November, 2008

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11/30 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:


I am one of those Fed retirees who did a season as an AD in the air operations world in 2007. I really didn't go searching for work, it came looking for me. The AD rates are a slap in the face for any qualified retiree who maintained his or her AOBD, ATGS, HLCO, or HMGB quals. When you are out doing the same job on complex incidents with no hazard pay or overtime that a GS-9 or 11 is getting isn't incentive to do it again for the "love of the agency" you gave 30 years to.

In 2008 I had the great fortune, no pun intended, to work through a local fire department with a local agreement with the USFS. Yes I was compensated well. The bottom line is our GACCs can't fill positions from within the Federal ranks in a timely fashion and I don't see that improving in the near future. I sat on Helibases this season and watched ASGS and AOBDs pull their hair out trying to fill key positions and got the same story from the local as well as National GACC..... UTF or unable to fill. As far as local agreements go, I agree there should be some continuity regarding pay rates and the portal to portal issue addressed. The retiree pool associated with these local departments are valuable very experienced resources.

Hopefully the "agency' doesn't shoot itself in the foot AGAIN dealing with this issue.

Signed, NZ SUPT. (ret)

I've heard that the powers that be are and have been working on a 25% increase in AD wages -- so ADs will make about what a fed employee would make on a fire. I think that after 8 hrs, they'll get true OT and there's also a locality differential. This evidently was in the works before the National Finance Center noticed that mega-millions of dollars were going out to a few small local fire depts that were charging up to 35% for managing retirees. Those few local depts are being investigated. Next season if retirees are interested, perhaps more resources will be available as ADs and paid a reasonable wage. Ab.

11/30 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review DRAFT

Richard <snip> will be accepting emailed comments after today - by default - according to the auto
reply I got. His auto reply says he's been out of the office since 11/18 and will return tomorrow.

Get those emailed extension requests in. Today's supposed to be the deadline. I think not.

Think on this... every leader I've known requests participation in order to get BUY IN. Otherwise
it will be easy for firefighters and the public to say NOT MY VISION.


11/30 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review DRAFT

I e-mailed off my extension requests. I also cc:d Casey.

Thanks to the contributor for the TEMPLATE. It allows everyone a chance to send off a quick
e-mail without impacting too much of the holiday weekend.

I look forward to reading and commenting on the Quadrennial Fire Review (QFR) 2009.

By the way, does anyone have the finalized QFR from the first period (development 2004,
publication 2005)? I'd like to read it since it also wasn't too well distributed in either the
review (comment period) or publication process.



My thanks also to the TEMPLATE contributor. I couldn't have said it more simply or clearly.

Readers, pull that TEMPLATE up, copy, paste, fill it in and send it off. We have, with cc to Casey. Ab.

11/29 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review DRAFT

I sent my request for Quadrennial Fire Review Extension using the TEMPLATE and the form feedbacks on the two websites: DOA and DOI for Schafer and Kempthorn. (There are links to the correct web feedback pages at the bottom of the template letter.) I hope you'll send yours. Getting an extension is the first step.

As I get to reading this draft document, I'm going to jot down thoughts and concerns, as I try to think about the future of fire in the woods and on the interface under changing climatic, environmental and economic conditions. I don't think this commentary needs to be extensive unless you want it to be. It can be "sound bytes" or "one liners" but let's hear what you think. What is the reality of wildland fire today compared to yesterday? Mission and Vision. What might it be tomorrow? The reality today is certainly different than year before last. Jack Ward Thomas once said something to the effect that "all you need to do is tell the truth." To me, this is leadership. We have leaders here.

What will be "the truth" of wildland fire in 10 years or 20 years? What's our vision?


11/29 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review DRAFT

From Firescribe: Here's the first few paragraphs from the Intro that tells the purpose of the
review process and the document. This is the interagency VISION for the future.

Ask for a comment extension. Use the TEMPLATE below if you like. Allowing only a few
days for comment is not enough to get thoughts about the collective wildland fire vision.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Quadrennial Fire Review 2009 (294K pdf file) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Introduction: Wildland Fire in the First Decade of the 21st Century

In 2004, the U.S. Forest Service, the four U. S. Department of Interior agencies and their
state, local, and tribal partners that constitute the wildland fire community chartered the
first Quadrennial Fire Review (QFR). Like its predecessor, this 2009 Quadrennial Fire
Review is designed as a strategic evaluative process that develops an internal assessment
of current programs and capabilities for comparison to future needs for fire management.
In terms of time frame; projections of future conditions and risks potentially affecting fire
management are longer term --set in a 10 to 20 year reference timeframe.
strategies for new mission requirements and building new capabilities are near term --
defined in a 4 to 5 year period.

The QFR is based on the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review model
which for the past two decades has served as a vehicle for the military to reexamine shifts
in military strategy and changes in organizational tactics and capabilities. Conceptually,
the intention of the QFR is to use the four year interval between reviews as an
opportunity to reassess the future environment in wildland fire, summarize shifts in
mission, roles and responsibilities, and agency relationships and chart new course
directions for fire management.
It should also be noted that the QFR is not a plan or a
policy making document. It contains no recommendations, action items, or time tables.
As an interagency assessment, it is purely advisory in tone. Its value is that it reaffirms
interagency fire management priorities and outlines investment decisions for the future.

11/29 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review DRAFT:

I will add my strong encouragement to Gizmo's suggestion.

This document (the 2009 QFR Draft) is crucial to the direction of how
wildland fire, and other national emergencies, are handled in the future.

I received the link to the draft document in my email box yesterday at
8:41 a.m. It is 50 pages in length, and topically beefy.

One day for feedback on an extremely important report of national
significance is not acceptable, especially when the comment period ends
two days after Thanksgiving on a weekend.

I do appreciate the IAWF disseminating the draft.

So, the appropriate response and action on our part is to do exactly what
Gizmo has suggested - individually and collectively request an extension
of the 30-day response time. In addition to the cc's Gizmo suggested, I
would add two more:

Secretary Dept. of Agriculture - Ed Schafer
Secretary of the Dept. of Interior - Dirk Kempthorne

I believe it would be acceptable to request the extension today with the
QFR contact with the cc's Gizmo suggests (these are also available in the
QFR Draft), and then forward requests to Shafer and Kempthorne on Monday.

Last, simply requesting an extension isn't where the work ends. If the
comment period is extended it is critical that we assimilate the material,
seek clarification if necessary, and provide meaningful and substantiated
comments on the 2009 QFR, clearly articulating support or lack of support
(as Gizmo says...opposition).

If anyone would like a template for this comment period extension request,
let me know.


I appreciate Gizmo disseminating the draft and I'm thankful to others who contribute to theysaid. Remarkable community. SEND IT TO TOM HARBOUR, TOO. tharbour@fs.fed.us Here's a simple TEMPLATE e-mail format of a request. Thanks, Shari. Ab.

11/28 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review DRAFT:

Like normal, an important document with a "Reply Due" date of 30-Nov-2008 never went to the field for comments from all interested professionals, researchers, practitioners, or the general public. How could something so important not make it to the field for comments?

READ and COMMENT. It's your future.....enough said.

"A 30 day field comment period will be conducted in November for review before
submission to NWCG- Executive Board (NFAEB) consisting of the fire directors of the
five federal agencies and the fire director from the National Association of State
Foresters (NASF) for final approval and expected release in January 2009."

Send an immediate e-mail to Achyde@aol.com to request an extension of the comment period so that all interested parties and stakeholders can comment and be heard.

If you want, you may also cc your comments to the appropriate co-chairs and senior members of the Integration Panel as a backup.
For Forest Service - Rich Lasko Rlasko@fs.fed.us
For Interior Agencies - Tim Murphy Timothy_Murphy@nifc.blm.gov or Brian McManus Brian_McManus@fws.gov
For States, Tribal, Local - Dan Smith Dan_Smith@nifc.blm.gov
Partners & Others - Don Artley dartley@bresnan.net
For Research - Mike Hilbruner Mhilbruner@fs.fed.us

Comments in favor or in opposition are also encouraged.

Please cc: your comments to cjudd@fwfsa.org or your local NFFE representative.


11/28 The Jobs page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
11/28 In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and in tribute to the notes that Vicki Minor (WFF) sent in, I wanted to share a unique documentary that closely mirrors what many of us in the wildland fire community feel during our initial losses and eventual recovery.

Shortly following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, a group representing the community came together to show support in anyway they could. This varied group was inspirational, even though they came together just a week after tragedy.

The documentary We Are Family is available through many sources, but should be something for families to watch as folks come together for the holidays.

I know this sounds like a sales pitch, but it isn't. When watching the documentary, I'm reminded of the support given by the Wildland firefighter Foundation and by the community.





We give thanks for all of YOU, and for this country, too.
Be safe. Carry on!
The Abs at wildlandfire.com

11/27 Just taking a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Here's to hoping we can all be with our families and loved ones today...
and never forgetting the ones who can't.


And healing thoughts/prayers for our firefighters, family members and friends whose health could be better -- physical or psychological. You all and yours are in my thoughts on this day of celebration. May the best outcomes become reality. Ab.

11/27 FC180,
I believe there were saw teams involved so it was a coordinated act to say the least. Lets just take it as a lessons learned affair. Us Feds make the same type of mistakes. I've seen some pretty dumb moves under several different types of management. I blame it all on LA County..:^) I'm kidding L.A. County. And FYI, we don't own any land either. The tax payers do. :) You're pretty much responsible for managing all the land we don't. It just happens to not need a whole lot of managing.

Just Wondering,
I noticed an increase in WO/ALB email activity right around NOV 5th till currently. Everyone is trying to justify their existence in the Ivory Tower. Wish I had a connection to the transition team to get the word to the new boss come Jan. Anyone got Oprah's number? One of her homes almost burnt down. She would have to take our side. I have no clue if Kashdan is leaving or not, but I would love to be a fly on the wall in a few offices.

Happy Turkey day! Take a much-deserved break.

Same traffic!

Greeno family,
I hope the tree in Independence is still alive. I hope to bump into you again soon. Miss the baked goods.

Still out there, the project just got postponed!

Stay out of the spiked eggnog!

Happy Turkey day to everyone else!


A Grateful Foundation

We at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation want to take this opportunity to share what we are thankful for. We are thankful for all of you and the support that we have received. We have been able to do a lot of wonderful things this year. We have stepped out of the box doing some things that have never been done before in the Wildland community.

Very soon after the helicopter crash we were able to conference call with all the families and the surviving crew members both in and out of the hospital. It was an honor to hear the healing and sharing between firefighters and the families.

We also brought all of the families together, the Packer family, the Palmer family and the Iron 44 families came together for a weekend of sharing and healing and starting the journey of recovery. Lori Greeno came to support the families and her daughter Montana, age 14, came to support the younger siblings. Kathy and Ken Brinkley came to lend their support. Dan Holmes’ mother Dee attended. It turned out to be a very loving and healing weekend.

We also made arrangements for a Storm King survivor to come and meet with the crews and survivors of the crash. I believe from hearing her experience that these firefighters will be more aware of what is ahead of them in dealing with the nightmares and all that accompanies this kind of trauma.

Chief Gail Kimball graciously allowed us to set up a meeting with the firefighters that were hospitalized from the crash. She wept as she listened to their heartbreaking stories of climbing out of the burning helicopter. She was very kind and nurturing to those men. It made a difference for them to know that she would take the time privately to be with them.

There isn’t enough space here, without sounding like my friend Casey (LOL), to tell you all of the wonderful things that have happened this summer beyond the death and suffering. What I want you to know as a community is that we have been involved from the very first fatality of the season to the last air tanker crash.

While all this has been going on, and much more… a tremendous number of you out there were fundraising, gathering up what could be gathered... I guess what we are trying to say is that we cannot do what we do here without all of you out there gathering as much as you did. Some of you may think it’s hard to be at the bedside of these injured firefighters and to look into the faces of the families that will not have their firefighter return home this year; and it is, but what really gets to me is coming home and seeing all the love that has poured in to this Foundation from all of you.

With Gratitude
Vicki Minor

Wildland Firefighter Foundation Ab.

11/26 Any chance Hank Kashdan, Forest Service Deputy Chief for Business
Operations will be booted out Jan 20th?

Just Wondering............
11/26 Re: Philosophies of FS and CalFire:
The CalFire being a land management agency or not. . .

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection only "manages" several small state forests that only total somewhat less that 75,000 acres. Other than that we do not "own" any land except a few fire station lots. We are responsible for the enforcement and administration of laws and regulations that apply to air, water and environmental quality. Our mission statement does say something about "management and protection of California's natural resources" but that is in the broadest meaning of the word. Yes we do some resource damage on large fires. We have 58 initial attack (code 3) dozers with operators of varying experience and attitude. We have many inexperienced operators that work for us as contractors on large fires. But anyone that has been in this business that has not seen dozers do natural resource or cultural resource damage is either a rookie or blind. It happens. It is a cost of doing business.


11/26 Re: Joan from Georgia pay issue

To the best of my knowledge all of our ADs have been paid, although our state is
still waiting for reimbursement for regular state employees who traveled nationally.
Our state's policy is to pay our folks up front. I'm wondering if GA has the same
policies? Also, were the fires your husband worked on handled by the Regional
States Compact or through the Feds? That could also make a difference.

It would be nice if the check came before Christmas.


11/26 Retention:

On 11/24, "What Tha ----" said, "I am beginning to feel skeptical of the
intentions and resolve of the retention group."

As a member of the retention group who worked many long hours meeting
our deadlines and reply due dates to address the key underlying issues, I'd
ask you to direct your criticism in a positive manner. Like you, I am
concerned that the various retention groups met their deadlines, while the
decision makers continue to hide in a veil of silence as unrest continues to
grow in the field.

It is a complex problem and situation that took years (decades) of unintentional
mismanagement of the fire program to build, and cannot be corrected overnight.
It takes a great deal of education to emphasize that wildland fire management
is a distinct profession within land management, not a support function.

Thankfully, the FWFSA and NFFE have been studying, collecting data, and
verifying the problems for many years in anticipation of an eventual decision
by either a senior executive branch official.... or the Congress.

Baby steps.

/s/ Retention Researcher

11/26 Re: Philosophies of FS and CalFire:
The CalFire being a land management agency or not. . .

Sometime in the not too distant past, I owned a few acres not far from
the Brush Creek engine station, well inside the Plumas NF borders. My
neighbor was having some overstory removal done on his property, so I
thought it a good time to have my area checked out. There were some
marketable good sized pines on my property I wanted to sell, so as part
the process prior to logging, I was required to apply for an inspection
and approval from CDF. The plans and marked timber were inspected and
passed as ok by a CDF forester. I can't remember the name of the guy
who did it, but I do know I had to pay a fee for the them to do that.
And I didn't have to get any type of approval from the USFS, even though
it was within the NF boundaries. Although my little piece of property
was just a few acres, I know from years of observations, both before
that incident and after, that CDF/CalFire administrates and manages
timber harvesting on thousands of acres of property all over the state.

Seems to me that CalFire is a land management agency, with huge
responsibilities. Denying the fact, either from ignorance or personal
bias doesn't make it any less true.

11/25 Re the attack on the topmost management bonuses:

All I was pointing out to you is that you don't need to exploit this summers tragedies, it's disrespectful. You said "Avoidable deaths of firefighters is serious business". We all agree with that but laying blame just to do it isn't solving anything and where do we stop with the blame on accidents that are out of our hands. Who should we blame for Iron 44? Carson Helicopters? The Pilot? The maker of the Helicopter? The person who decided to put the landing site there? Where do we stop? I understand if a death is from negligence then lets fix that problem and learn from it. So answer this question, if the Iron 44 tragedy or Cramer or any falling accident would have happened on a Division that you were in charge of would you have thrown yourself on the sword and said this was my fault, I was accountable for these people. I highly doubt it. Should the Buck stop here? Should you be asked to resign? The blame game is an ugly thing and it will eat you up if you let it.

So really if you want to attack people then please do it somewhere else. But then again this is just my opinion, you know, the Freedom of Speech thing.


11/25 Re Philosophies of FS and CalFire:
Confused's listing of the Cal Fire Mission that says it's a Land Management agency:

I know about 10 acres of 600 year old oaks that would beg to differ with Cal Fire's so called "responsible stewardship and oversight of management activities on private forest lands". They are up French Gulch on private land, near Redding. In Cal Fire's care for the resource they used their "Iron" (dozers) to protect these trees. These trees were on a broad ridgetop where their "Iron" could have driven around them. These trees probably have seen more than a few fires, since their ladder fuel was 80 feet off of the ground.

My accusation: Cal Fire failed to use their heads and drive around 40 to 50 inch (DBH) oaks with their dozers. The landowner didn't even know what damage they were doing. Doesn't Cal Fire "get it" that you can have the same resulting good fireline by avoiding important old growth and without ruining these old fire-hardened trees that have no threat of torching or creating spots on the lee side of the ridge. The ill-thought-out dozer line and fallers did way more damage to these old growth oaks than was necessary. Now instead of possibly having a few burn scars, they are laying down dead and wasted, on a big dozerline thats green on both sides.

Maybe Cal Fire could put some feet on the ground and look at what goes on after a fire goes out: some LESSONS LEARNED. They claim their Agency is in it for the natural resources. Their actions say otherwise...

People pay a lot of money in taxes to pay for Cal Fire and other agencies to make good choices and not act like cowboys. It is sickening to see these things continue to happen, on private and federal land. Ask any archeologist or rehab team. I'm stating my opinion, and understand that. I'm speaking for the annual elephant in the room that we skirt around every summer, for the sake of getting along.

11/25 Re Private Insurance Personnel:

The private insurance companies are going to have to do a better job of policing themselves until the Fire Service comes up with a solution.

On the recent Sesnon Fire (CA-LAC), there were private insurance foam units running around back and forth (code !!!) causing havoc with traffic for hours. These units were identified as working for AIG, and unfortunately, gave our friends at "PhosChek" a bad name by advertising their product in big bold letters all over their vehicles. The behavior of these units were dealt with on the line and followed up through the Incident organization. Other private insurance companies were very responsible (CHUBB), attended briefings and worked with the Team to ensure that everyone's interests were taken care of.

These private units have a place on Incidents but all it takes is a few freelancing private patrols to ruin it for the industry. Hopefully they can all get their act together.

Yellow Angel

11/25 Non-payment of wages:

Are you aware of this wildland firefighter issue?

Are you aware that there are wildland firefighters, my husband, being one of them, who have not been paid for JUNE 2008 fires fought in Texas. This is now November 25, 2008. That is 5 months ago. Who is willing to wait THAT long on their paycheck?

My husband has been doing wildland fire fighting for years since 1987, I believe. He has traveled all over the United States. We've always had to wait a few months, but this is ridiculous. It is especially ridiculous in light of the recent government bailout of the filthy rich companies in our country, while fire fighters families suffer lack due to the recent economic crunch! My husband, Michael <snip>, is the Chief Ranger in <snip> County, Rome, GA., and at this time, He is not willing to take any further assignments out of state due to this problem. His most recent was in Houston, TX after Hurricane Ike.... He did relief work there. But, the two previous assignments were wildfires in TX.

We are being told, Georgia can not pay for this extra work in TX because TX has not been paid by FEMA. Well, I am just wondering if you guys are aware of this situation, and would you know if this is happening to firefighters from other states, besides Georgia?

I'd appreciate any information you have on this issue.

Joan from GA

Ab will pass any messages or suggestions on. Comments are welcome here as well.

11/25 Philosophies of FS and CalFire:

There is a difference between land management and resource protection. The USFS, BLM, NPS, and FWS all are responsible for executing planning, NEPA, and actually going out there and touching the land (example- analyze recreation opportunities, work with partners, plan a trail in resource management plan, consider comments, create a trail, maintain trail, and publicize the recreation opportunity)... while protecting a resource means after life and property I recognize the value in the habitat and will try and preserve it.

In terms of CA state- State Parks manages the land- CalFire fights fire to preserve the habitat in the parks. CalFire does not do the resource management plan for many of the acres they protect, and though they do have planning (OK forgetting the name of the plans PFEs do), it's a different bent. I think the statements were fair... they are different missions and I have heard that from the senior management level on both sides.

Have you hugged your chaparral today?

11/25 Arson

For info and discussion of "Federal arson investigator suspected of setting fires", see the Hotlist thread.

11/24 Dear FWFSA Member:

Thanks for the kind words and truth be told most of my stress/frustration is likely self-induced. As with any business there are highs and lows. I think the thing that bothers me the most is the fundamental lack of communication from the Agency leadership to their firefighters.

I'll get a call from R5 Regional Forester Randy Moore or an email from Tom Harbour and do my best to give them the benefit of the doubt that we are all working towards the same goals... but then nothing happens. They, along with Chief Kimbell, have the ability to stop this travesty of firefighter losses dead in its tracks. They have the ability to strengthen the FIRE program and make it more cost-effective overnight.

They've been handed $25 million on a silver platter and have had a year to come up with a workable plan and yet despite bits and pieces about what is part of the Agency's firefighter retention plan, nothing, absolutely nothing has been provided in the way of concrete information to firefighters so those that need to make a decision about staying or going have sufficient information to make that tough choice. It is disheartening to know that the RO and WO are keenly aware of continuing losses yet the veil of secrecy about what they plan on doing remains in place.

I'll be very candid. I was not happy about being asked by more than one member of the House & Senate to give the Agencies time to recognize the problems and offer solutions and hold off on getting our legislation introduced over the last year. All of you have been more than patient and it has been very hard for me to personally sit idly by, knowing full well the tactics of bureaucrats who have had the proverbial boot up the you-know-where given to them by Congress, watch as some of the best wildland firefighters in the world leave the federal system.

Saddest of all is that the leadership has been told in no uncertain terms, and our congressional testimony along with that of NFFE has articulated that the reasons for folks leaving the Agency has gone well beyond just pay and benefits. It has reached a point where firefighters simply feel their employer just doesn't give a damm.

So perhaps my stress and frustration is a culmination of being asked to be patient by Congress, especially by those who also know too well the tactics of such agencies in following through on Congressional requests on subjects they don't seem to care for... in this case firefighter pay & benefits.

Thus as the next session of congress commences, those that asked the FWFSA and firefighters to be patient with the Agency and their efforts will know that we all did our part... we all played by the rules... we all have given the Agency more than enough time to demonstrate their support of their firefighters and now it's our turn.

Thanks again,

11/24 Magruder Fingers,

Thanks for your note, and yes we may have much more in common. Looks like you and Reality Check started your fire careers just shortly after I started mine. Certainly we've tromped some of the same hills, maybe even worked the line together. Our differences may be of perspective, and that changes over time and position. Let's accept that we all want a fire program that is safe for everyone as common ground that will be always shared.

"ms" listed some good points.....I've got some questions/remarks ( )
* No decision on PTP or a hybrid PTP. (What decision are you looking for? I know of no legal authority that rests with any line officer to create PTP.....please cite the laws/regs that do so)
* No decision on retention pay (Good point. As I understand... and I could be wrong.... there is $25M available for recruitment/retention. Employees deserve a timely response)
* No update of 462 Special Pay (Again, no authority exists to create, only to pursue with OPM).
* No steps to increase a building maintenance program for fire facilities. (When I retired, the "maintenance funding" had been pretty well eliminated as a separate funding code. Programs were to allocate their maintenance from program funds. What amount would you allocate? What would you choose to "unfund"? Staff fewer engines? Cut back on training? Reduce appointments? Hire fewer seasonals?)
* No plans to build barracks or fire stations. (Construction funding is/was a separate allocation from Congress...maybe that's changed..... no RF has the authority to build without appropriated funding.)
* No Computer or Admin support positions have been added. (I'm not familiar with the R5 need, so I'll not comment other than to point out that $ spent from the fire program for these positions again are a reallocation of fire funds..... what do you want to give up?)
* No increased tours for those who want to work. (I'm a supporter of increasing tours, especially if it is done with other program work/funding)
* No Communications, no decisions = No Credibility (If you are truly not hearing anything, then AMEN to this one. Leaders need to be good communicators. Good leaders communicate even "bad news")

Magruder, you expressed the desire to see the agency "relinquish control" of the fire program. As a fed employee of decades, you must know that agencies do not set their mission. That is done by Congress. The Chief does not have authority to "relinquish control".

I can appreciate the "frustration" that many feel. I still encourage all to learn more about how the government operates and what controls/constrains the expenditure of funds. There is not the vast conspiracy of "They" to blame.....it is just more convenient to do so.

Statements of fact:
It will take action from Congress to make significant changes.
-Increased $ for construction.
-Increased $ for tours/training/benefits

The Chief is not going to "just do it".....the Chief works for the Administration and must ask for the budget and appropriations that fits the President's budget. True for either party.


11/24 Philosophies of FS and CalFire:

CAL FIRE is not a land management agency? Okeedokee.........


CAL FIRE Mission Statements:

* protection of life, prop­erty and natural resources.
* fire and life safety programs; fire prevention, law enforcement, and public information and education; resource protection; and emergency response.
* responsible stewardship of state forests; oversight of management activities on private forest lands; and emergency management.
* ensure the sustainability of natural resources.


11/24 Every employee association has it's Caesar Chavez and we have ours!

Casey, it troubles me, even saddens me to hear about the pressures you find yourself under at times. We ask you to not get so caught up with everything and take as much time as you need for yourself and family. We know you're the type of person that is "all-in", the Constant Warrior. However, all of us are in this for the long haul and we need a Casey Judd that is rested, ready and feeling good.

It's up to all of us to do our part from talking to employees about signing up, to helping them through DASHBOARD, to sending emails and making phone calls. Call on us if you need us. It would be an honor for any one of us to take on a special project if asked by our Association.

If we fail or succeed, then we fail or succeed as one.

God bless you and yours Casey Judd.

An FWFSA Member
11/24 Residential Defense by non-fire resources:

Hi all,

Here's an article from the LA Times on the AIG and Chubb Fire Crews. I don't know
enough about them to comment, but I thought I'd pass it on.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


11/24 Old Fire Guy,

No shame for Reality Check. I have known Reality Check for over 36 years. He is an excellent and highly experienced fire leader, way more than most. He has spent decades on hotshot crews and has done more for firefighter safety through all aspects of the job than 99% of the people that ever stepped foot on the line. We broke in together in 1974 and he truly is a dedicated, hard working and safety conscious fire leader. The agency would be better off if we had more like him.

Today's agency seems to have turned its back on fire management and any support for the firefighters. An example is what's happening in Region 5. I think Reality Check is frustrated with the the agency, so am I and so are many others. The agency MUST do everything it can to support fire management. The best employees, the best training, the best equipment, the best leadership and a supportive atmosphere within which to perform the fire management job.

Low morale can be a contributing factor to safety. The agency's lack of support for fire management and the on-the-ground firefighter does contribute to low morale. It is my opinion that the agency should relinquish control of fire management. I 'd like to see a Federal Wildland Fire Department where firefighters are lead by highly experienced fire leaders with demonstrated leadership ability.

Old Fire Guy, as an Old Fire Guy I bet you have more in common with Reality Check than you think.

Reality Check: You're admired by many for your dedication, fire leadership and the development of young firefighters throughout your career. It has been a pleasure to have worked with you these many years.

Magruder Fingers
11/24 Re: Firefighter Retention,

I am beginning to feel skeptical of the intentions and resolve of the retention group. Why no word of the issue? No updates or progress reports, no group meetings, no nada.

Is it possible that the retention group was outsourced to a foreign company that is now unable to deliver the product at the proposed rate? Or maybe the group thought they would place the appropriated retention money in a TSP like investment fund while they wait for a higher state of enlightenment. Is the spending of this money off limits until someone can figure out how to propose a decent budget due to the C.R.?

An update to the field from the appointed leaders is long overdue. At any rate the silence from this so called retention effort speaks for itself... Not an issue that you can force on anyone that doesn't care and is going to be replaced anyway.

What Tha ----,
11/24 Philosophies of FS and CalFire:

excellent article (no name)


Two big fire agencies have vastly different philosophies

By Dylan Darling (Contact)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Though they are sworn to protect some of California's most precious resources, there's a philosophical separation between the state's most prominent firefighting forces.

And top officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Forest Service don't deny it.

"We have different missions," explained Del Walters, assistant northern region chief for Cal Fire in Redding.

Sharon Heywood, supervisor of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, agreed.

"We are a land management agency," Heywood said. ". . . They (Cal Fire) are not in the managing land business." (click the link to read the rest)

11/23 FWFSA:


Thanks for listing the transition Team members. I scanned the list and only recognized
Christopher Woods. He was "Assistant to the Chief" during the Clinton era. He, in
effect, was the political watch dog sent by the Department to keep an eye on the FS
and to see that the Administration's philosophy and agenda was carried out. Dollars to
dougnuts says he replaces Mark Rey. The media is announcing "Clinton III" based
on more important Obama selections. This fits.


11/23 Fireline Faller issues

You asked some very critical questions about commercial fallers on the fireline.
I am addressing them on our blog: http://northwesttimberfallers.blogspot.com.
Because of the nature of the issues…and the manner in which we are addressing
them, I believe this is the best venue to discuss them. I’ve termed this process
“The Gorilla Parade.” You’re welcome to check out the posts on the blog. I will
be heading to DC soon, and will report from there, as well.

Have a wonderful, warm and safe holiday season.


11/23 FWFSA:

To: "The dude saying what you're all thinking"

Yes you do speak for all of us with regards to the FWFSA and to Casey.
Thankfully you still have the $$ to "drink SEVERAL beers".

Some of us do not any more have that kind of expendable $$ and many
more of us spent long portions of our careers unable to afford it.

So does this mean that supporting the FWFSA means a beer in every hand


11/23 FWFSA:


No matter how broke I am (and believe me, I know broke), I always look at my NFC statement every pay period and smile when I see that $10.00 goes to support me and my fellow dirt dwellers. Thank you for all you do, and stand up for in our community. I can't imagine a Forest Service without your voice, to fight for equality for the skilled and dedicated FIREFIGHTERS of this ailing agency. The fact that we have retained the people we have is nothing short of a miracle. It won't last forever, and I know the day we celebrate our victory in pay, and working conditions, I will drink SEVERAL beers as a toast of my appreciation of OUR hard work!!!!


The dude saying what you're all thinking

11/23 Cabinet?


Obama's transition team for energy and natural resources.

_*Energy and Natural Resources Team Leads

*_*David J. Hayes* - former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior (1999-2001)

*Bart Chilton* - Commissioner, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission; former deputy chief of staff for Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman

*Carole Jett *- retired in May from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service

*Elgie Holstein* - chief of staff to Energy Secretary Federico Peña, the associate environmental director at the Office of Management and Budget, and a special White House assistant for economic policy on the National Economic Council

*Elizabeth Montoya* - a former Clinton White House personnel director, is now a human resource management consultant with Sealaska Corporation in Juneau, Alaska

*Sue Tierney* - was in the Energy Department under Clinton, is an environmental consultant with Analysis Group

*Cecilia V. Estolano* - chief executive officer of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, a senior policy adviser at the EPA under Clinton

*Lisa Jackson* - appointed in 2006 to lead New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s Environmental Protection Department after working in management at EPA

*Robert Sussman *- former EPA deputy administrator during the first two years of the Clinton administration

*Rose McKinney*-James - single-handedly will lead the review on Federal Regulation and Oversight of Energy. She has a strong background in renewable energy and is currently the managing principal of Energy Works Consulting. She previously served as president and CEO of the Corporation for Solar Technology and Renewable Resources.

*Keith Harper* - Attorney specializing in Indian rights, chairs the Native American Practice Group at Kilpatrick Stockton and is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

*John Leshy *- former head lawyer at the Dept. of Interior also served as counsel to then-House Natural Resources Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.)

_*Energy and Natural Resources Team

*_Department of Agriculture, Douglas Jake Caldwell
Department of Agriculture, Carol Clifford
Department of Agriculture, David Lazarus
Department of Agriculture, Mary McNeil
Department of Agriculture, Karen Stuck
Department of Agriculture, Michael Taylor
Department of Agriculture, Dallas Tonsager
Department of Agriculture, Christopher Wood

Department of the Interior, Robert Anderson
Department of the Interior, Deanna Archuleta
Department of the Interior, John Echohawk
Department of the Interior, Edward Farquhar
Department of the Interior, Molly McUsic
Department of the Interior, Shirley Neff
Department of the Interior, Renee Stone
Department of the Interior, Mark Van Putten


11/22 I received a phone call from a more experienced firefighter, he lost a buddy
Ron Scott in 1969-70, he was from the Mendo, on a fire in the Angles NF,
a helicopter incident, where the copter was blown off the ridge and all were
lost, if you have any info about this please contact Bill Mullins at

po8cowboy @ aol.com (take out spaces)



Bill gave permission to post this. Ab.

11/22 FWFSA:

Ab and all:

In recent days I have become even more aware of the fact that none of us is immune to the economic tailspin this country is in whether it be individually, within our own family units, or among the organizations such as the WFF, the FWFSA and perhaps wildlandfire.com who serve the wildland firefighting community.

I am fully cognizant of the financial re-prioritization that many of us are dealing with through no fault of our own. While I can't speak for the Foundation, I presume that they, like the FWFSA, are feeling a negative impact from the economic turmoil even while we all continue to do our very best in serving the wildland firefighting community.

Perhaps the economic downturn, coupled with the slow pace of change for our wildland firefighters has led to some reconsidering their current membership or future membership with the FWFSA or reconsidering an important contribution to the Foundation. My family, like so many, are also looking at ways to reduce expenses, cut costs etc., through this time of uncertainty.

The irony is that the economic woes come at a time when federal wildland firefighters have received unprecedented national attention to their issues; received millions of dollars from congress not only as recognition of their vital role to the Nation but as a "down payment" on significant pay & personnel policy reforms.

I am sure that the fact that many of the issues we are now getting attention on have been frustrating our firefighters for decades while the Agencies ignore their pleas also weighs heavily on whether the perceived slow pace of change is worth the financial outlay each month in membership dues to the FWFSA given the economy.

I'm writing all this because as I drove down to Salt Lake City today with so much of this on my mind...(my wife says I look like I have the weight of the wildland firefighting world on my shoulders), I noticed a billboard that couldn't have been more appropriate for what I am trying to convey.

There was a picture of Abraham Lincoln and next to him were the words:
failed, failed, failed

That was it. No company logo, no advertisement, just a statement of fact that some things are worth fighting for and that no matter how many times you fail, no matter how many hurdles the government may put in your way, hard work, perseverance and persistence will pay off.

I can only hope that our members and our future members consider their membership in the FWFSA as an investment in their future... perhaps much slower in appreciation than the stock market used to be but perhaps a much more solid investment... one that they themselves can participate in to help make the changes they have deserved for far too long.

I'm sure with the economy, every dollar is critical to all of us. So too is your future. No one at the FWFSA is getting rich and as I've posted here before, I likely make less than any wildland firefighter out there and have no benefits except for having the best job in the word representing the best firefighters in the world. I hope I can speak for AB, as well as Vicki and her staff at the Foundation by saying we all do what we do out of an irrepressible affection and admiration for all that our Nation's wildland firefighters do.

Unfortunately, it takes money to provide these services to the wildland firefighting community; to educate Congress and secure their support and action on the issues. We are all committed to seeing these changes come to fruition and despite the slow pace of change history has shown us, I truly am confident that we will be able to continue to build on the progress we made this past year.

There will be a great deal of change in Washington not only in the mind set of Congress, but the Administration and it's various agencies. I hope all of our members and those considering joining will recognize our value to all wildland firefighters and you will continue to support the FWFSA, the Foundation and wildlandfire.com during these disconcerting economic times. It truly is your voice & your future.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

We always persist. Ab.

11/21 Re Retention Promises:

The Wave

Reality, I support your posts. If you take into account a bigger picture, I think you make some good points or at least some interesting points.

18 days.........

After almost one year:

* No decision on PTP or a hybrid PTP.
* No decision on retention pay
* No update of 462 Special Pay
* No steps to increase a building maintenance program for fire facilities.
* No plans to build barracks or fire stations.
* No Computer or Admin support positions have been added.
* No increased tours for those who want to work.
* No Communications, no decisions = No Credibility

Someone will say "That's a long list, they sure are asking for a lot". Wrong. These are not our proposals, these are the proposals the 4th floor put on the table Remember Email-boy's (Pena) last teaser in Sept concerning what could be coming?

18 days until December 10th the one year anniversary. Get your keyboard ready. No decisions, no communication with us = No annual leave for the Public Affairs Talking Heads on the 4th floor.

The wave is building..........


11/21 Reality Check: ... the firefighter fatality issue MUST be considered a shared responsibility all the way up to the Pres. Avoidable deaths of firefighters is serious business. It takes a team effort to mitigate them and when the only thing that is done is reinforcing this type of managerial negligence with large sums of money, things will continue to go bad. Does "the buck really stop here?" If I were in his position, I would most definitely include myself in the deaths of firefighters in my region, under my watch.

[[shudder]] Where are Q and JWT and Croft when we need them??????????????

Casey - have you checked with the Obama transition team about including such past good retired LEADERS in the transition? That's only three, there's lots more. The "retired FS chiefs" group made their mark on the "Flame Act" with funding ... Even as an "advisory panel" they'd contribute soooo much. Giving them a little clout would be too much to hope for, I suppose.

11/21 Ab,

I thought the personal attacks (such as those by Reality Check) were not
part of They Said. So, if there is a change in policy, let me weigh in.

Reality Check, your posting indicates a lack of experience, leadership and
perspective. To try to tie benefits and wages as a causal factor in fatalities
is attempting to exploit tragedy to feather your own nest. Shame on you.

Old Fire Guy

11/21 Hi All,

For those that want a fire calendar or a number of calendars, head on over to The Supply Cache and order. ALL PROCEEDS go to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Get together with friends and co-workers, order a packet of them. Perfect for gifts. Or order a number of them yourself and hand them out to your crews for "a job well done". It's for a great cause, our WFF.

The Supply Cache has lots of good equipment too.


11/21 3 Year fatality stats, cause of death

Based on NWCG SafetyGram data.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/lessons-learn/cause-death-06-08.doc (35 K doc file)

11/21 DM

I respectfully considered your request for me to leave Mr. Moore out of the Regions firefighters deaths, and "not go after him" thought it out for a few minutes and then said to myself Nah! I will most definitely include him as a causal factor in the deaths of the firefighters, this year as well as last years, at least within my thought process.

In my opinion, the firefighter fatality issue MUST to be considered a shared responsibility all the way up to the Pres.. Avoidable deaths of firefighters is serious business. It takes a team effort to mitigate them and when the only thing that is done is reinforcing this type of managerial negligence with large sums of money, things will continue to go bad. Does "the buck really stop here?" If I were in his position, I would most definitely include myself in the deaths of firefighters in my region, under my watch. If in fact Safety was still a critical a factor in my performance rating, then I would do everything I could to change the situation, turn the money back, or resign. Any leader worth his or her salt would do this.

I will also consider any one else in our "mismanagement elite" who would support showing skewed retention and pay numbers to congress, disregard our basic concerns as firefighters, and scoff at our simple requests concerning retaining quality and experienced firefighters.. something that he could be very effective in controlling or changing. He should at least hold himself accountable. We must also keep in mind that much of our "mis-management elite" is one on the three year plan; many of them will not be here in three years, so why deal with or be held accountable for such "do nothing" management practices? "Washington awaits!"

You know DM, the best way to stop me from including Regional Foresters, Chiefs, Forest Supervisors, Rangers and even Under Secretaries, in accountability for firefighters fatalities is to not read "They said" when you see "Reality Check". This is simply my opinion, and until my freedom of speech rights are taken away, I will continue to state my opinion.

Sleep well!

Reality Check.

11/21 Safety vests on highways:

It's a relief to see this revision of info presented on 11/3:

Safety Concerns Raised by the Firefighting Community Regarding High-Visibility Safety Apparel Result in Modification to Vest Rule

November 21, 2008 -- The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today issued an Interim Final Rule to address safety concerns raised by the firefighting community regarding high-visibility safety apparel (see Worker Visibility Final Rule - 23 CFR Part 634, below).

The Interim Final Rule:

* Revises the definition of "worker" to exclude firefighters when they are exposed to flame, fire, high heat or hazardous materials.
* Exempts firefighters from the requirement to use high-visibility safety apparel, as defined in this rule, when they are exposed to hazardous conditions where the use of such apparel may increase the risk of injury to firefighter personnel.

The Interim Final Rule is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-27671.php

Worker Visibility Final Rule - 23 CFR Part 634

A new FHWA regulation (Worker Visibility Final Rule - 23 CFR Part 634) that goes into effect on November 24, 2008 requires firefighters and other first responders responding to or working at an incident on federally funded highways to wear a retro reflective safety vest that meets the Class II or III standards of the American National Standards Institute/International Safety Equipment Association (ANSI/ISEA) 107-2004 publication. The ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 Public Safety Vest standard has also been interpreted as meeting this requirement. For more information, visit ResponderSafety.com or discuss this on the USFA Blog.

11/20 Postponement of 4th session of "Bootcamp" at Humboldt State University:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/retention/postpone-bootcamp4.pdf (353K pdf file)

Factors that have contributed to the low student numbers are many; however
the main ones are the current travel ceilings, budget priorities and the probable
changes in the 401 Series for Fire Management Specialist IFPM Requirement.

11/20 Sayre Fire: Hallowed Ground For Firefighters

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD website

Having been away from Los Angeles this week and mourning the loss of a friend, mentor and legendary firefighter - it was with compounded sadness that I watched our beloved City ablaze.

Though off-duty and unable to respond from afar, my personal cellphone rang through the night with calls from reporters seeking "the story". With the initial Incident Command Post for the Sayre Fire listed as El Cariso Park, I politely guided journalists to the site by instinct, asking them but one favor:

"Please, tell the story behind the name of El Cariso Park"

Click the link to read the rest about the ElCariso hotshot crew and the Loop Fire. Ab.

11/20 Serious Accident Investigations:

Circulating, a very good briefing paper...

Forest Service Wildland Fire Serious Accidents, Fiscal Year 2008

11/20 Re Fire Causes:

What the Fire Info officers have to deal with is telling the media

"at this time we do not know the exact cause of the fire;
however it is our policy to investigate all fires - whether
natural or human caused."

If they are then smart enough, they can throw prevention messages
back at the media. Many fires are caused by nature, lightning, wind
falling trees across power lines, even solar flares and meteorites
(smile); however a good many fires are started by abandoned campfires,
people burning brush or trash, even hikers - (remember the good
environmentally conscious medical practitioner that burned his toilet
paper,) - smokers, madmen or women, or.......

What one needs to remember is dead air time is the media's problem.
And that's all I have to say about that....

- Forrest Gump

11/20 Rusty Muir Scholarship Fund

Rusty Muir passed away at home on May 23, 2008. He was Rowdy Muir's

In memory of Rusty Muir, a scholarship fund has been organized through the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Donations to the Rusty Muir Scholarship
fund can be made in lieu of flowers or other tokens of remembrance for
Rusty Muir and in respect to his family.

Rusty was a huge proponent of education, so much so that he was the
President of the Education Board in his home county. He even built a
school during his tenure.

He was also the kind of guy who had a very strong work ethic. If you
showed up for work early, stayed late, and worked your tail off in between,
you would meet with his standard of a hard worker (and a good kid).

Rusty was the kind of guy that would protect and defend the down and out.
He always looked after others, especially those who needed help. Many
of you might remember him from his many years with the Forest Service
from 1979 to 1999.

We'd appreciate any donations to that fund so sometime in the future, we'll
be able to help a hard working kid with a college education in Rusty's

What a great Christmas gift! A donation to this fund would be a great gift
for the person who believes in the value of an education!


11/20 Reality Check

As much as I dislike the job Mr. Moore is doing it really isn't fair to go after him
on the deaths of people on fires in the region. I think the bonus is a real slap in the
face to fire personnel that he won't listen to or help out. Also right now no one
including Division Supervisors, I.C.s, or any others is being charged with anything
that I know of on the deaths of our firefighters. Now as far as Mr. Moore getting
his bonus, attack him all day on that but please don't bring the deaths into the

11/20 San Diego County has officially formed the San Diego County Regional
Fire Authority. Of course, for now, it's only a Fire Warden overseeing
the existing volunteer agencies, but it's a start.


11/19 Could someone please squash the rumor I heard recently that, the Region five, Regional Forester...Mr. Randy Moore had received a cash award this year that was 30% of his salary? You dastardly rumor mongers are not being fair to Mr. Moore.

I argued that this could never be the case, and that a man of his integrity would never accept such an amount, or at least if he did he would have donated the money to the wildland firefighter foundation, on account of the 15 firefighter deaths in His Region under HIS watch during fire season 2008, I know for a fact that if I had 15 firefighters lost their lives under my watch as a module leader, Division supervisor or Incident Commander, that I would be in court or jail right now on charges of manslaughter, much like Ellreese Daniels was, or looking for employment like the Cramer fire IC is, not receiving a huge cash bonus for my unacceptable leadership and indignant refusal to support related issues such as firefighter recruitment, retention etc.

Someone, please tell me that this was just a baseless rumor, so I can get some sleep tonight?


Reality Check

11/19 OPM Elimination of Time and Grade Requirement:

This can be viewed as an example of the writing on the wall with the retention issue. The with loss of experienced supervisors, agencies are going to be hard pressed to fill the gaps. I hate to say it but this seems to be an opportunity for management to cut corners which is going to become a safety issue. Use whatever cliché example of the need for experience because that is what is being sacrificed to have names to stick next to GS-#'s on module rosters. Sure there is still the requirements of training and other factors. However, say for example you have a GS-5 fresh out of the apprentice program with his class B license and the quals required for the job. It would have taken him at least a year if he wasn't laid off in the off season to make AFEO. But odds are it would have been at least 2 seasons before they made their promotion. Now they are in a position to make the jump to AFEO to FEO in a fraction of the time. They would be far behind the learning curve once they made it to that FEO position and were forced to act as module captain in the absence of the SFEO. This is just once scenario that popped in my head. I can look back at other supervisors that I have had that many felt moved up the ladder too fast and as a consequence, didn't have the faith and trust that was required for the module to operate at its highest efficiency.

-Just some personal concerns

Former Left Coast Forestry Tech

11/19 Photos Link sent in by Q:


35 very fine photos

Takes quite a bit of time to load if you have dialup. Ab.
11/18 Smoke Study:

Sent in by Gizmo:

Smoke study info posted on the Hotlist:

SMOKE STUDY looks a wildland firefighter risks

(pdf of original study)

11/18 Sent in by Firescribe:


Firefighting after Prop. A's defeat

By Richard W. Halsey
November 14, 2008

While voters will be blamed for yet another failure to increase taxes for fire protection in San Diego County, they made an intelligent choice in rejecting Proposition A.

It was an ill-conceived tax proposal that failed to provide a comprehensive plan on how the money was going to be spent and how the county intended to improve public safety. It only offered the same piecemeal approach to fire protection that has plagued San Diego County for years and has been partially responsible for establishing our region's unfortunate record: more lives and homes have been lost here due to wildfires over the past decade than anywhere else in the Western United States.

What exactly is wrong with the way San Diego County deals with fire protection and how do we fix the problem?

San Diego County remains the only large urban county in California without its own fire department. Many areas such as Ramona, Cuyamaca and Dulzura are woefully underserved for day-to-day incidents, let alone major wildfires.

The best way to prevent fires from becoming monsters is by jumping on them when they are still small. This cannot be done with inadequate firefighting resources. The San Diego County budget is more than $4 billion. However, the county has only allocated $8.5 million to $15 million per year to support fire protection services. For comparison, Orange County, which is one-fifth the size of San Diego County, spends more than $275 million on its fire department. San Diego County also receives about $250 million from the half-cent sales tax levied by Proposition 172 approved in 1993. This money is required to be spent on public safety services, but the county continually has refused to allocate any of this tax revenue for fire protection.

It is common knowledge throughout the fire service in California that San Diego is considered a "welfare county" when it comes to fire protection. This is because it depends heavily on out-of-region fire agencies to fight its own wildfires and cannot adequately reciprocate when other regions need help. Under mutual aid agreements, cities and independent fire districts are continually responding to county emergencies, especially during major events. But mutual aid is not meant to be depended upon for first response.

Although no official will say so publicly, there may come a time when fire agencies will refuse to send firefighting resources to the county during major firestorm events because their first obligation is to their own citizens – the people who paid for the services in the first place.

In an attempt to show the voters "something" is being done to improve fire protection, San Diego County has focused on temporary fixes that provide good press but do little to reduce the threat of wildfire in the long term. While aircraft are essential fire suppression tools, there must be "boots on the ground" to complete the task. No fire can be put out by aircraft alone.

The "super-scooper" planes leased by the county this fall may provide impressive front-page photos, but they are useless when it really matters most – during Santa Ana wind driven wildfires. The planes cannot operate when winds are in excess of 35 mph and do not have nighttime flying capability.

With this choice, county politicians offered the public a political solution rather than one based on science and recommendations from fire professionals. The less flashy Ericson skycrane, a remarkable helicopter that can be flown both at night and in windy conditions, was the preferred choice by county firefighters.

The county's continual promotion of the idea to repeatedly burn the backcountry and protected habitat to get rid of the native vegetation will only lead to the destruction of natural resources and increase the spread of flammable, invasive weeds. While it is popular to falsely blame environmental laws and promote the misconception that chaparral plant communities are "unnaturally" dense due to past fire suppression efforts, such hand waving only diverts attention from what really needs to be done.

To fix the fire protection deficient in San Diego County, five steps need to be taken:

(1) Develop a functional regional fire protection system. Retain an experienced fire and government planning firm to review the multitude of reports already in existence, outline a vision for improvement, identify the fiscal impact, educate the public and elected officials as to its findings, and propose a plan for implementation. This process must be inclusive. All stakeholders must be involved in drafting the scope of the plan, with expenses phased incrementally as the study results are delivered.

(2) Focus on the entire fire risk equation. Too much attention is being placed on wildland vegetation and not on what matters most, creating fire safe communities. People died and homes were lost in the 2007 fires because the entire fire risk reduction equation was never solved. It isn't just about defensible space and aircraft, but a multitude of other factors including building design, volunteer fire brigades that can assist fire suppression activities, public education, and adequately funded regional fire protection.

(3) Code enforcement. Fire protection depends heavily on preparation. The county must dramatically increase its fire code enforcement division or allow and fund local county service areas to pick up the slack.

(4) Remove conflicts of interest. Fire needs to be taken out of the Department of Planning and Land Use and moved to the Office of Emergency Services. Fire protection decisions must be determined by how best to protect lives, property and natural resources, not development pressures.

(5) Funding. The county Board of Supervisors must show the voters they are serious about fire protection by funding a county fire protection system out of their existing budget. About $125 million per year would be a good start.

The California Constitution states, "The protection of the public safety is the first responsibility of local government and local officials have an obligation to give priority to the provision of adequate public safety services." With proper leadership the county can fulfill this obligation, but it will require an inclusive, collaborative process and a willingness by county politicians to pay for what we need.

11/18 Request for crew availability info:

This came out from NIFC.


From National Interagency Coordination Center

Center Managers - As we move into the late fall, early winter time period we still have significant potential in southern California for elevated fire occurrence such as we experienced over the weekend. We are working with California to put together a short and long term strategy (30 and 60 days) and need an accurate assessment of our national resource capability, primarily tactical resources. Recognizing that a number of personnel which normally make up crews are off the payroll for the season we need to consider some different alternatives; such as combining remaining permanent full time personnel from several crews into one crew and forming smokejumper crews. Please provide the following information by the close of business tomorrow, Tuesday 11/18/2008:

* Total number of crews you could put together using T1 IHC qualified firefighters (T1 IHC Crewmembers, Smokejumpers, or combination of both)
* Total number of T2IA crews that can be made available; agency and contract
* Total number of engines by type; agency and contract

Additionally, please communicate the field regarding the importance of maintaining accurate and current status on overhead resources as well.

11/18 Causes of Fires:


I thought I'd send this in for the media sources that read They Said.

Many local PIOs have also been struggling with these terms also lately when speaking with the media over the last week. In fact, many media and press sources have been wrongly pressuring (badgering) PIOs for info that they cannot release or don't have.... and the poor responses to media inquiries make the fire service look bad.

In terms of general fire causes, there are two main categories: 1) Natural, and 2) Human Caused.

Natural causes are normally lightning, but have also been attributed to meteorites and earthquakes, or other events specific to nature such as volcanic flows..

ALL OTHER causes (powerline failure, arson, equipment use, etc.) are classified as human caused for reporting purposes.

When "human caused" is used, it does not infer anything other than natural causes have been ruled out by fire investigators. Human caused fires can be divided into subcategories of "accidental", "intentional", or "misc.", but not until investigations are completed.

When the exact causes of fires are known, they will be released to the public with more specifics. Until then, fires are reported as "Under Investigation"..

/s/ FI-210 Basics

11/18 Quick Connect,

The information I sent in was a portion of a USDA program on ethics. It is based upon existing rules, regulations, and laws that affect all employees of the USDA, including the Forest Service.

Bargaining Unit Agreements do not trump federal law, and in many cases, when an Unfair Labor Practice is wrongly pursued, some agreements are nullified for cause by the FLRA or the courts. The threat of an ULP by a labor organization is not an appropriate reason for a manager or leader not following the law, nor doing what is right under the circumstances.

For anyone who took time to go through the link I provided, they will see that the FS/NFFE Master Agreement and the USDA Ethics Program are actually complimentary and don't leave much gray area for discussion or interpretation.

Quick Connect, I'm not sure what you were looking for, but I'd like to know what I said that wasn't entirely correct?


P.S. - Trust me.... I know the FS/NFFE Master Agreement better than a few NFFE Union Stewards.... LOL
11/17 I have not contributed before, but read They Said daily. Ref: contract county guy.

San Mateo County was one of the first contract counties along with LA, Marin, Ventura and Santa Barbara. The county asked CDF to take back protection of the SRA in the early 60s. The county's local government protection program was then provided under contract with CDF.

CDF F1 retired

Welcome CDF F1 retired. Ab.

11/17 OPM Elimination of Time and Grade Requirement:

Ab –

Hi! I received this in email on Friday. If this is true, it is a BIG DEAL. BIG.
Thought I’d send in case no one else had sent…

-In the east

“The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is eliminating the time-in-grade
restriction on advancement to competitive service positions in the General
Schedule. The rule eliminates the 52-week time-in-grade requirement for
promotions. Employees must continue to meet occupational qualification
standard requirements and any additional job-related qualification requirements
established for the position.

http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-26559.php "

11/17 Attached is a Preliminary Summary Sheet (Blue Sheet) referencing an engine burnover on the “Freeway Incident” resulting in minor injuries of four local government firefighters. Please provide wide distribution for the purposes of discussion and Tailgate Safety session.

Dave Teter
Battalion Chief - Department Safety Officer

Hotlist thread with prelim details: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=32999

11/17 About CalFire contract counties....

San Mateo was never a "Contract County", they had an expanded local fire service agreement (as did San Diego County at one time) that allowed for structural fire protection (Schedule A) by CDF. That is a different kind of agreement.

In "contract counties", county government becomes a contract agent to the state and directly protects state (and other) lands to the same manner or better than what CalFire would do directly. In many contract counties they supplement wildland fire protection well beyond what CDF reimburses for direct protection, and all are required to fully service state lands with command, suppression, prevention, and related services.

At one time there were 5 contract counties, with the sixth added in 1980 when Orange County ended a schedule A agreement with CDF and began its own service. The 6 CalFire contract counties include Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Kern Counties.

Here from CalFire's website is their description:

Contract CountiesThe California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire)
is responsible for fire protection within State Responsibility Areas
(SRA). SRA is found in 56 of California's 58 counties and totals more
than 31 million acres.

In most cases SRA is protected directly by CalFire, however, in Kern,
Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, SRA
fire protection is provided by the counties under contract with Cal
FIire. Known as "Contract Counties", they protect 3.4 million acres of

CalFire provides funding to the six counties for fire protection
services including wages of suppression crews, lookouts, maintenance
of fire fighting facilities, fire prevention assistants, pre-fire
management positions, dispatch, special repairs, and administrative
services. The Department's budget also provides for infrastructure
improvements, and expanded fire fighting needs when fires grow beyond
initial attack.

Contract Counties are responsible for providing initial response to
fires on SRA. When a wildland fire escapes this initial attack, Cal
Fire responds with fire fighting resources to assist the county.

Currently, the state funds 68 fire stations, 82 fire engines, 12
bulldozers, 10 fire prevention officers, and portions of the 6
emergency command centers in the six counties.

CalFire continues to provide other services to Contract Counties
including urban forestry grants, support during earthquakes, floods,
and other disasters, and the services of California State Fire Marshal
which was consolidated into CalFire in 1995.

Contract County Guy

11/17 The Seasonal Employment Announcements for the BLM IHCs are open.


11/17 Lobotomy

With all due respect, as I'm not trying to nitpick here, but your post on 11/14 is not entirely true. Your simple fix CFR is a USDA policy from the looks of it, not specific to the Forest Service. Now, if you are a manager, which it sounds like you may be, you would probably have a Unfair Labor Practice, or Grievance on your hands if you denied someone the right to outside employment, without investigating first.

The reason I say this is because in the FS/NFFE Master Agreement the following is in writing:


8. Employees shall have the right to engage in outside activities and employment
of their own choosing, and otherwise conduct their private lives as they see fit, in
accordance with the following subsections:

a. Without prior approval, an employee may participate in the activities, not
prohibited by law, of national or State political parties and may participate in the
affairs of or accept an award for a meritorious public contribution of achievement
given by a charitable, religious, professional, social, fraternal, nonprofit
educational and recreational, public service, or civic organization. An employee
shall not:

(1) Accept a fee, compensation, gift, payment of expense, or any other thing
of monetary value in circumstances in which the acceptance may result in or
create the appearance of conflicts of interest.

(2) Engage in outside employment that impairs his or her mental or physical
capacity to perform his or her job.

(3) Receive any salary or anything of monetary value from a private source as
compensation for his or her Government services.

b. Employees who are in positions subject to filing financial disclosure reports
(OGE-450) must obtain supervisory approval prior to engaging in outside
employment. All employees who engage in outside employment, whether or not
prior approval is required, are subject to ethics regulations pertaining to conflict
of interest. Employees are encouraged to seek advice from their ethics advisors
on potential conflict of interest situations at any time.

Now in Falco's example, it sounds to me like there is a definite conflict of interest there.
I apologize to you in advance if this is what you meant by (with limited exceptions).

Quick Connect

11/17 Hi there,

Please add to your link list Working on Fire, South Africa´s wildland fire agency.


Thanks Alex, I added it to the Links page under World. Ab.

11/17 Firefighter Menmorial

Ab and firefighting community

I am the widow of a CalFire Engineer California. We are trying to erect a
memorial for all fallen California Wildland Firefighters and I need to get info on
The Name of the Fire,
The Place,
The Date and
How Many Were Lost
from 1996-present.

e-mail karlyndamals @ aol.com (take out spaces)

Can any one help me?. Thanks in advance.

Carlo Guthrie

Ab also has her phone numbers if phoning /discussing is better than emailing.

11/17 GIS Girl:

Quick History of Contract Counties:

In the 1940ies when the Public Resources Code defined SRA and the State assumed functional and financial responsibility for wildland fire suppression and investigation, several Counties had wildland fire organizations in place. In Marin, the Tamalpias Forest Fire District taxed local property owners to provide wildland fire protection. Because the State took responsibility for the District lands, the District existed illegally, due to double taxation. The Contract County Clause in the PRC was added and allowed the State to contract (pay) County Fire Departments for Initial Attack protection and fire investigation of SRA lands within the County. It is important to note that “County Fire Department” refers to a Department governed by the County Board of Supervisors (County Govt. is an administrative arm of the State Govt.).

San Mateo County used to be a Contract County but went back to the State some time ago. Orange used to Contract with CDF for Schedule A protection, but formed their own County FD some decades ago. Not quite sure how the Orange County Fire Authority fulfills the County Fire Department run by the BOS requirement, but the large Counties in So Cal have the votes, so they have the pull to get what they want. The funding levels are based on the SRA acres and what resources CDF would have in place in the County if they were protecting the SRA such as Engines, Dozers, Stations, Prevention, Staffing and length of fire season.

Forming a number of agencies into a large District and naming it _____ County Fire, doesn’t create a Contract County, and I doubt CDF is interesting in creating any additional Contract Counties, it is just less $$$ for them.

Hope this helps.

North Bay FC
11/17 Arson Arrest:

This is the story about the arson arrest. It is not connected with the major fires.


Man Arrested in Malibu on Suspicion of Arson
Suspect allegedly started fire near Malibu Creek State Park.

Malibu -- A 39-year-old man was arrested for suspicion of arson near Malibu Creek State Park, a sheriff's deputy said today.

Suren Sahakyan was booked on suspicion of arson at the sheriff's Lost Hills Station and held in lieu of $75,000 bail, said Deputy Byron Ward of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau.

An area resident saw the man on shoulder of Stokes Canyon Road near Mulholland Highway, starting a fire using paper and leaves about 5:20 p.m. Saturday, Ward said.

The resident stomped out the fire, and Sahakyan fled only to be caught by sheriff's deputies a short distance away, he said.

fair use disclaimer

11/16 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:

Well Abs,

I guess I'll toss my two cents into the NWCG/AD issue. I'm a retired non-fire fed, was in the militia, and go out these days as an AD. Do I make as much as I did as an active duty employee? No. But then again, my GS grade was based on the complexity and responsibilities of my day job, not my fire job. Was it fair to the government or the taxpayers to pay me at that rate-- probably not. One thing you can say about the AD system, with all its flaws, is that it attempts to base the pay on the complexity and responsibilities of the job. In the AD world you don't see RO GS-13s driving supply trucks and GS-9 fire people working as deputy ICs. Does that happen in the active duty world? Yep. Is it fair to the government, taxpayers and especially the GS-9s? Absolutely not! I think for the time being, the fire world is going to have to put up with the AD/ contractor/ reserve or whatever system for filling positions. The pool of retired folks with fire quals grows daily, and I doubt they will ever let you hire as many new people as you need. (Don't believe everything politicians tell you, no matter who they are--yes, I voted for him too.)

One thing I think they should consider for active duty employees is a separate fire pay schedule, reflecting the complexity and responsibilities of the position the person is doing on an incident, regardless of their day job, fire or not. I'd think it would be an incentive for younger folks to build their quals, knowing they would be paid for them. And you would see a lot fewer GS-13s driving supply trucks!

Anyway, thanks Abs for the forum.

Just sign me anon.

You're welcome anon. I think change can happen even in AD rate if the alternative looks too costly and regulation is needed. Ab.

11/16 Santa Ana Fire cause / arson?

Hi Ab,

Been hearing about all the new fires.. everyone stay safe. I had one question,
are these fires arson or not.. on tv they said they had arrested someone but
that fire was put out rather quickly.

Just wondering


Hi Kathy, Santa Anas and fire can bring out the nut jobs. But I haven't heard of any arrests. The trailer park that burned in the Sayre Fire near Sylmar was cordoned off yesterday as a possible crime scene. Media was kicked out. More than 500 residences burned there. They're investigating that fire as arson. There were also comments that they needed to work through the area to see if there were any people that were killed. The place looked nuked, so it might be hard to find remains. The elderly often live in trailer parks like that one.

The atmosphere at the press conference I watched was grim and very sad. Several of the firefighters and officials that were being interviewed were almost in tears. They seemed to be taking it very hard and personally that so much had been lost. (PTS symptoms?) That incident also resulted in lots of eye injuries (60+ at a local hospital) from the tornadic blowing metal pieces from the trailers. When winds are 45 mph gusting to 65 mph, there is little firefighters or homeowners can do. Firefighters did well at saving 60 homes of 600 in that park. I hope they get a break and can rest up.

I am told that all the other CA fires listed on the hotlist also have the "Cause" section of the 209 as "Under Investigation". If any fires were started by arsonists, I hope they catch and incarcerate the people responsible. Ab.

11/16 Dear "TW"

I would presume (although I may be wrong) that your firefighters are under a collective bargaining agreement between the Dept. of the Army and the union which represents your bargaining unit employees...perhaps AFGE, or NFFE or NAGE?

As a former Dept. of Defense firefighter union president, I would suspect that training is addressed in your master collective bargaining agreement.

Additionally you didn't mention if the training was mandated by your fire department or the Army, or whether it is voluntary. Sanctioned training doesn't necessarily mean its mandatory.

Historically speaking, if the fire department or the "employer" requires you to have the training and the training is scheduled on your day off...i.e. if you're working the traditional DoD schedule of 24 on, 24 off, they must pay you OT.

If the training is voluntary likely they don't need to pay you OT. Obviously if you are on duty the day of the scheduled training, you take your apparatus to the training location.

I'd double-check your agreement, check with your local union representative. If you are represented by the IAFF, I'd give IAFF 16th Dist. VP Jim Johnson a call.

If you have any other questions along this line I'd be delighted to offer you some guidance. You can email me at cjudd@fwfsa.org but I'd try with your local union folks first.

11/16 CA-LFD-Sayre Fire

This fire is now below Bear Divide Hotshot base. As we all remember
Nov 1, 1966, the Loop fire roared to life and we lost members of the
El Cariso Hotshots. Same Santa Ana wind conditions.

Just thought I would jog some memories and keep us thinking about

KRN 52

11/16 AD System flawed (Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper)

Chief Daniels,

I think that was a fair post. It's always good to read about all options. You said the AD system is flawed. Well I have a good idea: Lets allow the same agency who have been tasked to manage the AD system for the past 50 years get involved in regulating and telling other Fire Chiefs, your peers, what they can pay, how they will pay and who they can pay. The same agency who has involved in reducing our militia levels by cutting their jobs. Yes, I trust the developers of the briefing paper who watched the AD program dissolve with this new agenda. I don't think so.

It's all about supply and demand. The demand is high. Hasn't supply side economics been the foundation the last 8 years? Oh, I guess that's just when it comes things other than employee pay.

After reading your post again, your actions and reasons for an agreement are identical to why California LGs have agreements. You all have good reasons. The only difference is PTP. Over time PTO will be more and more the accepted reality of emergency service. I have no doubt that since the Fed Gov already pays PTO to some Fed agencies, they will one of these days pay it to mine.

It's only a matter of time. 25 Days until December 10th.


PTO will be a reality

11/16 The Forest Service/OMB travel cap issue continues. The affects of it grow daily and not only from the standpoint of building the skills of our Firefighters. The cap could begin to degrade the workshops, conferences and coordination meetings Fire Management has to increase cooperation, coordination, build capacity and sustain cohesion. Is anything being done to fix this mess?

"Obama-Biden Administration will increase the federal

government’s commitment to field the most professional, well-trained, and well-coordinated wildfire fighting

force in the world"


25 Days Until December 10th
"The Day Extended Staffing of your Keyboard is Approved"

11/16 We firefighters here at ANAD (Anniston Army Depot) have been told that we cannot receive
overtime for training when we continue to work our regular 24 hour shifts: that is, we continue
to work our 144 hour biweekly tours, and in addition, attend training sanctioned by our agency.
This training is on the installation which we work. Any specific information you could supply to
us would be very helpful.



11/16 AD System flawed (Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper)

Ab -

In reading the thread regarding local government agencies providing employees for overhead you might get the impression that everyone who works for local government is breaking the law. I think that in the spirit of fairness, we need to get both sides of the issue. My agency provides a few overhead to the national wildfire program - we are the 4th busiest cooperator in our state (CO). We -

- don't pay portal to portal - only actual hours worked. In my 25 years of experience PTP seems to be limited to local and state government in California - there may be others, but I'm not aware of them.
- don't pay or request backfill unless a specific mandatory post has been vacated by the deployment,
- do base our wage structure on the annually published AD rates by the DOI or USDA,
- do add to the base wage our actual expenses for what it costs us to employ the person being deployed (to "profit" from government operations is illegal)
- do pay overtime - after the employee works 40 hours in a 7 day work week.
- can employ a person at less of an expense to the fire than can a federal government agency due to significantly lower overhead (indirect) costs.
- do run into roadblocks from time to time from federal agency workers who seem to think we are essentially contractors operating under a government agency.
- do run a very tight ship with quality workers.

The reason that we employ these firefighters is two-fold. 1) to assist our agency to provide the best possible service to our constituents and our interagency partners, and 2) help train our younger, inexperienced work force that will be fighting the fires of the future.

The AD system is flawed - as are many systems that won't change with time. If the federal government can provide quality employees at the same cost to government that we can, then they should. Today they cannot.

Other local government agencies are taking advantage of the rules established - they have found multiple loopholes and are using them to their advantage. Short of "throwing the baby out with the bath water" and abandoning the use of local government employees as firefighters, I welcome the institution of appropriate guidelines to eliminate waste and what appears to be "profiteering."

Phillip Daniels, Fire Chief
Rye Fire Protection District

11/16 Info needed for someone wanting to own/operate water tender:


I spent the last two summers on a hand crew for a private contractor in Oregon.
I am interested in being the owner / operator of a water tender in California. Do
you know how to break in to this sector of the business?



11/15 Great job ab's and mod's keeping up with everything going on today on the
HotList Forum. Keep it up and thanks so much. It's going to be a long night.

Once again you're proving single handily that you and the members have
redefined the words "Intelligence Sharing" forever.

With much pride we say: What a community. What a great job.

No moniker please because these are not my words, they are words from all
of us.

Thanks, we all do our part. Ab.

11/15 Hello Ab,

I was curious if you could post this somewhere on ‘They Said’ or ‘Wildland Fire’ .
If not the actual document then the particulars of the service… Thank you so much….
keep up the wonderful work!

Jennifer Holm

actual document: Tanker-09 Memorial 11/22/08 1.pdf (nice flyer with Memorial Service info and poem)

Basic info:

The Wahlstrom, Gonsioroski, VanderGriend
and Neptune Families
request the honor of your presence
at a Memorial Service for the
Crew Members of Neptune Tanker 09
Saturday, November 22nd
11:00 am
Neptune Aviation Services Hangar
2 Corporate Way
Missoula, Montana


The Final Lap
a poem by Nancy McCormick

Let us say goodbye
To those who have flown beyond
The end of the sky
Let us salute
As they make their final pass
Fists raised in triumph

Let us remember
How they refused to stay earthbound
While we sat far below, safe and sound
And gazed in awe
As they sped by
Like a streak in the sky

Let us admire
Their ability to inspire
Their courage, so rare
Reaching further
Than most of us would dare

And let us for a moment ponder
What their choice would be
When faced with the transition to eternity
Would they want to quietly fade away
Slippers, shawl and rocking chair
Or would they want to leave this earth
While slicing through the air

One final race
Into endless space
We know the answer
Yet we yearn
For them to return
We grieve their passing
For we wanted them to stay
So we might watch them fly
Another day

They have moved on its true
And have embraced a deeper blue
But instead of shedding tears
Let us celebrate
The passion that they brought to life
The courage that they had inside
To do the things
That few others would have tried

Bold, brave and daring
Born to win, not lose
To speed, not cruise
They pursued a life
That meeker souls
Would never choose

So let us raise a rousing cheer
For those that knew
The face of fear
Flew boldly in, thrilled with the ride
And soar still, on the other side

11/15 Wind pushed fire burning in LA area. More than two dozen homes burned.

Hotlist: CA-LFD-Sayre


11/14 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

Backfill for "reserves"…

In my small mountain town, the lo CalFire department has an agreement through an R5 forest for such "reserve" firefighters. They are technically employees of the department. They are mostly retired friends from the USFS with great quals. They were very busy this season and made insane incomes. The department was also compensated for their use by either an admin fee or a back fill fee ( I forget which they said it was…) and likewise made an incredible amount of income out of the arrangement. It has been quite the talk of the town.

My friends who have benefited from this situation have my congratulations. They didn't make the rules, they have abided by them.

Unfortunately the local USFS folks, many with the same quals, have been left with their jaws wide open in disbelief. There is no resentment towards the recipients of this "golden egg" but I'll tell you right now, the local department knows its making serious money and will be hiring all they can (they're already getting rather large…) next year. If this is to continue, why even think of staying Federal?

You can invest in your own retirement.

-egg eater

11/14 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper
P/P and Local Agreements

This entire email string is making me dizzy.

The issue is the admin rate. Screw the BS about “supporting the teams”. It’s about a
16% admin rate, on a rate the dept sets, added by FICA and Social Security. The
gov is paying not only the admin rate, but also up to an additional 16% more to cover
the dept fixed costs. The entire cost is around 30-35%, of the invoice amount. Not
bad. It’s too bad line officers don’t understand what they're signing. Either that or they
just don’t care or they have been had by some retiree in their back pocket. (I would
never suggest anyone is padding their retirement, how dare you!)


11/14 Seasonals


Regarding the lay-off of the 1039 employees that I refereed to as Seasonal Firefighters...
I understood that there are 80 hours (2 weeks) of training that do not count towards a
1039's annual work hours.

The L.P. chose not to utilize/capture those hours because the "funded" fire season only
accounts for the 13 pay periods. So as a result engine and crew staffing went to 50%.
I don't understand how trying save pennies at the apex of the fire season, when the
stakes are much higher is a good choice.

Yes, luckily the 13/13s(apprentices) and 18/8s were put on fuels crews and were able
to stay somewhat available. However, it has been a very long and hard fought season,
why let your guard down in the final round?

What Tha ----

11/14 Seasonals:


The answer your question (on 11/8) is two payperiods. A couple of years ago (don't remember exactly when) they changed the titles from 13/13 and 18/8 to 13/2 and 18/2. the meaning is you are guaranteed 13, or 18 payperiods (depending on GS lvl) the other 13 or 18 meant the max pay periods off, this still holds true. The new versions 2 indicates that they can have you work for 2 payperiods taking you to 15 or 20 without your permission. After that they have to ask you if you want to continue or be laid off and it is at your discretion if you stay on or go.

Hope this helps,


11/14 Employment after retirement, Rehired Annuitant etc


I am a USDI retired FMO. To correct one thing you said...USDI DOES NOT "Hire us as Rehired Annuitants"!!! USDI rehires only a very select few high level retirees who have no current quals left and spend their rehired time on MAC Groups and similar and not on firelines.

There are and have been no concrete USDI guidelines at all for the rehiring of annuitants. As one current high level USDI official told me in so many words: It is just too big a hassle to bring back "rank-and-file" retirees under the RA "program".

We retirees will all certainly be part of the letter writing campaign to our senators and congressmen to commence on 12/10. I, for one, am also remaining an FWFSA member in the hopes that Casey can also represent our issues regarding the triple plus standards of compensation in federal wildland fire.


11/14 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

Just like the IRS, the auditors step in when red flags go up on fire spending. They also analyze fire costs when costs reach some critical dollar threshold like 10 million. Like the IRS categories, no doubt there are categories for covering costs of local replacement resources as well as some code for all kinds of resources from crews to aviation to overhead. Everything is automated. Want to bet that this year hit the tipping point for some local FD and they exceeded the norm in some category, raised the red flag and are now being pursued by the Inspector General or FBI... Was it intentional (fraud or misuse) or was it waste that wasn't noticed? (There also could have been a whistle blower accountant or someone got to bragging and pissed co-workers off... When you reach a tipping point, the truth will out.)

As someone mentioned, some line overhead on the Forest, Rangeland, National Park, or FWS Refuge is responsible for signing off on fire costs, or should be. That person delegates authority to IMTs. That line officer could have lost situational awareness in the middle of the public yelling about smoke, the public sitting outside the ranger's office, the distractions associated with the many injuries and deaths this season. Lots of MOUs to keep track of? Tribes, counties, municipalities, etc. Even if those were set up in the slow non-fire season, who could predict resources needed during the norcal lightning bust fires, for example. Forest Rangers, Range Managers, National Park Supervisors and Refuge Supervisors these days may need a business or accounting degree as well as classes in fire behavior. It's a lot to expect of one person. They wear a lot of hats. Easy to be distracted.

Hope they're not scapegoat-ed.

If DOJ goes after some poor line officer, it could be the Line Officers' "Cramer Fire" or "30mile Fire" equivalent. Hope they have Professional Liability Insurance. FEDS! ... and good luck to them. Stuff happens even to good, well intentioned people.

The stress psychologist...

11/14 Fires, not logging, now bigger threat to old growth
By Kate Ramsayer / The Bulletin
Published: November 12. 2008 4:00AM PST

Threats to old-growth trees in the region’s federal forests have changed over the decade and a half
since the Northwest Forest Plan went into effect in 1994. While logging of the big, old trees has
dropped dramatically since the plan, wildfires are now consuming more acres of the valuable habitat.

read the article here

11/14 Seasonals:

Dear "What Tha"

I was contacted by a source on the LP this morning in response to your posting to reiterate that all "seasonal" employees with 13/13 or 18/8 terms are still working. The only employees released so far have been 1039 temporary employees which must be released unless OPM authorizes their extension.

During the last two seasons, Forest Service FAM Director Tom Harbour sought, and received authority from OPM to do just that... extend the 1039s due to the severity of the season. Despite receiving that authority, I don't believe any forest in R5 extended their 1039 employees as doing so would impact when they could be brought on last season.

The FWFSA has taken exception to the practice of extending 1039s since they are not provided eligibility for any benefits whatsoever.

Obviously these few issues lead to others which, collectively make up the pieces to the puzzle that we all know is the dysfunction of the FIRE program in R5. I simply wanted to provide information specific to your post that in fact only the temporary 1039s from the LP have been released according to my source.


11/14 Fairness

Unfortunately I have no sympathy on this for the government. If the government
paid it's people what they were worth, they wouldn't have to become contract
employees after retirement out of necessity.

I now find it interesting when this contract/reserve employee thing comes up,
sh*t hits the fan. But the government is still dicking around trying to figure out/ignore
the retention issue.

Former Green Soldier

11/14 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

So my feelings on the whole retired/LWOP/use or lose/who ever contracting
with a municipal department and going on fire assignments. If you're retired,
more power to you. I understand that standing by the sidelines sucks and
some extra income early in retirement will allow you to do other stuff
later. I support it and hope it is still an ability when I retire.

People that are jumping into this game before retirement by using LWOP, Use or
Lose, Comp, or some other method, maybe you should have read your ethics
packet when you got hired. Especially the section on conflict of interest.
You may argue it is my leave, I can do what I want with it. Yes, you can
when that leave includes fishing, camping, hiking, skiing, etc. not
working for someone else in a similar position and contracting with the US
Forest Service.

Personally, I have told my volunteer chief that I believe volunteering in
my community is something that has to be done, but when it comes to
wildland fires, they only way I will show up there for now is on a
green truck. I will offer them all the educational opportunities I can for
wildland, but when it comes to chasing wildland fires unless I no longer
work for the Forest Service, I will not be doing it as a volunteer. I feel
that it is morally and ethically wrong.



11/14 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

The issue of pay will always be with us. I hope the latest furor will get some serious attention. AD rates are a joke. They need to be modified to be on par with what a regular employee would earn in a 2 week assignment. I certainly won't go out as an AD for 1/3 the pay.

On the other hand...... I once had a long discussion with a county "chief?" who oversaw 3 stations. Due to retire in 90 days he was given a 30 day assignment to a USFS fire as a "retirement present" (his words not mine). He would be paid 24x7 with the normal OT and weekend rates (2x) and Holiday pay (3x). His job..... working in ground support, handing out keys to leased pickups. That's the other extreme. He expected to make the "tens of thousands of dollars) during his 30 day tour.

So, yes let's try again to find some fair middle ground.

As far as a forest laying off employees rather than "deficit spend"...... uh, that's called obeying the law. (we may not agree with the law; it may be foolish) but spending money that has not been approved by Congress is not a good thing. And yes, it is dumb that we can spend the SU$ when the PR$ run out..... but go ask Congress to explain the law.

Again, I urge folks to take some training in how "government" works. The Patricia Woods Institute had some of the best training in that area. Don't know if she's still doing it.


11/14 Fire burning in Montecito and Santa Barbara area. More than 100 homes burned.

Hotlist: CA-MTO-Tea Fire-Montecito area


11/14 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

I heard of one person making 20,000+ per pay period. Made a fortune
over the course of the season... Something not fair about that. No doubt
an investigation is underway.

Geez, wish I could retire.


11/14 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

Apparently, the Briefing paper tasking the interagency (NWCG) incident management business working team, into looking at fire agreements between federal agencies and local providers, has uncovered some irregularities - otherwise why would it be such an issue?

Large fires and fire units with high annual operating expenses, expensive, and long duration fires - use tools that help them track suppression costs. In this age of computers, automated accounting systems, auditing of fires, and monitoring of mutual aid agreements - anything that would appear out of the ordinary - is bound to get looked at. And perhaps this is what's going on.

Fortunately, if the system discovered that fraud, waste, and abuse of funds has occurred, that ultimately hurts all of the members of the fire community, and just drives a stake further into finding equality on a bunch of more meaningful issues is what's going on - then it's only fair to say that when those folks or entities - be they interagency retirees, employees on LWOP, or greedy people who just figured out how to corkscrew the already limited federal funds - well then - you pay the piper. What goes around, comes around. And yes, if there are agency people signing agreements that don't understand what they mean and have contributed to what may be a broken golden goose egg - then they ought to pay the price too.

It hurts when you are on a fire and you hear of high command and general staff making multiple times the amount of money then a poorly paid timekeeper, usually a woman who has left her home, kids and family, to bring in some overtime (not even hazard pay) - and they listen to the braggarts, (as well as see their timesheets!) - how can something like this not get discovered. Odd that inmate crews who get paid $00.80 cents an hour, and are often misaligned and slammed as "losers" - but who still work arduously and have to be the best they can to even get on a firecrew - are totally ignored in the pay scam - that we can have in this day and age, scammers that are walking away netting tens of thousands of dollars each two weeks in no-arduous but high authority positions.

What's that cat-bird grin all about. What was once whispered in the halls is now open to the inspectors.

Hopefully the ying and yang of this is that issues like AD rates will finally get looked at, perhaps evened out. And those that rob the system will get weeded out as well. Both those getting the paychecks, those signing off on the agreements, and whoever else is involved in ripping off what in reality is "taxpayer" dollars! Funds committed for the collective fire community - not just a selective few.

And speaking of that incident business working team - Someone said check the roster ("there is very little knowledge of the issues or fire experience in that group...'") Well, better check again. And keep in mind that interagency working teams involve subject matter experts in their task groups.

So, why all the con-fusion...... There has to be a reason....... Quit robbing the fire community!


11/14 Treatment for Traumatic Injuries, Including Burns, on Wildfires and Other Incidents

This issue has been a past discussion point on theysaid. Worth posting
as it has valuable information. Thanks, noname



11/14 Firefighter layoffs in SoCal:

Anybody know about good stewardship and proper fiscal management?

It appears that the L.P.'s decision to lay-off Seasonal Firefighters
in order to not exceed the "funded" fire season may have been a poor
judgment of risk. The lay-off came at the end of the funded 13
funded pay periods (5 days ago) even though an additional two weeks of
staffing was available if the proper funding was in place.

So,.. in order not to deficit spend the number of available engines
are at less than 50%.
Now that the fire season it at its apex, the Forest Service will use
many, many of it's much more costly cooperators to deal with the
season that is not over yet. Way to not deficit spend!

What Tha ----

11/14 AD firefighter pay (sidebar of Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper):

Change is coming! Don't be surprised when it is not the change you asked for.

Funny how the Government that can give the bankers 800 billion can not pay their firefighters a
living wage or their retirees enough to keep them from working for a local FD or as an AD for the
rest of their days.

Suggestions for keeping those pesky ADs on the right side of the fence.

Develop AD rates that pay OT and Hazard Pay like the rest of the federal firefighters get.

Hire us as Rehired Annuitants (DOD and DOI do this).

Hire us as Call When Needed TEMPS.

The bean counters will find a way to jack the system up worse than it already is and then collect
their big bonuses, kind of like the bankers. Hmmm...


11/14 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

Falco, In the example you mention, there is a simple fix (5 CFR Part 8301) that has nothing
to do with the original stated problem being addressed in the Forest Service Briefing Paper..

As a federal government employee (with limited exceptions), all outside employment must
be approved by the agency.



Tahoe Terrie

"Ray Quintanar, our former Region 5 Chief, excluded non fed firefighters from the positions of Command and General Staff of the R5 IIMTs."

Actually, the prohibition was only for the Incident Commander positions, and was related to the approval of actions on federal fires and the expenditure of funds under the Letter of Delegation.

It did not include the Deputy IC, Liaison Officer, Safety Officer, or Information Officer at the Command Staff Level.

It also didn't include the Logistics, Finance, Plans, or Operations Section Chiefs at the General Staff Level.

/s/ R-5 IIMT Member 1997 to Present

11/13 Fire burning in Santa Barbara area. Early reports and video (Fox 11) of many homes already burned.

Hotlist: CA-MTO-Tea-Montecito area


11/13 info for paper:

For smkj79 -

Here's a few papers and articles that I've found useful.


Young and always learning in R1

Forwarding those papers on... Ab.

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

The "reserves"

Several lo CalFire departments have established programs to sign-up qualified resources as “reserves” to be dispatched to Federal assignments under agreements between a lo CalFire department and a national forest or other federal office. These agreements cover all aspects of partner relationships for wildland fire prevention, detection and suppression

I think this means persons who serve as backup resources for the fire department. If these backup resources happen to be retired federal fire fighters that just a coincidence. If these people truly serve as a "reserve" force (i.e. back up, stockpiled or cached till needed, departments wildland fire training specialist) then yes they should be treated (paid, dispatched etc.) as any employee of the department is treated. If however the only reason they are on the departments rolls is to get a bigger pay check and allow the department to profit from the overhead taps in what amounts to as a side business that is wrong.

Some of the proposed actions look to be very sticky land mines!

Hopelessly Midwestern

11/13 Student seeking info for paper:

My daughter is writing a paper for her college English course on the pros and cons of wildfire use/prescribed natural fire. It's an argumentative paper needing both sides of the issue. She needs good sources of information (at least 6) to help build a case for both sides. Does anyone out there have anything/sources of this info? She would truly be appreciative. And another kicker is, she needs it ASAP. Her first stab on another subject didn't work out so she is in a time crunch.


11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

Let's all remember that at the bottom of any AGREEMENT there are signatures from BOTH PARTIES agreeing to the terms set forth in that agreement. Someone from the Forest Service AGREED to pay those rates for those personnel for those positions. Are they higher than comparable agency employees or ADs? Are they portal to portal and include backfill and administrative charges? Well, someone on some forest with authority to make agreements signed it.

Isn't the IBPWT the same fine folks responsible for taking away Beef Jerky from fire camp a few years back?

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

Hi Ab,

Just got back from a record breaking fire season, read the FAM Briefing paper, I'm pretty sure that the reserves that the paper refers to are Forest Service retirees, many of them whom I know. So basically, unless I interpreted this wrong, what I see here is that our illustrious mismanagement elite, is working diligently to try to ah ....(.how can I put this in a professional and politically sensitive way) Oh yeah, Scruw their employees after they retire in addition to overlooking their pathetically substandard pensions! Yes and of course us at the same time by taking away any incentive for highly skilled Forest Service fire managers to fill in those much needed fire positions! (two birds with one stone... good job Bean counters extraordinaire!)

Has any one seen a FAM briefing paper on how our agency is trying to mitigate the outlandish cost of state, county or city firefighters who currently fill those positions on IMTs, I certainly haven't ... therefore drawing my brilliant, enlightening and most realistic conclusion!

Reality Check

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

Clarification: It's not only FS, it's also FWS, NPS, BLM, BIA.
That's why the NWCG is handling the matter.


11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper\


Here is an example of what the paper refers to. There is a GS 7
employee in my unit who is on contract with a FD in another State. They
took 2 weeks LWOP this summer for a BAER assignment as part of this
contract. The individual obviously was being paid more than a GS-7 or an
AD would. This is not right and should definitely be stopped.


11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

The issue of "Reserve" folks developed out of the bone-headed decision back in 2003 to LOWER the AD rates; when the logical thing to do was increase those rates. The fire business group also eliminated geographic pay considerations except for Alaska and Hawaii. Only when the Fed fire agencies realized that a much needed pool of qualified people were about to hang it up, did the rates return to the higher 2002 levels. When no relief was seen in 2004 after the uproar in 2003, you had to figure people would build a better mousetrap. Yes, the result was a massive increase to the cost of filling out Team and single resource request, but you can put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the miserly Incident Business Working Group. Now they are tasked at coming up with a redo.. heaven help us!

Fish 01

Probably those issues will be resolved before next season. Ab.

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper


There are two issues here, one is the use of Federal retirees as for the lack
of a better term EFF (Emergency Firefighters) and the use of regular agency
personnel (LA Co., Kern Co., etc) which are full time paid employees who
when on assignment out of their city or county still need to have coverage
behind them to maintain city/county minimal services. These large agencies
do charge backfill/coverage time. To my knowledge none of the departments
who use EFF personnel charge backfill time.



11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper


I wouldn't be surprised if some city/town FDs are charging for fill-in behind golden
goose egg retirees and others even if those ff are not vacating a local FD position.
Many locals think the FED has unlimited money, gotta get a piece. They have crashing
budgets and don't mind sucking golden eggs if they can get away with it.

It's not just retirees but others... water tender operators, etc At least one larger
contractor signed up with a city too for mutual benefit. Was it to milk on the system? HA!

I wonder who OKs the hires? Rangers... I bet some of the intent is to make hires
and costs more transparent for forests. No one likes to get scammed.

(North of R5) Contractor avoiding the suck
waiting for the sound of lips dislodging from <golden> eggs.

11/13 intothewind,

Yup, I'm from CA- always have been so that's perspective and people I
am familiar with... who do you think? Someone from Montana? Colorado?
Oregon? Georgia? Who for what?

I have been told I'm "just dreaming" before- and I've also seen change
occur that many people above my paygrade and with 20 years in assured
me would never happen. There are moments to create tipping points-
this could be one.

dive in with your ideas,

"Nearly 100% of innovation, from business to politics to life, is
inspired not by market analysis, but by people who are supremely
pissed off by the way things are." -Tom Peters

11/13 Re Timber Fallers:

Just a quick note...

With the recent formation of the NWSA Timber Faller Chapter, the issues brought up here and elsewhere will all get their "time on the table." Though I very much value this venue, as well as the Hotlist, there are many, many commercial timber fallers who don't even know it exists. And, those who do don't feel comfortable posting. Still, their opinions and vast knowledge are important and need to be considered.

NWSA Timber Faller Chapter website: www.nwsafallers.blogspot.com.


11/13 The Plum Book, for those who may not know, is a listing of (dream) jobs by agency, kind of like a Sear's "Wish Book" for government positions- though with a definite D.C. insider bent. It was created after Dwight Eisenhower took office per Republican's request.

Per the article in today's NY Times:

"The next edition of ''The Plum Book'' appeared in 1960 and it has since been published just after every presidential election, according to the Government Printing Office."

If you want to see the gargantuan size of the agencies, this provides an excellent look. This publication, I feel, provides a great example of why fire service should be separated out. It's no wonder fire service interests get buried and requests for progress get muffled!

Department of Agriculture (97K pdf file)

Department of the Interior (84 K pdf file)

Legend (35 K pdf file)

AZ 148

Hotlist thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=32530

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

Ab or anyone that knows about this practice,

Does anyone know about any local FDs charging FS for filling in behind
a retired FS firefighter that's now working seasonally for a local FD? That seems
a little out of line. No wonder suppression costs are so high if that's true.


I haven't heard about that. Anyone? Ab.

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

Ab, That post sounds like the NWCG Working team is out for blood. Does
anybody know what they mean by "decouple from lo CalFire protection
agreements"? Are they trying to make local agency employees stand alone
in dealing with them for the national resource pool?


11/13 Land management vs Professional firefighting:

RE Thinking outside of the box

True enough.... Its time to DROP the the fire business and put it into NFPA / DHS or
whatever to comply with ICS and all the new hoorah

USFS "historical and steeped in tradition" mentality has to go

The agencies can "brag" up their "we invented ICS" stuff but in true reality.... look at
all the BS that is flying now thru the "hallowed halls of tradition!"

Time to throw all those "IFPM" standards which are apparently going to limit the very
few into positions and adopt something more industry wide than just some agency self
preservation type of stuff.

MAYBE it is time to separate the land management agencies from fire management.
Can't be GREAT at both and still function like the Washingtonians perceive that they

Time to get into the real world. Land Management agencies can not pretend to be first
responders the rest of their lives. Look at the other industry training standards and see
if the land management agencies can really cope.....

New ideas needed ...... new box needed

Leave my name out pls

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

The Agencies are the ones who created this problem. If you look over the past twenty years, anyone could see this happening. Long gone are the days of the District offices with 100-200 non-fire district folks. About 25% of those folks had fire qualifications and were willing to accept assignments during the summer, the district offices now have about 20 non-fire district folks and have too much on their plate to accept fire assignments regularly. The fire program has enough problems staffing its modules, duty officers, and initial attack to let most folks out on single resource assignments in the volume that they are coming into dispatch, as in a busy year like the past 5 – 10 summers.

If you look at the latest programs that direct the Agency employees towards qualifications -- i.e.: IFPM, FPM, Apprentice Program, and the New GS5/6 Developmental Program -- all are Operational Based. There are no qualifications required in any of the programs in any other function of ICS besides Command, and Ops. That is where the Agencies need to start. The Local Government and AD folks are just filling in the gaps that the Agency has created in their lack of insight to create qualified Agency Employees for the future in the Finance, Logistic, and Planning Section. Until this happens the gaps will have to be filled in with non-agency employees.

Now with the new Travel Ceiling compliance, the Forest Service has set itself up to fail since they can barely fit in the mandatory training, not to mention the training for its employee's next logical position, or have even thought of having folks branch out in other ICS functions to limit the cost of large fires by using agency folks.

One thing that also has bothered me is that I am qualified to be the Director of R5 according to www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/fed/r5-summary-of- i&fs-fpm-standards102008.doc as a TLFD in Quals Needed – Core (HIGH Complexity). Something is wrong there. Am I the only one who noticed that?

Thinking outside the Box [ ]

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

What is interesting to me is that we've been talking about this for 5 years on theysaid
and the situation has been recognized at NIFC for that long. It would have been easier
to correct it in the beginning as soon as the situation was recognized. Now the structure
of firefighting teams and availability of critical suppression managers (DIVS, Safety
Officers, etc) will be seriously impacted by decisions of a non-fire group. Who knows
what other "unintended consequences" for groundpounder safety could result?

... and I know the NIFC folks are and have been overwhelmed with their jobs...

Ray Quintanar, our former Region 5 Chief, excluded non fed firefighters from the positions
of Command and General Staff of the R5 IIMTs. As he said in those days, one of his
reasons for this was to keep us from inadvertently tippy-toeing into this very situation.
The man demonstrated great vision time and time again.

One of our problems in R5 today is weak to non-existent fire leadership that doesn't look
at the larger picture or that is so busy towing the FS Chief's line that he doesn't even
see something like this problem coming and doesn't communicate it upward.

Tahoe Terrie

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

News form the LP...

"Re-structuring" of the FS policy when it comes to using municipalities in Fire.
like someone may have caught on...

Just Jealous

11/13 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

If anyone wants or needs it, the current NWCG Incident Management Practices Working
Team (IBPWT) roster is at: www.nwcg.gov/teams/ibpwt/team/roster.php

It might be interesting to note, most of these folks are in administrative (business management)
positions, and may not be completely familiar with the field issues they are being directed to

It might help if they were educated about the complete discussion of the issues, not just the
USFS proposed actions.


11/13 NIMO team review and accountability; portal to portal and unemployment benefits:

How is it that certain elements of our USFS fire organization get a free pass? Some of those very same folks believe that this website has no value (paraphrase), by the way.

Whose big idea was the "Theatre of Operation" that was used in Northern Cal this fireseason? Or was it an excuse to utilize the NIMO gang? I have not seen an AAR or review of those operations. So as a OSC1 what do I think or know about what occurred with the T of O concept, nothing really. Someone needs to be held accountable to capture and communicate that information. Where does someone seriously make a recommendation that should occur. Not sure sending Tom Harbor an email will get a response. Is this important? To me it is, but mainly just an example.

I call some of this stuff "Intellectual Virga" its raining real hard in DC, but none of is hitting the ground. We are too damn busy chasing poorly thought-out ideas, like the 401 job series for professional wildland fire fighters. Please (I am in and am qualified in a 401 job) I would say that hits the issue at about the 50% level.

PTP is a pipe dream that I am not even sure the basis for anyone receiving. Don't get me wrong if you get it, good on ya, but otherwise, I would rather get what I earn and deserve. So when I am sleeping in my sleeping bag on an assignment, I count myself blessed and appreciate the fresh air, and being able to live the dream.

Some of the stuff about working extended tours or accepting unemployment benefits. Two things, you really should work as much as you can, it will pay off somewhere, somehow, and really is the right thing to do. Beyond that I would have liked to have spent a couple of winters mostly skiing or spending extended time somewhere warm and I regret not doing it a little bit. So a bit o advice, take it as it comes, enjoy yourself, and don't criticize your brothers and sisters for choices different than your own. Respectful disagreement on any issue is the answer. To quote PE Obama, "I will listen, especially when we disagree". Here is hoping that he can right the ship.

As far as the appointments for the various posts. A little too California-centric to do me any good, but that's ok, none of it will take place anyway. Keep dreaming, those folks would do a good job.


11/13 Ray Quintanar, former Region 5 Fire and Aviation Management Director (Chief), was
awarded Fire Chief of the Year (2005) by the California Fire Chiefs Association.
Pretty prestigious award for a simple "forester".


Clearly he is not just a simple forester. He also had a degree in business management, knows how to work interagency and how to lead. Ab.

11/13 Over the past 8 years (not a political statement but how long I've
been around) I have been at fire meetings and conferences and reading
theysaid. I have heard many people say they just wished that someone
up at the top would listen to what we had to say on firefighter
classification, stove piping fire, public safety benefits for LOD
deaths, consolidating into a federal fire service, prescribed fire,
wildland fire use, how to deal with the WUI, portal to portal,
responding all-risk and who we need in leadership....

I challenge each of you to spend an hour thinking of the issue you
care about most and submit it at www.change.gov/page/s/yourvision.

This community is good at flooding the FWSA, Fienstien and Boxer's
offices, and theysaid with ideas/letters... while I know thousands and
millions of things may get submitted I also think if 200- 2000 federal
firefighters comment you/we/the agencies can at least register issues
onto the new administration's radar screen. So if it's resource
management, emergency management, NIMS, or the structure of the
organization.... I hope you speak out because I believe in this

Secretary of the Interior- Barbara Boxer or Sally Jewell (CEO or REI)
BLM- please let it be someone from conservation with an eye towards preservation
Secretary of Agriculture- I think Midwestern's ideas are interesting
Director of FEMA- Steve Gage (Kern Co, USFS, OES, Type 1 IC)

Take care all,
11/12 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper

I think the term “reserve” refers to retired FS employees who opted to work
for local government agencies willing to sponsor them instead of working as
an AD for next to nothing wages.



11/12 Re NWCG Working Team decision making:

Briefing Paper

Can someone tell me what they mean by "reserve" employee in this briefing paper? Are they
saying to allow Fed employees to be a "reserve" for the lo CalFire departments? Or do they
want to change the agreements lowering the rate the Feds will pay for LG employees, hence
asking the LG to violate its union contract? Any thoughts?

In any event, heads up LG employees, something is in the air.


What are they talking about?

USDA Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Briefing Paper

Date: November 6, 2008

Topic: Forest level agreements with lo CalFire departments

Issue: Lo CalFire Departments signing up people solely for the purpose of providing them for Federal emergency response at high rates and/or overhead.

Background: Over the past several years, incident responder pay equity has become an issue. Costs of some state and local resources have escalated, while AD rates do not include allowances for hazard or overtime pay. This situation has encouraged skilled resources to seek out higher rates of pay through other then the traditional methods of hire.

Several lo CalFire departments have established programs to sign-up qualified resources as “reserves” to be dispatched to Federal assignments under agreements between a lo CalFire department and a national forest or other federal office. These agreements cover all aspects of partner relationships for wildland fire prevention, detection and suppression

Key Points: In reviewing a number of local agreements and Annual Operating Plans, there are a variety of pay rates, overhead rates, backfill, and methods of pay (hours worked vs portal to portal).

  • Average rates being paid to reserve’s by some local FDs are significantly higher than regular agency employees
  • OH rates ranging from 10-25% are added to the salary rates
  • Some agreements also add liability and FICA to the OH rate – additional 16+%
  • No standard exists for how these employees are listed in ROSS; often it is not known by whom or how a resource is being paid.
  • Resources are being signed up outside the local area of the FD, making it unclear which office is responsible for dispatching them.

Proposed Actions: allow local Federal land management offices to include “reserve” employees for dispatch in local agreements but establish standards and controls for the following:

  • Require “reserve” resources to be paid on an as-worked basis; no portal to portal.
  • Provide definition of “reserve” resource so that a consistent application is applied.
  • Establish standard rates for reserve employees, using GS tables w/locality applied.
  • Develop reduced overhead rate for “reserve” employees.
  • Do not allow backfill for “reserve” employees.
  • Develop a standard format for local agreements; decouple from lo CalFire protection agreements.
  • Require national review of local agreements that utilize SU funding & provide responders as part of the national resource pool.
  • Re-evaluate AD rates
  • Develop standard ROSS & dispatch protocol for management of “reserve” employees

All of the proposed actions have been tasked by NWCG to the Incident Business Practices Working Team for development. They will be responding in February 2009 with implementation dates in April 2009.

Contact: Karyn W <snip>

Ab note: I think "lo CalFire" is a spellchecker correction of "local fire". If you read the memo as local fire, it makes much more sense.

11/12 Photos:

Here are a couple of photos I took while on vacation in California. On Saturday
morning, October 11, 2008 a small brush fire broke out in a river bottom near
the 101 Freeway in Ventura. Most likely started by homeless camped in the
river bottom.

copter6: Ventura County Sheriff Copter 6 water drop.
engine54: Ventura Fire Department Engine 54 from Station 54 in Camarillo.


Thanks, I put them on Helicopters 25 and Engines 22 photo pages. Ab

11/12 Photos:


Attached is an amazing pic of a lightning-caused wildland fire that occurred in Summer, 2008, in the NM-BLM managed Organ Mountains of Southern New Mexico. The Organs are in the background, Las Cruces NM is in the foreground. Notice that this is a time-lapse photo with the star streaks. It is a perfect example of how things get in this part of the world from time to time. As I remember, no structures were lost.... just a blessed event.


BLMboy sent that in last summer. Spectacular photo. I put it on the Fire39 photo page. Ab.

11/12 early women ff's, part 2

Thanks Ab and thanks to everyone who has responded so far to my request to learn
more about women who started fighting fire in the 1970s (if anyone started earlier,
please let me know).

Although the book I am writing is about my personal story, I am starting to believe
there is another one here--about all of you early women firefighters. Please email me
through Ab if you would be interested in being interviewed by phone or email for a
project like this.

Thanks again everyone! (and Ab for passing on)

Starving Writer

11/12 memo: Request for Projects, Fire and Aviation Management, Equipment and Development Program for 2010


This is the annual request for projects relative to the Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) program that the Technology and Development Centers (San Dimas and Missoula) will work on for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. Note the Reply Due of December 5, 2008.

When submitting recommendations for new projects, keep in mind the future technology trends and needs in the FAM program. Projects selected for funding become part of the national program of work.

Project proposals for FY 2010 should focus on improving firefighter safety, hazardous fuels and fuel loading, assisting in the implementation of sustainable operations, methods to implement decision making tools that have efficient firefighting and resource benefit, aviation safety, as well as integrating the fire program with all resource program areas for better quality plans and products. The proposals should have national significance and potential for interagency benefit. Since funding continues to be limited, project selection will depend greatly on the value added to the Forest Service and cooperators. (MORE: click the link for more)

Request for projects form

11/12 Unemployment Insurance:

I just had to comment on the UI verses taking work in other areas of all 5 agencies through the winter months.

Although I worked as many pay periods as I could anywhere I could when I was a temp, I feel the times are completely different now. Some wildland fire managers today only seem to care about goals and completing what needs to be done in order to make themselves look good to their bosses and use temps in ways that only benefit the manager. As long as the temps continue to let the managers use and abuse them, they will keep doing it. One example I can use is when the fire temps get laid off to save budgets and we start having large or many wildfires and the managers asked them to come back on as an AD just until things settle down and than say we don't need you any more, see ya.

If every temp that gets laid off stuck together and would not come back whenever it was good for managers but not for them, things might be a little different. It's hard to do because we are doers and fixers but it might be a way for temps to have a better bargaining tool. It might be one more thing needed in order for someone to notice and start fixing the mess and give our employees a purpose, make them feel like the managers are looking out for their wellbeing which could aide in the retention of our up and coming fire fighters. It would give them a more quality of life just knowing they don't have to worry about UI or finding winter work that pays enough to pay their bills and gives them peace of mind of having benefits throughout the year.

Our mission has changed and there is plenty of work to keep everybody working all year around. We all know it is actually cheaper for the Government to keep folks employed and off UI entirely. Just my way of thinking.

Take care and God bless!!

11/12 Re: Wildland Firefighter Quotes & Aphorisms to Live By:

"For as long as people are drawn to Everest. This line of memorials will continue to grow. The mountain doesn't care whether we're here or not. It doesn't compete with us. It isn't burdened by our hopes and dreams. Everything it means to us, is only what we bring to it. It is what the mountain reveals about us, that has any lasting value."
~ David Breashears, Mountaineer, Everest Survivor 1996. Emmy Award Winner. Author of High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places.
11/11 Re Tour of Duty


Well, I've worked 25 PPs for the last 7 years and now this year it seems that I may
have to take all 8 off. Not good for me. I think most people have different views on
the whole situation, like you said in your last post.

It's not that I make a ton of money, it's just the fact that UI bene's where I live are
pretty weak. Probably for a good reason.

Anyway, Good Post

Quick Connect

11/11 Re: Cabinet Picks

ms said, "Who ever posted this I recommend you take it a slow on the happy juice."

My friend, I suggest you look into a mirror and reflect some before you jump all over someone else.

PTP is not the most important issue.... it is important.... but overall safety, mission efficiency, and cost effectiveness are the key points that need to be focused on. PTP is a part of the steps needed, but by strong arming folks, you gain enemies and not allies.

One of the lowest forms of learning is to dissect others' thoughts and opinions without offering positive suggestions of your own. A key thought behind the 0401 program was to encourage future leaders to use critical thinking, evaluation and research skills, and to defend their ideas professionally before their peers. .

I offered my thoughts on a successful cabinet, and am anxiously awaiting yours.....


No enemies here, just people with different perspectives. Thoughts welcome. Ab.

11/11 Re Tour of Duty and Unemployment Insurance:

Quick Connect,

Sorry bout that, the analogy of "Opinions are like A-holes…everybody has one"
has been around a long time…it seemed fitting.

…And I'm definitely not the person to judge other intelligence…I'm the guy with
"right and left" written on my gloves…

Until we all become PFT or unless tour dates are set in stone, folks will continue
to disagree on what is right…or best…or whatever, regarding UI and acceptance
of winter work. It's all about money and quality of life…two things that we all
want the highest level of...and therefore forge opinions based off our individual
present situations. I think some folks forget we're not all floating in the same boat.

As for your base pay for one pay period being more than UI for a whole month,
I say awesome! You obviously have an easy choice to make when offered work
past your tour…if you like the off season work, which it sounds like you do…
Personally I do too…

Would you say your situation is the "norm" for most employees that are not PFT?


11/11 Re: Tour of Duty

I have to agree with TNBG

"So with all that said, i do encourage folks -- especially new ones -- to work the extra work if
you need to (it only benefits you in the long run, ie : time in grade for advancement, retirement
contributions, etc....). For those of us that have a business to run in the winter, well, good luck
on your endeavors!"

I always tried any way I could to stay off Unemployment or "Unenjoyment" as it was known by
many of my friends in my days as a TEMP.

Some of the short term jobs I took in those days included, student, working thinning trees and
stacking sticks on FS contracts I obtained myself and working for other contractors, working in the
potato sheds, cutting firewood, harvesting christmas trees, construction work and anything else I
could come up with.

As a PSE when the other departments on the district, timber, rec/wildlife, and reforestation needed
help I worked for them.

Budgets are different now and those other functions don't always have the money but it never hurts
to ask, and, you can learn some valuable skills like GIS or contract administration if you are
willing to try.

The jobs I did other than fire helped me become a more valuable employee and got me a PFT sooner
than I would have.

As far as someone who hired a lot of TEMPs and PSEs, I looked at those candidates who showed they
had initiative and worked winters, or went to school, more favorably and hired them over the ones
who used unemployment to travel and ski. When it was a case of both having the same quals and
experience, the ones with more varied work experience won out, and I was hardly ever sorry for the
decision to hire them.

Sign me,

I Skied On The Weekends

11/11 Cabinet choices,

USDA is made up of:

Farm Services Agency,
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Agricultural Marketing Service
Agricultural Research Service
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service
Economic Research Service
Food and Nutrition Service
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Foreign Agriculture Service
Grain Inspection, Packer and Stockyards Administration
National Agricultural Library
National Agricultural Statistic Service
Risk Management Agency (Don't get excited. Its common name is Crop Insurance)
Rural Development

All are administrative or advisory services except for the Forest Service (Its kind of a bastard child in USDA) . All but the FS deal with meat and potatoes agriculture. The best you can hope for is a Sec that comes from a state where there is some FS presences (Ed Schafer while Governor of North Dakota dealt with FS issues via National Grasslands) so they know something about it and work so that your politics are the politics that hold sway over the FS.

As for me I would like to see a Sec of Ag from the SE, where trees are an important crop, fire is an important tool in management of forests and habitat, has seen homes burn in wildfires and metropolitan areas covered in smoke understands the link between poverty, poor nutrition, adequate and affordable food supply and a healthy thriving citizenry. This will give that person a background needed to lead this nation forward in sustainable natural resources management, knows that fire is an important component of a healthy eco-system and understands the trade offs that will have to be made over the coming decades.

Hopelessly Midwestern
11/11 Tour of Duty:

Some of us have specifically chosen to work 13/13 tours of duty so that we
can pursue other activities that we deem more important than stacking sticks
and digging in the dirt for a paycheck.

Skiing, traveling, working other jobs, climbing etc. Some of these are things
you can only enjoy and pursue at a certain level until your body slows down.
On the other hand, there will always be a desk to jockey somewhere.

I don't see it as a poor decision to ask to be let go at the end of your 13/13
or 18/8 tour.

Cue - "I'm 55 and I still ski!" post. You know what I mean.


11/11 Tour of duty, layoffs and Unemployment Insurance:


Not quite sure where you are coming from with your analogy? Or, maybe I'm
just not very intelligent. But, it definitely behooves me to continue to accept pay
periods beyond my guarantee. I make more in one pay period (base pay), than
UI pays for an entire month.

Quick Connect

11/11 Re Cabinet Picks:

Who ever posted this I recommend you take it a slow on the happy juice.

Secretary of Agriculture - Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa - Great, just what we need. Another Sec more focused on ethanol than on Firefighters.

Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment - Jose "Joe" Cruz, Former Fire and Aviation Management Director, WO, USFS - Need to know his stance on mission and PTP. However never was really impressed with him. It's not nap time, it's work hard time.

Chief of the USFS - Tom Harbour, Current FS WO Fire Director - One of the best IC's of all time. Lost to much credibility over the past year, Hate to say it because the man is a great person, but he needs to go find his backbone first.

FS Director of Fire and Aviation Management - Sue Husari, Current NPS Western Region Fire Director - Perfect, great pick.

Secretary of Interior - T. Boone Pickens - All this pick would lead to is Pickins vs. Sierra Club, Pickens vs. Wilderness Society, Pickins vs. and on and on and on for the next 4-8 years.

BLM Director - Tom Zimmerman, Current USFS - OK, still need to know his stance on PTP.

NPS Director - Andrea Tuttle, Former Director, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection - Great pick. I can see the headlines now - Parkees Get PTP thanks to Director Tuttle former CalFire Director.

Be careful who your recommend, make sure they "support the plan" first.


Folks, Any other suggestions? Ab.

11/11 Unemployment Insurance:

There are two areas that folks should factually address when considering the issues. There have been many statements regarding UE, while ethically correct, actually violate CA UC laws.

1) CA Unemployment Compensation Code , and

2) CA Code of Regulations, Title 22

Certain federal bargaining unit agreements, while well intended for federal bargaining unit employees, actually violated state law in implementation. As such, they also violated federal laws authorizing the use of State Unemployment Programs in lieu of a federal program.

The federal government does not pay into the CA UCI fund, but utilizes each states codes and regulations to implement unemployment provisions. The federal government pays 100% of the associated costs, where as other employers share a 50%:50% burden with the state.

I'll let the folks in NFFE and the FWFSA doing the research clarify if needed. They have been, and continue to be right on course with the facts.


11/10 Re WFF fundraiser:

I got to the Season of Fire (Nor CalFires of 2008) display by Meridian Fine Art -
Arcata CA at the Umpqua Bank gallery. Nice images!

The silent auction is going well. Very nice picture being auctioned off to benefit the
WFF. Called the WFF to get some brochures sent for the Arts Arcata event on
Friday night. I'll have to go and meet the artists. I'm curious how they heard about
our Wildland Firefighter Foundation.



11/10 UI in California pays $450.00 per week (if you hit maximum) before tax…

What's a GS-6 step 1 Hotshot Squadleader with family benefits and minimum TSP investment make for a base week....?

While it is unquestionably important to contribute towards "time in grade", it is also just as important to have money in your pocket…even more important if you provide for a family. It's a tough sell to convince a fella' that his base wage and future days are more important than providing food and paying present bills as best as possible. Futures are awful uncertain and uncared about when present situations are flimsy. Deferring tax on a maxed UI check until filing a return provides more cash flow in the winter when it's needed most.

The opinions of working pay periods past ending tours falls under the comparison to a$$holes…in which everybody has one. We may as well all agree to disagree unless someone of a much higher pay grade than any of us, who sits in an office that can't even see a forest, decides to change things. Funny how I feel those "higher pay grade" folks do less actual meaningful work in 26 pay periods than most GS-4s in 13…again, just one more opinion.

11/10 Re: Dream Cabinet and the Future....

In response to GIS Girl's post, Noname made these suggestions below on 11/5. Please, everyone, give this some consideration and submit any good nominees. Email Ab. The Transition Team is planning. Names can get passed on and up. Ran into someone today that encouraged us to make suggestions. Who do we want?


Secretary of Agriculture - Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment - Jose "Joe" Cruz, Former Fire and Aviation Management Director, WO, USFS
Chief of the USFS - Tom Harbour, Current FS WO Fire Director
FS Director of Fire and Aviation Management - Sue Husari, Current NPS Western Region Fire Director
Secretary of Interior - T. Boone Pickens
BLM Director - Tom Zimmerman, Current USFS
NPS Director - Andrea Tuttle, Former Director, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Secretary of Homeland Security - Alan Brunacini, Former Fire Chief, City of Phoenix FD
FEMA Director - Moustafa Abou-Taleb, Preparedness Branch Manager, CA Office of Emergency Services


11/10 All,

Thanks for the input.. Also let me clarify ,as my post seems to have generated alot of steam on this issue. I in no way intended to imply that if you do not work the winter "extra" work you are offered that you deserve unemployment. In fact if you do refuse such work in the state of CA and still try to apply for unemployment insurance, you are guilty of fraud! Also you do not make more on unemployment (at least my neck of the woods). Take a look at your E&L statement and after some quick math you would see that your gross earnings are a bit more. Remember, at the end of the year you still pay taxes on "income" from unemployment and you have no contributions to your tsp, and for those of us that are covered under fehb, you still pay for them year round (depending on your choice of payment); so after taxes, ins, and lost payment to your retirement, you do not come out ahead. Then again, i can only speak for those of us in socal as locality pay etc.... varies from town to town, district to district etc...

So with all that said, i do encourage folks -- especially new ones -- to work the extra work if you need to (it only benefits you in the long run, ie : time in grade for advancement, retirement contributions, etc....). For those of us that have a business to run in the winter, well, good luck on your endeavors!


11/10 TGNB,

From a union standpoint, as I am a steward, I don' think Management can make you work longer than your tour states. As you pointed out in the Master Agreement, Art 23 #7, seasonal employment MAY NOT be used as a substitute for full-time employment. Now, with that being said, an employee, who is offered, but refuses to stay on longer, but then in turn requests unemployment insurance, can and should be denied UI benefits, in my opinion, because they have turned down work. I think OFG has the same thoughts.

As far as the apprentices go, you may have to go to the last few pages of the Master Agreement (Appendix A and B), to see who is covered and who is not. But, if they are covered, then they would fit into the BUE status.

North Zone Apprentice

Your point is very well taken and I agree wholeheartedly with you, as I deal with the same scenario here with firefighting all summer and then being pushed out the door to go burn at other districts all winter. But, to be the devil's advocate, here, taking UI, just for the sake of spending time with your family is a bit unethical to me. That is what your annual leave and alternative work schedules are for.

Ready , Willing and Able to fight for what is right

You, have spoken ever so eloquently with your ULP stance. There are many discrepancies with regard to pay everywhere within the organization. For a short example, here at my district I am a GS-6 engineer on a light engine, with an 18-8 tour of duty. My counterpart on the heavy engine is a GS-7 and has a PFT tour of duty. We report to the same station and have the same work requirements. That scenario is the case throughout the entire Forest where I am employed.

Joe the Taxpayer

I agree with your statement that UI shouldn't be some sort of retribution for people working a long hard summer of firefighting. However, most employers aren't going to take the option of an employee only being available for 2, 4, 6 weeks, or whatever the situation is. Furthermore, it may be additionally hard now-a-days to even get a job, seeing the state of our country. If I'm offered an extension of pay periods, you better believe that I will be accepting them. But if I'm not, then I will file for unemployment and follow the guidelines set forth to receive them.

Quick Connect

11/10 north zone apprentice;

I have to agree with joe the taxpayer. Some of us folks had to work all year
every year of our careers. Myself, it was 35 years with many, many hours of
overtime and I still managed to raise a family do all those father type things.

So all I can say is fire fighter up and work those extra pay periods it may help
your career.

11/10 HT and others-

Just a quick clarification- IF the county of San Diego went to a
countywide fire organization some day in the far and distant future I
doubt San Diego City Fire Department would be part of it or run it. So
let me re-iterate I did not mean to say go from 65 to 1... just maybe
65 to less than 10? I agree following the likes of Riverside county,
LA county, Kern county, or Sac Metro is the way to go.

I'm relatively familiar with the dispatch organizations in San Diego
and I really think that for what they have, San Diego boots on the
ground do a great job. I have been watching the consolidation of
dispatching and the work towards interoperability between com centers.
I am not criticizing operations/dispatch at all.

My understanding is that one of the ways contract counties are funded
to have a county-wide (but not including all municipalities)
organization is that they get paid BY CalFire to protect SRA lands.
It's the old "hat" joke- are you wearing your county hat or your
CalFire hat today? Now, not every countywide organization does that-
like Sac Metro is a Fire District but not a contract county. So it
sounds like in San Diego areas are being taken over by CalFire instead
of going the other direction of being consolidated into a county style

Does anyone know the history of the contract counties vs the large
countywide organizations that don't do SRA? Why do some do the SRA
and others don't? Historical reasons? Timing of when the organization
was formed?


p.s. cwcgwatcher- I haven't forgotten your request- I was just
severely distracted with the election :-)
11/10 To OFG & others.:

For any employee, private or public, unemployment (UI) regulations usually require you to accept work if offered. Having said that, if a person declines off season work and files a UI claim, the UI department will notify the employer of the filed claim to verify the reason the employee is no longer working. The employer can then dispute the claim and the employee may be denied the claim if the determination is the refusal of suitable work.

The denied employee can appeal the decision, and sometimes can have the claim reinstated if they can show good reason for not accepting the work. Just wanting to go skiing or child care issues won't do it.

Some Union agreements prohibit offering part time employment to avoid UI cost. Me and some other fire employees missed that agreement prohibition years ago and were put into a a 13/13 FT/PT tour resulting in a severe reduction in our retirement calculations. So if offered off season work make sure it is full time although the law resulting in a retirement reduction may have been changed last year.

Fish 01

11/9 A few things that need to said about this year long retention fiasco.

First of all, the leaders previously mentioned need to be fired.

Secondly, how come the only funding the agency has to work with now has been
limited to this one time, one shot 25 million? Are you telling me that 25 million is
the cap? If so, what about all the ideas put on the table in early 2008 like Special
pay increases and annual group retention allowances?

Lastly, can someone please tell edward, pena, randy, tom and gail that fire
management has hundreds of permanent fire employees both above and below the
grades 5-8 that are bargaining unit employees. Any attempt to split the bargaining
unit and award them differently based on pay grade shall be deemed an Unfair
Labor Practice
and the union shall be compelled on behalf of the bargaining unit
to take the entire issue to arbitration.

You so-called leaders are a disgrace. You screwed this up from the beginning. I
looked forward to December 10th as the second waved, part II of our email, letter
writing and phone call campaign begins.

What a sight to see as the WO is slapped with a ULP and at the same time the
second wave hits.

Sorry ab’s I don’t think it’s going to quiet any time soon, so you might want to make
it a double. Hang on, we are just getting ready to intensify this fight.


Ready, Willing and Able to Fight for what is Right.

11/9 TNBG,

Good question. To get the best answer, you need to ask your personnel liaison/rep
to check out the current answer.

In times past, an appointment of 13/13 or 18/8 meant the government was
guaranteeing work for only 13 pay periods or 18 pay periods. Additional work
might be available depending on funding. In the past, if additional work was available,
you were expected to perform that work.

That was then. Before I retired, we had the opportunity to work our 13/13 firefighters
in other programs. I checked with personnel and was told that the choice to accept
the additional work was that of the employee. They could not be compelled to accept
beyond the 13/13. (Some may have lined up other employment. Some may have side
businesses that had commitments during their "off" period with the government).

I did not find out if turning down available work would result in loss of "unemployment"
compensation. That should be a big factor in one's decisions to accept or reject work.

I would encourage all to accept any additional work, as a potential to opening career
doors. Working with other programs will show initiative, drive, and possibly result in
qualifying for job vacancies. Those jobs could include a mixture of "fire" and "resource
programs" duties that protect ff retirement, offer full time employment, and promotions.

Good luck. Started as a GS-3 seasonal. Worked fire, timber, engineering, recreation,
wildlife, wilderness, minerals, wilderness, range, special uses, fuels,........ Retired as a


11/9 Hello Everyone,

I am working on a memorial video for the crew of Tanker 09. I am looking for photos, video
or any other memorabilia for Gene Wahlstrom, Greg Gonsioroski and Zach VanderGriend.
Also anything for Tanker 09. If anyone has anything they would like to share, please contact
me at jenniferkholm @ gmail.com. (take out spaces)

Thank you,

Jennifer Holm

11/9 Another Fund raiser for the Wildland Fighter Foundation.

Season of Fire
NorCal Fires of 2008

Meridian Fine Art - Arcata CA, 833 9th St

Good Photos, Paintings and Music 11/14/2008 In Down Town Arcata Calif.
G street is North Bound Highway 101, Art can be viewed in the gallery located
upstairs in the Umpqua Bank, Southwest corner of 11th and G.



11/9 Dear AB & All:

This past Friday I sent the attached letter (on FWFSA letterhead of course) to Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell along with a copy of our retention proposal we submitted to Sen. Feinstein's office on Sept. 15 and which we have "shopped" to a number of congressional offices over the last few months.

As most know, we deliberately delayed introducing legislative reforms at the request of some in Congress who wanted to provide the Agencies with the opportunity to recognize the problems facing their firefighters and take the immediate steps to correct those long-standing problems. Unfortunately that didn't happen.

Now with the national elections past us, there is a great deal of speculation as to whether Chief Kimbell will ultimately become a casualty of the change in Administration. Until that time, she wields remarkable authority and can forge a new direction for her Agency's firefighters and in fact firefighters in all five land management agencies.

I'm sure even she recognizes that full reforms will require legislation and it is my hope that despite whatever she feels may be in her future, she will demonstrate a renewed sense of leadership and support our efforts and embrace out concepts of change for wildland firefighters as outlined in our proposal.

There will likely be changes at the Cabinet Level with Interior and Agriculture as a result of a new Administration and already the Forest Service Budget Analyst at the Office of Management & Budget and that entire office is retooling for ideological changes that will no doubt come from the new Administration.

The point is, Chief Kimbell and the leadership of the other 4 federal land management agencies still have sufficient time to put their thumbprint on the mechanism of change that would finally lead to long overdue recognition, pay & benefits for their heroic wildland firefighters.

I am hopeful they will chose to do the right thing and, at the very least, ignite the changes that are vital to a stronger and more cost effective federal wildland fire response.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
11/9 Joe the Taxpayer,

I've been reading this message board for quite a few years now, and have been tempted to post more that once, but this is the straw that finally broke the proverbial camel's back. I'm a second year GS-4 apprentice that is lucky enough to have a job on a forest in Nor Cal that offers its 18-8's the choice to work the winter on a crew, doing thinning, pile burning, and other bit and piece maintenance. Last winter I chose to work, spending 4 days a week at the station, 80 miles from my home and family. It wasn't bad by any means; I had some really great times, got to work with my friends, and scouted tons of firewood. On the down side, after a fairly busy season, I didn't get to spend as much quality time with my family as I should have (it was also pretty hard to talk my buddies who were making more on unemployment out hunting everyday).

Now, after the summer of '08, which made '07 seem slow, I have decided to take the layoff, and reading your post was a little frustrating. Go ahead, drug test me, I'm not worried. I don't plan on using the winter to get high; I plan on taking my daughter to gym class, volunteering at her school, and making sure that she knows who her father is, not just that he is a firefighter who is never around, summer or winter. After almost a thousand hours of oats this summer, I'm pretty sure my daughter thinks that I'm just the man who comes home every couple of weeks to wash clothes and take her to the park.

Now, I'm no expert, but if you think that unemployment insurance is one of the things that is keeping us from getting a pay raise, I would check things out a little bit more, because I can be fairly sure that those two monies would probably be paid out of separate funds. Finally, I love my job, almost as much as I love my family, and would hate to see 18-8's punished for taking a layoff when they have the chance to do so after an incredibly intense season. As GS-5/6's, we won't have this opportunity and should be able to relish the time while we can. Thanks.

North Zone Apprentice

ps. After taking in to account post- and pre-season burning, and the academy, I will have something between 4 to 7 pay periods off.

11/9 Joe the taxpayer

You obviously <snip> failed to get the point of my ? Did it ever occur to you people refusing work have worked in other fields before they worked for the forest service? On that note did it ever occur to you that some folks (i am probably a minority here) were attracted to the fact that if they became a forest service employee they could have a nice job with bene's that they really enjoy and liked the fact that they would have to take the winter off to pursue another job that is seasonal and cannot do in the summer and do not give a rats a$s about unemployment ins. because as a self employed person in the winter they must PAY TAXES on the money they make. It's ok you can remove your foot from your mouth now.


ps does anyone have the answer to my ? and not some tirade that will generate a bunch of nonsense?

Earlier questions:
How long can management can tell you you have to work beyond your defined 13 or 18 pay periods with the exception of the possibility of two extra pay periods as described in the job description on AVUE? One would think that after wfpr funds are gone and you move to a fuels based pay that you are no longer "obligated" to work and, according to article 23 in the master agreement, an employment agreement will be entered ANNUALLY (one would think that this would happen upon re-entering pay status) and if management asks you to sign an employment agreement that is longer than your stated tour of duty, can you refuse to sign it? If you do, what would the repercussions be? Can you be adamant about only working the required pay periods as stated in your job description? and what about all the apprentices that do not fall under the 0462 series (are they considered perm. seasonal or what is the deal with their series as article 23 refers to permanent seasonals)?

I reiterated your questions, TNBG. Please 1) let's keep this about the what not the who and 2) minimize the "bad words" so we're not banned from the school library computers. Thanks. Ab.

11/9 To all,

There is nothing wrong with making Min. wage. Our hourly min. wage is so much more than others in this World make in a whole month! Besides that, I would rather make a few dollars than NOTHING! Unemployment was not made to be a right nor was it made to be something that one looks forward to every year. I have a close friend with a masters in advertising and design and was just laid of 4 weeks back. The next day he parked his newer car, lowered the insurance policy / coverage, went to the unemployment office, filled out the paperwork and then went off looking for a job. 2 days later he got a job with Starbucks. He will stay there until he finds other work in his field of expertise.

Joe The Taxpayer

11/9 early days of women in fire


I'm writing a memoir of my early days fighting fire and have some interest from agents.
If you were a female firefighter in the 1970s (the ones who paved the way for the rest
of us) I'd like to hear from you. I have questions!

Please email me through Ab (don't want to have my email address out there in
cyberspace). Thanks Ab for passing on!

Starving Writer

Happy to oblige. Ab.

11/9 Hello everyone!
One heck of a season!


I'm writing in response to joe posting about unemployment. First off I'm a temp 04 on a hotshot crew. I love the work, and I would love to work more in the off season I beg my sup to let me stay on longer to burn piles, stack sticks, mark trees, fuels reduction, training anything....He just looks at me and says these two words "No funding." So after realizing the fact that the Forest Service cannot find the funding to keep us working we would have to get jobs paying minimum wage where we would have to work twice as much, and see our family about as much as we see them in the summer. So I use the time in the winter working on my house. The work I neglected all summer while protecting other homes. By the way when you live in a small community and on you resume' it says "firefighter" they tend to ask how long you plan on staying.. Then you are honest with them, and then they are honest with you about not wanting to put any training into you because you are just going to leave in five months. Its kind of weird when a community is on fire they are so glad to see you drive up, pile out, and start to work. When firefighters die they seem so sad. "Its such a dangerous job. Thank you." Then later that year the fire danger goes down and they find out you have to go on unemployment and they get mad.

So, you tell me what I'm supposed to do?
As far as your buzzed family member. Sounds like he has some problems that he might need help with. Not just his unemployment problem.

Long time reader first time poster.

just a grunt....
11/9 32 Days..........

Joe the taxpayer, many of us from a work ethic standardpoint, shake our collective heads why we can't get some Firefighters to work in the winter. I hear what you¢re saying. Fortunately it's not all our Firefighters that refuse to work when we have winter funding, but it's a good percentage. However when our Fed Firefighters make more on unemployment, allow me to repeat that, make MORE on unemployment than a regular base check, you really can't blame them.

The COUNTDOWN begins: December 10, 2008 is the one year mark of the region wide meeting between fire management and line to work on retention and recruitment issues. A plan is reportedly in the hands of the Chief of the Forest Service. Many in the WO and elsewhere are probably offering the Chief an opinion on what to do and what not to do.

By December 10, 2008 we need to be presented with:

  • The plan to improve pay in the high cost areas throughout the region.
  • The implementation process for PTP or a hybrid PTP.
  • The payment process for retention bonuses for all fire management employees.
  • The plan to begin building barracks, housing and improving fire stations.
  • A mission better defined.
  • A resolution to our training issues, including a relief on this travel expenditure cap that is affecting firefighter development.

If this does not occur by December 10, 2008 , we begin Part II of a sustained education effort for our elected officials. Emails, phone calls, letters and more, from us, our families and other supporters will overwhelm the offices of those who need to be reminded of our fight. Do we expect more pay than our cooperators? NO, however we expect a living wage for our younger firefighters so we can retain them. We expect improved pay for our module leaders and fire program managers. A salary that pays more than an unemployment insurance check. Salaries that will keep our young Firefighters with families off food stamps. A salary that will allow them to afford fed health insurance and have a family doctor instead of visits to the emergency room

Randy, ed, Tom, Pena et al, we begin in 4 weeks. Emails and phone calls will begin in massive quantities to the President-Elects transition headquarters. If you cannot begin implementation, then we must educate the President Elect and his staff about the events of the past year. Feinstein, Boxer, the Speaker of the House will once again hear from us. Instead of you setting deadlines and never keeping them, we now have our trigger point, we just set our deadline. The countdown begins.


32 Days

11/8 Ab,

Here is a picture for the "Crews" photo page. It is of Kern County Fire
Department's IA Crew 81, 2005 Season.



Nice one. I put it on the Handcrews 25 photo page. Ab.

11/8 Re San Diego County Regional Fire Tax:

GIS Girl;

I was born and raised in San Diego County, was involved with the fire services from 1973 through 2003 when I retired and left the state. San Diego County has always been sub standard when it comes to fire protection and not from lack of equipment or funding. I feel that the county and cities , San Diego City included have failed in leadership and good fiscal management. The unincorporated areas of the county have formed fire protection districts and service areas all over the county instead of consolidating. Cal Fire has taken over some of the San Diego rural district, I dont know how that is working, but I have never been a fan of those contracts.

I guess what I'm saying is I can understand why the tax increase was not passed. I think San Diego County should consider a county fire dept. such as Orange County did. They seem to be doing well.

Sorry for the long rant.



"San Diego County, IMHO, would NOT be better served by a single fire department. The county is too large and diverse; and the Dysfunctional Giant (SD City) would want to run it. Remember that even in the contract counties there are multiple fire departments. LA county has the City of LA and several other cities with their own departments; I addition to the County Fire Department. Same for Orange, Kern, Marin etc. As mentioned by someone earlier Riverside is a good model for San Diego."

Kern County has a very diverse response area. Over 8,000 square miles of cities, mountains, deserts, refineries, airports, wildlands and WUI. There are many "metropolitan" stations including truck, USaR, and Haz-Mat companies. Furthermore to help work in the WUI and wildland responsibility areas, Kern also has helicopters, Rio Bravo IHC, three IA handcrews, numerous type 3 and 4 engines and several fire dozers. There are also sworn positions that deal daily in fuels management and hazard mitigation. 500+ fulltime county firefighters.

In Kern County, there are essentially three "metro" departments. Dispatching is done from a central location, and obviously there are many mutual aid agreements. Kern County- 46 stations, Bakersfield City- 11 stations, and California City- 1 station. Other depts are USFS, and BLM. I believe Kern County's would also be another good example for San Diego County

Former Green Soldier.

11/8 TNBG,

In this record setting season of unemployment why would anyone refuse work? I so do not understand the logic behind working only 13 or 18 pay periods a year and then complaining if you have to work a few more PP more before you can go collect the unemployment check. Do people not realize that we ALL pay for those unemployment benefits? It is part of the cost of doing business. With out the FS having to pay the high rate of unemployment I am sure there would be more money available for better pay (read RETENTION). I have a family member that thinks it is his right when he works for the FS to collect unemployment all winter (while the rest of us work). As far as a person being "obligated" to work.... We all have an obligation to work and add to our society. I will take this one step further. I believe that before a person collects their unemployment check that they should be subject to a work drug screen. If they fail then no benefits for them until they can pass... Along with that they should be subject to random drug screening. It is so sickening to observe people on unemployment that are not looking for work and buzzed! Lets ALL get off our butts and fix this Country! (yes, I believe the fix does not involve collecting unemployment for the winter)

There has been talk of bonuses, How about an annual bonus to those that do not collect unemployment?


I think I need a little buzzzzzz. So glad things slow down a bit this time of year. Ab.

11/8 Yes He Will

Second paragraph, first sentence.


When wildfire threatens lives and property, an Obama-Biden Administration will increase the federal
government’s commitment to field the most professional, well-trained, and well-coordinated wildfire fighting
force in the world.


The rest is interesting reading as well. Ab.

11/8 Ab, do you possibly have a print version of the "from AAR to SAI table"?\


Here you go: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/from-aar-to-sai-print.php It was created by the fire risk management team in Boise (Sutton, Waterbury, Apicello, maybe Holdsambeck and others?). Ab.

11/8 MBW sent in a Sequoia NF, E-22 logo. I posted it on the Logos 15 photo page. Ab.
11/8 Ab and all,

As fire season is coming to a close this year i have had several people inquire as to what is the deal on refusing winter work? Obviously you will not be paid unemployment! My ? pertains to how long management can tell you you have to work beyond your defined 13 or 18 pay periods with the exception of the possibility of two extra pay periods as described in the job description on AVUE. One would think that after wfpr funds are gone and you move to a fuels based pay that you are no longer "obligated" to work and, according to article 23 in the master agreement, an employment agreement will be entered ANNUALLY (one would think that this would happen upon re-entering pay status) and if management asks you to sign an employment agreement that is longer than your stated tour of duty, can you refuse to sign it? If you do, what would the repercussions be? Can you be adamant about only working the required pay periods as stated in your job description? and what about all the apprentices that do not fall under the 0462 series (are they considered perm. seasonal or what is the deal with their series as article 23 refers to permanent seasonals)?

11/8 Here is a good look into how we rob Peter to pay Paul.

Funding Alternatives for Fire and Emergency Services

William Riggles

11/8 Good post about the community expectations of Government regardless of the agency.

A couple points on your post.

First off, those privately owned structures on public lands DO pay a tax to the local counties in the form of possessory interest taxes or some form of property tax on the structure and improvements. Businesses that operate on forest and BLM lands are subject to the same local tax structure for sales taxes etc as are all other business on private lands. This again depends on the local and state laws affecting business, sales taxes and income taxes derived from those businesses.

Second for the BLM and Forest Service managed lands, each county receives an annual payment from the Federal government in the form of in- leu funds which go into the county GENERAL funds. These funds are based on the acreage percentage of the county in the above federal management. The local County Commissioners, Supervisors or Judges then decide how these are dispersed to the various agencies in the county. Historically these funds were required to go to Roads and Schools, however I believe it was changed several years ago to allow the respective counties to spread it as needed, especially when the bottom dropped out of timber receipts.

Third, Military and National Park Service are exclusive Jurisdiction for many of their land areas, meaning that they are the sole provider for public services, whereas the FS and BLM are concurrent jurisdiction, meaning that they share responsibility for public services on those lands. The fire protection program is intended for their lands only as well as law enforcement on federal lands, unless there is a cooperative agreement in place which allows the federal agencies to take actions on other than federal lands and issues. Many of these agreements also provided that local government take action on incidents on federal lands as well. For those in the fire arena, these lines are fairly clearcut for the local areas and frequently depend on the working relationship between the agencies and the political heads of government on both sides the issue.

I think that you will find that many of the people on the ground at the local level with the FS and BLM feel fairly strongly as you do, however they are often hand-tied due to differing viewpoints from senior management (I say management vs leadership because I strongly believe the later is woefully lacking in most cases today) at higher administrative levels in the respective agencies.

Hope this may help some on understanding the funding issues.


11/8 GIS Girl and other concerned San Diego County residents.

We already pay a special assessment each year for fire services; not just to whoever our local provider is but an additional pot of money, to the county for added protection. Only problem is most of this money has not gotten to the Fire Service. Sheriff, DA and some other non-fire uses have gotten all that money. I, for one, would have expected nothing better from the revenues generated by the assessment just defeated at the polls.

I am not sure if the existing assessment is what is being used to provide the Scoopers or not. Up until recently the county has had a huge General Fund surplus. The county has purchased some Engines and Tankers and farmed them out to some of the rural departments. CDF even has a least one tanker from this �buy�. It says San Diego County on it but it lives at CDF station 86. (Ramona Station)

San Diego County, IMHO, would NOT be better served by a single fire department. The county is too large and diverse; and the Dysfunctional Giant (SD City) would want to run it. Remember that even in the contract counties there are multiple fire departments. LA county has the City of LA and several other cities with their own departments; I addition to the County Fire Department. Same for Orange, Kern, Marin etc. As mentioned by someone earlier Riverside is a good model for San Diego.

With the recent consolidation of many of the rural departments, under MVU dispatch, this aids in getting a better jump on some incidents. Not that there was much of a problem before; as the Heartland dispatch center works closely with MVU on all types of incidents. Also the North County cities have a good centralized dispatch agency and have no qualms whatsoever about asking CDF for whatever they need. Conversely they provide strike teams (or sometimes just an ambulance or a specialized piece of equipment) when another agency needs it.

Right now, and I may not have the latest information as I do not have complete county coverage with the scanners, only Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, National City, Coronado and Escondido are the only cities that dispatch themselves. San Diego dispatches themselves, Poway and possibly one of the previously listed cities. All the others participate in one of the Inter agency dispatch organizations. Those are Rancho for north county; Heartland for south Central and some rural VFD agencies not joined with CDF; and finally MVU which dispatches all CDF and affiliated departments, including the schedule A departments, CNF and some BLM and Fish and Wildlife scattered around So Cal.

It would not be that hard, and would provide efficiency, to consolidate some of the smaller and willing adjacent cities into one or more large departments with their own staff. Then consolidate all the rural and uncovered areas into one Schedule A department; like Riverside. This last could preserve the VFD folks that choose to remain and provide some level of paid full time troops to provide faster initial response.

Just some rambling thoughts of an old fart. Glad to hear your comments, Ab willing.


11/8 Ab,

Throughout the years I have lurked here, there have been many good questions
(such as posed by KSENGB). I'd encourage folks to seek out some of the
excellent training in how the government works. There are numerous courses
available and they are invaluable in answering some of the "whys" and
"hows".....and eliminating the suspicions that the notorious "THEY" are out
to get you, or harm your career.

Fundamental courses help one learn about the branches of government, their
roles, and functions. how budgets are created, the difference between
"authorizing" legislation and "appropriations" legislation,
laws/regulations/policy, government PILT (payments in lieu of taxes), how
government agencies interact (USFS, OPG, OSHA) etc.

Some of this should be available on-line via the dreaded AgLearn. Or, ask
your ranger about getting some of this training..... and YES firefighters can
walk into the Ranger's office and sit down for a conversation.

Just a suggestion that might reduce some frustration.

another OFG

It's interesting stuff too. "Checks and Balances" instated by our founding fathers - and in part modeled after the eastern Indian Nations - had the "unintended consequence" of creating the bureaucracy we rail against. That same working of the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial also insures a peaceful transition of power from president to president. Beyond that, several of the founding fathers argued that diversity of those voting was key in keeping ultimate power out of the hands of a few strong men (oligarchy) or one strong family ruling via a blood line (king/queen). It's hard to get diverse people to vote as a block thereby keeping power from defaulting to the very rich and powerful. In my family's travels abroad when I was a teenager, I was struck by the fact that most Americans take the basic good democratic process of this great country for granted. We are truly blessed. Ab.

11/7 Re: All Risks responses

I don’t work for USFS, so it’s not my place to write policy on all-risks responses on the forest, but I have some perspective to share from working the state and local sides, and extensive dealings with the park service. Several have noted that local property taxes pay for fire (structure), rescue, and EMS protection. Not sure how Cal works, but most states, Fed property doesn’t pay any local property taxes or sales taxes. So a vast area of National Forest pays nothing to the local EMS or fire protection district. Assuming they’ll want to charitably cover an extra few thousand square miles that don’t contribute to EMS or FD’s budget is a huge imposition on a small department.

Most citizens expect that whichever “community” they are in will protect them when they call 911. If they’re in the city, the city will care for them. If in the county, the county will. If on Fed land, the feds will. Does the city maintain FS roads? Does the local sheriff provide the law enforcement? Or are these provided by the FS, and it’s just the EMS and structure fire stuff that USFS isn’t doing? For comparison, it has been my experience that with the exception of the smaller installations, the military, NPS, and other large federal property holders provide their own municipal fire protection, EMS, rescue, etc. NPS is no more a fire department than USFS, but if you are injured, trapped, lost, or a visitor center is on fire in a national park, in most cases, it is NPS that provides primary response. How is the FS different? It seems to me like a really major part of the “serving people” part is providing them with basic public safety services while they are guests in your “community”.


11/7 Anyone hear the rumor or can you provide a link to an article?

Is FEMA going to be removed from DHS?
What impact would this have on fed fire, NIMS etc?


11/7 Concerned Taxpayer-

Your concerns are valid- and I think you deserve answers. I really
didn't see much analysis in the local papers/media on the proposition
so I can't say I understand the distribution of taxation currently
existing to receive the varying levels of services we all currently
have in the county. I don't live rural so I can't speak to the double
taxation issue- we pay city taxes for our services, including public
safety in general, and I was willing to pay more.

One thing to clarify- I wasn't talking about clearing the canyons of
chaparral (it's a valid ecosystem and does not need to be eradicated)
but that our city department does respond to the canyons. I think
that across the board (city/county) those that receive fire protection
should have an attitude of investment not entitlement because the
money would have gone to the existing fire departments too. From what
I have heard from the firefighters on the force the San Diego City
Fire Department is understaffed and lacking the
facilities/equipment... the tax would have helped them too.

Consolidating a number of fire agencies into one countywide agency is
a proven concept in this state. I don't agree on a single California
Fire Department- each level of government has their own focus and
mission and even though they all overlap I don't think that is a
realistic idea with the current structure of government and funding.

The Blue Ribbon review and others can deal with big picture concepts.
Taxation, funding, and implementation is part of the picture but not
the whole picture. In my personal experience the citizens I have met
in San Diego County are more focused on the personal impacts than the
big picture direction and a resistance to $52 per year has once again
stymied the movement towards a destination that I think would be
beneficial to this entire county.

Personally, I would pay a dollar a week to go that direction- just
like I'm a member of the WFF 52 club- a dollar a week to help a buddy
right? But that's why we vote... not everyone agrees :-) I respect
your concerns and I'm sorry your questions were not answered

11/7 All Risk Debate.

I am not sure that everyone debating this issue is using the same definition of "All Risk". I thought it referred to national incidents including things like the shuttle disaster, large wildfires, hurricane recovery, and Exotic Newcastle disease. I don't think the definition includes responding to car accidents and medical calls. Where I work, the Forest Service is not expected to show up on vehicle accidents or house fires. That being said, I and several others from my ranger station are members of the local volunteer ambulance service and both of my engines have jump kits. I donate time to help them maintain their wildland engines (Can't stand to see dull tools), and my unit provides free wildland fire training.

The dispersed population along with a relatively low ambulance call volume (2-3 a week) means that the local service has no paid personnel on duty at the station. A previous poster referred to 25 minutes to 1 hour response as being a long call. I would say that is a quick call out here.

If certain districts under agreements with local cooperators are required to provide first responder to medical and car accidents, then do it. But I don't see how that can happen agency wide. My district covers 2500 square miles and encompasses several fire districts, All of which are volunteers. Which district gets the benefit of my services? Would we provide 24/7 services? Car extrication? Medical Transport? If I get dispatched on a severity assignment, do my EMT quals transfer out of state? While on that out of state assignment, what are my responsibility to the community that I left?

Bottom Line? I don't want the Forest Service to mandate local ambulance and fire response. What I would like to see is support for EMT Training and ability for Medical Direction when I go out of state on fire. There is a great big gray area when it comes to responding to a medical emergency while being an EMT on a large fire. If something was to happen, I think it would be very easy to get into legal trouble because of the variation of medical direction from district to district, much less state to state. But I am sure the USDA Forest Service would cover me, Right?

11/7 re: Presidential transition

I think the USDA memo is a thinly veiled attempt to ensure the lame duck administration can
force through some last-minute rule changes to push their "drill, baby, drill" agenda (or, in the
case of the Forest Service, "log, baby, log" agenda) before the under-secretary goes back
to being an industry lobbyist.

I am hopeful that the new administration will restore the FOIA system, so that citizens will
truly have the freedom of information to know what their government is up to.

vfd cap'n
11/7 GIS Girl,

The rural folks out in East San Diego County have been paying an added property tax bill of 50+ dollars a year for their beloved San Diego Rural Fire District for over 15 years which is now under the control of CALFIRE, yet they still pay that additional tax. The folks who put the last additional tax on the ballot did nothing to say how or if those folks, such as myself who have been paying $50.00/yr are going to be dealt with, were they going to be double taxed.

I for one am not willing to pay another additional tax per/parcel for Fire Protection with out a solid plan. I have heard that the USFS can't even work a person a sixth day to keep engines covered if they send folks off on fire assignments. What my friends have told me is that they end up staying on the Forest making eight hours a day while a San Diego FF gets the assignment and that the Federal government then pays them whatever their OT rate is and the OT rate to fill in behind them and then some ridiculous admin fee of 20% on top of that. That is insane to me as a tax payer, even if it is legal. Kinda reminds me of those military toilet seats. It is just like the folks who on project fires eat out at restaurants and charge it back to the government when there is a fire camp set-up with kitchen and food.

You talk about all the canyons that San Diego has how about hiring the USFS folks who get laid off every winter to work clearing brush, and participating in burns to get rid of the brush you would save the feds the cost of unemployment and get a bunch of workers who like to work. Another avenue that San Diego could do is creating a contract to bring down strike teams, task forces and crews from R1, R3 and others that end their fire season when ours is just starting, I would be willing to bet, if I was a betting woman that they would gladly come down to work in San Diego if they were guaranteed 12 hours a day. Wow think of the production and protection you would have having four strike teams of Green engines working hard clearing brush in all that urban interface. I heard the San Bernardino did something similar back in 2002.

I agree there should be a Unified Fire Department and perhaps the way to go is Get rid of all the City Departments, Volunteer Departments and Fire Districts and create one CALIFORNIA FIRE DEPARTMENT maybe the Govenator could help. I wonder how many Chiefs, Captains and Firefighters would go for this and give up their little piece of the kingdom for, as Gifford Pinchot said, "for the greater good". There would have to be some cost savings for that size of Department; kinda like Walmart.

I wish the Blue Ribbon panel or whoever puts these measures on the ballot would address some of the concerns the folks who already pay an additional tax have. Perhaps there would be more buy in, such as this is what this will buy us (SanDiego County) and we will have 5 minute response times or whatever the folks of Rancho Bernardo, La Jolla and other already enjoy, maybe then there would be more folks voting for an additional tax. Democracy's Great, when it works! Got to go I hear my Honey asking for another PBR as he is covered in grease trying to get the Kabota back up and running and I don't want him tracking grease in on beautiful Mexican pavers.

Signed: Concerned tax payer.
11/6 From Firescribe: Some interesting articles here.

Federal Unions' Top Ten Goals for an Obama Presidency?

Where changes are expected in agencies

Widespread Complaints About a Rudderless Government

11/6 Re: USDA Secretary Schafer's "Memo"

Secretary Schafer said, "This would include, draft documents, pre-decisional memoranda, classified materials, and information with Personally Identifiable Information included. This is an important point. Sharing of information protected under the Privacy Act, Classified materials, and other confidential or sensitive information, even if well meaning, can subject the provider and recipient to civil and criminal penalties."

While it sounds like a legitimate request to protect employees, in all reality it is likely an attempt to hide what has been going on within ALL of the USDA agencies for the last eight years. A broad and wrongly interpreted view of the Freedom of Information Act has troubled this administration since day #1.

Don't get me wrong. There are legitimate concerns regarding disclosures relating to the Privacy Act, and the release of information deemed to be "classified", "confidential", or "sensitive". In the cases of classification, all documents are to be labeled as such before distribution, and only in rare cases, be determined to be classified after the fact.

In terms of draft documents and pre-decisional memoranda, these documents can be released, and supported under Whistleblower Protection Act provisions. If you think you have such documents, and wish to exercise your rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act, please contact an employee advocacy group (NFFE, AFGE, ARFE, FWFSA, PEER, etc.) for further assistance.

In a historical reference, the term "cooking the books" comes to mind.

11/6 Some new photos up on the Airtankers 27 photo page and Helicopters 25. Ab.

5 Different Smokejumper Aircraft on the ramp at Redding, CA.

Martin Mars Airtanker, stationed at Shasta Lake, Redding CA

California National Guard Ship, "Jolly 91" stationed out of Redding, CA, for
Medivac and Rescue Hoist Capable ship.

Photos compliments of R5 Dispatcher.

11/6 TC,

I am ex-fed and I <heart> my agency friends both Fed and State but San
Diego should be taking after the folks that do it right.... Kern, Sac
Metro, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, Marin, Ventura, Santa
Barbara, Riverside- consolidation reduces the 65!!!!! fire agencies in
our one county including the 23 rural ones. Unified command.... is it
better with 30+ or one? When they need representation in SouthOps
seriously- you going to listen to LA County or Julian-Cuyamaca FPD?

I have seen the power of the contract counties in representing their
constituents' interests and I have seen the power of non-contract
counties such as Sac Metro in implementing a large response. They
speak and politically others listen. Why should San Diego continue to
be fragmented and underfund public agencies across the board? CalFire
and the USFS are partners not our protectors- they don't protect the
canyons in in Mira Mesa or hills in Santee though they are gracious
enough to respond mutual aid.

San Diego is at a disadvantage as we are a geographic cul-de-sac... to
get help from the East is another state (extra time for coordination),
to get help from the South is international (don't hold your breath)
and to get help from North... well typically the LA area is on fire at
the same time and really our fires are less photogenic than the San

Just read the 2003 blue ribbon report and the 2007 lessons learned.
The professionals (including CalFire and Fed reps) spoke and they
recommended consolidation- our local citizens need to learn to listen
to the professionals.

As for taxes... honestly this county has tended towards an attitude of
entitlement and not ponying up to take care of our own- I've lived
here over 20 years and I love this town and its people- I want to see
it represented and protected.


p.s. Andrea Tuttle for NPS? Well she's got the PHD so it might work
:-) How hard can she hug a historic cabin?
11/6 This Soft Track pic was taken 7/30/08 on the Telegraph Fire, Mariposa County, CA, Branch III, Division M. The operator told me it is a converted log puller with 1,500 gallons of water, pump, blade. Interesting. They're out of Yaak, Montana - look it up. Last photo is image of Cal Fire crews loading the Soft Track with hose and equipment necessary to extend a hose line on Division M. Operator on top helping load.

These pics of the Fire Train were taken at the Butte Lightning Complex around 7/11/08. These are the Union Pacific rail tracks along the Feather River. According to the train crew, this train is sent where fire endangers the rail, mainly to protect the bridges. It has five or six water tanks (12,000+ gallons each) and monitors. There are two engines, one on each end, so the train can be split and protect each side of the bridge. Big comes to mind!


Thanks, I put them on the Equipment 12 and Equipment 13 photo pages. Some interesting pics of equipment: Soft Track and Fire Train. Ab.

11/6 OE sent in a Pinehurst E-31 logo. I posted it on the Logos 15 photo page. Ab.
11/6 Hey Ab,

Thought you might like to see our new T-shirt logo. Also I sent you a few heavy equipment pictures a few weeks ago.

The guys here at LACoFD Heavy Equipment enjoy the web site and appreciate all that you do. Thanks for all that you do. Also if you get a chance take a look at our Dozer Group website at www.californiadozeroperatorsgroup.org.

Todd Damann, LACoFD Heavy Equipment

Thanks, Todd. Dozers at their best. I put them on the Equipment 12 and the Logos 15 photo pages. Ab.

11/6 Ab,

This is a few pictures from a fire we came across while en route to Santa Barbara County to a fire right before the Zaca Fire started. I don’t remember the name of this one but it was on the Angeles at the end of June 2007 on the Grapevine at Interstate 5 near Smokey Bear Blvd. The fire started in the RV and then spread to the northbound side vegetation as the vehicle rolled down the road towards us and came to rest in the median. While we were battling the NB side, the propane tank on the RV blew across all the lanes of the SB side and started a fire on the other side. It was a pretty exciting day to say the least. The crews in the pictures are us: ST9476G, CAL FIRE Tuolumne Calaveras Unit Vallecito Crews 1 and 3.

Thanks for the great website. I thought you might want to add these to the collection online??


Thanks CDFFCB, I put them on Handcrews 24 and Fire 39 photo pages. Ab.


One of the wonderful aspects of this great republic is how we can almost seamlessly change America’s leadership in a manner free from unrest and discord. This is something that should make all Americans proud. I congratulate the President-elect and wish him and his team well as they begin preparing to assume leadership of our nation.

Over the past several months Federal departments, including the USDA, began preparing for the Presidential transition. Earlier this year, President Bush charged members of his administration to commence the most comprehensive effort ever in transition preparation to ensure the President-elect has complete cooperation from the current Administration for a smooth, seamless transfer of authority.

Part of the transition effort will include a team of individuals (“Transition Team”) that will be deployed to the Department for briefings and to gather information that the new Secretary and sub-cabinet will require to continue the Department’s mission. The Department has assigned a core team of senior officials to work closely with the transition team to assist in the information sharing process. In addition, office space and equipment in the Whitten Building has been set up for the team to use from their arrival until the Inauguration of the new President.

In all probability, the Transition Team members will not be Federal employees. Accordingly, they will not be able to access any information they would not otherwise be entitled to under the Freedom of Information Act. This would include, draft documents, pre-decisional memoranda, classified materials, and information with Personally Identifiable Information included. This is an important point. Sharing of information protected under the Privacy Act, Classified materials, and other confidential or sensitive information, even if well meaning, can subject the provider and recipient to civil and criminal penalties. Accordingly, caution with the preparation of documents protects both the provider and the recipient. We can not assume that the Transition Team members will be familiar with Federal rules on access to Federal records.

In order to assure all lawful information is shared with the Transition Team, only the assigned USDA transition team members will be the primary contacts with the President-elect’s Transition Team. Any questions regarding an information request should be addressed with your supervisor.

Lastly, I ask that you let the Transition Team work without interruption as they have a lot of information to review prior to the arrival of the new Administration. I am confident that we will make this the smoothest transition in history.

Thank you for you service to the United States Department of Agriculture and to this great country.

Edward T. Schafer
Secretary, USDA
Officeof.theSecretary @ ocio.usda.gov

11/6 "Out Shopping"

Try www.maptools.com They have alot of templates that you can print out
on transparencies, I carry one and they are handy.

Norcal Fuels
11/6 We seem to be arguing apples and oranges. I'm not debating the need for the agency to respond to "all risk" national emergencies. I'm saying that local emergency services are the responsibility of local agencies as established and funded by residents. The idea that "big brother" should handle every need is flawed in concept and ability to execute.

The point I am attempting to make is that expenditure of federal fire funds for activities outside our established mission has an impact on our established mission. The dollars one unit spends on training for vehicle accidents, house fires, or whatever means that another unit is deprived of those dollars for training or equipment for their wildland firefighters. There's just no free ride.

And there's just no bottomless bucket of money. It's called fiscal integrity.

Want to run on every local emergency? Are you prepared to make the cuts on the number of engines you will staff? Cancel travel and tuition for training for a single resource boss? There are consequences for decisions.

Again, let's focus our expenditures on being fully prepared to respond to "all-risk" national emergencies.


11/6 Dear Casey,

Your efforts on behalf of the Wildland Firefighters should stand as testament and example as to the caliber of person needed to initiate and oversee the changes needed. I know they are out there, sadly oppressed by the system, yet struggling to make changes for the better all the same. You are a true example of leadership in it's best form.

While my comment may have had a dash of "tongue-in-cheek" to it, resolutions and "fixes" to the problems our various departments and agencies are suffering through will only be realized through competent leadership, advocacy, and education of the public and those elected officials that make the decisions that affect us all. While I can certainly appreciate your desire to say out of the bureaucracy, my only hope is that whomever is placed within the new administration will come close to your faith and passion for Wildland Firefighters nationwide.

Respectfully withdrawing the nomination (kicking and screaming) LOL


11/6 GIS Girl

And why should San Diego pass another TAX for Fire services, when they have
CALFIRE and the USFS more than willing to take up the slack.

11/6 Simple help question, hopefully. Does anybody know where to purchase the see-through
360* bearing stickers to put on a map, such as in dispatch to pull bearing and distance off
a lookout? I've looked all over and have not been able to find them.

Out shopping
11/6 Dear TS:

I'm sure your post was "tongue-in-cheek" though I would have to say thanks but no thanks.

This is a mess that one person cannot fix. And while I enjoy advocating on behalf of federal
wildland firefighters in Washington, working there is not an option. Odd as it might seem, I'd
much prefer to remain doing what I do for pennies a day than be a bureaucrat.

Granted I believe the fire fixes are relatively easy to accomplish but it will take a collective effort.
Hopefully with the election day changes, we will make even greater progress than we did last

Thanks for the thought though. Course I did go to the same high school in Hawaii as the
President-elect did so one never knows :)

11/6 Re: the ongoing all- risk debate:

I can't tell you what's right or wrong for the Fed agencies, but all- risk certainly isn't a new challenge.

In about 1979 (pre- LEI) I was working a Fall "season" as a USFS RecTech, and delivered a baby at the compound office (about 45 miles from the nearest county fire station, ambulance station, and hospital). The E/T from mother parking in front of the office, to baby in arms, was maybe twenty minutes. "Wait" wasn't a viable option.

The next Spring (still with Rec), I responded about 1 1/2 miles to an 11 year old boy who had been bitten by a rattlesnake (witnessed event). This was about 30 miles farther up the mountain; the patient was flown to the hospital in a fire copter.

Very nearly lost my job, in both instances, but what did they really expect an on- duty EMT (no, they weren't paying me to be a medic) to do? Which is the higher priority, good of the patient/ oath to serve, or Agency rules?

No, it's not a new issue, and it's not going to go away.

11/6 For John Bennett, FS Retired



On They Said 4/5/2008 (great Google based search function):

Date: April 2, 2008

Subject: Fire Line Officer Team 2007 Leadership Awards - Region 5
To: Regional Forester, R5
For the past 10 years, the Fire Line Officer Team (LOT) has presented Leadership Awards to those line officers who excel in four award categories: Commitment to Firefighter and Public Safety; Commitment to Restoration of Fire Adapted Ecosystems; Commitment to Partnership Efforts in Fire Management; and Commitment to Build Suppression Resource Capacity. We are pleased to recognize the following Region 5 line officer for her commitment to fire leadership:

Commitment to Build Suppression Resource Capacity
Jody Noiron

Today's natural resource leaders face complex responsibilities. Whether nurturing the firefighters and the fire leaders of the future or ensuring interagency relationships are sound, a line officer in the fire arena requires hard work and dedication. The LOT is pleased to recognize line officers at every level of the organization who have excelled in meeting the fire management needs of today while preparing the organization for the future.

This year a significant number of nominations were received for a limited number of awards. Region 5 line officers who were nominated but not selected include: John Exline, Commitment to Partnership Efforts in Fire Management; and Ray Haupt, Commitment to Restoration of Fire Adapted Ecosystems. These nominations clearly reflect your commitment to fire management and leadership. Please extend our thanks for their exceptional efforts.

Congratulations! Award materials are being shipped to your Regional Fire Director.


/s/ T.C. Harbour
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

/s/ Mary Wagner, Chairman
Fire Line Officers Team
11/6 OFG and others who feel “all risk” is not part of the agency mission.

Mission statement of the USFS

“Protect the land and serve the people”

I don’t quite see how serving the people when they are in distress goes against the mission, anymore than building a campground for them to stay at does. Gifford Pinchot chose to make the “rules” of the USFS very broad, allowing individual rangers the discretion to adopt and adapt as appropriate for their particular piece of ground.

Another little bit of information; the USFS has been tasked with rural fire protection pretty much from the beginning. Traditionally the way this has been done is to provide assistance (money, equipment & training). The decision to assist local areas in the formation of fire protection organizations was the choice made by those in charge at the time, not a mandate handed down to the agency. In the beginning nobody said the USFS shall not become a full service fire agency. The origins of several fire departments with a rural protection area are closely tied to the USFS. These agencies have grown to encompass the full range of services expected by their citizens, while the USFS has chosen to largely remain trapped in 1940.

There have always been those who have resisted change and those who have embraced change, whether it was motorized fire apparatus, converted crop dusters, chainsaws, a professional work force, breathing apparatus, GPS, or automated defibrillators.

I am sure there are some areas that the 1940s way is still appropriate, but in much of the nation’s public lands it is time to catch up with the 21st century. These decisions should be carefully made by professionals, not by tradition, vague references to ½ of a mission statement and fear of the unknown. If the Federal Wildland agencies want to remain the strong progressive force they were through most of the 20th century, they need to re-evaluate the way they do things, and change where deficiencies are found, otherwise they will just become another foot note in history books.

Lead, follow or get out of the way
11/6 Your reference to "mother-about-to-deliver" calls was an absolute slap in the face of wildland firefighters nationwide.

Two things:

1) Today (11/05) is the second anniversary of the Memorial and Tribute to San Bernardino National Forest E-57 that was attended by nearly 10,000 firefighters nationwide, and

2) Shortly before the Esperanza Tragedy, the crew of E-57 delivered a healthy baby boy.

Do you have a specific problem that prevents you from accepting that everything is in a constant state of change? Change can be positive or negative, but anything that stays stagnant will not flourish and grow. Some of us would prefer positive changes that increase firefighter safety, improve mission efficiency and effectiveness, and get the Forest Service back on track towards its original goals of being an absolute leader in our profession..... Caring for the Land, Serving People

Some of us remember and learn from the past.....and continue on. Others dwell in the past and wonder why?

11/5 Re: Dream Cabinet and the Future....

Secretary of Agriculture - Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment -
Jose "Joe" Cruz, Former Fire and Aviation Management Director, WO, USFS

Chief of the USFS - Tom Harbour, Current FS WO Fire Director

FS Director of Fire and Aviation Management - Sue Husari, Current NPS Western Region Fire Director

Secretary of Interior - T. Boone Pickens

BLM Director - Tom Zimmerman, Current USFS

NPS Director - Andrea Tuttle, Former Director, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Secretary of Homeland Security - Alan Brunacini, Former Fire Chief, City of Phoenix FD

FEMA Director - Moustafa Abou-Taleb, Preparedness Branch Manager, CA Office of Emergency Services


PS Re: Dream Cabinet and the Future....

I forgot one key person.... A key member for future emergency response.

Under the FEMA Director:

FEMA Response and Recovery Directorate - Chief Greg Hickman, Neosho MO Fire Department

11/5 Hey, you think if we ask real nice, Obama will put Casey in a good spot to
start fixing this mess we call the USFS?

Couldn't resist!
11/5 I think that the myopic retention proposal - a 10% ONE TIME bonus for GS 5s - 8s makes me sick.
It is very representative of the outgoing administration's economic stimulus checks. (that don't work)
Rather than addressing true problems and issues like bad mortgage and lending policies, the Forest Service hopes a generic govt. issued band-aid will save the day.

Here is one idea that would work better... Reward and retain those Firefighters who serve the Agency and the Public with advanced ICS Quals. The attainment of IC / DIVS / OPS / LOGS etc. requires retention of an employee in itself. Rewarding these ICS qualifications would increase Federal / Agency independence from more costly municipal cooperators. This would in-turn help to lower large fire costs.

The potential for an increase in salary or earnings would be more commensurate with career advancements. Currently there is very little monetary reason to stay with or advance in the Fire organization of the Forest Service.

I think it is not only today's paycheck, but also that the career ladder (and associated benefits) of any employer that entices employees to stay (retention).
But, I am just a lowly GS-9, not worth retaining... and not worth aspiring to be. (the root cause of retention issues)

What Tha ----
11/5 The regional fire tax failed in San Diego, the $52 dollar tax (a
dollar a week) per parcel tax would have ensured this county would
-Created a regional fire agency instead of having a multitude of
distributed fire agencies
-Half the money for regional fire fighting equipment
-The rest divided up among the existing fire agencies (such as the
City of San Diego)

Full article:

"San Diego County is the most populous in the state without a regional
fire department, and per-capita spending for fire protection is lower
here than in Orange and Los Angeles counties."

Really San Diego County? After 2003 and 2007? Seriously?

I voted for it,
11/5 Hello,

My name is Trevor Trout. I am a student at Colorado State University working on a research paper analyzing the wildland firefighting industry. I was a member of a Bridger Teton USFS Engine, the Bridger Teton Interagency Handcrew and last season a member on the Platte Canyon Handcrew.

Questions I am trying to answer include:

* How many wildland firefighters are there in the U.S.?
* How many wildland firefighters hand crews are there in the U.S.?
* How large is the wildland firefighting industry growing?
* Are wildland firefighter budgets growing? And if so, by how much?
* How much can a third year wildland firefighter expect to make in a season?
* How much money does each agency contribute to wildland firefighting efforts nationally?

I am trying to get a feeling of wildland firefighting on a macro-scale.

If someone could either talk with me or respond to a few emails I would greatly appreciate it.


Trevor Trout
11/5 OFG

Doesn't everyone pay federal taxes???

Quick Connect
11/5 NP

Guess I'm a little more "remote" than you (have been for 30+ years).

Nope, the USFS is not a "fire department". It is a land management agency that responds to wildland fire (and national emergencies) as part of their assigned mission.

Certainly there are those employees who wish it were different.....and maybe some day it will be. But for now, it is not the agency's job to engage house fires, respond to vehicle accidents, roll on "mother-about-to-deliver" calls, rescue whales or whatever.

In the remote areas I am familiar with, we have "volunteer" fire departments. Many of these are funded through donations or "dues" of local residents. They might get some fed excess property or an occasional "grant" but services are limited. Those who chose to live in the remote environment accept that. It's called making a choice and accepting the good and bad consequences of that choice.

Again, if the "public" you serve wants "Rescue 911" to respond, they better be willing to foot the bill. I am one taxpayer that does not want my local ranger district to go without training or equipment to handle local fires because someone in another area chooses to not act responsibly in establishing and funding the other emergency response services they "expect".


11/5 Talking to a buddy this am who told me there was post, perhaps in August,
about ANF Supervisor Jody Noiron getting an award for support of the fire

Can help me find it or another source which references it?

Just thinking on paper here-----could a search function be added to They
Said--perhaps by date, topic of key word?


John Bennett
USFS ret.

I know it was posted, but can't find it now. I'll look again tomorrow. Here are two refs to it. Ab.


11/5 Abs,

Here's the letter defining the Chief's stand down on the use of the 401 series
in GS-9-12 fire positions.


Appreciate that. Ab.

11/5 FSC creates National Fire Committee!!!

Hello all,

My name is Dave Collins. I am a Forest Service Council Steward on the Shasta Trinity National Forest. I am writing to inform all interested parties that the FSC has created a Fire Committee. This is very good news. The committee will be addressing many issues that are affecting our firefighting brothers and sisters. Soon we will be posting our own web page which will contain good info on the state of labor relations in the federal fire world. Much good will come from this.

This committee hopes to form a mutually beneficial partnership with the FWFSA.

More to come later on this.

Please contact me if you want to know more or are interested in assisting the committee
My personal mail at djchere @ gmail. com (take out spaces)
11/5 Ab,

The next 4 years will be a change and while we will not all get everything we
want I'm optimistic that we have a man that will respect his employees.

Since the president-elect said last night that this is a government of the people
for the people and by the people (or something like that) how about we
nominate our own leadership? I'd like to hear who you think would make

Secretary of Ag
Chief of the USFS
Secretary of Interior (I heard the CEO for REI once... maybe she'd
implement comfy uniforms)
BLM Director
NPS Director
Secretary of Homeland Security
FEMA Director

C'mon... if you fire professionals were to rule the world would you pick
someone from corporate, politicians, academic, or from within? Let's keep
it positive- it's our world- who do you want to lead it? Let's get them
to apply for the new administration (did you know you can do that?).


11/5 OFG

Wow................ In a round about way, you are right, the public doesn't care, at least not what color the truck is. We (as an American culture) have set a precedence on what fire can and will do. The public scream bloody murder when we don't respond. Most of our stations, yes there are some exceptions, are in remote and rural places and have a 25 min to and hr response time for fire and EMS, whereas the FS station is right there. I personally believe we have a moral obligation to provide the highest level of care and protection to the public that we can. Sounds like you live in a different have a different opinion on the matter and that is your right, but ask yourself this question; your child was just in an accident and the FS station is five minutes away, the next closest resource is 10 mins out, which do you want to respond? No matter what your personal beliefs or opinions or how you take this response, just remember, to the public, USFS fire is a FIRE DEPARTMENT and they expect certain things from us!


NP, we do need some streamlined fiscal solutions for the FS and for FAM. I don't think things can go on as they have. The agency has to change to get in financial order. It doesn't work that the Natural Resource side of the FS runs out of money the years we have a bad fire season; like bad fire seasons are under firefighter or line officer control? Like costs are under line officer or firefighter control? Seems that lately there's worse and much worse fire years, like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods. Why should the FS bear the burden resulting from acts of nature?

Similarly, why should our Natural Resource organizations bear the financial burden of caring for the Public that move into or visit the interface??? ExUrban is happening all over the country. The human living situation expands, the $$ doesn't. We need solutions. Ab.

11/5 Good Morning;

AM trying to find the Indians Fire (LPF) burnover APA, released in Sept; found the Theysaid, by
Norcal Tom, which had a link, but that comes up as "doc removed"...

Lotta good stuff in that APA.

Incidentally, the Docs Worth Reading link for New York Peak factual report in the Archives
comes up as a BLM opening page... I've got a hard copy, and could scan it in if you need
and want; would need advice how format, or could just copy and send paper...

Thanks, folks!


Here's the Letter from R5 Forester Randy Moore (56K doc file) suggesting it be shared widely. Here is the link to the Indians Fire APA (5413K huge pdf file). I don't know why the Lessons Learned Center took it down. Perhaps they're rearranging files again. Ab.

11/5 "Keeping them honest",

The problem with having "meetings" or "workshops" at casinos in Nevada, is that the federal cost savings reported often by the organizers ("- 45% to 50%" as often stated), cannot be factually substantiated or verified when challenged. Nothing less and nothing more.

In fact, a seventh grader with a calculator could figure out more cost effective locations within CA simply by using the internet and making a few phone calls. Often times, when rooms are booked in bulk for a meeting or workshop, conference rooms and venues are provided for free.

Rogue Rivers
11/5 Quick Connect,

I guess it all depends on which taxpayers you ask. For most of the country, response to car accidents, medical responses, search and rescue, house fires, etc. are paid through local taxes. Communities that want improved services must be willing to vote to increase their taxes......not shift it to the rest of the taxpayers across the country.

If one accepts the fact that there have been and always will be limits to federal funding for an agency, then the units that spend money on that type of responses have an effect on other parts of the nation. Some forest/region is not going to have the money allocated for new equipment, travel or training because another unit wants to play "Rescue 911" with federal tax dollars. Although granted that much of the public "doesn't care".

Probably a moot discussion today. With the executive and legislative election over, no doubt there will be unlimited funding now available. All firefighters in every agency will be guaranteed 24/7 pay. We'll have universal health care, respond to every emergency, and it will all be "free". Pay comparability will be supported (finally) and feds will receive double digit raises on their base pay.

Or....maybe not.


11/5 Riverside Co Supervisors approve funding for firefighter memorial


The Riverside County Board of Supervisors agreed today to use $15,000 in county funds to support construction of a memorial near Lake Elsinore to honor California wildland firefighting personnel who have lost their lives on the fire lines.

Supervisors Bob Buster, Marion Ashley and Roy Wilson allocated $5,000 apiece in community improvement designation funds -- of which each supervisor receives an allotted amount each year to use at his or her discretion -- to benefit the "California Wildland Firefighter Memorial."

About $150,000 is needed to finish the tribute, which will include a statue and plaques bearing the names of firefighters, dozer operators, pilots and others who have perished battling brushfires up and down the state.

"This will be a fine monument to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice," Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins told the board. "It's very important to our area."

He said California Wildland Firefighter Memorial Inc., the group working on the project, has raised roughly $25,000, though the county's contribution brings the total closer to $50,000.

The memorial site is located at 32353 Ortega Highway, which runs between Riverside and Orange counties. A portion of the state route in 1998 was dedicated as the "California Wildland Memorial Highway." (click the link for the rest)

fair use disclaimer

11/4 It looks like it is time for Mark Rey to pack his bags...

hopefully his disciples will be out soon too...

don't let the door hit you in the a$$ on the way out!

"O" my!
11/4 Dear "ms", "Yellow Angel" and all:

As I understand it to date, the R5 Regional Office is still "negotiating" with the WO on the implementation of their as yet unpublicized firefighter retention plan and how to spend the $25 million recently appropriated by Congress for retention.

Apparently Chief Kimbell is concerned about national implications of any "R5 only" retention plan. The R5 Regional Forester, as I have posted previously, has the immediate authority to spend about half of the $25 million. The plan calls for a one time retention bonus of 10%. Recently I learned this was to be focused on grades 5 through 8.

As a result I've contacted Mr. Moore to reiterate the need for retention at all grades. The Agency has lost too much of its "brain trust" in the last year and a half not only to other non-federal agencies but because of the special federal firefighter retirement provisions. The Agency can ill-afford to focus only on grades 5 through 8 while ignoring 9's through 13.

I have likely pestered Mr. Moore until he's fit to be tied about getting some information, any information, out to Agency firefighters so they will be armed with sufficient information to make a cognizant decision on what path their careers will take.

As far as the travel limits are concerned, they seem to be very inconsistently applied from forest to forest. There was a great post recently about the Agency's retention plan calling for more training etc., but how will that be accomplished with these travel ceilings? It seems to be demonstrative of a system/program lacking clear, definable leadership. This also calls into question the ability for those that took the developmental 5/6 positions to get their needed training/qualifications necessary to be able to actually work as a 6. It seems to be a rudderless ship with no captain.

All that being said, maybe it's a case of non-FIRE people being forced into dealing with FIRE issues at the direction of Congress and they are having difficulty gaining a sense of direction. I know NFFE and the FWFSA have been more than ready, willing and able to help but perhaps when a bureaucracy gets as complex as the Forest Service, those in leadership positions believe they, and only they can solve whatever problems exist and naturally shun any help or guidance from others such as the FWFSA and instead think of us as the enemy for even daring to suggest ideas to make the fire programs of the land management agencies stronger and more cost effective and efficient.

With respect to joining the FWFSA, there is no requirement to be a federal wildland firefighter or a federal employee to support our efforts. Granted, being a federal employee makes it easier to pay dues via allotment either through the Dashboard or EmployeeExpress systems but many of our members pay by check or utilize the PayPal process through our website.

We have an incredibly diverse membership. That being said, the FWFSA has not lost sight of who it was created to help... federal wildland firefighters. Many of our members join simply to support our efforts and with the expense of such a business, their support will always be crucial to our progress.

Just as soon as any further information comes forth on the retention issue, we'll get it out.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
11/4 Hey Ab,

I was wondering if you could put these up on the website?

Logo for the MT DNRC SWLO Helitack crew, Missoula, MT. Also a few pics of
DNRC helicopters 98Mike, 94Mike, and 87Mike from the Pump Station fire in SW
MT, 2008. For more pics folks can head to www.chasingfire.com.



Hi JV, I put them on Logos 15 and Helicopters 25 photo pages. Ab.

11/4 ms,

Good posting on making change happen. The seeds of change that are planted today may not all germinate right away, but they're still there waiting for the right environment. Sometimes it takes a strong wind to blow them off of barren rocks onto fertile grounds. Once in a receptive environment things can start to happen even though it may be at a slow pace. Lets hope that the winds of change blow hard today.

The work that the FWFSA does today, may have limited benefits to us in our last years of our careers but will always be a lifelong benefit for future Wildland Firefighters.

Casey, a while back I thought that you had posted the process for how non-Fed employees could join the FWFSA. Would you mind posting that process again ?

Yellow Angel
11/4 Copter 106 Alma Helitack

Alma pride!!! Catching the bucket on Highway 101 after timing out on the
Trabing fire in Santa Cruz 2008. Photo compliments of Micah F.

Thanks, I put it on Helicopters 25 photo page. Ab.

11/4 Cynic, Spittin, and Supporters:

When people are dispatched to wildfire incidents, aren't we all, in essence, doing the same job, the same mission??? All we want is equal pay for equal work. It's pretty simple. The fight that FWFSA is engaged in is a fight of equality. There are facts to back-up the claim that feds are the lowest paid firefighters, errr, forestry techs at the worksite.

Next, I'd like to hit on the claims that all-risk shouldn't be an issue. These are more than likely the same folks that say, "That's the way it's always been done." Alot of managers in my neck of the woods still say that. I'm sure Alan Brunacini, Retired Fire Chief of Phoenix Fire Department and innovator of the EMS in Phoenix, didn't walk around saying change is bad. So, why not be proactive rather than no-active? It's an evolving world we live in.

My engine here in R-3 recently returned from a severity assignment to the Angeles. Sometimes, we felt kind of worthless because our Forest doesn't seem to really support all-risk, because that's not what we've done in the past. So, when we would tag along on a motorcycle accident, or car accident, we were simply just trying to stay out of the way, instead of trying to help. This is definitely not what a taxpayer wants to see. It kind of reminds me of the construction worker standing on the side of the road leaning on his shovel.

I really can't understand the negativity/pessimism from the 'glass half-empty folks'. Are these people disguising themselves as Mark Rey and Chief Kimball, posting under anonymous names??? Cynic, It's not that you are from a different Region, with a different view, per say. It's the fact that most of what you say, is what I, and probably most of the They Said audience, envision Forest Service Management to say and that is who this battle is with. Sure you have a right to your opinion, but understand that when you attack Casey verbally, you are going to hear some pretty harsh criticism from the group.
Like to say thanks to Will and Tim at Little T, RD. Sorry we couldn't be more useful to you.

Quick Connect

As far as I can tell neither Mark Rey nor Abigail Kimball post here, but I can't say for sure. Some of our posters are very deep cover. Casey can handle criticism. We welcome various perspectives. How else to discover blind spots, explore possible lessons we should learn and grow? It all gets worked out somehow. Ab.



11/4 History will be made today as we elect our first African American President or our first female Vice President. The majority of us have our minds made up for the person we support for President. Each of us can list the reasons why we made that choice. This post is not an endorsement of either ticket, just some thoughts on the election and our efforts over the past year to improve retention and recruitment of Federal Wildland Firefighters.

Both of the candidates are good men.

One is a war hero, a POW. When his captors were going to release him early he refused unless his fellow soldiers were released with him. The man was beaten, even tortured by his enemies for 5 years and then came home and continued to serve his county for the next 30 years. A true American hero.

The other candidate came from a broken family, some would say a dysfunctional family. He was raised primarily by his grandparents, attended Harvard and grew up to be an extremely intelligent and caring human being. A man with a vision. A man who has inspired a nation to such a high level that a record 130 million + Americans are projected to vote today. The man said: I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change in Washington….. I’m asking you to believe in yours. Hmmm….. Believe in our ability to bring about change?

Over the past year starting with the Dec 10th Retention meeting, we as Federal Wildland Firefighters proved we now believe in our abilities to bring about change.

In 1968 Senator Edward Kennedy in a somber voice concluded his eulogy for his deceased brother Robert by quoting George Bernard Shaw: "Some men see things as they are and say 'Why?' I dream things that never were and say, 'Why not?'" That quote pretty much nails what today is all about.

That quote can also be applied to our efforts as Wildland Firefighters. As we intensified our efforts this past year, we never settled for hearing why something can’t be done. We collectively asked our leaders and elected officials “Why Not?”. Over the summer during one of my fire assignments, I remember having a conversation with a very good Planning Section Chief about PTP. The PSC claimed that PTP will never happen (ooops, well maybe). Because of this forum we learned to never again allow for such a comment to occur without a question. I asked the PSC, why not? I never received a reply.

We as Federal Wildland Freighters must never again go back to the days when we sat back and took it on the chin. We as Federal Wildland Firefighter must continue to believe in our abilities to make change happen from Mare Island to Washington DC and all locations in between. We are not looking for a fight, but we dam well shall be prepared for one.

Remember to; Vote, ask “why not”, join FWFSA, support each other including your supervisors and respect your cooperators who have been supporting us in our efforts for change this past year. Finally, always, always believe in our collective strength as a Wildland Firefighter community…….

One of RO R-5 FAM’s best employees, one of my favorite employees always says: “Choose to have an excellent day”. I will take him up on that advice on this important day and go to work with confidence that this day, from start to finish, will be excellent.


11/3 Important change in PPE: High Visibility Vests:

See Larry's briefing paper below,
also, here's a schematic of what class 2 and 3 look like. vis.pdf

I suggest you all not begin buying vests for a while until we see what MTDC and NWCG recommends.
Obviously there are issues related to flammability, ventilation, etc..
This was already a part of our new RLS policy so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise.


Larry's Briefing Paper: Briefing-Info-HighVisVests.doc

11/3 The employee's at USFS Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area located in both Western Kentucky and Northwestern Tennessee should be congratulated for their efforts in raising money for the Wildland Fire Foundation (WFF). Way to go - maybe this is the start of a challenge to other employee associations across the country. I think sometimes we in the "WEST" are rather pompous and forget about the great firefighters we have in the Eastern and Southeastern States. I know for a fact, if something happens in Florida, New York, Minnesota or where ever - Vicki and the folks of WFF would be there for them just as quickly as they would be for us here in the West. Unfortunately death and injury don't know boundaries....... however fortunately, our comrades in the Southeast continue to spread the word and collect money for ALL of us firefighters (Federal, State, Contractor).

Way to go Land Between the Lakes (LBL)

taken from an email sent to me ~

Being a firefighter for the Forest Service is in many ways like any other
public service job. But, in many ways it's not. No matter how many
checklists we put in place or how many new safety parameters we strive
for...men and women can and do still die protecting people, infrastructure,
and natural resources. When they go they get their names on a plaque in
Boise. Their families get the insurance checks and the sad gift of going on
without them. That's what the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, WFF, is all
about. Helping families pick up the pieces of the tragedy and sticking them
back together to create a thing that looks like a new life. The 52 Club is
a way for any of us to help the WFF do this tough job. Every dollar we give
goes to help families of fallen firefighters that are in need...it also
helps provide counseling to deal with the shock and realities of life
alone. They are really about people, firefighters, helping people. It's an
amazing thing that I'm proud to be part of. The Employee Committee at LBL is
proud and honored to donate $600 to the 52 Club. We received a nice thank-you card
which is posted on the bulletin board in the Admin. Office lunch room.

Thank you to LBL, WFF and They Said for all your hard work!


11/3 What Th--

When you say "the proposed solution", which proposed retention solution are you
talking about that might exclude secondary firefighters. I don't mind a good rumor,
however you need to be more clear on your post.

11/3 I'm surprised other Forests aren't being hit by the travel ceiling issue.
On the MNF our Forest Supervisor is taking it very seriously, per
direction from the RF.

Fire Management, was given a travel ceiling along with all the other
functions. After factoring in travel costs for the apprenticeship program,
travel to train our OC crews, misc travel to meetings that we can't
get out of (R5 BOD meetings etc....), travel to meet fuels targets, there
just wasn't enough ceiling left (some, but not alot) for many folks to go
to training.

11/3 Racing The Planet "Namibia" next May is next for me.

If the wildland fire community wants to take another stab at WFF pledging, let me know.


Thanks, Ken. Ab.

11/3 Any rumors on the rumor of retention??

I have heard that the proposed solution excludes Secondary Firefighter
positions. This includes (excludes) Battalion Chiefs, Divisions
Chiefs and any Fuels related positions. How does one propose to
retain employees by dissolving the incentive for career advancement?

What Tha ----
11/3 As has been said
70% of all Senior Executive Service managers (SES) "dont want to say names" received between a 5% to 35% yearly bonus. ... Those bonuses come out of "cost pools" and "indirect shared costs" appropriated under preparedness and suppression.

Are those well deserved bonuses?

Who are we to criticize SES managers decisions to accept them?

Come on people, we'd be hypocrites to say that none of us would have accepted those funds if we were given the option. First, people are more likely to get bonuses when they speak up on the boss's agenda. SES did get up to speak when needed whether they said what we wanted to hear or not, but they did it. Second, it takes great courage to degrade your people numerous times when speaking up. Do they deserve a bonus for that?

If I were in their shoes I would have accepted those funds as well. Only difference? well done with good intentions. Maybe find a way to give back to my folks either through a fund raiser of some sort, who knows? I wouldn't have forgotten the folks I'm managing on the ground.

My point is that there will be many employees (MNF and many more to be announced) unable to take training courses this winter due to training budgets/travel dollar caps, etc. The entire firefighting organization will suffer.

So to SES, good job for going up to bat when you were asked to. Too bad that you were batting in the tennis courts and not the baseball field!!!!

just another cnf ground pounding brush monkey!!!!!!!!!!

11/1 On flying airtankers………….

Quote from Bill Waldman:

“It’s like sex for a male black widow……the fun part is getting away.”

“Another CDF BC”


Fun to look through the Firepirates AT photos. Familiar faces.

Ken Perry also did the Gobi Desert Run (China). I think we took
somewhat of a break from the WFF fundraising for it, but Ken participated and put
his body on the line. Here's a CNN video of that:

Photos from Ken's ultra runs are linked at the bottom of the wlf photos page.

Info on Ken's '07 Sahara Run is here:

Ken's 7 min Video of the Sahara Run is here:

What's next?


11/1 Some more on the largest historical fires links from the hotlist:

From Waterdog74:

I found this link awhile ago looking for the same question.
It goes through some of the larger fires in US history and has a little info on them. Hope this helps.

From Jackson:

You could also check out the list of "Infamous World Fires" on the IAWF web site. (Lots of info on international large fires. Interesting.)

From Kman:

California most destructive based upon structure loss:

California largest based upon acreage

From Oswego:

Info. page and attached vidio on NJ Wildfire History

I really like looking at the old firefighter and apparatus photos on this NJ site:

Check out the second and third pages too. Thanks, All. Ab.

11/1 Ab,

Besides the great AT and AA photos on wildlandfire.com, here are some
more AT photos from the Riverside website.

I think the following photos are of Bill's ship T-27:

Hats off to Bill on his retirement and to his nice wife who will get to enjoy
more of his company in the summertime.

SoCal CalFire

11/1 Bill Waldman's retirement:


We knew this was coming and we in the ATGS world all wish Bill Waldman well in his retirement.

I, for one, cannot imagine how he will do it. He was always so high energy, so involved in what we were trying to do, and always right on the spot with his drops. A great guy to work with in the air. This guy was definitely one of the greats.

A Bill story: I will always remember that hot Summer day at Alamogordo Tanker Base that he taught a whole bunch of us how to get the nagging flies in the hangar. You simply let them land on a flat surface like a table, sneak up over them with both hands, clap your hands together over the top of them, and you just got a fly. They always jump straight up. Now, this comes from a guy who learned from many years of tanker base experience LOL.

He also saved our bacon in initial attack here in NM so many times.....

Great times, Bill!! I hope you are still in Silver City and hope to see you.


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