wildland fire took hold, Dan Packer’s fellow firefighters
came together in grief Monday.
Air tanker drops in wildfires are often just for show
By Julie Cart and Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers, Second of
five parts, July 29, 2008
The bulky aircraft are reassuring sights to those in harm's way, but their
use can be a needless and expensive exercise to appease politicians. Fire
officials call them 'CNN drops.'
older discussion regarding meteorologists:
I was on assignment and didn't see
the discussion regarding meteorologists until just now. The role of the Storm
Prediction Center should not be confused with the role of the local forecast
office or incident meteorologist.
The Storm center provides the big-picture analysis, somewhat like
intelligence at NIFC provides us the big picture
of the wildland fire world. You would not make an on-the-ground decision for
your division based on NIFC data. Keep in mind too, that the local forecast
office is also looking fairly big-picture because they are preparing products
that meet the needs of Joe who wants to go sailing today as well as you who are
out on the fireline. Their spot-weather-forecasts come closer, but the IMET on
the ground is much closer.
The final safety comes in using the fire-line weather observations tied with
the thresholds established in the pocket cards PLUS gaining local knowledge from
those who regularly work with fire in your area. Most of the IMETs I've worked
with have been great, and understand the vital safety information that they are
providing. Realize too, that there is still plenty to be learned and understood
about weather, just as we still have plenty to learn and understand about fire
behavior -- it is a developing science with no crystal balls.
Still out there as an AD ...
North Bay FC:
Your post about the Federal Gov't "obligation" to protect private lands contains
some inaccurate statements. You are correct that the Federal Government is not
subject to state or local taxes; however, it does provide payments directly to
states and counties in lieu of taxes, known as the PLIT program (payment in lieu
of taxes.) For instance, the state of Idaho received nearly $16 million in 2008
from the Feds for the lands held by various agencies. (For a county by county
breakdown, see the DOI website here:
Furthermore, any industry that takes place on Dept of Interior lands is subject
to revenue sharing under the Refuge Revenue Sharing Act of 1935 (and similar
laws for the Dept of Agriculture.) A quick search shows that the states of
Wyoming and Nebraska received almost $240 Million from the BLM alone 1999. (WY
and NE are organized in one district.)
So while there may not be any direct taxation, it's incorrect to say that state
and local governments get "no local tax revenue" from federal lands.
To lay rumors to rest on the Panther Fire burnover.
To the best of
my knowledge: There were only 2 people involved. Both were male. Dan Packer
died. The other firefighter was not physically injured. Thus, there is no
firefighter in a burn unit somewhere.
That's it. Ab.
Everyone has their 1st amendment right.
However, I agree that we need to put aside who pays for structure
protection, p to p and all that stuff and take a short pause.
From R-5 RO.
Subject: Firefighter Fatality Memorial
To: All Region 5 Employees
In the past three days, the Region has suffered two tragic accidents that
resulted in the loss of two firefighters, Andrew Palmer and Daniel Packer.
Firefighter Palmer was from the Olympic National Park and was assigned to the
Iron Mt. Alps Fire Complex on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. He was struck
by a falling tree and died as a result of his injuries on July 25, 2008. Chief
Packer was a division supervisor from the Eastern Pierce County Fire Department.
He died July 26, 2008 in a fire entrapment on the Panther Fire on the Klamath
Flags are to be flown at half staff, and employees are authorized to wear a
black mourning strip on the Forest Service badge in memory of Firefighter Palmer
and Chief Packer thru August 2.
I want to express my sympathy to the families, friends, and coworkers of the
firefighters we have lost. These tragic losses serve as reminders of the
hazardous work we engage in as we fight wildland fires. Please take time to
assess your individual preparedness, but also look out for one another so we can
all complete our work safely.
/s/ James M. Pena (for) Randy Moore, Regional Forester
Interim NWCG Minimum Standards for Incident Emergency
Medical Services: hotlist thread
NWCG Standards for Burn Injuries: hotlist thread
I haven’t written much here in a long time, but I still check in now and again.
I felt I needed to share this.
Dan and I worked together on many fires, in fact he was the one who signed my
task book as Division Supervisor. When he did, he said something about me being
more qualified than he was - but that wasn't a reflection of his abilities but
of his modesty. He was a great man on the line. He always listened, he made sure
people were comfortable with was asked of them, he wanted their input and he
stood up for the firefighters working for him. He never struck me as someone who
was taking inordinate risks or someone who lacked an awareness of the situation
I guess that is what is so shocking about his death - I just can't see him
making a decision that would turn so bad.
I get almost embarrassed when people make issues about bravery - I guess I don't
see firefighting in the same light that outsiders do. There are risks, but the
risks are just something I live with. when things are going a bit sideways, when
they get a little dicey, I get excited instead of scared. After 23 years of
doing this I still love feeling the edge. I still don't think I'll ever go off
it. People like me don't die. We're too experienced, our judgment is sound, and
as supervisors we are less often in the way of danger. Or if we are in the way
of danger, we always know how far we can we can move from safety and still make
Dan was about my age. His career has been similar to mine, and we have learned
from each other. He was someone I both admired and liked very much. My loss of
him as a friend is nothing compared to the loss his department has suffered of
one of the great leaders, and that too is nothing compared to the loss his
family most feel. Dan loved his job, but he loved his family even more.
Some men can't be replaced. Only remembered.
||First- my condolences to the families and our entire extended fire
family. The losses are felt
throughout the country and it is a sad day.
North Bay FC-
You state there are no local taxes brought in by federal lands. I
don't know your background
but I am not sure how familiar you are
with the PILT- Payment in Lieu (sp?) of Taxes....
"Payments in Lieu of Taxes" (or PILT) are Federal payments to
local governments that help
offset losses in property taxes due to
nontaxable Federal lands within their boundaries. The
key law that
implements the payments is Public Law 94-565, dated October 20,
law was rewritten and amended by Public Law 97-258 on
September 13, 1982 and codified
Chapter 69, Title 31 of the United States Code.
The Law recognizes that the inability of
local governments to
collect property taxes on Federally-owned land can create a
I don't know about Department of Ag but I know with DOI, the feds
do recognize the local
tax situation and try and do the right thing.
take care out there and stay safe,
Please take a moment today and remember the members of Lassen NF Engine 11 who
lost their lives suppressing the Stanza Fire the morning of July 28th . Steve,
Heather and John...
Six years gone now are an outstanding leader, a great friend and a fine young
man. With the events of the last few days making room in our hearts for any more
sorrow hard to find, loosing touch with the past dooms us to repeat it. Perhaps
the pain of loss will give us the strength to do what is necessary to save our
own lives or the life of another. Awareness is our finest tool to prevent
mishaps. I took the
included photograph as a tribute to the Engine 11 fellas but in reality it
must be a tribute to all those who have left us on the lines.
Thanks, Rob, their loss touched me greatly as well. I added your photo to
their tribute page. Ab.
Why should the Federal Govt. pay to protect private structures from fires
burning on Federal lands? The Federal answer seems to be “we shouldn’t” and it
is the local agencies responsibility. In a recent post the comparison was made
that if a warehouse was burning the local fire department protects adjacent
There are two reasons that the Federal Govt. should continue to pay for
reasonable protection on developed private lands;
First: The private land owner pays federal taxes, as do the property owners
adjacent to the burning warehouse pay local taxes, and should probably get
something for that. The enormous cost to provide structure protection to a small
community is so far beyond the ability to pay the result would be many small
communities will burn to the ground. Think that might make a few headlines and
catch the attention of the Politicians in Washington? It is also important to
note that Federal Land brings in NO local tax revenue.
Second: By far the most important reason is that through land use and management
decisions, including firefighting guidelines, and staffing shortages, the
ability to quickly and effectively attack and contain many fires in Federal
Lands have been greatly diminished. When lightning starts a fire in the
wilderness area established after the community was founded, can the local
community take dozers in and extinguish the fire to protect their community? Or
must they weight sometimes weeks for the fire to burn to their property because
MIST is required even when burning conditions exceed MIST tactical restrictions?
Structure protection is in place for days or weeks due to land use policy, why
should locals pay for the policy of the land owner?
As is always the case, there is usually merit to both sides of the argument. Yes
Local Govt. must step up to the plate and enforce reasonable fire safe standards
for existing and new development. There is defiantly a problem with “if it
burns, the feds will pay for protection” weather directly through incident costs
or FEMA reimbursements. However simply walking away from an established practice
and public expectation isn’t the answer. Not a lot of votes coming from
federally owned lands. I also think Casey hit the nail on the head regarding P
to P, the same methodology for pay needs to exist in all regions, and for all
Federal Firefighters (if you fight fire you are a firefighter regardless of
title) should see P to P.
North Bay FC
I just returned from Yreka where those involved in the Panther Fire have been
taken for debriefing. Two of our fallers were believed to be the last to have
contact with Mr. Packer as they were walking out a handline and he was scouting
up it. It was a difficult situation for them. However, I very much appreciate
the critical incident debriefing process that is taking place. It's an excellent
example of taking care of the people left behind.
As we're mentioning WFF and the incredible assistance Vicki and her crew provide
to firefighters and their families, I believe this is an appropriate and
critical time to emphasize that all state and federal agencies are required to
implement and manage programs to address employee injuries and fatalities. These
programs cost money and are tedious and demanding for those who administer them.
Some programs are administered well and fairly. And some are not. However, the
most important point here is that workers and their families have some sort of
safety net to help them get back into the saddle after an accident or death of a
worker, which is particularly important if that worker is the sole breadwinner
of the family.
Federal firefighters are so VERY fortunate to have Casey and the FWFSA to watch
their back and advocate for their rights. Other agencies have their unions and
employee reps. No agency would ever get away with putting an employee out on the
fireline without insurance coverage in case of injury of death. Most agencies
also provide added benefits to ramp up that coverage with employee participant
health/medical supplemental plans.
This isn't the case with agency AQM oversight of private sector operators. That
rigorous attention to worker safety nets has been ignored at the federal level
as it applies to private sector commercial timber fallers working on wildland
fires. This year, with the intense and early fire season in California, which
has created a chaotic resource mobilization headache for dispatch centers,
uncovered fallers have flowed into the wildland firefighting system unchecked.
Why? Because no one within the agencies is verifying valid worker compensation
coverage. Though some Faller Module operators are paying these premiums and
providing the ACTUAL coverage for their fallers as WE HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED BY
THE FOREST SERVICE to do, there appears to be "special" operators who are held
to different standards, being allowed to act simply as brokers who pocket a
dispatch fee. This "fee" doesn't provide insurance coverage for the fallers, it
simply lines the pockets of the broker. This was the essence of my previous
message requesting what others thought about personal injury/fatality insurance
for commercial timber fallers working on fires.
Ah, you might say, "But those fallers get higher pay to cover themselves."
Really? The majority of fallers are so broke - especially right now - most live
paycheck to paycheck, with significant stretches of unemployment. With empty
bank accounts and their mortgage bills on the kitchen table, and food to
buy...and outrageous fuel prices that regularly add up to hundreds of dollars a
month just to get to work and run their saws, exactly how much might you think
is set aside for a medical emergency or fatality? I would estimate perhaps 1 in
50 fallers has any type of health or medical coverage, and those that carry an
"if/any" insurance policy most often opt out (meaning they don't cover
themselves as a single operator) just to get as much needed cash in their
pockets as they can. They're broke. It's a classic dilemma for them. They have
to feed their families NOW. Pay their mortgages NOW. Put fuel in their trucks so
they can go to work NOW (if work is actually available.)
So, there's the dilemma...and there is the opportunity for exploitation of the
fallers' situation - both by agencies and by unscrupulous operators. Worker
compensation coverage (and all health/medical coverage) is expensive. The
government has said consistently over the past three years that the Faller
Module program - while fire managers in the field say it is a huge improvement
over the old AD Faller hiring program - is too expensive. However, what they are
not recognizing is that it is the worker compensation part of the DIRECT COSTS
that increases the price to the threshold of "too expensive." It is too
convenient for the agency to turn the other way and allow operators to slither
through a loop hole such as providing an "if/any" worker compensation
certificate as proof of coverage, but then not actually providing the coverage
for fallers. That is what is happening right now in California. And that is
something that needs to be addressed by the same agency that incorporates worker
safety and insurance coverage for its own employees. Let's see some
accountability. Let's see the INTENT of the worker coverage law enforced rather
than the LETTER.
The bottom line is - everyone's families need to be taken care of in times of
tragedy, not just those working for an agency. Thanks to Vicki and her crew, WFF
is colorblind and recognizes no differentiation between agency and private
sector firefighter. They are a blessing to us all, and deserve all our our
financial support. Now, it's time for R-5 to step to the plate and do the
responsible thing. If not, there are other oversight agencies that will.
Northwest Timber Fallers
From Tom Harbour:
This Sunday evening is a time of reflection for me. The
sadness, the thoughts are contemplative. It is surely a time to think.
Our minds are our greatest assets.
Given the wildland fire situation we are and will be facing the next couple
months, and the stresses which will surely continue, my mind turns to those
concepts we espouse in operational risk management. Leadership will come
from the exercise of correct principles. We'll continue to look to the
principles of accountability, integrity, team work, and open/continuous
communication. We'll identify hazards, risks, and mitigations. We'll
remember the key concepts of the operational risk management approach the
-accept risk only when benefits outweigh risks
-accept no unnecessary risk
-anticipate and manage risk
-make risk decisions at the right level
As we practice these principles at beginner to advanced levels, at first
line to upper line supervisors, at type 5 to type 1 complexity, we'll be
Lets take time to honor those who have perished, to continually improve,
and to recommit ourselves to supporting one another.
I have been unable to find a definition. I see reference to it
time to time. Might this be an appropriate entry for the Glossary?
Assuming it rains again someday, and somebody has time for something
as mundane as a glossary...
My deepest condolences on the loss of the two Washington
firefighters. First time this site made me cry. What a pitiless
Cobb Mountain, Lake County, CA
Check this thread:
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=26993 (Thanks Jumper553, I
couldn't find it.) Ab.
From the Panther Fire
Yesterday afternoon firefighters and the Siskiyou County Sheriff worked their
way into the Panther Fire accident site. At approximately 1930, Dan Packer of
East Pierce Fire and Rescue was met at the intersection of Hwy 96 and
Independence Bridge north of Orleans by an Engine from the Six Rivers NF. He was
escorted to Happy Camp and then accompanied to Yreka by an Engine from the
Klamath NF as the first leg of his journey back to Washington State.
Our grievances are now placed on the back-burner as we join together as an
interagency community to grieve the passing of our brothers.
When I woke up this morning, I started thinking about the Esperanza Fire. Out of
the shock of Esperanza came the moment I was proudest of my agency, the Forest
I was reminded this morning about the honorable work of CIIMT #1 lead by Don
Feser back in Oct and Nov of 2006. While CAL FIRE did a great job suppressing
the Esperanza, CIIMT #1 was asked to provide support and begin the healing
process for the families and for all of us. The work they performed was
unequaled in any single event in Forest Service history.
I remember listening to the stories from my friends on CIIMT #1 when they came
home. I think back now and those stories we heard was a way for them to release
the emotions and it helped them heal.
Now CIIMT #1 is heading to the Panther Fire. The great leader Don Feser has
since retired, however they’re in good hands with McGowan and Hawkins. We wish
them well on this new assignment.
I remember great speeches the day of the Esperanza Memorial. The words of Walker
and Detrich will never be forgotten and echo in our minds even today. The words
that stuck with me the most that afternoon came from the Forest Service National
Director for FAM Tom Harbour. Tom looked around and referenced the presence of
an angel. An angel and organization who are committed to caring. Tom was right,
that angel, our angel is Vicki Minor, Executive Director of the Wildland
This info is coming in from firefighters in WA and CA:
Washington state fire
chief believed dead in California blaze
REDDING, Calif. - A second Washington state firefighter is believed to have
perished Saturday while battling a Northern California wildfire, officials said.
Daniel Packer, chief of East Pierce Fire & Rescue and past president of the
Washington Fire Chiefs, was reported missing Saturday afternoon while working on
the Panther Fire south of Happy Camp in Siskiyou County, and is presumed dead.
"He (Packer) is missing, but we have not confirmed that he is dead," said
Russ McCallion, battalion chief with East Pierce Fire & Rescue.
However, the U.S. Forest Service confirmed that a second firefighter has
died, without releasing the identity. (more at link)
Our condolences to family, friends and co-workers. I know from what
several of our community have said that he was a well known and much respected
chief in the state. Please let us know about services. Ab.
Shari and Casey:
Excellent advice for working near snags !
Having experienced a near miss while working with a snag, all's I can say is
never for a moment let your guard down. Even the small snags are profoundly
dangerous and can come down, or drop materials without so much as a whisper
of warning !!!
- Always maintain a high level of Situational Awareness around snags, Post
experienced lookouts double the distance the perimeter of any where the
snag can possibly fall.
- Exercise extra care when working near trees that have been burning a
time and / or show signs of rot or deterioration.
- Be aware that even without "widowmakers" , snags can and do drop
or break off segments without warning.
- If material has fallen from a snag previously, it is an indicator that
snag is weak and may drop more material at any time !
- Limit personnel from working the snag hazard area.
I'm sure there is much more information to cover regarding snags, I just
wanted to share a few items I had, and hopefully help keep the folks out
My sincere condolences to the Palmer family.
Pappy '81 (not the original)
NWCG has approved a NATIONAL burn injury standard. The standard was issued July
11, 2008. Please forward and share this standard with the field as it has not
had wide dissemination.
With few minor exceptions in wording, it has all of the major recommendations
from the collaborative groups working on it... both in the forefront and behind
Standard Attached (46 K pdf file).
Thanks to those who have continued to press for this behind the
scenes. Thanks also to the others who stepped up to set it into "official"
We need some good thoughts / prayers for a firefighter
who has died on the CA-KNF-Panther Fire and one who may have gotten taken to the hospital.
More info is here:
No doubt more to come. Ab.
To the Families,
You don't know me, but you are in my prayers and thoughts. I
too, used to be on the line... and above it most of the time. Nobody but those
who have experienced the conditions we work in know what is real, and even then,
we question the reality of it all at times. When nature throws its worst at us,
only then does the very best come out in us. We are brothers and sisters. We are
family. Our uniforms and badges mean nothing... we all look the same at the end
of the day. We are one in the "good fight" for a greater cause.
As you are the families of those "on the line", you are a big part of the circle
of our lives. We think of you, we miss you, we honor you in doing what we do.
There is no greater love than for a human being than to give their life for
another. You should be honored. You raised us to be the individuals we are. You
taught us honor and respect. You taught us charity and to care for those who
could not do for themselves. You taught us unconditional love beyond ourselves.
You raised a hero.
We take our licks, but keep on ticking. We go without, so you can have. We give
everything we have, so that you can have everything. We spend a lot of lonely
nights, babysitting a fire line, on the side of a mountain hundreds of miles
away from home. The silence is deafening, broken only by the sound of our own
heartbeat and an occasional rabbit. It's these times we think of you. We think
about why we do what we do. God only knows the thoughts that occupy our minds. A
hundred different things occupy our thoughts in a brief few moments. Things
change, sometimes in a heartbeat.
My Grandpa used to say that God only takes the good ones. I've spent many times
wondering if this was so. I've been in many situations where I thought I'd find
out real quick. One thing I've learned over the years, is that you don't
question the ultimate authority. The reasoning is beyond human comprehension. I
do know for a fact, that angels do indeed wear Nomex! When it's my time, I'm
ready to go. I have no regrets. I've given everything I could give and I only
wish I could have given more. I dream of a day when words like these never have
to be written. Rejoice in the fact that your sons and daughters, brothers and
sisters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, are taking a stand for
something that eclipses all time. They are firefighters, heroes, and angels.
Sometimes real life gets in the way of what we perceive as "real life". I've
missed parties, graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries. My 40th B-day was
spent filling tankers from a hydrant in rural Nebraska. I didn't care... this
was what I did. Not just a job (actually, a volunteer)... but the greatest
adventure I could ever have with the greatest people to share it with. It's
funny, my hand was still wrapped in gauze from an accident at work... but I was
there pumping water for the team. You can't imagine the feeling of contributing
to the cause... even when you're not supposed to be. Yup, shame on me, but
hey.... I'm a firefighter, these things don't slow us down. We always give until
someone says we can't give anymore, then we go and keep giving... THAT WILL
NEVER END. Again, that's who we are and what we do.
My thoughts and prayers are with you, wherever you may be. Whether enjoying a
family BBQ on a summer night or sitting on a fire line, a hundred miles away
from home. You are never far away from me. You see, it doesn't matter whether
I'm retired or active... I'm on your crew... right now. Whether you are on the
ground or in the air... I'm there too. Some call it a "brotherhood", I prefer
"Family". We're all in this together, let's keep trying to make a difference. To
be a bit sappy, I'd like to use a line from a really sappy movie, "NEVER GIVE
UP... NEVER SURRENDER"!
Embracing each and everyone of you!
Feeding the Squirrels in Boise!
Well said my friend. Ab.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell
Loss of firefighter Andrew Palmer
Forest Service Press Conference
July 26, 2008
“Thanks for joining us here today. Today I’ve been here in Redding, Calif.
meeting with local Forest Service officials. We’ve been focusing on the
unprecedented scope of fire here in northern California, which have become more
devastating with the tragic loss of Andrew Palmer, of Port Townsend, Wash., an
18 year old firefighter. Palmer was with the Olympic National Park in Washington
state and his life was tragically cut short just yesterday afternoon.
“The wildland fire community is a very large organization, but in many ways it
resembles a family. The loss of any member of the firefighting family has a
dramatic affect on all of those who fight fire, who are involved in fire
management and who work for the agency. The commitment to society demonstrated
by Andrew Palmer – through his dedication and courage – will live on in the
hearts and minds of his colleagues all throughout the fire community. To the
Palmer family my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for your loss.
“People are our most valuable resource and we remain committed to the safety of
our firefighters. We cannot forget that there are still 12,000 firefighters
continuing to work to suppress fires here in California. We’ve made great
progress but much remains to be done.
“Our interagency fire teams develop strategies for fighting a fire. Fire
managers continue to consider fire behavior, weather forecasts, terrain,
accessibility and proximity to communities when considering fire suppression
“In spite of the extremely difficult terrain, in this part of the world, crews
on these fires have done an extraordinary job. The terrain is difficult and
“We will really miss Andrew Palmer.
“Crews are using burnouts and other indirect firefighting techniques because of
the inaccessible, rugged terrain and other hazards keeping them from the fire
edge. We must consider firefighter safety in all of our tactical decisions.
Firefighter and public safety will remain our number one concern.
“As I close, I ask that you keep Andrew, his family, his friends and co-workers
in your thoughts and prayers. As tradition, firefighters will wear black bands
around their service badge and I am asking all Forest Service officers to lower
their flags to half-mast beginning today in remembrance of Andrew.”
This is regarding Jarred Johnson:
The accident is being investigated, and as such, preliminary information is
subject to change.
What we know for certain....is that this accident occurred in a wilderness
area; his crew stabilized, medivac'd and transported him within an hour and
were informed by late evening that he would be alright.
Jarred's "broken" vertebrae...is a compression, hairline fracture to his
thoracic region (between the shoulder blades).
He will be fitted with a brace for his torso within the next few days, to
stabilize the injury site, and facilitate healing.
To avoid confusion and misinformation, I think we need to clarify a strange
and sad coincidence:
Jarred's brother is a member of the Olympic National Park crew who lost
their Firefighter, Andrew Palmer, yesterday.
These incidents appear to have occurred within hours of one another.
It must have been a tremendous, and overwhelming day for the Johnson and
Palmer families, as it was for our entire fire community.
I praise your site for allowing privacy for the families and friends prior
to confirmed notification.
Please know that these families are sustained by the strength of your
support...and WFF, of course.
It does seem that at times like these, we are not merely a fire service,
but a service FOR one another.....when an accident occurs.
Training gives the skills and circumstance gives you the opportunity, but
knowledge gives you the confidence to take action.
No one does this job alone, together we take care of one another.
Thanks for the clarification. Good job and carry on. We do support each
Photo of Andy Palmer. Our best to his family. They know they are not
alone in their grief. Ab.
AB & All:
We too at the FWFSA would like to offer our most heartfelt condolences to
family, friends & co-workers for his tragic loss on the Iron Complex.
Shari has once again offered common sense but nonetheless insightful guidance on
issue of snags. Simply, they kill. It doesn't matter if it's a wildfire or an
RX, they kill.
We wish all of you on the lines not only a safe incident but a safe season.
care of each other and watch out for each other.
There was another falling accident yesterday in R6.
Jarred Johnson was hit by a widowmaker and was Life Flighted to
Wenatchee. He has a broken vertebrae, but this morning has feeling in his
extremities which is a very good sign. He'll likely be in the hospital for
2-3 weeks and in a body cast for longer. (The WFF -- with our donations --
is willing to pick up the cost of lodging and car rental for Jarred's folks and his
The WFF and the wildland firefighting community is supporting Jarred and his
family in ways that most could not imagine.
Our prayers for a speedy recovery.
Please be safe All. Hug your loved ones. Support the WFF. It's our safety
Abs...The USFS is drawing criticism for the poor air quality in the Northern
Sacramento Valley ...again.
The fire is directed toward the burnouts on USFS fires, but CalFire certainly
did their share of causing the pollution.
The June Fire siege resulted in fires that lasted longer than any in the history
of the Shasta Unit of CalFire. While some of that may be blamed on the sheer
number of fires, but some of the criticism must be directed to the Agency's
handling of those fires.
In the case of the USFS fires, again, there were a ton of starts, but Agency
policy has also contributed to the proliferation of smoke. At what time does
public health and well being override the desire for a "light hand on the land?"
Containment for some of the USFS fires is not predicted until mid August or
From this morning's Iron Complex News Update
Firefighter Andrew Palmer, of the
Olympic National Park, received multiple injuries yesterday while working on the
Eagle fire. He passed away while being transported to Redding, California. A
fund will be established by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Andrew’s
name. The foundation is online at
and can be contacted by calling 877-336-2950.
Observing Snag Felling
We realize that an investigation is underway on the Iron Complex, and that will
likely take some time to complete. However, after talking with fallers on that
incident, and taking into consideration what many other fallers have experienced
this season on wildland fire incidents I believe that a strong message should go
out concerning the desire to observe snag felling.
On several occasions, when our fallers were given the "all clear" sign, they
discovered their cutting areas were, in fact, not completely clear of observers
within harms way. One faller team even had to flush firefighters out of the
nearby brush, and only detected them because their radio made some noise. This
was AFTER the fallers were told the area was clear.
It's not only the snag being cut that can cause problems, but every tree within
range of the target tree, because of the domino effect, secondary limb breakage,
or ground rolling. These big snags in Northern California are not only huge, but
extremely unstable for various reasons. Even seasoned commercial fallers with
decades of saw time at the stump are having trouble with them. So, the message
is, STAY CLEAR.... STAY AWAY...LISTEN AND ABIDE BY CLEAR OUT INSTRUCTIONS FROM
THE FALLERS, FALLER BOSSES & TASK FORCE UNIT LEADERS. These fallers have enough
on their minds without worrying that someone's hiding in the bushes just to see
a tree go down.
NOTE: This message is not intended to comment on the Iron Complex
fatality specifically, but to hopefully send a message to agency supervisors in
the field. When you think your people are far enough away from a snag to assure
their safety - double that distance again... and don't forget to look in the
bushes for stow aways.
I'm posting this important safety message. I observed a near miss (not on
a fire) this summer and falling safety can't be stressed too much. Ab.
A number of our fallers called in early this morning after they heard the tragic
news about Andrew in various morning briefings across the region. I want to pass
on their condolences. It’s news that disturbs us all, and reminds us that we
should treasure each day we have with one another. Our thoughts and support go
to the young man’s family. Thank goodness for Vicki and the WFF.
It was good to hear back from Burk last night that the WFF was "on it".
Beyond condolences, my first inclination is "what can I do to help?"
The Wildland Firefighter
Foundation certainly is a safety net for all of us when things go bad.
Firefighting is an inherently dangerous profession. Ab.
Thanks for your response. Somehow I think we are getting tangled up here on what
the intent was with my original post on this subject, probably my fault not
yours. What I simply wanted to know was how many wild land firefighting
organizations of any kind, outside of California are getting portal to portal. I
was not wanting to pass any judgment on the pro and cons and who deserves what,
I just wanted to know who was getting portal to portal. Again, I was only
interested in entities outside of California.
We can discuss the municipal/wildland deal and probably not come to agreement.
This is and has for a long time been a situation that frustrates me. Why are the
feds paying municipal fire departments for structure protection? I personally
believe it is their responsibility and not the wild land agencies. If the fire
is downtown in a warehouse they protect adjacent structures. So why does the
same not apply when structures are threatened by wild fire? Let the
municipalities step up and bite the bullet. That is basically where I am on the
subject. Of course the feds would just turn around and end up reimbursing them.
I can't count how many incidents I have been on over the years where one of the
first things done was to get the disaster declaration approved so the feds would
pick up most of the bill, which in essence opened up the purse strings. But that
is another subject.
Joy Juice was a poor choice of words on my part, sorry
I don't think you answered my question regarding if Cal Fire was not getting
portal to portal would it be an issue? I realize this goes back a long way in
time, but is it not what made portal to portal an issue? Again, not wanting to
debate the merits of portal to portal, I think it would be great if we were all
getting portal to portal.
A couple of shots from a burning operation near Shasta lake, 01 July 2008.
Crew name unavailable.
Thanks, some CalFire firefighters. I put them on the
photo page. Ab.
Here are a few photos from the ICP while a burning operation was in progress
to protect basecamp for the Iron Complex. ~ Troy Vaughn
Thanks, very nice
flames. I put them on the
photo page. One of those could be a contender for the 2009 Wildlandfire
Casey and Cynic;
Remember when talking about portal to portal and CALFIRE, we are only talking
about Fire Fighters through Battalion Chief who get PP.
Many Division/Assistant chiefs, and Deputy Chiefs, Foresters, Warehouse folks (FLOs),
Communication Operators (dispatchers), and office support staff DO NOT get
Portal to Portal. They get pillow to pillow, just like all their friends in
USDA-FS and DOI individuals get.
Now FFs to BCs are the folks down in the trenches, but consider that the folks
that Bargaining unit 8 also represents, foresters, forestry technicians,
forestry assistants, forestry logistics officers, forestry trainees, and
forestry aids, and Air operations officers work a basic 40 hr week, either 5 8’s
or 4 10’s. Pillow to Pillow for them as well.
And a lot of these people are also on large incidents, filling critical ICS
roles on teams and on incidents. Or working along side a FF, or FAE or Captain
that is getting P to P, doing the same job in fire camp, or might be working for
that FLO or Forester who is getting pillow to pillow. However those job
positions did get a 3% raise in 06 just for them.
So even within CALFIRE and California Bargaining unit 8, there is pay disparity.
But keep in mind, the fire suppression personnel gave up a pay raise to get
their Portal to Portal. So it did not come free to them.
So if Casey wins the Portal to Portal, and it sounds like things are looking up,
someone representing those agencies and OPM are going to have to figure out WHO
gets Portal to Portal and who does not. If Casey gets P to P for everyone
assigned to an ongoing incident, he has more than earned his pay. But if OPM
says only line personnel get P to P, that may make it hard for the “militia” to
answer their phones.
Haw Haw, "earn his pay" is an amusing phrase in this
instance. Casey gets paid almost nothing. He's powered by the "joy juice". Ab.
Sad news. A National Park Service firefighter has been killed on the Iron
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and fellow
I believe the term "portal to portal" may mean different things to different
people. It is a concept of compensation simply meaning you get paid from the
time you arrive at work until the time you go home.
The "concept" of portal to portal is primarily used for a shift period of 24
hours or more. Most paid, professional firefighters who work shift increments of
24 hrs are paid for a 24 hour shift inclusive of meal & sleep periods.
The Office of Personnel Management has determined that a firefighter average
work week is 53 hours. Some obviously work more per week, others less. However
the term portal to portal, as in compensating these employees for all time while
on duty may take a different meaning on a wildfire incident simply because the
federal wildland firefighters usually work a 40 hour work week as compared to a
state or local firefighter that normally work shifts of 24 hours at a time.
As an example, if you are a paid, profession municipal firefighter from
California working a normal duty shift of 24 hrs and you are sent on a wildfire
assignment that exceeds 24 hours, you are paid for a full 24 hrs at a salary
rate that is more often than not significantly higher than your federal
counterpart on the assignment whether you are on the line or in fire camp
resting, showering, eating etc. If the federal government, such as a land
management agency is picking up the cost of you as a resource, that federal
Agency will also pay your department a 17% administrative fee, plus backfill
costs to cover your position. Additionally, as has been discussed here with
great passion, many non-federal resources are housed in hotels and motels at
On the other hand, if you are a federal wildland firefighter from any of the
five federal land management agencies -- i.e. Forest Service, National Park
Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Fish & Wildlife
-- you normally work an 8 hour day. When you are sent on a wildfire assignment
which may be 24 hours or longer, you are only paid for a maximum of 16 hours in
any 24 hour period. The other 8 hours or more in that 24 hour period are not
compensated for, despite the fact that your employer is paying non-federal
resources for the full 24 hours. Additionally, more often than not, you'll be in
a tent or sleeping on the ground.
Recently time keepers have been trying to cut even the compensated hours of
federal firefighters while ignoring the 24 hours of pay for non-federal
The concept of portal to portal as applied to federal wildland firefighters is
very simple and basic. If you are dispatched to an emergency incident that
exceeds 24 hours, you are paid for all hours on the assignment whether you are
on the line, eating, sleeping etc.
Much of the debate around portal to portal for federal wildland firefighters
from the firefighter's perspective can be found in language from the Office of
Personnel Management which, in simplified terms, says that if you are bound to a
location in an official capacity and cannot utilize your "free time" as you
would normally be able to (for instance being in a fire camp in a remote area of
the country for up to 2 weeks or more) than such time is compensable under FLSA.
Portal to portal for federal wildland firefighters would not provide true pay
parity for federal wildland firefighters with those non-federal resources that
make significantly more. However, knowing that you would be compensated using
the same methodology as everyone else on the assignment would be a huge benefit
to the retention problems facing the federal agencies. The obvious frustration
among federal firefighters, especially in the West is that their employer is
paying others for a full 24 hours plus additional costs while taking their own
employees off the clock, usually putting them in the dirt or in tents, while
many non-federal firefighters are housed in better accommodations.
These are facts. There is no disrespect towards the non-federal resources, but
we simply feel that the concept of equal pay for equal work, at least in the
methodology of compensation is way overdue in the federal sector.
Returned home from another assignment and an update for all:
Ryan was fully cleared to full duty by the burn center in San Francisco on
7/11 after suffering second degree burns to both feet on 6/4 at the Jungle
Fire in Arizona. He returned to the crew on 7/12 at the Ukonom Complex in
Northern California in good spirits and ready to work. We returned home on
7/23 and he is showing no after effects or issues with his injuries after
working a number of demanding fire shifts in very difficult terrain.
All-in-all, no major issues were encountered during his recovery or his
treatment. Thanks for the assistance from everyone who helped out Ryan and
the crew during this event. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you
see fit to close this loop.
Superintendent, Diamond Mountain IHC
Good news. Ab.
Some nice photos of lightning, the first monsoon show near Phoenix AZ on June
6, 2008. Mark G is the photographer. Also a pic of the Ethan Fire near Phoenix
after "another good afternoon run in the riverbed" around the same time.
photo page. Ab.
Info on Ellreese -- Jimbo
Subject: Fw: Character Reference - Ellreese Daniels - Letters of Support
Group - Here's a way to help Ellreese with a character reference letter.
Individually or as a group. __________________________
I just read that Judge Van Sickle will sentence Ellreese Daniels on August18,
2008. Before sentencing Ellreese, the families of the Thirtymile victims will
speak publically in court to the judge. It was brought to my attention that
character reference/letters in support of Ellreese may be sent to the judge
beforehand for him to also consider in determining Ellreese's sentence. Jail
time is a possibility. Although the good thing is the felony charges were
dropped by the plea bargain agreement; by not having a trial it also limits the
amount of information Judge Van Sickle has to consider when determining
If you would like to submit a letter in support of Ellreese for the judge's
consideration, you can send it via Ellreese's attorney Tina Hunt at: Tina_ Hunt
(at sign) fd. org (take out spaces and add appropriate symbol)
I know Ellreese would be very appreciative of our support for him at this
critical time. Please feel free to send this message to others who have worked
with Ellreese or have knowledge of the strange twist in the Thirtymile fire
hey ab, here are some pics of the larson fire near coleville Ca. June of 07; and
two helo filling pics on the sleeping elephant fire from July of last year! mike
Thanks, I put them on the
Helicopters 24 photo pages. Also posted a logo of the Fuego Tech Rangers off
the Angeles sent in by Anthony. It's on
Logos 14. Ab.
Process predicament?... or adding more to the plates of already overtaxed Area
Commanders, Type 1 ICs, and Type 2 ICs..... Noname
From NIFC FTP Site:
North Ops - Strategic Planning - Volume #1
Boise NIMO: June 22 - July 10, 2008
135 pp. - 3.1 MB PDF File
North Ops - Strategic Planning - Volume #2
Phoenix NIMO: July 10-21, 2008
149 pp. - 30.3 MB DOC File
Boise NIMO: The National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) Boise
Incident Management Team (IMT) was asked to develop concepts, review processes
and assist Northern California Operations (North Ops) and the NorCal
Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group with providing support and coordination to
the incidents in northern California. Included within the attached report are
the project documents that support the following recommendations;
• Establish a 'Theater or Zone of Operations' management organization concept to
the extent possible.
• Establish and staff an aviation operations officer to handle the allocation
and reallocation of critical air resources from the GACC level.
• Implement the resource allocation / reallocation and 'Force Multiplier'
• Implement the Fire Suppression Rehabilitation Strategy.
• Continue to use the Key Decision Log to capture critical decisions,
recommendations and thoughts.
• Develop, in consultation with the Line Officer Team in R-5, and implement a
mop-up strategy to ensure the incidents are not being required to implement
mopup standards that would engage fire suppression resources needed at other
• Continue to utilize the ESF4 Lead, Cal-Fire, Phoenix Fire Department AHIMT and
FEMA personnel to support and coordinate the ordering, in processing and support
of the ESF4 resources.
• After the fire season ends, establish an interagency task force to review and
update, based on lessons learned, the established processes and procedures that
Phoenix NIMO: "The purpose of this Strategic Planning document is to
build upon the products and processes that the Boise NIMO had initiated and
implemented from June 22 to July 10, which is summarized in Operational Support:
Strategic Planning, Volume 1."
Let's remember it's not just state and feds here- the county and local folks can
also get portal to portal and in CA that's a looooooong list:
Sac Metro, Kern Co, LA Co, San Bernardino Co, SD City, Ventura Co, LA City,
By the way... any reason a DPRO position is still considered "mission critical"
in this day and age and a GISS is not? Thought that was an interesting omission
from the 2008 matrix that FS gal did such an awesome job on. Many IMTs now carry
GISS. Now don't get me wrong I <heart> the DPROs and always want one on my
fires, but c'mon people it's been 2 years- GISS is an ICS position not Tech Spec
and if you order a GIST it'll be UTFed forever (since it no longer exists).
Anyways if any of you fire people are going to be at the ESRI conference let me
know and we'll grab a beer (yes, Fire Geek you are already sharpied in).
Here are some photos of the Corral Fire on the California LMU. These were
taken when my engine was called to aid CALFIRE due to major spotting on 6/28/08.
That afternoon the fire had a thunder cell blow over. The fire gained 5,000
acres in less than four hours. A lot of crews had to pull off the lines to
safety zones due to erratic fire conditions.
Thanks Russell. I put the photos of the plume on the
photo page. Photo of the firefighters on on the
photo page. Ab.
These pictures were taken of the Cold Springs Fire on July 12-13. This fire
is on the Mt Adams district side of the Gifford Pinchot NF. Pictures by Steph S.
'Clean Air Steph'. 4 of the photos show the bug killed timber that's fueling the
Thanks FireBill. Readers, the photos were sent in on 7/16. Rather amazing
perspective, from that of a hiker. I put them on the
Fires 37 photo page. Ab.
As far as I know, in R-6 (at least in Oregon) the only firefighters that are
normally being paid portal to portal, would be the county firefighters mobilized
under the states emergency conflagration system. If a strike team of Type-1
structure engines, from say Klamath Falls in Klamath County, gets ordered to
respond 2 hours north to the Bend area in Deschutes County for structure
protection, they are on portal to portal pay until they return home. It's
possible that there may also be some overhead positions occasionally being
filled using some of the county personnel that get portal to portal pay in R-6
too, but I can't confirm that.
Numbering engines (from the hotlist)
Old green and gray guy.
You are correct about the engine /pump unit model numbering and the main
difference between the Mod 50 and 51 was that the crew was out side on the
50 and was in side the truck cab on the mod 51 (a LOT warmer in cold
weather!) Pumps where pretty much the same on both and better compartments
on the 51.
Old LPF (not so old if DOI has people with a average age of 105?)
He's referring to the last spreadsheet looking at attrition of aging
firefighters in firefighting jobs by age (by
Sharon A-B, the WO
Risk Management/Human Performance
Training Specialist, posted on 7/22.) Ab.
Link below is to July 23, 2008 Texas Sit Report.
Its full of good info.
Calendar year 2008 to date:
1,380,599 acres burned.
181 homes lost
37 RFD firefighters burned or injured vs. 7 in 2006.
Limited moisture from Dolly but lots of wind.
(pdf file downloads)
Governors Executive order - Minimum wage
CAL FIRE will be exempt from this proposed cost savings measure as a public
safety agency. Really cant blame the Governor for trying to get the Legislature
off their @ss and get the budget passed. Unfortunate way to do it through the
employees. Why not cut the Legislatures pay! Hmmm
CAL FIRE Jake
re: grass isn't always greener on the CalFire side...
Anyone remember back in 1992 when the legislature failed to pass a budget
and state employees, including CDF, didn't get paid at all? I was on
helitack that year and the pilots threatened to get up and leave unless
somebody got them some water and gatorade, so the CDF employees, who
couldn't buy anything because their government cards didn't work and
weren't even getting paid at the time, reached into their wallets and got
them something to drink. I watched CDF'ers pull into gas stations and fill
up their engines using their own cards since the fleet cards didn't work.
But just like us feds who didn't get paid for a few weeks in December 1995,
the state employees will get paid eventually. That might not prevent some
of them from losing their homes, though.
portal to portal
You said firefighters outside of R-5 getting portal to portal may
be in the minority. I think that is probably the understatement of the
year. Who besides Cal Fire gets portal to portal? Does any one
outside of R-5 get portal to portal? Maybe the posters to this forum
could let us all know, outside of Cal Fire, who is getting portal to
portal and where are they based. Portal to Portal became an issue
with some of the feds right after the 1988 season after the experience
with them in Yellowstone. 1988, we have made a lot of progress
Currently Team 9 is transitioning to Team 5 on the BTU cplx
Team 10 is on the SHU cplx
Team 7 is on call for the Northern Region
Team 8 is on normal call for the South
Teams and ICs
Team 1 ?
Team 2 Bob Wallen
Team 3 George Morris
Team 4 Joe Waterman
Team 5 Tim Streblow
Team 6 Bill Hodson
Team 7 Dale Hutchinson
Team 8 Phill Veneris
Team 9 Rick Hutchison
Team 10 Pat Kerschen
Wow lots of great discussion on old engines.
Several questions about models. R-5 FS model numbers were originally 10, 20,
30, 40, 50 and 60 with intermingled models based on improvements to the rigs
over the years. For example the Model 50 was built on 1 1/2 ton flat beds and
was an outgrowth of the old green hornets, hence the new designation for the 51
when it made its appearance in the late 60s early 70s.
The Model 56/58 versions made their first appearance in about 1956 and were
part of the first Green and Gray rigs. The FS converted from the deep forest
green to the light green and gray paint scheme in 1956 finally going all light
green in 1976. The Union County rig pictured is a beauty and is a 56/58 model.
The difference was that the 56 did not have the auxiliary and midship pumps as
the 58 did.
Last I heard about old 6006 was that after it was taken out of service, it
was slated to be cannibalized for the body to go into the recycle of bodies for
the M-61. I am not sure this ever happened as that recycle program died about
the same time.
Someone ask about CDF numbering system though I am not 100% positive on it
but they have for the most part have done a sequencing of numbers for their
models beginning with the model one. They actually had a model 4 which was
similar yet smaller version of the model 1 however it was a shorter wheel base
smaller tanked and 4X4. Fire geek I did see the book you referenced and its a
interesting read that is for sure.
"old green and gray guy"
The grass isn't always greener on the CALFIRE side of the fence.... ST
Schwarzenegger plans to slash state workers' pay till budget passes
About 200,000 employees would get the federal minimum wage, saving California
roughly $1 billion a month. They would receive their back pay after a spending
plan is enacted.
By Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
5:04 PM PDT, July 23, 2008
Sacramento -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning to cut the pay of about
200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour until a
budget is signed, according to a draft of the governor's order obtained by The
Administration officials said Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the order early
next week as part of an effort to avert a cash crisis. The controversial move,
likely to be challenged in court by public-employee unions, would save the state
about $1 billion a month, the officials said.
Workers would be repaid their lost earnings once a budget was in place.
The order also calls for the state to immediately lay off 19,000 part-time
workers, stop overtime payments for almost all employees and cease all hiring
until a budget is enacted. The deadline for passing a budget was July 1, and
without one California may be unable to borrow billions of dollars needed to
keep the state solvent.
"Because the Legislature has failed to pass a budget and our state does not have
a rainy-day fund, this is one of a number of options we are considering to make
sure we have sufficient cash to cover our costs," said administration spokesman
Text of the order is at the link...
fair use disclaimer
Thefts from working firefighters
There are bad things happening to some firefighters who were working in
Northern California on the big fires.
I thought a little exposure might be warranted to warn others what can happen
not only there, but anywhere we go. I have been guilty of too much trust in
areas like this, but fortunately without these results.
It might even be worth a thread to see if it is wide spread, or hopefully remote
One of many
one email of a young firefighter whose truck was broken into and nomex,
sweatshirt, leatherman etc stolen
one email about a firefighter that had nomex stolen from the washer at a
>From a Federal firefighter to another.. my suggestion to those who are GS
5-6 and are thinking about starting a family... it is Simple. Don't start until
you can afford it, the Govt is not obligated to support your family, you are,
they are only responsible for paying you a wage...
"Frankly a GS-08 isn't even a wage that is a starting level for most federal law
enforcement outfits and somehow I wonder why my job is considered "less
valuable" by HR. I realize much to my chagrin that a GS-08 is probably above
average in this man's army and I wonder how many 5's and 6's have families to
Your post brings back some old memories. I was on the Ord fire in Punkin
Center on the Tonto NF in 1976. It was 115 degrees the day we got there,
had a couple shifts of pretty good hotline. I remember most of the main
road up through the Tonto basin was dirt then, it has long since been
paved. I was on the El Cariso Hotshots back then. The same year, we were on
the "Unknown Fire" on the Angeles. Last of November and the first few days
of December. It was the coldest fire I've ever been on in 34 fire seasons.
Someone said it was 9 below zero at 8,000 feet and the Santa Ana's were
blowing 60 plus. We had a few mile hike in from Little Jimmy campground.
The wind was blowing headlamps off of our hardhats and a chin strap was a
must if you wanted to keep your hard hat on your head. I had an icicle
hanging off of my hair from sweat by the time we got to the fire. Canteens
were freezing. It was steeper than h*ll too, like all Angeles fires.
Reality Check, who posts here often, was on the crew too. He still says it
was the coldest he's ever been in his life. And remember the engine sirens
used to wake us up at 0430 hours back then, and some guy'd be on the PA
telling everybody to wake up. Probably get a complaint filed on em
We also had a fire up Lytle Creek too that year. And I also remember some
the "dreams" we used to have with engine antics. Lots of good years back
Maybe it should be a "Name Dick's New Engine" contest. Heh, I'm sure he and
would love that. Better his than mine! I'd probably pump it dry and wreck it by
Now I AM attached to my John Deere, even have a wheelie knob and a little
with PPE. Feel free to name that! Heh.
Just as firefighters become emotionally attached to their rigs, a
lot of pilots are attached to their aircraft in the same manner. We give them
names befitting of their unique personalities and handling. Most are decent,
however I remember a few birds back in the 70's with names not fit to print
here...and for good reason. Why is it they never scrap the bad ones?
Keep pluggin everyone, we're all in this together!
I believe the GS 5/6 developmental program Green legs and ham is referring to is
a new one. You start as a 5 and get a 6 once you complete the program. It
consists of an additional 4 week academy "GS-6 Academy" on top of both
apprenticeship academies, as well as an additional 980 work process hours NOT
associated with the apprenticeship hours (so apprenticeship hours don't count
towards the GS-6 work process hours). It breaks down to 480 hours of fire
suppression (split between at least two areas of fire) 400 hours of fuels
management (240 must be on fire use of prescribed fire projects), 40 hours of
Dispatch, 40 hours of Prevention and 20 hours of Review Local Plans. Again,
hours gained through the apprenticeship program are not transferrable to this
program. All this is to be completed within a year, not to exceed 18 months.
I guess the idea is to get firefighters (sorry, forestry technicians) experience
working in these areas at a higher level (Senior Firefighter) instead of just
your run of the mill GS-4. The idea behind it is a good one I think, but the
problem is for those who have already finished the Apprenticeship program and
now have to vacate the driving position on the engine, leaving an engine
unstaffed, so that they can go complete these hours. I think it was just thrown
together and not fully thought through. Again, the idea behind it is great, more
training and more experience. But they need to make allowances for those who are
new GS 5/6
Consider a “Name Mellie’s New Engine” contest! A 1949 rig in that good condition
deserves a fitting name. Maybe an acronym like the North Lake Tahoe Fire
District’s wildland engine, “BUBBA” (Big Ugly Brush Bashing Apparatus).
OK, Fire Geek, Foam Geek, Pyro, Hotshot75, Berdo, no slack, "old green and grey
guy" et al,
I have to share a photo of our newest non-fed "grand damme" (said
with the correct hoity toity inflection).
Foam Geek, are you THE ORIGINAL Foam Geek?
Was it you I heard devised a way to fill three 100'lengths of coupled 4"
diameter structural fire hose with compressed air foam inflating it much
like a balloon. Then capping off one end when it was filled and reducing
the other end of it down to 1.5 " or 1" with a handled ball shutoff
valve? You found it actually contained enough stored energy to protect a
structure for at least 20 minutes with just the compressed air foam
squeezed into the hose. Hmmm, lessons for today? Is it not true that if
you placed one of these hoselays at each house in a subdivision and just
left one CAFS-equipped water tender to just drive around to periodically
keep the lines charged, it wouldn't require a Type I engine to be parked
in every driveway. All you'd really need is a task force of one handcrew
and a water tender to protect subdivisions? Ah, the fantastic but
do-able ideas forward thinkers come up with that could make a real
difference... And what was the year???
1949 International: While not fed service, here's "our" engine at our
place on the Iron Cplx. Mellie says, "I'm not yet attached to her (the engine)
although she's classic and functional... She's very new to our family. However,
check out our
New River Gorge FOBS; people are clearly a different story." Photos
compliments of RPE. (0708)
I put it on the
Engines 20 photo page and the Fire Behavior Observer on the
photo page. Ab.
Nor Cal Lightning Complex and other fire costs and locations as of July 23,
and summary of personnel/resources.
Response to Just Wondering's post below
Thanks, contributor.... Comments? Ab.
First off... Hi! Thanks for the additional info on the ftp site- didn't realize
the system was slowing at peaks. I would like to provide one statement of
encouragement which is, I personally think that the news media grabbing official
perimeters should be considered "part of the incident". On the last couple of
fires (way back 2+ years ago) I worked, we started posting perimeters for media
to use in their graphics alongside stories. I saved a few of those which I keep
with the official incident maps I made.
I have seen the fear in the public during the 2007 firestorms when they don't
know where the fire is and all they have are rumors. Knowledge is power and if
we can get the media to distribute official information in a timely manner it
greatly reduces the tension and fear in the public- during the fires I was
mapping stuff for the affected folks in my office using the publically available
data and it helped a ton.
I've got 4 kids visiting this weekend who all work at Google- I'll ask the boys
(kid brother & friends) if they have any contacts and see if I can find someone
to talk to about posting perimeters....
Not in the game but still care,
portal to portal
I cant say that agree with one contributors assertion that
portal to portal firefighters are "in the minority". Having just demobbed from
SHU Lightning Complex that I have been blessed and or cursed to have been on for
18 days I can honestly say that the enormity of Cal Fire was staggering. This
agency seems to get incrementally bigger by the season and now plans are in the
works for them to possible envelope Governor Ahnold's OES or Office of Emergency
Services which is almost as a staggering an All Risk labor force as Cal Fire.
Federal and contract workers spent nights sleeping in the fairgrounds in
Anderson, CA while Monster Trucks Rallies, freight train whistle blowing,
generators and floodlights, passersby and street traffic kept camp occupants
from getting any real rest while the Cal Fire guys showed up each morning for
briefing well rested and restaurant fed, not to mention well paid.
Although far from getting "boned" and receiving 16 hour days from the division(s)
each shift I realized after speaking to one friendly chap from Cal Fire, that
their gig is really a beneficial one and many federal firefighters have made the
transition to a better paid, better benefit source. I can only wonder how long
the federal powers that be will continue to classify me as a "Range or Forestry
Tech" instead of a firefighter when that's all I do and continue to refuse to
pay me while I am in camp or duty station, away from my family and suffering
less than perfect rest conditions while expecting me NOT to have a couple of
beers on what they carefully call "MY OWN TIME" while reserving the right to
infringe upon it as soon as it becomes a liability to them.
Frankly a GS-08 isn't even a wage that is a starting level for most federal law
enforcement outfits and somehow I wonder why my job is considered "less
valuable" by HR. I realize much to my chagrin that a GS-08 is probably above
average in this man's army and I wonder how many 5's and 6's have families to
Outside of CA, firefighters that are operating under portal to portal pay
may be in a minority. Ab.
green legs and ham,
I sympathize with the staffing problems you are having on the CNF but if the
"developmental program" you are referring to is the apprenticeship academy, I
think its important to consider the positive impact cross training on a helitack
crew and hotshot crew has on the overall firefighter, even if that firefighter
ends up choosing to staff an engine after completion of their training. Speaking
as someone who attended that academy, my working knowledge of the capabilities
and limitations of those modules was greatly enhanced by the design of the
program and the cross training it emphasized. Its important not to allow an
agency's self-created staffing issues to overshadow the need for the proper
training of future fire managers.
Having spent some time in " Fire Hire Jail" I will do my best to address
some of your questions/concerns.
1. What forest(s) gets the joy of trying to qualify and train the
candidates who FireHire attendees were mandated to hire/promote?
directed to hire down to the Level 3 candidates, if there were no
Level 1 or Level 2 candidates available. Most forests probably made offers to
some Level 3 candidates, but I don't know how many were actually hired. On my
forest we did make recommendations to hire a few Level 3's who were later
disqualified during the HR process. We were not required to look at any Level
2. Who will train/qualify these employees while we're in the initial
stages of a stunning season start? Some FMOs are reporting that many will
not be on board until the end of the season.
Good question, and one that was asked frequently during the hiring process.
This was particularly noticeable at the GS6 and GS5/6 Developmental positions.
The Developmental Plan puts a huge burden on the forests to get these
people trained, and it may affect some apprentices when they are pushed
back in their training to accommodate the developmental AFEOs.
3. For those promoted to the GS-6 through GS-9 positions, their
obviously created a vacancy at a lower grade. So how do promotions lessen
the actual number of vacancies? Maybe that's why I didn't do so well in Math.
As vacancies occurred backfill lists were created and jobs were filled down
the 5/6 developmentals. So really the vacancies still exist but they are now
at the Apprentice Level, which aren't being counted. There were some hires from
the outside, but most of the hiring was internal. I think you do math just fine,
was all "sleight of hand".
4. Big question: What is the region going to do to KEEP these
There's the Million Dollar Question! As far as we could tell, not much. The
incentive I could see was the Apprentice upgrade from GS4 to GS5, and it was
poorly advertised or understood. It is a good thing for the apprentice who has
in grade as a GS4 because it really becomes a payraise for them.
5. 190 vacancies as of July 17 does not equate to Mr. Rey's assurance that
all funded positions would be staffed.
Hear, hear! We are no better off then we were April 1st. If anything we are
further behind. I think the Forest Service is going to suffer some serious
pains while these newly promoted personnel learn their positions. There is a
of depth in experience that wasn't there during MEL hiring.
Sign me, " An escapee from Fire Hire"
One last engine trivia question
Do you see what I mean about firefighters becoming emotionally attached to their
engines? All of these recent posts reek of the special bond formed between man
and machine. Foam Geek describes how his rig was bigger, badder and more
powerful than all the others. Pyro assigns gender traits and referred to the
prototype Model 60 as "the old girl". I'll admit to almost feeling a little
teary eyed when I saw the famous Model 60 last year at Hole-in-the-Wall being
meticulously restored to "her" former self. The last Model 51 to go out of
service in R5 was on the Modoc. The crew affectionately referred to it as
"Christine - a Fire's Worst Nightmare" and even had a custom sign mounted on the
rear which displayed that warning.
One thing I've always wanted to know (IMWTK)
is what is the process to designation a particular engine model #? I was the
Park Service representative on the R5 mobile equipment committee when the Model
62 design was being discussed. Did you see that ugly Ford 4 X 4 with the jacked
up Marmon Harrighton suspension and the bumper-mounted headlights in this
www.wildlandfire.com/pics/eng20/nps60-61-62.jpg. After I left the committee
the 4WD Model 62 was built on an International chassis and became much more
practical with a lower center of gravity. You no longer had to be a 5.7 lead
climber to get into the thing. It made sense to designate it the Model 62
because the former production engine was the Model 61; before that was the Model
60. I've seen pictures of Model 50's, 51's and 52's. Was there ever a Model 53
or did they jump straight to the Model 60 series? There are plenty of Model 14's
out there now. Does that imply the predecessor was the Model 13?
Maybe someone from the Davis Equipment shop can answer this question. Is it
true that the CDF Model 5 was named because it was a 4WD version of the Model 1
and 4 + 1 = Model 5?
Interesting National Facts:
-- As of 07/23, 53,288 fires have burned 3,393,404 acres.
-- The 10-year average is 50,016 fires for 3,343,466 acres.
So why?. If wildland fire suppression is funded based upon the 10-year moving
average. Wouldn't it be safe to assume that we are well within the appropriate
funding that Mark Rey defended in the FY 2008 budget request for fire
preparedness and fire suppression?
To paraphrase Mr. Rey, 'we are able to
reduce costs through increased management efficiencies, and by moving resources
to areas of need'.
/s/ Just Wondering
Re Los Padres housing and if it's coming to your forest:
JP Crumrine of the
Idyllwild Town Crier is looking for someone that can fill
him in on the Los Padres housing issue. He's a reliable and eloquent reporter.
If one of you from the LP would like to volunteer, I'm sure he'd keep you
anonymous if you wish. Ab.
To those who keep saying "everyone else" except "us" is getting paid to sleep,
and eat, I would like to clarify AGAIN, that the majority of fire fighters
(State, Contract, AD, etc) DO NOT get paid to eat or sleep. I am fortunate, my
state does compensate for meal periods (with some clarifications as to when the
meal period will/will not be compensated), but we certainly are not compensated
to sleep. So, dear federal fellow fire fighters PLEASE do not think you are in
the minority. Those who are paid Portal-to-Portal are in the minority.
Best wishes on your quest for portal-to-portal
I was fortunate enough to work on two Model 60 Engines on the Berdo, Sycamore
E-323 in 1976 and
Lytle Creek E-313 in 1977. Sycamore got more action than almost any other engine
on the forest
because it was not stuck in a canyon, we were right on I-15 and rolled to just
Got to go "off forest" to the Ord Fire at Pumpkin Center, Arizona. I got lucky
at Lytle Creek as
well when the Sycamore Boys Dean, Jerry, Wayne, and Dakman needed an extra warm
body to fill an
engine replacement crew order on the Hog Fire at Forks of The Salmon on the
Lytle Creek Foreman was Bill "Spud" Mason and Ray "Sauce" Sauceda was our
Driver. What a grand time
we had busting fires and rolling in the 60's Of curse things were quite
different then. I seem to
remember Spud shooting at coyotes with his .357 out the 60's passenger window
one night heading
back to the station after a beer run to the Lytle Creek Store. But that may just
have been a dream,
Thanks Old Fire Geek, JM and all and for reminding me of those old rigs and the
guys who ran them
and me into the ground.
The USDA Forest Service Grass Valley Fire
Report 2 are out and posted on the
San Bernardino Sun
Website with photos... Hotlist thread
Couple of photos on
Fires 37 of the columns of the CA-SRF-Hells Half and CA-SHF-Cedar that got
active in the wind event today. Ab.
With all this discussion about the Model 60 I remembered the first wildland fire
engine I ever worked on. It was I believe a Model 59 that was loaned to the
Union County Fire Department in Blairsville, Georgia. The engine came from the
Chattahoochee National Forest in Region 8 via the Georgia Forestry Commission.
The engine had served most if not all of its career on the Brasstown Ranger
District of Chattahoochee NF from 1959 to 1981. When the fire department took
delivery of the engine it only had around 14,000 miles on it. I remember
responding to many a fire setting in the open air jump seat behind the cab with
the old growler siren clearing a path. The old engine would out pump and out
climb any of our new structure engines at the time. Attached is a picture of the
engine in the local parade shortly after a fresh coat of paint. It has since
been taken out of service (1989) and parked behind the old fire station and
allowed to rust away.
Thanks, Foam Geek. I put it on the
Engines 20 photo page. Ab.
FireGeek, "old green & grey guy";
I had the honor and pleasure of driving 6006, as AFEO, out of LP(N)F's Temescal
Station (E- 53), Ojai District, in... '81 (I think), for Steve (Wrecker) Decker
and Desmond (Dizzy) Warren (FEO). Had a great crew, too; all ex- 'shots (where
Don't know what happened to the old girl, but the next season, we had a year-
on a GMC chassis with a diesel/ automatic (and head- to- toe green), that really
us wish we had '06 back. Not a bad engine, but not our old sweetheart.
Gotta picture in the album that I'll send in, as soon as I can figure out how...
the old "broom handle" valve handles and mystery- box more than the computer
I worked a summer on the Tahoe (White Cloud) in '95 and we had an old
Model 60, a '71 or '72 if I remember correctly. That would have made it
about 23 years old and still in front line service. I believe it had been
up from SZ the previous season to replace one of the small engines that were
popular on the Tahoe back then. Great performing engine, although that dual
exhaust was sure loud! Especially when one pipe broke just prior to the
muffler while en route to the Angeles. Haha.... How long they last is a direct
reflection on the crews using them every day...
old fire trucks, re: Engine 12 (Sycamore)
I had the of pleasure being the
first foreman (captain) on that engine in 1958. It was the first light green
truck put in service in south zone, or so I was told. The auxiliary pump was a
four cylinder Crosley engine. The truck a four wheel drive International, and
could really haul buns on the hi-way. The station is still in same location, but
has been changed somewhat. I spent the years 59-62 with the Del Rosa hot shots
then moved on to the L.A. County camps programs. I retired in 1992. I still do
some training with the County Camps. I can't imagine doing any other fire
fighting job but wildland. Everybody be safe out there.
To: One Last Try and Sick of Whiners.
Personally, I dislike when people use
the phrase, "if you don't like it,
go somewhere else." That phrase is childish,,, and incidentally, is the
definition of "Whiner" in Webster's Dictionary. I know you didn't say
those words verbatim,, Sick of Whiners,, but I think that is what you were
implying. Why would you say that to someone? One Last Try just wants to
work for an organization that sees his efforts and acknowledges them. What
he, and quite frankly, the rest of us see, is an organization that pays
everyone else, for sleeping and eating, but decides doing that for their
own, is completely out of the question.
Funny story, I got a call yesterday from a fellow employee that switched
from the SHU Complex, (CalFire managed), to the Lime Complex, (Fed
Managed). He told me that they were getting 16's with CalFire and now are
getting 12's-14's. Even Cal-Fire sees that the Feds are,,, for lack of a
better term, getting screwed.
Is it to much to ask that we get compensated for leaving our wives and
kids to fend for themselves while Daddy tries to make an honest living?
Even if you are not married or have kids, we should still be compensated for
what we do and I don't think that mandatory 16's while we are away on a
fire assignment is asking too awful much!!! H*ll, I wouldn't care about
Portal to Portal if I knew that I was getting 16 hours a day for 14 days.
Furthermore, when people go out as TFLD, ENGB, STLD, etc.,, Single Resource
Stuff,,, Shouldn't they be compensated over and above their normal pay?
For example, if a fire engine engineer (non-supervisory), goes out as
STLD (Supervisory), shouldn't that person see some sort of elevated pay
while they are performing as STLD? The answer is Yes! To tell One Last
Try, to stop, as you say, quibbling over it, is very egotistical of you.
This job is our livelihood, man! This is how we feed our families!! So,
again, why can't we strive to improve???
I didn't see One Last Try's post as "Whining". I saw it as a form of
P.S. I also am an FWFSA member as well as a Steward for the NFFE.
So, I have several questions. Based on the conflicting information from
Mark Rey about staffing in R5, as well as the report that just came out
from Region 5 corroborating his report and all the information from the
ground level forces in R5 saying that Mr. Rey's report were outright lies;
what is the truth? Who is it that is lying? Do both sides want to be
right at the expense of the truth? If that is the case, maybe we redefine
"Integrity" on the leadership website to accurately reflect what the
agency's actions stand for.
Confused and desiring honesty
CALL FOR R5 FOREST FIRE STAFFING DATA
MNF (today's figures)
Engs not staffed = 3
Engs not 7 day staffed = 4
W/T not staffed = 1
W/T not 7 day staffed = 3
Dozers not staffed = 0
Fire Prevention not staffed - 2
Thread on the hotlist is here, or sent the info in and I'll post it. Ab.
Circulating behind the scenes with the message below. Since Sharon did not
send this, I clipped her name, leaving initials. Rather amazing data set. Why
not have a push for retention? Ab.
This might interest you all - JS
This is the spreadsheet that we put together to provide to the OIG on their
"Firefighter Succession Planning" audit. No surprise, we have an aging
workforce. There was so much data in some of the positions, that cleansing
it was taking too much time, so I just went with the average age for
trainees in the position (all of the lower level Operations and Air
Operations positions for the Forest Service).
(See attached file:
2008_May_Average Age Years to Cert Spreadsheet.xls)
(211 K excel .xls file)
A couple of keys to the "TB/EXP" on "average time to certify in position"
column: I took the entry level course/competency for that position and ran
a report on the average amount of time it takes to become certified in that
position. So, for all of the operations, planning, air operations,
positions I utilized S-130 as the starting point and ran the average time
it takes between completion of that course and certification as a Division
Sup, Ops Chief, etc. For Finance, I utilized S-260; for Logistics I-100
(or the old I-220); Dispatch D-110, etc.
TB means there was data on the IQCS responder record of a position task
book certification, so the time was computed as the time from completion of
the initial course until certification of the position task book.
EXP means that there was no data on the responder's record of a position
task book certification, so the first experience record for the position,
shown as "qualified", appearing on the IQCS record was utilized to compute
the average time to certify in the position.
I think it would be interesting to run the reports and develop this
spreadsheet on a Geographic Area basis - if any of you are interested in
doing that, let me know and I'd be glad to help out.
Holler if you have any questions -
Risk Management/Human Performance
US Forest Service
Washington Office, Fire and Aviation
Call for R5 Forest Fire Staffing Information:
post from each Forest on how many of the following are not staffed or not
staffed 7 day staffed would be helpful.
Engs not staffed = ?
Engs not 7 day staffed = ?
W/T not staffed = ?
W/T not 7 day staffed = ?
Dozers not staffed = ?
Fire Prevention not staffed - ?
Crews and helicopters are probably doing OK, however any issues should be
Great Lessons Learned: Elkhorn2 FLA and Escape Review Report from behind the
Hotlist thread with links
Message that accompanied the report:
Attached is a "Hybrid-FLA".
The techniques of an FLA were used for Lessons Learned but the report also
meets the specific policy requirements of an Rx escape review.
We included a Human Factors section as well.
Thanks to all those involved in the burn for being open, honest & willing
to share how they were making sense of, and then trying to manage, a very
They represent the best of the Forest Service!
Old fire engines never die
"old green and gray guy"
If you don’t have it already, you would appreciate
this book about wildland fire apparatus from 1940 – 2001. It has a lot of
great photos of Forest Service rigs.
I stopped by the San Dimas Technology Development Center shortly after we
acquired the Model 60. It was marked as E-47 (City Creek station). Berdo is
really dating himself if he knew it as E-12 (Sycamore). I was able to obtain the
engineers drawings for it from Dan McKenzie and I recall that he mentioned it
was the first production model placed in service. Whatever became of the LPF
prototype? I would be interested to know (IMWTK) what is the oldest wildland
fire engine still in service in the Federal agencies? Not to place less
importance on the R6 contractors or the volunteer depts. I’ve seen some pretty
old engines in pristine condition (1965 Dodge Power Wagons) from those folks.
But I have a theory that old fire engines never die, they’re just swapped
around and get a new coat of paint . For example, the Joshua Tree Model 61 in
www.wildlandfire.com/pics/eng20/nps60-61-62.jpg was one of the first of four
Model 61’s the Park Service purchased on Forest Service contract in 1990. Two of
them went to Yosemite and the last one was assigned to Sequoia National Park.
The Sequoia engine was used last year at the Mojave National Preserve until
their replacement Model 14 arrived. The Joshua Tree engine was transferred to
the Fish and Wildlife Service and is still in use. See attached photo. That
would put it as going on its 18th year of fire response; a long ways to go to
catch up to the famous Model 60 that was still listed in the 2003 FICC area
dispatch plan as reserve Engine 3633. 33 years after the San Bernardino
NF placed it in service!
Old E-1, 18 years in service -- on the
Engines 20 photo page. Ab.
The WFDSS Map you got is just a planning tool. What is shows is the
probability of fires getting to a certain point. One of the assumptions
built into this model is no suppression action, so it's not real, just
something to plan by. The legend shows the probability bands............
What I use is something like to 40-60% probability to determine worse case,
for developing a WFSA. Also this is an old map, from 6/29. Many of the
fires represented have been contained at this point, so the map really
isn't valid anymore. It was probably a good planning tool the day it was
made, but no longer.
Does anyone know where to find information of CalFire Incident Management Teams?
Who are the current ICs and what is the makeup of the teams? How many teams are
Staffing levels since "Fire-Hire"
Once again the fabricated number start..... Our district alone on the
is missing 6 employees out of 21..... giving us staffing at 71%..... not the 96%
out by the R.O.....and that's just one district out of seven...... I wonder who
this stuff up?????
Former NPS Cap'n
If I didn't know better, I'd say the retention document you posted was a
spoof. The footer is just bizarre for a briefing paper supposedly touting
the agency's hiring efforts - "Feasibility Analysis - Fire Protection
Contracting in Southern California (DRAFT) February 8, 2008 Page 1 of 1"
Are we really expected to believe that the Forest Service is sincere about
retaining a quality fire program staff, when they're also trying to contract
out the whole show? Somebody in the administration is earning Brownie
points for doing a heckuva job.
I can only speak for one district on the CNF but....... There is currently one
Engine Module who is staffed only 5 days, they only have six personnel (The AFEO
is not a Class B driver, and they lost an apprentice to the Hotshots).
Two other Engine Modules lost a GS-5 to BDF, and the other an apprentice to the
LP, now they have only 6 personnel each.
The hotshots lost a GS-5 to CAL fire, now they are scrambling to fill, at least,
that spot with an apprentice... also, two "developmental AFEOs" were picked up
and they need to do work process hours with either helitack or hotshots; by
doing this developmental time their engines will have no drivers 4 days per week
(engineer and captain taking days off because the forest won't allow O.T.).
Don't forget about the required Dispatch and Prevention time they need to do....
These two individuals just completed their apprenticeship and also detailed in
the past as an AFEO and yet they are still required to complete work process
hours on helitack/hotshots. I thought if you would apply for an AFEO spot you
would stay an AFEO and not jump around to other areas? If they wanted the 5/6
spot on a crew then that's what they would apply for? What a great way to
unstaff engines by doing this so called developmental program!!
green legs and ham
Retired com guy,
I think it was a slip. They probably used a canned briefing paper from last
winter. Good grief.
R-5 did some work this past winter on turning protection responsibility over in
So Cal. What I heard was they decided not to release it. Reason why, who knows.
However they probably felt that it might violate FY 08 spending legislation, too
expensive, many fire cooperators want the Feds to stay in and even increase
capability, not get out. Also the eco organizations would never accept it.
In addition to checking the accuracy of vacancies in the briefing paper. One
post from each Forest on how many of the following are not staffed or not
staffed 7 day staffed would be helpful.
Engs not staffed = ?
Engs not 7 day staffed = ?
W/T not staffed = ?
W/T not 7 day staffed = ?
Dozers not staffed = ?
Fire Prevention not staffed - ?
Crews and helicopters are probably doing OK, however any issues should be
I agree, I think it was a slip. Early February was the time when the
"secret meetings with CalFire" were supposed to occur to explore the possibility
of the state taking over socal firefighting. Someone simply didn't clear the
document footer before beginning the new current talking points. Ab.
What's the deal with the footer on the RO5 Fire Hire letter posted 7/21?
"Feasibility Analysis -- Fire Protection Contracting in Southern
California (DRAFT) February 8, 2008
Page 1 of 1"
Was this a RO slip to make folks think they may fall the way of A-76 if they
keep telling the truth, well in some of the WO and RO folks eyes, complaining?
retired com guy
I got this map of places the modelers expect to burn in an email.
Maybe I'm interpreting this wrong. Anyone know what this kind of
(smaller version 300 K jpg file)
It links to here:
3 cheers for the R5 hiring & recruitment efforts!!!
A few things missing from the "spun" briefing paper.
What forest(s) gets the joy of trying to qualify and train the "level 4"
candidates who FireHire attendees were mandated to hire/promote?
Who will train/qualify these employees while we're in the initial stages of a
stunning season start? Some FMOs are reporting that many will not be on board
until the end of the season.
For those promoted to the GS-6 through GS-9 positions, their promotions
obviously created a vacancy at a lower grade. So how do promotions lessen the
actual number of vacancies? Maybe that's why I didn't do so well in Math.
Big question: What is the region going to do to KEEP these employees?
190 vacancies as of July 17 does not equate to Mr. Rey's assurance that all
funded positions would be staffed.
I'm glad they threw out specific forest staffing levels to tout their
accomplishment. Hmm, some RDs still don't have the majority of their engines
I like the comment "These are critical leadership positions that will position
the Region to improve module availability." Could've used that availability
BEFORE the season started and who knows when those modules will be ready.
I'm sorry for the cynicism. This crisis management scares me and no doubt is a
cause why so many good folks continue to leave. This is simply a reaction caused
by a well-placed congressional boot. The Region would not have done a darn thing
had it not been for Senator Feinstein's mandates.
I hope those that were at the FireHire post their concerns here about the
directives they were given and I hope those that are in positions to train &
qualify these newly promoted & hired (is the Agency using those two terms
interchangeably?) speak up and explain how long it might take to actually get
these people ready to roll.
Can anyone from the BDF, CNF, LPF, SHF and Basin confirm the staffing
information contained in the briefing paper?
You'd think they would not misrepresent (I hate the word lie) the numbers
on something so "checkable". Ab.
Fire Geek has the info on the USFS/NPS rig 100% correct, except that it is not
the first ever model 60. Perhaps it is the first production model 60 as it is a
year or two newer than the original.
The first model 60 was delivered the spring of '68 to the Los Padres and
assigned to San Marcos Station on the Santa Barbara. This rig had an original
door number of 2062 with a pump number of 6006 as was the policy at the time in
R-5 it was later renumbered to door number 6006 when the Region eliminated the
dual number fiasco.
This prototype was a part of 4 prototype/evaluation engines purchased and
placed in service in '68. The other three were scattered out through out the
region, however they were not model 60s. One was an old traditional model 58
with a 345V8 5 speed tranny 2 speed axel and air brakes. This rig went to Oak
Grove on the Angeles. The other two were CDF heavys that were purchased as a
trial for R-5. They were the standard Model 1. One went to the Angeles at Oak
Flat Station where it replaced one of the two "Coke wagons" and then later to
Green Valley where it replaced the rig lost during the Elizabeth fire. The
second went to The McCloud District/Station on the Shasta Trinity.
I am just a history buff of old FS fire rigs, and was involved in the
equipment committees for many years.
"old green and gray guy"
Wanted to share this with you so you and the guys can see how much you all are
(Plumas HS Sister)
Haven't heard from my brother Steve since June 12.
It is a nice collection of pics. Ab.
Thank you for the feedback for the infrared program. I have passed it along to
folks that don't go to theysaid or are not wired at the moment. I have a couple
of corrections to make and a request.
GeoMAC is served out of USGS in Denver.
It is a public information site sponsored by NIFC. It gets its data from many
sources including the NIFC ftp site for perimeters, the Remote Sensing
Applications Center in Salt Lake for MODIS, the BLM for RAWS, etc. Combined with
their cartographic data, it is a powerful tool and should be the place to point
the public for information.
The NIFC ftp site is served out of USDA in Kansas City. Its role is for the
sharing of data between incidents and their data providers, each other, and all
the levels of command. It should NOT be used by the general public and lurkers.
It is managed by an interagency committee that keeps and eye on the usage and
addresses issues such as security. There are some really good arguments for and
against making this site unavailable to anonymous users. Band width is one of
them. There are some peak times when data is being posted and/or retrieved that
are causing the system to hang up or keep 'us' from getting our work done on
So here is my request: Please, only use the ftp site if you have an
incident-related need to do so. If you want to view the perimeters in context
with other features, use geomac.gov. Thank you so much.
Will do. Ab.
from the Ab mailbox:
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Region
Fire and Aviation Management
July 17, 2008
Topic: July Fire Hiring Results
The Region’s hiring and recruitment efforts continue to be successful and
have significantly decreased the number of firefighter vacancies.
The most recent round of hiring resulted in 297 positions at the GS-06
through GS-09 level filled. This reduced total firefighter vacancies from
380 on May 30, to 190 on July 17.
Significant gains were made at the GS-6, GS-8 and GS-9 levels, increasing
the Region’s staffing percentage nearly 10% at these levels. These are
critical leadership positions that will position the Region to improve
Every forest has increased their staffing percentages. Most notable
increases are on the San Bernardino NF (93% to 97%), the Los Padres NF (87%
to 96%), and the Shasta-Trinity NF (89% to 96%) Additionally, the Cleveland
NF and Lake Tahoe Basin now have 100% of their fire positions filled.
Currently, 95.6 percent of the region’s firefighting organization is
In any large organization it is impossible to attain “zero vacancies” due
to the constant shifting of employees as they promote, retire, or resign.
The Region 5 fire organization has more than 4,400 current employees.
During the past several years this level of readiness has resulted in a
greater than 95 percent initial attack success rate for stopping wildfires
while they remain small.
Current vacancies represent less than 5% of the total firefighting
organization for Region 5 and only 2.4% of the firefighting organization for
the four Southern California forests.
The Region has already begun the process for the next round of hiring,
which will focus upon entry level positions in the firefighter
By focusing the next round of hiring on entry level firefighters the
Region is ensuring that there will be firefighters ready to promote and fill
future vacancies as they occur.
Feasibility Analysis -- Fire Protection Contracting in
Southern California (DRAFT) February 8, 2008
Page 1 of 1
Berdo knows his wildfire movie trivia well. The first Model 60 engine that went
into service in R5 was delivered to the San Bernardino NF and served with
distinction for over 15 years. It was the first in engine during the Panorama
fire and responded to every major fire campaign up to and including the '88
Yellowstone fires. After that it was loaned to Steven Spielberg for the movie
"Always" which was filmed on the Kootenai National Forest. During the opening
scene where Richard Dreyfus is gliding his tanker toward the tanker base after
running out of fuel you can hear it responding code 3 across the tarmac as the
plane barely lands in one piece. It makes an appearance a total of nine times
throughout the film. Just look for the big front chrome bumper. I once saw a
publicity photo where Holly Hunter is sitting in it. The famous engine was
transferred to the Park Service shortly after and was used to start the fire
management program at Joshua Tree National Park. It was in great condition and
the old mastery box on the rear pump panel still worked. I've attached a picture
of it parked beside a Model 61 and a Model 62 taken in 1996. Perhaps Ab will add
it to the engine photo page to show what a long life span it's had. (Engines
20 photo page)
Sometimes when we were short staffed, the crew would let me drive it on initial
attack to local fires thus fulfilling my childhood fantasy. Yes I was qualified,
having been the only FMO to graduate from the 1990 South Zone Engine Academy (I
write proudly). Even with the new white paint job with red stripe, many BDF
firefighters would recognize the chrome bumper and share their fond memories
while assigned to it during its illustrious career when it was at the City Creek
and Sycamore stations. Isn't it funny how one can become emotionally attached to
a fire engine? Imagine my surprise when I witnessed it last year being restored
in the engine bay at the Mojave National Preserve Hole-in-the-Wall fire station.
It was like seeing an old friend you thought had died. It still starts on the
first try and idles smoothly.
As far as explaining the "Raging Sand Fire" phenomena, this forum may not be the
appropriate place to reveal the greatest hoax in the history of wildland fire
management. It might prove embarrassing to certain former Washington Office
bureaucrats if it were made known how gullible they once were. Ab can forward
any personal inquiries to me and I'll be glad to tell you all about it.
Original Fire Geek (OFG) (not to be confused with OFG, the Old Fire
Fire Geek, I put that explanation on the
IMWTK page. Did you ding the bumper? Ab.
This came out in last week's FS Today.
The Chief, the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), and now the National
Leadership Team (NLT) have initiated a series of activities:
First, senior leadership is undertaking a track of work that has aims to
produce a shift in the
core leadership alignment of the Agency. Leadership alignment is an
absolutely essential element in any change process, and is a critical first
step. Three streams of activities are being pursued:
1. ELT Leadership Development—to improve the quality and level of alignment,
communication, and strategic thinking in the ELT itself
2. NLT Restructuring—to create a refocused and smaller deliberative body
that is charged with decision-making and that focuses on key strategic
3. Extending Leadership Alignment—to improve the quality of communication,
reflection, and strategic alignment among Stations and Regional Leadership
Second is a focus on shifting the
quality of execution and coordinated action , particularly as it relates to
safety. One of the most important ways in which safety is impacted by
effective execution (or the lack of it) is in the relationship between the
Fire organization and Line leadership when managing a wildland fire. Within
this are four streams of activity:
1. Forming a Core Group Leaders – of senior line and fire leaders to provide
guidance and coordination around issues of operations, budget, and safety.
2. Mapping Behavioral Dynamics— to understand successes and failures in the
interaction between Fire and Aviation Management (F&AM) and Line Officers
3. Building Simulation Practice Fields—to jointly train Fire and Line
personnel in a new form of interactive "simulation laboratory"
4. Creating a Common Strategic Approach—to redesign the interaction between
F&AM and Line Officers before, during and after wildland fires
there's more: Look for the latest Dialogos memo in next week's FS Today or
read it now by following this link:
3. Building Simulation Practice Fields
To prototype a new form of training that will be offered across the Agency
in the Fall and Winter of 2008-2009, Line and Fire personnel, working with
Dialogos, are designing and conducting five "simulation laboratories." These
events bring together 18 – 20 personnel in fire-prone Forests and include
simulations, tools for better reflection, and dialogue about how the
Fire/Line dynamic influences safety and other factors. These groups interact
in simulations and dialogues that allow them to practice new behaviors and
to experiment with new approaches to shared leadership.
The simulations focus on the quality of interaction between Fire and Line
during an emerging incident, e.g., a Type III fire which transitions to Type
II. Line and Fire rarely have the opportunity to train together, even though
the safe and successful management of incidents depends increasingly upon
their effective performance together. Safety, land management issues, and
cost can all be influenced by how Line and Fire interact and make decisions
before, during, and after an incident. Training Fire and Line together
allows them to see each other in action, and to understand each other's
roles, responsibilities, pressures, and stresses. The timing and quality of
communication during an incident is highlighted. What factors encourage or
hinder straight talk between Fire and Line? What are the elements that limit
"upward voice" and how can leaders ensure that people speak up when they
don't feel safe?
Accompanying the simulations is the introduction of tools for cleaner
communication and for deeper reflection to increase situational awareness.
Dialogues build shared perspective and deepen the working relationship.
To prototype a new form of training that could eventually be offered across
the Agency, Line and Fire personnel are designing and preparing to pilot
four to six "simulation laboratories" that bring together personnel in areas
predicted to be vulnerable to complex fires. There is a new level of shared
strategic thinking possible and a shift to be made in the "muscle memory"
among and across these groups to upgrade effectiveness and the quality of
decision-making during simulated incidents. These groups will interact in
environments designed to allow them to practice new behaviors and to
experiment with new approaches to shared leadership in settings where
mistakes and pressures can accelerate mutual learning and deepen the working
It was noted in a post last spring the "W" word would be thrown around, even in
house. Surprisingly, not as much as I thought it would be. R5 Capt is correct
that the keyboard and the hard work we can produce is our most valuable tool. I
want to see posts from every Fed Firefighter that is applying for and accepting
an offer with another agency. I simply copy and paste the post and it goes out
to my representatives. You should do the same.
Honestly, I can no longer look a younger Firefighter in the eye and come up with
the words to encourage them to stay. Our cooperators are now licking-the-chops
on the new R-5 GS-5/6 developmental hiring. When R-5 Firefighters apply for
State and local gov jobs, we are no longer just providing massive amounts of
training and experience up to the Firefighter Apprentice/Sq Boss level. They can
now start picking off our recently hired GS-5/6 developmental employees that are
being trained up to the Engineer level. You gotta hand it to the R-5 FAM.
They’re spending millions to provide our cooperators the best trained
Firefighters/Engineers in this world.
This summer, I have worked with a few people who work under portal to portal
requirements. Some are Fed retires added to the payroll during fire season and
some are Rank and File Firefighters, our Brothers and Sisters from State, county
and local gov, all doing a great job out there. Example 1 and 2 work for a very
small fire departments. The small department has an agreement with a Forest.
For two weeks if committed the entire pay period on portal to portal he gets;
* Base time - $30 per hour x 80 hours = $2,400
* OT - $45 per OT hour x 256 hours OT hours (OT starts after 8 hours = 16 hours
of OT per day Mon-Fri, plus 24 hours of OT for both Sat and Sunday's) = $11,520
* Grand total = $13,920 (2 weeks)
* The small fire department gets about 18% extra back from the feds to process
the bill to ASC.
* One month of work, he will earn over $27,000. Not bad for a retiree of the
Same scenario as above, however change the $30 per hour to $50, yep $50 an hour.
Grand total = $23,200 for 2 weeks of work. Every time I crossed paths with this
person, he had a smile on his face, wonder why?
Example #3 - The above is chump change when compared to regular Rank and
File from other County and City Fire departments.
A Fire Engineer from a large, very well paid county fire department who work 10
days a month on an A.B.C. 24 hour shift schedule. If he worked the 21 days he
has off in a month, he would be compensated to the tune of approximately $31,000
for just the OT in that month. Let’s give him a few mandatory days off and then
throw in his base pay and he’s right back at around $28,000 for the month.
I wont even get into how much a Capt or BC working for the County or City can
To many of you, this is common knowledge. To those who have heard the rumors and
have seen this information for the first time and that you're now back in your
chair after falling out of it, I can assure you these figures are not an
exaggeration on my part. I have talked to those who receive this kind of
To each of these individuals and departments, I say nice job. The individuals
discussed above are very hardworking members of our firefighting community.
To “one last try”, good luck on your road ahead. Stay or go, you have our
support. To R-5 Capt, again you’re right. Some say the pen is mightier than the
sword. No sense in debating that since the pen is all we got. To “sick of
whiners”, thanks for staying, keeping up the fight and supporting FWFSA. Please
think about and consider moderating your comments directed to those expressing
frustration and comments about cooperators. I know many of our non-fed
cooperator fire community who are also supporting and fighting for us/you in the
background with emails, letters and phone calls to elected officials. To those
individuals, we say thanks.
Stay positive all....... Things will turn in our favor soon. We will never see
or ask for similar compensation that our cooperators receive. However "when" we
get our own portal to portal package we will retain many of our finest that
leave us everyday. Plus, we have better sunsets as someone once told us.
We will succeed, because we are right!
New photos posted:
I posted a pic from 6/21 of the Cold Fire during
IA, the Dripping Springs Fire and several of the 6/20 Watsonville Fire on
Fires 37 photo page, several more of the Sleeping Elephant and T-910 on
Tankers 25 and
Engines 20 photo pages, and the new CAL FIRE logo on
Logos 14 photo page. Last but not least a Midnight Sun Hotshot with a bad
case of poison oak on the
photo page. Click on the words below the photo for the description
and contributor. Thanks contributors. Ab.
Whatever happened to...............
A portion of the Pena letter creating the retention groups that was posted on
they said on 4/22.
Four-teams, each to be lead by one or more Forest Supervisors and including one
or more Forest Fire Chiefs, have been established to accomplish this task.
* Coordinators – Jody Noiron and Ed Hollenshead
o Mission - Kathy Hardy and Curt Palmer
o Pay - Kathleen Morse, Lorene Guffey, Mike Dietrich, and Jerry McGowan
o Workplace Improvement - Scott Armentrout and Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
o Facilities - Ed Cole, Ken Heffner , and Riva Duncan
Timelines and Performance
* Recommendations will be completed and submitted to coordinators by June 30
* Interim status reports will be provided to coordinators on April 30 and May 31
* Memo also states: ensure completion to meet the deadline of June 30
The Results of Pena’s Memo: June 30 + 20 days
* Informed that the project has been completed - NO
* Update to Rank and File Firefighters on progress or results of the report -
* Augment the current team members with available individuals because of the
current June fire activity to ensure the work continues and is completed by the
deadline - NO
We are all pawns in a report that is being drafted in the RO to be reviewed by
our congressional representatives. A report that will document all the so-called
accomplishments R-5 RO has made since December 2007. A report that will
highlight the so-called success of the June Fire Hire and the GS-5/6
developmental hiring. A report filled with more lies and misinformation. The
primary focus of the report is to undermine our sustained email and phone call
campaign. A report that will attempt to undermine the strong support we are
getting from FWFSA.
Contact your congressional representatives and ask them to demand a copy of the
report or if that’s too much to ask, see if the RO would kindly give us an
update on the progress of the reports completion. The words of the day for our
current leadership is COMMUNICATIONS or to COMMUNICATE. Could someone get a
dictionary in the mail to the 4th floor of R-5 RO so they can look it up? Or
will that interfere with the 19th letter or email they’re drafting about how
tired we are, how safe we need to be and oh, get your aglearn done.
Stay strong people. Collectively, we can and will succeed.
Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY
April 1, 2008 – The day they lied from coast-to-coast
After checking out the NICC site again, I noticed they don't list the
Regional Hotshot Crews....so I checked a few WILDCAD sites in SoCal and
here are some links from a few forests that list all their crews, not just
I think if No Name 3 checks out the forests they're interested in...each
forest will likely have additional crews other than IHCs. Since I started
in NorCal myself and went South for more experience... I definitely
believe it's worth it to move around... for skills, knowledge, perspective.
I just remember.... the cost of living is steep in SoCal, but often more
affordable the further East you go from the coast, of course!
Anyhow.... here ya go:
Not sure how many scenes the engine was in, however it was the old BDF
E-12, notice the chrome...
No Name 3's request for IHC info:
No Name 3was seeking info on IHC
crews....the link below is off the the NIFC
site. Has links to most everything crew related.
A long season like this one will open up slots across the nation.
There are already outreaches being flown for IHCs on the FS WEB.
Many IHC are tech savvy these days with their own websites. A quick search
will get you plenty, just be careful how you use the term, "hot shot" on
the internet at work!!
Here are a couple of true questions that only the real Fire Geek would know.
How many scenes was the USFS/NPS Model 60 in during the movie "Always"?
Explain the theory for all on here about the "Raging Sand Fire"
Perfectly stated R5 Capt. It is the nature of the human condition to
strive to improve things whether it's working conditions or other issues.
This is done through identifying problems and developing solutions to those
problems. This is done through communications. I have noticed that
negative people will call those who are striving to improve "Whiners." I
applaud people who look to improve organizational safety and effectiveness
and to improve working conditions and the emergency management wildland
fire/all risk response to the public we serve. I see these people as
positive, professional and dedicated public servants who strive to deliver
excellence to America's citizens.
A former R5 Captain, now a Magruder Fingers.
no name 3
LP Hotshots - Avue Duty Location Santa Barbara
Arroyo Grande Hotshots - Avue Duty Location Arroyo Grande
Monterey Crew (Type 2 IA) - Duty location Jolon (I think)
Helicopters with flight crews
Arroyo Grande - Avue Duty Location Arroyo Grande
Santa Ynez - Avue Duty Location Santa Ynez
Chuchupate - For the Avue Duty Location contact Mt Pinos Fire Management for
To IR Girl, Tim Chavez and all the GIS folks working at N.Ops and at the
Thank you all for the hard work on intelligence gathering during this siege of
fires. Especially in the first few days of this siege, intelligence was hard to
come by. Here on the MEU Complex we had 127 fires throughout the county. With
the sheer number of fires, the volume of smoke being produced and the
competition for Field Observers etc., it was extremely difficult in the first
several days to gain a clear picture of the situation in order to set
operational priorities. When the incident began to receive IR mapping products,
we could begin to see the bigger picture throughout Mendocino County and utilize
the data to assess threats to structures, communities, and infrastructure. When
we were finally able to get helicopters up for mapping missions and get feedback
from Field Observers and Division Supervisors we were able to validate the IR
data. In most cases, the data was validated to within 10 acres plus or minus.
Thanks again for all your hard work. Your work allowed our Team to make more
informed decisions resulting in better allocation of resources to our higher
priority fires and thus reducing the threat to communities and infrastructure.
Deputy Incident Commander/MEU Complex
CAL FIRE Incident Command Team #4
Diane Feinstein visited Redding Smokejumper Base and toured the fires. The
President came along as well. We thank Diane Feinstein for her continued support
with our issues and we ask her to stay involved. The fight has just begun.
See photo of President meeting with Randy Moore and the Gov.
You're doing a heck of a job Moore"ie".
re bandwidth at USGS:
If the USGS is having trouble meeting peak bandwidth
needs, perhaps exporting that data to Google isn't such a bad idea. They've got
a MUCH larger infrastructure available for data transmission, and the
appropriate tools (Google Earth) to utilize the data provided.
I'm sure Google would be happy to partner with USGS to provide the bandwidth.
Re: whining about whiners
I am sorry that anyone considers what gets on here whining and not productive
critical commentary, discussions or at least indicative of the climate and
intentions of the boots on the ground. I am sure you have heard "the squeaky
wheel gets the grease." These discussions are some of the most powerful weapons
we have right now. Please join in if you have something constructive to talk
about. Otherwise don't knock people, it makes you a part of the problem... Not
From the Ab account:
Adam Deem & Smokey: Photo here, last pic on
hand23.php (Click the thumbnail for the larger version.)
A couple of days ago, Adam Deem, a forester with Calfire, was scouting the
Moon Fire's NW flank near Buckhorn Summit (West of Redding) when he came across
a little 6-month old cub that was dehydrated, had 3rd degree burns to its paws,
an injured eye and no mom. He took it to medical in fire camp, after which it
was evaluated and treated by veterinarians at the Dept of Fish and Game's Rancho
Cordova facility near Sacramento. The cub's seriously burned paw pads will
require more treatments and 5-7 days to heal. The cub is now at the Lake Tahoe
Wildlife Care, a wildlife care center and is a good candidate for release next
January or February. Photo compliments of Adam Deem (0708). [Right now the Lake
Tahoe Wildlife Care website is overwhelmed with viewers. Later you can follow
Lil Smokey's progress: www.ltwc.org.]
I took a quick glance at They Said tonight before finishing my long day and have
some praise, remarks, and information to share.
First, I'd like to thank David Blankenship for his interview he gave for the
ESRI news release. David was a member of the unified command here at NorthOps
created to use and evaluate all the remote sensing sources available to us. I am
now half-way through my second 14-day tour in the role of Regional Infrared
Coordinator and we have seen it all. Tim from CalFire was part of the team. We
also had other CalFire, FS, retired and contracted personnel on the team. We
evaluated data from both the Air Force and Navy Global Hawks, the U2, NASA's
Ikhana, and the National Guard's RC26. My remarks are this, these systems
provided some intelligence. The RC26 was the most successful because we had a
fire guy in the plane directing what was being looked at while in communication
with ops and sit folks at the incidents.
Finally, the information. The National Infrared Operations Program is THE
primary intelligence provider of thermal infrared data to the incidents. The two
planes, crews, coordinators, and infrared interpreters work every night, 7 days
a week. NIROPS has been flying 15-20 complexes each night since 6/23 to give the
situation unit updated heat perimeters and areas of intense heat. This data is
usually used to update the incident fire perimeter that is then uploaded to
geomac* (thank you GISGirl) and viewed by the world. I am sending pictures of
N149Z (King Air) and N144Z (Citation Bravo) that are the work horses of the
program. We also employed two contractors, Kolob Air from Cedar City and Range
and Bearing from Alberta for a couple of weeks--we had a lot of fire to map!
*I was on the geomac team at its birth in 2000. I heard they were down a few
hours the other day because the AC went out in at USGS in Denver and the temp in
the building got up to 117 degrees. Not only did it kill the servers but also
the warning system to GSA. They got the site up and running pretty quickly under
the circumstances. Go team!
Gotta go before I go over my 16. :-)
Thanks, I put them on the
Tankers 24 and
Tanker 25 photo pages. Ab.
Photo of Air Force One and CalFireTanker 94:
Here is a picture taken as Air
Force One was taking off from Redding Airport Thursday July 18,2008.
Thought it would fit somewhere in the photos section. Cool picture.
Thanks, I put it on the
Tankers 24 photo page. Ab.
Here's a pic of a SEAT dropping on the Sleeping Elephant Fire north of Topaz
Thanks, I put it on the
Tanker 25 photo page. Was that fire last season or this spring??? Too much
smoke, too many fires. Ab.
My thanks to Brad for sharing the fire camp music on the North Mountain Fire
provided by the Groveland District Ranger.
It brought back good memories of a
similar experience on the Salmon Complex during the Siege of '87. Obviously this
entertainment cannot be purchased using Gov't funds and when you check into it,
it's usually provided by caring individuals or donated by the band members. Of
course I'm sure that Southern CA Team 2, under Ron Woychak's leadership,
deserved the special treatment! Hey, wasn't he the same IC who posed with the
President during the SoCAL fires in October?
It's little acts of appreciation like this that makes all the other BS on the
job less meaningful. The Sequoia NF management staff have always treated my
crews EXTREMELY well when I've worked there in the past. During the 1990 Stormy
Complex when someone decided to put the Tyler Meadow camp in between two fires
that were burning toward each other and it got fried, we were treated to hot
pizza delivered to us in a staging area by the Greenhorn District FMO while we
were deciding a safe place to go. I later found out her name was Deanne Shulman!
I'll always remember how the whole crew demeanor perked up when they got the
first whiff of those tasty delights after losing everything we owned when our
sleeping area in camp was destroyed. (For those of you who remember the famous
video footage recorded in camp by a water tender relief driver that depicts Ben
Charlie walking around comfortably with a cup of coffee while folks around him
are about to deploy shelters, I'll let you in on a little secret. The explosive
fireball that ignited in the background was my new Park Service patrol car that
I kept stocked with additional ammunition boxes for teaching firearms classes,
smoke grenades and Coleman lantern fuel used on search and rescue operations
along with two D-size oxygen cylinders for EMS response. It was informed that it
put on quite a show and I've been told that pictures of my vehicle are still
used in tactics training courses.
I would like to hear from others examples how Forest Service management staff
did something unexpectedly special that made a difference. For instance, I once
took a Type II crew from the San Bernardino NF to respond to the Yellowstone
Fires in '88. A lot of firefighters on SoCAL Type II crews aren't aware how cold
it can get during the morning briefings in WY and ID in late August. One of the
FICC dispatchers was outside taking her break and overheard me discussing this
issue with my crew and saw the number of guys who weren't prepared. She went
inside and made a phone call to the fire cache. Within a short time brush coats
were issued to the folks who needed them. When you hear about the little things
like this you wonder how much of it still goes on today amidst all the Mark Rey
statements to Congress and allegations that the agency doesn't care.
Fire Geek And One last,
A Big right on brother/sister!!!
Both of you.
I was on a CalFire fire earlier this year and was
one of 10 green trucks amongs't maybe 70 to 80 Red and Muni Engines and the
CalFire IC for that team came up to our truck while we were fueling up for the
day shift and personally thanked us, and wanted to extend his thanks to all the
other "Green" engines on their incident, for being there and all the hard
professional work/expertise we offered to the incident and told us how glad his
team was that we were there. Just something to offer to the positive side.
Ha HA Lovin the Lake
||One Last Try,
I understand your frustration. On the other hand I am not sure why you are quibbling over sixteens. Hand the CTR book to the Div Sup with sixteens filled out and accept nothing less. SIMPLE. If you are doing mop up figure out how to justify sixteens or accept that 15.5 is all you can really expect since the standard has always been sixteen for "uncontrolled fireline".
I get frustrated too. On the other hand if you cant handle "getting screwed" maybe it is time for you to go ahead and join the
<snip>. Then you can have a union that represents <snip> etc. etc.
I pay my dues to FWFSA, work hard, demand sixteens while putting in sixteens (sometimes more). If participating in the endless whining on They Said makes you feel better have at it. I think folks involved in the Federal Agencies deserve to be proud. In addition I think we have cause to be frustrated. Maybe things have gotten worse, maybe not. I DO know that people seem to be more aware of the disparity in pay benefits etc.
Feds hear me now.... This situation did not develop over night! If a livable wage, great work conditions, killer schedule, esteem of the community etc are more important to you than pride in doing a largely thankless job you are in the WRONG BUSINESS. I am not saying that we should not hope for things to get better. I am saying that the whining has become rather pathetic. Do you pass this morale on to your young folks? People who work on green trucks get hosed. (excuse the pun) We KNOW this.
I think that Federal firefighters... I mean Forestry Technicians are the best wildland firefighters on the planet. I am proud to say that I am part of this organization ( I aint saying which one but we have a cool mascot). If folks want to be a part of the spit and shine... Calfire its waiting for you. I heard they are hiring. Good luck!
Sick of Whiners
I don't know how your whining (about the whining?) is different from
any other. Endless... Ab.
||Just got back from the Piute Fire on the SQF, and I have to say things have only
gotten worse with the USFS.
Once again we are nickel and dimming our folks by not signing sixteen hour
days. As a Captain with this Agency, that is the very least we can be doing for
our folks on the line. We are the only agency that doesn’t pay Portal to Portal
for our guys and gals and to make it worse we can’t even get what we deserve.
Trust me we deserve it, we sleep in the dirt off the clock, get screwed out of
our showers by Cal-Fire Hand crews because even their union even stuck up for
their inmates, we are the ones with the experience when it comes to the
suppression of vegetation fires, and not to take away from anyone else, but we
do the hardest work hands down, for the lowest cost... period.
So why do we keep letting ourselves get screwed? I was demobing the other day,
and ground support was arranging rentals to switch out the firefighters from San
Diego, because "they do 7 day rotations," and once again we pay that cost, plus
their Portal to Portal, plus we pay the backfill at their home department. Wow,
and we get knocked down to 12 and 14 hour days. I must admit, I have seen this
Agency stagnate since the day I first started, thank god we have Casey and the
FWFSA to at least voice our issues to congress who, lets face it don’t care a
bit, with a few exceptions for some California heavy hitters.
I guess what I am trying to say is let's stand up. If you're running a
team you need to pay us our sixteens, if you have a strike team, a handcrew, a
taskforce, a helicopter module, stand up for those folks, sign sixteens, and if
your division doesn’t want to sign it, take it to the IC and voice your opinions
for yourself and the ones you are leading. What’s the worst that can happen???
they send you home… That’s fine they can fill your spot with state, city and
county resources and watch the cost of the fire really escalate? It’s time they
realize we are not the ones making the cost of the fire go through the roof.
So let’s show them we're a very critical part of this firefighting show, we are
the leaders of this ship and we will turn any dam* way we want. I love this job
and the guys and gals we work with, our leaders, and our FWFSA, but if we don’t
change and stand up for ourselves, we are done.
Sign me, One last try, then filling out my app. But always paying my dues.
Inciweb is currently up. Hit the news link in the header to get to it and
other intel. Ab.
Midwest afmo, thanks for the information,
I will research it and use what we can.
Thanks to all and be safe out there.
Todd (another one)
im currently working in nor cal and have been thinking about making the jump
So. Cal. next year. I was wondering about the station locations of some hotshot
crews on the L.P, San Berdu, Angeles and Cleveland. Is there a listing of All
california hotshot crews anywhere? Not just the select ones on the california
hotshot crew page.
no name 3
Here's a great reminder that much of the public sees us all as
An editorial from the Chico newspaper the beginning of July.
Thought I was helitack.........
Get time to load, big file 10.8 mbs
The Ranger on the Groveland RD on the Stanislaus NF liked the fire folks so
she got this band for us all at camp!!
Giant file! Consider if you really want to download it and do it in the middle of the night! Ab.
In 2004 I was struck by Lightning on the Noon fire which was in Safford Arizona.
I was in the hospital over the weekend and then released after time spent in the
E.R. Since I was placed on OWCP I was not paid for my days off while I was laid
up in the hospital away from home. I was never compensated. I would like to see
this fixed due to the fact sometimes we have no control over when, where the
Still pissed, SG
Regarding getting paid for medical attention time - I think the key phrase
used in that interpretation comes from OWCP's definition of "continuation
of pay" - which is usually used in cases where it is implied the injured
are unable to return to duty, because of nature of injury - the injured
will then go into a normal "pay" status until they are medically
stationary" or able to resume reasonably similar duties. Whichever comes
first. If the injury is long-term, then then receive continuation of pay
for 45 days because of the active claim status. If the recuperation goes
longer...then they go on timeloss....
Of course it doesn't make it right / it just makes for an easier
computation of OWCP continuation of pay - which lasts for 45 8 hour
days when seriously hurt.
I am not sure of this - but its what they did when I got hurt on a long
fire day // however the injury was a time-loss and COP (continuation of
pay) then began when the CA-16 was processed. Keeps the numbers
the bean counters.....
AB & All:
The recent posts regarding OWCP provide a good opportunity to make folks aware
of a new provision (Feb '08) to the NWCG Handbook that, until the Indians Fire,
very few folks except finance officers were aware of.
Firefighters who were injured on the job were told when they demobed that their
time to and from the medical facility was not compensated pursuant to the
amendment in the handbook.
The section of interest is in Chapter 10, section 11-13.5 under item # 6 Medical
Treatment which reads:
When a regular government employee or casual is provided medical
treatment by the incident, pay entitlement will not exceed actual hours
worked or guarantee (eight hours per day for casuals) whichever is greater
for that calendar day. (5CFR 551.425.) Time spent traveling to or from a
medical facility and/or time spent receiving medical attention is considered
compensable time only if it falls within the employee's regular guaranteed
work hours. Overtime cannot be earned. Refer to Section 15.3-4 for
continuation of pay (COP) guidelines.
This was interpreted by the finance officer on the Indians Fire which told
the injured employee and his supervisor that the employee was not compensated
during transport to the medical facility or for the time returning from the
During my recent visit at the Regional Office I spoke with Mr. Hollenshead about
this and he too was unaware. Our mutual concern of course is that firefighters
who might sustain injuries may not report them if they know they will not be
compensated for the time spent to and from a medical facility. For someone being
removed from a remote area this could be a significant period of time.
If anyone has a better handle on this issue I'd encourage you to post something.
page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462
(Forestry Technician) &
Series 0455 (Range Technician) &
0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
I sure agree with you. Back in 1979 I was a "Nurse Tanker Operator" (NTO)
and I had a Mark 3 on my Nurse Tanker 422 and a stubborn thing it was. Yep,
and the line officers and forest supervisors are not leaders anymore,
certainly not in fire, because they have no fire experience and no
leadership ability. I also think that many SO, RO, and WO agency personnel
read "They said" to know what is being thought and said out there, But I
believe most if them don't care. I think the WO would dump fire, but they
don't want to lose the fire preparedness pocket book they have their hands
This email is circulating behind the scenes and is in relation to the
paperwork and procedures relating to dealing with OWCP in case of an fire
accident or medical emergency. Good idea from R3. Kudos on making this critical
info available in a handy pocket format. Ab.
To ensure that our employees were cared for and knew what to do if they were
injured, we created the attached pocket cards and handed them out to all of our
personnel. After being discussed at the FLT meeting, it was asked that we send
out the template so that other districts could modify the card for their own
PLEASE BE SURE TO CHANGE THE CONTACT PHONE NUMBERS TO THOSE OF YOUR OWN
EMPLOYEES. We chose the BMO and the FMO to be the primary contacts in case of an
emergency - each district will want to choose their own personnel based on
availability, responsibilities, etc.
These were printed on regular Avery Business Cards (#28877) that can be picked
up at Wal-Mart or ordered through our office supply providers.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
(See attached file:
Workers Comp Card Back.doc)
(See attached file:
Worker's Comp Card Front.doc)
Business Management Officer
Douglas Ranger District
Coronado National Forest
Thank you Sherrie.
I presented to the FLT today, that the Forest and FLT support the proposal
I sent out a month ago; to have each district identify a person(s) to be
the first line of admin and moral support for any work related injury,
while a few of us identified in the SO will be your back up. It was met
with great support and shared concern that we keep our employees (or any
employee) taken care of for burn injuries as well as any other work related
injury. The District Rangers have agreed to identify the contact names for
each district and share with me so that we can post it on the J drive and
get it to the Dispatch contact list. Also a great idea is the card shared
by the Douglas District.
As a reminder, if each district will identify a person or two to be
available to accompany the employee, be able to find answers to questions,
make phone calls, fill out papers, and just provide moral support, Alan
B has agreed to be our forest's point of contact for OWCP support.
However, he can not make the authorizations, but can assist in the HCM
process. You should all have received the emergency contact number of OWCP
at HCM. In addition, Linda and I will be available as first back up to the
district if the district contact is unavailable and Pete Schwab and Cheryl
will be a second back up to the districts.
Thank you for the support.
Acting Fire Staff
Pete G -- Deputy Forest FMO
Coronado National Forest
FYI .... these 'OWCP pocket cards' were developed on one of our Districts
and a great idea...... feel free to share if interested.
Regional Fire Operations Health and Safety Specialist
FLT= Fire Leadership Team
Anyone have word on how the Chena HS that broke through into a stump hole is
(not yesterday's stumphole story)
Are they out of the hospital yet?
They have been in my thoughts and prayers.
I heard the HS doing well given injuries they sustained. Strong support
from family. Help from the WFF. Out of the hospital. Could be some important
lessons learned on the medical side regarding what to look for with
complications from leg injuries like those sustained. We need to take care of
and support each other. Ab.
We run 14 Mark III pumps on my fire district. Highly reliable with a good
preventive maintenance program and trained operator. Our oldest pump is probably
approaching 30 plus years old and we just purchased two new Mark III's this
winter. We have tried other brands of pumps put they didn't hold up under the
hours of continuous service on fires and slash burns. I don't work for the big
green so I don't understand how the Mark III pump is related to the other issues
I was on a fishing boat that sank 12 miles offshore a few years back. The Coast
Guard helicopter had dropped us a pump but it was a worthless piece of
junk...just before we sank I remember wishing I had one of our Mark III's on
So...If anyone is successful with getting rid of unwanted Mark III pumps I'll
On the stumphole report…
Is anybody but me bothered by new outlets reporting stories gained mostly or
entirely from incident radio traffic? I know we all try to keep it professional
on the radio, and I know nothing should go over the circuit we’d mind getting to
the public, but at the same time we all know that how things sound over the
radio is not always what’s really going on. Aside from scrambling tac channels
and such things, which can make interagency operations difficult or impossible,
how do we keep radio rumors from turning up in the newspaper?
Nerd on the Fireline
Goodness you got me laughing. Reminds me of when I was a a high schooler and I
would occasionally run on the Naval Training Center Base in San Diego- whenever
those boys (usually MPs with a gun) would interrupt my workout and I'd simply
say- my dad's a retired chief, I'm only 16- anything else you need to know? Man
they would split instantly. It was a great way to get my peace and quiet.
There is a structural to wildland crosswalk. More information on this at
The intent is to recognize fire training already completed by structural
firefighters. However, in my organization, which has both structural and
wildland fire programs, we insist that those who want to participate in
wildland fire go through all the required training set forth in the 310-1.
Also, the S-130 and S-190 are now online, but just like the classroom
version, needs to be led by a qualified single resource boss.
Tonto NF Mesa RD FMO Passing
Keith Kerr died shortly after he took his Whites
off and hung up his hard
hat at 53 to retire. I consolidated some messages and attached them as you
may want to post parts of it as he was very well known in the wildland
fire and law enforcement community.
Thanks, Bob aka Badbob
I send this with deepest sorrow that Keith passed away late Saturday evening.
His family was with him all throughout the day, he was resting peacefully and
was not in any pain. The funeral arrangements are being finalized today, it is
tentative there will be a visitation on Wednesday evening and the service on
Thursday. As I receive the information I will send it out to you.
For those of you who would like to send cards to the family the address is:
<snip>, Mesa, AZ 85203 (will post this street address later after services,
Thank you for keeping Cindy and the family in your thoughts and prayers
Keith Raymond Kerr, age 53 of Mesa, Arizona, passed away on July 12, 2008.
Keith was born on April 3, 1955 to John and Betty Kerr in Mesa, AZ. Keith is
survived by his wife of 30 years, Cindy; two sons: Sam and Dustin of Mesa, AZ;
mother Betty Kerr of Mesa, AZ; brother John Kerr (Sheri) of Maui, Hawaii;
sisters: Susan Mellott (Brian) of Mesa, AZ; and Carla Kerr of St George, Utah;
and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father Dr. John
Kerr. Keith was much beloved by his family and friends. He loved people and had
many friends from all walks of life. He loved the outdoors and taught his sons
to hunt and fish and gave them their love and respect for nature. Keith had
retired in 2005 after 31 years of service with the U.S. Forest Service, Tonto
National Forest, Mesa District. Keith had served as the Mesa District Fire
Management Officer along with 19 years of service as a Federal Law Enforcement
Officer for Tonto National Forest. Keith loved his work and family. He will
truly be missed by all that knew him, especially by his family.
Services will be held on
Thursday, July 17, 2008,
First Presbyterian Church of Mesa,
161 N. Mesa Dr. at 10:00 AM
Graveside services to follow at the City of Mesa Cemetery. Visitation will be
held from 6-8:00 PM; Wednesday, July 16, 2008, at Meldrum Mortuary, 52 N.
Macdonald, Mesa, AZ.
Our family wishes to thank all the caregivers, physicians and Hospice of the
Valley for their loving care of Keith in his time of need. In lieu of flowers,
the family asks that donations be made in honor of Keith to: Boys & Girls Club
of The East Valley/Grant Woods Branch & Teen Center-Mesa; 221 W 6th Ave, Mesa,
AZ 85202 or Kerr Elementary School; 125 E McLellan, Mesa, AZ 85201.
~~Published in The Arizona Republic from 7/15/2008 - 7/16/2008
"Also, day two of my roll on the complex I heard over command that all
water tenders can only work 14 hours. Great if nothing is going on. Last
time I checked I was working 16 straight and busting my but every minute of
it. Most contracted tenders I talked to are on best value contracts so they
didn't mind being in camp 2 hours early, but they also wanted to make sure
we had adequate supply for our MILES long hoselays. Is this "Cost
People with commercial drivers license, are allowed to work 14 hours, of
which only 11 hours of driving. This would include briefing, travel, refueling
and any thing else related to the work, then 10 hours off duty. FEDERAL LAWS.
State of California follows Fed law, with the exception of when working in a
local radius (125 miles), you are allowed to work/drive 12 hours per day with 10
hours off. Also, when released from an incident, you are required to have
sufficient hours to be able to drive back to quarters .
When Fire wanted water tenders to be D.O.T. legal, they should have looked at
what they were asking for. The standards were written for safety reasons, and
for less stressful areas such as the Nations highways. The FMCSA allows for one
exception, that being when the President or Governor of the State declares an
emergency for that incident, the hours of service are waived, until operator is
released from the incident, then he/she must have legal number of hours
available to return to quarters. Based upon working 60 hours in 7 days, or 70
hours in 8 days. But after 34 hours continuously off duty, your "clock" resets
and then you may continue on.
Any violations of hours of service are enforceable not only the driver, but also
the owner(s) of the company including fines and/or incarceration.
The hours of service regulations were established for SAFETY standards for the
public with the help of researchers and professionals.
drive'n for awhile
The secret(s) of a Mark III, maintain it every 4-8 hrs. Lube, fuel (16:1) and
keep it from the muck and sand (tie it down and don't let it vibrate into a
unclean atmosphere, also put a fuel diaper under it every 4-8 hrs. Put a shovel
w/ "P" chord under the foot valve and babysit the heck out of it. On its monthly
take it apart, change the plug and check the pump mechanism itself. Good luck!
We still have our first one we ever bought. Oh yeah, learn how to change the
pull chord assembly as they do break.
Good luck on the MK III issue my friend. I tried to address pretty much the same
issues back in the early 90's and was politely "Slapped down" by the R.O. Basic
answer being "We have too much money tied up in the pumps and parts to look at
anything else." Prior to retirement, most folks I knew pretty much hated the MK
Was at a training session once and the inventors son told us every MK III should
start by the third pull or there was something wrong with it. Unable to swallow
that one, I said "Then there is something wrong with every one of them that came
out of the regional pump shop!" He implied I did not know what I was saying. So,
I asked for a show of hands from the room of approx 30 people, how many had ever
had a MK III start in three pulls or less? SURPRISE. Nobody raised their hand.
Fella was kinda pissed and probably embarrassed.
Believe the MK III was developed in the 50's and we are still saddled with it
over 50 years later? Would be interesting if our wildland firefighters were
using 50+ year old technology in other areas of their job. I can just picture a
55 year old engine and its associated technology from 1953 fighting fire today.
(Sounds like something from The History Channel.) Ah yes. I can even see the old
B-17 dropping Borate again. Going back to 1953 technology we could get rid of
those noisy/expensive helicopters and DC-10's roaring by overhead. Go back to
one portable radio per crew. No showers in camp. (Kinda liked that one.) Not
have to worry about management giving you an eviction notice while you are on
fire assignment. Maybe we could get rid of the "Bean Counters", Dumb A___ rules,
and potential lawsuits that look over your shoulder each time you make a
decision on the fireline.
People can call me old fashioned, old school, hard headed, unwilling to change,
out of the loop, old fart (True), or whatever term you wish to apply to me, but
at least in the 70's, 80's and up thru the mid-90's we were allowed to do our
jobs with a minimum of interference from management. For the most part,
management back then had some degree of fire experience, and/or the guts to
stand up for what was right. Most Rangers had to have some sort of fire
background our they could not get the job. We (Fire Management) saw the issue
begin to rear its ugly head when Rangers and Forest Sups started coming into the
system with little to no fire background, and were unable or unwilling to grasp
the job that their Fire folks were expected to accomplished with declining
budgets, increase Interface areas, etc.... And. this one will probably step on a
few toes, it seemed like the more "Ologists" and "Ecialists" that came into the
system, the more they were listened to and the less the people on the ground
were listened to. Don't know how she is now, but Liz Agpoa was one of the good
ones when she became a District Ranger!
Before anyone out there feels they have a driving desire to rake me over the
coals, let me clarify I am not lumping all those mentioned in the previous
paragraph in the same pot. There were some very good "Ologists" and "Ecialists",
and non-Fire management types that I worked with and I still consider good
friends. They were willing to listen to people that had done the job for many
years. People that were familiar with the local area and conditions. People that
were familiar with the local communities they served. In some cases admitted
that what they learned in college may have been a bit biased. (That was an
admission from an up and coming Forester), and that just maybe the Forestry
Tech's might have a clue as to what was happening in the real world outside the
classroom. Maybe, if you are offended any of this, you just might be guilty?
Guess I kinda got off the MK III issue. But, it is nice to vent once in awhile.
Especially when you know there are probably more that agree with you than
One last thought. I have always wondered if management at all levels, including
the R.O. and W.O. read the comments at this site and if they truly give a rip!
So in closing: If I offended anyone, I offer my apologies, but maybe you need to
do some soul searching.
Be safe on the line folks and I can honestly say, under the current cloud you
are forced to operate under, I am glad I am no longer "On the Line".
Just got back from a Complex in NorCal, man...the cards are stacking up in Cali.
Lots of underburned drainages with TONS of preheated fuels, green firefighters
(not talking about the agency), and it's only July 16th. Two days of R and R
then I'm packing to move to a new position I got out of the July FireHire that
yes, I'm fully qualified for. Doesn't sound good after I talked to the Division,
a few other non-qualified folks going into the same position on different mods
around the forest.
As for the talk about time/Lunch breaks/etc, I ran into this issue on the
complex I was on when I first arrived. I was told I need to show two meal breaks
for my crew and when I didn't the first CTR I submitted, the Finance asked why.
I told them that it is a fireable offense for me to falsify my time and I will
not be breaking the rules set forth by my agency. I didn't have an issue after
Also, day two of my roll on the complex I heard over command that all water
tenders can only work 14 hours. Great if nothing is going on. Last time I
checked I was working 16 straight and busting my but every minute of it. Most
contracted tenders I talked to are on best value contracts so they didn't mind
being in camp 2 hours early, but they also wanted to make sure we had adequate
supply for our MILES long hoselays. Is this "Cost Management"?
Seriously why post it? It is a dumb and possibly entirely made up
story. I've seen plenty of hotshots who could also be confused for
homeless people wandering around base camp. I'm sure plenty of people
have seen the HBO series 'Band of Brothers' Episode 6, "Bastonge" Dick
Winters BREAKS the layer of ice in his helmet to get to the water to
SHAVE! In the middle of battle, a noble idea, that even in the worst of
times one can keep a professional appearance...
Red Army FAE proud to wear the 'tight blue suits' and be clean shaved...
Red Army, He does have a daughter who likely would do exactly as he reports... Dads
are a little protective...
Be proud of your organization. We each have our part to play and we look the way
circumstances dictate with or without showers if spiked out. I took the story as
just one of those funny fire stories. And your reply as the typical reply. It's
Come to think of it, I looked much like the (somewhat hunched over,
hobbling) homeless person last time I was spiked out on the fireline after a
number of days of hard work. Didn't shave. Think I smelled some too and the
vehicle smells foul. Nothing wrong with that. Doing the job. Ab.
Oh servers aren't in Boise- something like Kansas or somewhere.... it's a FS
Should be fine as long as it's not co-hosted with ROSS right? ;-)
Quick funny true story and then I must leave to a fire. Lovin the Lake I
think you will like this one! So.. my youngest daughter is sunning herself
at our local lake last Monday, two guys in tight blue suits from a red fire
truck with C...F.... on the side, approached her in an obviously
flirtatious manner and ask her if she wanted to come check out their fire
engine! She smirked at them and replied, "my dad, who is on a Hotshot
crew, would seriously rather have me date an unemployed crackhead bumb
than someone from your agency!" My initial rage turned to belly breaking
laughter as she told me of how the two rather embarrassed young rascals
tried to get out of the situation by saying how hard they thought the
Hotshots worked and that they really meant no harm and were attempting to
secure good public relations with the locals.
Moral of the story is: You guys
in the blue suits better be sure that the
daughter of a Hotshot, that you were trying to put the move on, has a good
sense of humor! Oh and guys, try wearing civvies next time or a Big
Labowski T-shirt and tell her you work for Mc Donald's you might have a
from the Hotlist:
Article from the Chico Enterprise Record (ChicoER.com)
burned Monday in stump hole fall
By Greg Welter - Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/16/2008 12:14:32 AM PDT
Concow — A man was hospitalized with first- and second-degree burns to his legs
Monday in what may be the worst injury among 30 suffered by firefighters in the
Butte Lightning Complex blazes.
Official information on the incident was sketchy Tuesday. The Enterprise-Record
was able to learn, mostly through emergency radio dispatches, that a firefighter
from Arizona was working on Andy Mountain Road, east of Concow, and fell into a
stump hole about 5:40 p.m.
fair use disclaimer
Tim from CalFire-
Was your opinion based on what's going on in the field and knowledge of the
server farm or just caution? I agree if it will impact the incident we should
protect the info but I also am all for getting info to the public.
ftp for N*FC is hosted by the USFS server farm in middle America
somewhere (It migrated from BLM to USFS after I left the system so I forgot the
location) and was supposed to be pretty robust. So any green geek from central
US want to interject if your system could handle the public (beyond the media
ftp for OES in CA is protected- the standard ftp site for state and local
government exchange in California
www.geomac.gov is open for perimeter
maps- when the public slams it, it slows down... BUT the USGS and cooperators
have a secret government only site that is protected from the public and always
has bandwidth allocated to it in case folks need the data or want to order data
for the incident.
Should we be trying to work with google to get our perimeters on their maps and
just use their server farm to host the maps? - only half kidding
Tim just requested we find out if it was going to have an impact on
the boise ftp site wherever it's located, so it was a caution. I have not been
near a phone so I haven't called Boise to ask... Inciweb is down again. Ab.
I was looking thru the Ten year old tri-data report to do the new survey, and
came across this key recommendation of the original report.
Require stronger fire qualifications for FMOs and other managers -
Agencies must not assign employees to key fire management positions if
they do not meet Interagency and Agency-Specific Qualifications and
Training to competency while holding the job is not safe, and should not
be permitted. We recommend development of minimum fire qualifications and
competencies for people assigned to be Fire Management Officers (and
equivalent positions). There are several tiers of FMO positions and it is a
critical position at every level.
The FMOs have duties that affect employee and public safety. They help
plan the fire program and often have line or advisory roles at fires. Fire
management courses also should be required for all fire management
Note it states "Training to competency while holding the job is NOT SAFE"....
Isn't this what all the USFS "Developmental" positions are doing exactly? Such
as the new 5/6 jobs? Or even the GS 7/8 Captain Positions, or ADFMO GS 8/9
So, The USFS is doing something previously acknowledged by the Agency, and
other comparable Agencies, as an UNSAFE act. I wonder how this would hold up in
Court as a precedent if something bad happened?
press release from ESRI:
GIS Helps Local, State, and Federal Agencies Respond
to Northern California Firestorms
Redlands, California—Thousands of firefighters from local, state, and federal
agencies are using geographic information system (GIS) software to coordinate
and effectively respond to the recent outbreak of Northern California
Agencies are using digitally mapped data, spatial analysis, and modeling to
better plan and carry out fire suppression operations. ESRI is providing
software, professional services, and other technical resources to help with the
response effort. In addition, ESRI staff are assisting GIS professionals in the
Multi-Agency Coordination Center in Northern California.
"GIS and remote-sensing specialists work to capture, manipulate, integrate, and
maintain data collected from sensors and aerial assets such as the United States
Air Force Global Hawk, Air National Guard RC26 planes, multiple infrared
sensors, and commercial satellite coverage," says David Blankinship, senior GIS
analyst, Colorado Springs Fire Department and GIS specialist supporting the
California wildfire response. "GIS is used to quickly disseminate intelligence
to incident commanders, planning units, and analysts deployed at different fire
incident command posts. This helps teams gain a continuous, comprehensive
picture of what's happening on the ground."
"The numerous wildfires in California represent an enormous challenge to
agencies," says Russ Johnson,
public safety solutions manager, ESRI. "We're working with local, state, and
federal government organizations, as well as private business and local
residents, to help. GIS is being used to gain accurate situational awareness,
coordinate multiple agencies fighting the fires, facilitate communication, and
provide overall decision support."
GIS experts deployed during the recent
2007 Southern California fires are working with CALFIRE and other agencies
to provide strategic planning as part of the overall response. Incident
management teams are using GIS to map active fire perimeters, hot spots, burned
areas, and affected communities. Protection priorities are established with the
assistance of GIS when flammable vegetation on steep slopes is mapped and
modeled. GIS-generated maps are also used to answer questions from the public
about fire locations, road closures, damaged properties, evacuations, shelter
locations, and Red Cross assistance.
GIS is helping manage the numerous California state assets involved in battling
the blazes including more than 18,000 personnel, 1,000 fire engines, 300 dozers,
and 100 helicopters.
"You have literally hundreds of fires that are taking place over a wide
geographic range, you have large numbers of response assets and personnel, and
you compound that with the sheer number of data collection assets," says
Blankinship. "What we do is use GIS to bring in large volumes of complex data
from multiple formats and integrate it into a single, comprehensive, usable
source. Fire commanders and others who aren't technology experts but experts at
fighting fires can get answers to their time-critical questions like: where's my
fire, what is it doing, and where should I deploy my limited resources? We
distill that enormous volume of data into actionable information."
Wildweb updates and jobs page note.
After receiving a note from a person
regarding the Northeast Washington ICC providing WildWeb data, I did a quick
check to see if other centers had gone online. I was pleased to find and add the
Fort Collins, CO
Great Falls, MT
Klamath Falls, OR
Northern Great Plains, SD
Northeast Washington, WA
A few links were updated and sad to see there were a few centers no longer
pushing information. The missing are Owens Valley, Yosemite, and Dillon.
Even though we're well into this years western fire season, there are still
folks wanting jobs and being posted on the Jobs Page. And there are still other
folks looking for new employees. Firestop emailed yesterday that they are
getting 10-15 applicants per week from their ad.
Please advise via the link on the wildweb page if there are any corrections
needed. It is entirely possible. Thanks, OA
Perimeter Fire Mapping info online:
GISGirl’s favorite website is
http://wildfire.cr.usgs.gov/fire_planning/ (she helped design it). You can
download fire perimeter data from it for CA fires to use in GIS applications
(such as ESRI’s FREE ArcGIS Explorer
www.esri.com/software/arcgis/explorer/index.phpl) or just print the map from
the viewer itself. The table of contents has a large variety of options for
using topographic maps, Forest visitor maps or shaded relief maps as a
background. It’s tied in directly with GeoMAC
www.geomac.gov/ which has a
new feature this year that allows you access into their FTP server for data
download straight from the opening splash screen. I hope that everyone GeoMAC
displays fire perimeters for the entire country (after the GISS’s upload to it).
I hope this helps
I believe those are all on the
Maps page. Thanks. Ab.
We've got a short survey posted that we'd really like all of your readers
to consider responding to. We know a lot of the firefighting community has
been a little busy the last couple of weeks so we waited to say anything
until now. We'd like to get present and past Abercrombies' opinions too!
It's on our home page at the
site near the top.:
TriData Survey (Posted 06/19/08) This year marks the 10th anniversary of
the release of the TriData Phase 3 study. The SHWT and LLC would like to
recognize this landmark study by highlighting significant accomplishments
related to TriData, focusing on key recommendations that still need to be
worked on to improve the safety culture of the interagency community, and
identifying gaps in the TriData study recommendations. (Individual
answers will be treated confidentially and only cumulative results will
be used to describe responses. If you are unfamiliar with the study, or
want to refresh your memory, please search the Lessons Learned Center
Library using the keyword "TriData.") Please take this survey by August
1, 2008 Click Here to take survey.
Thanks and keep up the great work!
CA-CZU Castle Pic
Can you post this in the helicopter gallery with a post in the Hotlist, Initial
Attack, CA-CZU Castle thread? It is Cal Fire’s 406 with 106 in the background
filling from Horseshoe Pond at Skyline Ridge Open Space (Hwy 35 @ Alpine Rd).
Credits: Andrea Christensen, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
Thanks, nice photo. I posted it on
Helicopters 23 photo page. I'll put a link to it on the hotlist page for the
Castle fire as well. Ab.
We don't spend enough time nor have the numbers of folks around anymore
that can really keep Mark III's singing. Still a great piece of equipment
if you know the temperment of the engine. The post stated that they were
mixing the fuel at 24:1 which, with my experience and the mixes we have in
the states, may have been too lean, which wouldn't cause the plug to foul
unless you were dealing with some kind of contaminant in the fuel, but
would increase the potential to burn the motor up when it overheats. 16: 1
(40 oz to 5 gallons) was always the mix I used and still is except when in
Canada where they have some synthetics that they mix 100:1.
I have been on incidents where we set up a water show on Day one and still
had the same Mark III pushing water from the same place two weeks later. As
to foiling and cleaning spark plugs the pocket flap of your Nomex fire
shirt works double duty for cleaning and gaping the plug.
Is there a fire less than 1/2 mile from Devils Canyon in the Trinity Wilderness
That canyon is full of fuel and hasn't burned in forever.
I am a Training Chief for a DOD fire department in Souda Bay, Crete Greece. I
have two questions that I hope you can answer.
First am looking for a way to
get my firefighters Red carded. Being a wildland firefighter for the Forest
Service in the past I have trained all of them to the S-190 and S-130 level, but
I would like to red card them for there return to the states if at all possible.
Second I have heard rumor of a crossover for structural firefighters for
If you could help it would be greatly appreciated.
I just sent the email below to David Haston, an engineer with the USFS who has
something to do with pump testing. I am sure this Mark 3 issue has come up 100
times before on your web site, but “I’m mad as H…, and I just can’t take it
anymore”. Is there anyone who visits your site who can help?
I noticed your name on a wildfire pump testing manual so assumed you could put
me in touch with someone who would know about the Mark 3 (10 hp, 2-cycle, 185cc
engine attached to a 4-stage pump) used by wildfire services.
My fellow firefighters and I have had many “run-ins” with the venerable Mark 3
and this past fire (South One, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge) put
us over the top. In one three day period we had to return 6 of 9 pumps to supply
because we could not start or keep them running. Over the whole fire, we
averaged about one day per pump before it could not be field repaired. And it
was not for lack of expertise or effort. We had 6 engine bosses, 10 engine
operators, 2 division sups, 2 task force leaders, and me (a crew boss) trying to
keep them going.
The pump is great, the engine is a mess. I cannot believe that there is not a
4-cycle replacement for this engine that has a similar weight to power ratio.
Even if we had to deal with 25-30% less delivery because of less power/weight of
a 4-cycle, we would still deliver much more water over the course of a fire
because the engine would have far less down time.
I have a 6 hp Honda lawn mower that starts and runs every time despite leaving
it in the shed all winter. I have a 8 hp snow blower that I use 3-4 times per
winter, sits unloved in the shed all spring/summer/fall that starts and runs
every time. I can’t believe that the Mark 3’s 24-1 fuel/oil mix can even pass
EPA emission standards. And, given that we have to set these pumps in
containment devices with fuel/oil absorbent pads (mainly because they shake
themselves to bits in minutes) why do we worry about that ground/water pollution
issue when the exhaust spews out what it does? And then there is the noise! No
chainsaw on earth makes that much noise; ear plugs are a joke.
Who is working on this issue? When can we expect a replacement? How can I help
make it happen? We are ready to sign a petition!
Shep Zedaker, Crew Boss
VT Wildland Fire
Hi Shep, firefighters have a LOVE - HATE relationship with
the Mark 3: it's really a working powerhouse or it's not working. As you
probably know, the Mark 3 is a 2-cycle pump, high speed, high compression, light
weight, requires mixed gas. Its lighter weight engine isn't big enough to burn
off the carbon buildup on the spark plug, so it fouls the plugs regularly. Often
in working on restarting, you flood the engine. One first solution is to keep a
box of replacement plugs handy and make sure you've dealt with the flooding
problem. If those 2 things don't solve the problem, a ordering a replacement pump(s) as you did is one solution. (On older pumps, sometimes the magneto burns
out. It also has a weird carburetor design. ETC)
As I understand it, the 2-cycle Mark3 pump is no longer made. Rather,
there's a 4-cycle now, a heavier pump, lasts longer, burns cleaner but doesn't
put out the volume of water needed for long hoselays or a 6-head sprinkler
system with 2 inch line. I have heard that there's a fine propane pump for that
runs sprinklers for 24 hours on a 20 gal tank of propane that was used by
homeowners in the MN headwaters fires last year. (Don't know name or company,
but excellent solution for residents with water nearby.) Not the kind of
pump/fuel setup wildland firefighters could haul around and employ on a remote
ridgetop, though... Ab.
One of my firefighters sent this link from a telemark skiing website: a series
pics from a fire plume in Oregon.
Very nice ones. (vfd, your emails almost always land in our spam
filter, not to be discovered until a day later, if at all. Maybe sending them in
plain text and only to Ab would guarantee they get thru, or maybe the status quo
is OK?) Ab.
Perimeter Fire Mapping info online:
After we posted the info on the
nifc map site several days ago, we got a message from Tim with CalFire,
suggesting that public download of large map files might tie up the site and
keep teams from getting the info they need in the midst of a firestorm of
complexes. At that time, we pulled the info on how to download. If any community or firefighter family member needs that info, go to the
News page and
click on FireMaps for many options. GIS girl, fire geek and others, if you know
of other good options, please let us know. We try to keep the news page up to date.
Here's the link to this morning's session on C-SPAN. There's a flash
viewing option top right.
Hotlist thread here:
Just wondering about the accuracy of some of the figures presented by Mr. Rey
during his interview. At 4:39 minutes into the program he states that "In this
latest event we extinguished 95% of the fires that were ignited. We, on average,
extinguished 98% of fires looking at the season as a whole..."
My math might be a little rusty, but I look at those figures as somewhat
suspect. When folks get some time, I'd love to hear some educational commentary
on how I could improve my understanding of these, ummm, statistics.
This was in response to a question asked about federal preparedness levels which
was prompted by the interviewer referencing Casey's testimony in Congress.
Rey is far too optimistic with his stats in that interview. A report
yesterday (being reported in the news and by Chief Grijalva) said that in CA, of
the 1781 fires started by the lightning busts, 1493 are contained or otherwise
out; 288 are active fires. That's 83.8%, not 95% containment. I would bet containment success is even less than 83.8%.
(To round out the stats, it's estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 lightning strikes
hit CA during those two lightning busts on June 20 afternoon and June 21 after
For example, one side of one lookout mountain on the Shasta Trinity NF had
15 fires with an equal number on the other side on 6/21/08. Three weeks later,
those fires have all burned together and continue to burn as one fire within a
complex. There are 4 additional fires on a nearby mountain that have burned
together and are expected to join with the fire on the lookout mountain. Have
those been folded into the 288 that are still active, where they now count as 2
fires rather than as 34 fires? Who knows. Ab.
We would really like to thank our firefighters both air and land, but cannot get
into the website.
It is really hard to say thanks and take photos of aircraft when you are crying.
But, Thanks for
your work on the Castle Rock CA fire. We see you from our garden and are
Dexter and Valerie Ahlgern
I'll post your message on the hotlist as well. Most firefighters feel
they're simply doing the job they love. Your thanks are certainly appreciated,
I've got one to add to your list Reality Check:
The "let's just ignore it and it'll go away service."
Forest Service grunt.
CA-BTU-PNF firefighter killed in crash near Oroville
Article Launched: 07/14/2008 01:41:00 PM PDT
OROVILLE — A Plumas County firefighter assigned to the Butte
Lightning Fire Complex was killed Sunday when he lost control of his
motorcycle on the transition ramp from Highway 149 to southbound
He was identified as Steven E. Zinn, 27. Local fire officials said
he was a firefighter with the Plumas National Forest.
It wasn't immediately known if Zinn was on duty, or on his way to a
work assignment, when the accident occurred at 2:15 a.m.
The California Highway Patrol said Zinn was wearing a helmet, but
suffered fatal upper body injuries after he was thrown from the
motorcycle and struck by two vehicles.
Cal Fire-Butte County Chief Henri Brachais ordered all Cal Fire
installations to fly flags at half-staff today in honor of the
||Officials Urge Action to Aid Fire Prevention
This is the First Call To Action. Strike While It's Still Hot.
When the Smoke Leaves, It's All Over.
Call, Write or Email every Representative.
Tell Them the Truth!
Remember This Is an Election Year!
HAHAHA! Nice post! Just trying to help out other new folks on the forum. If
worked it, you worked it (that was all i was tryin to get at, SO CLAIM
As far as work/rest ratio that is another BIG JOKE we could banter on for
and days. No offense taken. As far as i am concerned, you are on my top
of favorite "They said" posters, ha ha.
On the lighter note, i do not type nearly as fast as you as i am a lowly
Maybe if i got the demo 6 on my district and not the guy it took 3
tries to pass
the pack test, I could type a little faster, HA HA HA. (Wow
did i just open up a
can of worm's regarding the july fire hire, ha ha?)
Lovin The Lake
||For anyone who wishes to improve their limited knowledge concerning fire
business management and when meal periods should be compensated (and
possibly improve their credibility as well... M-i-hiss-t-e-r Lovin) Please
refer to The NWCG Handbook Fire Business Management Handbook 2 chapter 10,
section 11-13.5 Effective 02/08 Page 20 of 49 12.6- Meal periods (5 Cfr
551.411 (c) and 29 CFR 785.19 (a), As I did,... not the Fireline Handbook
as you most unwittingly presumed I did... Mi-his-ter Lovin.
Ok that's it ,
enough of this pathetic attempt a trying to build up my
low self esteem at the expense of others, I'm going back to fight fire from
my much undeserved R+R whaa! everyone be safe and be sure to show a meal
break when you think about food or use the honey huts or wish to impress a
self important finance Chief, a way ward IC or unappreciated, fast tracking
lackey bean counter!
PS: Casey should be the only one not at a fire fight right now! what's up
with all this dialog?
Casey for president!
||One who knows
Happy Green Parks and Recreation Department!!!! HHAAAAAAAHHAAAA!!!!!
Who Knows for president!
We should have a re-name the Forest Service contest!
- How about "The department of lie about it and it will become reality
- Or the "Three years and I'm out, so let's not help the groundpounder
- What about "The Skew the numbers so things seem better than they are when
I BS the Congress department"?
- or the "Let's waste taxpayers dollars while I live off of per
diem and do
nothing in Washington department of bagriculture"
- I know, "The 'Show a half hour lunch break on an uncontrolled fire,' even
though you worked it, so you can help solve the national deficit and make
me look good department of bean counters' service"
||Regarding the meal break,
I think my favorite is an Opps from a Northern California type 2 IMT told
me I had to show a meal break, but I could make up the hours on my travel
home. I guess I just have to wonder why I wasn't allowed to follow the
written rule and told to falsify my times. I won't tell you what I did I'm
sure you can guess. Also have to wonder if anyone else has been in the same
||Sorry to Lovin the Lake, not angry just pathetically disgusted with some of
the people who try so hard to nickel and dime the groundpounder with what
seems like their own personal attempt to eliminate the national deficit.
Most times all our people want is to be treated like the hardworking
firefighters that they are and get a full days pay for a full days work.
When this simple trust is violated, or even takes the appearance of being
violated as is so often the case (lunch breaks and not being compensated
for camp duties). Its much like a parent who lies to abuses or cheats their
own child, after the child tries everything it can to please them.
Eventually they become, angry, unmotivated, cynical and eventually.....
It is a rare occasion that I have been allowed to tack on a half hour
before or after the sixteen hours with a lunch break, rationale being 2230
violates the work rest guidelines, and our time starts when the morning
briefings are at 0600, My point is that you shouldn't have to.
On a lighter note Mr/Ms Lovin, since I type at a rate of 60 words per
minute it actually only took me one minute and forty seconds... not thirty
minutes.. to quote the fire business management handbook!
Well put. That is exactly what i meant by any one who signs your ctr's should not have a problem doing that if they are halfway clued in. I have yet to run into one "sup" who has a problem with those two "scenarios" i laid on the table. We need alot more people who think like you out on the
line (willing to stand up for their folks and not hide behind a "oh no im too scared to say something" curtain) and less people who are going to complain and Quote the fireline handbook to people!
(While i understand reality checks anger at the situation, a simple 60 more
secs of thought into what i wrote and you might not have had to spend 30
mins quoting your hand book! and i in no way suggested people do anything illegal!)
Anyway, kudo's to Casey on the C-span interview. However, I personally, felt it really did not get "OUR" point across. (but it did show how uneducated on the
issues alot of the american public can be.) To no fault of casey's or the fwfsa's.
Casey great job, just felt that the forum was a little off, but every little bit
helps (and no they did not get to edit the male anatomy comment out (to be honest it made me laugh hysterically).
P.S the TM post was me just forgot to sign the bottom
Lovin The Lake
I'll add your moniker to that one. Ab.
For those of you who read the Durango Telegraph article a week or so ago
and do not believe it.
The San Juan has downsized the ground firefighters and the
forest is and has done everything it can to downsize the fire program.
This is what happens when line officers who do know what they are doing,
think they do. Morale is in the crapper and many people have bailed out for
greener pastures. This is one snap-shot of what the agency has done on a
national scale to it's firefighters.
How about fire striking out on its own under congressional and senatorial
approval and use the name U.S. Forest Service Fire Department. Today's
"Forest Service" doesn't deserve to use the forest service name. I would
rather they be called the "Happy Green Parks and Recreation Department."
One Who Knows
Attached is the link to this morning's session on C-SPAN. Unfortunately
it being a live show and no time delay, I got a nice question about my
Thanks, C. Ab.
||Making the rounds behind the scenes, most recently from RR. We posted
link on the 7th or 8th, but some great photos in this collection if
you haven't seen
To readers who have sent in photos like from the Sleeping Elephant,
etc, we simply haven't gotten to photos yet. Like many right now, we're
stretched very thin. Ab.
||Dear AB & All:
What an incredible honor and opportunity to speak on behalf of our NAtion's federal
wildland firefighters this morning on national TV from our Nation's Capitol.
Given the fact that it was my first time on such a program I hope I didn't screw it up
too bad. The pride I felt was overwhelming and yes, they did get a caller (geez I hope
they edited it out) asking about my male anatomy...!!! Guess that's what happens on
By the way, MArk Rey got a call from a guy suggesting mountain top sprinkler systems...
I told Mr. Rey after he was done and before I went on to get started on that sprinkler
system and we'd be right behind him!
Anyway, stay safe, and to our FWFSA members, THANKS.
||Glad my note generated some discussion. R-3 continues to rest, find other detail work or enjoy the rain and cool weather, all whilst watching the California and northwest fires on the news. We did send out a handful of firefighters this week, but for the majority of us we are looking for work elsewhere that might provide us with other better opportunities. As permanent seasonals and seasonals, it is hard enough to get the training necessary to upgrade our qualifications, but the real killer is not getting the experience or time to have task books signed off so that we can compete and qualify for better jobs. Of course trying to talk to supervisors about details or late season work is difficult when everyone is on assignment out west.
A friend of mine in 2000 complained about everyone not getting assignments when he worked as a seasonal on the Boise, and they basically blackballed him from returning.
As for Pay and benefits, everyone knows that a seasons success is measured by the amount of overtime and work accomplished at the end of the season. How many firefighters will we lose to other work because they were not given the opportunity to train, gain experience or make money? On my own crew, we will again lose two or three seasonals as they
realized quickly that our forest does not send people out on assignment beyond the borders of our zone and very rarely beyond our region.
Boots can also be deducted from your taxes each year if you itemize. Actually, ALL your fire fighting apparel and equipment can be deducted; socks, t-shirts, protective eyewear, etc. You won't get 100% of it back, but it all helps. When I worked for the NPS in Florida, we got allowance for two pair of boots due to the wet conditions. USFS does not give any allowances for anything, we even were told we had to buy our crew shirts this year and our FMO was angry that we all bought only one or two, or wore last years shirts.
||Good morning, Ab.
Did ya miss me? Well, we’ve been checking in every once in awhile to see how things are going here, but I have to say we’ve been pretty busy rehashing the same issues with the U.S. Forest Service over faller hiring this year as we have over the past 9 years.
So, I have this question – sort of a little survey inquiry. Because, you know, I REALLY thought I understood this. But, I guess I didn’t. It appears that I’m a bit slow on the uptake here…
Here’s the question:
I’d like to know if the readers of They Said believe Commercial Timber Fallers working on wildland fires (you know, those guys cutting burning hazard trees to help clear the way for other wildland firefighters to work SAFELY?) should or should not be covered with Worker Compensation Insurance (Actual Personal Injury/Fatality Insurance).
Pretty straight forward question, don’t ya think? But, I guess not. See, in an attempt to save the U.S. Forest Service money in the wildland fire arena, it appears that this federal agency (AQM) is willing to put commercial timber fallers out on the fireline without worker compensation coverage. Now, fallers may have that little “certificate” for their “if/any” policy to show they’ve paid their $1,500 “just in case they employ someone else.” But the individual “contract faller” takes a self-exclusion and heads out to the fireline uninsured. Now, this saves the federal government LOTS of money, because the cost of worker compensation premiums isn’t passed on to the agency. However, there’s just this nasty little issue – if the faller gets killed or injured out in the field, who do they (or their families) look to for help? Well, under the single faller EERA (the program that replaced the old AD Faller program) the faller has only himself and his family to look to. Because, well, the U.S. Forest Service maintains that the faller is working as an independent contractor, and as such, “should know” they are solely responsible for any accidents or fatalities. Silly faller.
What a cost savings, eh?
The real answer? We, the tax payers, foot the bill for services such as disability and other social service programs in order for the U.S. Forest Service to realize their cost savings.
I’ll point back to 2002 when commercial timber faller Alan Wyatt was killed in Colorado on the U.S. Forest Service administered wildland fire. He was working as an AD (technically a government hired employee). When it came time to address the question of where the financial assistance was going to come from for his wife and family – guess what? Most everyone here knows (or you can look back into the archives and read) that this family was initially DENIED any benefits, and it took the involvement of U.S. Representative Greg Walden and other Colorado political figures to convince the DOJ to reverse the denial decision.
Wyatt’s death was the start of the move to create a faller hiring program which provided not only state and federal agencies with high quality timber fallers, but also provided REAL commercial timber fallers with fair and equitable pay, adequate fireline training AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF ALL FOR FALLERS AND THEIR FAMILIES – ACTUAL, REAL WORKER COMPENSATION COVERAGE.
So, I can already hear the questions coming…what happened to the Faller Module programs across the country? I can address that in my next post…but first, I really am interested in hearing what They Said readers (particularly U.S. Forest Service Fire Managers) believe in terms of fireline fallers being covered with Worker Compensation coverage. This question is absolutely the CORE of what I’m interested in addressing. We can discuss background checks, adequate equipment requirements, fair and efficient mobilization, etc., later. Right now, I just want to hear what you all think should happen if/when a faller gets their brains smeared on the forest floor, busts a leg, blows out a shoulder, or otherwise loses their ability to work on behalf of U.S. Forest Service firefighting efforts.
For the record, we sure miss the U.S. Forest Service heroes that built the Faller Module program to its level up until last year. Unfortunately, they are gone and their work has largely been swept under the rug by their replacements. (In the organizational development world this is called Institutional Memory Atrophy). However, I, personally, will NEVER, EVER stop fighting for fair and equitable pay for REAL fallers, as well as ADEQUATE PERSONAL INJURY/FATALITY INSURANCE COVERAGE. The struggle goes on – the issues are the same. My husband is a faller and I’m fighting from the trenches. And, make no mistake, it is a fight.
Thanks AB…this place is buzzing as usual.
Also, just want to say, our classified ad worked excellent as we were searching for experienced cross cut operators for Wilderness work. We appreciate the service! Thank you.
Shari Downhill, Pres.
Northwest Timberfallers, Inc.
To: Reality Check
Right on. Hit the nail on the head.
I'd encourage any and everyone who has been subjected to this maltreatment
to fight it and get recompensed. The bean counters harass ICs about peanuts
(sometimes literally, right, Kirk?) while we AOBDs clock off
$200,000-800,000 a day just down the road apiece from camp.
Why don't we see the bean counters in the aviation world on incidents, where
the $100K bills are literally clocking off (or, more aptly, falling out of
the bucket) by the hour. A few years back I invited a FBM regional type out
to my helibases and portable retardant show to have an honest and frank
discussion about aircraft costs, both generally and as they related to this
.... And waited .... And waited. A no-show.
To have the bean counters exerting subtle and not-so-subtle pressure to
reduce ridiculous and absurdly named so-called cost centers such as
supplemental peanuts and 1/2-hour authorized meal breaks is the height of
lunacy. They know little to nothing of operations much less air operations,
and consequently avoid those real cost centers like the plague. I would
venture aircraft and crews (in 20-person increments, not 1/2 hour lunch
breaks you endeavor to screw them out of) are way up there in percentage of
The invitation still stands: each and every one of the bean counters are
encouraged to visit my aviation operations.
And just to add some carrots to this incentive, I have a reputation for
running big air shows that cost money - but operations that hopefully are
cost-effective in the end. You'd have to ask the 20 or so OSCs and 12 or so
ICs I've worked with on that.
And not always successful in terms of cost-benefit by any means. It's the
classic rock and a hard place: light the fusees with wind in your face or
don't light 'em. But that's the "fog of war" environment we work in: high
ops tempo, high-risk, fast moving, forever changing for better or for worse.
I promise you admin types - and in all sincerity - if you bother to come
out, we will have a productive and educational conversation on both sides.
A non-vitriolic conversation based on facts and experience. Yours and mine.
I'll learn something, you'll do the same.
How is one going about recording their times, the actual time they worked, "going
about it the wrong
way"? Those two different scenarios are "REALITY" for probably
75% of the
personnel on the fireline.
While your S-190 and Basic fire camp duties course was short and sweet,
for the refresher.
Simply stated, we are asked to show a break. (I was there when the team asked the
feds to do it.) Bottom line, if you are not entitled to it, don't expect to get paid for it
(and then bitch about it when you don't).
And if you are, then take it!!! (and show
your break so that everything
looks good on paper: that's all we are to the WO and
the Queen and her
Court -- #'s and $'s)
TM aka Lovin The Lake
Years ago when I was a Division Sup on an area team, the situation came up with people not getting a "Real Meal Break" and having to show it, we dealt with it at the Division level rather than going thru the "Bean counters". I told the Crew Bosses to start their time a 1/2 hour earlier or run it 1/2 hour later. They informed me that was illegal. I told them it was only illegal if they notified the Time Unit Leader. Since I was the one approving their crew timesheets, I sure was not going to tell anyone about it. (Did bring the Ops Chief up to speed on what we were doing and he said it was the right decision.)
Worded for us back then. Guess it boils down to how much are you willing to stick out your neck for our troops?
Grand Scheme---Reduce Housing---Reduce Firefighters---Remove Housing---Destroy R5 Fire Program
The smell of vermin, comes in the shape of a snake in the grass. This snake has a den in the regional and washington office. Behind closed doors, they are planning their Regional Policy. If they force the LPF employees to sign, then expect this policy to reach your door this winter. This is your warning. The LPF employees were blindsided with a thirty day notice.
As far as the local bargaining unit goes, their hands were tied at the
negotiations. They were also asked to not sign the agreement and walk away by the employees they were to protect. Great Job
To cut off this snake's head we have to catch it on the LPF, before it runs rampant through R5 and the Nation.
We on the Los Padres need your help catching this snake.
Please e-mail, write, call, post, cut, copy, clip, paste, scan, or what ever works for you. Notify your Senator,
Congressman, and local and national media. Reference the 07/11 Press
Release -- Firefighters Losing Homes -- posted on TheySaid..
trailer trash, in managements eyes
||From the Ab account from Kevlar:
GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF EMERGENCY SERVICES
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY
AND FIRE PROTECTION
California Joint Incident Briefing
07/13/08 1000 hrs:
Abs, help on the way & more ready if you need it!
There has been a formal request received from the American National Multi-Agency
Coordination (MAC) Group through the National Interagency Coordination Centre at Boise,
Idaho, for assistance from Australia and New Zealand to support the wildland fire
suppression efforts being carried out, most likely being deployed to northern California.
There is a contingent of 44 from Australia and New Zealand leaving on Sunday morning,
travelling to San Francisco and on to Boise for their pre-deployment briefing.
NSW is providing 10 personnel as multi-agency support as follows:
Rural Fire Service - I Helicopter Manager, 1 Divisional Supervisor and 1 Task Force Leader
National Parks - 3 Helicopter Managers
State Forests - 1 Divisional Supervisor and 1 Task Force Leader
NSWFB - 1 Divisional Supervisor and 1 Task Force Leader
Rural Fire Service personnel being deployed are Russell Perry, Group Officer, Mid Murray
Zone is going as Helicopter Manager, Craig Burley, Group Officer, Hawkesbury is going as
Divisional Supervisor and Geoff Parish Group Officer, Gosford is going a Task Force Leader.
There is a greater than 85% chance that there will be another deployment in 2 weeks (approx
27 July) and a further deployment two weeks later (approx 10 August) so all those who have
submitted their EOI for the Overseas Deployment Register must ensure that passport, medical,
arduous pack test and qualifications are up to date.
On behalf of the Commissioner and the entire Service, appreciation is extended to all those
members who have volunteered to represent our Service overseas. We wish our first
contingent departing on Sunday a safe trip.
Rob Rogers, AFSM
NSW Rural Fire Service
||I think Lovin it in the lake is going about the meal break issue the wrong
We as module leaders (fire supervisors) must pay our people
appropriately for work performed, we are legally obligated to pay our
firefighters for a meal break if they are in fact enitialed to it, if in
fact the IMT wishes to illegally change the CTR after the fact for whatever
personal reason, (making themselves look good by saving a couple of
pennies at the firefighters expense etc.) that is their issue and they should be
held accountable for the illegal and unethical activity.
NWCG Hand book 2 Chapter 10,
Section 11-13 effective 02/08
Personnel on the fireline may be compensated for their meal period if all
of the following conditions are met:
Paragraph #4. States:
In those situations where incident support personnel cannot be relieved
from performing work and must remain at a post of duty, a meal period may
be recorded as time worked for which compensation shall be allowed and
documented on the Crew time Report, SF-261.
So what is my interpretation of work and post of duty?
Its simple, well its simple to those of us who actually fight the fire. to
the so called "bean counters", or by their real name "corrupt government
officials" this will mean less than nothing.
Our #1 work priority as firefighters on an uncontrolled incident is safety,
this is everyone's duty, we must keep our PPE in place, rest when the
opportunity arises, not have unburned fuel between us and the fire, keep
our heads up for spot fires, flare ups, post lookouts, observe fire
behavior, burn out, protect structures, communicate with adjoining forces,
crewmembers and bosses, keeping informed on fire weather, have LCES in place
and move to a safety zone if the fire dictates.. even as we wolf down our
With this in mind there isn't much wiggle room not to pay your subordinate
during their lunch break on an uncontrolled fire. Oh... by the way that
would include paying your employee for fire camp activities after eating or
arriving in camp, IE: waiting in line for several hours for food, fuel for
saws and vehicles and showers, setting up tents, trying to get supplies
from supply, driving, vehicle repair, radio repair, lunches, ice, water,
parking, getting run out of the first several sleeping spots reserved for
inmates by "wanna be" security cops, sharpening tools and chains, paperwork,
debriefing, AARs, module briefings, dealing with personal issues, the
public, medical units, laundry, resting (sitting down) aside from sleep,
injuries, bumps bruises and rashes, etc. etc, etc.
I feel that there are certain small and insignificant things we as an
agency can do to retain quality and experienced employees, one is to pay
them what they are legally entitled to. Personally watching a DC-10 drop
$70,000 dollars worth of retardant on the wrong side of the fireline on the
Gap fire or having other agency trucks spew exhaust fumes in my face as
they scurry off to motel rooms, getting paid 3 times as much, while they
are still on the clock, as we lay face down in the dirt trying to catch a
couple of hours of shuteye while off the clock, sure might be alot easier
#2- The Operations Section Chief makes a decision that it is
critical to the effort of controlling the fire that personnel remain at
their post of duty and continue to work as they eat,
So...in other words, if you are not relieved during lunch by operations
and are required to stay on the fireline, then you can pay your
firefighters for working while eating.
||To all USFS "Forestry Techs"
0600 1400 1430 2230
This should solve your meal break prob.
or 0530 1400 1430 2200
the second option gives you a half hour of night dif
did this all through the basin complex and the indians fire
Bean counters be dammed
the person signing your ctr should have no prob doing this
if they are clued in at all as to what is going on
Don't forget your hazard pay ha ha
Lovin the Lake
Check out www.GetFireGel.com or www.FireGel.com these are the sites
NW Barricade and Barricade International. The difference between
Gel and Barricade II is that Barricade is inherently biodegradable because
the Canola Oil Suspension vs Thermo Gels kerosene suspension.
Gel can be reactivated with a mist of water several times for multiple
fire seige. It's longivity during direct fire outlasts foam which is
merely air bubbles
vs gels water bubbles.
Technology at it's best...now available to add to the fire fighting
quiver of tools.
||Long ago, when I first worked for the USFS, a friend of mine, who worked for the BLM, said the BLM paid for her boots. Wow!! For 15 years I bought my own boots, then I went to work for ODF, and found out that ODF had a boot allowance, for both seasonal and permanent employees. Wow!! That was a pleasant surprise.
On another note............... I learned yesterday that some fire fighters on the California fires, or at least this one my friend is on, are required to show a half hour lunch break on their shift tickets. Even though the fire is not controlled! I expressed surprise, and my friend indicated that Albuquerque (my friends words were the "bean counters") said this was mandatory.
Let me get this straight................... the USFS will save a few measly $$$$ by requiring the fire fighters to show a "meal break", that they most-likely worked right through, but will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars flying fire fighters in from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, and Greece. Impressive!! I bet those meal breaks will surely pay for the international fire fighters travel. I have nothing against the international fire fighters. It is great that we can help each other across international lines, and the few times I have worked with our Canadian friends, have always been very delightful. However, the fact that the fire fighters who are not protected by a union contract (federal, private, etc), have to show a meal break, when the fire is in an uncontrolled status, is morally and ethically WRONG!!
From 1995 to 2006 I traveled to Australia several times. Depending on the time of year, I could count on paying $1200 - $1800 round trip, so with the value of the US $ declining, those tickets will most-likely be double, or more.
I am certainly glad that the "bean counters" are saving the tax payers a few $$$ on the backs of the fire fighters.
||Boots: (not meaning to fuel the fire, but provide info)
WA DNR allows up to $180 reimbursement to new seasonal and permanent employees
for fire boots, and then every 3 years after that. The successive reimbursements can be
for new boots, rebuild, or resole, just can't exceed $180. No other uniform allowance is
provided; though all other PPE and line packs are provided.
Hula Hoop-carrying Cat Herder
||Inciweb is up: www.inciweb.org/
||Well thank goodness we can rely on overseas firefighters to fill our wildland
firefighting needs. Note the story from MSNBC.com:
And if you detect a hint of sarcasm, you're correct.
It's hot out here in Cali
I don’t know what the problem is with boots at the USFS. When I worked for the
USFS I got my head bit off just for asking why they are not provided. Seems to be
a touchy subject for some.
The Department of Defense are Feds and they get their boots provided by the
department, station boots, turnout boots and wildland boots (if appropriate). Some
of the wildland heavy bases even issue Whites and Nicks.
At the Park Service we get $150 a year towards boot costs, whether it is snow
boots for winter burning, new wildland boots or a rebuild. We provide a receipt
and get reimbursed; I understand the other DOI agencies do the same. We include
seasonal employees in this reimbursement.
Why the USFS gets a pass on providing required PPE, I don’t know.
If ever there were a more important and pivotal moment in my career, I
would say it is now. With all of the drastic changes we are going
through, within the Forest Service, I am honored and proud to work
along side one of the finest, dedicated and admirable Forest Service
Nancy Rebecca Hood has become a great mentor and inspiration to me
within my career. This is the 50th Summer she has worked for the
Klamath National Forest (She also turns 70 this September). Can you
please take a few moments to read about her, pass on her story and the
flyer for her "Fifty Years and Still Detecting," Party.
I will forever be grateful to all who can push past all the political
drudgery, to honor this Woman of great dedication and dignity!
"Nancy Hood's Biggest Aficionado"
(28 K doc file)
(375 K pdf file)
text of narrative doc above:
The Klamath National Forest Service Honors One of Its Finest: Nancy
Nancy has been working for the Forest Service for fifty years on the Klamath National Forest, as a Fire Detection Lookout. She is a woman who has seen and experienced nearly every facet of change the Forest Service has gone through in 50 years and excelled through it all.
Nancy began her career in the Forest Service 1959. Her family lived locally in Siskiyou County for many years and spent earlier years in Sacramento, Ca. She was a Mechanical Engineering student at Sacramento City College when she first acquired a job as a Lookout with the Klamath National Forest. She was searching for the kind of career she could see herself doing
all her life. After spending a summer out in the steep and rugged paradise, we call the Klamath...it was a kind of love that she couldn't separate herself from. She faced skepticism from family and friends
alike... and in the past has been called a "spinster." In all her years, not one person could sway her away from the rogue life she chose. In becoming a Fire Detection Lookout, Nancy knew that she had found her life passion and wasn't willing to let it go.
Through the years, Nancy has been recognized and given awards for her dedication and willingness to go beyond the regular call of duty. In one document, in her files, she was honored as Employee of the Month, Dec. 13, 1971, Quote:
"On the night of the Red Fir Fire, she recognized the threat from high winds in the burning slash piles and called the crews out. She continued to observe and when it appeared that the fire was indeed escaped she again called the crews out. All that night and the following days and nights she was faithful in observing and relaying information. Her alertness and accuracy were a big help in catching the fire and controlling it quickly."
To me this was a monumental moment in the Klamath National Forest fire history. There it was, the early nineteen
seventies... a time before mandatory fire training, Incident Response Pocket Guides, advanced fire behavior & weather analysis. Nancy Rebecca Hood studied the curves of the landscape, listened and watched as wind, clouds and weather altered fire behavior and, ultimately, helped protect her family of firefighters. She did this all ahead of "the times," her knowledge and ideas were progressive. We can learn from all her years and begin to preserve her fire knowledge, history and experiences for the future.
In the early years of her career, being a Lookout went beyond staffing the tower. Nancy held responsibilities including patrol, issuing campfire permits, educating public on fire prevention and assisting crews in the field as needed. Through the years she has been a pivotal part of our Lookout Training program, contributing to Regional Lookout Workshops and local interagency training. She has also volunteered thousands of hours of her personal time to the greater good of the Forest Service.
Nancy is currently serving on Region 5's oldest Lookout, Lake Mountain. It was originally constructed 1911-1912, recently was named Historic. Nancy has been working up a history of lookouts in and around the Klamath National Forest. This is a project that serves as a great historical contribution to our Forest and Agency. It also has taken many hours of her personal time to research and preserve a historic, cultural and photographic history. She has also donated much of her Annual leave that she has accrued in the past half century of service, to fellow Forest Service employees with ill health and those in need. To me this speaks great measures of the character of this woman. She is destined to become one of the greatly honored Women in Forest Service History, much to the likes of Miss Hallie Dagget (who also served in the Forest Service on the Klamath National Forest).
Nancy will celebrate her 50th season of working with the Forest Service and turn 70 years of age this summer. This is quite an accomplishment and a great contribution to our Agency. If ever there were an ideal Forest Service employee, I would have to say it
is Nancy Rebecca Hood. Considering the progressive contributions she made during nearly 50 years of Service, she should be honored for all the time she has dedicated to our Agency and Fire Prevention and Suppression Programs.
Jaime Tarne, KNF Prevention Officer
What a fine story for a fine life dedicated to a "fire and
forest service" calling. I certainly can recognize her passion for
her work. Please let us know when her writings become available and send
any photos celebrating her event. Thanks Nancy. Readers, if you can get to
the party in Yreka on July 23, please do! Ab.
||LPF Mobile Home Owners
I find it quite interesting that a staff of "line officers" can be so keenly focused on
implementing and enforcing a counter-productive/counter-retentive housing policy
upon their own loyal, hard-working fire suppression employees while their Forest
goes up in smoke around them.
At first I thought it was just another chapter in the "Grand Scheme" to reduce the
R5 Fire Program to a smoldering heap. I have since seen the light.
In my opinion, the actions of these "line officers" are vindictive and smell of vermin.
We have trailer pads at several locations on my South Zone Forest, so I wonder
why it hasn't been an issue here? Hmmmmmm.
||re boot allowance:
It was brought to my forest's leadership's attention that the uniform MAXIMUM
allowance is $900.00 yet we only are allotted about $200.00 (at least at my
lvl). The captains question was; "why cant we use the extra money to
purchase a pair of boots every three to four years". Seems like a
reasonable idea to me. He has received no answer on the matter as of yet.
If we could have some line officers start looking into and pushing this
issue maybe we could get a small victory in the recouping the cost we incur
in the jobs we do. Just a thought.
I am trying to find out what everyone is doing with their old shelters. I read somewhere
Boise was taking them, but I am unable to find the site that I read it on. It was in reference
to making cabin wraps out of the old shelters. We have quite a few of them and would hate
to see them go to waste if there is still a use for them! Any and all info would be appreciated.
||Thank goodness we're past 7/11. Posters, please run your emails /
posts through a spell checker! Ab.
||Ok, tough old farts, we get it you had it rough, walked uphill to the fire through the snow both ways. Mr. White actually made your boots from a cow you killed with your bare hands, and you were happy. We get it, we are soft and weak, sorry.
Or maybe not, if we stick to facts and not use numbers created from dusty memories and auction sites.
First of all in 1975 a GS 6 made $4.78 an hour, not this $2.75 being thrown around. In 1965 a GS 6 made $2.74 / hr, perhaps you skipped the 70’s (I wouldn’t blame you). You can check this figure at OPM they have government salary figures back to 1949.
As much as possible I have pulled these figures from reputable sources and multiple sources as much as possible (US Censes, Labor Bureau, various Consumer indexes, news articles etc) but it is still the internet so…
I have started with 1975 since that year has already been thrown out there. For comparison I have included 1996 which is when I joined the USFS, 2001 which is when many of the up and coming employees joined (MEL hire) and 2008 which of course is this year.
Annual salary GS 6/1 $9946 ($4.78/hr)
Minimum wage $2.10 / hr
Median Income $14,100
Median Home Price $35,300
Median Rent $200
Average new car price $4,950
Gas $0.44 / gallon
Milk $1.39 / gallon
Bread $0.40 / loaf
Annual salary GS 6/1 $22,147 ($10.61/hr)
Minimum wage $4.25 / hr
Median Income $36,300
Median Home Price $115,800
Median Rent $554
Average new car price $18,777
Gas $1.22 / gallon
Milk $3.15 / gallon
Bread $1.15 / loaf
Annual salary GS 6/1 $26,342 ($12.62/hr)
Minimum wage $5.15 / hr
Median Income $42,350
Median Home Price $147,800
Median Rent $715
Average new car price $20,945
Gas $1.46 / gallon
Milk $3.00 / gallon
Bread $1.82 / loaf
Kaiser self + family $118.17 / mo (employee), total $472.68 / mo
Annual Salary GS 6/1 $33,135 ($15.88/hr)
Minimum Wage $6.55 / hr
Median Income $61,500
Median Home Price $208,600
Median Rent $1000 (2007)
Average new car price $30,481
Gas $4.11 / gallon
Milk $3.99 / gallon
Bread $2.19 / loaf
Kaiser self + family $239.01 / mo (employee), total $952.49 / mo
A comparison between 1975 and 2008 we find the salary increased 333%, pretty respectable, except costs rose an average of 559%. To match the buying power of a 1975 GS6, a 2008 employee would have to be a GS11 step 1 or a GS9 Step 8. In 1975 the median income was 142% of a GS6 salary, in 2008 the median income is 186% of a GS6 salary, so you can’t just say everybody is feeling the pinch, a GS 6 has lost 40% of his or her buying power compared to the median family. On the plus side milk is a little bit more affordable to the GS6 in 2008.
1975 vs. 2008
Annual Salary GS 6/1 +333%
Median Home Price +590%
Median Income +436%
Median Rent +500%*
Average new car price - 616%
Gas / gallon - 934%
Milk / gallon - 287%
Bread / loaf - 548%
* I could not find a median rent figure more current than 2007.
A comparison between 1975 and 1996 (a 21 year career span) would find a 223% increase in pay vs a 290% increase in costs. In 1996 a GS6 would only need to be a GS8 step 2 or could have even maintained their grade and retired as a GS6 step 10 to maintain their buying power. The median income in 1996 was 164% of the salary of a GS6 step 1, this is a loss of 22% compared to 1975 (142%).
1975 vs. 1996
Annual Salary GS 6/1 - 223%
Median Home Price - 328%
Median Income - 257%
Median Rent - 277%
Average new car price - 379%
Gas / gallon - 277%
Milk / gallon - 227%
Bread / loaf - 288%
Next we will compare 1996 to 2008, a period of 12 years or probably your typical career span for our mid level supervisors (GS7 Engineer / GS8 Captain). In this period salaries increased 150%, unfortunately costs rose 192%, a net loss of 42%. A GS6 would need to be a GS8 step 2 or a GS6 step 9 to maintain his or her spending habits. Hey not bad compared to the guy who started in 1975 except this has occurred in just 12 years, not 21.
1996 vs. 2008
Annual Salary GS 6/1 - 150%
Median Home Price - 180%
Median Income - 169%
Median Rent - 180%*
Average new car price - 162%
Gas / gallon - 337%
Milk / gallon - 127%
Bread / loaf - 190%
Now lets look at our future, these are the men and women we brought on with the MEL build up in 2001. These are also the ones who are leaving in huge numbers to go work for Calfire (CDF for you old guys, you know the agency many of you left to come work at the USFS because the pay was better). In this short period of 7 years health insurance has doubled (again you can find this info at OPM), salaries have increased by 126% while costs have increased by 163%. A GS6 hired in 2001 would have to be a GS8 step 3 or a GS6 step 10 to maintain his or her buying power. Again we see this same GS6 to GS8 comparison we saw with the period 1975-1996 and 1996 to 2008, only now it has taken just 7 years, or 1/3 that 21 year career.
It would be tough to go from a GS6 to a GS8 step 3 in seven years. That is only 4 years to promote from a GS6 to a GS8, and it would be practically impossible to make it to a GS6 step 10 short of an amazing performance record and unusually observant supervisors providing multiple quality step increases. Is it any wonder they are leaving? They can buy 5 of their 7 years back from PERS, 2 years lost retirement for twice the retirement (3% vs 1.7%@50) at 150-200% of their current salary is a small price to pay. Plus their OT counts towards their retirement.
2001 vs. 2008
Annual Salary GS 6/1 - 126%
Median Home Price - 141%
Median Income - 145%
Median Rent - 140%*
Average new car price - 146%
Gas / gallon - 282%
Milk / gallon - 133%
Bread / loaf - 120%
Health insurance 202%
I hope you tough old buzzards appreciate the fact I spent 3 hours out of my one day off to bring you up to speed. Why am I getting one day off a week? Because we can’t keep our crews filled, we are just barely keeping all our engines on as 5 day modules (working 1 day of mandatory OT) and trying to support the state with their fires. Most of our engines are running with one GS6, 7 or 8 as a crew leader and 2 or 3 seasonal employees, not the GS8,7,6,5 + 3 seasonal employees we are allowed if we could only keep the warm bodies long enough to promote into those leadership positions. That is right, we are running 3 to 4 people instead of 7 not due to budgets, but due to a lack of applicants. I’m not even in an undesirable location; I can’t imagine what it must be like trying to hire people in some of the less pleasant places I’ve worked. Bah, you probably still think we are wimps, enjoy your retirement, you earned it while the agency was still a great place to work. I know it used to be because I saw what it once was; I just hope I get to see it again.
This is in no way directed to all older or retired USFS, NPS, BLM, FWS or BIA firefighters out there. I know many of you are doing everything you can to support us. I’m only taking aim at those who feel the need to tell us how it is when they no longer walk in our shoes.
I’ve had all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.
||The Moses letter coming out about the same time as the Arnie letter
might suggest its timing may be a FS political, a$$-covering ploy in
response to Arnie's request to President Bush, the FS's ultimate boss. My
guess is that wildfire is setting the timetable for both. Ab.
There's no conspiracy here. That letter goes out over the Chief's
signature every year. It has nothing to do with Arnold.
Bush being the "ultimate boss" is a real reach. Wildfire
doesn't "set a timetable" at all. Rey influences that, and the
Ag Sec influences that, and Congress influences that, and OMB influences
that ......... and thanks-be-to-god CASEY influences that !!!
||Anyone seen a "Moses Letter" for DOI?
The "Moses Letter" is more likely in reality an Arnold political stunt. I will be shocked if anything of substance comes of it. Certainly it will not change soon "business as usual" in Washington in an election year. They would have to eat too much crow about the mess we are in right now which will only get worse
I think the poster about the "Moses letter" has 2 different letters confused. Arnolds' letter isn't the "Moses letter".
The "Moses letter" is from the chief of the USFS and lets people working for the Agency out of project targets to go to fires. A kind of "Let my people go" letter. It comes out any year a big fire siege happens.
Arnolds letter asking the pres to give us 100% of MEL funding for the rest of the FY wouldnt do much, who would we hire with the $$$? Where would we house them? ...Maybe some jobs would get filled, but those are funded already..
The Moses letter coming out about the same time as the Arnie letter
might suggest its timing may be a FS political, a$$-covering ploy in
response to Arnie's request to President Bush, who is the FS's ultimate
boss. My guess is that wildfire is setting the timetable for both.
||AB: I was asked to forward this to you for TheySaid. The issue was on the local news last night. The folks involved in this issue have really done a great job getting the issue addressed.
Firefighters Losing Homes
As Los Padres National Forest Service Firefighters work to save other families homes, the Forest Service is threatening to destroy theirs. Among the lowest paid firefighters on the line throughout California, these federal employees can only afford to live in Santa Barbara, Ojai or Big Sur by renting a trailer pad in the Los Padres National Forest.
A year ago, during the 2007 fire season, some Wildland Firefighters’ families were notified that the United States Forest Service (USFS) had chosen to unilaterally implement a policy that would severely slash the value of the firefighters’ homes. These mobile homes are located on pads that had been leased to the firefighters for as long as they were employed by the USFS. Now a year later, when most of those affected firefighters are again on the fire lines, unable to protect their homes, the USFS has chosen to renew its campaign against employees’ homeowner rights by issuing a 90-day notice of eviction for those owners who refuse to sign the new lease destroying the value of their homes. It is particularly cruel to implement this policy during fire season, while Firefighters are fighting fire 24/7 for weeks at a time.
Under the old policy, for the past fifty years, firefighters and other USFS employees could sell their mobile homes to other USFS employees at a fair price — recouping some of their investment (purchase price, upgrades and improvements). Under the new policy, the employees will not recover their investment because new employees will only be allowed to live in the homes for a maximum of five years. The next employee is not going to pay fair market value for a mobile home if they are only allowed to live in the home for five years. This policy will go Regional and National and would affect USFS employees throughout California and the rest of the nation.
These economic deprivations qualify as “takings” under the Fifth Amendment. The employees are entitled to due process and just compensation. They have not been offered either. The existing policy and the free market economy ensure that both sellers and new buyers get a fair deal. But the new policy will guarantee neither sellers nor buyers will get a fair deal.
There are a number of ways in which the USFS could legally implement the new policy fairly, but The USFS must do so by affording due process and paying just compensation to the employees who will be financially harmed by it. The USFS has refused to stay the eviction of the employees who did not sign the new leases. They should not be required to sign or be evicted for not signing, until the issues have been discussed and resolved. And it is extraordinarily unfair to implement this policy during fire season, when firefighters are not home to protect their rights.
If The USFS will not stipulate to a stay, Counsel representing the employees will be forced to seek an injunction.
||This is out:
hour notification of firefighter drowning (55K doc file)
Just came across your entry under "They Said" and just wondering what did NWS San Diego not forecast well????
I looked at the SPC Fire Weather Outlook from this morning and it had a "See Text" for southeastern California with
the concern being convection and isolated dry lightning. The 330 AM forecast from NWS San Diego had a chance of thunderstorms for this afternoon in the Public zones as well as the Fire Weather zones for the same area.
I do not see any major discrepancies between the SPC and NWS San Diego.
P.S. by the way...the SPC does coordinate with all NWS offices before issuing any critical fire weather areas.
I am not quite sure where you or whoever is getting their weather info, but i can say this:
The twice daily weather you get over the radio from dispatch is only a snapshot into what
is going on. My suggestion is to actually connect with the NWS website and keep constant
track of the weather from them directly. If you keep up with the website you can sometimes
notice changes in prediction patterns over a matter of minutes.
Here are some links you may
find useful in your endeavors. Also, depending on what part
of the state you click on, you
have different things available to you. These are just a small look
to what is available
to you. For instance i will put a link to the weather in Idyllwild, Ca. Take
a look at what
is offered, and just for the h*ll of it, input your city and watch how often things
change when you have extreme weather. Be especially mindful of the radar images.
Watches and Warnings
Fire Weather 1
Fire Weather 2
Current Satellite Images
So Cal Raws Stations
||Dear Another Norcal AFEO:
I had received a great position paper on boots last year from a young troop and was impressed by the logic behind it. I forwarded much of the information to Tom Harbour who indicated to me that he would look into the matter. If he's still got his blog, maybe a note to him might re-ignite the idea.
Boots were always supplied by the DoD fire department I worked for and from what I was told if the FS supplied boots for firefighters, they'd have to provide boots for almost everyone because of the outdoors nature of the job. Guess that was cost prohibitive.
However, I would also suspect that boots and clothing allowances are a negotiable item and thus under the purview of NFFE so I'd channel your thoughts to Dan Duefrene, the NFFE Regional VP.
||Short Responses to Posts of 7/11/08:
1) Go Casey!!! You rock!!!
2) There is nothing fair in federal hiring. Never has been.
3) The federal government has never given a realistic thought to keeping up with the cost of living of USFS/USDI firefighters or keeping pay parity with other partners in wildland fire.
4) ADs are their own worst enemy for even being out there. As long as ADs continue to work for one half or less of others in the same jobs they will get nowhere in their cause towards better compensation. No organized group is even watching out for
ADs any longer.
5) Training needs to take a back seat to real experience coupled with appropriate training. Yer gosh durned right that being literate needs to be part of your package and that it is exceedingly important in these jobs. But then there is 2) above....
6) Contracting is a solution but it is basically banned by the WO for most USFS needs. This flies in the face of what the current administration promised would happen when we elected them almost 8 years ago. Contracting of federal retirees is only working now for the retired high, high GS levels.
7) The current weather in SoCal was, of course, perfectly predictable but SoOps has nobody at the switch to get the word out. Weather guys are not Fire Behavior Analysts and there is evidently nobody paying attention in a wildland fire connected position to getting out alerts.
8) The "Moses Letter" is more likely in reality an Arnold political stunt. I will be shocked if anything of substance comes of it. Certainly it will not change soon "business as usual" in Washington in an election year. They would have to eat too much crow about the mess we are in right now which will only get worse IMHO.
9) I am sure glad to be a career wildland firefighter and I that I have accomplished great clearance around my property.
10) Abs: You rock, too!!! Thank you so much for this forum!!!
s/ Sittin" at Home as a Retiree and Happy to Be Doing So For the First Time in July in 40+ Years While Still Smelling Smoke
I am a USFS retiree who took a
buyout in 2007 from a recreation management position. I
have been told that I would have to repay the full buyout amount if I took
any job with a federal agency, even an emergency AD position. The
only exception to this rule is if the USFS requests a waiver on the rule
due to extreme emergency such as National PL 5 as we
are in currently. So why doesn’t the agency request
such a waiver?? As Governor Arnold’s letter to the
President states, resource orders are going unfilled daily. I
have 30 years of training and experience in fire waiting to be used if
they would just write the waiver. Thanks.
one retiree rejected from fire
A follow up to the C-Span program Monday, the Washington Journal program reaches more than 91 million households across the country. It is also streamed at
http://www.c-span.org and C-SPAN radio (XM channel 132).
This is an incredible opportunity for us to increase awareness on the part of the public and elected officials as to the issues facing our federal wildland firefighters and the fiscal impact Agency policies are having on the American taxpayer.
I was honored to share a spot on a news radio interview this morning with Bob Wolfe, President of IAFF local 2881 (Cal-Fire). As always he was eloquent and when asked, offered support for our federal firefighters.
As the recent posting indicated, such a last-minute trip is a huge expense for a modest-sized organization such as the FWFSA. If you have submitted an application to join but not yet set up your dues allotment or if you have been considering joining for however long, please do so and lend your voice to our efforts on your behalf. The program Monday, emanating from the Nation's Capitol and likely viewed by members of the House & Senate and their staff is a major accomplishment in our efforts to increase awareness and pursue positive changes for all our federal wildland firefighters.
Wishing all of you a safe season...
YOU DO THAT ANYWAY, JUST
WANTED YOU TO KNOW WE APPRECIATE YOU!
Cost of living analysis (2008 prices are national averages)
$1975 $2008 %increase
1 gal milk 1.57 4.3 273.9
1 doz eggs 0.77 2.25 292.2
1 loaf of bread 0.65 2.28 350.8
1 lb of hamburger 0.72 2.56 355.5
1 gal of gas 0.57 4.2 736.8
1st class stamp 0.10 0.42 420
Brand new Ford mustang 3,529. 26,500. 750.9
63 Buick Riviera - cherry 500.
94 monte carlo z-34 - cherry 4,000. 800
average increase 497.5
GS-06 2.75/hr 14.03/hr 510
My question is to the younger crowd. What percent of your paycheck a year is going
to a cell phone?
Disclaimer- non-scientific comparison, car prices are from Dad on the buick, monte carlo from my car nut neighbor &
Re: Developmental GS 5/6 positions
For Lobotomy (or anyone else with knowledge on the subject),
That is a great training list, and I believe what should be the minimum for folks in those positions. However, what about people, myself included, who already have all of that training listed, and some, but were passed over in the recent hire round by those that
havEn't even completed the minimum quals on that list? It just stands to reason that you would want to hire the most qualified person to fill a position, who already has the necessary training to perform the job, before hiring a person you still have to train. It seems bass ackwards to me.
I bring this up because I was recently passed over for an AFEO position, after already having 5 and 6 time through a detail, by someone who hasn't yet finished the apprenticeship program. And yes, I was on the quality list for both merit and demo. What's even more mind boggling to me is that I found out this person was offered the job before any of our Chiefs or my captain had a clue what was going on. I feel that with the creation of this Developmental position, there are more out there like me whom this is happening to or will happen to. Perhaps I just don't understand the system (it wouldn't be the first time), but it is frustrating when you are trying to move up the ladder and stick with the organization. Please, any insight is appreciated . . .
Confused & Frustrated
Does anyone know the timeline for the training that is to take place? Are those
that are listed going to be offered during the usual springtime training academy? I have
taken a job offer, but have heard nothing more about it from anyone.
Casey, I am unsure of all of the issues you have been bringing up, but i may have one more.
Boots, one of the Mandatory personal items, when your forking out $400+ per pair, sure
seems like the USFS would offer some help, being they are mandatory. Just a thought.
Another Norcal AFEO
OK I am naive. I just got back from doing an AD assignment.
It seems many small CA fire departments are hiring retirees & contactors and
them as employees; with an administrative charge billed up to 40% back to the Feds. The
department makes $$ and the retired or "contractual servant" makes big $$$. The person
who opts this option makes about 20K!!! for a 2 week assignment.
I am done with AD: Sign Me Up! I have connections with a small rural
department. I may
suggest this option to them for "revenue enhancement" at the next Board meeting. This is
nutts!!! And the FS can't pay their people ???B*S
No signature this time.
"I have no idea what OPM Writing Skills or OPM 1st 40 Supervision 40 hr even are"
Ab, I have seen a trend in posts lately. People writing in about things they do not know about, but should, in their current position, or before they bring up the subject for discussion. One example is this, This AFEO says he/she has no idea what 1st 40 Supervision is? This has been FS policy that all new supervisors go to this within their 1st year of supervising for at least 15 years. Then get 2nd 40 hour supervision class within their 2nd year supervising.
He should know these things in that position. Isn't his /her supervisor doing a Individual development plan? These classes are the basic supervision classes for an USFS employee.
The other post was on the Hotlist, someone talking about being "Held back" from off-forest fires, who never even heard the term Drawdown. If he asked his fire management about this, they could have explained the concept, and this person would have understood the
I don't know if this is a failure of the Management to train and inform these folks, or failure of the newer employees to try to find out policies and procedures, but it worries me.
"Instructions or assignments not clear"
and "Uninformed on strategy, tactics, and hazards"
are Watch Out Situations.
So the thing I would tell these folks is "If you have questions about how or why something works, ASK THEM".
Get clear understanding of YOUR role and responsibilities are in the big picture. Find out what requirements or constraints YOU are working under, and why they are there.
The classes are there for a reason. The writing skills especially. You would not believe the poor writing skills of some current USFS employees. I went down an a SME for hiring last round, and the misspellings, poor grammar, and just generally poor writing skills of some of the applicants, even at higher levels, amazed me.
These are folks expected to be able to write a correct Individual Fire Report,
IDPs, Performance Elements, Station training plans, PT programs, etc., and some could not even spell "Firefighter" correctly. Or just had one word, "fire" in the experience box. You could not tell if they were on an Engine, Crew, or whatever.
If some of the newer folks think spelling is not important to a Firefighter, that Operational things are more important, I say, yes, that operational skills are very important, but always remember, if something goes wrong, and somebody gets hurt, whether its on a Fire assignment, at the Station, during PT or whatever, they might have to turn in all their documentation for a lawsuit.
Even station daily Log Books can be admitted as evidence in a case. So, you need to be correct, clear, and professional in the writing skills .
It also helps you to look better on an application if you know how to use the spell check feature your computer already has.
So, even though these classes might not be required from a redcard standpoint, they WILL help make the person a better trained employee in the future, hence the DEVELOPMENTAL part of the job announcement.
Do the National Weather Service folks from the Storm Prediction Center (Norman, OK) actually speak to the "normal forecasters" at the NWS Offices in San Diego? At what point do qualified IMETs or FBANs step in? The NWS folks from OK were spot on in their
warnings, while the local forecasters missed the "barn" to satisfy the troops.
Seems that the folks from OK, as well as experienced firefighters in SoCal predicted the crappy weather in SoCal over the last several hours...... experience and education pays countless dividends.... especially EXPERIENCE and lessons learned from the past when it comes to weather.
I gotta know.. how could the NWS *^c& things up so badly..... when amateurs can call the weather pattern and outflow boundaries with almost certainty?
Focus, and REFOCUS!!!! Real time and without stupid mathematical models don't equal fire weather or fire behavior forecasting. Easterly waves and thunderstorm complex outflow boundaries are not new..... NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.
Trust me.... Recent forecasts are Meteorology 101 stuff at best.... The crap we are getting from the NWS.... marginal at best in terms of fire weather forecasting.
Firefighters would prefer to "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst".
We would love to come and help out in Region 5, but the NMAC group won't let us come play. Region 6 is at a Planning level 2 and there is a slight chance of some lightning next week. We are sending our IA crews to help you but holding our IHC crews for something that may or may not happen. I know we promised we wouldn't do this, but word on the street is that the MAC group doesn't want to waste anymore IHCs in R5.
I know that some IHCs are sitting in Montana right now waiting for the snow to melt for their fire season, I bet they would love to come down also. So we will sit and wait like we are told, we hear the cries for help everyday, but we are told by our region it's not their fault we sit at home. The fault lies in Boise.
AMR- Another Misuse of Resources
I hear what you are saying. Dozer boss may not be necessary but 1st 40 is something you should have already had and if you don't know what it is, you should talk to your AFMO about it. As far as the writing skills go, I'm glad they are making it a requirement. Writing is a large part of our job. Not only basic documentation but think about all of the emails that are written every day. There are many people in our agency that lack basic writing skills. Besides making them appear unprofessional it can and will hold them back from advancing in their career, even though they are quality firefighters.
FWFSA TO APPEAR ON C-SPAN'S WASHINGTON JOURNAL
MONDAY, JULY 14TH
We are honored to report that Business Manager Casey Judd of the FWFSA has been invited to appear on C-Span's Washington Journal TV program Monday, July 14th from 9 am to 9:30am EST to discuss issues facing our Nation's federal wildland firefighters as well as the current fire season.
Mark Rey will be on from 8:30-9:00.
This honor is tempered by learning of yet another loss of a highly tenured and exceptional federal wildland firefighter from R5 going to Cal-Fire.
We will try to determine if the broadcast is nationwide and if so where accessibility might be in any given market.
Due to the short time frame of this request, the cost to the FWFSA is significant. We hope that those who remain "on the fence" regarding joining the FWFSA will recognize that your issues are now in the forefront and being spotlighted in our Nation's Capitol and share your voice with so many others and join the FWFSA.
The FWFSA Board of Directors
||This came thru the mail dubbed the "Moses"
letter. What that means I
have no idea, but that puts me in the same boat as Abigail Kimbell, Mark
Rey and the rest of the Managers at the WO and RO level.
They just do not understand that shortages in support for large fires
are a direct result of their failures to realize what our mission truly
"It is safe to be cool."
||I am in the Piute fire in Kern Co. Around 1630 we were getting strikes
south east of the fire. No rain that we saw.
||Most of the San Bernardino County strikes were in the Mojave National
and associated with Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and Flood Advisories. A
significant area was west of Parker, AZ on the CA side on BIA and CA-CDD
||Is it true?
As of 1845 Lightning strikes in San Bernardino Kern, Inyo and Tulare
||Re: Training for the Developmental GS-5/6 Positions
Wow. That is a great list of training for our potential future leaders.
What scares me though is... once again.... that the root cause of us
or "fast track" positions in the first
place isn't being addressed.
Until the root causes are addressed (pay, benefits, and working
conditions), this program
will be just another way for folks to get alot
of training and experience in a short period of
time at the long term
expense of the federal mission and the taxpayer.... only to be recruited
by our cooperators from the various state, county, and local government
offering better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
||Gov. Schwarzenegger Requests Additional Federal Help and Resources Urgently Needed to Support State's Firefighting Efforts
Letter from the Governator - sign me r1statie...
<Kim_Zagaris@oes.ca.gov> 07/10/2008 11:21 >>>
State of California
Office of Emergency Services
Fire and Rescue Branch
TO: REGIONAL FIRE AND RESCUE MUTUAL AID COORDINATORS
P. Michael Freeman Region I Coordinator
Keith Richter Region II Coordinator
Del Walters Region III Coordinator
Mark D'Ambrogi Region IV Coordinator
Candace Gregory Region V Coordinator
Bob Green Region VI Coordinator
Ken McLean CDF Fire Protection
FROM: Kim Zagaris
DATE: July 10, 2008
SUBJECT: Gov. Schwarzenegger Requests Additional Federal Help and
Resources Urgently Needed to Support State's Firefighting Efforts
NOTE: *****THIS IS A INFORMATION BULLETIN*****
PLEASE DELIVER TO REGIONAL FIRE AND RESCUE COORDINATOR
Please forward and distribute to the OES Fire and Rescue Regional Coordinator and OES Fire and Rescue Operational Area Coordinators within your Region.
Please ensure that the OES Fire and Rescue Operational Area Coordinators forward and distribute to Local Fire Agencies within their Operational Areas.
For Immediate Release:
Contact: Aaron McLear
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Gov. Schwarzenegger Requests Additional Federal Help and Resources Urgently
Needed to Support State's Firefighting Efforts
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sent the following letter to President Bush requesting additional federal resources that California urgently needs to fight the ongoing wildfires and prepare for more lightning strikes later this week.
The request includes:
· Federal active duty forces to provide additional Type II firefighting handcrews to meet shortages;
· Additional out-of-state federal firefighters available to provide training for National Guard personnel as Type II handcrews;
· Increasing the "Maximum Efficiency Level" (MEL) for the U.S. Forest Service to 100 percent.
Text of the
letter to the president:
(Click the link. Read it! Ab.)
In the "mid-70s" (1978 to be exact) I was a GS4 Trainee Tank Truck Operator
on a Model 48 at Willow Creek and I made $4.28 per hour!
||Check out Thermo-Gel: Homesowners : Homeowners
can you tell me about thermogel or other similar products?
Perhaps someone will write in. Ab.
In 1971 as a GS-6 step 1 smoke jumper I was paid $3.71 per hour.
So if you were paid $2.75 per hour in the mid 70's, and the statute
limitations has not run out, Uncle Sam owes you a fair chunk of change.
||Was Just wondering if anyone has seen the new "developmental" GS-0462-05/06
requirements? Most of the training required seems reasonable but there are a few
classes required (in bold) that just don't make sense to me.
New Employee Orientation
S-130, Basic Firefighter
S-190, Introduction to Fire Behavior
I- 100, Orientation to Incident Command System
Basic Academy (159 hours)
Program Orientation & Documentation
Nutrition, Wellness & Physical Fitness
I- 200 ICS for Single Resource and Initial Action Incidents
S-190, Introduction to Fire Behavior (Final Only)
S-260 Interagency Incident Business Management
L-280, Followership to Leadership
S-131, Firefighter Type 1
Basic Fire Prevention
Wildland Fire Skills which include:
Map Reading and Compass Use
Communications & Radio Use
Hand tool Use, Safety & Maintenance
Fire Shelters and Entrapment Avoidance
Introduction to Tactical Decision Making, Sand Table Exercises
After Action Review Brief
Advanced Academy (158 hours)
Career and Personal Development
S-234, Ignition Operations
S-270, Basic Air Operations
S-290, Intermediate Fire Behavior
L-380, Fire line Leadership
Fuels Management and Fire Use
Developmental GS-6 Academy (158 hours)
S-215 Fire Operations in the Wildland/Urban Interface 28-32 hr
First Responder Medical 40 hr
S-230 Crew boss 24 hr
S-231 Engine boss 12-16 hr
S-232 Dozer boss 16-20 hr
I-300 Intermediate ICS 18-24 hr
Additional Required Training
S-211, Portable Pumps and Water Use
S-212, Wildfire Power Saws
S-271, Helicopter Crewmember
D-110, Dispatch Recorder
S-216, Driving for Fire Service
OPM Basic Writing Skills
OPM 1st 40 Supervision 40 hr
S-248 Status Check-in Recorder 16 hr
Commercial Vehicle Operation 80 hr (Resulting in a Class B License with tank and air brake endorsements)
Hazardous Materials Operational 16 hr
S-200 Initial Attack Incident Commander 16 hr
I bolded the ones that just dont make any sense to me. S-232 is not a requirement
for any GS-6 that I know of; I-300 I am under the impression is for an ICT 3???? I have no idea what OPM Writing Skills or OPM 1st 40
Supervision 40 hr even are. And S-200 can only be taken after you are a fully qualified single resource boss. It seems to me that we are
shooting are selves in the foot again. We do not want people to act outside of their
PDs but here we are asking people to be qualified and have classes well above their level
which will delay them reaching the target position of GS-6s. I am hoping I am wrong on these
issues and hope some one can clarify them for me.
Let's see, if I can remember way back then, most of us were living in a
Gov. bunkhouse and paying rent on another place we didn't see during the
fire season or if we weren't busy couldn't afford to go visit or was
outside of the 2 hour call back for my old duty location. None of us were
permanents and several of us were trying to save enough money to go to
school which we had to finance on our own due to making too much money to
qualify for financial assistance. Pull in additional costs like health,
vehicle, and homeowner insurance costs to cover while essentially earning a
years worth of wages in seven months while pulling unemployment benefits
due to a scarcity of winter employment opportunities. All of this was
covered by what you earned at 4.50 to 6.00 an hour base with a fire season
that may give you 400 hours of OT in a good year.
I stand by my original post.
||The air throughout the west is riddled with smoke and particulates. I wonder how many "greenhouse gas" emissions so far have been generated?
Smoke from the fires in NorCal, CenCal, and SoCal are blanketing the western United States and causing short term and long term health concerns.
Recent reports and news articles talk about the air conditions as far away as Boise and Phoenix from the California fires.
Casey.... you are doing a great job!!! Keep up the great work on behalf of all of us!!!
Sooner or later, folks will get it and understand the various CA fire problems are actually long developing western United States fire problems that California gets to experience first, and is first allowed to try to offer significant suggestions to mitigate or prevent future "repeats"....... before a large, and often times, critical review process muddled with less than fully qualified peer or professional reviewers making informed decisions.
Hopefully, it will not be overlooked that for over the last ten years and well before, the FWFSA has been providing a steady burning warning of things to come.... and offered suggestions for changes and mitigations to make the federal mission(s) successful, but often was discounted.
Yesterday, Senator Feinstein proposed legislation totaling over $900 million... of which $25 million was for the recruitment and retention of federal wildland firefighters and a return of funding to various other federal wildland programs (including assistance to states). Also today, the FLAME Act passed committee and a House Floor vote with minimal opposition.
Slowly, the baby steps forward are paying off... and paying forward.
||30 Mile Anniversary:
Hard to believe, but seven years have passed since Tom, Devin, Jessica, and
Karen lost their lives. I didn't know them, but today's my birthday,
forever changed by that tragic event. I remember my reaction when I saw the
news that night, immediately I wanted to be there and help anyway I could.
So, the next day I made myself available for a fire assignment and was sent
to expanded dispatch in Okanogan. Today and each year I honor them by
wearing my commemorative t-shirt and I pray for the safety of all
firefighters out there, including my own son an IA crewmember. Be safe
||Found this today while surfing the web. I wonder how the FS will find a way to divert these funds...
Sign me 28L24
House Approves Bills to Protect Fire Prevention Efforts, Honor California Firefighters
By Emily Kryder | Posted on 07/09/2008
The FLAME Act would establish a separate fund to cover the costs of fighting catastrophic wildland fires.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday spoke on the House floor in support of two bills pertaining to the wildfires in California. Both resolutions were approved with broad bipartisan support.
Capps first spoke in favor of the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act, or FLAME Act (House Resolution 5541), which would protect funding for preventive firefighting by establishing a separate fund to cover the costs of catastrophic wildland fires when those costs exceed predicted levels.
The U.S. Forest Service currently has to pull funds from other key programs to cover emergency fire suppression costs, leaving fewer funds available for fire prevention efforts, campground maintenance and forest restoration.
“I’m proud to support the FLAME Act,” Capps said. “For too long, the high cost of fighting fires has relied on unpredictable emergency funding measures and put a squeeze on other critical Forrest Service operations, including fire prevention and mitigation efforts. This common-sense bill creates an emergency federal fund dedicated to fighting fires that is separate from the Forrest Service’s regular firefighting funding. The emergency fund established under the FLAME Act ensures our efforts to fight today’s fires don’t hurt our efforts to prevent tomorrow’s fires.”
etc, click the link above...
||Memories of Tom Craven, he was a football star at our local JC in his
before firefighting. Wonderful, charismatic, delightful young man...
||Re: In the old days...
talk about pay.....
In the mid-seventies, GS-6 smokejumpers were making about $2.75 / hr - IR
crews were also making as much, some even less.
Comes to about $125.00 a week (pre-taxes, etc).
And nobody got rich in slow times, and less fires were jumped;
But overall - you culdn't put a price on the camaraderie, pride, and
We were still having fun.
||Re: ICT Team Utilization
There is actually a lot of subjectivity in the Complexity Analysis used to determine whether a Type I or II Team is ordered. "The Feds," or our other cooperators or agencies using teams are not compelled to order a Type I Team because an incident has multiple Branches. A Multi-Branched incident may be indicative of a highly complex incident, but the fact it is "branched" is not the sole criteria utilized. In many cases the incident is branched just because it makes good organizational sense.
I hope this is in someway useful.
Mike Bradley, ICT2
||Issues with NIFC / NICC site - IMSR and more
Howdy, Ab --
Seems like it is very hit-or-miss these days trying to bring up info from
the NIFC/NICC website(s), including the IMSR, even early in the day in the
eastern US when, presumably, internet traffic isnt as heavy.
I know that Inciweb has serious ongoing capacity issues and is often
unavailable due to being overwhelmed. (Too bad - its a wonderful resource
when it is available.) Just wondering if NIFC/NICC has similar system-wide
issues with web capacity.
And as always -- I know I can turn to Wildlandfire.com when many other
Thanks -- STUMPIE
We aim to stay up and running. So far, so good. I'm sure the others
do as well. Ab.
I am one of those "old guys" from back in the day and you are right in that we were not paying over $4.00 a gallon for gas and rent was less than $800 but then again our wages were Generally less than $5.00 Per Hour and we had a thing called
ordered standby for 5-7 hrs a day where we were on the station ready to go for 25% of our base. We also
did not get true OT and if we went to a fire during standby, we did not get more than the 25% stand by and 25% hazard, so we were working for 50% of our base wages. Did we buy anything we wanted? NO the financial
struggles were still there and we survived. Did we live higher on the hog? nope. Yes, the agency was a better place to work in my perception, we were family which does not exist today. The costs are comparable and I do believe that financial compensation is much better today than it was "back in the day".
Having said that, I also believe that the agency has a very long way to go to make things right for their employees and to become comparable to other agencies, at least in Calif. When I worked in other
states, the feds were equal to locals, that does not exist today. Fed employees need to unite to push their cause to improve your situation and quit chipping at each other past and present! The congressional delegation is in my e-mail
address and their phone numbers are in my speed dial as I am a frequent writer/caller to support the cause. Are you?
Just wanted to know if the old timers back then were paying over $4.00 for a gallon of gas,
were they paying $800 or more for rent and were the food cost as high as they are now. Or
were they living in government housing paying less than $1.50 for gas and were able to by
pretty much anything they wanted. There is a big difference from back in the day to now. I
don't call it complaining I call it trying to survive. Believe me I wish we could go back to the
good old days when the agency was fun and the line officers actually cared about their
||ICT team utilization
Another criteria with the Feds, is any time a fire has one or more
Branch, a Type 1
team has to be ordered. I believe this is still policy.
||The old timers on my shot always accepted being held in region with a
certain amount of pride as we always looked at it as you hold your best
resources back to take care of your home first. We also took no pity on the
crew folks that complained about it, especially when later in the season
the same folks started complaining about being away from home.
Held at home and not complaining summed it up perfectly.
Area command Teams are generally ordered when the complexity and number of incidents within a forest or unit warrants it to prioritize incidents and the number of resources assigned. In this case, there are 2 Area command Teams committed, 1 to the Shasta trinity to help management of the many large fire complexes they have going there, and 1 on the Lassen NF. I didn’t find this info in the National Mob Guide, it just has the rotation. Generally an area command will be ordered up when a GACC is in PL-5 and has many large fires in the geographic area with a high commitment of resources and IMT’s. Hope this helps, and by all means, if someone has a better and more complete definition, feel free to add.
I received a forwarded e-mail this afternoon with the following somber
FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 07/09/2008
SUBJECT : SAFETY ADVISORY : Wildland Fire Fatalities
On July 7 this year, we reached the number of deaths in wildland fire
operations for 2008 that we experienced during all of 2007. A total of
nine wildland firefighters died in the line of duty in 2007 and nine
have died so far this year. That's nine people who won't be going
home to their families and friends after work any more. We need to keep
these fallen heroes - and the ones lost in previous years -- in our
hearts and minds as we continue our work in what promises to be a long,
difficult fire season across the nation.
Causes of death for wildland firefighters in 2008 have included the
* vehicle accident (2 deaths when a burned bridge collapsed)
* aviation accidents (1 SEAT pilot; 1 firefighter in a midair collision)
* roadside accident (2 struck by a vehicle in heavy smoke)
* unknown, possible heart attack or aneurysm (2 deaths)
* drowning. (1 death while swimming on R&R)
Many more accidents have been experienced by wildland firefighters in
2008 that did not result in fatalities, but easily could have.
Twenty-four firefighters were injured in four separate vehicle
accidents; 19 firefighters became entrapped on seven different
occasions, with many of those individuals suffering burn injuries; 10
firefighters were injured when lightning struck nearby in two separate
incidents; three firefighters suffered burn injuries in separate events
that were not entrapments; two dozer operators were injured in separate
rollovers; a firefighter was hit by a snag. These are just some of the
accidents reported in the NWCG Safety Gram; many other accidents and
near misses have occurred both on the ground and in the air in 2008.
Entrapments are worthy of special mention. The 19 firefighters who
became entrapped this year were on fires in five different states. Only
three of the 19 entrapped firefighters got their fire shelters out; many
others were in vehicles when entrapped - specifically engines, dozers
and tractor/plows. Many of these firefighters suffered burn injuries.
During all of 2007, a total of 53 firefighters were entrapped, and we
are on pace to reach or exceed that number in 2008. Many of the
firefighters entrapped in 2007 and 2008 are still recovering from their
burn injuries and some have left the fire service.
Mitigations exist for all of the hazards that have led to fatal
accidents and near misses this year. Some of these are:
* Scout roads when in unfamiliar territory in low visibility; be
aware of load limits and bridge condition when operating fire apparatus.
* Exercise extreme caution when working near a roadside,
especially in low visibility conditions. Make yourself as visible as
* Do not enjoy a false sense of security when working near or in a
vehicle on the fireline. Survival during a burnover is not guaranteed
while in any type of vehicle; vehicles and aircraft are not always
reliable as an escape route. Always identify a secondary escape route.
* Rapid, unexpected changes in fire behavior kill wildland
firefighters. Always identify the worst case scenario and be prepared
for it by maintaining focused situation awareness and using LCES.
* Do not hesitate to use your fire shelter if you feel you need
to. If you become entrapped, there will be some type of review or
investigation regardless of whether you deploy a shelter or not.
* Maintain physical fitness and monitor your health regularly
through medical exams.
* Only swim in designated safe areas while on fire assignments.
All wildland firefighters want to survive this fire season without
injury. So did all the people who have been injured or killed to date.
You are responsible for your safety and the safety of your fellow
firefighters. Maintain your health, manage fatigue, stay hydrated, be
actively involved in briefings and fireline communication, and keep your
head in the game so that you can go home to your family and friends when
the fires are over.
Recent TV and newspaper articles referencing a "report to Congress" by the FWFSA was in fact our written testimony submitted to the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee in preparation for the hearing June 18th.
I was disappointed to listen to LPF Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez pass off the losses of firefighters as business as usual as folks decide it (wildland firefighting) isn't for them. Unfortunately, she didn't refer to or remember the loss of Tom Plymale and other long-tenured firefighters off her forest when she commented on losses.
I was pleased to meet with R5 Regional Forester Randy Moore, his Deputy Jim Pena and FAM Director Ed Hollenshead on Monday in Vallejo. No earth-shattering breakthroughs to report,
but I will be putting a more detailed summary of the meeting into the FWFSA's Member's area on our web site in the next day or so. I surmise that in short order it will find its way to TheySaid.
I will be involved in a live radio interview this afternoon, 4:00pm Pacific Time with KUHL-KINF out of Santa Monica. I definitely got the impression from the RO folks that they are not pleased with recent press coverage. However, I reiterated to them that my name appears in many articles simply because I do not have to worry about reprisal & retribution as our firefighters do.
Hopefully, they don't assume I sit in a recliner in my home drinking beer, snacking on chips and watching soap operas and think this stuff up myself. Rather the information we pass along to the press and Congress comes directly from men & women on the lines, commanding the fires, etc.
The air in Sacramento was stunning, as I'm sure it is across Northern California. A poignant reminder of why we do what we do. I was also honored to meet additional federal wildland firefighters while in Sacramento who had just arrived from Boise, some from as far away as Florida.
||Memorial Service For Flagstaff Medical Helos:
FYI- The streaming video of the Memorial service for the two medical helicoters that crashed in Flagstaff last week is located at
www.azfamily.com (look for the archived video). The crash killed 7 and
Mike McDonald of the Chief Mountain Hot Shots was on board one of the ships. They had an Native
American Flute player that was very beautiful.... wildland boots and helmet on stage and
the former Superintendent for the Chief Mountain Hot Shots spoke and was very eloquent.
The IMT that put it on did a wonderful job.
Sad situation, J. Thanks for letting us know. Ab.
||Area Command Team:
Can anyone out there explain to me what the criteria/justification is for ordering
an Area Command Team? Do 3 large fires on one forest justify an Area
Command Team? Urban interface? Resource drawdown? Competition for
resources? Ah, prudent MANAGEMENT??? Not real sure anymore.
Nice to hear from you and thanks for all the GISy info.
I just wanted to tag onto your comments- for one stop shopping to check out fire perimeters initially there is
Fire perimeters that are put on the following sites are mined by the awesome folks in Denver:
California Fire Planning and Mapping Tools- great if you want to check out CA specific data (communities at risk, fuels, etc).
and those are at the top of my head.
If you want actual incident maps definitely check out incident sites.
More later. Ab.
||CA-SRF-off-duty FF from OR drowns
Oregon firefighter drowns in Trinity River
A wildland firefighter from Oregon who was fighting the local fires
drowned yesterday after visiting the Trinity River on his day off, the
Humboldt County Coroner's Office said.
The firefighter, who was in his 30s, was visiting the river near Willow
Creek, said Deputy Coroner Charles Van Buskirk.
”We're working currently to notify his family,” Van Buskirk said
late last night.
According to a press release, the Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies
responded to Kimtu Beach in Willow Creak at about 4:30 p.m. and found
about a dozen people searching for the victim.
Deputies were assessing the situation when they learned the victim had
been pulled from the water near Patterson Road. Resuscitation efforts
The firefighter was employed by a contract wildland firefighting
company. Witnesses told deputies the victim attempted to swim across the
river in a T-shirt and his Nomex pants. About halfway across, the man
turned around and tried to return to shore.
The current began to carry him down the river and he seemed to panic,
witnesses said. Another swimmer attempted to help the man, but had to
swim to shore after approaching the swift current and rocks. Witnesses
saw the victim go underwater and his body was recovered approximately 20
The decedent's name is being withheld pending the notification of the
next of kin.
Our thoughts and prayers for the family. The WFF
is helping. Ab.
||I don't know about you but I'm tired of hearing the type one crew's complaining about being held at home for a couple of day's. You need to look at the big picture.So you sit at home for a couple of day's, so what.There is enough fire in R5 alone to keep everyone busy until the snow falls this winter.Its like giving a homeless person a turkey dinner and having him complain that there is no gravy. You will get out again and you will get plenty of overtime this summer. Enjoy having a couple of day's off during the summer.Go swimming , see a show , do something because the summer is far from over and there is plenty of money to be made.
Held at home but not complaining.
Monday, July 7, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Giny Chandler
Public Information Officer, CAL FIRE
DEATH OF ANDERSON VALLEY FIREFIGHTER
Ukiah – Anderson Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Mendocino County Sheriff, and CAL FIRE
released the following statement regarding the death of Volunteer Firefighter (VFF) recruit Bob
Roland, 63, of Anderson Valley, CA.
Mr. Roland suffered fatigue and respiratory difficulties on the afternoon of July 2, 2008, while
working on the Oso Fire, located approximately nine miles northwest of the community of
Boonville. Mr. Roland was transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center where he passed away
during the early morning hours of July 3, 2008.
All Mendocino County Fire Services and supporting agencies extend their deepest sympathy to the
family of Mr. Roland.
VFF Roland grew up in Southern California and was a Volunteer Firefighter for CDF Riverside as a
teenager. VFF Roland was a Marine Corps pilot from 1967 to 1977 and flew F-4 fighters. He
retired from an aeronautical engineering firm in San Diego County and relocated to Anderson
Valley six months ago.
VFF Roland is survived by his wife of 33 years, Carol; his sister, Lynda; her husband, Dar;
nephews Eric and David; and Eric’s daughter, Kayla.
Services will be held on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 and will be private. In Bob’s memory, the family has
requested that to honor VFF Roland’s sacrifice, all energy be put into successfully fighting the
Mendocino Lightning Complex fires. Recognizing the importance of family, the family has urged all
Firefighters to spend as much time with their families as possible.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, any donations be made to the Anderson Valley
Volunteer Firefighters Association, PO Box 398, 14281 Hwy 128, Boonville, CA 95415 (707) 895-
2020 or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Donor Services, PO Box 4072, Pittsfield, MA 01202
Why do we have to go through his every year with one region or another. Last year it was R5
not letting people go because of the BIG ONE THAT MIGHT HAPPEN, and it didn't. Now
we have ten crews sitting in Redmond and R6 won't let them go and then everyone is pointing
fingers saying "it's not us holding them". When are we ever going to learn as an agency that the
way to keep people around is to give them assignments and let them earn some extra money.
Not everyone has the luxury of being a GS-11 or higher some of the people need the hours to
survive. Oh by the way, thanks for letting your more expensive Type 2 contract crews and engines
come down and play while letting our people sit at home, its been a real pleasure babysitting
some of these crews.
Fired up 'n' babysitting
I spent a couple of days on Division Tango on the Motion Fire in Shasta County.
Here is the link to one of the stories we produced. Great work by CalFire.
Also did a spot for NBC Nightly News and several more for the web.
Stay safe for what's shaping up to be a long season.
NBC News-SW Bureau
||Morning conference call in R6 yesterday morning, NWC is not holding crews.
It is an NMAC decision to keep the crews sitting for now. NICC
has essentially told North and South Ops that they are not getting any
more crews on existing large fires. They will replace what they
currently have, but no more. The crews that are available are
essentially being held for new or emerging incidents, or for replacing
Understand the motive, but with houses burning and miles of
uncontrolled line and no other regions close to fire season for another
month or so? Fight the going fire and don't worry about the one that MIGHT
come tomorrow! Hold onto what you got and be as safe as you can with the
lack of resources, maybe we will be there to help you!
Signed, doing project work for base 8's
||Grumpy in R1
Many factors play
into your availability. Regional draw down, MAC Groups and not
to mention your division chief or battalion chief’s willingness to not
get sucked into the "maybe fire". You can't fight the fire
you don't have and your forest can do what every other forest does when
they get a fire, order resources. Pretty simple concept that a lot
of old time fire folks are having a tough time grasping, especially if they
were brought up under the same management style. Address this issue
from recruitment/retention and training standpoint. I always liked
to hear the complaint that we need more duty officers but in the same
breath these are the folks that are afraid of the "maybe fire".
No Name Fire
||Re: Ross and Micah Curtis (the Burn Brothers)
Ross and Micah should hire an attorney who knows the in's and out's of the CA
statutes and why they (the statutes) were written in the first place..
Unless something has changed in CA Laws, land owners or their designees are
allowed to set backfires to protect their property from advancing wildfires.
The accolades by experienced firefighters weren't missed in their protection of their
property as well as others.
||CA-BDF-Ridge fire near Yucaipa from GM:
Your response doesn’t indicate you read the 6/15 article I referenced in my last post. I believe you are jumping to a wrong conclusion. It appears you have wrongly assumed that no name please and I were addressing the same project referenced in your original post. We are not; this is an entirely separate Mark Rey "endeavor" that is not related to the "Legacy Montana" project.
If Mark Rey gets away with his secret easement redefinitions, future wildland firefighters will be tasked with defending many more Montana McMansions in brand new WUI adjoining Forest Service lands. I suggest you read the article linked to my 6/15 post so we can all work off the same page.
Another article on the same subject from the Missoulian:
||The FWFSA is an employee association... not a union... representing federal wildland firefighters through legislative advocacy and factual research on issues relating to the pay, benefits, and working conditions of federal wildland firefighters. The FWFSA employee association is comprised of members from all five federal land management agencies (BLM, FS, NPS, FWS, and BIA) from entry level (GS-2) through upper level managers and Fire Chiefs (GS-12 through GS-14). Our membership also includes retirees, some "militia", and even a few AD and contract employees.|
Our membership sets the FWFSA Mission and direction. The FWFSA Board of Directors are elected to office, and our Business Manager and Legislative Advocate Casey Judd represents the entire collective process as "our" advocate and serves at the pleasure of our BOD. We couldn't have ever found a more skilled or knowledgable advocate for federal firefighter issues than Casey Judd, He knows the ropes inside out.
The FWFSA, as an all encompassing employee association, shares its concerns and data with the two groups that have the primary "bargaining unit agreements" (MOUs) for the majority of the land management agencies.... NFFE (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO) and AFGE (American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO). Contrary to what the agencies would have you believe, the FWFSA is a partner, not an agressor, to the goals of NFFE and AFGE.
For over ten years, the FWFSA was an employee association directly affiliated with the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) AFL-CIO as FWFSA, Local F-262. Years ago, we disaffiliated with IAFF for cause due to lack of action on federal wildland firefighter pay, benefits, and working condition issues. We were tired of leading the cause, and financing the march for federal firefighter issues without any substantial support.
Since disaffiliation, our membership dues allow us to focus on "our issues" and educate others who are willing to support us either through future bargaining agreements or through future legislative change. We consider it a win/win as our issues are finally factually addressed and supported.
/s/ FWFSA VP
Brother or Sister Firefighter. We are in complete agreement. I am all for good dialog to benefit my brothers and sisters in Federal Wildland Fire Agencies. However lets not do it at the expense of slandering each others agencies in frustration.
Remember CAL FIRE employees gave up a pay raise for a Hotel Policy. This "Collective Bargaining" process is what Federal Fire agencies need to gain. We are all for you gaining this benefit.
I agree with you that if the ride to a hotel compromises the operational period and rest cycle. A sleeping bag is the way to go. This is CAL FIRE policy believe it or not! I have given up a long drive to a motel for a piece of dirt and a sleeping bag many times.
Bottom line is we are in this together. I watch the work Casey and you all
are doing as a Wildland Firefighter Association and I am in awe. I sometimes believe from our
perspective that the Federal Fire agencies do not want you to organize yourselves,
as you would then become a very powerful political group of fire
professionals that they would have to contend with.
CAL FIRE Jake
||Ab, here's the identity and background of the volunteer firefighter who died of a heart attack on the
CA-MEU-Oso fire last week:
Riverside County firefighter dies in Northern California fire - PE.com
Former Riverside County firefighter dies in Northern California fire
6:30 PM Mon, Jul 07, 2008
Posted by: PE News
A volunteer firefighter with ties to Riverside and San Diego counties died last week while working on the Oso Fire in Northern California.
Bob Roland, 63, suffered fatigue and respiratory difficulties on Wednesday and died Thursday after being hospitalized, a Cal Fire news release said.
The Oso Fire is about nine miles northwest of the community of Boonville in Mendocino County. Roland was a resident of Anderson Valley near Boonville.
Roland grew up in Southern California and was a volunteer firefighter for the California Department of Forestry in Riverside County as a teenager, the news release said.
He was a Marine Corps pilot from 1967 to 1977 and flew F-4 fighters. He retired from an aeronautical engineering firm in San Diego County and relocated to Anderson Valley six months ago.
Roland is survived by his wife of 33 years, Carol, and his sister, Lynda.
Our condolences to family and friends. Ab.
||I sure find it interesting the games being played at the MAC group level
these days. I understand why folks in R2, R6, R3 and R4 are grumpy
about being held in region, particularly the hotshot crews. At least
in those areas there is some potential for a "what if" fire, although it
seems like monsoons are polishing off seasons in R3 and southern R2.|
The real issue right now is the resources being held in R1. We still
have one helluva lot of snow on the ground, the high country lakes are
still frozen, lowland grass fuels are very green. So why are we
needing folks here for "what if" fires??? When we burn big, seems that
we get LOTS of resources, doesnt seem too neighborly with whats going on
I know there are lots of fire folks nationally that are wondering what
they are doing home, getting 8 hours a day, listening to never-ending news
stories and getting internet updates about what is going on on the west
coast. Im not speaking alone when look at my checkbook and
monthylybudget, and grimace about the base 8 checks we're enjoying in
July, and with plenty of unfilled resource orders out there.
Grumpy in R1
You and noname are referring to the same project which has placed 320,000
acres of Plum Creek lands under the cooperative administration of several
groups and kept it available for public use rather than have it made
available for large scale development. It was a rather expensive
transaction (250 million for 320,000 acres) but would hardly qualify as an
"under the radar back room deal to earn a feather in the cap as I go out
the door" deal as noname made it out to be. More information can be found
in the Missoulian and other Montana newspapers.
||Preliminary report helo accident on American River Complex:
Great analogy! And you are correct, "now is exactly the time
such as pay and hotels need to be brought up."
I saw this in the Monterey Herald this morning.
Good input from Casey in this article. I'm just not sure who those federal
firefighters earning $56,096 a year are!
||Brothers' backfire saves family compound in Big Sur|
oh boy. this is all we need . . .
The controlled burn kept the Basin Complex blaze from destroying homes on
their 55 acres on Apple Pie Ridge. But what some see as a heroic act
landed one man in jail.
By Eric Bailey and Deborah Schoch, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
July 7, 2008
BIG SUR -- As flames swirled toward their family homestead, the Curtis
brothers figured they'd get no help and had no choice: The only way to
hold on to their 55-acre compound would be to fight fire with fire.
In the end, the controlled burn they set helped save the homes on their
beloved Apple Pie Ridge -- but not without major consequences.
Outraged authorities arrested Ross Curtis, 48, on Friday on suspicion of
illegally setting a backfire after disobeying official orders to stop.
His older brother, Micah, remains in Big Sur but is acting like a wanted
man, dodging sheriff's deputies when he descends from the homestead to
"I understand what's going on. They don't want a bunch of idiots
setting off fires that could do more harm than good," Micah Curtis, a
57-year-old artist, said as he walked the scene of the crime Saturday.
"But we saved our homes. I'm not asking them to condone it, but
they've got to understand it."
As fires approach, homeowners often take up garden hoses to face down
flames. But for them to light backfires is rare, authorities say -- and
they'd like it to stay that way.
Cliff Williams, the law enforcement official with the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection who arrested Ross Curtis, said
fire crews went to the ridge several times and ordered a stop.
Instead, the brothers kept up their rebel battle.
|| Cal fire Jake|
Actually now is exactly the time when issues such as pay and hotels need to be brought up. The state is burning, they see how strapped we are. Now is when they listen. I am all about you having hotels. Every fire fighter should get one when available. The only issue I have is traveling an extra hour to and from just to get in a bed kind of throws the work-rest issue out the door. You guys get hotels and 24's we get 14's and the ground. If we don't keep talking nothing will change. All I want is to be treated equally while on an emergency assignment... Not while at my home unit going home every night. Just when we are standing side by side in fire or flood...
I write this while in my sleeping bag on the ground off the clock. My trainee on this fire assignment is being driven to the nearest town to a hotel and sleeping on the clock. The best part is that the
Forest Service is paying for all of these folks to be taken care of properly. But they won't pay to take care of their own people.
It's like your mom taking you to the candy store and getting a treat for all of your friends... But none for you. Because it would cost mommy too much money She wants your friends to keep
coming over to play so she will treat them. Poor kid.
That's just wrong but that is a good generalization of how all of the federal firefighters feel right now.
Everyone I work with is considering taking all of the money, time and training we received from the feds and giving it to an agency who appreciates us. We need a morale booster soon or it will be too late.
Well put. Ab.
Interesting article from today's NYTimes about the volunteer departments in
Lack of resources, it appears, isn't just a FS problem, but one related to all agencies
when you get this heavy fire burden in such a long period of time. Add on to it the fact
that we still do a poor job of moving resources around. (I know there are Hotshot
crews, not on fires, sitting in the Great Basin right now.)
||The following is a link to an article this morning regarding Mark Rey choosing to evict a group of Boy Scouts who had a group permit to conduct a conservation program and allowing the annual Rainbow gathering to hold its "festival" illegally instead.|
400 members of Rainbow Family surround, attack federal officers
Forest Service officials stoned by hippie group allowed to displace Boy Scouts' service project.
The Boy Scouts have been planning this since 2004," Bousman told WND. "They've been through the planning process and have been working very cooperatively with our Forest Service. They've spent lots of money planning the biggest venture ever for the Boy Scouts.
"They did everything legally, they had their permits. But because of the fact Undersecretary Rey, for whatever reason, took it on himself to do what he has referred to as an experimental process by which he does not require the Rainbow Group to have any permit, the conflict developed," Bousman said.
More at the link above...
||Do we have solid numbers now of how many of our brothers went Red? Any |
rumors of when the next list opens for applications? As an initial attack IC
during the start of this siege I definitely felt how thin we are on qualifications!
||We are scrambling so much to fill our jobs with "qualified" individuals with current organizational levels, the thought of expanding an Firefighting workforce is/would be impossible.|
Then we get an update from one of our CIIM Teams doing everything then can to maintain effectiveness:
Some fires are located in very steep or inaccessible terrain with heavy fuel loading with dry fuel moisture at levels normally not found until late August. There is a lack of sufficient suppression resources, especially T1 or T2 IA hand crews. Multiple crews will be reaching their maximum work assignment and will either be demobilized or R/R over the next week. This reduction in resources may affect the predicted containment date and strategies if replacement crews are not assigned.
Randy, Ed, Tom and Pena -
Question; Lets contemplate how a city, county or other local jurisdiction would react if confronted with Firefighter shortages, minimal applications, hiring below minimal standards and minimal interest from applicants wanting to make the Forest Service R-5 a career.
- Would they go before Congress and lie?
- Would they begin developing a report on July 3 to send to Feinstein filled with more inaccuracies, highlighting all the so called accomplishments since Dec, 2007 on retention?
- Would they ignore the rank and file and the people (the voters), property and land they protect?
- Would they put together a video conference on April 1, 2008 (BLACK TUESDAY) and make fools of themselves?
I think what they would do is not take it so personally. We all make mistakes, the jurisdiction would not dig in and prepare for a long battle. I think they would roll up the sleeves and develop solutions.
Randy, Ed, Tom and Pena -
What do you think the jurisdiction should do?
||The Durango Telegraph is featuring an article titled:|
"Coming Under Fire - Mismanagement of federal firefighting resources
It discusses the good work Casey is doing!
I think no name please is referring to the " Mark Rey is Bent on Cutting Plum Creek a Really Sweet Deal By Secretly Altering Long Standing Agreements on Forest Service Logging Easements Just Before he Returns to his Former Role as a Leading Timber Industry Lobbyist and General Weasel" transaction.
If you'll scroll back to 6/15, I posted a link to an article from a Montana newspaper on this website. Aloha.
Here are the announcements for instructors, staff and crew bosses for the|
2009 Apprenticeship Academies. Please call with questions at 916-717-6615.
(152K doc file)
(104 K doc fire)
Thank you for remembering and reminding everyone to be safe. On the anniversary
I usually go to our son's in Gooding, Idaho and Ken heads for the mountain. he gets
up very early walks up Storm King and comes back afterwards. This year we are
staying home so it will be a strange for us. We plan on going next year for the 15th
With love to all of you out there. Stay safe.
Ken and Kathy
While the fires continue to rage in California, rest assured that those of us in Region 3
are well rested and waiting for the opportunity to help out. Perhaps one day soon we
will be made available to put a dent in the many UTF orders that come through our
GACC that are turned back every day.
In the meantime we are enjoying the rain and cooler temperatures.
||The hotel debate raises its ugly head again.
For those that dont know: The CAL FIRE motel policy was negotiated through our Union Local 2881 in lieu of a pay and benefit raise years ago. The Union felt the troops were not getting adequate rest when reasonable
accommodations were available at a comparatively economic rate to contracting.
There is too much fire out there to be getting petty on crap like this.
CAL FIRE Jake
State firefighters have it 'cushier' than brethren
While U.S. Forest Service crews sleep on cots, Cal Fire is in hotels.
Some good comments here on the hotlist... Ab.
Are/were you a United States Marine?
Tomorrow, Sunday July 6, 2008 is the 14th year of the South Canyon Fire. Take time to
the South Canyon Fire on
Storm King Mountain, July 6th, 1994.
(Please stop and remember our fellow brothers and sisters that lost
lives in the Line of Duty.)
FF's Kathi Beck, Tami Bickett, Scott
Blecha, Levi Brinkley, Robert Browning, Doug Dunbar, Terri Hagen, Bonnie
Holtby, Rob Johnson, Jon Kelso, Don Mackey, Roger Roth, James Thrash and
Richard Tyler were killed in the Line of Duty.
For me, I will always remember shaking my friend -- Jon Kelso's
-- hand in Colorado
at the helispot July 6th, 1994, and then later that day, not getting to say
Be Safe and remember the most important thing is that you come home injury
...and best wishes for their families... Ab.
Would you be referring to the "Legacy Montana" project land transaction that
has recently taken place which will keep some very large parcels of private
timber land (Plum Creek ownership) out of the hands of private developers
and open for public use and timber management? Actual acreage I have read
is 300,000 + acres, a small portion of Plum Creek's true land holdings in
Montana and Idaho.
Things in FS fire may not be going well under the current management but I
can't see a downside with this transaction as it has the potential to
eliminate more limited access WUI in Montana and should keep the lands open
for public use. As for chasing fire on those lands I'd rather deal with
them as former cutting units then to have them covered with McMansions.
||The FWFSA and the WCT|
This morning I received a rather critical email from an un-named firefighter, apparently from the San Bernardino National Forest commenting on the FWFSA's lack of action on the
WCT. The email was directed to "my eyes only" so I will honor that and not post the email but will provide some excerpts in context with the WCT issue.
It was the author's opinion that while we were doing some good things, we were "doing a lot of bad." The author indicated that he/she had "not heard one sound bite from you on improving work conditions."
Further, the author went on to say "if you don't care about the employees and the working
conditions; what do you care about PAY getting in front of congress looking good? It don't matter if you kill them all!! Go after working conditions first then pay!! Employees will stay longer if they fill (sp) the employer is not trying to kill them in the process."
I won't go into all the detail of my response but feel that if there is the slightest chance that others have the same concerns, some perceptions need to be clarified. The FWFSA is not a union. We are an employee association, political in nature whose primary goal and objectives is to improve pay, benefits and working conditions through the legislative/political process.
As an Association, the issues we address are dictated by our dues paying members. Although many of us are concerned to various degrees about the
WCT, in all honestly no member that I am aware of has raised the WCT as an issue that should be formally addressed by the FWFSA.
Furthermore, I believe that the WCT is an item that is negotiable, (at least I & I'd). The National Federation of Federal Employees
(NFFE) has the right & responsibility, by law, to bargain collectively on behalf of eligible rank & file members. The FWFSA does not. Furthermore, the law protects the rights of NFFE from other organizations encroaching on its rights to negotiate as do virtually all other federal labor unions.
While the FWFSA has worked closely with NFFE recently on a number of issues, we are always cognizant of their rights. An example of that is the housing policy on the Los Padres National Forest. Yes, the FWFSA thinks it was an "anti-employee" policy offered by the Forest Supervisor and her Deputy. However, it was a policy negotiated by NFFE and as such we have no business interfering in that process. What we did do was communicate with NFFE representatives on behalf of our members impacted by the policy which were in grades higher than those covered by the collective bargaining agreement. Before speaking to elected officials or others, we sought the
concurrence of NFFE so as to ensure them we were not trying to usurp their rights under Title 5 of
The same could be true for the WCT. If the membership of the FWFSA brought the program to the Board of Directors as a concern and an issue they felt we should weigh in on, the first thing we would do would be to communicate with
NFFE, get some background information on the program, the Union's thoughts, future actions etc., and consult with them on our concerns and offer to assist in any way. That is how the system works. Again, to date I am unaware of anyone in the FWFSA bringing the WCT issue to the forefront for Association action.
Finally, the author concluded "Unlike you I do not hide my feelings about the destruction of the FS."
Now THAT I took exception to. There is a reason why the Forest Service leadership considers the FWFSA a Pariah and it sure isn't because I or the FWFSA hide our feelings about the current status of the Forest Service fire program.
The bottom line is, given that our efforts will benefit all federal wildland firefighters, I don't care if you are an FWFSA member or not. If you have a comment or concern about what we are doing, contact me anytime and GET THE FACTS.
By the way, if Magruder Fingers gets to be President, Maybe he'll give me Mark Rey's job and we can fix these messes overnight!!
As I watched fireworks with my family last night while so many of our brave men & women were still on the many firelines out there, I reflected on why I have come to have so much passion and affection for all of you and all that you do. I am so incredibly grateful to have an opportunity to do what ever I and the FWFSA can do on your behalf.
As a reminder I will be meeting with the R5 Regional Office leadership (Mr. Moore, Mr. Pena & Mr.
Hollenshead) on Monday. I will be as frank and candid as I have always been about the issues as I explore any opportunity to change the course of the Forest Service fire program.
I certainly plan to explore whether their actions over the last year and a half are inherently their own, forced upon them by the WO or what on earth would possess folks in such leadership positions to allow such a proud program to implode.
I will post a summary of the meeting in the FWFSA's Members' area by mid week.
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Stay safe. We love you all.
Casey and the FWFSA Board of Directors
||Mark Rey just concluded a deal, secretly behind closed doors, with a|
company to develop Forest Service land and roads in Montana. Despite how
important we in wildland fire think we are, we are just a small and
insignificant part of Rey's organization. I'm sure he hasn't lost one
minute of sleep over the wildland fires, the lack of preparedness, the
homes lost or people killed in the last few weeks. That's probably
speculation on my part, but I'd bet on it.
One wonders what kind of secret closed-door deals he's negotiating about
Forest Service employees.
no name please
Please keep the dozer operator involved in the rollover in your
thoughts and prayers.
He's doing well as could be expected, but still could use good wishes his
I don't see helping out other shops with building fence and doing other jobs as an abuse of funds. Most shops have lost all their
personel and helping them is a good thing, it builds good bonds threw the district. The problem I have is when you see fuels pay for NEPA work on Timber projects and they say they are fuels treatments or when they come down and triple the amount they are going to charge for planning.
||I figured this was part of the reason for the shots being fired toward the dozer operators a few days ago. I did hear a couple more radio transmissions regarding shots fired. |
Thanks for keeping us apprised. Ab.
Pot plants worth $37 million eradicated
By GREG WELTER - Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/04/2008 12:05:59 AM PDT
CONCOW — Marijuana plants with an estimated street value of more than $37 million were pulled from five pot plantations Monday and Tuesday, when they got in the way of bulldozer operators battling the Empire Fire.
The Butte County Sheriff's Special Enforcement Unit discovered the gardens June 13 and were planning to raid them at a later time.
The gardens were mapped for fire officials when the Empire blaze broke out, but on Monday a bulldozer operator pushed into one of the grows, increasing concerns for firefighter safety…(article continues)
Haven't seen anything about this on wildlandfire.com, but here is a recent
article from Santa Barbara Area Indy:
Nearly 5,000 Evacuated
Fire Spreads from Ellwood to Old San Marcos
Burkhard in Goleta
||Right on, Magruder Fingers!!
Meanwhile many of us cool our heels, waiting for meaningful change.
from the Abs
! BE SAFE !
|7/4||Magruder Fingers for president!
I agree with your post. The USFS is an agency completely devoid of
leadership, vision, and supporting the fire management organization and
firefighters. The agency has already failed, quit, and given up. Fire
management has not. The upper levels of the agency need to be cleaned out,
get rid of the non performing lazy personnel who couldn't lead their way
out of the head. These are the people who have ruined the forest service.
must be true the agency wants fire out of it's organization. No one
agency could do a worse job of trashing it's fire management program and
employees. Fire management MUST be removed from the USFS. A federal
wildland fire department must be developed to support fire management and
the firefighters. As for the director of fire, if there is one, I don't
care if you have to keep your mouth shut to keep your job. Open your mouth,
speak the truth, lead your firefighters, get some guts and be a leader or
get out. That is the integrity required now. Shame on the forest service.
Firefighters: I'm proud of your honor, courage, commitment, and hard work.
Firefighters work hard, die, and bleed for the protection of lives, homes,
communities, and natural resources. And the forest service treats us like crap.
34 years in and I've never been more ashamed of my agency.
This is going to be a long hard fire season, it already is. Be careful out
|7/3||From the Shasta Lake Bulletin
clips -- Footage of the Martin Mars working the Motion Fire near Shasta Lake CA.
|7/3||Please post the attachment about Mike McDonald that
was involved in the
incident here in Flagstaff. Thank you.
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/mem/mcdonald.pdf (332K pdf file)
James W. Burton
Coconino National Forest
Peaks Ranger District
|7/3||Rest in Peace Bro
Crew remembers MacDonald as ‘inspiring’ firefighter
By ERIC NEWHOUSE • Tribune Projects Editor • July 3, 2008
CUT BANK — Michael MacDonald, a 26-year-old Chief Mountain Hot Shots
firefighter, returned to Montana in a wooden coffin aboard a Forest Service
smokejumpers’ plane Wednesday.
The first member of his group to die in the line of duty, MacDonald was
killed Sunday in a helicopter crash as he was being transported to a hospital in
Flagstaff, Ariz., for treatment of a bug bite and an allergic reaction to his
“Mike was in tremendous condition, but what happened to him was totally out
of our control,” said Steve Bullshoe, property manager for the Hot Shots crew
based in Browning. “We teach them to be professional, to be safe, but there are
some things you can’t do anything about.”
MacDonald’s death stunned the close-knit crew because he had been strong,
vital and inspirational, crew members said.
“This guy was outstanding,” said crew supervisor Lyle St. Goddard. “He was so
happy to be doing what he was doing. So this is a hard time for us.
“We’ve had a good string of luck for 17 years, and finally our tragedy has
struck,” said St. Goddard, who said firefighting is the seventh-most dangerous
job in America, according to statistics he’s seen.
Maurice St. Goddard, a friend of MacDonald’s since sixth grade, remembers
working beside him the day before his death, while fighting a huge fire on the
edge of the Grand Canyon.
“We were working hard to get a (clear fire) line to the top of the ridge and tie
it into another line,” Maurice St. Goddard said. “He really pulled me up — he
told me never to quit.”
Maurice St. Goddard said MacDonald drew pictures of horses on his leather gloves
and made up a story about how the Blackfeet Tribe had stolen the horses from the
Spanish and driven them across the Grand Canyon. The tall tale made his weary
“We were tired, but after we had achieved our objective, (MacDonald) was just
skiing down the mountain (on broken rock), having fun, and the firefighters in
front of him were trying to get out of his way,” Maurice St. Goddard said.
On the day of MacDonald’s death, the Hot Shots dug more line through the
morning, and then managed to take a break for a hot lunch that was flown in.
“I was sitting all alone, and Mike came and joined me,” said Kayla LaPier, the
only female on the squad, a basketball cheerleader whom MacDonald recruited to
join the Hot Shots crew. “There were flames all over and he said, ‘Sit back and
enjoy the show.’”
MacDonald was like a big brother to her, LaPier said. (Click the link for
more good memories and the photo.)
fair use disclaimer
Sad loss. Ab.
Here's the link to the NW resources page. Interesting that in PL 5 while
R5 and R3 burn there are three IHC crews available, sitting up here, and
told to take the holiday and their regular days off (despite all three just
coming off R&R). Not on standby for the forecast lightning or possible
holiday weekend IA, but actual days off so the crews will have to call
everyone back to work if there is a fire. This plan (if you could call it
that) doesn't even meet the possible design of keeping fires small here,
as the crews are then a few hours response once everyone heads home for
the weekend. I'll feel guilty enjoying the fireworks, but thanks NMAC; I
haven't had a fourth at home in years.
Please no name
|7/3||Santa Rosa Press Democrat (CA) reporting a
firefighter death about an hour ago.
Volunteer firefighter dies in Mendocino County
By Glenda Anderson
The Press Democrat
Last Modified: Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 12:34 p.m.
An Anderson Valley volunteer firefighter who had been working on the Mendocino
County firelines died early Thursday morning after falling ill, officials said.
Robert Roland, 63, was taken to Ukiah Valley Medical Center after he began to
have health difficulties, said Anderson Valley Volunteer Fire Department
volunteer Dawn Emery Ballantine.
He died in the intensive care unit at about 4 a.m., she said.
She said Roland was fairly new to the department. Additional information will be
available later in the day.
fair use disclaimer
Hotlist thread for updates:
Thunderstorm Safety Alert: from the NWCG Safety and Health Working Team.
THUNDERSTORM SAFETY ALERT
Within a 30-day period from the end of May to the end of June 2008, 10 wildland
firefighters were injured after being struck by lightning while conducting fire
operations. Two of these firefighters were hit on a prescribed fire in Montana,
eight others were struck in North Carolina. Thunderstorms continue to be
predicted in most of the west and parts of the southeast.
Clearly, lightning is a hazard in the wildland fire environment--one that will
always have potential to injure or kill firefighters. Two wildland firefighters
were killed by lightning on the North Stansbury Fire in Utah on August, 23,
2000. Nationwide, 60 people are killed by lightning each year and another 340
are injured; many of these injuries are of a life-changing nature.
Firefighters can take specific actions to mitigate the hazard they face from
lightning. Observe the 30/30 rule: If you see lightning and hear thunderclaps
within 30 seconds of each other, take storm countermeasures. Do not resume work
in exposed areas until 30 minutes after storm activity has passed. Other thunder
storm countermeasures include:
• Take shelter in a vehicle or building if possible.
• If outdoors, find a low spot away from tall trees, wire fences, utility lines
and other elevated conductive objects.
• If in the woods, move to an area with shorter trees.
• If in open country, crouch low, minimizing your contact with the ground. Never
lie flat on the ground.
• Don’t group together.
In addition to lightning, thunderstorm activity poses other threats to wildland
firefighters. Outflow winds and downbursts can dramatically affect fire behavior
miles away from a thunder cell; this has been noted as a causal factor in a
number of fatalities.
Localized heavy precipitation can also occur so flash flooding is a potential
concern in low lying areas.
Wildland firefighters are urged to review the Thunderstorm Safety section of the
Incident Response Pocket Guide, page 75, and the Six Minutes for Safety lesson
on Thunderstorm Safety:
|7/3||South Canyon DVD available
Anyone visiting the South Canyon fatality site would appreciate reviewing the
“South Canyon Reflections and Leadership Perspectives”. It can be ordered from:
Redmond Air Center
1740 SE Ochoco Way
Redmond, OR 97756
Mike DaLuz does an outstanding job of narration.
Several Hot List postings have asked for current information about the Piute
Fire. Kern County Fire Department has current and extensive information, and the
Breckenridge Web cameras site has added a camera focused on the fire. The fire
is in tough country with poor access and several hours of hard travel to
Here are a couple links I am using. I have a special interest in
this fire since it is burning part of my old ranger district, the Greehorn as I
knew it in the the 70's.
http://www.kerncountyfire.org/incidents.php?id=124 Kern County FD
http://sierrafire.cr.usgs.gov/swfrs/Pages/WebCam.phpl Web cameras on the
Sequoia. Breckenridge is the camera location to go to, and use this site for the
Here's a link an article for the "Strange fire names" on the hot list.
|7/3||I am retired...have been for awhile. I AM SHORT 2K
of funding my ROTH IRA for 2008.
When I reach that threshold I will no longer be available. Given this years
activity, I should
reach that by Aug 1st. Good luck & Good night.. (see the movie).
Want to know where the fire dollars are
going? Simple. Ask any Forest Supervisor for the summary report for WFPR and
WFHF funds planned expenditures. Also ask for the latest iteration of project
work plans listed in that summary. It will take 5 minutes for them to run the
report and send via email. Any resistance, make it a FOIA. If you have political
contacts, a call from a Congressional aide can get immediate response.
Note: There are very legitimate reasons for expending fire funding on other
than "equipment" or "firefighters". Training, computers, contracting,
procurement, office rent, utilities, are all support services and legitimate
expenses for the various programs (timber, wildlife, recreation etc) and each
must pay their share.....no free ride for fire.
BUT......that doesn't mean one should not be watching for abuses of the
|7/2||To: Old Fire Behavior Analyst:
There is a renewed effort in Congress with respect to the Rehired Annuitant
issues. Last year. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine introduced S 2003 which would
allow for the reemployment of annuitants where they wouldn't have their
annuities impacted by their use during the fire season.
I don't know what the ADA thinks about it though. Our only question to Collins'
office which has yet to be answered is the impact the passage of the bill would
have on the fact that there is a mandatory retirement age for federal
In other words, if a firefighter is not allowed to work past 57, how does
rehiring them to do the same job they were doing before being forced to retire
jive with the mandatory retirement age law.
I spoke with a number of folks in DC recently about the issues facing ADs
because we are proud to have several as members of the FWFSA. We certainly don't
want to step on the toes of any Association dedicated to ADs, but there are
issues that should be addressed. It was clear the level of education on the
issues by members of Congress and their staffs is less than desirable so as with
all the issues we are tackling, it will take some effort to bring these folks up
We've received some good feedback from our AD members on solutions to the
problem but again don't want to compromise anything the ADA is trying to
I, like anyone, appreciate a good correction and I'm sure spreadsheets
don't lie so thank you for that. As always, people talk to the press
within the NICC structure and the questions aren't always choreographed.
An errant question can always throw an "official" for a loop on occasion.
I do however, maintain, that going to Eastern Great Basin's website (as
seen in my previous post) effectively shows the sheer volume of OVERHEAD
needs due to the fact that Eastern Great Basin and Western Great Basin
GACCs share resources openly that won't be shown through official
channels, just like how northern and southern Cal federal forces will be
"loaned out" when needed. The amount of U/As on the GACC website can be
seen under the Other Information tab and keep in mind that unless a GACC
specifically asks to be "BLOCKED OUT" due to their own regions needs,
duplicate orders will be systematically sent up to each GACC in order to
find overhead resources as necessary. In addition, resources from other
nations (including our good friends the Canadians) will fall under Eastern
Great Basin's authority to be disseminated as necessary by NICC as they
become available after an in-state briefing.
"AC" said on 7/2: "It's gone to PL5 (on a 1 to 5 scale) the earliest in
15 years from what officials are stating."
This appears to be incorrect based on a spreadsheet sent by NIFC on 6/25,
thru the Coordination Center and FMO channels. This was soon after we
went to PL3, and the same day we went to PL4. Then of course, we went to
PL5 on 7/1/2008. June 21, 2002 was and is the earliest PL5 since 1990.
Until 2008, second place was July 19, 2007.
"Below is the updated preparedness levels spreadsheet . (Thanks to Sheri
Ascherfeld, NIFC-BLM External Affairs.) As we inch our way up in
preparedness levels, I always find this chart interesting and thought I
(See attached file:
NatPreparednessLevels-thru20080623.xls (440K xls file; must have excel.)
NPS Fire Communication and Education Program Lead
National Interagency Fire Center"
Also, the link given for UTF was only EastGreatBasin GACC.
|7/2||I checked that UTF list... if anyone out there is
looking for a GIST that classification
has been discontinued.... Please pass onto the SITLs that they need to be
GISS as a position.
Issue: Based on the sheer number of incidents in the Northern CA
Operations area we find that current staffing levels cannot be maintained.
Out of state resources are reaching assignment limits and must be released
to home or rested. Due to the onset of fire season in other Geographic Areas
resources released to home will probably not return in the same capacity
that was originally ordered for this unprecedented event. Other options must
be explored. Extensions, R&R and releasing of crews, are presently in
progress at all incidents.
Prior to extending incident personnel, health, readiness, and capability
must be considered. The health and safety of incident personnel and
resources will not be compromised under any circumstance.
Options: Many... (click the link)
|7/2||I saw a report on these accidents somewhere.
Here's a news article:
www.kcra.com/news/16765332/detail.phpl Be Safe All. Ab.
It was reported on another fire website that two more folks were injured in
separate incidents on the Cold Fire, within the Canyon complex, near Quincy,
Calif. A private contractor / dozer operator rolled his dozer and was hurt.
Also, a FF was mopping up hot spots and fell injuring himself. Might be a good
time to post something in regards to the long haul, crew cohesion, fatigue
(signs / symptoms), R&R policies being followed, everyone to watch each other's
back more closely. With the shear numbers of fires and FFs in the state, the
odds for injury start to stack against them. In 1987, after the August lightning
bust, with months of firefighting, I believe there were a total of 10 separate
FF fatalities in the state and hundreds of injuries (many smoke inhalation and
I have observed alot of fire coverage in the news lately. I am seeing alot of
folks (state, federal and private) that are not wearing their appropriate
wildland PPE, with fire raging up close and personal to them. I understand all
agencies are little different, but if you were issued the gear and it is your
Dept.'s policy, then wear it. Supervisors MUST hold their folks and themselves
accountable. I believe when the final reports come out on the recent multiple
burn overs, it will show or sadly prove my point. As you know, the fires burning
today are responding like they would in September with extreme / erratic fire
behavior. With the experience level in all agencies going by the wayside "Baby
Boomers" retiring, this adds another situation that shouts WATCH OUT !! This is
certainly not the time to let their guard down.
HEADS UP TO EVERYONE !!
Send me all the hard number and data you can. In fact I have already printed out
dozens and dozens of pages of data and internal emails from those very same
retired folks you mentioned.
Once deciphered, I'll get them to OMB. But as I said, if anyone has any hard
data, please feel free to share it with us at the FWFSA at either fax:
208-775-4577 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good comments and nothing new to those of us retirees who occupy positions
always in great demand. I have been for years now FBAN/LTAN/ATGS qualified and
notice that those are always being UTF'ed during busy times as they are today
(7/2) by Eastern Great Basin. I have repeatedly over the past several years done
double and triple duty in my positions of qualification on fires during periods
like America is in right now.
I, and many others like me, have answered the bell repeatedly as ADs since we
retired. No more for me. I have finally realized that by working as an AD I am
just part of the problem of getting better compensation for firefighters working
at all levels in all categories for all federal agencies.
I am sorry it has come to this but until things change my armchair seems to be
the most profitable and safest place to be.
Question to the group: Why has there still been no discussion regarding
reestablishing the Rehired Annuitant Authority? The time this discussion needed
to be taking place was long ago, before we got into this mess.
s/ Old Fire Behavior Analyst
I believe you are correct in
the year. 1976 went down as a very wet summer. I was rappelling
that year and it was SLOW!.. especially R-6. This after what was a very dry
I ruined many pairs of skis that year on rocks. The 76 summer of course was
I still think is the all time driest winter 1976-77..at least in N. California.
That lead to many
great fires Marble Cone LP & Hog KNF are some that come to mine. I was in Ak
and it was huge as well.
having detailed in NICC for the 2007 season I can effectively answer JQ
Public's inquiry with regard to the system of Preparedness Level protocol.
Its gone to PL5 (on a 1 to 5 scale) the earliest in 15 years from what
officials are stating. This is mostly due to the sheer amount of resources
committed in Region 5 and the amount of UNABLE TO FILL requests for
overhead positions such as TFLD, CRWB, FALA, DIVS etc. These U/As can be
seen on a website called:
as opposed to needing ROSS to see them minute to minute as they are sent to
NICC by the specific GACCs requesting them. The pages of U/As lately have
been 2 to 3 pages long, apparently northern and southern Cal as well as
Arizona and New Mex are not getting what they need to manage and fight
fires appropriately. PL5 will free up the military for use on the
firelines which might ease the burden. NICC has their hands full trying to
find overhead, aircraft and hotshot crews for each incident nationwide as
PL5 will certainly be tested as a max level when the rest of the west
|7/2||Thought I would share...
I took some picture at
the dedication and thought you could add this one to the memorial page.
Zuzzette B- ESC
Riverside County Fire Department-OES
Sorry for the delay in getting get this info out, I was away. It came in from
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests on June 18, 2008. Ellreese Daniels'
sentencing hearing has been moved from July to August 18th. There's a little
more info below.
We just received word that the sentencing hearing for Ellreese has been
moved to August 18. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 and Tom
Hopkins is expecting it to last several hours.
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Thanks Heather. Ab.
I am amazed at your statements that the folks in DC have never heard of the use
of preparedness funds for non-fire related activities. Lawnmowers purchased for
fuel reduction, fuel reduction funds used for landscaping projects, airboat
purchases, fire funded personnel used for various non-fire projects (timber
cruising, public hunts, fence building, outhouse cleaning, etc) are just a few
examples that come to mind.
Can I give you hard numbers? Get real. Land managers know they are misusing
Congressionally allocated funds, and do not show those numbers publicly, but so
what? They are given the discretion in many agencies (DOI) to reallocate/misuse
up to $500,000.00 per year. Yep, check it out.
The rumor in the field is that the entire move of the finance section (in the
USFS) to Albuquerque was funded from preparedness funds (or the big pot of fire
funds the USFS received from DOI before it was divided internally to various
funding divisions). And this guy in DC has never heard of the misuse of
preparedness funds? From what I hear, the fire funds are tapped hard for
utilities at almost all USFS facilities, in a proportion way over a simple
precentage of the programs working at each facility. Is that equitable? Is it
misuse of fire funds? Depends how you define misuse, I suppose...
I think if you seriously questioned the various fire agencies' RETIRED fire
managers AT THE REGIONAL OR STATE OFFICE LEVELS, they would have plenty of
examples. The guys that are still working (or the guys in Washington) won't be
the ones to ask!
|7/2||This came from a Situation Report posted by a GACC.
Another example of management choking the system. I though Mark Rey had it lined
up? I guess the Regional Forester didn't sent the memo to the Forest Supervisor
to be a team player? And I thought I had issues getting my records correct in
ROSS so I could be utilized! Same old Same old! Where is the trust, leadership
Still struggling with Forest (NOT LETTING FOLKS OUT THAT WANT TO HELP)
Valuable resources are working on other priorities. Low fire danger. Need
more support and stronger voice from region to shake folks loose!
The Santa Barbara Independent has been doing updates on the CA-LPF-Gap Fire.
This one was posted at 5:00 a.m. 'Gap Fire Morning Outlook'>
|7/1||Drama unfolding on the hotlist with a column
|7/1||FWFSA data call
If you know of someone at a cache that might be interested in letting us know
precisely what's going on with their data call, I'd be happy to "up-channel" it
if it smells like a rat...
The federal wildland firefighting community has been incredibly helpful in
providing the FWFSA, NFFE and AB with an abundance of information/data in the
last year in order to educate folks in DC. While I know everyone is busting
their tails with the fire season upon us, we could use a bit more help.
Over the last year I have had the honor & pleasure of meeting on several
occasions with the Forest Service Budget Analyst at the Office of Management &
Budget (OMB). He, like many other staff persons in DC we work with, is a former
wildland firefighter. I have been pleasantly surprised to discover how much we
are on the "same page" with respect to a number of budget issues, cost
constraints etc. with respect to the Forest Service fire program.
More recently he acknowledged that he has never seen or heard of any
documentation or data regarding the use of fire preparedness funds and hazardous
fuels reduction funds by line officers for non-fire purposes and the
consequences thereof and even more surprising, was unaware that non-federal
resources were, in our opinion a large part of the increasing suppression costs
as the Agency has never reported that non-federal resources are a large cost
The OMB staffer is a money & numbers guy... I'm not. If anyone can provide
factual data regarding the above issues it will, of course, be forwarded
confidentially. With your help we have done a great job of educating Congress
over the last couple of years. Doing the same with OMB could have significant
Further, despite the potential for a change of political party in the
Administration at the first of the year, many staffers like the one I'm working
with, will likely remain with OMB and thus his understanding of our issues would
be critical in working to effect positive change.
Again, verifiable documentation is necessary. Additionally, if you have first
hand awareness of the issues but don't have documentation, it might be
beneficial for him to hear from you and I can broker that communication.
Documentation can be sent via email to the FWFSA at email@example.com or faxed to
208-775-4577. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Thanks in advance and stay safe.
|7/1||union notes: 0401 vs. 0301:
"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."
To further clarify this issue, there were never any plans by the agencies to
go to a 0301 (Administrative series). It was never even considered prior
to IFPM Implementation. One of the numerous reasons it was not considered
was that one of the Federal agencies had been cautioned by OPM to stop
using that series for some of their fire management positions.
|7/1||Rusty Muir Scholarship Fund
Rusty Muir passed away at home on May 23, 2008. He was Rowdy Muir's
In memory of Rusty Muir, a scholarship fund is being organized through
Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Donations to the Rusty Muir Scholarship
fund can be made in lieu of flowers or other tokens of remembrance for
Rusty Muir and in respect to his family.
Rusty was a huge proponent of education, so much so that he was the
President of the Education Board in his home county. He even built a
school during his tenure.
He was also the kind of guy who had a very strong work ethic. If you
showed up for work early, stayed late, and worked your tail off in between,
you would meet with his standard of a hard worker (and a good kid).
Rusty was the kind of guy that would protect and defend the down and out.
He always looked after others, especially those who needed help. Many
of you might remember him from his many years with the Forest Service
from 1979 to 1999.
So, when a handful of us put together criteria for this Rusty Muir Scholarship,
we are going to keep those traits of Rusty Muir in mind. And for now, we'd
appreciate any donations to that fund so sometime in the future, we'll
be able to help a hard working kid with a college education in Rusty's
|7/1||As odd as it may seem....
this old timer
remembers, or is trying to remember the exact year - but
there was a 10" rainfall in SW Oregon during the first week of August in
the mid-seventies. It may have been 1976. We were blazing a trail thru
the North Kalmiopsis wilderness on the Siskiyou NF, and of course it being
August and SW Oregon never planned for rain. Ten days in remote, heavily
infested poison oak, manzanita, rhododendron, and steep old growth country.
We had to call in the BD to rescue our rig parked on the river bar as the
chetco river rose very fast. The BD crew found it slightly downriver.
Strange things do happen with weather when least expected. Believe it was
Put an end to fire danger real quick for rest of summer. Sure wish I could
remember what year. Do remember the wrist thick poison-oak vines as half
the crew got it bad, what with the rain, wet clothing, and being far, far,
away. This in the days of IR crews.
|7/1||From the article TL posted
“A rank-and-file Forest Service firefighter earns $56,096 a year
an equivalent state firefighter gets $64,760 because Cal Fire employees
can work more hours, according to a Forest Service report released
Where did they get this from? A GS11 Division Chief (FMO) starts at $54,000
a year? A GS8 Fire captain makes $40,000-53,000 a year.
A “rank and file” Federal wildland firefighter (better known as a GS4
Tech) makes $26,000-35,000 a year assuming they actually worked the whole
Even accounting for the special So Cal salary rates, the $56,000 figure is
remotely accurate for a “rank and file” USFS firefighter.
What did this report do, include all the OT from a particularly busy hotshot
and compare it to CDF’s base pay?
On a related note I heard the USFS has contracted to use the Canadian Martin
Can somebody tell me what the usable air frame hours are for the Mars? How is it
63 year old flying boat can be used but 50 year old DC6 / 7s are too old to be
Feeling like a member of the band on the Titanic.
|7/1||Is this really surprising?
Forest Service short on fire engines, Inland staffing
|7/1||Re: Questions about PL5
This was sent out from NIFC this morning:
NATIONAL INTERAGENCY FIRE CENTER
3833 South Development Avenue Boise, Idaho 83705
PL-5 Key Messages
June 30, 2008
- The national Preparedness Level is set by the National Multi-Agency
Coordinating Group, or NMAC. Preparedness Levels range from 1 to 5, with one
indicating minimal fire activity and five representing major fires in
several geographic areas that have the potential to exhaust agency fire
- NMAC elevated the current level to five due to several factors: . The
current fire activity, particularly in California. The expected increase in
fire activity elsewhere in the nation, particularly in the Great Basin,
Northwest and Rocky Mountains. The expectation that many of the current
fires in Northern California will continue to burn well into the summer. The
heavy commitment of crews and resources to California, which is stretching
firefighting agencies’ capabilities. The unprecedented early start to the
fire season in California. Concern about firefighter fatigue, with the most
difficult part of the fire season likely yet to come. President Bush
declared a state of emergency for seven counties in central and northern
- This is the second earliest date since 1990 that PL-5 has been reached.
Only on June 21, 2002, was PL-5 reached earlier.
- The preparedness level has increased rapidly over the last two weeks,
indicating how quickly the seriousness of the fire season in the United
States has grown. The preparedness level was 2 on June 21, went to three 3
on June 22, and was elevated to 4 on June 25.
- As the season intensifies, it’s a reminder to the public to be careful
with and around fire, and for those who own homes in fire-prone areas, to
take the few simple steps needed to help their property to become more
- Resources are stretched, but the top priorities of firefighters remain
to protect life, property and critical natural resources. Each fire manager
has available a full range of options, from monitoring fires that are
ecologically beneficial to aggressive suppression tactics.
I looked on the archived incident management situation reports on
http://iys.cidi.org/wildfire/archlink.php. They only have the reports
archived back to 1998, and 2007 is not available yet, but it looks like the
earliest PL 5 was June 21, 2002. I searched the all reports for July 1,
and we are normally in a PL 2 or 3 at this time of year.
|7/1||Assault in AZ:
I have been an observer of the site for a few years but only recently became a
registered member. Unfortunately an aggressive incident in Lake Havasu AZ is
what causes me to contact you for some help. My wife and I both work for
professional city departments in Southern California, and on 6-26-08 our (my
wife's) cousin was assaulted by two off-duty firefighters outside of a bar
called B.J.'s. Apparently there was a scuffle in the bar (we were not there
ourselves) between our family member's girlfriend and the two FFs, causing our
family to leave the bar. The two FFs followed them out and assaulted our cousin
by jumping him from behind and functionally driving his skull into concrete
causing severe injuries (he is still unconscious). The two then continued to
kick and stomp on him as he lay unconscious until local security stopped the
assault. Our cousin was airlifted from Havasu to Phoenix where he remains in a
comma and his survival is still in question.
Sorry for the long story, but now the point. The two FFs then ran to their truck
and escaped local security as they began rendering medical aid to our cousin.
The only description we have is two FFs who have been seen at the bar on other
weekends, and they were wearing brown t-shirts with their department name
(unknown if they were duty or off-duty t's). My assumption is they were off duty
t's. San Diego city has a brown off-duty t, but is there anyone else you know of
who has brown duty or off-duty t's in the so cal/ Havasu AZ area?
Security tapes from the bar are being subpoenaed for enhancement but any info to
help us find those who committed the assault would be appreciated. Also, aside
from the t-shirt clue, most firefights I know have a bad habit of flapping their
gums, so i figure someone may have heard the story around the camp fire. Could
you post this (or an edited version of it) to help us get some info on potential
identities of the t's or others who have heard of the incident?
Any help is appreciated,
Kevin and Kelley D<snip>
City of Hemet FD / Rancho Cucamonga FD
Kevin & Kelly, Many firefighters are on the line and will not be reading
this. Probably we'll need to ask the question again when people get back. Ab.
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