August, 2008

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8/31 Apprentice Program

I have bit my tongue for four years, enough!

Where does one start in describing the joint US Department of Labor/USDA
Forest Service's Wildland Firefighter Specialist apprentice program?

Admittedly I'm old-school, started fighting fire at 16 back in 78', when
CDF had brush crews/fire aids, that's where I started, learned from the
ground up carried brass and hose, only permitted to use handtools, nothing
with a motor since we were only 16. Graduated University w/BS, was primary
fire, now I'm not but still a crewboss. So...when this fire apprentice
program came along, and my daughter was graduating high school but not
liking the whole college scene, we attended a forest service "job fair" in
So Cal at my duty station (Region 5). I apologize to my daughter right now,
my mistake!

I should have known better, it was all puppies and rainbows, and I'll tell
you one more thing, I swear they said the kids would convert as GS 5/7/9's,
but I didn't get it on tape, d*mn! Of course we were a proud Forest Service
family, continuing the tradition, signing-up the next generation, make us
proud and do something noble, you know, add to the good-of-the-order,
things I was taught, believed, still do.

Well, maybe not!

First Season:
Handcrew. The first call came from my kid at 0100, 12 travel hours away,
and she was hiding in her truck with the doors locked because her "Mentor"
got ticked-off at the crew for someone eating his stash of (insert favorite
food/beverage here) and he screamed at everyone in the barracks that he was
going to cut everyone's throat that night. Everyone scattered, she was
scared, I don't blame her, 18, female, first week away from home and 700
miles away! She slept in the back of her SUV most of the season.

Her module assignment was for handcrew, fine, handcrews are great, I still
enjoy leading handcrews. Her handcrew was type 2 and not a crew, it was a
short crew of 10, with another short crew of 10 from another District. They
were a project crew retained by the forest for fire assignments if the
forest got desperate. Needless to say the caliber of supervisory and
permanent folks on the crew was reflective of their achievement of being
placed on this crew and in life in general. Leadership was not present, the
crewboss was a short-timer, old, burned-out, and did not subscribe to the
"teach-for-success" philosophy, doubt he could spell it! Their assignments
were very few and far between, and a fiasco when they were on assignment as
there was no real Supt., no Captains, and the Squaddies were old temps, one
of whom was the purported throat-cutter. Of course when fire season was
over the crew had not earned even half of the supposed crew-module
on-the-job hours, her task books went completely unsigned for the tasks she
had completed, and she was automatically way behind the curve on completing
the program on-schedule.

Second Season:
Helitack, was actually good! Good Supt, reasonably good
Captains, Squaddies were ok but still immature enough to carry on the
social vendettas inherent on any crew, but what the h*ll it was day and
night from handcrew. The only real friction on this crew was the habit of
some of the crew to tell the females on the pack-outs that they (the guys)
were going to get them (the girls) to quit, and the guys would load-up the
girl's packs to over a hundred pounds, mind you the girls are about 120
pounds soaking wet, this would be the same as the guys packing-out 210
pound packs on their backs, which of course the guys never did. The girls
decided to take the challenge and said they would rather die than quit and
the pack-out started. The guys then told the girls that they were gapping
the line and to hurry up the pace. Yes, the girls finished, yes they
gapped, but... they finished with 100+ pound packs and the macho guys hiked
out with 60 pound packs, not 210 pounds. Besides this and the inherent
risks those pack-outs entailed for the safety (knee joints, ankles, backs,
falling great vertical distances) and unity of the crew, helitack was a
good season. Oh yeah,1 taskbook with about 5 tasks signed, task books
got signed (a bit)!

Season Three:
Engine. Model 62, Type 3, great Captain, horrible FEO, good Squaddie. The
Captain was former military, squared-away, fair, knowledgeable, taught for
success. High hopes. He needed to promote so detailed out as a single
resource for the season and the FEO was acting Capt. Several out of Region
assignments, no chain-of-command, no discipline, and three girls on one
Engine. Sorry, pc or not, three girls on one Engine DOES NOT work, ask a
female ff about crew dynamics with several girls on a module. My kid was
the Senior FF for the season but was not provided the chain-of-command from
the FEO so there was no hierarchy and the crew kind of hobbled along
through the entire season. Yes they made it home safe, no they didn't get
their expected hours, and no my kid did not get her task books signed off
for all the work that she did complete, again.

Season Four:
The forest doesn't really know what to do with my daughter at this point
since she has successfully completed both academies, has completed all
three module assignments, but is lacking in completion of ojt hours and CDL
permit training. Well the forest graciously announced they were extending
her apprenticeship another year, to season five, in order to catch-up her
ojt hours and get the CDL permit training and hours. Sorry, any extension
is voluntary not compulsory, there is a four year max contract, indenture
date to completion date. The USDAFS must complete all apprenticeship
training and ojt hours within that four year window, period. Big Meetings
had to happen. Outcome was the forest had to juggle her to another District
where they were squared away, got her the hours she was lacking and the CDL
stick time and experience, and completed the forest service obligations of
completed task books as well. She is still working to get a conversion to
her choice of a module (read the FSM, "any unit in the Forest Service").

The BAD LIST, the common denominator's that are sinking this program (my opinion of course having lived four years of it):

  • Apprentice Coordinators that are assigned the responsibilities as additional work rather than volunteering for a separate, full-time detail.
  • Not moving the Apprentices around from unit-to-unit or forest-to-forest for each Module assignment for breadth of experience.
  • Not providing access to Lotus Notes or a USFS computer so the Apprentices cannot keep track of their hours.
  • Assigned District Apprentice training officers that outright lose the Apprentices training records and completed hour records.
  • Task Books are not assigned to anyone with a supervisory position on the Modules so said books are not signed off to record experience.
  • Mentors are not permanent employees, they are usually temps, who make a special project of making Apprentices quit.
    Hazing and harassment continue each and every Module, especially for the females, the testing never stops, they never get accepted!
  • Temporary employees are on each Module and they are not drug tested.
  • They get blitzed, drag the crew down, both physically & emotionally.
  • Housing sucks, discipline (read safety for the females) is nonexistent, cleanliness is nonexistent, inspections are nonexistent, no repercussions.
  • Module leaders who are retired-in-place cannot stand the Apprentices and single them out for special hazing, humiliation, and retribution.
  • There are NO ADVOCATES on-forest for these kids, none, they are sold a bill of goods at the job-fairs, signed-up to a government contract, told they are hero's at academy, and treated like poop when they arrive at their District.
  • Approximately 50%-70% of the Apprentices who started with my daughter at Basic Academy quit and did not finish, most didn't complete 2 full seasons.


  • Training, and lots of it, good training at McClellan.
  • Helitack skills and competencies that are always good to have, and taught well.
  • Developing a healthy respect for teamwork, hard work, and surviving life experiences.
  • Developing a self-reliant attitude and character.
  • Learning fire from the ground up.
  • If you survive, especially as a female candidate, a sense of real accomplishment that cannot be taken away.

That's all I have for the Apprentice Program as R5 runs it. Doubtless someone, or many, will think I'm full of cr*p for writing this but it is the honest truth of what I and my daughter have experienced. Hope this is published and that someone at a higher GS level will take this for constructive feedback and not just for criticism.

Engine 262.

Thanks, Engine 262, you old theysaider, you.
Isn't this primarily a forest issue? Many of the problems or shortfalls you bring up sound like they're fixable. How can these things get streamlined?
The hazing has got to stop.

I'm glad you included a GOOD LIST. Your daughter has always been a hard worker and self reliant. How could she be better? The steel demonstrated by Demi Moore in "GI Jane" comes to mind... Ab.

8/31 Noname EMT,

I can only offer some suggestions, this is not legal advice, but my best suggestion is good documentation. Hopefully when you are treating a patient in the field you are also filling out a PCR (patient care report). Be a thorough; document EVERYTHING. Document who is on scene, what the circumstances/environment is like, treatment provided, etc. If a person refuses treatment or transport make sure that when you document you include that you have informed the patient of all consequences and so on. Have them sign an AMA (against medical advice). If circumstances occur that a patient is unable to be transported be sure to document that as it happens. Hopefully this will be helpful, but today it is really scary to think about as you have mentioned. Remember what they say "If you didn't write it, you didn't do it." Reviewing the medical/legal/documentation section of your EMT book my be helpful and of course always work within your scope of practice and protocols.

Remember the four things to prove negligence:
  • Duty to Act,
  • Breach of that Duty,
  • Proximate Cause (something that the responder did to worsen or cause the damage suffered by the patient), &
  • Actual Damages.

In regards to PLI, it has been said by many that if you have things to protect, such as house, toys, etc then PLI is a consideration, especially if your agency doesn't have enough to back you.

Good luck, I hear you on your concerns.


8/31 Hugh Carson,

All I can say is THANK YOU for setting the record straight and delivering a well said
and much needed lesson to the uninformed. You did it much better than I could have.

8/31 More on AD Issues:

For those of you interested in "just the facts," the page I put up 3 years
ago as Chair of ADFA still is up.


It includes a wealth of material:

Our letter to Congress
ADFA Congressional/Media Briefing Package
Pay Inequality Analysis: Difference Among Pay Period Earnings Of GS
Employees And An AD Employee's Earnings At 2006 Rates;

As I said in my previous post, Casey is on the right track by early
recognition that the agencies are not going to change a damn thing of their
own accord, and pursuing the folks who count and can do something about it

Casey even offered last spring to pursue the AD cause as a subsidiary issue
in his dealings with congressional delegations. I sent him all these
materials, and referred him to the current chair of ADFA

But I don't think there was much interest on the part of the current ADFA
Board. He has had much bigger fish to fry, and with apparent total
disinterest on the part of those he had offered to help, results or lack
thereof were predictable. Nada.

Keep the faith,

Hugh Carson
8/31 In regards to the discussion on EMT's in the fire service and the need for medical direction, standard operating procedures and protocols. (bold italics added for emphasis)

United States Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
EMT-Basic: National Standard Curriculum

Medical Direction Statement

Medical direction of the EMT-Basic is an essential component of prehospital training,
and thus is included in this revised EMT-B curriculum. Physician involvement should
be in place for all aspects of EMS training programs, specifically for every ambulance
service/rescue squad. On-line and/or off-line medical direction must be in place to
allow for EMT-Basics to carry and assist with the administration of medications to

Quality improvement is also a required component of EMS training. The role of medical
direction is paramount in assuring the provision of highest quality prehospital care.

Medical Directors should work with individuals and systems to review prehospital
cases and strive to achieve a sound method of continuous quality improvement.

Medical direction

1. Definition
  • a. A physician responsible for the clinical and patient care aspects of an EMS system.
  • b. Every ambulance service/rescue squad must have physician medical direction.
  • c. Types of medical direction

  • (1) On-line
    • (a) Telephone
    • (b) Radio

    (2) Off-line

    • (a) Protocols
    • (b) Standing orders
  • d. Responsible for reviewing quality improvement
2. The relationship of the EMT-Basic to medical direction

  • a. Designated agent of the physician
  • b. Care rendered is considered an extension of the medical director's authority (varies by state law).

F. Specific statutes and regulations regarding EMS in your state.

ref: www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/ems/pub/emtbnsc.pdf

As I just came from a fire assignment in Oregon, I include the following; (bold italics added for emphasis)

Oregon Revised Statute 682.245 reads in part as follows:

  1. The Board of Medical Examiners for the State of Oregon shall adopt by rule a scope of practice for emergency medical technicians B, I and P
  2. The standing orders for emergency medical technicians may not exceed the scope of practice defined by the board.
  3. No emergency medical technician shall provide patient care or treatment without written authorization and standing orders from a supervising physician who has been approved by the board.
  4. The policies and procedures for applying and enforcing scope of practice may be delegated in whole or in part to the Health Services of the Department of Human Resources.

The above listed scope of practice is taken from Oregon Administrative Rule 847-35-0030, dated 4/98.

As Forest Service employees operating as EMTs whether on the fireline or a project, it is difficult to know what local protocols to operate under when you have certification from one state and are working in another. As is very clearly noted above, without medical direction from a physician, you are in violation of the law.

The answer to this dilemma is of course to develop our own protocols and procedures under medical direction at a national, regional and local level. Some regions (R-5 for instance) operate in an 'all-risk' environment and already have a system in place, however this system also requires improvement.

I believe that the individual from California with the very low EMT certification number misunderstood. Operating as an EMT, even when not completing the more difficult or technical tasks, requires a relationship with a physician to obtain training, counseling and opportunities to improve and practice their skills.

As for 'Noname EMT', all I can suggest is that you continue your training, maintain your certification and hope that in the future progress will be made in solving this problem. As I have said before, this is something I have been working on for over five years.

Brian Kliesen

8/31 The Forest Service was founded on the principle of “the greatest good, for the greatest number, in the long run”. It is a principle that guides our management of resources, and the management of our most important resource, the employees.

Throughout its history, new employees have realized that they work for a multiple use agency and will be called upon to contribute to whatever task is a priority. During my career I enjoyed the opportunities to be involved in a wide range of programs including timber management, recreation, trail construction/maintenance, wildlife habitat projects, wilderness, range, minerals, special uses, engineering projects, and of course, working as a firefighter for 35 years.This diverse experience led to a variety of career opportunities including stints as a line officer, and eventually a leadership position in fire.

I was very pleased to see new employees (foresters, engineers, GIS specialists….the whole gamut of ‘ologists” coming into the office saying “My boss tells me that ALL employees are expected to have a role in the fire program…..where can I serve best?” Some became fire crew members, some worked on engines, some learned how to employ their specialty skills in support positions.


Being a firefighter is not limited to those who attend an academy or qualify for the “primary firefighter” retirement. It does not require someone from OPM to create a “special” firefighter series number to assign to a PD.

On occasion, we have found employees who have taken the attitude of “I only want to work in my special area and not be involved in the overall mission of the agency.” Few of those employees stayed throughout their career. There are other agencies that offer employment opportunities that do not have the same multiple resource mission of the FS.

What I guess I am trying to say is that the agency I worked for has a proud tradition of all employees contributing to the task at hand, with firefighting being the highest profile of those programs. The firefighting efforts could not succeed without the contribution of all employees (most members of the “militia” described here).

The desire to focus on only one aspect of the agency’s mission, and the demands to be treated as “special” is elitist. It carries the message of “as long as I get mine” and does not meet the guiding principle of “the greatest good, for the greatest number, in the long run”.

I fully support efforts to find some formula of PTP to the extent that it would apply to all “firefighters” (and I refuse to accept the hijacking of that title by those who want to be a separatist, elitist group). I stand firm in my opinion that to pursue PTP in a limited application would be detrimental to the agency, and its employees. I further believe that it would have less support and thus less chance of being enacted.

Let’s work together for a PTP that applies to all “FIREFIGHTERS”.


Your perspective is limited and incorrect. Look at type 2 crews, many of the staff on engines, folks in logistics, planning and finance.....There are thousands of "militia" (non-"primary" firefighters) contributing to the firefighting effort each year. Ya'll need to get out more.

This retired one is heading for his camp for a few weeks to get it ready for the coming hunting season. As always, thanks for providing this forum for the many years you have done so.
8/31 Still Need photos:

I'm revising the materials for L-381 Incident Leadership for MCS.

Got some good photos from some folks. Appreciate it

BUT still need: (1) an engine photo of engine crew putting in a hose lay up
a hill with fire in the background and (2) photo of a progressive hose lay
and (3) running attack wet line off one or several engines

You may send the photos direct to airops@paonia.com.

Much thanks in advance.

Hugh Carson

8/31 I am a Logistics Coordinator for North Ops in Redding CA. and have been tasked with collecting photos of the siege of 08'. This collection I am hoping will be made into a slide show with music. It will also include maps and what ever other data I can collect. Here is where I need everyone's help! I ask that anyone who has photos from the Northern California siege of 2008 send me whatever you are willing to share. This will I hope be made available to everyone online for download again I hope. Please email me whatever you are willing to share at northops08siegephotos@gmail.com

Thank you for your support

Mark Luker
Logistic Coordinator
North Ops
8/31 Strider:

Someone at DOJ understands "just culture". See "What Was He Thinking- Beyond Bias
to Decisionmaking and Judging" March 2007 on this site in Documents Worth Reading
(this version, not the older version):


Old Sawyer.
8/31 Strider,

Mike Johns is a good guy in the DOJ (check on the Docs Worth Reading section of
the wildlandfire.com Archives for his contributions for a starter). Guns n Hoses is a
member of this community who was a firefighter that's now a LEO. No doubt there
are other good lawyers and law enforcers... I think I have a stereotype at work that
isn't fair to individuals.

As one person who has badmouthed lawyers, as well as the legal and law people out
there, I'm vowing to restrain myself. Henceforth!

Strider, I do hear your frustration. I agree with you on the FWFSA advice


8/31 Does the DOJ know no "Just Culture"? Do Forest Service line officers like Pena know no "Just Culture"? When the attitude toward FS Firefighters and FIRE is that fire "steals the budget" and FF have to be made to "toe the line", how likely is it that Just Culture decisions will be made at the FS level even in terms of investigations? Line and Fire are incompatible. Let us go!

In the meantime Pena et al need to finish the pay recommendations SOON and implement. At least one HS supt has an offer from CalFire. Where do we get replacements for these fire savvy fire managers that know risk assessment? Offer these people a retention deal!

Everybody, Join the FWFSA!


8/31 Words are just that, words. However I must say that the Pena letter did outline some interesting ideas. We thank the work groups. We are hopeful the items listed in the Pena letter including a hybrid PTP is implemented soon. A hybrid PTP and a annual retention bonus will go a long way with retaining our best and brightest.

Thanks to all the voices out there, especially that man in Idaho. We would not have made it to this point without all your strong voices and informative emails. Some call us whiners, I can live with that. However we are fighters. Fighters for what's right and we are now closer to seeing results.

Next date is Sept 15th for the pay recommendations. Stay the course! Keep the pressure on!

FWFSA is bringing us results people. Do you think we would be getting a letter from a Dep RF considering a hybrid PTP or retention bonus without FWFSA? Your voices, emails and 10 bucks a check will keep things moving in the right direction. Think about it and sign up today.


Many Americans today are leaving behind the comfort of a home to get out of the way of a Cat-3, maybe Cat-4 hurricane. Some do not have the means to support themselves. If you get the opportunity to head to the southern area, always remember the work we do will impact many people, many people that we never even meet.

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY - April 1, 2008

8/31 I was wondering,,, if something happened on a fire and the EMT did the best she or he could, and there were other circumstances so the injured person didn't get to the hospital and the person died, how might the EMT be blamed? What would be the grounds? What could even make it something that would be considered breaking the law or criminal actions? Manslaughter? I'm worried about this happening on a fire.

Say I do my best. I get blamed anyway?

I had hoped to help by getting my EMT. To be prepared. Now I'm worried that I might be at risk for getting tied up in legal stuff for up to 7 yr like Ellreese just for doing the best I can when it's hard to get patients to hospital during the "golden hour".

Should I let my EMT lapse? or choose to not use it? Do we all need PLI like the ICs now? Good grief, what's the world coming too???? People want to help. They want to be prepared when off in the woods in a risky environment. They do their best and after a death some "Justice Dpt" or "Law" people decide the EMT is to blame! Even if we're innocent there could be years of anxiety anguish uncertainty disruption head-tripping post-traumatic-stress-nightmares just because somebody thought there was something "criminal" because someone dies and someone or something has to be held accountable like the world is black and white???

Noname EMT

8/31 I had to say this on the record. With the exception of retired folks who still serve as firefighters, occasional fire supervisors or fire managers.... there is LITTLE to NO MILITIA left anymore to fill overhead positions, staff engines, or go out as firefighters on hand crews. You can add that to the "smoke and mirrors" games that are played.

I am sick about hearing about the supposed "militia" that exists somewhere in outerspace that somehow supports the off district fire program...... It doesn't exist except for a 'handful' of hardy souls who continue to support and excel within the wildland fire mission of the federal land management agencies. Primarily, these folks are federal retirees or contractors who had previous federal service.

The militia has been replaced by contractors and cooperators WHO RIGHTFULLY stepped up to fill the void that was left over and helped the federal agencies complete their mandated missions.

Anyone who is worth a grain of salt about caring for the federal wildland fire program knows the actions of the FWFSA Members, its BOD members, and Casey will result in good things in the future for all.

8/31 Noname51

You wrote: "How about the AD retirees we are paying HIGH rates for in these
support positions?"

Just where are you getting your information on these "High rates?" You've
got to be kidding me!! Are you open to the facts?

Here's one for you: The difference in a 2-week pay period between a GS-12
Air Operations Branch Director getting true time-and-one-half and an AD AOBD
is $3,000. (During my tenure as Chair of the AD Firefighter Association we
documented these differences in pay and brought them to the attention of
state and federal legislators, as well as federal and state fire agencies.)

That $3000 difference, my dear friend, is a chunk of change, and is exactly
the reason, as well as the failure of the feds to guarantee any sort of
protection from liability, that numerous retirees do not participate any

And if you maintain that currently-employed federal firefighters can meet
the staffing challenges on IMTs and for miscellaneous overhead, then you are
indeed living in a fact-free world.

You really punched my button on that one. Instead of tearing down others
(e.g., state and local participants who are rightfully paid well), I suggest
that your efforts and anger might be better directed toward supporting Casey
and the FWFSA. I do, though I don't derive any direct benefit - my support
is simple: he and FWFSA are right, and they are right on target.

And as to the nearly-defunct AD Firefighter Association, the less said the
better, but I'll say it anyway (grin). The current ADFA Board and their
abject failure to make any significant progress in terms of pay, treatment
of ADs, liability, etc. is abominable

The ADFA got on a real roll when some committed ADs formed the ADFA in 2003.
We did it by putting out factual information; our motto was 'equal pay for
equal work;" and we kept the pressure up on the federal agencies. We didn't
make friends, but we gained respect from not only the AD community but some
of those who pull some weight in the agencies.

However, for the last three years, we've gotten nothing but fluff and
blather from ADFA. And that can be laid directly at the door of the ADFA
Board who, consciously or through laziness and lack of commitment, have
failed to follow up on the initiatives with the legislative branch (Congress
and Governors) that the original Board started.

As I've stated before, my feeling is that the Board members would rather be
liked by the agencies ("the good ole boy" system lives on!!) rather than
getting anything of consequence done. Enough on that. It's a real sore
subject with me.

But the real culprit in all of this are the federal agencies who have been
totally negligent in addressing staffing problems on incidents, problems
which the AD community have and continue to partially solve, though at
comparatively ridiculously low wages

Here's to the unvarnished truth, Noname 51.


Hugh Carson

8/31 To Noname 51.

Unless I completely missed the context of your last post about High rates for AD retirees, you are way off the mark. The average Group/Division level AD position (retiree or not) makes about $22-27/ hr. There is no OT or HP. That is a flat rate billed to the Feds for actual hours of work. No retirement, health, or employer burden like Social Security or Medicare. There is no unemployment burden for the federal government because "they" have passed a law exempting them from having those wages eligible for UI compensation.

Take a GS-9 Sacramento CA. area employee on a fire makes about $30/hr with HP and when OT kicks in another $12 on top of that. Still not close to the Cal Fire rate but much more than an AD. Kick in the employer burden (30%++) and...well you get the idea. AD rates are not HIGH. They are either best value or the greatest lowballing wage in the world!

Because of that, many ADs ( mostly retirees) have joined local fire departments which then makes them employees of that department. They make a lot more than the FEDS at that point, making similar to the Cal Fire /Muni pay. They are paid PP. The fire departments bill back to the Feds with an admin fee for the service. Which earns the department some extra cash.

ADs HIGH rate? no way.


"Even though EMT's are routinely identified in briefings, on fires and in the crew setting, without a set protocol and without operating under the direction of a physician, the EMT is essentially functioning 'on their own'."

I fully disagree, as it violates both the wording and intent of federal DOT regulations establishing EMT and Med FR programs, as well as state and local protocols. EMTs and Medical First Responders don't function on their own .... they function and follow local and/or state protocols that establish scope AND standard of care.

EMT's and Medical First Responders "active medical direction" (scope AND standard of care) is found in the form of protocols and procedures adopted by physician and pre-hospital emergency care advisory panels for each area. They publish these standards known as protocols.

Sometimes, I wonder if we are still trying to rehash the Wedsworth-Townsend Act discussions..... (circa 1971-1972 ).... Confusing EMT, Paramedic... etc..... Hello 2008/2009

On the lighter note..... PLEASE see the first 5 episodes of Emergency 51 relating to the apprehension some folks are exhibiting.... After watching.... look back at "our wildland fire program reaction"..... and then do some research...... The questions were answered 35 years ago.

/s/ Someone with a very low EMT Certification Number from one of the original counties in CA adopting EMS

P.S. - WTF is scope of care that so many folks are using? That is someone who doesn't understand the difference between "Scope of Employment" and "Standard of Care".

8/30 NPR is doing a 5 part series on the 1988 Yellowstone fires:

Part I: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94126845


8/30 Lessons Learned 08-05, Wind and Terrain Analysis

No. IALL 08-05 August 22, 2008 Page 1 of 3
Subject: Wind and Terrain Analysis
Area of Concern: Mountain Flying
Distribution: All Aviation Users


Mountain wind and turbulence have been a factor in several DOI and USFS aircraft accidents (Elko, NV 2005, Winnemucca, NV 2007) and the subject of recent SAFECOM reports. It is imperative that everyone understands how mountain wind and turbulence affects flying. The following are examples of how wind, terrain, and turbulence combine to make for hazardous flying conditions:

- A MD369 helicopter was departing from a remote helispot at near gross weight while transporting firefighters. During the departure, the pilot encountered a loss of lift in turbulent winds and decided to land the helicopter. After landing on the lower end of the helispot in a log slash area, the helicopter rocked backward and struck the tail rotor on ground litter. The helispot was located on the leeward side of a ridgeline.

- During a heli-rappel mission in the Idaho back-country, unexpected turbulence caused the pilot and rappel spotter to abort the mission. The severe turbulence encountered by the crew was attributed to the onset of winds from a nearby thunder cell.

- Two airtankers were called to a fire in Utah. Upon setting up for the run to drop retardant, winds at the surface were reported to be 50-60 mph. After one load was dropped on the fire area, the trailing airtanker called the air operation off and returned to the airfield and landed with a full load of retardant.

- Jumpers were being deployed on a fire in Wyoming, in what appeared to be calm conditions. Two thunder cells were in the area and were showing virga. When the final two jumpers were deployed, a sudden onset of gusty winds developed and resulted in hard landings and minor injuries for the jumpers.

Wind flows over and around obstacles in a consistent and predictable manner. This is particularly true in mountainous environments. Air follows the path of least resistance and will take the shortest and/or least obstructed route to fill any lows created by high winds over rough terrain. In canyons and drainages, the wind accelerates due to increasing pressure differentials. In winding turns, they accelerate to the outside of the turn exactly like water, leaving eddies on the inside of turns. When colliding with an equal and opposing force, such as a cliff face or another air current, pilots can expect an opposite and turbulent flow.

The High-Altitude Army Aviation Training Site (HAATS) has developed the Wind Zone Model to assist in mountain wind predictions. The five zones in the model are updraft, downdraft, turbulent (TZ), dispersal (D) and stable zones (SZ) (as shown in the diagram on the next page).

More: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/safe/iall08-05mountain-turbulence.pdf

Diagrams are interesting. Check the pdf file for those.


8/30 This came down the pipeline:

SAFETY  ALERT  IA 08-09 4-Point Seatbelt Harnesses worn in Aircraft Operations

Please give wide distribution to the attached SAFETY ALERT on 4-Point
Seatbelt Harnesses . Thanks


Robert Galloway and Ron Hanks

8/30 Abercrombie,

Maybe the people who recently criticized the FWFSA for its FIREFIGHTER retention plan could clarify some things for me because I'm a bit confused.

As I understand things, many federal wildland FIREFIGHTERS have left to take jobs with Cal-Fire over the last year or so. The majority of the FWFSA's members are federal wildland FIREFIGHTERS. The FWFSA has spent the time, energy and money to inform Congress about these FIREFIGHTER losses.

Last fall, Senator Feinstein requested a federal wildland FIREFIGHTER retention plan from the Forest Service because she had grown concerned, based upon information from the FWFSA, about the losses of FIREFIGHTERS and the impact that had on R5 staffing levels.

In December 2007 the R5 Regional office put together a working group in Sacramento the week of Dec. 10 to address FIREFIGHTER retention. The FIREFIGHTER retention plan is overdue. Just a day or so ago, a memo from R5 Deputy Regional Forester Jim Pena reported on the update of the FIREFIGHTER retention plan.

According to the FWFSA, Congress has encouraged it to submit their own FIREFIGHTER retention plan to Congress because the Forest Service and other land management agencies keep losing FIREFIGHTERS and the Forest Service is overdue on their plan. The FWFSA reports this on TheySaid and indicates that their FIREFIGHTER retention plan will focus on two long standing issues facing federal wildland FIREFIGHTERS, portal to portal pay and proper classification. The FWFSA acknowledges that their efforts, financed by their dues paying members will benefit far more FIREFIGHTERS than they currently have members.

Now we have folks apparently part of the Militia, by the way that includes me for over 20 years, criticizing the FWFSA for doing what their members ask of them and what Congress asks of them by complaining "what about us?"

So I guess my question is when did Congress and or Senator Feinstein request a retention plan for the MILITIA? How many news articles have addressed the loss of MILITIA? When did the R5 Regional Office ever convene a mandated working group to put together for Congress a MILITIA retention plan? Never.

For goodness sake give credit where credit is due, to the FWFSA for doing something for someone which is far more than the Agency has done for anyone.

For those criticizing the FWFSA, how often have you traveled to DC to advocate your issues and concerns? How many professional & personal relationships do you have on Capitol Hill? How many hours, days, months and years have you spent doing something on behalf of someone else to make their lives and career better?

I got smart five years ago and joined the FWFSA. We've got an agency that turns its back on its firefighters, a firefighter employee association working to make things better for those firefighters and now they get slammed for doing exactly what they are supposed to do by folks who are, in my mind jealous.

Get off your high horse and join the FWFSA and help to make a difference. For those of you who are firefighters sitting, waiting, saving your precious $20.00 a month for a trip to McDonalds or a few brews to ride the coattails of those admirable enough to pay dues to a worthy cause, shame on you.

There is an old adage in the union business and similar situations; although FWFSA is an association the same holds true. You've got to pay to play. If you don't pay, you've got no voice and nothing to complain about.

8/30 Mellie has a question and comments about Predatory Drugs being used against firefighters.

Hotlist Forum: Date rape drugs -- PREDATORY DRUGS -- on the rise?

Ab will pass any messages on in confidence.

8/30 All this talk of PTP is useless unless we get out of the "forestry technician" PD. Put us in a Wildland Firefighter series, its pretty sad that we're not, unless of course, we get injured or die while being a forestry technician, then we're a firefighter....

That being said, portal to portal pay should be from the time you leave your station to the time you return to your station for an emergency event, regardless of "forestry technician" or support services. No more, no less. I was envisioning that PTP would be more along the lines of 16 hours of base and 8 hours of overtime per day (excluding your regular days off where 24 hours of OT would be paid), without hazard pay.

I was talking with a CalFire Captain about this very subject and he believed that portal to portal pay, from his discussions with former federal employees on his ranger unit, would've sealed the deal for those folks staying with the Federal agencies.

Wouldn't it be nice to not have to write a masters degree dissertation on your CTR as to why your module couldn't take a lunch break while trying to suppress the fire? Or why they were entitled to Hazard pay? Or having to "mitigate" 2:1 because you worked an extra hour cleaning up a piece of line that has to be completed? It would make timekeeping a lot simpler.

Another issue with not paying folks PTP is the issue with folks being off the clock. Technically speaking, as a supervisor we can implement our module SOPs and force people to abide by them but in all reality, when people are "off the clock" we really don't have much control over their actions. If they are unfit for duty the next morning, then yes, we can take action. But aside from that, and I'd like to hear from the union on this, what course of action can we take when folks are "off the clock".

Portal to portal may assist in getting more federal employees involved in fire suppression support. Right now, there's no real incentive for "militia" folks to get involved with Incident Management Teams. I for one would like to see more federal fire folks on IMTs. No offense to the non-federal folks on teams but have you ever really wondered how much the federal agencies are paying for that Battalion Chief from a municipal department as a Check In Recorder??? And they're coverage back at the municipality? How about the AD retirees we are paying HIGH rates for in these support positions? This summer I've been seeing less and less federal folks on IMTs and its a bit disturbing IMO.

And thanks Casey for all you do, make sure you take care of yourself, above all else.

Noname 51
8/29 To all:

Didn't want to get into all of this on TheySaid which is why I frequently offer up my email address and phone number to anyone, member or otherwise that has something to discuss. Funny, few that have criticisms ever call. Most just post on TheySaid. I guess it goes with the territory.

But I've got to put this issue to rest. When we first crafted the portal to portal legislation, our Association president at the time, now an FMO in R5 and I crafted what we felt was a well thought out, clear text proposal that included all those employees responding to emergency incidents that exceeded 24 hrs in duration.

The original discussion draft went through many phases, traveled to and from staff in Washington DC over the course of several years. Our original language regarding portal to portal stated specifically:

"To amend title 5, United States Code to authorize equal overtime pay provisions, to provide that any hazardous duty differential be taken into account for purposes of computing retirement benefits, and to provide for a portal to portal compensation for all employees of the US Department of Agriculture (US Forest Service) and the US Department of Interior (Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fish & Wildlife Service) who are assigned to emergency incidents."

That position HAS NOT CHANGED.

Subsequent language included a description of wildland firefighter which incorporated the NFFE case law which greatly expanded the definition of primary firefighter. In that case, Felzien v. Office of Personnel Management, (Fed. Cir. 4-17-91) the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals constructively redefined primary firefighter.

In a report submitted by the then NFFE Chief Steward of Local 1818, Idaho, it stated:

"The decision by the Court opens the door to early firefighter retirement for hundreds of federal employees who serve in support roles of fires."

In the case, the Court found that the appellant's service as a Forest Service electronics technician was qualifying experience as a "primary firefighter" even though the appellant did not personally extinguish fires and irregardless of the fact that the appellant's official position did not say or imply that his primary duty was firefighting.

Further the Court noted that the appellant "was exposed to precisely the types of hazards and physical demands Congress envisioned when it extended preferential retirement treatment to firefighters."

The Court further found that 'Whether or not employees perform "front line" assignments is not a precondition for early firefighter retirement."

Since then, the FWFSA has reminded NFFE on several occasions about the case and has even posted information about the case previously on TheySaid. Therefore, it is likely to assume that many of you that are considered part of the Militia are entitled to special firefighter retirement provisions based upon the federal court decision 17 years ago.

Sadly, I don't believe OPM ever made a public announcement about the decision and obviously the land management agencies have done a disservice to their employees by not frequently reminding or making employees aware of this decision.

So, when I say that if push comes to shove we would want to ensure that any PTP provisions apply to those eligible for firefighter retirement, we are including far more employees than just front line firefighters and likely including all support personnel as was envisioned from the beginning.

So too was the CBO and Forest Service when they based their calculations using 15,000 employees. However, we asked CBO to re-calculate the costs using 10,000/7500/5000 employees and, based upon significant feedback from the field, found that the average number of 2 week assignments per employee was far less than 6 in any given season.

So to "MS" I'm not sure what you mean by baby steps and the proposal. When I called the proposal a "Reader's Digest" version of our legislation, it was to indicate that because of the time remaining in the session, this "retention proposal" would be limited to the 2 major issues facing our firefighters...PTP & classification and designed to demonstrate why those two issues would be important to firefighter retention.

To OFG: Since the FWFSA is an employee association, not a union, it is run like a business. Our dues paying members could be considered "clients" or "share holders" etc. Of course most businesses are in business to make a profit. We are not. If I were a sports agent, I'd work for the clients that paid me... period. If I were an advertising agency, I'd try to sell my clients products even though there were many similar products in the market place. If my ad agency was successful for say Pepsi, I wouldn't expect Coke to think I would perform my services for it without compensation.

For those in the militia or "emergency responders" it shouldn't be a matter of opposing what the FWFSA is doing, they should either exercise their voice independently or join the FWFSA. But please keep in mind that speaking independently and simply calling an "office aid" in DC and saying "we should be included too" isn't going to work. It has taken the FWFSA years and years, at great expense of money, time & effort, to establish our credibility on Capitol Hill to the point where folks like Senator Feinstein has taken the Forest Service to task on firefighter and fire program issues.

Establishing a voice in Congress is a 365 day a year job, not just when wildfires are on national TV. It requires a daunting level of communication, travel away from families, dealing with the likes of Mark Reys, and enduring stunning staff turnover in DC which often times means re-inventing the wheel in an office you've worked with for years. It means stress and more stress... to the point you're admitted into the local hospital's cardiac unit with chest pains and uncontrollable hypertension.

The FWFSA is already established on the Hill. We have done our homework and put in the time. We have provided accurate data and information from the field because of our diverse membership. So to those that are criticizing, I guess you have a clear and distinct choice. You can be part of the solution to improve your career and lend your voice to the effort for all as a dues paying member of the FWFSA, or you can go it alone and simply criticize or oppose our efforts. As a member however, you will have a say in what ultimately gets sent to DC. If you're not a member... no say.

With the diversity we have, I learned a long time ago we can't please everyone. Heck we even lost a member from Nevada recently because she was tired of reading all the "whining on TheySaid from R5" and didn't want to be an all-risk firefighter.

My absolute loyalty is to our members who have placed not only their hard-earned dollars but their faith, trust and confidence in us to do what they ask of us and that won't change. However there are many that will tell you that it doesn't matter if you're a member or not, if you want to chat, you can call anytime.

Sorry this has been long. Maybe there's an FWFSA member or two that would like to chime in but I've got an awful lot to get done in a short period of time. Again, if someone has comments or questions, you know where to find me.


Casey, nice explanation. Be safe on the cardiovascular front. Be sure you get enough relaxing down time. I don't know what we would do without you. Ab.

8/29 Casey said, "The FWFSA cannot be that voice without their financial support. Its as simple as that."

Many non-fire "militia" would be interested in joining. It's probable that many of them, even though they benefited from your OT cap legislation might not know much about FWFSA and think it's only for Wildland Firefighters.

OFG is correct that support for FWFSA's proposal will run up against opposition from multiple entities including labor unions. Additionally, it will not have support from (your friends and mine) R-5 and WO management. However most important, it will not have support from some emergency responders, both those with and without firefighter retirement. I can see the confused looks on the faces of the Office Aids already as they read emails in opposition to your proposal from emergency responders and militia.

Maybe you're right Casey. Maybe baby steps are required. However, I strongly disagree with the proposal. Even though I would benefit from it, I feel it's more important that we do it right. As you stated earlier, we can agree to disagree.

8/29 Casey,

I think we have vastly greater area of agreement than disagreement. I did not point out the labor cost as an argument against PTP, but to encourage going into this topic with genuine figures, and eyes wide open.

I don't have the legislation in front of me, but I don't believe the OT pay cap was eliminated "exclusively for federal wildland firefighters" (if that references "primary firefighters"). All personnel dispatched to fire are covered in the application of that change, whether they be primary firefighters, or support personnel in logistics, planning and finance.

The major difference between our views is you work for your Board of Directors to promote the interests of your members. Before I retired, I worked to promote the interests of the public and all of the agency employees, not just a select few.

Again, I support your efforts for PTP to the extent that all employees responding to a wildland fire will benefit the same, not just one select group.


8/29 Casey, some thoughts for you. Not mad or yelling, just interested in doing this the right way. You're the best in my book.

Reality or no reality, changing from anything that is not 16 OT and 8 base p to p description to only those with Firefighter retirement is not a good idea. I know of many with Firefighter retirement who don't perform primary fire operational duties. Many of these are within the RO, SO, Dispatch Offices, GACCs and even a few on the Ranger Districts. Additionally, I know of many non-fire employees, including a couple Line Officers who regularly perform operational fire duties on fires. Someone with Firefighter retirement performing Security Manager would get p to p, along with the Expanded Dispatcher and the non-fire person leading a Task Force would be aced out of p to p. Maybe it would be best to give p to p for specific ICS positions vs. who has firefighter retirement. Or better yet, let's just go back to how p to p was originally written. And yes, I have Firefighter retirement and would be covered under the proposed p to p plan.

Our system is unlike state and locals who have safety employees in bargaining groups that are different than the non-safety employees. The feds don't have that. My message to my elected officials is a responder is a responder, it's all or we wait.

I don't think we need to do anymore dividing. We've seen enough dividing the past 9 months. I would recommend FWFSA change positions on this issue and go back to the original intent of p to p and FIGHT. I know your looking out for the members, I respect that and you do a great job of it. The base is important, however remember the base can get bigger.

I compare this to when you told us the R-5 "Leaders" asked you to cool it with the media and political types for awhile Your response was not OK we will accept that and back off a little. Your response was #($*@ no!


If you sleep in the dirt, it's P to P period!
8/29 Dear OFG:

Quite candidly, I could care less if PTP resulted in a 100% increase in "labor" cost. After all its "labor" that cut the lines, make the command decisions and risk their lives while protecting natural resources, citizens and their property. Regardless of the percentage of increase of labor costs, if PTP helps to retain the investment the American taxpayer has made in our federal wildland firefighters; strengthens the federal infrastructure and serves to reduce, NOT ELIMINATE, the use of higher-priced non-federal resources, it is a benefit to the taxpayer and will save significant sums in suppression costs each year.

I'm not necessarily inclined to get into a debate about dues paying members, all federal employees, etc. Accessing and educating congress and securing their support to effect positive change, regardless of the issue, is an incredibly expensive business. Each and every day on Capitol Hill there are thousands of people representing hundreds of organizations all wanting the same things: access, support, funding etc., from Congress.

I would surmise that the vast majority of those organizations have far greater revenue than the FWFSA and can afford to take dozens of their members back to DC and "buy" to a certain degree, the access and support they seek. We just have to work longer and harder.

We know full well that our efforts will benefit far more people than we have members. That's the nature of the business. At the same time, it is fundamentally unfair for some to expect a free ride on the coattails of those who have made the financial commitment to help fund this expensive work. Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do about that.

The FWFSA has never not supported changes that affect all federal employees engaged in emergency assignments. However, therein lies the problem. There are few organizations out there working on behalf of that segment of the federal population. We have worked well with NFFE on many issues and they support PTP. We have spoken to them about the militia issue and the case law redefining "primary firefighter" but we are precluded, by law, to usurp their rights under Title 5 USC.

We simply cannot carry everyone's water on Capitol Hill. The FWFSA was created by federal wildland firefighters in 1991 for federal wildland firefighters and every one of them, whether they be Forest Service, BLM, BIA, Fish & Wildlife or Park Service and whether they be a GS-3 or a GS-14, will benefit from our efforts funded by our loyal dues paying members.

Needless to say, if it appears to some that the FWFSA is taking the lead on these issues, it might be a great investment in your career/future to join and help us reach these goals as quickly as possible.

As far as who would support PTP or not, we don't get any support from Agency leaders on ANY firefighter issue. With respect to the militia, again we've provided them with the information they need to put themselves in a better position to be eligible for whatever comes down the pike. But remember, just last year a PIO at the WO of the Forest Service told the press that the "militia" was a MYTH. Perhaps the militia needs a voice. The FWFSA cannot be that voice without their financial support. Its as simple as that.

Furthermore, to remind many, in 1999-2000, the FWFSA faced opposition from the land management agencies, OPM, even major federal labor unions like AFGE when we sought to eliminate the OT pay cap exclusively for federal wildland firefighters. Despite that opposition we did our homework, educated Congress and got the cap eliminated exclusively for our firefighters.

The purpose of the plan we are developing is for "firefighter retention." The plan being awaited by Congress from the Forest Service is for "firefighter retention." As such, it would seem to make sense that Congress would look to remedies to solve firefighter retention. Whether they implement plans that are exclusive to those eligible for special federal firefighter retirement or plans that benefit all that respond to emergency incidents is something they will decide.

Either way, whether it is a plan we develop or Congress creates, it will be a plan that the Agency(s) should have developed for "all" of their emergency incident responders years ago.

We may continue to disagree on some of these subtleties but the bottom line is I work for our Board of Directors and our members.


8/29 Casey,

Thanks for your quick response and clearly worded text. I know there remains much to be done. Under current policy, a 16 hour shift would result in 8 hours reg. 8@ 1 1/2 and 16@25%Hz or the equivalent of 24 hours times the hourly wage.
Under the least generous PTP proposal it would yield 16 hours reg. 8@ 1 1/2 and 24@hz equivalent to 34 times the hourly rate. This is a 41% increase in labor cost for all federal employees (assuming everyone gets a 16 hour shift).

While I can appreciate that you are an advocate/lobbyist for your dues paying members, I urge you to support changes that affect all fed employees engaged in emergency assignments...... whether they be in "special retirement" category or not. The "militia" sleeps on the same ground, is absent from their family, and may even live in "high cost" localities.

I can't imagine NFFE supporting pay legislation benefitting just primary firefighters. I doubt you would find much support from Agency leaders, and certainly not the "militia". (And the firefighting program would collapse without the support of the militia).
Again, I urge you to pursue legislation that applies equally to all (as does the true overtime pay law).

Otherwise it makes it appear that "All firefighters are created equal...... some are more equal than others".

Best wishes with this continued struggle.


8/29 Brian,

I couldn't agree more with the gray areas you detailed in your post and
quite honestly, although you probably cant tell from my initials, we've
worked together quite a bit I think on R4. The reality of it is, I have
run into headwall after headwall on R4 asking for some clarification on
this and it is my firm belief that until either the BLM or the USFS get
someone on a state level that is sympathetic to this issue, it will
probably fall continually on deaf ears.

I almost gave an epi shot several years ago to someone starting to have an
anaphylactic reaction on a remote fire but fortunately for me, an air
medivac unit arrived. I shudder to think what would've happened if I had
administered the shot and the patient had an adverse reaction to it or it
restricted their airway regardless. I have the feeling that this would be
akin to making a decision as an ICT3 and having to contend with a burnover
or God forbid, fatalities as a result. It is my belief that the agency
would likely not only terminate my employment but levee criminal charges
against me for my efforts. All this despite the fact that they continually
put the qualification on my redcard.

8-29 OK, My mailbox has been filling up with these for the last hour! Nothing like waiting until a Friday before a big weekend. Ab.

Retention Strategy Update

All Employees,

I want to update you on the status of the Firefighter Retention Strategy.
Three of the four parts of the strategy are complete: Mission, Workplace
and Facilities. Pay is the remaining part of the strategy. That team will
complete their work by September 15th. We expect to have the final
recommendations for the Regional Forester by the end of September. Fire
activity prevented the Pay Team from meeting to finalize their
recommendations. I have attached the latest briefing paper we gave the
Chief and the Senate staffers. thanks, Jim

(See attached file: Summary for the R5 Recruitment and Retention

Jim Peņa
Deputy Regional Forester, R5

8/29 Is it just me or doesn't the GS-5 to GS-6 Developmental Training Program appear
to be the same as the apprenticeship? The only difference is that it is for those who
are a GS-5, they have added 240 hours of dozer training, and some NWCG courses
for movement upwards.

Let me just ask someone this, if you already have all this training and have exceeded
the hours of experience, but don't work for the Forest Service, why is it that they will
not hire you without being an apprentice or developmental GS-5 to GS-6? It seems to
me you could save the government a lot of money since they don't need to send you
through all of this training.

Even offers for the apprenticeship have been made to individuals who have exceeded
apprenticeship training with plans to send them through the academy. Why? This really
doesn't seem to be a good use of our government funds. There are people out there,
not currently FS employees who meet the qualifications to fill an AFEO position, but the
FS is not hiring them straight into the position. Maybe there is something I am missing
and if someone could explain, I would greatly appreciate it.


8/29 Dear OFG:

In 2005 the Congressional Budget Office was tasked with "scoring" (putting a cost to it) our PTP bill. They came back with a price tag of $100 million which was significantly higher than our own calculations. Needless to say, a number of folks in Congress balked at such a price tag even though we were able to secure some of the most fiscally conservative members of the House as cosponsors.

It took a number of emails and phone calls to the CBO to understand why their estimate was so high and to identify the flaws in it. First, they took data supplied by the Forest Service and used a figure of 15,000 employees each going on at least 6-2 week assignments each season.

The biggest flaw was that the $100 million figure was inclusive of existing salaries of about $65 million which the CBO failed to explain or differentiate to those in Congress. In other words, even using what we would consider inflated numbers of 15,000 employees each with 6, two week assignments, the net cost of PTP would have been about $35 million.

We then proceeded to provide CBO with a more conservative group of numbers of employees/ assignments etc and came up with costs ranging from $3-12 million annually and explained glitches in CBO's calculations to those concerned in Congress. While they understood and we continued to secure cosponsors, the session ended with a veiled concern about the actual costs even though several personal cell phone conversations between myself and then Chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Conrad Burns, gave rise to the real possibility our language would be in the Interior bill. These conversations occurred at the time of the Esperanza tragedy and within two weeks the elections occurred, Burns was defeated and his committee did not produce an Interior spending bill.

Our original concept for compensation under PTP was 8 base, 16 OT which is similar to the 24 hr staffing plan some of the Southern California forests employed last fall simply to pre-position crews. Subsequently though, through compromise, we fell back to a position of 8 base, 8 OT then the remaining hours traditionally unpaid would be paid at base rate. Additionally hazard pay would be included as base pay for retirement calculations.

Hazard pay, despite threats from OPM, would not be affected under our proposal.

Our original language was specifically crafted to state "emergency incidents" so as not to be confined to wildfires given the variety of incidents our folks have responded to in recent years. We have no intention of changing that language.

Since PTP would include "emergency incidents" it would not be compensable for training assignments or other work assignments even if they exceeded 24 hours.

Perhaps the most delicate issue is who will benefit from PTP. Again, our original intent many years ago was to include all those who respond to and support such incidents. Let's face it, there really isn't much incentive anymore for those of the "militia" to support fire for any extended period of time.

That being said, the reality of the situation is that our first and foremost responsibility is to our dues paying members, the vast majority of which are those eligible for the federal firefighter special retirement benefits. They pay the freight to allow us to work these issue and, in all honesty, if push comes to shove, we would likely make them the priority in eligibility for PTP.

HOWEVER it is important and incumbent upon every employee who supports fire to review existing NFFE case law which some years ago redefined "primary firefighter" to a more broad spectrum of occupations despite OPM's objections. I know of many who have taken that case law and used it to secure federal firefighter retirement eligibility despite performing what might be considered collateral or secondary firefighting duties.

No doubt as we craft this proposal and there is back & forth dialogue between the FWFSA, Congress and of course NFFE, specifics will be better defined.


8/29 A little video satire for a pre-holiday Friday:

Californians Gather To Celebrate Annual Wildfire Tradition


8/29 Casey,

I like your idea of moving forward with a "Reader's Digest" simplified approach.

I am concerned that $25 million might not be nearly enough to benefit all firefighters from all agencies.
Can you clarify for us please?

1. What hours of pay does PTP account for?
8 Regular plus
16 OT (@ 1 1/2) plus
24 Hazard pay?
or....something else?

2. Do all federal employee personnel responding to the emergency get PTP?
If not, who and why?

3. Will other "emergencies" (flood, disease, hurricane etc.) also qualify for PTP?

4. Is PTP for emergencies only, or will training assignments, work details also be covered?

Your devotion to this issue is recognized. I hope other readers will also realize that it will take an Act of Congress to realize the PTP change......this is not something any Agency head or Administration (Republican or Democrat) can implement by fiat.

Good luck with this, and I'm sure many of us are awaiting the simplified details.


8/29 This morning in the Press Enterprise:

Esperanza Fire defendant files for change of venue in death-penalty case

8/29 Lobotomy, AC, et. al,

I must disagree with some of your comments regarding EMTs in the Forest Service. Over the last five years I have tried to get various groups interested in developing a scope of practice for EMTs. While some regions have made the effort, at the crew level very little information is available to guide the EMT in what they are and are not allowed to do.

Throughout the USFS individuals at the forest, district and unit levels are operating as EMTs without the protection or control of a Scope of Practice or Medical Direction. Operating without a Scope of Practice or Medical Direction has the potential to leave the USFS, Forest, District, Unit and the individual EMT without legal protection when providing emergency medical care or assistance to an individual, whether a federal employee of member of the public.

Even though EMT's are routinely identified in briefings, on fires and in the crew setting, without a set protocol and without operating under the direction of a physician, the EMT is essentially functioning 'on their own'.

It is to the advantage of the USFS to have EMT's in the field as they are often the only available resource in a remote area and particularly on wildfires. Local and contract Medical personnel may not have the necessary qualifications or skills to work safely on the fireline and those that do will still require assistance from line and crew EMTs. EMTs on Helitack crews and their aircraft are routinely identified as the medevac ship on a fire assignment.

As EMTs come from a variety of backgrounds and experience, without set standards, training, equipment, sop's, medical direction and control, EMTs will continue to be placed in difficult situations. If an EMT is on a fire assignment away from their home unit, how are they supposed to know the local direction and protocols? If I have additional training and experience, am I limited to what the local basic protocol is? How will I know another EMT's background, experience and training level on an incident whom I have never met? If I have National Registry or out of State certification, how am I covered?

R-5 USFS units operate under all risk, and have a medical program that most other regions lack. But all protocols are in need of updating and improvement.

There are plenty of options out there, however getting the right people involved with little to no budget is the hard part. As I've said, I have been working on this for over five years and gotten little to no response.

Brian Kliesen
8/28 Hi to all:

As many of you know, Senator Feinstein of California some months ago requested from the Forest Service a plan to address what the Senator and many of those representing California in Congress as well as many federal wildland firefighters consider to be a serious firefighter retention problem.

In early July I met with R5 regional Forester Randy Moore, his Deputy Jim Pena and FAM Director Ed Hollenshead. Mr. Moore specifically stated the RO was looking at statewide "retention bonuses" yet to date, no written or verbal communication to that effect has been received from the RO by Region firefighters despite the FWFSA's repeated request to the RO to do so.

Further, concerns have been raised as to the "tone" of the Agency's FireHire report. Some have inferred, again due to the lack of information from the RO, that the report would allow the Agency to conclude that the FireHire actions "solved" the firefighter retention problem and thus no further action was necessary. In the meantime, many fine, well-tenured federal firefighters not only continue to receive job offers from Cal-Fire and other non-federal agencies, but some have indeed accepted such offers absent any communication from the Forest Service as to their intentions to retain these key employees.

As a result of the FWFSA, NFFE and many firefighters providing hard numbers to Senator Feinstein's staff regarding the actual affect, or lack thereof from FireHire, the FWFSA has been given the go-ahead by key senate staff to develop our own retention plan in the absence of any from the Agency.

As we've reported in the past, we have been crafting a comprehensive legislative package that has been delayed as both Congress and the FWFSA have attempted in good faith to provide the Agency with the opportunity to take the lead on these issues. Now, with only several months left in this congressional session, the reality in Congress is that many folks back there are simply looking to get re-elected and are waiting for a new Administration to take office before any further serious work takes place. In fact, few of the "must pass" appropriations bills, including the Interior Appropriations bill have been passed.

Therefore, we believe a "Readers Digest" version of our legislation, formulated as a retention plan is in order. The two main features would be a portal to portal pilot program and a requirement that OPM develop a wildland firefighter classification series. As we've reported in the past, we were successful in getting the House of Representatives to pass a classification bill in 2006. Unfortunately the Senate literally lost the bill on the last day of the session.

We have also had portal to portal legislation previously introduced which nearly made its way onto the Senate Interior Appropriations bill at the end of 2006. However then Chairman Conrad Burns (you all remember him) was defeated and he simply chose not to do an Interior bill at all.

Senator Feinstein is seeking an appropriation of $25 million exclusively for firefighter retention and based upon our calculations, such an amount would be ample for portal to portal costs even in the worse of seasons. Classification language would not require additional funding from the government.

Obviously we have no clue as to why, in this day and age, and understanding how addressing these two issues could have such a profound, positive effect on the future of federal land management agency fire programs, the agencies have steadfastly refused to support such ideas. Thus, in their failure to develop a comprehensive plan to retain the best wildland firefighters in the world, we now have the opportunity to do so.

I want to reiterate that our proposal will seek to benefit all federal wildland firefighters from all five federal land management agencies.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or by phone at 208-775-4577.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
8/28 Need photos:

Hey folks:

I'm revising the materials for L-381 Incident Leadership for MCS.

I've already looked on the Photo Page and can't find what I need.

I need: (1) an engine photo of engine crew putting in a hose lay up a hill
with fire in the background and (2) photo of a progressive hose lay and (3)
crew firing out a line with engine support and (4) running attack wet line
off one or several engines

You may send the photos direct to airops@paonia.com.

Much thanks in advance.

Hugh Carson

Hey folks:

Ab is starting to collect potential photos for the 2009 wildlandfire.com calendar. If you have one or more good ones with flames, columns, interagency engines or other firefighting resources that you'd like to submit you may send the photos directly to abercrombie@wildlandfire.com. Last year's calendar was sweet. This year's calendar will be even better. Thanks in advance. Ab.

8/28 To the Fire Community:

I would like to personally thank all of you for the enormous support and love that you extended to all of us at Grayback Forestry and to the families of our injured and fallen firefighters. There have been so many involved from the time of the accident and even now. Some have been in the forefront, while others have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support our brave fallen firefighters and our firefighters still on the line.

Seeing the array of colors at the Tribute from federal and state agencies, municipalities and the private contracting industry was inspiring. When a firefighter gives the ultimate sacrifice, we all grieve. We are a tight knit community that cares for each other and it hurts so badly when we lose one of our own.

We now face the task of going about our business. We are tired, hurt, and still grieving from the loss of our fellow firefighters. We are reminded of the brevity of life during these times. We should never take anyone for granted. However, to honor them we must go on. Through the love for each other, we can get through the pain and loss of this tragedy.

Let us never forget the ultimate sacrifice given by the fallen on Iron 44:
Roark Schwanenberg, Jim Ramage, Bryan James Rich, Shawn Blazer, Steven Caleb Renno, David Steele, Matt Hammer, Edrik J.Gomez, Scott Albert Charlson.

One way we can all help out our fallen comrades is to give to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.
They help the families of the fallen in so many ways that no one else can.

Michael Wheelock

Grayback Forestry Inc.
original word doc: Fire Community Thank You

Mike, our best to you and all at Grayback as well as to families and friends of Roark and Jim. Sad summer. Ab.

8/28 All Risk -

National Preparedness Level may be down to a three but there's a couple of events lurking on the horizon. Get your saws sharp and your bug dope ready. Hurricane season is upon us. Gustav and Hanna are drawing a bead on the US and there's a third event with a 50/50 shot of building out in the eastern atlantic.

Katrina hit NOLA as a strong cat 3. Gustav could make landfall as a cat 3 in the same neighborhood.

8/28 Re: WildCad/WildWeb Outages

Most often, two things happen to take WildCad/WildWeb Offline from the public view (and yes, it pisses me off also):

1) Somebody unplugs the ethernet cable from the WildCad Server as they report to work..... to connect to their personal laptop (and forget to reconnect), and/or

2) Someone thinks that WildCad/WildWeb is slowing down their main server (often a current complaint from ROSS users)..... Users who use Itunes and YouTube.... and the dreaded RealPlayer...... while they try (and do) perform as dispatchers (forestry technicians). The WildWeb Server is hosted off-site.

Should be an easy fix item.... maybe? I know the reasons for local outages of WildWeb.... Could be a simple fix.... maybe......

/s/ Maybe not....
8/28 Thanks Tom,

The evolution of "CAL FIRE" throughout the years tells an important story that you well know, and some of us appreciate.... a nationally renowned "fire department" can exist and prosper from within a land management agency..... If leaders are allowed to lead.


California Department of Conservation, Division of Forestry (CDF), CA Resources Agency (circa early 1960's)

California Department of Forestry
(CDF), CA Resources Agency (circa mid 1970's)

California Department of Forestry
(CDF), CA Resources Agency (circa late 1980's/ 1990's)... "new" fire emphasis and focus

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
(CDF), CA Resources Agency (circa mid 1990's to 2007)

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
(CAL FIRE), CA Resources Agency (2007 to Present)

8/28 AC,

I share your concerns under the current agency actions over the last several years.

This link may address some of your observations/concerns that we all have had over the years. Good folks are working on it:

Additionally, EMTs and Medical First Responders operate under local direction and protocols as established by the various state emergency medical services authorities (EMSA).

As an example, in California, California EMSA (through Title 22) manages the pre-hospital emergency care program. CA EMSA provides overall direction to local entities such as ICEMA, REMS, and various other local EMS agencies throughout the state who provide local operating protocols and documentation procedures.

In California, several National Forests and National Parks applied for and obtained "pre-hospital provider" numbers to ensure compliance with local EMS protocols, as well as meeting the stringent documentation and reporting requirements. As part of this process, a Designated Officer was established to meet the Ryan White CARE Act requirements.

It is a long process probably best told offline, but I am willing to share the who, what, when, why, and where of "why" the process began and how (and why) it needs to continue......

/s/ Former R-5 Med-Fro Cadre Member

P.S. - Some National Forests and National Parks even have AEDs nowadays.... Go figure.
8/27 53 years ago.... today...

Behind the scenes originally brought to the fire community's attention by
Gordon of the Trabuco RD, Cleveland NF.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/fed/ca-a_flame55.pdf (600 K)

8/27 Lobotomy:

Interestingly enough I'm not sure that any of the land management agencies
can put a finger on official duties or scope of employment parameters for
EMTs. Apparently its considered a red card qualification but lacks any
standardization or specifics as afforded to it by the Red Book.

I look at my own experience here and wonder how this could get any

1.) Did the federal government expend (approve) appropriated funds to
equip you for the mission and/or assignment?,
Yes, smokejumper base put on the EMT class in 2002 with agency funds and
training facilities as well as assigning medical direction.

2.) Did the federal government provide you training, or authorize you to
use pre-existing training to utilize tools or equipment provided at
government expense?,
Yes, as stated above they paid for all the training and provided
facilities and a course curriculum.

3.) Were you "engaged to work".... or more simply said, "dispatched to"
the incident in an official capacity by your employer?

I have not specifically but other coworkers who have been trained to
capacity have been resourced as a line EMT. Other single resources
function in multiple capacities here, often performing EMT duties as a
secondary or ancillary duty as needed.

Things get even cloudier if and when it is necessary to treat civilians
with skills acquired by the agency as a proxy medical entity. Skills
acquired for EMT carded duties were taught by federal wildland
firefighters who happened to gain skills as a paramedic or EMT advanced
elsewhere. There is no tracking of official medical direction by anyone
in the agency (especially those who redcard the qualification), thus if
someone dies due to malpractice or a misjudgment on behalf of the EMT,
who does the agency or its representatives look to for answers?

8/27 Applications are now being accepted for crew bosses, assistant crew bosses,
instructors and staff for the 2009 Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship
Program academies. We need to staff two large Advanced Academies and four
Basic Academies. Please call Scott Whitmire with questions at 916-640-1061
or cell# 916-717-6615. Thanks.

2009_Instructor_Recruitment (152K doc file)
2009_Staff_Recruitment (104 K doc fire)

8/27 Apparently Prayers were answered for Ellreese Daniels this week, 3 months
probation and work release? Yeheheeeeaaa! Congratulations to you and mega
Kudo's to Attorney Tina Hunt, who fought so hard and won the good fight.
If I were you EllReese, I wouldn't contribute one more second of your time
to the US Government, you might be persecuted for something else that was
out of your control and that so obviously should have been a shared agency
responsibility. How much did this pathetic little dog and pony show and
monumental travesty of justice cost us anyway? How much money did it cost
the Daniels family.. besides the seven years of living hell, and is there a
fund we can donate to? I'm sure the taxpayers would like to know why there
money is being used to prosecute upstanding citizens and firefighters who
were trying to do their Job. Maybe next time more care will be taken
before wasting so much time and tax money on something that we as a
firefighting community should have learned from instead of be intimidated

Here is a list of "wonderful and upstanding people" (not) who I think would also
have shown support in the persecution Of Mr. Daniels.

Pol Pot
Mark Rey
Ted Bundy
Mau Se Tung
Mike Nifong.. District Attorney ..(Oh that's right... he was disbarred for
ethics violations in the Duke Lacrosse team rape case)

Reality check
8/27 Lobotomy,

I hate to stir the pot but I must correct you on one point, the USDA Forest
service "fire department" are not fire fighters, as we have been informed
many times by overhead. Under the GS-0462 series we are not firefighters
but we are forestry technicians. We should not be calling ourselves
any other thing until an official change has occurred or I feel we will be
shutting ourselves in the foot. The government feels free to call us
"firefighters" only when it suites their best interest. We need to stick to
our guns and inform the public of what and why the government refuses to call
us fire fighters.

Pot stirrer

8/27 Over the years, many folks have spoken with OGC attorneys regarding "scope of employment", "standard of care", and "duty to act". It isn't rocket science and is often used to try and "round up" (or scare) firefighters performing their assigned duties back towards the "resources management center".

Here is a VERY SIMPLE way to self determine if your actions fit within your "scope of employment":

1.) Did the federal government expend (approve) appropriated funds to equip you for the mission and/or assignment?,

2.) Did the federal government provide you training, or authorize you to use pre-existing training to utilize tools or equipment provided at government expense?,

3.) Were you "engaged to work".... or more simply said, "dispatched to" the incident in an official capacity by your employer?

If so, no brainer.... within scope.

Where the confusion is...... is with the Forest Service upper management (non-fire) misinterpretation of "Mission" having anything to do with "Duty to Act" in the real world, and in many cases, local line officers (district and forest) not knowing about the program they are trying to manage. They try to superimpose "mission" and "scope" as interchangeable.

While the Forest Service continues to battle within itself regarding "mission creep" vs. "scope" vs. performing as a 21st Century "Best Value Agency".... hopefully folks won't use the terms interchangeably as Regional Forester Moore tried to in his visits to the SoCal forests earlier in the year.

Wildland firefighters ARE FIREFIGHTERS .... They will perform at the level they are trained and equipped for by their agencies (duty to act), act within their scope, and provide the highest standard of care and "mission delivery" that the taxpayers and stakeholders expect and deserve.

"Caring for the Land, Serving People"..... it's not rocket science. It is a very simple Agency Mission. I view it as simple commanders intent..... 50% Caring for the Land..... 50% Serving People.

8/27 Working together

I don't have much time, but I beg you to listen. Work together, learn together, train together. As your overhead craps on you....stay focused. You are the front line. You are the hero's we know and trust. WFF are the best of the best, don't let them take that from you. I could give a rat's a$s about the politics, the quasi-Nazi idealism's, and the "We were there" attitudes.

This is 2008.....2009 will be here soon enough. Next year will be worse than this one. Are you ready? I hope you are. I'm depending on you to keep the world as I know it safe. If I didn't have faith, I wouldn't be writing this.

Keep up the "good" fight, be vocal, be an "in your face" presence. Let the world know who you are. I know who you are and I cherish each and every one of you. I've never met 99.9% of you, but is that important? I think not. We are brothers and sisters. Whether we had wings or polaskie's.... the war was the same. God rest your soul's and give you the strength to keep going. My prayers are with you and may we all live to see the next fire.

Tom Stein

8/26 R5 Forest Service Readers, those that are developmental hires or those that want to provide feedback comments on the GS-5 to 6 developmental training program document...

If you haven't seen this, here is the email regarding the GS-5-6 developmental program, along with links to the proposed training program and comment sheet at the bottom. I posted this a couple of days ago but have had additional questions. Ab.

As many of you are aware, 144 employees were recently hired under the GS-5 Developmental PD. One of the requirements of that position is the completion of a Developmental Training Program prior to being noncompetitive promoted to the GS-6 level. An original copy of that program was distributed in early July with out R5 Training’s review. That original plan was placed on hold by Randy Moore in a letter dated 8/19/2008.

R5 Training has completed their review and the draft copy of the GS-5 to 6 Developmental Training Program is attached for your review. Your review may take up to 20 minutes. Send your input directly to me. For your convenience, I have attached a comment collection sheet to collect you input. Please, pass this draft to your Division Chiefs for their consideration, today. They may submit their thoughts directly to me if you so desire. My Geographic Area Training Representatives (GATRs, Mr. Baldridge in the south and Mr. Bell in the north) will be seeking your Forest Training Officer’s input, as well. That input should be directed back to their respective GATR.

To expedite the implementation of this plan I am requesting your input by the COB of 8/30/2008. I am aware this may preclude some input simply because personnel may not have ready access to their Lotus Notes.

Once your input has been received and considered, a final draft will be sent to the Union for their review. The Master Agreement allows 30 days for them to complete that review. Once all reviews are complete, I will be submitting the finalized copy of the plan to the Director of FA&M for implementation.

If you have questions I will be happy to address them.

(author name and info not provided)

Here are the two attachments:
GS-5 to 6 Developmental Training Program (pdf file)
Comment Collection Sheet (word doc)

8/26 Working out of our scope?

As we were doing white water rescue awareness the other day some questions came up about liability. The agency provides me with the equipment, throw bags, life jackets etc. and we work on a fast moving river where we are always the first and fastest response. Will the agency cover me if myself or a patient gets hurt? Even the chief here says we probably (he doesn't really know) wouldn't be covered yet accepts that we will be responding and acting in a variety of calls. There are many things we do because we feel we have a duty. Does anyone have input or examples?

Duty to Act

8/26 Ab, wow....think about it...thought you might like to post it.

Behind the Scenes: Economist Hedges Bets on Wildfires in California
By Joanne Ho, University of Washington


This Behind the Scenes article was provided to LiveScience in partnership
with the National Science Foundation.

For nearly a year, I have been sifting through news headlines such as,
"Thousands evacuated in Northern California wildfire," "Erratic winds
prompt new evacuations in California," "New crews called in to fight
California wildfire," and, "Death challenges firefighting strategy."

Wildfires in California are a threat not only to residents living in the
wildland-urban interface, but also to firefighters. Some believe it is not
worth the lives of firefighters to save these communities from catastrophic
wildfires. In May 2007, "USA Today" quoted Tom Harbour, national director
of fire and aviation management for the Forest Service, saying, "We are not
going to die for property. It's time for homeowners to take responsibility
for the protection of their homes."

But many people think that letting a fire destroy so many homes—expensive
or not—will hurt the welfare of Californians, and put a big damper on the
economy. The question is: how do we save the people, the homes, and the

As an economist working with fire ecologists and fire managers, I walk a
fine line between two logical worlds—a place where one plus one does not
always equal two. Economists, as social theorists, believe that people
behave rationally and can make wise decisions for themselves. Many fire
managers disagree: If everyone behaved rationally, why would so many
Californians choose to live in high fire risk areas? Why wouldn't
firefighters abandon a fire if their lives could be at stake?

I never doubt that people can make wise choices for themselves. We just
need to get into their heads and figure out why their choices appeal to
them. If we understood how people made choices, then perhaps it wouldn't
seem so bizarre that Californians would risk everything they own to live in
fire-prone areas. Maybe we could even prevent the death of firefighters.

Between logic and physics

As a social scientist working with issues in the natural sciences, I manage
to wedge myself in between the cracks of economic logic and the simple laws
of physics as manifested in fire behavior. Economists often make the
logical assumption that, as more money is invested into research and
development of technologies, the technologies will become better. Although
this is generally true, technology also has limits, and requires time to
advance. Current technologies have not been able to provide a solution that
society can accept, despite the increasing proportion of the U.S. Forest
Service budget dedicated towards firefighting every year.

Catastrophic fires in Southern California are often driven by high-speed
winds known as the Santa Ana winds, which can blow at 100 mph in extreme
cases. During the months of late summer and early autumn, fire risks are
increased due to dry fuels, but without Santa Ana winds, fires are much
more manageable and easier to contain. But we can't be sure that wind is
the only factor playing into catastrophic fires, and this is something that
I am investigating in my research. Do vegetation, rain, relative humidity,
and temperature matter? Or does the existence of wind dominate the effect?
There has been an ongoing dialogue in the literature debating this

Working with wildfires challenges me to push economics to new limits, to
expand our understanding of how people rationalize and respond to
conditions in the natural world. In turn, I look to fire managers to
recognize that managing people can be just as difficult as managing fires.

What to do?

So, how do we save the people, homes, and firefighters? To answer this
question, I identify the source of the problem, and tackle the manageable
aspects of it. It is impractical to try to stop high-speed winds, eliminate
dry vegetation acting as fuels, or forcefully relocate whole communities of
people. It is, however, manageable to influence people's perception of the
risk associated with wildfires. If people believe that their homes and
belongings can easily be recovered, then there would be less pressure for
firefighters to defend the homes. Then, the number of casualties can be

Recovering homes and belongings lost to fires is the job of insurance
companies. Therefore, protecting the solvency of insurance markets exposed
to California fires is in the best interest of every taxpayer in

I focus my research on re-insuring insurance companies exposed to wildfire
risks. Re-insurance is insurance purchased by an insurance company to
protect the company against overexposure of financial risk in light of
catastrophic events (e.g., hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or wildfires).
With wildfires, the most relevant lines of business are fire, homeowners,
and commercial policies. Insurance companies with a large market share in
these lines of business in wildfire-prone areas have motivation for buying
re-insurance to hedge against the risk of large wildfire events.
(Read the rest at the website.)

Fair Use Disclaimer

8/26 Naked boat guy...

I have the same concerns. I don't know R5 well enough...yet. I will be taking the leap soon as I'm one of the statistics that look like they have been hired but due to delays and regular fire seasons...I'm still not there. I take it I'm going to have to have a plan for my gals and guys to get them the training they are going to need to go from a 5 to a 6 as soon as possible (Two years to be realistic). Where I come from, the apprenticeship program isn't held with high regard. 10-40 % retention rates, folks with paper training and not on the ground time, and a lack of quality experiences in many different regions doing many different jobs. I have seen and hired positive outcomes from these ranks, but have had more poor experiences with under trained and under qualified folks not ready for the positions they fill boots for.

The Forest Service is as much a standardized organization as Best Western's are cookie cutter motels. The labels are identical, but no two places are the same. You can't come up with a cookie cutter solution to a dynamic issue such as training and fire experience. No two regions operate the same or interpret "Policy" in the same manner. I've seen and dealt with it too many times to believe that our organization is homogenous across the country. The same thing goes with training. There are people who have life experiences that can run modules with 3 or 4 seasons of quality fire experience and then there are folks out there that may never achieve a good enough leadership ability to take over running a crew, engine, or helitack module. As a leader, I'd be doing a poor job signing off folks as achieving FEO or Squad Boss after they've completed their minimum number of hours as a GS-5 without taking into consideration if I would entrust my life to their decisions. I've seen it done in and out of our agency before and decided when I was just a set of elbows and a posterior scraping for soil that I wouldn't be "That Guy".

I'm committing myself now to provide the best training for my crews and make sure they are ready to advance before they get the paper saying Hominos Dominos...you are good to go. I will seek out assignments, not only in R5 but in other regions, for my up and coming leaders to participate and learn from. If you get trained only in one region, you have a skewed view of operations of the rest of the world. I will stand behind the decisions my new leaders make because I know they have had the training they need to get enough SA to make the best decision. If I don't know if they can make the best decisions, I will not subject them to a situation where they will have to decide the fate of someone else.

Everyone out there is an expert at some aspect of life. It's our job as FMOs, AFMOs, and SFEOs to direct and guide our employees down the avenue that they will excel and succeed in.

It's late, I'm fired up, and have to start packing soon.
8/26 We Are One,

I guess I fail to see the point in not signing a satisfactory or above performance rating to protest mismanagement of the fire program. Who are you going to impact other than your supervisor (in all most all cases a fellow fire fighter) who will have to field all the calls from the human capitol office about the unsigned ratings. Unless things have changed, doesn't a person have to have satisfactory performance ratings to get their next step increase. I am sure the human capitol folks will be real understanding about your plight and process the step increase anyway. What if the person was in line for a QSI?? Don't think that unsigned rating is going to do much for that either.

There is one person in the Forest Service that gives a crap about your good rating and that is the human capitol person whose job it is to make sure they are completed and turned in on time. It is an internal document, so what good does it do not to sign it as a protest of mismanagement of the fire program. Do you think there will be a press release come out detailing how many employees did not sign their ratings. I am pretty sure there are not many folks shaking in their boots at the thought of unsigned performance ratings.

If you want to have a big impact get all 4000 of you and get to your local newspapers, radio stations, television stations and put your faces on the protest. Get all the facts together and lay them out in front of the cameras. Of course you will not be able to hide behind your "They Said" moniker if you do that, but I would just about guarantee you will have a much bigger impact than not signing your performance rating.

the cynic

8/26 BUT For me Black Tuesday was August 5th 2008. The day we lost 9 good men
and 4 others were seriously injured in the Iron 44 incident.

May we never forget them.


8/25 Fish 01

Don't dismay! The newest version of the S-212, which was published in 2004
is called "Wildland Fire Chainsaws". I suppose there weren't that many wildland
fire skilsaws or saws-alls out there...

bia fmo
8/25 GS5/6 Developmental Positions/Apprenticeship Program

Besides the question of funding the training for these positions I would like to know who will be doing the training and where they will be doing it. How many of those hired have already been through the Apprenticeship Program and how many still need that training as well as the additional classes?

Speaking of the Apprenticeship Program, when are they planning on filling the National Apprenticeship Coordinator position? Shirley Sutliff left that job nearly 8 months ago and they have yet to fly it. The administrative assistant position has also been unfilled for more than 8 months. That leaves only one position filled for the program on the Forest Service side. (The only other position is the BLM National Coordinator.) I feel sorry for current apprentices, hopefully those unfilled positions are not having a negative impact on the more than 1000 of them who are active in the program. If they weren't hiring so many apprentices, I would almost think R5 was trying to sink the program.

No name on this one please
8/25 Ab,

Have you heard of a Ball Park estimate of the time, (real life time) it
will take to fulfill the GS5 to 6 Development Training Program? Think
it may surprise ya!

OOFG (old, old fire guy)

8/25 S-212 Wildland Power Saws? Trainee class

I guess I've been gone too long but in the good old days we referred to this sort of
equipment as chainsaws. Hope I can still use my power saw around the house!


8/25 All,

Hmm looks like the developmental requirements are nothing more than the apprenticeship
program on steroid's!
No more 3 years as a GS-4 or quality training. If i recall correctly, the req. of the promotion
was all that training be fulfilled in "one" year??

I could be wrong, was just wondering if anyone had more info as i have several friend's that
accepted the position and am wondering if they "screwed" their self's by not just finishing the
apprenticeship. (They were within a year or so of completing.)

Naked Boat Guy

(Please cover up... Ab.)

8/25 Regarding Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Hopkins and his hope to be appointed
as a federal judge...

I would like to follow-up on his situation in much the same way I did for the "fine"
Senator Burns from Montana. It took just a few hours, a little bit of money, but
according to one of his aides, it had a definite impact and definitely made a
difference in his losing the election.

I think it's safe to say that many people seriously underestimate the power of numbers,
and in this case the power of numbers and support of the firefighter community.

So I will begin gathering information regarding his timeline for the potential
appointment, find out who can be called, written, emailed, etc. And I'll get the
information out to those who are interested in being proactive and aggressive in
protecting our rights.

In my opinion it's not a good time to just sit back and say "what's done is done" and
not do anything.

If you are interested, stay tuned.

Signed: Fight for your rights aggressively.
8/25 AB's and Casey,

Here is the email regarding the GS-5-6 dev. program. Along with the proposed training
program and comment sheet. Fire away.


As many of you are aware, 144 employees were recently hired under the GS-5 Developmental PD. One of the requirements of that position is the completion of a Developmental Training Program prior to being noncompetitive promoted to the GS-6 level. An original copy of that program was distributed in early July with out R5 Training’s review. That original plan was placed on hold by Randy Moore in a letter dated 8/19/2008.

R5 Training has completed their review and the draft copy of the GS-5 to 6 Developmental Training Program is attached for your review. Your review may take up to 20 minutes. Send your input directly to me. For your convenience, I have attached a comment collection sheet to collect you input. Please, pass this draft to your Division Chiefs for their consideration, today. They may submit their thoughts directly to me if you so desire. My Geographic Area Training Representatives (GATRs, Mr. Baldridge in the south and Mr. Bell in the north) will be seeking your Forest Training Officer’s input, as well. That input should be directed back to their respective GATR.

To expedite the implementation of this plan I am requesting your input by the COB of 8/30/2008. I am aware this may preclude some input simply because personnel may not have ready access to their Lotus Notes.

Once your input has been received and considered, a final draft will be sent to the Union for their review. The Master Agreement allows 30 days for them to complete that review. Once all reviews are complete, I will be submitting the finalized copy of the plan to the Director of FA&M for implementation.

If you have questions I will be happy to address them.

Ab note: Anyone who wants the comment collection sheet, please email and I'll send it. It's a 3 column table that has page#, line# and a space for Comments, Questions, Concerns.

8/25 Pena - "ensure completion to meet the deadline of June 30"

June 30th + 56 days

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY! - April 1, 2008
The day they lied from coast-to-coast
8/25 It's with some trepidation that I comment on an issue specific to R-5, but dang "Trainee Development Plan and Conditions of Employment" sounds like contract language to me, and a regional forester who tries to say "whoops, we just changed our minds" doesn't have a legal leg to stand on.

Still Out There as an AD -- wait, let me get my legal pad ...
8/25 Sberrymom,

I agree w/you, that the Stanislaus is terrible about keeping the Wildcad up and running. We live down here also, Sonora, and ex-FS employees, and it would sure be nice to know where resources are etc. etc. I have contacted the Asst. Dispatch Center manager and that sometimes works, but most of the time, it doesn't. Frustrating.


Wildcad is still fairly recent. The forests that keep wildcad current usually use it as a database for that kind of info and/or maybe some few that do not use it do not want such fire info to be available to the public.

The database across forests would be an organizational efficiency. If categories were organized consistently and reported for each incident in each forest in a region, the data could be used to gather stats at the forest level and across forests at the RO level: For example, to quantify what % of fires are picked up on IA by how many and what types of resources. That's just one of many bits of descriptive data that could be summarized. As far as the arguments for not making the info viewable by the public, that view doesn't seem to be too widespread. Ab.

8/24 DM, very good point.

"We are one" whether it's a neighboring Forest or fellow district firefighting resources, NOPS, SOPS or another GACC we are all in this together regardless of module type. We have strength in numbers and our profession has a long tradition of standing strong and staying united. Those on the 4th floor must come to work every day and be reminded that we are not backing down, that we shall not allow them to forget and that we shall keep up our email campaign. We shall not allow them a minute of rest or give them an opportunity to divert to another issue that is unrelated to our issues. We shall ensure they're in terminal reaction mode until they agree to serious change and serious communications. The more united we are, the stronger we are.

And now below is a letter that is an example of what terminal reaction mode looks like. Also an example of the benefits we can see when we speak out..............

Casey, how wise you are, my friend. This letter outlines everything you just wrote in your post. RFs don't like to sign letters correcting a mistake someone in the RO did. The most important lesson in this to all of us is that enough noise was made that the RF backed down. We won't see results and we won't see change unless we keep the pressure on and keep them in terminal reaction mode..

We Are One!

Keep up the Good Fight!

Support FWFSA!


Date: August 19, 2008
Subject: Developmental GS-5/6 Training Plan for Assistant Fire Engine Operators and Squad Leaders for Hotshot/Handcrews and Helicopters

To: Forest Supervisors and Forest Fire Chiefs

The purpose of this letter is to provide direction on the use of the Developmental GS-5 Training Plan for Assistant Fire Engine Operators and Squad Leaders for hotshot/hand crews and helicopters. During the July 2008 Fire Hire, 144 GS-5 employees were hired under a developmental announcement for a target grade GS-06 position. At the time of hire, these employees and their supervisors were provided a "Trainee Development Plan and Conditions of Employment" document. We are delaying implementation of this document.

A work group composed of Phil Shafer - Acting Regional Training Officer, Bob Bell - North Zone Training Officer, Dennis Baldridge - South Zone Training Officer, and Dan Duefrene - Region 5 Vice-President of the National Federation of Federal Employees was brought together to review the training plan and develop recommendations to implement the training program.

The proposed recommendations will be vetted by Region 5 Fire & Aviation Management and provided for field review in compliance with the NFFE master agreement. I intend that the training plan will be finalized within the thirty-day field review period.

In the interim, employees hired in these developmental positions, or their supervisors, are not to use the "Trainee Development Plan and Conditions of Employment" provided at the time of hire. A new plan and conditions of employment document will be provided once the revised training plan has been approved. Please ensure that supervisors of these employees understand and implement this direction. If you have questions, please contact your unit Fire & Aviation Training Officer.

/s/ Arthur L. Gaffrey (for)
Regional Forester

cc: Dan Duefrene
Stephen Deep
Joy R Thomas

8/24 There's a Hotlist thread on Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue Research. I'm suggesting we use the hotlist as a database for this as we did for burn info and as we're doing for fire behavior on the ground and modeling.

There are more photos up on every photo page below. Ab.

Handcrews 24

Fires 38 and Fires 39

Engines 21

AirTankers 25

Helicopters 24

Equipment 11

Logos 14

Irish Spring Fire '07

8/24 AB,

It is one thing to have a manager who fails to lead due to a lack of experience on his chain of command lack of foresight. As we have recently found at a Department of the Army firefighting group at FT. Lewis, WA, it is another to have a leader that refuses to lead or take charge. A year ago due to a medical illness a senior leader was informed that he will have to take retirement. Instead of the agency using this time to shop for a replacement or to train or a likely successor, instead they procrastinated to the point where required maintenance on vehicles and equipment was neglected beyond repair. Recruitment was half heartedly approached with almost a "if they post it, they will come" attitude. Unfortunately, as a member of this crew who has seen the developments of this ongoing it saddens me that this will be the high point for things to come in the seeable next few years.

Training that should have gone to permanent personnel was neglected. I have learned from talking to many that classes for on-going wildland firefighting professional development were warranted to un-needed, under-trained, under-developed leaders who refuse to accept the responsibility in the field. Members of this crew have personally gone out to attempt to self-educate have received NO support from the higher echelons.

The higher leadership would rather lead from a desk than in the field, leaving less than qualified personnel to attempt to fill these holes. It has been on more than one occasion that a TYPE 4 IC or higher has been needed on a incident. FFT2 and 1's have tried to mitigate these incidents. Luckily, no injuries or loss of containment has occurred to date. The AARs have been few and led by are "armchair", "lead-from-the-desk" leaders who are not on these fires trying to critique what they believe should have happened.

Our attempts to organize some type of training to facilitate safety, cohesion, and a set standard operating guidelines (SOG's) has gone to deaf ears. Even when handed pre-laid out training opportunities from subordinates our leaders would rather "check the block" and make it quick and un-educational, not taking the time to train people to task books, but rather to their own agenda for the day's duties.

Safety gear which was previously spoken about and has gone neglected has not been replaced even though requests have been filed on paper. This has led many members to purchase equipment out of pocket that should be supplied by the unit. Instead new equipment for leaders who have not gone in the field has been purchased and fitted for them. While the gear left to rest of the crew (i.e. pumps, hoses, nozzles, hand tools, other appliances, etc) have constantly broken down and not been replaced or repaired in a timely fashion. In my eyes this is "not tolerable" we are in the business of protecting property and lives; having shoddy equipment puts everyone's life in jeopardy.

There is a definite gap between our high, middle, and crew levels for cross talk. One level has no idea what is going on with the next below and our attempts to fix our problems fall on deaf ears because of it. I besiege you all to take a good look at your programs, if you see at all any sign of these issues where leadership fails to lead, communication is only from the top down, safety has taken a back seat, and training is going away, to "try to fix" these issues as soon as they arrive, we are proof that it doesn't take long for procrastination to set in. Procrastination allows systems to fall apart. I personally am bitter because I love the fire service and this station's leadership taking a "blind view" of the world around them has made it hard for me to return to work daily, let alone next season. If it was not for my fellow line firefighters I probably would have left a long time ago, but because the season is not over and the lack of leadership, I stayed to help them safely come out of the season.

I know this seems, like a "gripe" list but let me assure you I would not be posting this if I did not feel that there are too many people that have been pushed into roles that they have not developed into. I believe as a whole the fire service needs to look into abilities of an individual in the field rather than a task book being filled out and therefore them being "qualified" for a position. The "good-ol-boy" system which is fully alive in this organization needs to have its head removed so the system can start over with fresh leadership, clear plans for the future, and new firefighters can have proper training to have a safe and fulfilling career.


8/24 Ab,

Attached is a Masters Thesis related to sleep and performance published by the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey. The study followed the United States Military Academy at West Point (Class of 2007) from their fall term in 2003, through their graduation in 2007. It is a longitudinal study so the final results and the math may be a little on the “geeky” side, but there is a great Literature Review section at the front end of the document (which covers sleep architecture, memory and immune function, the effects of sleep deprivation and an interesting look at countermeasures of fatigue).

There is an excellent List of References and Bibliography at the end related to sleep deprivation (a few are specific to decision making).

Those interested may want to take a look at the RAND Cooperation site. They do extensive research for the government, and most of their material can be down loaded for free. The two sample documents below will give your readers an introduction to their products.

1. “Stress and Performance: A Review of the Literature and Its Applicability to the Military” (84 pages, 0.2 MB)

2. “Implications of Modern Decision Science for Military Decision-Support Systems” (180 pages, 0.5 MB)


sleep-deprived-research.pdf (1105 K pdf file, 105 pages)
8/24 We Are One

I just want to say that I agree that the RO and WO have done alot to dismantle this one time great service but before we can get real change we have to also clean out our own house on alot of forests. How many forests problems come from pour management at the SO level and down? I would say quite a few. How many problems do we have because we have fast tracked employees and now these people with very limited experience are now messing up crews because they never learned to really supervise. I can think of quite a few crews that lose the majority of their people every year because of poor supervision but we aren't allowed to remove them because of our great personnel offices. It really irritates me as a BC that I'm not allowed to discipline an employee and neither is the ranger. We have to call the forest personnel office, who has to call the area personnel office, who has to call the regional office, then they have to call Albuquerque to get a response. Sorry got side tracked.

But in closing, if we want things to get better than start with your own people and make it a good working environment and a place people want to stay. Make sure that there is no separation of the handcrews, engines, fuels, patrols, dozer and whomever else you have. We are all in this together and no one is better than the other, we need each other to get the mission accomplished. We need to remember we aren't only losing people to state/county departments we are also losing alot to other regions because of our attitudes and the way we treat our people. Lets stop making the same mistakes and start correcting them because we can't "be one" if we are constantly fighting each other.

DM (not the original)
8/24 Dear "We Are One"

Unfortunately the Forest Service hasn't figured out that by the time they craft whatever they plan on providing to Congress, whether it be the "Yea us" briefing paper about the wonderful FireHire success or retention plans, Congress already has the truth courtesy of the FWFSA, NFFE and so many firefighters who have chosen to speak up over the last year.

Case in point is the miserably ill-crafted Developmental GS-5/6 position. The original developmental plan & "Condition of Employment" document was created primarily by Deputy Regional Forester Jim Pena, with input from Gary Biehl and other "non" fire personnel. The document was wrought with references to an Academy & required too many superfluous classes to make sense. Oddly enough, the position was floated without such specifications so that when folks did accept the position then found out what it entailed, many felt it wasn't worth it.

In the infinite wisdom of management, again in an effort to appease Congress, this plan was put together with so much haste that it was put in place without providing it to the Union for the opportunity to I&I (Impact & Implementation) bargain the issue. Such an action could have easily led to an Unfair Labor Practice and, most astonishingly, wasn't even briefed to the North Ops and South Ops training folks...the ones who would be responsible for putting together all the required classes. In other words, simply a big cluster in an effort to maintain the Agency's MO of sleight of hand/smoke & mirrors responses to Congressional requests.

Fortunately the Union and others got involved and have spend significant time "fixing" what the RO put together to try and make it somewhat workable. Hopefully that work product will be out in the field soon for feedback so it can be approved by the union. Here's the catch that Congress already understands:

The Agency touts 144 employees accepting the GS-5/6 developmental position. Thus they tell Congress that they have successfully filled 144 GS-6 positions that were previously vacant. Sounds great. The problem is these employees cannot perform the GS-6 duties until they complete all the required training. So although the Agency is showing 144 new GS-6 employees, none of them can yet perform such tasks yet the RO wants Congress to believe otherwise.

Furthermore, with all the training required in many instances of these 144 positions, the recent August 4th letter from Chief Kimbell about being $400,000 in the hole and having to cut back on this & that (including not repairing fire trucks) will have a dramatic negative impact on the ability to get these folks trained and qualified so they can begin to perform the GS-6 work.

Sadly, these are the details the Agency leaves out of their reports to Congress. Nowhere in any communication with Congress is the Agency willing to explain just how long it will take most of the newly promoted/hired positions to actually be ready for the field. Instead they would prefer to have Congress infer that those promoted or hired via this recent fire hire are already performing their new duties. This despite many still needing to obtain CDLs and other qualifications.

In speaking with Union representatives, I know it is just as frustrating to them as it is to the FWFSA to have to take the time to provide Congress with the realities of what is going on rather than the Agency being up front about issues. At the same time, the necessity to educate Congress has allowed us to establish and build our credibility on Capitol Hill which has led to the increased attention and response from Congress.

Early last month I was provided an opportunity to meet with Mr. Moore, his Deputy and Mr. Hollenshead in Vallejo. Mr. Moore spoke of "retention bonuses" yet nothing has come from the RO or WO and we continue to lose long-tenured firefighters to other agencies.

I urged all of them to communicate with their firefighters yet there continues to be nothing but silence while all of you bust your tails in the field. This is sad and wrong. As some in Congress said to me in DC in June, the Forest Service is looking to lose its Fire program through default i.e. mismanagement. If the Agency, whether it be through the RO, WO or their PIOs continue to give Congress the runaround and only half-truths, I firmly believe after the new Administration takes office in January, you will see a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill to either wrest control of the Agency's fire program or mandate significant changes to the way the Agency manages its fire program and firefighters.

We have urged the Agency for years and years to make the necessary changes to avoid the Congressional "boot" being placed you-know-where. Whether it has been through arrogance or ignorance, the Agency(s) have ignored many opportunities in the past 5+ years to make their FIRE programs not only stronger but more fiscally efficient. They have squandered those opportunities so it is time for their firefighters to take the ball & run with it...with a little help from Congress of course.

Stay safe,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
8/24 Re: Fatigue

Another powerpoint. Fatigue ppt 2 (large 1745 K ppt)


PS: We Are One: Please cite me the authority (laws, regulations etc) that would permit the RF or even the Chief to greatly increase the pay of the employees. I honestly don't know of any. I think that the current Congress would need to act.

8/24 Over 98% of Forest Service Firefighters, Fire Supervisors and Fire Managers receive an annual performance rating between satisfactory to superior. Many of us and militia support personnel have spent weeks if not months away from our families so far this fire season. We have done our part, while some regional managers sit back, delay and create more false reports about retention to elected officials.

Nine months after the infamous Dec 10th, 2007 week long meeting:

  • We still have some of our firefighters forced to apply for state medical assistance (SCHIP) because they can’t afford to pay for federal healthcare premiums for their kids.
  • We are still the employer of last resort for many outstanding employees. It’s been a long slide over the years from our once high perch as the employer of choice.
  • We have not seen even one idea implemented to improve our fire organization.

Thanks to all those in the RO and WO who had a hand in the dismantling of the basic core principals we depend on to build and maintain a strong, productive and healthy fire organization.

Randy Moore was sent to R-5 to fix the fire program including addressing retention issues.

Randy Moore is being groomed to become Chief of the Forest Service.

Randy Moore has allowed those on his Fire Retention Task force to fail and it appears he dismantled the retention groups after the perceived success of July Fire Hire.

A propaganda document is being prepared by the RO to report to Congress on retention.

Can you support the following in a show of strength?
Annual performance ratings are due November 1, 2008. In a show of strength and complete solidarity between Fire Managers, Fire Supervisors and all Rank and File Firefighters each of us must refuse to sign our 2008 annual performance rating this coming October. Randy and others need to know that performance matters. They also need to know in our business that words matter and when you give your word, you come though. This action is not grounds for discipline. Signing a performance rating is our option, not a requirement. However when over 4000 above average to superior performance appraisals within Region-5 are not signed due to mismanagement, it will make a statement that Randy Moore and others as of this date failed to offer any solutions, failed to implement anything on the retention issue. Support from Firefighters and support personnel in other regions could push the total number of unsigned performance ratings over 10,000 and create more national discussion on our issues.


We Are One!

8/24 Re: Fatigue

The attached power point.


Fatigue Powerpoint (535K ppt file)

8/23 Wrench and Gizmo

Did a lil reaserch on line and came across some info concerning fatigue on wildland fires, written by the Australian Journal of Emergency Management. I found that Brad Aisbet is a physiologist at the University of Melbourne currently researching the health, safety and wellbeing of firefighters while fighting brush fires and can probably help you out. His email is baisbett @ unimelb. edu.au here is a link as well www.ema.gov.au/


Attachment: fatigue-factors (250 K pdf file)

8/23 Wrench and Gizmo:

Concerning research into fatigue and shifts in the wildland fire domain, there's a pretty big void out there. The only study I can find that directly addresses wildland fire and fatigue is an old one from the 60'slooking at pilots during wildland fires www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5907755. (Almost every study looking at wildland/forest firefighters has focused on smoke and lung function, with a few concerning energy expenditures.)

There are probably a few reasons behind this...from the relatively "new" realization of fatigue and shift work affecting safety and performance, to the fact that few University researchers have much contact with wildland firefighters (for better or worse, the lion's share of medical research in this country is concentrated on the East Coast, where forest fires are events on TV), to the transient nature of a wildland firefighter's job (structure guys are based in one location, every day, 365 days a year), and finally the lack of resources within the fire community itself (the Forest Service entire fire budget is about the same as the budget for my hospital system alone...)

What to do about it? I'm not sure. There's currently a study that is being run across town from me at Johns Hopkins looking at firefighter fitness (and injuries), but I'd bet my student loans that they'll be looking mainly at the structure folks. But maybe a spin-off study? We'll see.

In the meantime, I think it's pretty clear that the research shows the detrimental effects of both short term and long term sleep deprivation in terms of mental processing and physical abilities. That's not to say wildland firefighters can't pull long shifts, they can. Sometimes the situation demands it. Another poster mentioned "upping our our SA, sucking up." Well, that's part of it. But the other part is upping your SA about sleep deprivation. I think it should be approached the way we're starting to think of aviation: "Is this flight necessary" vs. "Is this shift necessary." You wait until 20 hours into a shift to start thinking about sleep deprivation and the effect it might have, by then you're already NOT thinking clearly. Sleep deprivation has to be thought of when you first hit the line..."If this shift goes all night, can I, my crew, the rest of this fire do our jobs - and get home - safely."

George Kochman
8/23 I just read the investigation report for the 30-mile fire.

First the origin would have been a good anchor point. I assume they had a SW wind blowing up river. This is where they were trying to retreat to so I again assume this was their safety/deployment zone. Set up the Mark III and soak everything down and it would be a safety zone! Can’t tell much because the photo ends SE of the point of origin. (lots of trees I believe.)

Shots are dry mop specialists, but in this case I would of kept Eng. 704 and the mark III and flooded it. All the water you need is in the river! This in turn would be a safe zone.

I think the IC realized this by now and orders more pumps and support. But, throw a type II crew together and with mixed experience and you will have gaps in their knowledge. So went their plan to flood it. Why didn’t someone help them set up!

I’ll take a Mark III and a river over a helicopter any day for mop-up. You get the water where you want it. It’s cheaper too! On the other hand you can’t drench a running crown fire with a Mark III.

So we have a bunch of people hand lining spots ahead of a dirty burn with spotting a problem and the burning period approaching. No real lookouts in place (AirAttack) and unguarded line leading back to the Point of Origin. Anchor and flank - anchor and flank - ANCHOR AND FLANK. With Water!

Once it started up the east side the low pressure at the base of the flames draws air down from the west slope causing the column to roll over and rain embers on the west slope.

At this point I would of backed off for the evening. They lost it.

When you don’t have the weather you use your weather rock. You observe the actual conditions. Wind direction/column direction, inversion vs. ventilation, but most important; what is the behavior of the fire. Is it getting ready to run? Can you feel the tempo picking up? You can hear the difference!

Picking up the tempo and working harder may seem like the right thing to do if you see yourself as a fire “FIGHTER” But, believe me it’s going to go where it wants to!

In the “one foot in the black” days, when it was blowing up ahead, we would take a break and sharpen up. The torching created great new safety zones and we may end up going off in a new direction anyway. You don’t want to take a chance working under all those burning embers up in the air.

The final perimeter went up the east and west slope anyway so all that work went to waste! Work smarter, I don’t care how much sleep you had, that’s just strategy!

My other BIG question is; did the people on the rock scree have a radio? If not they were out of communication! They didn’t stay together as a group.

However, the civilian campers would have been in trouble if things didn’t workout the way they did. Rebecca Welch didn’t stay with the Natches group on the rock scree; why? It seems she stayed calm and acted decisively and saved the life of two people. My hats off to her!

William Riggles

If you're really interested, there's a wealth of discussion on theysaid, following the incident to present. Ab.

8/22 from the hotlist:

Gooseberry fire was NV-CCD. Southeast of Doyle CA. It went for 3500 acres or so. It went extended attack.


8/22 I posted several new handcrew photos on Handcrews 24 photo page:

Fuego Tech Crew and Fuego Tech Rangers 76: Fuego Tech Rangers 76 is a Type 2 Handcrew based out of the Angeles National Forest. Photos compliments of Anthony Claustro. (0808)

Gallatin Rappel Crew ?: Photo compliments of Renato P. (0808)

I'm not sure this is the Gallatin Rappel crew. The Ship is Kachina Aviation out of Nampa ID so it's a logical guess. Haven't heard back from the sender yet... I'd appreciate any help, you rappel buffs.

Jake and Bravo Co: This dog kinda of adopted us at fire camp and seemed to be pretty happy with the caterers; he lives about 4 miles away but would come into camp everyday and on more than one occasion, follow up us up to the burn and stayed with us the whole day as we mopped up. Photos compliments of MG. (0808)


Added some fine photos of the Gap Fire to the Fires 38 photo page and a Gooseberry pic to Fires 39 photo page:

Burnout Ops: Silver State Hotshots burnout on Silver Creek Fire. Photo compliments of Mike Kidder. (0808)

Gap Fire Series: Gap Fire 7/08. More Gap Fire photos on the Engines 21 photo page. Photo compliments of Craig C, OCFA. (0808)

Gooseberry Fire: Photo compliments of Mark G. (0708)

Anyone know where the Gooseberry fire was and when? Was it only IA or did it go EA or longer?


Some new engine photos on Engines 21 photo page. Thanks for those:

Sad Engine Procession: A picture from Sunday Aug 10, 2008. It is of the memorial procession through Weaverville, CA for the last of the Iron 44 victims as they came off the hill. Shasta-Trinity N.F. vehicles surrounded the coroner van, followed by many engines from Trinity County Volunteer Fire Departments and Cal-Fire. The general public came out to watch, some even stopped eating their dinners in the local restaurants to stand by the road. Photo compliments of Prindy22. (0808)

Bridgeport Engine: Engine from the Bridgeport district, Humboldt-Toiyabe NF. Photo compliments of Mike Kidder. (0808)

Gap Fire Firing & Holding Series: Gap Fire 7/08. More Gap Fire photos on the Fire 38 photo page. Photo compliments of Craig C, OCFA. (0808)

8/22 I've posted some new photos of helicopters on Helicopters 24 photo page. Ab.

Canyon Complex Series: Various photos of helicopters assigned to the CA-PNF-Canyon Complex: Erickson Air Crane Helicopter #742 and Columbia Helicopter Chinook with bucket and line. Taken near the CA-PNF-Canyon Complex Helibase (Quincy Airport). Photos compliments of Jason Irwin. (0808)

8/22 Some terrific photos of AirTankers have come in in the last month. Got 'em sized and posted on the AirTankers 25 photo page. Click the thumbnail to get the larger photo and the words for the description I provided below.
Thanks to all. If any of the photographers want me to post their full name or would rather have initials, please let me know. Ab.

Silver Creek 1 & 2: Two pics of air drops from the Silver Creek Fire above the Mountain Warfare Training Center located on the Humboldt Toiyabe NF, outside of Bridgeport. Photos compliments of Mike K. (0808)

Piute '08: Photos compliments of Morgan Gillette. (0808)

S-2 on South, DC-10 on Slide, T-910 on Zaca: CA-ANF-South Fire, 2008; CA-BDF-Slide Fire, 2007; CA-LPF-Zaca Fire, 2007. Photos compliments of Mike Meadows. (0808)

Martin Mars 1-4: Martin Mars at Lake Shasta Northern California Fires, 8/15/2008. I took them the other day while I was working at North OPS. Photos compliments of Scott. (0808)

Martin Mars on Telegraph Fire series: Taken on 7-30-08 at 15 20 hours at the Telegraph Fire in Mariposa, Branch III, Division M. What a thrill and the sound of those engines......OMG to the max. Took the shots of the aircraft coming out of the smoke and just appearing. Threw the camera up and hoped for the best. (Only 1/4 part of the series he sent in, the shutterbug. Haw Haw.) Taken by Wes Schultz/Cal Fire VIP. (0808)

8/22 From B...

Firefighter dies after falling off cliff

by Mike McWilliams

SALUDA – A N.C. Division of Forest Resources firefighter who fell to his death while battling a blaze atop a cliff near Saluda was remembered as an affable, hardworking professional who used modern technology to augment his firefighting and forestry skills.

Curtis Jessen, 32, the division’s assistant district forester in Asheville, suffered fatal injuries Thursday morning after falling near Big Bradley Falls near Saluda, according to a news release from the N.C Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Medical personnel pronounced Jessen dead at the scene.

“A lot of people are tore up,” said Greg Yates, the division’s regional forester for Western North Carolina. “In the next couple of days, it will really sink in.” (more, including photo, at link above)

Hotlist thread

8/22 Link to the actual NTSB report:


Still Out there as an AD
8/22An excerpt from a letter Pena wrote to the retention groups working on
retention recommendation reports - "ensure completion to meet the
deadline of June 30

June 30th + 53 days without any results.
8/22 Out of Respect

Ab's, I just need to get something off my mind tonight.

Bill Molumby and Joe Stutler are true leaders. Two men who truly care about people.
Two men who take on the responsibility of Firefighter safety with every fiber of their
souls. They also care deeply about how the Firefighter is being supported logistically
away from the fireline. Two men you would want next to you in that foxhole.

You can rest assured that Studebaker has a smile on his face and with much pride,
watches over both of them and the rest of the CIIMT 2 members.


8/21 From Firescribe:


NTSB Preliminary Crash Report Findings
Associated Press & Amy Sienicki
August 21, 2008

REDDING, Calif. -- An initial investigation into the deadly helicopter crash that killed nine people in Northern California earlier this month has found that the chopper's main rotor lost power during takeoff.

A preliminary crash report released by the National Transportation Safety Board says the Sikorsky S61N helicopter hit trees after losing power and fell out of the air over the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The report says the firefighting aircraft came to rest on its left side before bursting into flames.

"It's (NTSB) reporting that the S61N helicopter experienced a loss of power to the main rotor during take-off, initial climb, and subsequently impacted trees and terrain near Redding, California," says NTSB Public Information Officer Bridget Serchak.

Investigators say the crash was similar to other Sikorsky S61 helicopter crashes. In four other instances, the helicopters crashed as they were lifting off due to a clutch mechanism failure. The helicopter belonged to Grants Pass-based Carson helicopters. At this point Carson is not grounding any of its choppers.

The investigation team has examined the helicopter's engines, tested fuel samples, and looked into the helicopter's maintenance records. It is also finished interviewing witnesses, who reported seeing the helicopter lift off slower than normal and then hit some trees.

The NTSB says the loss of power is not a probable cause at this time. It is just an initial finding. It says the investigation could take a year. The 10-member investigation team are from the NTSB, the U.S. Forest Service, Sikorsky, and General Electric.

The helicopter was ferrying firefighters away from a remote site on the front lines of a stubborn wildfire when it crashed the evening of Aug. 5. Four of the 13 people on board survived with various injuries.


Carson issued a written statement Thursday, saying the preliminary report about the loss of power is consistent with its earlier ideas of what went wrong. Carson also says the report reinforces its belief that the crash was not caused by pilot error, visibility, or loading issues.

Fair Use Disclaimer

8/21Thanks, Misery Whip. You're amazing.

Here's another excellent piece: What Was He Thinking? (4,854K 63p doc file)
a long human factors article written by Mike Johns (Asst U.S. Attorney) in 2007
following Esperanza. He discusses cognitive biases, attribution errors, thinking
processes involved in judging causation, responsibility and blame, etc.

I'm going to have to take some time and read this again.

Thanks to those who are sharing their own accounts, thank you!
I appreciate the first-hand stories of what firefighters do and don't remember
following a stressful incident. Since it's so painful, people often don't talk
about the bad experience and talking is often the way to healing. As a result others
don't know what's normal or how to deal with flash-backs, dreams and a bunch
of other normal but scary physical responses that may occur, sometimes years
after the event.


8/21Repost of a piece on the 30mile tragedy by Misery Whip from 12/31/06. He asked me to bring this forward. His analysis below rebuts the contention that Ellreese was lying:

Don’t look now, but your hindsight bias is showing. You seem to have fallen for Agent Parker’s still very UNPROVEN assertions that Ellreese lied about his actions at Thirtymile, so therefore was guilty of trying to hide his own mistakes that contributed to the fatalities. I think there is a far more plausible and less sinister answer as to why there are conflicts among the Thirtymile firefighters witness statements.

You could start by putting events in their proper context.

Don’t forget that NWR Crew 6 crewpersons had all worked the previous day, had maybe a couple of hours of rest, then traveled the rest of the night and worked all day on a tough fire. The investigation report equated their sleep-deprived condition to a .10 blood alcohol level, or legally drunk. How reliable do you think ANY of the firefighters statements are given that what they were seeing and hearing was filtered through their handicapped mental state?

You (and Agent Parker) ought to know better than to expect everyone’s witness statements to exactly line up following a traumatic event such as this. I actually find it remarkable that there are so many statements within the criminal complaint that corroborate Ellreese’s version of events.

Witness statements acknowledge that Ellreese yelled and gestured at one firefighter to come down, that Ellreese expressed to other firefighters that the road was probably the best place to be, that Ellreese told firefighters to get shelters out and to “cover your buddies,” etc.

The criminal complaint cherrypicked the evidence against Ellreese to attempt to portray that he had a careless indifference to safety. When viewed in totality, the Thirtymile Fire Investigation Report reveals that significant management failures outside of Ellreese’s control also contributed to the overall outcome. The complaint makes it seem as though only Ellreese made errors in judgment. And there is a large difference between being carelessly indifferent to the safety of others and making honest errors in judgment.

The Thirty Mile abatement plan is a laundry list of admitted management failures. For instance, work-rest guidelines were revised because of Thirtymile. Working at the time under the old rules, Ellreese and crew were attempting to make important decisions in a sleep-deprived state that would have severely impaired their abilities to maintain good situational awareness and make good decisions.

Another post Thirtymile management change is the restriction that personnel cannot simultaneously be a crew boss and IC. That sort of “duty shifting” of roles was common before Thirtymile, and was found to be a contributing factor in this case. The fact that he was essentially pressured into accepting simultaneous roles as ICT3/CRWB/trainer cannot be construed as Ellreese’s failure, this was a management failure.

The complaint reveals a blatant hindsight bias in its interpretation of events. The “Lessons from the Thirtymile Fire” training program was created in response to the Thirtymile Abatement Plan’s mandate to share lessons learned from this incident. Entrapment Avoidance training and entrapment reaction drills only came about after Thirtymile. Again, these programs were developed after recognition that this area was lacking before Thirtymile.

Post-Thirtymile Fireline Leadership training and post-Cramer ICT3 simulation evaluations are additional belated acknowledgements that agencies had also previously neglected teaching basic leadership and communication concepts. Ellreese and company did not have the benefit of hindsight and leadership training/evaluation specifically designed to help improve leadership and communications during stressful circumstances like entrapments.

The complaint undercuts its own case throughout with statements meant to bolster the prosecution’s interpretation that Ellreese lied to cover his failings. I saw many indications that Ellreese did attempt to communicate with the people on the rocks and expressed concern that everyone would be better off on the road. Ellreese is a very soft spoken individual and does not have a forceful personality. I very much believe that in his own mind, he feels he did these things.

Remember, this was an extremely sleep-deprived person who was dealing with a troublesome fire and some strong-willed individuals in his charge. The other crewmembers were also sleep deprived and distracted by fear and side-events, so their attention span and memory of what actually transpired is also suspect. And even though the firefighters had been watching the fire advance up canyon toward them, everyone at the upper site was surprised by the suddenness and severity of the event’s onslaught.

Errors in judgment should not be construed as indicators of carelessness or bad character. When you take into account that many of the key players were operating under a severe sleep deficit and experiencing extreme stress, it is not surprising that errors were made and that people have different recollections of specific events.

At the time of the Thirtymile Fire, no training or method existed for helping firefighters determine the size and location of safety zones in various fuel and terrain conditions, and which locations might be especially vulnerable to firewhirls and convective heat and/or gases. The guidelines in the Interagency Response Pocket Guide are for radiant heat only. How can Ellreese be faulted for not being able to predict something that fire behavior experts still are unable to define? The effects and range of convective gases and heat in relation to determining safety zone size and location is still largely guesswork based on experience. And as we saw again this past summer, firewhirls can emerge from nowhere and rapidly cross open ground independently from the main fire.

Although the Interagency Response Pocket Guide contains safety zone size specifications for protection from radiant heat, guidelines for protection from convective gas/heat and firewhirls still do not exist today. The firefighters at Thirtymile undoubtedly experienced an unusual fire phenomena that is still not completely understood.

After the entrapment, Ellreese’s biggest error was underestimating how severely the down canyon crownfire would impact their location, and consequently failing to make deployment preparations. Once the situation became deadly, there was really no opportunity for Ellreese to direct the actions of firefighters and civilians. People simply reacted wherever they were when the heat wave struck and deployed.

I still have an unforgettable memory from my first visit to the Thirtymile fatality site. As I looked around, I realized that had I been in their place, I very likely would have determined that anywhere in the general van/road/rock scree area would be survivable without a shelter. And so I very well might have made the same judgment as Ellreese, that the fire would not heavily impact them and so would also have been caught unprepared.

I wouldn’t make the same choice today if I was caught in a similar situation. Based on what I learned from Thirtymile, I would prep for the worst and get everyone ready for a shelter deployment. But I have the benefit of hindsight.

Misery Whip

aerial photo of Thirtymile fatality site
more photos: www.wildlandfire.com/pics/30mi/30mi.php

Also good is this Lessons Learned training from MTDC: www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/MTDC_Lessons/index.php Ab.

8/21PRESS RELEASE -- N.C. Division Of Forest Resources Firefighter Dies In The Line Of Duty

Michael F. Easley, Governor William G. Ross Jr., Secretary
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Release: Immediate
Contact: Brian Haines
Date: Aug. 21, 2008
Phone: (919) 857 -4828

N.C. Division Of Forest Resources Firefighter Dies In The Line Of Duty

RALEIGH – The N.C. Division of Forest Resources is mourning the death of a firefighter who was killed Thursday while fighting a blaze in Polk County.

Curtis Jessen, the division’s assistant district forester in Asheville, suffered critical injuries after falling from the Big Bradley Falls near Saluda. Medical personnel pronounced Jessen dead a short time later.

“This is a very sad day for the entire Division of Forest Resources and all of our firefighting partners,” said Wib Owen, the director of the Division of Forest Resources. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Curtis and his family.”

The accident happened at about 11 a.m. on a quarter-acre wildfire that began Wednesday afternoon.

Jessen, 32, was working on the fire when he fell from a cliff. Authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding Jessen’s fall and the fire.

Jessen began working with the N.C. Division of Forest Resources in February 2002. Since that time he has worked as a forest inventory analysis forester and a service forester before being promoted to assistant district forester.

North Carolina has had nine wildfire-related deaths since 1960, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

For more information call Brian R. Haines, public information officer with the N.C. Division of Forest Resources at (919) 857-4828 or by cell at (919) 218-9728.

Condolences. Ab.

8/21The Forest Service did not defend Ellreese because –right or wrong-in the
eyes of the big chiefs, they would be forced to defend a lot of people's
actions in the realm of fire management -and if we drew that kind of
attention to ourselves we might not be able to defend many of our actions.
Instead they acted in their own self interest as the US Government or any
business, group or individual always does.

I am not referring to Ellreese's case in particular here. I like Ellreese
and I do believe that he has become in many ways a scapegoat in all of
this. It's good to see that the judge has directed him to get some help.
Perhaps we all need a little counseling for choosing to work in this
profession. I do believe that there are a few among our ranks who truly
should have been held accountable for causing the deaths/near deaths of
some good firefighters- because their actions (or lack thereof) were
nothing short of criminal. But they skated and some are still out there
directing fire operations. Sadly if someone states the obvious in many of
these cases- for the sake of accountability, they are often ostracized for
"Monday Morning Quarterbacking" or dishonoring the "circle of trust", or
some other falsely directed game of self preservation. A professional,
high reliability organization does not cover up mistakes- it exposes and
learns from them. It also has the integrity to enforce its own standards
of competency.

I'm sorry folks- none of us are perfect. No one gets a free ride without
some of life’s responsibility. It gets worse in the public service. If we
can act with impunity and without consequences in our profession- then we
will become no different than the quack who sells snake oil to cancer
patients. Where is the accountability that we all seem so contrite to
demand? Of our supervisors? Of ourselves? Does that mean we should go to
prison for screwing up? Not necessarily. Should we lose our quals? YES.
Even heroes should be held accountable for their actions. Every day that I
come to work I understand that the decisions that I make have consequences.
My profession is not a hobby. The outcomes are real.

I am motivated by the notion that I will take responsibility for my
decisions and if those decisions cause the death/injury to someone under my
direction, then the least of my issues will be the consequences in the
public arena, but rather the torment of my own conscience. If I lack the
knowledge, skill and abilities to manage a situation, then I should take on
the responsibility of admitting that and request assistance. If my actions
need to be investigated-so be it. Yes I do have liability insurance.

What is the mechanism for preventing one of these one-season
wonders/sunshine firefighters from becoming your Divs/Sup or IC?
The ICQS? Our Red Card committees?

So how do we ensure accountability? I would like to see it enforced by
some other institution than the justice system. If we don't enforce
accountability- being accountable for ourselves and those who are committed
to our profession, then it WILL be enforced by the justice system.

Bottom line- some inept pinhead should not be able to get rubber stamped as
qualified to perform something as important as managing people’s lives and
spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of the tax payers money without
being held accountable for their actions.

Yes- there will be those times when the great hand of God will swoop down
and make unforeseen and tragic things happen, fire suppression will always
have that element of risk. But we should not harbor ineptitude and expect
that tragedies will all happen by some unexpected twist of fate.

May we all have the courage to maintain the integrity of our profession.

Joe Step up to the plate or go home.
-Or if you aren’t having fun –
Find another party.
8/21Misery Whip,

It is racism in that the crewboss should not have been in the position of
leadership in that canyon. The Forest Service does not know how to
deny people advancement when people are not qualified, especially in this
case, not a black person -- when the gov't is trying to make "minority

Hopefully the Incident Commander Type 3 certification process that came
out of 30mile has and will continue to change that. We need to fail to qualify
people who are not leaders and who cannot pass the classroom training
or the ojt.

Sign me:

Lesson Learned: No rubber stamping training records. No pencil whipping
task books. "Liking" has nothing to do with it... KSAs are a MUST!!!!


Many thanks for all you've done for Ellreese.... I was reading through the
forums, and noticed this question of Mellie's on the Hotlist thread:

| |
| "Daniels will have to pay $50 a month in fines for every month he's
| on probation."
| |

That is incorrect. Kathy Fitzpatrick informed the news station of this,
and it simply is wrong. The Court did order Ellreese to pay $50, but it's
$50 total, and it's the mandatory court assessment. The Court declined to
order a fine to be paid.

Let me also say that I noticed another comment by Sammie from the same news
report that noted:

| |
| So far he's the only Forest Service employee charged from the Thirty
| Mile fire.
| |

Let me assure everyone, Ellreese is the ONLY employee who will EVER be
charged from this fire. The statute of limitations has passed.

In other thoughts, I want to let folks know that I have been more than
impressed with the firefighting community. The work y'all do is dangerous
and thankless, and now, as we see, puts you in harm's way even when you are
not on the fireline. This community has been outspoken in its belief that
safety IS an important issue, and you all wish to learn from mistakes that
have been made in the past. I hope that yesterday's actions will not deter
that. But I have to be frank and let you all know that until Congress
changes things, it is going to be important to seek counsel whenever ANY
accident investigation takes place. The most innocuous comments can now
put you at risk of criminal liability, and while insurance may pay for your
lawyer, (and I emphasize *may* because not all liability policies will pay
for criminal counsel) it will NOT undo the damage of a prosecution nor
keep you from going to jail or prison.

I am horribly disappointed in the sentence even as I understand it could be
much worse. Please know that if there is anything I can do for y'all,
please email me or give me a call.


Our community thanks you and applauds your efforts, Tina. You did a wonderful job. Ab.


I have been following carefully the recent posts about human factors surrounding 30 Mile and the entire Ellreese Daniels ordeal. Mellie's recent post taught me something regarding memory loss and other human factors. Misery Whip's recent post really brought it home for me regarding "being sleep deprived and underestimating fire behavior ".

I got burned over big time on an initial attack timber fire in wilderness back in the '70's in a setting very similar to 30 Mile regarding fuels, weather, and topography. The fire was in heavy old growth timber and in the bottom of a deep canyon. At the time it went to crown, my squad was upcanyon from the crown initiation area and two more squads were even further up the canyon. I was a six year firefighter at the time and still had the attitude of keeping my mouth shut, my tool in the ground, and trusting totally those who supervised me.

We all arrived on the fire at about 2200 after doing project work all day and hiking in about 6 miles. We worked all night and had a very shaky line around about half of the fire by about 0600 next morning.

A Red Flag Warning was posted for the day. The Fire Boss (not from my crew) made no effort to communicate this or its implications to anyone. We found out later he had very little wildland fire experience and really did not understand what Red Flag Warning meant. He was visibly taking his cues over the radio from 'more experienced' folks many miles away.

Our orders were to mop up all morning but by about 1100 I noticed that all that my full stream nozzle was doing was fanning the flames in the large fuels and punky log piles. By noon we were getting a lot of torching with spot fires all over the place.

Now here is my point: I never have remembered very well what happened after that.

I do remember these few things:

-I was very tired and cranky from working in excess of 24 hours straight.
-The fire went to crown shortly after we had spots all over the place.
-The only thing that saved our lives was an icy cold and not very large creek. Fire shelters never crossed our mind.
-I was freezing cold from the neck down and ending up with a heck of a sunburn on my face.
-I was scared to death of the heat and of falling debris/snags both in the creek and when we ran for it after the main fire front went over us.
-When we got to the scree slope at the heel of the fire I remember suddenly feeling completely numb all over with the realization of what had just happened to me.
-We were all very worried about each other until everybody was physically accounted for (all of the radios got soaked).

We all tried to reconstruct what we had been through later that day but I am pretty sure that everybody who was there was affected the same ways that I was and was not thinking very clearly. We all had different versions of what had just happened to us and what led up to it and our versions diverged greatly over the ensuing time.

What I learned from that event:

-Learn everything you possibly can about wildland fire behavior.
-Be very careful who you follow into battle in this business.
-Learn never to get yourself or anybody else into these situations using both of the above.

Keep up the good discussion. We were still a lot of years short of even knowing the term 'human factors' in the '70's. I am happy to finally begin to understand my own human factors regarding that long ago event.

My heart goes out to all of the families of the victims of the 30 Mile Tragedy. It goes out equally right now to Ellreese Daniels for the suffering he also has had to endure.

8/21I was on the Tripod Complex (next to 30 the mile) in Aug. 2006.

After a little rain when we arrived fire activity was low! Single tree and sometimes multi-tree
torching was all it could muster for 11 days.

Then the RH went way down with a slight breeze from the east. I think it took off before noon!

It started as a small but violent spot below a lookout on a bald knob. That's when we headed
to the busses and it took 13 minutes to get there. In that time that spot ripped through bug kill
and crossed the road 1.25 miles to the west.

With the humidity we expected that that day. What took me by surprise was how fast it
traveled. It must of been spotting and igniting instantly until it became a massive fire front on the
move. It grew to 5 or more columns and headed to Canada... no stopping it.

My point is it went from 0 to 60 in a flash and took out a lot of cows along the way. If you are
not familiar with the fuels it would be easy to underestimate the time needed to escape.

We all have made mistakes, if mistakes become criminal they will be covered up and "learning
from your mistakes" will be nothing more than a jingo. I believe Ellreese, was taken by surprise
by this. I think I could of made the same mistake if I were in his place. Hindsight is wonderful isn't
it? Especially when you were not there!

For Ellreese, the remorse should be pain enough.

William Riggles

Just a note I was involved in a fatality incident this year and my second call was to my
PLI carrier, I really believe my agency was looking at something that was not there.
Get PLI and hope you never use it but know you have it if you need, as it could make
the difference for you and your family.

6 years and counting down.

8/21Re: pack test question


Feel free to call me to discuss, I have the answers to your questions. Yes,
permanent employees get three chances, temps usually get one, but not
always and, yes, we do try to provide for placement in secondary fire
positions or other tech positions when a firefighter can't pass the pack

Dan Duefrene
Regional VP for Region 5


Please be aware the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is experiencing some problems with the part of the web page that lists 52 club members. We have folks working on the problem but until we can get things fixed, we are not able to update the web page list. Just as soon as we can get things working correctly again, we will bring the list up to date and let all of you know.

Thanks to everyone that has joined and PLEASE be safe out there

WFF Staff
8/21The Jobs page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
8/21 I have not written into TheySaid for quite a while; but I have been reading and absorbing. Finally I have to say my 2-cents worth… and it is about the Ellreese ordeal.

I have no comprehension how he could have gone through such a thing; either the original tragedy or the subsequent investigation and prosecution (or should I say persecution). So it is hard for me to have a point of reference; but what I can comment on is my disgust in the way the U.S. Government ate one of its own. I don’t know if Ellreese made tactical errors, I wasn’t there. I don’t know if Ellreese told lies, I wasn’t there and I don’t know his mind. But I do recognize others cowardice and narcissism when I see it.

I never read any account of the U.S. Forest Service standing up and defending Ellreese for doing a job they asked him to do; cowardice on the part of the U.S. Forest Service. I read the words of Tom Hopkins stating the government’s official opinion of why Ellreese did what the government accused him of doing. Hopkins is so caught up in who he that he feels omnipotent; extreme narcissism on his part.

The outcome of this ordeal tells me a several things about the job; 1) as an ICT3 I will be very cautious in the future of what I do during operations and what I say during any AAR or investigation, 2) the government willingly will use worms like Hopkins to eat their own, 3) the U.S. Forest Service has no respect for its mid-level leaders and will hang them out to dry whenever it suits them, 4) I will do everything in my power to look after those that I have in my organization, 5) I will still do my job to the best of my ability despite all the efforts of our government agencies to work against us.

Please be safe, protect our fellow brothers and sisters, and remember we serve the citizens of this great country…and they need us now more than ever.


8/21 While I rarely quote Wikipedia as a relevant source of info (hard to quantify/justify)....
they seem to be right on....especially on the application of exclusions relating to the 4th,
5th, and 6th amendment failures.

Here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exclusionary_rule

Trying to understand

8/21 Re: Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Hopkins... and the Thirty Mile Fire

We wildland firefighters and community, as well as several attorneys who have represented federal wildland firefighters in the past are fired up (pissed off/disgusted)... We all know far too well the underhanded antics of Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Hopkins in trying to achieve a federal appointment as a judge. It IS ON THE RADAR SCREEN. We also know the background... and the prohibited antics and slight of hand tactics that are/were employed... that occurred within the OIG in building a case. The actions of the AUSA, as well as the OIG both violated the written language of PL 107-203, as well as completely overlooked the original intent of keeping firefighters safer that Congressman Doc Hastings and Senator Cantwell had intended.

His actions (AUSA)... the OIG actions... and to a lesser extent, the actions of the Forest Service ALL violated the 5th Amendment rights against self incrimination; The 4th & 5th Amendment Rights covered under "exclusionary rules"; The 14th Amendment (Equal Protection Clause) (Below); and the 6th Amendment Rights that guarantees rights to educated cousel before statements are given that could violate protections afforded in the 1st, 4th, and 5th amendments of the Constitution.

I'm not so stupid to think that the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights don't exist anymore.... Some good civil lawyer should take up the cause on behalf of Ellreese.... and upon the behalf of all firefighters. This case needs to go to the Appeals Courts... and if needed, to the United States Supreme Court.

I have a hope that justice will prevail... and that our Constitution and Bill of Rights
cannot be corrupted.


Added Reference:

The 14th amendment is not by its terms applicable to the federal government. Actions by the federal government, however, that classify individuals in a discriminatory manner will, under similar circumstances, violate the due process of the fifth amendment. See U.S. Const. amend. V.
8/21 Re "fear of reprisal" on 8/14-

Does anyone out there know what the penalty/procedure is for a <position of someone> not passing the
WCT after the third++ try? Don't we only give our temps 1 try? Union, help me out here.

This is the third (known) year that this <position of someone> has failed the test (but unfortunately the last
two years the score was "doctored" and forest management ignored it.) I am hearing rumors
of "reasonable accommodation", how can that possibly apply here?

Does anyone out there have any answers?

signed BG

This and another post just fell out of the server yesterday. I have no knowledge of this and do not know the poster... If anyone wants to get me more details, I'd be happy to pursue this behind the scenes and insure anonymity. Alternatively, a SafeNet could be filed anonymously. Ab.

8/21 WA WUI

There are developments going in all around the valley where I live, pushing farther into the outlying areas, taking what used to be orchards and pastures (because of economies) and virgin land (alot of cheet and sage, and along the timberline). With wildfires being what they are, it seems to me that some of the responsibility needs to be placed on the people who choose to build in the WUI. Nobody likes to think about taxing districts or extra annual fees - especially in WA where we have taxes, fees, surcharges, etc for just about everything, but for people who build or move into areas that are most likely effected by these hazards, I think part of the burden of providing fire fighting cost should be born by those who choose to need to be protected. Built into these "developments" needs to be a much better knowledge and consideration of wildfires that are a real possibility for the areas where they are choosing to build them.

Then there are people like me who do not want to live in a "development". After having GREEN pasture land and on the outskirts of town, I've been run over by the growing city and would like to move farther out - like many people being crowded out. I was very unhappy when I called the WA ST Dept. of Ecology Yakima office inquiring about the possibility of putting an irrigation well on a piece of property I was considering buying. The woman I talked to had no idea what a "green zone" was and said alot of places are now not allowed to have new wells but they are putting in community wells however not allowing ANY outside watering. Excuse me, this is desert. When I asked what people were supposed to do for fire protection in the middle of alot of sage brush near the LT. Murray Wildlife Reserve (just down from the recent Pass 2 Fire), she said they are encouraging NATURAL landscaping! Does anyone see a conflict of strategies here? I appreciate the need to conserve water in this area. There is a case in court now in Kittitas County (last I heard) with the Yakama Nation that may make the newer wells unusable (illegal) because of the connection to the surface water.

With wildland fires becoming bigger, more frequent, more costly and more dangerous, it only seems logical that all arms of the government and people who chose to move into the beautiful open country need to be EDUCATED and work together. This is a "free" country. People are free to move where they chose. IF they choose to move out in the middle of the sage brush and they choose not to educate themselves on how to protect their investment and they choose not to take those steps, then they should also understand that by those choices, they have chosen that a WLFF is not going to endanger his/her life or valuable equipment trying to save what THEY did not value enough to make protectable.

Water is needed not only for household use but also to make these WUI areas safe to live. Maybe it isn't so wise to over develop the NATURAL ABILITY of an area to sustain the population it already has. The local government is just thrilled with all of the extra money coming in - but at what cost in the long run? The government regulations can open and close opportunities by the policies they make. They have done it with the water (well regulation), flood zones, wetland protection, etc. But the growth into the WUI goes relatively unregulated in regards to uneducated peoples safety.

OA & Ab, I'd like to thank YOU for this site. If I hadn't stumbled upon it while looking for info on a fire burning in the area, I might never have known about "green zones" and defensible spaces, never thought about wildfires coming close enough to be more than a curiosity and bought that place out in North Selah with no outside irrigation or way to protect my home or myself in case of fire. But someone bought it.


8/21 I was wondering if you ever address another fire season menace. There's a FS female <snip> pilot who has no respect for her own marriage or of any one elses marriage. She causes chaos where ever she goes and no one has the guts to tell her to knock it off. We've got enough hard work to do without this type of behavior.


So tell her. Sometimes a simple, direct, low-key, one-on-one, private comment will do the trick. Smart, high-spirited women (and men) can get the message without turning the situation into an international summit. We all have lapses in judgment (of whatever kind) during fire season with adrenalin, smoke, sleep deprivation, etc. Ab.


This is a repost in partial answer to the member of the public who wrote in about lying and Ellreese's sentencing.


People who are under stress following a burnover, death or other accident do not remember accurately. Adrenalin (epinepherine) prevents short term memory from being consolidated (at the hippocampus) into long term memory, that can then be recalled accurately. On average without excess adrenalin (and with adequate sleep) we can hold 4 to 7 bits of information in short term memory at one time (phone numbers began as 7 digits for a reason; LCES is effective as a mnemonic). Remembering long term is another process. If we chunk bits of info together, we can remember more like the a,b,c song; or we can use other memory aids like storytelling to remember, say, the 10 rules of engagement/ disengagement plus the 18 watchouts for a test. Long term memory may degrade with time if not used or reviewed somehow.

What about perception? We perceive reality in sound bites as we "see" it through our own history of experiences, preconceptions, and biases. We fill in the gaps between the "sound bites" with what we think is the most likely and logical interpretation of what goes there, given our past experience. It's a seamless ongoing process that we perceive as continuous, but it's not. We think we know "reality", but we only know slices of it.

As time goes on, we recall events less and less accurately. This means you might not answer exactly consistently over time.

If you do not answer consistently and correctly due to filling in the blanks in your memory with your best guess, you may end up "lying" and you don't even know that's what you're doing. (Maybe Ellreese filled in this way when he said he told the firefighters on the scree to come to the road?)

from Mellie's post on 8/18

8/21 Not sure I want to introduce myself this way, but I live on 12.5 acres next to Tahoe National Forest & found your site while looking for info on a recent fire 3 miles from here. From what I've read, Ellreese wasn't charged for the decisions he made about his firefighters, he was charged because he LIED to investigators about those decisions. If you can't stand behind your decisions, with the truth, you knew you were wrong before you made them. Just an outside observer's take on the situation.


I am not convinced he knew he lied. I'm reposting some of Mellie's stress psychologist comments from 8/18 above your post. "Lying" by definition implies a true and a false, black and white, without the human organism involved in the process. Under stress what is seen/heard/spoken and recalled by a human being can have alternative "human factors" explanations as Mellie would say "due to physiological processing". Many members of the public who have not been burned over or shot at or studied/observed human responses under stress see only in black and white. They have no experience of grey, of mental gaps, of deer in the headlights trying to make sense of what they just experienced. Ab.

8/20 Ab & All,

This is a historic day.

This is the day a fellow US Forest Service wildland firefighter was sentenced for his actions as Incident Commander of the Thirtymile Fire.

It pains me to, but I have to ask this question; does anyone else wonder if racism is driving this precedent-setting case? It seems statistically odd that the first US Forest Service Incident Commander ever to be convicted and sentenced for misconduct related to a fire on which other Forest Service firefighters lost their lives is a black man.

Although he pleaded to lesser charges to avoid multiple felony charges, I never believed Ellreese was guilty of anything besides being sleep deprived and unable to predict fire behavior that was far beyond anything he had ever experienced. It turns out he was also guilty of agreeing to manage large, dangerous forest fires for an agency that ultimately failed to mount even a minimum defense for an employee who attempted to perform his assigned responsibilities as an Incident Commander.

I don’t think Ellreese’s decision to plead guilty to lesser charges is in any way an admission that he lied about anything. Had I been in his place, I would have probably accepted a plea offer to get off without big time prison time. Would you?

I came to two sobering conclusions when I first visited the Thirtymile fatality site a few weeks after it happened. The first conclusion was, after many years of fighting fires in the northwest US, I could not imagine what combination of fire behavior and heat could have crossed the several hundred feet of rock slump, river and road to kill those kids on the rocks. I still believe the fire behavior they experienced was a rare and not easily explained event.

The second conclusion was that, had I been there, an experienced ICT3 and DIVS, I would not have anticipated that people at the fatality site would have been in any significant danger from the distant crown fire. Thus, I probably would not have anticipated what eventually happened. I could easily have been in Ellreese's shoes. This is not an admission that is entirely comfortable to admit, and I have worked on many fires in similar fuels that have exhibited extreme fire behavior.

Here is what Forest Service firefighters may look forward to if they experience a tragedy on their watch and come before Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Hopkins. From the Wenatchee World:


"After dropping manslaughter charges against the crew boss of four firefighters who died in the Thirtymile Fire near Winthrop, a federal prosecutor has assigned a motive to why Ellreese Daniels lied to investigators after the fatal 2001 wildfire. Daniels, 47, of Lake Wenatchee, wanted to save his firefighting career, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Hopkins."

"Mr. Daniels lied to investigators for the purpose of shifting responsibility for the deaths of the four firefighters to others, to include the victims, in an effort to save his career," his court document states. It later adds that deployment of fire shelters triggers an automatic investigation, and, "In a profession where success, courage, and image are important, Mr. Daniels wanted to avoid an unnecessary deployment that could hurt his standing among his peers and reduce his prospects for choice assignments and promotion."

I would like to go on record by replying WHAT A BUNCH OF HOG SWILL! The mere fact that Mr. Hopkins can get away with publicly debasing a US Forest Service Incident Commander in federal court for THE CRIME OF BEING SLEEP DEPRIVED AND UNDERESTIMATING EXTREME FIRE BEHAVIOR without being vehemently rebutted by our supposed "leaders" is a sad comment on the present sorry state of our culture. Unfortunately, the only area in which the Forest Service wildland fire culture seems to be showing improvement is our ability to orchestrate inspiring firefighter memorials.

I would also like to express my admiration for the way the Craven family has responded throughout this ordeal. Big Smooth, your family and the other Thirtymile families have my deepest respect and sympathies.

Misery Whip

8/20 So did Ellreese and all of us who risk our life on the line get JUSTICE???

Do any of us fight fire more safely as a result of this 7 yr process?

Are we supposed to feel relieved for Ellreese not going to jail? All I feel is
anger at what he's gone through for these years and the knowledge it could have
been me not anticipating the extreme fire behavior. Specially since extreme fire
behavior seems to be happening more often.

Do we trust our agency to try to do the right thing for someone like any
one of us doing his job as best possible?
Did we ever?
I remember trusting more...

Wow, all I seem to have when I think about it and the future of firefighting is
sour stomach and acid reflux, and I even have PLI.

Siski Sam

PLI=Professional Liability Insurance, not a medical condition. Ab.

8/20 Just caught the latest at the Yakima herald website.


Thank you,


Hotlist thread

8/20 Still waiting to hear from an official source, but what I'm hearing is that

Ellreese won't serve any time but will spend 90 days on work release and
3 yr on probation for making false statements to authorities.


OK. here's a news report: www.kndo.com

8/20 The hour length for sifts in the Fire Business Management handbook are
guidelines and should be considered maximum numbers of hours. Agency
Administrator's still have the authority to direct IC's to work folks
shorter hours. I've seen it happen where the Agency Administrator
restricted all personnel to less than 12 hrs per day.

8/20 Here's the text of the work/rest guidelines POLICY:

Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook, 2008
Chapter 10, Section 12.7-1

Work shifts that exceed 16 hours and/or consecutive days that do not meet
the 2:1 work/rest ratio should be the exception, and no work shift should exceed
24 hours. However, in situations where this does occur (for example initial
attack), incident management personnel will resume a 2:1 work/rest ratio
as soon as possible.

The intent of this guideline is to manage fatigue and provide flexibility for
Incident Commanders and Agency Administrators managing initial attack,
extended attack and large fires. The guidelines are designed to ensure that for
every two hours work or travel, one hour of time off should be provided within a
24 hour period. It does not matter when the 24 hour starts; all time recorded on
the clock are counted as hours of work; time off the clock is counted as hours
of rest including meal breaks.

The Incident Commander or Agency Administrator must justify work shifts that
exceed 16 hours and those that do not meet the 2:1 work/rest ratio. Justification
will be documented in the daily incident records. Documentation shall include
mitigation measures used to reduce fatigue. The Excess Hours log can be found
in Appendix B -- Tool Kit is an acceptable method of documentation.

Pencil pushin' Pat

8/20 Here's some info from NWCG but some are large: www.nwcg.gov/pms/pubs/large.phpl#IIBMH

Chapter 10 - Personnel:

Compensable "standby" is on pg 18 of the first download with *; work-rest guidelines are on pg 21

That's all I could find. Hope it helps.


8/20 JS,

KPD is an excellent insurance broker who can take your specific situation and approach several Professional Liability Insurance providers on your behalf and come back to you with quotes on various coverage packages, deductibles, limits, etc. They do a thorough job of explaining to you the nuances of this type of coverage so that you know exactly what is and isn't covered, and to what extent. KPD can be reached via their website: www.kpdinsurance.com. KPD helped our company secure Professional Liability Insurance. It isn't cheap, and not all Professional Liability Insurance Carriers/Policies are created equal. So, do your homework. KPD will assist you in doing that. You'll definitely walk away from your meeting with them feeling educated and empowered, rather than confused and perpetually vulnerable. How can any professional function at their peak that way?

Good luck. This is a wise step.


Wildlandfire.com endorses Federal Employee Defense Services for all federal agency employees.

8/20 Does anyone have the wording of the policy laying out hours worked per day (and
compensable rest) as found in the Interagency Incident Business Management
Handbook? It must be on the FS web. I can't access it right now. It's FS 5109.34.
I'm not talking about the Supplementals which I can read and have nothing new or
changed, but the original policy?

It said something like firefighters at the digression of the IC could work "16 hours or less
without getting line officer approval." There was probably more...


8/20 Ab,

Thought all would like to know that Ellreese is well supported today
locally and beyond. ....

Here is an update on the sentencing hearing for Ellreese Daniels, which was
moved from August 18 to August 20.

On Wednesday, The Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest Supervisor Becki Heath, along
with many forest employees and coworkers of Ellreese will be in Spokane
along with Regional Forester Cal Joyner and Regional Public Affairs
Specialist Glen Sachet.

The sentencing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m and is expected to last
most of the day. As soon as the Judge makes his decision on the
sentencing and Cal and Becki complete potential media inquiries, we will
send word back to the Forest via an email. This will be sent to all
employees through Becki's email.

Becki is also planning on a conference call with the Forest Leadership
Team which is scheduled for 3 p.m.
This time could change depending on when the sentencing wraps up.

Essentially, as soon as we have information to share, we will put the plan
in motion to get the word out.


Thanks. We also usually hear from Tina Hunt, Ellreese's lawyer who has done an excellent job on a complex and precedent setting case, of course with the help of many wildland firefighters across the nation.

8/20 Please keep Ellreese in mind today.

His only crime is that he didn't have a lawyer in his back pocket when this started and he didn't know he needed one. Unfortunately, we've lost many good Type 3 ICs who decided to move on from fire or from the FS and it's clear we do not have a Just Culture, even though we're now trying to work toward that. Ab.

8/20 Re: Professional Liability Insurance

While I was happy to see last year that the definition of who was eligible to receive 50:50 reimbursement for the premiums for professional liability insurance (PLI) has changed for the feds, I still have some major concerns.

First, very few folks ever purchase PLI and assume they will never need it or know what it protects them from. I equate this to a firefighter being on the fireline with a fire shelter available, but not knowing how or when to use it, or the limitations of use when things go gunnysack. PLI is just another form of PPE that folks should get used to in the current climate of blame and litigation. "Know It, Use It, Wear It".

Second, PLI should be fully provided to EVERYONE who remotely could make decisions on/or off the fireline that may influence firefighter safety or decision making. It is a liability imposed upon employees (supervisors and/or leaders) who are "engaged to work" at the behest of the employing agency, hence it should be a 100% benefit provided at full cost from the employer.

Third, folks who only provide fire supervision for 3 to 6 months per year are far less likely to purchase PLI protection and request the 50% reimbursement from their agencies. Maybe PLI providers could provide 6 month riders (instead of 12 months) for those that may be struggling with making ends meet for their families, and not able to realize that PLI is LONG TERM insurance for their protection, and their family's protection.

Summary: Folks have a better chance of needing PLI in their careers than ever needing a fire shelter. Both are PPE.

8/20 Paul,

From what you describe, I believe RedZone would be well suited for your department. We started the company because, like you, we were frustrated by the lack of software that would allow us to assess the homes in our own fire district. You can use our handheld software in the field to answer questions about each home including GPS location, site specific questions, digital photos and homeowner recommendations. When you upload the assessments, the software automatically calculates a hazard score and classification. Surveys can be customized as you see fit.

The software uses an ESRI map engine so you can load existing shapefiles (roads, parcels, townships etc.) and a variety of image layers. It’s also got powerful drawing tools for creating your own map layers and map books. RedZone is used by hundreds of fire departments across the country including many of the IMTs for triage and incident mapping.

Here are a couple of resources for you.

RedZone web site

RedZone and Wildfire PowerPoint (log in to download)

Take a look online and see what you think. We’ve got a webcast coming up this Friday at 10:00 (MDT) if you would like to sit in.


Clark Woodward
RedZone Software
8/20 Ab and the Wildland Firefighting Community

I'd like to add to what Kathy said earlier about our time at the Foundation office. The amount of love and concern, and willingness to help your brothers and sisters and their families that came through that office in the short time we were there was overwhelming! It is because of the wildland firefighter community that the Foundation is able to exist, to function so superbly in times of crisis! When we look back on August and all the injuries, fatalities, and love, we are able to see what a wonderful community/family you all are! Lori is somewhat right when she says we all need to pitch in, all the time, and you all do, but in times like these, your hearts truly shine through. I was humbled as I worked in that office........I know Vicki is so very grateful that she was able to go to Sacramento, to Oregon, to Redding, to the other places she's gone in the past, to do what she does best.. surround people with love hugs and common sense.

Without your help she couldn't do it...at least not as quickly.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I echo Kathy when I say "we wish we didn't know you" but I am so grateful that I do! Thank you for being part of my life as it is today.

Keep up the great work you do, on and off the job, and be proud of what you do!


8/20 Wildland Fire Pre-planning and Mobile Mapping

For those attending The '88 Fires: Yellowstone and Beyond conference next month in Jackson Hole (www.iawfonline.org/yellowstone/), we will be teaching a free workshop featuring RedZone Software and other geospatial technologies on Wednesday night, September 24th.

Mobile Mapping for First Responders

This workshop will be a hands-on learning experience that will teach participants the geographic approach to real-time mapping of wildfires, pre-attack planning, damage assessment and tracking of personnel and resources using the latest mobile GIS technology to enhance situational awareness and provide for firefighter safety. Unique data collection methods such as GPS-enabled digital cameras that records descriptive information about features can be recorded on both still photos and video footage. When you snap a picture, that information is embedded as part of the image file and can be displayed as a point on a GIS created map. When you click on the point the image appears along with all of its attributes.

The world's most technologically advanced digital pen that records georeferenced information simply by drawing on a map attached to the incident action plan and can later be connected to a mobile data computer located in the emergency vehicle or a GIS workstation in the Situation Unit. All the sketches, notes and drawings on the map are downloaded into the computer and geographically displayed on a map.

Real-time tracking of firefighters is as easy as keying a GPS enabled radio speaker/microphone. These microphones are actually stand alone GPS receivers that connect to ANY radio and work on ANY frequency. They can be programmed to transmit automatically on a specified time interval, i.e. every 10 seconds for flight following of aircraft; every 2 minutes for ground crews. Field personnel can see the location (distance/bearing) of every other firefighter on the same frequency on the sunlight readable microphone display. Connecting another microphone and radio via a USB cable to a vehicle mounted laptop or desktop in the incident command post enables fire officials to see the current locations of all resources assigned to an incident on a computer screen using mapping software designed specifically for wildland fire management.

This course is designed for firefighters with limited or no GIS experience. Participants will have the opportunity to build their own incident maps and map books during a wildland fire exercise. All equipment including laptops with pre-installed mapping software, food and beverages will be provided.

Fire Geek

8/19 Professional Liability Insurance:

Good day to all and thanks for this wonderful site which seeks to keep us ahead of the game.

I was just wondering if anybody out there could give me some recommendations on professional liability insurance providers. I have been looking at wright and co and also FEDS but do not know anyone that has had personal experience so I figured I would turn to those who might have.

Appreciate any and all help.



FEDS lawyers used to work for Wright and Co and were the primary lawyers working on fed firefighter cases like Cramer, Thirtymile, Esperanza and others. Tony Vergnetti began FEDS and is president. Excellent lawyers and passionate in defense of fed firefighters. HOTLIST Thread Ab.

8/19 To: Paul Hammerschmidt
Spokane County Fire District #3

Paul. I've attached a link to the National Wildfire Lessons Learned Center listing for a system called the "Risk Assessment Matrix" (or simply RAM). The RAM tool is used in conjunction with wildland interface pre-fire planning in California, a number of other western states, and in Australia. The tool uses color coding (red, yellow, and green) to summarize and simply depict risk associated with protection of communities and areas of WUI risk. Its a tool designed for firefighters who might be called to protect such areas. The system was borrowed from the U.S. Army after Southern California fire command officers noted how it was used to indicate war fighting risks to solders entering Iraq communities they may never have seen before. The tool is often used in conjunction with maps and related information with the goal of quickly communicating structure protection risks from a variety of sources including fuel, terrain, structural condition or construction, water availability, communications, and other key factors. Examples of how the RAM tool is used is included in the link.

The tool was strongly tested last year in a number of communities that had been pre-planned and then experienced large interface fires. It was very successful. Good luck!

www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/WUI_RAM_system.ppt (HUGE pdf file, 7.7MB)

Contract County Guy

8/19 Hi Ab,

Re: Wildland Pre-Planning

For Paul Hammerschmidt from Spokane County Fire Dist # 3.

A good start may be
CAL FIRE Fire Resource Assessment Program (FRAP).

Phone # (916) 327-3939 or


Hopefully, this will help !!

CDF BC Retired
8/19 Official word extending the IFPM implementation due date from Oct 1, 2009
to Oct, 1, 2010.


Attached is correspondence from the Associate Deputy Secretary of the
Interior regarding changes to the implementation of IFPM.

(See attached file: IFPM_ProgramChanges.pdf) (81K pdf file)

Kim Christensen
Center Manager, National Interagency Coordination Center

8/19 someone stated: "There is a MULTITUDE of software out there for structure preplanning,
but little, if anything, for wildland preplanning."

There is a GREAT one for wildland as well as WIU preplanning, many IMT's use it. Redzone
Software. I'm sure you can google it. It is a very simplified mapping and planning program
that works in a real environment, unlike some other software.


8/19 Paul Hammerschmidt

Reference your questions about urban interface preplanning software. I know several agencies in
Colorado that are using the "Red Zone" software and seem to be having good luck with it. Might
want to check out what they have to offer. http://www.redzonesoftware.com/

8/19 Don't forget tomorrow is sentencing for Ellreese. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers...
  • There but for some kind of grace or luck or fate... potentially goes any one of us who's faced the dragon as carefully as we can but not good enough.
  • You know we've all had near misses as fire behavior changes unexpectedly.
  • You know we've all operated under too little sleep.
  • You know we've all done the best we can under the changing circumstances on the ground with the experience and training we have...
  • You know many of us have dealt with the distractions of a Mark 3 pump.

Awful to think any one of us could suffer the years of this hanging over our head and go to jail for doing our job as best we can... after having our people die... which is sentence to a strange kind'a hell all its own.



Sentencing Wednesday signals official close of Thirtymile fire tragedy
by Mark Morey
Yakima Herald-Republic

Ellreese Daniels, the incident commander charged for the deaths of four Central Washington firefighters at the Thirtymile fire, is set to be sentenced Wednesday.

More than seven years after the deaths, the sentencing at U.S. District Court in Spokane will be one of the last formal steps associated with the Thirtymile saga.

Killed at Thirtymile were firefighters Tom Craven, Karen FitzPatrick, Jessica Johnson and Devin Weaver. Weaver, 21, Johnson, 19, and FitzPatrick, 18, were from Yakima; Craven, 30, lived in Ellensburg.

The four died July 10, 2001, while battling a blaze ignited by an unattended campfire. They were trapped by flames when an inferno swept over them on a dead-end road along the Chewuch River in the Okanogan National Forest.

Another Yakima firefighter, Jason Emhoff, was burned, and a pair of Thorp campers, Bruce and Paula Hagemeyer, were trapped with the crew.

Investigations by the U.S. Forest Service and the Yakima Herald-Republic found that a series of supervisors did not take steps they should have, including selection of a safe escape route.

Some of the victims' relatives will always believe that Daniels should have faced a trial on the original manslaughter charges. Instead, he pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements to investigators.

Firefighters from across the country have voiced support for Daniels.

While they mourn the tragic loss of their colleagues at Thirtymile, many do not feel that Daniels deserved to face criminal charges. He was the only one prosecuted in the case, the first time the federal government has ever sought such charges in a fireline death.

Daniels could face a maximum standard sentence of six months in federal prison. Prosecutors have indicated they will ask for four months; his defense attorney wants probation.

Daniels' attorney, public defender Tina Hunt of Spokane, argues in her sentencing brief to Judge Fred Van Sickle that probation is more appropriate than prison under the circumstances. Unusual fire behavior and terrain were responsible for the deaths, Hunt said, contending that Daniels never meant to act negligently.

Hunt said the case has already cast a pall over the federal fire service. Firefighters now must wonder whether they will face prosecution for decisions made in the dangerous, rapidly evolving environment of a wildland fire. (more at the link above)

Hotlist thread

8/19 I want to personally say THANKS to Tom Craven's extended family. You are
all a class act. Thank you for your integrity. You do Tom proud. It was my
pleasure to know Tom a bit when he was a young football star at College of the
Redwoods. I will always remember him as a generous charismatic person, genuinely
knowable and easily likeable in short order. It was nice to meet Tom's youngest
brother in person this summer as fire behavior kicked up after lunch and all
were pulled off the line.

Peace be with you all. Your loss is our loss.


8/19 viejo,

How do you explain..."Allowing wildfires to run unhindered or semi herded around
in the Wilderness areas is not going to cure this problem, it will result in a more
flammable fuel load."

Seems to me that a low intensity ground fire and nice mosaic burn pattern is the best
thing for the Klamath mixed conifer fuel type...nature has been doing it for a few
years and has had some success.


8/19 Another lurker with a question...

Our rural department of 560+ square miles is located in Spokane County, WA. We are in the feasibility evaluation stage of developing a method of pre-planning for rural wildland preplanning software and assessment of each home and business in our district, with an eye towards wildland vs. structure pre planning.

There is a MULTITUDE of software out there for structure preplanning, but little, if anything, for wildland preplanning.

In a perfect world, what we would do is visit each home/business in the district, do a site evaluation capturing data, photos, small map of the home/location, and developing a defensibility score for each home. In the process, incorporate some public education on wildfire, make some recommendations for improving the homesite/business site, etc. This data could then be overlaid into GIS maps, etc. Additionally, we’d like to be able to use the data to plan for district expansion, resource deployment, etc, with an eye towards being able to query “Give me all the homes in a given township that have high risk/protection needs and the location of the nearest water source”, etc. We’d like to produce mapbooks by township squares showing colored indicators for each type of risk, so the IC could turn to a map page and see all of the homes on that page, their risk factor, defensive needs, any pertinent details (Medical, evac challenges, ingress/egress challenges, etc)

Any thoughts or directions? Does this type of software exist?

Thanks much,
Paul Hammerschmidt
Spokane County Fire District #3

8/19 BF,

As it stands now 8 of the 9 who were aboard the ship will not qualify for the PSOB. As they were contractors and the way the PSOB is written now, the families will not be eligible to receive it. As for the FS employee - I'm not sure. It will depend on how his job description is written as to whether or not his family will qualify.

However, there are other avenues that these families can take that will offset not receiving the PSOB. I don't want to discuss it here and now until the families have had some time to start the recovery process, but the foundation will be staying in touch with them and will let them know of what their options are.


8/19 Ab,

Because of the recent tragedy of Iron 44, Dee Burke, Ken and I spent a few days helping out at the foundation. What a well oiled machine the foundation is. Carrie, would stop everything show us what and how to do something and off we would go. Burke, Carrie and Mike Warren had been putting in long hours at the foundation plus working weekends. Carrie was able to take part of Saturday and Sunday off and Burk could man a booth downtown for the police and firefighter games.

On Sunday we attended the unveiling of the new firefighter memorial in Boise it is for structure folks, but what a lovely statue.

While at the foundation we had many visitors. Many of the Aussies came in and visited. They were flying out yesterday morning and evening. They were a pleasure to talk to. Some families also came in and we were able to visit with them.

To make a long story short it was a great pleasure for all of us to help out. We all wish it wasn't under these circumstances. We have made some wonderful friends but as Dee, Ken and I say, we wish we would never have had to know you.

Dee Burke, Ken and Kathy Brinkley

8/19 HI,

I work for a company that by our policies can not get collections from the public, but I do have some items we would like to donate for a silent auction to benefit the WFF. Is there somewhere I can send these items??? Would really like to donate something to help out your great community of people who help our communities at a drop of the hat. I follow your fire progress daily and have been able to help the firefighter communities that have appeared in our communities by having a portable cell phone tower place where there was never cell phone services before, and was also able to get cell phones for firefighters to use who could not get signal off our portable cell phone tower due their phones not being compatible with our system. This was all done spur of the moment when we had a firefighter community of over 500 show up to fight fires here in northern cali.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO TO PROTECT OUR HOMES, FAMILIES AND LIVELY HOODS and the places we can call home outside of city limits!!!!! But now I would like to give some more to your fire community. Please help me find new homes for these items to be silent auctioned and for all proceeds to go to WFF.

Any info would be great and thanks again.
Thanks Again-
crystal humboldt @ snip.com

This came in on the 14th but was overlooked as I was on the road. Will pass info on. Ab.

8/18 Regarding the current reviews:

Thanks, TC.
I concur with Lawyering up -- or even Doctoring up, because of mis-remembering and the great potential PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) occurring even 6 years after the initial mental trauma. (The sound of the ocean mimicking the sound of the fire front approaching; the sound of airline jets on takeoff mimicking the sound of the fire front approaching.)


Let's take a moment and think about a safety investigation interview... You know you did nothing wrong. You think you're just going to be sharing what you remember. Maybe not.

Currently part of the problem with a safety interview is that Justice can get hold of the interview notes and ask further questions, which could result in their building a criminal case against you. "Law" sees what occurred through criminal glasses, especially some LEOs do, and regardless of whether it's logical, they may assume criminal intent even if there is none. (Gawd, who would intend to hurt anyone? Gimme a break!) The firefighter's problem is that once you speak, without a lawyer's advice, you're creating data for the law enforcement mill. My experience is that once law enforcement gets involved, you're liable to be screwed one way or the other in spite of your innocence.


People who are under stress following a burnover, death or other accident do not remember accurately. Adrenalin (epinephrine) prevents short term memory from being consolidated (at the hippocampus) into long term memory, that can then be recalled accurately. On average without excess adrenalin (and with adequate sleep) we can hold 4 to 7 bits of information in short term memory at one time (phone numbers began as 7 digits for a reason; LCES is effective as a mnemonic). Remembering long term is another process. If we chunk bits of info together, we can remember more like the a,b,c song; or we can use other memory aids like storytelling to remember, say, the 10 rules of engagement/ disengagement plus the 18 watchouts for a test. Long term memory may degrade with time if not used or reviewed somehow.

What about perception? We perceive reality in sound bites as we "see" it through our own history of experiences, preconceptions, and biases. We fill in the gaps between the "sound bites" with what we think is the most likely and logical interpretation of what goes there, given our past experience. It's a seamless ongoing process that we perceive as continuous, but it's not. We think we know "reality", but we only know slices of it.

As time goes on, we recall events less and less accurately. This means you might not answer exactly consistently over time.

If you do not answer consistently and correctly due to filling in the blanks in your memory with your best guess, you may end up "lying" and you don't even know that's what you're doing. (Maybe Ellreese filled in this way when he said he told the firefighters on the scree to come to the road?)


Unfortunately in this country you are not innocent until proven guilty. Cases that begin with law exploring criminal intent often end with some sort of plea arrangement if you don't have the $$ or professional legal insurance to fight the case (as in Cramer) or you end up with an agreement to cop to lesser non-criminal charges (as in 30Mile) which may or may not have jail time associated with it.

I would suggest that until this all gets worked out between the FS (NPS, BLM, BIA, FWS) and Justice, firefighters are better off Lawyering up or Doctoring up.

Those that do not have Professional Liability Insurance (PLI), please get it. I think Tony at FEDS is very good and is 100% behind wildland firefighters not getting screwed by their own agencies' Justice and Law enforcement people.


If you haven't figured it out. the lawyers run the country... sorry for the cynicism...


(Viejo, your ideas and mine have very little in common... Probably the best I can do is to agree to disagree just as CalFire and the FS have very different Mission/ Vision from each other...)

8/18 My question to anyone in the know is. Will any of the "contract" firefighters or
pilot of helicopter accident be eligible for the PSOB (Public Safety Officers
Death Benefit)?


Good question. In my opinion, they all should be in this case. Ab.

8/18 Aloha,

Awesome website! I would like to solicit some help from you. The Honolulu Fire Department is enhancing its Wildland Fire Fighting program. Presently, we do not have any agreements with local construction companies to provide heavy equipment (dozers, etc.). My question is how do you provide personal protective equipment and respirators for non-emergency response personnel like dozer operators?

Your help and assistance in this matter will be greatly appreciated.


Jerry S

8/18 FS Employee Rights

With the number of reviews going on, I recommend everyone involved Lawyer


text below

Employees Rights and Responsibilities in Administrative Investigative Interviews
July 11, 2008
(Reference: Master Agreement Article 4.2.b.(2))

This document addresses administrative investigations. In all types of interviews discussed below, you may be disciplined or even criminally prosecuted for making false statements. If an overt criminal violation is revealed during an administrative investigation, the investigator is obligated to stop the interview and notify Law Enforcement. This document addresses your legal rights in such circumstances; however, it does not address criminal investigations per se.

Rights to representation. There are two separate rights to representation in an interview. As noted below, whether both, one, or neither of these rights applies to a particular interview depends on whether you as the person being interviewed are (1) a subject of the investigation or are (2) a member of a bargaining unit who reasonably believes that the investigation may result in disciplinary action against you.

1. Basic right of representation for a subject of an investigation. It is Forest Service policy to honor any request by a subject of investigation to have an advisor, lawyer, or other representative present during the interview. You need not be a member of the bargaining unit to assert this right. You may assert this right prior to the beginning of the interview or at any time during it. You may not be disciplined for refusing to answer questions without an advisor, lawyer, or other representative present if you have requested one under these circumstances. If you wish an advisor, lawyer, or representative to be present for the interview, the interview will be cancelled or postponed for a reasonable period of time to allow you to obtain an advisor, lawyer, or representative.

2. Weingarten right of representation for a member of a bargaining unit. If you are a member of a bargaining unit and if you reasonably believe that the investigation may result in disciplinary action against you, you have the right to have a union representative present with you during the interview if you request it. You need not be a subject of the investigation to assert this right. You may assert this right prior to the beginning of the interview or at any time during it. You may not be disciplined for refusing to answer questions without a union representative present if you have requested one under these circumstances. If you wish a union representative to be present for the interview, the interview will be cancelled or postponed for a reasonable period of time to allow you to obtain a union representative.

Voluntary interviews. You may be asked but not ordered to participate in an investigatory interview. It is strictly up to you whether you wish to participate in a voluntary interview. You may decline to do so. If you begin to participate and change your mind, you may stop the interview and leave at any time. You will not be disciplined for non-participation. However, your silence can be construed in an administrative proceeding for its evidentiary value that is warranted by the facts surrounding your case. Since no coercion is involved in a voluntary interview, anything you say may be used as evidence against you in either an administrative or criminal proceeding.

Safety investigation interviews. Safety investigation interviews are guided by the same rules as voluntary interviews. You may be asked, but not ordered, to participate in a safety investigation interview. It is strictly up to you whether you wish to participate in this voluntary interview. You may decline to do so. If you begin to participate and change your mind, you may stop the interview and leave at any time. You will not be disciplined for non-participation. The purpose of a safety investigation is to determine the cause of the incident and to develop processes that will prevent a recurrence. If an overt criminal violation is revealed during a safety investigation, the investigator is obligated to stop the interview and notify Law Enforcement.

Involuntary interviews. If ordered to do so, you are required to provide information you have obtained in the course of employment to authorized representatives of the Department or Agency in investigations related to official matters. Failure to cooperate may constitute a basis for disciplinary action up to and including removal. You are required to answer questions related to your official duties even if your answers may lead to administrative discipline because there is no constitutional right regarding self-incrimination in administrative matters. However, you may not be coerced into self-incriminating yourself in a criminal matter. Court decisions have established that the threat of dismissal from one’s job is coercive. If you believe your answer to a question may incriminate you in a criminal matter, you are within your rights to say so and refuse to answer it. If, on the other hand, you do disclose information with criminal implications in an involuntary interview, you may be able to suppress its use in subsequent criminal proceedings on the grounds your disclosure was coerced.

Use immunity for compelled testimony. The agency may compel you to answer questions that would reveal criminal acts on your part only if you are given written assurance that neither your answers nor any information or evidence which is gained through their use can be used against you in any criminal proceeding. This is known as “use immunity.” Since use immunity requires approval from the Department of Justice, it is only offered in rare and exceptional circumstances. Should you be faced with this situation, you will be provided with form FS 5300-17b (Kalkines warning), which documents the use immunity and your rights and responsibilities. Use immunity does not limit the right of the agency to impose administrative discipline as appropriate.

Ab's bold.

8/18 Wow so the Chief whines down,

The first thing to know about supervision is that you whine up!!! You voice
your whines and gripes upwards not back down to your troops. I guess it is
a new era with FED FIRE. Chief Kimball would rather spend her time
complaining to the troops rather than fix the damn problem by voicing it
up, and at her level when you voice up you have the ears of congress, and
the President. DON'T put it back on us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have enough to
do rather than feel bad for the Chief and her GS 20 step 2000 salary.

You want to control cost? cut things.... Superfluous things like two
Division trainees per division one of which is a City Chief, and another
County Chief. Now that would save a few thousand dollars a day. I know we
need to train new folks for this job however I don't need 8 bosses on the
line Bob, 8.

How about the money we throw at contractors, or the money we pay to fund a
Type 2 handcrew with tools and nomex, and then have to dig out of our own
caches to give them all the crap they should already have when we activate
them, such as hummm, tools, nomex, gloves, saws, etc, etc. where did that
money go?

Or to pay for CWN aircraft when our iron sits with crews ready to go, or a
contact type Six engine to sit and watch a beautiful river two miles
outside the fireline all day for 14 days.

Or 5 Strike teams of Type 1 City engines sitting in the neighborhood for PR

How bout that kick ass DC-10 and that tab. Wow I thought my bar tab for my
buddy's wedding at the resort was bad, at least we got something out of it.

Oops there I go whining again, however I'm just a Captain and I know there
is a Chief reading this somewhere so I guess that counts as whining up.

I know we need all this equipment at times, but when it is not being utilized
we have to order the world at times and hope for the best but we must be more
fiscal about this stuff once it does arrive, how to use it and if we need
it. We definitely don't need two trainees per position, just think how much
money we would save on lunches.

Showing my Lunch Break to pay for the cause...
But tacking it on the end to send a check to the 52 club : )
8/18 Mellie, I am in agreement with you that this fire season should be a reality check for the FS and I'll include CalFire. The current system of wildland fire management is a dismal failure in Northern California.

The USFS has been claiming that it has a full suppression policy, while it employs MIST and other wilderness strategies that limit the effectiveness of suppression crews.

I can't see that the "light hand on the land" has been much of a benefit to the citizens of Northern California. We've been inundated with smoke and evacuated due to wildfires it seems like every third year since 1985 and yet the problem persists. The "season long event" has become a common occurrence.

The reduction in fuels from these wildfires is probably offset by the increased loading of dead and down fuels produced by the fires. Was there any fuel management done in the burned areas? The Feds will probably use Wilderness Policy as an excuse for not doing any and I don't know that CalFire has an excuse.

Allowing wildfires to run unhindered or semi herded around in the Wilderness areas is not going to cure this problem, it will result in a more flammable fuel load.

Long duration wildfires are expensive, create smoke and global warming emissions and more importantly expose firefighters to risk as was tragically demonstrated.

The 2 week rotation of fire teams has resulted in decreased production. Why should a team take decisive action if it knows in advance it will be gone in two weeks, whether it is making progress or simply passing the time? The Tri Data Corporation Phase 3 report identifies team change as a dangerous time on the fireline, yet the frequency of Team Changes was increased.

Fire Teams performance should be reviewed and those teams that fail to perform should be replaced. We've all been on fires where the first concern seemed to be the construction of comfortable fire camp. That's simply not acceptable.

The Tri Data report says and I agree there is no incentive to put the fire out. This dangerous and costly mind set seemed to spill over into the Cal Fire teams that managed the June Lightning starts in Northern California.

I don't concur with the Wilderness advocates that want to end wildland fire suppression. Timber is a valuable resource. The private holdings adjacent to or inside Forest Boundaries should not be imperiled by USFS policy.

One answer to the problem is increased logging and salvage logging of old burns. Where esthetics are a concern such as in Lake Tahoe, biomass logging should be used and the cost subsidized if a true fuel modification can be achieved.

Maybe one answer is a Federal Wildland Fire Organization.
Maybe a re thinking of the Fire for Hire Industry is in order.
Certainly the whole overtime issue for CalFire and USFS needs scrutiny.
The use of Structure Protection Strike Teams need review.
The use of aircraft and heavy lift helicopters needs to be reviewed and analyzed for cost effectiveness.

The list could be huge. If we are indeed in a period of global warming, we'd better change our ways of doing things.

8/18 I feel for the Gail Kimbell's of the FS.

There has to be some relief from the financial funding thing on budgeting and management of resources. Why can't fire be funded separately from the other FS functions, stovepiped, clearly delineated? If fire runs out of money it shouldn't be drawing from the other important FS functional areas. The other functions are important too and the populace expects the woods will be protected in terms of spotted owls, diversity of species, available for recreation, protected from the gun-shooting. pot-growing, meth-cooking Mexican Mafia, etc, etc.

If others don't see this year as a reality check that we MUST have a new FS-natural resources and FIRE system, they need new glasses. If others don't see this as a need for this country to realign and get back to taking care of the homeland first, they need new glasses.


8/18 From: Chief Abigail Kimbell
Sent: 08/18/2008 10:55 AM MDT
Subject: Message from the Chief

It started in October in R5, then on to R8, then R3 and R2, back to R5 (way
early) and is picking up in R6, R4 and R1. It is only August 18. We have
spent nearly every nickel appropriated to us in fire suppression even with
some strong efforts to contain costs, use of Appropriate Management
Response and Accountable Cost Management. Given all that, anticipated
needs for fire suppression through September 30 and the specific statute
about overspending an appropriation, we are taking dramatic measures.
Every program everywhere is affected.

We are withdrawing funds from regions, stations, area and the national
office to be able to pay for fire suppression. We are "scrubbing" and
digging, looking for any source of relief. And we’ll continue to
scrutinize fire expenditures at all levels.

I’ve talked to some of you and heard from others. I know this comes with
serious consequences for this year, for next year and for relationships
everywhere. There are partners, communities, contractors, collaborators
and elected officials to whom you’ve made commitments and now you have to
deliver a message that is very hard. We take our commitments seriously and
we should. Always.

This year is different from any of those where we've contemplated
transfers. And I wish that we didn’t have to make this move. But wishing
won't change the weather and fact that we will continue fighting fire.
Please be upfront in your communications as to the why of these measures.

And be safe.
8/18 Downstrikes within the past 24 hrs and current fire perimeters left over from June 21st. (http://atlas.resources.ca.gov/Fires.aspx)


Fire Geek

8/18 Dear AB and All,

The contingent of New Zealand and Australian fire fighters leave this morning to return home after 35 days in California working on the wild fires. We were very proud to work alongside our brothers and sisters in the USA wildfire community and a little humbled by the warm and generous welcome we received where ever we went.

We also shared your pain at the tragic loss of life at Iron 44. Most of the NZers and a few Aussies finished our tour working at Iron which made the tragedy even a little more personal.

At our farewell dinner each ANZ fire fighter made a contribution and this donation has been forwarded to the WFF. We now depart for our homes with you all still facing a long fire season. Our sincere wish is that you all get to make this same journey to your homes and loved ones.

Thank you.

Alan Thompson
ANZ Liaison Officer

Thanks for the message and the teamwork. Ab.

8/18 I had the opportunity to attend the Iron 44 Memorial on August 15th. The entire memorial was something I will never forget as long as I live. Some events stood out above others. Folks directly involved with planning and implementing the ceremony wore red tags. I saw many NWSA, BLM, USFS, NPS and local law enforcement shirts/uniforms in the crowd with the red tags. Many of these folks volunteered their time and services. I talked to those I knew and they were all humbled and honored to have been of assistance to the families, friends and survivors. Some were in the spotlight and many more were in the background. (One person helped out in Grayback's headquarters.) The support of Grayback's competitors was a sight to behold. Their show of support for Mike, the families and survivors was simply incredible. Many of the companies were helping with set up and tear down.

The posters of each person posted at the entrance with the condolences from attendees make a great entrance area. Grayback filing into the site in single file. There was the honor guard made up of several land management agencies as well as structural fire members that escorted the families The structure guys may not be wildland, but they rallied to the moment. The motorcycle honor guard with U.S. flags at the back of the amphitheater were a nice backdrop for the crews back there. The bagpipers from the Eugene Fire Department with the Forest Service bagpiper were impressive. (Don't remember seeing a forest serivce kilt in the uniform catalog before I retired though) The flyover by the lead plane and retardant plane, followed by the smokejumper Sherpa dropping 9 streamers was a nice touch. (Even though several news agencies said the Sherpa was an air tanker.) The honor guard performing the flag presentation, then handing off the flag, pulaski and firefighter statue to the grayback firefighters who then presented each item to the families. Not sure, but I think it was Rick Schoeder with the neck brace that made the presentation to Mrs. Ramage.

Of all the speakers, by far the most impact came from Mike. How he made it thru the speech, I will never know. I did pretty well up to the point he faltered. In all the interviews I have seen since the accident, Mike has been a ROCK. I sat to the side of the stage and after Mikes presentation, I saw something very few either could see or notice. Mike left the stage and once out of sight, he sat in a chair, placed his face in his hands and wept. It was hard not to move to his side in support. He composed himself after a few seconds, and proceeded on to his seat amongst the families.

I learned one thing during the week leading up to the Iron 44 memorial. Before August 15th, I never got closure on South Canyon even though I thought I had. I was on an ORCA Team in '94 and we headed out on a 28 day assignment a few days after South Canyon, thus was unable to attend any of the memorial services for the South Canyon folks. I received that needed closure for South Canyon at the Iron 44 memorial. I had not realized what I was holding in till I saw the news of the helo crash on TheySaid and saw that it was Grayback firefighters involved. I was instantly transported back to the days following South Canyon.

My condolences to the families and my prayers to the survivors and other Grayback employees.

Mike Mann
USFS (Retired)
8/18 To use a sometimes overused term, the memorial service was "Awesome"!

To Grayback: continue to "Hold the line">

8/17 Dear AB and All:

The FWFSA is delighted and honored to announce its first members in the states of Louisiana and Texas. Just a few short years ago membership in the FWFSA was confined to about 4 states. We are now proud to have members in 25 states. Thanks to all our members who have been spreading the word to their co-workers and colleagues about the FWFSA.

As a reminder, my family will donate $25.00 to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for every new FWFSA member for the remainder of this year.

Stay safe...

Casey Judd
Business Manager
8/17 Abs --

Re: the ongoing thread about sleep deprivation -- the Safety Officer of
the Boise NIMO team developed a briefing paper not long ago after several
team members saw a report on a network national news show. A copy is
attached, along with another sleep-deprivation related document. The
briefing paper seems like a good. concise, common-sense document. Your
call on whether and how best to post and/or reference them -- to my
knowledge, they arent generally available online anywhere. I trust your
editing skills to keep identities confidential......

And THANKS, Abs, for all of your work on this site............


These look like good brief informational documents. I saved and posted them as they are. I don't think there will be any objection. Nice to see the NIMO Team briefing on sleep issues. Ab

8/17 Some engine photos are up. Thanks contributors. I put them on Engines 20 and Engines 21 photo pages. Ab.

Mt Lemmon E-315: Mount Lemmon Fire/Rescue's E315 was used at the Stroh Helibase (Soda Complex) in Potter Valley. It is a Type II AWD Freightliner with a compressed air foam system. Photo taken July 25, 2008; compliments of Jeff McD. (0808)

New Jersey Wildland 1-3: 2004 f450 ford 250 gallons of water all wheel drive 12k winch Hale pump custom constructed cage and body by the crews at New Jersey Forest Fire Service. This engine responds to 300 calls for service a year and covers and area of 100k acres of prime pineland area with heavy urban interface in some areas. At times, it is the first response unit to dwelling fires in rural areas, searches and police involved incidents. The engines are equipped to do fast attack knockdowns and serve as a command post for smaller incidents equipped with multiple radios cell phones chainsaws portable pumps and refreshments. Photos compliments of Quincy Jones. (0808)

8/17 Re: Ramage Memorial

Our most sincere condolences go out to the Ramage family and our deepest apologies for
any disruption yesterday as we left before the end of the ceremony due to thunderstorm
activity and subsequent fires which required our dispatch from Redding.

We didn't want to leave when we did... it was a beautiful gathering.

Regards to all,

The Chester Fly Crew
Lassen National Forest
8/17 Pena - "ensure completion to meet the deadline of June 30" - June 30th + 48 days.

Rank and File informed that the project has been completed or extended – NO

Update to Rank and File Firefighters on progress or results of the report – NO

Augment the current team members with available individuals because of current fire activity to ensure the work continues and is completed by the deadline - NO

* Yes, 9 months after the infamous Dec 10th week long meeting we still have our younger firefighters forced to apply for state medical assistance for their kids (SCHIP) because the income does not go far enough to afford the federal health premiums. .
* We still have some firefighters applying for food stamps to keep food on the table.
* Yes we still are the employer of last resort for many. It’s been a long slide over the years from our once high perch as the employer of choice.
* Thanks to all those in the RO and WO who had a hand in the dismantling of the basic fundamental requirements to build and maintain a strong, productive and healthy Fire organization.

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY ! - April 1, 2008
The day they lied from coast-to-coast
8/17 George Kochman, M.D.,

I hear ya brother and great to hear from you again. You went through both medical school and medical residency ... both widely described as complex times of sleep deprivation intermixed with life and death decisions that you must manage through leadership from others and from within yourself.... by most accounts I've talked with at least. Sounds alot like being a probie firefighter, but some firefighters know better of your journey.

If it's anything like firefighting, maybe some good wildland firefighters turned MD, PhD, and some simple researchers could do a good study on firefighter fatigue, both short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) exposures?... or other wildland fire issues?


Wrench, I'd love to hear your thoughts on what firefighter fatigue may have played in regards to the Thirtymile and Esperanza fires. There are some commonly held beliefs regarding short-term losses that aren't (and haven't been) quantified as relevant. I'd like to know which ones are relevant, which ones are facts, or which ones were commonly held urban myths.

I don't want to sound blunt, but I will in absolute honor of those lost. I've been very disappointed at MTDC and their study qualities and followup since Putnam and Mangan left for retirement (or prepared for retirement), and their fostering of interdisciplinary two-way give and take communication style left with them in turn. I've been sickened to learn that many studies were shortened, curtailed, or ended because of funding or because of potential information getting shared contrary to intended "mission delivery" talking points from the agencies.

So many relevant things to be studied and improved upon for firefighter and public safety..... Health Hazards of Smoke (firefighter and the public).... Firefighter Fatigue... Firefighter Fitness and Wellness... Work Capacity Testing... Crew Cohesion.... Situational Awareness,,,, Burn Injuries...etc..... all things that kill or injure firefighters that WE continue to struggle with.

I am most pleased and honored as a firefighter that the NWCG SHWT is making things safer through various efforts cutting through the BS.... so are the Regional Fire Safety Officers. Their efforts to bypass bureaucratic safety roadblocks (latent barriers) should be commended.

8/17 Would like to know how I could purchase Iron 44 shirts, etc.?

Thank You

Darren H

8/17 Iron 44 Memorial Tribute on Friday:

The Bell

5-5-5 at the memorial.

Anyone know where either the Medford or Redding memorial can be viewed in it's entirety?


8/17 Iron 44 Memorial Tribute on Friday:


I too am one of "those" who has lurked around behind the scenes for some time reading wildlandfire.com. But after attending the memorial on Friday I felt compelled to share my thoughts. It is attached. It is long and may not be appropriate. And if you choose to edit it or not post it at all is fine. I needed to write it and share it with my friends in the office and thought I would share it with you (and the wildland fire community) as well.


Friday was amazing. I hurt, I was uplifted, I cried and I felt spirits and angels all around.

I started helping before dawn. The sunrise was beautiful. Flocks of Canadian Geese flew overhead in formation. We, federal, state and local agencies and private contractors were all working together. Time flew by preparing for the memorial and making sure everything was ready.

Before the gates opened a friend and I walked up the amphitheater steps to take a quick look. As I walked up the last step and could see the flag with the reflection off of the water shining through it. The spirit there was so strong it nearly knocked me over. You could feel that this place had become hallowed and special for that day. A few seconds later bag pipes began playing. There was a peaceful reverence in that amphitheater.

We were quickly at it again, scurrying around and then the Grayback crews entered through the main gates. You couldn’t hear a sound. Everyone stopped what they were doing because all of a sudden it didn’t matter. We all stood reverently facing the crew.

I wasn’t able to attend the entire memorial, but was able to listen to a portion. I heard Abigail Kimbell’s voice crack as she addressed the families and reminded them that we will never forget their loved ones. I was proud that the leader of the Forest Service showed emotion and hoped that this helped others understand that it is okay to show emotion as well.

Then I noticed fire fighters throughout the audience grabbing ice chests, boxes and cases full of water and going around handing out water. Once again, they are taking care of each other and protecting the public. It made me smile and my heart swelled knowing I was part of this community.

But honestly, the most poignant moment for me was when Mike Wheelock told his employees how proud he was of them. How often do we hear that? How often do we take the initiative and tell our employees, coworkers, children, loved ones and friends that we are proud of them? I believe not nearly enough.

I am proud of Mr. Schwanenberg & Coultas for continuing to fly and fly through smoke, ash and the like and Mr. Ramage for check piloting. I am proud of Mr. Rich, Mr. Renno, Mr. Steele, Mr. Gomez, Mr. Hammer, Mr. Charlson, Mr. Blazer, Mr. Brown, Mr. Frohreich, and Mr. Schroeder for holding the line that day and for being the great, upstanding men so many have described them to be. I am proud of Grayback Forestry, Carson Helicopter, the Forest Service and the wildland fire community as a whole for coming together, united, to share our grief and help each other, but more importantly, to support and serve the families, friends and comrades of these incredible men.

While I don’t wear nomex and face the fire head on I am so blessed to be a part of this family. Thank you all for allowing me the opportunity.

Sign me,

Blessed and Thankful

Thanks, Ab.

8/17 Ab,

Here is a picture from Sunday Aug 10. It is of the memorial procession through Weaverville, CA for the last of the Iron 44 victims as they came off the hill. Shasta-Trinity N.F. vehicles surrounded the coroner van, followed by many engines from Trinity County Volunteer Fire Departments and Cal-Fire. The general public came out to watch, some even stopped eating their dinners in the local restaurants to stand by the road.


Thanks. Ab.

8/16 Ab,

Yesterday's Iron 44 Memorial Tribute was incredible, powerful, respectful ... and I hope I never have to attend another. So many people contributed their efforts to make the gathering an honor to those who died or were injured, and to their families. Everyone's effort - and the sense of support and community the effort created - was beautiful.

I would like to clarify something, since there seemed to have been a small bit of confusion. No vendors were allowed to be at the Iron 44 Memorial. The only booth set up was fundraising booth for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation tables for Memorial T-Shirt, pin and wrist band sales. 100% of the sales went to the WFF and every cent was put into their hands at the end of the day, which accounted for a little over $13,000 (sales & donations!). Good job, everyone! There were seven people who volunteered their time to run the WFF booth throughout the day, but three solid souls who stayed with the booth from morning until the last person left in the searing afternoon heat. Thanks Mona, Erica & Roger!

I thought it was important to clarify this because there were a few comments about "vendors" being allowed at the Memorial event. And, well, it just wasn't so. The only funds brought in went directly to the WFF.

For those still interested in purchasing the Iron 44 Memorial shirts, the remainder will soon be back in Boise at the WFF office and will be made available for purchase through the website.

8/16 Tribute Links:

Here are some links to the local TV station coverage and some photos.




8/16 Regarding Sleep Deprivation

Yes in this job we sometimes, exceed our 2-1, shocking...During these times
it is our job as supervisors and as firefighters to up our SA, suck it up
and do our job safely, our taxpayers expect this of us and we will continue
to do this, just remember when to recognize yourself and your crews
behavior and limits and know when to pull the plug. In both the Grass Fire,
and Catalina fires we went well over 50 hours straight at 80-100


8/16 Re: Spanish Ranch Fire Fatalities 1979

Lat / Long

N35°, 04’, 16” x W 119°, 59’, 36”

This is on Highway 166 apx. 25 miles east of Twitchell Reservoir. The Lat Long
is at a locked gate along the highway on the North side or West bound lane.

Be extremely careful pulling of the highway here. DO NOT open your driver or
passenger door into oncoming traffic unless well off of the road. Tractor Trailers
travel this 2 lane highway at extremely high rates of speed as do passenger vehicles.

You will not be able to get through the locked gate, but you will be able to see the
general site by looking North and a little west apx 1 mile north of the gate.

Contact Ab to forward an email to either myself or Sting for contacts and contacts
for this site.

Please be extremely careful along Highway 166 if you drive there.
8/16 Jack

There is a report on the Spanish Ranch Fire on the Cal Fire BEU Training page
This might have the info your looking for.

Also I thought I saw a post someone made regarding sleep deprivation, they were
looking for studies on firefighters. Well the same site has a report done in 2007.

Gotta love surfin the net

Be Safe and Stay Cool

8/15 Memorial Tribute today in Medford.

Bios and pictures of each:



8/15 I just read the post at They Said about the anniversary of the deaths at the Spanish Fire
in 1979. Do you have any information as to the specific location on Hwy 166 where this

Mile Post Marker, lat/long, miles from Hwy 101?

Any info would be appreciated.


8/15 Gizmo, George K M.D. et. al,

Back on 5/28/07 I posted a link to a study on 'they said' regarding the dangers of sleep deprivation and how it may have IMHO played a role in 30 mile and Esperanza (godspeed to all who were lost those tragic days).

I don't have the link anymore, but I still have the excerpt.

Van Dongen and colleagues (2003),

sleep restriction was induced in one of three sleep doses: 4, 6, or 8 hours per night. This restriction was maintained for 14 consecutive days. The participants were a group of 48 healthy adults, and the experiment was carried out under carefully monitored laboratory conditions. Chronic sleep deprivation of between four and six hours per night for two weeks resulted in cognitive performance deficits equivalent to performance of those
individuals who were totally sleep deprived for 2 to 3 days.

We're long overdue for a wildland study covering this possible factor. Let's get the beagles out and run down this rabbit before we loose more friends and colleagues.


8/15 www.ktvl.com

in Medford is doing the telecast of the iron 44 tribute


This is the reporter standing outside the Amphitheater as firefighters gather and the convoy is approaching...

8/15 Fire Camp CHALLENGE WFF


The Gunbarrell Fire Camp have now raised $16,500.00 for the foundation because of the networking of the team. One rancher donated $5,000.00. and another private company has donated $8,000.00. A big thank you to the team on the Gunbarrell fire. Lets see some other teams step up to the challenge!! We want to thank everyone for the donations and orders, keep them coming.

Thank you from The WFFoundation, Dee Burke and Ken and Kathy Brinkley

Nice. Ab.

8/15 Gizmo:

It is true that there is very little research on wildland firefighters themselves and sleep deprivation. However, there is a mountain of evidence from the military, from aviation/transportation, and from research on doctors/nurses concerning all levels of sleep deprivation, from mild to severe, and acute to chronic. While it is true that some amount of training can help combat some of the effects of sleep deprivation, most current research notes that full cognitive and motor function is not possible without pharmaceutical intervention (and those have their own side effects.)

Here's just one study conducted on military and transportation folks that links moderate sleep deprivation with performance equal to that of legal intoxication: http://oem.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/57/10/649. There are dozens more like it out there. Another study from the New England Journal of Medicine looked at Motor Vehicle crashes after long duty hours: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/352/2/125. Here's another looking at medical mistakes: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0030487 These are just a start, I'm sure a couple minutes on pubmed or another science search engine will yield more results.

Now, none of these specifically study wildland firefighters, and surely it's an area of research to be explored. But there is plenty of evidence that shows there are adverse effects from long shift hours.

As a former wildland firefighter and a current Emergency Medicine resident, I look back at some of the shifts I pulled as a hotshot and shake my head at some of the potential dangers we experience from sleep deprivation. Thankfully, no serious incidents, but I can recall plenty of near-misses. I now work under pretty strict duty hour limits as well as work-to-rest guidelines (1:1). Each day I make thousands of decisions about patient care. Some of them have the ability to effect someone's life, many of them do not. In that way, it's not that dissimilar from wildland firefighting.

George Kochman, M.D.
University of Maryland Department of Emergency Medicine

Congrats, George! Another firefighter in medicine... Proud of ya! Ab.

8/15 Making the rounds:

Per the discussion on MRSA during yesterdays call, I thought I would pass
this information on to you all. It pretty much runs in line with the
Safety Alert sent out.
During our last training, the R1 IMS Medical Director, Dr. Jim Upchurch and
our other two advisors (ER physician and pharmacist) who put on our
training covered the subject as we had two cases that came through the med
tent last fire season. When the subject came up again this year, I
contacted Dr. Upchurch for further advisement and thought I would share his
comments with you.

Per Dr. Upchurch:
MRSA should be treated like any other bacteria that causes skin infections:
hand washing for everyone, make sure dressings, etc. in contact with
infected area are disposed of properly; you don't need to isolate the
individual, he or she just needs to be aware it is contact spread, so keep
it clean, bandaged, wash your hands, don't share gear, food or drink and
take your antibiotics if prescribed. People can carry MRSA on their bodies
without being infected until there's a opportunity to invade (like a break
in the skin). You can share the attached article with the IMS and safety
folks if you think appropriate.

(See attached file: MRSA_upchurch.doc)

Mary Jo <snip>
IMS Program Manager
Aerial Fire Depot

Wikipedia Info on MRSA
Mayo Clinic picture of early MRSA Infection (click on the little photo, looks pretty benign...)
Photos of MRSA infection
More Photos: MRSA can also cause these conditions. Ab.

8/15 The sun is getting ready to rise and I have been up since 0330.
Finally got some better sleep last night.
By the end of this day we turn a chapter in a book that will not end.
Today and tomorrow we pay tribute to our fallen heroes.
As we have moved through this tragedy, the prime objective has been to care for the survivors and injured. It is my personal feeling that we all succeeded and are succeeding to the highest level.
Know that they have all said how much they appreciate the support and love put their way.
I am left with an overwhelming sense of family not felt in years.
As we move through this day we will feel as one. Agency or company will matter not.
Please hang onto that sprit into the future as long as we can.
So many have risen to the occasion and the support felt is beyond compare.
I am so proud of ALL involved and prouder still to be called

Just a few words the inside.

Well put. Thank you. We're with you in presence and spirit today as you celebrate lives gone from us forever. May we always remember them. Ab.

8/15 Tribute today:

A tribute to honor the fallen firefighters, their families and friends is scheduled for Friday, August 15 at the Lithia Motors Amphitheater at the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Expo Park in Medford, Oregon.

The amphitheater is located at 1 Peninger Road in Central Point, OR and is accessible from Exit 33 (Pine Street) off Interstate 5.

Gates at the amphitheater will open at 8:30 a.m. and the program is scheduled from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. The tribute will include a family procession, a ceremony, and a private family reception.

My thoughts are with you all.


8/15 Great... Outside of info nobodies file another lawsuit.. one of dozens of lawsuits in a blitz tactic to cripple the FS.... and see how the Forest Service acts (or doesn't act) to appropriately protect community and firefighter safety values. Noname

Environmental groups sue Forest Service (socal)

8:03 p.m. August 14, 2008

SAN DIEGO – Several environmental groups on Thursday sued the U.S. Forest Service over its management plans for the Cleveland National Forest and three others in Southern California.

The lawsuit said the federal blueprints allow recreation and development to damage the forests' ecology. It cited off-road vehicles and gas drilling as problems for the forests, which total 3.5 million acres.

8/15 Abs,

A comment on the 8/14 note from "Centralized fire management..." on the withdrawal of $400 million in project funds to cover additional fire expenditures.

It appears that many are not aware that the administration and Congress who authorize the Forest Service budget have placed a cap on the amount of funding provided to the FS. This happens each year. The FS budget has basically been capped at a "flat" level over the past few years. This budget includes expected expenditures for fire suppression. Funding for fire suppression is based on the average cost of suppression over the past ten years. Under this system if the Chief had requested additional fire suppression funds they would have to have been taken from other program areas to ensure the budget cap was not exceeded. With this cap, higher fire costs results in less funds available to manage the National Forest System. Over the past decade the portion of the Forest Service budget required for fire suppression has gone from 25% to 45%. (A combination of flat budgets and increased fire suppression costs.) (The most recent outlook for this year stands at withdrawal of substantially more than $400 million.)

National forest management is suffering as a result. This is the reason that Congress has been considering the FLAME act which was designed to provide additional suppression funds above the budgeted amount in years, such as this, when the ten year average is exceeded. As long as the Forest Service budget is capped and provides for only the 10 year average cost of fire suppression, the problem will continue. A remedy for this situation lies in the hands of the House, Senate and the President. It is really above the level of the Forest Service.

The direction for review of fire suppression expenses is coming from levels above the FS line officer level. The administration, as it should, is concerned about expenditures and as tax payers so should we. It's our tax dollars that are been expended. Any business, this includes the FS, should be concerned about how it expends funds. No one should have free reign with a checkbook.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered losses during this fire season. Fire season is a long way from over. Stay safe.


8/15 I'm sending this to my buddy in R6 to read and send it along to Ab. I figured I shouldn't send something when I'm so pissed off and not able to contain my fury. It's better to let someone else edit anything too stupid I might say.

It's hot here in Happy Camp, after some beautiful clear skies, we're now socked in with smoke, it's hot and it's pretty darn (edit) humid.

As I'm sure everyone knows staph is gaining a head of steam in our fire camps, the experts all say that hand cleaners are far better than nothing when you are in the field, however the most important thing to do is to actually wash your hands. The simple act of flushing germs off of the skin with water is the most important act and far more effective than alcohol hand sanitizers.

So, if you are in camp and have access to water based hand washing stations, use them AFTER you use the head, and before isn't so bad either. I mean, how else can I say it? Do you want to handle yourself with clean hands or dirty hands??! (another edit)

So, what's a guy to do when he (me) watches an EMT assigned to the fire wash his hands before he goes into the head and then not afterwards? Do I go straight into the medical tent and tell him? Because that's where he went. Or should I stop the next person going for medical aid and warn him or her? I know I wouldn't want him handling me.

C'mon folks, let's wash our hands so much that it seems silly.

Sorry for venting something so obviously important, and seemingly childish, but I'm seeing it happen before my very eyes and I figured this would reach the most people.

Maybe someone needs to fill us in on some of the results of a good case of staph. I've seen a couple and it's not pretty. One involves the eventual amputation of a lower leg.

So, even EMT's need to wash!

Sign me: Disappointed in my co-workers
8/15 Ab,

I have been a mountain biker for several years and enjoy riding in the Cathedral Hills park just south of Grants Pass. Riding in Cathedral Hills gets me away from the everyday traffic, noise and confusion. It gives me a chance to relax and reflect. Part of the area is currently under a BLM fuels reduction contract awarded to Grayback Forestry. I ride thru this area 2-3 times each week. Today I rode by some piles that one of the Grayback crews had been working on when I stopped to talk to two of the crew a couple weeks ago. For lack of a better word I will say I had a "Vision" as I stopped at the same point to reflect on our conversation. It was vivid enough, I knew I had to share it with TheySaid.

I was back out on line scouting my Division prior to the crews coming on and came upon a point on the main ridge where four finger ridges converged from the four points of the compass. I paused to get my bearings and two people emerged out of the haze to the north. Thinking they were field observers from the next Division over I asked what they were up to. They said they were a helitack crew preparing to pick up some crews and take them home. This was confusing as the crews assigned to my Division had not even started to build line yet. The two then introduced themselves as Robert and Richard, BLM rapellers. I asked them just who they were to pick up? They pointed all around. Coming up the north ridge I recognized Kathi, Bonnie, Tami, Scott, Doug, Rob, John, Terri and Levi in their blue Prineville helmets, followed by Jim, Roger and Don with their smokejumper packout bags on their backs. From the east came the lone figure of Andy with a Park Service decal on his helmet, and out the west came the bushy mustache and huge grin of Chief Parker.

As the folks gathered together for a briefing by Robert, Richard started guiding in Carson helo #766. As the ship landed I could see the name Roark on the pilots flight suit and right next to him was another fella with the name Ramage on his flight helmet. The helo engine shut down, the briefing was over and everyone turned and looked to the south ridgeline. I wondered why they did not load up and lift off, and asked Robert what they were waiting for? He said nothing for about five minutes, then pointing down the ridge said "Here they come". Emerging from the southern haze, underneath their red hardhats, came Shawn, Scott, Matt, Edrik, Steve, Bryan and David. As they loaded up I joined at the back of the line for a quick ride back to camp. Richard stopped me, placed a hand on my shoulder and said I had not earned the right to go where they were going. They then silently lifted off and disappeared into the sky. (End of vision)

Whether we are FS, BLM, CalFire, NPS, East Pierce, private contractor or whatever, should make no difference! Whether we drive a green engine, white engine, yellow engine, red engine or gray engine, should make no difference! We all take the same risks regardless of our origin of hire! For we are truly "A BAND OF BROTHERS"!


I have felt the Unity as well. Ab.

8/15 I am wondering if anyone can help me find some background on some specific research relating to cognitive ability and sleep deprivation interactions in wildland firefighters. Seems to be a hot button topic for safety nowadays, but levels of safety haven't changed much since we commonly worked for 18-20 hour days for weeks on end (1987) until the fire was out... or to now... where folks work 12-16 hour days with a normal 14 day assignment limit.

Specifically, I am looking for the complete research findings that support or disprove the commonly held belief that "...after 24 hours without sleep people have the same ability as those with blood alcohol level of .10...". Specifically, I would like to look at the controls used in the research, who the research subjects were, and how the data was compiled/evaluated by the peer review panels. I would also like to know if the research findings were misinterpreted or extrapolated improperly... if I'm looking at the same research that is often quoted I'd like to know how it applies to wildland firefighters.

I'm only asking since much of the military and NASA research and findings do not agree in terms of the effects of short-term sleep deprivation and cognitive ability loss/gain. I've seen a theory that the subjects in the military and NASA research (much like firefighters) were well conditioned through fitness, experience, and training to mitigate hazardous situations. During these periods of short-term sleep deprivation, when encountering a situation requiring a "fight or flight response", those involved showed appropriate positive responses at or above baseline levels. Their research showed both a spike in stress hormones (adrenalin) at the "threat" stimulus bringing subjects into a heightened sense of awareness and cognitive ability, followed by a more conditioned deregulation response (noradrenalin) back to a baseline (primary) level higher than than non-conditioned subjects (controls).

Thank you in advance. It is an interesting safety topic with far too little research within the wildland fire realm. My concern is we might be trying to catch a rabbit that already has been studied and mitigated far too much... by excessive means actually causing a reduction in safety.... Instead of focusing on ways to improve safety.... WE just keep chasing the same old rabbits down.. the same dead end holes.... where the rabbit somehow disappears again.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" ~ Albert Einstein

8/15 Firedog,

I like your take on honesty and integrity when it comes to timesheets,
however, what exactly constitutes work in your opinion? Although we may
have only been out on the line for 11 hours there is often plenty of other
duties and activities which can amount to 5 hours of additional pay. How
about the following?

When a crew arrives back in camp from the line and refurbs the crews
and/or trucks? (2 hours)

When crews spend an hour waiting to fax times into home unit(s)? (1

When crews bring soiled and quite possibly poison oak infested nomex
to laundry services? (1/2 hour)

When crewmembers with foot and or crotchrot or poison oak stand in
line for showers? (1 to 2 hours)

When the crewboss and squad leaders wait at supply for a few necessary
items while the crew gets in a chowline that numbers several hundred
people including con-crews? (1 to 2 hours)

In my opinion, I have no problem paying people pillow to pillow in a fire
camp because they are often away from home and their family, often get
interrupted sleep (SHU Lightning Complex personnel slept in a fairground
location where they had to put up with monster truck rallies and car races
until almost midnight) and deal with flood lighting, generators, vehicle
and foot traffic on a regular basis. I realize the job requires a great
deal of commitment and honesty but when someone puts down 16 hours but
returns from a project fire like those we've seen in California this year,
they look like hell and I can bet the odds that their appearance cant be
single handedly attributed to just fireline work.

8/14 CalFire's SAI (Serious Accident Investigation) on the CA-BEU-Colorado Fire dozer rollover is out.

Hotlist thread


8/14 I can hear Giff gagging on this one

>From the Forest Service 1905 Use Book (and the ghost of Gifford


Every forest supervisor is authorized, in person or through a subordinate,
to hire temporary men, purchase material and supplies, and pay for their
transportation from place to place to extinguish a fire; but when it is
evident that the expense is liable to be over $300, he must at once
telegraph the Forester for instructions to incur the additional expense. No
expense for fighting a fire outside a reserve must be incurred unless the
fire threatens it.

Any person paid for services at a fire must sign a subvoucher for the
amount received, to be transmitted with the supervisor's regular monthly
account for the month in which the expense is incurred. Full directions for
preparing accounts are printed on the back of all vouchers.

Government employees and person having grazing or other permits within a
forest reserve are not entitled to compensation for fighting fire.

While the government is anxious to prevent and fight fires, only a limited
amount of money can be devoted to this purpose. Experience has proved that
usually a reasonable effort only is justified, and that a fire which can
not be controlled by 20 to 40 men will run away from 100 or even more men,
since heat and smoke in such cases make a direct fight impossible.

Extravagant expenditures will not be tolerated. Fires are sometimes
started for the sake of a job. In and about every reserve it is possible to
enlist the cooperation of the better citizens, so that in time of need
enough men of the right kind will be on hand. A crowd of men hastily
gathered about a town without organization, interest, or experience, is
valuable only as a last resort in extreme need.

Horse Ranger

8/14 August 15th marks the 29th year since the 1979 Spanish Ranch fire. This 900 acre fire occurred in San Luis Obispo County in a remote area near State Highway 166. On this day CDF Fire Captain Ed Marty, Firefighters Steve Manley and Ron Lorant were overrun during a blowup and tragically lost their lives. Firefighter Scott Cox was burned severely and died 6 months later from his injuries.

Two other burnovers occurred during this fire. CDF HFEO Rich Corning was overrun high up on a ridge as he had just completed pushing a deployment zone for his dozer, he escaped injury. Santa Barbara County Dozer Operator John Faezelle was overrun on the lower end of the fire and suffered minor burns.

Corning discovered the site where Marty and his crew fell. Faezelle found Cox coming out of the fire area severley burned and despite his injuries, assisted in getting him to a spot where he could be helicoptered for treatment.

Many lives were affected by this event. Family members and fire personnel have had to cope with this loss since that tragic day.

A memorial is located at CALFIRE Station 20 in Nipomo, Ca. "Our loss never forgotten"

Please contribute to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, especially during these recent tragedies. We cant change the past or bring them back, but we can remember them and take care of those left behind.

Thanks, TP
8/14 Same as it ever was...

>From the Forest Service 1905 Use Book (and the ghost of Gifford


In dry, open woods fire travels faster, and it is often best to go some
distance to the most open and clean ground, and back fire from there. In
handling back fires great care is needed to avoid useless burning;
therefore, they should never be set except by forest officers, unless in
great emergencies.

The night or the early morning hours are the best time to work, whenever
any choice of time exists, for nearly all forest fires die down more or
less during the cool of the night and flare up again during the heat of the

Following are several general principles to be borne in mind:

(a) Protect the valuable timber rather than the brush or waste.

(b) Never leave a fire, unless driven away, until it is put out.

(c) Young saplings suffer more than old mature timber.

(d) A surface fire in open woods, though not dangerous to old timber, does
great harm by killing seedlings.

(e) A fire rushes up hill, crosses a crest slowly, and is more or less
checked in traveling down. Therefore, if possible, use the crest of the
ridge and the bottom as lines of attack.

(f) A good trail, a road, a stream, an open park, check the fire. Use them
whenever possible.

(g) Dry sand or earth thrown on a fire is usually as effective as water
and easier to get.

(h) A little thinking often saves labor and makes work successful.
Ill-planned efforts suggested by haste and excitement rarely lead to

Horse Ranger

8/14 Lots of noise about 16 hour days and costs, how about the dishonesty of putting down 16 and but working less, or more. Both are wrong. Supervisors that allow people to work more than they put down are violating policy and can get in trouble. Those that put down more than they work can get fired. What ever happened to honesty and integrity? What is wrong with someone looking at your timesheet? If you play by the rules why would you care? Society is full of checks and balances to keep people honest. Police with radar, stores with sensors and cameras. What's the big deal? <snip, not relevant>

For goodness sakes, put down what you work, what you put down. If you don't like the rules don't let the door hit you in the rear. You take the FS money, be man and ride for the FS brand or whoever you work for.

Part 2 if you work several 16 or longer shifts in a row, it will affect your ability to think and make decisions. Human performance on test show that after 24 hours without sleep people have the same ability as those with blood alcohol level of .10 which will land you in jail in every state. Wouldn't want someone that impaired making decisions about my safety.

8/14 Release No. FS-081308-02
August 13, 2008 @ 5:00 pm
Media Contact: 541-618-2170

Fallen Firefighter Tribute Scheduled Friday

Medford, Ore. – A tribute to honor the fallen firefighters, their families and friends is scheduled for Friday, August 15 at the Lithia Motors Amphitheater at the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Expo Park in Medford, Oregon.

Scheduled speakers include:

* Marvin Brown – State Forester, Oregon Department of Forestry
* Steve Metheny – Carson Helicopters, Inc.
* Abigail Kimbell – Chief, United States Forest Service
* Congressman Greg Walden – U.S. House of Representatives, Oregon
* Mike Wheelock – President, Grayback Forestry, Inc.
* Tom Harbour – Director, Fire and Aviation Management, United States Forest Service

The amphitheater is located at 1 Peninger Road in Central Point, OR and is accessible from Exit 33 (Pine Street) off Interstate 5.

Gates at the amphitheater will open at 8:30 a.m. and the program is scheduled from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. The tribute will include a family procession, a ceremony, and a private family reception.

The procession to the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Expo Park will begin at Rogue Valley Mall at approximately 9 a.m. and proceed onto East McAndrews Road, Biddle Road and East Pine Street to the Lithia Motors Amphitheater. Those not wishing to view the processional should avoid these areas due to heavy traffic.

Public parking for people wishing to attend the tribute is available at Gate 4 at the Expo Center. Temperatures on Friday are expected to top 100 degrees. Those planning to attend the tribute are reminded to wear appropriate clothing and take the necessary safety precautions.

Nine firefighters perished on August 5 in a helicopter accident on the Buckhorn Fire, part of the Iron Complex, about 15 miles northwest of Junction City, Calif. The tribute is being organized by Grayback Forestry, Carson Helicopters, and the U.S. Forest Service with assistance from the interagency fire community.

Additionally, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, www.wffoundation.org, helps support the families of fallen firefighters and contributions are encouraged. Contributions should include a reference to the Iron 44 Incident.

8/14 Hello this must not have my name attached (fear of reprisal)

I am frustrated, angry and, well just plain mad. As a Forest Service fire fighter I am expected to pass my pack test every yr. If I fail, I will most likely be removed from my primary fire position. This will end my fire fighter retirement.

How come staff in R5 are treated so differently? How is that they can take as many pack tests as they need? How is it that they are still allowed to drive federal vehicles to and from work and home when they are no longer in the operational duty officer position?

They want to lead us, they demand we follow. Yet if we act and perform to the standards that they are held to..... we fail and are offered nothing but the door.

All animals are equal, some are more equal then others.
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region
No Injuries When Nose Gear Collapses

VALLEJO, Calif. – A fixed-wing airplane assigned to the Yolla Bolly Complex had its nose landing gear fail as it made a landing at the Redding airport August 13 at 3:15 p.m. A pilot and Air Tactical Group Supervisor were on board. There were no injuries.

The aircraft had just refueled and taken off, when the pilot noticed a landing gear indicator light. The pilot contacted the tower and did a fly by and was told the gear was still down. After troubleshooting in the air by cycling the landing gear up and down to see if the nose gear would fully retract, the pilot decided to return for a landing. As the aircraft landed, the nose of the airplane contacted the tarmac but the rear gear remained intact.

“The pilot handled the situation well,” said Acting Regional Aviation Safety Manager Jami Anzalone. “The damage is being assessed.”

The Forest Service will be conducting an investigation into the incident.

The aircraft involved is a twin engine, fixed wing aircraft known as an Aero Commander and was operating under contract to the U.S. Forest Service by Kolob Canyons Air Service.
8/14 Dear Abs,

This season has just been overwhelmingly tragic for all of us and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation needs our support more than ever right now as you well know.

We would like to help, when and if you feel it is appropriate to put this on your website, we (The Stump People) would like to let the SoCal Wildland Fire Community know that we are having a "Fill the Stump" Fund Raiser for the WFF on Monday, August 25, 2008 from 4-10 pm at The Route 66 Classic Grill, located at 18730 Soledad Canyon Road. in Canyon County. If patrons mention The Wildland Firefighter Foundation to their server the owner's of Route 66 will donate 15% of all net sales to the WFF. The Stump will also be on hand for people to fill. If anyone has questions about this event, they can email me at thestumppeople@hotmail.com or kcemtkids@aol.com .We are also putting together a Golf Tournament in October for the WFF.

Thank you and take care,

Kathy Carroll and Judy Allegra

8/14 Just wanted to say thanks to the fire community for the tips and flyers and links to the WFF...
we've had recurring spike camps at my station all season and it took no time to print flyers
and brochures to post at camp and in the community.

PNF 34

8/14 A few reasons why Emergency Managers with proper authority, not Line Officers should be managing the Forest Service fire and suppression program. It gets to the point of lunacy when we are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for Line Officers or Line Officer Representatives to oversee how an IC spends funds. Then after all this glorious oversight fails and the agency is bankrupt they begin to talk about furloughs on conference calls. Even with all the Line Officer work with the creation of Chief Principal Reps, IBA's, Line Officer Reps, Cost Apportionment Techs you FAILED to stay within budget. Now after 4 years of fine tuning your cost containment, who are you going to blame now?

Speaking of the Line Officer Principal Rep program, whatever happened with that direction? I haven't seen one of those types for months now.

Fund the agency, request a freaking supplemental and get on with life. Your position as a Line Officer is not that important. It is not the ground pounders problem that you refused to request more funds to cover “YOUR” fire suppression costs.

When Emergency Responders and Emergency Managers collide with Bureaucrats and politicians, BAD THINGS HAPPEN!


Centralized fire management today, tomorrow and forever!

Date: August 12, 2008
Subject: FY 2008 Fire Transfers and Chief's Direction to Defer Obligations
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors


The magnitude of this year’s fire season is requiring the use of transfer authorities for fire suppression that allow for the use of any appropriations or funds available to the Forest Service. The Chief approved a strategy to transfer $400 million with the possibility that additional fire transfers may be needed. The Chief’s letter dated August 4 also describes actions she expects all employees to be following.

Attached is supplemental guidance in effect for Region 5 for the remainder of this fiscal year. There are also links to the TeamRoom where formats for exception requests and consequences can be documented. I will be reviewing and making decisions on these exception requests.

Budget Authority will be withdrawn in WorkPlan to meet the Region 5 assigned amounts plus amounts that position the Region to meet additional transfer needs should that become necessary. Amounts pulled will leave adequate funds to cover salaries and limited amounts for critical needs. Reviews of yearend spending will be made against these updated budget authority levels, but they will also be influenced by reviewing what obligations have taken place since August 1.

We need to follow the Chief’s direction and know that the Agency is working hard to reduce suppression costs. If additional funds become available, they will be freed up, including meeting our obligations to important partners such as grants to States.

If there are any unauthorized commitments where ratification determinations are needed from the Director of Acquisition Management please submit these requests directly to William Whitson. All other actions will be coordinated through the PD&B Staff.

/s/ Arthur L. Gaffrey (for)
Regional Forester

8/14 A nice expression with regard to our firefighter deaths:

Condolences from British Columbia, Canada (doc file)

8/14 To: " Love the job, management scares me"

You asked to others, "How often has a DIVS, OPSC, or IC deny you a 16 hour day."

Personally, any DIVS, OSC, or IC worth a grain of salt that I know expects a full 16 hours to be compensated and worked (or rested), in order, at the minimum, to be available for successive shifts with the highest state of readiness. Any good DIVS, OSC, or IC will go to battle for safety... and for doing what is right for the troops under their command.

Portal-to-portal pay.... with the 1:1 work rest ratio (CAL FIRE model) seems the best scenario, but WE fully understand that there may need to be modifications to fit in a federal world (bureaucracies who don't understand firefighting, or fire community culture)......... Second best fix is the 2:1 (16 Hours Work, 8 Rest Scenario).... followed by the current (and failing) "pipe dream" system of folks who never swung a pulaski or who never dug fireline saying, and serving, as either the CPR or RFR.... "I'm sorry, you must show a meal break" to control costs..... A common 1:1 work/rest ratio issue in the federal 12 on/12 off shift that exists as SIMPLY A MYTH and a mathematical tool for "bean counters" and budget analysts..

The FWFSA has provided some simple fixes and suggestions that have been peer reviewed at the highest levels. It shouldn't be rocket science to anyone who studies safety or how organizational / systemic accidents happen.


P.S. - Dont even get me started on a cost effectiveness scenario of hotels (when available in reasonable travel distances) and quality of rest in keeping folks safer and better rested...... Regardless of the "talking points" that the Agencies present, folks in management DO LISTEN and aren't turning away from our firefighters or our families.
8/14 What RG called as "shutting down" by an Agency FMO to support the WFF should be viewed as a "Wrongful Command" (Ref. UCMJ)... It should be better heard and received in the current climate as simply:

1) Make it work at local levels, pay it forward as "Lessons Learned", and do what is right as a field commander (leader).
2) Follow Commanders (Leaders) Intent, and be a leader as best you can, and
3) If you receive a command from above that isn't consistent.... question it and ask for clarification to make sure it meets the ultimate Commanders Intent and direction.

WFF Supporter
8/13 I"m typing this message as I once again relive August 13, 2006. Today is
the 2nd anniversary of the crash of N5EV and the loss of four people who
were dedicated to their families, friends and professions. Many things
have happened since Mike, Monica, Quin and Lilly left William's Peak
Lookout, never to complete the short trip back to Krassel. My heart is
with my friends who are remembering the events or news of the loss that
occurred here 2 years ago.

I'm also thinking of all the folks impacted by the recent crash at Helispot
44. You are beginning an ordeal that will go on for many months. Those
who have lost friends and family have some long days ahead. You will find
strength in those around you. The pain will start to ease and that huge
lump in your chest will eventually grow smaller.

Everyone will handle it in their own way. After our crash, some people
were angry, some were sad, the most impressive were pleased that they had
the chance to know great people. Others seemed to be in a state of denial,
refusing to accept what had happened. I became a bit of a mother hen, I
was worried about taking care of everyone else, it took quite a while to
step back and give some time to myself. Relationships (work & personal)
can become strained. It's important to recognize when this is happening,
step back and think about what is really important.

The fire world is amazingly small, but reaches to places seldom thought
about. Cards and messages will come from people you've never met and
places that you'll have a hard time finding in an Atlas. Many people have
been in your shoes and they want you to know that you're not alone.

People will tell you what is best for you. Some may say you need to get
back on the horse, some will say you need to get away for awhile. The best
advice is inside you, ask yourself what you need, time alone, time with
friends, a good party, a nice fire assignment, listen to yourself.

A couple of great organizations that are there for all of us are the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the National Fallen Firefighters
Foundation. Both of these organizations will hold memorials that your
firefighters will be honored at. They are well worth friends/family/crew
attending. Both organizations have websites with a lot of helpful
information too.

Last, I want to warn you of the nay-sayers. There will be people that hear
rumors or grab a little piece of information that they believe to be true
and jump to conclusions. Don't let them get you down. Remember that
probable doesn't mean definite, there will be many "experts" giving
opinions and those opinions are often very different.

Always remember your friends, my friends, our friends.

Lewie, Mo, Q and Lilly, cheers.


8/13 Basically for Capt 52 and the cracked windshield, there should be no problem with that either being replaced on the incident (paperwork completed thru the COMP/CLAIMS UL) or given an S# to have it done at home unit. The pump starter will need to be taken care of either through WCF or project funds at home unit. The IMT does not have the authority to approve replacement of non-cache property, only the incident agency (Forest level line officer or designee) if deemed to be a direct relation from fire damage. This direction is very clear and newly defined this year in the Incident Business Management Handbook, Ch 30. Most incident agencies give clear direction when teams are inbriefed on their expectations for handling replacement, claims etc. I wouldn't recommend trying to go behind the scenes and having someone in dispatch give a dummy S# to cover - there is an audit process out there!

As stated by one other MOC4546 - there is a process in place through local government agreements what can and cannot be taken care of at an incident in regards to damage/claims. We do read the agreements and we do discuss with the agency reps when the need arises! We aren't trying to be stingy, just doing the job that we are supposed to do, and applying the rules as they are written...

CA IMT member!

8/13 Please post on They Said

Bigger, tougher fires bring Calif. to the brink


8/13 Dear Federal Wildland Firefighters & Supporters:

We were tremendously honored to record our 85th new FWFSA member this week and want to publicly thank so many that have not only lent their voices to our efforts but rewarded us with your faith, trust & confidence in working on your behalf to secure pay & benefit reforms you all have deserved for far too long.

Recently the FWFSA made a donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and although I am also a proud member of the 52 Club, wanted to do something else. Vicki, Burk and the entire staff at the Foundation do a tremendous job and their response to the tragedies that have befallen the wildland firefighting community in recent weeks is likely overwhelming even to them.

Since we continue to be honored & blessed by an ever-increasing membership, I'd like to sweeten the pot just a bit for potential members of the FWFSA, especially those that have been on the proverbial fence for a while.

Through the remainder of the year, for every new member that joins the FWFSA, my family and I will donate $25.00 to the Foundation in that new Member's name. If a new member pays annually by check or via PayPal through our website, the donation will be made immediately. Those that join and choose to pay via payroll allotment i.e. Dashboard or EmployeeExpress, we will remit a donation upon notification from the FWFSA's financial institution that the new member's allotment has in fact been processed. This also goes for those former annual dues payers who have been notified of their renewal status.

I wish it could be more but I suspect I am the lowest paid "advocate" in the world :).

Again, thanks to all those who have given us the honor of working on their behalf.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
8/13 This was a fantastic book! I've read other books including Young Men and
Fire by Norman Maclean and this told even more. Great read!!

Sawtooth Forest Service

Please let me know the book title. Ab.

8/13 Foundation at the speedway

How about getting a bunch of guys together to take a trip to the speedway that night and collect donations

Contact the speedway and explain what you are doing and who for to get their permission (get a faxed copy confirming permission) to collect money on their grounds. Since it's firefighter appreciation night they may also make an announcement that Wildland Firefighters are passing through the crowds raising money for the Foundation.
Follow the instructions in this pamphlet from the WFF

www.wffoundation.org/documents/WFFPROC0306FUNDPROTO.pdf and send in the following form completed www.wffoundation.org/documents/FORMWFF0206PLANNEDEVENT.pdf , I would make a call to the office to see if they need anything else and touch base.

Provided everyone provides permission show up at the speedway in nomex with a WFF T-shirt if possible so as to be recognizable as wildland firefighters and to draw attention. Use a boot or a bucket (decorate it with the WFF logo, American flags, purple ribbons etc) and spend some time walking around saying hi and educating people about WFF and fire prevention/preparation (print out a few firefighters love cookies flyers and some 52 club membership forms for those who seem interested).

Even if you only get $20 in the boot the amount you'll have passed on information that may lead to future donations and potentially save lives of firefighters and civilians.


8/13 RG,

We did this on our day off out of uniform. Yes, it is against policy to solicit funds in uniform. We happen to be a five day engine so getting the crew together was only a matter of commitment.

If you have several seven day engines might work it out with days off schedule to collect funds although a little harder to be competitive between engines.

As far as getting permission contact cooperate offices by asking for the number from the manager of the business you want to use or search the internet for the number. Make sure you talk with the manager of the store to coordinate time and date.

We had a little help from the local explorer scouts from Apple Valley Fire District, which we have an excellent working relationship with, they were able to wear their uniforms for an added professional look why we Feds could only wear our personally bought t-shirts.

But we ended up raising $2,224 in which $1,700.00 was raised with "fill the boot" in four hours on Sunday from 1000 hrs to 1400 hrs.

Hope this helps,

E-19 Crew

PS. Ab. Just read "They Said"
Irwindale Raceway Aug. 23 might be a good start for a boot drive. I think it's owned by Miller Brewing.
Any takers CNF? ANF, it's in your back yard.




Please don't post in all caps. It means shouting and it's hard to read. Thanks, Ab.

8/13 With all the recent talk about Staph infections, I just can't hold back any longer. Lets take a look at what is actually happening in fire camps throughout the west. My focus is on the (mis) treatment of federal resources. I have been in the federal service for the better part of 15 years and i see this only becoming worse.

PINCHING on the 16 hour day.

How often has a DIVS, OPSC, or IC deny you a 16 hour day. Their hands are tied due to some bureaucrat behind some desk with a calculator making budget decisions. Now, how often did you as a line firefighter actually get "Eight hours of uninterrupted rest"? I bet you have to wait in line for meals (which eats into your "uninterrupted rest"). I bet you have to wait in line for a shower, so as to not get a Staph infection (which eats into your "uninterrupted rest"). I bet you have to sleep in a tent with hundreds of other federal fire personnel listening to a generator (which eats into your "uninterrupted rest"). Meanwhile, our counterparts in the state or local government system eat in restaurants, sleep and shower in hotel rooms, and get paid 24 hour shifts for it.

Of course I know I am going to extremes here but so is the Federal Bean Counter (that is working a 16 hour day) telling you to stop.

Furthermore, is the operating budget. What a joke when a Federal Engine company gets a few thousand dollars per year to operate on (office supplies, toiletries, safety equipment, apparatus maintenance, station maintenance, and barracks supplies for example) only to have half of those funds suspended for management needs. I spent nearly $1000 out of pocket this year just to keep my station operating. OUT OF POCKET.

When crew moral declines, rest is diminished, and spending is needlessly scrutinized Accidents happen. Look at the trends.

Love the job, management scares me.

8/13 Today I received a phone call from a dear friend of mine in the wildland firefighting community and we got talking. Both of us wondered - why does it always take a monumental tragedy to get the donations rolling in to support the WFF? While we are extremely proud and congratulate the engines and all the other folks who have raised some hefty amounts of money, why isn't this something that is an ongoing effort?

Most of the time when there is a fatality it doesn't involve large numbers but the foundation is still there taking care of the family who has lost a loved one with financial and emotional support, just as they are doing now for the Iron 44 families. The difference between the two is that when a single fatality is involved the fire community, as a whole, doesn't seem to get involved with fundraising even though money is still going out from the foundation.

We, as a fire community, need to make the raising of donations to the foundation a year round commitment, not just a seasonal or occasional thing. In that vein, I would like to remind every fire employee ( and even those of us not in fire) that you can contribute to the foundation year round through the Combined Federal Campaign. It will soon be open season and it's easy to do. You can select how much per paycheck you would like to go to the WFF. It comes right out of your paycheck and if any of you are like me, if I have it, I will spend it. However, if I never see it in the first place somehow I don't miss it.

I know some of you are saying "But I joined the 52 Club. How much more are they expecting out of me? I did my part." The answer - Do fundraisers. Several hotshot crews have done poker tournaments, one person does a pub crawl, the possibilities are endless. It will cost you nothing out of pocket and knowing that you have done something for a good cause is definitely something money can't buy.

Just some food for thought....now let's see how many digest it!!!

8/13 Going round robin in Region 6.

Things could get interesting over the next week....I invite comments.

Dan O'Brien
Fire Mgmt Analyst
Northwest Coordination Center

NWCC Fire Behavior Outlook
Issued: August 12, 2008; 1600 hrs
Issued by: Dan O'Brien, NWCC Fire Analyst For the Period: Aug 14 thru 18

Wx Discussion:
Two significant weather events approaching: First, beginning Thursday, we should see the most extensive period of hot dry weather that we've seen all summer. A thermal trough will likely build into the PNW, resulting in very dry and unstable air in the lower levels of the atmosphere. Then, into the weekend and early next week, we could see lightning storms develop, with greatest lightning amounts occurring next Monday or Tuesday.

Fire Behavior Discussion:
Under the influence of the thermal trough, hot, dry, and unstable conditions will accelerate combustion, especially in fine dead fuels. Poor night-time RH recovery beginning Wed/Thu raises the possibility of burning periods extending well into the evening. Fire in very fine fuels, cured annual grasses and draped pine needles, will accelerate rapidly and respond quickly to changes in wind or slope. In heavy fuel beds, plume-dominated events are likely, and intermediate to long range spotting should be expected. Torching and crowning should be expected. Holdovers from last week's lightning are likely to surface over the next few days.

Another week of drying coupled with high temperatures will translate into increasingly difficult initial attack. Live fuels at higher elevations may still need some coaxing to carry fire, but wherever heavy or extensive fuels exist, we can expect fire to burn readily, including crowning runs, Cold Springs style.

Specific Concerns:
OR & WA Cascades: Effects of the thermal trough likely Thursday/Friday/Saturday.
Central OR: Effects of the thermal trough likely Friday/Saturday.
Gnarl Fire: Several critical fire behavior factors line up here-slope, heavy fuels, dead/diseased forest, high-intensity fire regime. With the thermal trough over the fire on Thursday, burning conditions can ramp up quickly to extreme levels. Access and egress for crews in the fire vicinity is a cause for concern; escape routes/safety zones should be well-planned and better communicated.
Ongoing Fires: For Type 2/3/4 fires, expect smoldering to accelerate and unburned fuels to burn out in fire interior. Spotting may become a problem. For WFUs and confine/contain fires, increasing intensity and spotting could translate into rapid rates of spread and raise the fire's visibility and the public's concern. Consider the possibility of incursions into areas of high public use.
Initial Attack: Very dry fuels at low to upper midslopes will be highly susceptible to ignition and spread. Dead fuels at any elevation will burn intensely with frequent spotting. Firefighters should maintain a high level of awareness of changes in wind, slope, or fuel type.
Safety: Firefighter fatigue is our first concern, given this event coming hard on the heels of last week's lightning. Span of control may also be a problem, given that we may see a significant number of new starts early next week while already managing a number of existing ignitions. Sufficient rest and quality planning, and contingency planning, are key.

6-10 Day Outlook:
Very hot temperatures and the threat of lightning diminish beyond mid-week, but we'll still be living with normal August weather and normal August burning conditions.

8/13 It's nice to know that Staph is rampant in our fire camps.
The flesh eating kind of bacterial infection is a pleasant reminder that it
might be a good idea to put on clean nomex at least once during the fire
Remember -that cool, seemingly hard working, oil stained hero in front of
you in the chow line could actually be a strolling laboratory for the next
big world pandemic. Crew chiefs would be wise to survey their minions for
ticks, lice and disease before they unleash them on their fellow
(Preventing the spread of disease is the polite thing to do). If not for
your fellow firefighters- then do it for your mother.

Florence Flaming Nightingale

Flaming Florence, I knew it was you before I looked at your email addy. Haw Haw! Ab.

8/13 MOC4546,
We too have similar stories about the fire not wanting to pay for broken items on incidents. Ground support claiming that you problem was caused by you driving your 2-wheel drive Eng. on a 4x4 road yadda-yadda-yadda. (they were ALL 4x4 roads) If your a L/G responding to an incident on the 5 party agreement signed by all the parties involved, get your OES Div Chief involved. I have found that to be very effective. Some incidents have tried to refuse to replace tires on OES Eng's, bent Tie rods, broken mirrors, etc. If it's a maint. issue, you got it. But if it's incident caused the incident should pay for it. This started to get much worse last year and it's not getting any better. Sometimes you just have to jump up and down on some ones desk to get their attention. Always take a copy of the agreement with you and ask them if they have read it ?
8/13 Ab,

The Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, CA is holding a Firefighter Appreciation
Night Aug. 23. They do this every year from what I know. I attended last year. www.toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com/index.asp

I know it is short notice, but it sure would be great if the WFF could make it out
there to get some donations.


Be an ambassador. They're in OR at memorial services and supporting families. Ab.

8/13 In response to some more questions and confusion about retirees wearing uniforms:

Official answer concerning retirees wearing uniforms:

6509.11k_48.03 - Personnel in Positions Authorized to Wear Uniforms

c. Retirees who were authorized to wear uniforms on active duty may wear their dress
or field uniforms during functions associated with the Forest Service.


8/13 I just wanted to take a moment to remind folks that people cannot donate to an organization they don't know about.

I am always surprised how many folks there are, especially the smaller contractors, who do not know about the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and what it does.

Many that do know the name do not realize that it can and will help contractors as well as regular agency folks when things go wrong.

Education is the key here and now, when there is so much publicity surrounding the tragedy of the Helicopter crash, is a prime opportunity to talk to people about the Foundation and the work it does.

The Foundation provides resources on its website to help get the message out to folks in camp including membership forms for the 52 club, posters (including one with tear off strips for the website) and a huge amount of information as to how exactly the money and support helps firefighters and their families. To access this information visit www.wffoundation.org/52clu/index.phpl and scroll to the end of the page. It's easy to print out the posters and ask the Information Officer to put them up around camp (or do it yourself and have a chat with folks while you do it). If you are going to be working out of the ICP, make yourself a point of contact for further information. You can even ask the Plans Section to make an announcement about the WFF at the morning briefing.

Make sure that every incident you go to, you take a stack of 52 club membership forms. I like to have a bunch right there at check-in or demob when I am working there and have a chat with people when they come in. Everyone has to go through check in and demob at some point.

It's not just firefighters who can support the WFFoundation. There have been many times I've been in town on the way to or from a fire and stopped in a store and been asked "We're so grateful for what you have all done, how can we say thank you?" A quick trip back to the vehicle and I hand them the Firefighters Love Cookies (www.wffoundation.org/documents/FirefightersLoveCookies2_000.pdf) flyer.

I would like to see every fire camp have information about the WFF readily visible and available so that no one can say that they don't know what the foundation does and how the WFF can help them to help firefighters.

Wear your WFFoundation shirts and hats and pins with pride in the knowledge that you are supporting a cause much greater than any one of us, and be an Ambassador for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in everything you do.


Good suggestions. You're a prime ambassador. Hopefully others will follow suit. Thanks, Ab.

8/13 For the guy that is having problems getting S numbers for his windshield
and pump, I suggest he contact his home unit dispatch and have them create
a subordinate resource order in ROSS to that firecode for the repairs.


I'll copy and paste this message in an email to him. Thanks. Ab.

8/13 Capt. 52,

My volunteer fire district has had a Type 1 and a Type 3 engine out on both California State and Federal Fires since the 'races' started in early June. The engines themselves have been out for up to five weeks with crews rotating out every seven days.

The issue of repairs that you described happened up on the Humboldt Complex (Federal). the Shasta-Trinity (Federal and State), one fire in Santa Barbara, and on another fire up north..

The story was the same, damage occurred to the Type 1 OES (State of California) owned engine with a tire, a number of mechanical problems, and a pump issue. The Type 3 we sent out belonged to the fire district, and there was a tire damaged, a crack to a windshield, and some other minor issues involving the vehicle itself, all while working the fires.

The Chief was pulling his hair (what was left of it) out when he heard all the problems the crews were having with repair issues. The vehicles don't go out with problem, the issues are these vehicles are crawling around in the woods, the rocks, up the hills, in the dust and the smoke, working around heavy equipment in a dynamic environment. And guess what? Damage and wear is going to happen on large fires.

Most of the fires in R5 (California) have been getting similar replies from Ground Support, "Its your problem, either pay for it yourself or repair it when you get home."

I'm sure there some equipment out there that showed up with problems to the fire and are trying to get them repaired, claiming they 'happened' on the fire.

Both the State of CA and the Feds are trying to cut corners with costs right now, the State has spent over $400 Million and the hot part of the season is now getting started. The Feds have spent over a Billion dollars so far, with the two hottest months of the season about to begin.

I find the issue ridiculous! You damage your engine or equipment on a fire you've been on for weeks, and a problem occurs you expect the incident to repair it. After all, you are the Incident's resource until you are sent home.

To the State of CA and the R5 Feds: Stop being stingy. You might have money for all these things if you cut back on the money you are spending daily on some of these private contracts and concentrate on your government resources. That's just my opinion.

8/13 Capt 52,

Talk to the Safety Officer, he should assist with the following:

26710. It is unlawful to operate any motor vehicle upon a highway when the windshield or rear window is in such a defective condition as to impair the driver’s vision either to the front or rear.
In the event any windshield or rear window fails to comply with this code the officer making the inspection shall direct the driver to make the windshield and rear window conform to the requirements of this code within 48 hours. The officer may also arrest the driver and give him notice to appear and further require the driver or the owner of the vehicle to produce in court satisfactory evidence that the windshield or rear window has been made to conform to the requirements of this code.

As to your pump problem, if you can't safely start your pump, you sound like another expensive hand crew, equipment not operating as normal, sounds like another safety issue.

The Ground Support Unit leader sounds like he/she is trying to keep costs down on the fire at the expense of safe equipment.

been there before'
8/13 Capt. 52- Your issue sounds similar to others I have heard coming out of R5 this season. One of our engines drove 3 hours, roundtrip, to pick up essential vehicle items from an auto parts store, because it would have taken ground support 3 days to do so (if they had been willing - which at least one ground support employee was very much not!).

Back to your issue: The windshield should be covered. Your pre-use inspection will show it was not damaged. I would fill out an AD-112, report of damaged property with your DIVS signature and turn it in, along with a copy of your pre-use, to comp/claims. They should be able to generate an S# if appropriate. Ground support does not necessarily need to be involved. If you get more grief, you might think about running it up to the Finance section chief, too.

The pump starter motor may be a bit more difficult. My experience has been that most incidents will try and pawn those issues back on the home unit as "normal wear and tear." Cost savings and all, you know. Same suggestions as above though, if you can get by with S #s and making the fix back home.

If no one on the current team will help, a last ditch might be to give one of the R2 Team's finance folks a call. They might have some good input.

So much for teams supporting the firefighters on the ground, eh?

Best of luck,

8/13 Ernie in the Skyyyyyyyy with Diamonds!

Remembering... Ernie


8/12 The Shasta Trinity did an excellent job on its website for Iron-44.


The site includes contact information for the families. I'm hoping the wildland community
will really support these families as well as those injured. I'd particularly mention Bill Coultas
who can be reached through Carson. He could remain in the hospital for a month.

Still Out there as an AD

Community, scroll down and click the links for the individuals. It was good to read their brief bios. Thanks for the heads up on the site. Nice job. It's great to have contact addresses, too. Ab.

8/12 Need some Business Management help:

To anyone with knowledge of FS policy/documentation:

I have one of our Engines from Region 2 out in Region 5 on an on-going complex. It has been assigned out there since June 28th and we've rotated crews every couple of weeks. The complex it's on is winding down, and my most recent crew out there has had a few vehicle issues due to use on the incident.

Major issues:

Cracked windshield on the incident

Starter motor on the pump went out 4th week into the incident.

The current Ground Support Chief will not fix these two problems that occurred on the inicident and will not issue S-numbers for us to fix them when the module returns home at the end of this week.
This is the first time in 10 years I have had an issue with a management team not willing to take care of the equipment on the assignment. The current Ground Support says Fleet will take care of it and there's no need to issue a S-number. This is contrary to everything I've been taught.

First- Fleet covers the chassis in our region, not the pump package. The pump package comes directly out of project dollars, just like packs, files, pulaskis, etc. The starter motor for the pump is part of the pump package so it SHOULD be covered under the incident.

Second- The windshield was cracked ON THE INCIDENT, during the reign of the previous mgmt team. The current management team will NOT cover the cracked windshield, won't fix it or issue an S-Number.

Who has some suggestions? I'm making some phone calls Wednesday and would like to not have to call the IC, but with the current spending freeze, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place to get this vehicle back into operable condition.

Capt 52

8/12 Two people have sent the following article and one person added a comment:



I would like to share this article from the Idaho Statesman. The article, which describes a lawsuit filed only days before the applicable statutes of limitation (Idaho Code § 5-219(4); ORS 12-110(1)) would have tolled, can be read in a number of ways. One of those ways (and the way that I choose) is as a reminder, on the two year anniversary of the Krassel accident, to stay safe and remember that there is an often a distinction between what we are asked to do at work, and what is actually important.


Suit filed over fatal helicopter crash
- Statesman Staff
Edition Date: 08/12/08

The parents of Gary Lewis and Monica Lee Zajanc on Monday filed a wrongful death suit against Evergreen Helicopters in federal court, saying their pilot failed to comply with Forest Service helicopter pilot safety requirements.

Lewis, of Cascade, and Zajanc, of Boise, were firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service when they died in a helicopter crash Aug. 13, 2006, near Yellow Pine.

Also killed were Lillian Patten, of Olympia, Wash., a fire lookout, and the helicopter's pilot, Quin Stone, of Emmett.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined the helicopter collided with a 90-foot-tall dead tree. The NTSB concluded the pilot's intentional low altitude flight and failure to maintain adequate altitude to clear the trees were the crash's probable cause.

The suit, filed by Larry Zajanc, Nolene Hollifield and Gary and Kay Lewis, contends McMinville, Ore.-based Evergreen, which was under contract with the Forest Service, is responsible for the deaths.

The Forest Service requires all helicopter flights be conducted at least 500 feet above ground level unless the mission required flight at a lower altitude.

8/12 Ab,

I'm glad Krs got a chance to do his rewrite of Scratchline 17. In my opinion writers should be required to read the accident report before creating a few paragraphs like the Hero Complex paragraphs - that don't make sense when measured against choices and reality Krs and the Plumas Hotshots experienced that Halloween day in Kentucky.

OK, if others seem OK with the compromise, I can let it lie. Krs, we got your back. What happened to you could have happened to any of us. Please keep sharing the story that we need to "expect the unexpected".

Ab, please put in the report link again. SAI Report (34 page, 1400 K pdf file)
I encourage all to read it, but not if you need to learn "how not to have a hero complex..." --tongue in cheek--

Tahoe Terrie

8/12 Moc4546,

The Los Padres and Los Prietos Hotshot crews are one and the same.


The Los Padres Hot Shot Crew was established in 1948 as an initial attack and follow up crew for the Los Padres National Forest.

In 1965 the crew name was changed to the Los Prietos Hotshots due to the addition of two other crews on the Forest (Monterey Hotshots & Ozena Hotshots both now disbanded). In 1974 the Ojai Hotshots were added to the Forest, which are now also disbanded. Due to no other hotshot crews remaining on the Forest, the crew name was changed back to the Los Padres Hotshots in 1994.

A crew was re-established on the Monterey Ranger District in the MEL buildup of the early 2000's, but the crew never reached "Hotshot" status. The Monterey Crew is currently lacking qualified overhead along with many unfilled firefighter positions. The crew is stationed at Fort Hunter Liggett.

The large helicopter crew at Arroyo Grande on the Santa Lucia District of the Lost Padres was reverted from a successful S-61 rappel program back to a medium contract (212) last year. The Los Padres opted to keep the large 20 person "helishot" crew as an initial attack hand crew co located with the more traditional helitack crew at the Arroyo Grande Helbase. The crew, under former Los Padres Hotshot leadership, achieved Hotshot status earlier this season.

So, two hotshot crews now exist on the Los Padres, The Los Padres IHC based on the Santa Barbara Ranger District at Los Prietos Ranger Station and the Arroyo Grande RHC based on the Santa Lucia Ranger District at the Arroyo Grande Station.

As a side note, Los Prietos means "the dark ones" .

a former Los Prietos and Los Padres Hotshot (and damm proud of it!!)
8/12 Anyone out there in R-5,

I was looking through the California Forest Service information listings on the Internet,
and have a question regarding the Los Padres National Forest FMO resources.

Your FMO Fire Resource Lineup shows that you have the Los Padres Hotshots, the
Los Prietos Hotshots, and a 20-person Regional crew out of Ft. Hunter-Leggitt.

Is the Los Prietos Hotshots crew in-service now, and if so is it a National or Regional

Is the 20-person handcrew listed as a Regional Hot Shot crew, and is there designation
"Ft. Hunter Leggitt IHC?

I tried calling the Supervisor's Office in Golita at the number listed, but I got no answer
at the Forest FMO listing.

Can someone from the LP answer these questions?

Thank you.


packin it up, we're going home
just two more chains
till the no hiking zone

the day is almost through
the ship is here
we've got to move
helitack is holding true

I hear wooshing wap of the blades
it seems i've been waiting for this day
until the ship took us away

i want to tell my brothers
its ok

for Grayback Forestry
Aug. ? , 2008

AZ 12

8/12 Dear Abercrombie,

The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) wanted to let you know how
we resolved the concerns with Scratchline 17. This was done in
collaboration with Krs Evans. Please see the link at:
http://wildfirelessons.net/documents/Scratchline_Issue17_2008_Add.pdf and
take note of the addendum added to Avoid the Hero Complex on pages 6 and

The LLC appreciates your support of the wildland fire community.



Paula Nasiatka
Center Manager
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

Thanks, Paula. Thanks Krs. Ab.

Here's Krs' rewrite/addendum:

Avoid the Hero Complex

People working beyond their capabilities and having a hero complex, or an "I can take that down" attitude is a pressing safety issue in chainsaw operations. It is important to know when to step back and say that someone else, with more experience, needs to fall this tree. When in doubt, rope it off and walk away. On one wildfire in Washington, the fire burned the roots off many trees. An experienced sawyer was called in and after a quick assessment said, "Go around this, I'm not going in there." This provides a good example of knowing when to say no. No trees have to be cut; make more line if needed.

Even without that Hero Complex, anything can happen - expect the unexpected. This is a key lesson. In the vicinity of standing dead trees, things fall from the sky. Even when you are not involved in the falling, dangerous conditions exist. In one case, a firefighter was walking through the woods, thinking nothing would happen to him. It was just another fire- Nothing terribly exciting going on. A bomber had hit that last flank and not even much smoke was left. "We'll just clear out the edge of the burn so the guys can hand-feel and we're out of here" he thought, not expecting anything else to happen. But something did happen, and he was paralyzed by a falling snag. For more information on this 2001 accident on the Daniel Boone National Forest go to: http://krstofer.org/poplar/

Krs Evans
August 2008

8/12 Infineon Raceway is holding a firefighter appreciation day on 8/24.
Might be a good way to get the WFF some additional resources with
"the stump".

8/12 Re: Forest Service's efforts to come up with $400 million to cover fire expenses above budgeted amounts


Shari's post of earlier today (8/11) referring to an article found in Oregonbusiness.com on the efforts of the Forest Service to come up with $400 million to cover fire expenditures above those budgeted for this fiscal year is a reality. If costs exceed the additional $400 million, more cuts will be made. Some funds have already been withdrawn and more will continue to be withdrawn each week until this sum is obtained. Contracts planned for this fiscal year, including some currently being advertised, are not going to be awarded. Additional restrictions beyond stopping contracting are being imposed. This process is causing a great deal of turmoil within the organization. A large amount of time is being expended trying to determine how to obtain these funds and what will not get accomplished. Fuels reduction and forest health improvement projects are in jeopardy of being withdrawn. Withdrawing and then reoffering or rewriting and reoffering contracts at a later date incurs additional costs beyond those of a postponed or cancelled contract. This process is extremely detrimental to sound management of our national forests.

This year California is experiencing one of, if not, the worst fire season on record. Dry lightning started numerous fires at the same time. As of yet many have not been fully suppressed. According to the Palmer Drought Index the majority of California is in a severe drought. To make matters worse fuel prices have sky rocketed. With these increased costs, the cost of suppressing a fire of similar size to last year is substantially higher. Yet the Forest Service is expected to spend no more for fire suppression this year than the average of the past 10 years expenditures. Time to act is short--the federal fiscal year ends on Sept 30th.


8/12 Dear Ab,

I am proposing establishing a Wildland Firefighters Foundation 365 Club as an upgrade to the 52
Club, for those who would like a structured plan that increased their support. In order to make it more
affordable, payments could be divided into semi annual ($182.50) quarterly ($91.25) or monthly ($30.42).

Personally, my first check for the quarterly amount will be cut and sent on September 1 st.

In light of all the financial support that the WFF will be providing this year to the families of our
fallen and injured brothers and sisters, having a cash flow like this would really them out, as well as
providing a way for WFF to be more flexible and generous in their support.

Anybody else want to pony up?

Media Contact: (541) 618-2170
August 11, 2008
Public Contact: (541) 618-2171

Fallen Firefighter Tribute Planned for Friday

MEDFORD, Oregon – A tribute to the firefighters who died on the Iron Complex at Helispot 44 will be held on Friday, August 15th at the Lithia Motors Amphitheater on the Jackson County Fairgrounds near Medford, Oregon. Gates will open at 8:30 a.m. and the program is scheduled from 10:00 until 11:30. The amphitheater is located at 1 Peninger Road in Central
Point, OR and is accessible from Exit 33 (Pine Street) off of Interstate 5.

The tribute is being organized by Grayback Forestry and Carson Helicopters with assistance from the interagency fire community.

An information center has been established in Medford. Media representatives can call the information center at (541) 618-2170. Members of the public can call (541) 618-2171. The information center will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 p.m.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, www.wffoundation.org, helps support the families of fallen firefighters and contributions are encouraged. Contributions should include a reference to the Iron 44 Incident.

Additional information can be found on Grayback Forestry’s website at www.graybackforestry.com.

Cards and letters can be sent to Grayback Forestry at:
1570 Avenue F
White City, OR 97503

Sent in by Iron 44 Incident Folks

8/11 For Immediate Release
Contact: Mike Ferris (208) 559-5367
August 11, 2008

Celebration Scheduled to Honor Fallen Firefighter James Ramage

REDDING, Calif. – A celebration honoring James (Jim) N. Ramage, a U.S. Forest Service helicopter pilot, who recently died in the Buckhorn Fire helicopter accident, has been scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 16 at the Redding Convention Center in Redding, California.

The event will celebrate James’ outstanding life and 24-year career as a helicopter pilot and aviation inspector with both the U.S. Forest Service and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The celebration will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a procession of fire apparatus at the Redding Convention Center, followed by the 2:00 p.m. ceremony of invited speakers, a video presentation highlighting James’ life and career, remarks and comments by James’ family and friends, and a fly-over tribute of firefighting aircraft.

The celebration is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend the event. The public is advised to arrive early due to likely traffic congestion and parking limitations at the convention center. The Redding Convention Center is located at 777 Auditorium Drive in Redding, California.

Sent in by Still Out There as an AD

8/11 MRSA (Staphylococcus aureus) Safety Alert:

Safety Alert
August 8, 2008

Subject: Potential MRSA Exposure

Area of Concern: Northern California Fire Incidents
Distribution: All Employees Supporting Fire Incidents


During the past week, one of our Region 3 Interagency Hotshot crews returned from a fire assignment in Northern California after having confirmed three (3) cases of MRSA (Staph Infection) on their crew over the course of separate assignments. It has now been confirmed that the initial case was contracted at a previous fire assignment but was not confirmed as MRSA at that time, even after initial and follow-up medical attention and the crew returning home from that first assignment. After being hospitalized, the crew member was still not diagnosed with MRSA and the remaining crew was dispatched to another fire assignment in Northern California. After a MRSA diagnosis was confirmed in the initial crewmember, another crewmember noticed a similar occurrence and taken to a nearby hospital (near the fire incident) where MRSA was also confirmed. The patient was released to duty and provided topical ointment and told to keep it clean. At the time, the doctors in the emergency room at the hospital confirmed that MRSA was "running rampant" in California.

After cleaning and disinfecting all vehicles and equipment, the crew returned to work on the fireline only to have the crewmember experience worse symptoms and taken back to the hospital with a diagnosis of MRSA and later released from the incident and sent home. The crew remained at the incident only to have a third individual with a 'bee sting' that developed MRSA. The individual was taken to the hospital where MRSA was confirmed. After much debate, the crew made the proactive decision to ask to be sent home to provide recuperation time for the crew and affected crewmembers.

Safety Concerns to Employees:

Anyone can contract a Staph infection and are most likely to get a Staph infection if they have:
" Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a Staph infection.
" Contact with items and/or surfaces that have Staph on them.
" Any openings in the skin such as a cut, scrape, or insect sting.
" Crowded living conditions
" Poor hygiene.

Most Staph infections are minor and may be easily treated if diagnosed early. However, Staph may cause more serious conditions such as infections of the bloodstream, surgical sites, or pneumonia. Sometimes a Staph infection that starts as a skin infection may worsen or be diagnosed as MRSA. MRSA is different from other types of Staph because it cannot be treated with certain antibiotics.

Staph is a type of bacteria that may cause skin infections that look like pimples or boils and can easily enter existing skin openings such as cuts, scrapes and insect bites. Skin infections caused by Staph may become red, swollen, or have pus or other drainage and can easily be misdiagnosed at earlier stages of infection. Some Staph (known as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA) are resistant to certain antibiotics, making it harder to treat.

Treatment for a Staph skin infection may include taking an antibiotic or having a doctor drain the infection. If you are given an antibiotic, be sure to take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it. Do Not share antibiotics with other people or save them for later use.

Mitigation Measures:

MRSA is now becoming more common in healthy people. These infections can occur among people who are likely to have cuts or wounds and have close contact with one another, such as members of fire crews. This type of MRSA is called community-based methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA).

MRSA is not to be taken lightly, especially if contracted during a fire assignment. It's critical that all employees take immediate action and seek medical attention and help mitigate the spread of the infection. Fire assignments are the perfect environment for a Staph infection to thrive due to limited hygiene, close living conditions and potential contaminants. MRSA (STAPH INFECTION) IS PREVENTABLE!

All employees that will be supporting fire incidents need to be proactive and take preventative measures prior, during, and after assignments. Don't "assume" that someone else will take on that responsibility. Mitigation measures that can be taken include the following:

" Take a small supply kit in your fire gear that has alcohol-based hand sanitizer and sanitizer wipes. Don't always expect all fire camps to provide this for you.
" Be "compulsive" about hand-washing and hand sanitizing during fire assignments. Wash your hands often!
" Do Not touch other people's cuts or bandages without protection (surgical gloves).
" Do Not share personal items like towels, combs, or razors.
" Pay Attention to all wounds (insect bites/stings, poison oak, cuts, scrapes) and treat them as a perfect MRSA entry site. If you notice any redness, swelling, pus or other - seek immediate medical attention.
" Keep all cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a clean bandage.
" Discuss preventative measures at crew safety briefings and pay close attention to the Incident Action Plan components (Safety message, Medical/Medivac Plan) in case you have a medical emergency. ALL employees on an incident need to read and understand the Medical Plan each day.
" If there is a suspected or confirmed exposure, take immediate measures for disinfecting all vehicles and equipment.

Regardless of the situation, MRSA is of great concern. MRSA infections are more difficult to treat than ordinary staph infections. For some people, especially those who are weak or ill, these infections can become serious. Additional information about MRSA can be found at the following web sites:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC): www.cdc.gov/

Web MD:
www.webmd.com/search/search_results/default.aspx?query=MRSA Staph Infection&sourceType=undefined

EPA (MRSA - recommended disinfectants): http://epa.gov/oppad001/list_h_mrsa_vre.pdf

Links to the original for printing and posting. Page 1 and Page 2
This is important. It has been a killer. The Spanish speaking crews should be alerted as well. Ab.

8/11 Ab,

Here is an interesting Oregon Business Magazine article on how the U.S. Forest Service is attempting to deal with the financial aspect of this season’s firefighting immense expenses.



Congress asked Chief Kimbell if the FS needed more money prior to the fire season and she declined it. What can I say. It's there on video tape. Perhaps she's forcing the issue so it will get resolved? Ab.

8/11 The Shasta-Trinity NF did a nice bio page in Memory of Jim Ramage:


8/11 Getting to a fire assignment, flying vs driving:


I noticed a couple remarks on folks being told they had to fly when
assigned to California. I too was told to fly when I went to work on the
Canyon Complex, I was ordered as a OPSC2 and when I was told I would be
flying I called the IC and found out that if the IC requests that you drive
North Ops will honor that. A simple solution is out there, just have the
requesting fire order you with AOV.


8/11 Getting to a fire assignment:

AD for another 30 et al,

I was offered an R-6 assignment today in a position where there is a critical shortage. Instead of driving a government rental for 6 hours up the freeway, NWC wanted me to fly to Portland, get picked up by a driver and taken to Hood River where a frustrated GSUL would try to find me a vehicle. "Sorry", I said. "I need to take more stuff than is allowed on the plane, and besides that, it just doesn't make sense for the Forest Service to pay premium price for an airplane ticket, not to mention the added expense of facilitating renting a vehicle at the incident and the inconvenience to all involved, so cancel filling the order".

I battled irrational policy and nonsense decisions throughout my career and was labeled a whiner and complainer. So be it, my fight against stupidity will continue.


8/11 For those of you FS retirees planning to attend any firefighter memorial now
or in the future. I have checked this out with the FS and it is legal for retirees
to wear the uniform. I would think it would be the same for any federal agency.

8/10 Re: Medical Standards Processes

Monocular Firefighters,

My friend in San Diego BLM took his case thru EEO to San Diego District Court (Federal) and established precedent regarding Monocular Firefighters in a settlement with BLM. He was awarded back his quals thru the settlement and court costs (all he asked for). 7 BLM firefighters in California were affected. Some in disgust went to the Forest Service prior to this settlement.

This program in his opinion was poorly conceived and implemented by a doctor who turned out to be a Dentist, with work toward industrial hygiene. Why couldn't we have chosen a qualified Team MD of the Super Bowl Winning Team committed to getting players "back in the game"?

My friend won't appear here, but recently was extremely happy as he told me he had responded to his 502nd incident with no restrictions, and, after 500+ successful responses since becoming monocular, has certainly proven was not a hazard to himself or others.

He feels, and I agree, that the Baseline Physical should have determined the American Wildland Firefighter with bad ears, bad eyes, sore knees and then the standard developed.

FMOs be aware the unqualified Dentist will bully you not to hire your proven guys and gals. Be courageous, and remember, the Dentist is not qualified to make these calls, you are...



CA-BDF Engine 19 raised $1,703.05 today for the WFF with more coming in.
I challenge all CA-BDF Engine Crews to meet or beat this. Come on folks, they
helped us when we needed it.

We passed the boot till we got the boot. Make sure to contact corporate offices
when raising fund in front of big name businesses. They are pretty cooperative.

We are currently working on plans for a OHV Poker Run in the spring hopefully
by the Slash X on HWY 247 north of Lucerne Valley. Keep you posted.

Thanks Apple Valley Fire Explores!

Engine Crew 19

Great! Ab.

8/10 Heads up.

I understand there's a t-shirt vendor (company out of Reno) that's selling on or near the Iron Complex that has the purple ribbon on its t-shirts. If you choose to buy from them, know that they do not donate to the WFF (or any wildland firefighter support organization). If you see them, please ask them if they donate any of their proceeds for the benefit of our firefighters. If they say they do, get the details (their Company name, seller's name, what organization they're contributing to) and let's check. I believe in holding businesses that profess to support wildland firefighters accountable for their claims.

IMWTK History

Does anyone know the story of the first purple ribbon with flame pins following the Storm King tragedy? Did the FS folks in Boise who worked to create the Wildland Firefighters Monument choose the purple ribbon and the image? I know the purple ribbon pins are approved for wearing on Forest Service uniforms and symbolize our honor of and caring for our fallen wildland firefighters similar to the black bands worn on shields and as armbands, etc. that structure firefighters use. I assume the purple ribbon pins are also approved for other DOI agency uniforms. Can anyone confirm this? IMWTK.

Thanks All,


PS. Here's the real deal on purple ribbon pins.

8/10 Medical Standards Processes

Notes circulating behind the scenes originally out of R3 in mid-June that gives a heads up on Medical Standards List for FS Medical Standards Processes... comes to R3 10/1/08 and to R5 in 2009. Evidently it's never too early to start planning. Ab.

As mentioned in today's FMO conference call (6/18/08), I have received numerous
requests regarding the MSP process and what we need to be doing now. Good
for you all for being proactive since we (R3) implement October 1, 2008.
However, there's lots to be done before then to ensure the program goes

There will be a letter going out soon to the Forest Supervisors regarding
the process, however, I wanted to make sure that you were all knowledgeable
and proactive now. I'm attaching a 'Employee Fact Sheet' with some of the
things that you can be doing now. Pay close attention to Page 5 "What Now"
as I've outlined some items for the Fire Staffs to consider doing now.

Just a few items to emphasize as well that I hope will be helpful:

  • Visit the Medical Standards Program website for updated information:
  • Visit the HCM website specific to the MSP:
  • Follow the steps to setup an account with Comprehensive Health Services
    (CAS) to begin inputting data. (you will need each employees SS# to
    develop profiles and accounts)
  • Complete and submit the 'Medical Confidentiality Form' as suggested.
    Inform your employees of the MSProgram and what it involves. Encourage
    employees with any medical conditions (hearing, vision, asthma, stinging
    insect allergies, etc) to start a documentation file they can have the
    medical clinic that performs the exam attach to their medical
    examination forms. It can expedite the process tremendously - if they
    have a medical condition they know about and have successfully performed
    firefighting duties.
  • For those of you that attended the MSP training this spring - review the
    student notebook. For those that were not able to attend the workshop,
    see if you can get copies (or let me know and we can make extras).
  • Involve those employees that have been through the process already -
    they can be helpful and provide some good 'lessons learned'.
    Continue being Proactive ....

Thank you for your hard work and don't hesitate to holler if I can be of
any help ..... good luck!

<snipped R3 name>

8/10 To whom it may concern:

I am on a quest to find out when the original 13 watch out situations were
developed and when they changed into the 18 Watch Out Situations. Do
you have any information on this subject?

Thank you,

Bruce V
8/10 AB,

I first flew with Jim Ramage in 1988 at the annual ATGS school in Redding. Since then we worked together on many incidents over the years. I last spoke with him during the ATGS refresher class at MCC at Sacramento in 2007. He was and always will be the number one firefighting helicopter pilot, remembered for his professionalism, sense of humor and placing others' needs first. As many in the firefighting and aviation realm grieve this great loss, I know he is watching over and making sure we do it right.

My son lives and works in Medford with the BLM and he knows and has worked with most of the Grayback Crew that also perished. May they rest in peace and God give comfort and love to their families and friends during the coming days.

Below says it all:

"He Will Be Remembered"

He Will Always Be Remembered, as you share the stories and the memories of how he lived his life and how very much he meant, may you find comfort. And throughout this difficult time, may you also know the deep sympathy and concern that is felt for you and all your family. All of us are praying that this message will reveal our heartfelt understanding of the sorrow that you feel. May you find comfort in God's words and in the knowledge that others sympathize with you in your loss.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18


8/10 A tribute/memorial service is planned for Jim Ramage (FS check pilot)
Saturday, Aug 16, in Redding.

A tribute/memorial service is planned for all the Grayback Forestry
crew members Friday, Aug 15, in Medford, Oregon.

As the details are worked out, we'll get them to you.

Please pass this information on to your employees and other interested
people. Although we have a large team (R6/R5/Grayback Forestry)
working on the services, it is and will continue to be difficult to get the
word out to everyone.

Six Rivers NF

8/10 Ab,

For the past several years I have been pushing the Forest Service to establish Standard Operating Procedures and Protocols for employees working as EMTs. While some progress has been made, at the current rate it will be some years before we have something in writing that we can work with. In the mean time, it is up to all of us to continue to train and ask questions.

With the recent incident on the Iron Complex and other incidents in the past, it is clear that burns are one area where additional training is required. As a Nationally Registered EMT and US Army Combat Field Medic, I have spent some time working with and received additional training in all manner of Burns.

A good starting point is the Peoples Burn Foundation (www.peoplesburnfoundation.org/), which offers information and an excellent online training course called 'To Hell and Back'. While the course is geared towards structural firefighters, it provides some excellent information and for those who have little experience with burns, this training is a great place to start. This course is free and for EMTs also offers a couple continuing education units for recertification. I highly encourage all firefighters to take a look at this.

Brian Kliesen
Santa Fe Helitack
8/10 More Hotlist discussion of Safety Tips for Fallers and Those in the Felling Environment: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=5995

Stay or Go, the Aussie Method, article and Hotlist discussion thread from the LA Times: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=6238

8/10 Message: Ab, Interesting Read... SoCal FF:

Taking Steps Towards Change: Follow-up to Initial Diagnostic Memo to US Forest Service. 30 June 2008.

http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/dialogos/dialogos-followup-report.pdf (on the Forest Service Web/Intranet)

Attached File dialogos-followup-report.pdf (26 page 490K pdf file. For those without FS Intranet).

Discussion thread in the Hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=28073

Fair Use Disclaimer


Good Morning Abs,

The Le Hardy Fire called this morning with a total (so far) of $1,656 in donations
collected. That surpasses the Gunbarrel Fire. We can not thank everyone enough
for their generous donations and support.

Stay safe.

WFF staff

8/10 AD for another 30,

Your situation has happened to me. I live in south central Oregon and two times I have been dispatched to northern Arizona (Payson and Cave Creek). The first time I assumed I would be driving, until dispatch called and asked which airport I would prefer to fly from. I said I would prefer to drive and I could be there much sooner than by flying. My dispatch office talked with the folks down south and I was told "NO, they want you to fly!" So, I flew. On the second trip, I voiced my opinion again, and received the same response. On this trip, I spent a good part of the day in fire camp, waiting for Ground Support to find me a vehicle. If I had driven, not only would I have had my own vehicle but I could have been on the line a full day earlier. When I returned home from the first trip, I figured I could have saved the government quite a few dollars by driving (quick tickets are not cheap, and it seems the government pays more than the citizen - maybe not, it just appeared that way). I also could have been to my assignment about 8 hours earlier. When I questioned the "Why", I was told it is safer to fly than to drive those long miles. After nearly having an accident in Phoenix, a city I am unfamiliar with, in a SUV I was unfamiliar with, I was not too happy with that response, however, the statistics do show that more fire fighters die driving to and from fires.

You are not alone.
8/9 Re: Caltrans and CHP are the guilty parties in starting the acronym games (see below).... thanks to CHiPs....

The name of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection still exists and is still the official title of the department. CAL FIRE was adopted to stress the importance of the fire protection mission of the Agency, as well as make it clearer than "CDF" for civilians to understand.

Contrary to what some may believe, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) still works under, and is supervised by the California Secretary for Resources, Mike Chrisman. Secretary Chrisman heads the California Resources Agency. Mr. Chrisman serves at the pleasure of the CA Governor.

Departments within the California Resources Agency:
Another agency folks may familiar with is the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) works under, and is supervised by the California Secretary for Business, Transportation & Housing, Dale Bonner. Secretary Bonner heads the California Business, Transportation & Housing Agency. Mr, Chrisman serves at the pleasure of the CA Governor. Now the Governors Office of Emergency Services (OES), it is a completely different critter. It works directly for, at at the pleasure of the Governor. I'm not sure exactly what they do, but they did a darn good job of getting FIRESCOPE, ICS, and "two eyed" NIIMS up as national standards with the founding members, and eventually nationwide.

/s/ No wonder why CAL FIRE is better accepted than the three lowest grades in school... C..D..F.

PS - Everyone: Please remember to rest when needed; To honor those lost and injured as best you can in your own ways; To give to those in need regardless of uniform color or agency; and to personally show your pride at what being a firefighter, a firefighter family member, or a friend or supporter within the wildland fire community truly means. Please, Keep safe and those around you safer.
8/9 two more firefighters were released from the hospital.

Brown, 20, and fellow survivor Jonathan Forheich, 18, were released from the
UC Davis Medical Center Saturday afternoon. (today)

They join Richard Schroeder, 42, who was released from Redding's Mercy
Medical Center Friday. (yesterday)

www.sacbee.com/102/story/1144806.phpl (has photos)


Great news. Ab.

8/9 CALFIRE message re Energy Release Components for CSR (California, Southern Region):


The following are the most recent (August 6th) energy release components for the CSR.

It has been interesting on how the graphs respond to weather and when during several periods they peak, it coincides with extended attack and major fires within the CSR.

Eastern Sierra’s at 97th% within 2% of new record ---- explains current activity.
Owens Valley, Benton, Walker areas

Central Sierra over 100% currently breaking new historic records – explains recent major fire activity
Buck Meadow, Shaver areas

South Sierra at 94th % movement is going up on this graph
Black Rock, Cedar rove, Park Ridge, UNL Hot Springs

Sierra Foothill at 99th% within 1% of historic record --- explains major fire activity and potential is extreme
Cathay’s Valley, Mariposa, Trimmer

Central Coast 97th% reached historic record ---- Watch out major potential
Arroyo Seco, Carrizo, Las Tables, Pinnacles NP

South Central Mountains 91st% going up
Chilao, Fawnskin, Mill Creek, Mormon Rock

South Coast at historic lows at abut 75%
Cheeseboro, Saugus

Southern Mountains 90th %
Alpine, Descanso, El Cariso, Mt. Laguna

Hope this helps show what we are heading towards. Fire weather relief is not coming soon.

8/9 Joseph,

It sounds like you are moving in the right direction towards becoming a
civilian firefighter although you didnt specify whether you were interested
in wildland/urban or a combination of the two. Since your endgame is to be
a smokejumper I will just assume you wish to go the wildland route. The
next thing you have to ask yourself is where you would like to start with
your career. Since you will be considered a veteran you will have some
preference and you will be considered a higher value candidate if you have
been injured while performing duties for your country. Even with veterans
status you will still need 2 years of federal wildland service as a

Smokejumper trainers look to interagency hotshot crews (IHCs) often as a
base for hiring but this is not always the rule. Often, even as a veteran,
one would have some difficulty being hired directly onto an IHC without any
wildland fire experience, but it happens occasionally. IHCs provide them
with candidates that have seen a great deal of active wildland fire and
have worked long hours on the fireline, often in rough terrain. You might
want to considering spend a season on a type II federal handcrew or a
Forest Service or BLM wildland engine. You can go to USAJOB.opm.gov or
avue central's website to look into the vacancies, as they often recruit in
early winter for the positions.

Once you have started your wildland career, my suggestion would be to
contact each smokejumper base and speak with one or a couple of the
trainers and talk to them about your interest (even years in advance of
potential hiring just to establish your name) and then in the off season,
try to visit them in person. BLM smokejumper bases exist in Alaska and
Boise (Great Basin) and Forest Service bases are in California, Idaho and
Montana respectively. BLM bases have always been touted as being a tougher
program and use ram-air (square chutes) while the USFS bases use round.

Although your veteran's preference will give you a leg up on being selected
for rookie training, make no mistake: these programs are top-notch and the
rookie training that you will endure just to become a smokejumper has
weeded out many a fit individual including many friends of mine who were
Marines and Army Rangers. You can guarantee that you will need to post
some impressive numbers on your PT tests despite what the brochures say
just to stay afloat and even 9 minute mile and half times and 18 pull ups
will often not be enough to impress the trainers (many of whom will do them
alongside you and not even look winded). You can be expected to pack 110
lbs. and 85 lbs. of weight over 3 miles of flat/mountainous terrain and
complete these tests in under 60 minutes. These tests are just the start
of a rookies expectations as the physical challenges get harder (yes much
harder) so does the retention of skills such as tree climbing, chute
packing and control. Good luck JS, it'll be a wild ride!

8/9 Getting to a fire assignment:

Any advice from the masses?

As a retired FS employee now working as an AD after 30 years with the agency
I have come up against something completely new to me.

Recently I was offered an assignment through my local dispatch in R5 north zone.
I would be replacing someone next week. Perfect! I can enjoy a two day drive
across four states and not be rushed. Nope! I was informed that I HAD to fly,
and that I am NOT ALLOWED to drive.

Keep in mind that this is not a physically strenuous fireline position.

I realize that this is probably allowed to be done, it's just that in 30 years I have
never heard of it being done.

Anyone out there able to shed light on this? Suggestions?

AD for another 30

8/9 Just wanted to give you updates on the individual funeral services planned so far
for the Grayback Forestry Employees where cards can be sent.

There will be a joint Memorial Service for all victims and I will let you know when
that will be as soon as information is available.

If anyone lives in the area of those services, the public is welcome, I'm just not sure
how big the churches are.

Debbie Miley

~~Edrick Gomez

Sunday, August 10, 2008
Time: 4 p.m.
Holy Name Catholic Church
50 North Dean Street
Coquille, OR 97423

~~Scott Charlson

Monday, August 11, 2008
Time: 11 a.m.
First Baptist Church
3550 Fox Meadow Rd.
Eugene, OR 97408

8/9 Good news!

Rick Schroeder, one of the injured Grayback firefighters, was released
from Mercy Medical Center in Redding today...

Memorial Service...

A Memorial Service to be held in Junction City CA is being planned for
Sept 13 for the 9 firefighters who died on the Iron 44 incident on the
Buckhorn Fire and for Andy Palmer who died after being hit by the snag
on the Eagle Fire, both incidents on the Ironside Complex of fires in Trinity
Co, started by lightning in June.

Planned for just before 2PM at the Junction City Fire Hall.


8/9 From Firescribe:

Index page of the LA Times 5-part series on Wildfires entitled "Big Burn"

Big Fires, Big Business -- increasing firefighting costs
Political Meddling and Costly Air Shows -- political pressures in firefighting
Living in Fire's Embrace -- the growing interface
Lost Landscapes -- loss of native species
Stay and Fight -- firefighting in Australia and the US


8/9 getting hired on

My name is Joseph Sutton, I am a 20 year old male currently stationed in kuwait
with the navy reserves. In the navy i am a fire fighter, been going to college to further
my knowledge on fire fighting. I live in colorado and was wondering the process to
get hired on. In the end of it all i would love to be a smoke jumper. please respond.


Suggestions, anyone? Ab.

8/9 Here's a blog comment (8/6) from Todd B who was concerned for his Zion helitack crew that was in Nor Cal at the time of the helicopter crash. He says it well... from thoughts to prayers...

And here's a much longer gripping account (8/8) from Michael R (who is also a member of Zion Helitack) who was at ground zero or "air zero" at Iron 44:

S-61 Helicopter Crash On The Buckhorn Fire!




We just wanted to give you an update of our activity here at the WFF offices. We did get another call from the Gunbarrel Fire. They added another $68 dollars and their total is now up to $1,230. Rumor has it that the Yolla Bolly Complex and the Le Hardy fire are working hard to beat that total. Anyone else want to try?

The outpouring of support from the wildfire community has been tremendous. In addition to the funds mentioned above, we have added over 150 52 club members, 2 or 3 Gold members and at least 5 life time members in the last 24 hours. There have also been multiple individual donations and some substantial corporate donations. Thank you to everyone.

In between those calls, we are working diligently here, in Sacramento and in Medford to provide logistical, financial and emotional support to the families, friends and co-workers of the victims. We want everyone that has supported the foundation to know that you are making a difference in the lives of these people. They thank you and we thank you.

WFF Staff

Here's the link, folks. www.wffoundation.org/ Please chip in. It's easy to do online or over the phone. Ab.

8/9 Ab,

Here is a portion of an article at Oregonlive.com about Firefighter Scott Charlson in an interview with his father.
After the crash:

Father remembers Ore. firefighter
8/8/2008, 5:04 p.m. PDT
The Associated Press

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — After his first two weeks on the job as a wildland firefighter, Scott Charlson's feet were covered with blisters, and he was about ready to look for another way to pay for his last term in college.

"Then he just grew up and decided, `I can do this. Other people can do this. I'm not a quitter,' " his father, Rick Charlson, said Friday, his voice swelled by pride and heartbreak. "So he stuck it out. I think now, towards the end, it's just what you do. He was very responsible."

Scott Charlson, 25, was one of nine people killed Tuesday when a helicopter crashed shortly after taking off with a load of firefighters heading back to camp in Northern California.

Seven of the dead, including Charlson, and three of the injured were firefighters with Grayback Forestry Inc., The crew was fighting a forest fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest outside Redding, Calif.

Grayback President Mike Wheelock returned to the crew's White City headquarters Friday to talk to some of the more than 140 surviving firefighters with the company he founded in 1979 after getting injured as a smokejumper.

"I told them it's OK ... that we all go through these things differently, we handle them differently," Wheelock said. "Some are angry. Some may be sad and break down. And some may not feel anything, may be numb, going through post-traumatic syndrome.

"Whatever they (do) it's OK. It's OK to talk. It's OK to cry. It's OK to be angry. But to talk to somebody."

Wheelock praised his crews as "brave, safe, hardworking and professional."

"I'm proud of these firefighters," he said.

Wheelock also identified the seventh one of Grayback's firefighters to die in the crash as Stephen Caleb Renno, 21, of Cave Junction, whose parents had been away and were just notified of his death.
Read the rest here: www.oregonlive.com

Here's a poem from the Greyback Forestry Condolence site by Mr. Gordon Campbell. Mr. Campbell states

"I am a father of a wildland firefighter currently on the Ramona Helitack crew in the Cleveland Nat'l Forest. Needless to say the recent crash in the Trinity Forest has been weighing heavily upon me. So heavily in fact that I was moved today to compose the following poem. Please feel free to use it in any memorial service that may be planned for the victims of this tragedy."


I saw you up the mountain,
Walking through the haze,
In sooted turnouts dusty yellow,
Cast dark against the blaze.
I'm sure I did. You can't be missed!
You are someone I know.
One I'll never fail to see,
Where ever I must go.

It was where I fought beside you,
And then cried as you were lost.
Right there beside the memory,
Of what our fight has cost.
I know that's where I saw you,
And it's where I see you still,
All double-time and courage,
As we charge another hill.

I saw you at the base camp
With your cup, and yes, a joke,
And the rasping of your laughter,
Meant to wash away the smoke.
You were with me in the chow line
At the table saying grace
And I prayed like anything
"Just once, Lord, let me see that face."

I saw you up the mountain,
And I'll see you there again,
And in every place they send me,
Where the fire is, and then,
I'll watch the plume rise upward,
As it lilts from star to star
Outward past heaven's wild lands,
To where you really are.

My heart goes out to all the family and friends of the firefighters who were injured and lost in this horrible accident,
I know how bad I hurt for them and cannot even imagine the pain and loss they are feeling. All I can say is I am so sorry for your loss, and god speed to our fallen and a speedy recovery to our injured.


8/9 007

Try to see things from the perspective of the NTSB, who gets a call concerning a down aircraft in California, with fire fighters from Oregon, and it occurred on the national forest. In the chaos of the initial call it would be unclear whether the situation is California Department of Forestry (I know they are now CAL Fire, but many remember them as CDF), Oregon Department of Forestry, or the United States Forest Service. Oh, and then, you are supposed to put together a press release, ASAP. I would expect initially everything was a wee bit confusing, and it was not an intentional gaff on the part of the NTSB.

They seem to have it all straightened out now.


8/9 Iron 44 Incident, Injuries and Fatalities:


William Coultas, 44, Cave Junction, OR; Carson Helicopters pilot (Grants Pass, OR). Critical condition at UC Davis Medical Center with burns over 33% of his body.

Michael Brown, 20, Medford, OR; Grayback firefighter (Merlin, OR). Good condition at UC Davis.

Jonathan Frohreich, 18, Medford, OR; Grayback firefighter. Good condition at UC Davis.

Rich Schroeder, 42, Medford, OR; Grayback firefighter. Good condition at Mercy Medical Center in Redding.


Shawn Blazer, 30, Medford, OR

Scott Charleson, 25, Phoenix, OR

Matthew Hammer, 23, Grants Pass, OR

Edrik Gomez, 19, Ashland, OR

Steven Renno, 21, Cave Junction, OR

Bryan Rich, 29, Medford, OR

David Steele, 19, Ashland, OR

Roark Schwanenberg, 54, Carson pilot, Lostine, OR

James N. Ramage, 63, USFS Inspector Pilot, Redding CA

Grayback Forestry released the name of the final firefighter who died in the helicopter crash, after notifying his parents.

Steve Renno was 21 years old.

Steve is pictured here on Debbie's blog.

Our condolences to his family, friends and coworkers.

We can't imagine what the community in southern Oregon is going through. Your grief is ours. Ab.

8/8 Somehow, I had a strong feeling I didn't want to click on this morning's update on the Iron tragedy...

Jim was the first of many pilots I flew with. I always knew he had exceptional skills, and an outstanding personality and character. It took me several more years to truly appreciate his skill as a pilot. He will always stand out in memory as one of the three finest pilots I've ever met, or seen.

But far more important than his ability with aircraft, is the memory of the man. The simplest way to explain Jim, is to relate that the first time I was promoted, from FF to squad boss, I lasted three days... I disagreed with my helishot foreman about offloading my half of the crew, directly in front of the head of the fire (only about 100 yards away, wind driven, and running through that wonderful Ramona, CA grass). Of course, I was questioning the wisdom of my decision... until I looked over my shoulder to see Jim, peering anxiously over his shoulder and looking me right in the eye, shaking his head vehemently, and spinning the "windup" finger toward the sky. That was the moment I knew I was right... and I am still, thirty- plus years later, proud to have been demoted that afternoon.

The news about our loss of Jim, of course, lands right on top of the news of Grayback 2. Didn't know them as well, but I had the honor and privilege of working next to them on 3 of the most difficult, stressful wildland incidents in my career. My crew and I took it as a great accolade when Shawn told me "Your guys aren't half bad...".

Shari, forgive me, but I'm gonna go crack just one, so I can feel something. It's getting awfully old, losing good people.

The thoughts and prayers of The Boys and I are with the lost, and their survivors.

Dave Patterson
August 8, 2008

Anna Richter Taylor, 503-378-6169
Rem Nivens, 503-378-6496
Jillian Schoene, 503-378-5040

Statement by Governor Ted Kulongoski on Loss of Oregon Firefighters
Governor orders flags to be flown at half-staff August 11 through August 15, 2008

(Salem) – Today Governor Ted Kulongoski ordered all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff from sunrise Monday, August 11, 2008 through sunset Friday, August 15, 2008 in memory of the brave firefighters and crew who lost their lives in Tuesday evening’s helicopter crash in northern California.

“Year after year we depend on these committed individuals to protect our homes, our communities and our forests in the face of an unpredictable, unrelenting Mother Nature. Their dedication to this precarious job serves us all,” said Governor Ted Kulongoski. “For the families and communities that have lost a loved one, our thoughts and prayers are with you. We are forever indebted to you and to those who gave their lives bravely helping others.”

The firefighters who died were part of a crew fielded by Grayback Forestry, Inc., a wildfire contracting company based in Merlin, Oregon. The helicopter was owned by Grants Pass-based Carson Helicopters. The helicopter crashed while on duty fighting the Iron Complex of fires in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The crash claimed the lives of seven Grayback Forestry employees and injured three others. The two pilots, employees of Carson Helicopters, also were Oregonians. One was killed and the other injured. A U.S. Forest Service employee from California also died in the crash.
8/8 From Tom Harbour: FS FAM Director

It was a long day yesterday. I spent the morning focused on the aftermath
of our most horrific wildfire aviation accident and the afternoon attending
the funeral of East Pierce (WA) Fire & Rescue Chief Daniel Packer. I’ve
had a glimpse of the burdens the Palmer family, the Packer family, and the
families associated with our most recent tragedy are carrying. I hope the
display of love for the Palmers and Packers this week eased their pain.
There will more opportunities to reach out.

As we reach out and as we mourn, we must move forward. There will be more
memorials ahead and there is more fire ahead also.

While proudly standing in silence with my Forest Service friends at Chief
Packer's funeral, I was cognizant that not so far away folks doing our work
were listening to the loud, high pitched whine of a helicopter starting up,
to the sound of chain saws working, and to the noise of hand tools clinking
against the rocks. We were representing all of them, all of us, at Chief
Packer's funeral.

For me, and for many others, there was a different meaning in Chief Packer's
farewell. I could not escape the events of Tuesday evening. We’ve not had
an aviation tragedy approaching this magnitude for decades. While we mourn
those who are gone and look for answers, we must remain anxiously engaged in
this important work. We owe it to our profession, to the Nation which we
serve, and to one another. There is no choice but to move forward.

For now and into the future, challenges abound. We have hearts to heal,
spirits to renew, and work to do. I’m proud to be a part of this wildland
fire work. For the 38 years of my career, from the Bear Fire to South
Canyon to Esparanza, I’ve seen us take some hard shots, but never fall.
This is one of those times when a remembrance of our past, a focus on the
present, and an eye to the future is more important than ever

Each one of us can be more vigilant in our work, more concerned about the
co-worker next to us, and more dedicated to professional service. Adding
up all the individual pieces makes a big difference. I promise I’ll do my

In the meantime, I know there is grief within us, but strength among us.
Lets commit to staying strong, not only for those who are gone, but for us
who carry on.

8/8 Bio of Jim Ramage:

James N. Ramage, age 63, is one of the nine fatalities of the Northern California helicopter crash that happened this past week on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Jim Ramage in cockpit and Jim Ramage in Hawaiian shirt

Ramage, a helicopter pilot, had an outstanding career with both the US Forest Service and CAL Fire, California’s state fire agency.

Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore said, “The US Forest Service was very fortunate to have Jim as part of our workforce and family. He was an aviation leader with extensive flying experience and knowledge.”

Ramage’s aviation career began as a helicopter pilot for the US Army from 1966 through 1970. He served one tour of duty in Vietnam. He also served and flew with Air America in Southeast Asia from 1970 to1974.

In 1974 he began his helicopter firefighting career with Evergreen Helicopter, Inc. and flew as a contract pilot for both the US Forest Service and CAL Fire until 1978. He then worked as a contract pilot for Redding Air Service in Redding, California, flying across the Western United States.

For 20 years, beginning in 1984, Ramage worked for CAL Fire. He was the first Forestry Pilot for CAL Fire and carried badge #1 for forestry pilots. He was then promoted to Air Operations Officer and served as CAL Fire Chief Helicopter Pilot and later Aviation Safety Officer until his retirement in 2003.

Ramage’s love of firefighting and helicopters was so strong that after 11 days of retirement, he began working for the US Forest Service as helicopter inspector pilot working out of McClellan, California. In 2006, Ramage and his family moved back to Redding, California with the US Forest Service.

Born in Taft, California, Ramage had a passion for aviation. He dedicated himself and his career to help provide for the safety of others. Ramage was performing his duties as a helicopter inspector pilot at the time of the accident.

Ramage is survived by his wife of 38 years, Diane, and his 28-year old daughter Ginger.

8/8 PIO for the Shasta T just sent the page with the audio links (including NTSB)
if anyone wants to listen:




Hi All,

I called in and listened to the NTSB briefing at noon. Mellie


  • The cockpit voice recorder was recovered in better shape than expected; will work on it in the lab tomorrow
  • 10 interviews were completed yesterday; hope to finish the rest today; very complete and consistent

The Sequence at takeoff:
(observations of the firefighters waiting to be lifted out on the next flight and from the helo support crew on the ground)

  • Takeoff after being loaded
  • helo lifted off more slowly
  • moved forward more slowly than normal
  • Rose 40-50'
  • Nose hit a tree
  • other tree strikes by the rotor blades followed
  • helo came to rest on its left side
  • about 150 yards from the takeoff site
  • began to fill with very dense black smoke

Survivability issues will be addressed, ie seat belts, escape windows, etc
Survivors will be interviewed when medically available

6 Structure Team members: (2 Forest Service, 1 NTSB, 1 Sikorsky representative, 2 Carson reps)

  • spent 3-4 hrs on ground yesterday
  • walked the perimeter
  • retrieved the cockpit voice recorder
  • determined locations of the aircraft, parts, etc
  • documented the condition of site

Today a larger NTSB team is there, working with the Coroners of Trinity and Shasta Counties to remove the remains of the victims; will take all day.

Survey Team Members will be

  • document treetop heights
  • determining ground elevations
  • determining other topographic features and other info that is relevant and important
  • will look at the 2 engines and drive shaft that have been located
  • take fuel samples from the fuel truck
  • gather records from the fuel truck and other relevant information

NTSB will also be gathering and reviewing maintenance records; 2 months worth have already been reviewed and all looks in good order

S-61N helicopter stats:

  • was manufactured in 1964
  • had over 35,000 hours
  • had been owned 1 year by Carson
  • had 2 engines: 1 engine had about 1000 hours; 1 had about 200 hours since last engine rework
  • transmission had been replaced recently and had 23 hours on it
  • Question had been raised about airworthiness.
    Two airworthiness directives for this S-61N helicopter
    • 2/14/07 gearbox directive was met by Carson
    • 3/05 GE engine directive; have not reviewed engine records yet, but will do that

Weather conditions:

  • clear visibility
  • very light wind: 0-5 mph

Crew Schedule Times:

  • Crew reported to the Shasta Trinity Helibase at 7:30 AM
  • First flight: 1630 (4:30 PM)
  • Had made 2 water drops and made 2 crew pickups before the accident
  • Refueled before the accident

Family notifications:

  • All family notifications were made except one
  • One family is thought to be on vacation
  • Efforts to notify will continue
  • Being done by local authorities in Trinity County

Need the NTSB team on site through the weekend or as long as it takes:

  • collect information
  • coroner recover remains
  • cleanup

Hope Report will be completed within one year, might be less

follow-up phone number to call for clarification, starting tomorrow: 202-314-6100

Comments/questions were hard to hear:

Q: what caused the deaths, the fire; not know now, was thick smoke, serious fire

Q: not much left at crash site, how get anything, find remains? Have rotor blades, engines, cockpit voice recorder; remains will be a difficult job.

Q: why was there an airworthiness directive on maintenance, what gave rise to it? Don't know, FAA issued it, Company complied with it; go to FAA website.

Q: How people got out of the wreckage; heard 3 people got out under own power, one went back to rescue the 4th. Four survivors med evac-ed out, but no more info now on that.

Q: on communication; communication was limited, limited in Weaverville, too. Will look at emergency response; could be confusion because it happened 1/2 hour before dark, but I don't want to speculate; why we do investigation.

Q about report being out in a year; have to gather, analyze, write a detailed report, work closely with parties involved; have other investigations at same time, usually get it done.

Q: photos? Within the next week: photos that do not belong to NTSB, taken by local authorities -- hope to get them and post them on the NTSB website.

Q: injury severity. Initially told survivors were medivac-ed out rapidly, arrived rapidly, brought out to sheriff, that injuries were moderate to minor at first. In the initial response, didn't know the magnitude of the crash for 6 hours;

Q: about schedule contributing to the crash. Ask Carson what a normal schedule is for the transport of these crews; this was the 3rd crew load transported with 2 more to go. What was clear: Crew was flying at 4:30 PM; Crash occurred at 7:30 PM; Will try to determine "normal" schedule; not known now

Q: Clarification of sequence of what happened on takeoff; reports were very consistent

Q: number of people; 2 pilot/copilot; 10 firefighters; 1 FS official (check pilot)

Q: fuel & water; had refueled; unknown water

Q: NTSB notification timing;

  • notified of crash appx 11PM EST or 8PM PST, about same time as local authorities; notification of fatalities 8AM next morning, was some confusion as often occurs; NTSB might have gotten on scene 6 hrs earlier but wouldn't have made a difference

41 phone callers listening in.

8/8 52 Club Gold program CHALLENGE WFF

Thanks, Jim Felix, for that Fire Camp Challenge.

We have one of our own. We think the 52-Club Gold Program is an appropriate challenge for the private fire service right now. Northwest Timber Fallers just completed it 100%. We’re throwing out the challenge to the rest of the private fire service to pull out your wallets. Now is the time. Don’t wait. Give till it hurts, folks.

Shari Downhill

Good idea, Shari. Click on the 52 Club in the WFF header to get the link to join. Ab.

8/8 This just came out:


Updated: Forest Service names check pilot who died in helicopter crash

By David Benda (Contact)
Originally published 09:52 a.m., August 8, 2008
Updated 11:11 a.m., August 8, 2008

The U.S. Forest Service confirmed this morning the check pilot who died in Tuesday’s fiery helicopter crash was Redding-area resident Jim Ramage.

Nice article. Photos there too. Ab.

8/8 Re loss of Jim Ramage:

Jim Pena sent out a note regarding the FS employee who died in the
helicopter crash. Evidently he's waiting for the Sheriff's dept to confirm
(will that take a DNA sample?). The family of Jim Ramage know he has
passed and this fire community family has been notified here. What a
loss. I am stunned.

Many thanks, Ab and thanks to CalFire wife from the Paso AAB family,
the pilots and all who share their memories of Jim.

Ramage was and will be remembered as an incredible, skillful pilot and as
you said a "class act". It's been great for the R5 Forest Service to have had
him on board as an inspector pilot following his CalFire retirement. He had an
excellent relationship with the contract pilots as he's had with many, many
others through the years.

My condolences to his family. We've lost another great one that was truly
"interagency" that was in the wrong place at this time of tragedy.

My condolences also to the families and friends of the Grayback crew, the
Carson pilot and to the survivors, you're in my prayers.




I am in Boise assisting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation during this time of tragedy. My first phone call this morning was from the IC trainee of the Gunbarrel Fire. They took donations at the fire yesterday and raised $1,162 for the Foundation. They put down a challenge to all other active fire camps in the nation to see if they can beat it. I ask the wildland fire community and wildlandfire.com to help us get the word out about this challenge. Let the contest begin!!

My second phone call this morning was from the Cody, WY chamber of commerce. They have fires going on around them and a firefighter brought in one of the Foundation ads. They requested the ad in a PDF format to send out to all their members. If anyone needs materials to help us get the word out to the communities, please call or email us. We need all the help we can get to educate the urban interface communities about our mission and our needs.

The other item I want to remind the firefighting community about is the 5th anniversary of the 52 club. We are trying to get 5200 members this year for the anniversary. We are up to 1,500+ members and 40+ on the gold list. A special thanks to all the Hotshot crews who have joined the gold list in the last few weeks. Your names will be up soon! If you have not joined yet this year, do so. If your buddy has not, withhold buying the next round until he (or she) agrees to join the club.

Thanks to all the Abs and all the people who have donated so generously.

Jim Felix

The number there is 208-336-2996 in case the site is impacted and you can't get online. Good Job All! Ab.

8/8 I have struggled for the last few days to come to terms with the most recent fatalities in our family.

To family, friends, and coworkers of the firefighters, inspector, and pilots involved: my deepest, heartfelt sympathy. Know that we are all here for you in so many ways. I trust that, in time, we will learn from "Iron 44" and use the lessons learned in the future.

As I hugged my boys this morning, I was reminded how critical it is that we all, from the first-year, brand new FFT2 to the most seasoned Area Commander, remember that the most important thing we can do on any incident is to come home.

All fires go out. Trees and brush will grow back. Homes can be rebuilt - we cannot.

Come home.

Mat Wood
Cheyenne, WY
8/8 Re loss of Jim Ramage:


Barry Lloyd and I have know Jim for decades, as he was a Redding Air Service pilot before going to CDF Vina helitack.

Barry and I are sick at heart of the loss of Jim. Burt Train, founder of Redding Air Service Inc., now deceased , and the rest of us always considered Jim and his wife to be family, even though he moved on to CDF and USFS. Jim was the best!!!!!!!!! He will be missed by greatly.

We share the loss of Jim with his wife and family, and just want them to know we are here if we can help out in any way.

Bruce Riecke
Barry Lloyd........ pilots

I did not know Jim, but everyone that I've heard from says he was a "class act", a genuinely good, positive person. Ab.

8/8 Ab,

Our community - both geographically in Southern Oregon, and more widely in the wildland firefighting community - is facing a daunting task. Healing during a time where many of us still have immense work to do. I have this first encouragement - be kind to yourselves and seek out support for yourself. I say this because I've already seen and talked to many folks who have found themselves struggling with loss and grief issues from other horrific incidents, such as South Canyon and other wildland fire related fatality incidents triggered by Iron 44.

Lobotomy mentioned triggers. I suggest these "triggers" run deep on a turbulent, psychological Class 5 rapid. Think Wild Sheep Rapids in Hells Canyon. The loss of Grayback's Crew 2 has sent a fresh 220 volt charge through seemingly healed heart wounds. On the tail of the loss and serious injury of the other firefighters this season, as well as recent years, and more further back to South Canyon and the Dude Fire, we're all struggling with this thing that we do. Add to that - for those of us involved in wildland fire who also have children out fighting fire (both for agencies and the private fire service), many of whom are also working on helicopters, now is an intense time of personal reflection...and the struggle to stay sane and focused.

But what can we do?

Pray. Realize the best we can do IS the best we can do. Realize that our families and our relationships in our communities and our relationship to God are so very important for our survival - personally and collectively.

I realize this last point will strike a sensitive nerve with some - However, the wildland fire world is edgy and dangerous. And that edge has a tendency to be blurred and smoothed over with alcohol. It's a salve used throughout wildland firefighting. Alcoholism is a sad and destructive byproduct that has contributed to the demise of marriages, careers and families of firefighters. For many, it has destroyed their lives. My last plea is to recognize applying alcohol isn't going to make this pain go away. Nothing will ever make this kind of pain go away. Strength and healing will come from facing and accepting the dangers and consequences of the work that we do. Strength and healing comes from leaning on one another, not the bottle or the can. And as real healing takes place, we are all much more capable of doing our job from a strong, focused position. And THAT is the ONLY thing that will serve to make what we do safer. Still, it will never, ever be safe to fight wildland fire, and no amount of policy making, or word smithing will change that.

We know what we have to do to help Mike, Grayback and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. So, let's do it.

Shari Downhill
8/8 Ab,

Now is the time to "Click" on the WFF icon in the upper righthand corner of this website!

While I agree with Firenorm that we need to get back in the air and fight fire to honor those we lost, I think an even better way to honor them is to donate to WFF. I have participated in the past, but have procrastinated the last year or two. I know some of the folks at Grayback Forestry, have jumped with some and worked the lines with others. (Don't yet know if any I know were on the helo.) This one hit close to home and has prompted me to get off my butt and get my donation sent off. I encourage and implore everyone out there to support WFF. If you have donated in the past, but like me have placed the WFF on the back burner, now is the time to move them to the front burners. If you are regular reader of this website and never donated, make that donation. You, your family or someone you know, may be in need of the support Vicki and her folks will render in a time of great personal disaster!

Whenever a tragedy in the wildland community takes place, most of us wish there was something we could do to help ease the pain of those left behind. We are usually too busy, too far away, have other commitments, or whatever. In most cases these are viable reasons for not being able to participate directly in the healing process. Donating to WFF does not take any time, no matter how busy you are, and it doesn't matter how far away you are. Just "Click" on that WFF icon. It is barely a half a tank of gas in my pickup to join the 52 club. We cannot all be at the memorials in person, but we can be there for the families thru the WFF. I was asked once why I go to funerals and memorials when the person is gone and will not even know I attended? I told them I go to not only honor the deceased, but to show the family my respect for the person and gratitude for their loss. You till don't want to attend in person, then donate and help out the families financially. As many of you are painfully aware, most wildland firefighters are not wealthy and in some cases live check to check. Besides the loss of a loved one, the family is now faced with regular and added expenses they simply do not have the money to cover. This is where WFF can step in and relieve some of that financial burden.

If you question the need to be involved with WFF, read the articles on Andys' memorial in Port Townsend that was held earlier this week. Find the articles and/or videos that will be out after Chief Parkers memorial today. If you view those, and are moved by what you read or view, send some amount to the WFF / Vicki. It might help to place your family in the shoes of those families. Every little bit helps. We talk about firefighters being "Heroes". Vicki and her staff need to be added to the list of "Heroes". What they do in a time of tragedy, goes "Above and Beyond"!

Grayback has been a supporter of WFF and this is the second multi-fatality they have been involved with in the last few years. My heart and prayers go out to Mike Wheelock and the rest of the Grayback folks! I talked to some of the folks in Cathedral Hills last week that said they were the next crew out. I wonder if any of those killed may have been the ones I talked to?

Now is the time to Donate, Donate, Donate!!!


Good post. The WFF is our funnel to our extended fire family in need. If nothing is put in the top, nothing can flow out when the need is most critical. There have been a lot of deaths and a lot of injuries. The funnel needs replenishing. Across the country if you're home, ask your communities... Thanks. Ab.

8/7 noname,

Thank You for your post regarding NTSB. Like everyone else I know, we are all still shocked and saddened, and working around hair triggers prompting ours and others emotional responses. We all can help in various ways... as professionals... or as family, friends, and co-workers of those lost and injured... or as folks concentrating on whatever we can do in positive ways.

The reach of social networking and information sites, and the compassion of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, coupled with thousands of concerned people ARE making a difference.

The NTSB voluntarily added two experts from the Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance Team to their response cadre to aid the Agencies, and to help support the families, friends, and co-workers of our fallen and the survivors. This is rarely done except in cases of large commercial transportation accidents, and shows the NTSB response is for Lessons Learned and also for support.

"The Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance coordinates public and private responsibilities in the wake of transportation disasters for all modes of transportation covered by the NTSB. The NTSB Transportation Disaster Assistance Team stands ready around the clock to help survivors, families of victims, communities, and commercial carriers deal with transportation disasters; services include family/victim support coordination, Family Assistance Centers, forensic services, communication with foreign governments, and inter-agency coordination."

I want to personally thank the Ab(s) and the moderators of They Said and the Hotlist for the awesome network of communications they created and fostered. It shows 21st Century Wildland Fire Doctrine and Just Culture principles in action and response!!!

8/7 Ab,

Our Cal Fire family at Paso AAB was informed the day after the accident that the other
pilot on board was Jim Ramage, a retired CDF Helo pilot, and friend to all.

Jim went back to work for the FS as a check pilot and such.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and survivors.
May God bless them all.

Vicki Richardson

Thanks, Vicki. You put it well. He was a friend to all, a very kind man and extremely competent. Ab.

8/7 Wildland Firefighter Community,

I have been in contact with Grayback Forestry regarding the Iron 44 Incident and wish to pass along the following information.

A website has been set up for condolences to be left for Grayback Forestry and its families and the survivors. That page is


In addition Grayback has informed us that they encourages anyone that wants to donate to help the victims and their families to donate to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in honor of the Iron 44 Incident. Vicki has been onsite along with Mike Wheelock and Mike’s corporate Chaplin to be with the families and the survivors in California. We in the NWSA are strong supports of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the wonderful work that they all do there for everyone in the fire service.

We at NWSA will also be updating regularly our blog at www.contractorsinfire.com, where we have also set up a link to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for donations.

We have asked that the agencies join us in the private fire services in flying our flags at half staff in honor of the victims of Iron 44.

I am bursting with sorrow and full of pride to see the “Fire Community” come together to support all the victims and survivors of Iron 44 Incident. Grayback Forestry has long been a leader in our industry, and a advocate for higher standards in the industry. We all in the Private Fire Community stand strong and ready to help in anyway that we can for all the parties involved in Iron 44.

Debbie Miley

Hear, hear. Ab.

8/7 Check the

Grayback Forestry website or the

hotlist thread for names of the dead and injured in the helicopter crash.

Photos are posted on Grayback.


8/7 Wednesday August 20, 2008 at 1000 hours is Ellreese's new sentencing date/time.
Spokane WA is the place.


Please make a note that Judge Van Sickle has changed the time and date of
Ellreese's sentencing from Monday, the 18th, to Wed. 8/20 at 10 a.m. in


8/7 Video slideshow of Chief Packer's service:



Thanks, JG. Immeasurably sad (about 4 minutes long and ends abruptly).

If you get a video of Brett Farve at the link above, try the video link on this page:

It could be the site is severely impacted. Ab.

8/7 Expanded (72-hour - after the team arrives) Briefing - Panther Fire, Happy Camp RD, Klamath NF

Hotlist thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=5978

8/7 Ab,

Well, The NTSB news conference didn't produce much information, but perhaps
the next one will?


News briefing on injuries of patients who survived helicopter crash August 7, 2008

The director of the UC Davis Regional Burn Center will brief the news media on the extent of injuries of three patients who survived the crash of a helicopter near Redding Tuesday.

The patients include:
Pilot William (Bill) Coultas, 44
Firefighter Michael Brown, 20
Firefighter Jonathan Forheich, 18

Tina L. Palmieri, MD, FACS
Director, UC Davis Regional Burn Center
Assistant Chief of Burns, Shriner's Hospital for Children Northern California
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, UC Davis Medical Center

Soman Sen, MD
UC Davis Trauma Center

No patients or family members will be present at the briefing and none have expressed an interest in interviews at this time.

TODAY Thursday, August 07, 2008
2:30 p.m.

UC Davis Medical Center
2315 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento, CA
Tower Lobby (To be escorted to the University Surgery Center Conference Room)

8/7 Max M, Shari, and all:

First: I am in lock step with the grief that every body has expressed on this board over the recent tragedies. I urge everybody to go to www.wffoundation.org and give what you can. It is the best thing we can all do right now to somehow alleviate the pain and suffering many firefighters and families are going through.

Second: I want to praise you Max M., Shari, and others for your recent thoughts and add a couple of things. I was a faller/felling boss/high climber/ on a forestry crew in a large California National Park (hint: largest trees in the world) for about 20 years in the 70's and 80's. This was way before we had any real standards at all in tree/snag falling. Your best qualification for your job was that you had experience doing it and you weren't dead yet. Some of my now deceased friends were not so lucky.

I learned several things the hard way.

1) Never trust swampers over anything unless they are absolutely accomplished fallers like you are. It amazes me that the Feds have apparently not learned this by now. I trusted a swamper one time on a fire and a spectator wound up in the hospital with serious injuries after the entire burnin snag collapsed. My fault due to putting the situation awareness on an inexperienced swamper. All SA is your job but you need experienced help.

2) Never use a saw with a say 43" bar on a fireline. Not only do you wear yourself out carrying it miles over firelines but also most of the trees that would require a bar that long require that you just flag them off and everybody stays away from them. I am still pissed off 30 years later at a Sector Boss who told my crew to bring our largest saws with us. We could have cut most of those catfaced, burning snags that we tangled with using our smallest saws.

3) There is no pride or glory in getting a burning snag on target. Just get the saw in it and as soon as it begins to give get the hell out of there. In fact, facecuts/undercuts may just prolong your exposure to disaster. Of course this is not always the case....

4) Always use rocks instead of bark for footing under a burning snag. I still have burn scars on one foot and I ruined a pretty new pair of Whites.

5) Never wear earplugs, always have an experienced swamper on the other end of a long piece of paracord tied off at your elbow. You feel any pull on that paracord and you are out of there going where the experienced swamper is directing you. This takes some practice, by the way, but I actually saved somebody's life doing it once.

I moved on to becoming an FMO after I figured out my days were numbered if I kept doing what I was doing back then. I am still very proud of having been a master faller, and you should be too. Stay there and be safe always.

I have many more tidbits of advise, all learned the hard way, to share if you care to contact me behind the scenes. These kind of wisdoms need to be shared with one and all through a stringent training curriculum and lots of discussion.

Once again, My absolute condolences to the injured and to the families.

8/7 donkey's statement- 8/5/2008:

Once on the line, I have to trust my judgment and the judgment of my
coworkers that the benefits of a particular assignment outweigh the risks.

That is the question. How long have you been in the business?
If a tree falls in the wilderness does it make a sound?
Of course it does.

Fire fighting has become an organized machine. The machine has a goal.

The goal is to minimize acreage, oh that is no longer the mission.
The goal is to provide for fire fighter and public safety….Point protection…??..
What happened to anchor flank and hold.>>>SAFETY>>>
The goal may be provide for the protection of riparian and stream areas>>>
Stay home if it is smoky.


8/7 noname,

I am sorry if you misunderstood my post in regards to the NTSB. My ire was directed towards their press release that referred to the Forest Service as the U.S. Department of Forestry. I have dedicated my career to this agency, sacrificed for this agency and despite its problems, I am very proud of the Forest Service. When a fellow federal outfit butchers the name of a century plus old institution it raises my dander. I will admit that after watching this season grind many brave folks into dust, I am a touch sensitive to any slights directed towards the USFS and its people (which have been many in my local area as of late). I am sure the NTSB will do the most professional and thorough job possible on the investigation of this tragedy, I wish however, they would do the same in the press release.


8/7 Carson helicopters has a good safety record, sometimes as in the Krassel
Helicopter mishap, these things just "happen" despite preemptive
countermeasures and training. Having worked NICC logistics at the
aviation desk and verified carded aircraft and pilots and worked as a
helicopter manager, I know that Carson is and has been a dependable
contractor. In fact they just recently undertook some additional steps in
ensuring that their crews, mechanics and pilots were retrained for
firefighting duties including:

· 40 loggers will be cross-trained and certified as firefighters.
· 10 pilots will be certified to carry newly certified firefighting
· 8 mechanics will be certified to maintain helicopters under the new

· Carson loggers will become certified firefighters by attending an
intensive three-day USFS certified firefighting course at RCC. Materials
used include hands-on training and written instruction.
· Pilots and mechanics will be trained under Part 135 FAR through a
program developed by Carson Helicopters to reflect the high safety
standards required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Pilots will also
be required to record 40 flight hours.

Everyone knows that aviation based firefighting and logging have inherent
risks that are constantly mitigated.
God Bless the families of the injured and fallen.


This is a bit misleading. For clarity sake, it was not Carson logger/firefighters who died in this crash, but members of a Grayback crew. Ab.

8/7 Community,

All but one family has been notified.

If anyone knows which helicopter pilot made the bucket drop after the crash,
it saved a life. The family would like to say a big Thank You to that pilot.


8/7 Hey 007

NTSB has a job NO ONE relishes and let the them work out the process. Usually they are little more complete and accurate in aviation operations than MOST land management agencies when it comes to aviation operations and crash investigations

Most of us will never know what happened. Let the NTSB move at what they do best

Some land management operations could use a little more aviation education from the folks in the aviation world outside of their halls.

We all have opinions and I know what they are like... everyone has 'em

Again NTSB has a job no one relishes and before we start throwing barbs at them.... look in the agency halls first.


Anger against agency or individual is natural in times like these. It may make the poster feel better momentarily, but is likely non-productive for the whole. We'll get through this. Carry on. Ab.

8/7 First of all, our thoughts and prayers are with those
injured and the families of all concerned in the
helicopter crash.

I spent a good deal of time on the phone yesterday
trying to determine if my son was a casualty in this
catastrophe. They don't make it easy. I finally
spoke to a Trinity County Sheriff's Deputy who was
able to exclude my son from the casualty list. I feel
relief at the expense of someone else's grief.

I called a prominent phone number at that forest and
got a message, "If you are media, call such-and-such a
number, messages left at this number will not be
returned." Now, I would think the first concern would
be the families, not the media.

God bless the fallen and those who continue to protect
lives and property.

Hotshot Dad

I understand Hotshot Dad. In this case, no news is good news. Mellie's comment on cell coverage. The list of names can only be released when certainty exists and yesterday the powers that be were trying to determine reality. Also, there is the added complexity of multi-jurisdictions with local law enforcement and NTSB. Things will be coming clearer today. Until then, let's hold our families and extended family in our "virtual arms". Ab.

8/7 Ab,

I just wanted to write in and express my deepest regrets to the families of the firefighters lost in the helicopter crash. I am a former helitack firefighter myself. It really hits home when we lose one of our own. The best way to honor those that were lost is to get back in the air. The fires must be fought, and fighting from the air is one of the best ways to get firefighters in and out of trouble in a hurry. I will never forget my time on the helicopters. I remember coming down the line after a long hard shift and seeing that ship sitting there on the helispot waiting to take me and my crew home. It was one of the most gorgeous sites I will ever see. My thoughts and prayers go out to those still on the line and to those how have lost someone in this tragedy. Please folks stay safe and remember the number one rule," Fight fire aggressively but provide for safety first."


Hey Ab, here is whats being released by FAA, reporting 13 on board, 4 seriously hurt, 3 minor injuries, 6 still unaccounted for.


  Regis#: 612AZ        Make/Model: S61 Sea King      
  Description: S-61A/B/D/L/N (SH-3, UH-3, VH-3, HSS-2 
  Date: 08/06/2008     Time: 0230
  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial
  City: REDDING   State: CA   Country: US
INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   2     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   0
                 # Pass:  11     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   0
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
  Activity: Public Use      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER
  FAA FSDO: SACRAMENTO, CA  (WP25)                Entry date: 08/06/2008
8/7 Ab--

I wasn't sure of the proper posting procedure for an online news article, so here I defer to you...

I came across this the evening--pretty interesting from a scientific and a firefighting perspective. Reminds me a bit of the coal seam fires in Pennsylvania and South Africa, but there are differences...strange stuff....


Post script: just received news of the nine who died in NorCal. My deepest condolences to the families. Perhaps this discussion can wait a bit? Whatever you deem appropriate...

-Daniel Swain

Interesting reading. Ab.

8/6 If you need the Chief Packer Memorial information, as far as apparatus staging, locations, etc., email and I'll send it.

Hopefully all attendees are ready, as it's tomorrow.


8/6 www.krem.com/news/specials/wildfire/stories/krem2_080508_memorial_service.b250932.phpl

Memorial service for firefighter to occur Thursday

This article doesn't give times or places and I couldn't find one tonight that does but in the midst of so much tragedy, I wanted to make sure a reminder got posted for the Chief.

God bless you, OA, Ab and monitors.


8/6 Acceptable Risk?-Donkey - 8/5, you say:

Once on the line, I have to trust my judgment and the judgment of my coworkers that the benefits of a particular assignment outweigh the risks.

I think that is the bottom line. Each crew has to determine what they are capable of and give feedback. That's why we stay with a division; so that we are familiar with its details.

Elite crews have been there, done that. They know what they are capable of getting through safely. If it's not safe, they are elite enough that they will negotiate a safe way to get it done.

Overhead has to depend on feedback because their perspective is limited. I think that is what is worrying you.

Sending in people who are inexperienced; that's something to worry about.

Best you can do Donkey is assess a crew's ability to judge themselves and either turn them loose or hold them back from a risky assignment. Good crew members will recognize hazards and mitigate the risk. That's why the elites go places others don't.

William Riggles

8/6 Discussion of Felling Safety from the spam filter... but not spam:

Greetings -

This is a good discussion; i'd like to weigh in with my thoughts and experiences. i'm a "single faller module" (aka contract faller) and have worked as a faller on fires since 1988. I have a stack of outstanding evaluations, many of which specifically cite safe practices as a strength of mine. The system i use to keep myself alive and whole is to have a spotter positioned so that they're out of range of getting hurt by the tree i'm working on or any foreseeable dominoes. They have a clear view of the top of the tree i'm cutting and the surrounding trees -- much better than can be gained at the stump. I supply them with a "fox 40" referee's whistle; as long as they have an average set of lungs, i'll hear that whistle even at full throttle with earplugs in. All they have to do is pay attention and alert me if i need to access my escape routes.

The only disadvantage of this system compared to having them at the stump with their hand on my shoulder is that there's no easy and immediate provision for communicating which direction to go. I think this is outweighed by the factors mentioned above and by the likelihood that the improved vantage results in noticing a hazard the moment it begins developing. This method has worked for me on multiple occasions and i feel secure with it.

As i understand it, the faller who got killed in colorado in '02 got hit in the back by an aspen with burned out roots while he was cutting on another tree. This would not have happened if the above safeguards were in place. I don't care how good you are, no one has eyes in the back of their head and no one to my knowledge on a fire is getting paid based on their rate of production. In my opinion, there's no acceptable reason to not have a widowmaker spotter (using this system or whatever alternate is preferred by the faller) -- it's just too easy to avoid a catastrophe from most aerial hazards this way.

Which brings us to the present situation: the forest service (at least in r5) has decided not to hire swampers any more to work with "single modules" such as myself. Instead, the trend is to go with a set of 2 fallers, or "double module." I have nothing negative to say about a set of fallers working together; but it doesn't make sense to me to discard a viable tool out of your toolbox, particularly when a case could be made that the faller/swamper option is a less expensive way to accomplish the task. Please don't misconstrue this as hypocrisy in light of the statement made in the previous paragraph; that one points out that a spotter is cheap insurance, while this one merely compares policies and premiums.

Now in the past, there have been times when either i had no available swamper when the assignment came or i was ordered without one for a small incident. In those cases i found someone off of an engine, or handcrew, or the felling boss, or etc. to spot for me either for the day or for a particular tree that that resource called me to cut. In short, there has always been someone around to fill the post. At the least, it's always been someone with the minimum qualifications of alertness and healthy lungs. Often it's been an aspiring faller who benefitted from the experience. Although personally, my ideal is to have my own guy who i'm used to working with, either way it's always worked out fine. until 2 weeks ago.

Well into a 14 day tour on a particular fire i was assigned to staging at morning briefing. I found one division that had a need for my services. When i met with the supervisor and made known my need for a spotter he declined and said no one could afford to "lose" a person from their duties to work with me. First time that's ever happened to me but i won't question his call on that. So i spent the day in staging instead of filling a stated need. The next day i worked with an otherwise idle dozer boss, and after that i tagged along with another set of fallers. Of course, this all could have been avoided and maximum safety and cost effectiveness achieved if i was just allowed to bring my own swamper who got left home. We had just finished working on a calfire incident together. The state doesn't seem to have a problem hiring swampers.

Everyone i spoke with in camp has thus far agreed with me that it doesn't make sense to delete the position of swamper from the resource roster. No one i've spoken with knows why r5 policy has taken this direction. I'm 50 and most of the other contract fallers i see and work with on fires are older than me; we are diminishing in numbers. Why is the forest service limiting their options? I'd like to know what my comrades and peers say about this on a larger scale.

max muddyface

8/6 Ab,

I hope the NTSB can do a better job on the investigation
of the crash of 766 than figuring out who the helicopter was
working for... who the h*ll is the U.S. Department of
Forestry anyway?

My prayers for those departed and those left behind.


8/6 I have never posted anything here but have been lurking for years. My prayers are with the people involved with the Helicopter crash. But that is not why I wanted to post something.

May I do so now?

Everyone in the fire community has heard of six minutes for safety, right. It is a takeoff of Gordon Gram. If you have not heard him speak please do so.

Anyway lets get on. In late September last year I dutifully listened to the morning fire weather forecast and local readiness and the six minutes for safety. Again this year I was on a fire in Northern California with a type two management team assigned, the very same Six minutes for safety was in the IAP. I mean it was the same word for word statement and suggestions. I may be too anal but if anyone else out there can tell me what is wrong with the leading statement I will rest.

Six minutes for safety Statement: “Fight fire aggressively but provide for safety first. It is the first Standard Order>>>>>>>>>>>”

Routine formalities and going through the motions will get people killed. Wake up, Keep up and know the situations that will get you in trouble.

OFF my box.
8/6 All,

Serious and solemn thoughts to everybody involved in the latest incident with the helicopter. I cannot imagine...

Just a quick note that I hear folks in the area are having a very hard time getting out on cell calls. Not sure if this could be used at this point (may need some set up time), but there is a Wireless Priority Service (WPS) that can be used for emergency responders. This is a post-9/11 thing put in place for situations where the cell load is taken up and responders need priority for actual emergencies. It is simply a service that you have on your phone (the cell must be WPS enabled) and pay a surcharge per month (around $5 when I last heard). May be something that would be helpful for the fires in the north ops areas if possible.

You may also need GETS service on top of the WPS for long distance calls, if the phone lines themselves are overloaded. GETS gets you long distance/hard line priority service - it's called Gov't Emergency Telephone Service. You get a GETS card with a code number for this.

Links for both: http://ncs.gov/services.phpl

Thought to all those on fires and affected by all of these incidents in the last few weeks...

Be safe,

Wildfire Alum
8/6 NTSB Advisory
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594
August 6, 2008


The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a Go Team to investigate a helicopter crash in a remote wooded area about 35 miles northwest of Redding, California. The Sikorsky S-61N (N612AZ) operated by the U.S. Department of Forestry, crashed at about 7:30 p.m. PDT last night during takeoff. A post-crash fire ensued. Of the 13 people reported to be on-board, four suffered serious injuries; nine are unaccounted for and are presumed to be fatally injured.

NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Jim Struhsaker has been designated as Investigator-in-Charge. NTSB Board Member Kitty Higgins will serve as principal spokesman during the on-scene investigation. The Safety Board?s team includes two representatives from the Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance. Bridget Serchak will accompany the team as press officer.

Ms. Serchak may be reached on her cell phone (202-557-1350) when she arrives in California this evening.

NTSB Press Contacts:

202-557-1350 (Bridget Serchak, on site in California)
202-314-6100 (Washington)
8/6 The latest news on the heli crash is updated on Record Searchlight out of
Redding. Now 9 declared involved.


Hotlist thread on the helo crash, the injury and fatality info as it becomes available.

It's in the hands of the NTSB as of the 11:30 announcement from the Shasta T Forest Supervisor.


8/6 Officials will be making an official public statement at a press conference at 10AM.

It was postponed until 1130.


8/6 This morning:

Lots of lightning activity now in northern CA. On top of that, a helo crash with limited information at this time.



Last night:

I am sure you already received word on this incident… I was just checking the news prior to hitting the hay.




Updated: 4 injured in Trinity County helicopter crash

Mike Chapman
Originally published 08:43 p.m., August 5, 2008
Updated 11:16 p.m., August 5, 2008

JUNCTION CITY — A helicopter assigned to a Trinity County forest fire crashed and burned Tuesday night, leaving four fire personnel in critical condition.

The victims with burn injuries were flown by helicopter to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, according to medical dispatchers.

“We don’t know the extent of those injuries at this time,” Shasta-Trinity National Forest spokesman Mike Odle said Tuesday night.

There was no word on the total number of people on board the aircraft or what they were doing.

The Sikorsky S-61 helicopter, which was assigned to the Iron Complex fires, went down at the north end of the 15,848-acre Buckhorn Fire, Odle said. The crash site is about 15 miles northwest of Junction City in Trinity County.

There were no known fatalities, Odle said.

U.S. Forest Service officials learned of the crash at 7:45 p.m., he said.

Forest Service officials at the Junction City fire command post refused to answer a reporter’s questions about the crash or say where the staging area was located other than to read a prepared statement.

A Forest Service accident investigation team is expected at the crash site Wednesday, Odle said.

8/6 Re: CA-BDF-Ridge Fire

I am looking for anyone who may have saved digital or hard copy files of the ICS-209 forms from the Ridge Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest (7/3-7/6, 2008).

For some reason, the 209's for this fire are no longer being archived on the FAMWEB server.

I understand there may have been some Congressional and press inquiries relating to this fire, causing some possible knee jerk reactions by senior agency officials concerned with factual information being shared with elected officials (at their official request) and to the press without their approval.

All info from the fire is FOIAable, but I'd hate to waste the time and effort of trying that route... Most often, the Agencies find some reason that they can't share the facts, while the wildland fire community has the complete digest.

Everyone who provided info to the elected officials at their request, as well as others who provided factual information regarding the fire are covered by the Whistle Blower Protection provisions.

I wonder if the Dispatch Center tapes (also FOIAable) somehow "went missing".

/s/ Fedwatcher
8/6 This came in last night at 2159 hours. Say some prayers for the crew. Ab.

USDA Forest Service ● Shasta-Trinity National Forest ● Public Affairs & Communications
3644 Avtech Parkway, Redding, CA 96002 ● Voice (530) 226-2500 ● Web: www.fs.fed.us/r5/shastatrinity

Release No. FS-072508-34 August 5, 2008
Media Contact: Michael Odle, (530) 941-0725

Helicopter crash on Shasta-Trinity National Forest

REDDING, Calif. – A Sikorsky S-61 helicopter assigned to the Iron Complex on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest crashed this evening on the north end of the Buckhorn Fire, approximately 15 miles northwest of Junction City, Calif.

Forest Service officials first learned of the accident at approximately 7:45 p.m.

Four fire personnel were transported to Mercy Medical Center Redding and are listed in critical condition. Officials still have not confirmed the number of persons on board the helicopter.

A U.S. Forest Service Accident Investigation Team will respond tomorrow. (They're responding today.)

The Forest Service will hold a press conference tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the USDA Service Center, 3644 Avtech Parkway, Redding, Calif. A call-in number for media has been established at 1-877-707-5137. Participant Code: 397190#.

8/5 Acceptable Risk?

People are inherently fallible, and things sometimes go wrong. This seems
to be a reality in life, and is especially significant in complex
high-consequence environments. Given fallibility and random chance, what is
an acceptable level of risk in wildland firefighting? We all acknowledge
that wildland fire is an inherently dangerous profession with many
complicated and interrelated variables. And we constantly state that
safety is the first priority on all assignments. Yet we continue to commit
people to missions we know are highly hazardous. For example: jumpers in
remote wilderness fires, professional fallers cutting nasty snags, or
having “Type one ground” where only Hotshot crews can work.

There is a real and finite risk that someone will be hurt or killed on
every fire assignment. It may be a very small risk for certain tasks, but
it is ever present. Why then is a particular assignment acceptable for the
professional fallers, jumpers or Hotshot crews and not other personnel?
The jumpers, fallers and hotshots have more skills and experience in
certain areas for sure, but are their skills so much greater it
significantly changes either the risks or the benefits? Are their lives
worth less? I’m not trying to be a jerk, but most fallers have been
injured or at least had some close calls in gaining that valued falling
experience. Even walking in the woods with a saw on your shoulder has some
risk associated. Similarly, can Hotshot crew members dodge rocks or snags
any better because of their skills, experience or crew organization? It
may be a matter of pride to take on these missions, but a sliding scale of
risk is a mental struggle as it contradicts the idea of safety being our
first priority. If it’s not safe, it’s not safe. But maybe what we are
really saying is “This mission isn’t safe but we expect you to do it
anyway.” No one says this directly, but isn’t that really what “type one
ground” boils down to? It’s not really a skill or experience issue; it’s
simply an acceptable level of risk based on type of resource. What I
struggle with is that there is an underlying disparity between what we
state as our goals (safety first), and what we do on the ground (complete
the mission as safely as possible). While “as safely as possible” is often
the reality, that’s a very different concept than “safety is our number one

We accept that there is risk and trust the jumpers and hotshot crews can
work safely where type two crews may not be able to, or that the
professional fallers can safely fall trees our Agency sawyers cannot or will
not. My problem with this logic lies in the risk benefit analysis. If
safety is job one, why do we ask people to work in specific areas or
missions that would be considered unsafe except for a perceived higher
skill level? Taken to its logical extreme, “safety first” basically means
no wildland firefighting. Limiting risk exposure and getting missions
accomplished safely seems to be the real focus. Again, at the risk of
sounding ridiculous, how do we balance inherent risk versus the stated goal
of personnel safety? If safety is truly my first priority, how do I commit
resources to drive narrow mountain roads knowing they might crash, cut
snags knowing they may be killed by falling debris, work on slopes knowing
someone might be hit with a rolling rock or falling tree, or even call in
buckets of retardant knowing the aircraft may crash? When I think of all
the accidents and fatalities I have experienced or am aware of, there are
few missions where someone hasn’t been hurt. (As a side note, why not give
hazard pay for driving since many people claim it’s the most dangerous
thing we do?) I may not be sure exactly the degree of risk and my
perception of the potential benefits may vary for each situation, but
clearly mission accomplishment often overrules safety. We just accept
certain risks as the cost of doing business. There’s often no discussion
of where exactly the line between acceptable and too much risk is until we
have already crossed it.

I understand missions must be accomplished, but after the recent
fatalities, I did some soul searching on risks and hazards. Some of my
unease comes from my personal uncertainty in weighing risks and benefits,
and also from the underlying contradiction of saying we’re all about safety
and then turning around and focusing primarily on mission accomplishment.
How many of us have looked at an assignment and thought, “it’s risky but
I’m okay with it”, or even “I’m comfortable working here but I won’t bring
other people into the area?” What do these thoughts mean if safety is our
primary job?

We can’t completely eliminate accidents or fatalities. Line has to be
scouted, snags have to be cut, aircraft will fly, and fires will continue
to be fought on steep slopes. Like an insurance adjuster, someone could
(and may have already) calculate an average rate of firefighter driving
accidents, the rate of snag falling accidents, the rate of burnovers, etc.
and come up with a numerical value of risk for a particular assignment
(There is a .05 % chance of being killed constructing .25 miles of line in
this fuel type for example). But how do we measure the benefits? We hear
all the time no chunk of ground is worth anyone's life, yet I am sure we
can all remember pieces of line we held despite obvious and significant

Unfortunately, regardless of all the talk about safety, some people will not
come home intact or at all. I don’t want to be responsible for the next
incident, but I am struggling with what level of risk is acceptable. I am
most safe if I never leave the station. But that doesn’t put out much
fire. Once on the line, I have to trust my judgment and the judgment of my
coworkers that the benefits of a particular assignment outweigh the risks.
But there is always some level of risk, and that is my dilemma. What is
the acceptable level of risk? And when and why does that level of
acceptable risk vary? I apologize for the long and rambling post, but I am
curious if other people are struggling with the concept of acceptable risk.
It seems to me a kind of Pandora’s Box that once you start asking what is
acceptable risk; it only leads to more questions.


8/5 Yes, I would agree, Harbour's memo is very meaningful, very well said. He does have a unique writing style and good speaking skills. Especially when he addressed Forest Service employees as members of a Fire Service.

Now back to business..........

June 30 + 36 Days and counting..........

What Pena said about the retention teams results: "ensure completion to meet the deadline of June 30"

* Informed that the project has been completed - NO
* Update to Rank and File Firefighters on progress or results of the report - NO
* Augment the current team members with available individuals because of the current fire activity to ensure the work continues and is completed by the deadline - NO

The percentage results showing our filled Firefighter positions they put in the briefing paper are not accurate. Once they formally report them, then the real percentages which are being worked on behind the scenes will get released. Be very careful 4th floor. You can't afford another Mark Rey Miracle Moment

We would rather sit down and communicate and create solutions together. Isn't that what leaders do? Unfortunately that doesn't appear to be something the 4th floor is interested to doing.

Leaders go into a planning meeting, work out the details of a strategy, and obtain support and agreement about a plan. Allow others to comment and then go implement the plan and come back together to evaluate how the plan is working. A simple, yet aggressive concept that's been around for about 30 years.


Managers have a meeting the week of Dec 10th, swear everyone to secrecy and do nothing.

Yes we have some true Managers on the 4th floor. Now we need to go find some Leaders.

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY - April 1, 2008

"The day they lied from Coast-to-Coast"
8/5 Ab,

I understand why you're asking us to hold posts re the Scratchline 17 article, but as it
stands, it is grossly unfair to Krs and the extended implication is that any firefighter can
be blamed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This isn't a Hero's Complex.
This article perpetuates that stereotype even tho we've largely moved beyond it. How
silly is this!!!

Isn't there a Serious Accident Investigation Report somewhere? He got hit by the top
of a very tall hardwood tree in a forest of trees with no leaves on 'em. He wasn't cutting

Tahoe Terrie

Patience, I hope the issue is being worked on behind the scenes. There's time. No doubt we'll hear something soon (I hope). SAI Report (34 page, 1400 K pdf file with photos) Ab.

8/5 School House Fire Camp, 1965 or '66:

I ran in some slides taken on the School House Fire on the LP in 1965/66 Cuyama RD (now part of Mt. Pinos RD). Time Keepers were in long trailer on left and the small trailer to the right of center was Plans. The copy machine was carbon paper. No tents: the kitchen had a tarp over the stove and a shower was what you got when you got home. Times have changed. Photo compliments of jmck. (0808)

I put it on the Equipment 11 photo page. Interesting, times have changed. Probably one reason why fire costs have gone up. Ab.

8/5 Photo from Craig Fire in real time:

BTU-Craig: Current photo of CA-BTU-Craig @1400 hrs from partner on incident. Heavies just leaving Redding air attack base: 1430. Photos compliments of Squeeb. (0808)

I added it to the Fires 38 photo page and the Hotlist Craig Fire thread. Ab.

8/5 Ab,

The “Small World” post was right in line with my experience over the past 30 years
in this wild world of wildland fire and agency networks. It truly is a tight-knit community
within the fire arena. The Faller community is also very tight and I need to ask for some
assistance regarding the briefing paper recently issued and distributed relating to the
series of falling accidents. The briefing paper mentioned not only the agency people
involved but also a lone contract faller, yet no one I’ve spoken to knows of a contract
faller either injured or involved in a wildland fire related felling accident. Could you or
anyone with accurate information provide this for our community? Just as firefighters
desire to come together to support one another in times of crisis, so also do fallers.
If there is a faller and/or a faller's family needing assistance, we certainly would
appreciate knowing. If this piece of information is erroneous, we’d like to know that
as well.

Thanks for any assistance you might be able to provide.


Shari, my guess is that was an error. We've received no reports and there were a lot of rumors that week. I sorted out that the third faller (3 fallers, 3 regions, 3 agencies) was from the Chief Mountain IHC (Blackfeet Nation, MT, BIA ) and he checked out to be fine. Perhaps someone can say for sure yes or no on the contract faller. Ab.

8/5 Andrew Jackson Palmer's Memorial Service:

We've just received this.
R5Vet FF

Tom Harbour wrote a very nice reflection and very appropriate to
share...Those of us who were honored to be at the Memorial Service
were touched by the love and support.

David Summer
Deputy Director
R6 --Fire, Fuels and Aviation Management


Todays (Yesterday's) funeral of Andrew Jackson Palmer
from Tom Harbour, Director USFS FAM

It was a beautiful August day in Port Townsend WA today. The skies were as
blue as they can get. I'm no expert at crowd size estimation, but I'm
guessing about a 1,000 people came to Fort Worden State Park to celebrate
the life of this young NPS firefighter. You all would have been proud of
the services and the respect shown by the wildland and municipal presence
at the memorial. Apparatus and personnel in uniform lined the entrance to
the building where the memorial was held. The NPS presence, as you would
expect, was strong. The USFS was equally noticeable, with line and staff
attendance by R6 and R5. Many NF's in R6 had personnel in attendance to
show their respect.

It was obvious from the testimonials that Andy Palmer was a fine, decent,
kind young man. Unique, but like so many of the folks we work with. His
family, his friends, and the wildland community will miss him.

I was especially pleased to see Dave Johnson, now retired (former ICT2 and
FMO on the Mt Baker Snoqualmie), with his wife and son at the service.
Dave's sons had a tough Friday a week or so ago, but the one is out of the
hospital recovering from his injuries. Ken Snell told me that when Ken
visited with him about rappelling that Ken was impressed with his
professionalism and grasp of the activity. Daves wife reported that
yesterday he walked a mile! Dave's other son was next to Andy Palmer when
this accident occurred. He was untouched physically, but hurt just as
deeply. Dave and his wife, and I (after talking to them), are confident in
the full recovery of both young men. The wildland community does an
excellent job, assisted by so many (including the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation) of overcoming obstacles to care for our own. These two Johnson
young men are strong and will be back in the mix.

The traditions of firefighter funerals are unique to our work. It was
wonderful to see how the National Fallen FF foundation helped obtain the
Seattle FD drum and bagpipe corps. It was noticed by many that the NPS and
USFS Honor Guards worked seamlessly together during the ceremony. The
family mentioned that they had received an outpouring of support and
assistance from the NPS, the USFS, and so many more (including Vicki Minor
and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation).

As I sat through the service and as I write this message, I ponder what
more each of us, as leaders in fire, can do to prevent the next occurrence.
I find myself believing in our minds, our thinking, in doctrine, in risk
management, in diligence, and in focused attention. Small errors sometimes
result in tragic consequences.

I'm grateful the Chief gave me this opportunity to attend the service; the
next funeral is Thursday for Chief Daniel Packer.

8/5 Originally written July 27, 2008 and sent to a few Mellie friends, some of whom have forwarded it on...

Respecting the privacy of people involved in the face of media attention, we held off on posting it to theysaid.

Enough time has passed now and we feel it can be shared to thank and inspire the entire wildland firefighting community and to let the families know they are also part of this community. The title says it all. Ab.

~~~ Small world... so much love & caring... in the face of tragedy... ~~~

TWO falling accidents yesterday, so intertwined... multiple families helped by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Multiple families and firefighters offering support!

A National Park Service firefighter died as the result of a falling accident yesterday afternoon in R5.

Andy Palmer, age 18, died yesterday while being flown by Coast Guard Helicopter from the Iron Complex, Eagle Fire near Junction City to Redding. He had been hit by a snag.

Rob Palmer, Andy's brother and an Arrowhead HS, was best friend of Dan Holmes the Arrowhead HS who was hit by a snag and died in 2004. www.wildlandfire.com/pics/misc3/dan.php

Chris Warren who was also on the Arrowheads in '04, was Dan Holmes' feller partner, is good friends with Rob Palmer. He's flying in to Washington state to support Rob and the Palmer family. (WFF -- our donations -- pay for it.)

Last night Kathy and Ken Brinkley reached out to Bob and Janet Palmer.

There was another felling incident last night in R6 when a tree struck a US Forest Service Rappeller.

Jared Johnson was hit by a widowmaker and was Life Flighted to Wenatchee WA. He has an injured vertebra, 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, if necessary -- is picking up the cost of lodging and car rental for Jared's folks.)

The Brinkleys (Kathy and Ken) are offering support to Jared's parents, too, right now by phone. Dave Johnson, Jared's dad is retired FS from WA and a member of the WFF's 52 Club. The Brinkleys know the tragedy of losing one son, Levi at Storm King, and the anxiety of almost losing another son Joe (one of the 2 remaining Levi Brinkley triplets) who got hit by a widowmaker in 2005. Joe has recovered.

Jared's brother Jeremy Johnson -- who was one of Andy Palmer's good friends -- was standing next to Andy yesterday afternoon in NorCal when Andy got hit by the tree. Jeremy, who is also a NPS firefighter, is being flown home from Redding to the Olympic Peninsula. (The WFF -- through our donations -- will likely fly or help get him to Wenatchee to be with his family.)

It's a small wildland firefighter world with big hearts and network connections. I'm glad to be a part of it.

I know I don't need to ask you, but most don't know these stories that can't be told now publicly. Please do what you can to foster support for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.


8/5 Just wanted to reply to Bob's question on They Said regarding zippered fire shirts.
They are made by the folks at California Prison Industries.



Another reply from MB that got passed on indicates they only sell to governmental entities. Ab.

8/5 Firefighters are preparing for possible dry lightning in NorCal tonight,
with the chance of thunderstorms lingering until Thursday morning.

Be safe.


8/5 A good friend of mine pointed out to me that the Forest Service has had
a clear declaration of its 'mission' since the beginning. Gifford
Pinchot was a man with a mission and he clearly stated what it should be
in the 1905 "Use Book". This is a wonderful little tome that has many
interesting things in it, and its size would seem to indicate "Doctrine"
100 years before the term was co-opted, and then largely ignored by our

Here is one quote that Ed, Randy and Tom should read:

"Probably the greatest single benefit derived by the community and the
nation from forest reserves is insurance against the destruction of
property, timber resources, and water supply by fire."

Notice he specifically said 'property'. Timber resources have always
been valued whether we call it timber or ecosystems. Water is the one
that will become increasingly dear.

"Officers of the Forest Service, especially forest rangers, have no duty
more important than protecting the reserves from forest fires. During
dry and dangerous periods all other work should be subordinate."

Pretty concise, and leaves no doubt as to 'Commanders intent'.

He goes on to give instruction about 'how to fight fire' and it is a
very good read, as is the rest of the treatise. I could go on and on
but will only give one snippet and then encourage one and all to seek
out this document.

"The character and condition of the woods, the weather, and even the
time of day, have so much to do with such cases that general directions
have little value and all depends upon the experience and good judgment
of the ranger."

Wow, what a concept, reliance on EXPERIENCE and JUDGEMENT!

It can be found on foresthistory.org along with so much other great

A special thanks to my 'Cosmic Brother' for turning me on to this site,
and apologies for using his insight to further my own agenda.


8/5 FS Region 5 Developmental Positions:

I have recently been offered and accepted one of the new GS 05/06
Developmental Positions. There seems to be a lot of confusion about
what training and other requirements these positions entail.

Anyone in the know like to share some information on this?


8/5 Howdy-

Awhile back I believe that there was a thread on some zip front nomex
shirts that were made by inmates in California. Anyone have the info
on where to pick those up?


Article from the Great Falls Tribune -

Bear roughs up Yellowstone firefighter

The Associated Press • August 4, 2008

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — A grizzly bear fleeing a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park pounced on a firefighter, but a spokeswoman said the man wasn’t seriously hurt.

Firefighter Tony Allabastro was treated and released from a Yellowstone clinic hours after the Sunday incident, said Sandra Hare, spokeswoman for the team managing the LeHardy Fire.

The fire had burned about 4,700 acres, roughly 7 square miles, in the Fishing Bridge area near the northern bank of Yellowstone Lake in the central section of the park. The fire was about 5 percent contained as of Monday evening.

Allabastro is a member of the Lewis and Clark Hotshots from Great Falls, Mont., Hare said. His age wasn’t available.

“It kind of roughed him up a little bit, so he has some scratching and stuff to his back,” Hare said. “He got pounced on.”

Hare said officials believe the bear wasn’t being particularly aggressive. “We really feel like it was the bear trying to get out of the area,” she said.

Firefighters on the Yellowstone fire are carrying pepper spray for bears, Hare said, but she said Allabastro didn’t have time to grab his. “It is one of the hazards of fighting backcountry fires,” she said.

Click above link for more

Fair Use Disclaimer


8/4 Ab,

I attended the memorial for Andy Palmer today in Port Townsend WA. Andy was killed in a freak falling accident while fighting fire in Nor Cal, if some were not aware.

The ceremony was magnificent, over 1000 people attended to honor Andy and support his family. Some items of note; the USFS/NPS honor guard was as sharp and precise, and second to none. The Seattle Fire Dept Bag Pipers brought tears to many eyes with their piping. The remembrances of Andy shared by family and friends was heart warming and again made many tears flow.

Many dignitaries from across the nation attended and I must comment the NPS Director, Ms. Mary Bomar for personally addressing and shaking hands with as many NPS employees as she could. It was a true expression of her support to her employees and her personal grief of the loss of an employee. Thank you Ms. Bomar. The USFS had WO/R5 line officer representation but the interaction with their employees was not the same.

Now we get to do this all over again on Thursday, to say goodbye to Chief Dan Packer of East Pierce Fire and Rescue.

8/4 William,

You’ve made some valuable points. The primary way commercial fallers learn their skill has always been from other experienced fallers out in the woods. While the timber industry has declined considerably over the past decades, never the less, the opportunity exists RIGHT NOW out on the multiple wildland fires burning across the country for faller mentoring. These fallers are out there and available NOW. I know many of our fallers, fallers working for other operators, as well as seasoned independent fallers have shown they are more than willing to share their knowledge and skills with younger fallers – both men and women – working on crews. One scenario that seems to work well is for fallers to work along with a crew with the opportunity arises. Just one day working together provides an excellent opportunity for learning.

Also, remember not all fallers are experienced in wildland fire, and the cross transfer of skill and knowledge on the wildland fire incidents can (and does) flow both ways. Our fallers have learned a lot about firefighting and fire behavior from wildland firefighters they’ve worked with. It’s only when attitudes get in the way that learning suffers. And the minute anyone thinks they know all there is to know, they’ve blown their opportunity for personal growth and knowledge gain, and so, are less proficient, less effective, and ultimately, less safe, than they could be. That effects everyone.

We should all support learning opportunities when and where they arise, and I’m with you, while classroom learning may augment a person’s skill set, the real meat and potatoes takes place in the field.


Feel free to comment on the Hotlist thread if you're a member. One reason the Hotlist is a fine forum is that it is easily searchable, much easier than theysaid, so folks looking for felling tips can find them all in one place. Ab..

8/3 I have some input on falling I wish I could share.

I was a faller on Smokey Bear Hot Shots from '78 to '89 and taught falling the last half of that. We never had a serious accident in those years, and that says something about SA and safe working practices we developed. We had many close calls and I would conclude luck is also a factor in that record. All it takes is once!

My message is about SA, pre-visualization, safe practices and most of all tuning in to all your senses to your surroundings. Did I mention not letting anything or anybody or anything rush you into an unsafe operation? Think it out! Pre-visualize every scenario that can happen before you cut. Debris usually travel inline with the force of the falling tree. Don't loiter in bad places! Locate big trees as shields, brush out and be mobile.

I just returned from the Hells Half Complex on Div. W and I flagged hazard trees for the professional fallers. Two little "B" size trees were the first to come down. I saw them as extremely hazardous as did the professional faller. I imagined the average B faller wondering into this unprepared for the outcome.

First, was a green madrone growing into another madrone at a 45 angle and about 16" at the base and 30' span to where it rested on the limb of the other. The problem is halfway through the span it was burned almost in two. We both agreed; it was a cut and run and only one good escape route protected by a group of trees. Sure enough the upper half sat down vertical and was anyone's guess which direction it would have gone. With enough height to reach the stump and plenty of weight to do damage, it came down in a clearing away from the faller.

Second tree: An oak snag 12" DBH and burned almost in two halfway up and resting on brushy tree tops. Do you cut the trees to clear a path for it? NO! You would place yourself downhill under the top when it comes down. So he cut it clean and fast and as it broke in half and again came back on him he was well clear.

When I warned him they were little but ugly I wasn't kidding. I stood well clear for a reason.

One more please! Same fire.

While flagging snags at a corner I didn't like walking uphill to a fir snag, so I hiked up and around the corner to side hill to it. I no more got back to the engine and an unburned GREEN monster came down right where I would have hiked uphill to it!

My point is; it is an extremely dangerous job working around BIG trees and little trees. People with experience need to work with less experienced people in the field. Experience cannot be learned in a classroom. You get a feel for things after they happen around you and you avoid being where you should not be. You work out a plan; get in and get out. You also refuse anything you feel is too dangerous, balancing risk against the gain.

Working around snags I feel like I could hear a pin drop! Listening for that powerful snap is usually the first indicator that something is falling! For that reason sometimes I would remove my ear plugs. I want to home in and try to locate where that sound came from... I should have all my escape routes and safety zones predetermined when I walk into a hazardous zone.

Don't be an adrenaline junkie and walk into danger because you like danger; THAT'S MACHO. Make sure that adrenaline rush tunes you in to being aware for the safety of ALL around you. It's a fight or flight situation. You must live to fight another day... and that goes for everyone around you.

I feel lucky that I have never seen anyone bonked by a tree and I hope I communicate when I see bad practices so that I never do see anyone hurt. I used to volunteer to swamp for professional west coast fallers whenever I could and learn as much as possible in that short time. I carried gas and oil; I didn't stand under the tree to warn them... I picked their brain and apprenticed. I hope to transfer that mindset and knowledge to other fallers in the hope that it eliminates that one bad decision that makes the difference.

I hope we all share our experience and knowledge with each other so that collectively this high risk job has far fewer "accidents".

William Riggles
8/3 Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) retirees may get a nice check
upon retirement if they can limit use of sick leave.


A contributor

8/3 Our National Forests have been invaded while folks slept at the wheel, but not by the usual "suspects" that we would normally expect. When our Senior Agency Leaders and Elected Officials speak on issues relating to our wildlands and our national security, they rarely speak of "these invaders".... nor address the true problems, nor request adequate funding or the resources to combat the true "invaders". These invaders are HERE...

These "invaders" aren't the often spoken about "non-native" species we regularly hear about, or the Western Pine Beetle, or even the dreaded Sudden Oak Death Syndrome or the unexplained Southern California "oak croak". These invaders are armed and well equipped Mexican, South American, and eastern Asia drug cartels that have freely taken up residence in our national forests, national parks, and other public lands.

This is a firefighter and public safety issue. This is an environmental protection issue. This is a National Security issue.

The drug cartels own our national public lands throughout the West, the South, the Southeast, and the Northeast. IF YOU DON'T believe me, ask your local LEO or Special Agent.

When armed federal LEOs have to provide minimal firefighter force protection because of non-native armed insurgencies from illegal enterprises from other countries... It becomes a federal wildland fire manager problem.

Next time the National Guard is mobilized.... it should mobilize both with weapons and McLeods.... and be directed towards the areas of greatest need.

On the fire I was on, I made some suggestions towards Posse Comitatus to ensure firefighter safety. Interesting discussions to say the least regarding the role, responsibilities, and capabilities of the National Guard and information that HAS BEEN wrongly told to line officers in the area. We settled for 6 armed federal LEOs (Title 21 qualified) to help minimize the short term.... but failed to address or fix the LATENT... or bigger issues waiting to bite us in the butt later. I would have rather trained 200 firefighters out of the local bar and put them on the fireline, AND mobilized the National Guard for other assigned duties.

Maybe a "Senior Official" can explain better the role of the State National Guard Units properly acting and mobilizing under state authority.... or federalized troops acting upon a non-native aggression towards US Citizens would not apply to the current invasion?

My simple suggestion.... and it might sound arrogant, but I don't care since firefighters were threatened.... Elected Officials (Local, State, and Federal), Line Officers and Decision Makers, as well as others who don't understand the processes or hazards.... 1) You have a job to do, and are expected to DO IT or surrender it to others.. and 2) Take GOVT. 101 and study the portions on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.... especially states' rights and duties.

Actual or implied ignorance of facts is unacceptable. We are under an active invasion by drug cartels from abroad who capitalize on our bureaucratic nonsense and inability to act on known threats.

8/2 Very nice photo. I put it on the Equipment 11 photo page. Ab.

Early morning hours on July 6 on division Q of Motion Inc. Shasta Trinity Unit, Cal Fire. SHU 4727

Dozer operators "making the plan" of heading over the edge, to Lake Shasta. Operators off of Dozer 2442, and Dozer 2340


8/2 Free Ellreese!


I've written a letter to the judge in support of Ellreese 's "time" for the
misdemeanors being limited to time served. I would like encourage
others to write Judge Van Sickle through tina_ hunt at fd. org before the
18th, ...our brother Ellreese and his family have gone through enough

My heartfelt prayers will be ongoing for the family and friends of fallen
heroes.. Daniel Packer and Andrew Palmer . .

/s/ Kenneth M. Jordan
Sierra Hotshot Superintendent

8/2 I have a Hot Shot Crew question. I recently saw a photo of the Santa Barbara
County FD IHC crew on the fire near Mariposa.

The listing has them as a Hot Shot crew, and then as an IHC crew. Can anyone
tell me if they are listed as a National IHC, a Regional IHC, or just a County Fire
handcrew that is using "Hotshots" and "IHC" as a designation? Are they officially
'listed' as a National or Regional Type 1 resource? Thanks


Here's the current Fed Interagency Hotshot Crew List. Ab.

8/2 Fallen firefighter mourned
Hundreds attend service for fire chief killed in Panther Fire


8/1 Here is a quick soundslide of what I been doing the past 7 days.
Please excuse the old rock & roll but I am old.



whooo hoooo! Ab.


From Al a bit later: Al is correcting his Soundslide.

There are 4 HS photos, now that I look at it, two with white helmets and two with yellow. The first two crew photos are of the Santa Barbara IHC. I took pics of them going down but I got mix up with the Yellow Helmets: those are pics of the hotshots from Kern County, the 3rd and 4th photos. I just didn't notice the change. I saw the Kern Co crew haul and talked to them on division M. I will correct the caption with my editor first then correct the Soundslide. I haven't published the Soundslide yet. I have more images and I want to put in titles.

Thanks to the Kern Co viewer for the correction.


8/1 Scratchline #17…

“Anything can happen – expect the unexpected. This is a key lesson. In the vicinity of standing dead trees, things fall from the sky. Even when you are not involved in the falling, dangerous conditions exist. In one case, a firefighter had the hero complex, thinking nothing would happen to him. But something did happen, and he was paralyzed by a falling snag. For more information on this 2001 accident on the Daniel Boone National Forest go to: http://krstofer.org/poplar/

Umm… Now walking in the woods is an indictment of having the “Hero Complex.”?

I’m embarrassed I didn’t see this in 2006 when it came out, or I would have said something then. I believe anyone who understands the specifics on the snag felling incident in which Krs was injured would take exception to this last paragraph of Scratchline #17. I could say a lot here about blaming the victim, but I truly don’t think this was malicious on the part of the Scratchline writers, only a terrible, terrible misstep.

I’ll do my best here at diplomacy – because you KNOW how important that is to me, Ab.

I believe the Wildfire Lessons Learned Center staff needs to address this issue immediately. I spoke with Krs to see if, by chance, he had spoken with the center staff regarding this Scratchline Issue, or given them permission to link to his site. Unfortunately, they hadn’t discussed it with him. In respect to Krs and his situation, it is my position the folks at the Wildfire Lessons Learned center need to act quickly to rectify this situation and issue an apology to Krs.

Thank you.


Hotlist Thread

8/1 In reference to the USDA article on the flag, I will say this... I was walking down the street the other day in downtown Washington, DC, enroute to an event near the White House, and looked south across the national mall, waiting for a light. I noticed a flag flying at half staff, and stopped cold when I realized it was the USDA Headquarters. I may be one of a small number of people in this city who will know why that flag is flying at half staff, but I knew it had to be for the firefighters. In this city of symbols, it is a very powerful, solemn tribute to those whom the fire community has lost. It is one entire federal department saying hey, we've lost some of our own.

I don't think there were any politics involved, other than in trying to honor those who have fallen. It is an amazing tribute here in this city. My sympathies and thoughts to those who are dealing with the losses of these fine gentlemen, and those at the fires and on the units and fire departments involved.

Be safe,

- stillness
8/1 A whole lot of info on Falling Safety and Risk Mitigation:


8/1 Thought this link might help with the discussion of openings still left in R5. I checked the list of openings in May and June, now there are only 4 left on ANF. There were so many before you had to continue scrolling to find the end of ANF's listings. http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/trackingdb/postings.phpl

It is a shame that people out there certified as CSFM FF1, CSFM FF2, & CSFM Fire Officer plus NWCG quals and experience that far exceed many of USFS's existing apprentices and permanent employees cannot get hired by the USFS.

Something is definitely wrong here. It is a huge safety issue. What will it take to make them realize their hiring decisions are not the best practice? It is sad, but we could see the ramifications of all this under qualified hiring in the upcoming seasons. I really hope it doesn't come down to that.


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