September, 2008

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9/30 NorCal Tom;

Bravo! One of the hardest lessons I had to learn, and the one which has served
me the best, was that disengagement was not a dirty word.

Yes, I've made mistakes along those lines (human factors, after all), and have
aired them publicly here on this forum, and berated myself nightly for each and
every one.

But until we adopt a policy of "that's unacceptable behavior", we will continue
to foster an institutional arrogance, resulting in many accidents.

Post trained, experienced lookouts, who aren't afraid to communicate their

Listen to your lookouts; they shouldn't have their position, if they're not giving you
"need to know" information.

Establish trigger points; this is a fluid, ongoing process. Use them. Don't ignore
what the fire is shouting at you.

When the fire behavior is increasing, and worsening incrementally, is the time to
be moving. Get out of the way, and come back when it's to YOUR advantage.

Encourage our FEOs to participate in maintaining crew cohesion, and control in
"panic button" situations. (good job with this, FEO 71!).

Study CPS; it encourages minute by minute observation and reassessment; it works,
as the world is going gunnysack around you.


Thanks, Doug; I've got a lotta scars, from the times I didn't hear you (and funny, but
I don't have any from the times I paid attention, and remembered...)
9/30 Nor Cal Tom,

Right on! As the founder of CPS, I reach back into my training material for a couple of thoughts that I found are very useful.

To fight fire and provide for safety one must think like a firefighter and also think like the fire. Firefighters think, "How do we control this fire?" Thinking like the fire is like, " What can the fire do to thwart the firefighters?" Can it throw spotfires, create fire whirlwinds, change direction, or speed or go from an Out of alignment backing fire to an In alignment head fire?

How does a firefighter recognize -- from observing the fire behavior and terrain between them and the fire -- when the tactic is no longer safe or effective?
Understanding how to observe the fire and how to predict the threshold of control of the chosen tactic is an important skill that can help to hasten decisions to change tactics.

The spotfire subject is treated in this fashion.
When a spotfire occurs and the fire behavior is getting worse, the logical conclusion is that there are going to be more.
Attacking a spotfire ahead of the main fire without assurance of a safe approach and escape as well as a safety area has led to many injuries. What would happen if another spotfire occurs between your firefighters and the way out?
When the fire becomes un-predictable, it is time to back off and reassess the situation. When the fire is stable and will remain so for the duration of the assault, it is time to attack.

It is the mark of a professional firefighter to be able to recognize degrading situations and back off until the situation stabilizes and then make a successful attack.


9/30 A few misc shots from the Chalk Fire.


Thanks, Mark, I put them on Airtankers 27 and Helicopters 25 and Fire 39 photo pages. Ab.

9/30 Indians fire report (lg pdf file) comments:

Ab, I thought that I would write some of my thoughts down for discussion.
For me, the context of Fire Behavior Signature (CPS) applies. I had this
training as a hotshot many years ago. The logic and terminology to
communicate it has stood me in good stead through the years. Does anyone
else see the logic of this?

1.  The lookout subject:
If the Ops. Chief, Div. Chief, Hotshot Supe, and other experienced people
did not react to the signs of a worsening fire behavior situation, what
would make a person reason that a posted lookout would? Lookout is
not a red carded position. They have no requirements to meet. Thinking
that a lookout would somehow have made any difference is not a
reasonable assumption.

2.  LCES not adequate?
The problem regarding this assumption of LCES not being in place
and that that if in place would have changed the outcome is overlooking
the true cause of the burnover.

It was evident to most firefighters on the line that the fire behavior
situation was worsening, smoke columns turning, spotfires occurring,
winds becoming dominate in directing the fire. When this situation
happens it can compromise the escape route and safety area. A
new LCES may be required.

3.  Situational Awareness?
When fire behavior becomes such that it is unpredictable, it is a "trigger
for a re-evaluation of the tactic in use and change from offensive
to defensive tactics is an appropriate shift in tactics.

Disengagement should be sooner rather than later. In this case there
was situational awareness of the situation on the fire-ground.
The situation was changing and firefighters delayed breaking off the
attack at the obvious decision trigger point and giving up the line they
were holding.


What should have happened that would have changed the outcome
was that at the time "the fire was observed to be getting worse" and
the smoke was indicating a firestorm, the firefighters should have backed
off until the fire stabilized and again was predictable and safe to work on.
Waiting until the fire runs one out is a commonality of burnovers.

I think that if I was in a mentoring position for these firefighters and overhead
that I would tell them that this behavior is not acceptable and that I would
consider this a first warning. Any repeat of this behavior would be serious.
If they don't "get it", they and others should be looking to their training /
experience first.

I would tell the crew that if they don't know what I'm talking about, they
should demand of their managers that better training in the "logic of fire
behavior risk management"
for groundpounders be made available. They're
the firefighters facing the flames and for them it's a matter of life and death.

Ditto for the death on the Panther Fire, my neck 'o the woods. What were
they thinking or not???

NorCal Tom

Thanks NorCalTom. We aren't going to be discussing the Panther until the Investigative report comes out. Ab.

9/30 Chickasaw (S-55, H-19, HRS-1, HO4S-3)

Thanks for the responses!

I can’t tell if the photos on scale fire bombers is of fire fighting or civil
helicopters, NTSB/FAA show no info for those airframes so I’m sure
they are no longer flying, and of course there seems to be no history
either. As for tail numbers etc, I wish I had something to go by, but
unfortunately I do not.

I would still appreciate any photos that anyone has even B&W at this point….
I realize this bird is a relic, but there have got to be a few pack-rats out there


Sean P

9/30 Funeral for Kristine Fairbanks

Yesterday's funeral in Port Angeles, WA for Kristine Fairbanks, National Forest Service, was the most awesome thing I have ever seen. 120 K-9 units were well behaved and when the drum and pipes began to play, barked and howled as if they knew they were honoring their fellow officers, Kristine and her dog Radar. There were 3000 people of all types of police forces from all over the country attending along with Canadian Mounted Police. Many fire fighters were also there. Thank you to the brave women and men who safe guard us every day in dangerous conditions.


9/30 From multiple sources... on IFPM:

NWCG#021-2008 Memorandum (132 K pdf file) and
Interagency Fire Program Management (IFPM) - Decision Paper #4 (119 K pdf file)

9/30 Just a thought...

There's a lot of discussion (and rightly so) regarding retention issues, with one suggested evolution being a Single Fed Fire Service Agency, which things might come to, if W/O doesn't get their collective head out of... the sand. Kinda throwing the baby out with the bathwater, at this point. But...

What would happen (other than shaking the very foundations) if the FS were to hire entry- level FF's, as 26/0 Firefighters?

Just imagine; you, as a chief officer, have some vacancies, at the FF level. You refer to your eligible list, subject top candidates to oral boards, FULL physicals, etc., and make a selection... they then enter service as a trainee FF, 26/0, eligible for benefits. On completion of a basic training regimen, they join an engine/ crew as a probationary FF, and are trained, gain experience, and grow as a part of the organization, rather than spending... well, however long, as an outsider, looking in, with no job security, no bennies, limited training ops, etc. And if they don't pass their probie requirements in the designated period, they're out. Sound familiar?

And in the non- fire season, they'd still be available for the all-risk incidents that (wink, wink) we all know that the FS doesn't run, not to mention details to fire Regions, fuels, timber, prevention, PC, LE, heli/AA training, engine academy...

And next season, you might not have to start at square one with your FFs.

Maybe I'm wrong, but a program such as this sure would have kept me (with 10 years, and no idea how many "seasonal appointments", "extensions", etc) aboard for the full term.

There's no doubt in my mind that Fed fire employees are (1) fire fighters, and (2) grossly underpaid, mistreated, and unsupported. But it seems as if everyone's been looking too far up the ladder for the missing step... I think if the Fed agencies acted, from day one, as if their fire personnel were actually wanted, and not the proverbial red- headed step-child of a lands-only agency, that a few more might just stick around.

I've been wrong before...

Come to think of it, I suggested this on my separation questionnaire, in 1983...


Jason Rangel, I'm thrilled that your father was finally recognized publicly as a line-of-duty loss. I was asked, in the mid- 90's, to re-enter the Machine, and offered a 'shot crew. The FS treatment of your family was a large factor in my (difficult and painful) decision not to accept. Your father was a fine friend and mentor; I'm sure he's proud of you.
9/30 Ab,

Please post this message:

After seeing all the talk going on concerning Region 5's talk about using retention/recruitment money to extend the tours of GS 5's and 6's, I needed to chime in. It is not what the money is designed for. People are not leaving the Forest Service due to being 13/13 and 18/8 vs 26/0. Most 13/13 and 18/8's can find winter work if they are willing to work in other shops (timber, recreation, etc). The bottom line is that there isn't fire related work in the majority of forests.

It is just plain wrong to use the money to do this. If we are going to make a dent in the recruitment/retention problem, we need to get to the root cause of the problem: That being the pay, benefit, and work schedule differences between the US Forest Service and Cal Fire. If you address that, the problem will begin to address itself. Anything short of that is not going to work.

Consider one other thing about tour extensions. If you were to spend the balance of your tour working in other departments, wouldn't that give the government more ammunition to use in the Forestry Technician vs Firefighter PDs? If you're spending half your tour working in timber for example, that makes you seem more like a Forestry Technician and less like a firefighter......

FS Engine Guy

9/30 Globe Air used to have a fleet of S55-T's in the late 70's and early 80's. I worked on
the Kernville ship on the Sequoia in 1982 and 1983. Peppermint Helitack also had a
Globe Air S55-T and there was at least one more in south zone (?Heap). It was shake,
rattle, and roll in those ships, wiring hanging loose in the cabin and rubber wheels that
you had to jump out and chock on those steep LZ's, otherwise you'd roll off the

Joe Hill
9/30 "Just an engine slug",

Thanks. You did an excellent job of describing why CA Unemployment Compensation Insurance is so lucrative to those working "stepping stone" jobs towards a career, as many current federal wildland firefighters currently are. You also described well, at the betterment of the government, it is in the interest of the federal government to keep these employees engaged to work since they (feds) are paying the UI compensation costs.

What is missing is that there is no incentive at all to become a career federal wildland firefighter.

In case there are any "line officers" (ie - decision makers) out there thinking that increased tours of duty will fix something, please note the following referenced facts:

The State of California compensates unemployed workers based upon a formula that takes into account the full earnings of the highest quarter (three months) during the eligibility period. This amount ($1,800/month, $450/week) is generally what most folks who have limited appointments (Temp., Apprentice, 13/13, 8/18, and 18/8) receive during their non-compensated "seasonal" lack of work periods.

In terms of a GS-6 or below employee, the FACTS are based upon take home $$$ entirely...... feed the kids?... pay the rent or mortgage?.... seek medical care?... A base paycheck at these levels is not sustainable in the off-season months (reference nearly 40% + deductions from pay). UCI keeps folks available, and willing to return to a job they like AND may want to make a career out of.

Specifics of CA Unemployment Compensation can be found at: http://wwwedd.cahwnet.gov/Unemployment/Eligibility.php

While having a year-round permanent workforce has always been an admirable goal, it doesn't fix or address the latent organizational issues (well referenced back to 1957) that the federal land management agencies have FIREFIGHTERS working out of classification and not being afforded proper pay, benefits, and working conditions for the risks, and services they perform.

Ten years after the Report to the Chief of 1957, a firefighter, Frank Rios (BIA, Sells, AZ), died during the Bailiff Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest. (Note: There is a good history of this fire captured in the archives of They Said from news and personal accounts).

Then, during the fire season of 1971, Robert Maxwell Miller died fighting the Mack II Fire. A group of fire experts and line officers made recommendations..... based entirely upon the factual observations and finding reported to the Chief in 1957 that WERE NEVER ADDRESSED:

"Career limitations in the present fire control aid series result in the loss of well qualified fire men to woods and other industries, state and county protection agencies, and other jobs where better careers are available. This situation makes it difficult to recruit and develop additional suitable men in this category. There is in-service competition in that better careers are available in the timber management jobs of the forestry aid series. The men involved in these positions are the people who provide the local experience and stability which is important in the fire control job.".

I captured some of the Lessons Learned from investigators in the Mack II Fire. You can read them here. I titled them, History Does Repeat: Lessons Not Learned.

Shortly after writing the above, my life took a tailspin and my profession was challenged to the basis. The Esperanza Fire happened. I lost a personal friend and fire professional I called an absolute peer, but equally important, I lost two firefighters that I had a part in directly training. Five firefighters were lost in a tragic accident and series of events. My story is shared by dozens if not hundreds of others.

Do I think the 1957 Report to the Chief addressed the underlying causes of the accidents? No.

Do I think that the issues that were addressed from 1957 to present are very real, but not addressed? Yes.


P.S. - On a positive note, the Riverside Fire Lab has begun to actively study a very small area that has resulted in 9 fatalities (Bailiff Fire, Mack II Fire, Edna Fire, and Esperanza Fire).

P.S.S. - Sorry for the rant.

9/29 Sean P.

Here's a photo of an S58 Choctaw in the smoke with a water bucket. This one is
a turbine conversion. Pinnacle fire, Pisgah NF, North Carolina, May 2007.

I have a couple slides of a real S55, not turbine conversion and an S55T. They are
just sitting on the heliport. I think the S55 picture you will find on the website
someone posted is probably better than mine. I don't know if I can get the slide
scanner to work anyhow.

The last S55 with the piston engine I can remember the Forest Service using was
in 1973.

Tom Jones

Put this photo and the one below on Helicopters 24 photo page. They're the last two. Ab.

9/29 Sean P,

Here's the only copter of that style that I have in my library. I'll have to check to see if
I have others of the same copter that aren't scanned yet. These were taken on the Upper
Willow fire near Orevada, NV in 2001.


PS. Anyone going to Emmitsburg this year? My weekend is pretty full, but I'm going
to try to make it. If anyone needs any help with anything let Ab know.

9/29 cynic,

Just a suggestion, you need get off that AD rate like most of us retirees have done!
Seek out a local government fire department that has an agreement and start getting
paid for your expertise; PTP! No, we have no guilt!

We call it it: "Its about time money!" Long............ overdue!


9/29 Sean,

Have a look at this site. There are a few H-19’s in there.

The cynic,

It actually makes a lot of sense how a 13/13 can make more on unemployment. Their unemployment check considers the OT earned, so the unemployment check is considerably higher than the base check they would receive if they were actually working. Many also have under the table jobs that they boost their unemployment checks with.

I would like to see all 5’s up converted to 26/0 and all temps converted to 13/13. Considering the small cost differences between working a 13/13 year round vs paying their unemployment not to work, I don’t even know why it is an issue. Converting them to 26/0 would only cost a small fraction of the 25 million. The cynical side of me sees this as a way to divert the bulk of the money to something else and to point at the inevitable fight against converting to 26/0. Unfortunately many see getting furloughed and collecting unemployment as a right so there will be fights to stay less than 26/0, I can see this being used as “proof” there isn’t a retention problem, these whining fire people don’t want to work. The argument that there isn’t work available in the winter is completely false, I have spent the bulk of my career in higher elevation stations and finding work has never been a problem.

The problem with the militia is they are hit or miss, without being dedicated to fire it is a crap shoot whether any militia will be available when needed. It works in some places; it is a complete flop in others.

What I don’t understand is why the militia is brought up so often? The militia, where it works, does not base its salary on fire. It is very discouraging when you are a GS6 supervising a crew of GS7s, 9s and 11s. Why should they benefit from fire, when fire doesn’t get recognized (paid extra) when they complete higher GS level non-fire tasks. The militia was included in the elimination of the OT cap so why do so many assume they would be cut out of P2P or other legislation.

If the fire PDs were realistic to the job actually being done, entry level jobs would start at GS6.

Just an engine slug

9/29 Cynic

Ok you made some good points but I have a few things to point out to you, well maybe. First off I haven't seen anything that would keep the militia from getting PTP pay when assigned to fire, unless I have missed something. As you have seen, alot of the people on this site are not happy at getting different pay for doing the same work, so why are we going to do that to our own people in the same agency? By us getting PTP this benefits our militia, so the FWFSA is actually doing things to benefit the militia.

Also what is the first letter in the FWFSA and what does it stand for? ...FEDERAL. Remember all the other fire departments and contractors have people in Washington lobbying for them so why shouldn't we have FWFSA members and Casey doing that for us? If it wasn't for the FWFSA we really wouldn't have a united voice, so instead of ripping on FWFSA, I would just rather you say "THANK YOU" members and Casey for looking out for the firefighters, something you didn't have, Cynic, when you were in the agency.

Next, I believe you are being paid PTP as a retired Fed unless they stop your benefits while you are on fires. You get your AD pay plus retirement, sounds like alright money to me.

But one thing I do agree with you on is that people higher than a GS-6 saying they can't make a living on 1000 hrs of overtime, that is garbage. The point you are missing is a lot of people take every waking minute to get hours so they can survive but wouldn't it be nice to have to work about half that time so you could enjoy your family once in a while. Now I know certain years you can't, but once in a while would be nice.

Well that just my opinion: like it or not I don't care.

9/29 Safety Alert - Asbestos

Attached is a Safety Alert which describes some Health concerns involving
asbestos. The purpose of this Safety Alert is to help educate employees and
raise their awareness of a natural hazard that they may encounter while
working in the field and to provide some measures to mitigate potential
risks. The Regional Office (R5) has formed a working group to look at issues
dealing with naturally occurring asbestos on National Forest lands in
California. The group is comprised of Directors and staff members from
Natural Resource Management, Engineering, Safety, Recreation, Public
Affairs and Office of General Counsel. The working group is in the early
stages of developing a Regional strategy for dealing with employee/public
health and safety issues.

It is our intent to present information at the next Regional Leadership
Team meeting. In the meantime you should have already received a data
request that will help create or revise Forest maps showing possible
locations of naturally occurring asbestos referenced in this Safety Alert.
The group is also working on Job Hazard Analysis and visitor information
that will be distributed to you in the near future. This Safety Alert is
just one part of an evolving strategy being used to address this issue
which has the potential to affect many programs and employees who work in
serpentine soils.

Gene Smalley
Region 5 Health and Safety Manager

9/29 To: Sean P & H-19:


I have several hundred images and files for various tankers and helos. Give me a N#,
as all my files are linked to either the aircraft registration or contractor.

Tom S

9/29 Casey,

The reason I use "the cynic" is I spent 35 years as a Forest Service wildland firefighter retiring after many years as a DFMO. After watching the gradual demise and mis management of the agency against the advice of good folks, fire and non fire you might say I became cynical. Although I still do a bit of the AD thing, I am still very cynical when it comes to the USFS specifically. That has carried over into my opinion, again my opinion, of many things posted on this site where folks freely assail other folks and hide behind their monikers. You of course are an exception to that and are to be applauded. It is my opinion that folks paint with way to broad a brush on this site. Generally if you are not a fire folk you don't count and damned be those that might stick up for a non fire person because everyone knows that fire folks are all knowing and other opinions are not welcome. Heck, if you are a fire folk and have a different opinion it is not welcome.
I have posted several times on this site questioning positions or asking questions regarding the FWFSA and never receive a really straight answer, hence I am getting bit cynical about the organization. And no, I am not a member nor do I contemplate becoming a member because I think the organization if very narrowly focused in its goals, issues whatever you want to call it. My read is that if a person is not in a ffretirement covered position then the FWFSA is not that interested in helping out because all they are interested in is those folks that are covered. In essence the militia is being ignored. The militia is constantly downplayed on this site. Have you looked at the make up of just the Type 1 IMT's. Take the militia off them and what do you have,take a look at the Type 2 IMT's. Yet the FWFSA basically ignores those folks. Heck, I had to get a lawyer to get my fire fighters retirement, so the organization was not interested in me (figuratively) until I had secured that retirement. Now that I am an AD, you are not interested either, other than paying a bit of lip service. Take PTP, if a person takes a fire assignment regardless of their regular position they should get PTP period! They should get it if they an AD! If FWFSA is not going to take that position my personal opinion is you are doomed to failure on the PTP issue. I cannot see how it would be so hard to figure out. If a P number shows up on an FTR then basically PTP is good until the person returns to the home unit regardless of their position on that unit. What am I missing?

I asked the question on this site asking what entities that have wildland fire as a primary responsibility receive portal to portal other than Cal Fire. There was one response and that turned out to be a municipal department. I ask the question again. I know of none. I know municipal departments that are called to support wildland fire usually do get PTP but their primary mission is much different than ours.
I find it rather curious that increased tours will not help retention. Maybe that is an R-5 thing. But I read page after page on this site about folks that cannot make it on the wages they are paid plus 1000+ hours of overtime and their spouses working. Yet those GS-5's and 6's working 13/13 and collecting unemployment are making it just fine??? Give me a break, that does not even come close to making any sense. If a DFMO in R5 cannot make it on their wages with overtime how are the non fire folks making it?

I realize opinions are like elbows (or other parts of the anatomy), every body has one. There are a couple of mine, now it is time for a cerveza!

the cynic
9/29 Ab,

Is there any clear understanding of how the supposed $25 Mil. for Recruitment and
Retention in high risk areas will be divvied up between all Federal agencies with
wildland fire programs. Or, are we looking at most of these funds going to R5 USFS.


9/29 Helicopter photos:
S-55 "Chickasaw" aka H-19 aka HRS-1 aka HO4S-3 Photos

I am looking for any photos of this helicopter being used to fight wildfires, I have searched many websites and although mentioned in various texts I have found no photos. Could you perhaps direct me to a source? I realize this helicopter is quite old and probably stopped being used many years ago, but any help will be greatly appreciated.

Best regards, and thanks for your service.

Sean P

9/28 Noname, all,

Taking an educated guess at this..... I would say it's an 80/20 deal. 80% of our 18/8's and 13'13's would like it, the other 20% will not be too happy about it. Of that 20%, maybe 3-5% would call it quits and resign. That 5% is enough Firefighters that we should take a look at before we go for it. We need to take a look at this not because our Firefighters might not like the new tours, but take a look at it because of the cost. The thing to keep in mind is that GS-5-6's already in place may elect to stay 13/13's and 18/8's. No one can force them to go into 26/0 positions. Trust me NFFE will be consulted and this will be bargained at a regional level to allow those GS-5/6's that decide they do not want to become 26/0's, will not be forced. However when the GS-5/6's who decided to stay in a non-26/0 tour vacate the position, they will be replaced with a 26/0's.

This whole topic is not something we should waste a bunch of hot air on. I support 26/0 positions for all permanent fire positions and we can absorb this cost when your regional fire budget is 187 million. Don’t touch the 25 million.

What we need to stay focused on:

1) How pitiful, some would say disgusting, that our GS-5 Firefighters and GS-6 Assistant Fire Engine Operators and Squad Bosses make more money on unemployment than working a 40 hour work week. Pathetic!

2) Not one dime of the 25 Million must pay for these new tours. This is one year shot of funds. These funds must be applied to something that will help the situation. Pena mentioned retention bonuses, allowances or even a hybrid PTP. We must keep our eye on this and not allow or accept anything less than real results and change.

3) Please send an email or two tonight or tomorrow asking someone of importance, why Pena is 2 weeks late delivering his retention ideas.

4) We must ensure the decision makers are held accountable for the decisions they make with this 25 million. If we hear about wasteful or ineffective spending of this 25 million, we must report this to our representatives and FWFSA immediately. Remember it was your voices and FWFSA's good work that paved the way for us to get this 25 million. Do you really think the President would be signing a bill tomorrow giving R-5 Firefighters 25 million for retention if not for--- Your emails, your phone calls, your FWFSA membership, your sustained hard work? YOU made this happen, PERIOD! To me that is amazing based on the situation we find ourselves in as a country. YOU, YOU, YOU made this happen. We all went full court press after the failed December 10th, 2007 meeting. Many of us emailed, phoned and supported FWFSA. We pounded and pounded away every day for months for someone to listen. They called us whiners, they said our efforts would never work and yet tomorrow morning your President will sign a bill giving R-5 Firefighters 25 million dollars for retention. IT WORKED PEOPLE, BECAUSE OF YOUR EFFORTS and the EFFORTS OF FWFSA.

5) This is not the end. However as WC said, this is the end of the beginning. We will ensure this 25 million is applied fairly. We will watch them every step of the way and if they fail to do the right thing with this 25 million, we will in unison pound away at them and report any mismanagement immediately to our elected officials. We will keep FWFSA informed. We must continue to outreach to our Brothers and Sisters in other Regions and other federal agencies and ensure that those who agree with our issues are arm and arm with us. Strength in numbers and strength = PTP, improved pay and working conditions.

We will go after PTP next and we will get PTP because of three things; 1) We are right. 2) We learned what we need to do to make things happen. 3) FWFSA.

Congratulations to R-5 Firefighters. Congratulations not because of the 25 million, but congratulations because all of your hard work, all those late night emails and all those phone calls have finally delivered some results.

Never Forget BLACK TUESDAY! - April 1, 2008
They day they lied from coast-to-coast
9/28 Ab,

I am the parent of a hotshot. His crew had the sad situation of meeting up with lightning early/earlier this year where 2 where struck. He was very lucky. They, the crew did everything correct to treat their crewmembers and get them out quickly and receive medical. Crew got an immediate refresher on safety etc...

Then they were off to CA.

They went to the Indian fire, were there less than 24 hours when the big safety stand down was held. Less than 2 hours later, they were given an assignment and "told there would basically be "what is the term no exit" the crew talked and said no thank you. After 4 assignments all w/high degree of danger where they felt personal safety was not #1, they were given assignments that amounted to sitting and watching.

What a waste of an awesome crew; what a careless waste in caring for lives; such a disregard for safety. This was approximately 10 days after the incident with the burn over. I do believe the stand down was approximately the 20 or 21st.

Hotshot mom
9/28 Dear Cynic:

I certainly can't dispute the fact that an increased tour might help to retain some employees, but in all honesty I haven't spoken to anyone who has left because of the circumstances you refer to.

There are fundamental problems with a fire program in which PFT employees with years, even decades of service are leaving. The void, and impact on staffing and the fire program as a whole, especially within the Forest Service left by these vacancies have been recognized by Congress, the GAO and other agencies.

If you've read previous posts of mine, you'd know that perhaps one of the greatest areas of concern about retention are temporary employees who, in my personal opinion, are abused by the agencies by not being provided eligibility to FEGLI and basic health coverage. Yet for several years the Forest Service has sought, and received approval from OPM to extend these employees...again using them without providing benefits.

In R5, few if any Forests utilized that authority this year. As we saw last year just prior to the first fire siege in SoCal, the Forest Service released their Temps exacerbating a staffing problem when the fires started. The abuse and deception by the Government continues with these employees because neither the Agency nor OPM recognize the losses of this vital segment of the work force in any of their retention data.

I can tell you from speaking directly with congressional staff, members of the House & Senate and many, many folks who have left the Agency(s) for Cal-Fire or other jobs, the fundamental issues for those leaving are other than tour length. In fact, in the last 9 months, the complete failure of the agencies to do anything meaningful about retention has moved the "reason for leaving" past pay & benefits to a feeling that the Agency(s) simply just don't give a damn about their employees.

If they did, there wouldn't be a retention problem because the agencies would have heeded our concerns as long ago as 2003/04 that in 07 & 08 Cal-Fire would see a great number of folks retiring and look to federal agencies for replacements. Despite authorities under the Workforce Flexibility Act, the agencies sat on their duff and did nothing...until the proverbial congressional boot was placed you-know-where.

I respect your opinion but again, as reiterated time and again, our job is to do what's best for our dues paying members who, by the way, include Temps, PFTs and those on all tours. Maybe you should review Tom Plymale's letter to Sen. Feinstein (previously posted on TheySaid) which so eloquently explains the overriding thought process of those leaving.

Speak to those that have 10, 15, 20+ years of federal service willing to toss it all. The fundamental reasons for these losses and the critical need to correct this blood-letting of employees is precisely the intent of Sen. Feinstein and others on Capitol Hill as well as the FWFSA.

With a moniker as "Cynic" I imagine nothing we do would please you. You might also want to look at a report put out last year by someone from the R5 Captain's group I believe entitled the "US Forest Ski Team.' The title is perhaps purposely tongue-in-cheek but it discusses the issue of those on unemployment and the fact that it actually costs the Gov't nearly the same amount to lay these folks off as it does to keep them year-round. That being said, for perhaps as many as you've talked to about finances and being laid off, there are those who look forward to their six months or whatever it is off to pursue their education, work at other jobs etc. In fact there are many folks who prefer 13/13s 18/8s etc. There is no right answer for all issues but we have to look at the impact of the losses in each area.

The bottom line is the retention issues being looked at by Congress has far less to do with tours of duty than other, more insidious fundamental flaws in the manner in which the federal land management agencies treat their firefighters with respect to personnel, pay & benefit policies.

9/28 Casey,

You bring up a great point regarding the Region 5 plans to "increase retention" by throwing $25 million towards increased tours of duties for Senior Firefighters, Assistant Fire Engine Operators, HS Squad Bosses, and others by increasing their tours of duty. IT WON'T work, and it will ACTUALLY increase losses.

Here is an example of the problems that exist TODAY (09/27):

North Ops (Northern California) Forest Service
Funded Engines - 122
Engines Available - 87
Engines "Unavailable" - 32
Engines Commited to Incidents - 3

South Ops (Southern California) Forest Service
Funded Engines - 149
Engines Available - 111
Engines "Unavailable" - 29
Engines Committed to Incidents - 0

Many of the folks described above would rather (and rightfully so) collect CA Unemployment Compensation Insurance that pays much higher than the base wages of a GS-6 employee for their off-season time. As long as the Forest Service continues to side-step the latent organizational problems in regards to QUALITY wildland firefighter recruitment..... and retention..... and focus on the TRUE underlying issues, problems will remain.

The FWFSA has introduced some fixes (circa 1987 to present) that were never acted upon... educated Congress as to the need.... did the leg work and research........ all to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the federal land management agencies' program delivery, so they (we) could concentrate on safety.... and improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions of federal wildland firefighters.

It is time that the FWFSA is recognized as a partner, not an adversary in saving the federal wildland fire program.


Reference the supposed "Record Breaking Fire Season"

Year to Date Acres Burned (2008): 4,728,614
Five-Year Average of Acres Burned to Date (2003-2007): 7,558,403
Ten-Year Average of Acres Burned to Date (1998 - 2008): 6,218,429
9/28 NIOSH released the following Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Report in the spring:

This incident has some good information that could apply to our Engine and Water
Tender drivers.

Please share with engine and water tender operators for the purpose of discussion
in tailgate safety sessions and 6 minutes for safety.

F2008-10 Mar 28, 2008 Volunteer fire fighter dies in a tanker crash - Louisiana

9/28 noname,

The federal land management agencies "bail-out" passed the Senate and is on the way to the President for signature again. Seems kinda like a movie. Groundhog Day.

An "emergency supplemental" providing:

* $610 million for wildfire suppression;
* $125 million for State and private lands fuels reduction;
* $100 million for rehabilitation;
* $50 million for Federal lands fuels reduction; and
* $25 million for firefighter recruitment and retention in high-risk areas.

I'd also like to know not only how the $25 million in "firefighter recruitment and retention in high-risk areas" is properly spent, but also how the excess dollars above the $400 million (as touted in FS "Talking Points" ) is actually (and factually) benefitting the taxpayer

As I see it, once again, the fire program is being made the "bad guy" through talking points from the agency 'not allowing them' (ologists) to do their missions..... but when all is said and done.... THE FIRE PROGRAM is the only thing holding the land management agencies together... and funding them at full strength. Why does "fire" always have to be the scapegoat?

Factually, even with the bashing that the "ologists" slammed upon the firefighters this year (again), the agencies were given plenty of money to offset their FY 2008 budgets that were woefully and wrongfully presented to Congress (and defended by Mark Rey, Abigail Kimbell, and Lynn Scarlett).... Actually... $25 million for firefighter recruitment and retention.... and about $200 million more than the "talking points" and "talking heads" took away and fully expected to get back through the end-year shell game that they play each year.

/s/ Once again..... wildland firefighters saved the federal land management agencies from absolute program bankruptcy and mismanagement, and the inability to provide even minimal mission delivery. Take notice. It won't happen again as the fire program is wrongfully blamed for latent organizational failures. The fire program WILL lead the land management agencies forward to success.
9/28 TO: GN

Your reply was more comprehensive than mine and is spot on.

While the Fed's Health program is many times better than what's available in some private sector work, the best deal is what my spouse receives! My spouse is provided 100% family health coverage including a generous vision & dental benefit at no cost to us. I consider that the best bargain around!. ( and yes I keep enrolled in the cheapest FEHBA plan as backup).


9/28 Date: September 25, 2008
Subject: Accident Prevention Analysis (APA) Team Report
To: All Region 5 Employees

On June 11, 2008, 4 out of 5 engine crewmembers were entrapped by fire on the Indians Fire on the Los Padres National Forest. An Accident Prevention Analysis (APA) Team was assembled to review the circumstances surrounding the accident. The APA process was chosen as an opportunity to give consideration toward continuous learning and a high regard for our safety culture. This process is also chosen to preclude placing blame on people, provided there is no reckless disregard for human safety. I want us to treat this accident as a learning opportunity and exploit the full value and potential as lessons to both leadership and employees. This process encourages open reporting to reveal lessons to be learned from the event. Learning from success is important, but learning from failure is critical.

The APA process will be an important tool that we must embrace. Successful implementation requires that we commit to improving decision-making and instinctively seek to expose, learn, and adjust to human fallibility. It is important that we all share this commitment to provide for a working environment that reliably defends against error.

A central feature of the APA report is the “story” of the accident. The goal of the “story” is to reveal to the reader the reality and truth of what actually happened from the perspective of those involved, as well as to accurately convey the accident that effectively shares their experience with their peers across the region.

I invite you to join me in reading this “story” and to experience the accident through the eyes of those affected by the unintended outcomes. I hope that all who read the “story” will come away with an appreciation of the experience of those involved in the accident, and an understanding of why the decisions and actions of the people involved in the accident made sense to them until the time of the accident. The Indians Fire Entrapment Report can be found at www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Indians_Fire_APA_2008.pdf (large pdf file). Feel free to share this widely.

I want to thank you for your continued commitment to safety. Watch out, and please take care of each other.

/s/ Randy Moore
Regional Forester
9/28 Chalk Peak Fire (last night)

South Coast Big Sur. Reported to be about 15 acres at 10:45 Saturday night. I'm betting on illegal campfire. Hot, dry, but no wind, thankfully.


Feel free to post on the Initial Attack subforum on the Hotlist for timely sharing of information. Ab.

9/28 Casey,

Respectfully, I think you and/or the organization are way off base if you think increasing tours will not help retention and I strongly disagree with that position. For someone on a 13/13, 16/10, 18/8 etc getting converted to a PFT is a heck of a big deal and will certainly help retention. I can't tell you how many of these folks I have seen leave the different agencies because they could not make it financially during the time they were layed off. It would seem to me logically positions with longer tours would make it easier to recruit folks into those positions. In my humble opinion, if you are telling such things to Congress you are telling every person on other than a PFT tour they don't figure in your plans. What do you think these folks would respond to Feinstein et al if asked if an increase in their tours to PFT would have any bearing on their decision to stay or leave their organizations?

Increasing tours certainly should not be the only thing considered but just be one of many ideas that would help with retention.

the cynic
9/28 Dear Woah Woah Stop the Boat,

Why stop the boat if a collision with an iceberg has been avoided and the ship set upon a right course of correction?

If you want "to drive the boat".... your time is near and your time to step up is nearing. If you want to help the skipper steer the boat safely ashore and save everyone on-board.... you'll get your chance as the rest of us retire and give up the helm. (But beware, some old salts will stay on-board as ghosts)

If you are a "skipper" (a leader) your chance is nearing as the next FWFSA Board of Directors election is in the not so distant future. Each and every federal wildland firefighter who is a member of the FWFSA can steer the course of their membership.

There is a difference between suggesting a different course, rather than a mutiny within the right course. Action. Solidarity. Compassion.

Usually, the folks who don't understand where their boat is going (or the intent of their leaders) are the first to mutiny. In regards to the FWFSA, all members are encouraged to offer their input and become the future of the FWFSA. The FWFSA Board of Directors were just the first folks with common goals and aspirations for a "more perfect society" within the federal wildland fire program. WE can retire, but most of us won't until better pay, benefits, and working conditions are realized.

/s/ FWFSA BoD Member (at least until January)
9/27 Woah Woah Stop the Boat,

Ok so we now have money appropriated to our department, now its time to
use it appropriately. One of the first words that I have seen pop out at me is
recruitment. The thought of wasting a single dollar of this money on
recruitment makes me sick to my stomach. This money has been allocated to
us!!! Not to them. Last year I was approached by my Battalion Chief to
start a recruitment program on the Forest. With the help of many Captains
and Engineers from my District we pulled off a sweet recruitment with about
200 or so folks who submitted applications, we were able to put a name with
a face and got a chance to meet everyone. We were able to educate all these
folks on what we actually do on a day to day basis we gained a whole lot of
interest and many of these folks are now working for us today. Total cost,
0 dollars... Well maybe about twenty sheets of paper for flyers.

My point, we did our own recruiting with no cost involved, later I find out
we actually employ a recruitment officer on my Forest....What does this
person do? Not once did I ever get a call to see if I needed help or info
or... Oh yeah we did a job fair, what time are job fairs? early afternoon,
who goes there? Unemployed people who are to lazy to wake up early! How
about you pay us what were worth and people will come to us...Novel thought
huh, recruitment solved.

So it's time for the leaders to step up and put this money where it needs
to go, we are watching, and don't think for a second we are gonna forget
the letter from Congressman Lewis desk!!!

9/27 To Fish01 and Curious

A minor point of clarification, but working federal employees do not get a COLA. The annual pay adjustment (as mentioned, 3.9% is the current working number in Congress) is a combination of two amounts -- the first is the average percent pay increase of the private sector, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the second amount is a 'catch-up' value that over time is supposed to give federal employees pay parity with the private sector. Neither has any connection with, nor derived from, the cost of living, inflation rate, nor the Consumer Price Index.

Under the Pay Act, proposed by and signed into law by President George Bush (the first Bush), the formula is supposed to set the annual pay adjustment automatically unless Congress proposes a different amount. The presidents has proposed and Congress has disregarded the intent of the law, passing a different (lower) amount every year since inception. Another part of the law mandates that if Congress fails to set a pay adjustment, or the President fails to sign, for any reason, the full amount of pay parity 'catch up' shall automatically be granted at once (currently around 20%). Don't count on that happening -- it only takes 1 continuing budget resolution to prevent it.

Retirees get COLAs, as the annual pension adjustment is derived from the Consumer Price Index. The Social Security annual adjustment uses the same formula as CSRS pensions, so they are relatively safe from tampering. Any attempt to modify the CSRS adjustment formula would also affect millions of seniors on Social Security, and no incumbent in Congress desires to touch the 'third rail of politics'. FERS retirees are a different matter, though. Congress could reduce the annual FERS increases without altering the SS formula. Another federal law forbids a decrease in pension benefits after a federal employee retires. Whether reducing future annual increases constitutes a 'decrease' or not is a court battle I believe no one wishes to fight.

I am not displeased with the current FEHBA rate increases. It is still the best bargain around. Not all plans showed large increases. My choice (GEHA) is up 3% and added additional benefits last year. Some plans actually decreased slightly. The 2009 rates are now posted on the OPM website.


9/27 COLAs

That is why I was asking. It seems that our health insurance, which is the best anyone can
get, keeps going up, which absorbs ALL of our COLA'S plus some. When is congress
ever going to think about the bottom line to help out our Federal Pay, even for retirees?

Thanks for the update Fish01.

NO NAME - Curious

9/26 Dear noname and all:

I've heard a great deal of speculation about what the Forest Service would do with the $25 million for firefighter retention ranging from increasing the tour of GS-5s & 6s to everything OTHER THAN Senator Feinstein's intent of firefighter retention.

The FWFSA has worked hard to make it very clear to Senator Feinstein's staff and others that there are serious concerns about what the Agencies would do with the funds and that it is our absolute conviction that such funds be spent on just that...firefighter retention.

As we indicated to staff, increasing the tours of employees does nothing to address the underlying issues of why firefighters are leaving the federal system.

Why all the concerns? Likely because the Agency, whether it be the WO or the R5 RO has failed to publicly communicate anything about their efforts to keep their firefighters. In the meantime, firefighters, some with many, many years of federal service continue to leave. Others at the DFMO & FMO level are fed up and submitting their retirement before their mandatory age.

Is the Agency hoping to let the congressional session end and Congress adjourn without submitting their retention plan as requested by Senator Feinstein? Who knows, but the silence from the Agency is deafening. I know the powers to be read TheySaid and it is my hope that someone at the top gets a conscience very soon.

In the meantime, I met with Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) last weekend in Carmel with several other FWFSA members in attendance (thanks to those who attended) and will be in San Diego this weekend to meet with Rep. Filner and Ojai Oct. 5th to meet with Rep. Gallegly where I expect a number of our members to attend.

On a side note with respect to Congressman Gallegly, as many may know, his efforts to increase the mandatory federal firefighter retirement age from 55 to 57 was the first order of business in Congress several years ago. Since then I have had several calls with him about further efforts to address the age issue. He and I concur that the ability to do the job, not some arbitrary age, should be the determining factor in someone continuing to work as a federal firefighter.

The issue of age has recently emerged in light of at least one fatality of an elderly (77) contractor on the fire line and the near accidents of elderly "runners" on the Indians fire transporting injured firefighters to medical facilities.

The point is we are doing everything we can to keep the real issues on the radar screen of Congress. It may be necessary to have federal wildland firefighters communicate with Senator Feinstein and staff next week as well as key House members. We'll keep everyone informed.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/26 Several requests for support for members of the wildland firefighting community

Challenge on leave donations for Redding SJ Greg Fashano (family cancer care), details HERE.

Request for blood donations for RRU's Karl Kolodzik's little daughter (family cancer care), details HERE.

9/26 NO Name Curious:

The Fed COLA package at 3.9% interest is still working thru the legislature.
For retirees the COLA looks to be near 6%. However!!! this just in...look
for a health benefit premium increase of 8% this year and a a possible 13%
next year.

Merry Christmas!!


9/26 As part of the bail-out, $25 Million was slated towards wildland firefighter recruitment
and retention in "high risk areas".

If the Senate version passes, where will the $$$ go? Any ideas?

9/25 Recognizing the dangerous fire behavior implications of changing weather conditions and more good lessons learned... Well worth the 12 minute viewing time. Ab.

Learning from Incidents: http://wildfirelessons.net/Additional.aspx?Page=131

<from the website>
How Did They Survive? Lessons Learned from the "Near Miss" St. Sebastian Prescribed Fire Burnover (12 minutes) When the 280-acre prescribed fire is planned for and implemented on Florida’s St. Sebastian Preserve State Park, they have no real way of knowing that thunderstorms more than 100 miles away will suddenly trigger a powerful 30 to 50 mph wind shift on their active fire.

Streaming .wmv Video file suitable for a Low Speed Connection (256 Kb/s), and is also a 38 Mb downloadable file by right mouse clicking on the video link and selecting Save Target As to place on your computer.

9/25 From Firescribe:

Risk, Challenge, and Choice on the Wildland Urban Interface
Living with Fire
(About the Gap Fire, etc 7/08 and with photos)


9/25 Guns n Hoses,
What an Honorable act you performed by doing that. I would of done the same thing but sadly
at our S.O. here on the Los Padres NF, the "Owner" of the property refuses to have an
American flag fly high and proud. I salute you and to all who have given their lives in the Line of
Duty, for this great country.

Home of the Brave!
9/24 fireflyer,

I can say that there were a lot of people who "missed" the authorization to fly flags at half staff. I can tell you that I personally went out after seeing the flag fully raised and lowered it myself. First I had seen something and secondly, I didnt give a dam*, authorization or not. It was going half staff and I would ensure that if I had to sit in uniform all day and see to it. I was FUMING when I saw this had not been done but I can say that as a LEO I was a little more sensitive to this.

I know a special agent who went and did the same thing at a SO. I think that many people do not realize that the LEOs on your district may have been hurt if this didnt happen, because I know it hurt me.

If you go to your FS office and see it's not lowered, consider saying something.

9/24 With October coming and a new fiscal year, has any info come out about the
COLAs folks will be receiving?

Any info on retirees also that come in January?

These are terrible economic times and hoping that the COLAs will reflect that
and be higher than the 2% or so they have been the past few years.

Would be nice to know.



9/24 Ab & All,

The Indians Fire APA www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Indians_Fire_APA_2008.pdf (5,413K pdf file) is an attention getter and a model for the way all wildland fire accidents should be investigated. Kudos to the APA team for this step in the right direction.

In a previous They Said post, I stated that cyclonic firewhirls are probably more common than most firefighters realize and that more research and training is needed on this subject. Predicting how and when fire columns are likely to trigger large firewhirls may be one of the least understood aspects of wildland fire behavior remaining today.

I have found from personal experience that firefighters right next to a large fire (like me) have the worst perspective on the column and its potential impacts. I have also found it is often a good idea to have a trusted observer keep an eye on the column from a good distance away from the fire.

My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Kris Fairbanks. Our Forest Service law enforcement officers rarely get credit for the work they do and the risks they take. Words fail at times like this.

Misery Whip
9/24 The information provided below in someones post (specifically, FS Form 5300-17b) DOES NOT provide use immunity in any way, but rather informed consent authorization to investigators to act upon any statement given after the "Kalkines Warning" is properly issued and signed by investigators. The quote below is from theysaid (www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=6865)

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.

Folks... know that Kalkines and Garrity decisions are REAL and verifiable... and meant to protect the innocent and get at the facts of an issue.... Lawyer Up In bureaucracies, failures are used to direct blame towards the lowest levels, while a good lawyer can direct the accountability upwards where it belongs.

Know what you are signing before you think you have supposed "use immunity" after "you" actually signed away your 5th Amendment Rights.

Lawyer Up . Know your rights and responsibilities after being provided a "Kalkines Warning"... It is called a Kalkines Warning for a reason..... Hello.

/s/ Following the after Affects of Thirty Mile... and the fallout

9/24 fireflyer,
Sorry to hear about the poor leader ship that is going on in your neck of the woods. I think that is the same issues that we all experience all across the nation. Our deep prayers goes out to the friends and family of Kris Fairbanks. As for the CNF in R-5 we were authorized/mandated to half staff our flags at all stations till the day after the services and wear a black ribbon over our shields. I am more then certain that all forest in the southern section of R-5 did the same.
with all your respects
ragz.. cnf
9/24 Fireflyer, below is the message I got from the Chief. It does authorize
flags at half staff.
09/22/2008 08:05
From: Abigail Kimbell/WO/USDAFS
To: pdl wo chief nlc and exec AM assistants@FSNOTES
cc: <Ab snipped names>
Subject Fw: Authorization to shroud badges

... this is indeed a very sad day. Region 6 Law Enforcement Officer Kristine
Fairbanks was killed in the line of duty on Saturday, September 20, 2008 on
the Olympic National Forest. In her honor and memory, Forest Service
personnel are authorized to wear a black band across the Forest Service
badge through midnight the day of the funeral services. And you may fly
the flag at half staff. (The official authorization from the Secretary for
the flag will be forthcoming)
9/24 Ab,

In reference to fireflyer 9/23.

Section 7m of the flag code defines who is authorized to order the US Flag, by proclamation,
to half-staff. Below is a site that may help explain away many myths about displaying the flag.


9/24 Hello Ab can you please post this message one more time? thank you

Hello everyone a few weeks ago after our morning pt's my engine module and I were approached by Vivian Najera the aunt of Daniel Najera. She was inviting us to attend the second anniversary of engine 57 and asked If we can assist in getting the word out to the fire community.

The event will take place on Sunday October 26,2008 at 11:00 am at JoAnns Restaurant 25875 Village Center Dr. Idyllwild, CA 92549 . There will be music, speakers, moment of silence and prayer along with a display of pictures. The restaurant and Vivian are looking for assistance in preparing this event- volunteering, sponsorships/ donations (for copies, posters, banners, etc.) They are also in need of bands to volunteer as well as anyone who is willing to help.
Vivian Najera can be reached by Phone at (951) 847-4544 or e-mail; alwaysrememberengine57 @ yahoo.com
Anyone interested in attending this event is welcome! Thank you for your support and consideration.

ragz, cleveland national forest

9/23 FS LEO Killed in the line of duty

I guess I'm writing this to vent a bit about the lack of respect given to Kris Fairbanks who unfortunately gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Late Monday I as all FS employee's did, received an email from the Chief, passing on the sad news of the death of Officer Fairbanks. Since I had heard the news on Sunday, I had been expecting this message and also assumed we would be honoring the service and memory of Officer Fairbanks by a small token of respect by flying flags at half staff at all FS offices for a period of time.

The message did come, but no mention authorizing offices to show our respect was there. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought it was well within the authority of the Chief to do this for one of her employee's. Am I wrong or is the Chief way out of line?

More piss poor leadership for those who deserve more respect than they get!


9/23 Fredfire,

Thank you for the kind words and discussion of the issues.

I got a chuckle out of your inference to the "Continental Fire Service". I am assuming (and I that know assuming is bad) that your reference was a tongue in cheek example to the "Continental Congress" that founded our great nation. They seemed to have gotten something right, but it took some time.

Before it is appropriate, or even needed, to display a future "org chart", we must FULLY understand what our current "org chart" looks like. Before educating others of a new plan, it must be fully understood why the current plan isn't working and why.

"No taxation without representation" was a founding call to arms of our nations fore fathers. Likewise, the federal wildland fire program will continue to falter "without representation" AND without decision making (line authority) until a revolution (of sorts) happens.

I have purchased (at my own expense) an Organizational Chart Maker from an online source. With this Org Chart Maker, I'll outline fully why the current system doesn't work. Brief preview.... No accountability... There is a distinct and obvious gap between political reality as seen at the WO and RO levels, and between what is the stinging real world outcome of fire program "end-delivery" to the stakeholders and who suffers.


P.S. - I have a great District Ranger (DR), and a poor excuse for a Forest Supervisor who came directly from the WO (while leading a program she knew little to nothing about). The DR has limited fire experience, but trusts his fire managers with his career and his livelihood. My DR knows that our decisions are all centered on firefighter safety, mission efficiency and effectiveness, as well as resource and community protection. My DR also knows, that of all the programs he is accountable for, the one that puts his a$s most at risk is the fire management program. My DR also knows that the Forest, the Province, the Region, and the WO are all shielded from accountability through a THICK BUREAUCRACY that always shifts "blame" or accountability for MISSION FAILURES to the lowest levels (Districts)... and never fully addresses latent traps or known failures within the organizational structure.
9/22 Hugh Carson,

Thanks for the Clarification on the Duntons.

I had the Pleasure of working under Ron Dunton in 97.

And now as my memory serves me, I seem to remember him telling me about
his brother Al.

Ron was the Resource Manager of my old District in New Mexico (BLM) when
I got my first appointment as an Engine Boss in (97) after many seasonal years as
a Fire Fighter in other areas.

Here is a little story.

I remember walking into the office a number of times at (09:30) to start my shift,
and seeing Ron sitting in my chair with his feet up on my desk talking to the (FCO)
Fire Control Officer and others.

When I would Jokingly tease him about this, his response was.

I manage by walking around. (and it seemed quite effective)

Ron Dunton was a Resource Manager/Project Leader/Line Officer or whatever the
term is for your specific Land Management agency. He not only paid his dues, and
knew fire from the ground up, but was a a very personable and effective leader.

Lucky Lindy
9/22 Leave donations:

Region 5 Smokejumper Greg Fashano has exhausted his leave balances
due to providing care to his wife and children while his wife is undergoing
treatment for cancer. Greg is in Leave Without Pay at this time and could
sure use your help with some leave donations. If you would like to donate,
please go thru your payroll person and either E-mail or FAX 530 478-6179
to lskinner.

Donald Sand
Region 5 Smokejumper Base Manager

9/22 Just a vent:

Well a career with the Forest Service was not materializing. I was a young white guy with a college degree. I was not part of the plan for the agency. I witnessed people get career appointments -- people that had half the education or experience as I got permanent appointments. I learned that upper level supervisors had a performance element that targeted their ability to hire according to affirmative action goals. They did not hire personnel on their ability to perform their duties but on a percentage of diversity.

In the communities that I have worked for within a federal agency there was maybe 2% of the population qualified as the minority status. Unknown to me, there was an area that was determined to represent the "population to be represented in hiring" that stretched three hundred miles north and south to one hundred miles east and west. The bottom line is that the government attempted to hire people that were not in the local community, people that because of cultural behaviors did not even want to work in the area. Meanwhile people that lived, worked and wanted to live there were denied employment due to a superficial, unobtainable goal (matching "population to be represented in hiring") set by the Washington office. The party line was that there was no such thing as quotas and people were hired on their abilities.

Let’s fast foreword to 2005, I was in a position to hire a federal employee. Oh no, I did not have the hiring authority, I was only able to recommend a name off of a list provided by the personnel office. The hiring authority was in the hands of the forest supervisor. There was only one position to be filled. I reviewed 138 candidates for the position. Many of the applications that I had to weed though lacked the basic qualifications for the position. However, they made the cert list and I had to review their applications.

One example, I was tiring to fill a firefighter position as a crew boss. It was position that required an individual to be able to take 10 people out in the field and manage them in fire fighting suppression activities. One application that made it through stated “I have limited fire fighting experience except for burning piles out at the ranch”, seriously why did I have to even look at that application? Before I could summit a name as a recommendation to hire I had to explain my reasons for not hiring a minority or a female for the position.

I hire people on their abilities to do the job verses the policies of affirmative action because the job has to be done and there are some positions that cannot be proving grounds. If I hire an incompetent employee to supervise other peoples' kids for the sake of affirmative action quotas and someone gets killed, the blame will not reach the top. What I would say? I will tell you this, the hiring official will be insulated and the direct supervisors will have their heads on the block.


9/21 Knew Kris Fairbanks from an R-6 FPO class. Never thought I would work with
her outside of that and then low and behold, I did later in my career. Surprised me.

Here is a link to a memorial page for all to look at and pay respects as you see fit:


9/21 It is with very heavy heart that I write this note.

Yesterday, Sept 20, 2008 a friend, co-worker, partner and protector was killed in the line of duty. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Kris Fairbanks.

I will miss Kris Fairbanks. She and I worked together on a regular bases, Kris and her K-9 partner Radar, were there to control the situation and to cover my back when I needed it most. (The same goes for the other LEOs that work on the Forest.)

I will miss her love of the Forest and her job, the energy she put into it and her desire to serve the people who visited the Olympic National Forest. Thanks Kris! for keeping this fat old man out of deeper crap, thanks for the memories.

Please keep Kris and her family in your thoughts and prayers!

To all Forest LEOs, thank you for the job you are willing do, thanks for being there when most are not.

Thanks for backing us up when we need it!!

Thanks again Forest 951, I will miss you !!

Don Svetich
Engine Captain and Forest Protection Officer
Olympic National Forest

Hotlist thread

9/21 This is important information:

employees rights and responsibilities in administrative investigation interviews (57K doc file)

I posted it on the hotlist as well: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=6865 (text)

9/21 Lindy: Clarification on the Duntons

Al was Ron's older brother.


9/21 JD,

Check out the site www.FederalSoup.com. Has lots of info. on details, promotions, upgrades,
etc. and how the federal govt. has rules for each. Has a Q&A forum also. Some of the
information is real good; the rest of the information makes me happy I am retired!


9/21 AFS: Clarification of name.

Since the time AFS was conceived (some say on cocktail napkins
at the Fairbanks Inn), forward thinking leaders like Al Dunton, Jim
Ward, Bill Bowles, Ron Dunton, and Dick Erickson assured that the
role of aviation at AFS would take a progressive course into the future
of firefighting, and it has. (Pg 17)


9/21 FS LEO Death

I'm getting this story from a number of people in the fire community. Kristine's death has touched you and now us. Condolences. Ab.


Forest Service officer and fugitive shot to death

Sequim, Wash. (AP) — A U.S. Forest Service officer was fatally shot Saturday at an Olympic Peninsula campground, and the suspected killer died hours later in a shootout with two sheriff's deputies, the Washington State Patrol said.

Officer Kristine Fairbanks, 51, a canine officer with 15 years in the federal Forest Service, called the state patrol about 2:40 p.m. to run a check on a man and a van without license plates at the Dungeness Forks campground about five miles inside the Olympic National Forest, state Trooper Krista D. Hedstrom said.

When troopers called back and got no response from Fairbanks, they went to the scene and found her shot to death. Her police dog was unharmed in her vehicle and the van was nowhere in sight. (etc at link)

FS photo of Kristine and her dog Radar

another article with more info and photo: www.peninsuladailynews.com

9/21 Is there an official policy regarding the length of time a person can "act" in a
higher position before they must be detailed into (or compensated for) that
position? If there is a specific time limit, does anyone know where this
information can be found?

9/21 Ab,

IE: Al Dunton.

I thought the name was Ron Dunton or is there a brother around with a similar

Perhaps my memory is failing, or I am getting old.

It's called the Alaska Fire Service, initiated in the 80s by Les Rosenkrantz
and Al Dunton (ex-Director and Deputy Director, BLM-NIFC) and a few
other notables

Lucky Lindy

9/20 Hey Ab,

I thought I'd chime in on the subject of the Fire Organization i.e. "Stovepipe"
vs current system and found I could see both points, and had no clear
answers but would give one perspective.

I have worked on 7 Forests in two very different regions. I rookied on a
district whose Ranger was a Branch Director and the oldest redcarded
rappeller (and the only line officer rappelling as far as I know). I would
often turn around on a IA and see him there digging line ("I was in the
neighborhood" was usually his reply when I asked "where did you come

I don't know if it was the good old days, his leadership, or what but on
that district our FSR crews usually had a few "militia" types even though
we could field a crew with strictly fire folks (I miss the BD days), and on
average we had strong crews with good experience (DIVS and STL/TFL qualed
crewmembers) now it's hard for us, on a fire forest, to get a crew out with
more than one crewboss qualed person on a crew. I think this is a perfect
example of what Jerry and OFG were trying to relay about some line officers
knowing their s__t in fire.

I currently work with a Ranger who is more of what Lobotomy and
Don't...Permanent are concerned with, and find him to be nearly as
effective because he chooses to surround himself with professionals in
other fields that he can trust and fit his program, as opposed to trying to
be an expert in every field himself.

On yet another district I had a similar line officer to the one I work
with now, who went on to be Assistant Regional Director for F&AM, and this
is where I start having issues and fall on Lobotomy's side of the
fence - that position probably should have been given to someone more versed
in fire programs even if it is mostly an admin position.

All too often folks with great fire experience are overlooked for
"Professionals" such as our Forest Fire Staff who was a Ranger before
taking his current position, although to be fair he worked on an engine a
couple of years, while going to school. After a few years of training and
the like he was able to get the quals he needed for IFPM and I think he
is/will do fine, after he learned he was not the supervisor of District
Fire Management Staff. This is an advantage of not being stovepiped.

I once worked for a great guy who was a Forest AFMO (small, low complexity
program) who was working on his FFT1 taskbook at the time, but I'm sure he
is doing a bang up job still. My point here is the advantage of a
stovepiped, professional fire organization is these opportunities would go
to already qualified fire managers, just like in other disciplines. I know
my Captains would not be considered for timber staff positions, nor should
they in most situations.

This came home to me recently when a line officer explained to me I missed
out on a position because I lacked the NEPA expertise he desired (I do have
some) and that I should consider taking a detail as a district Bio or IDT
leader to be more marketable as a FMO. At first I felt that was his call,
for what he needs for his program, but the more I thought about it the more
I wanted to call BS, if you need a NEPA coordinator advertise for one-if
you need a FMO/DIV Chief hire a fire professional.

Where I respectfully differ from Lobotomy and Don't ... Permanent, is that
even with the love I have for fire, and some who know me think I'm pretty
good at it, I don't need recognition from anyone but those I lead, because
when you boil it down, we are all in people management within our specialty
areas, (even if fire is best at it because we have more people and a
riskier emphasis to build our leadership skills) and fire management is
directly related to the land base we manage and the people we
serve-regardless of agency-not just in mine because it is our mission

Stovepiped organizations have some advantages that I think were well
covered. Money of course is a big one, we do get robbed blind for very
little production by other disciplines, but I'm afraid too much separation
would defeat the purpose of fire in land management and would result in a
bunch of "professional" firefighters sitting around polishing brass waiting
for the bell to go off.

Our program here is the work force for getting field work accomplished for
all the disciplines on the district, and sometimes they give us some of
their money to do it. A result is a work hardened work force and, this is
the big one, accomplishment of the work our citizens also want done. So
while I have always been a proponent of roving bands of firefighters, there
is also a need for integrated resource management, in which fire management
is a big player.

How was that for falling on both sides of an issue? I would like Lobotomy
to share what your idea of an effective organization for fire would be with
the 20+ years of outstanding effort that has gone into it, something
tangible like an org chart so I could allay my fears that a "Continental
Fire Service" may not be effective enough for getting rubber to the road
for the land we manage/protect and the people who pay our checks

Sorry for the ramble Ab.........FredFire
9/20 Hugh, you've hit another home run.

The agency was in transition from Al West, Amicrella, Al Schott, Michael Rains and Mary Jo. Budgets were flat but responsive. Harry Croft was leading a new charge, but it was more program than interagency. Alaska saw the light and moved forward. Ginger did good collaborative problem solving. The folks in R6 took note and did some transition. I guess the Washington State Mobilization Act and Volunteer Fire Council had something to do with that. There was a power struggle going on within R9 and the Northeastern Area that manifested itself in 1995 (Fire in the Hamptons). Can't run two coordination centers covering the same piece of ground. The two programs should have merged, (maybe with R8) but politics came into play. The do have one GACC now, thank goodness! If only Al Dunton and John Chambers had a little more time before and after South Canyon. That didn't need to happen either.

So, now all of those Regional Foresters are gone along with the Fire Staff. We are left with a generation of senior leadership that has no creditable fire experience above entry level (boots on the ground). Maybe the new administration will force the Department and Agency to start over. VOTE on November 4th.

-=JQ Public=-

9/20 We already have an example of a successful fire service program that is separate from the land management agencies but coordinates and communicates well with all of them (BLM, USF&WS, NPS, etc) on land management care and issues

It's called the Alaska Fire Service, initiated in the 80s by Les Rosenkrantz and Al Dunton (ex-Director and Deputy Director, BLM-NIFC) and a few other notables

It works. I believe that (1) if South Canyon had not occurred, an event that literally consumed Les and Al's time and attention, 24/7/365, for the next 2 years before their retirement, and (2) key players in the FS such as John Chambers had not retired within a week of Al's retirement, we would have seen an "NFS" implemented by the turn of the last century (the last one, not the next one!)

Keep the faith: it's not only one way to go, it's the only way.

Quoting the illustrious CalFire and American Airlines pilot, Walt Darren: "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."


Hugh Carson, Liaison Officer, New Orleans Emergency Operations Center / North Great Plains Incident Mgmt Team
9/20 Federal Interagency Wildland Fire Medical Qualification Standards

For those with questions on Medical Standards, this web site has valuable information.


You can click on a GACC and see what the status is for your agency in that area.

If you click on resources you can find a lot of documents and training presentations. There are a number of power point presentation that can help you understand the process.

This is from the what's new section:

"The US Forest Service continues implementation with the Eastern and Southern Geographic Areas. The Federal Wildland Firefighter Interagency Medical Standards Qualification Program will exceed 18,000 arduous duty exams this fiscal year."

If you couple that with significant Forest Service units (Calif and Southwest) not being included within the program until FY10, looks to me like there are a lot of "Militia" out there.


9/20 Re: Fire Management Organization


I have had the "militia" conversation with a few of the militia people, and a few Fire/Fuels people. The militia would still be used. The Botanists, and Ecologists, and Biologists, etc. that had DIRECT work with Fire/Fuels would still be paid from Fire/Fuels money. But only for the ACTUAL percentage of time they did Fire/Fuels work. It would have to be through MOUs, but instead of somebody at the regional office just stealing the money and telling Fire/Fuels they had no choice, it would be for actual time they were used.

I had one Militia person say that if Fire/Fuels did Stovepipe, then no one would work with us anymore. I told him then they wouldn't get their wildlife burns, range burns, recreation burns, etc. etc. The land management agencies would still need Fire/Fuels, and Fire/Fuels would still need them, we just wouldn't be funding them anymore. THAT idea, the no more Fire/Fuels money idea, scares a LOT of people, we fund an amazing amount of equipment, and personnel each year that have nothing to do with Fire/Fuels.

Don't take life seriously, it isn't permanent

9/20 Re: Fire Management Organization

Ab, in response to,

"Not saying it can't be done. Not saying the need is not timely nor imperative. Just that a large change needs to be fully thought out. Where better than on this forum with so many experienced fire folks. Who wants to start with an outline?"

It has been fully thought out for over 21 years.

After the horrific fire season of 1987... and then the repeat tragedies of 1988... A group of firefighters with roots from within the Hotshot, Smokejumper, and Engine communities began asking hard questions in honor of our brothers lost, and in honor of our profession of protecting and managing federal natural resources. They were are first "wildland fire professionals".

In 1990, a group was born based wholly upon providing better pay, benefits, and working conditions for federal wildland firefighters. They were called the "Gang of Twelve". They were the founding members of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA).

The group steadily educated others... gained members... and plugged forward with little (if any) agency support. Often times, they battled outright hostility from the agencies, but they continued on knowing they were federal wildland firefighters.

Then, following the fires in Montana of 2000, a legislative victory happened. After fighting for 13 years, and walking the Halls of Congress to educate elected officials, the Overtime Pay Cap was eliminated. It was a victory for not only federal wildland firefighters, but ALSO a victory for others associated and engaged to support the federal wildland fire program (the militia).

More recently, the proper classification of federal wildland firefighters underwent a unanimous consent vote within the House of Representatives..... Another victory. Another step forward.

Now, after 21 years of stewing and brewing on latent problems within the organization, please fully understand that the problems that the federal land management agencies are facing are squarely a result of inaction by "line officers" and political appointees who know little to nothing about programs they are trying to lead...... Only Line Officers can make decisions, and as such, should be the ones held accountable for failures, and rightfully congratulated for success.

Now, back to what OFG said..... "well thought out". After 21 years of "thinking out", the goal has always been improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions for federal wildland firefighters.... nothing less and nothing more.

The FWFSA did not, and does not advocate an opinion either way in regards to centralization, or a separate federal wildland fire organization....... that course is entirely set by the decision makers from within the agencies.... but the field is united on mission and goals; the Congress is informed and educated; the press is biting their nails; and the correct course of action has been spelled out....No need for "outlines", "talking points", or "road maps".


9/19 Waivers:

I don't know if there is a set list of what is waiverable and what isn't?

I do know of one person who was made to leave fire because of an unbefore
detected heart murmur, and of 2 people who have gotten waivers for hearing.

I wear glasses and never have had to get a waiver.

I believe, and I could be WAY off here, that waivers are available for most
things that can be proven to not be too much of a detriment to your ability to
do the job, and pose no danger to yourself or to the other people around you.

Don't take life seriously, it isn't permanent

9/19 BowBar,

Take a look at NFPA 1582, “Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments.” As it is a consensus standard, it only has “direct” impact if it has been adopted or referenced by the hiring agency. Like most NFPA standards, they are frequently utilized as one of the baseline reference documents related to formal litigation, or “informal” legal challenges.

The ultimate test is the Americans with Disabilities Act. Can the person accomplish the listed duties with “reasonable accommodations?” There are endless examples of people who work in this business and utilize inhalers.

The most common exclusion (at least for my students) has been injection dependant diabetes. Across the board, it takes you out of the initial hiring processes for almost all wildland firefighting positions (but, I do have a number of prior students who control their diabetes without using injections working in wildland fire).

Even though they appeared perfectly healthy, it has been surprising how many students have been initially diagnosed with a disease or condition as part of the conditional hiring medical screening process (everything from cancer, Lupus and diabetes, to missing bones in their spine). If you have any other questions, please fell free to call or contact me at:

Shasta College
rmarley @ shastacollege.edu

Thanks, Ron Marley
9/19 Hello AB,

My name is John De Luna. I was Andrew Palmer's Engine Captain. I am still very sad for Andrew and his family. I also miss Andy tremendously: he was my friend, co-worker, and I also feel like I just lost a son, and a brother.

I have an apparatus that I want to sell. I was wondering if you could pass the word for me. It is a wildland fire apparatus. I would like to put 1/4 of the proceeds into the Andrew Jackson Scholarship, a 1/4 into the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the other half to my family, because we are having financial difficulties. I am a single father of two teenage daughters, and we have a lot of financial responsibilities that are starting to get overwhelming.

I feel the sale of this apparatus will help myself and others that really could use a helping hand.


Quick Connect Bladder Bag Re-Fillers For Sale

The Quick Connect Bladder Bag Re-filler was invented mainly for the Wildland Firefighter. It makes a hard job a lot easier, saves time, and is small enough to be stored anywhere. There are only three steps to fill the bladder bag.

1. Quick disconnect the pump hose.
2. Quick connect the re-filler.
3. Turn water on at ball valve.

The Quick Connect is in three very well reputed Forestry supply stores, and will soon be in GSA catalogs, and federal and state fire caches across the country and also in countries where wildland fire is universal with the USA in regards to gear.

The Quick connect is also great for gardening, recreational vehicles, the uses are endless. If there is a garden hose there is a use for the re-filler.

Please consider the possibilities. I have 4000 left. If you have a generous offer, I can be reached via e-mail at: river1966@msn.com.

It can be viewed on these online catalogs.

1. www.firecache.com
2. www.benmeadows.com/
3. www.nationalfirefighter.com

the engine crew

9/19The Jobs page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
9/19 Re: "Stovepipe" vs "non-Stovepipe" Fire Program:

Mr. Ingersoll

It definitely would be bad for the land! Currently under the non-Stovepipe arrangement:

Timber uses Fire money.
Wildlife uses Fire money.
Recreation uses Fire money.
Administration uses Fire money.
Maintenance uses Fire money.
Facilities uses Fire money.

Take Fire (money) away and the land will suffer because the Forest Service has spent the last 20-25 years using Fire money to replace Timber money (spotted owl) instead of actually doing the hard core job of being totally honest in what the costs to manage and maintain our National Forests are.

I don't know if the Forest Service has EVER not used the prevailing cash cow to be able to do business? But maybe its time?

Don't take life seriously, it isn't permanent

9/19 "Stovepipe" Fire Program:

I like J.I. had a lot of fire involvement throughout my career, and it helped in getting my Ranger job. I know several other line officers (Rangers and Forest Supervisors) who still hold fire quals of DIVS, to ICT2. It was just part of the job for us that started in the 1970's and 19780's and earlier. The Chief signed a memo mandating inclusion of an additional "evaluation criteria for fire experience" for all line officer positions several years ago......but that direction has been largely ignored so as to not exclude "diversity" candidates. On my last fire assignment as Ops, I met a new ranger doing a "shadow" assignment who had never seen a fire camp and never heard of "Incident Command".

So....the solution is there, but is not being implemented.

Maybe a "stovepipe" is the remedy. BUT....

Let's outline a viable organization that can meet all of the "fire" obligations and needs.

1. Remember "fire" is not just a "suppression" program. It includes "hazardous fuels" management. "Fire" is also a tool used to achieve other resource program needs including logging slash reduction, site prep for planting, range management of warm season grasses, elimination of non-native species, wildlife habitat etc. All of these programs require NEPA analysis and documentation. Who/how will a stovepipe organization provide the skilled specialists to the NEPA teams? ($ for training of foresters and 'ologists?, fire ecologist on every forest?).

2. A "stovepipe" similar to LEI will totally disengage involvement by "militia" where commonly used to support primary firefighters. That means that forests/regions where fire is "seasonal" will need a huge influx of $ to staff primary ff positions (assuming a flat budget, that means fewer $ for the other regions).

Not saying it can't be done. Not saying the need is not timely nor imperative. Just that a large change needs to be fully thought out. Where better than on this forum with so many experienced fire folks. Who wants to start with an outline?


9/19 Jerry,

Thanks for your thoughtful post and to be frank, although you make some
good points I think the time for change is well past due. I have worked
with line officers on 5 districts, on 3 separate regions and found that
those who have a significant fire background are the minority. In fact,
district rangers from 3 out of 5 of those districts hadn't even taken S
courses above the 200 level and still continued to supervise and approve
funding for a majority of their fire programs. We as firefighters (range
and forestry techs) feel that the need to be recognized for doing the job
we love and train hard for is at hand. It is no misconception that proper
recognition, attention and visibility (as noted in the last paragraph of
your post) would allow firefighters not to just be labeled as such, but to
receive comparable pay and consideration by the folks in Washington DC and
also receive the funding that would augment our tools and safety equipment
as well as streamline suppression action decisions committed by each
district. I have worked for one county and one fire protection district
prior to becoming a range tech fire and I have to say that the respect and
assistance these organizations get to do their specific jobs far exceeds
anything I have experienced in the federal government. I am aware that I
work harder than ever at the job that I love to do, but feel that I often
receive less for my efforts in many areas. I know too many people who feel
that this "stovepiping" that you referred to is something that their
bureaucracies refuse to let go of simply because its the way its always been

Andrew C<snip>

9/19 Got a question or two for the community on They Said that have to deal with the
physical standards regarding waivers for existing medical conditions.

Where can you find information regarding what medical condition they will or
will not give you a waiver for? The current website and information does not list
specific items that will ban you from Arduous duties.

What conditions have you heard of that has taken someone out of wildland fire?

The strangest one I've heard of is someone who has asthma that only has to use
an inhaler once a month at the most in the worst of conditions. The person is a
pure athlete and extremely sharp.

The most common waiver I have heard of is eyeglasses. (about 15 so far)

Thanks -

9/19 Greetings Ab.

I just wanted to remind folks that we are trying to sell t-shirts to support the
Andrew Jackson Palmer Memorial Scholarship fund. We greatly appreciate
the support we have received so far. We have received and filled requests
for 6 shirts. Two fine people have sent donations to support the Scholarship
fund. It is greatly appreciated.

We would really like to sell a lot of these and I would appreciate any help
you can give us.

I am attaching a short write up I have and the order form (again). Please feel
free to change the flyer as you feel is appropriate.

Thanks much


short write up (69K doc file)
form to order shirts (29K doc file)

9/18 Dan sent in a photo of the National Smokejumper Association logo. Nice cartooning, Dan. I put it on Logos 15 photo page. Congrats to Tim on his 600th jump.

Also received a Entiat Hotshot logo. That's on Logos 14 page. Glad the fellas are home and that Pilar is recovering.

Photos of T-09 from LB, CalFire Captain who wrote: Here are some nice pictures of Tanker 09 I took the day before the accident, in Hope Valley – CA. We were able to watch the “air show” that day. AT pilots do awesome work.

I put them on Airtankers 26 and Airtankers 27 photo pages. Thanks for those. Ab.

9/18 This came in with fire updates from the Shasta T.


Redding Smokejumper Reaches Rare Milestone

Redding smokejumper Tim Quigley made history when he completed his 600th jump yesterday morning, September 17, 2008 on the Meadows Fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Shasta County, California.

According to Don Sand, the United States Forest Service (USFS) Region 5 Smokejumper Program Manager, Tim is only the sixth USFS jumper to have completed 600 fire and training-related jumps since smokejumping began in 1940. He has jumped on over 250 fires in his career.

51-year-old Tim Quigley began his career as a rookie smokejumper in June of 1979. Prior to smokejumping, Tim worked for the Plumas National Forest and the California Department of Forestry. Tim has many achievements to his credit, including being one of the only two Redding smokejumpers to have over 500 jumps. Additionally, Tim was involved in the evaluation testing for the FS-14 Parachute and is currently participating in the evaluation process for an interagency smokejumper delivery system.

Tim and the other smokejumpers on the Meadows Fire mission will be returning to the Redding Smokejumper Base sometime today. The media is invited to be there for his arrival. If you have an interest, please call or email the Shasta-Trinity National Forest with your contact information before noon today. We will contact you by telephone an hour before the jumpers arrive back at the Redding base.

Media Information Contact: (530) 226-2363 email: shf2008fires @ gmail.com

9/18 From noname /s/:

Re: Congressman Brown, the Undersecretary of Agriculture, and the current FS course of action....

Ab, I ask your acceptance of this post. It is harsh, but factual, and needs to be said from the field level Forest Service employees and from the members of the public who have lost confidence in our federal government.

Someone long ago said it was very simple to understand decisions in the federal government..... "Follow the money" if decisions don't make real-world sense.

Volunteers started following the money trail.... and the influence trail.... and some highly placed folks thought they were above the law due to their political connections and influence. Some thought they were above the law and made statements to defend their actions as "a reasonable precaution" for undefendable ignorance of the programs they were charged to lead, Others, in positions of higher level leadership called BS and spoke out....Most of them are no longer employed.... They wouldn't follow the sinking ship to demise or let their friends and colleagues drown in the sewage that has become Forest Service leadership.

In an article dated 09/18/2008, the following was stated:

"A review by the Inspector General's Office in the Agriculture Department, the Forest Service's parent agency, did not find sufficient evidence to support the allegations."

Follow the money.... and follow the influence. Decide if sufficient evidence was available to support the allegations, or if undue influence was used in violation of statutes.

If the USDA OIG is incapable of doing its job (following the money.... ie. financial audits and wrongful influence)....and providing the info the the AUSA. maybe the case should have been properly forwarded to the FBI for investigation?

I'm sure the FBI would have loved to have learned about the money trail.... and the influence trail early in the investigative process...... those little tidbits lead to RICO indictments of "dirty feds" with motives... and lined pockets.

RICO is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

It is no coincidence that nationwide, federal investigations are continually being thwarted and influenced by politicians and political appointees, especially within programs funded and managed by the USDA. It is also common knowledge that corruption abounds in the higher levels of federal government that wrongfully affect field level mission delivery.

/s/ In full support of SSA Gregory (R-8 Supervising Special Agent, Retired) and the "un-named" Patrol Captain from R-8 who did their jobs.... and who reported it AND defended it. Shame on those that hid the facts.

Ref: -- Follow the money -- Marijuana Cultivation by Mexican, South American, and Eastern Asia drug cartels has skyrocketed on federal lands. Political corruption and pay offs have become the accepted "norm" in what gets funded, and what doesn't get funded within the Forest Service. We won't play those games anymore. This year, and last year, the FS LE&I program finally got the boost in staffing that they needed......

9/18 www.uniondemocrat.com/news/story.cfm?story_no=27591

Highway stretch renamed to honor Schicke
By Lenore Rutherford
The Union Democrat

A four-mile segment of Highway 120 will be renamed the Eva Marie Schicke Memorial Highway in honor of the 23-year-old woman who died Sept. 12, 2004, fighting a fire in the steep Tuolumne River Canyon.

Assemblyman Tom Berryhill authored the bill to honor Schicke.

"The CDF Firefighters Union really pushed for it, "Cal Fire Battalion Chief Frank Podesta said. "Captain Denis Laughn at our office in San Andreas was very instrumental in it."

Laughn shared credit with Berryhill's chief of staff, Laura Orgege.

"She worked real hard on this," he said, "and it flew through the Senate and Assembly."

In 2004, Podesto was one of four CDF captains Schicke worked with at the Columbia Helitak Base.

The Eva Marie Schicke Memorial Highway will run from the Mariposa-Tuolumne county line to the Rim of the World vista point east of Groveland. The vista point overlooks the accident site, Podesta said.

Schicke was the first female California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighter to die in the line of duty.

Read the rest of the article at the link...

9/18 Ab,

Interesting article from Humboldt County, CA in the Northcoast Journal (www.northcoastjournal.com)
this week about the Ukonom Complex and tactics used on the Klamath area lightning series fires this
year. Check it out, not sure yet my thoughts on the authors' feelings towards the hard work we all do
during the summers in people's backyards. I spent days around all the specific structures mentioned in
the article and when we first got there, no hazardous fuels clearances had been done by property
owners. Of course with the teams there, much work around these structures and public meetings
happened, enough said for now.


9/18 Mark Rey at his best.... revisited.



Exclusive: Feds cut fine for congressman with clout
By JAMES ROSEN - jrosen@mcclatchydc.com

WASHINGTON — A senior federal official, fearful of incurring a congressman’s wrath, sent subordinates on a mad dash earlier this year to retrieve a certified letter demanding payment of $5,773 for starting a fire that burned 20 acres of a national forest.

Mark Rey, undersecretary of agriculture for natural resources, said he didn’t want U.S. Rep. Henry Brown to receive the March 12 letter before he testified before a U.S. House committee on which the South Carolina Republican sits.

“I’d just as soon have him not take a chunk of hide out of me,” Rey said Wednesday.

Rey confirmed the actions of Forest Service collections agents as outlined in internal agency documents McClatchy obtained.

The disclosures flesh out Brown’s four-year protest of a criminal citation and civil damages collection for a controlled burn he started March 4, 2004, on his Berkeley County property that spread to the adjoining Francis Marion National Forest.
More at the link...

9/18 A Different Perspective:


I’m new to this forum and reading through the posts. You’ve provided a great resource for the fire community. One of the threads running through some of the posts here, though, is a real disdain/contempt for line management. I’m a line officer. Which leaves me curious and a little sad.

I got my start in R-8 as a forester more than 20 years ago. Going to fire school was expected of all new employees (my wife, a schoolteacher, went too, and signed up as an AD). We didn’t have primary firefighters on the district. I kept my Nomex in my desk. When the fire call went out, the wildlife tech or the LEO got the dozer on the transport, and the ranger walked down the hall and said “you, you, and you, go.” I worked my way up, actually spending more time with a drip torch on prescribed fire than on wildfire. Spent my second anniversary on a Type II crew (all militia) in Oregon. Took a Job Corps crew out as crew boss. Came out West and found a professional firefighter organization in place and responding without much of a place for me on the line, so worked as a driver on local fires, purchasing food and supplies around town and delivering them to the line. Spent a few years in Alaska and DC, and am now back on a fire forest as a line officer/agency administrator. Still take the WCT and carry a red card.

Most of the line officers I’ve known had fire in their backgrounds somewhere or other. A few are active on teams. Some are better than others, like any group, and a few I’ve known had no business running an organization of any sort. But those were, in my experience, the exception. Most line officers I know work many many hours of volunteer time every week, wrestling with bureaucratic rules they didn’t write, trying to resolve impossible issues…because they believe. OK, that’s my biased point of view (aren’t they all), and we’re no saints. Just regular folks, doing the best we can.

So why the call for stovepiping fire and removing line authority? I’m sure some folks have experienced bad managers who don’t understand fire or fire work. But that’d be handled like Engine 262’s story, with a “bad experience…but hang in there – we’re not all like that.” I’m thinking the larger issue may be lack of daily contact on many units – walking in each others’ shoes. Firefighting is a community with a sense of common purpose, professionalism, dedication, and a tradition of looking out for each other in a dangerous world. That’s as it should be. But on our best days, FS firefighters are also part of a larger community with a broader purpose – caring for the land and serving people.

IMHO, when that Forest Service community is strong, the land is more likely to be in good shape, and the people well-served. When the FS community balkanizes into professional factions, each looking at only a single perspective, the land suffers. Sure, line officers never know all (or even most) of the programs they supervise -- whether biology, archaeology, or firefighting -- as well as the professionals in those lines of work. But it’s the job of the line officer to integrate across programs, balance a variety of professional input, and provide an overall vision and direction serving the national and local communities and the land. That’s a tall order, and never fully achieved, but it’s the ideal the best line officers strive for.

I’ll be honest. A stovepiped fire organization or separate fire agency might get firefighters better visibility, recognition, and attention at the national level (and it might not – LEI suffered declining budgets for quite a while after stovepiping until a recovery over the last couple of years which happened to coincide with the first non-LEI director in more than a decade). What I’m pretty sure of is that it would be bad for the land.

Jerry Ingersoll

9/17 to Midwest:

Excellent poll, thanks for sharing. On the "Good Fire vs. Bad Fire" issue, the NPS has a great pamphlet illustrating that fires are neither good nor bad, it is their effects as perceived by humans that are good or bad. The press has an irritating habit of depicting fire as a living, sentient being, when it is, as you and I know, a physical and chemical reaction.

bia fmo
9/17 "Our Fire [Season] 2008" Update:

I'd like to thank those of you who have sent in video footage,
unfortunately, I still need more. The footage I have now is good...real
good, but it will not be enough to make the production a promising bit that
we are hoping for. Remember, this is a pretty big fund-raiser for the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation and will be available 02/01/2009.

So, if you have something you want submitted, please send it in. Check it
out here for more information:
www.wffoundation.org/news/2008NewsArchive.php or anywhere on the
website and look for the "Our Fire [Season] 2008" icon.

Thanks, EFP
9/17 Any word on the R5 pay recommendations that were due Sept. 15, 2008.
Just curios if we're going to get any response or if they keep expecting us
to spending those sunsets. LOL

Just Another Digger
9/17 To Whom It May Concern:

From the Entiat Hotshots:

We would like to express our appreciation for the support and dedication to all those involved with the accident that occurred on September 10, 2008 on the Rattle fire on the Umpqua National Forest. The care, support, and effort that was put into the handling and care of our crewmember after the accident from the ORCA team, Umpqua N.F., Okanogan Wenatchee N.F., Region 6 and Wildland Firefighter Foundation was extraordinary. We have tried to express this to everyone we have ran into during the last few days and know we have missed a few. If you get this and know of someone that you feel we may have missed please pass it on.

At this time we can not begin to convey the respect and admiration we feel toward the firefighting community, Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and the Forest Service for all that has been done to support one of our own.

Status of the crew:
We decided to demob to ensure our crewmember was well received and taken care of at home for our own peace of mind. This will allow us the ability to start fresh with a sense of closure knowing that he and his family are; and have been well taken care of throughout this difficult time.

The Entiat Hotshots

We're glad your injured crew member is doing well. Glad you made it home safely. Ab.

9/17 Ab,

Hey, I'd like to thank Joel Lane (AA-13) for the fine moon rise we had here in the desert
two nights ago. It was awesome! thanks Joel!

Kenneth C. Perry
9/17 AB,

The two CL 415's have been trained, carded by Cal Fire staff and ready to respond to wildfires in San Diego County. They are very professional pilots and have been great to work with. I was really impressed during the three days of extensive training we did with them at Ramona AAB.

Here is a link to some photos and a video taken Monday of the two CL-415 Superscoopers that have been assigned at the Ramona Air Attack Base: http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/photos/20080914/

Captain Ron
Ramona AAB
9/17 Marijuana Cultivation on Forest Service Lands = Risks to Firefighters

It is a national problem.... and risk. Oh well... other duties as assigned.... Caring for the Land, Serving People.

Don't inhale

About $32 million worth of plants seized from pot farm
Victorville Daily Press, CA - 5 hours ago
After spending most of Monday in the forest, officials from the US Forest Service, with assistance from the Sheriff's Department and the state Bureau of ...
Authorities destroy $64 million in marijuana off Carmel Valley Road The Salinas Californian
Forest marijuana bust nets 1000 pounds Redlands Daily Facts
Another pot farm bust in the San Bernardino National Forest Press-Enterprise
Orland Press Register - Register Pajaronian
all 18 news articles
Cameras enter fight against marijuana
Kansas City Star, MO - Sep 15, 2008
The US Forest Service this year even bought two drone airplanes to find pot fields in California forests. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation started using a ...
Forest officials warn hunters of pot grows in forest
Omak Okanogan County Chronicle, WA - Sep 15, 2008
... Forests also are places where individuals have planted illegal marijuana so hunters need to be cautious, according to a US Forest Service announcement. ...
16000 marijuana plants destroyed
Monterey County Herald, CA - Sep 15, 2008
Members of the state Department of Justice and the US Forest Service also participated in the operation. No arrests have been made and authorities say they ...
7 arrested in forest marijuana plantations
San Jose Mercury News, USA - Aug 18, 2008
The raids were conducted over the last two weeks and yielded more than 60000 marijuana plants, the US Forest Service said. More than 40000 marijuana plants ...
Marijuana seen as national forest threat Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Pot farm raids, arrests in San Bernardino National Forest called ... Press-Enterprise
all 21 news articles
Nearly 21000 pot plants seized
The Eureka Reporter, CA - Sep 13, 2008
... Justice Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) seized 6500 marijuana plants Monday and Tuesday from Forest Service property in the Titlow Hill area, ...
Pot farms busted on state, federal land Times-Standard
all 4 news articles
Suspected marijuana grower admits to starting Mendocino fire
The Eureka Reporter, CA - Aug 26, 2008
The Forest Service had been conducting marijuana eradication operations in the general area earlier last week, but none Friday and nothing in close ...
Suspect held in Mendocino National Forest fire Red Bluff Daily News
Huge Pot Farms Busted Crestline Courier-News
Man admits arson in Mendocino County Times-Standard
Enterprise-Record - The Salinas Californian
all 12 news articles

Another big forest pot grow raided NW of Sisters
KTVZ, OR - Sep 5, 2008
The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team and US Forest Service conducted marijuana flights in Central Oregon in early August, Lt. John Gautney said Friday. ...
Marijuana Grow KOHD
all 2 news articles
Pot growers find animal's presence un-'bear'-able
BYU Newsnet, UT - Sep 10, 2008
By Heather Whittle - 10 Sep 2008 US Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Maggie Williams examines bear marks from where a bear attacked a marijuana ...
NEW: Hunters could find more than game
Yakima Herald-Republic, WA - Sep 10, 2008
If hunters find marijuana plants, they should leave the area immediately, said Robin DeMario, Forest Service spokeswoman. Signs that a marijuana plantation ...
Warning for Hunters about Finding Marijuana KNDO/KNDU
all 2 news articles

9/17 Cell phone junk calls are not a myth: I receive at least one a week, usually having to
do with extended car warranties or hot interest rate deals. My personal cell number
is almost never given as a business contact outside of doctors, so I have no idea
how they got it .... thanks for the blocking info.

Still Out There ...
9/17 Thank you abercrombie and xna2200 . . . it is exactly what I was hoping to find!

9/16 Hi . . .

I am a contract driver for the USFS . . . usually Ground Support, but have also driven for the Buying Team. When home I keep an eye on the 'Todays Posts'. I know the assigned letters for all 17 Region 5 Forests, but I am lost when it comes to CA Units. Can you help me or refer me to a listing so I am not continually guessing for fire locations. Thank you in advance for any help you can be!


Map CalFire Units and FS Forests:
Someone sent it in to the hotlist last spring: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/maps/cdf-quickguide-map.pdf
It originally came from Jake's scanner site, which was down when it was sent to us: www.scancal.org/cafire_guide.pdf

9/16 I’m looking for historical data for the state of CA that depicts the number of homes
that have burned from fire over the years preferably by census block. Any suggestions
where to start looking?


9/16 Condolences to Curt's family and community. By all accounts he was a vital man, humorous, loving, gone too soon
and will be greatly missed.

Best wishes also for a speedy and complete recovery of  the other injured worker.



HAPPY CAMP, Calif. (AP). A 77-year-old contract firefighter has died from injuries he suffered while battling a blaze in a Northern California forest last month.

The U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday that Curtis Hillman, of Happy Camp, died on Sept. 11 at Mercy Medical Center in Redding.

Forest Service spokesman Mike Ferris says Hillman sustained head injuries on Aug. 25 when he jumped or fell off a road grader in the Six Rivers National Forest near the Oregon border.

Hillman, a member of the Karuk Indian tribe, is the 15th firefighter to die from job-related causes in California this summer. Eleven were killed in a helicopter crash last month and three died in July: one of a heart attack, one after being struck by a falling tree and another of burns.


Condolences to his family and friends.....


Condolences. Ab.

9/16 Ab:
Any info on the status of the FERS rider to H.R. 1108 that allows
folks under FERS to keep all or part of their sick leave when retiring ? I
understand the bill has gone to Senate committee for review. Haven't heard
any more on the subject since it passed the House.


Pappy '81 (not the original)
9/15 I want to echo/2nd Lobotomy's centralization email. It's time, it's simply time for change.

100 years ago it was not needed. 50 years ago it was not needed. In 1995 it was time to test it on a Forest level. 5 leaders on Los Padres had a vision in 1994. It took months for a decision and then to implement. Centralized fire had support from rank and file, even from Line Officers. In the years after the Los Padres begin centralized fire, multiple reviews from multiple levels of the Forest Service supported the Forest Supervisors' decision to centralize. Then other Forests centralized, creating strong fire management programs, some would say even stronger centralized fire programs. Those programs are now on the chopping block for the end of the year. Not because of mismanagement, but because of Line Officer pressure from above.

Line should proactively work towards implementing a centralized fire program now. If they don't, then eventually it will come about much like how the LE&I was forced into centralized management. Something will happen, probably bad, that will eventually force centralized fire. It's only a matter of time.

If you want to create real fire management efficiencies, streamline decision making processes and be lead by people with operational experience (IFPM requirement), then centralize the emergency responders and leadership working within fire fuels and aviation management directly to the Chief of the Forest Service.

It's Time
9/15 Lindy,

Thanks for your comments on our fallers, and yes, I think the only explanation possible for why I’ve been involved in this seemingly impossible effort for most of the past decade lies in the fact that I’m married to a faller. Now, he’s one of 50 on our roster. (That is if we’re talking about the same guy.) And there are several such Faller Module companies throughout the regions which have implemented the Faller Module program based on the National Template. So, I think the effort to create a better faller hiring process has been success…but definitely insane.

In terms of our hopes for the Professional Faller program on the Federal level, my best answer would be to look back over my posts in that regard. Basically, in the beginning, the focus of all our efforts was to:

* Improve Safety and Professionalism for Commercial Fallers working on the fireline.

* Work with the agencies to create consistent & meaningful specifications for private sector commercial fallers (background, training, equipment, etc.) working on the fireline.

* Assure the contracting program(s) utilized at the state and federal agencies were fair and equitable.

* Create a viable vendor pool of high quality private sector fallers for work on wildland fire and emergency incidents. (This means helping to create a contracting program where MULTIPLE vendors could operate nationwide, providing rosters of PRE-QUALIFIED fallers for work on the fireline.)

* Address the issue of personal injury/fatality coverage for private sector fallers working in emergency situations (such as fire.)

Ultimately, Lindy, my personal goal has been to help create an environment and a venue where fallers’ voices could be heard. That’s why we held two timber faller roundtables and invited anyone and everyone to attend to discuss ways to solve the problems plaguing the faller hiring processes of the past. That’s why we’ve attempted a number of times to create the NWSA Faller Chapter. The initial attempts failed because fallers and faller vendors quickly got lazy. Since all the work was being done for them, why should they exert any energy to be a part of the solution process? (And there were those who liked the way the Good ole boy system worked in the past…because they were part of it.) I believe this year the NWSA Faller Chapter will actually become operational with an active Steering Committee comprised of multiple Faller Module vendors. There are some significant issues that need to be addressed and it takes a collaborative effort to do that successfully.

For the future, my efforts will continue to focus on the objectives above. I believe the development of the NWSA Faller Chapter will serve to establish a more permanent venue for communication and collaboration between Faller Module vendors, private sector timber fallers and the government. However, a venue for communication is simply an opportunity to share information. If someone has something important they want to say, they ultimately need to show up to be heard. And if the government is genuinely interested in improving a problematic contracting program, they’ll actually show up to listen, and express their own concerns and challenges.

Hope to meet you one day Mr. Lindy.

9/15 Just a minor correction to the post from Midwest…

The “decider” was the Secretary of Defense. The military was in a position to easily supply the needed troops and then some; whatever was needed. The initial unit was to come from Ft. Carson and NIFC already had folks on the ground at Ft. Carson and laying plans for the training when SecDef made the decision (I was one of those NIFC folks at Ft. Carson). The basis of the decision came down to federal military resources are not to be mobilized unless all state resources have been tapped (i.e. the NG). Has to do with the state of emergency declaration.

Interesting to note that this unit in Ft. Carson was recently returned from Iraq and there was concern if there would be any enthusiasm for the fire deployment. Well, the whole unit volunteered and so did other soldiers from other units; they were thrilled to step-up. The unit was really pumped up to be able to head to CA. They were extremely disappointed to stand-down.


9/15 To avoid telemarketing calls on your cell phones:

Call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222.

It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time.
It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone
number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone
or go to www.donotcall.gov

BlueZebra said it was an internet myth that cell phone numbers were being given to telemarketers. Still, it felt good banning them from my cell phone. Ab.

9/15 It's PAY DAY. September 15th and the pay recommendations are due to be completed today.

Anyone get a copy of the pay recommendations yet?

Pena said on Aug 29;
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.


9/15 Sandi,

I'm glad to see a few folks from the cheese head state beat me to the punch, and I too am thankful for your interest in wildland firefighters. Yes, we do not get much media attention here in WI, but yes, we do have wildland fires! If you live in the far southern area of the state, responsibility for wildfires are up to your local fire department. As swiftfire stated, in general we may have only a few fires each year that that get as large as a couple hundred acres. However in the northern and central part of the state where pine forests tend to dominate, the DNR is responsible the threat from wildfire is greater. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest also has wildland fire responsibility on their lands. When conditions are ripe for wildfires, fires of several thousand acres in a day or more (that can destroy 100s of homes and cabins if the fire is around waterfront property) are a real possibility.

Wildfires in WI are a bit different than fires in western states as our landscape typically allows us to drive to every fire. Hence, our suppression forces are developed around bulldozers or in our case, tractor plows (equipment photo page1 has a photo) and engines with heavy cooperation with local fire departments.



9/15 Sandi;

I think it’s really cool that you read about wildland firefighters (no matter where you read it
or how “romantic” a version you got), and then decided to get online and find out more
(which is how I figure you got to TheySaid). Good for you. I figure that anything that raises
people’s awareness of all the folks out on the line trying to protect lives and property is a
good thing.

On that note, did anyone catch the new show “Fringe” out there? There was a brief mention
that one of the main characters is a former wildland firefighter. Perhaps that will get further
developed in future episodes. Sandi, if you’re interested in getting involved and doing more
to help out, may I suggest the Wildland Firefighter Foundation? Ab should have suggested
it first, but I figure even Ab gets undercaffeinated sometimes…(teasing, Ab, don’t hurt me…).
Also, there are some books linked to the site about the Peshtigo fire, which was up in your
area. You might find them interesting, and probably even more dramatic than the Harlequin

Nerd on the Fireline

I haven't had caffeine in 2 days; maybe that is my problem; I need some. Good suggestions, Nerd.
(Link to books at top of page.) Ab.

9/15 Sandi -

While your thanks are appreciated, you most likely do have wildfires in your area.
Particularly if you are surrounded by 800 acres of forest. Most of the fires are not
large enough to be "news worthy" but they occur often in the Spring and Fall. Although
it has been a wet year in the state, 704 fires have burned statewide. Unfortunately,
the biggest hurdle in Wisconsin is educating the public that even though we don't have
many fires over a few hundred acres, we still have them and people could easily lose
their homes. Here's a link to find the fire danger in your area: http://dnr.wi.gov/forestry/fire/fire_danger/Wis_Burn/StateCounties.asp and a link to
www.firewise.org to learn how to protect your home from wildfire.

9/14 California Nat. Guard (NG)

Noname – thanks for writing. I was very curious how this was all playing out.

The tail end of June NIFC requested military assistance for wildfire suppression. I was part of the military training cadre that was mobilized July 1st. It took a while for all the players to hash out what unit to use. In the end The “Decider” decided to help out the “Governator”. What we heard was regular military could not spare a unit. Sort of makes sense that California NG be used on California fires. And the Governor had already committed 2,000 NG. Unfortunately these 2,000 NG would be mobilized in groups of 200-300 per week. Various reasons for that, NG logistics capabilities, availability of training facilities among others. This is different than mobilization of reg. military where time from decision to boots on the ground is days.

The first group of 200 was trained and outfitted by Cal Fire. These were taken to Cal Fire incidents. The second group was trained by Feds with the full complement of Military Crew Advisors (MCADs) and assigned to the Lime Complex. The third group (its now 3 weeks following the decision to us the military) was trained by Feds. This group also had the full complement of MCADs. By this time significant progress had been made on most of the fires and the need for extra crews had diminished and no fires “wanted” these crews given the additional logistics burden.

From my vantage point I could see that there was little real need for additional military crews, given the diminished fire activity, and our difficulty in securing MCADs. This project had morphed from being an effort to meet a current critical need to, training a “ready reserve” and had become an exercise in “political” fire fighting. I recall enough of my highs school civics class to know that as an employee of a federal agency I work for the executive branch of the government that is lead by a politician. So I expect and can accept a certain level of politics in the decisions that are made. However I believe we had crossed over from providing efficient and appropriate delivery of services commensurate with need to going through the motions needed to fulfill the promises made by politicians. I was asked if I would like to extend but after 3 weeks I was ready to go home.

As an instructor of a rookie fire course I was very pleased with how the students got engaged in the course work. They asked good questions, participated in discussion and gave good answers. Those that got 20-30 days in the field with an MCAD ended up with a quality training experience.

I understand that there was significant discussion by the California MAC on the need for the balance of the 2000 NG and how best to proceed with training the remainder. I believe that the decision to have feds train the remainder was made by the MAC.

Being from one of the other land management agencies that are often buffeted by the 800 lb gorilla (USFS) I had a certain amount of sadistic satisfaction watching it dance around the 1200 lb gorilla (CalFire) during this whole process.

Since this had become a task of training what amounts to a ready reserve with no immediate threat to address it stands to reason they would plan for 8 hour days.

Some of the concerns that I have with training up a ready reserve of NG: How fast can they be mobilized? Is it days of weeks? How many of the already trained will be available when they are needed? Where are the needed supplies of PPE located? Can these supplies be distributed to those that need them? Does anyone have a good handle on the number and sizes of pants, shirts gloves etc. Once you have 20 NG mustered to a fire who supplies the “Crew Boss” for a totally green crew? If you’re an OPS Chief where do you deploy a totally green crew? Will any fire that gets NG also get a Military Liaison position? Will the Liaison person be well versed in the needs and capabilities of the military?

And in this whole thing if you follow the money.
NG on state fire state pays for them. No saving to the state of Calif.
NG on federal fire saves Calif. Money.
NG on state fire in Federal Disaster area saves Calif. Money.
So who do you think was going to pay for the training?

9/14 Another Memorial for firemen who died in Ventura County since 1909.
Keep up the good work.

Subject: Firefighter's Memorial Ceremony and Dedication, 9/27/08, Ventura Co.

Hello Los Compadres ---

At 10:00a.m. on Saturday, September 27, ten Forest Service employees will
be among the "Fallen Firefighters" to be honored at the dedication of the
Firefighter's Memorial at the Ventura County Govt. Center. The ten were
either Los Padres NF employees who died in the line of duty, or other
Forest Service employees who died while fighting fire in Los Padres NF.

In addition to the six northern California firefighters who died in the
Bear Fire helicopter accident of 1972, are Alfredo de la Riva who died in
1909 while rescuing a citizen in a fire, Jim Greenhill who died in the
Sespe flood tragedy of 1969, and Jim Rangel who died in 1993 as a result of
a work-related condition. I have no information on Norman Kenneth Deem,
who died in 1929, but he is the tenth to be honored.

You are welcome to attend. For more information about the memorial and the
"Fallen Firefighters of Ventura County" go to


Public Affairs Officer
Los Padres National Forest

9/14 Esperanza Fire Memorial Anniversary

Hello everyone

Last weekend after our morning pt's my engine module and I were approached by Vivian Najera, the aunt Daniel Najera. She invited us to attend the second anniversary of engine 57 and asked If we can assist in getting the word out to the fire community.

The event will take place on Sunday October 26,2008 at 11:00 am at JoAnns Restaurant 25875 Village Center Dr. Idyllwild, CA 92549. There will be music, speakers, moment of silence and prayer along with a display of pictures. The restaurant and Vivian are looking for assistance in preparing this event- volunteering, sponsorships/ donations (for copies, posters, banners, etc.) They are also in need of bands to volunteer as well as anyone who is willing to help.

Vivian Najera can be reached by Phone at (951) 847-4544 or e-mail; alwaysrememberengine57@yahoo.com
Anyone interested in attending this event is welcomed

Thank you for your support and consideration.

RAGZ CNFengine

9/14 I'm a 40 year old woman who until recently never gave much thought to Wildland firefighters. You will never believe what opened my eyes. It was a Harlequin Super Romance. I just finished reading one about HotShots. I live in Wisconsin and we don't have wildland fires in my area, however I do live in the country and I am surrounded by about 800 acres of forest. Thank the Lord we get a lot of moisture. I just wanted to express my appreciation to everyone involved in fighting the Dragon. From the people at base camp to the men and women on the front lines. You are my Heroes. My prayers are with all of you and your families. Sincerely, Sandi

Well, you probably have a fictional view, but thanks. Ab.

9/13 From "deep undercover fire"

S-130 and S-190 Fire Courses Now Available Online

The classroom portions of the two basic fire training courses needed for qualification as a wildland firefighter can now be taken online, thanks to a cooperative effort between the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and the U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Academy.

The two courses, which firefighter trainees traditionally have taken together, are S-130 Firefighter Training and S-190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior. The courses are designed to teach the basic strategies and tactics crews use to fight fires burning in vegetation, how wildland fire behaves, and how weather influences the spread of wildland fire. (S-130 contains a shorter course called L-180, Human Factors on the Fireline, and learners who complete the entire S-130 course earn a certificate for L-180 as well.)

"We are really interested in increasing the firefighting capabilities and capacity of local fire departments," said Brian McManus, who chairs the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and serves as the Fire Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Often, local fire departments are the closest forces to fires on federal land, so we are pleased to help make quality training opportunities available to these valued partners."

McManus added that prospective firefighters will still have to complete the field portion of S-130 before receiving course certificates for S-130, S-190 and L-180 and becoming qualified as a wildland firefighter.

According to Dan Smith, Fire Director for the National Association of State Foresters, making these widely-used courses available online can be important to helping meet the training needs of local fire department personnel—and accomplishing that in a way that works well for departments with scarce funds and availability of time.

The advantages of on-line training are more than economic. "Many structural fire departments in rural and suburbanizing areas are taking an increasing role in wildland firefighting, as homebuilders continue to build in areas dominated by wildland fuels," Smith explained. "Local fire departments realize they are going to be fighting more and more brush fires and forest fires, and they want to do that work safely and effectively. In this business nobody does anything alone, and we depend upon one another as neighbors and partners."

The S-130 and S-190 training courses can be accessed through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group's training website http://training.nwcg.gov/courses.phpl.

Each course is broken into short, 1 to 3 hour modules enabling students to complete courses at their own pace. Collectively, the two courses offer approximately 40 hours of training.

9/13 I'd like to see the actual stats on the WCT. Given the many people from many agencies
and the private sector that do it, the fatality rate may not be as high as it might seem in
comparison with deaths in the non-WCT population.

I'm not going to get into a discussion on this, I simply would like to see the stats. A
surprising number of people who never do the Pack Test die of silent ischemia which
is named "silent" because that kind of heart attack has no symptoms.


9/13 Shari Downhill,

I had the pleasure of having a couple of your fallers on my Task Force for a week in July.
They did a lot of falling down Beans Ridge on the Siskiyou Complex.

A good professional bunch of folks. Thanks.

Tell them I said hello.
You know one of them quite well since he claimed to be your husband.
He will know my Moniker since it is pretty much my first name.

One question perhaps you can answer since I haven't worked with Professional Fallers
that much in the past.

What are your company's hopes/desires/goals for the Professional Contract Faller
program as it relates to Federal Firefighting ?

Lucky Lindy

9/13 Denise, LS, and others,

Am I reading the studies right? Smoke actually does have possible short-term and long-term consequences towards wildland firefighter health and safety? Sorry, tongue in cheek. We all know smoke has significant short-term and long-term effects regardless of the findings.

I thought the MTDC studies were the facts until I started following the findings of Roger Ottmar (PNW) and looking at the health hazards of smoke that dozens and dozens of other researchers had performed in the past. Nowhere could any research finding from the MTDC Health Hazards of Smoke be recreated or validated as "real world".

Based upon the Health Hazards of Smoke studies originally commissioned and funded by the Forest Service to study respiratory and other problems (cancer, asthma, COPD, etc) experienced by wildland firefighters following the 1987 Northern California Siege, the 1988 Yellowstone Fires, and the 2000 Montana Fires.... something is amiss in either peer review, stated facts, intended research focus, or actual goals or thesis description.

What was amiss WAS who funded the studies? Who did they report to? Were there intended outcomes affecting future funding? Were the researchers non-biased? Were the research findings completely released and subjexct to complete review, or were they wrongly vetted and supported (upon future contingent funding) to produce AGENCY TALKING POINTS?

I'd like to ask the same form of question regarding the Work Capacity Testing (WCT) Program. As many deaths as burnovers since implementation. Nobody seems to care about these losses.

How many deaths is too many regardless of flawed facts or studies presented as "talking points" by the agencies? For me, it is Zero..... It is about prevention and education. Smoke and WCT studies (and implementation) as guided from MTDC is putting firefighters at immediate and future risk.

Rogue Rivers
9/13 rattle snag injury

Just want to clear up one thing with the hotshot who was hit by the snag on the Rattle fire. I was there, and though I didn't see the accident occur, I was on scene and have knowledge of what happened. I will not get into detail because I realize that the investigation is still ongoing and all of the facts have not yet been released. However, it is being rumored throughout the fire community, and implicitly on this site, that the sawyer's tree which he fell is what caused another snag to come down and hit him. This is absolutely wrong! It is frustrating from our end to hear, when we know what actually happened.

The REAL message is this: This job is inherently dangerous. Even when everything is done right, people can get hurt. Whether it is from a tree, a rock, or a god damn meteor... things can happen. And yes, we mitigate hazards, but when is our environment ever 100% safe? It's not, and if it were a requirement, we could never fight fire.

Finally, thank you to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation who stepped up in so many ways! I can't put into words how glad I am that we as a community have this organization that can do so much.

Sign me

That was my assumption that something hit something else and took time to come down. I apologize. Thanks for setting the record straight. No doubt the investigation will report what happened in detail. Ab.

9/13 Re: 21st Century Forest Service

Much like the transformation with the Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations (LE&I) shops that happened in the late '80's, throughout the '90's, and into the new century.... the Fire, Fuels, and Aviation Management (F&AM) shops are evolving and will face the same problems from within the agency.... bureaucratic roadblocks preventing successful sub-mission delivery unless field level leaders and managers step up..

Several great things came about in the LE&I Reorganization as a result of increased public scrutiny, better informed Congressional oversight, and Courts tired of interference and offerings of political sacrifice:

1) FS LEO's were reclassified from duties that they were performing as 0462 Forestry Technicians (Corrected working outside of PD),

2) FS LE&I obtained Chief Level oversight and a Program Director with delegated "Line Authority" from the Chief, (Corrected local line officer mismanagement/interference at the district/forest/regional levels),

3) After 20 years of educating, the FS Management finally realized they did have law enforcement responsibilities (Ref. International Marijuana Cultivation on Public Lands, Arson, Murder, etc...),

4) The FS LE&I program is finally recognized as peers within their professional community, partners in the Agency Mission, and experts in protecting both the public and natural resources, and finally receiving increased funding needed to perform their mission.

Last year and this year, LE&I had an experience probably best described as the National Fire Plan in terms of funding and program emphasis.........but they geared up in advance.

Centralize the fire program.... the WO Director of Fire & Aviation Management (50%+ of the entire Forest Service budget) (Works under the Deputy Chief for State & Private Forestry) should be the Deputy Chief of Fire, Fuels, and Aviation Management..... and have full delegated line officer authority to manage the Wildland Fire, Fuels, and Aviation Management program...

The Forest Service is in dire straits.
There is a chance to save the Fire Program within the Forest Service..... and correct course. Let Fire Managers lead and be held accountable.... most important to accountability is the decision to decide (line authority).

Build a better cockpit.
Take away the chances of human error and blame that naturally exist when programs or people fail.... Don't be like LA Metrorail officials today who blamed (and wrongly disgraced) the train crew for yesterdays tragic accident..... when they (Metrorail managers) fully knew the chance for error always existed and accepted the risks, but failed to act or to correct the course in advance of the known latent traps or holes.

9/12 Ab,

Noname Fire sounds a bit upset that fed. overhead are training the CA national guard for future fire assignments. As to why Cal Fire isn’t around to provide training assistance it may be because the “fed. overhead” it ready, willing, and able to accomplish the assignment without additional help. The California National Guard would be used by any agency that needed them at any time following the proper ordering procedure whether that agency is local, state or federal.

If the “fed. overhead” employer at the WFTC is forcing the personnel giving the training to falsify their timecards by shorting them that is the fault of that employer not Cal Fire or the California National Guard.

That’s all I see wrong with that picture.

9/12 To All:

The FWFSA has completed its federal wildland firefighter "retention plan" which has been sent to our webmaster for inclusion into the member's area on our web site. Given that it is a draft, I've asked our members for feedback on the text before it gets plastered all over the street... so to speak.

The proposal is crafted in a bill form so that congressional staff and members of congress can have something tangible to work with in the remaining weeks of the congressional session. The proposal contains key provisions which the FWFSA feel are the most important to curtailing the loss of federal wildland firefighters to other agencies.

The remainder of our legislative "plate" will be offered up after the first of the year.

I'm sure the proposal will make its way here in short order, but I hope our members will take the opportunity to review it on our web site and offer their feedback.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/12 AB's,

I find it interesting that fed overhead are training the CA National Guard for future fire assignments, Cal Fire fires, that is. The CA Governor requested them (the guard) for assistance and yet these resources are being trained by the feds, not the agency that requested them. The Governor placed the request with the President who in turn directed FEMA to assist with this request. And to my surprise when these CA national guard were being deployed on some fed fires, the contractors were up in arms over the CA national guard taking jobs from them. So to avoid this potential law suit, it was decided that the CA National Guard could only be used in counties that declared county emergences.

And yes that is what has been told to the groups and groups of fed resources during their in-brief at WFTC. The personnel giving the in-brief couldn't answer why Cal-Fire wasn't around to provide training assistance either, after all the CA National Guard can only be ordered up by Cal-Fire. And to top it off, they wanted to short them (fed trainers) out of hours too. So the feds take the hit for a state request and then those that accept a resource order get told "your hours will be held to a minimum". What's wrong with this picture???????????????

Noname Fire

WFTC=Wildland Fire Training and Conference Center at McClellan (Sacramento) Ab.

9/12 Ab,

I sat last night poised on the floor in front of the TV, ready to push the record button on my VCR to catch the CNN special on our own Vicki Minor. (No…I don’t have Tivo and wouldn’t know how to use it if I did.) Instead…well…we all got to hear again, and again, and again such tripe as the speculation that Palin didn’t REALLY know Bush’s Doctrine. WHATEVER! I wanted to see Vicki! And, after two hours of naive hope CNN would show us SOMETHING other than political crap and posturing…and windblown TV journalists drooling for Ike to hit shore I gave up. In exasperation I turned around to see my 14-year-old daughter slumped on the couch doing her homework, unenthused, bangs in face. I asked her what her assignment was. (After puffing air up through her bangs to show her disinterest…) She told me “Memorizing the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States.”

“And” I asked her, “how far have you gotten?”….

“Hmm, ‘We the people…’ ”

“….and…??? That’s it?”

I had her read it to me out of her notebook to make sure she’d copied it correctly before we launched into etching this foundational piece into her brain cells.

This is important. Pay attention. (Paying attention is ALWAYS a good idea, even if you don’t agree with what’s being said.)

To clarify…according to Wikipedia…

The Preamble to the United States Constitution is an introductory statement of the fundamental purposes and guiding principles which the Constitution is meant to serve. It expresses what the Founding Fathers thought the Constitution meant and what they hoped to achieve.

Okay…here we go…

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

My daughter looks up at me after reading this. Her bangs are still in her face. She is still unenthused and disinterested. She is my fourth. Poor girl. I can see it in her eyes. She sees “a lesson” coming right at her like a train engine at night.

We start with a memory sentence to help her remember the key points of the Preamble. The words in this sentence MUST start with the first letter of each critical word or concept in the Preamble. This is what we came up with: W…U...J…T…D…W…L (oh yea…and O for that “Ordaining stuff…) I told her the only way to really remember something is to reach out and to see meaning in it. Ya gotta feeeel it, baby…

“Yea…okay mom.” (At least the bangs are out of her eyes now. I think it’s the decibel of my voice that has caught her attention.)

Our memory sentence: “We Understand Justice and Truth and will Deliver it With our Lives… and this is what it stands for:

W – We the People of the United States of America
U – in order to form a more perfect Union,
J – establish Justice
T – insure domestic Tranquility
D – provide for the common Defense
W – promote the general Welfare
L – secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity…
…do Ordain and establish the Constitution of the United States of America.

And it turns into a call back sequence:

Me- “Who are WE, Emily?”

Em- “The People of the United States!”

What do we UNDERSTAND Em?

“…in order to form a more perfect UNION…”

“…establish JUSTICE,”

“…insure domestic TRANQUILITY

Me- “Yea, you know…like we have at home here…because we’re SO PEACEFUL & CALM. (This cracks her up because it’s so far from the truth…especially right not in the middle of fire season.)

“…provide for the common DEFENSE

Me- “What does THAT mean, Em?...(Blank look.) So, I say…”Go to the next one for a hint.”

“…promote the general WELFARE

Me- “Good. Now go back to your memory sentence. “We Understand Justice and Truth and will Deliver it With our Lives.” I remind her of the firefighters who died in the Iron 44 Helicopter Crash incident. It was both close in time and proximity, so I knew she would understand what “Delivering it with our LIVES” really meant. It means doing something you believe in, in order to serve the larger good, to serve our community, to protect our people and our land… and be willing to lay down your life doing it. Lay down your life… That means “To Die.” That’s a pretty significant sacrifice. (The bangs are now nowhere near her eyes.)

“…secure the blessings of LIBERTY to ourselves and our posterity”

Me- “Who’s “our posterity” Em?

Em- ”Our children and our grandchildren.”

“…do Ordain and establish the Constitution of the United States of America.

And then … Epiphany!
McCain and Obama move you’re a$$s over…


We didn’t get to see the CNN special last night, but now I know why I wanted to. I’m now closer to realizing why I respect and listen to Vicki Minor and wholeheartedly support the work she has accomplished personally with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and INSPIRED thousands of others to take action to accomplish.

Rowdy said it right. (Right on Rowdy…) Vicki is wonderful as an individual, yes. But her most wondrous and profound attribute is that she has that soul level stature and strength to issue a call to action, and we BELIEVE in her enough to FOLLOW her. THAT is what a true leader does. And THAT is the cloth our Founding Fathers & Mothers were cut from. That is something we need to remember and to help our children remember.

Anything that doesn’t stand up to the Litmus test of our Constitution - which includes all of those key ideas in the Preamble - need to be challenged, even if it pisses off someone in the WO. If we look at the work the WFF does under the leadership of Vicki Minor, that’s exactly what’s being done. If you’ve ever seen Vicki challenging a violation of a wildland firefighter’s welfare, right to justice or tranquility, you’ll see true passion and determination in action. There is a fierceness fueled by a belief in justice and truth.

I’m pleased to report that my daughter is now able to recite the ENTIRE Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America… and she knows what it means. Our lesson helped remind me, too.

Vicki, thank you for inspiring us and for helping us to be better people.

Once again… All together now… ”We Understand Justice and Truth and will Deliver it with our Lives.” Now you know the Preamble too. Welcome to the United States.

Shari Downhill

Bravo! Ab.

9/12 Monty,

I agree with you that the state and local government should pick up the cost for their fires, but it is yet another strange and obscure policy that dictates that they don't. This is why USFS does not do "structure protection" but rather "perimeter control", same thing, different name.

As far as the "policies in national forests" you only need to look at the public for that. The rules and regulations in the national forests, and the fact that the national forests even exist is due to the public voting on them. As far as the "out by 10 am rule" you where referring to, it was one of the worst possible missions we ever had. Fire is a part of the ecosystem, the USFS has realized this and is trying to educate the public on the matter. A subject not widely comprehended among the public. Logging has been cut back, timber sales of all sorts has, and a number of small communities are suffering because of it, not to mention the fuel loading naturally occurring due to lack of fire and lack of logging making the fires larger. We got away with the 10 am rule for so long because logging did a good job of decreasing the fuel loading. We are lacking that aspect now.

A lot of Forests are trying to implement the "let burn policy", or "fire use" concept, as firefighters are not allowed to use retardant (with out a very lengthy approval process), dozers or power-saws in the wilderness. The public has an outcry when they see smoke, fire etc... and no one actively engaging in suppressing it. They blame the USFS when it's the laws that they themselves have voted on.

There needs to be a lot more fuels reduction, fire use, prescribed fire happening to get back to manageable size fires. We all as a fire community need to get educated on all the subject matter so we can come together with a common goal and solution and stop fighting over things we don't understand. It is then and only then that we can inform the public and get
them helping us to help them.

Frustrated with the lack of information circulating
9/12 Just a quick note to let you know the Casacadel fire has now moved to SNF responsibility.
Allen Johnson's type II team has been ordered and is to report at 17:00 tonight at the SNF
Ranger station in North Fork.


9/12 Re: comments by Mellie, Rowdy, Nerd on the Fireline, Information Diva, others who have posted that I have missed, and I am sure the thoughts of ALL of us in the Wildland Fire community and their families -

I agree 100%, Vicki Minor - you rock! ...We can never thank you enough for all that you do!


…and I hope she is suitably embarrassed as well :)
9/12 I am sending a big round of applause for the article on Vicki Minor and the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation, what a great article on CNN.Com. We are
proud of you and thank you for the difficult work that you put your heart and
soul into. Thank you so much!

Information Diva
9/12 The information in this post is important. Please circulate widely.


I was just notified of a Hot Shot injured on the Rattle Fire on the Umpqua (Oregon) in a falling accident. The FF is being treated at a hospital in Roseburg and an investigation is underway. I’m sure there will be an agency announcement soon with info that is “releasable.” However, the basic “take home lesson” from the incident is this…

After cutting a tree and leaving the cutting area via an established escape route the faller and everyone else should WAIT a prudent amount of time before reentering the cutting area to examine the stump. Wait, watch and listen…There may be delayed dropping of large limbs, and ENTIRE trees INTO the felling area which were disturbed by the initial felling incident.

We send our prayers and best wishes for the healing and recovery of the young man injured in this incident, as well as his crew. They are all shaken from this accident, fresh on the heels of our other wildland fire tragedies. I strongly encourage fire management and safety personnel to take this message to the field immediately. There is no time like the present to save lives.

9/12 Boots on the Fireground


A well written report that shows the issue is not as simple as it seems.
I expect recommendations to be flushed out and an interagency decision to
be made this winter. SH

Boots on the Fireground:
An Analysis of Interagency Wildland Firefighter Boot Standards

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/safe/wildland-ff-boots.doc (1,717 K doc file)

Ongoing Hotlist threads on boots: Boots: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2637

9/12 Circulating: Firefighters and Respiratory Effects of Smoke

NIOSH Medical Results Published

FYI -- this study was not related to the monitoring that was accomplished
at the Ukonom Complex ICP this summer. LS

Hello everyone. The NIOSH medical study results were published this month
in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (see attached).
Thank you all again for your enthusiastic support of the study. Please pass
the article along to people you think might be interested. I have also
attached Steve Leonard's free radical paper from the Alpine IHC 2004
Boundary Fire assignment.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Best Wishes,

9/12 Just read the CNN.com article about Vicki Minor. Vicki, you rock,
and the recognition is well deserved and well overdue.

Nerd on the Fireline
9/12 On Hurricane Ike:


Hotlist Thread

9/12 Reposting, got lost in a computer or server snafu over last weekend. Ab.

This is a link to the California Master Mutual Aid Seven Points of Light document that drives Mutual Aid in California.

http://rimsinland.oes.ca.gov/WebPage/oeswebsite.nsf/ClientOESFileLibrary/Fire Documents/$file/7points7-03.pdf

As far as CAL FIRE getting all unprotected lands by default, thats not true. CAL FIRE is only legislated with protection of SRA lands in the state. CAL FIRE can enter into contracts with local governments for fire protection.
Bottom line is that if no one goes or has jurisdiction the Master Mutual Aid agreement goes into effect. That is closest forces concept and many times CAL FIRE is the closest force.

As to your issue of USFS having local agencies order Mutual Aid so they don't foot the bill, refer to item number 1. The local agency has to be involved in the initial attack of the incident. Many USFS incidents don't start that way but threaten the local agency after the fact.
California's Master Mutual Aid is designed for use by local and state fire departments in California. Federal agencies are not participants.

I know the USFS bills people whos fires threaten National Forest Land (CAL FIRE does a lot of cost apportionment with the Feds). Why should the USFS not be billed for their fires that threaten others lands?? The local agencies have no say in how the USFS fire will approach their community and due to certain federal regulations (wilderness areas, arch sites, suppression restrictions) they may not be able to take the most appropriate action. Their only fault is living to close to USFS land and many of these communities existed prior to the establishment of the USFS.

I'm not trying to pick a fight or start a long thread on who should pay but the fact that the USFS fire costs are going up is not the local agencies. As many people say on this site, priorities of the USFS have changed over the last 25 years. Aggressive initial attack as it once was is not there anymore for the most part for whatever reason you want to chose. Without it fires will get bigger and the costs higher. A change in USFS policy should not result in more costs to states or local agencies.

I think I've said enough for now.


9/12 Reposting, got lost in a computer or server snafu over last weekend. Ab.

Re the EMS thread and Basic Life Support info:


For those questioning the "story" of the who, what, when, or why.

SB Nat'l USFS Lytle Creek
(909) 887-2576


9/12 Reposting, got lost in a computer or server snafu over last weekend. Ab.

Do Line Officers have Redcards? How can they legally be signing off on everything
without professional redcard training? Does that mean theyll get investigated by National
OSHA on the fatalities? Their signatures are at the bottom of a lot of documents.
They're the one that authorized the orders, sometimes over-riding the input from the
ICs at least what I've heard.

Trying to figure this out

9/12 Reposting, got lost in a computer or server snafu over last weekend. Ab.


Great post, but I must correct the same old mistake that keeps getting repeated. Yep, someone would reply.

All agreements are rooted (and have been for over ten years) and based upon a 12-hour "free"mutual aid period for certain resources. If a "free" mutual aid resource exceeds 12 hours on a incident, the entire time from that resource is billed back, portal-to-portal, to the receiving agency with administrative costs.

Don't let the fed bean counters fool you, they (fed agencies) also charge an agreed upon administrative fee when their equipment is used under "assistance by hire". (ref. agreements)

To complicate things even further, if something is ordered MMA (Master Mutual Aid), it is free (regardless of duration of assignment.... minutes, hours, days, weeks) unless it is converted to one of the state or federally approved reciprocal agreements (or local agreement) negotiated by the state and federal agencies, and administered by the Office of Emergency Services.

There are administrative and legal reasons why federal agencies cannot sign the MMA agreement (long story), but it is entirely rooted in the separation of state rights and responsibilities vs. federal government rights and responsibilities. THE SAME argument applies when local departments no longer respond under MMA requests..... separation of city vs. county vs. state.

To put into simple terms, mutual aid is a reciprocal sharing agreement.... resources exchanged in kind. Other agreements allow for individual agency costs, regardless of types incurred based upon agreed upon terms.


9/12 This came in a while back (9/6) but got lost in a computer or server snafu. If anyone else's post did not get posted, please let me know.

Re: EMT / EMS in the USFS.......in California.

So, who do we speak to about the way we are doing business?

Who authorizes the Jumpers to use IVs?

Who authorizes USFS exclusive use helicopter modules to provide medivac coverage on incidents?....with AED....or to the public for that matter (Lime Complex).

Who authorizes the dispatch to traffic collisions and medical aid?

Who authorizes Type III engines to provide RIT?

Who authorized the USFS apprentice academy First Responder course?

Who authorized EMT to be placed on redcards?

SHEESH.....I could go on and on...

Definition of PROFESSIONAL:
1. Of, pertaining to, typical of, or practicing a profession. 2. Engaged in a specified activity as a career. 3. Engaging or engaged in for pay: not amateur. One engaged in a profession.

So, if one is getting paid to perform the above mentioned tasks, and doing such a thing by definition of good ol' Mr. Webster makes me a professional, then who is responsible for ordering me into these situations? My boss? His boss? Her boss?....where does the finger pointing stop?...Does it stop somewhere??

"Who" is responsible?

"Who" holds the power?

"Who" should we be directing our questions towards?


Ab's reply then went something like this, grrrrr, have to look it up again:
Contact the Risk Management Group at NIFC or the NWCG working group for Safety and Health. Michelle has a good reputation. I did have a link for the Risk Management group website with contacts when I replied last time, but I can't find it now. Ab.

9/12 Reposting, got lost in a computer or server snafu over last weekend. Ab.

Re: Sprinkler systems in helicopters:

HT and JJ,

Thanks for the information, I knew there must be technical problems with this type of system. With the race cars there are firefighters on scene within 30 seconds or less to hold off the flames. I figured this had already been looked at by technical experts. Maybe some day down the road.......

Brother Cub

9/12 Ralph Johnston, considered "father" of FS helicopter program dies

His story is posted here. Info on locations and times of Funeral Services in Idaho and the Memorial Tribute on the Angeles National Forest are at the end of the article.


He will be missed. His contributions were many... Ab.

9/12 Ab,

Could you post article below on They Said.


Captain Ron
Ramona AAB

This afternoon the two Bombardier CL-415's will arrive at the Ramona AAB in San Diego County. They are on a three month exclusive contract with the County of San Diego along with a CWN air attack (AA-690). The estimated cost to lease two Bombardier CL-415 Superscooper fixed-wing amphibious aircraft for a 90-day period and one Aero Commander 690 aerial supervision platform aircraft and qualified Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) for a 150-day period is $3,031,660. Actual cost will depend on flight time and federal and state reimbursements. http://sdcounty.ca.gov/bos/agenda/sop/050608sop.doc

They will respond primarily to LRA fires in the cities and incorporated ares within San Diego County as a #1 priority, and may be used by Cal Fire and the USFS in the rural areas upon request.

9/11 The early evening Larry King show was preempted by political interviews. I'll watch at 10PM, but it might get disrupted by Ike. Ab.
9/11 REMINDER: Vicki Minor's CNN Hero Award. Watch Larry King Live today. Ab.
9/11 Kathy;

Will you please forward this website to the Board members. It was released not too long ago.....finally!

It will be wonderful to see what the producer has done with the rest of the story. This is just so very good already though I am not surprised. I watched Vicki both days and she is magic. When she talks about the Foundation, she is so focused on presenting it to everyone who will lend their ear to her and does a magnificent job of it.

See you soon!

9/11 Mellie,

Vicki is a great person to carry forth the work and the dream that few of
us contribute so little to. There are many of us in the fire community that, if
given time and energy, would be good entrepreneurs of such a great cause. I
use the word "good" but not "excellent". None of us have the compassion,
time or energy that would allow us to go forth with such greatness. Vicki
is and always will be an excellent example of what the rest of us would
like to be. If only we were as generous.

Thanks Vicki, and congratulations for being who you are and our hero as
well. You are admired by many, just in case you didn't know. Your reward
won't only be in heaven, as many want to reward you on earth as well. I'm
just glad I have an opportunity to make such a small contribution to your/our

Mellie, what a great contribution you made in your message. I know for a
fact that you made Vicki soft as a melon and crying like the wringing of wet

9/11 Hi Ab,

The following was written by Stanley Stevenson, Fire Control Officer,
Cleveland National Forest in 1950. The letter was actually an endorsement
of the Hotshot program as he states:

"The ever increasing demand for "hot shots" when the going gets rough is
the fire manager's endorsement of the "hot shot" program.

"One of the "hot shot" crews has been based during the fire season on the
Cleveland National Forest. The following notes, although concerned
primarily with the Cleveland "hot shot" organization and operational
procedures, are representative for "hot shot" crews in the California

The crew is composed of young men whose primary requisites are
physical fitness and a will to work. Their lack of experience and
conditioning are compensated by intensive training in fire line
construction and use of hand tools and fire hose lays at the beginning of
each fire season. These men are termed "fire fighters" and receive
fire-fighter rates of pay while on a fire."

The letter goes on and is a total of 3 pages long. It describes a couple of
fires in the Agua Tibia and east of Pine Valley on Laguna in 1949 and 1950.
It is pretty interesting but the point is............Even in 1950 and well
before that the forest service called us Firefighters!

Magruder Fingers

9/11 After 7 years, the memories are strong. Do you remember where you were when you
heard of the 9-11 tragedies? Many of us were with our incident management teams. The
first indication of disaster was when the air space nationwide was locked down; including
our wildfire fighting efforts.

All of us scrambled to find a TV. the networks were full of the horror in New York, and
Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. Many of our team members were honored to answer the call
to support the recovery efforts in New York and DC, while the rest of us continued to contain
the wildland fires. Memories of military transport and escorts, a rare thing for fire fighters, will
haunt some forever.

The devastation was unequaled -- in structures and human lives. The strength of our culture,
our nation and people displayed were the product of pure human compassion.....
The acts of bravery, of teamwork, of selflessness were born of need....
Always remember those we lost....

In our fire fighting world, we have lost many this year...friends, peers, colleagues, compatriots....
Their absence is a hole that cannot be filled. Their legacy is knowing that we who carry on
will do so with the demanding service of strong leadership, the strength of teamwork and
an attitude of professional, public service.
Always remember, those we have lost and that it is the living that we can care for and
who need to be cherished each day.....

If each experience, gains us strength, courage and wisdom.....
May we know that interdependence with one another is the weave that makes us strongest to
to face fear, diversity and troubles squarely, knowing amongst us all we will prevail...

Be safe and well today and every day.

Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
Forest Fire Chief, Tahoe National Forest

Incident Commander,
California Interagency Incident Mgmt Team 3
9/11 Ab,

Attached is a summary of Opinion Research Findings Regarding the Ecological Role of Fire (96K pdf file)

Some highlights I got out of it:

Nationally 76% agree some fires in natural areas are beneficial. 43% strongly agree.

The public does see a difference between "good fire" and "bad fire".

90% support and 52% strongly support "controlled" burns to reduce fuels

54% viewed "controlled burn" favorable vs. 8% view "prescribed burn" favorably.

81% favor shifting some funds from aggressive suppression of all fires to mechanical and "controlled burns" to reduce fuel loads.

The most believable sources of information:
99% - Fire Fighters
97% - Park Rangers
93% - Local Fire Fighters
91% - The US Forest Service
63% - Federal Land Managers

Smokey's message of fire prevention is seen as inconsistent with fires ecological role. (Meet Smokey's new friend. Danny Drip Torch who says "Only you can put fire back into the ecosystem.")

The pollsters found strong support for wildfire use in the "right" area where lives and property were not threatened.

9/11 From Sammie, Firefighting Hazard:


09:37 PM PDT on Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Othello Richards / KREM.com

NEAR POTLATCH, ID -- Emergency crews called to the scene of a field fire on the Palouse got a little more than they bargained for.

It happened yesterday near Potlatch, Idaho.

A crop duster suddenly dumped water mixed with insecticide on them.

Witnesses say the pilot was spraying the field to kill grasshoppers, his plane clipped power lines and sparks caught the hay field on fire.

The pilot filled the same crop duster tank with water, and returned to put it out.

But he mistakenly also dumped the load on the firefighters and deputies below.

One deputy was taken to the hospital after he got a rash from the insecticide.

He and everybody else had to be decontaminated.

The pilot could face fines from the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

9/11 Hi Ab,

Here's the Oct Fire Hire with NEW announcement numbers that people may not be
aware of. Could you please post it so folks won't lose out on the opportunity to get
a job? Thanks.



Thanks, Lori.

Ab Note: If other regions have similar info with a deadline, feel free to send it in. I'll try to get to it. Sometimes such emails go in spam. Posting info like this is time consuming. Text format is the best to easily copy and paste onto the hotlist thread.
I hope the feds get their hiring act together. Probably not in this Ab's lifetime! If you need help with writing your app, and getting through the process, contact Bethany. She does nice work at reasonable rates.

9/10 Hello,

It’s that time again! It sounds like R5 is getting ready to do another round of hiring for GS-06 through GS-09 fire positions – with an application deadline of October 14th.

I just want to remind folks that they need to have their applications submitted in AVUE by 9 pm PST on the deadline – and that AVUE shuts down for maintenance at 9pm PST just about every night (you’ll get kicked out of the system if you forget).

They will be back-filling positions again – so even though there may not be a current vacancy at your location of choice, it is a good idea to apply for that location anyway, just in case one opens up during the hiring session.

Again, I am always happy to answer AVUE questions if people get stuck.

Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah
Loomis Hannah | Wordsmithing for the Unique Professional
www.LoomisHannah.com | 1.866.414.4040 (toll free) | 1.866.686.5484 (fax)
9/10 Just wondering if anyone out there knew of any forests or colleges in california
putting on the S-230 crew boss class in the near future.


9/10 Mellie,

As far as specifics go, I'm in the same boat as your friend (I have no idea who's outreaching for GS-5
helitack vacancies right now). I'm guessing you're asking about perm spots, not seasonal/temps.

I do know that you can get links to the R6 Forest Service helitack web sites at:


Also, the BLM has crews at Burns, Vale, and an interagency crew Lakeview, but I don't know who
the contacts are. A little sleuthing might turn up some better info. I've heard rumors of an ODF crew
at Medford, but I can't seem to find anything more than just a rumor.

Cheers, and best of luck to your friend.

Young and job hunting in R1
9/10 SH-

Not sure what region you are from but the first questions that popped up for me are the following:
#1 are you talking to the local/district BLM office or the state HR?
#2 by law you have access to your personnel files (which are usually at the regional office in my experience) and if you show up in person asking to see them I have never had them turn me away- I even copied the whole thing once (boy did that annoy them)

If you're from the California region ask Ab for my contact info and I'll try to direct you to a specific person in the CASO who is fire militia, very compassionate, and helped me through my resignation and got all my paperwork sorted out for me.

No, they can't do that,
9/10 Hero Award:


WHO felt the need in '94?
sold t-shirts, got active with a PURPOSE?

WHO simply KNEW that families
of our fallen, our injured
needed help, a guide (an angel, families would later say)...
HUMAN CONNECTION, HUMAN SUPPORT while trying to find solid ground?
... seemingly simple human needs...
made HUGE!

thinking, arranging, facing
a new unbelievable reality... frozen into disbelief
...sleep, where? eat, what? get around, how? who'll pay the bills due next week?
what about the little kids?
so many tears
travel to the accident site? the hospital? where is the bathroom? I want my daddy!
RETURN THE BODY HOME, how? a funeral, ... services?
who can think? ...who can move?
frozen in space
how to go on?

WHO can help, support, lend a guiding hand for a while?
<Can't cope, can't deal with others.>

one step at a time...
Say airplane ticket, say go here, do this
Say, you will be met and guided, stay here, you have a room,
Say transport, it's arranged, firefighter will pick you up. Say COMMUNITY we are ONE.
all LOVE you and will help. But for Grace, it could be us...
LET US HELP. Some of us know what helps. We have a leader who... knows.

WHO raised the early money after Storm King and later...
donated her own retirement money all
those many summers
when NEED burned over donations? as the WILDLAND FIRE SUPPORT
COMMUNITY was GROWING? Community endowed by
her inspiration and NEED to HELP. Spirit through her.


WHO partnered with the NIFC Monument folks,
a Monument, real life? A place of EDUCATION, MEMORY, INSPIRATION, PEACE...
Made real.
Renewal, strength.
Stillness in the midst of motion.
Celebration. Children's voices, laughter.

WHO first worked to help, out of her spare
room? moved to slightly larger
rooms, inspired Grayback, sweet people, who provided A bigger home
near the Monument
until COMMUNITY donations could support a WFF Home?


WHO decorated HEART with hotshot t-shirts? collected by a rowdy one
Filled HEART with laughter, with community, with families, little running feet,
with firefighter stories, remembrances, hugs, and
throat clearing by dads
Like a hotshot or an angel, she'd
WHAT SHE MUST DO... Increasingly together
with others. Knowledge, skills, abilities shared,
her KSAs united with her individual
inspiration and action!
Transformation ensues: hers, ours, family members, none are exempt.

WHO had the Personality, the Compassion,
the Tenacity? Humor? Vision? Trust? Impetus to ACT to do what MUST be done?
willingness to change and grow herself?

WHO attracted the others, the Melissa, the Burk, the WFF BOARD, the UltraRunner,
groundpounders, fire managers, helpers all,
the Honor Guard, bagpipes, theysaid, firefighting musicians, artists, writers, the many
52 Club supporters,
private sector firefighter, interagency firefighter and vollie, friends and firefighters' families
those touched by her Vision, our Vision, the Vision of support: gossamer nets, alight,
spread wide to catch, to cradle, to heal.

Magnetism, LOVE, all of us laserlight, THE WHO? leading, being
led by her own internal Inspiration,
by whatever name you call that guiding Spirit...
COMMUNITY lending creative juices,
thought and muscle,
blisters and hard work
to fundraising events, often on a shoestring,
but wildland firefighting COMMUNITY together, making support real.

Inspired, inspiring the community, leading,
WHO is that?

Vicki Minor!

Our "Hero", our Inspiration! To some an "Angel".

I am so proud of you VICKI MINOR!
You're greatly loved! Thank you for existing on this planet with us!

Mellie, in trust of Vision.

Join us.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation Community

9/10 On behalf of our Executive Board I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our members nationwide for making this another tremendous year of growth for the FWFSA. We have added 101 new members to the FWFSA so far this year and much of that growth is the result of the communication of our existing members to their co-workers and colleagues in the field.

To the handful of folks who have applied but not yet completed their dues process, we know the fire season can be a hectic time. However our membership dues are our only source of revenue and thus being able to properly budget throughout the year is critical.

As a reminder, the FWFSA is crafting its own firefighter retention plan and should have a draft up on our website in the member's area by the end of this week. A lot of legalese and codes to get through!!!

Again our sincerest thanks for the honor of allowing the FWFSA to continue to grow nationwide and amplify your voices for change to those that can effect positive change for all of you.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/10 If anyone could tell me about helitack crews in S Oregon, who the supts are and if there are openings, I'd appreciate it. It would help to know anything. It's hard to use the open and continuous jobs system if you don't know where the GS-5 job openings are. How about jobs on engines? Helpin' a friend.


9/10 I'm looking into getting on with the Mojave Crew that's on the San Bernardino
Forest (BDF) for next year. I was hoping some one can help me out, by telling
me who to contact and when to contact them to get on with the crew?

Thanks for the help.


Hi Cy, here's one 2003 article about the Mojave Greens and other similar crews in SoCal. Might be some useful info there. Sounds like Victor Valley Community College may be where some do their coursework. Ab.

9/10 I am writing this e-mail to see if anybody can answer a question for me. I have tried to talk to several people with in the agency ( BLM ) but all I get is the same old run around.

I worked in fire for about ten years and loved it except for the politics and dealing with incompetent managers. Not to bash on the 401 series because I met and worked under some great managers BUT there were a lot that really showed that the 401 series needs to be changed. It was because of these folks that I made the hardest decision and left the fire world. I ended up quitting my position but I found out recently that my old manager ( FMO ) put down on my official paperwork that he fired me. From the time I quit and the time he said he fired me was almost a month later. The district never gave me my final SF-50 even though I requested for it.

So that is my question: can a manager do that? Can he fire someone some time after they quit and loose the "quitting" paperwork? To me this is falsifying documentation. How can you say you fired someone almost a month after they left. I know for myself when I was a supervisor that there is no way I could say I fired a crew member after he had already been gone for almost a month.

So I'm just looking for any help since BLM won't give me the time of day.



Were you paid after you quit? Did you get unemployment? Perhaps if you follow the money trail you can make your case. Ab.

9/10 REMINDER: Vicki Minor's CNN Hero Award. Watch Larry King Live tomorrow. Ab.
9/10 AEDs:

Am I the only person that finds it INSANE that any module within the Forest Service would have to fight to get an AED on their unit??? Granted, most people will never even open an AED over the course of their career, but I can tell you from personal experience, if you ever find yourself needing one and don't have it, it's a life changing experience. I can also tell you that if you need one and DO have it the feeling of getting a pulse back on a full arrest patient is also life changing. I really wish this agency would pull its head out of it's a$s in regards to its medically trained professionals. Perhaps one day the people fighting this will find themselves needing one and not having it.

Still Anonymous

9/10 Hi All,
Back in Oct of 1974, an F7F (Sis-Q E22) crashed in Rohnerville, Ca, killing the pilot, Mike Fagen.

I have been approached by his son, who was born shortly after his father's passing. This young man would like to hear from anybody who knew his father, flew with him or worked with him. Other than a few photo's, this is all he has from a father he never knew. If you can recall anything, tall tails, stories, even just a passing "hello", this would mean a lot to young Mike.

Thanks for the help!

(Mike's son can be reached at: politmike @ yahoo. com )
9/10 noname,

Awesome "memo" and find. It shows where the money isn't going.... as the NFP fails to deliver (once again) through a lack of leadership by certain "ologists" and "company men" and women who serve in Line Officer and Senior Executive Leadership positions.

Maybe wildland FIRE should actually get CABINET LEVEL oversight as originally recommended, and approved, within the National Fire Plan? Does this mean a stand-alone wildland fire agency is needed? Maybe, maybe not, but the discussion is already happening.... What we do know is that wildland firefighters should be making the decisions.... or providing direction and oversight for the programs to make them both safer and more cost efficient..

The "executive branch" agencies made a "Report to the President" (pdf file) .... It was submitted as the National Fire Plan before Congress for hearings and funding..... and was subsequently signed by the President and entirely supported by the public, elected officials in the legislative branch (bi-partisan), and by the executive stake holders (taxpayers).

Somewhere along the line, the process(es) and intent of the National Fire Plan got corrupted by flawed data and flawed facts provided along the way............ And the USDA OIG Agrees (pdf file).....

Soil Scientists, botanists, etc. shouldn't be making decisions for, or leading a wildland fire program that they DO NOT UNDERSTAND, or UNDERSTAND the risks asked of others..


9/10 emt_mb,

I think I work for that same Lt. Col. I agree with you completely and ask that people to contact the Working Group and encourage them along. For the first time in years they have something on their website and actually have a timeline.

Personally I have been trying to get something in place for over five years.

I strongly encourage everyone to take a moment and send a note to the working group and voice your concerns.

their website is:
www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/iemtg/contactus.phpl to contact them or
www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/iemtg/index.phpl for their home page.

I have written to the working group with a scope of practice, contacted people in the industry and spoken with my local and regional safety officers. I recently received an email from an EMS director and put him in contact with the working group. I have attended EMS conferences and spoken to local EMS providers gaining information and assistance with my own crews program. We may not have anything in our region, forest or district, but my crew at least has a framework from which to work, even if it is only used by myself my other two EMT's and as a working document/tool by my immediate supervisor.

So take a moment and send the working group an email, asking them their progress and give them your comments and issues.

9/10 Fact checking and follow-up:

Per implementation and statute, DPA = "Direct Protection Area" is the appropriate terminology.

Per implementation and statute, "Transfer of Acres" actually = "Balance of Acres" as the appropriate terminology used.

For reference, both the "Four-Party" and "Five-Party" Agreements no longer exist as originally written or provided as examples. They have been replaced and re-named, and folks not familiar with them shouldn't be offering "expert advice" without noting the changes in relevance or importance to the sharing of info.

DPA is a joint decision between the federal land management agencies and CAL FIRE.

Balance of Acres is also negotiated and agreed upon by both the federal agencies and CAL FIRE.

Neither DPA nor balance of acres are directly identified in the CURRENT authorized agreements.

It is correct, that currently, the federal land management resources are not signatory under "Master Mutual Aid" (MMA) in the State of California...It is ALSO correct that CAL FIRE doesn't provide resources UNLESS "Seven Points of Light" is evoked.

Beyond that, the current written agreements seem pretty sound when looked at and understood through an hour glass and magnascope.... At least to the folks who wrote them... but for us practitioners (firefighters and fire managers) in the field.... More communication and guidance is needed to understand "commanders intent", as well as the intended end-state goal.

/s/ Obvious Confusion
9/9 Thanks to the person who nominated and to those who have supported our very own Vicki Minor as a CNN 9/11 Hero. I hope she's suitably embarrassed! I hope the public is introduced to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and is inspired to support it. Ab.

Dear Friends,

Please be advised that this Thursday, September 11th in the 9-10pm EST /
6-7pm PST Larry King Live (LKL) hour on CNN,

CNN Heroes: Vicki Minor: Community Crusader

is scheduled to premiere, with an extended version of the piece airing on the
following, breaking news contingent schedule; all times given are Eastern

Eastern Time 9-10P / 12-1A
Pacific Time 6-7P / 9-10P
Eastern Time 8-9A, 11A-12P
Pacific Time 5-6A, 8-9P
Eastern Time 11A-12P (TBD), 5-6P
Pacific Time 8-9A, 2-3P

Eastern Time 7:30-8A, 2:30-3P, 8-9P/10-11P/1-2A

Eastern Time 2A, 7A, 12P, 8P

CNN en ESPANOL (airs the week following the LKL premiere)
Monday: 9pm EST
Tuesday: 7am, 2pm, 6pm, 7pm
Sunday: 7pm

As is always the case, CNN Heroes airings are subject to the spontaneous
demands of breaking news and can be bumped from the schedule without

Vicki’s piece, Text article, “Extra” video pieces and The Wildland
Firefighter Foundation’s weblink will be viewable at cnn.com/heroes on the
day of debut on Larry King Live until the next CNN Hero debuts the
following week. It will remain on the Heroes gallery link page for the
remainder of the year. We would, of course, love to hear from you about any
impact that comes to The Wildland Firefighter Foundation as a result of the
coverage, and thank you for your considerable investment in our efforts to
bring Vicki’s work to the attention of the CNN audience.

With warm regards,
Danielle Berger

Danielle K Berger
CNNUS Producer
One Time Warner Center
7th Floor 05N5
New York City, NY 10019

9/9 From Firescribe:

New "intelligent" search engine (Fetch) that compiles wildland fire info

Press Release

9/8 Greetings Ab.

My name is David Johnson. I retired just over a year ago as the Fire and Aviation Staff Officer on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington.

My son Jeremy was with Andrew Jackson Palmer, 18, of Port Townsend, Wash., when target="_blank" he died July 25 after being hit by a tree while helpin (pdf file)g battle the Eagle Fire near Junction City in Trinity County. Jeremy (my son) was with Andrew for 2 hours and 40 minutes waiting for an evacuation helicopter to lift Andrew out. Andy was alive and talking with my son all that time. Andy died soon after being lifted aboard a Coast Guard helicopter.

Andrews parents, Bob and Janet Palmer have started a scholarship drive in remembrance of their son Andy. My son developed the attached T-shirt design in remembrance of his friend and fellow fire fighter Andrew Jackson Palmer. He is selling the T-shirts for $20 with all proceeds going directly to the Andy Palmer Scholarship fund.

I would very much appreciate any help you can give us to get the message out on this. We would really like to see the fire community as a large part of this scholarship.

Attached is a picture of the front design (small) and back shirt design and a form to order shirts (29K doc file).

Thanks much

David F. Johnson
Proud Retired Firefighter

Thank you, Dave. What a blessing that Jeremy could be there to support Andy and does so now through his memorial shirts. A scholarship fund is a worthy effort. Our best wishes to the Palmers. We posted this on the Classifieds page. Readers, send out emails to your crews. Ab.

9/8 Aardvark,

You say "Let's hope something happens soon." As a wise Army Lieutenant Colonel once told me; Hope is not a Course of Action. If this is something that needs to be fixed, get to work! I think we've all learned by now that the only way to get anything done around here (and by here I mean the Wildland Fire Community), it means banding together and throwing facts at the people in charge that support our position.

In this case, that means the following:
  • Gather the facts on wildland fire related deaths. This should be easy as all these deaths are tracked by the agencies as well as several non-profits (WFF and National Fallen Firefighter Foundation) as well as the US Fire Administration
  • Weed out the accident/tragic event deaths where no amount of emergency medical training would have saved anyone.(Aircraft crashes, FF entrapment/burn over deaths for example)
  • Research remaining incidents to see if crew/camp or other EMS providers were on scene and rendered care. Find out the details (as allowed by law) of the incidents.
  • I suggest all fire-related deaths are looked at, not just those occurring on the fire line. Example: pack test deaths, heart attack while at the station, vehicle accidents.
  • For incidents where EMS providers were not immediately present, determine the response times/distances for which ever EMS services did respond. Was there a plan in place already, or where they called via a knee-jerk phone call to 911?
Take all these facts to the decision makers. I suggest the NWCG Safety and Health Working Team. Don't they still have an Incident Emergency Medical Working Group? I see they finally updated their web page, but I don't have time to read it all. (Sorry, busy with the war and all.)

This is the best discussion I've seen on this topic. And there have been lots of discussions about EMTs on the fireline on Theysaid. If it's an issue that needs fixing, the people reading this website are the ones to fix it. No one's going to do it for us.

Proud EMT-Basic and Wilderness EMT.

M, be safe! We need you back here in one piece. Ab.

9/8 Re: EMS, EMTs and AEDs

I once worked with a local hospital to get a grant for AEDs for our helitack crew and the local Volunteer Fire Department. We would utilize one or two AEDs during the summer months and then give them to the VFD/County Sheriff for the winter and they would have four others and a trainer for their use. It was a win/win for everyone. However since I did not check with everyone at the Forest level, someone got angry and I had to give the grant back. Thus the local fire department, hospital and our crew lost out.

Lately we tried to borrow an AED from the SO and RO for use on Pack Tests, but were clearly and repeatedly told that 'These AEDs will never leave the building, they are for the SO/RO ONLY'. When we offered to teach a class to the staff at the SO/RO on how to use them (providing Red Cross Certification), no one was interested. When we asked who had already received training on them, in the entire building there were only three people who raised their hand. One of them was the seasonal information person at the front desk.

I have long advocated training in Advanced First Aid for all forest employees, but most deem it a waste of a day or two and scheduling is impossible. I have also tried to give time off for EMTs to maintain their certification and also tried to provide equipment to those who know how to use it. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn't. It is unfortunate that it will take a fatality, serious injury or near disaster before someone buys off on the need for EMTs in the Forest Service. Even with the more recent emergencies we've had, (the S-61 Crash on the Iron Complex comes to mind, where EMTs from Price Valley, Teton Helitack and a Paramedic from Utah responded), we are still having this conversation and still fighting to get something, anything done.

Let's hope something happens soon.

9/7 There have been lots of effects from the 'Fire Transfer".

Here is a memo detailing some of them.

Impact Summary: docs/2008/budget/fire-fund-transfer.doc


Ab added later:

This paper on the consequences of fire transfer originally came out from Abigail Kimbell who said:

This 4 pager gives a sobering summary of the consequences of FY08 Fire
Transfer. In your conversations, its best to have real data. Thanks to
Lenise and her staff and to Leslie for pulling this together working with
all your staffs.

9/7 EMS

In addition to the BDF, ANF is also a recognized provider agency with the
La County EMS authority.


9/7 Ab,

Just wanted to let everyone know that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation Benefit BBQ
last night in Weaverville, CA has brought in over $11,000. The total will go higher as all
the money has yet to be counted.

Next Saturday on the 13th of Sept, a memorial plaque dedication will be held at the
volunteer fire station in Junction City, CA . (Next to the Iron Complex ICP) There will
opportunities to donate to WFF then as well.


9/6 Anyone ever heard about the concept and processes of two-way learning in HROs?

Pretty interesting concept regarding real-time communication and ways to advance,... but it takes action.

/s/ Just a comment

HRO=High Reliability Organization, Communication Culture, Learning Culture, Just Culture, Risk Management Culture

9/6 CAL FIRE FC-P said,

"I can't say that I know of any counties in which the USFS is an approved EMS provider. I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem to become an approved provider, but it would mean that there would have to be standardized medical complements, some sort of paperwork archiving system for PCRs generated by medical calls, and a QA/QI program."

He/she is right on the mark.

The USFS - San Bernardino National Forest is a recognized BLS provider within the Inland Counties Emergency Management Agency (ICEMA). ICEMA covers San Bernardino. Inyo, and Mono counties within the State of California. It (BDF) received BLS provider status in 2001. ICEMA is the designated agency providing EMS oversight and management of Title 22 through CA EMSA.

It was a fairly complex task to achieve, but well worth meeting the "rule" and the "intent" of EMS BLS legislation, AND THE REAL intent of keeping firefighters both personally safer, but also legally safer.

We'll have to see if the actions of "clarifying the mission" from the R-5 Regional Office either helps or destroys advances in safety that have been steadily gained since 1987. I'd also like to see how future potential R-5 RO actions relating to mission clarification will either help the NWCG SHWT Incident Emergency Medical Task Group or destroy it.

In honor and memory of BDF Kenworthy Station Foreman (Fire Captain) Bruce Visser who died in the line of duty, after being struck by a motorcycle while fighting a wildfire on the Klamath National Forest (1987). We will always remember. We will always learn. We will always act.

Keep safe, and those around you safer,


"There are wildlands in California that are designated LRA and are unprotected. The state does not automatically pick up protection on these areas. Most often it falls back on the county where the lands reside."


One of the Fed/State agreements, maybe the one that used to be called the 5 party agreement ,clearly states that" In the case of a Volunteer Fire department is unable or unwilling to respond to a fire incident in the State of California, the responsibility for suppression of such fire reverts to the State." Most VFDs in California have adjoining response areas, if not overlapping. This would make CalFire responsible for any fire without LPA resources .

Also, this is why USFS Chiefs are being told to use Unified command whenever possible on a wildland fire with structures, so the VFD Chief can order up Engines for structure protection, and the USFS will not have to foot the bill.

A Certain high-ranking person from NOPS even came out to some of the North Zone Forests last winter to emphasize this exact point, among others.

Bottom line, The USFS is paying for some resources that it shouldn't have to under State laws and Agreements. This is one of the many reasons driving the costs of some USFS fires way above what they would normally cost.


9/6 Aardvark & smokeater,

I can sure sympathize with the AED issue. About 4 years ago, I was a member of the local volunteer ambulance company in the town I lived in. For clarity's sake, we were very rural yet 30 miles from the nearest ALS unit. We received a grant to get a pair of AEDs for both our rigs. While waiting for delivery, we ALL were trained and certified for its use. Our medical director as well as the state EMS director approved the additional equipment.

However, as soon as our insurance carrier found out that we were adding AEDs to the rigs, the Bandini hit the fan. The carrier would not allow their use and ordered them removed or our coverage would be dropped immediately. A rather quiet legal battle ensued, whereas we had medical professionals, public safety officials and a few communities on our side. After 6 months, we were finally able to carry and use the AEDs.

We found our biggest problem was the fact that those not involved in our end of the business, had zero clue as to what was reality and what was "TV". Evidently, the insurance agent had watched too many episodes of "Emergency" and "ER" when they were younger and figured they knew the ways of the world.

Old dogs CAN be taught new tricks... it just takes a bit of patience and time. Educating is the easy part but the actual learning process is up to the student.


9/6 Engine 262,

Sorry to hear about your daughter's experiences with the app. program. While i agree with you that there are some real problems with the apprentice program, like ab said they are mostly small things that need to change to make the program better. Forest experiences vary. As far as your daughter and the forest/district she worked on, It sounds to me that they obviously do not take the program or its participants seriously.

I was very reluctant to apply for the app. program after hearing alot of nightmare stories like your daughter's, but did anyway because i was not getting any younger and wanted a perm. appt. My experience with the program has been nothing short of great! I have many fine folks behind myself (and the rest of our appointments).

Week one we were provided with lotus etc.. have my capt. and chiefs constantly breathing down our necks to be sure we are getting properly trained. (It was my Bc that pulled us all aside and informed us of the gs-5 pay raise if you had your fft1 and wanted to be sure we were all working on it.) So i guess to make a long story short it just sounds to me that your daughter is working on a real sh**ty district that does not give one rats a$$ about their people. Tell her to hang in there and convert, then she can move to wherever she pleases if this is what she truly wants to do (but i guess you'd better check out the district first

Oh and by the way it has been my experience that the girls are usually tougher than MOST of the men out there and the hiking thing that went on just sounds like jealousy to me (and possibly trying to cover up their own shortcomings). Most of the women i have worked with were all outstanding firefighters and most of them were more pleasurable to work with then some of the grumpy goats ha ha (oh by the way my capt' is a woman and i would rather work for her than anyone else). So to your daughter and any other frustrated women out there, hang in there; dont let some a**h*le (be it one individual or the whole forest/district) get you down. Just an encouraging word! Sorry about your experience. Oh, and maybe you should relay your story to Scott Whitmire who pretty much runs the academy at McClellan. He would not be very happy to hear your story and could probably help, if not steer you in a better direction. Keep fighting the good fight!

The naked boat guy!

p.s. MB all you had to do was ask. It don't take Columbo to figure out nbg is me ha (quit gossiping).

He's really not naked, just wants you to think so. Naked and pulaski just don't go together, even on a boat... Ab.

9/6 Aardvark

Isn't it in poor taste that the guys at the local "Mickey D's" can have an AED behind the counter and we are called on the carpet when we have one put on our Engines. The gentleman who worked tirelessly to have them placed on our engines, was chastised by one of our District Safety Officers and we had to pull them off the engines until he could prove that most firefighter deaths were caused by heart attacks and show how many people had died during the pack test before they could go back on the engines. Just another way for someone to keep the FS old school. They still have not allowed AEDs on the whole Forest (going back to medical directive).


9/5 Even though its well into the season, there are some fine agencies and companies looking for quality employees. A couple more have just been added to the Jobs Page. The newest is based in Reno, NV and includes free housing and a food allowance while on standby. Check 'em out. Tell em Original Ab sent ya.
9/5 Re EMS in CA:

Hi everyone,

I thought I would shed a little light on this this EMS issue here in California. Medical Direction is provided for EMTs based on the local EMS agency's protocols. The EMT will likely never meet or talk to any sort of on-line medical control at the BLS level. The catch is that you must be employed or otherwise working for an approved EMS provider. The local EMS agency usually has a list of requirements that approved agencies must comply with in order to be approved. These things might be certain training requirements or a QA/QI plan.

I can't say that I know of any counties in which the USFS is an approved EMS provider. I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem to become an approved provider, but it would mean that there would have to be standardized medical complements, some sort of paperwork archiving system for PCRs generated by medical calls, and a QA/QI program.


9/5 There are three designations to California's wildlands as they pertain to fire protection:

SRA - State Responsibility Area - in short, all privately owned timber, brush or grass covered land, outside the boundary of incorporated cities, that has watershed value.
FRA - Federal Responsibility Area - All land owned by the federal government no mater which agency.
LRA - Local Responsibility Area - Land that is none of the above {Ag lands and So CAL desert areas (no watershed value) are examples of LRA}.

The FRA and SRA are then divided into Direct Protection Areas (DPA) depending on the proximity to the closest resources and jurisdictional areas. These areas are reviewed every five years and updated if needed. The goal is to balance out, as equally as possible, the lands the feds and the state protect so that cost apportionment is a wash.

An SRA review is also done every five years. Due to continued development and the expansion of cities, the number of SRA acres usually decreases after this review and most likely turns into LRA lands.

There are wildlands in California that are designated LRA and are unprotected. The state does not automatically pick up protection on these areas. Most often it falls back on the county where the lands reside.

CAL FIRE has many contracts with counties for fire protection where CAL FIRE operates as the county fire department. I can see where the misconception of the "state" getting the land by default can be made.

I'll leave the issue of contract counties for another time.

In California the mutual aid system is complex but the gist is: If a local agency cannot meet the needs of an emergency, the state can come in and assist. The local agency is only required to provide logistical support for the out of area resources. The state will pay assisting agencies after the first 12 hours of commitment on an OES mutual aid request. The state is not usually paid by the local agency requesting the assistance (many would go bankrupt).

The federal agencies are not signers to the state Master Mutual Aid agreement. Usually they respond to a request from State OES or CAL FIRE and cost apportionment may apply.

On a local level during fire season federal and state engines are free to each other for the first 24 hour period. This is not true for handcrews or aircraft, they are paid for from the time of dispatch.

I tried to make it short but I probably left something important out that someone will respond to.


Thanks Monty. Thanks to the others, too. Ab.

9/5 Ab,

Please allow me weigh in on the "fire extinguishing agent for helicopter passenger compartments" discussion. No way, unless it is a water mist system. Thus it will not likely happen. To explain: on ships, as well as industrial locations, computer rooms etc. where many types of fire extinguishing agents are employed, there is a "Pre Discharge" alarm required, to allow people to get out, before the extinguishing agent is released; whether the release is automatically or manually controlled. Most fire extinguishing agents used are either lethal in themselves (CO2 for example) or give off a toxic byproduct (the chlorinated halocarbon family) when exposed to elevated temperatures. Thus releasing the agent on the detection of a crash is not a viable option.

To put it another way, if the fire does not get you, the extinguishing agent will. All except water mist; it does a respectable job of putting out a shipboard (or industrial engine) fuel fire by cooling and can be automatically released with no delay. It is however backed up by a (generally manually released) system like one of those mentioned above. (Not really what one wants for computer rooms.)

Any system, no mater what it uses, is likely too heavy for use on any aircraft and there is the issue of the integrity of the piping; necessary to properly distribute the agent; following a crash.

I am sorry to say that there is really no way to protect the passengers of an aircraft; from a fire following a crash that releases fuel from the tanks.

We pray that those accidents are few and far between.


9/5 KCK, et. al,

I think you are missing the point the rest of us are trying to make. While California may have its title 22, the other regions in the system have either little or nothing on the books.

I worked a couple seasons in California and never once saw a set of protocols or heard of any medical direction by the region, forest or district. Without a working relationship with a medical professional, Doctor, Physicians Assistant or Nurse Practitioner (and I specifically left out DDS) how can anyone operate within local protocols that they do not know about? Unless you are evaluated by a physician, how can anyone be given blanket approval to act as an EMT while working in a federal agency?

Effectively you are saying that regardless of experience and training, any person that passes the EMT test can do all the things listed in the local protocols and what is in title 22?

And let us assume for a moment that a fire fighter comes in from a different region and works in California, with no knowledge of Title 22? It still seems that we are not acting under medical direction, but rather a written guideline and hoping that we are doing the right thing with no help and or assistance from above or below. I can read how to do brain surgery, but I'd want a surgeon with experience doing the work.

Lastly, AEDs do not fall under advanced intervention. Anyone with 3 hours of training can use an AED and some fire crews are equipped with these. I know that many Regional Offices and SOs around the country have AEDs in their buildings as do many other public facilities.

"Simply Wrong"? I think not. Obviously the lengthy discussion here will hopefully get people to write to the working group and get some of these questions answered and a workable policy enacted sometime in the near future.


9/5 To the person in NC asking about “areas of responsibility” in firefighting,

"Who is responsible for the district if it is found on federal, state or private land?"

In California, we have DPA, (Designated Protection Areas). So, even if a fire is on private land, (normally CDF, state responsibility), inside of National Forest land, the USFS will fight the fire. Same with a chunk of USFS land in State DPA. The CDF would fight the fire.

We do a 'Transfer of Acres" every year at the state level to even all this out, so one Agency does not have too much responsibility for the other Agencies' lands.

Cities, or Counties, usually have agreements with the State, as any land not otherwise designated to a Fire department in California automatically becomes the State's responsibility.

We also have Mutual Aid agreements with various tribes or other Agencies that do not or can not protect their land to the extent necessary, so we respond there, too, within the confines of the agreements. Usually with this kind of agreement, the first shift is free to the receiving Agency; any more than that, and they have to reimburse the responding Agency for suppression costs.

Hope this helped.


9/5 During one of this year’s siege fires in Northern California I observed a good deal of discussion and disagreement over the mandatory days off requirement for extensions. Different teams operated under differing interpretations of policy leading to confusion as to length of assignments and time-out dates for personnel, particularly with respect to seven day extensions. This created problems for folks trying to keep their units properly staffed.

Below are the pertinent sections of the Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook, February, 2008. Length of Assignment
Standard assignment length is 14 days, exclusive of travel from and to home unit, with possible extensions identified below. Time spent in staging and preposition status counts toward the 14-day limit, regardless of pay status, for all personnel, including incident management teams.
----- Assignment Extension
Prior to assigning incident personnel to back-to-back assignments, their health, readiness, and capability must be considered. The health and safety of incident personnel and resources will not be compromised under any circumstance.

Assignments may be extended when:
• life and property are imminently threatened,
• suppression objectives are close to being met,
• a military battalion is assigned, or
• replacement resources are unavailable, or have not yet arrived.

Upon completion of the standard 14 day assignment, an extension of up to an additional 14 days may be allowed (for a total of up to 30 days, inclusive of mandatory days off, and exclusive of travel). Regardless of extension duration, two mandatory days off will be provided prior to the 22nd day of the assignment. When personnel are required to take a mandatory day off, which falls on their normal day off, there will be no pay compensation.

One interpretation says that if a person receives a seven day extension, that person may work 21 consecutive days, beginning travel on the 22nd day. A subgroup interpretation of this position holds that the person may work 21 consecutive days but must begin travel at some point on the 21st day as to avoid any time being clocked against the “length of assignment” on the 22nd day.

A second interpretation says that if a person receives a seven day extension that the two R&R days must be provided prior to the 22nd day of the assignment and therefore the person can effectively work only nineteen total days out of the 21 days. If the person took no R&R days mid-assignment then the person would need to begin travel after day 19.

I’m agnostic as to which interpretation is correct but I do think there needs to be a common understanding and implementation of the policy.

Dumbfounded in Demob

9/5 Re: extinguishers in helicopters

Brother Cub,

Helicopters used in the wildland community are equipped with manually operated fire extinguishers that spray or dump suppressant into the engine(s) upon being triggered. Some are also linked with the fuel shut off so that when they are activated the fuel is also shut off, making them more effective, since the fuel source needs to be cut off to have any chance off suppressing an engine fire. In response to an automatic system, the firing of a suppressant agent into the engine effectively terminates their use until they are overhauled and rebuilt. To come up with the parameters and equipment to automatically trigger a system, while also eliminating the triggering in a non-fire situation such as a hard landing would be extremely demanding, not to mention you would then have the worry of it being accidentally triggered in flight. Most of the systems in race cars are not automatic systems but are triggered by the driver and if you have seen any of these cars catch on fire the systems effectiveness is extremely short and provide only a few moments of protection, if any. It is the rescue crews stationed around the track that suppress the fires. Their effectiveness is limited by where the nozzles are placed (usually the engine compartment) and the amount of agent present.

Another issue is the re-ignition of fuel that has escaped the fuel cells or is still in the fuel lines. Even if you were able to come up with a weight and space conscious design for helicopters that placed nozzles in the personnel area, you would also be creating a hazard to the occupants trying to escape due to the visual obstruction, as well increasing the difficulty of breathing due to adding another chemical to the already hazardous atmosphere. It would be great if a system could be designed to avoid these and other problems that would be created by such a situation, though.

JJ (another one)

9/5 Looking thru the last posts since 9/1...

Responsibility areas? Here's what the Acronyms page has:

DPA- Designated Protection Area: That area for which a particular fire protection organization has the primary responsibility for attacking an uncontrolled fire and for directing the suppression action.
FRA- Federal Responsibility Area: National Forest Land, National Park Lands, BLM Public Lands, National Wildlife refuges, Military Reservations, etc.
SRA- State Responsibility Area: Watershed lands designated by the State legislature. These include State Parks but more often are private lands that have watershed characteristics. These lands are always unincorporated, outside of City jurisdictions.
LRA- Local Responsibility Area: These lands are private lands outside of watershed areas designated by the state, or lands incorporated into cities.

Any agreement between these entities is governed by an MOU- or Memorandum of Understanding. Sometimes responsibility for acres are exchanged to reduce response time if there are closer responders. "You're closer, would you do these? We'll do these if you do those." Usually things come out pretty even.

Next topic:
Re "Girls in Groups" not as mature as "Fire Women in Groups"
Some generalizations:

My experience is that "when we are good we are very, very good" and occasionally but rarely "when we are bad, we are horrid!"
Really Really Good way more often than bad or horrid
Really Really Good when not really really young or inexperienced or immature (similar to some high schoolers)
Really Really Good when not composed of 3 that are competitive types; --> 2 in & 1 out dynamic
Really Really Good when have good leadership and role models, often older
Really Really Good when crew has a history or track record of excellent values like "honor, duty, service" and everyone wants and expects behavior that supports those values; crew is inspired

We'll really have made it when <tongue way in cheek>
POSH is a way of life, not a mandated training
there are enough of us to have a powerful "Good Old Girls" network
we can have that brief unplanned meeting that covers important firefighting issues in the women's rest room (or behind the same bush if on the fireline)

Don't rag on the engine 262 dad. Sounds like his daughter and the others on her module were pretty young and lost their capt.

Engine 262s' daughter, I hope it wasn't so horrid that you give up on finishing the program and pursuing a fire career. We need excellent firefighters, leaders and role models that happen to be women. In retrospect many of us that fought our own battles now know that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, if you let it -- if you persist and can move on within fire.

Tahoe Terrie

9/5 Tanker 09 memorial services:

This was posted today on the AAP message board, wanted to share it.

Tom Stein

Montana's News Station - Fair. Accurate. To the Point. -Neptune plane crash victims remembered

9/5 Engine 262 and SBI,

I also wanted to respond to the comment made by Engine 262. One season my shot crew had 6 women - 2 in authority positions. As a female used to being the only woman I found having other women around a tremendous asset to the crew. Having a female sup and squaddie to look up to - role model if you will- and having other women crewmembers around made for variety in interactions. I didn't experience any of the crew dynamics you are referring to. No matter the gender of my crewmembers, we worked with each other and watched out for each other.

It sounds like your daughter has had a frustrating experience. I'm sorry, however, in my experience it is an appropriate beginning to a federal land management agency career. While I still follow fire news, after 12 years of bureaucratic frustrations (very analogous to your daughter's experiences), I have left federal land management agencies.

Your daughter will find the path that is right for her. I'm sure it will involve many men and women.

9/5 Ab.,

I know that race cars, for example, NASCAR race cars, have an automatic fire extinguisher system activated by a crash that seems to work pretty well. Has anyone ever considered installing a similar device on helicopters? There must be weight and space constraints that make this impossible. I assume the military has looked at this since they operate a lot of personnel carrying helicopters and of course impact alone is a big factor in injuries.

This is a general question, I'm not trying to anticipate NTSB official conclusions in any specific incidents. Maybe the WO has considered this in the past, also the Fire and Aviation folks. Just wondering.

Brother Cub

9/5 jj,

You can say God here. We don’t consider it a bad word.


9/5 Is it just me?

I just got done looking at the SEAT crash photos. My gosh someone was watching
over them. Then reading up on the tanker crash in Reno, they were called home......

I think the longer we are in this service the more we see leave us. We want to be
able to ask the departed, what happened? how? but we can't.

Everyday we go out into the woods we walk a fine line, but it's what we want, what
we do... Public Service.

Just about the time I am sick of the bureaucrats and the virtual hoops I have to jump
through to do what I want (do my job). When I am having a hard time talking myself
into PTs or even turning East on the highway instead of just going home. I get the
opportunity to be reminded why I do this and why I love it and why I put on that
badge and shield.

You just can't quit until G-- tells you it's time.


9/5 -AB, Here's a note on Gene and crew from Tanker 09.

Sign me I Are IR


By now, you all are aware of the crash of Tanker-09, a P2V aircraft owned
by Neptune Aviation, at the Stead Airport north of Reno, Nevada on Labor
Day evening. Tanker-09 crashed shortly after take-off killing the three
crew members on board. Pilot Gene Wahlstrom, a well know figure to us here
in Region 4, Co-pilot Greg Gonsioroski from Baker, MT and mechanic Zachary
Vander-Griend from Missoula, MT and Gig Harbor, WA were the three crew
members killed.

The crash occurred around 6 p.m. Monday as the plane took off to support a
CAL-Fire incident in California. The aircraft had dropped a load of
retardant on the Burnside Fire in Hope Valley - Carson Ranger District,
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest - earlier that day.

Pilot Gene Wahlstrom was a Forest Service pilot for many years -- serving
as both a lead plane pilot and Smokejumper pilot. In his last assignment
with the Forest Service, Gene was the supervisory pilot for the infrared
program based here in Ogden. Gene is survived by his wife Joyce who
retired from the Regional Office Budget and Finance staff in 2004. Gene
and Joyce remained in the Ogden area after retiring from the Forest Service
and made their home in Hunstville, Utah.

Gene's funeral will likely be early next week -- perhaps as soon as Monday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the deceased.

We continue to encourage each of you to do all you need to do to manage
risk of tragic outcomes for yourself and co-workers.


Harv Forsgren
Regional Forester
Intermountain Region

I posted information on services on the Hotlist thread. Ab.

9/5 I am wading in again to an area where I have lots of passion and opinion. How much knowledge I have is another story but I will try and express what I see relating to the issue of firefighting costs,budgets, and even the EMT discussion.

Jason got it right in so many points, PB’s questions and issues are real, Smokeater’s crew did the right thing and hit the nail on the head, and NoName brought out the statistical truth.

First, everyone agrees that fires are expensive in and of themselves. Fires and their associated costs are not predictable. While 5 or 10 year averages point out statistics, they can’t point out how much any particular year or any particular fire will cost. It is the same as trying to statistically prove which combination of numbers will win for a particular lottery event. While we can debate what specific expenses drive up an individual fire’s cost (i.e. heli-moping and/or jerky, PTP, etc.) that is a whole other exercise.

Second, a firefighting organization has fixed (or maybe a better term: predicable) costs (i.e. equipment acquisition, facilities, repair/maintenance, training, etc.). These costs are, for the most part, very predictable and can be projected for years in advance by properly trained, educated and competent financial personnel.

Here is the problem: we are mixing multiple federal land agency fire organizations, each with their own budgets and way of calculating costs. We have each of those agencies refusing to set a rock solid table of organization based on fire activity, needs, and common sense. Then to top it off the associated land agencies uses fire funds for non-fire expenses.

My example would be: you don’t see the FDNY funds being directed to pay for tree planting in Central Park. Conversely you don’t see a tree planting program in Central Park being terminated to help pay for a fire in an apartment building.

Solution: There are many ways to solve the problem; just no one in the upper leadership of any land management agency wants to stand up and make the right choice(s) and fight the fight. Everyone in our leadership likes their position, likes their paycheck, is waiting on retirement and doesn’t want to be a fighter…even for what is right. It’s a cultural thing of our organizations.

In my past life as a structure department chief when we needed a new fire station based on specific criteria (development, population, fire activity, response times, etc.) we made our case, included the associated costs in the budget request, presented it to the county budget committee and it was approved or not. If was not approved we did the best we could, then a house burned down due to long response times, public outcry ensued, the county commissioners approved the new station along with the associated budget increase because the public demanded it.

But…we don’t do that in the federal government. We are given a set amount of money (usually reduced from the prior year) based on no actual, logical, real-life information and we are told to run our fire programs within the land management agency (who incidentally siphons off a considerable portion of those funds). So no one should be surprised when we can’t do our job the way we know we should with the right personnel and equipment. Yes, I understand that there is tradition and a rich fire culture in the federal land agencies…and we are paying the price for it in this new day and age. Or should I say the public is paying the price for it while we put our thumbs in the dike.

There is a lot of truth to the saying “divide and conquer”. And until the federal wildland fire programs are united and one, we will not win and we will not have the wildland fire program this great country deserves.


9/5 Re: The BLM Operations Alert (891 K pdf file) is a result of the 8-27-08 SEAT accident near Meeker Colorado.


The pictures are kinda scary when you think how close this came to being a
fatality accident.


Thanks, BLMBoy, I posted this on its Hotlist thread yesterday. I post many Safety Alerts and Lessons Learned in the discussion subforum. It was a very busy day, and I failed to put the link here. The pics are rather gripping. Ab.

9/5 Re EMT discussion:

You asked several questions, and I'll give you the answers based entirely upon CA Title 22. I cannot speak for other areas.

Is the mystery dentist's oversight really medical control?

Yes. Dentists do fully qualify under the medical direction standard, both by DOT and CA Title 22.

Are firefighters using EMT interventions really acting under the direction of a physician?

Yes. Standard EMT interventions (normal air adjuncts, first aid, oxygen, and glucose) are covered entirely by local protocol (medical direction) while advanced interventions (AED, Epi-Pen assistance, etc) are normally covered through either individual agency approvals or countywide (area wide) medical direction from the local EMSA.

Where are they directions?

See various state statutes and local EMSA direction. In CA, please read ENTIRELY Title 22.

"If they are not acting under direction, then they are deviating from the standard of care every time they intervene. "

Simply Wrong . EMTs act under protocols (medical direction) and EMT-Ps act under protocols or standing orders (medical direction).

Folks, the battles and discussions were already fought (both in the agencies and in the courts) 30 years ago..... The Wedworth-Townsend Act was adopted in CA, and variations of it were adopted throughout the United States over the next twenty years.

www.calchiefs.org/items/Foundations_EMS.ppt (1618 K ppt file)


9/5 Smokeater:

I can just see & hear all the Forest service leadership scratching their heads, looking into their gazillion page acronym hand book, management handbook wondering "RIT Team, what's a RIT Team?" and "we didn't authorize this" and "those darn fire people are doing their own thing again, didn't we tell them we won't allow them to do structure protection???"

You have likely opened a can of worms in referencing a required crew task on any interior attack structure fire. Tomorrow there will likely be a conference call between the WO and the R5 RO trying to figure out what a RIT is, who you are and what severe form of punishment they can bestow upon you for allowing your crew to be a RIT...whatever that is...

Forest Service management, line officers etc., RIT stands for Rapid Intervention Team. It might behoove line officers, especially in R5 to become familiar with the term.

Tongue in cheek...sort of.

NoName Fed Fire Manager:

The FWFSA has spoken to both members of Congress and the Office of Management & Budget about developing a new way to establish preparedness/suppression budgets since Agency policy has led to artificially inflated suppression costs the last few years and, if nothing changes, the 10-year average will simply be inflated year after year.

Candidly, we have suggested that the preparedness & suppression budget be developed through consultation between those that truly know what is needed, i.e. the Agency FAM Director, his/her Regional FAM Directors and FMOs whose only responsibility to line officers would be to provide them with the information/budgetary policy they are creating. Taking budget matters for fire out of the hands of line officers who have nary a clue about firefighting, let alone funding a fire department (Sorry leadership, that's what it is, deal with it) is a fundamental necessity to get spending under control.

Funny how those who complain about having to do fund transfers to pay for FIRE are the same people who make the policies that needlessly inflate the suppression costs and utilize FIRE money for an awful lot of non-fire stuff.

I am confident that more and more people in Congress are not blaming firefighters but the Agency leadership. That is why there is a great deal of consideration to taking the line officers out of the FIRE program mix and away from making fire policy and handling fire funds. Unfortunately it is likely significant changes like that won't happen until 2009.

To paraphrase the speech given by the Republican Candidate for Vice president last night at their convention, (This is NOT an endorsement of anyone) she said change is difficult to achieve, especially when the status quo and those who want to retain the status quo are entrenched in leadership roles. It takes hard work to make change when so many in leadership oppose change. So, we keep hammering away until someone gets it. While we respectfully provide the leadership with ample opportunities to do the right thing, we know that more likely than not, to achieve what is right will require outside pressure (Congress) to make any truly substantive changes.

Just know that those on the Hill know who to blame and those on the Hill are growing weary with the delays and arrogance of those who, without the proverbial congressional boot up their rear end, would be doing absolutely nothing on your behalf.

9/4 A lot of good comments on the use (and mis-use) of Emergency Medical Technicians in federal fire programs. I too have heard that in the Forest Service our medical director at the national level is a dentist, but beyond that I am thinking this individual may be a figment of our collective imagination.

For many firefighters, getting your EMT certification was paid for by yourself, on your own time and because you had an interest in medicine and you thought it might help you down the road in getting a job. But just being certified as an EMT is only half the battle. Without a medical director/doctor to evaluate your skill level, provide training, and work with you, it is easy to get out of practice. Maintaining your currency takes a lot of effort and it is essential that you gain experience by working in a clinical or EMS setting to learn 'on the job'.

I have been in situations where my supervisor told us to keep driving as we passed an accident we witnessed, as we had to get back to our station and 'there were other people around'. The fact that we had an AED, an ALS kit with three EMTs on board made it particularly embarrassing.

My current crew won't even put a sticker on the bin door denoting 'First Aid Kit Inside', as 'we don't want people to think we are an ambulance or anything'. Some crews have embraced having EMTs and provide time for them to maintain currency and training. Other crews are lucky to have the OSHA required first aid kits in their trucks (only a few years out of date) or the 10 person first aid kits from the cache (useless).

But without some direction from the top, it will continue to be a cluster throughout the regions and across department lines.

I suggest that you all take a moment and address some comments to the NWCG working group and see if we can't get the ball rolling in the right direction. The previous group was disbanded as it did nothing in its previous two to three years and the new group just started, so maybe we can ask our questions and see if we get some sort of response.

their website is:
www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/iemtg/contactus.phpl to contact them or
www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/iemtg/index.phpl for their home page.

If anyone gets a response, please post it here... I've written a few times and not gotten a response yet.

9/4 PB,

Unfortunately I can attest to having had an epi at the ready for someone
having an anaphylactic response to an insect sting as they were unable to
respond normally due to an elevated heart and breath rate and an anxious
disposition due to general fright. In this particular case, although
risking reprimand, I certainly would provide the shot to someone who
would've certainly bought the farm vs. worrying about my certification

Call me crazy but most training and comprehension of standards goes out the
window when you are watching one of your own crewmembers hover somewhere
close to death.


More photos of T-09. Thanks, contributors. Ab.

T-09 at Fox, 2006; T-09 at Fox & T-09 Liftoff: I was extremely saddened to hear about the crash of Tanker 09 this (yesterday) morning. I’m a firefighter with Kern County FD and occasionally work at Fox Tanker Base CA as a parking tender during local fires. In 2006 I came to know Tanker 09 and its crew of that year very well. The crew that died was not the same but here are some memories of T-09 in happier days. Photos compliments of Nathan F. (0908)

T-09 on Silver Creek Fire 1 & 2: Our crew was sent to the Silver Creek Fire near Bridgeport, CA and we had the chance to see Tanker 09 in action. These were shot about two weeks before the crash. Photos compliments of Chuck S. (0908)

I put them on the AirTankers 26 photo page. Click on the thumbnail for the larger image. Ab.

9/4 Ab,

Last week my green engine responded to a structure fire, second in, my crew took position as a RIT team. Did the crew that were inside the structure care what color our engine was? did the home owner? I don't think so. We got the job done. We (and I mean all of us red, green, white, or yellow engines) kept the fire out of the wildland, therefore out of the Forest, which is good for us. Isn't that what we are always preaching: keep the fires small, keeping it confined to the house, would not have happened if it were not for our crew. My crew did a great job, all this was because we train with Cal Fire. We are doing the job of an all risk department now because that is what our customers expect. Like it or not they are the ones that pay the bills.


9/4 Norcal AFEO, FGS (and schoolyard attorney), PB, etc,

Good discussion. I'm very aware of California's Title 22 and that is where the DOT National Standard Curriculum is required to be used for instruction of EMTs in California. Within that curriculum it is very clear that EMS personnel have a "duty to act". The DOT curriculum also makes it very clear that this "duty" is while "on-duty". It doesn't say anything about off-duty events. My question still stands though, is there a CFR that requires this? For that matter, is there an actual statute section or section of Title 22 in California that states the circumstances under which an EMS provider has a "duty to act"? I haven't found it in this state yet. If someone has this statute, code section or regulation number available please post it.

Medical direction varies throughout California for EMT-B's. I'll use my region as an example. The only BLS agencies with their own Medical Director are those that have AEDs or any of the optional skill programs allowed for EMT-B's in this state. The rest of the BLS only agencies do not generally have Medical Directors. All EMT-B's in this area, whether their agency employs its own Medical Director or not, operate under off-line medical control. EMT-B's are actually not supposed to contact a base hospital in my region for medical direction, but are to operate under the regional EMS agencies protocols. This is similar in many parts of California.

As PB said, the state of affairs in this respect is most confusing, both here and throughout the country. I hope it doesn't get balanced on the head of a fed agency employee trying to do the right thing with the agency supplied equipment, training and pay.

9/4 Ab,

Looks like I waded in anyway, doesn't it?

I did not parse my words carefully enough, and NorCal AFEO is correct. Many good samaritan statutes 'apply' to EMTs acting outside of work (e.g., driving to the golf course on the weekend.) But even though they "apply," they do NOT create automatic immunity from suit. Malpractice, like water through a strainer "applied" to cooked pasta, can still attach to an EMT to whom the statute "applies." Here is why. A trained EMT has accepted the burden of behaving in accordance with the standard of medical care appropriate for an EMT. That's part of what the license means. No state statute will create undo that, and no statute will create immunity if, for example, an EMT basic neglects to check the airway of an unconscious patient. While that failure might not be negligent for a lay person, it is negligent for an EMT, because the current, average EMT knows better. Consequently, harms caused by failure to make a reasonable effort to check the airway give rise to malpractice liability. Ditto any other failure to behave like the average, reasonable EMT would. So while the statute "applies," the word "apply" does not mean "absolve under all circumstances." The public policy motivating good samaritan statutes is to encourage lay persons to intervene -- not to protect trained professionals who commit malpractice. A plaintiff's lawyer will make absolutely certain the jury is keenly aware of that before sending them to deliberate.

Someone asked about medical control. Many EMTs are permitted to use medical interventions not otherwise available to the general public. (E.g., starting IVs, administering Glucagon or Narcan, assisting an asthmatic with an inhaler, etc.) These EMTs are not, however, licensed to use those interventions willy-nilly. They are carefully overseen by a physician, whose position is called "medical control." The physician can exercise his or her control over the EMT in two ways. So-called "on-line control" occurs when the EMT contacts the physician from the field, explains the patient's situation, and asks to use a specific intervention. (For example: "Hi Doc. We found this guy unconscious on the sidewalk with depressed respirations. No sign of trauma, but he's unresponsive -- can we administer Glucagon and Narcan on the way to the hospital, just to be safe?") So-called "off-line" medical control occurs when the physician creates a set of protocols for his or her EMTs in the field. (For example: "Any time any of you guys find an unresponsive patient with depressed respirations, with no clear sign of trauma, go ahead and administer Glucagon and Narcan by IV, just to be safe.")

On- or off-line medical control is required before the EMT can use any special interventions. "Required," as in, required. Operating without medical control is automatic deviation from the standard of care, and any harms caused thereby will give rise to liability.

Whether the USDA has medical control in place excellently illustrates just how messed up the whole situation is. I looked into this about a year and a half ago, and NorCal AFEO is correct: the USDA does allegedly have a medical control physician in place. That person is not available, however, to be contacted for on-line control. And that person (to the best of my knowledge) has not promulgated any operating procedures or guidelines that would be off-line control.

(And yes this person is a dentist -- ring any bells? how about, "You're doing a good job, Brownie." Disgusting, if true.)

So, riddle me this: Is the mystery dentist's oversight really medical control? Are firefighters using EMT interventions really acting under the direction of a physician? Where are they directions? If they are not acting under direction, then they are deviating from the standard of care every time they intervene. That's why I said in an earlier post that the Forest Service, by flagging people as EMTs and sending them out to the line, is practically begging them to commit medical malpractice. It has less to do with the quality of the care they will provide than it does with a failure to properly authorize that care.

Lastly, a word on standard of care. You don't have to be excellent to avoid malpractice liability. You are allowed to screw up, injure, and even kill patients. You don't have to be perfect and you don't have to have a Luke Skywalker-like sense of medical intuition. To avoid liability for negligence, you just have to be current and average. The challenge, of course, is that you have to be current and average every time you intervene.

Take care,
9/4 Re: Is the current system broken beyond repair?

Congress funds (at entirely the federal land management agencies request) wildland fire suppression and preparedness based upon the "Ten-Year" Average of acres burned and costs.

Some thoughts have also floated around to fund wildland fire suppression and preparedness based upon the "Five-Year" Average of acres burned and costs.

Since this year is a record year on expenditures and shows that both the Five-Year and Ten-Year models don't work, please consider the following factual data:

As of today (2008), 64.616 fires have burned 4,626,490 acres. WELL Below the averages.

The Five-Year Average is 62,599 fires and 6,922,216 acres burned.

The Ten-Year Average is 62,862 fires and 5,754,861 acres burned.

Record expenditures again... with Fire Managers and Wildland Firefighters once again being blamed as the reason "the rest of the Forest Service" is being punished for YEAR AFTER YEAR through "fire borrowing".

Fire Managers and Wildland Firefighters are simply tired of getting blamed and held "accountable" for a system of circular bureaucratic blame without an understood end-state of easily corrected courses of action... We have a system where the decision makers (ie Line Officers) make decisions, but the fire community is the one on the pointy end of the stick and at risk when their decisions suck.

It is about time that the R-5 Fire BOD stands back up and unites in a common voice
... and leads like it used to under the leadership of Ray Quintanar.... It is time to let the fire management program leaders do their jobs of leading wildland fire programs.

We are about to get a "mission clarification letter" from above that somehow expects to solve problems with firefighter retention, mission delivery, and cost effectiveness.... Are you ready to defend your profession and your employees? If not, you'll be watching the end of the Forest Service as we all know it.

NoName Fed Fire Manager
9/3 Ab,

Having been in the fire service period for 9 years now, structural, fed and state of Cal wildland, and as a private service emtb in cali, and having worked both in and outside of R5 with the feds, I have came to some conclusions, that take them or leave them, I think are valid points.

1. There are a lot of federal and state wildland firefighters whom have no desire to be all risk. Many of them are in jobs or regions that have no visible potential for being "all risk". Hotshots and other types of hand crews, helitack, prevention techs and officers and etc... I believe that as a whole the fire service needs to recognize these desires and wishes.

2. There are many of us who have no problem what so ever being in "all risk" positions, but are not fully certified in all fields to achieve jobs with other agencies or just don't have the desire to work for other agencies for various reasons. And some of these people are in the same job positions as those who do not wish to be part of an "all risk" agency.

3. The thoughts of various federal agencies to again move away from being all risk is not only potentially hazardous from a moral and legal stand point, but is very financially unwise I feel. We have out fitted many pieces of equipment for one form or another of "all risk" response. Whether it be water rescue in a park, or vehicle fires on a hwy through a NF or for a modified role at a Structure fire that might threaten federal lands.

4. I think that if the agencies truly feel the need to "go back" to the way it was when we didn't handle any thing but wildland fires, you will have to strip red lights and sirens, air packs, double jacket hose, med packs, back boards, and various other equipment off of federal equipment. Also you will have to remove the words fire from every piece of equipment, both contract and federal, change the position description and retirement of those of us in the federal service, and launch a major publicity campaign to notify and enforce the change with the public.

5. Truly what we need to recognize is that the public doesn't care what color the apparatus is, what shape or configuration it is, or even if it is a engine on a helicopter or a hot shot crew buggy that pulls up when they need the assistance of the fire service. (Now okay a hot shot crew or any hand crew or helitack probably doesn't really need to be at a structure fire some ones gonna say and you're right; its just a generalized statement.) I have been with a crew that stopped right after a traffic accident happened and we treated the patient, He didn't care that we didn't arrive on a big red engine. Also more public are using federal lands and building both seasonal and full time residences and businesses in areas within and adjacent to federal lands. Sometimes we are the closest emergency responders by quite a bit of time.

6. Any firefighter in any agency at any government level is underpaid for their job, as are Law enforcement officers. And all types of firefighting across the same board have retention problems. But if we go back in our ways and enforce the strictly forestry techs position description etc. as listed in #4, we are actually going to lose more firefighters than we gain or keep. Yes, for people outside of R5, who have no desire to be "all risk" we need to figure out retention stuff across the board, and help keep all of our personnel. True Portal to Portal pay, constant H-pay for all, (including Helitack, hand crews, fire equipment operators etc...) and various retirement issues need to be rationally discussed at a national and congressional level and need to be moved forward on.

The point is that I think what many county and state agencies in and outside of R5 are doing should be a good guideline for what we should do with the federal service. Have resources such as hand crews and some engines designated wildland fire only. And right next to that resource can be another resource properly equipped, trained and prepared to respond to any sort of emergency. And let the applicants choose which it is they want. Just because a person has no desire to do medical calls or structure fires shouldn't mean that they cant be a firefighter on a heavy engine equipped with red lights and sirens capable of a emergency response call when needed (and in this I mean such as structures threatened by a wildland fire, so a "Code 3" response would be justified just to suppress the wildland fire part of the call.)

Does this mean more money on training and equipment? maybe. But to me this seams to be much more reasonable and justifiable to congress and to the public than to attempt to, well for a lack of better terms go back in time to the early eighties when all we did was fight vegetation fires on federal lands. And believe it or not there are firefighters outside of R5 that we would gain in the federal service, but wont because they want to be structure firefighters, and respond to medical calls, etc... I have had the joy of working with several of them on handcrews outside of R5.

We all need to give and take a little, I think, including those on capitol hill, but for the good of those citizens that we answer to when it's all said and done.

Does this sound like a pitch for a federal agency whose sole purpose is federal fire?....maybe it is. If done properly maybe it would be beneficial to separate fire from the various federal agencies, and actually unite them under a truly single set of standards and qualifications.

May be im drinkin draino, but for what its worth, that's my thoughts.

Jason Myer
A Fed firefighter

9/3 To all,

On Saturday Sept 6th, the Trinity County Fire Chiefs Association will be sponsoring
a benefit BBQ for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, at Lee Fong Park in Weaverville,
CA. Beef, pork and chicken will be served. Please join us from 4pm to 7pm to have
some fun, and raise some much needed cash for the Foundation.

9/3 Hey Ab,

I think that PB has responded with the best info possible on the subject. It is an absolute mess. It seems like every little "response area" (for lack of a better term) has things that their EMT's can and can't do. I guess the best thing to remember is that you do the best you can in the situation with the understanding that you might have to explain your actions to a group of your peers (a jury). When I go out on a wildland engine and a medical happens I try to help the best I can with what I have until a local ambulance or response crew shows up to take over. Also I know that the Park service has an active Paramedic/EMT program so any parkie (or BIA) insight would be appreciated (a couple of federal agencies that have ambulances).

Air goes in and out, blood goes 'round and 'round and anything else is bad...

R1 Gutterball Medic

9/3 Not to beat a dead horse, but...

PB, if you say as long as you don't stop and identify yourself, your in the clear. That may be true, especially if it's not a safe scene, but... Isn't that why we are all in this line of work? Green, red, yellow, white engine etc.? If that is so, better take all those fire stickers and other cool fire shit off your POV. Had this conversation several times with my friends at CHP and they are good at remembering license plates.

What is "Medical Control" that everyone keeps talking about?

Everyone keeps talking about what if what if? Is this how we are fighting fire now too? Can anyone reference an example of case law where an EMT was successfully proscecuted or sued for acting WITHIN the scope of thier training??

A case I can remeber involved myself. As a young AFEO, we responed to a mountain biker down. Crashed in the middle of the road. As one of two fully equiped EMT's on the crew, what did we do? Got the old stop signs and MT500's out and did traffic control. Why? That is what our captain wanted us to do because he was afraid of being sued or being looked down upon by the fire dept. That is abandoment.

Just more gas for the discussion fire.

Former Green Soldier and schoolyard attorney
9/3 PB,

Good points all around but not the correct definition of the "good samaritan law". The only time it doesnt apply is when you are in an official capcity and in pay status. Here is the official legal definition:

A good samaritan in legal terms refers to someone who renders aid in an emergency to an injured person on a voluntary basis. Usually, if a volunteer comes to the aid of an injured or ill person who is a stranger, the person giving the aid owes the stranger a duty of being reasonably careful. A person is not obligated by law to do first aid in most states, not unless it's part of a job description. However, some states will consider it an act of negligence though, if a person doesn't at least call for help. Generally, where an unconscious victim cannot respond, a good samaritan can help them on the grounds of implied consent. However, if the victim is conscious and can respond, a person should ask their permission to help them first.

Some states offer immunity to good samaritan, but sometimes negligence could result in a claim of negligent care if the injuries or illness were made worse by the volunteer's negligence. Statutes typically don't exempt a good samaritan who acts in a willful and wanton or reckless manner in providing the care, advice, or assistance. Good samaritan laws often don't apply to a person rendering emergency care, advice, or assistance during the course or regular employment, such as services rendered by a health care provider to a patient in a health care facility.

Under the good samaritan laws which grant immunity, if the good samaritan makes an error while rendering emergency medical care, he or she cannot be held legally liable for damages in court. However, two conditions usually must be met; 1) the aid must be given at the scene of the emergency, and. 2) if the "volunteer" has other motives, such as the hope of being paid a fee or reward, then the law will not apply.

The following is an example of a state good samaritan statute:

a. When any doctor of medicine or dentistry, nurse, member of any organized rescue squad, member of any police or fire department, member of any organized volunteer fire department, emergency medical technician, intern or resident practicing in a hospital with training programs approved by the American Medical Association, state trooper, medical aidman functioning as a part of the military assistance to safety and traffic program, chiropractor, or public education employee gratuitously and in good faith, renders first aid or emergency care at the scene of an accident, casualty, or disaster to a person injured therein, he or she shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of his or her acts or omissions in rendering first aid or emergency care, nor shall he or she be liable for any civil damages as a result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured person.

b. Any member of the crew of a helicopter which is used in the performance of military assistance to safety and traffic programs and is engaged in the performance of emergency medical service acts shall be exempt from personal liability for any property damages caused by helicopter downwash or by persons disembarking from the helicopter.

c. When any physician gratuitously advises medical personnel at the scene of an emergency episode by direct voice contact, to render medical assistance based upon information received by voice or biotelemetry equipment, the actions ordered taken by the physician to sustain life or reduce disability shall not be considered liable when the actions are within the established medical procedures.

d. Any person who is qualified by a federal or state agency to perform mine rescue planning and recovery operations, including mine rescue instructors and mine rescue team members, and any person designated by an operator furnishing a mine rescue team to supervise, assist in planning or provide service thereto, who, in good faith, performs or fails to perform any act or service in connection with mine rescue planning and recovery operations shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omissions. Nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed to exempt from liability any person responsible for an overall mine rescue operation, including an operator of an affected facility and any person assuming responsibility therefor under federal or state statutes or regulations.

e. A person or entity, who in good faith and without compensation renders emergency care or treatment to a person suffering or appearing to suffer from cardiac arrest, which may include the use of an automated external defibrillator, shall be immune from civil liability for any personal injury as a result of care or treatment or as a result of any act or failure to act in providing or arranging further medical treatment where the person acts as an ordinary prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances, except damages that may result for the gross negligence of the person rendering emergency care. This immunity shall extend to the licensed physician or medical authority who is involved in automated external defibrillator site placement, the person who provides training in CPR and the use of the automated external defibrillator, and the person or entity responsible for the site where the automated external defibrillator is located.

This subsection specifically excludes from the provision of immunity any designers, manufacturers, or sellers of automated external defibrillators for any claims that may be brought against such entities based upon current law.

For example, the following is the Hawaii Good Samaritan Act:

"Any person who in good faith renders emergency care, without renumeration or expectation of renumeration, at the scene of an accident or emergency to the victim of the accident or emergency shall not be liable for any civil damages resulting from the persons acts or omission, except for such damages as may result from the persons gross negligence or wanton acts or omissions."


9/3 On Saturday, September 27 numerous Firefighters from various agencies will be honored in Ventura County for giving their lives serving the citizens of this great country. A memorial will be unveiled honoring those Firefighters who either worked for a fire fighting agency in Ventura County or died on an incident in Ventura County. Most of these individuals passed away from cancer or heart related complications directly linked to their employment, with exception are several personnel from the Forest Service, six who died in a helicopter crash on the Los Padres NF on August 26, 1972, one who passed away from lung disease sustained from an oilfield tanker that had caught fire and spread to the brush and another who died in a flood while attempting to rescue several Boy Scouts who were stranded by rising waters before they were all swept away.

We are all too familiar with the hazards of flying but the exposure to the products of a burning oilfield tanker and giving one's life to rescue another in a flood were truly an individual's "duty to act".

Unfortunately, I know that there are numerous other examples of Wildland Firefighters who have given their lives in an "All Risk" environment and history tells us that there will be others in the future. We can only pray and train to be the best that we can in what we do. Anyone who thinks that Wildland Firefighters will not respond to "All Risk" incidents are only kidding themselves.

The invitation and names of all of those being honored in Ventura County can be found on the attached pdf file (195 K).

Be safe, train like your life depends on it and take things slow, no one wants to add any new names to any memorial.

Yellow Angel
9/3 Engine 262,

"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."

I challenge you to explain exactly what you mean by that. You seem to want things to be better for your daughter, but if we can't have more than one woman (last time I checked, the FS was not in the practice of hiring girls and boys) per module, how exactly do you expect that to happen? I ran an all female engine crew for a full season, and that season is memorable for me because of the problems I DIDN'T have. It was the hardest working, most professional crew I have ever had. The women who worked on that crew have each told me that it was the most supportive, least stressful crew that they have ever been on. And there was no disparity in performance between my crew and those staffed with entirely men. Funny how that happens when no one is taking credit for your ideas, no one is talking about how you shouldn't be there, how weak you are, how "girls" can't do this or that, etc, etc, etc......Sounds to me like you have your own prejudices to work through before you go off blasting others who treated your daughter poorly.


Factor in lack of leadership with age and experience of the young women he's talking about. It's too bad they didn't have someone like you for a leader. Ab.

9/3 Good afternoon, Ab.

Without wading into the discussion too far, I would like to delineate some issues that are being confused regarding EMT cert stuff.

(a) Good samaritan statutes (every state has one) protect lay persons from negligence suits when they find themselves in a situation for which they are not trained, and then act with the best of intentions, to the best of their ability. Good samaritan statutes do not, however, offer the same shelter to persons with training. Persons with training includes EMT-B's. Here is a rule of thumb: if you have a scope of practice, the good samaritan statute does not apply to you.

(b) Good samaritan statutes do not create an automatic duty to act. (With one exception: Vermont.) Rather, they generally require licensed individuals who identify themselves to act. In other words, a doctor is welcome to drive past a car accident without assisting, but if she stops and identifies herself as a physician, she has an obligation to provide the legal standard of care. (In Vermont, that doctor would be required to stop.)

(c) EMT-B's are not the same as EMT-I's, nor is EMT-I the "former" EMT-B. And obviously, neither is a paramedic. Each certification has a different scope of practice, which can vary by state. But for the purposes of a lawsuit, the distinction is irrelevant -- they are all trained care providers who are capable of committing medical malpractice.

(d) A physician's medical malpractice insurance does not necessarily insulate from liability an EMT acting under that physician's direction. Rather, a physician becomes jointly liable for malpractice committed by an EMT; the EMT remains on the hook for any harm he or she causes. Medical control should never be confused with immunity. Medical control just means that if you injure someone, the plaintiff's lawyer will invite your doctor to sit next to you in court.

(e) It is true that EMT's are out there everywhere, providing care whenever they come upon an accident. That does NOT mean that they are immune to liability for harm they may cause -- EMT-B, or otherwise.

(f) Any EMT (be they B, A, I, II, P, or whatever other funky designation their state licenses) not acting under the direction of a physician, (i.e., acting without medical control) automatically acts outside his or her scope of practice if that EMT proceeds with any intervention not otherwise available to the general public. That is true even if the intervention would otherwise be available to the EMT. Example: assisting with an EPI-pen is within the basic EMT's scope of practice in most states. However, assisting with an EPI-pen without medical control is NOT within that EMT's scope of practice, because the EMT is not licensed to administer epinephrine without a physician's blessing. As a rule of thumb, if you are an EMT, and are considering an intervention that you have to be an EMT to do, and you don't have medical control, you have breached the standard of care. That means that if any, and I mean ANY, undue harm is caused by your intervention, your liability will be inescapable.

I hope these clarifications help focus the discussion a bit. Frankly, I don't think there are clear answers to all of the issues raised by state of the law on this one, although I do suspect that when these issues are resolved (undoubtedly through litigation), there is a very real chance they will be resolved against a well-meaning Agency EMT.

9/3 To the Media regarding the crash of Tanker 09!

What we know right now for sure is that

  • Retardant was requested for a fire.
  • The air tanker carrying retardant took off at Stead (Reno) and crashed.
  • The NTSB is figuring it all out using interviews, dispatch logs, looking at the plane, etc.

    That's their job. Let them do it. We all want to know.

Condolences to families, friends, coworkers. This is hard for all. Ab.

9/3 Re Militia:

Yes, the militia is still alive and well in some parts of the country. Having worked in R-9 in the past, I know this first hand. On the forest I used to work on, we would not have been able to fight fire or do prescribed fire without them. Heck for some time I was the only primary fire guy on my district, so I had militia with me all the time (usually a GS-9 or up). But one problem that can come with a militia-based program is the gross I mean GROSS waste of fire funds. But that's another story!


9/3 Sacmedic

Medical Direction is from the EMS side, not federal. The law states that
any medical personal acting in an official capacity (yes you have to have a
registered Medical Doctor acting as a medical director) is required by law
to assist (medically) within their scope of practice. The USFS has a
medical director (or so I have been told since I started working) though no
one has been able to determine who he is and if he is registered. What it
sounds like is we have a medical director but he is not registered to be
one. I dont know 100% on this one and I am doing some research as to his
credentials. Funny thing is I have learned that he is a Dentist. I will
update as soon as I learn more.

9/3 Former green soldier

This is true, title 22 is "the good samaritan act".

9/3 Medical Control for EMT Basics in AZ


In AZ an agency may elect to have EMTs placed under medical direction
but are not required to do so by the State. Many agencies elect not to do

Mike Bradley
Deputy IC
Northern Arizona IMT

9/3 Sacmedic, in Ca (R-5), I believe that is all covered under Title 22.

Gutterball medic, not sure what you mean with the extension of a MD. Maybe for a
paramedic. In Ca., EMTs are a dime a dozen. Many are not employed as EMTs.
But they do act, ie; come across an accident, someone passes out at a restaurant etc.
They are not working under a "doctor", but a duty to act.

I think you maybe mixing EMT-P with EMT. As I remember (former R-5 EMS
instructor, 5 years) and under Title 22, as long as an EMT functions with due diligence
within their scope of practice (not negligent), they are covered. This is the same for
blue shirt EMTs.

Former green soldier
9/3 This just arrived in the Ab account although it was sent early yesterday:

Noname EMT,

In my (worthless) opinion, the Forest Service has its head in the sand when it comes to putting EMTs on the fireline. What follows is just my opinion, and I'm sure there are people who would fight with me over it, but with no oversight, no medical control, and no clear set of protocols, the Agency is practically begging you to commit malpractice.

You probably hear rationalizations like, "when I'm on the fireline, I have my Forest Service hat, and when someone gets hurt I take it off and put on my local fire department hat." That's absurd. The bottom line is whether or not your ass is going to be covered in the event of a bad outcome. Your local fire department's insurance isn't going to volunteer to pay the tab any old time you step in to provide patient care -- it will cover you only within the scope of your fire department activities. And begrudgingly, at that; it's insurance after all. They're in the business of collecting premiums, not paying disbursements.

You may have heard that the doctrine of sovereign immunity will insulate you from liability in your private capacity, so long as the incident takes place at work. Poppycock. Medical care is hardly within the scope of the USDA's mission. Or, if it is, the issues aren't clear-cut enough. The question, as you noted in your post, is whether a plaintiff will be able to state a claim in court and tie you up in legal stuff years, not whether the plaintiff will ultimately win on that claim.

You might have been advised not to worry, because you will only be liable if the four elements of tort are present (duty, breach, harm, causation). But what on earth does that really mean? Your "duty" as a licensed EMT working as a wildland firefighter could hardly be less clear. One one hand you have no direct medical oversight, so from a legal perspective, is it really appropriate to intervene without on- or off-line medical control? Wouldn't that be a breach of your duty? Yet on the other hand your agency has identified you as an EMT and put you out there with the representation that you will assist in the event of a medical incident. What would happen if someone did get hurt, and you declined to intervene without medical control? This isn't the case of the doctor who drives by a car accident and declines to pull over; this is the case of the doctor who does pull over, gets out her car, says "Hello, I'm a doctor, but I'm unwilling to intervene." Isn't that a breach of your duty, too? Note that these are often jury questions, so even if you are ultimately vindicated, resolution will not come until deep into the legal proceedings.

If you feel confused, it is because you should. This stuff is confusing. The issues here simply aren't clear, and every ambiguity creates a wedge from which to leverage a lawsuit. The good news is that you probably have few assets (which makes you "judgment-proof") and are unlikely to be sued, or if you are sued, you will not be sued all on your lonesome. The bad news is that carrying liability insurance will change all that -- suddenly you'll be a target. All the same, banking on the fact that you have few assets hardly seems like a winning strategy, does it?

I'm sorry that there is no clear answer for you. Eventually, there probably will be some resolution on these questions. But it will likely take a lawsuit.

On a completely unrelated note, my condolences, thoughts, and sadness extends to the families and friends of the tanker crew members who recently lost their lives at the Reno Airport.


9/3 "the greatest good, for the greatest number, in the long run"

Casey said,

"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."

We are wildland firefighters... We are firefighters. It doesn't get any more simple than that, or more confusing. "All-Risk" has just been a confusing factor for some who don't understand or appreciate our history and losses as a wildland fire community.

'We can't please everyone' ..... As the FWFSA, we all too well know that things are ever evolving and changing, but WE (as a community) CAN provide for "the greatest good, for the greatest number, in the long run".

Likewise, Casey Judd and the entire FWFSA Board of Directors (including myself) serve at the pleasure and support of our membership (GS-2 through GS-14), and through our extended outreach programs with members, prospective members, and through extensive Congressional (Legislative) and Executive Branch contacts on wildland fire related issues.

The FWFSA has its finger on the pulse of what is happening in the federal wildland fire program. The FWFSA is a national employee association of federal wildland firefighters entirely supported by field and manager membership. The FWFSA is not a Union, but a cross section of the wildland fire community as a whole.

If you would like further information, please contact Casey Judd (FWFSA Business Manager), or a member of the FWFSA Board of Directors www.fwfsa.org ..

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Vice President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA)

9/3 Hi Ab,

Just to add to the debate about EMTs performing while on the line, remember that an EMT license is an extension of a medical doctor's license. What I mean by this is that as an EMT you work under and for a MD who ultimately has responsibility for "your" actions as an EMT while you are performing your duties (you are under his/her malpractice insurance). This is some of the reason why you run into varying levels of EMT-B care in the same state/region (I am not sure about IMS personnel but I believe that they have a MD they work under on the larger type 1 and type 2 fires). Anyways, the feds have always been skidish about getting into medical because they don't want the hassle of having an MD just for say a local office or forest. Just remember that even though they might want to take your ability to "legally" treat someone, you have the knowledge an the skill to make a positive difference in someone's life with as little as a set of rubber gloves.

R1 Gutterball Medic

9/3 NorCal AFEO,

Can you find the CFR that applies to federal employees establishing a "duty to act" on EMS incidents? I've represented private EMS employees in California as a shop steward over this issue and neither I nor the large employer involved could find local or state statute/regulation that pertained. I agree wholeheartedly that our curriculum's talk about it. I'm just not sure it actually exists in law. Obviously in a lawsuit it's about what you can convince a judge and jury of, but if anyone knows where to find this in federal or California law I would love the reference.

9/3 I find the discussion of AD pay curious. The noise just won't go away. Actually we have gone away, but someone keeps making noise. Not me.

Whenever I wonder if I'm being lazy about not heading west on wildfires, I think of AD pay rates. 25-35% of my past pay rate? Getting paid close to minimum wage rather than good old government employee rates? No overtime? No, I'm staying home for good. I shredded all my certificates and such when I retired anyway and the USFS can't seem to find the records and were always messing up with misplacing stuff anyway. And I had my task book for the next highest position for eight years without the opportunity to get it completed, despite yearly assignments. I was told task books and fire details were not important by my supervisors several times. Who cares? Not me. I'll stick with retirement. The next generation will have to deal with the problems we created (me and them). After all, us baby boomers want all the benefits and lower taxes after we're the ones who broke the bank, ran up the deficit, and to top it off, we voted for folks who would give us $600 in deficit spending just because we like free money. I'm not saying I'm right or that its fair, or such. Its just reality.

Aroff. (A retired "ologist" fire fighter).
9/3 I'd sure like to see the quantified and verified data, and how it was gathered and parsed. I'd be especially interested if the data came from R-8 and R-9.

"We found foresters, 'ologists, engineering types, techs and professionals filling entire 20 person crews (type 2). Others staffed engines, worked in expanded dispatch centers, served as com unit leaders or com techs, GIS specialists, finance chiefs, procurement, security, staging area managers, strike team leaders, division supes, logisitics chiefs, planning chiefs, ops chiefs and ICT3s. Across the country this totaled in the thousands."

I suspect that the data is fundamentally flawed; the collection method is flawed or skewed; or the intent and purpose of the data collection is being wrongfully interpreted.

If this "collection" request was indeed from the WO...... It (and the results) is FOIAable and should be released on the record for each person to come to their own conclusions.



I met some "non-ff-retirement" firefighters during this summer's norcal fires. They were not from R5. Ab.

9/2 Hi Ab--

Here is a picture of T-09 from last fall at Fox Tanker Base in Lancaster, CA.

I knew two of the three folks who were killed, and their loss is huge. It's a very sad day in the tanker base world.


I put it on the AirTankers 26 photo page. Click on the thumbnail for the larger image. Thanks MEL. Ab.

9/2 Ab,

The "militia" lives.
Or at least it did throughout the season of 2006. I remember the message coming through that the WO wanted a count of the militia. That filtered down to forests and dispatch centers. It was fairly simple. Look at the resource orders you filled for "off-forest" assignments, and do a number count of the "militia" (non-primary firefighters aka those who don't qualify for ff retirement).

We found foresters, 'ologists, engineering types, techs and professionals filling entire 20 person crews (type 2). Others staffed engines, worked in expanded dispatch centers, served as com unit leaders or com techs, GIS specialists, finance chiefs, procurement, security, staging area managers, strike team leaders, division supes, logisitics chiefs, planning chiefs, ops chiefs and ICT3s. Across the country this totaled in the thousands.

Maybe they've all quit in the past two years. Someone mentioned there is "no incentive" for militia to respond. I don't know.... maybe they like the adventure, the change of routine, or perhaps the approximate 100 hours of OT one can earn in a 2 week off-forest assignment. Hey, maybe the militia folks have bills to pay just like the primary firefigher types.

I know folks can have different perspectives or views of the world. I've not seen the Pacific Ocean in a decade, but I'd trust that it still exists even if only on the word of someone with a different vantage point.

I'll check back in a couple weeks.
Ya'll stay safe.


9/2 And tragically...

This ’55 report California A-Flame (600K pdf file) says so much…

The last line…

”And still another tragic loss-- one firefighter was killed by a falling tree.”

I wonder how his family was cared for after his death…


9/2 CNH (California/Nevada/Hawaii Forest Fire Council) has three $500.00
scholarships available (two for mainland students, one for Pacific Islanders)
for students from the states of California, Nevada or Hawaii (or Pacific
Islands) in the Wildland Fire arena. The application deadline has been
extended to October 1, 2008.

The Guidelines and Application can be found at http://cnhfire.org

9/2 I received a question from a student in an on-line class I’m teaching. He was wondering how wildland firefighter’s “areas of responsibility” were broken down. I assume by district, but how much area is found within a district?

Who is responsible for the district if it is found on federal, state or private land?

This type of firefighting is relatively alien in NC. We have a few wildland fires but we can normally gain access to them and with the help of the forest service, contain them.

Jonathan Malinowski
Training Officer
Rocky Mount Fire Department
9/2 Sad news. A P2V air tanker from Neptune Aviation went down outside of
Stead, NV killing three crew members. God rest their souls.


Fire Community, I tried to post this info on theysaid yesterday evening but there were so many folks on the Hotlist that the server wouldn't work for posting. It is sad. Here's the Hotlist thread. Feel free to post condolences there. Thanks Gordo. Ab.

9/2 No name EMT

As much as I hate to admit it we (I have my EMT-basic as well) have put
ourselves between a rock and a hard spot. WE ARE REQUIRED BY LAW
called "DUTY TO ACT". I am sure you remember the speeches from class.
We however are protected in the law as long as we keep our care "WITHIN
YOUR SCOPE OF PRACTICES". The catch 22 right now is how the forest
service is trying to take a step back and go away from medical care and
SCBAs (yes the park service in R-5 has made the decision and has pulled
off all their SCBAs and the FS is looking to do the same this winter, there
was some murmurs/rumors of it this past winter) yet we have folks that have
EMT licenses. Under duty to act we are required by law to respond to and
give medical care if we have an EMT-B (formerly called EMT-I) or Higher
on the module or we are setting our EMTs up for a Negligence law suite.
I am Scared on this one and I am waiting to hear of the first one to come
about. I guess the best advice I can give you is if there is a need provide care
within your scope of practice and you wont have to worry about anything.

9/2 Engine 262:

Read through your post and am glad to hear the good and the bad. It is nice that there has been some good.

I went through the apprenticeship program in R-6. I liked the program but didnt trust it and ultimately demo-ed out to a Sr FF then merit promoted to an LEO position in another region. However I did get a great experience as my supervisor was awesome. He kept me lined out and listened to my feedback. I got a lot of experience. I did a lot of detailing and filling in on modules to get my hours done. I spent some time with a great R-6 IHC and took a great deal of knowledge and experience. I LOVED my prevention time and it is what helped me get my new job. The troubles your daughter experienced are not right. First of all, it is the program's responsibility to get her up to speed. The program is a THREE year program MAX!!! I am sure she worked well over the total number of hours that is required. She should now be non competitively in a GS5 position. I smell a grievance. I would for sure because the wages suck after that long. I assume she is a 4 step 3 now. I say move on and hopefully she started a lot of applications and did her KSAs well.

All in all I wish the best of luck. If there is any help I can be, either you or your daughter can contact me. I did do some time in R-5 as a temp but that was a while ago

Guns-n hoses
9/2 OFG said,

"Gizmo, 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."

I read your reference three times before it sank in.... Either you intended the sentences above to be tongue-in-cheek, or you have been detached from the field for a long while.

I agree with you though that P-to-P should include everyone, but the key issues shouldn't be clouded or ignored at the expense of "the greatest good, for the greatest number, in the long run". I'll stick to my perspective as being not so limited nor incorrect as you may have wrongfully assumed. When I started, much of what you described was in place.... but 28 years later.... it's a much different world within the federal wildland fire program.



This could simply be what each of you see at your own geographic location. It's fine to agree to disagree. I'd be happy to pass messages behind the scenes if you like. Ab.

9/2 Noname 51:

No harm, no foul. I could have been gentler

To Planning For Retirement:

I'm more than aware of that disparity and the "workarounds," and I too
applaud those who do it.

But glad that you brought it up. I sat out the last 2 years partially over
the AD rate issue.

I'm at least getting OT off a base AD AOBD rate as a temp employee of the
state of S Dakota as their AOBD.

But I've got friends who have in fact picked up at portal-to-portal at an
excellent negotiated base rate with OT. Your wife is another good example.

Meanwhile the Business Mgmt Working Team, comprised mostly of folks who feel
more comfortable harassing an IC over a case of supplemental food (peanuts)
than asking the AOBD (me) down the road anything about the $500K I'm
clocking off everyday, they are the real problem, a true case of the tail
(Admin) wagging the dog (Agency Administrators and Fire directors).

And NWCG and the Fire Directors go right on ignoring the absolute irony of
lousy AD rates for a hugely experienced but dwindling workforce of retirees
on the one hand, and on the other an ex-Fed ATGS making close to $70K in 2
months by signing on with a local entity.

But why should we be surprised. This last 8 years has been nothing but
Alice in Wonderland anyway, so it all fits within that scheme of things
(this last rationale is the only way I've managed to keep halfway sane from
2001 on, though there a few out there who will dispute even that assessment
(my half-sanity, that is, not the fairy land of bs we've been living in)

Fact: The cost of a 4-basin wash sink in camp on daily rental is more than
I receive as an AD-K for a 16-hour day. LOL


Hugh Carson
9/1 Noname 51 and Hugh Carson,

Not only are a lot of retirees being hired by local fire departments with contracts with federal agencies where they receive higher wages, portal to portal and the departments receive an additional admin fee, the departments are also allowed to charge post coverage behind the employee even if the employee is only part time. This is bringing in large amounts of revenue for these departments and driving costs.

My wife retired from a local government department but is still employed part-time for ICS assignments to the feds. During the recent Northern California fires she made $ 20,400 dollars for 34 days and the department charged a 20% admin fee and post coverage. Her only employment for this department is to fill the ICS position request. Just an example of cost containment at its finest, but all legal and up front.

Planning for Retirement

9/1 Fish01

Sorry about that, I was referring to the last paragraph of your post:

"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."

This "tactic" of getting folks more money is a little disturbing but hey, more power to 'em.
If the Feds want to keep dishing out the money in this manner, so be it.

Hugh Carson

"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"

This is what I was referring to and its a big problem. Sorry to get you worked up on this
labor day, that wasn't my intent.

Noname 51

9/1 Engine 262,

Back in 78, I had a young woman on my Basic Forest Firefighter Training class.
She ran circles around most of us. She is now an SFR1 in Central Cal...still with
CalFire, and still kicking a$$! God love her, I don't think there was anyone that
wouldn't follow her into the fight.

Several changes were made to a few stations to accommodate her, but she kept
on playing the game. Talked to her a few months back, she's doing great. Tell your
daughter to keep on keeping on. There need to be more women like that in this

KUDOs and good luck to her!


(SFR1 = State Forest Ranger 1........same as a Battalion Chief)

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