"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
December, 2008

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12/31 As we come up on a new year, I wanted to express a concern that we won't maintain our collective strength and gains from 2008 by not continuing to push for implementation of pay raises and hybrid PTP offered by R-5 RF Moore.

How do we as a community ensure we keep the pressure on these two primary issues that if implemented by fire season could forever change the lives of Forest Service R5 Firefighters? I hear some saying "ordered stand-by" is dangerous to Line Officers or a FF series and congressional/OPM action is needed for real change. I say point taken, however more important is to get some relief NOW. We need to take what you can get, strengthen our workforce with Moore's proposals and move-on. Once R-5 can solidify better pay and better incident pay, then we can stop the flood gates of those leaving and we just might be able to get back some of those we lost. Also the faster we can get the proposals implemented in R-5, the faster we can work on getting them implemented for our counterparts in other regions and fed agencies.

Recruitment drives are beginning soon during the off season. We need to push the Forest Service for an implementation date and details so we can communicate the improved pay conditions to potential employees. We need to do this now and not wait for April 2009 to get another update from Mr. Email.

I don't need any CFR sites or web links for federal laws replies. WE are entitled to answers, more clarity, results and implementation details on Moore's proposals now.

We didn't go though the Dec 10th 2007 meetings, April 1, 2008, multiple Pena email updates, thousands of our emails and hundreds of our phone calls to our elected officials to sit back now and wait for late spring 2009 just to get another Pena email update.

I suggest a deadline and a sustained collective awareness effort to commence if the deadline is missed. A deadline is not a guarantee of results, however the last thing the Forest Service wants is go though is what they went though in the winter and spring of 2008 and especially what they went though after the April 1, 2008 congressional testimony and R-5 video-conference.

Or we can go status quo and await another email update just before fire season telling us “Well it now looks like fire season 2010 before we can get the pay and PTP started”. If we take the pressure off, we will get nothing but email updates for the foreseeable future.

If it wasn't for our sustained fight in 2008 we would not be on the verge of pay increases and PTP. No need to change in 2009 what worked in 2008.

Many in this forum have said that it's the promotion of inexperience into fire positions faster than ever before as the primary retention concern. What else can occur to correct this safety issue faster than improved pay? Not continuing our aggressive 2008 actions into 2009 is indirectly saying we acknowledge and accept this safety issue. We have no option then to be loud and clear early in 2009 while keeping the pressure on the agency until we get PTP and pay implementation information. I suggest a deadline.

Signed,

Health and Peace to all in 2009........ Happy New Year.
12/31 Dear Ab:

With regard to the question of "Who invented the helitorch?" in the Inquiring Minds Want to Know - WILDFIRE HISTORY section of your website -- It's always been my understanding that former Canadian Forestry Service fire research scientist John Muraro was responsible for inventing the helitorch or flying drip torch as it was originally called. I can still distinctly remember discussing this topic with John over several glasses of Johnny Walker scotch at a CFS fire research meeting at the Petawawa Forest Experiment Station (Chalk River, Ontario) in the fall of 1977.

I'm attaching a paper prepared by John that describes some of the early history that led up to the modern day helitorch. John presented this paper at the Western Forest Fire Committee meeting (Western Forestry & Conservation Association) held on December 2, 1975 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Regards, Marty Alexander

Thanks, Marty, added that to the IMWTK page. Muraro Article Ab.

12/31 Ab,

I currently work for the US Army and am struggling trying to get my firefighters paid overtime for attending mandatory agency-sanctioned training. I keep butting heads with management and legal telling me they are not entitled to get paid the overtime. Are there any other references -- other than quoting the Federal Firefighters Overtime Pay Reform Act of 1998 -- out there that I can throw back at them? I know some bases are paying it and some aren’t. There’s no consistency. Any information you can point me to will be greatly appreciated. Thanks everyone!

Sky Carpenter
12/30 Ab, can you post the following information

San Bernardino NF retiree Clark Harvey passed away Friday, December 26. Clark worked for the Forest service over 30 years and spent most of his career on the San Jac. He was the San Jac district FMO from 1988 until 1995. He retired in 1997. Clark was a pioneer and leader in prescribed fire and was one of the individuals that developed the San Jacinto Rx Fire Severity Matrix.

Services for Clark will be Friday 1/2/09 at 1300. Services will be held in Lake Havasu, Az. at Lake Havasu Mortuary and Crematorium, 225 n. Kiowa St.

Dave Fiorella
BDF Div 5

Condolences. Ab.

12/30 How about Chris Wood for Chief of the Forest Service? I've heard:

He's been the Staffer for a large number of the Natural Resources Committees.
He has 4 decades (since the '70s pre-spotted owls!) of corporate FS and political
knowledge. He knows the issues... and how to resolve them, good leadership skills.

Joel Holtrop (current FS Deputy Chief) for Mark Rey's position? What I've heard:

Forester background, has done state and private, worked on the business end,
also has been around the FS for a long time. Knows how the FS has worked and
how it needs to work, continuity in a time of change. Knows FS mission and policies.
I've heard he's able to dialog, compromise, make decisions, and lead.

Key for each position is someone that is very knowledgeable but has strong leadership
skills including dialog, compromise, and decision making. ...I'd add, it would help if they
have the ability to keep calm and focused with appropriate priorities in the face of chaos.
<grin> It would really help if they'd fought fire and could think outside the box.

Anyone that's got pros or cons but doesn't want them posted online, feel free
to email me through Ab.

Another related topic:

I still look at the Dept of Agriculture and wonder why the FS is included under that
Agency in this day and age. It makes more sense for the FS to be placed under the Dept
of Interior along with the other Land Management Agencies... Will the Public socio-political
climate ever revert to expecting TIMBER to be a marketable commodity? Probably not.

Now I could see benefit if the FS undertook to thin Kudzu in the South-Eastern forests
-R8- and public lands, distilling and creating biodiesel from that; it's an agricultural
"commodity" by-product we could perhaps sell the Public on profiting from. Kudzu Futures?
I heard years ago that they were even Rx burning the old growth stuff to get rid of it.

Alternatively, if we could create "deserts of solar collectors" on the "forests" of R3 & R4,
or "wind energy grasslands" in R2, remaining under the umbrella of the DOA might also
make sense. Solar Energy Futures? Wind energy Futures? <grin>

With the way the Public currently thinks, there's not much future in DOA Timber Futures.
And in this current climate, firefighting is just an unwanted step child. Timber no longer
pays for it. Will anything?

That said <grin>, I am optimistic... To all you foresters out there, it doesn't make sense to
me that we have so many restrictions on timber thinning that turns a profit...

Mellie

12/30 Ab,

Years ago (late 70's) CDF had a fatality/safety class which included info on the Timber Lodge Fire as well as others. We were told when we took the class they had done detailed research into all the fires they used in the program. Perhaps a copy of that program and background info can be found at Ione.

Also, when I worked on the Mariposa Dist of the Sierra there was a member of the crew still working on the District. And, I was told a survivor worked at the local high school as an art teacher. A few phone calls might lead to these folks. I've left names out of this as I haven't spoken to the FS employee (now retired) in yrs. and don't know if he is interested in talking about the incident at this time.

John Bennett
USFS Ret.

Thanks for the help, those that are responding. Ab.

12/29 10% pay increase

I know this question has been posted before but havent seen any answers.
Has anyone heard when the supposed 10 percent pay increase is supposed
to happen? I know the briefing report said FY 2009, hasnt the fiscal year
for 2009 already begun in october or is it Fire year 2009 or what?????????

Just wondering

12/29 1962 Timberlodge Fire, Sierra National Forest

Dear Ab:

Wondering if any of your readers has any idea where one might obtain a copy of
the USFS investigation report on the four fatalities that occurred on the Timberlodge
Fire on the Sierra National Forest in 1962. This is one of the incidents listed in Carl
Wilson's (1977) classic common denominators article published in the International
Fire Chief.

Thanks very much in advance for any assistance.

Marty Alexander

(Timber Lodge Fire)

12/28 Dangers of breathing smoke

Viewing fire books I might like to read, I came across this excerpt from the book below... Cheryl

Smoke Exposure at Western Wildfires (Paperback)
by Timothy E. Reinhardt (Author), Roger D. Ottmar (Author)

book excerpt from this page:
www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0756712173/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used

"Smoke exposure measurements among firefighters at wildfires showed that between 3 & 5% of the shift-average exposures exceeded occupational exposure limits (OEL) for carbon monoxide (CM) & respiratory irritants. Among workers involved in direct attack of actively burning areas & maintaining fireline boundaries, peak exposure situations could be several times greater than recommended OEL for short-term exposures. Exposure to acrolein, benzene, formaldehyde, & respirable particulate matter could be predicted from measurements of carbon monoxide. Electrochemical dosimeters for CM were the best tool for routinely assessing smoke exposure. Tables."

Fair Use Disclaimer

Hi Cheryl, You might also take a look at the 2 hotlist threads on the dangers of smoke exposure.
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2338
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=7427
In addition, if you search wildlandfire.com, the discussion has come up many times on theysaid. Ab.

12/28 FF1:

Dear Sir

Im full time FF/PM in los angeles and im a proby working my ay thru my
taskbook. Im assembling my powerpoints for my FF1 taskbook. Ive been typing
forever. Where can I find powerpoint (or any format) presentations to match
the FF1 taskbook? I know my stuff, but my fingers are gonna fall off.

Thank you

SS

All I can think of is this: www.wildlandfire.com/pcprograms.php that has ppts for courses,
and this NWCG site with links to more advanced taskbooks.
www.nwcg.gov/pms/taskbook/taskbook.php
Maybe readers will have some other ideas. Ab.

12/28 Retention and Fire assignments to the West:

A note to Fedwatcher II:

I saw the retention plan come out on email to forest service folks before I left for the holidays. Of course, it will be decades before DOI does the same for its folks.

Here's some more issues for everyone to discuss. Each year, we DOI employees have to wait for the Secretary to issue the "Moses Letter" stating fire funded folks are to be made available. Isnt that ironic since Congress created our jobs (see Nat'l Fire Plan) to do exactly this (firefighting) but we have to "wait" for permission to be "available" by refuge managers and a letter has to be issued?

So, while you folks in California and the rest of the West scratch your heads wondering why you cant get any resources, we (firefighters in the south, employed by a federal agency, in fire funded positions) are mowing the grass, weedeating, painting gates and assorted busy work.

We should be AVAILABLE 24/7/365 to carry out our qualifications, fulfill our trainee tasks, and essentially join our brothers in safely defending the urban interface and minimizing the loss of natural resources.

Currently, our refuge manager only allows us to go on two details per year and furthermore, we cannot extend once there. Think about that when an engine goes unstaffed, a helo manager's tasks are doubled, helispots go unmanned, any position goes unfilled.

Thank you,

the only FWFSA member in Louisiana.

12/27 Tender and dozer operators 2009 annual safety refresher:

Ab and all,

I hope you had a great Christmas.

Does anyone out there have any information on where the tender and
dozer operators 2009 annual safety refresher is going to be offered in
California?

Thanks for the info.

MD

12/25

Best of the Season to ALL from the Abs and the Mods!

12/25 Merry Christmas, Abs!

Merry Christmas to all here on this fine message board!

Here's to a safe and sane New Year and to better times ahead.

Captain Emmett
12/24 Dear AB and All:

First and foremost on this Christmas Eve, I want to express on behalf of our membership our most heartfelt sympathies to Rick, Rick Jr. and their entire family on the loss of their wife and Mom, Kim. Our thoughts & prayers are with you all.

Ab, thank you so much for maintaining this site which is such a value to the wildland firefighting community around the world, not to mention your trust & confidence during the year.

Vicki & staff, thank you for all that you do throughout the year. You are truly an Angel and a dear friend.

And perhaps above all, to our members nationwide who support what we do and place their faith & confidence in us at the FWFSA.

This has been a year like so many, lots of ups and downs. Our wildland firefighting community has endured yet another year of tragic losses among heroic efforts and we've seen federal firefighters leave the system out of sheer frustration.

Yet despite the low times, there is certainly a renewed sense of optimism looking forward to 2009. I wish all of you the peace and tranquility the Holiday season brings and look forward to working with so many of you the coming year.

Thank you all for letting me be a part of this incredible community.

With respect & sincerity,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

Hear Hear. Merry Christmas to All. Ab.

12/24 FF Series and Flags:

Just playing devils advocate.

We are not firefighters, we are forestry techs, so what is the problem. Also if I take use or loose and run heavy equipment as a side job, am I in the wrong; how about if I go to a long time family bank and change stock options, again am I doing wrong?

To Ab and all Others

If we wait for the Chief to tell us when to fly our flags at half mast it would never happen. The letter from the Chief came out late the 22nd. They Said had it out a full day before that, and the flag at my station has been at half mast as soon as I read the information on They Said. Like everything that seems to come from the WO or RO Ab gets it to the people first.

Thank you for it.

smokeater

12/24 Ab,

Here's a safety saying a Cheyenne firefighter told me:

"A danger foreseen, is half-avoided." - Cheyenne Saying

Quotes to live by?

Roadrunner

I added it to Quotes to Live By. Ab.

12/24 Article on placement of the wreath by WFF at the Wildland Firefighter
Monument at NIFC.

www.fs.fed.us/fstoday/081226/03.0About Us/wreath.phpl

Nice.

Mellie

12/24 Ab... Here's a little tune you can sing tonight while having a few adult beverages.

12 Days of Fire Season (Sung to the tune of 12 days of Christmas …duh)

On the first day of fire season my employer gave to me
A stand of burning pine trees

On the second day of fire season my employer gave to me
Two sack lunches and a stand of burning pine trees

On the third day of fire season my employer gave to me
Three miles of hand line…two sack lunches….
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the fourth day of fire season my employer gave to me
4 contract crews…three miles of hand line…two sacks lunches
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the fifth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Five Rookie fire fighters…Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line
Two sack lunches …and a stand of burning pine trees

On the sixth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Six non- carded helicopters…Five Rookie fire fighters
four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches…
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the seventh day of fire season my employer gave to me
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the eighth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Eight water tenders missing….Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four Contract Crews…Three miles of hand line
Two sack lunches... And a stand of burning pine trees

On the ninth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Nine National Guard troops… Eight water tenders missing
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters…
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the tenth day of fire season my Employer gave to me
Ten television reporters… Nine National Guard troops… Eight water tenders missing
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters…
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches…
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the eleventh day of fire season my employer gave to me
Eleven Shot crews on R and R…Ten television reporters
Nine National Guard troops… Eight water tenders missing
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters…
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches…
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the twelfth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Twelve New Fires… Eleven Shot crews on R and R
Ten Television reporters… Nine National Guard troops… Eight water tenders missing
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters…
And Five Rookie fire fighters…
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches…
And stand of burning pine trees

Oliver…Merry Christmas to All

Fun. Ab.

12/24 Ab,

Here's a pic of New CA-CNF Engine #32.

JL

Thanks JL. I put it on Engines 22 photo page. Ab.

12/24 Ab,

Attached are a couple of pics. The first is C-202 on a lightning fire east of Alturas, CA.
The second is Bieber Helitack crew member Weston <snip> felling a hazard tree on a
fire on the SHF.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

High Lonesome

Thanks, High Lonesome. I added them to Helicopters 26 and Handcrews 25  photo pages. Also posted a logo for Wolf Creek IHC on the Logos 15 photo page. Ab.

12/24 Ab,

As we enter the time of the year where families gather together, let us not forget those who lost their lives doing what wildland firefighter do -- protecting the lives and natural resources of this great country.

I just came across this picture of Tanker 09 I took when it was supporting the Florida Bugaboo Fire in 2007 outside of Lake City, Fl. The other is of Tankers 09, 43, and 10 lined up and ready to roll. Tanker 09 was the last Tanker to operate out of Weyers Cave ATB in Virginia before it was closed.

On September 1, 2008, Tanker 09 crashed outside of Reno, and all on board perished.

When you gather at home with your families this holiday season, please say a prayer for the Wahlstrom, Gonsioroski, and VanderGriend Families, those that died in the Iron 44 crash, all others that perished this year, as well as those in years past.

Greg Sanders

Thanks Greg, I added them to the Airtankers 28 photo page. Ab.

12/24 More pics from Downunder

Hi I just thought I would send a couple of photos of some of the other Helos involved in the Belair fire downunder C-FZQB Bell 212 and S-64 airborne and also a photo of N232HL Bell 205A.1 which is one of the Fire bombing choppers for the current fire season over here now.We get different Helos every fire season.

I have also sent a few photos of choppers S-64 N194AC,Bell 206l-1 VH-WLI and Bell 212 C-EKGT from the 07 fire season taken at their base in the Adelaide Hills.

Last but not least I have also sent on olde of VH-RPS Agusta a119 on its way to a fire back in 06.

Simon Wride

Thanks Simon, I added them to Helicopters 25 and Helicopters 26 photo pages. Ab.

12/23 Some nice AT photos by Brian and Glen White on Airtankers 27.
12/23 NIMS course

More on NIMS -

FEMA released its updated NIMS course today - for anyone required to take
IS-700 for NIMS compliance, the course has been updated to reflect the new
NIMS policy (I assume).

Course posted at: www.training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/IS700a.asp

Be safe-

--- watching

12/23 NIMS

Ab,

Here's the draft NIMS Guideline for the Credentialing of Personnel. Sounds
to me like it's sort of optional for non-federal, but not so much for feds.
I'm so glad the authors introduced me a new acronym: (PII for Personally
Identifiable Information, used just once in the document) also known as the
"two-eyed pee" for better aim, of course. Had to use Google to figure out
what FIPS-201 is.

vfd cap'n

ps, Anybody in the dispatch world want to switch over to "just in time"
credentialing? That will sure keep you from griping about ROSS.

www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=09000064807df5d0
(click on the pdf file next to Views; it's not too large, 25 pages)

12/23 Merry Christmas to all----

Yes we have Snow instead of Smoke in Redding, CA. (remember Redding is at 500')

AT and Santa SNOW PHOTO

So I also think Fire season is finally over for Northern California.
Thanks to all who spent most, if not all of their summer with us here in Northern California.

Thanks again.

"Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night."

R5 Dispatcher

I put a thumbnail and link on Airtankers 28.

12/23 Abs,
Please post the following compilation of information as per request of the Marinelli family :

Kim Marinelli Funeral Services - Wife of CNF Division Chief Rick Marinelli

It with great sadness, and a profound sense of loss, that on behalf of the Marinelli family, I share with you that Kim Marinelli passed away last Saturday. At the time of her passing, Kim was surrounded by the love and support of her family following her valiant battle with cancer. Kim will always be fondly remembered as friend and family of the Forest Service.

Our heartfelt sentiments go out to the Marinelli family, friends from Cuyamaca State Park where Kim most recently worked, and especially to our friend and co-workers: husband Rick Marinelli, Division Chief Palomar Ranger District, and son, Rick Jr., Engine Captain who recently transferred to the Descanso Ranger District from the San Bernardino NF. Daughter Renee has also been at home with her mother and Rick, and Rick Jr.

Kim's love for the Forest Service and FS firefighters was one of her unique qualities. She never complained about Rick being away on fire assignments for long periods of time, as she truly understood and supported what it is we all do. She truly lived and represented the meaning of the term, Forest Service Family.

Kim had her own brief career with the Forest Service that began while working as a member of a YACC crew on the Cleveland NF in 1978-79. She then went to work as a firefighter on the Glencliff engine crew (Descanso RD) in 1980, before moving on to the Oak Grove engine crew (Palomar RD) in 1981. It was while working at Oak Grove that Kim met her future husband Rick, who also worked there as a firefighter with the Palomar Hotshots. They married shortly thereafter, on July 11, 1981.

In keeping with the family's request, donations to the Kim Marinelli Memorial Fund would be much appreciated. Kim's love of children was the only thing stronger than that which she had for the Forest Service wildland firefighting community.

The service will be held at 10:00 am, Saturday, December 27, 2008 in Julian at:

St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (see map below)
4th and B Street
Julian, CA 92036
760-765-0613

Cards and letters would be appreciated and can be sent to the family at:
The Marinelli Family
P.O. Box 964
Julian, CA 92036

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate a donation be made to a charitable fund in Kim's name. While the family has not settled on a specific organization, it is likely to be for children with cancer.

Kim Marinelli Memorial Fund (check would be made out to this name, or money deposited directly to the bank)
Rabobank
P.O. Box 1897
Julian, CA 92036

(The Cleveland NF We Care Fund is providing a flower arrangement on behalf of all the FS employees).

For firefighters, it is appropriate to wear your FS uniform at this service as a show of support to Rick and Rick Jr.

12/23 GovTrip

Seems like my fears are well founded. While it looks like I may get paid for my travel, at least one of my seasonals is on the fast track to not get reimbursed for a dime of the $426 he is owed. For some unknown reason two of the seasonals on the same trip were authorized to use the old travel system but the third was not. GovTrip will not recognize the same p-code I used and everyone was clueless about the charge for using the system. The best response I got was that, "we'll deal with it when that comes up, but if we don't get him paid by the new year he won't get paid at all."

I did some calling around at it seems that their is no real concern to deal with the $13.50 charge problem, I was told, "they are putting it off since it will only affect a few people."

My seasonal came by yesterday, he was out shopping for his kids christmas presents, and was hoping for good news. It was not easy telling him the only news was bad.

Processed to Death

12/23 Diminished resources:

Curious;

Good question; have been wondering about that for years...

Don't know what they've got there now, but when I started with LPF in '73, we could muster up (counting FPT's, AFPT's, etc) 119 fire folks on our District. When I left 10 years later, we had 41, after losing helishots, trail crew (early version of a T2), 6 FPTs, 9 AFPTs, 3 6- person engines, cutting 3 remaining engines back to 5- day,etc.

Never worked out of the DO, but I can guarantee you that it wasn't District, or Forest fire management's idea, to cut all those folks...

Pyro

12/23 GovTrip:

I have been reading about the requirement of having a travel card to submit a travel voucher now. So, what about some of the employees that no longer have travel cards (I personally know of at least half a dozen) because they lost them during the travel transition to ASC back in 2005. The folks I am speaking of had submitted vouchers and didn't get paid on them for up to six months or more and, consequently, couldn't pay their bill. Just curious how these folks will get reimbursed now since gov trip needs to get their $13.50 and there is supposed to be a travel card on file to charge the fee to.

Super P

12/23 AB,

Here are a few photos to add on the airtanker page of the CL-415 scoopers. They
were located at Ramona AAB this past year on a San Diego County contract.

A link below to many more high resolution photos and 5 minute flash video here:

http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/20080914/

Captain Ron Serabia
Ramona AAB - ATGS

Thanks, Ron. I put them on Airtankers 28 photo page. Ab.

12/23 Dear "Chief"

There is nothing funny about the issue of non-federal suppression costs being paid out by the federal government, especially the staggering costs in R5 each season. With the Holidays upon us I don't want to start a debate, just offer a different perspective perhaps.

The federal wildland firefighters may be griping because they are fully aware that the Forest Service fire leadership in R5 (as you reference the Chief of R5) is aware of the costs through the signing of AOPs etc.

The problem is that until recently, no one in Congress who appropriates the federal wildfire suppression funds each year had any idea of the huge percentage of suppression dollars going to non-federal resources, especially in R5. That has led to a new "awareness" among Congress as to why the annual wildfire suppression costs keep going up.

The different perspective I offer is based on your assessment that the feds request your equipment because they know you get the job done. I'm sure that is certainly part of the equation. So too is the fact that non-federal resources are used so frequently, again especially in R5, because of the lack of sufficient federal resources. That in turn has been caused by the Agency's failure to retain many of its firefighters through updated pay and personnel policies.

Many Forests have foregone sending crews on assignments because they know if fires start on their forest, there won't be any coverage so they stay home. Additionally, Agency Line officers, most with not a lick of Fire experience, get to handle the preparedness funds before they actually get to fire folks meaning a lot of it is used for non-fire purposes thereby reducing the number of federal preparedness resources in place and thus requiring a huge reliance on you...those expensive non-federal resources.

Therefore I submit the griping is coming from feds who work the same fire line with your folks but who get taken off the clock while your folks get to remain on the clock. They get to sleep on the dirt while more than likely your folks get to sleep in motels. Their own employer is paying your folks more than their own employees for the same work.

A couple of questions: Aren't your local & state taxes supposed to pay for your Agency's fire service? If so, why are there FMAGs? Why is the federal government also reimbursing local fire agencies for the local Agency's fire costs even when such fires don't involve or encroach on federal property or utilize federal resources?

Why do local fire agencies, again predominantly in California, charge an Admin fee on top of the higher salaries for their resources/equipment yet don't reimburse the federal Forest fire agencies for responding to non-fire calls such as vehicle accidents, EMS calls etc., on those Forests, technically the responsibility of the city or county fire agency?

Fortunately, Congress and the Administration are starting to be educated about all this. Yup, the R5 fire leadership knows how much your stuff costs... too bad the public who's ultimately paying for it doesn't know that it would simply be more cost effective for them if the federal government worked to ensure a sufficient federal wildland firefighting force.

Fedwatcher II
12/22 Re FEMA and NIMS

Thanks, On Deck.

That's exactly what I am talking about. It's tough when I don't know
enough to be able to clearly ask the questions...

Mellie

12/22 Re FEMA and NIMS

"Mellie, still reading" -

You ask a good question (no doubt one of many to come!)... wish I could answer it! I think where you're going with the question is something that is still not addressed in the US, and not in the NIMS.... it seems to relate to a national coordination system outside of the one wildland fire uses. Seems to be an issue in situations where large-scale mutual aid has to work.... where the existing systems (or lack thereof in some cases) run into each other. Case in point: in the CA fires in fall 2007, California's had its mutual aid system, state-to-state mutual aid worked through EMAC (see www.emacweb.org/ ), requested by CA OES, wildland fire used its national coordination system (11 GACCs and the NICC), and FEMA provided federal and other support through its ESF system through the National Response Framework (NRF), in which resources can be ordered directly through the Joint Field Office and/or the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) or both. Seems like military worked through in-state mobilization as well as FEMA channels. Clear as mud? Yep.

Seems like kind of a mess to me, and I hear there were and continue to be a lot of complications with this "approach" (lack of a system). What we don't have in the US is one nationally coordinated way of moving resources around in the country to support a disaster - "coordination" being the key. No one's responsible for keeping their eye on the whole picture, what's moving where, watching for duplication, ensuring resource coverage in high threat areas, etc etc.

Just my two cents. But maybe that's not what you were asking? My take is that the public thinks we've fixed these issues since 9/11 and Katrina, but in reality we've got a long way to go and no one pointing us there. That's aside from the fact that now we've got a new NIMS policy, but still not much to show for it (where's the program??).

- On Deck

12/22 I am curious (and wish to remain anonymous) if anyone has statistics regarding the
number of Forest Service firefighting resources cut since the early 1970s? It is
interesting as fires keep getting larger and I curious about a correlation.

How many less engines, crews and dozers are there?
Are there less fire fighters per engine or crew?

Curious...
12/22 Merit/Competitive Service Jobs

LY-

I have lots of experience in the last year applying for fed jobs- really it's become a hobby on the search for a perm fed job in a land management agency....

When an advertisement is flown both demo (DE) and merit promotion (MP) and you have a career status or career conditional within the allotted time, you can apply under BOTH announcements. If they fly it under 3 titles and DE/MP you have six chances of making the list- sorry HR people for having to read all those KSAs. Personally, I have applied to positions and made the list on a merit promotion but not a demo before. The agency will hire the most qualified based upon the app and interview- not which list it's on (my understanding but I'm not HR). Usually I've heard people only ask for the "highly qualified" candidates- but HR is agency interpretation dependent.

I always apply every way possible. Thanks firehead for the additional info- I like being educated 'bout this stuff.

Great question,
GISgirl

12/22 Re FEMA and NIMS

Hi all!

More NIMS news - must be a big day there.... I got this "NIMS Alert" just now...

"This notice is to inform you that the [NIMS] Intelligence/Investigation Function
Guide and the NIMS Credentialing Guidelines will be posted for comment on the
www.regulations.gov site on 12-23-08. They will be posted for 30 days."

... but I heard from someone else that the documents won't be posted until tomorrow.
These are up for public comments, whereas the NIMS policy someone posted earlier is
final.

--- watching

12/22 Re FEMA and NIMS

www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nims/NIMS_core.pdf ... p7

OVERVIEW OF NIMS COMPONENTS
NIMS COMPONENTS:

a. Preparedness Effective emergency management and incident response
activities begin with a host of preparedness activities conducted on an
ongoing basis, in advance of any potential incident. Preparedness involves
an integrated combination of assessment; planning; procedures and
protocols; training and exercises; personnel qualifications, licensure, and
certification; equipment certification; and evaluation and revision.

Page 16 mentions the pre-agreements (MOUs etc) among the many agencies.
What agency(s) is going to do them or keep track of those local arrangements
across the country. Maybe they expect the FS and other dispatch centers to
do the work and absorb the cost? Maybe they think such agreements will
magically appear? Albuquerque? ROSS? If so, heaven help us is the middle
of a crisis...

I did ask this question the last time this discussion came up and got no answer.
You folks who are aware of the complex agreements, is there something
I'm missing?

Mellie, still reading...

12/22 Re FEMA and NIMS

Folks -

If you're looking for something new (or revised) to discuss, the new revised National
Incident Management System (NIMS) policy came out today. It's posted here, new
web site and all: www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/. I have mixed thoughts on this one
but thought I'd put it out for general discussion first if no one else has. Obviously
NIMS policy impacts wildland fire significantly, although perhaps more in the future
as the "new" NIMS develops.

Be safe-

-On Deck

12/22 Re: Merit announcements 12/20

The advantage of applying under a merit announcement is in how the applicants are ranked. Under a demo or "all US citizens" announcement, all applicants are given a numerical ranking. The selecting official must hire from the top three. If you're not in the top three, you won't even get a look unless someone declines or withdraws and bumps you up.

Under a merit list, candidates are still given numerical scores to make sure that they are basically qualified, but the selecting official can hire anyone off the list. If there are a lot of applicants, the candidates will be split into groups like "highly qualified" or "qualified"; but I think that with a little justification the selecting official can still hire any qualified candidate (I've never tried to hire anyone who didn't make "highly qualified", so I'm not sure).

Selecting officials can hire off either list.

firehead

12/22 Travel Card Requirement for ADs:

Had to laugh when I saw this.

When I retired the office made a big deal to get my badge, key, and Federal
ID. No one even mentioned the travel card.

Priorities and procedures that were initiated by Gifford and by god their
still good enough for today.

Don't panic....it always works out in the end. Doesn't it?? I always got
paid two months later.

by.....Right on the right.

12/22 Helicopter photos from Downunder:

Here are photos of 2 of the choppers that where involved in the Belair fires last summer
in South Australia The blue and white Squirrel VH-RPQ and the Bell 212 C-GZMQ.

In addition there is a photo of LN-OPO Bell 214 B taken in 2005 which was the first
firefighting chopper based in S.A for a fire season.

Simon Wride

Thanks, Simon. I posted them on the Helicopters 25 photo page. Click on the thumbnail to get the big image and on the text for the description and credits. Ab.

12/22 Photo from Grande Fire, Dec 9th

Nice photo from fire. Don't let early season rain (low amounts) fool you.
NWS LA /OXN had posted red flag for this day. Have a happy holiday
season.

LGW

Message on Ventura Co FD Intranet:

Last call for fire season? At about 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, December 9, a brushfire was reported on the Conejo Grade near the truck scales. The first-arriving units reported a half-acre fire running uphill with the wind and the fire was named the Grande Incident. One lane of northbound Highway 101 was closed to accommodate fire apparatus. By 3:40, the fire had grown to about six acres. And by about 6:00 p.m., the fire was at 30 acres with 50 percent containment and starting to lay down. Crews remained on scene overnight and reported 90 percent containment by 9:30 the next morning. (Photo courtesy of Robert Navarro.)

Thanks, L. Ab.

12/22 End of SoCal High Desert season?
No fire here, at least not right now: Photo 1 ; Photo 2

Location is Hesperia, San Bernardino County, next to the the Mojave River
north of Lake Arrowhead.
The date is Dec 17.
18.5 " of snow fell from 0630 to 2300 hrs.

Thank you and have a great season.

Phill

Thanks, Phill. Ab.

12/22 Paramedic/Wildland Firefighter

RB,

Congratulations on wanting to become a paramedic/wildland firefighter! Alas there are very few opportunities in the federal agencies. The Forest Service does not employ paramedics and has no firefighters, just forestry techs that do wildland fire. The FS has no medical direction, procedures or protocols and it is very unlikely that they will ever have this in my lifetime. Those few that are in the FS who are paramedics are not paid for their additional skills. The National Park Service employs EMTs, but typically they are also law enforcement rangers, and I have not come across many Paramedics. Most all rescue rangers are also Law Enforcement Rangers but they rarely do fire.

Your best bet is to find a local, municipal, county (or in California, CDF) fire department that has a lot of wildland urban interface within its district. That way you will be utilized and paid as both a firefighter and a paramedic. Many of the rapidly growing cities in the American west are building up their wildland capabilities as the urban interface increases. You will however spend a lot of time on an ambulance or structure engine in the off season, and depending on the department may have limited opportunities to be made available to go on assignment to the larger fires.

Another option is to contact one of the many contract Medical Units that have sprung up and are now being utilized on the larger fires, providing medical support. There seem to be quite a few of these and in my experience their personnel have been a bit hit or miss. As a paramedic with wildland qualifications, you would likely be a line medic working with other crew EMTs, evaluating and treating those injured on the fireline. However, depending on the season, you could be very busy, or very slow.

Good Luck, I hope you find something not in the Forest Service!

Aardvark

12/22 Firefighting Equip Costs-Agreements

AB,

I happen to find it a bit funny about all the griping about local FD and the USFS who have AOPs (Annual Operating Plans). These AOP are negotiated well in advance of the up coming Fire Season ours is signed by the Chief of R5. So all parties know in advance what the resources are going to cost at a per hour rate up front. The Finance Chief's love signing the FSLA-5 form because it less paperwork for them and the paperwork is left to the local FD and the folks in ASC......... By the way our equipment worked the Indians, Basis, East Basin and Chalks Fires this summer, the equipment was requested by the IC's of these Incidents because they know we get the job done!

Chief

12/21 Ab-

OK I'm an AD: re my comments and your response. Could you turn me on to whatever
you are taking that leads you to say "I have faith that 'the good' will continue." I wish I could
share your optimism. But in the meantime tell me where to get whatever you are using.

Lefthook

12/21 Retention:

Happy Holidays Ab,

Just wondering, as i was unable to attend the chat, if there was a implementation
date for the 10 percent increase and any other information has came about since
the briefing paper?

thanks

inf engineer

12/21 OK-I'm an AD. I did not go to a local fire department to rack up big money in portal to portal and the grossly inflated wages. I thought that was unconscionable. I hope that those who went that route don't complain about the taxes they pay. That would be inconsistent don't you think? They are right there at the trough.

My concern here is what in the h*** happened to the Forest Service? Did it start with Ronny Raygun, move on to Bubba and culminate with Dubya? Was it the Consent Decree? Was it a lack of leadership? A universal move to consensus and trying to avoid the courts? The ologists?

The Forest Service started by Gifford Pinchot and Teddy Roosevelt was a proud and elite force. Fire lookouts were smokechasers. They spotted a smoke and went out after it. The Ranger rode a horse around his district and knew what was happening on the ground. We have the jumpers and the hot shots. Talk about elite! We had a militia. My hand crews consisted of engineers, foresters, wage grades, slash crew and engine people. We could by God fight fire.

Now I see I need a travel card to get paid for my work on an incident? The last time I checked you need to be a career employee to get this card. I'm retired. When is this cr*p going to stop? Shovel full by shovel full they bury a once great organization. The United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Stop it...

Lefthook

Tiz the season to celebrate what we have: health, family, friends! The world changes. There are lots of unintended consequences of technology, population growth, etc etc. Agencies must change. I have faith that "the good" will continue. We simply need to keep participating with the best of intentions. Ab.

12/21 Me thinks No-Name could trigger the parental controls and get Wildland Fire a 4-X rating!!

Merry Christmas All - Bill
12/21 -Recycling Fundraiser Idea for WFF

An end-state (futuristic) goal (follow-up):

"The Forest Service has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement with the XXXX (XXXX) that promotes the recycling of bottles and cans generated at Forest Service administrative sites such as fire camps, fire stations, District Offices, and Supervisor Offices. Recycling boxes and containers will be placed in approximately XXXX Forest Service sites throughout the country. Proceeds gained from the recycled materials will be sent to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

The MOU provides the opportunity for recycling of cans and bottles at all Forest Service administrative sites including fire camps. It communicates the critical importance of recycling and the benefits as they relate to sustainable operations and responsible use of natural resources. And it enables the agency to reach out to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in their mission of providing services for the families and friends of fallen or injured wildland firefighters.

The XXXX will provide each unit, based upon interest, the (XXXX) at no cost. XXXX covers all procedural costs with no expenditure of federal funding. The XXXX donates proceeds from the program to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, plus, XXXX and the Forest Service will work with Wildland Firefighter Foundation to pilot future programs that improve firefighter and community safety in the wildlands."

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is A CFC authorized 501(c)3 on the Combined Federal Campaign listing.

www.wffoundation.org

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Great New Year to all.

Noname -Recycling Fundraiser

Thanks for that. Is there someone out there that would pick up this opportunity and run with it? Ab.

12/20 Statues

Ab--

Thanks for the rundown on the wildland statue for fallen wildland firefighters. Very appropriate.
I was at Esperanza. My team was responsible for the contact and care of the families and the
very moving tribute to them and their fallen family members. I guess I didn't know at that time
what the statues represented. I helped set up those tables and their contents that the statues
were on.

Best-

Lefthook

12/20 Merit/Competitive Service Jobs

Could someone explain to me the advantages of having merit/noncompetitive
status when applying to jobs?

Most career/permanent jobs fly 2 announcements 1) public 2) merit

What are the advantages of the merit? Are agencies required to hire off the
merit list?

If an office wants to hire off the public announcement but there is an equally
or better qualified candidate on the merit list, do they have to hire off the
merit list? If so, what if they don't?

LY

12/20 ADs

I just love it. I am retired Forest Service working as an AD and the response
from some fire folk, OH YOU are an AD.

NOPE I am retired FS filling in the space because the regular FS doesn't have
enough support people. Now I am reading that you will need a travel card to
get reimbursed per diem. Wonder what is going to happen to the fire season as
there are a lot of FS retired working as ADs

Just another AD

12/20 GovTrip

Processed to Death,

All of our seasonal have travel cards. But we do process travel for ADs who
don't have travel cards. Not sure how we get the $13.50 paid but it does get
done and ADs are reimbursed just as timely as GS.

GovTrip has not saved any time nor paper at the field level. (You have to scan
or fax supporting documents vs. making copies and mailing.) So I'm hoping
despite the rumors that somewhere in the whole big long chain this $13.50 is
made up for in some sort of savings.

Hopelessly Midwestern

12/20 GovTrip Dilemma

This is just to point out the obvious. Under the new GovTrip the WO is forcing on us to replace the functioning travel system. You need a travel card to pay the GovTrip contractor $13.50 for the 'service' of using the website. Don't worry, that same $13.50 is added onto your final payment. Who this made sense to, I don't know; next year we are going to have thousands of seasonals traveling who do not have a travel card and they will not be able to process a travel voucher without one.

I know this because I was trying to cancel my travel card and could not get my per diem reimbursed without it. I am writing this not to complain but because maybe someone who could do something to fix this looming problem might want to do some forward thinking and look like the smart guy around the water cooler.

Me, I'll just keep apologizing to my employees. How could they know that working for the USFS would be such a joke.

Sign me,

Processed to Death

12/20 Re: What "Peña Said", but forgot to mention

> From Govexec (www.govexec.com):

"The Office of Personnel Management recently issued a final rule that will
allow some General Schedule employees to climb the career ladder faster.

"The rule, published in the Federal Register on Nov. 7, does away with
the one-year time-in-grade requirement for promotions for employees at
or above the GS-5 level.
The rule will take effect on March 9."

Rest of the story: www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?filepath=/dailyfed/1108/111108b1.php

12/20 Re: Fundraising Idea for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Following Ken Perry's first fundraiser for the WFF, several folks from LACoFD thought outside the box and offered a potential suggestion. They suggested that the recyclables generated by fires and fire camps be used as a source of funding for the WFF. For example, each water bottle or can is worth 5 cents in California. A typical Type 1 or Type 2 fire would generate thousands of dollars of needed funding.

After several attempts to see if this was possible, each time the answer was "no" with very little followup.

On 11/28/2008, the Forest Service entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that would benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Read below:
Link: www.fs.fed.us/fstoday/081128/02National News/recycling.phpl
FS Today: www.fs.fed.us/fstoday/081128/index.phpl

The Forest Service has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement with the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) that promotes the recycling of rechargeable batteries and cellphones throughout the entire Forest Service. Recycling boxes will be placed in approximately 500 Forest Service offices throughout the country. Proceeds gained from the recycled cell phones will be sent to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

The MOU provides the opportunity for recycling rechargeable batteries and personal cell phones at all Forest Service administrative sites. It communicates the critical importance of recycling and the benefits as they relate to sustainable operations and responsible use of natural resources. And it enables the agency to reach out to Boys and Girls Clubs and encourage youth to get "Unplugged and Recharged" in the great outdoors.

The RBRC will provide each unit, based upon interest, the Call2Recylce boxes at no cost. Forest Service units will monitor the boxes and mail them back once they are full; RBRC covers all shipping and handling and sends back replacement boxes. The RBRC donates proceeds from the program to Boys and Girls clubs nationally, plus, RBRC and the Forest Service will work with Boys and Girls clubs to pilot programs that encourages youth to get engaged in outdoor activities.

Couldn't something similar be done with fire camp recyclables to benefit the WFF and the National Wildland Firefighter Monument.... and as a continual revenue source?

Batgrl12, could this fit into the grant request you are writing?

Noname -Recycling Fundraiser

12/19 Fire Cross high honor

Hola:

I've been on three fatality fires. Took the fun clear out of it. I wonder why we don't have a
Medal of Honor, a Purple Heart, a Fire Cross or some form of high honor for those of us
who have given that final, last measure to our country? Who have died fighting wild land fires.

We have one life. To give it to our country should be valued and remembered.

Peace,

Lefthook

Lefthook, The 12" high wildland firefighter bronze statue, made in the image of the 8 ½ foot Bronze Statue at the Monument at NIFC seeks to fill that need. Description of Monument History and list of the fallen.

Some awards:

Here's a pic of a WFF representative presenting the statue to crewmates of Steve Rucker at their firehouse in Novato CA in 2005 Steve died on the Cedar Fire during the 2003 firestorm.

Here's a pic of a statue awaiting presentation to a family of the Esperanza fallen, 2006.

Here's a pic of Rowdy Muir's Great Basin T2 Crew in 2004 with 14 statues that were later given to families of the Storm King fallen. Burk from the Foundation hauled those 14 statues all over the West allowing them in acquire "essence of wildland firefighter" from all camps he visited and firefighters that handled them. Awesome.

Readers, if you haven't donated to the WFF this year, please do. It's our donations that make these heart-felt awards possible.

If anyone has pictures of statues that went to our Iron 44 fallen, to Andy Palmer's and Dan Packer's families, please send them in. I heard that the WFF didn't know how they were going to get statues and t-shirts to the Iron 44 Memorial and Carson sent a ship to fly them there. Ab.

12/19 cost of conferences:

Well I guess I'll weigh in on this conference stuff. I am married to a person who has done
conference planning for a fire admin group for CA fire agencies. In every instance, Reno
has beat the California quotes competition every time. But for CA public (and Fed)
agencies, the devil is in the appearance of RESORT vs TRUE cost. Because of the PC
attitude of the bean counters; we the taxpayer continue to reimburse the extra dough for
an all-Cal venue.

GIS girl is right. Look at the big picture. Flying to small regional airports like Fresno,
Bakersfield or Redding can triple the travel cost of " getting there".

I wonder if any of the CA Indian Gaming casinos came in with a competitive quote, would
that be deemed unacceptable to the bean counters?

It's a bunch of PC B*S.

Fish01

12/19 OPM/ time in grade:

Ab's this is for smokeater. On the FS side this is the last we heard. Hey look it's from Mr. Email himself. Wonder how he's doing out in the land of milk, honey and UFOs?

This should be interesting when implemented. Hopefully open some things up for those in fire that are ready to promote and those in fire who may be interested in transitioning into a non-fire position.

Letterman
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: December 5, 2008
Subject: Elimination of Time In Grade Restrictions
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

On November 7, 2008, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a final rule in the Federal Register eliminating the time in grade restriction in 5 CFR 300.601 through 300.605 on advancement to competitive service positions in the General Schedule. Employees must continue to meet OPM occupational qualification standard requirements and any additional job-related qualification requirements established for the position. For example, applicants must still meet the specialized experience requirements as defined in the vacancy announcement.

This rule will go into effect on March 9, 2009, and the current regulation for time in grade applies until that date. Prior to implementing these changes, the Albuquerque Service Center – Human Capital Management will initiate negotiations with the union and begin the necessary steps to update the Merit Promotion Plan, the Master Agreement, and the Avue system.. More information will be provided as progress is made and Frequently Asked Questions will be posted on the HCM website.

The Federal Register can be found at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-26559.php

If you have any questions, please contact Kasey McE of my Employment Policy Staff at (505) 563-xxx or kmce@fs.fed.us.

/s/ James M. Peña
Acting Director, Human Capital Management

12/19 Has everyone seen the Fire Fit program?

www.nifc.gov/FireFit/index.php

Nice. Somehow when I think of exercise I eat less.

Strider

12/19 OPM/ time in grade:

I would like to know what is going on with the no time in grade that OPM has
come up with. When does this take affect, who will this affect? how is this
going to help the agency?

smokeater

12/19 Question about investigations:

Another good resource for researching Fire Accident Reports:

SAM,

You can use the Lessons Learned Report Utility for all reports they have listed,
whether they have the report available and on file or not. There is no listing for
the East Roaring Fire on that date in ID. This is because it's considered a near
miss.

http://iirdb.wildfirelessons.net/main/Reviews.aspx

Here's the table that shows what kind of investigation is possible or required, given
the incident characteristics: "From AAR to SAI"
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/from-aar-to-sai-print.php

Good luck in finding what you need.

Mellie

PS. I was doing some other research and came across this site with the thoughtful writings about Spencer Coyle and what Spencer's death prompted his friend to do differently: http://zionhelitack.blogspot.com/ Scroll down to Fallen Firefighters.

12/19 Merry Christmas all!!!

What a fantastic site we have here at our disposal. We as a fire community have the great opportunity to speak our minds and communicate freely about issues and concerns we all have on a daily basis. As a ex-fed employee I thought it was great to meet in Reno once a year and visit with our friends and co-workers in fire. It is a great, cheap and centralized place to learn and review past and up-coming fire seasons. The Engine and Hotshot groups are a strong united voice that leads in the world of Wildland Firefighting. It is a great opportunity to meet w/ the BOD and other Chief officers to hash out current and future fire related issues. In my opinion it needs to stay in Reno as it has become a cornerstone of communication for all regions and walks of life in all parts of the fire service. What is said and done in Reno every year has a direct impact on all of us in the fire service regardless of agency we work for. It might cost a little bit of money, but it sure brings out the best in all of us at these meetings. The AARs, the Captains meetings, Hotshot groups, the vendors and the special speakers really make a positive mark on all of us. It is how we learn and how we change for the better every fire season in my opinion.

Abs, keep up the good work. R5 thank you for leading the way and providing a wonderful meeting site to return to on a yearly basis!

Driver51

12/19 Chief Officers Conference:

still scratching

The point I was making is Region 5 isn't the only one having meetings in Reno, or at other resorts. You need to check your facts before you start singling our region out. We accomplish alot at our Chiefs conference every year and to hold it at a more expensive place is just ridiculous. And, um, remember this isn't a trip for every fire fighter in the region; it's all supervisors if they can make it. Have you or your supervisors ever suggested a Chiefs meeting for your Region? Maybe you should so you can see what a valuable tool it really is.

DM

12/19 Memorial for Iron 44:

Ab,

I've enclosed a picture that is from Iron 44 that gives me the drive each day.
I was honored to assist in the recovery of my fallen brothers.

Iron 44 Memorial

JDF

Thanks, JDF and thanks for the communication behind the scenes. Ab.

12/19 Question about investigations:

Was there ever a 24 hour or 72 hour accident investigation report of the East Roaring fire (Boise National Forest) burnover September 5, 2006? A whole bunch of gear got burned up at the helispot. Lucky no one was killed or seriously hurt but to this day I have never seen the reports. I have made a few phone calls but I just don't know who or where to call that could help. If anyone knows how to get copies of investigation reports please let me know.

Thanks
SAM

This is all I ever saw: East Roaring Fire Lessons Learned (28 K doc file). Because it was just "stuff" that burned, it probably did not need a Serious Accident Investigation or the preliminary reports. Ab.

12/19 More from Senator Salazar. NP
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

U.S. Senator Ken Salazar
Member: Finance, Agriculture, Energy, Ethics and Aging Committees
2300 15th Street, Suite 450 Denver, CO 80202 | 702 Hart Senate Building, Washington, D.C. 20510

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CONTACT: Stephanie Valencia – 202-494-8790; Cody Wertz – 303-350-0032

Sen. Salazar Statement on Colorado Fires

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, United States Senator Ken Salazar released the following statement regarding recent fires in Colorado that have affected the communities of Carbondale and Ordway and the Fort Carson area.

“My heart goes out to the families and communities affected by the fires in Colorado. I am particularly saddened by the deaths of three firefighters who were putting their lives on the line to save others. They were selflessly battling blazes that were endangering life and property. Their loss is a terrible tragedy.

“While the causes of the fires are still under investigation, the dangerously dry and windy conditions in certain parts of Colorado require that we take all appropriate precautions to contain the fires and prevent new ones from starting. I will continue to monitor the developments across the state, and I will reach out to local and state governments to help ensure that these communities have the resources they need to recover.”

12/19 Any dates yet for the Developmental academies? Anyone know when they'll be out?

AB and All, Merry Christmas.

Wanting to plan

12/19 Chief's conference:

WHy don't the Forest FMOs in R5 collectively tell Randy they want to use
Brazil Ranch for the conference. Seems the FS has unlimited funds to keep
that "resort" in good shape while fire stations fall apart.

Just a thought.

Casey
12/19 There is some good news these days.

2009 General Schedule and Locality Pay Tables

www.opm.gov/oca/09tables/index.asp

JD

12/19 Chiefs Conference

DM,

Come on, just because someone else is doing it, doesn't mean others should do it or that it is the right thing to do. In R-6 you can get a decent place for a meeting in Bend or Yakima.  You know they have their annual contractors meetings in the armory in Bend on a concrete floor, no heat and poor sound? But we don't complain. Fun work isn't wrong, I love my job!! But,um, alot of us out here worked hard this year and the year before and several before that and Uncle Sam ain't springin for a trip for us to Reno.

GIS-Girl  
 No flight on earth takes just an hour anymore, post 9/11.  You have to drive to the airport, find parking and take an hour or so on top of that to smile for the X-ray machine and take off your shoes for the NTSB :( 

Guys I don't mean to be a thorn at all, I just think we need to look at appearances and our expenses more closely. <snip>

Still scratchin.....  aka  Joe The Taxpayer

12/19 Humorous Videos:

Also sent in by Ken
From the Onion, some video spoofs:

Weather Channel Accused of Pro-Weather Bias

Californians Gather To Celebrate Annual Wildfire Tradition

12/19 Reply from Harbour re comments for Quadrennial Fire Review 2009

So much for trying to address latent issues and false facts in the Quadrennial Fire Review 2009 Draft (see below).

The request was for the comment period (three days) to be extended until December 30th so that it could be properly peer reviewed and researched, and be factually commented upon by all stakeholders and interested parties.

Draft 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review:
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/fed/QuadrennialFireReview2009CommentDraft.pdf

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Acting Vice President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Mr. Kempter:

Thank you for your e-mail of November 30, 2008, to Agriculture Secretary Schafer regarding the Quadrennial Fire Review 2009 Draft.

This is an informational report that is prepared by subject matter experts about budget and resource decisions for the upcoming fire season and the incoming administration. The final draft is being completed and is scheduled to be released early in 2009.

Unfortunately, the comment period will not be extended and we are not accepting additional comments.

Thank you for your interest in the management of your national forests.

Sincerely,

/s/ Tom Harbour
TOM HARBOUR
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

12/18 Chief Officers Conference and Travel Ceilings:

Ab's,

So with all the travel ceiling concerns and the direction that we are not supposed to stay at
a resort location (casinos, etc), I found the first line of this RO-supported email interesting.

Wonder where they went. Also, in a recent email from the RO showing where R5 forests
stand with their travel allowances, the RO was the biggest violator.

Lead and we will follow.

Noname Fire
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Regional Forester Team had a retreat earlier this week to go through several issues, including budget and travel ceiling issues. Decisions or actions are:

1. FY 2008 Carryover and Fire Transfers

The RF Team identified the highest priorities and we are now working to summarize them and then work with Regional Office Staffs to use the requests submitted by everyone and identify the priorities for the remaining balances. The amounts are not yet final and we are also waiting for the ASC and WO to finalize the carryover balances -- this is expected in mid to late January.
Units that will be receiving the funds approved as the RF Highest Priorities will be notified individually in the next few days.
The balance remaining and the Forest and RO requests that are part of the tentative set asides will be evaluated by RO Staffs with recommendations on the proposed distribution needing to be approved by the RF Team. The RO review will tentatively be completed by January 15th and be presented to the RF Team for approval the following week.

Of the requests received roughly one-third of these will receive funding. We are also bound by constraints on which programs (BLI's) can receive funds.

We will send out a completed distribution at that time and make allocations when the ASC and WO transfer the carryover balances. Due to the carryover needing to be apportioned and available to the Region we are still needing to manage within the apportionments given to us in the Continuing Resolution.

2. Travel Ceilings

As stated during the RLT Meeting in October the RF Team is optimistic that the Region will stay within our ceiling. Where Units do not expect to stay within the ceiling the RF has asked for Units to provide statements of what the consequences are of staying within the travel ceiling. Several Units have submitted statements to the RF Team.

Overall the Region's travel ceiling has not changed.

The RF Team has also asked PD&B to take another look at the methodology/approach we used in setting travel ceilings, specifically to relook at how Units did in reducing travel or taking efforts to stay within their ceilings. Units where significant efforts did result in lowered travel costs may have been penalized for the actions they took. This relook at our methodology will likely result in some adjustments to Unit travel ceilings. Where adjustments lead to Units receiving increases there will need to be a corresponding reduction elsewhere in the Region.

Where units have not submitted anything in terms of consequences we would ask that this information be submitted and posted in the TeamRoom by January 15th. For those who have already submitted statements of consequences we will be posting their responses.

Lastly, the travel ceiling now awaiting distribution that had been for travel charged to Unit 21 will get distributed to where the work is being charged in FY 2009. That will also happen in January but we need to get RO Staffs to review this information.

Here is the link in the TeamRoom to post responses -->
John
********************************************
John DLT
USDA Forest Service, Region 5
Program Development and Budget

12/18 Just thought I would put in my two cents on the Chiefs Conference and Reno.

First I don't know what the big deal is at having a conference at a place that gives us cheap rooms and ballrooms for each workshop. Someone said why are we going out of our region to have a conference? Well because it is cheaper to do it there and really how far is Reno from California, give me a break. I worked in Region 6 and we had our end of the year fire conferences in Reno so we aren't the only ones doing it. Secondly we won't get the number of people going to a conference in Fresno or Redding than we will in Reno. Yes it is nice to have the majority of the people staying in the same place not scattered all over the city. It is nice to be able to talk to regional people and discuss matters in a non formal manner. And it is just a great thing to see old friends and share stories of work and family, especially after a season like we just had. I just don't see the problem of combining a little fun with work. I think we all have earned it, especially with what we went through this year.

DM
12/18 Chief Officers Conference:

Just a scratchin my.... head,

As a GIS geek I just thought I'd say... you must look at more than just the geographic location but the actual routing for any meeting. If you look at the locations of the offices distributed throughout the R5 region you will note that many of the offices are located in less than central areas. When taking routing into account you should think multi-modal live routing- both air and vehicle. Oh and only air gets to take into account as the crow flies routing. The northern CA areas such as the Modoc would still mostly drive down to Reno to fly out- Reno is a central location in terms of travel from the Tahoe, El Dorado, Modoc, etc. The smaller airports in the NW part of the state might go to Reno, SoCal has regular flights to Reno. Sacramento is a good second choice in terms of getting there (Fresno has a negligible airport and would cause EVERYONE to drive extending travel from SoCal from a 1-1.5 hour flight to a 8 hour drive). Also the train is only really convenient from Sacramento and Bakersfield along 99 leaving out a large % of the people.

Then you get into the number of hotels, the cost of the hotels, rental cars, and price of food- Sacramento is typically much more expensive than Reno in terms of food and people tend to get rental cars since Sacramento has a more distributed geospatial spread of amenities such as hotels, restaurants, and shops. Reno is a very densely developed city that caters to people traveling by foot or hotel shuttle.

Worked with but not for the circus- and was a meeting type person,
GISgirl

12/18 Chief Officers Conference:

For "Just a scratchin my.... head."

The reason R5 conferences have been held in Reno for years is that is is pretty central to the 17 Forests in CA, as they are not equally distributed thru the state.

Most Forests are closer to Reno than Fresno.

And, if you didn't know, casinos like to fill empty rooms in the off season, so for a conference, they offer BIG discounts for rooms, and offer up the conference facilities, which includes a main hall, breakout rooms, refreshments, vendor rooms, and meting rooms as all part of the package.

So, it is much cheaper to have a conference there. Fresno or Sacramento has a higher Per Diem rate, and no discounted rooms, and would have to rent other rooms/halls to host the 500 + people who attend the conference each year.

So, that's why. If it was easier and cheaper, it WOULD be somewhere else, but the logistics of it just don't work out right.
And, this is a FEDERAL conference, so why would the STATE budget being broke affect anything regarding the conference at all?

A few CalFire chiefs do attend, but they do not put in money to put the conference on. This conference has WO people come out each year and present new policies and ideas from the top, explain things, answer questions, and lets the regular folks talk things out. Hotshots, Engine group reps, prevention and Fuels reps from all over the region attend these, not just Chiefs....Plus vendors with new items to possibly save lives... and federal money, on new items... Every region should have one of these, it's like a big After-Action-Review of the previous year... very useful, not a big vacation, as its only 3 days....

-MJ

12/18 /s/ Focused on Facts and Collaboration:

You said: "It is interesting that only the Region 5 folks are speaking up (whining) on this issue again"

This website is not a place for R5 folks just to whine. In my opinion this website is a place that the wildland fire community can communicate the issues that are in front of us. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the amount of Primary fire folks in R5 are equal to all of the other Regions combined. Therefore issues in Region 5 may seem to be voiced stronger here, but that's just a consequence of numbers.

As I learned in L-380, "Leading up" is a great Leadership tool. Basically this website to me is an opportunity to "Lead Up" and bring forth -upward- the ideas and problems that are near and dear to folks. Where it may be whining to others, I like the information brought here by all of the contributors. If I perceive someone is whining, or the topic is not interesting to me, I just scroll down, and skip it. You could do the same.

I think this website is the most valuable tool, next to Lotus notes, that we have as far as communicating with each other. The Abs do an excellent job researching information prior to posting rumors, and If you do not know, not everything sent is posted. I do believe some stuff gets screened out that may not be accurate and/or is finger pointing to an individual. To me that's okay, and how it should be.

The day folks stop sending in information because they think it may be perceived as whining will be a sad day in the wildland fire community. Folks, please do not stop "leading up" on the issues, weather it's just relative to your District, Forest, Region, Agency, or Department.

Thanks Abs, Casey, Mellie, Vicki, Lobotomy and all of the contributors for all you do. Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year.

SRJS

SRJS, you're welcome. The strength of this website are the contributors like you. I appreciate the info exchange and often learn from it. Safety messages and reports greatly help us all to be more situationally aware.

Clarification and some info: Most posts are posted as is. This is some background on how we deal with things.

  • Sometimes I request people to rewrite focusing on "the what not the who" as stressed in leadership classes. Occasionally I miss a "teachable leadership/ lessons learned moment".
  • Regarding accidents and deaths, you know how careful we are, waiting for some formal info release or info from a trusted source that families have been notified and often waiting until some of the initial chaos has passed. It helps to have info privately as a heads up for the Hotlist. New people or the public listening to scanners may not know who reads and worries when rumors circulate.
  • We do get bulletins, letters, docs, memos, and other information passed on "round robin". I try to use good judgment in posting it. If I am aware, for example, that the issue is being worked on and there is no safety concern for all, I often will not post it. If it explains some theysaid discussion or alleviates anxiety, I may. If I know the person who wrote the "round robin" piece, I may give them a call or get someone else to contact them to ask for clarification. When I post it, I identify it as "going round robin" on the intranet or coming from "behind the scenes". If people do not want me to post their messages that are going "round robin", I may hear about it privately. I'm happy to consider any such requests and keep such dialog private. Some info is better as background but not on the website. The internet with its spiders and archives is forever... When appropriate I remove or abbreviate names, email addresses, phone numbers of the original sender. They do not deserve to be spammed.
  • Regarding product or organization posts, I may post those if they come up in the natural flow of discussion on theysaid. If they are sent in by a business rep, I check to see if the business supports the forum with a classified ad or as a page sponsor or I forward the request off to advertising. We get lots of requests for posts on this new product or that business, this organization or that, this website or that new blog and I just don't have time to post or the interest to let them "use" the forum for their own personal benefit. Regular contributors and participants that help with costs here are another matter.
  • On some emails from firefighters, I make suggestions to protect the sender.
  • Invariably some innocent emails go in one of my spam filters because of some keyword like XXX or "hotshot women" . There have been some funny ones over the years. (vfd capt has ended up in spam through no fault of his own and something about him or his code resisted my attempts to whitelist him. Funny, he may have thought I didn't like him. Not true. haw haw)
  • For some people I check for typos, but appreciate people using their own spell checkers if they have one. (I never, never have to correct Misery Whip, Casey or Hugh Carson.)
  • If I choose to not post a message, messages often get passed on, even if not publicly. I often copy and paste the message (not the email addy) from the sender to the person being addressed, for them to dismiss or interpret as they see fit.
  • I also forward messages behind the scenes if requested. The person it's forwarded to can decide whether to reply or not. Lots of new firefighters and firefighters seeking old friends or old information get what they need this way.
  • Sometimes I offer to research and contact resources if there's a need behind the scenes. Networking is one of the best things about this site. No firefighter or firefighter family is truly alone, without a voice or resources. We do a lot of networking. The community is large, solid and willing to help. The collective information is vast and comes from many perspectives.

That's about it. OA and I discuss all issues as they come up. We're on the same page with slightly different KSAs and perspectives.

Happy Holidays to all. I certainly am enjoying some down time since many of you are on the "use it or loose it" cycle for vacation time. Send a little "moolah" in to the Santa Helper Fund at the WFF. It feels good to give, especially to the kids at this time of year. Ab.

12/18 Chief Officers Conference:

CO Conference

I don't hear Chief Officers in R-5 whining about this. As a matter of fact my sense is this conference is not important right now with everything else going on around us. If canceled, this is a good year to do so. If approved, I foresee another good conference with some staying away, maybe even in protest, others because the travel cap is being taken seriously on the Forest, while other Forests it's business as usual for travel costs.

1. How about spending a week getting our FAM BoD in order first?
2. How about a week getting LOT to live up to the responsibility they so much wanted?
3. How about a week to make a major push to complete Moore's retention decisions?
4. How about another 5 years with Q as our Director?

If we do # 4, then we don't need to worry about 1-3.

I can think of more important things to work on in any given week than listening to an ASC Rep come tell me about how I need to submit a travel authorization request for me and my employees before they go to a fire this summer (I so hope I exaggerated this last sentence. However you never know these days, and only time will tell with this new travel auth fiasco).

Alternatives: Sure, we can go to Fresno, Sac, San Diego or heck lets all go to Blythe. Actually I like the video-conference idea. The conference does in fact have some good speakers. It does provide an opportunity to place on the table issues that someone might pick up and run with and the organizers every year go all out to put together the best conference possible. However some parts of it are a dog and pony show where SESs and others come speak about just anything. Overall good conference, but every CO I have spoken with recently are not whining about not having a conference this year. Again, it's the last thing they're worried about.

Why Moore and Edward intervened is beyond me. Don't both of them have something else they should be mission focused on? Hummmmm, wonder what that could be........

Signed,

Sorry no fancy PLs, CFRs or Report web-links to offer you.

12/18 Lassen Hotshot 35 year Anniversary

Ab,

We at the Lassen Hotshots are looking to get the word out to all of our Lassen Hotshot alumni, that we will be having a 35 year Anniversary Celebration March 27, 2009!!! If interested please contact

Allen Schultze
allenschultze @ fs.fed.us (take out spaces)
477-050 Eagle Lake Rd
Susanville, Ca 96130
(530) 252-5873

RSVP due by March 1, 2009

12/18 Chief Officers Conference:

> Public Law 110-246 (June 18, 2008, 663 pages) - Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

See definition of a "Conference" (Page 575), and why regardless of where it is held, it (the R5 Conference/Workshop) probably would not be approved by USDA OFCO.

It is interesting that only the Region 5 folks are speaking up (whining) on this issue again...... An issue that has NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE.... Probably because the issue is being wrongly interpreted as only a R5 Forest Service problem ........ or it doesn't matter in other regions?.... or it has become a Reno issue that will somehow go away?

What is very important are the memorandums from USDA and Forest Service regarding conference "transparency" and why transparency was even a factor needing to be addressed; how policies were interpreted and implemented to meet the intent of the law; and the reasons FS Upper Management (Undersecretary of AG/NRE and the FS Chief) didn't oppose the legislation prior to the enactment of the law... Crap rolls uphill. Accountability is at the top, not at the bottom.

Some folks are following the root issues....... Thanks Ab(s), FWFSA, NFFE, and WFF for all of your hard work and leadership in the wildland fire community and family!!

/s/ Focused on Facts and Collaboration

P.S. - Maybe a Video Conference would work this year in R5.... each SO has the ability to participate..... until issues are addressed?

12/18 Chief Officers Conference:

Interesting, but sad..... USDA OCFO supporting (responsible for the financial leadership) the missions of USDA finally gets involved in oversight and spending within the Forest Service..... LOL... too little, too late.... and in this case.... wrongly targeted again.

Lots of mismanagement within the USDA and within the Forest Service. For some reason, the mismanagement at upper levels always trickles downwards and keeps folks from "leading up"..... a concept introduced by the R-5 Hotshot Committee 6 years ago as a useful tool in wildland fire management.

Lots of work for the transition team from the new Presidential Administration, but they are communicating with folks from the field levels.

If federal wildland firefighters were left alone to run and lead a federal wildland fire program effectively and efficiently concentrating on safety, mission, and budget (GS-2 through SES), there wouldn't be so much un-needed bureaucracy.

I, for one, am looking forward to the new year. Hopefully the USDA bureaucracy will be broken up somehow in the future........ No more subsidizing farmers to allow their crops to die, while many in the world go hungry.

Lobotomy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Additional (if anyone requests it, or needs it for Conference Approvals). Someone asked about it a few months ago, but I figured that the upper levels of USDA and FS were talking:

Conference Transparency Reporting

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-246) requires that not later than September 30th of each year, the Secretary of Agriculture shall prepare a report on conferences, with costs greater than $10,000, sponsored or held by the Department of Agriculture or attended by employees of the Department of Agriculture.

This report will contain the following information for each conference

  • the name of the conference;
  • the location of the conference;
  • date of the conference
  • the number of Department of Agriculture employees attending the conference; and
  • the costs (including travel expenses) relating to such conference; and
  • for each conference sponsored or held by the Department of Agriculture for which the Department awarded a procurement contract, a description of the contracting procedures related to such conference.

The table below provides a summary of USDA spending on conference and training. Please click on each year for detailed breakdown by conference.

One year from the table: USDA Conference Transparency Reports 2008

Note 1: 2008 information is summarized from a list of events and costs reported to Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) by agencies. The data has been stated using the definition from the newly released Farm Bill.

12/17 Chief Officers Conference:

Ok,

As a non Californian, I have been peeking in a bit on this conference that ya'all want held in Reno. I am stumped! In a time when cash is short, why in the world would a trip/ vacation be authorized for outside of your home region to conduct your regions business???!!!! When I pull up a map of your fine / broke ( meaning $$$) state, I see Fresno in the middle. Case settled! Come on guys, Reno is not central to anyone and how much would the resort have to pay you guys to stay at their hotel in order to offset the travel costs????

Just a scratchin my.... head.

12/17 Chief Officers Conference:

I don't think anyone is surprised at this point, but here's the latest about the R5 Chiefs conference, just came this a.m., I've removed the name of the person who sent it... IF

I just wanted to give everyone an update on status of the Chief Officer's Workshop. A couple of weeks ago, I put out a message the we had gotten approval from USDA, Chief Financial Officers Office to hold the workshop in Reno as have in the past. Since then, Randy Moore receive word that they would not approve workshop being held in Reno, but would consider approval of a non-resort location. The Division Chiefs steering committee has been asked by both Ed and Randy to see what we can do to keep the workshop on track, as they both feel it is important. So we are continuing to look at some locations here in California, such as the Convention center in Fresno, and some possible options in Reddng, Sacramento or San Diego. We have asked the Chief Financial Officers Office if any of these locations would be acceptable, and are waiting for a response. We will make the decision in early January whether the workshop is on or off, based on what we hear from the Chief Financial Officers Office, and what we are able to find as a venue.

We are trying to keep the dates the same, the 1st through the 5th of March, providing we can find a venue that has those dates available and can meet our needs.

12/17 Walden's office: Obama Names Interior & Agriculture Department Secretaries.

These are pretty important to the wildland fire world…

S

Hello everyone – today President-elect Obama selected Colorado Senator Ken Salazar (D) as the incoming Interior Department Secretary and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (D) as the incoming Agriculture Department Secretary. Both individuals still need to be confirmed by a vote of the full Senate. Below is information on these Secretary selections clipped for Energy and Environment Daily press accounts, biographical information posted on their websites, and Wikipedia:

Interior Department Secretary - Senator Ken Salazar (CO-D)

· Senator Salazar is a fifth-generation Coloradan. Salazar's parents served in World War II - his mother in the War Department in Washington D.C. and his father as a staff sergeant in the United States Army. After the war, they returned to the San Luis Valley to ranch. Salazar has been a rancher for more than thirty years and helped form the El Rancho Salazar partnership in 1981. He and his wife have owned and operated small businesses, including a Dairy Queen and radio stations in Pueblo and Denver. He practiced water and environmental law in the private sector for eleven years. And he has served as the Colorado Attorney General and as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Salazar narrowly defeated beer executive Pete Coors of the Coors Brewing Company to win the general election for the senate seat (margin was 51.3 percent to 47.4 percent). Senator Salazar’s older brother, John Salazar, was elected to the United States Congress in November 2004 from Colorado's 3rd Congressional District.

· On May 23, 2005, Salazar was among the Gang of 14 moderate senators to forge a compromise on the Democrats' use of the filibuster against judicial appointments, thus blocking the Republican leadership's attempt to implement the so-called "nuclear option". Under the agreement, the Democrats would retain the power to filibuster a Bush judicial nominee only in an "extraordinary circumstance", and the three most conservative Bush appellate court nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and William Pryor) would receive a vote by the full Senate.

· In 2005, Salazar voted against increasing fuel-efficiency standards (CAFE) for cars and trucks, a vote that the League of Conservation Voters notes is anti-environment. In the same year, Salazar voted against an amendment to repeal tax breaks for ExxonMobil and other major oil companies.

· In 2006, Salazar voted to end protections that limit off-shore drilling in Florida's Gulf Coast.

· In 2007, Salazar was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote against a bill that would require the US Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming when planning water projects.

· He also supported the Bush Administration's release of lands in the Conservation Reserve Program for emergency haying in Colorado's Yuma and Phillips Counties.

· William Meadows, president of the Wilderness Society, called the choice "excellent." And several groups today also praised Salazar's support for the National Landscape Conservation System and other conservation measures.

· League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski also lauded the choice. Salazar has earned a lifetime LCV score of 81 percent.

· Defenders of Wildlife said Salazar has had an "increasingly strong" environmental voting record in the Senate and that it is "hopeful" that he will respond effectively to Interior's challenges.

· "He is also a lifelong advocate of a multi-use approach to managing our public land and accessing safely the resources that reside beneath it," said Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. "The livelihoods of thousands of independent oil and gas operators in this country remain inextricably linked to that access, and that's a point we intend to make early, often and with purpose as this new administration begins to take shape."

· Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) called the choice "superb."

· Current Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said Salazar is an "excellent selection."

Agriculture Department Secretary - Governor Tom Vilsack (IA-D)

· Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tom Vilsack was orphaned at birth and placed in a Roman Catholic orphanage. He was adopted in 1951 by Bud and Dolly Vilsack. His adoptive father was a real-estate agent and insurance salesman, and his adoptive mother was a homemaker. He received a bachelor's degree in 1972 from Hamilton College in New York. He received a J.D. in 1975 from Albany Law School. He and his wife, Ann Bell moved to rural Mount Pleasant, Iowa, her hometown, where he joined his father-in-law in law practice. Vilsack was elected mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1987, following the murder of mayor Ed King by a disgruntled citizen. He was elected to the Iowa State Senate in 1992 by a relatively slim margin. Following election, he worked on legislation requiring companies who received state tax incentives to provide better pay and benefits. He helped pass a law for workers to receive health coverage when changing jobs, and helped re-design Iowa's Workforce Development Department. He also wrote a bill to have the State of Iowa assume a 50% share of local county mental health costs. On November 30, 2006, Vilsack became the second democrat (after Mike Gravel) to officially announce intentions to run for the presidency in 2008. Vilsack dropped out of the race on February 23, 2007 citing money issues.

· As governor of Iowa, he advocated for biofuels, agricultural biotechnology, conservation programs and stronger water quality standards.

· "He's been outspoken on the need for farm subsidy reform and an advocate for conservation programs, which is encouraging," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said.

· National Farmers Union President Tom Buis, once thought a contender for the post, said Vilsack is a "great choice" who would be "right on target" to advance a rural platform with more renewable energy development.

· Vilsack follows a recent line of former Midwestern governors at the Agriculture Department. Current Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer had once been governor of North Dakota. The previous Bush appointee, Mike Johanns, was formally governor of Nebraska. ###

Colby Marshall
Eastern Oregon Office Director
Congressman Greg Walden (OR-02)

12/17 R5 Engines:

Smokeater:

Actually in R5 we have been using 5 person engines since the 60's and 70's.
The Model 50 was staffed with 5 people (men back then) but we grunts had
to sit outside directly behind the cab. I have fond memories of being wet &
cold, huddled under a tarp during lightning bust fires or cooking hot and coved
with dust. The step up to the Model 51 was a huge improvement with all 5
firefighters in the cab. Both had slip on pump units with an auxiliary engine on
a flatbed truck. Those were the days.

Fish01

12/17 R5 Engines and Staffing:

R9 Capt,

I'm sure there is more accurate info available but I do know that during the
early/mid 70's all of the Southern Forest were staffed with high numbers of
firefighting resources.

Engines (model 60s and skid mount 51s ???) 5 persons 7 days/week
Fire Prevention Patrols (with AFPTs) one per station
Helicopter Modules, just about one per District
Hot Shot Crews, many more than we have now
A lot more AFMOs, Fuels Crews and Militia available

I don't believe that MEL even brought the numbers up to where they were
in the 70's. It's been a while but these figures are pretty accurate.

Yellow Angel

12/17 R5 Engines:

R9 Capt.

Your conclusions are off base by a little bit. R5 had been using 5 man engines
as far back as the late 80s, the model 60 and 61 both held 5 men. Now if you
had talked about MEL build up, that is when the work force grew.

Smokeater

12/17 Man charged in 2007 Boundary Waters wildfire commits suicide

www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=532558&catid=14

An attorney for a Washington D.C. man accused of starting a wildfire that burned 118 square miles in Minnesota and Canada last year says his client has committed suicide.

Mark Larsen said Tuesday that a relative of Stephen Posniak told him the 64-year-old Posniak died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Posniak was charged with allowing his campfire to burn out of control in May 2007. The fire spread in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Superior National Forest in Minnesota and into Ontario, destroying nearly 150 buildings worth more than $10 million.

Larsen says they felt Posniak, who pleaded not guilty last month, was overcharged in the case. The Minneapolis attorney says he spoke to Posniak on Monday and he was "acute in his thinking and quite pleasant over the phone."

fair use disclaimer

12/17 Merry Christmas:

Ken and I are sending you a very hardy Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
We don't have a snail mail address for most of you but Ken and I think of each of
you often and hope that you have the best of the Holidays.

Love,

Ken and Kathy

Our best to you and yours. Thanks for being who you are and joining us in your constant support of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and firefighters. Ab.

12/17 Here is a pretty comprehensive list of Obama's chosen ones.

More of the same Washington insiders, dosen't feel like change, does it?

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/12/17/1719481.aspx

DF

Any replies to DF's question, I'd be happy to pass them on to him/her. Ab.

12/17 Sorry to those who got offended by what I said, I did not mean any disrespect. After all we all want more money right. But you have to understand my point of view as a new employee to the F.S., when I see these veteran fire fighters after 20 years of service are now wanting more money,
It makes me wonder if I made the right decision coming to the F.S.?
What you need to under stand is that I came from a municipal department and I did not like the way I was treated so when you say that how am I going to feel when my I¢m standing next to my counterpart(who probably is going to be an ex-forest service employee) and they get better pay and benefits then me, well sir it won¢t matter, after all we decide were we want to be right?
And as far as the military getting better benefit then us, my cousin and 2 friends of mine died in the war and those benefit that they had don¢t mean JACK now do they! Noname
12/16 DES MOINES, Iowa -- Democratic sources say President-elect Barack Obama
has selected former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary and will
announce the appointment on Wednesday.

This wasn't one of the names I've heard batted around, and would be interested
in any commentary from the wildfire community on this one.

KSENGB
12/16 R5 Retention Report and R5 Engines

I finally read the R5 retention report and something really caught my eye. They said that the workforce nearly doubled from 1997 -2007. I assume they are looking at raw number and not the actual number of empty positions. Sure, there may be more individuals in R5 now, but let's not forget what has happened in the those years. R5 got rid of all their Model 42 trucks and went to the 62s. For a 7 day crew, it just went from 5 possible positions to 7. The big firehire push of the the early 00s. I know on my district, we added 2 T3 engines and 1 10 person "brush" crew. Did the writers of the report take into account the increased number of positions in R5 from 1997-2007.

That is the great thing about statistics. You can twist them to support whatever argument you prefer.

I am still trying to figure out their salary calculations. They just don't seem right to me after spending the beginning of my career in R5, but I will bite my tongue until I get something concrete and accurate.

R9 Captain

retention report (8 page pdf file from April; Hotlist thread)

12/16 WFF Donation:

Whoooo hoooo!

My family won the silent auction for the fire art donation to the Foundation. Thanks to all those who organize WFF fundraisers and inspire the Public to organize WFF fundraisers. In this case, two artists saw how wildland firefighters were helping on the Iron Complex fires. The fires and firefighters inspired a terrific series of modified landscape and still life photos from one artist, Michael Harris; and watercolors of mountains rocks, trees, river and Ironside Lookout from the other artist, Ken Jarvela. Their show on display at Umpqua Bank during Arts! Arcata was entitled "Season of Fire". The show was managed by Meridian Fine Art (website and images).

How did Michael and Ken find the Foundation? I wish I could take credit, but they started asking around. They finally contacted the Humboldt Area Foundation who recommended the WFF. I like it that the WFF has such a great reputation!

No doubt more of these images and smaller images are for sale, even other copies of the piece we won on silent auction (the one showing the mountains in smoke, Ziegler and Ironside Fires orange burn and the thread of the Trinity River from Ironside Lookout). The other silent auction art donation to WFF was Ken's watercolor of Ironside Lookout.

Thanks to the artists Michael Harris and Ken Jarvela, to Umpqua Bank and to Joseph at Meridian Art for supporting our wildland firefighters. You do nice work, artists!

Mellie

12/16 Ab,

In partnership with NIFC, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation will be placing a Wreath at the Monument on Wednesday Dec. 17 th at 11:00 am in memory of those who have gone before us…. This new tradition came through Steve Ellis, who lost his beautiful daughter Jessica in Baghdad May 11th, 2008. Until she went to serve in Iraq, she was a Wildland firefighter.

We have another tradition that was started in 2005. The Santa Helpers fund was set up by the mother of Shane Heath whom we lost on the Cramer Fire. The Santa Helpers fund was set up to help families whose firefighter didn’t return home for the holidays. We have 22 new kids to add to the list this year. We still need some Santa’s Helper so please go to www.wffoundation.org and help the old man get down the chimney.

Many Thanks, to all who have been so generous with their time and resources.

From Mrs Claus and her Elves at the Foundation

Become an honorary Elf. Help Mrs Claus and the WFF help our kids. Ab.

12/16 From TS:

Firefighters dismissed early
www.pe.com/reports

CAL FIRE: The state agency lets go of 158 seasonal workers in
Riverside and San Bernardino counties to save money.

12/15 Sec. of Interior:

Well, Sen. Salazar isn't a bad choice either. He's been involved as a member
with the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee in understand Agency
preparedness, or lack thereof, the 401 issue etc.

Hopefully Rep. Thompson will come away with something.

Casey
12/15 From NP:

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will nominate Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado, who once practiced as an environmental lawyer, to be his interior secretary, a senior Democrat said on Monday.

Sen. Salazar Statement on Southeastern Colorado Wildfires

DENVER, CO – Today, United States Senator Ken Salazar released the following statement regarding the Bridger Fire, which has consumed nearly 42,000 acres on the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, private lands and the Comanche National Grasslands. This fire is located approximately 25 miles south of La Junta, Colorado.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the many brave men and women who have poured in from across the state to help beat back the flames. The blaze has consumed countless acres of prairie and grassland, and these men and women are working heroically to protect the region’s population centers, ranches, and cultural and historic sites.”

“I will continue to monitor the situation, and will do all I can to help ensure that those on the front lines of defense have the resources they need to succeed.”

12/15 Ab,

The Denver media is reporting that Sen. Ken Salazar will be nominated as Secretary
of Interior. Last year he signed on as co-sponsor to the Wildland Fire Safety and
Transparency Act of 2007.

Sen. Salazar and his staff were supportive of our efforts to restore funding to the
Rural Fire Assistance program that NIFC has repeatedly tried to axe.

vfd cap'n
12/15 Re Mike Thompson for Sec of Interior:

Hola: Mike Thompson is a stand up guy. He is my congressman and he has wide support from both parties. He is Viet Nam vet. I met him at a multiple highway fatality accident. He was one of the first on scene and was very calm after what he had witnessed and participated in. He would make a very good Secretary of the Interior.

Lefthook aka Chuukguy

12/14 Investigations checklist

In response to noname's question about the vetting of the Investigations check-list on 12/9 (Employees Rights and Responsibilities in Administrative Investigative Interviews), it was not vetted with the folks you mentioned. In addition to Forest Service HR, it was reviewed by USDA OGC.

And to "Never Forget," I'm sorry, but yours is a broad question and I'm not sure what you're after. There are a multitude of groups that missed out on the 10% bonus. My reaction? The bonus is not the biggest issue in addressing retention -- and rather than worrying about exactly where they decided to draw this line this time (an issue that neither NFFE nor FWFSA has the power to change), I am putting my efforts toward other issues, among them protecting witness statements in safety investigations (12/5 post of Ron Thatcher's open letter to the Chief) and working on the classification issue.

Anyone who's a bargaining unit employee and wants to wade into this or any of a number of other battles can join up and step up. See www.nffe-fsc.org/ for how to join -- or better yet track down a Local official. Members who are elected or appointed to perform representational work on behalf of the union are paid their normal wage for the time they do so.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

12/14 FireBill,

I would love to take this time to tell you and all of the fire crews about the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation's Crew T-Shirt Program. To learn more
about the program please go to the Foundation's website:
www.wffoundation.org/crewtshirts.php,
or feel free to send me an email with any questions, and I will get right back
to you: crewtshirts@wffoundation.org.

Thanks, JS
12/14 Dear Ab & All:

Sorry about the chat last night. I got booted 3 times in about 10 minutes as did
others so maybe we can try again in a few nights.

Just let me know and I'll be there.

Casey

Haw Haw, I got "booted or banned" as well. I think there were so many of us that it choked! After the second time, I took it as a message to hang out with my family decorating for the season. Turned off the computer, hit the spiced cider and went to bed early. We had huge storms in norcal, hail and all overnight. Exciting. Hope you're surviving in the snow. Be safe all. Ab.

12/14 post 12/12 - seeking info on medic and firefighter quals/certs:

Check out Frontline Medical out of Graeagle CA, if you're out in R5 or R6, excellent company, they handle all kinds of disasters as well as fire... send an email to DJ at the site.  The problem I see in combining Fire/EMS in the federal agencies is that we have no Med Control... you pretty much have to pick one or the other which is why I chose to remain a EMT-B and not go for Paramedic... but I did get my Wilderness EMT which is excellent for what we do out in the wilderness.

Hope this helps, and feel free to contact me through Ab if I can be of any more assistance..

Hayduke75...R5

12/14 Always Remember Iron44:

Ab,

The Iron 44 Tribute DVD arrived at my office this week, and as I watched it last night, I was once again reminded of all the wild land fire fighters who have died in the 25 years that I have been a part of the fire fighting community.

As we enter the Christmas season let's all take a moment to reflect, and to send our thoughts and prayers out for all the co-workers, families, and friends, of those who have passed away while fighting fire.

My heart goes out to all of you, you are in my thoughts and prayers, particularly to those of the Iron 44.

Sincerely,

Kellie Carlsen
Lakeview, OR

Nicely put. Ab.

12/13 Brothers & Sisters,

I'm looking for some artwork with crossed shovel & pulaski so my t-shirt
guy can get started on my crew's 2009 gear.

Ab, please forward my address to anyone who can help.

Thanks All,

FireBill

12/13 Retention:

Thanks Casey. Appreciate you adding those questions to your letter or in your phone call discussions with agency leaders. Also remind them that we are not going to allow them to stall though the winter and spring and come out with another "update" just before fire season 09. They have no excuse to not be done by Feb 1, 09. If they need additional resources to work on this, many hard working, very experienced employees with strong backgrounds on these subjects are a phone cal away.

I do worry about this power base outside of R-5 working the hallways in Boise and the WO with whispers and innuendo to try and submarine Moore's decision. We will not allow those opposed to Moore's decision to succeed in bringing down PTP and pay increases.

50 Days until Feb 1 - Our Implementation Date

Letterman

12/13 Re: GS-5 through GS-8 Retention Incentive

I agree with many of the comments that it is a great first step, but far more work is needed real soon and highly focused.

What is misunderstood by many in regards to losses at the GS-9 through GS-13 levels is that each individual loss of leadership at these grades equals a synergistic loss at the lower levels and mission effectiveness and efficiency.

Towers (agencies) often collapse from the top (leadership) levels as structural integrity fails. With the recent IFPM Direction, WE ARE RIGHTLY BACK at square one post South Canyon requiring GS-13 and above to be "professionals" and many positions below that to be qualified in the biological sciences.......... Root issue.... wildland firefighter classification and advancement into senior leadership (GS-13, GS-14, GS-15, SES, ES).

If a leader at the GS-12 (Deputy Chief) leaves, a corresponding number of GS-11 (Division Chiefs) and GS-9 (Battalion Chiefs) leave.

If a leader at the GS-11 (Division Chief) leaves, a corresponding number of GS-9 (Battalion Chiefs) and GS-8 (Engine Captains) leave.

If a leader at the GS-9 (Battalion Chief) leaves, a corresponding number of GS-8 (Captains) and GS-7 (Engineers) leave.

If a leader at the GS-8 (Captain) leaves, a corresponding number of GS-7 (Engineers) and GS-6 (Asst. Engineers) leave.

When you get to this level of dysfunction as the Agencies are currently at, they become a self supporting "puppy mill" not able to provide "top dogs" or "leaders" at any level to support their agency survival or their mission.

Noname
12/13 Re: Recruitment and Retention

To build upon what Casey Judd (FWFSA Business Manager and Chief Advocate) said, it is important to fully recognize that the FWFSA is a national employee association advocating legislative changes and communication to improve the pay, benefits, and working conditions for all federal wildland firefighters.... regardless of agency.

With members in 27 states, we don't fall for the argument anymore that this is only a California problem as many have suggested in the past. In all reality, the issues that the FWFSA focuses on have been long standing issues within the wildland fire program, that for some reason, never were factually addressed nor followed up upon to ensure resolution.

The FWFSA is very active behind the scenes, and also in the forefront of many issues that affect the federal wildland fire community. Membership ranges from GS-2 through GS-14.... temporary and permanent.... active and retired... firefighter and non-firefighter.........big city, and the smallest towns.

The FWFSA originated from the losses of 1987.... By folks who came together to make sure those issues were finally addressed.... and to ensure future issues wouldn't be swept under the table. The original group came together as The Gang of Twelve in 1991... it was the beginning of the FWFSA as we know it today.

I found it interesting that the R-5 Regional Forester addressed "medical aids" in his briefing paper as something needing corrective action, much like the debate over compensated meal breaks "should be the exception and not the norm".......I've got to wonder why...... ??? Does he not know our history??? The reasons???

Hopefully, someone will return Medical First Responder to the Apprentice Curriculum..... It had roots and reasons that it was there.... firmly rooted in the losses of the 1987 fire season that many folks remember. Hopefully also, wildland fire units will be equipped to treat their own.

Everything that the FWFSA strives for is deeply rooted in lessons learned from the past and has a goal. We advocate for better pay, benefits, and working conditions to honor those that have served before us... to remember those lost in service to our communities and wildlands..... and to hopefully guide the path forward that will continue the wildland fire profession into the future.

Keep safe and those around you safer. In membership comes strength.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Acting Vice President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
12/13 Charities:

With the current downturn in the economy and the holiday season on us we are going to see an increase in the requests for us to give to different charities. I hope that we will all give what we feel we can but PLEASE before you give to any charity spend a little time researching it. I got a solicitation the other day from an organization claiming to help support structural firefighters through the purchase and donation of equipment, a bit of research indicates that over 98% of the funds raised are spent on fund raising and "overhead" costs.

I know that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation works real hard to keep their costs as low as possible and to make sure that your donations get to the folks that need them. That is not the case with a number of charities. As always be aware!!

SWID

12/13 FS organization:

GISgirl

You say "get back into supporting the fire mission (in the meantime NEPA it is) and find my niche again."

I would like to share with you something a coworker named "Cutter" from up Houghton way once told me. The nose is connected to the face that's connected to the head... and its all one piece.

NEPA is a required component of most any federal land management decision. Decision such as Forest Plan's, or Comprehensive Conservation Plan that determine how fire will be managed to meet the Agencies mission. Its needed for the Fire Management Plan, its needed for fuels treatments, its needed for any fire use plan its needed for any project that uses fire (wildlife burning, range burning, site prep burning). So with out NEPA and all the ancillary disciplines needed to complete the documentation the only fire management action left to the agency would be full on suppression. And suppression is only one facet of a comprehensive Federal Wildland Fire Management program just like prescribe fire is only one part of the whole.

So you will be doing your part. And I'm sure that once the local fire folks find out they have a fire savvy GIS person in their mitts they will get you out on the ground. Or at least to the Planning Section.

Hopelessly Midwestern

12/13 Retention Bonus and Donations:

If and when I receive my HUSH MONEY I am going to donate to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Its at least a cause no one should argue with. Then donate some more to the FWFSA to keep up the fight (professional series). I truly believe that the only way to get a professional series is to get out of the technician series. Why do you think they want us as Forestry Technicians? Research it.

"Keep up the good work" to the folks out there fighting for us. If most of you would stop wasting time arguing and whining on "They Said" and spend the same amount of time writing your Congressmen and Senators and educating them about these issues then I could see more professional courtesy on this site.

Write President Elect Obama and tell him you want Mike Dietrich or Rocky Opliger as the new FEMA Director. HA!

Think outside the box, fight em with their own money because with the way things are going in the country, you probably won't get anything else. We are getting a new Administration.

oldbdfcap

12/13 site relating to fire safety, mostly structural:

To Whom It May Concern:

This site doesn't cover everything about fire safety, but it does have a lot
of good tips about staying safe.  You may want to link to it as a resource
for others. Everybody needs to know this kind of information.

www.safetyresource.org/firesafety.phpl

Best regards,

Kerry

12/13 re: post 12/12 - seeking info on medic and firefighter quals/certs

I don’t know what part of the country you are from but there is a
company in R-3 that provides Paramedics to fires: Wilderness Medic.
I have also seen them around the country on campaign fires and
FEMA projects.

Rimfire

12/12 Cabinet:

Casey, Mike Thompson for Dept of Interior would indeed be fine.
I don't know the AZ Rep. Raul Grijalva.

Mellie

12/12 Retention and FWFSA:

I appreciate all the kind words, but I am not the FWFSA. The members in 27 states and the Board of Directors is what makes the FWFSA run... I am just the lucky one who gets to drive and steer it.

No one at the FWFSA is asking anyone to be content with the current proposal. However, I hope folks put it in context within the overall goal(s) of major reforms for all of you.

If you have been in the business just a few years and think a 10% bonus is insignificant, or for that matter any of the proposal, I'd chat with one of your colleagues who has been around for a couple of decades, especially an FWFSA charter member from 1991 and ask what they think about the proposal.

Many thought they'd never see this day... even if it is just a modest start. So now we build on this. In the coming weeks I'll be reaching out to all Regional Foresters and leaders within the DOI to familiarize them with what we are trying to accomplish.

Additionally within a week or so I'll amend our legislative proposal to include such items as increased buy-back time for those who worked on a temporary basis; hazard pay for prescribed burns; eligibility for FEGLI for temporary firefighters and basic health coverage for them as well. I have already booked the entire first week of March to be in DC so unfortunately, will miss the off again-on again R5 Chief officer conference but that will be a crucial trip.

As I've mentioned I'll try and seek additional details about the plan. I will say that even Sen. Feinstein's office is trying to get answers on what the rest of the $25 million is being spent for.

On an unrelated note, it appears that DOI has no intention of changing its position on using 401 for fire management positions like the USDA OIG has suggested the Forest Service do. However, if the FS does in fact follow the recommendations of the OIG and seek a new series from OPM, we think there would then be sufficient Congressional pressure for DOI to do the same.

Currently the Obama transition team is looking at either Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) or Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) for Interior Secretary. I can tell you that Thompson would be a coup for federal wildland firefighters given our work with him over the years.

Again, as soon as we get some details we'll get them out. Hopefully the R5 Regional Office will beat us to it.

Again for those of you on the Cleveland NF, Congressman Bob Filner and I will be at the Descanso station next Thursday the 18th, scheduled for 11:30am.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

12/12
Retention:

The retention issues we have been discussing over the past few days, in my mind, (in a small way) must be on some level with what the old-school labor unions were dealing with in the early part of the century.  The employees had legitimate concerns, and through representation had those issues listened to by management.  This is not far off what we are dealing with (with one glaring difference, we do not have the right to strike).

 
Let me reiterate the issues:
#1- Comparable pay for comparable work
#2- Portal To Portal compensation, for time we are committed to the agency mission away from our families
#3- Recognition of the work we perform through proper classification
 
I feel we have, through representation (FWFSA), had our issues listened to and management has given us an offer, just like what happens in any labor dispute.  Their offer is a ONE TIME 10% bonus (to appease us and calm us down) and a promise to "explore" a permanent pay raise (will the 3's, 4's & 9's be included in the raise?  then why not the bonus?).  In my opinion this is simply not enough.  
 
I too will attempt to refuse my bonus as a personal protest.
 
Casey- I thank you for the work you have done (I wish I could buy you a Guinness).  I know you will not let this stand where they have left it.  Keep fighting the good fight. 
 
Q- Who do I Thank??
A- Casey Judd
12/12 Reply to someone that doesn't like posting on retention:

from pyrotek:

First of all, I’ve worked for the F.S. for 4 years (the first two as a GS-2) and I just want to say to all those from F.S. especially the ones from San Bernardino, you don’t have to be here! I mean there are other options to making more money.
I’m disgusted by this! What happen to all the people who did this for the love of fighting fire?
I remember when a got started as a volunteer.
Let’s just hope our soldiers fighting for our freedom don’t start complaining about the same thing.(which by the way don‘t get paid enough)
And if anyone wants to discuss this on a personal level feel free to contact me at pyrotek2958 @ yahoo.com

Not sure what you're getting at here.

I've been working for for the GOV. (BLM and FS) for over 20 years (the 1st two as a GS-2). And pal, with that attitude, you should be able to rocket right up to upper management! You are exactly what they are looking for in an employee. We are not K-9's that do it for the love of doing it, and for a kibble. We are employees that deserve to be compensated for the job that we do. Quite frankly, just like those that "choose" to enter the military service. It is, however, back-word logic to insinuate that just because one individual does "this for that" that we should all be happy with what we have. For instance, the person that sews you Nomex pants can't complain about their salary because, we could just send the business over to Singapore, and get it done in a sweat-shop. Don't like it, go somewhere else, right?

And the last time I checked, those in military service had a little better benefits than those GS-2's, etc. in the FS. Should GI's get paid better? absolutely. I really don't think anyone would deny that..... Well, except those that cut their checks...

It's a new world out there, Kid. There are plenty of times that we all have to buck up and take one for the team. But you, my friend; you scare me, quite frankly. That attitude of just doing your job, and liking it???? "Hey you! Go down hill, there....you know, in those light flashy fuels.. and line that spot fire there. If you don't want to do it, there are plenty of other jobs out there you can do."

Give it a few years. Seriously. When you (as a STL or DVS) are standing next to your counterpart (from a state or municipal agency), and you have 0 (no) health benefits, and a pathetic retirement package, and a "life" or "family" to take care of, write back.

Now, to answer your question. "Why don't I just go do something else?" Well, because I do like my job. I do have a "love for fighting fire". Enjoying your "job" doesn't pay the bills. It doesn't take care of your Autistic child, or your faithful Wife with terminal Cancer.

If you want to discuss this personally, AB's got my address.

Peace,
DRD

12/12 In the midst of this conversation on pay/time/morale/etc etc... I just wanted to say---
After nearly 3 years in the private public safety software sector after leaving a fed fire RO staffer job...

I'm moving to Denver CO and re-joining the agency from whence I came- and yeah it's a cut in pay, it's not perm, and I might not be allowed to go on fires this season due to scheduling BUT the idea of working with federal folks and FOR the government again and not as a vendor makes my face light up in a smile just thinking about it.

There are so many things that I have missed about agency life (I always worked agency from high school till real world up till 3 years ago) but the #1 thing was the people. I can not articulate clearly how much I have missed it and I am very happy to be headed back and hope that in time I can get back into being militia, get back into supporting the fire mission (in the meantime NEPA it is) and find my niche again. I am nervous about living outside of CA for the first time (I've heard there is this thing called snow) but this new year will start out with a fun change for me.

It maybe crazy, frustrating, etc but it is the greener side of the fence for me,

GISgirl

Congrats, GISgirl. Have fun, see ya around. The good thing about the internet is that distance doesn't matter. Ab.

12/12
Come to FireChat at wildlandfire.com with Casey Judd

2000 hours Saturday Dec 13, that's tomorrow night. It's 8PM Pacific Standard Time

The topic will revolve around retention, so those that are not interested can skip it.

One of the Abs will be there to moderate.

If anyone has not been to FireChat before and would like to see how it works, click the button in the header, register and come try it out. You can see who is in the chat room before you enter. If you're the first, wait and maybe someone will join you. Most times the FireChat is "open discussion". Tomorrow night it will have a topic focus: FS Firefighter Retention. Ab.

12/12 re: indirect costs and "admin" fees

Ab,

On 12/6, smokeater wrote:

"Bet their Dept tacked on the 15-20% for admin fees. .... Point the finger at who is to blame -- the Feds -- the small town Fire Depts are playing by the rules the Feds made up and we complain about it when they make a profit, who of us are not here to make a profit?"

Fire departments should not  participate in interagency wildland fire to make a profit.  Cooperators are not contractors.

My bet is that fire departments who are adding a percentage (or a flat $3 or $4 per firefighter hour) to their invoices are not following the rules.  The federal indirect cost rate approval process is too cumbersome for most small towns or fire districts to complete, www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a087/a087-all.phpl#atte

And, the big cities probably made the same mistake as the Rocky Mountain states, by not including firefighter services in their direct cost calculations.

My question is why is any federal finance office approving the payment of an "admin fee" without verifying the state or local government actually has an approved indirect cost agreement?

vfd cap'n

12/12 retention bonuses:

R5 Fire Fighter (FF)

I just read the briefing paper and this comes from the gut, which is next to my heart, with no 24 hour cool off before pushing the  send button, don't think I need it on this one.

Being a GS-08 I like part of the retention plan, but am going to try and refuse my 10% part of group retention for the following reasons:

  • It does not help us attract and retain entry level Fire Fighters, where folks either commute :45 plus or maintain two residences one the barracks, the other their apartment in town where they live once laid-off.

I feel the Pay plan should have included GS-02 thru GS-13.

  • The ordered standby, I say lets try it, test it, validate it, make recommendations and see where it might or might not work.
  • I could really use that 10%, but feel for the greater good I need to say "Hey what about our entry level and seasoned veterans!"
  • Those who have endured and continued the dialog to get us this far "Thank You!"
  • Those that are in the GS-09 plus level Brothers, Sisters hang in there 57 (mandatory USFS FF retirement age) will be there soon enough and we need your insight, ground experience, and leadership.

Signed:  Wildland Firefighter/Forestry Technician/Still Living the Dream

12/12 First of all, I’ve worked for the F.S. for 4 years (the first two as a GS-2) and I just want to say to all those from F.S. especially the ones from San Bernardino, you don’t have to be here! I mean there are other options to making more money.
I’m disgusted by this! What happen to all the people who did this for the love of fighting fire?
I remember when a got started as a volunteer.
Let’s just hope our soldiers fighting for our freedom don’t start complaining about the same thing.(which by the way don‘t get paid enough)
And if anyone wants to discuss this on a personal level feel free to contact me at pyrotek2958 @ yahoo.com

I'd also be happy to pass messages on. Remember to do this on your own time. Ab.

12/12 seeking info on medic and firefighter quals/certs:

I am a wildland firefighter of 6 years, recently I decided to go get my paramedic license. I have been surfing the internet for weeks now trying to find out information about combining my two professions, being a wildland firefighter/paramedic. There is very little information on the internet about this. My question to you is do you know anyone I could contact who would be able to help me out. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
RB

p.s. awesome pictures

Anyone willing to give some guidance here? Ab.

12/11 retention bonuses:

Letterman:

Obviously the FWFSA has a lot of questions about the "details" of the plan. The questions you raise are part of the letter I'm putting together to the RF which will be "CC"d to Senator Feinstein's office and the Regional NFFE representative so they all know where we're coming from.

Keep in mind as my previous post indicated, Mr. Moore has no obligation to communicate with the FWFSA as the Agency does with NFFE. I have tried to forge a respectable relationship with him as I have with Mr. Harbour and others in the hope they will understand that our objective is to work with the Agency to improve things for firefighters. I am grateful for the time and communication both of them have afforded us. Of course they also know if they don't want to work with us, they can give us the ball and get the heck out of the way.

We want to understand the methodology of the computation of the bonuses as well as their "version" of PTP. You are absolutely on point that knowing the timetables are critical to so many having to make difficult decisions about staying with the Agency or leaving.

Speaking of leaving, I received information today about Cal-Fire's cut backs in the San Diego area so the grass may not necessarily be greener with the State of California facing a $15 billion deficit...Heck maybe Arnie ought to ask for a bailout!

Anyway, I should have my letter emailed to the RF tomorrow. More to follow. Of course it is very possible that the Union or even firefighters may get the answers to these questions before us.

Casey

Arnie did ask for help almost as soon as the interest freeze-up occurred in mid-sept. Ab.

12/11 RE: Retention

I will starting my fourth season as an apprentice, my fifth season over all. I am a GS -4 Step 3, earning $28,341 a year. 10% of $28,341 is $2,834 divide that by 26 PP = $109 a Pay Period. I am currently a 13/13 employee so I will probably only see a little more than half that money for a grand total raise of $1,635 for the one year, and that's only If I get my GS-5.

No, I will NEVER come close to recouping my fuel cost for driving 180 miles one way to my station. BUT, it will cover the cost of barracks for the season (even though I have to make a mortgage payment every month durring summer for a house that I hardly sleep in). It will also cover the cost of my yearly dues to the FWFSA and to join the 52 club.

I know this is not even close to a cure all. There are still many problems facing the Federal Agencies across the US. I wish they had come up with a retention solution that affected everyone from a GS-2 to a GS-11 in every agency in every region, but I am very thankful for what I will get. Especialy in times like these.

To those of you that are complaining that its "only" 10% ... I sincerely hope you are a member of the FWFSA or you have NO room for complaint.

To Casey and everybody involved with the FWFSA I want to give you a BIG Thank You for all of your work. It does not go un-noticed.

- Hutch
12/11 LAC reaction to retention bonus discussion.

I worked with 3 excellent LACers this past summer for many days on end. Matter of fact, I think I saw them more of them more then I saw my wife this past summer. I had a chance to talk with them in depth regarding our departments, current situation with Fed Firefighters, mission, how fed fire is organized, what a Line Officer is, pay, etc. Each of them supported us. They also told me about the high regard they had for our fed managed fires not just for the money, but for the learning experience. They liked being on our teams to learn and experience how experienced and thorough (maybe to a fault sometimes) the feds are when it comes incident management (not just ops).

Supt 11, believe me no one more than me wishes we can stop talking about fed pay and retention issues. We are going through a very intense time right now, but it will pass. The day will come when we stop or significantly reduce the intense focus on these issues. However until that day we must fight and dammit we will move forward with this fight until it is resolved. wlf.com allows us to coordinate activities, organize, share ideas and read comments from even some of our fellow feds who disagree with us. All of this is part of our learning process. We would not be where we are today without this forum, period. I know of 3 LACers that would disagree with your comments.

Thanks ab's for your redesign update.

52 days until Feb 1, 2009

Letterman

12/11 retention:

B.Deyo there is a lot of complaining going on but that is how change comes. Squeeky Wheels are
ignored at the operator's peril.

Of course if you look at the LAC Wildland Firefighter history I would be very surprised if there is
not a lot of Green Blood in your gene pool.

So maybe you should be thankful that some of those old FS whiners left the Forest Service and went
to work for LA County, they probably brought a whole bunch of wildland fire expertise to your
department without which you would probably still be standing on the side of the road squirting
water out of a 2 1/2 inch hose in your turnouts and rubber boots.

Hotshot75

12/11 retention:

Sup 11, as someone who worked many years on the ANF and now wears blue
--nice cop out. I hope your big mouth doesn't ruin the relationship that L A
County has with the Forest Service. This bond was forged over many years,
fires, good times and bad. If you don't like it, don't read it. Otherwise, don't
let the door hit you on the way out.......

Former Green Soldier

12/11 retention:

LAC Sup. 11, I am set back at your comment on our retention problem. Yes there are a lot of issues, but retention is our issue and there are alot of people out there that are very supportive.

I have worked side by side with you and a lot of your co-workers and I thought I knew you. I guess I was wrong. Without our fire fighting force within and around LAC, all of our fires would be a lot larger. We stand together, side by side doing the same job; the only difference is our pay structure. I guess I wouldn't be complaining about that if I made what you make, but I don't. In addition, I'm in the later part of my career and I just can't start over in another department.

Those of us that are still hanging on and trying to make a difference want to leave something for our successors within our agency. It's clear this fight will not go away.

I guess if you don't like what is being said on They Said don't have to read it. But don't put us down for wanting more fair PAY for what we DO.

Signed, MS/Capt34...

12/11 retention bonuses:

One of the things FS folks are upset about is that some people, hard working Fire folks, are left out of any payment at all. The GS-3 and 4 folks can barely pay their bills in california, ans on the other end of the spectrum, some GS-8 employees will receive bonuses even though they bring home MORE than a GS-9.

Foe example, using the pay tables at www.opm.gov, , the 'Rest of US' table, which is the salary most of R5 outside of south Zone makes: a GS-9 step 1 makes 21.58 per hour base pay, and would receive NOTHING under the bonus retention plan, regardless of years experience or quals. But, someone who is a GS-8 step 5 makes 22.14 per hour, and will be receiving the bonus...and if they are a GS-8 with a higher step than that, even more of a bonus!

Where is the fairness in this? How will people want to promote if they know this?
the reports have been studied to death. The agency is losing experienced overhead at the GS-8 AND 9 AND 11 levels. ICT3's, DIVS, TFLD's are all leaving.

It's not a situation of "where's mine"? But a case of fairness...We are all field firefighters, give us all the same treatment, and the same pay incentives to want to stay!

GS-9 Battalion Chiefs in R5 have to take the WCT at the Arduous level, just like a GS-5....

And a permanent GS-4 lookout or Apprentice has rent, electric bills, etc. to pay just like the GS-5-8 folks....

Don't fall for the hype. This is NOT a Christmas present, (as it won't come until after that anyway), and remember, this will be spread out amongst your 26 pp checks, not a lump-sum...so it will be taxed as income every 2 weeks for all year......

And all the other items in the retention Plan still have to be "funded" or "worked out at the washington level'...Do you honestly believe these items will come out in the Firefighters favor, or the agencies favor?

Don't get me wrong here, I really appreciate all the hard work the FWFSA and others have put into all this, i just don't trust the Agency to implement it all in a fair and timely fashion without as someone else said, 'watering it all down'...

-Think about all this before you go out spending your "Christmas present"...

-heard it all before...
12/11 Retention:

Wow, Mr. Deyo, you may not like the way these posts are going, but don't speak for everyone, just speak for yourself.
Although there does seem to be a lot of unhappy posts, that doesn't mean we don't need this place of communication.

To all the people that are dissatisfied with your 10% raise, I'd just like to ask where you'd be without the work of the FWFSA??? You may not think 10% is much, but it is more than you were getting before and without the FWFSA, things would look very bleak. Plus, it is a start to bigger and better things. Finally, how many of you are still working? I will be laid off until March, be thankful you have a job.

Burn, sure, all those things were that way when you got hired, but do they have to remain the same? Are we ignorant to think that the way things were done in the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and early 2000's, might need to be revamped a bit? I like working for the Feds too, but the organization could use a facelift.

Quick Connect

12/11 Not fire, simply celebration:

Merry Christmas to The Ab's! from Lt.

The Snowdog - animated Flash ecard by Jacquie Lawson

12/11 Retention:

A little confused on all this, Ken and Casey. Land mines and legislation?

Marathon so be it, planning for the long haul, fine, carry on with your good work. We know we would not be where we are today w/o the big push in 2008 AND we will never seal the deal w/o the risk of a bigger push in '09. You bet times are tough, however they will get better and when the recovery happens, let's make sure we are part of it.

I think the most pressing questions today based on Moore's' brief:

1. The timeline for approval and implementation of hybrid PTP.
2. The timeline and authorities he is using for the pay increases.

So my question is, when is someone from FWFSA going to ask him those questions?

Thanks for all your excellent work.........

Letterman

12/11 Arson & Oyler Case:

Not good news but not the first time and Most Likely not the last time .
OLD PF

Idyllwild Town Crier Online

www.towncrier.com/stories/story.1.20081211.phpl

12/11 Fire Chat?

Letterman:

I'd be delighted to participate in a chat. Just let me know when & where.

Casey

12/11 Replies to negative comment generated by retention discussion:

B Deyo-

Are you serious? Theysaid has lost all value? Too whiney?
One question dude, how much do you make? Is your org
retaining its most experienced and qualified professionals?

Klamathman
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

B. Deyo,

We would be happy for you to move on, especially if you do not support the forward progression of Fed Wildland Fire... we do represent the majority posting here. We would be extremely supportive if you had issues you needed to hash out that were related to this wildland fire community. Sorry you are tired of listening to us, but sometimes this is the only voice we have that actually says what we feel and hope that someone high up will log on to get a true taste of the opinions of the field-going wildland firefighters.

-A
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

LAC Supt 11

Of course you would make a comment on our issues, you probably make over
$80,000 a year or more so your life style is pretty nice. <snip>

Hope you have a Merry Christmas

SouthZoneFF
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

and a few more... enough already...

AB NOTE:

As we redesign and restructure the wlf.com website this winter, no doubt we'll comment on and perhaps solicit suggestions on forum structure that lets people skip topics they are not interested in. (You might have noticed I have been putting the topic at the top of the posts so those not interested in retention and pay can skip them with the flick of their mouse.)

Non-fed readers and contributors, one thing to remember is that safety is not only the responsibility of the groundpounder, but is directly linked to the training and experience of the groundpounder, their supes and managers which means that SAFETY currently is ultimately under the control of federal line officers or state line officers that are not firefighters. Other "wildland firefighters" that participate interagency are fire departments that have wildland fire as a secondary responsibility to structure firefighting for the most part. For those that are primarily "wildland firefighters" the connection between FIREFIGHTER SAFETY and firefighter training, experience and RETENTION exists and is CRITICAL to the mission and vision of professional wildland firefighting. To bring organizational changes that maintain and improve firefighter safety requires the voice of groundpounders and overhead willing to participate in making change.

Bottom line, Readers, if you're not interested in the topic, skip the post. I have been clearly labeling posts by topic. In our new upcoming format, there may be divisions by thread and you'll be free to skip the threads you're not interested in. Ab.

12/11 Moonlight Fire:

I saw the comments regarding the moonlight fire and I would urge everyone to
remember this fire loved the night as it was named. It was not an easy fire and
I do believe every resource that could be had was on it, including the DC10.

I was on it with a contract transport and two cats. The first night we hauled
cal fire's cats due to them being so far from their transports. Nothing human
could stop it <snip> until it hit the antelope complex, then there was a chance.

Extreme fire behavior was the rule on moonlight.

jjb

12/11 Retention:

You need to rename "They Said" to the Forest Service Retention and Whine Site.
If they dont like it get in the right line I did.

You're "They Said" has lost any value to the wildland community at large. I've heard
enough of the retention and pay problems.

Let me know when you have any real use to other wildland firefighters and I'll visit
your site. Otherwise I'll look for somewhere else to get information from the REST
of the wildland world.

B Deyo
LAC Sup 11

All you "Forest Service whiners" out there that want to work for LAC, here's your contact person for "the right line". Haw Haw.

B, glad something stimulated you to contribute here. Do you have other wildland fire questions or info to share? What comes in gets posted... Start your own thread here or on the Discussion Hotlist. Of course, you're free to look elsewhere. For IA and EA fires and all sorts of Discussion topics, do check the Hotlist.

Ab.

12/11 Retention, PTP and a Wildland Firefighter series:

Ab,

I have been following the posts on retention, PTP and a Wildland Fire fighter series for some time now and thought I‘d add a comment or two. I’ve been around a few years in this line of work and have noticed that what happens in R5 takes a few years to filter out to the other Regions, I remember working for a GS-7 Engine Captain on the San Berdo. (Great Captain was Eddie). I now see GS-8 Captains in R3 and other Regions. The point I make is that we all will benefit from what happens in Region 5. What my brothers and sisters in Region 5 need to remember is that not all units are set up like you are, there are Forests out there that did not have full time primary firefighters until the National Fire Plan was implemented in “01“-“02”; before that, they had folks crossed trained in other specialties who responded to fires when needed. Some of these firefighters did not qualify for 6C retirement when they applied for it. That does not make them any less a firefighter. We have to bring in these firefighters not disenfranchise them. Its going to take time and the loss of more skilled firefighters to other organizations before we start seeing a change. For those that choose to stay, we have a monumental task before us. The training of professional Wildland Firefighters to take our places and lead in the future.

I hope to see a Professional Wildland Firefighter series, pay and grade parity across the country, retention of skilled personnel in all regions, (yes, other areas have similar problems of cost of living, no crew quarters, no affordable housing), uniformed standards/policies across the country. Last I’d like to see an organization that I can be proud of, an organization that others look up to.

I know that I will most likely not see any of that, in what’s left of my career, that does not mean I wont work towards that in my own small way. I have made choices all thru my career and I live with that, we all make those some kinds of decisions. I choose to work with the young employees coming in, firefighters or not, I choose to support my coworkers at all levels and I choose to support the activities of the FWFSA.

Long and the short of this, do not give up and WE ALL are in these for the long haul!!

Don Svetich

12/11 Re: Briefing paper R5 from Randy Moore and Fire Chat?

My read on Item 4. Pay...
"...work with Agency leadership to explore a Washington-level proposal..."

Translation: We'll talk about whether it's a good idea for the Chief to ask for special authority (none exists now) to give R5 firefighters up to a 20% raise over an undetermined timeline.

Assumption on my part: This discussion isn't going to take place until the new administration is in place.
That means the Chief (or new Chief) will have to see if the President's proposed budget wants to include the added benefits...... if the WO even agrees it is a good idea.

Observation: Take into account the current economic situation. Can the Chief sell a 20% increase for a select group of employees in this climate?

I'm not advocating any position on this..... I just believe it is unlikely to occur as a proposal in any Presidential budget.
But..... if it is made part of the Congressional budget, I don't think the new President would veto it.

Hybrid PTP? I've no experience with it. Kenneth K. should be a good source of information.

OFG

Ab, Let us know if you set up a Fire Chat. I'll lurk.

Someone suggest some specific time and I'd be happy to post it here. Ab.

12/11 Retention and PTP:

Re: Never Forget Black Tuesdays Comments/Questions

Question: "What authority is Moore referencing in his letter to provide up to 20% pay raises? Please provide an internet link (if available) and brief write-up on how this will/could work."

Answer: Regarding the Regional Foresters letter, I am not sure and will not speak for him or for the Agency on how things are intended to be implemented or pursued. I am an elected volunteer in an employee service association who has been serving in this capacity for eleven years presenting issues and suggested fixes.

In terms of retention incentives and authorities, there is the immediate ability to apply individual retention incentives up to the 25% level, and group retention incentives up to the 10% level with "second level supervisory approval". For group retention allowances in excess of 10%, the approval must be submitted to OPM with approval from the Chief of the department (ie- Chief of the Forest Service or Undersecretary of Agriculture).

Federal Workforce Flexibility Act www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/2004/2004-22.asp and links below in my earlier post(s).

Question: "Hybrid PTP "ordered stand-by". Would like your opinion on this decision"

Answer: A land mine waiting for someone to step on it unless it is factually addressed before Congress as to the need in terms of fire preparedness, as well as the effects on recruitment and retention. Reference my earlier post. Ordered Standby is not portal-to-portal in any way until the "two-thirds rule" is addressed. See links in my earlier post.

I am pleased to see the discussion going on, and most pleased to see the actions of our Regional Forester in addressing nationwide issues.

I have to get this off my chest because it has been eating at me for two years after presenting it. It is one example of why there have been significant delays. One of the Senior Line Officers in Region 5 (a Forest Supervisor), while acting upon impulse for her "troops" and overall good intentions, was lead astray by fire managers and leaders beneath her. After nearly one year of the Forest Supervisor advocating a path, even though she (and they) was told several times it would take legislative action to happen, the Forest Supervisor had to correct course resulting in nearly a one year delay of addressing issues.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Acting Vice President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

12/10 About Retention:

First and foremost, after all the trips to DC, the hundreds of calls between myself and congressional staff, even calls from Senators and Congressman, dozens of press calls, pages and pages of testimony and position papers written and after all the years of work to simply establish a foundation for changing a massive bureaucracy's treatment of a segment of its employee base, I am disappointed at some of the posts criticizing this initial step in what truly is a significant departure from conventional thinking by the Forest Service.

I certainly am not the first to use this analogy but you can't finish a marathon without taking the first step. This is truly a marathon. For many of the younger folks, maybe the fact that the classification issue is literally a decades old issue is news to some yet now we have the RF of the largest, most complex Forest Service fire program in the country publicly stating a commitment to the creation of a wildland firefighter series. In fact it was just 10 months ago that I first discussed the idea of a series with the then new R5 RF at the Chief Officer's conference in Reno. He reiterated his support for a series during my July visit to meet with him in Vallejo.

None of these proposals were even in the minds of FS leadership just two years ago. While it is likely true that none of this would have been proposed without Senator Feinstein's well placed boot, the fact that the boot was placed at all is testament to a lot of hard work spanning years.

True, it's a fact that the RF has had certain authority for nearly 4 years thanks to the Workforce Flexibility Act to implement such "interim" measures as the 10% bonus. However changing the mind set of a huge bureaucracy whose leadership doesn't understand FIRE in the first place has literally required the proverbial act of congress.

There are many details that have not been included in the briefing paper and we hope to have some of those details soon such as the methodology of calculation of the bonus, when it will be paid and how etc. Please keep in mind that the RF has no obligation to communicate with the FWFSA... but he has and I hope he will continue to do so.

With respect to the other proposals that require further "this and that," I too am somewhat cynical of how long that would take the Agency to independently propose and make such changes, so the FWFSA is prepared to seek introduction of a comprehensive bill that will provide pay & benefit changes FOR ALL land management agency firefighters and others who support FIRE. Now that we have seen the briefing paper, we will technically amend our proposal and have it ready at the start of the next congressional session. We have been "shopping" the proposal to Congress and have already received commitments to introduce the bill.

We remain very disheartened as to the lack of attention towards firefighters in grades 9 & above. The Agency has lost a number of them, too. We will continue to reiterate to Congress that all grades need to be addressed. $25 million is far more than what it will cost for a 10% bonus for 5's through 8's. I hope we all learn where the rest of the money is going.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I hope those that have offered negative comments here will recognize there are many across the Nation in far more dire financial shape than you. Many have lost their jobs. In fact the largest employer in my small town is letting 2/3rds of its workforce go because of the economy... Merry Christmas... And let's not forget the federal wildland firefighters in other FS regions and Agencies. By the way, on that note, Senator Feinstein is keenly aware of the National issues and we truly believe this coming session of Congress will make a tremendous impact in recognizing all.

So rather than complain, be a positive part of our efforts to finish the marathon so that all federal wildland firefighters will finally be able to enjoy the pay, benefits and recognition for who they are and what they do that they have deserved for far too long.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
12/10 CalFire and Budget:

Nobody is talking about the looming budget disaster in California. Might those
lucrative CalFire contracts go by the wayside? Maybe the Feds won't have to
compete with the current state remuneration structure?

JR

12/10 Fire Chat?

Would FWFSA Leadership, Davis and others be up for an evening Q&A
wlf Fire Chat in the next couple days so we can all collectively come together,
learn more about the retention letter that came out yesterday, and discuss
the next steps? If so, let the ab's know so they can announce date and time.

Thanks for considering the request.

Letterman

12/10 Retention:

I love this tactic of trying to calm the masses. We complain about not hearing anything so what does the R.O. do? Just send out the SAME thing they have been sending, this time, just replace DRAFT with BRIEFING. I see nothing different in this memo from Mr. Moore from the one he sent several months ago. And of course, that same old line "This is going to take some time". None of the questions that arose from his last letter were ever answered, and we still have the same questions today with his so called BRIEFING memo.

Until I see ACTION, these memos mean nothing to me. You can only BS us to a point, then our BS meter is maxed out. I wonder if Mr. Moore ever thought about throwing a bone to demonstrate his commitment. (Hmmmm, maybe a Christmas Bonus?) And with the BRIEFING MEMO, how come the GS-9s are left out of that 10% pool? Last time I checked, we lost a lot of GS-9 Supts as well as GS-8 Captains to Cal Fire. Of course, why am I getting upset, this will never really happen.

I will give them this, they have been consistent, lying like there is no tomorrow.

Disgruntled Pickle

12/10

Retention:

"What Captain in their right mind would be willing to take a GS-9 position for less pay,
more workload, and more responsibilities?"

Dead on pickle. I'm in a great captain position at the present time and for the time being, I'm
going to stick around until I'm really tired of being a captain.

More work, more responsibility, less money?

I don't think so.

Signed,

Noname 51

12/10 Retention:

Today is the one year anniversary of the start of the Dec 10th retention meetings. Yesterday’s announcement from Moore tells me that the 4th floor was terribly afraid of another sustained email and phone call campaign from us. I know from talking with a few people that just the threats of us starting another email and phone call campaign on this date lead them to put out the announcement yesterday.

With the 4th floor releasing this in the face of another email campaign is a monumental accomplishment for each of you. Although personally frustrated by more delays in implementation, I am appreciative for the extra income for our hard working lower grade employees. I do also agree with Ken that much has been “redacted” or remove from the original discussions last year (past 2 years). The implementation of a hybrid PTP while on incidents for all employees (as stated in the letter) and up to 20% pay raises above Base and locality pay, will go a long way to solve pay problems.

To all FWFSA Leadership: Thank you. Thank you for fighting for us. You are true leaders. I am so proud to be in association with each and every one of you.

Casey, just like land managers today still talk about the leadership we saw a 100 years ago from the Teddy Roosevelts, the Muir's, Pinchot's of this world. Wildland Firefighters a 100 years from now will still be talking about you and how your leadership forever changed the lives of Wildland Firefighters. You forever more, are one of us.

To all non-R-5 Forest Service Firefighters and Interior Firefighters; I know I am not alone in my belief that we in R-5 will never let up in our fight for a fair wage for all Wildland Firefighters. We see no borders, we all wear the same yellow and green uniforms. Your agency or unit will begin to respond when you and your counterparts start leaving for R-5 jobs.

No way would we be in the verge of a PTP hybrid and increased pay without 3 things:

1. FWFSA (Join Today)
2. wildlandfire.com
3. Your emails, your phone calls, your voices, your dedication.

I say thank you to the politicians that listened, Randy Moore, Ed and other RO and WO FFAM Officials. May you and yours, including your PAOs have some much deserved time off this holiday seasons. You did the right thing and we encourage broadening your communications with us and our Association. Come visit us at our stations. We welcome you all. We look forward with much anticipation and expect a Feb 1, 2009 final (not an update) on our PTP and pay increases. We expect that our PTP will not be watered down and will be implemented for all R-5 fire and non-fire employees on all incidents. We are watching this VERY closely. We will help you provide the data after 3 years that will show a savings as more R-5 firefighters and militia begin to fill ICS positions, reducing our dependency on higher cost local governments. However, if a final is not offered on Feb 1, 2009, on Feb 2, 2009 we begin anew, a sustained email and phone call campaign to a level never seen before, a full court press on for a full accounting of the 25 million dollars and the immediate release of the implementation process for our pay increases and PTP. DO NOT DARE TO WATER DOWN YOUR PROMISES YOU MADE YESTERDAY! We encourage you to call the on the experts within this forum, people with expertise like the Lobotomy’s and the OFG’s to work on this with you to ensure completion by Feb 1, 2009.

I have 3 questions for Ken , OFG and Mark Davis. However if anyone knows the answer, please share your thoughts:

To Ken and/or OFG – What authority is Moore referencing in his letter to provide up to 20% pay raises? Please provide an internet link (if available) and brief write-up on how this will/could work.

To Ken and OFG – Hybrid PTP “ordered stand-by”. Would like your opinion on this decision. Ken, I choose not to ask my Line Officer or my Forest Chief how this will work. I am asking my Acting Vice President to tell us how this will/could look when implemented in the next couple months.

To Mark Davis – How do you feel about the splitting of your Fire Bargaining Unit.? Employees at the GS-2, 3, 4, 9 and 11 levels who were not included in the retention bonus? What are your reactions and action (if any)?

Our words, one year ago……………
By the end (meeting), the group expects to have a fat package of recommendations to make. That will go first to the RO for review. It's thought the RO will support whatever the group recommends and pass it on up to Tom Harbour (FAM Chief) and Abigail Kimbell (FS Chief) who will forward it on to Mark Rey. - Alias

For cryin' out loud how difficult would it be to simply change the terms "Range Technician" and "Forestry Technician" to "wildland firefighter" followed by the specific position i.e. firefighter, engineer, captain, B/C etc. – From our Leader Casey Judd

The person occupying the Regional Fire Director position said this week on his Monday conference call he's been reading wlf.com. I found it interesting and potentially encouraging that he said that. I noticed looking at the WLF hit-o-meter that WLF gets a lot of hits from the DC area, so we need to stand strong, keep the chatter loud, support each other and support FWFSA. – Agent 86

The "Get Smart" angle is great. Thanks to all the folks with shoe phones! – From our Leader Casey Judd (chuckle).

Who will stay"? I will, for one. I am one DIVS, ICT3 that the government will continue to push around until I retire.- Staying

When Ed H spoke to the <snip> during our Leadership week, he stated that we do this for the "Sunsets and travel". I was on the fence til that point! Ed showed me he doesn't care about classification, thus my application to CDF. Those Mare Island sunsets look nice when you're a GS-15 making 142k a year, that's $11,833 per month. I know at least a dozen people who would of got up and walked out if he would of offered them the sunset and travel pep talk..- Stand Strong

Rated least important – Wildland Firefighter job Series. Rated most important – Cost of living and pay/wages - Wildlandfire.com survey

To paraphrase a saying from the Chief of the Phoenix Fire Department, "We are 100 years of tradition unencumbered by progress". The world is changing, I'm hoping Forest Service Fire Management can change with it. – Div 5

You simply can't expect to be paid, nor receive the benefits and working conditions of a firefighter or wildland firefighter unless proper classification becomes step number one. You also can't understand the importance of proper classification unless you have been actively involved as an FWFSA member. – KK (I hope your right Ken, we believe)

A day without federal fire fighters in the interface ? Sounds like a title for
a movie. Has the writers strike been settled yet? - Oliver

President Elect Obama – Dec 14, 2007 – 20 points behind Clinton in national polls. – Gallup tracking

My dept loves to hire from the green team – Former Green Soldier

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." Peter F. Drucker

"May the decision makers in the meeting have the courage to stand up for what's right and not accept anyone saying; 'It can't be done' or 'We can't afford that' unless they can back it up with good staff work." ms

got my 2008 (wildlandfire) calendars in the mail.- AL

I must say, I really miss Don Studebaker sometimes. – Mellie

Amen to that Mellie…………..

Never Forget BLACK  TUESDAY – April 1, 2008
The day they Lied from Coast to Coast.

53 days until February 1, 2009

PS – One more reminder - MOORE, DO NOT WATER DOWN THE PROMISES YOU MADE ON DEC 9, 2008.

12/10 Fed Academy:

As we near the 2009 Academy season we have two separate opportunities for anyone interested in training. First, we are soliciting interest in the three permanent positions for the Forest Service here at McClellan. That would be: one GS--7 Admin Assistant; one GS-9 Assistant Coordinator; and one GS-11 Regional Coordinator. Contact Willie Thompson at 707-562-8927 or Scott Whitmire at 916-717-6615. Both can be reached via e-mail.

We also have a need for one S-290 cadre (Feb. 23-27); three S-270 cadres (Jan. 28-30; Feb. 18-20; Feb. 25-27)

Please contact Scott Whitmire if interested. Thank you.

12/10 Retention Bonus:

I think some of you forget that other people in just as expensive regions read this board. As one person in the cache said today " One small step for wildland fire, one giant wedge between R5 and the rest of us". Honestly, we are all glad that R5 is stepping up and paying Forestry Technicians what they deserve. I guess my managers think less of me. If anyone thinks your bonus won't make a difference, donate it to the WFF, they can put it to good use.

Quick question: When my crew and I come to California, will we be paid this "Portal to Portal" or is it just for R5 employees?

Signed,
The forgotten ones

12/10 Meal breaks and... Retention:

Hi Folks,

Re: Meal breaks

When I was working on an engine, I got some awesome advice from my Captain. Regardless of the rules & all that, taking this advice has made my job easy on me (my stomach) & still allowed me to be flexible, effective and ready to do the job that the public pays me to do - right when it needs to be done and wherever it needs to be done.
"Bring a lunch" ;) Thanks Shekell, you were always good to me & always got us home. HAVE A GREAT RETIREMENT & Thank you for never letting us loose our perspective.

Re: Retention

Thank you FWFSA! Keep swinging!

Grateful.......Bravo!

Happy Holidays everyone! It is so nice to be home!!! But, sadly there are a lot of families that will have someone special missing . Remember them & Remember their families. The Foundation's Santas Helper program is a really nice way to help if you can.

Take Care,
Molly

12/10 Retention:

Well, about this 10% bone-us that has been tossed out…

It’s just that. I am going to hope that my humble FWFSA dues will help in a small way to continue the fight and make the rest of the things they are analyzing more than just words.. Myself, I am a GS-9 who is going to retire soon, so none of it helps me anyway, but I am hoping that more folks get on with the FWFSA and let ‘em know at the Top that it is getting hard for a lot of vital people to walk on the rug because of all the things that have gotten swept under it.

On the other hand….some folks in some places are glad to have their humble jobs on the green trucks, very glad. I know for some of them, hearing complaints about the 10% bonus is like being a poor kid listen to a rich kid complain that they are not quite satisfied with their thousand-dollar Christmas present. When I was a kid growing up in the Far West, they used to say California was going to break off and fall into the Pacific Ocean. Take your Christmas present, and keep fighting.

Green and Happy

12/10 Negativity about Retention:

Wow, what an incredibly insightful post in a storm of negativity on TheySaid these days.

I personally am thankful that I am working for the Federal Government in a time when my neighbors are getting laid off with no hope of finding a job anytime soon, home values and retirement are plummeting and the job market in general is bleak. If you really can't stand it that much why don't you just leave R5 or leave altogether and find another job? It seems there is no amount of money or no possible solution to make some people happy.

R5 is the only region to get this $25 million dollar retention bonus yet you don't see a whole lot of people in other regions posting on TheySaid saying "Where is Mine!?!" What I do see are people getting handed a bunch of money saying that it isn't enough and complaining about it as if they are entitled to the money somehow.

Frankly you aren't the only place in the country where it is hard to get by as a GS 5/6/7. And you aren't the only place in the country that has retention issues.

I knew what I was getting into when I took my position, how much I was going to get paid, how much overtime I need to work to get by and how much I can expect to get paid as I move up. I knew I wasn't classified as a "Wildland Firefighter." I knew I was working for an bureaucracy in which things happen very very slowly.

I knew I was becoming a servant to the public, subject to the whims of the voting population and their representatives.

I didn't walk into this blind; and if I ever get to the point where it isn't paying the bills or I don't like doing it anymore I have left myself avenues of escape to higher paying work.

All that aside, you might see the current job market begin to affect retention more than a $25 million region wide retention bonus.

-burn

12/10 Retention:

"and we just got a raise."

Really? You think you just got a raise? seriously?

You are getting a ONE-TIME payment, with taxes taken out, Then spread
over 26 Pay periods in the Fiscal year.

I hardly call this a raise. This will be one or 2 hundred bucks a check at the
GS-8 level, a lot less at the lower levels...

wow, it doesnt take much to make you happy.....

-sick of all the ...

12/10 Retention:

I’m glad to see that the regional office in Region 5 is finally starting to address the issues that we on the ground have been talking about for some time. However, without any true dates of when these so called action items will be acted upon, well, to me it’s the preverbal carrot in front of the horse, once again. I believe that the plan should have included dates of when they plan on trying out their version of portal-to-portal, when they plan on converting GS-5 and GS-6 to full time (26-0), and when do they expect to start facility maintenance and have it completed by? I bet if those of us turned the tables and said, “ I’m looking at a plan on doing my Aglearn, but have no date” , that would fly like a lead balloon.

The 10% raise for GS-5 thru GS-8 is a step in the right direction. However, I believe that they missed some important GS grades. The GS-3 and 4 as well as the GS-9. The apprentices are the people who really struggle to make ends meet and that is where I see most of the exodus. They finish their academies and are waiting to complete their work process hours before converting. That’s when other agencies tend to hire them, after all of their academy training is complete. Bad for the agency, great for the cooperators.

The GS-9 has more workload than others and really is the glue that holds the Fire Management program together. The position without question has more responsibilities. They did nothing for them. In fact, the region could be creating another problem. What Captain in their right mind would be willing to take a GS-9 position for less pay, more workload, and more responsibilities? If they had included them, it would serve to bridge the gap between the GS-9 and GS-11 in terms of pay. If the plan stays as is, good luck on filling future BC positions.

Sign me in as,

Just another pickle in the pickle jar

12/10 Wildland Fire Investigations:

Employees Rights and Responsibilities in Administrative Investigative Interviews

Mark,

That looks like a great checklist, but got to wondering if it had been reviewed by subject matter experts outside the Forest Service such as Debra Roth (from Shaw, Bransford, Veilleux and Roth) or Tony Vergnetti from Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS) ?

You said, "There is currently some disagreement about when it must be used; however, I would recommend that anyone in a situation where they are being interviewed should take it in with them and try to use it."

The advice on Weingarten Rights of union representation is spot on for BUEs, but I'd like to know if the rest of it stands up as a useful tool.

Thanks

Noname

12/10 Retention:

SouthzoneFF,

Here are some of the informational documents provided to the RLT and Regional Forester for consideration for all wildland fire positions:

Group Retention Incentives: The Basics

Group Retention Incentives: Questions & Answers

"An agency must establish a single retention incentive rate for each group of employees, expressed as a percentage of the employee's rate of basic pay, not to exceed 10 percent. With OPM approval, this cap may be increased to 50 percent (based on a critical agency need) . (See 5 CFR 575.309(e).) See the Retention Incentives (likely to leave the Federal service) fact sheet for additional information on payment options and calculations. (Also, explanations of how to compute retention incentive installment payments may be found at 5 CFR 575.309(c) and in the Retention Incentive Payment and Termination Calculations guidance."

While the actions of the Regional Forester and the RLT were a great starting point and a sign of hope, I get a sinking gut feeling from many folks involved in all four retention areas. That feeling is that the majority of their work and research over the last two years (not the last 12 months) has been severely redacted and not properly addressed in potential scope and application of "new ideas" that would improve the recruitment of the highest qualified wildland firefighters, as well as the retention of our future fire management leaders.

In terms of the "hiring letter" that was supposed to come out today, it did. It decentralizes all "non-fire" and "non-line officer" hiring, but not any fire hiring and still defers fire hiring to the Regional Selection Team.

In terms of the consideration of "ordered standby" as a form of "portal-to-portal", ask your leaders how the current R-5 letter addresses the R-5 letter from a few months ago that offered a "hybrid form" of portal-to-portal that excludes sleep time. It is, and will continue to be a firefighter issue, the same battle until it is understood and won.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Acting Vice President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

12/9 Retention:

Wow.

The <snip>storm has already begun. Lots of complaining already, not a single
thank you. 'It doesn't cover my gas'. 'What about us?'. 'Its only for a year.' How
about the fact that we're in what could be a long and dark recession and people
are losing their jobs and homes left and right, and we just got a raise. Not a
huge one, but leadership is listening and doing what they can. What were you
expecting, a new Ferrari? Seriously people, read the news.

Grateful
R5

12/9 Retention:

Wait a second. Last update we had on this retention stuff was that the report was at
the WO for Chief approval. I think that last update was from Mr. Email himself (Pena).

Now it's going back to the WO again?

Why do I feel like I am watching a coast to coast tennis match while sitting center court?

What happened to the Computer/Admin person Mr. Email said the units will be hiring?

The document shows strong signs of a clear lack of leadership with no decision making
abilities. It also shows the 4th floor and the WO are playing pass around the hot potato.
My lord, I wouldn't let these people watch my dog over a weekend, let along entrust
them with the management of people and land.

Why do I feel they just wanted to get something out before our Dec 10th deadline.
Got lurkers?

Letterman

12/9 Retention:

Hey I was wondering something, What does all this retention stuff mean for
the rest of the federal wildland firefighters, like BLM, FWS, NPS, BIA?

Are we included in all this or is something only for the Forest Service?
I am a BLM firefighter in So Cal. We have been hit hard with retention too.

BLMguy

12/9 Retention:

Can anyone explain what the 10% group incentive would be? Am I getting a
10% one time incentive or they going to figure a % from the GS 5 thru 8 level.
Please explain further.

SouthZoneFF

12/9 Retention:

10% for a GS-6 doesn't even cover gas expenses for the pay period.

Who do I thank??

12/9 retention briefs:

So a GS-8/5 gets a 10% bonus, but a GS-9 at less base pay gets nothing... and the region has to study it more for any additional pay measures.... and portal to portal needs to be studied more then funded before implementing... as does the separate series....

How will this keep any DIVS or ICT3 folks in the Agency, as most of them are GS-9 or 11?

How long will we have to wait while they study facilities, p2p, and additional pay measures, like for the BC's who just received NOTHING from this but more workload?

How will this help pay THEIR bills?

How long will it take to study the new series and put it in place?

I had really good hopes for this retention plan. But to give only GS-5-thru GS-9 folks a one-time payment, minus taxes, just doesnt cut it. As soon as the payment is spent, they will be right back in the same boat. And this payment, after taxes, will only be at the most a few thousand...

The rest is just eyewash, and nothing will come of it. I'm sorry, but I'm sick and tired of it all....

-Really considering resigning my appointment after 26 years in R-5 Fire...

sign me,

-sick of all the bull

12/9 Retention:

Dear Ab and wildland firefighters:

A reality check about the retention documents:

Whether you want to admit it or not, these modest first steps towards a better, more rewarding wildland fire career with the Forest Service and hopefully in the not too distant future all land management agencies simply would not be taking place were it not for the FWFSA and many of its members.

We've seen that it has taken a year for these initial steps to be proposed and acted upon but that time period itself pales in comparison to the years and years the FWFSA has worked to build its credibility in Washington and elsewhere.

I know the economy sucks, but hopefully these first steps will encourage the naysayers that say the FWFSA hasn't done anything (by the way if you're not a member but you still use code 1121 on your time cards shame on you) and those sitting on the fence wanting a free ride, to use some of that bonus money to join the FWFSA to help bring the other issues to a successful conclusion.

Sign me,

Another Proud member of the FWFSA

12/9 Retention:

Ab,

Please post these documents which just came out on R5 retention efforts. Note
that proper classification, an issue which FWFSA and NFFE have been fighting
in our own ways is part of the plan. I'll let the rest of the documents speak for
themselves.

FS_081209_RetentionCover.doc
FS_081209_RetentionBrief.doc

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

12/9 Paid meals:

Before anyone gets too excited about demanding paid lunch times......let's try reading the entire document.
Bold indicates selective reading of points to argue for pay. Underlined helps understand the issue in its entirety.

Suggestion: If you are on a bargaining unit forest, take the time to ask your president about issues you feel are "unfair". There might be a good chance that the issue has already been addressed. If not, then you have brought it to their attention and can pursue getting the issue resolved.

OFG
Ab, sorry for the repeat.....just seemed easier than referring folks back several days.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NWCG Handbook 2 Chapter 10, Section 11-13.5
Effective 02/08 Page 20 of 49


12.6 – Meal Periods. Compensable meal periods are the exception, not the rule.
(5 CFR 551.411 (c) and 29 CFR 785.19 (a))


Personnel on the fireline may be compensated for their meal period if all of the following conditions are met:

1. The fire is not controlled, and

2. The Operations Section Chief makes a decision that it is critical to the effort of controlling the fire that personnel remain at their post of duty and continue to work as they eat, and

3. The compensable meal break is approved by the supervisor at the next level of the crew boss and it is documented on the Crew Time Report, SF-261.

In those situations where incident support personnel cannot be relieved from performing work and must remain at a post of duty, a meal period may be recorded as time worked for which compensation shall be allowed and documented on the Crew Time Report, SF-261.
Compensable meal breaks include time spent eating while traveling in a plane, bus, or other vehicle.

For personnel in support positions, and fireline personnel after control of the fire, a meal period of at least 30 minutes must be ordered and taken for each work shift e.g., a minimum 30 minute break for shifts of eight hours or more.

Ideally, a break of 30 minutes should be taken for each six hours on duty.

*NOW THE CFRS…

[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 5, Volume 1]
[Revised as of January 1, 2008]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 5CFR551.411]

[Page 633]

TITLE 5--ADMINISTRATIVE PERSONNEL

CHAPTER I--OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

PART 551_PAY ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE FAIR LABOR
STANDARDS ACT--Table of Contents

Subpart D_Hours of Work

Sec. 551.411 Workday.

(a) For the purposes of this part, workday means the period between the commencement of the principal activities that an employee is engaged to perform on a given day, and the cessation of the principal activities for that day. All time spent by an employee in the performance of such activities is hours of work. The workday is not limited to a calendar day or any other 24-hour period.

(b) Any rest period authorized by an agency that does not exceed 20 minutes and that is within the workday shall be considered hours of work.

(c) Bona fide meal periods are not considered hours of work, except for on-duty meal periods for employees engaged in fire protection or lawenforcement activities who receive compensation for overtime hours of work under 5 U.S.C. 5545(c)(1) or (2) or 5545b. However, for employees engaged in fire protection or law enforcement activities who have periods of duty of more than 24 hours, on-duty meal periods may be excluded from hours of work by agreement between the employer and the employee, except as provided in Sec. 551.432(e) and (f).

[45 FR 85664, Dec. 30, 1980, as amended at 48 FR 36805, Aug. 15, 1983; 57 FR 59279, Dec. 15, 1992; 67 FR 15467, Apr. 2, 2002]

29 CFR 785.19 - Meal.

* Section Number: 785.19
* Section Name: Meal.
_________________________________________________________
(a) Bona fide meal periods. Bona fide meal periods are not worktime. Bona fide meal periods do not include coffee breaks or time for snacks. These are rest periods. The employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purposes of eating regular meals. Ordinarily 30 minutes or more is long enough for a bona fide meal period. A shorter period may be long enough under special conditions. The employee is not relieved if he is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating. For example, an office employee who is required to eat at his desk or a factory worker who is required to be at his machine is working while eating. <snipped refs>

(b) Where no permission to leave premises. It is not necessary that an employee be permitted to leave the premises if he is otherwise completely freed from duties during the meal period.

12/9 Columbia Air Base Cal Fire firefighter Don Winkler killed in motor cycle crash

www.uniondemocrat.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=95185&Itemid=199

Man dies in motorcycle crash
Written by Craig Cassidy, The Union Democrat December 08, 2008 08:46 am

A Sonora man died Saturday in a motorcycle accident in a remote area of eastern Tuolumne County, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Donald A. Winkler, 68, was riding a 1997 Suzuki DR-Z 400 motorcycle west on U.S. Forest Service Road 4N01 about 12:40 p.m. when he lost control of the bike on a left-hand curve and hit a tree, the CHP said.

He was transported by helicopter to Sutter Amador Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, CHP said.
He suffered multiple traumatic internal injuries, CHP said.
The accident happened near the Crandall OHV parking area, CHP said.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
http://mymotherlode.com/News/article/kvml/1228851087

Funeral Services Set For Six Year CAL Fire Veteran
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 - 11:30 AM Bill Johnson MML News Director

Sonora, CA -- Funeral services for 68 year old Donald A. Winkler will be held Saturday, December 13 in Camarillo.

In honor of Winkler flags within the CAL Fire Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit are currently flying at half staff and will do so until December 14.

Winkler had just completed his sixth season as a firefighter stationed at the Columbia air Base where his main duty was to load the tankers with fire retardant. (for the rest of the article, click the link)

fair use disclaimer

12/9 Indirect cost agreements:

Watching it Snow,

We've got about a foot so far, no additional accidents (knock on wood.)

Here's the current 2007 copy of Colorado State University's indirect cost agreement: www.cahs.colostate.edu/research/files/rateagreement1.pdf

For CSFS and their off-campus rate of 23%, the agreement includes the footnote "(2)
Same as (1) above except the cost of direct firefighter services obtained under contract
and interagency agreements are excluded from the State Forest Service rate base." In
any event the equipment rental is already excluded from indirect cost charges.

I could be wrong, so I'll just go back to plowing snow and waiting for the pager to go
off.

vfd cap'n

12/9 Moonlight Fire:

High Lonesome,

I would hope that your comments on the Moonlight I.A. (12/2) are qualified.
I happened to be one of the many people that were on that initial dispatch
list. I never once felt that the I.A. response was inadequate. The IC
that was in charge of the fire is one of the best fire managers and
firefighters I have a privilege of knowing. The divisions that he used
and broke out into the same remarks. All the people on the ground same
response. Your opinion is free to be your opinion, but I definitely do not
agree. Everything on the ground was going about as smoothly as it can go on
an I.A. All our indices on the forest were primed and ready to go for a
large fire at that time. We were within our drawdown levels. The only
issue with the I.A. was access. We just could not get a good anchor on it
or hold it on roads. The minute we would try, it would send multiple spots
across the line. There was good safety and all protocols were followed.

The I.A. group deserves a pat on the back for a valiant effort. I would
like to point out that we all lose a fire at some time or another in our
career. No big deal. As for your preceding days' comments, the team for
the Moonlight moved in the next afternoon and things were being coordinated
through the team. There was no IAP that first morning, because we were all
on the line still working through the next operational period till the team
could take over, I.C. included. As for resources available elsewhere and
our dispatch center, I cannot comment on those. I was busy chasing fire all
day, night, and day. I would have to believe that dispatch was doing their
best to get us everything we wanted or needed and it seems uncharacteristic
for them to be going out of service with a major fire on the forest and
their husbands, friends, and children on the line.

FireRat,

The local volunteer chief is a good guy with the best intentions.
The team inherited him from the Cold fire and he did a lot to help out
during the Dozer rollover and a second start in the area. Everyone makes
mistakes from time to time and I have about three to four different
versions of the whole story and, then, parts of the story. I believe him to
be nothing, but a professional and has taken a once sloppy volunteer
department and started moving them in a professional direction. From time to
time I do see the old volunteer come out in them, but for the most part,
they all try to carry themselves very professionally. I am happy to have a
few of them as friends and neighbors. As for the amount of pay he
received, well we would have probably gotten an even more expensive and
less informed STPS. It all worked out in the end. :^)

With Respect,

Northnight

12/9 Meal break:

Another Forest Circus Performer, (Great name by the way)

I know your post was a few days ago, but here is the NFFE union's standpoint on this issue. If you are working at an incident and work through your lunch break, then you DO NOT have to show a lunch. Different IMT teams and managers think differently, but it is consistent with statutory law and the bargaining unit agreement.

Now, if you are at your duty station, management CANNOT tell you what to do with your non-pay time. If they want you to stay at the station, then they have to pay you standby pay. So, if you want to go to town, for lunch, in your POV, lawfully and per the Master Agreement, you can do this. Just make sure you are back at the within the time constraint of 30 min. But, depending on how far you are from town, it may be prudent for you to pack a lunch, so as not to miss the big one.

All of this advice is based on the fact that you work on a bargaining unit forest. If so, ask your supervisor to put you in contact with the local union steward. That may help. Good Luck

Quick Connect

12/9 Indirect cost agreements:

VFD Cap'n

10" has fallen - only 1 MVA so far.

What DHS applies to its grants has little bearing on what USDA or USDI does. The federal government isn't consistent at all, that is why CSU gets a 23% indirect rate and those states under the FEMA grants do not. The State of Colorado, through CSU and the CSFS, have contracted with the federal land management agencies to act as the gatekeeper for local cooperators. As a part of that contract, CSU promises to do certain things - like do a preliminary audit, pay the cooperators up front, etc., and for their troubles CSU is awarded the 23% indirect rate. That applies on all funds that the land agencies funnel through CSU, including RFA, VFA, WUI grants, and so forth. I'm not saying that the rate is totally appropriate, it may even be too low, but it has been agreed to by both parties - and it requires tasks to be accomplished that many people don't realize. It probably won't be changing unless there is a renegotiation of the agreement. The sad thing is that most of the indirect rate goes to CSU's general fund, and not necessarily to fund the CSFS - but that is a different story altogether.

You are right - it is impossible to get an absolute measure of cost when the expense of staffing is ignored. However, equipment rates are probably the only way to measure "apples to apples." Once we add personnel to the equation the water gets a little murky, as who is assigned to the engine can vary. On some dispatches, personnel costs are low; and on others, they are high.

I don't see where the federal government is pushing the cost of their suppression onto local government. For many years, local governments (mine included) have neglected their responsibilities in the wildfire arena. I remember an old chief of mine saying - "Those are trees, let the forest service put it out" even thought the fire was clearly on private land. And you know what? The local ranger district came along and put the fire out. Those times are long past, and we shouldn't gig the federal government for managing their own problems first.

I don't know why any department, large or small, would send their equipment on an assignment for a loss. We don't, and our rates are some of the lowest in the state for equipment. And we're not talking junk, either.

As for "screw the little guy" - my agency is small, but we don't feel as if we are getting the short end of the stick. The beauty of this Country is independence. If you don't like how you are being treated, you don't have to participate. If you didn't take a 30 minute lunch break, then you shouldn't write down that you did. Conversely if you took the break, then show it on the CTR. In the grand scheme of things, I feel that the 30 minute lunch break is the least of our troubles.

Signed - Watching it Snow

ps - beef jerky is overrated! I prefer "Uncrustables."

12/9 Forest Service Web:

The FS Web is being reorganized. Anyone know how that affects Fire and fire
websters, if at all?

The comment period is open and ends on January 9, 2009. This is a time when
many people are away from work and won't know until comments are closed.

Details and documents are on the FS intranet:
http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/irm/organization/

If this applies to you, download the documents, read them, and respond.

Green Web Person

12/9

Ben Beall

October 14, 1936 - December 3, 2008

MOUNTAIN GATE - Ben Beall died unexpectedly in his sleep in the early morning hours of December 3rd. He was 72.

Ben had been a resident of Mountain Gate since 1993, having moved there after he retired from his career with the United States Forest Service. After retiring, Ben and his wife Lois enjoyed traveling, visiting with friends and family, and watching his grandchildren grow up. He was a very proud Papa.

Ben was born in 1936 in Pacific Grove, the son of Boyd and Louise Beall. He attended Monterey High School and later graduated from Humboldt State College with a degree in forest management. In 1957, he met Lois Ingles, and after a year's courtship, they married on November 15, 1958. She passed away a little over a year ago, a few days after their 49th wedding anniversary, leaving him heartbroken.

Ben's career with the Forest Service took him many places. In the summers while he was attending college, he worked at the remote Indians Ranger Station in Monterey County near the Ventana Wilderness. Later assignments with the Forest Service led Ben and his family to Bass Lake, Big Sur, the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, the Stanislaus National Forest near Mi-Wuk Village in Tuolumne County, and the Angeles National Forest, where he served as District Ranger of the forest's Tujunga Ranger District. His final position with the Forest Service was at the agency's regional office in San Francisco, where he managed inter-agency fire-fighting efforts between the Forest Service and state and local fire-fighting agencies in California, Hawaii, and Guam. Ben was also responsible for the Smokey Bear ad campaign, and many people affectionately referred to him as Smokey Bear. During this wonderful journey with the Forest Service, Ben and Lois met numerous friends along the way.

Ben, a sixth-generation Californian, is survived by his sons, Jeffrey, of Denver, Gary and his wife Joann and their children Ryan, Brenna, Matthew, and Robert, of Honolulu, and his daughter, Tami Frisbie of Weed, her husband Tim and their children Tim and Janelle Jaegel, and Sydnie He is also survived by his sisters, Gertrude Woods and her husband Pete of Alameda and Christine Parker and her husband Larry of Monte Vista, and by numerous loving nieces, nephews, in-laws, and very special cousins.

He is preceded in death by his wife of 49 years, Lois, his mother Louise and his father Boyd.

Ben was one of those very special people you meet in this world who always had a smile, never met an enemy, and was forever your friend. There will be a Celebration of Life Potluck on Sunday, December 14, at 12 p.m. at the Beall home. Bring a memory to share and a smile, just like he would want.

Memorial contributions can be made to the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society.

12/9 Moonlight Fire

High Lonesome,

I'm wondering about your perspective on Moonlight IA. Are you CalFire
or a local fire dept that did not get called early on on the Moonlight Fire?
Your experience or perspective does not jive with mine.

Strider

12/9 Wildland Fire Investigations:

Some good info here on investigations. This came in last week; just getting to it. Ab.

Employees Rights and Responsibilities in Administrative Investigative Interviews

Followup from Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

PS - on the Employees Rights and Responsibilities in Administrative Investigative Interviews, a quick update on its use. I was involved in drafting this in collaboration with agency personnel, with the intent that it be used whenever there is an interview. There is currently some disagreement about when it must be used; however, I would recommend that anyone in a situation where they are being interviewed should take it in with them and try to use it. Seems to me that any professional interviewer who is on the level should have no problem with the check list. This is just business. Protects the employee, protects the agency.

12/8 Retention:

ms,

I appreciate your candor and enthusiasm in addressing two issues that are in the forefront of firefighter recruitment and retention: pay and portal-to-portal. Like you, I have hotly debated OFG several times in the past, but his comments were mostly on track and a wealth of knowledge.

As someone who has been working towards, researching, and advocating for improved pay, benefits, and working conditions for over ten years, I'd humbly like to try and explain two things you are getting incorrect while you "communicate" with OFG or others.

First, the Special Salary Rate Authority that exists under Title 5 only applies up to a maximum 30% increase over national base GS pay scales. This is NOT in addition to locality pay. The current 0256 Special Salary Rate Table (since 2001) is set at the maximum provided by the law. IT IS NOT that the Forest Service has not updated the Special Salary Rate request, but rather the tool has been exceeded by increasing locality pay rates that exceeded the Special Rate authority. The first Special Salary Rate was applied for and approved in 1990, not in 1988. You are way off the mark, and way off the facts in your statements to OFG regarding this issue.

Second, "ordered standby" is nowhere close to portal-to-portal and using it as such sets the stages for potential legal issues for those wrongly using it (teams, forests, districts, etc). It is a narrow tool, with specific limitations for use. Use it improperly, you risk administrative punishment at the least..... jail time at the most. So far, it has mostly been used properly when narrowly applied to Santa Ana wind events in Southern California. The correct path to take is legislative (legal) implementation of portal-to-portal.

As someone who has participated as an official member of the initial Southern California Captains GS-8 Audit, the National Engine Captains GS-8 Review, both updates of the SoCal Special Salary Rate review and approval, as well the recent attempts to address wildland firefighter recruitment and retention in R-5, I take your enthusiasm as a sign of hope for the future, and your errors with a grain of salt as a chance for learning and communication.

It isn't as simple as it seems. We have to work with the Agencies, not against them in addressing issues.

In terms of the root issues and spider web of problems created, many of the problems are a direct result of not having a proper classification series for federal wildland firefighters. That is the core issue that will eventually lead to better pay, benefits, and working conditions for all federal wildland firefighters.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Acting Vice President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

Reference for those Interested in Further Reading (Understanding):

"Two-Thirds Rule" - Comptroller General Decision regarding ordered standby. Basis of the reason DoD firefighters had to fight to get the Federal Firefighters Overtime Pay Reform Act of 1998 passed. It created 5 USC 5545b.

Special Salary Rate www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/2000/ssrpage.asp
Federal Classification Systems www.opm.gov/fedclass/

Information on Federal Pay and Leave www.opm.gov/oca/INDEX.asp

12/8 Indirect cost agreements:

Watching it Snow,

We've been out twice today already on wrecks for folks who forgot how to drive in the snow, and it's only been an inch or so here.

I don't claim to know much about fire business management or how CSU calculated the 23% indirect rate, but apparently DHS thought they knew something about FEMA's Fire Suppression Assistance Grants:

"Further, the six states in the Region either did not include, or did not document inclusion of, the direct costs of fire suppression in the calculation of their approved indirect cost rates. Therefore, the six states were not entitled to receive indirect costs on direct costs claimed under FSA grants." Homeland Security OIG audit of indirect costs, September, 2003

As for the "best value" dispatching system, how can they make a valid comparison based on equipment rental rates alone without knowing the personnel or backfill rates? Seems to me that they're pushing for local taxpayers to subsidize the federal fire suppression effort by not charging the true cost of the equipment. The big departments will dispatch equipment at a net loss, and the little VFDs will stay home.

That's the same "screw the little guy" policy that makes everyone on the fireline show a 30-minute lunch break and keeps fire camps from having beef jerky.

vfd cap'n

12/8 re: local cooperator and indirect rate issues

VFD Cap'n

The 23% indirect rate charged in Colorado is based on quite a few factors, the least of which being that it is in the contract between Colorado State University and the Federal Land Management agencies.

The standardized equipment rates have been mulled over by several entities for several years including the State Fire Chief's Association. The process being brought forth for 2009 is based upon a consensus of Federal, State, and Local stakeholders. As a participant in the process, I am happy with how resolution was achieved this fall. If you feel that a particular rate is insufficient, there is a process for you to document your true costs and you can have your specific rate evaluated. Make a strong case for your equipment, and you can have almost any rate you wish. However, a word of caution - several dispatch centers are discussing "best value" in prioritizing who gets selected for a federal assignment. If your cost is too high, you may find yourself sitting on the sidelines.

Furthermore, AD rates are only used when there isn't a personnel rate established. In a true volunteer system, the personnel rates are most likely zero. So, there needs to be basis for volunteers to be compensated, and that is where CSFS has applied the AD rates. If a department establishes a pay scale it can be used. I know of several "volunteer" departments that pay their volunteers on federal assignments higher (not ridiculously so) than AD.

As for the indirect rate, I don't fret it, as my department is paid fairly quickly from CSFS. The time value of the money alone is worth a big percentage; and I know that we have passed an initial audit of our services. We send in our bill and are usually paid within 45 days - in fact one time this year we rec'd our check within three weeks! Good luck trying to get paid that quickly from feds directly.

All in all, it is my opinion that having the CSFS as the first line auditor and gatekeeper keeps the Colorado resources somewhat honest, and most likely reduces the type of fraudulent activities that are currently being investigated.

signed -

Watching it snow!

12/8 "Fire Fighter Retention package to be signed next week."

This was in an announcement sent by our District ranger this a.m., along
with the Hiring decentralization letter for R-5.

Hope this is the good things the FWFSA was hinting about coming up!!

WildlandFF

12/8 Re hardhat lifespan...

For the person asking about Hardhat lifespan, remember most USFS Forests in R-5 replace
them every 3 years at a minimum due to exposure. Bullard here recommends every 2 years.

Here are wildland fire hardhat replacement guidelines from the Bullard site: (remember,
wildland operations are considered extreme use
)

Look at the Bullard website FAQ:

When should I replace my hardhat?

We replace our hard hats every two years regardless of condition.
Is there any way to tell how old a hard hat is?

IF

12/8 Health Screening Questionnaire (HSQ):

Ab,

I thought you might be interested in the following document from the Federal Register. I haven't seen it thru normal agency channels, or heard any official info about it. The timing of it occurring over the holidays and when much of our seasonal and temporary work force is laid off doesn't seem to me like it will be widely disseminated, so I'm just passing it on. Anonymous.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
[Federal Register: November 28, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 230)]
[Notices] [Page 72443-72444]
>From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr28no08-32]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Forest Service

Information Collection; Health Screening Questionnaire
AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.
ACTION: Notice; request for comment.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Forest Service is seeking comments from all interested individuals and organizations on the extension (with revision) of a currently approved information collection, Health Screening Questionnaire.

DATES: Comments must be received in writing on or before January 27, 2009 to be assured of consideration. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable.

[[Page 72444]]

ADDRESSES: Comments concerning this notice should be addressed to WO-FAM, National Interagency Fire Center, 3833 S. Development Ave., Boise, ID 83705, Attention: Larry Sutton. Comments also may be submitted via facsimile to 208-387-5735 or by e-mail to: lsutton @ fs.fed.us.

The public may inspect comments received at the National Safety Office, National Interagency Fire Center, Forest Service, USDA, 3833 Development Avenue, Boise, ID, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (Mountain Standard Time). Visitors are encouraged to call ahead to 208-387-5607 to facilitate entry to the building.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Sutton, Forest Service Fire Operations Risk Management Specialist, 208-387-5970. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: Health Screening Questionnaire.
OMB Number: 0596-0164.
Expiration Date of Approval: August 31, 2009.
Type of Request: Extension with revision.

Abstract: The Protection Act of 1922 (16 U.S.C. 594) authorizes the Forest Service to fight fires on National Forest System lands. This information collection is an approved Forest Service collection. The collection covers the USDA Forest Service (FS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI), and contains the information collection activities and burden hours for both agencies.

Wildland firefighters perform long hours of arduous labor in adverse conditions requiring. It is imperative that these firefighters
be in sufficient physical condition to avoid injury to themselves or their coworkers. Federal employees and private individuals seeking employment as a firefighter with the FS or DOI must complete the Health Screening Questionnaire (HSQ). This information collection covers the forms and burden hours associated with the private individuals who apply for firefighter positions with the aforementioned agencies.

Prospective firefighters must complete form FS-5100-31, Health Screening Questionnaire, when seeking employment as a new firefighter with the Forest Service or Department of the Interior. This form collects the following information:

  • Name
  • Medical history
  • Current medical symptoms
  • Other health issues
  • Cardiovascular risk factors

The information collected pertains to an individual's health status and health history in an effort to determine if any physical conditions exist that might result in injury or death during fitness testing or when fighting a wildfire. If Federal agency officials determine, based on the collected information, that an individual may not be physically able to train for or take a Work Capacity Test, the agency will require the individual to undergo a physical examination by a physician.

Form FS-5100-30, Work Capacity Test: Informed Consent, is signed by those deemed to be in sufficient health to undergo a Work Capacity Test. The Work Capacity Test determines the level of an individual's aerobic fitness, level of muscular strength, and muscle endurance. The consent form is necessary to ensure the individual taking the test is aware of the various testing levels (arduous, moderate, and light) and the risks involved. The individual indicates the following:

  • They have read the information on the form, the brochure ``Work Capacity Test'' and understand the purpose, instructions, and risks of the test.
  • They have read the information, understood, and truthfully answered the HSQ.
  • Test to be taken--pack test (arduous), field test (moderate), or walk test (light).
  • Failure to collect this data could result in injuries or deaths during the ``Work Capacity Test'' and while working on wildland fires.
  • The information provided by an applicant for Federal employment is stored in secured official files, maintained according to Agency regulations. The information gathered is not available from other sources.
  • Estimate of Annual Burden: 5 Minutes.
  • Type of Respondents: Individuals seeking employment as firefighters.
  • Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 10,552.
  • Estimated Annual Number of Responses per Respondents: 1.
  • Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 876.

Comment Is Invited

Comment is invited on:
(1) Whether this collection of information is necessary for the stated purposes and the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical or scientific utility;
(2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
(3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
(4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

All comments received in response to this notice, including names and addresses when provided, will be a matter of public record. Comments will be summarized and included in the submission request toward Office of Management and Budget approval.

Dated: November 21, 2008.
Robin L. Thompson,
Associate Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

12/8 Ab

Greg Fashano, a Redding Smokejumper and a past Del Rosa Hotshot member lost his wife
(Cristy) to cancer on Wednesday December 3rd. To those interested in attending, the service
will be held:

On December 13th at 2pm

Cortner Chapel
221 Brookside Avenue
Redlands, Ca 92373

There will be a "Remembrance Christmas Tree" for Cristy. If you would like to donate an
ornament to decorate the tree or, if anyone is interested in sending a message, contact
aemoore @ fs.fed.us or snail mail a card to

Redding Smokejumpers, Attn Greg Fashano
6101 Aiport Rd
Redding Ca 96002

Greg has appreciated all who have donated leave so that he was able to spend time with
Cristy. He also appreciated calls and cards of support.

Our Prayers and thoughts go out to the Fashano Family
From The Redding Smokejumpers

12/8 Mobile Radios:

Making the rounds... this from JS,

DOI Land Mobile Radio BPA Award Notification:

NO KINGS OH-OH!!!!!!

JS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greetings,

In the near future, NRCD will work with contracting to establish the
guidelines/procedures for purchasing under the new GSA radio contract.
The NTC is gearing up to bench test in Jan 2009. FYI, these are the
vendors that will be on contract:

1. Daniels Electronics Ltd
2. Daytron World Communications, Inc.
3. EF Johnson Company
4. Harris Corporation, RF Communications
5. ICOM America Inc.
6. Kenwood USA Corporation
7. Midland Radio Corporation
8. Motorola, Inc.
9. Raytheon JPS Communications
10. Relm Communications, Inc. (King Products)
11. Thales Communications, Inc
12. Vertex Standard
13. Zetron Inc.

Thanks,
Annette

NRCD = National Radio Communications Division (WO)

12/8 Helmet usage

I am looking for some documentation on how long wildland fire helmets,
the standard bullard helmet, can be in service according to NFPA. Can
someone please point me in the right direction with a link to something I
can show my boss?

-In need of a new helmet

12/8 re: local cooperator and indirect rate issues

Ab,

The Colorado State Forest Service is attempting to impose the AD rate on volunteer firefighters (and presumably, the agency retirees who sign up with local departments, too) and standardize (reduce) equipment rental rates for the 2009 fire season.
Colorado Fire Chiefs, September, 2008 meeting minutes
Letter to Colorado State Forest Service, January, 2008
Colorado Fire Chiefs, January, 2008 meeting minutes

A 2003 Inspector General audit by the Dept. of Homeland Security found that FEMA region VIII should disallow $4.2 million of indirect costs claimed by several states. One issue was that only the first $25,000 of direct costs are subject to the indirect rate.
Homeland Security OIG audit of indirect costs, September, 2003

A sore subject for many in Colorado is the matter of Colorado State University charging their 23% indirect cost on top of local fire department charges. It's not as if they are fully burdened by the services we provide. A pass-through rate of 6% is more justifiable.

vfd cap'n
12/8 Retention:

OFG, I apologize for my delay in getting back to you. Message on 11/24

OFG said:

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)

OFG see NFFE, Article 19, pg 57, # 6, Ordered Standby. Used widespread throughout So Cal starting in 2007 and 2008. Hundreds of employees on multiple NF's are paid 24 hours during large fire events with draw down usually during wind events. IMT’s have been on ordered stand-by. One IMT last year ordered standby for all resources in his fire camp. Oh but wait, Master Agreement only affects bargaining unit employees. Lets go to the IIBMH, Chp 0 (Introduction). Pg 9, #38. For further information, do a few goggle searches for reference: 5 CFR 551.431(a)(1). Does any given Fed Firefighter have complete freedom to do as they like while on a fire assignment? Or while having lunch in a fire station?

OFG said:

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)

OFG that is one of the problems. The retention funds arrived 10 months after the start of talks on retention. Once the funds arrived everything was focused on the 25 million. Many ideas kicked around all year fell off the plate because they did not fit with this new constraint. Do you or anyone think 25 million for one year will fix the multitude of the problems? Title 5 Special Salary Rates need to be updated now and implemented region wide with annual updates.

You said:

No update of 462 Special Pay. (Again, no authority exists to create, only to pursue with OPM)

OFG you’re WRONG. Since 1988 So Cal has been authorized by OPM a Title 5 Special Salary Rate (see 0256 on the link). This Rate was adopted to insure 462s were paid a rate about any given locality rate. Problem is the Forest Service has only updated it twice, last in 2001. Without annual updates this special pay is eventually overcome by locality pay. The true effectiveness of a Special Salary Rate can only be delivered if updated annually and at least no longer than every other year. Some Fed agencies update annually. Title 5 Special Salary Rates need to be implemented throughout R-5. http://apps.opm.gov/ssr/tables//index.cfm?action=all_title_5_tables

You Said:

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.

OFG, I choose to support the issues of Firefighters. I choose to fight for Firefighters who work in old and outdated fire stations and live in even worse conditions. I don’t care where the money comes from. However having forests compete for funding for projects such as new fire stations and barracks up against new Recreational facilities and trails and leaving this up to a Line Officer at a Forest level to decide priority is wrong. However to fully address your question, I propose we build 1 less M1 Abrams Tank for the next 5 years or reduce ethanol subsidies to corn growers in the mid-west for 5 years, plus add our normal share fire gets from CIP finding levels and the R-5 fire facilities and living situation is solved for at least the next 25-35 years. Or if you want to keep the decision within region, apply CIP funds to FAM only for the next three years. RO should then search every part of the non-firefighter production budget and come up with another 15-20 million and apply those funds to fire facilities. The R-5 all functional area budget is over 400 million. I think we can find extra funding somewhere. Even Joe the Taxpayer (us) would save hundreds of thousands of dollars on energy costs if we build efficiently and green fire facilities now. Once construction is completed (5-7 years) FAM will begin to pay back the funds it received from the other R-5 programs annually with the money they saved from reduced energy costs.

OFG said:

I still encourage all to learn more about how the government operates and what controls/constrains the expenditure of funds.

Yes, ALL of us.. And if you OFG have any additional questions about how government operates and how funds are spent please feel to ask Ab’s for my email. I would be more than happy to assist.

Stay tuned all….

1. PTP and Special Pay Rate updates are coming to R-5 in 09.
2. Next up is Centralized Fire Management.

“We are the change we have been waiting for” – President Elect Obama

Don't plan for the next 8 months, plan for the next 8 to 80 years.

ms

12/8 The Jobs page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
12/8 Congressional updates?

AB & All:

The FWFSA has been advised by Congressional staff this morning to keep an
eye & ear out for announcements from the FS throughout this week...indicating
something positive. We'll see.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

12/8 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:

JJTCC

The Admin fee that Muni departments charge doesn't go into anyone's personal pocket, it goes toward the purchase and improvement of the fire department who sponsors ADs. For example: in around 1997 there were a fire in the Boise area where a volunteer engine was burned over resulting in 2 fatalities because they didn't hear the directions or the command to evacuate their position. Their radios were inadequate, antiquated and not compatible with Fed radios. After that year the the FEDs made a concentrated effort to supply surplus equipment with useful life to local agencies. The admin fee that the Mini departments charge goes toward typical AD admin uses some of which goes toward processing AD time sheets. If the AD was sponsored by a Fed unit they would be processing their time sheet. The rest goes into their coffers to improve their fire departments so that they can better serve the communities, with updated equipment, (like radios compatible with the Feds). One of the active fire counties has 2 helicopters and a hotshot crew that was developed just to be used on FED fires for the purpose of the Admin fee.... the fee gets shuffled back into the county's fire program in the form of better equipment and that helps all of us.

I would like to know which department is getting 34% admin fee as you stated and who is getting $75 per hour, that is way off any pay scale that I have seen. There may be some within the ranks of our friends in blue but none within the AD ranks, let me know which department and I will be signing up with them. By exaggerating the pay scales and the % of admin fees a Mini department charges takes away from any legitimacy or credibility to complaints. I am sure you bust your butt working fires and during the rest of the year doing tasks that your agency requires of you. The Feds do not single you out to do that, ADs pay taxes as well and I suspect some of the tax money goes into the coffer that pays for fires.

You are right it was FEMA who ordered the Aussies this year, but not in years past. You made a good point in that for $20 per hour you can get a highly qualified firefighter. In fact, they could replace any US FED firefighter who is costing his/her agency training, admin fees, insurance, wages, overtime, HZ and unemployment. You are right, the taxpayers are getting an all inclusive package at only $20 per hour. As a Taxpayer I am concerned that some may wasting my money by responding to They Said while on the clock. If folks don't like the show at the circus they can always walk out.

Rappeller

We're not talking about local fire departments that sponsor ADs. ADs are a whole nother ball'o'wax. We're talking about local fire departments that sign people up as though they are members of that fire department, and as far as I know, there are only two departments and two people that are seriously being investigated at this time for possible fraud. The fraud investigations are not about AD hires.

The unfairness of the AD pay system -- fed fire grossly underpaying ADs -- is what led to people and local departments to look for alternative modes of pay that were not forbidden by the fed system and were a more fair level of pay. Once the system was identified, several people/local departments pushed it to the max. That greed/possible fraud from those two cases resulted in multi-millions of dollars in payments as I understand it. The part of the fed agency sending out checks would have had to be blind not to have seen all the zeros glaring at them. This is my understanding.

On your other point, fed firefighters write in their opinions to theysaid in the evening and on the weekend. Safety alerts are different. Safety alerts or press releases that PIOs or safety officers need to disseminate as part of their job  come in at any time. Someone said last year that this is the PLACE TO GO IF YOU WANT TO KNOW especially as it relates to immediate safety concerns and breaking news.

No taxpayer time/money being used to post personal firefighter opinions; I am always amazed at that. Given the safety alerts and important info we post, the taxpayers should pay us for our service. They don't. Neither do most of you fed, state, county folks and retirees. We are most supported by the private sector. Without them or a benefactor, TheySaid, the Hotlist and the whole website would not exist. (For many years we 2 Abs and our spouses footed the bills. I'm thankful we no longer have to.)

SO, We say: THANKS CONTRACTORS and businesses! I'd also like to thank Casey and Lobotomy for their selfless dedication, the Hotlist Forum mods for their help, and our spouses for being willing to share us on holidays, weekends and at all times of the day and night. This forum that supports the wildland fire community could not exist nearly so well without their collective help.

Similarly, this forum would have little use without our fire community -- your -- involvement. Much networking goes on behind the scenes here. Young and older firefighters and supervisors don't realize the help, support and information they have available via behind-the-scenes networking... until the chips are really down for them. Finally, the WFF would not exist as it does to help our fallen and their families without your $$, our forum and our contributions of time. It takes all of us.

Original Ab, my thanks to you too. Couldn't do it without you, man. Can't imagine a better forum partner with complimentary KSAs. Ab.

12/8 Celebration:

LPF E-46

AB,

This should put everyone in the holiday spirit. Look what I saw Friday night (39 sec wmv clip)
driving down State Street in Santa Barbara; those wildland firefighters drew the most applause
from the crowd!

Fire Geek

Nice! Ab.

12/8 Firefighting now is not like it used to be:

In regards to the article in the Redding paper about the large fires on the Big Bar, the author Charley Fitch obviously failed to consult wildland firefighters before writing his article on large fire growth and lack of fire suppression intelligence. To decry the lack of direct attack and night shifts shows obvious lack of understanding regarding the risks involved with getting nailed by snags on a steep slope at night, going direct, to only have roll-out overrun your lines sometime the next morning. It's not a matter of steepness, as hotshots live for those fun days walking up and down steep slopes, but of common sense. Line doesn't hold if it's underslung on steep slopes on the Shasta-T.

Maybe it's that past tactics have proven ineffective, or a simple feeling that there are no acceptable losses in firefighting, as ultimately we are talking about tall growths of bark, cambium, sap wood and heartwood, aka "trees". They'll grow back.

Either way, when you're dealing with such rugged country, and such a thick fuel source, should we really believe that removing patches of timber from the district will really change firefighting tactics? Unless timber companies remove a few hundred feet of timber from prominent ridgelines, the timber removal won't change tactics. Numerous clearcut patches across the district won't change things, although I personally have no issue with logging on NF lands. Downhill line construction into gnarly drainages, and underslung direct attack along endless fingers won't work out there.

Find an Ops chief who proposes that idea and you'll find a lot of defiant firefighters with big pucker factors. Ain't gonna happen.

But after all, I guess Charley doesn't have to worry much about large fires on the district anymore, it's all black!! Haha.

vx

12/8 Message: from OLD LPF for info

Please visit the Notice for Benjamin Beall.

www.legacy.com/Link.asp?I=LS000121010334X

Click on the above link or cut and paste the url into your browser's address bar.

12/7 Mail server was down today. OA got someone with access to push the right button to start 'er  up again. Phew, big thanks for the OA techie. Have a great week, All. Ab.
12/7 FPA:

Ok folks,

The latest round of Fire Program Analysis has started and involves all the wildland
federal fire agencies across the country, planning for the 2011 fire budget. I've got
reservations about the program, and the sideboards that the powers to be have
placed on it. Hopefully with the new administration, it can bring about some changes,
but it takes the leadership of all the agencies at the WO level, so speak up to the
new administration.

TC

12/7 CP

A class act as always, my friend.

Old Fire Guy

12/7 Lunch or other Meal Breaks?

WS hit the nail on the with this issue.
Will I be banned if I copy, Paste and submit this once a month?

Scrape

12/7 AD pay:

Hugh,

You hit the nail upon the head. I hope I don't misquote your thoughts, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong or not understanding you.

In the example you provided, you compared an AD Air Operations Branch Director (AOBD) to an Agency GS-12 Air Operations Branch Director.

Currently, GS grade at the time of retirement doesn't compare in anyway to AD rates. Apples and oranges.

An "AD" has his wages set upon the job he is hired to do in support of immediate fire suppression or fire management needs, while the GS employee is evaluated, classified, and compensated on his/her primary duties in support of duties that support land management, and does not recognize fire qualifications or complexity in grade controlling factors in their series.

In terms of AD employees, the duties performed support the AD wages and salary structure, while in the federal General Schedule, any GS grade could "potentially" qualify and serve as an AOBD... even someone at the GS-6, GS-7, or GS-9 levels..... or even a GS-4 or 5 if they are qualified, volunteering to get the training, and serve in "other duties as assigned or qualified"..

Just like AD positions, and corresponding qualifications of GS employees, no emphasis has been placed upon a wildland fire classification series or the actual duties performed, but rather generic duties performed in support of other professions (0401, 0460, 0462, 0455, 0456, et al) .

Square one would be common ground, and a wildland fire series that we could all base our discussions upon.

Lobotomy

12/7 Lobotomy,

Thanks for your comments and, it seems, we share some of the same passions.
You and I don't always see eye to eye but we do manage to ratchetup the
discussions! I point the arrow now let's just hope it doesn't turn into a boomerang...

Fire

12/7 Spring training:

Spring training 2009 is around the corner. Does anyone (209 instructors or students),
have any feedback on the "new" S-209; FLAME in particular; (beyond discussions
from earlier this year) ?

B1212 (ret.)

12/7 Thanks to armed forces on Dec 7, anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack:

Hey Ab,

Just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of our folks who are serving in or have served in the Armed Forces on this 7th day of December! Thank you all for doing your part to secure and protect the freedoms that all Americans enjoy. (and often times take for granted) As with South Canyon, Sep 11th, Rattlesnake, Dude, etc, the attack on Pearl must never be forgotten. For some of us, time and current events have a way of shifting peoples focus sharply on the maters at hand and away from historic events.

Never Forget

12/7 Lil Smokey thread from Mellie:

www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=6020

12/7 An interesting thread here with links to some good Six Minutes for Safety points and one NorCal community's process with being more ready for wildfire:

Shelter in place during wildfire?

www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=7493

Thanks contributors. Ab.

12/7 Article from the Redding paper about firefighting strategy/tactics on the Shasta-Trinity NF. Thanks to Siski Sam for the find:

NorCal: Watch it grow and then let it burn

12/6 WFF fundraiser:

Tonite the Shawnee National Forest had its forest Christmas Party! The Fire Crew
had a 50/50 half pot as well as as a Ugliest Western Shirt contest! The 50/50 was
won by our Supv. LEO and the ugliest western shirt contest was won by the Forest
FMO-that would be me! Our Supv LEO and myself donated our winnings and as
well as the rest of 50/50 to the WFF- On monday Dec. 8th, a check will be mailed
to the WFF on behalf of the Shawnee NF employees in the amount of $250 ! Please
pass on to Vicki that a check is coming from the east!

CP

Nice. Ab.

12/6 Negativity:

My department is better than yours, portal-portal, A D rates, Forestry Tech Vs. Wildland Firefighter, Yellow fire trucks, red trucks, contractors, DC-10, lack of leadership, and leaderless leaders, blah blah blah........ The big picture is the Forest Service Fire Dept is ready to implode due to its own hands. If something isn't done, including stopping the name calling and infighting, this will be the least of the agencies worries... A similar conflict is what helped bring down Martin Luther King hospital in Los Angeles.......

Unfortunately many of us do not have the answers or the means.......

F G S

12/6 Ab,

I just received a personal note advising me that Ben Beall passed away in his sleep.
Ben was a great person, a real help to the USFS family and also a terrific
ambassador for the Forest Service. I have no other information except that the
originator of the message was Laura I<snip>.

Why do the good ones have to ever leave??

Normbc9

Sorry to hear that. Condolences to friends and family. Ab.

12/6 Equal Pay Equal Work???

I am not sure how any of you can claim equal pay equal work. What those folks working for the City of Los Angles, Berkley, or even Lawrence Livermore Lab. Any idea what those guys riding backwards are making? Dam* sight more than the guy that had to work for 25+ years for the Forest Service and now is working for the so called "Stick It Too E'm Springs Fire Dept." Maybe they don't live in said county but they worked there for 25+ years driving a green truck.

Lets call it what it really is, finally getting paid what the other guy had for 25+ years. In my 20+ years working in the industry I have worked on all sides of the fence, State, Local and Fed. and I had plenty of friends that were sitting on an engine making more than ALL combined on my Fed engine and never left the staging for two weeks. Bet their Dept tacked on the 15-20% for admin fees. This is the same b!*?h that people were b!?hing about a few months back, about Cal Fire wages. Point the finger at who is to blame -- the Feds -- the small town Fire Depts are playing by the rules the Feds made up and we complain about it when they make a profit, who of us are not here to make a profit?

smokeater

12/6 Need a Raise Too,

You said, "Coming out AD for 2 weeks on a fire for the same fireline job as a GS
employee is not equal work." Remember that the next time we're up in arms about
the pay disparity between federal firefighters and their state counterparts.
Supporting our brothers in their pursuit of reasonable wages and respect is a key
element in defending our own pursuit for equitable pay and respect.

Picking Sticks
12/6 Lobotomy,

I personally know one person that was making $1,000 a day in a fire position that
is nothing special (no great danger, complexity or liability). I am not going to "out"
him here. People make choices for their own reasons that I am usually not privy to.

That said, it is not an unusual situation that people will go for whatever the "market
will bear" and justify it to themselves. Not surprising if they are coming off fighting
"the AD wage fight" and comparing their income to local and state fire departments.

ADs certainly don't gouge. They are underpaid. I hope that changes.

Other fire people that make that kind of money -- $1000 per day -- and signed up
with a fire dept they don't serve other than to make money for the department, well,
that seems over the top to me.

There's a well researched psychological phenomenon called the "free rider and
sucker effect", a co-dependency. It's about fairness, not taking advantage and not
being taken advantage of. My ethics never allow me to consciously be a free rider;
must have been my Boy Scout leader dad. Doesn't mean I haven't been, from time
to time, before I self-corrected or had it pointed out and then corrected (if I thought
it true and necessary).

I hope the AD payment system will become more fair. Anyone got any suggestions
for an equitable system?

Mellie

12/6 AD rates:

Hugh,

No one is arguing that the AD rates are too low. But
what everyone seems to be overlooking is that equal
pay for equal work is not what it seems. Coming out
AD for 2 weeks on a fire for the same fireline job as
a GS employee is not equal work. I know in my
position the easiest part of my job is when we are
dispatched to a fire, but the WHOLE of my job is quite
a bit more, including significant admin, fleet,
facilities, personnel, preparedness, training, and
collateral duties that an AD doesn't have to do in
support of that 2 week assignment for the USFS or BLM.

If you are truly looking for equal pay for equal work
I'm all in, but sell me on the equal work first. No
offense to the good work you do Hugh, I think we are
better for having you around.

Need a Raise Too

12/6 Cost apportionment:

Fire Rat,

I appreciate your passion on the subject and willingness to speak out. I have a similar passion (improve the pay, benefits, and working conditions for federal wildland firefighters), but WE need facts to act, not "I've heard".....

You said,

"For example, the type1 Safety Officer, a retired USFS employee, worked for a local volunteer department ... The dept. charged for his wage, his backfill wage (there was not anyone filling his "position"); a 14% administration fee. Incidentally, his contract paid him portal to portal at time and a half... I've heard the fire was billed about $50,000. for his two week stint."

and

"On the same fires a local volunteer chief from another volunteer dept was hired as a Structure Protection Specialist. This chief had little experience in the wildland environment, little experience supervising wildland people and equipment and made several mistakes doing his job. His bill to the fire was almost $50,000!"

So, is there any proof that either employee made $50,000 for their two-week assignment, or that any department billed $50,000 for an individual?.... or is it rumor and hearsay? Without facts, it will be hard to substantiate.

If so proven by facts, it should have been easily caught through various filters in place.... 1) Local agreements, 2) CAL OES administration of statewide or interstate agreements, and 3) by ASC payment and approval processes. All of these filters are in place before an approved billing document is forwarded to NFC for processing of the payment.

It is going to hurt the cause (all federal wildland firefighters) if continued outlandish figures are used without supporting facts or documentation..... It also makes all of us look bad when the Agency or Congress looks towards corrective actions of the future, and no factual reason can be proven.

Lobotomy

12/5 Frank W.

NIFC has a database listing fire fatalities from 1910 to 2006.

www.nifc.gov/safety/historical_stats.php

It shows 3 fatality fires in California during 1949. One was a heart attack near Napa; 3 died in a vehicle accident near Oroville; and a dozer burn over occurred near Sonora.

Oroville would be near the Plumas NF, Sonora would be near the Stanislaus NF perhaps some one on one of those forests would have more information on the incidents. Another option would be to check the local library or news papers achieves. Weekly papers are easier to search since they would include such an event that occurred within a week or two of the papers delivery.

Rescue training

Another good resource for rescue training is the National Park Service. Most of the parks have their own search & rescue teams, and many use their skills frequently. Being a Federal agency and often surrounded by National Forest, it seems to me a natural source for training for Federal wildland crews.

NPS fire guy
12/5 Accident investigations and firefighter rights to non-self-incrimination:

Making the rounds behind the scenes...

Local Officials,

Please forward the attached open letter to the Chief to all BUEs. The topic is reforming post-accident investigation policy. The letter begins, "Time and again, we have heard from Chief after Chief that the agency’s top priority is to ensure the safety of Forest Service employees. In contrast to this statement, many employees have come to believe that the purpose of post-accident investigations is less to develop lessons learned and improve safety than it is to assign blame. This belief is not easily refuted, given the current policy vacuum and recent events. With all due respect, if safety is truly the agency’s top priority, then it is long past time to back this statement up with policy..."

As noted in the letter, current policy does nothing to protect any information an employee may divulge in the aftermath of a serious accident, with the motive of ensuring that others learn from mistakes and the same thing never happens again. This is a noble motive, and one that NFFE agrees with wholeheartedly. However, current policy does not ensure that an employee's statements will be used solely for this purpose.

The term "Monday morning quarterback" is one of scorn and derision, invoking images of pot-bellied old men second-guessing the split-second decisions of world-class athletes in the heat of battle. We all laugh at these soft, old men. And yet, a US Attorney who has never been on a fire line may Monday-morning quarterback decisions made in the heat and chaos of a situation he never has and never will experience. We may laugh, but such a soft man may effectively have the power to have us, or our brothers and sisters, thrown in jail.

What serious and thoughtful person, after a tragedy, does not re-examine his/her actions? Does not consider how s/he could have acted differently, perhaps better, thus resulting in a better outcome? This is the kind of thought-process required in a safety investigation. An open and honest baring of the soul, for the sake of others. But this is not the kind of attitude to take when anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law...

This is not to say that investigations to address wrongdoing should not be done. It is to say that they should be done appropriately, with appropriate Constitutional protections in place.

As noted in your union's letter to the Chief, attached, there are policies that could be put in place to make sure that employees who bare their souls for the sake of their brothers and sisters who will follow them into harm's way will have their statements protected from Monday morning quarterbacks looking for a scapegoat. These policies have not yet been put in place by the Forest Service.

For these reasons, the NFFE Forest Service Council recommends that any bargaining unit employee asked to participate in an investigation pursuant to a serious accident refrain from doing so until appropriate policies are put in place. We are actively working with agency leadership and with Congress to put appropriate policies in place and will inform you of our progress. We look forward to the day when we may tell you that you may second-guess yourself in safety investigations with confidence that your thoughts will be used solely to improve safety for those who come after you. Stay tuned.

Be safe. Be careful. Be smart.

Ron Thatcher
President, Forest Service Council

Original letter.

12/5 Retention:

Just wondering what the specific details are relating to the retention package congress supposedly funded, if so where it is, and why there is no word from anyone at the WO or RO... echo echo echo

Hard to fathom budget cuts in training when I was led to believe the specific issue of training was addressed in the retention plan... that was funded already by congress?

I will be the first to admit that I may be unclear on what is actually going on here but from my understanding congress has allocated a large sum of money dedicated for recruitment and retention including training. I have heard many voice what I am observing at home regarding training cuts along with seeing crucial developmental hires positions facing limited training opportunities if any at all. It seems to me that RIGHT NOW would be a good time for ANYONE whose PD involves leadership in R5 to offer some guidance for those of us on the ground. We may be a small piece of a larger very troubled reality but it's hard to imagine that our leadership at the WO and RO would maintain complete silence when there is so much to discuss.

I fear that my perceived indifference from leadership may be reality yet again. I would like to offer up some constructive solutions rather than beat the dead horse, but I need more information.

I can only hope that I am misinformed in my assumptions and that someone can clear up my misinterpretations regarding what is going on here. What happened to the retention plan and why are we cutting something as fundamental as individual development of those on the ground?

anyone?

ACT NOW
12/5 Re: Meal Periods,

Nozzle Hog… Amen brother… Life is what it is… never really what it should be… "Embrace the Suck"… *hehe, love it….

As for the written rules…

Yes we are being screwed. The rules are rather plain and frankly easy to find. Unfortunately, we get that interpretation thing going on and for some reason, Bang!...we get the dirty end of the stick. It reeks of a future Class Action Law Suit which will surely rear its ugly head one day. You see FLSA being deducted from your pay? If so, well hmmmmmm…..

Anyway, for your reading enjoyment, here are some explanations to current questions, remarks, or whatever. I've highlighted some of the more important stuff.

Have fun…sorry bout' the length Ab.

That last part (b) is for Circus Performer to "interpret"….

-Joatmon

--------------------------------------------------------------------

NWCG Handbook 2 Chapter 10, Section 11-13.5
Effective 02/08 Page 20 of 49


12.6 – Meal Periods. Compensable meal periods are the exception, not the rule.
(5 CFR 551.411 (c) and 29 CFR 785.19 (a))


Personnel on the fireline may be compensated for their meal period if all of the following conditions are met:

1. The fire is not controlled, and

2. The Operations Section Chief makes a decision that it is critical to the effort of controlling the fire that personnel remain at their post of duty and continue to work as they eat, and

3. The compensable meal break is approved by the supervisor at the next level of the crew boss and it is documented on the Crew Time Report, SF-261.

In those situations where incident support personnel cannot be relieved from performing work and must remain at a post of duty, a meal period may be recorded as time worked for which compensation shall be allowed and documented on the Crew Time Report, SF-261.

Compensable meal breaks include time spent eating while traveling in a plane, bus, or other vehicle.

For personnel in support positions, and fireline personnel after control of the fire, a meal period of at least 30 minutes must be ordered and taken for each work shift e.g., a minimum 30 minute break for shifts of eight hours or more.

Ideally, a break of 30 minutes should be taken for each six hours on duty.

*NOW THE CFRS…

[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 5, Volume 1]
[Revised as of January 1, 2008]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 5CFR551.411]

[Page 633]

TITLE 5--ADMINISTRATIVE PERSONNEL

CHAPTER I--OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

PART 551_PAY ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE FAIR LABOR
STANDARDS ACT--Table of Contents

Subpart D_Hours of Work

Sec. 551.411 Workday.

(a) For the purposes of this part, workday means the period between the commencement of the principal activities that an employee is engaged to perform on a given day, and the cessation of the principal activities for that day. All time spent by an employee in the performance of such activities is hours of work. The workday is not limited to a calendar day or any other 24-hour period.

(b) Any rest period authorized by an agency that does not exceed 20 minutes and that is within the workday shall be considered hours of work.

(c) Bona fide meal periods are not considered hours of work, except for on-duty meal periods for employees engaged in fire protection or lawenforcement activities who receive compensation for overtime hours of work under 5 U.S.C. 5545(c)(1) or (2) or 5545b. However, for employees engaged in fire protection or law enforcement activities who have periods of duty of more than 24 hours, on-duty meal periods may be excluded from hours of work by agreement between the employer and the employee, except as provided in Sec. 551.432(e) and (f).

[45 FR 85664, Dec. 30, 1980, as amended at 48 FR 36805, Aug. 15, 1983; 57 FR 59279, Dec. 15, 1992; 67 FR 15467, Apr. 2, 2002]

29 CFR 785.19 - Meal.

* Section Number: 785.19
* Section Name: Meal.
_________________________________________________________
(a) Bona fide meal periods. Bona fide meal periods are not worktime. Bona fide meal periods do not include coffee breaks or time for snacks. These are rest periods. The employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purposes of eating regular meals. Ordinarily 30 minutes or more is long enough for a bona fide meal period. A shorter period may be long enough under special conditions. The employee is not relieved if he is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating. For example, an office employee who is required to eat at his desk or a factory worker who is required to be at his machine is working while eating.

(Culkin v. Glenn L. Martin, Nebraska Co., 97 F. Supp. 661 (D. Neb. 1951), aff'd 197 F. 2d 981 (C.A. 8, 1952), cert. denied 344 U.S. 888 (1952); Thompson v. Stock & Sons, Inc., 93 F. Supp. 213 (E.D. Mich 1950), aff'd 194 F. 2d 493 (C.A. 6, 1952); Biggs v. Joshua Hendy Corp., 183 F. 2d 515 (C. A. 9, 1950), 187 F. 2d 447 (C.A. 9, 1951); Walling v. Dunbar Transfer & Storage Co., 3 W.H. Cases 284; 7 Labor Cases para. 61.565 (W.D. Tenn. 1943); Lofton v. Seneca Coal and Coke Co., 2 W.H. Cases 669; 6 Labor Cases para. 61,271 (N.D. Okla. 1942); aff'd 136 F. 2d 359 (C.A. 10, 1943); cert. denied 320 U.S. 772 (1943); Mitchell v. Tampa Cigar Co., 36 Labor Cases para. 65, 198, 14 W.H. Cases 38 (S.D. Fla. 1959); Douglass v. Hurwitz Co., 145 F. Supp. 29, 13 W.H. Cases (E.D. Pa. 1956))

(b) Where no permission to leave premises. It is not necessary that an employee be permitted to leave the premises if he is otherwise completely freed from duties during the meal period.

*Whew!

12/5 Lunch or other meal breaks:

Here is a question:
If I'm on a fire, and I’m on the side of a hill eating (a wonderful) brown bag lunch, I shouldn’t be compensated?

So since I’m not being compensated, I’m on my personal time. In theory then I should be able to sit there turn my radio off and forget about all the work B.S. and take a nap. If I did that on a fire I figure I would be breaking 3 standard fire orders and about a hand full of watch outs. So that is out the window.

As for meal breaks at the station, how many chiefs would soil themselves when their engines tell their dispatch they're out of service for a 30 min lunch in the middle of a wind event. How 'bout those of us at remote stations who don’t have the luxuries of having any lunch options, and have to eat at the station every day. I think the main issue here is being on a break but still being available for calls. I’m sure this issue has been around for a long time, but has it truly been addressed. DOD firefighter get paid during their lunches, oh that right, they're Professional Firefighter and we are just Forestry Techs (don’t you love how we are only FIREFIGHTERS when this Agency is engraving our names in a memorial. That is another can of worms to be opened later.) This even ties in to when we are told to stay near our phone at night. If overhead want their personnel fit for duty and able to work, then they should be paid for their time. (Keep them on 24 hour shifts.) I know other government agencies pay their people to be on call.

WS

12/5 Fire Rat,

The federal government's a victim of its own refusal to acknowledge a problem; it's that simple. If I'm an alcoholic, I don't blame the guy at the convenience store for selling me too much beer; my drinking is my fault. The Forest Service has a problem and blaming the effects of that problem does nothing for us. If you're wanting to fill positions with qualified employees you need to offer competitive wages, benefits, and you need to respect your employees. The private sector understands this concept. I made better pay and benefits as an hourly with UPS than I do with the Forest Service, I'll bet you can guess which job was easier and took less out of me. But I like this job and I like what I do, and that makes it worthwhile. Plain and simple though, if you can't fill positions in house and have to pay up the ying-yang for someone else to pull your slack, it's because you're not a competitive employer. If you don't respect your employees, they're not going to work for you. It's my hope that this next administration will pay a little more attention to our little world. Can't say that they will, but I'll hope for it. But don't blame the effects of the problem, when the cause is really what you should be going after.

Picking Sticks
12/5 AD Pay:

Gouging? I'm having trouble figuring out who's being "gouged."

The facts are:

AD-K Air Ops Director 2 week Pay = $3000 less than a GS-12 AOBD. Chunk of change, that.

This issue of "unequal pay for equal work" was fully documented during my tenure as Chair of the AD Firefighter Association

It was brought to the attention of the Fire Business Practices Working Team (FBPWT), NWCG, the directors of every agency, Type 1 ICs, and my dog. Nothing done of any positive nature except stonewalling, ignoring the issue, an arrogant response to a FOIA requesting data on AD hires and methodology for setting pay rates that was so redacted it seemed to me we had asked for the nuclear codes of the dude who follows the President, to say nothing of downright prejudicial, unethical and unprofessional remarks made by members of the FBPWT, ad nauseam.

Over the last 8 years, the federal agencies by the above actions have made this bed (which some apparently don't realize), we've been all sleeping in it, now it's time everyone collectively woke up and came up with equitable compensation for retirees and other CWN epersonnel without whom they cannot do claim an even halfway decent job of emergency response.

Regards,

Hugh Carson

12/5 Low angle rescue and rope rescue:

Mike,

Dalton Hotshots and all of the engines on the San Gabriel RRD on the Angeles NF in Southern CA have been using Low Angle rescue since 2002. We have worked really hard with our local fire department to become certified. The best process to become certified now is with the State Fire Marshal. We currently have approved SOGs and JHAs to use Rope for rescues. We are now working on getting certified instructors with the State Fire Marshal who could in turn, instruct and certify everyone.

In 2003 Dalton HS were on the B & B fire in Oregon and another Hotshot crew member had a leg injury and was unable to walk. We had our Low Angle rope and equipment and performed a successful rescue for the crew.

There have been many incidents on the Angeles where our Forest Service engines were first on scene and were able to set up and perform a Low Angle operation and make patient assessments and assist with LACo Fire and LACo Sheriff Search and Rescue.

It has proven to be a very useful tool locally and on fire assignments. I know of other crews on our neighboring forests that are also working with the Low Angle equipment and have been doing so for some time. Hotshots crews have been using ropes since the 80's. It is not in our Forest Service Mission and we don't get recognized like our municipal brothers and sisters do. Obviously, we have many hard working folks that know what we do and are working for recognition.

SG

12/5 Contractors in Fire:

We at NWSA had to change our blog address from www.contractorsinfire.com to www.contractorsinfire.blogspot.com due to a technical issue. If you were subscribed in on the old address, you will need to re subscribe in the new one. Thank you, and Happy Holidays to all of you.

Also we are holding our NWSA Annual Conference in Reno at the Peppermill from Feb. 22-25 and will again be holding our benefit auction for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, we have some great items already, a Custom built fly rod by world renowned Master Bamboo Rod Builder Daryll Whitehead, another one by Jimiley Custom Rods that is a showcase dedicated to the victims of Iron 44, a handmade quilt in honor of Iron 44 and much more! We invite anyone to attend our benefit dinner/auction on the evening of Feb. 24, 2009 and you can register for this dinner by going to NWSA, then the News/Events then 2009 Conference where you will find the donation form and also the registration form that can be used to register for the dinner.

Deborah Miley

12/5 Prescott AZ Granite Mountain Hotshots are now Granite Mountain Hotshots/Rescue.

8 members of the GMHS crew have completed training to be certified in rope rescue.

They have already had 2 assignments:

both for cars over the edge,
  • First was a female in a jeep that went over a 1000 (one thousand) foot drop, they rappelled down and helped bring her up out of the canyon, along with several local FDs and the Yavapai County Sheriff Back Country Rescue Team.
  • The second was a car that went thru the guardrail on highway 89 north of Paulden AZ, killing the father and critically injuring the 2 children. The car went over a 25-30 foot drop. Again GMHS crew assisted Chino Valley FD by rappelling down and helping initiate a rescue of the vehicle occupants.

Dont know of many hotshot crews that also do rope rescue. Thought I'd share this with you.

Mike

12/5 Hi All,

I'm glad to see that the subject of community fire depts over-charging for overhead positions has come to this forum. I don't know the legal ins and outs but I do know that the moral grounds have been breached. This past summer, on fire complexes on the Plumas several members of the California based Type 1 Team were temporary hires, run through various volunteer fire depts. The State and Feds were charged huge amounts of money for the individual's two week assignments. For example, the type1 Safety Officer, a retired USFS employee, worked for a local volunteer department where he did not live. The dept. charged for his wage, his backfill wage (there was not anyone filling his "position"); a 14% administration fee. Incidentally, his contract paid him portal to portal at time and a half. I never saw this Safety Officer in the field, seldom did he make the morning briefing and his daily safety messages in the daily IAP were "canned" messages he had developed when he worked for the Agency. I've heard the fire was billed about $50,000. for his two week stint. On the same fires a local volunteer chief from another volunteer dept was hired as a Structure Protection Specialist. This chief had little experience in the wildland environment, little experience supervising wildland people and equipment and made several mistakes doing his job. His bill to the fire was almost $50,000! This practice needs to be investigated. I have no problem with people making money, but come on, why should one person or one fire dept make more money than say a contract engine, for the same two week period. Several overhead people that I know have done the fire dept sign-up thing, some even retired early so that they could do it. There are several fire depts in Northern California with many "on paper" firefighters doing this, its not right! The AD system needs to be re-examined and realistic rates implemented. You people that are using local fire depts to get you on fires need to live in the areas that your membership serve, attend meetings at that department, stop being so greedy and quit screwing the American taxpayers!

Thanks for the opportunity to get this off my chest,

Fire Rat

12/5 Historical Question:

Sir;

I have a friend who has asked about a Wildland Fire Fatality that involved his Uncle in 1949 on the Plumas. His Uncle was a Dozer Operator who was killed when a Snag hit him. The Death Certificate states that he was killed while fighting fire on the Plumas.

I have researched on line without finding anything that matches this information. If you can point me in the right direction for locating information on this incident that would be great. The gentleman would like to attempt to get his Uncles name in a place of honor before his 90 year old Aunt passes, to this point the USFS has been unable to assist him.

Thank you

Frank W

12/5 Ab,

Regarding comments from several folks stating that the National Finance Center initiated some sort of investigation.

I'd double check that source for accuracy and intent especially if it came from higher levels of the bureaucracy or through rumors at the lower levels. Don't let folks get sucked into half-truths being propagated to support a failed direction or CYA.

The USDA National Finance Center (NFC) is primarily a payment and processing facility, not an acquisitions or contract management facility. Most of the actions that happen at NFC are automated and generated from the field, and approved at ASC.

The NFC does not have an investigatory arm. so they surely wouldn't be initiating an investigation or asking anyone (ie. NWCG) to participate in an investigation. If an investigation was started, it would be through the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG), not the NFC.

In terms of ALL FIRE RELATED Forest Service billing, before an action for payment or processing happens, it goes through the Albuquerque Service Center (ASC) for vetting of both existing federal agreements, and that all conditions for federal payment have been met. Once all existing conditions are met, the ASC would approve payments, and they would be processed through NFC.

So, if this is an issue, let's start from square one, provide the facts, and work towards a resolution of the issue(s) and not allow folks to cover their tracks or failures.

Noname

P.S. - In terms of DOI billing: If nothing has changed, those billings are processed in Denver at a DOI processing facility and not at NFC.

I have fact checked what I've posted. The request for investigation was originated by the National Finance Center due to payout records that suggested gouging. Ab.

12/5 Mass said: every district I have ever worked on you have to be allowed the chance to shower and change.

LOL.
Try an AD stint at a big fire.

And: These guys and girls were working full seasons so at let's just say 5 days a week for a month that's 10 hr of OT. It may not sound like a whole lot, but at a full season, the money really starts adding up.

uh, yeah. Try the AD route and tell me what your math looks like. I've worked a few fires over the last 10 years as an AD hire, and on the 3rd day of the week when we roll over to 40 hours, the GS-12 next to me, doing the same work, same hours, same quals --- they roll over to time and a half. I don't. I'm the supervisory person and they're now making time and a half. Talk about tension in the workplace.

"Nozzle Hog" suggested that we "embrace the suck" and just figure it out. Yup. The fed.govt bean counters don't really give a ratsass whether you have a half-hour lunch break. They do, though, require that you show it on your timecard. It's strictly CYA for them. Some people recommend that you "eat some extra cookies at suppertime," (i.e. pad your time top or bottom to make up for the time off that you DIDN'T take but were REQUIRED to take.) This is all, of course, totally stoooopid, but it's just how things work. Get used to it. Stuff mystery meat sandwich in your mouth while bumping up the line on a slope? Fine. Fill out the time card that says you took a half-hour lunch break that you never had? Fine. Just do it.

KSENGB referenced "gouging the system" from non-fed sources.
Well, if the system is totally broke, what did they THINK would happen????
12/5 Joe Joe,

I believe it’s the cost of the “yada yada” that you’re missing. But, that’s my point exactly.

“The cost to gov't comparison included work comp,
insurance, yada yada. We are given a true cost to
government breakdown and the GS-9 step 1 with Hazard
and OT cost to government hourly breakdown is $39 hr;
the employee will see $34.65 of that before taxes.”

True cost? This is your paycheck, which - to achieve a true cost figure - is amplified by a multiplier applicable to all government employees because employee programs and benefits as well as a self insurance program (in lieu of Worker Compensation) are direct expenses incurred by the employer (yes, even the federal government agencies). And I’ll tell you, if you’re a GS-9 Step 1 FF (Didn’t you say Helitack?) Sir, you definitely deserve more. That’s not my point here. My point is that most agency personnel do NOT understand the actual cost of recruiting, training, insuring, retaining, equipping…and eventually retiring an employee. And most agency personnel absolutely DO NOT understand the cost of an injured or killed worker, and what this translates to in financial outflow. These costs collectively account for direct and indirect employee costs which are tacked on to your pay amount. And that is the true cost to the government for each worker.

This isn’t an attack, Joe Joe. It’s just math.

Shari
12/4 Meal breaks:

I was reading all the post on meal breaks and it got me thinking back on what some supervisors were doing on a forest I once worked on.

I detailed over to a forest for a few months to work on their engine. The daily work schedule was 0800 to 1630 with a half in hour lunch break. That's how it has always been on any district I have worked on BUT the engine captain for this forest (I should say district) was making everyone come on at 0730. When it came time to do time sheets I had put down that I came on at 0730 so that would be a half in hour of OT for those days. I was told we do not get OT for that half in hour???? or even comp time???? The whole reason he was making everyone come on early was because he said, we don't get paid for showering and changing after PT. So if we wanted to get a chance to shower and change we would have to start PT at 0730.

I could not believe this! I may be wrong, but every district I have ever worked on you have to be allowed the chance to shower and change. For example we come on at 0800, PT from 0800 to 0900, shower and change from 0900 to 0930 and then so on and so on. This is always how it was from when I was a crew member to serving as an engine captain.

I had told some of the crew members about this but they just said it's only half an hour (this is how it always was for them so they didn't know different). When I finally broke it down to them with how much money they were losing out on, they started thinking. These guys and girls were working full seasons so at let's just say 5 days a week for a month that's 10 hr of OT. It may not sound like a whole lot, but at a full season, the money really starts adding up.

As I said I may be wrong, but I don't understand how this supervisor could do this and not have to pay his guys overtime or even comp time.

Mass

12/4 Fighting lightning fire on the Klamath NF, 2008. Sent in by AL.

Our Fire Our Fight:
www.northcoastjournal.com/issues/2008/09/18/our-fire-our-fight/

12/4 It might be just me, but it seems the Jobs Page is filling up even earlier this year than last. I meant to get a notice up here Monday regarding the activity, but was kept busy adding more each day. There is a pretty good variety of positions opening up around the States with some great agencies and organizations. Most of the advertisers appearing now are return customers who've expressed how great the ads worked for them in the past. If you're considering advertising, remember the listing is ordered on a first come, first served basis. If you are job hunting, or just want to see what's available, have a look. OA
12/4 Ab –

This may be a partial answer to what you are asking about… http://gacc.nifc.gov/rmcc/2008_fall_meeting_minutes.pdf  This is meeting minutes from the Rocky Mt Coordinating Group’s fall 2008 meeting, posted on their website, and one of the concerns was related to an area fire department that sends a LOT of resources out on fires, including a significant number apparently who are not even within their same region. The issue wasn’t the compensation aspect but the logistical problems with getting them dispatched. I cannot attest 1st hand whether they are gouging the system like some others allegedly are, but in terms of hiring lots of staff that in no way, shape, or form is a normal part of their fire department responsibilities, this is documentation of one such instance. I have certainly heard reports from folks LIKE this dept – not specifically naming them – of charging not only all the legit costs, but even backfill costs, for folks who live and work in another state. Backfilling WHAT?!?!

KSENGB

12/4 Meal breaks:

Circus Performer,

Regarding pay (or no pay) for lunch breaks -- Oh buddie, I only wish I had a dollar for every time this issue has come up during my career. Here's the deal... I'm going to let you in on the greatest insider secret there is for government employees... The secret to understanding all the contradictory rules, clauses, and mumbo-jumbo in all the Business Management Handbooks and Personnel Manuals on earth is simply this: interpretation. Whether your supervisor and time keeper agree or not, whoever has authority to "interpret" the various written guidance regarding "authorized breaks" at your office will always win this argument.

Whatever the outcome, 'embrace the suck' man... One days sh** sandwich, is another days fillet minion. Everyday is going to be different. Every fire assignment is different. Different time keepers will call it differently. When I was pounding line, our crew would often "make up" for lost lunch time at the end of the shift. (legitimately posting time waiting in line at supply, sharpening saws, unpacking rigs, etc., on our FTRs) In the long-run it's a non-issue. Many the times I have labored in the smoke well past dinner without compensation just for the love of being outdoors. Conversely, I have also been "on the clock" in pristine splendor while dining on free ice cream and cake with the Grand Canyon at my feet! Your can't drone over split hairs in this business. If you do, it will only bring you down. Take a tip from these old boots; don't fuss over lunch pay. Let your Karma work for you.

Free advice courtesy of:
The 'ol "Nozzle Hog"

12/4 circus performer,

All I can say is Document, document, document. If they want you to stay with your apparatus, then they should pay you, or drive you to the store, etc. As for the part about being on the fireline, I can tell you that there are very few times where I was not allowed or able to take a 1/2 hour break and eat. Hate to say it but its true.

Not sure where to get more info, but I would say dont rock the boat too much because it can bite you in the ass later. I know this because I get a paid lunch but take the time I drive my GOV home to work and back off my times. Kind of strange

Guns-n-hoses
12/4 Wildland Fire Investigations:

Professional Firefighters and Professional Liability Insurance:

Sign up with FEDS: www.fedsprotection.com/. These folks -- Tony and all -- were the fed-firefighter knowledge base at Wright and Co and began their own company FEDS to better help wildland firefighters following Cramer and Thirtymile. Good company with great experience Never know when you'll need Professional Liability Insurance.

Ab.

12/4 Ab,

Good rant and right on!!! I also want to add that there are those of us out here in America
who were repeatedly while working as ADs replaced by the "greedy a$$es " making 3-4
times the compensation. We got pretty fed up with it but our choice was to not work at all
until this gets fixed.

Still waiting....

NMAirBear.
12/4 Reno Chiefs meeting back on! and... at a casino... I.F.

this just came:

Shortly after we sent the message out that we were cancelling the workshop, I receive 2 messages from Randy Moore asking that we hold off on our decision for a week while he checked on the status of the approval. Then I received a follow up message from Randy saying that the workshop was approved! We made contact with the Atlantis this morning and the first week of March is still available. So the workshop is back on! Just so everyone is clear on the dates, the workshop will start on Monday, March 2nd at 1300, and conclude on Thursday March 5 at approximately 1230.

With the concern over the travel ceiling, each forest will be contacted by your steering committee province rep. to try and get the approximate number of people planning to attend from each forest. This will happen the first week of January (5th-9th). This will be important information for us to gather, so we can let the Hotel know how many rooms to reserve for us!

We have an agenda that we roughed out in October that we will try and finalize in January and hopefully be able to send out by the first of February.

I want to thank both Ed and Randy for their strong support of this workshop!
12/4 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:

The NWCG group sent out the MEMO/Briefing Paper.

Joe Joe,

And what about those faux fire dept whose dispatch center contacts people not yet in the system -- that could fill UTF positions and that live states away (not part of the local community) -- and recruit them on-the-spot to join their local dept so they can then be dispatched with managerial costs applied. Call it Fire Chasing from Your Laptop! Granted, this is something I've heard that I have not yet been able to track down -- email me if you know more -- but, if true, it smacks of rancid stinking! fraud or abuse to me.

By the way, reading back through the discussion and re-reading the original memo, I think "lo CalFire" is a spell checker correction for "local fire". This memo has nothing to do with CalFire or the MOUs with CalFire. It has everything to do with several "local fire" depts from who-knows-where.

Let me clarify one more thing. Neither the FS nor any of the Fed Fire Orgs initiated this investigation. The National Finance Center noticed that mega-millions of dollars pattern over a several year period and they asked the NWCG, as the national-interagency-fire-group, to cooperate in an investigation. Some may say it's only a few retirees; I've heard it was a very few and not retired FS employees (another fed agency), but that the amount charged by the local depts and paid to the several employees ran into NINE digits.

The NWCG group sent out the briefing paper/MEMO. It's their responsibility to do so and to find a solution. Potential fraud cannot be tolerated. We wonder why bureaucracy is so cumbersome. It's because a couple of greedy a$$es figure out ways to rake it in; it becomes the norm; and soon even good people are trying to figure out how to get their "rightful" share. Yeah, right! Down comes the hammer on the greedy and non-greedy, in comes the additional paperwork etc. I know this arose as a result of the fed shenanigans with cutting the AD pay, so it's an effect with a cause behind it, but that doesn't make any fraud in the system OK.

Joe Joe, didn't want to jump on your square so I'm replying here. Ab.

12/4 Re Personnel Cost Comparisons:

Shari,

The cost to gov't comparison included work comp,
insurance, yada yada. We are given a true cost to
government breakdown and the GS-9 step 1 with Hazard
and OT cost to government hourly breakdown is $39 hr;
the employee will see $34.65 of that before taxes.
There is no backfill or associated costs because this
is what they do for a living everyday and why their
position is funded.

Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:

Even if it was higher I still would not take home
18-25 THOUSAND DOLLARS for a 2 week roll like some
of these faux fire department personnel are doing. We are
not talking San Francisco FD or CALFIRE here. How
does a town of 800 people have 400 firefighters on the
rolls with people that live nowhere near the town or
even state they supposedly protect by being on their
"fire department?" Let's call it what it is, BS. It
is cheaper to fly folks in from Australia to
California than it is to bring a California FS retiree
from 2 miles down the street on the fire.

LVC Dog

How about $5000 dollars of vegemite sandwiches?

Joe Joe

12/4 Re Meal Break:

Another Forest Circus Performer

1st question would be what is your FLSA status. (You can find that on your latest SF-50.)

If you are exempt then you are out of luck.

If you are non-exempt, then you HAVE to be compensated for time required to be spent at your duty station. If there is a policy concerning not being able to leave at lunch ask for a copy of it. If they don't have it documented ask them to put it in writing. I doubt that you will ever get a written copy of a policy like that, because it is a clear violation of FLSA. My guess is that your policy, which was probably implemented by an over-zealous individual, will quietly go away.

I am exempt, and I still go out for a walk during my lunch break every day. Of course I am also a Chairborne Ranger that anymore only looks at pictures of fires on the internet.

Tim

12/4 Re Meal Break:

Forest Circus Performer

You must be new to the FS. This issue has been a bone of contention since.. well forever! Many years ago 25++ my FMO decided to "stretch" out our duty day by increasing our lunch to an hour. While many of us were ok with a 1/2 hour give back, the idea of an hour was not acceptable! So at 1300 we announced our engines out of service and went to lunch. (We were were located in an urban environment). We as a group were willing to do battle over this increase of non paid duty time. The FMO relented on the hour. I suspect he did not want to open a can of worms about non paid work time. It would be interesting to see a challenge under FLSA rules.

Fish01

12/4 Re Meal Break:

You bring up an interesting problem encountered in many areas.... lunch breaks while... either at the duty station and being required to be in a state of readiness to respond to emergencies, or on the fireline unable to pursue activities of a personal nature remain uncompensated.

The federal law and statute spell it out pretty clearly if you are required to remain at a place of work, required to perform immediate response (standby), and aren't able to engage in personal activities.

Folks should be compensated.

Lets assume you were a GS-5... worked in the lowest paid area in the US (Table 2008-RUS). Your overtime rate would be $21.36 per hour.

Now, lets assume you worked only a minimum of 120 days either at your station or on fires..... that would be 60 hours of non-compensated OT.

$21.36 x 60 hours = $1281.60

Seeing as how most folks at the GS-7 level and below are eligible NFFE bargaining unit members within the Forest Service, why hasn't this issue been addressed?

Seems a simple fix if someone would push the issue..... and carry it forward through the grievance process, determination of a potential unfair/prohibited labor practice, and the eventual resolution with FLRA or federal circuit courts.

/s/ Former BLM (They allowed us to leave for lunch)

12/4 Re Meal Break:

If you're not working during the 30 minute lunch break at the station you shouldn't
be compensated. Pack a lunch...sit down and enjoy.

"Fire fighters who rely on going to town for lunch will go hungry on the fire line"

Oliver

12/3 Re Meal Break:

Ab, had a question regarding required lunch breaks.

I am a FORESTRY TECH for the forest service, and every day I have to show a lunch break on my times. Even when we are on the fireline, we have to show one. When we are at the station, I am told that I'm not allowed to take my P. O. V. and go into town for food, because we need to maintain 2 minute readiness. How can I be off the clock and on my own time when I'm told to stay present and ready?

Back about a year ago I received a check in the mail from a former private sector employer, who was sued in court for taking 30 minutes a day out of employees' times whether they took lunch or not. I don't understand how this is an acceptable practice for the government while it is not tolerated in the private sector. If I'm truly on my own time, shouldn't I be able to do as I please during my lunch half hour? Is this just an another way the government gets to screw their employees? Do you have any insight to this matter or know where I could find more info?

Thanks,

Signed: Another Forest Circus Performer

12/3 Federal Grants:

PC,

Check out:

Grants.gov for as a good source of federal grants.

JRB

12/3 Just Culture:

Making the rounds behind-the-scenes:

The Just Culture website has recently been updated. See the excellent
video of a the experience of a group of North Carolina Hospitals. See
also the excellent video on "red rules".

www.justculture.org/

12/3 Federal Grants:

Does any one have a contact or know of an avenue for Federal Grant Money?
I am interested in pursuing a grant in order to continue a research study on
health related issues that would affect wildland firefighters.

HAVE A GREAT DAY

PC

12/3 Redcard Quals, when do they expire?

MAS,

For quals: Aviation positions and dispatch positions it is 3 year and everything
else in 5 years. BUT every year there are mandatory refreshers and I-700 and
I-800 classes are required.

I advise you to sit down with whoever is will be keeping your IQCS card.

GS

12/3 re ADs:

In 2007 the USDA's OGC determined ADs met the definition of an employee. This brought about changes to how some EERA contracts were written. Noname

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: February 7, 2007
Subject: OGC Opinion Regarding the Status of Personnel Hired under the Pay Plan for Emergency Workers
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Staff

In response to questions from the Forest Service, the USDA Office of the General Counsel (OGC) issued an opinion on December 20, 2005, regarding the status of personnel hired under the Pay Plan for Emergency Workers (AD Pay Plan). The purpose of this memorandum is to widely disseminate the information we received from OGC.

We asked OGC whether or not personnel hired under the AD Pay Plan are considered Federal employees. OGC has advised us that AD hires do meet the definition of employee under 5 U.S.C 2105(a) because they are 1) appointed in the civil service by an employee of the Federal Government; 2) engaged in the performance of a Federal function; and 3) subject to the supervision of an employee of the Federal Government while engaged in the performance of their duties. AD hires are, however, exempt from some regulations which apply to other Federal employees. In summary:

* Personnel hired under the AD Pay Plan may perform work considered inherently governmental in nature.
* AD hires are covered under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA), however, it is up to the Department of Labor (who administers FECA) to determine specific coverage on a case-by-case basis.
* AD hires are covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act (MPCEC) and Section 717 of Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
* Individuals hired under the AD Pay Plan may not work as AD hires and simultaneously have contracts or Emergency Equipment Rental Agreements for emergency equipment or services with the government. See Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), subpart 3.601.
* AD hires are excluded from Social Security (FICA) withholdings under 26 USC 3121 (b)(6)(c).

For more information, please refer to the current Pay Plan for Emergency Workers or contact your servicing Human Capital Management office.

/s/ Ronald J. Banegas (for)
Kathleen D. Burgers
Director of Human Capital Management

12/3 ….  Since 1968

I believe you have a pretty skewed opinion about the Aussies and New Zealanders that came to help this past season. They were originally ordered by the Governor Schwarzenegger to assist on CalFire Incidents as part of the FEMA declaration and ended up mostly on FS fires. The Aussies work under an agreement just like any other cooperator. Any AD that wanted to work should have had plenty of opprtunity to keep busy.

Joe Joe,

No self respecting Aussie would drink Fosters.

LVCdog
12/3 Personnel Cost Comparisons:

Comparison calculations for federal personnel versus AD personnel on the surface certainly appear astounding and outrageous, yet highlight a common misconception/rationale among federal and state employees. Basing financial logic on what an individual is being paid for agency personnel, and then using a total cost for AD (i.e. the total cost of an employee) just isn’t accurate. Doing so is plattering apples and oranges, and does not provide an accurate comparison at all. I have had this conversation with many federal and state employees. Most are completely in the dark in terms of what their own true cost is to the government, and so, to the tax payer. (I also think everyone is getting so whipped up over the admin. fees being charged by local fire departments that other important facts are being completely missed.)

Please don’t misconstrue this as an attack or a divisive statement. It’s just the truth and we should be able to discuss the truth here. This also isn’t intended to throw a bone into the “Retirees versus Government Personnel” ring. It’s simply a discussion of true hard cost comparisons.

When you are laying out a “per hour pay amount” for a government employee versus an AD or private contractor (or Australians or whoever…), you’re laying out an illogical comparison. Sort of like when I was a kid my older brother would come to me when I had a soda in my hand and tell me I had to share with him because my name was Shari. (I finally figured out he was full of s**t.)

In relation to a government employee you refer to “take home.” Fair enough. That’s what you see. However, the expanded cost calculation for state and federal employees obviously includes such things as retirement, government benefit programs, and other insurances and employee related costs, as well as your own replacement costs (or conversely, the cost of your uncompleted tasks back at your office/field site) while you are on a fire assignment. To most government employees these costs only exist faintly out in the ether, and so – out of sight, out of mind.

Now, when many of these same government employees are looking at pay sheets and invoices for ADs and private sector contractors (which DO contain these hard costs) out on fire incidents, no wonder they get pissed off. I would argue that their agitation is misplaced and unwarranted. I would also suggest that this situation significantly fuels the hostility toward non-agency personnel by state and federal personnel. And there is tangible hostility, I can assure you. Spit flies. (That’s hostile.)

As an employer, I am intimately aware of the hard line item costs for employees that we are required to pay BY LAW. I write the checks for worker compensation, general liability, training, PPE, administrative costs to run payroll and operations, etc. It is frustrating to me to come up against hostile, aggressive, nasty behavior from state and federal finance and AQM staff on wildland fire incidents who exclaim (very often vociferously and obnoxiously) that our Faller Modules are “Too Expensive.” Our response has been “Based on what rationale?” “Let’s see your government estimate of what hard costs make up your calculations.”

Silence.

((Clearing throat…)) Could you please help us understand what the government believes is a “Not Too Expensive” cost for Faller Modules?

Silence.

And then we hear it again. “Faller Modules are Too Expensive.” …and this is the environment in which we work.

One of the key issues we are facing right now with fallers is the government’s contention that worker compensation isn’t really a legitimate hard cost of Faller Module vendors.

Worker Compensation… not a legitimate cost of doing business. And so, Joe Joe, you see where we come back to the place where there is a vast chasm separating our understanding of what is being discussed.

I say…. bring your spreadsheet and calculator and then we can talk… Let’s just make sure we’re talking about the same things.

Shari

12/2 Redcard Quals, when do they expire?

MAS,

Good question. Answers can be found in FSH 5109.17....I think Ab keeps link on this site.

OFG

Link to FSH 5109.17 is on Links page under training and education

12/2 ADs explored alternative hiring authorities

I'd like to quote a May 21, 2004 memo to Kirk Rowdabaugh (then the Chair of the NWCG) from Hallie Locklear (then the chair of the Incident Business Practices Working Team) subject "Casual Hires (ADs) Performing Inherently Governmental Duties".

"Forest Service and Department of Interior have recently determined that individuals hired under the AD Pay Plan are not federal employees except for worker's compensation and tort claim purposes. Therefore, a casual (AD, EFF) hire may not perform "inherently governmental duties"....

This began the IBPWT chartering a Task Group to develop "leveling tables" that would accurately reflect the duties and responsibilities of all AD positions. "The new Task Group will be led by representatives from both the USDA Forest Service and the DOI Washington level Human Resources Departments."

The next-to-the-last sentence:

"THE IBPWT IS ALSO IN THE PROCESS OF CHARTERING ANOTHER TASK GROUP TO LOOK AT ALTERNATIVE HIRING AUTHORITIES."

It appears that the ADs took the lead on this suggestion, and found an alternative hiring authorities (Fire Departments with Cooperative Agreements with State Forestry agencies), which, by the way, entitles them to overtime, leave, backfilling, etc etc. All those entitlements that the USDA and DOI determined that ADs were not entitled to receive. Some of those "entitlements" are in the original AD Pay Plan legislation passed by the US Congress, which, oh, yeah, would REQUIRE AN ACT OF CONGRESS TO CHANGE (overtime denial, unemployment denial, leave denial, etc). These will not be an easy fix unless Congress acts on it (they are a little busy right now). Simply raising the wages is an easy fix for the agencies, but overtime will likely not happen without Congressional involvement (and there is already a locality differential in the AD Pay Plan).

When these former ADs are dispatched from their respective fire departments, they are dispatched as a State Employee in the ROSS system, and are treated with the respect of state employees, not badmouthed like ADs so often are denigrated. And since they are "state employees" their wages are not plastered on their OF-288, so no one knows what they make (similar to the GS-12 Helicopter Crewman on the helibase eating a sack lunch in the shade). No harm no foul. If you want to show what these fire department employees are making, might as well make it "across the board" and make it public what everyone on the fire makes, including the contractors.

It seems to me that these folks found an alternative hiring authority as suggested in the memo quoted above. Touche'. Now the same folks that encouraged the exploration of "alternative hiring authorities" don't like the solution that was found. Yawn, oh, well...treat folks like sh*t, pay them sh*t wages, tell them you don't consider them even a federal employee, then tell them to find another way to work, and guess what? They walked and found a better way.

LIONA (a jealous AD looking for a fire department)

12/2 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:

When I retired back in 1997 I worked a couple seasons as AD "ologist", the AD rates have not kept up with any wage. I too have worked for a struggling local fire department and was paid a good wage (not $75 an hour). I was called out because the Forest Service COULD NOT FILL the position within its own ranks!

Now the Forest Service who cannot fill a lot of their positions on fires choose to attack the retirees that are available and who are willing to STILL SHARE their expertise within the fire service.

Here's my bitch: I was on the BTU Complex, Chico, Ca this last season for 12 days, the upper part of that complex burned onto the Plumas and Lassen. There were strike teams of engines from Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Fremont, Hayward, Union City, Los Angeles City etc. BIG beautiful city rigs. And another tremendous amount of other equipment assigned to the fire $$$$$... From what I observed the only ones sleeping in camp were the inmates and FOREST SERVICE crews out of the fire line people, the rest stayed in motels every night. On the 12th day of the fire the cost was around 47 million! Bush and Arnold flew over the complex! Bush declared it a disaster area!! So... the Feds. will now pay 75% of the fire cost which includes: cost of the portal to portal, back fill at home, motels (remember not Forest Service employees) ALL costs (75%) associated with the fire. The Forest Service WILL NOT question or INVESTIGATE these costs! But they will complain about 70 or so fire retirees working for private local fire departments trying to survive on the pension that was designed for hamburger flippers who retire from McDonalds.... I remember the three year period 1987-90 that the Forest Service in Region Five spent 23 million dollars on the Consent Decree, but, that's another story!

Wal-Mart Greeter...
12/2 2009 QFR Report; USDA OIG report on 401; Upcoming congressional visits; climate article

Dear AB and all:

I hope you don't mind if I mix official FWFSA commentary with personal commentary in this post...since Vicki Minor was kind enough to recently remind everyone of my longwindedness!!!

I want to publicly thank Al Hyde for his prompt response to myself and those who have sought an extension to comment on the QFR Report and perhaps more importantly, his clarification as to the comment process.

The FWFSA will be seeking a full public disclosure of the USDA's OIG Management Alert to the Forest Service about the Agency's use of the 401 series for fire management positions. Federal wildland firefighters already are kept in the dark on many issues, policies and plans that directly impact them and the precise language of this report/Management Alert is critical not only to fire management officers already in 401 but those who seek to move up the ladder.

Although I have asked Santa for a copy of the report, it has been read to me and candidly, it reads like a joint press release from NFFE and the FWFSA on the 401 issue and mirrors what we have expressed to both the Agency and Congress on the matter. If this Management Alert is not sufficient to get the Agency to support a wildland firefighter series, I don't know what is... especially since the OIG specifically suggests that path and the House has already passed a bill to that effect.

Given that the 401 issue has been discussed during both Senate & House hearings in DC this past year, it is vital that those folks also see what the OIG has to say. I can't speak for the Union (NFFE) but I think most are fed up with the veil of secrecy that surrounds so much involving the fire program.

For those of you on the Cleveland NF, Congressman Bob Filner is fulfilling an FWFSA request from earlier this year to meet with firefighters. As of this writing the visit is scheduled for December 18th at the Descanso Station and I will be accompanying the Congressman on the visit. There may also be staff from Sen. Feinstein's office as well. Each FWFSA member off the Cleveland will get a follow up letter from us shortly, once arrangements are complete.

Finally, I personally have to agree with "High Lonesome" about taking responsibility for large fires and not blaming everything on climate and WUI. We've spent the good part of the last year and a half emphasizing policy and its role in larger, costlier fires rather than taking the easy road of blaming something out of our control. Thanks Lonesome.

Casey
12/2 Redcard Quals, when do they expire?

I am trying to find out when do qualifications expire? Since I left the Forest Service
in the fall of 2006 I have not kept my red card current. I am looking at returning to
a fire position but I am afraid that since I have not been active (kept my red card
current) I will not be able to return to a position that I was once qualified for. If they
did expire, would there be anything I could do to regain them?

MAS

12/2 US Senate Resolution honoring firefighters:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/fed/senate-res-honoring-ff.pdf (20 K pdf file)

12/2 Let me bring this to your attention again. This info was posted last month, but is worth a look if you have time during vacation. Ab.

New Study Looks at Health Risks to Wildland Fire Fighters

IAFF web page about the study: www.iaff.org/08News/111208WildlandStudy.php

Study, 1,502 K in pdf format: www.iaff.org/08News/PDF/WildlandStudy.pdf

12/2 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:

1968,

ADs from Australia making $20.00 an hour, 16 hours a
day for 14 days is $4704. Add $2500 for plane fare
and you get $7204. With the awesome new airline bag
fees maybe $7225.

FS/BLM/NPS GS-09 billing out an average (hazard and
OT) cost to government at $39 an hour for 16 hours and
14 days $8736. Take home of course way way way way
way smaller. But they do get $3.00 a day incidentals.

Rip-off Springs Fire Dept billing-out retired FS
employees as helibase managers at $75.00 an hour, 24
hours a day for 14 days only costs you and me $25,200,
but wait, it gets even better, add in the 34% fire dept
admin fee, and we get the low low bargain price of
$34,020 for 2 weeks of helibase management. For that
kind of money I'll not only order the porta potties
but I'll clean em too, bare handed!

For $34,200 you can get 3 Australians and 1 Down Home
American Helitack Superintendent for 14 days and have
$5000 extra to spend on Foster's (Australian for Beer).

Joe Joe the Circus Clown

12/2 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:

I too am a retiree with aviation qualifications who had the opportunity to work through a local fire department in 2008, I was busy until R-5 decided to follow the established (but not observed) protocol of dispatching local FD personnel through OES. The reason, regardless of what was published, is that it was too expensive due to wage difference, administrative fees, and PTP, to hire us for positions that the GACCs were unable to fill. In doing a quick survey, I do not think that the total number of retirees who use Municipal FDs as their sponsor, compared to the total non Fed Fire personnel assigned to fires in R-5, is more than a handful. I was on the Moonlight Fire on 2007 and recall looking around at the morning briefing and noting that I was hard pressed to see any Fed Fire personnel.

Due to unions and need, R-5 fire planners do not have any control over the cooperative agreements over our friends in Blue (read as financial commitment), so they turn their attention to what they can control,…. Retirees. We are in an enviable position and have targets on our back. Prior to retiring at the Regional level, I overheard derogatory comments about retirees going back in to the fire fold as “Double Dippers”. As mentioned before, the present AD rates are extremely low, by R-5 standards. Raising the AD rates and adding Overtime, HZ as well as a Locality component is needed. $20 something per hour may be a considered a high wage in some Regions but in R-5, that is getting close to what you can make at In- n-Out Burger and not have the risk, liability, and stress.

In conclusion: I was on a helibase this past summer and after the morning briefing a representative from NICC walked up and introduced me to 4 Aviation resources who had been ordered from Australia. He told me that they had been ordered because NICC was unable to fill aviation positions from within the country, he went on to add that there was a total of 54 ordered of which 17 were ordered to fill aviation positions. I interpret that to say that there were 54 Americans with families to support and mortgages sitting at their home unit while Foreigners took their opportunity to fill fire positions.

….Since 1968

12/2 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:

With regards to retirees and being paid an appropriate
wage I have a hard time believing hourly wages in
excess of $75 and portal to portal should be
considered appropriate. Those who retired from
supervisory positions should remember wages were
determined not only by what job they performed on the
fireline but the admin, fleet, facilities, and
supervisory responsibilities back on the home unit.

Here Here to a new AD system, but as a guy who works
hard at my regular gov't job and pays taxes to support
inappropriate pay (high and low) for retirees in fire
departments they don't actually work full time for,
now has a travel cap due to inappropriate
expenditures, has needed regular gov't positions cut
to support retirees and cooperators, I feel taken
advantage of on both sides. On one side by my
employer and the other side by my retired counterparts
on the line.

I'm tired of hearing the retired folks with these rate
bragging about how much they make per 14 day roll.
I'm glad this ridiculous gravy train is coming to an
end. I work my butt off to support this kind of
nonsense.

Joe Joe the Circus Clown

12/2 re the sacbee article:

Oh My Goodness! How much longer can we as professionals blame the climate for large fires? Let's take responsibility for our own mistakes and inadequacies.

The Moonlight Fire of 2007 was NOT a result of the climate. Why do we accept that scapegoat?

Let's look at the real issues specific to the Moonlight Fire: The initial dispatch was woefully inadequate for the conditions presented and/or the indices predicted. Not to mention the availability of initial attack resources that were available and not dispatched. There were several state/federal resources (engines, aircraft, crews, and dozers) that were available to provide initial attack per the local agreement but were never requested or dispatched. The local dispatch center couldn't even provide the initial attack resources with a list of other resources that were responding after the initial dispatch.

Even after the fire was established and obviously to become a major fire, the dispatch center was closed after normal business hours. That made it impossible to place critical/timely orders for resources and to plan for subsequent shifts, not just the first day but also the second day.

Even after Unified Command was established it was still several days before a clear objective was established per published IAPs. Makes it hard to figure out what's going on...

The Moonlight fire was not handled appropriately as an initial attack fire nor was it well managed as a campaign fire by any stretch of the imagination.

So let's step up and take it on the chops and admit we blew it on this one. We should focus on our mistakes and make commitments to correct those problems in the future.

High Lonesome

12/1 www.sacbee.com/101/story/1436736.phpl

Hard to find article for They Said

Bill

Thanks everyone. Ab.

12/1 From JRB:

sac bee article

Sierra Nevada climate changes feed monster, forest-devouring fires

Driving home from Lake Tahoe, Leah Wills watched the column of ash-gray smoke from the Moonlight fire grow and grow – until finally she was under it.

Overhead, the sky that September afternoon in 2007 turned eerie pink. Orange-red flecks of burning bark streaked like missiles through the air. And the smoke – eye-watering and acrid – was inescapable.

"It was like a nuclear cloud," said Wills, 59, a policy analyst for the Plumas County Flood Control District who lives near the tiny hamlet of Genesee. "I've been to Denali and Kilimanjaro. I grew up with tornadoes. I've seen some big things. I never saw anything that big in my life."

Wildfire has marched across the West for centuries. But no longer are major conflagrations fueled simply by heavy brush and timber. Now climate change is stoking the flames higher and hotter, too.

That view, common among firefighters, is reflected in new studies that tie changing patterns of heat and moisture in the western United States to an unprecedented rash of costly and destructive wildfires.

Among other things, researchers have found the frequency of wildfire increased fourfold – and the terrain burned expanded sixfold – as summers grew longer and hotter over the past two decades.

The fire season now stretches out 78 days longer than it did during the 1970s and '80s. And, on average, large fires burn for more than a month, compared with just a week a generation ago.

www.sacbee.com/sierrawarming/story/1436736.phpl

12/1 Voice Radio Communications Guide:

Some may have already seen this, but just in case…..

Hope you survived Thanksgiving….

G

Voice Radio Communications Guide for the Fire Service Released

Emmitsburg , MD. – The United States Fire Administration (USFA) has completed a project with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) to study what important areas of safety and technology discussed in the USFA manual Fire Department Communications Manual - A Basic Guide to System Concepts and Equipment (FA-160) needed to be updated or revised, as well as what topics and technology related to fire department communications not discussed in the manual needed to be added since its development in 1996. This joint USFA and IAFF study was conducted with support from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) SAFECOM Program Office.

"The need for an understanding of today's modern communications concepts and technology for firefighter and citizen life safety and operational effectiveness remains as valid, if not more so today, than it did when this USFA document was first produced in 1996,” said U.S. Fire Administrator Greg Cade. "USFA was pleased to work with DHS SAFECOM and the IAFF on this study to provide critical information to the fire service."

The new manual, Voice Radio Communications Guide for the Fire Service (PDF, 3.8 Mb) , provides updated information on communications technology and discusses critical homeland security issues and concepts, such as SAFECOM, that did not exist when the original manual was first published. It also provides a wide fire service audience with a minimum level of familiarity with basic communications issues such as hardware, policy and procedures, and human interface.

"The safety of both firefighters and citizens depends on reliable, functional communication tools that work in the harshest and most hostile of environments," said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. "The IAFF was pleased to work with USFA on this important project."

Further information about this partnership effort may be found under the Research section of the USFA Web site.

12/1 AB

Here’s a link to the articles on fire in the Sierra and Global warming. A good series.

www.sacbee.com/sierrawarming/

NorCal FBAN
12/1 link to Sac Bee article

www.sacbee.com/sierrawarming/story/1436736.phpl

TC

12/1 Re NWCG Working Team decision making: Briefing Paper:

As with NZ Supt. (ret), I did not go looking for work in the wildland fire business, it came looking for me after I retired from the USFS in 2005, not only as a fire hire, but also as an instructor.

Interesting this move to bring retirees "back into the fold" by adjusting the AD pay rates and trying to cut off the avenues the retirees have found that compensate them properly. Haven't AD advocates (ADFA among others) been trying to get AD rates raised for awhile? Now that some retirees, including myself, have found a better mousetrap, the fed opinion is to try and squash it under the guise of "fiscal responsibility".

I have found that contracting as well as helping and representing local agencies is where I choose to be. The fed agencies are going to have a real tough time (read: not gonna happen!) enticing me away from where I am now. The contractors and local agencies I work for have been extremely good to me and have earned my loyalty not to mention that I do have the freedom of choice to decide whom I work for.

Seems to me that instead of trying to lower retirees' compensation, the fed ought to be concentrating their energy and dollars finding paths to properly compensate and communicate with their current employees to keep them from leaving to higher paying departments.

That being said, it is a good thing if the fed does raise the AD rates along with adding Over Time and Hazard Pay… about time IF it happens.

yactak

12/1 ab

The Sacramento Bee, (sacbee.com) had a good article on global warming &
the future thoughts on wildfire effects. It is in the Nov 30 paper and worth a
look. There are some good quotes on fire activity from some well respected
R-5 fire managers.

Fish 01

I couldn't find the article online. Ab.

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