January, 2009

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1/31 GS 0462-07 Helitack Squad Leader position

The GS 0462 -07 Helitack Squad Leader position description and
upgrade from the GS-6 is also being developed.


1/31 Re Fallers and Law Enforcement:

Guns-n-hoses, I could use a bit of info...

Do you have the wording from the LEO manual on criminal accountability in fatal
felling accidents of people cutting firewood? Seems I remember that my last FS
woodcutting permit said I'd face criminal charges if someone even my son died from
a widowmaker accident while I was cutting. This is regardless of my intent. Maybe LEOs
do see that through blackn'white -criminal eyes. Maybe this is also as you say where
some experience as a LEO would let in shades of grey. Who'd want to kill their son
or best friend?

Shari, Is that the law that needs changing? If fallers are always presumed guilty of criminal
behavior when there's a fatality, it doesn't seem fair.

Could readers with permits look at the permit. Some warning should be on there. Does
that apply to fallers on fires?

I could be way off base on this... ???


1/31 Re PLI (Professional Liability Insurance) info:


The creation of FEDS was, I believe, a natural response to the rush to legislation by the Washington state congressional delegation in an effort to appease the families of those who lost loved ones on ThirtyMile. Certainly an understandable and admirable effort but the legislation and subsequent law failed to address the "unintended consequences" of such an incomplete, under-studied bill.

Further the bizarre manner in which PL 107-203 was implemented and interpreted by the Agencies and more specifically the USDA OIG helped create the nexus between an intended independent investigation and the assumption by overzealous federal prosecutors they could and should use 107-203 for prosecution.

This also followed the failure, in my opinion, of the Forest Service to aggressively support and protect their fire employees and to offer a position on 107-203 immediately. Actually it took the FWFSA working with Congress to get them to seek a position from the Agency, which, again in my opinion came about 3 years too late. In February of 2006, Sen. Domenici asked Mark Rey, Undersecretary of AG for Natural Resources and the Environment during a hearing before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee about the "unintended consequences" of 107-203 and finally the Forest Service had the opportunity to take a position. That in turn led to efforts by NFFE, the FWFSA, the Forest Service and Congress to expand the PLI reimbursement coverage.

Perhaps the reason why the focus is on federal employees with respect to PLI is because those in similar fire positions in local and state fire agencies don't seem to have the same problem that feds have...i.e. overzealous federal prosecutors that want to find fault and make a name for themselves by prosecuting folks who, for the most part are doing their best in serious, dangerous situations.

If New York City fire officers were indicted for involuntary manslaughter for sending their crews into the Twin Towers after big, large-frame aircraft hit the buildings, or if any fire officer in the Nation were charged with such a crime when a building collapsed and killed firefighters etc., then perhaps the need for PLI on the non-federal side would be an issue. But since it appears the federal prosecutors are the only ones ignorant enough to file such charges, the PLI for feds becomes necessary.

The PLI products were very limited before FEDS was created. With no disrespect towards Wright & Co. which has provided such coverage for a while, FEDS offered a clearer link between those in the legal profession who had substantial experience dealing with federal wildland firefighters from both ThirtyMile & Cramer and firefighters needing assistance and possible legal protection.

Despite the expansion of eligibility for reimbursement to PLI, many issues remain unresolved. I am of the belief that as long as 107-203 is on the books without amendment creating an unfair legal playing field for federal wildland firefighters, the reimbursement rate should be 100% not 50%.

We did not seek that particular change to the law in our recently publicized legislative proposal. However we are seeking amendments to 107-203 to
  1. require such investigations for fatalities to all federal wildland firefighters (not just Forest Service as the current law calls for)
  2. that the focus of the investigation should be lessons learned and not used as a nexus for criminal prosecution and
  3. that the OIG of each agency publish their procedures/protocols for creating these investigation teams; IDing the training, experience and expertise of the investigators.

I guess the bottom line is that while we all want accountability, creating well-intended legislation on behalf of families who lose loved-ones are lost in wildfire incidents without benefit of study as to who that legislation may impact and how it impacts the overall fire program and not seeking input from the firefighters who are expected to make split-second decisions in dangerous environments, have led us to where we are now... behind the 8-ball with respect to firefighter liability.

I do think the agencies and Congress now recognize changes need to be made without showing indifference to the families of those who lost loved ones on ThirtyMile and Cramer. As far as the non-federal side of things, I don't think the concerns about liability are as problematic for you as they currently are for feds.


1/31 GS-462-7 Hotshot Squad Leader

Congrats to the Hotshots. I think they're leaving Helitack behind though. The same "inconsistency" exists there, creating morale and hiring problems. On most Region 5 helitack crews the average squad leader can manage up to 10 firefighters. Now if that squad leader is signed off as a helicopter or helibase manager, they have the responsibility of million dollar contracts in their hands. Is that not enough to qualify at the GS-7 level?

1/31 Re: A little history,,, Q

Wow....what a fascinating piece of wildland fire management history!!! Thank you.

The lack of cooperation by the National Park Service has unfortunately persisted to
this day and is now more than ever in great need of repair. I could speak volumes
on it as a retired NPS FMO....

1/31 Fallers, EMTs and Law Enforcement:

Siski Sam,

You stated: "Sometimes the law
enforcement side of the FS, NPS etc makes me shudder. None of us plans to act criminally,
we just operate in a very very high risk environment. But law enforcement is likely to interpret
whatever they see as criminal. Heaven help us low level fallers, sawyers, emts etc. The anxiety
in the face of accident just isn't worth it. Where's the justice? Who holds them accountable?"

I personally am not one of your "zealots" you speak of, however I take this personally. I have a job to do. One of the aspects of my job is to enforce the criminal portion of the CFRs. HOWEVER, a portion that is usually unseen and unheard (since all of us LEOs are just jack booted thugs with guns and a powertrip scratching tickets and making recreating in the National Forest no fun [most of this is just a vent from my last day of work]) is the civil claims we investigate. It is my responsibility to the USFS to document and investigate claims FOR OR AGAINST the government. That means that no matter who is possibly going to get paid, I investigate it. I am not always looking for criminal acts. I dont just see any criminal acts. I in fact try and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

I keep in mind the mindset and mental status of people in bad situations such as an accident and tend to their personal needs first. If that means that after hiking in to get someone out of a situation that they got themselves into by doing illegal activities, my first priority is ensuring the safety of the victim. I can go back later once the victim is safe and do my investigation for the criminal or civil proceedings. Shari and I have spoken and I have taken her advice and put it into play. Not to the letter due to differing circumstances, but I took it and used it.

As for the Zealots you speak of, I may be able to shed some light on your thought process. I recall when I was a freshly trained LEO from FLETC. I got out and had to do my job. I had not really done it before, so I had to do it strictly by the book. Once I got my feet under me, I was able to change my approaches. Maybe you are seeing a pretty fresh LEO without a lot of experience. Give them time and they may come to be a great LEO to you.

We are suspicious but that is because people may try to kill us. Heck, where do criminals run to?? THE WOODS!! This year we had one of ours murdered in cold blood. Kris was a great LEO, Mother, Wife, and friend. But she was murdered on our national forest. Threats are a constant to us and we do all we can. I will do anything to keep myself safe, the employees of the forest safe, and my visitors safe.

And heck, I still hold a redcard with operational quals on it, so sometimes I get to drop my belt and cut some line.

Stay safe out there


Guns-n-hoses, thanks for standing up for your fellow LEOs but please do not take the comments personally. We all know the huge majority of LEOs are good people doing a good but dangerous job to the best of their ability. I know Siski didn't mean you and the vast majority of good law enforcement officers. Siski is referring to a specific situation that is known of by a number of firefighters that may be able to be spoken of here at some time, but not at present. Ab.

CFR= Code of Federal Regulations. FLETC= Fed Law Enforcement Training Center. Acronyms can usually be found on the Acronyms list.

1/31 Health, & MT WUI maps:


My best to you and your family!!! It is hard to believe that someone who is a non-smoker and fit could be having triple bypass surgery, but genetics play into it big time. Love ya, Dude!!!! Good thoughts and prayers, everyone; med research is showing they do help. (Fancy that! <grin>)

If you've been putting off that physical or getting those baseline measures for your medical files, please call your doc and do it now. Some things like silent ischemia are hard to predict before a heart attack, but sometimes a medical panel will show up a treatable problem. When my son heard of Casey's situation, he immediately got on the phone to his doc to get what he tongue-in-cheek called an "Executive Checkup". Cracked me up. He had the desk person looking for the most immediate open spot where she could fit him in! All joking aside, the reality is that we often put such things on the back burner as we rush through busy lives.

Ambrose and Midwest guy/gal,
Thanks for your good insights on Domaque's article and the website maps I linked to. When focused on the forest and homes, we sometimes fail to see the trees that technology like GIS etc can reveal... and that may be critical for fire on the land.

Good job on the movement towards hotshot upgrade!


1/31 Re Professional Liability Insurance, Fallers, EMTs and Law Enforcement:


I work for the feds, but thanks for the info. Carry on with your good work. Sometimes the law
enforcement side of the FS, NPS etc makes me shudder. None of us plans to act criminally,
we just operate in a very very high risk environment. But law enforcement is likely to interpret
whatever they see as criminal. Heaven help us low level fallers, sawyers, emts etc. The anxiety
in the face of accident just isn't worth it. Where's the justice? Who holds them accountable?

Siski Sam

PS, I don't mean ALL LE&I, just the zealots. Let them go after the pot growers, meth cookers,
illegal aliens involved in messing up the woods for normal people. SS

1/30 GS-7 Squadleader Upgrade:

About time you folks received what you are long overdue. You are the
go-to folks to accomplish any task, even stepping up to run the whole
crew at times. Bravo, all you hotshot squaddies who do what you do
so well! You have your finger on the pulse of any crew, bout time some
love comes your way!.

Casey: My prayers are with you hombre.

still just sting
1/30 Casey,

You take care of yourself first, my friend, and nevermind anything else. A whole bunch
of us who will all be here together in ABQ-NM will be pulling for you this week.

1/30 Re: Upgrade of Hotshot Squad Leaders to GS-7

First, I'd like to say congratulations to the Hotshot Group for their determination in getting the Squad Leaders upgraded.

Secondly, in response to the direction of Jim Pena and Tom Harbour regarding the upgrade procedures and the requirement of 52 weeks of specialized experience at the GS-6 Level:

"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."

"Eliminating the time-in-grade restriction from the selection process reinforces the principle that promotions are based on an individual's ability to perform the requirements of the position ... and not the passage of time," OPM stated in the notice."

Since these employees are still NFFE Bargaining Unit employees as non-supervisors, I hope that NFFE is aware that the Pena/Harbour letter has some glaring problems with implementation.

The simple fix is an accretion of duties amendment, and a personnel action (SF-52) indicating an effective date for all encumbered positions as of March 9, 2009 regardless of specialized experience (time in grade).

Caveat.... this is one rule (CFR Change) (effective date of March 9, 2009) that is potentially under suspense by the Obama Administration.

1/30 Re: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009


Short answer to your question is no.

This Act was a clarification of the original intent of the Fair Pay Act of 1963. As a
result of a negative Supreme Court Decision (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Co., 2007
), Congress went back to work to clarify their original intent as well as
the intent of their constituents.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act made changes to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the
1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, and the
1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.

HERE is the text of the legislation. (pdf file)

1/30 COMT assignments?

I'm looking for information on how to get assignments as a COMT
I have been a trainee for over a year without an assignment or request,
any recommendations or information is helpful.


On the other side of fear; is freedom.

1/30 Re PLI for fallers?


Your question about professional liability for fallers is an appropriate one, but you most likely won’t find the answer here. Not because folks here don’t care, but it’s such an unknown that a definitive answer right now is difficult. Fallers present an increasingly perplexing problem in the wildland fire realm to agencies and to insurance carriers. You didn’t say…is that what you’re talking about in terms of professional liability?

I would suggest one of the places you could go to seek more information would be at the upcoming NWSA Faller Chapter Meeting in Reno at the end of February (www.nwsa.us). All of the faller module vendors and fireline fallers with agency agreements have been extended an invitation to that meeting. Bring your concerns and discuss them with others who are in your same position. Yes, you will face competitors. You’ll also be in the company of friends and people who understand where you’re coming from…and what it’s like to face the risk of life, limb and livelihood…without insurance. Welcome to our world. It’s time to change the law.

Come join us.

Casey, I’ll keep a light on for ya, Mister. Keep your eye on the prize. You are loved.


1/30 question from the hotlist thread on professional liability insurance

FEDS sounds like just what we need - but what about those of us that aren't feds? The entry below says it is "for all those involved in wildland fire fighting", but the FEDS website says it is just for federal government employees, which are only one part of the wildland fire world. State, local govt, cooperators, etc., fill the same positions from grunt to ICT1, on the same incidents as fed govt employees, and I'm sure could be subject to the same liabilities. Is anyone aware of a reasonably priced, reputable insurance carrier, familiar with "our world" that provides coverage for non-federal wildland firefighters? Or does FEDS offer a non-fed coverage package I missed?


1/30 Emptypockets III, Ambrose and Mellie

This is interesting info put out by the Headwaters Group.

I know enough about FPA and Landfire to be dangerous, so any fire planners out there feel free to educate me.

Landfire www.landfire.gov/ is a mapping analysis tool that will be melded to FPA. Land Fire has fuels, fire occurrence, and WUI among other layers. The FPA planning process and by default development of Land Fire is required to have participants from the 5 Federal Land Management Agencies (Tribes can opt out.). State, local and NGOs may participate. And in some states the States are active partners providing valuble information, as well as NGOs like the Nature Conservancy.

You won't have to spend much time in Landfire before you realize that the Headwaters site is much easier to navigate. Of course the Headwaters maps do not have near the information layers. Both are "landscape" scale and not intended for tactical planning. It would be interesting to see if the Headwaters map and Landfire get the "big picture" stuff the same. The Headwaters stuff is good for sharing with State and Local governments and citizens. The report from Montana on fire cost is very interesting.


Makes you wonder why the feds have been spending several millions of $'s on FPA and Landfire over the past 5 years when stuff like this is out there.

Hopelessly Midwestern
1/30 Accretion upgrades from the GS-6 to the GS-7. I assume for those in R-5 they will now become 26/0's.


Date: January 29, 2009
Subject: Upgrade of Hotshot Squad Leader Positions
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

This letter provides direction and guidance on the structure of the Forest Service Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC). The IHC are diverse teams who uphold a tradition of excellence and have solid reputations as multi-skilled professional firefighters.

The Forest Service IHC structure and grade levels are not comparable to other agencies in which we share resources. Our partnering agencies have established the Hotshot Squad Leader positions at the GS-7 grade level compared to the GS-6 grade level in the Forest Service. This inconsistency has caused morale issues and hiring difficulties. The Hotshot module was last reviewed in 1997 and much has changed in firefighting since that time.

On a recurring basis, the IHC are deployed and split into modules consisting of anywhere from five to eight individuals. These modules are required to work independently of other resources. The modules are given an objective by the crew Superintendent or other operational personnel such as the Operation Section Chief or Division Supervisor and are expected to assess the situation and determine how to best meet the objective. In the dynamic environment of fire fighting, the decision space is often limited and critical decisions must be made quickly, relying on knowledge and experience that will provide for the safety of the module crewmembers while meeting the overall objectives of the plan. Without the ability to take appropriate actions and quickly to implement decisions, fire fighters would be put at an unacceptable risk and mission success would be comprised.

Based on our analysis of the current Hotshot Squad leader GS-6 position, we have found it to be properly classified as a Forestry Technician GS-462-7, with the organization title Squad Leader. There are two approved organization structures for IHC in the Forest Service.
Structure 1                            Structure 2
(1) Superintendent GS-462-9           (1) Superintendent GS-462-9
(1) Assistant Superintendent GS-462-8 (2) Assistant Superintendent GS-462-8
(3) Hotshot Squad Leaders GS-462-7    (2) Hotshot Squad Leaders GS-462-7 
The remaining positions will consist of a mix of positions from GS-3 through GS-5.

It is important to note that no other positions in the IHC organization will be affected by this structure change and as such all other positions on the crew must be filled using competitive procedures.

The establishment of this position upgrade eliminates the GS-462-6 Hotshot Squad Leader position. There are two critical action points to consider.
  1. Non-competitive promotions for individuals encumbering the GS-462-6 Hotshot Squad leader position.

    a. All current employees that have occupied the GS-462-6 Hotshot Squad Leader for at least one year (52 weeks) will be noncompetitively promoted to the new Forestry Technician, GS-462-7, position upon receipt of an approved SF-52 from the Tracker. Units should submit these non-competitive promotion actions within the next 30 days to assure actions can be processed timely.

    b. Employees not yet meeting the qualification requirements will be promoted upon meeting one year of specialized experience at the GS-06. Requests for personnel actions must be submitted by the unit in the SF-52 Tracker. Effective dates should be set at least 2 pay periods from the approval date. If a complete package is received, we can process the action within those timeframes.

    Enclosure 1 contains step-by-step instructions to initiate and approve the action to upgrade the position. Personnel actions cannot be backdated nor are employees entitled to back pay as promotions as they cannot be processed retroactively (5 CFR 511.701).
  2. Closing of the GS-6 open continuous announcement (OCR), opening of the new target level GS-07 OCR, and completion of actions in progress.

    a. The GS-6 Hotshot Squad Leader open continuous announcement (OCR), ADS08-FSJOBS-IHC(SQDLDR)-06 will be closed upon issuance of this letter. No further referral lists will be issued from this OCR.

    b. A new career ladder announcement will be open, target grade level GS-7 - OCR-PERM-IHC(SQDLDR)-06/07. Referral List requests will be accepted after the OCR has been advertised 28 days (as per Merit Promotion Plan). The unit may request referral lists at the GS-6 level (with promotion to the GS-7 level) or the target level GS-7. Applicants must meet one year of specialized experience at the GS-5 level to be considered for a
    GS-6 or one year at the GS-6 level to be considered for a GS-7.

    c. Actions in Progress. Where referral lists have already been issued or selections made, supervisors can continue with the process. Upon meeting the one year of specialized experience at the GS-6 grade level, selectees can be promoted to the GS-7 as identified in 1b, above following instructions in Enclosure 1.

Supervisors should work with their Human Resources Liaisons or through their chain of command if there are additional questions.

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

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

Enclosures: cc: Marc Rounsaville, Matthew Hoggard, Rich Dolphin, Jason Throngard

1/30 God bless Casey Judd and his entire family!

1/30 Casey's health:

Dear Ab & all:

This is going around the community pretty fast so I thought I'd let everyone know the facts.

Yesterday I had an angiogram, the latest in a series of cardiac tests including ekgs, eegs, nuclear imaging etc. These tests were preceded by a trip to the emergency room last August. Although I was having a heart attack at the time, the tests did not show it because the artery involved was on the posterior side of the heart and not usually picked up by leads.

The angiogram yesterday showed severe coronary artery disease with 3 blockages, one complete and two others @ 50%. As a result, I will be having open heart surgery (triple bypass) on Thursday, February 5th and will be in the hospital for about a week. The surgeon called the pictures of the angiogram a classic "widow-maker." (great bedside manner!!)

I am hopeful that during my recovery the only impact on day-to-day business for the FWFSA will be perhaps a slight delay in responding to emails, phone calls etc.

At the surgeon's order, I have had to push back my trip to Washington DC a couple of weeks and will be going for the week of March 16th.

So that's the scoop.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Casey, you know we'll continue to hold you in our thoughts and prayers. All I can say is that I'm thankful that what turned out to be the August heart attack -- and we spoke on the phone then about symptoms -- was not massive, did not damage your heart and that you have had time to figure this out and are dealing with it. Our best to you. "No man is an island", but some are more like continents. You're in that category for our community. Know that you do not stand alone... Get 'er done and get well. Ab.

1/30 Montana Wildland Fire bill, etc:

I'm no Constitutional scholar, but I believe that the Montana DNR can do
whatever they want with regard to mapping the WUI, however the Feds will
still be held accountable for what the Feds themselves determine to be WUI
as published within the Federal Register. I would expect to see more of
this wrangling in the future as State and Local governments go broke.

Bottom line -the Feds are not going to pay for poor zoning and a lack of
defensible space on the part of municipalities. The State and Locals are
not going to want to take on full scale wildland firefighting out in the
boonies unless they have some guarantee of funding.

Too many folks standing in line these days for Federal blank checks......

Rastus T. Emptypockets III

1/30 Equal Pay Act, any effect on firefighters?

Just curious on if the Equal Pay Act that President Obama signed today is
going to affect the pay of agency firefighters. Are all Captains nationwide
going to be moved to eights since they do the same jobs and same for all
other GS grade firefighters? Just curious to what people think.


1/30 Mellie,

Thanks for providing the link to the Montana Risk '07 Map. I also took the chance to look at the Wyoming map done by the same folks. I've done risk mapping for our own county in Wyoming in years past, and my main observation of the Headwaters work is that it is helpful at a state level, as an overview, but not very accurate at the county level. I reviewed their methodology, and it's standard for these course scale studies, using available fuel and census bureau data. But on a local level, census blocks are too amorphous to be a consistent planning tool at even a county level. This would be even more true where counties were somewhat smaller than those in Western Wyoming that have thousands of square miles in coverage. Another problem is the vegetation layer used. I've overlain it on digital ortho quads of our county, and not only are the tree species suspect at scale large enough to assess individual exposures, but they were digitized at so grand a scale that tree species show up where only sagebrush actually grows.

This makes sense out of the Missoula State Senator's contention (in the link Domaque provided) that the state needs to map its own WUI. In fact, it could be best done by some of the counties, if they choose to spend the resources on it, but that's not very likely. The other issues raised in the Gazette article make what sounds to us like perfectly common-sense planning tools become dangerous threats to some politicians and property owners. That is, the issues of what is done with the maps, once created, and how much they affect regulation of private lands. Sometimes, just putting a problem on a map raises profound worries about whose ox that will gore.


1/30 Montana Wildland Fire Costs and identifying fire risk

Domaque, I don't know about your concerns, but here's some interesting related info...

In part because of the high cost of fighting fire and the small population that bears the
cost, Montana has been quite proactive in seeking to identify risk areas for WUI fires
and study them.

Here's a site that presents some of the data: www.headwaterseconomics.org/wildfire/mt.php
On the RISK Map '07 data,

  • Red is urban, suburban, exurban;
  • Green is public lands;
  • Yellow is residential within 500 meters (about 1/3 mi) of public lands.
    (The site also has similar maps for other western states.)

At the bottom of the page there's a GRAPH showing states with Homes on the wildland urban
interface: the BAR graph shows proportions of WUI with and without homes for the western states.
CA is top for interface with homes (dark blue) followed by WA, OR, CO and MT.

On another map shows % of WUI that's been developed. MT it's only 9%.

Last bar graph of % of WUI homes that are seasonal is also interesting. WY, CO, UT, NM,
AZ, ID have 44% to 31% of homes in the interface that are not primary residences.

This company did nice work. Seems to me this info showed up on theysaid last spring or
summer. I think it's a site to watch...


1/30 Montana Wildland Fire bill


This is bill in Montana worries me as it has the potential to start turf wars. Many questions pop up on who is responsible for fire suppression on public ground and who pays. If the U.S. Forest Service decides to let a fire burn for WFU (wild fire use) reasons and the state or local fire chief disagrees, what are our obligations to buck up those folks on the ground? It seems that this bill also takes away from some really unpopular topics such as zoning, building codes and the Firewise program.


Story available at

HELENA - The Montana Senate advanced a plan Saturday to identify and map
the so-called wildland-urban interface - where homes or other development
meet woodlands - despite worries the proposal could harm development.

The idea emerged from a yearlong study looking for ways to reduce
firefighting costs following the expensive fire season of 2007, a season
that led to a special legislative session for payment of bills.

Supporters of the mapping legislation said that firefighting costs are
greater in the areas where houses meet forests, and that those areas in
Montana must be identified.

Sen. Carol Williams, the Missoula Democrat sponsoring the bill, said the
state needs to move before it gets stuck with a federal map identifying the
wildland-urban interface.

"There is a federal map that would be slightly different than what our map
would be," she told the Senate. "We thought Montana should have its own map
- let Montana counties decide what the wildland-urban interface would be."

Fair Use Disclaimer

1/30 Hopelessly Midwestern

Thanks for the info.. I still see these GS 3-4 PDs for fire entry which in some cases may qualify the employee for public assistance! I thinks that's the nut that everyone wants to crack when all said and done.

I find that a 4 year degree qualifies a person for a GS 5 pretty weak when a food clerk at my local grocery store earns a
similar wage plus paid health.. The Fed pay scale is so low.

Perhaps a Wage Scale system is something to look at.

It will be interesting to see how this goes. In today's job market people will take just about anything to work, but that will pass and GS 3-4 won't attract a lot of highly qualified people in CA.


1/29 Professional Liability Insurance:

I have been reading some of the recent postings on liability insurance and I thought it would be a good time to re-introduce your readership to Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS) and provide information on the necessity of liability insurance for all those involved in wildland fire fighting. I have attached an article that I authored last year about liability insurance for firefighters and a press release that describes the differences between the liability insurance offered by FEDS and other companies. A particularly noteworthy difference is that FEDS does not have policy language that allows it to recover legal fees against the insured in criminal matters like the current Wright & Co. policy. Moreover, FEDS has assembled a nationally recognized panel of attorneys to provide the legal defense under the policy who have had specific experience in defending federal employees involved in the recent Thirty Mile, Cramer and Esperanza fire tragedies. It is our commitment to and understanding of the federal wildland fire fighting community, along with the quality of the legal defense provided under the plan that sets FEDS apart from other professional liability programs. I know that if you ask around, you will hear that we at FEDS truly care about the wildland fire fighting community.

This is one of the many reasons that FEDS is endorsed by the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association and many other federal employees associations. I encourage your readers to visit our web site at www.fedsprotection.com and read the endorsements from these associations and former federal firefighters about liability insurance and FEDS.

Now, more than ever, the need for liability protection is necessary for all federal employees—especially those engaged in wildland firefighting. In light of the dangers associated with wildland firefighting, and the scope of the criminal and administrative investigative inquires into firefighting fatalities due to entrapments or burnovers, professional liability protection is an absolute must for all line officers, fire management officers, incident commanders and any employee involved in firefighting or fire management.

For more information about the benefits of professional liability insurance, visit our web site at www.fedsprotection.com, or if you are interested in speaking with someone at FEDS, our telephone number is 866-955-FEDS.

Very Truly Yours,

Anthony Vergnetti, President
Federal Employee Defense Services, Inc.
Phone: 301-229-2481

Why You Need Professional Liability Insurance (101K pdf file)
What Sets FEDS Apart from Others (60K pdf file)

Thanks, Tony, for what you do. Ab.

1/29 family friendly fire workplace question

I have attached this summary below of a project on which my team is working. We are interested in receiving feedback from those in the wildfire community. We are interested in receiving suggestions, recommendations, and options for balancing personal & professional life demands. What has worked for you or others? What are some of the challenges & obstacles to staying in Fire Ops as a career? How do you keep your career advancing yet keep up w/ personal needs (getting kids to athletic practice, taking care of a sick relative, etc)? What types of creative solutions would you like us to consider?
Thanks for your time.

Enhancing the Family-Friendly Fire Workplace

Your ideas and participation are needed to help enhance the family-friendly fire workplace!

A Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Leadership Academy team has been chartered to develop a toolbox of solutions for fire employees, managers, and supervisors that will promote, optimize and sustain a family-friendly work environment and that will enhance career opportunities in the BLM fire program. The toolbox will identify opportunities for operations fire employees to better balance the demands of family life with fire program careers.

This team's effort is focused on two key areas: 1) providing flexible workforce accommodations[1] to fire program employees – such as job-sharing and alternative or temporary assignments – to support the family interests and needs of employees; and 2) ensuring a viable upward career pathway for employees that allows for such flexible workforce arrangements and also includes maintenance or enhancement of necessary fire program qualifications.

You can be an integral part of this effort. Please respond with thoughts, comments, recommendations, and anecdotes to fireoptions@yahoo.com. All responses will be collated anonymously.

January 28, 2009

[1] Accommodation is an Human Resources term which means an alternative work solution that allows the employee flexibility such as less travel, job sharing, taking a fire season off, etc while still pursuing their fire fighting career.

1/29 Free Nascar Race!! Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.
Can you Help Out??? Fundraiser for the Inland Empire Burn Institute.

Ab, I need a few volunteers for a few hours each to help out at a fill the boot fundraiser
at the Nascar race Feb. 20-22, pick a day & time, and then watch the race for free.

I know your situation with all the folks wanting you to post fundraiser stuff so I
understand if you cannot. I thank you very much for the help you've already given me.

Take care and God bless!!
BLM Captain 3630

Good luck with recruiting for a good cause and enjoy the races. Speedway Flyer.pdf for the details. Ab.

1/29 Union Hotshots Sighting: Idols!

The other night my wife screamed for to check out American Idol. This was the end of the Florida Auditions and they were showing the next episode highlights for Salt Lake City. As they showed a scene of the I-15 into Salt Lake, I saw a quick flash of green passing the camera. Thanks to DVR technology, I was able to rewind, slow down and pause to catch the Union Hotshots Supt. truck and crew carriers. So congrats to the Union Hotshots for their 2 sec. of fame on American Idol!!!


1/29 Firefighter Education Requirements:


This is a link to OPM site that lays out requirements for "Professional" (OPM definition of the word may not be the same as most people define it) positions in the Federal Service.

A degree is not "required" but 24 semester hours of specialized education is. The current 401 series positions fit in this group.

This link it to "Administrative" and "Management" positions.

Undergraduate Education: Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in any field leading to a bachelor's degree, in an accredited college or university, meets the GS-5 level requirements for many positions covered by this standard. Others have individual occupational requirements that specify that applicants must, in general, (1) have specific course work that meets the requirements for a major in a particular field(s), or (2) have at least 24 semester hours of course work in the field(s) identified.

Bold is my emphasis.


Below is the info on the GS-081 Fire Protection and Prevention Series.

I believe this is what most people are thinking about when they are asking for a "Wildland Fire Fighter Series"

The 081 series does not fall with in OPM's "Professional" job series. However I'm sure the folks that occupy 081 series positions conduct themselves in a professional manner and that their chosen vocation is a profession as it requires specialized education and skills and they are compensated for their efforts and through additional training and experience one may rise in the ranks of the ranks of the "Fire Protection Services".

General Experience (for GS-3 positions): Work experience or military service that demonstrated the ability to follow directions and to read, understand, and retain a variety of instructions, regulations, and procedures and that otherwise demonstrates the ability to perform or learn to perform the duties of the position.

Specialized Experience (for positions at GS-4 and above): Experience that demonstrated the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA's) to perform successfully the duties of the position. Such duties may include (1) controlling or extinguishing fires as a member of an organized military, industrial, volunteer, or governmental fire department or brigade; (2) rescue operations; (3) detection, reduction, or elimination of potential fire hazards; (4) operation of fire communications equipment; (5) controlling hazardous materials incidents and/or (6) developing, implementing, or providing training in fire protection and prevention.


Education/Training (for positions at GS-5 and below): Appropriate firefighter training may be substituted for experience on a month-for-month basis. Firefighter training obtained as part of a high school curriculum- may be substituted for the 6 months of general experience required for GS-3. Successful completion of a 2-year course of study in an accredited college or university in Fire Training, Fire Science, or other related fields of study is qualifying for GS-4. Successful completion of a 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university with major study in Fire Science, Fire Training, or other related fields of study is qualifying for GS-5.


Hopelessly Midwestern

1/29 Retention:

As a permanent employee, I'm sitting here in AZ laid off since Dec. 6 and probably
won't be going back until early April. Meanwhile, hints of severity have already
started and I'm just wondering if this retention bill affects anyone beside the State
of CA? I would love to change my tour from 18-8 to 26-0.

Quick Connect

1/29 Preliminary fire outlook from the Southwest, but includes all of the West...

R3 etc Fire Outlook (1,045K ppt)

Casey, we're thinking of you. Let us know what we can do to help in any way.

FWFSA firefighter

1/29 Thanks for the info on FEDS and the other Professional Liability Insurance company.
I should have done a bit more searching before I asked.

This FEDS Frequently Asked Questions link that AL provided says quite a bit.
Nice to have something to direct new people to.

Casey we love ya! Thanks for all your great work!


1/29 Proposed Legislation (FWFSA), Wildland Fire Series & AD Pay plan:


In looking over the proposed legislation, I wonder if OPM -- knowing that the House in 2007 directed them to develop a wildland fire series -- has even come up with some talking points. Likely not.

The bill encourages OPM to seek input from labor & employee associations, which I assume should include the FWFSA and testimony from the people who do the job. I hope so. With that in mind, have there been any ideas floated as to what really should be the educational and skill requirements for the proposed series?

I bring this up because the present Forestry Tech series has no academic requirement. No formal High School or GED is required. I believe it's just 18 yrs young, The Basic 32 fire school and the completion of the pack test. The classifiers who determine what an applying candidate ranks, seems to be a case of who is doing the classifying. Different HR people with this responsibility rarely come up with the same GS level results. If the series comes with a minimum schooling requirement, will it survive future challenges from special interest groups as denying their "group" a chance at employment. I say this as some in Congress are already making statements about making sure the stimulus jobs go to the "right" people. We know what this brings.. judicial activism.

Most people in fire consider themselves Professionals, but in the world of OPM, a professional series usually comes with hard academic (college) requirements to be graded as a professional series. I don't think many people working now would want to see that, but they still want to be recognized as a professional in what they do. Can a new series make room for that? Will the new series use the NWCG guide as the grading and pay benefit? Will Community College fire credits finally receive the recognition they deserve?

I see interesting and lively discussions ahead. Its going to be interesting how it all shakes out.

PS anyone heard how the AD Pay plan proposed April 1st revision is coming? I suspect its still sealed in a cloud of secrecy.


1/29 Re Land Manager vs Fire Department

To Johnny Reb and others:

I am a bit behind due to being buried at work so this reply is a late, but I am going to add my opinion. The fire department of the forest service, BLM, etc needs to stay actively involved in land management through the fuels management program. We can make, and in some places have made, a big impact on the fire situation in improving firefighter safety and reducing large fire costs by treating the fuels in strategic places. This is part of our mission!

If fire looses the ability to participate in the NEPA process of land management, those specialists (foresters, ologists) will put the thinning into places that meet their objectives only (areas with large trees) and will not treat the surface/ladder fuels, nor put the treatment in places that can help stop fires. Sure NEPA is hard, I did it for 20 years of my career, but I also watched a fire this last summer hit a treated area and lay down, cutting fire suppression costs and reducing the size of the fire.

There are many examples last summer, where fuels treatments made a difference in fire size and cost. If we want a truly safer fire environment, we have to keep involved in land management. Most of the ecosystem we deal with evolved with fire; why let a bunch of ologists make the case on how to manage them when we are the fire experts?

Just remember one other thing, those ologists and foresters created some of the problem fuel types we have to deal with today (plantations, PACs, etc) why would we want to let them continue to make these decisions without some input from fire experts?

Fuels Geek at Heart

1/29 Making the rounds.

A little history,,, Q

1928 South Fork Fire Report

1/29 BLM Retention:

Hey all.

We just found out that the BLM state office in CA is behind us getting a retention incentive,
just like what the FS is getting. Only thing in our way is, it has to be approved by the
national office.


1/29 Retention:

So what is the word with retention bonuses? I'm hearing the region 5 FLTs are
scrambling to figure out the 26-0 green light and how they are going to
implement it.

Hmm.. There is some action on some retention issues. I hope the rest blows in
on the Feb. winds. :)


1/29 Why don't we use the stimulus money to design and build a new Airtanker or
buy some CL-415's

Signed, Where 2 put the money

Hey, looks like these guys are way ahead of the flat curve on this one. Isn’t this the same stuff from 5 years ago?.. noname

Human Capital Management’s Support of Economic Stimulus

Introduction: The purpose of this paper is to communicate the Human Capital Management (HCM) strategy to support the Forest Service’s implementation of the Economic Stimulus effort. HCM recognizes that this is an important initiative and we are taking measures to accommodate the anticipated surge in hiring. HCM and Forest Service Management/Leadership need to work in close partnership to be successful.

Since February 4, 2008, HCM has completed 38,690 actions from the 52 Tracker; of these 15,797 were (other than temporary) Recruit and Fills. HCM hired approximately 15,000 temporaries during our peak spring hiring period.

I.  Hiring Options

1.        Open Continuous Recruitments (OCRs):
           What is it?
o        Commonly government-wide and public announcements for multiple identical positions in various/numerous duty locations that provide a continuous list of interested applicants ready for referral.

2.        Number of OCRs currently established:
        99 Temporary OCRs (sorted by series). This includes:
o        GS-462- 4 and 5, Forestry Technician (Fuels)
o        GS-817- 3, 4 and 5, Surveying Aid/Technician
o        GS-1316- 4, 5 and 6, Hydrologic Technician
o        GS-1702- 5, Education Technician (Job Corp)
o        GS-1710- 9, Teacher (Job Corp)
o        WG-5716- 5, Engineering Equipment Operator Helper
o        WG-5716- 8 and 10, Engineering Equipment Operator

The National Temporary Employment Announcement Numbers 2008 are available at: fsweb.hcm.fs.fed.us/employment/OCR_VAC_Anncmnts_and_PD_nos_3Sept2008.doc (intranet)

        174 Permanent positions etc.

Rest of the info.   HCM Support of Economic Stimulus

1/29 In the current Stimulus package this was found to be part of it
"$44 million for repairs to U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters" ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

Disgruntled FS Employee
1/28 Re Professional Liability Insurance:


I'm a faller and I've heard some scuddlebutt. Do I need professional liability insurance?

Anyone know the options? Any fallers or EMT's have it? What about non-feds getting it?

Siski Sam

1/28 Re Security breech:

Here is a link to an Alert on the USAJOBS web site regarding recent security breach.


Hopelessly Midwestern

1/28 Professional Liability Insurance:

Is this maybe the part?

p2 under
Coverage B - Legal Defense Expense Coverage, 2nd to last paragraph.

The Company shall be liable for "Claims Expenses." However, in a
"Criminal Proceeding," to the extent that a finding, verdict or other
final disposition unfavorable to the "Insured" shall establish that the
"Incident" was criminal, the Company reserves the right to recover
"Claims Expenses" and monetary penalties from the "Insured."
Wright & Co policy

Glad I have FEDS... Does FEDS have that same kind of policy?

In Law Enforcement and Firefighting there are too many reactions that come
under human factors that could possibly make you be found guilty but your not.
I hope my lawyer would know that if I needed it.


Fair Use Disclaimer

1/28 Professional Liability Insurance:


Here's the Wright & Co policy (pdf file) I googled it.

I think you need to hire a lawyer to translate it. I'd say tongue firmly in cheek, but read this,
it's not in English... Maybe a lawyer can find the part you're speaking of and quote the page
and paragraph, then translate.

Here's the FEDS page comparing FEDS with Wright and Co.


1/28 Professional Liability Insurance:

Does anyone have a copy of the Wright and Company Policy?
(Wright is one of the Fed Professional Liability Insurance companies
originally recommended by the FS after Cramer.)

Is it true that the Wright policy says that if you're judged guilty they
have the right to recoup the money the company laid out in your
defense? If that's true, why would you even buy Professional Liability
Insurance? I thought the purpose of it was to have a lawyer versed in
federal experience watching your back in case your Agency fails to
back you up, or in case opening your mouth and sharing too much
fuzzy detail puts you at risk.

I couldn't find a link that lays out Wright's policy. Anybody with that
policy know? Please send it in. Has anyone recently needed their help???
How experienced are their lawyers?

How about FEDS? Could someone with a FEDS policy ask them to
clarify their policy. Send it in? Might they ever "back charge" a firefighter
if the firefighter is found guilty? (I do remember the experienced Cramer
and I think 30-Mile lawyers from Wright & Co started FEDS.)

I know FEDS has an ad on the Hotlist. Does anyone have first hand
experience with them?

I have two retired FS friends -- still in fire on the front lines -- who want
details... Last season working in norcal left them a bit anxious and feeling



1/28 Not sure if you'd seen this yet, but probably needs TS and Hotlist coverage.

Just saw it on CNN whilst chomping a sammich.

Monster.com/USA Jobs.gov Websites Hacked


noname sammich chomper haw haw

1/28 To: "Need Online University Degrees"

The U. S. Fire Administration has a website with links to colleges and universities offering associates, bachelors, and graduate degrees in fire, including fire science, management, administration, prevention, and engineering.


Some of these are online or distance programs, and the USFA has a specific link for them. I counted 80 associate, 26 bachelors, and 13 graduate programs. Seven bachelor's programs can be done at a distance, and some are "hybrid", where most of it is distance but there is some on-campus work (Oklahoma State University's PhD program).

But you still need to do some of your All seing, since the USFA site definitely doesn't include all the programs. Boise State University in Idaho offers bachelor's degrees in wildland fire management and in fire service technology, but will move its associate degree programs to the College of Western Idaho in July 2009. You can use most if not all your NWCG and structural fire training courses as credit courses, but you also must complete general education courses either onsite, online or by transfer.

Remember, if you work for a land management agency as opposed to a fire agency, you need to look at the various forestry, range, biology, and other degrees, and there are too many online programs to count. Colorado State, University of Idaho, University of British Columbia, all offer programs. And they won't prevent you from getting a job as a firefighter with a municipal agency, because I met more than a few L.A. County crew captains with Forestry degrees.

Chadron State College has just started a campus based B.S. in Rangeland Fire Management, which is designed for students who already have completed an A.S. or A.A.S. in Fire Science.

P.S., Don't even think about going to a degree mill and buying a diploma for $495. Believe me, it's been tried already.

bia fmo
1/28 To DM2:

You asked the question "How many people are willing to pay this much to work as a firefighter"?

Well, about 800,000 people in the U.S. have paid for and attended fire education and training out
of their own pocket so they can volunteer as a firefighter.

bia fmo
1/28 arcing power lines~


You need real player to watch it~


1/28 The Jobs page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
1/28 Re Need video and Need Online Universities/Colleges

CRN - Power line arc video – not sure if it’s the one you were looking for:


R2 Captain - College programs:

Pike’s Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, had an AAS in fire science that could be done entirely through distance learning. Wasn’t online per se when I took it, but probably is now. They accepted transfer of credit from NWCG, NFA, and other professional training towards their required credits, so if you’ve been in the business very long, you’d probably start with at least part of its requirements already met. More oriented towards municipal/structural, than wildland, though, as I recall.

Hutchinson Community College, Hutchinson KS, has a fire science AAS program with a wildfire emphasis. I know at least some of their classes can be done via distance learning, not sure if you can do it all that way, but I have several firefighters who have gone through their program, and know their faculty well, and know they put on a great program.

I know either institution would be happy to talk to anyone wanting more info.


Thanks KSENGB.
R2 Captain, you might try these institutions to see if they have internet options. Many have developed such capabilities since I created that list. (For future reference, you can find that link on the Links page.) Ab.

1/28 Temp Engine announcement numbers have changed in AVUE to
TEMP-OCR-462-4-ENGINE for GS-04's and
TEMP-OCR-462-5-ENGINE for GS-05's if you're recruiting these positions.

As far as I know nothing else has changed.

Bewildered by Albuquerque

1/28 Need video:

I was wondering if anybody has a video of a power line arcing during a fire
or prescribed burn. I seem to remember a high voltage line doing a major
arcing a while back and can't find the footage available.

Can you help me out, this would be great.



1/28 Need online university programs:


I am an engine captain for the forest circus. I have a biology degree and I am looking
for information on colleges or universities with on-line programs in Fuels/Fire Management.
I would appreciate any information you can provide.

R2 Captain

1/28 Re Cost of training for wildland fire jobs:

DM2.... where were you going with this? I don't see how any of this has anything to do with discussion at hand...

About 95% of the Wildland Firefighters that I know and work with all have FF1 academies, EMT-B, 2 yr degrees in Fire Science, etc, etc... me included. Not every dept. requires your little "list" of qualifications... and if I remember correctly, the larger departments -- namely the ones I'd rather go and work for if I were to make the swap -- have the same prerequisites as FS.... High school diploma or GED and 18 yrs old with a driver's license... Mostly smaller depts. require more prereq's because they can't afford the cost of the academies.

Again... your point.... was, well.... pointless from my perspective and involvement in the current discussion.

The way I see it.. having a pool of employees who already has these certs is even more of a reason to call us Firefighters and become All-Risk.


DM2's post refers back to a thread from 1-2 months ago. Ab.

1/27 Mobile Home Housing:


Take your Ranger's advice and don't purchase any mobile home that is currently on a Forest Service
trailer pad or bring in a mobile home and place it on a Forest Service trailer pad, until the plan comes
out. If you go into the wlf archives for 2008 or maybe 2007 (can't remember the month) you can find
out the pain the LP is going though.

I heard it will take a federal judge's ruling or a new law to change what happened on the LP and what's
about to surprise many mobile home owners on other National Forests.

Hopefully the RO housing policy will tamper down the restrictions within the LP housing policy, however
I wouldn't bet on it.


1/27 Photographers,

There's a Shasta College firefighter class that's developing their presentations.
They say thanks for letting them use such great photos. It will save them a lot of development
time and increase the quality of their presentations.


1/27 Adapx technology webcast:

Fire geeks out there, don't forget there's a free Adapx technology webcast
tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. PST. We still have room for a few more
participants. Here is the link to register:


As long as I’ve been mapping fires, I believe this to be the perfect solution
for folks who are just starting or don’t have the time to learn GIS.

Fire Mapper

1/27 Re Cost of training for wildland fire jobs and survey info:

Yes many of the fire folks that I hire each season have their CA State Fire Marshal
FF1 as well as EMT. These are some of the qualifications that I look for in employees
and what about me? I spent $35k on my degree in Fire Science and I do not qualify
for the 401. I chose to stay because of the area, the schools that my children attend,
my wife works locally as well.

1 Driving time to nearest town 15-20 minutes
2 Population of town 3500 approx.
3 R5 Central Ca not southern
4 IAs just my station not District 60 +


1/27 WINDS in Spain and Europe:

From Firescribe:

France and Spain deploy troops after storm kills 23

Spanish town buries four children after storm

Firefighters were close to putting out two forest fires to the east of the country sparked
by the violent winds...

And from a firefighter in northeastern region of Catalonia, Spain who was part of the firefighting
effort. Regarding the terrible storm and wind: We have no record of such situations over here.
Only a written record from 1719 but no real data.

Be safe All. Ab.

1/27 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate


The 5 Questions

1) Driving time to nearest city/town - 1 minute
2) Population is 7,500
3) MN
4) N/A
5) I am a Federal Wildland Fire Manager hired to implement my agency's mandate as specified in my agency's and unit's specific enabling legislation. (Some of our units have very specific purpose when congress set them up. Things that do not help us attain that specific purpose are just not done.)

Because there are wildlands with wildland fuels that will burn on them, my agency needs a Wildland Fire Management Program. And the mandate for expenditure of federal wildland fire management funds is very specific. Protect human life and our trust resources on lands where we have jurisdiction.

That program includes:

  • Prevention
  • Suppression (Protect our trust resources from unwanted wildland fires, prevent unwanted fires from burning off our lands and onto PVT/State that are adjacent)
  • Hazardous fuels mitigation
  • Use of fire to attain resources management objectives:
    • Livestock forage improvement
    • Wildlife habitat improvement
    • Stand regeneration/seed production/habitat restoration.

The fire management needs of my unit are large and complex enough to warrant several full time Wildland Fire Management positions. (I have been places were there just was not enough work to justify spending 12 months salary out of fire so fire was a collateral duty. It left plenty of time for burn plans, coop agreements with local RFDs etc. as there was 1.2 wildfires per year 99% being effectively suppressed by RFDs.)

Thus I am a Federal Land Manager working in the Wildland Fire Management Program implementing Land Management objectives to attain the Land Management goals laid down by congress, that in turn, are a response to the desires/needs/wants of the American People.

As far as waiting to the tones and stuck doing project work -

I have seen extremes in what I believe are abuses of Wildland Fire Crews. I have seen them used as "the" project crew and used in such a way that during the peak of the burning period on high fire danger days, they were too worn out to be of much use on a running IA as well as having no contact with dispatch to even know there was a fire till the end of the work day. On the other extreme, I have seen folks sitting in the day room on low fire danger days waiting for the bell to ring. In each case, I do not think that the interests of the American People were being served. In each case, a more holistic view of all aspects of the agency's mission would have led to a more efficient utilization of manpower.

Hopelessly Midwestern

1/27 Ab,

The Black Hills Helitack Program will have their 50th Anniversary in 2009. A reunion for all folks who have been part of the program over the years will be held in late in July at the Helibase in Custer. Additional info to be provided as planning is completed.

Thanks for your work.


1/27 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate:

See myself as a firefighter first and a land manager second

1. Driving time it takes to get to nearest town: station is in town
2. Population of town metro area: 145,000
3. Region or state: Western Colorado
4. I.A. Load: Unit Average-254 wildfires/year, I.A. Zone average- 122 wildfires/year

One of the better discussions I have read on they said, nice work folks on keeping it respectful and intelligent.

My overall opinion on this subject is straightforward: the more specialized and cornered we become in our job description, the more likely were are going to be cut in a federal budget or contracted out. If we segregate ourselves as a special entity, we will hamper internal relations and public services of our respective agencies. If our job description can somehow state that our primary duty is wildland fire management but also reflect the diversity of work that we participate in and are responsible for, I believe that would be the ideal situation.

Basically, I believe that in most parts of the country, fire folks get work done for their home unit and are heavily depended upon for their "can do" approach. With a more diverse job position description, the more essential we are to the team. I would even go as far as to recommend that our series would say "Forest Ranger or Desert Ranger" instead of forestry/range technician. With a "forest ranger" series, would describe the old school mentality of a non-LEO position whose primary duties are wildland fire management as well as forest/range project assistance. As everyone knows wildland fire management has become a professional not seasonal job, so calling folks a Forest/Desert Ranger would pay more respect to the professional and diverse aspects of the job as opposed to being called a technician.

All federal wildland firefighters are not the same with regards to local/regional responsibilities and duties. Therefore, all of us should not be covered by a blanket specialized job description as only being a professional firefighter. Our diversity of what we can do for our agencies/public is a selling point, not a weakness.

Take care and be safe,

Johnny Reb

1/27 Re: Cost of training for wildland fire jobs

To everyone who is comparing USFS “forestry technicians” to municipal firefighters, take prerequisite cost of being hired into consideration.

For the Forest Service entry firefighting position, you need only a high school diploma or GED and be 18 years of age.

To be hired by a municipal department, you have to take and complete an accredited Junior College or College level "Fire Academy".

  • That cost is about $3600.00 including tuition, books, clinical shirts, and supplies. The costs NOT included in this amount are: Cost of living, uniform (pants, boots, t-shirts, etc.), required vaccinations, physical from your doctor, Drug Screening test, OSBI Background Check, Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), and transportation to and from school.
  • EMT courses taken at a community college will cost about $400.00 total for unit fees, books, parking fees, etc.
  • CPAT $150.00 for two Orientations and Test plus $25.00 for each timed practice run (two recommended as part of the pre-test program)
  • For a total of $4150.00.

The cost for us to get hired with the Forest Service? PRICELESS!

Now let me ask, how many people are willing to pay this much to work as a firefighter?


1/26 Mobile Home Housing:

Hello all,

Our district ranger has told various employees that any new housing projects or mobile home purchases are to stop until further notice. This information has been conveyed individually without any official documentation. We have been told that we are awaiting a regional housing policy which is coming out shortly.

Anyone have any info on the potential outcome of this new regional housing policy on firefighter retention and or the potential ramifications this could have for current trailer owners? LP?


1/26 Re Mark III pumps:

Snake River Sparky,

I had the unfortunate experience of getting to see seven complete Mark III pumps with kits and about 50,000 feet of miscellaneous hose, fittings, fuel cans, and porta tanks meet the same demise after being left on the side of the road on a to-be-left-unnamed incident in Southern Oregon several years ago. To quote the Safety Officer that was on scene to investigate: "Those little guys never even had a chance to get out of their boxes." Quite the pile of metal melted into the dirt. Didn't have a camera but wish I had had one.


1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate:

Interesting debate. Having also spent over thirty years working for federal land management agencies, I have learned several important things about which side of the debate has furthered my career over the years. You youngsters might give this some thought.

1. For good or bad -Compared to fire suppression -Gifford Pinchot, Congress, CNN and the Public has never made as much of a fuss over how many timber sales you laid out, or how many miles of streams you inventoried, or even how many NEPA documents you completed. I know that all of this is important, but when asked what they would rather fund- most of the public would vote for fire suppression.

Money came to the FS because fire was the "moral equivalent of war." (Arguably in my estimation).

2. If you manage to commit yourself purely in a land management situation- you will find that your knowledge of leadership, the ability to think in new ways, the ability to seek solutions and supervise people will be sacrificed for the sake of organizational expediency that changes with administrations. These values and skills are hard to cultivate in most endeavors other than fire management and war.

3. Because of #2 a firefighter has a much better chance of managing a land management agency- than a land manager would have managing a fire organization.

4. In terms of degrees of impact that you may have contributed to improving the lives of your neighbors and your nation, while providing a sense of accomplishment to your own life; fire suppression and management far outweighs land management. One can spend a life time planning and implementing land management plans only to have fire transform the landscape in the wink of an eye.

Fire people will always be the ones who resource managers look to "get things done". It has been that way since the beginning. While we did everything that a resource manager was expected to do, it was fire that took precedence. That is why the US Army doesn't initial attack fires anymore, because a professional fire organization fills that role. Yes there are land managers out there who are indeed great firefighters, but only because they understand the essence of what firefighting is all about. They understand the dynamics of risk and gain, intuition and liability, the standards of engagement and those times when discretion outweighs "The Plan".

In the end-mother nature is not very impressed by both our land management nor our fire management. People on the other hand will always gain an impression by our fire management, while not even noticing whether the land was managed or not. People notice because fire changes everything and fire demands that those who manage fire, must also be masters of adaptation and change.

This fundamental difference is what sets fire people apart from pure land managers. It's the stuff that makes them hate us so.

Fasten your seatbelts boys and girls- as your society will regularly look even more to you in the future- to "get things done".
If that doesn't sound like fun -it's time get a good NEPA job- somewhere in which it rains a lot.

Nasty Joe Stumphole
Funkytown, NV.

1/26 Re Legislation Efforts:

Snake River Sparky from 1/16

I think your post on 1-16 was good, but I think you have lost sight of a few things. You tell Casey to choose his battles. Well, if this isn't a good time to fight a battle, then there will never be one. Casey has about 15 items going to Legislation. I'd say it's a good time to battle. But, that's just me.

I think another point you missed, and Casey brought this up in his rebuttal, was that by eliminating those high cost non-fed jobs on project fires, you in turn, may help out the taxpayer. I'm assuming that the BC you were talking about in your post was a non-fed BC, as I'm not sure that any fed employee could make 40K in two weeks. But, if that's the case, let's take his 40K in OT and give it to a fed employee and maybe only spend 10K, or give it to 2 feds and spend 20K. The mismanagement of money is the key thing here and is one of the pieces of legislation that will be brought forward.

And finally, PTP may not be the answer, but it has worked for others who have tried it, and as Casey put it, "The alternative is to do nothing...and that is not an alternative."

I don't think fighting for equality will be perceived as selfish and money grubbing, but it may. We'll have to wait and see.

Quick Connect

1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate

Like 007 said, I never thought that I would get such a great debate going over such a great topic.. It's a topic that I believe needs to be discussed and some real solutions brought about. I think that this forum is one of, if not the BEST brainstorming forums we have in the Wildland Firefighting community. I thank all of you for responding and developing this discussion further. As a newer (6 years) employee of the USFS, this question has been bouncing around my head for a very long time...and felt I had to get it out there.

To answer Abs question earlier:

1. Driving time to nearest town / or city: Hmmm maybe 5-10 min. East and 15 West to another. Sitting between 2 county lines as well.
2. Population: City#1 (East) 49,807, County #2 (West, and I will call it a county since there's to many cities on Forest Boundary) Pop. 3,121,251,
3. Region: R5....South Zone
4. So Cal
5. If not for a co-op station...nearest incoming ALS engine for T/C, Med-Aide, Structure Fire 1/4 mile from station: ETA 10-20 depending on location of incident.

See why there needs to be some kind of modification to mission? And I understand it doesn't fit for every location throughout the FS, but a Central Organization can figure that part out and deal with it accordingly.

And no...I don't want to just sit around and wait for tones to go off.....there are such things as training, station maintenance, grounds keeping, public contact, etc...but you can't do all that when you're doing what some 'ologist or "Forestry Tech." should be doing themselves.


1/26 Great News relating to Retention:

On the R5 conference call this morning Fire and Aviation Director Ed Hollenshead
told us that we have the green light to move forward with #2 of the recommendations,
of which the last part reads:

, authorizing the promotion of Apprentice employees to GS-05 within the
program, and authorizing permanent, seasonal tours for firefighters outside
of the Apprentice program to be adjusted to permanent full time tours (for
those employees wishing to do so).

Full retention briefing doc from which this is quoted.

Noname Fire

1/26 Re Off-again, On-again Chief Officer's Workshop cancelled.

(From a third party, not Allen. Thanks for the hard work, Committee. Ab.)

It is with great regret that the R5 Division Chief's steering committee is officially cancelling the 2009 Chief Officer's Workshop. At the request and with the support of Ed Hollenshead and Randy Moore, we continued to try and work to get approval through the Chief Financial Officer for USDA. The committee had posed several deadlines, but remained positive and tried work through the process to no avail. At this time, we feel we are at the point that we can no longer be successful in putting together a quality workshop with the time remaining.

We will immediately begin working on trying to get approval for the 2010 workshop.

Allen Johnson
Chair - Division Chief's Steering Committee

1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate

I never suspected my initial question to Green Crusader would open up such a dialogue. I was approached twice this morning in the hall of the D.O. with people commenting on my post. We ended up having a fairly heated discussion outside the Ranger's door... unfortunately, he wasn't in yet. I have long suspected that this is a decisive issue, not just R-5 vs. the rest of us, but within the district as well. I know that there is animosity on my forest from those outside of fire towards the fire program, however there is also a feeling of balkanization within the fire management ranks as well. Some of us are quite ready to embrace the notion of a stove piped fire program, while others are reluctant to give up what they see as our original mission as a land management outfit that fights fire in the summer and does whatever else is needed to manage the land the rest of the year.

The problem and reason for this schism has been alluded to by Ab as being one of, location and the changing dynamic of the WUI ( specifically in So-Cal), as well as a disconnect between line officers and fire programs, as voiced by Randy Moore last year. I see this as a complex problem without a glaring solution, however to ignore the divide within our own ranks shows how much must be done to arrive at a compromise that is of benefit to all involved. I wasn't trolling for such a bite but...FISH ON!


1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate

In 10 years with FS, my experience was much the same as MAS's:

1. 3 rattlesnake bites (all still- alarms)
2. 1 hang glider down in condor sanctuary (dispatched)
3. 1 Harley vs: boulder on the highway (double fatal, dispatched)
4. 2 light planes down in back country (dispatched as smoke checks)
5. multi "shots fired; S/O delayed" calls
6. multi DB's
7. 2 obstetrics (both still- alarm, and no they could NOT wait)
8. 1 oil- well blowout w/ fire
9. multi vehicle fires and/ or accidents, many with injuries, mostly still- alarms

And this was in the '70's and '80's... this is NOT a "new problem" and it's NOT going to go away.

I'm not going to presume to tell you folks what the solution is; but it sure seems to be about time that the WO faces the fact that you do more than massacre bushes...


1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate

1) 5 mins primary and 50 mins to nearest city
2) Primary: 2,227 City: 214,853
3) R5
4) Norcal
5) D: Firefighter, "All Risk", with Land Management and Yard maintenance

I can understand where you could get that we do not want you around from
the bill, but I think you are reading too heavily between the lines. My
station is Coop with a local department. I like having them around and
helping them with other "all risk" activities. The FS and DOI in no right
can go into isolation without using non-federal resources. Who would do
Structure protection for us since we are taking a "perimeter control only"
stance these days? In the Coop situation we rely on each other to make
our everyday just a bit easier. Giving them training and inviting them to
our fires for some OJT just gives us another avenue if we need it for
competent wildland fire fighters.

What I am tired of seeing is our yearly fire costs spiral up and having
lots of money go out the window to State and Municipal people that
charge for themselves twice with an admin fee attached. It is one of
the many reasons that the FS fire budget is quickly consuming the agency.

The second is that the work in other FS departments is still getting done,
because fire is funding it. Showing congress and the bean counters that
they do not need more money to complete their tasks. Thus increasing fire
funding more, because we are using our budget to fund other stuff. We
currently use fire money to subsidize barracks space for other departments
is a good example. Yes, they all pay money in, but above and beyond eats
into fire. A majority of Ologists seem to look to tag thier projects into
fire some how to suckle from what is seen as a cash cow. If we had a
system like the DOI with the FIREPRO system, the costs of pre suppression
might ease a bit as well.

This is kind of hastily put together I hope it all makes sense. I'm not shooting
to peeve anyone off either. This is simply my opinion is all.


Nice bill.. RAM it home! It's time!


1/26 Fire vs. Land Management:

1. Town of 7,000
2. Great Basin (R4)
3. Fire/Land Management (all one in no particular order)

My stats may not count to you folks as I am currently a BLM employee but I figured I would throw them out there anyway. I do work in a VERY interagency setting with FS, State, BLM and BIA. And, I had been FS in Regions 5 (NOPs) ,6, 8 and 4 for the majority of my 19 year career before going to BLM.

Currently I'm a PFT in a fire position that keeps me involved in fire year round, however back in those carefree days of being a seasonal (180 day back in the day), an NTE, a PSE 13-13 and 18-8 it was like this...

One of the big reasons I stayed with the outfit was because of the variety of things I got to do. I don't want to just sit in a station waiting for the next call. I would much rather be out building fence or stream bank revetments (fortification), marking timber, thinning, banding goshawks (large, short winged hawk), all kinds of maintenance on lookouts, campgrounds guard stations, you name it. We even built an equestrian bridge out of an old train trestle at one point. We would patrol, meet and interact with the public and handle prevention programs.

As a result we knew every road, goat trail, clearing and had a good idea of weather patterns on our home unit. We also provided EMS services until an ambulance could get out from town, assisted SAR Teams because of our knowledge of the area etc... One of the ways I would extend my season well into the fall/winter or start earlier in the spring was to work for timber, wildlife or the archaeologists. Of course early on those same 'ologists would spend a great deal of their summer in Nomex supporting fire.

I know R5 SOPs has its own issues. However, I think it should be acknowledged that most regions are dealing with longer 'fire seasons' whatever that means anymore. And, R5 is certainly not the only area with urban interface issues. I also remember a time when it was considered a good thing to "move on to move up". Go work in other regions, different forests or field offices and know that there are alot of different ways to get the same job done.

Do I think that there should be a firefighter series? Yes. Do I think the 0401 series needs to go away? Absolutely. Do I think that ALL the shops need to support each other in anyway they can? Definitely!

Just my 2 cents,
1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate

Firefighter first.
Land Management is a broad term including all of the specialists needed to manage the environment. My job has the very focused specialty of FIRE. 18 years with FS, 2 with CDF (Not Much Difference!.. Those 2 yrs. with CDF were at a FS/CDF COOP station.)

For all of those that try to pretend our Firefighters are not Firefighters but rather Forestry Techs... shame on you.

Think about the implications of mixed or wrong messages in regards to safety. What hypocrisy to preach safety, situational awareness, knowledge, competency, and responsibility of all the risks associated with firefighting... and to tell our Firefighters that they are not Firefighters?

I feel there is a liability issue for an employer to tell a Firefighter they are employed as something other than that. The wrong job title masks the true risks and hazards associated with the job.

Land Managers don' get burned, or dehydrated, or injured in remote areas while firefighting, or suffer short or long term from smoke inhalation, or suffer the mental anguish of stressful situations. When was the last time your botanist or biologist needed a critical incident stress debriefing?

Enough towing the company line and being small so as to not cause waves. Call it what it is...(TC). Forest Service Firefighters are the best Wildland Firefighters in the world. We have developed the tools of the trade, Pulakis etc., and Safety Standards, 10 & 18's, and the framework of training & competency...IQCS, and mastered incident management ICS Teams. And all the while, screwed by a Technicality!

TC, I agree 100%... it is what it is. It is not and will not ever be, what it was. And for that matter the job was misclassified back then too!

What Tha---

1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate

Just thought having read everyone else's point of view, I thought I would throw my opinion out there.

It seems in recent years there has been much more talk about how we as firefighters (FS) need to move away from the old Land Management beliefs and try to become a federal firefighting force. The talk buzzes around daily about how poorly treated we are and how much better everyone else has it. I agree with some of that, but we were founded as a land management unit; "To care for the Land and serve the people." I believe if we deviated from that we would become an Agency that no longer is a "Jack of all trades" we would become an entity that sits around in their station waiting for calls to come over the radio. No longer would we do any of the projects and hard work that made us one -- if not THE most Elite -- of Civilian Government agencies.

I grew up in the Agency and I know the Great people the Agency produced, I believe if we got away from what the "old Timers" taught us our reputation as the best, would be lost and the quality of people we produced would be diminished. Sure I want more money and benefits like the City and County folks have, but, We are who we are. The title of firefighter is just a title. Everyone knows who they are and what they do, a name shouldn't be that big a factor. I have worked for a number of individuals all who remember the good old days when a title didn't mean anything, everyone loved their job because of the work that it entailed. I was taught to be a public servant or better yet, a Forest Ranger first and a Firefighter second.

Green 4 Life and Proud

1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate

Land Manger first and Firefighter second here. 34 yrs with the FS.

For anyone that thinks it's Firefighter first, you should look for a job with a
Fire department. And for any 'ologist that does not support cutting timber or
Fire Use, I'd also say look for another job.

The Forest Service is what it is, a Land Management Agency......................


1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate

I retired from a Federal land management agency (worked for 2 DOI agencies during a 30 year fire career). I have a word of caution for those of you who feel you need a "stovepipe" federal fire agency that would handle wildland/prescribed fire, fuels work and all-risk management. The answer from Congress would be:

1) No, you do not have to do ranger/land management work/clean campgrounds
2) Yes, you can have a separate line item budget, separate from Resource Management
3) Yes, you can have the title of Wildland Firefighter
4) Yes, you will be a first responder to wildland fires, hurricanes, floods, chicken flu, ...
5) Yes, you now work for the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA

Be careful what you ask for, you may just get it. Yes, there is a problem with Dept of Ag/FS skimming money from the FS fire budget, that has been going on for a long time. FS needs to solve that problem and not make so much noise that Congress makes a change that THEY think will work.

/s/ Chena Helitack

1/26 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate

Wow! I have been reading all the recent post on this debate and thought I would throw my two cents in. There has been some really good points made on both sides of this topic. I can agree with both sides but I do believe there needs to be some changes made with how fire is managed (if it stays within land management agencies or if it becomes it's own separate agency). Here are some experiences I have had while working for land management agencies.

1. While out on patrol our engine came across a family out camping, they flagged us down because the little girl broke her leg while playing on some rocks out in the river.

2. My crew was heading to a project one morning way out in the mountains. We came across a truck that was rolled over. The driver was trapped inside and had minor wounds. We called dispatch and they were able to get the county fire/rescue but it was going to be about two hours till they could arrive on scene.

3. We had a laddie drown about 2 miles from our station.

4. I cant count how many times my engine would be flagged down patrolling camp grounds because somebody needed medical attention. In the fall we would always get a few hunters (sometimes kids too) that would get lost out on public land (FS, BLM). Instead of helping with search and rescue we would be working on some project or just sitting at the station. Who better to conduct search and rescue then us. We are trained to work in the mountains (in all weather conditions, terrain etc.) These are the mountains that we know like the back of our hands (No offence to county search and rescue teams but most of the ones I have known are usually comprised of middle age, over weight and out of shape people).

5. Had a car fire about 50 yards from the front door of our station.

These people come to our public lands for vacation, hunting, fishing whatever. I believe that it is our responsibility to make sure these people are kept safe. We as employee's for a federal land management agency need to be trained for these kind of non fire emergencies and not just fire folk's and we need to have the agencies back us up on performing these kind of duties. A supervisor once said to me " if you come across a car on fire you can not do anything, only if it get into the vegetation you can put that out (the veg I mean not the car)" Well shoot if there is a man inside of that car I don't care I will do whatever I can do to save him (as long as I don't jeopardize myself or my crew).

One other change we (agencies) need to make no matter what is to get real supervisors and managers in place to run fire programs. What I mean by that is to change this whole 401 series. Just because somebody has a degree in Bio, does that really make him qualified as a fire supervisor/manager? How can we make any changes when we don't have managers with real fire experience.

That's it for now.


1/26 Casey,

National Fire Plan? That's too much of a cutting-edge, this-century thing to "keep abreast" of. In 2009, our local forest will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of their "current" forest management plan. How much ground truth do you think has changed since 1984? www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/projects/forest_revision/

The solution to "expensive non-federal resources" is simple, and it doesn't require an Act of Congress. Just include all the payment terms when a dispatch center fills a resource order. It is ridiculous that in the 21st century the finance section on an incident doesn't know how much they are really paying per hour/day for a type 6 engine and 3 firefighters. Until after the fire, all they know is the equipment rental rate. Why can't they have real-time access to all the rates, like base pay, overtime, backfill, and indirect cost?

The Colorado State Forest Service is continuing to push hard to impose the AD rates on volunteer firefighters for the 2009 season, while saying that career departments can charge whatever rate they establish. Ok, that s*cks for us. The volunteers can take it or leave it.

But why not level the playing field? How about allowing the incident to make a "best value" decision on known cost/performance about which resources to dispatch first and which to de-mob first? Our guys might be willing to work for less, if they knew they'd get more assignments and stay out longer during the season.

It ain't gonna happen that way. The CSFS has to shuffle the same amount of paperwork, regardless of which cooperator they send to your fire. It's simply a bigger cut with their 23% indirect cost rate by dispatching the metro resource and letting us stay home.

vfd cap'n
1/25 Land Management VS Fire Department Debate.

1. Town of 90,000
2. Pacific Southwest Region (R-5)
3. NOPS (Northern Cal.)
4. Firefighter First, Land Management Second, BUT have had jobs with the FS during my career, it was Land Management First, Fire Fighter Second. (But I also think as a Fire Fighter I am managing the land. So where does that thought fit in?)

One reason I have stayed with the FS over the years is because of the different jobs we got to do, even though I did primary work on an engine, hand crew, helitack or patrol. I was given the opportunity to learn so much, from how to mark timber, pile brush, fall trees without hitting outhouse and picnic tables. Shoving snow at the ski hut, and learning about special use permits and summer homes. I definitely would not trade any of those skills I learned in the FS while actually being a fire fighter nor the skills of dry-walling, roofing, plumbing, wood working, all very valuable skills in my mind. I thank my lucky stars for being able to have gained those skills. If I had wanted to JUST be a fire fighter, I would have gone through a Fire Academy, not the University of Montana and gotten a Forestry Degree.

R5 Dispatcher
1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Hi Ab and all,

1. Live in and station is in a town of 1200.

2. Town of 9000 45 min away.

3. Region 9

4. Firefighter first and land manager second, but I like the variety.

When I first started with the FS I was told by an engineer (Civil Tech. type) that his boss often reminded him that "you work for the US FOREST Service, not the US Engineering Service". That would help keep his perspective when working with other specialists. So with that, I remind our fire folks some times that "you work for the US FOREST Service, not the US Fire Service". I am not trying to impose my view on all reading this, but those that work for me must play in the same sandbox and in return we get help from militia, funded projects to extend tours, timber being proactive about cooperating on fuels projects, etc.

I have worked in other regions and do understand that other areas have different issues and organizations.


1/25 Misery Whip & vfd Cap'n.:

Misery: The discussion draft and its trip to DC is the start of a process that will scrutinize the language, perhaps change/amend language etc.

I appreciate the fact you read the monotonous language to see the 1989 issue you raised. Perhaps instead of stating "after 1989" I should have said "after 1988" but that is clearly something that will come out in the wash, especially when the draft goes before the legislative Counsel who really gets into the nuts and bolts of the legalese, makes sure the correct codes are referenced etc.

I am certainly no attorney and no legalese expert so even though I have stacks of documents to guide me I'm more likely than not to create a gaff or two.

vfd cap'n:

I read the post about what you referenced and I'm sure there are feds that feel that way. Is eliminating cooperators and contractors practical given the increasing complexities of wildland firefighting? Probably not. What has happened that is of concern to many feds is that the non-fire leadership of the Agencies, ill-suited to manage a real fire program, have failed to keep abreast of the tools necessary to maintain the inherent strength of the federal infrastructure as envisioned by the National Fire Plan.

They have systematically used fire preparedness funding for non-fire purposes and then simply fill in the gaps with expensive non-federal resources using suppression dollars which can be replenished through a supplemental appropriation while preparedness funding can't.

As a result of billions of dollars appropriated and very little oversight by Congress until just the last couple of years, these non-fire folks have allowed their own federal infrastructure to become so depleted that something must be brought in to fill in those gaps. That "something" is an increased reliance on non-federal resources that has now reached its tipping point which has led to the skyrocketing cost of suppression each year.

We've all hashed and rehashed the debate on contractors and I don't plan to add more on that. The real culprit, especially in California are the local, municipal firefighters and the contracts agreed to with them by the federal government. The feds are in such dire straights in needing help so the contracts border on the "fleecing of America."

Nothing wrong with the great pay & benefits these municipal firefighters make. Having been a firefighter local union president I admire what the local unions have been able to do, especially in California with respect to negotiating pay & benefits for their firefighters.

Now the reality...many cities in CA are breaking their bank because of such pay & benefits. The federal government isn't helping the federal taxpayer by paying those with significantly higher base salaries full PTP, Admin fees, back fills costs, housing etc. while counting the ounces of beef jerky eaten by their own feds...

There is clearly a place for the experience and expertise of local & state firefighters on many wildfire scenes. However the government agencies could do a better job attracting & retaining firefighters so that the infrastructure will strengthen and a reasonable reduction on the reliance on non-federal resources can be made.

Long gone are the days of "we're firefighters, give us this or that." When working the Hill I've had to create a nexus between the issues facing our federal wildland firefighters and the American taxpayer. How to pay for pay & benefit reform is directly related to the Agency's efforts to reduce their reliance (not totally eliminate) on higher-priced non-federal resources.

I also think a lot of feds are just FED UP due to a lack of communication from their leadership, a true lack of consistent direction from one region to another. I'm sure Green Crusader would more than welcome his/her municipal counterparts on the fire line if they too were "taken off the clock" for 10-12 hours per day, or also used Coyote tactics, didn't stay in hotels/motels paid by the Feds etc.

1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

The Forest Service is, and will remain a land management agency until Congress changes its mission.
That mission has always included wildland fire management and will continue to do so......until Congress directs otherwise.

Whether one works for a federal, state or other public agency, or works in the private sector, they do so with an obligation to serve the needs of their employer.

In the past I had 'ologists tell me they did not believe in working on multiple use projects (they only wanted to "save" the planet). An occasional employee would suggest that they "didn't do" fire, or work on weekends, or want to learn about computers, or want to do anything outside of their special interest.

I'll tell those complaining today about the demeaning "technician"/gardener/campground/timber work the same as I told others....."Then go work for some other agency or business".

I grow weary of the constant whine from some of the elitist firefighters of today. I wonder. Did no one from the agency explain to you what the job paid, what vacation time you would earn, which benefits you qualified (or did not qualify) for?Did no one ever tell you about the career ladder, opportunities for advancement and how mobility might enhance those opportunities? Did no one explain about working together within the organization to accomplish all aspects of the agency mission?

If not, then I'm sorry. You should have been given better orientation. The job is what it is. If you want to work to change in a positive manner, then great. Go for it. But the whining about "They" owe us is a load of crap.

To quote an old Regional Forester. "If you don't like it, go pump gas" (how's that for a dated statement).


A very well written, comprehensive bill. Kudos to you for your continued positive approach towards change, and for constantly acknowledging that real change will require Congressional action. I always enjoy hearing your perspective, even though we may have points of civilized disagreement. I expect the proposal might face some serious questions and push-back, but that is just part of the process.

Old Fire Guy

1/25 VFD,

To answer your ? (at least my point of view, and many of my co-worker's) ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! I would hope that all across this nation that co-ops are considered one of the best things we do, be it fed, state, county etc... no one entity can do it all! (isn't this something we learned in kindergarten??)

side dish 1 : i see my self as a firefighter/land manager. To clarify i did sign up for fire but also chose the USFS over state, county etc.. because of the field work we do and not having a major part of my duties revolve around the med/rescue world.


1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Why is it that so many have this thought when I say firefighter I choose to sit in the station until the alarm goes off? There is so much more to it than that, preplanning, education, brushing roads prepping for fuel burns, and training the volunteers, just to name a few.

Yes I do see myself as an all risk firefighter first and foremost a land manger second. I have said this before we all are public servants and the public wants their tax dollars to help them regardless of how our mission statement reads.

Yes this is going to require a change of thought by many in the agency, and no it does not mean sitting around and polising bumpers.


1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Federal Fire Service

I have had this conversation with Smokeater on many occasions and it agrees with what Green Crusader is saying. We NEED a unified Federal Fire Service. I spent many years employed by an Interior agency and am currently employed by THE Agriculture agency. Both have the same mission at its basic core. Protect the resources. The USFS is hell bent on doing it their own way despite knowing that other fed agencies are doing. Why reinvent the wheel (ie... EMS protocols, payroll systems, travel systems, training caps, etc, etc, etc...) What I wish to see is a unified Federal Fire Agency independent of Interior or Agriculture (or all placed in Interior). Talk about saving $$$ from the US Treasury. Why have multiple ways of achieving the same goal? Put "Fed Fire" under Interior or Homeland Security. We can still be individualized at the regional level (R5 focused more on all-risk and R1 focused on Silviculture and watershed management - or whatever) Be done with the retention issue and create a Federal Fire service that allows for Land Management and Fire suppression without the BS associated with parent agencies. The USFS is notorious for playing behind the times. The DOI agencies are notorious for playing political games. End it all with a Unified RESOURCE that addresses the needs of all geographic areas.

Now one too

P.S. Here is some food for thought regarding the "retention issue in R5. The California budget is suffering Badly. Hey Govenator, reduce the the excessive pay that CalFire and CHP gets and you will save big $$ (I know, Union poopoo). Who would want to leave the Feds for "equal" pay?

1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Fed firefighters, add to your responses one of the following:
a) see myself as a firefighter/all risk responder but not as a land manager; or
b) see myself as a firefighter first and a land manager second; or
c) see myself as a land manager first and a firefighter second.

My answer would be A. (A federal FIREFIGHTER / ALL-RISK RESPONDER) responding to help those within the National Forest... not a LAND MANAGER.... and yes to all of you... I am in South Zone of R5... there.. the cats outta the bag. Remember: (Caring for the Land and Serving the People) there are some of us out there that feel we are not fulfilling the later end of that statement, by not being a Full Response dept. and cleaning campgrounds while some family goes off the highway, or their rural house burns to the ground.

FS Motto: Caring for the Land and Serving People

The phrase, "CARING FOR THE LAND AND SERVING PEOPLE," captures the Forest Service mission.

FS Vision:

* We are recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in caring for the land and serving people.
* We are a multicultural and diverse organization.
* Employees work in a caring and nurturing environment where leadership is shared.
* All employees are respected, accepted, and appreciated for their unique and important contribution to the mission.
* The work is interesting, challenging, rewarding, and fun -- more than just a job!
* We are an efficient and productive organization that excels in achieving its mission.
* Responsibility and accountability for excellence are shared by employees and partners.
* The American people can count on the Forest Service to perform.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.........some statements kind of stand out, don't they?

Green blah blah blah...you know who I am

1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

I'll take a stab at the survey!

1) Drive time... helibase is in town, but ranger stations & work centers range from 5 minutes to 60+ minutes from a town.

2) Helibase is in a town of about 60,000; ranger stations/work centers are near towns of 2,000 or less (usually less).

3) Region One (Northern Region)

5) Firefighter 1st, Land Manager 2nd.

Young and Trying to Figure It Out

1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Response to questions:

B) I see myself as a firefighter first and land manager second.

(I am primary fire suppression/IA.)

1) Nearest town 15 miles; secondary 35 mi
2) Population: 255; secondary ~12000
3) R6

If I was no longer allowed to participate in other land management and had to only do fire suppression I would find another agency to work for such as NPS or BLM. The appeal of the job lies in the variety of daily tasks. "Young and trying to figure it out" said it very well.


1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Hey Abs, all,

So I've got a question for all those involved in the "Land Management" vs. "Fire Dept." debate:

Do you consider fire to be a tool for use in land management? Where I fight fire, it is considered to be a tool in the toolbox for land management, either via prescribed fire or fire use. The midwest forests I've worked on definitely used fire as a tool for land management, as do the most of the other forests I've worked on in the southwest and northern rockies.

With that being said, I realize that R5 is a different beast than anyplace I've worked. So I understand that those who work there must have by necessity a different approach. But for me, I DID sign up to work with a land management agency, not a fire department. I wanted to be able to survey timber, work on trails projects, work with the NEPA process, and do all the other things that a land management agency does when it's not managing fire. Thus I see myself as more than just a firefighter, but a land manager. Now, would I like to see a firefighter series? Yes, as it is a profession that's unique, just as a 0460 Forester is different than an 0454 Range professional or a 0408 Ecologist.

Do I think that the system in R5 needs help and improvement? Yes. Do I think that all the other regions need to follow what R5 does? No. Each region faces unique challenges, and I believe that a one-size-fits-all approach is doomed to failure, no matter what that approach is. While there do need to be standards across regions for some things, there's no way you can convince me that the system designed to work well for the urban forests in SoCal is going to work well in an area with more wilderness/backcountry and lower population.

So to put another spin on my initial question, how many people, as firefighters working for a land management agency, see themselves as land managers in the big picture? How many see themselves as firefighters and NOT land managers? Just curious...

Young and Trying to Figure It Out

Fed firefighters, add to your responses one of the following:
a) see myself as a firefighter/all risk responder but not as a land manager; or
b) see myself as a firefighter first and a land manager second; or
c) see myself as a land manager first and a firefighter second.

1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

smokeater and others

Whether you like it or not, we manage the lands. Fuels work, meadow restoration, marking timber are some of the things I get to do and I LOVE IT.... that is one of the reasons I have been with the forest service for 25 plus years. Firefighting is my primary job, but the opportunity to do many other aspects of managing the land is satisfying... to go back to meadows after 15 years and see the log dams in the creek are working, logging units that I cut line around, burned, planted and have thinned are growing, underburn units for wildlife, and plant improvement are working, the list goes on. If I wanted to be a full time firefighter I would have joined another agency.... Sitting at a station waiting for a call is not may bag.

Original Hugh

How about fed firefighters add
1) driving time it takes to get to the nearest city/town (or miles) and
2) the population of that city/town (f you want me to look it up, I will and will delete the name);
3) Region or state and
if R5, whether
4) norcal or socal.

To find population of nearest city/town: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities,_towns,_and_villages_in_the_United_States
or you can Google city/town name, state, population, size and quickly find most sizes.

This is revealing. If you click here
then click on the top of the state column, it orders the list by state.
On quick count there are just under 70 large cities in CA and most are socal... Wildland Fire issues in SoCal may be the leading edge indicator of wildland-urban interface fire problems across the West, created by ever ballooning human populations. Ab.

1/25 Ab,

Is this really what federal firefighters want?

"No more paying a co-operator to respond to calls on Federal Lands,..."

vfd cap'n

Good question. Ab.

1/25 Final Legislative Draft


Excellent work. You’ve covered all the bases that I can see from a quick read.
We appreciate your work and dedication.

Hugh Carson

1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Well, I for one am proud to be a wildland firefighter who knows how to
mark/survey timber, erect road signs, build fence, snag roads, clean
campgrounds, etc etc.

Will I mind the day when I am called by job title a Wildland Firefighter? No.

But I for one don't look forward to sitting around the station shining bumpers
while real, valuable, "mundane" public service is accomplished by the fuels techs
because I work in a separate Fed Fire agency whose only job is to respond
to vegetation fires.

007- Green and smokeater probably are working in Region 5 or in a urban
forest where med calls, search and rescue, etc are common. For those of us
who do not work in these areas, what those guys are talking about doesn't
really make any sense.


1/25 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

I see this has sparked quite a debate...some of it good and intelligent....others not quite so.. the real question I'd like to see a "show of hands" for is this: Who thinks that there should or should not be, a New Administration that Budgeted and Managed a Federal Fire Agency, that provided Wildland Fire Protection and All-Risk responses within the Nation's FRA lands and installations and National Forests. Where this agency was managed by fire folks with a fire budget. No more Land managers using fire money to achieve their own agendas. No more paying a co-operator to respond to calls on Federal Lands, no more debate over what the "Forest Service Mission" is, and no more identity crisis over Forestry Technician (Fire) vs. Firefighter. Land managers can receive what money is allocated to them, and Fire can receive what money comes their way... and allocated it out, to what areas / projects need it. For the fire side; the people, equipment, facilities and training are already there (probably would fix retention as well) and the Land management side can fill in the gaps of would be vacant Forestry Tech. jobs with a lower grade seasonal position... seeing that the skill level and training wouldn't need to be as high.

Green Crusader

I see it all as good and intelligent, simply different opinions, and to great extent based on where firefighters work, whether on the wildland urban interface or at more remote fire stations. If we do not take into account this important variable of location and proximity to dense population, we'll be overlooking the pressures that growing interface populations present to this issue. Ab.

1/24 Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Why pray tell must you always ask " why did you sign up to work for a land management agency?"

Guess what, I like so many of my brothers and sisters signed on to be Firefighters, not clean camp grounds and survey timber. Hey do the guys and gals that work for CalFire clean campgrounds? Don't try and tell me that they are a Fire Dept. and not a land management agency. Aw shucks, they too are a land management agency. Yes, that is right CalFire works for the California Resource Agency and some that work for CalFire are contractors like Fire Storm and the others. Sorry to go like this but it is all getting a bit old.


1/24 Change Within the Forest Service; Re: Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Well 007, (Contributors, please remember that this is about issues not individuals, "the what not the who".)

I think you are missing the point. The Forest Service has split itself into two entities, whether it likes to think so or not.... there are those who wish to be foresters and those who wish to be firefighters. I see myself as the later, and wish to work for an agency that in my regard, is the absolute best at what it does: Fight Wildland Fire. I am happy where I am. I very easily could go work for another agency, but would rather stick around and help make things change. I'm proud to call myself a Wildland Firefighter, especially a US Forest Service one... because that's what I am. Not a Land Manager.

Still trying to view the Forest Service as strictly a "Land Management" Agency is the root of the problem that plagues Fire and Aviation Management. Hmmmm... I guess in your opinion, it should be called Fire, Aviation and Land Management. maybe not so much in that order; in your opinion. So if you wish to work for a Land Management agency then I'm sure there are many landscaping / logging firms that would love to have some extra help, and maybe some contracts from the US Government to take on Fuels reduction work, for those who wish to work in Land Management.

What I am getting at, is that there needs to be a split. A definitive divide between what each part of the whole pie is responsible for. Sometimes you can only split something so many ways before it becomes so fractured, so blurred, that you can't even recognize what it does anymore. In my opinion, at that point, you need to start a new "Pie". Not sure where you work, or for whom.... but the bulk of my work is responding to Vegetation Fires, Vehicle Accidents on a state highway, vehicle fires, medical aides at campgrounds, search and rescue... basically protecting those who wish to enjoy our nation's National Forests; not managing lands. Which in my opinion is why there needs to be a Fire Protection entity, focused solely on Fire Protection / Rescue to protect our citizens, RUN BY Fire Folks within the Federal Government.

Hope you get my point now.

Green Crusader

1/24 Change Within the Forest Service; Land Management Vs Fire Dept. Debate

Re Greater Good...

To the last poster on this topic...
If land management work is so mundane, why pray tell,
did you sign up to work for a land management agency?


1/24 Final Legislative Draft


Fine work on the legislative draft. One comment on the buyback provision; I believe 1988 is the last year employees can currently buy back temp time. If your intent was to include those years of temp time that are currently excluded, the wording should be changed to "after 1988".

Magnificent work, Casey & FWFSA. Thanks for stepping up to fill our leadership vacuum.

Misery Whip

1/24 Anyone know where that Mark III kit is?


Woops, sometimes, the day doesn’t go quite as planned.

Snake River Sparky

1/23 Legislative Draft

Dear Ab & All:

I felt it time to post a copy of our final legislative draft on TheySaid. The bill and its provisions represent 20+ years of Agency inaction on many issues facing their firefighters that they, the Agencies have been aware of for that entire time. Most disappointing is that their very own "task forces" and "working groups" identified the same solutions decades ago that we are now pursuing yet the Agencies failed to take action on.

The proposal has been submitted to a number of congressional offices for review as well as a number of press contacts. We have also provided a copy to NFFE along with the IAFF District VP who represents their federal firefighters as some of the provisions may also benefit them.

Happy reading...

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Final Legislative Draft

1/23 Re: Change Within the Forest Service

To solve the problem, Fire Management needs to be managed by Fire... not by Foresters.. end of story. Like it has all been said before, the Forest Service is an archaic agency with archaic management philosophy. Why would you have Land management folks managing Fire? Would a Fortune 500 company let a Mail Room manager manage their Marketing Division? NO..... because he would have no idea what he was doing, or even what the job entailed. There needs to be a separate entity.. a Federal National Fire entity, that suppresses fires and responds to all-risk calls, within federal lands and in coordination with the states, counties, and cities they fall in.

The idea of Forest Service Fire management is outdated and misused. You have GS-5's through 8's trained in fire suppression, manning fire suppression equipment; cleaning campgrounds and running chippers while engines sit un-used. There needs to be a distinction between Forestry Technician / Gardener and Firefighter trained to fight fire / Rescue. There needs to be a change, a crusade to fix things. Whether or not the Forest Service would like to believe it, we are the largest firefighting agency in the world. We have a huge pool, of highly talented personnel, many of which are already trained in All-Risk type calls doing land management duties. Hello..... Hire Fuels Technicians at a lower pay grade to do the mundane labor required of land management. Congress needs to wake up and make the call.... put all Fed Fire under one agency one budget and leave Forest Management to those who want to manage forests. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but there are people still blocking it.

Green Crusader

1/23 EMS

"I used to carry around a copy of the NPS protocols and relied on them to provide me information and insight when I was treating a patient or when we tried to write our own protocols. Unfortunately a Safety Officer this last season in California decided that it was not appropriate for me to have them in my line gear and took them. He gave them to the medical unit leader who made copies for his staff (they were a contractor medical unit) but somehow 'lost' the original set printed on coated plastic cards and all I got back was a bad copy."

Let me get this straight, you let some safety officer confiscate your personal stuff??? Union guys, Law Enforcement guys? What??

Former green soldier

1/23 RE: FS Web Notes

If anyone has been away from the office this week and hasn't been able to access web notes, here's why.


Intended Audience: Everyone in Forest Service
January 16, 2009

Lotus Notes Web mail is shutting down immediately


Lotus Notes web mail will be shut down immediately. It will stay down indefinitely.

USDA has directed all of its agencies to shut down web mail because of a significant security risk identified by the US-CERT (the federal computer incident response organization).

Potentially, web mail could be down indefinitely. We're working on other ways to deal with the risk. We will provide more information as it is available.

What You Need to Do

If you plan to travel, to work from home, or to otherwise access your Lotus Notes email from a non-Forest Service site, you need to take your Forest Service computer with you and connect to the Forest Service network through VPN (the software used to connect to the Forest Service remotely).

One part of this risk relates to PDF files. As we've told you before, if you receive a PDF file you are not expecting, delete it without opening it.

For More Information

As usual, if you need assistance with technical aspects of this, please contact the Helpdesk (EUSC) at 1-888-426-3872 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) for assistance.

1/23 Aardvark,

Please make sure you read all of the links and sublinks of the NPS posting. I think you might be misinterpreting something I've said.

Basic BLS involves local protocols established by the state, and either regional or local EMSA agencies. The NPS doesn't have medical directors assigned until procedures elevate to the EMT - Intermediate (EMT-I) or EMT - Paramedic (EMT-P) levels.

BLS care (standards, protocols, oversight, QA/QC, etc) as an EMT - Basic and Medical First Responder are primarily handled through state, regional, or local EMSA agencies.

Federal agencies either providing service, or seeking to provide service, can simply meet their local qualification standards by either completing the process as a BLS provider agency (easy process, even in CA) or by entering into an MOU stating their needs (kinda like a Line Officer Letter of Delegation, but from the local EMSA).


EMSA: Emergency Medical Services Authority
BLS: Basic Life Support

1/23 Please tell me how we can get our agency's website and fire academy listed on your site. I noticed that neither is currently listed. Thanks.

www.dof.virginia.gov Virginia Department of Forestry


The Virginia Department of Forestry will have the 2009 Virginia Interagency Wildland Fire Training Academy at Longwood University in Farmville, June 2-7. The academy is attended by 400-500 Forestry and Fire Department personnel from Virginia and other states.

Richard Reuse
Chesterfield Area Forester/Academy Public Information Officer

I added the VA DOF Fire to the Links page under state agencies and the academy info is here. Welcome. Ab.

1/23 What???? A seasonal firefighter is worth 4 pairs of curtains?

When John Thain became Merrill Lynch's CEO in early 2008, he hired Michael S. Smith Design to revamp his office suite, spending approximately $1.22 million according to documents. <snip>

The following is a list of the items in his suite:
* 4 Pairs of Curtains $28,091

source of list: msnbcmedia.msn.com...thain documents2.pdf

1/23 Re: Change Within the Forest Service

Aardvark, you asked about the Forest Service,

"Why is everything in this agency such an uphill struggle?"

Simple answer: The Fire Management Program is decentralized and based upon a 1905 Model that failed to evolve and learn. Fire Management has always been a technical position in support of Forest Management, and not a profession. As Fire Management evolved, the Agency didn't.

More Complex Answer: Maybe things will change with the new administration.

How could anyone expect to initiate positive changes through the District, Province, Region, and WO levels when (most often) at each approving level, folks without relevant professional and educational experience are the decision makers (Line Officers) of a Fire Management Program they know little or nothing about?

Simply said, "they know not what they lead".

There are alot of very simple fixes available to a large number of program problems within the Forest Service. For some reason, it only takes one Line Officer at the District, Forest, or Regional level to derail the entire process even if it is a simple no-nonsense fix to an issue that the public and related professions would support. This dysfunction within the Forest Service (USDA) spreads to Fire Management Programs of the USDI (NPS, FWS, BLM, BIA).

WWJD? One specific glaring example.... especially of problems within R-5, especially within the Fire Program.

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

P.S. - This posting is protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act as information (non-confidential, non-regulated, or not of a sensitive nature) that has been provided to various sources both within and outside of the federal government in an effort to address issues directly relating to either ineffective, defective, or fraudulent services within a federal agency that are a detriment to federal services expected by the taxpayers or a violation of federal law.
1/22 Re: Federal EMS Programs and the Future

Lobotomy and Just an EMT,

It is rather amazing that the NPS has an updated protocol, medical directors, etc., while the Forest Service has nothing. But then, their management philosophy is also completely different.

Unfortunately the USFS wants to reinvent the wheel over and over again and taking a page from the NPS on the subject of EMS would be akin to making a deal with the devil.

I used to carry around a copy of the NPS protocols and relied on them to provide me information and insight when I was treating a patient or when we tried to write our own protocols. Unfortunately a Safety Officer this last season in California decided that it was not appropriate for me to have them in my line gear and took them. He gave them to the medical unit leader who made copies for his staff (they were a contractor medical unit) but somehow 'lost' the original set printed on coated plastic cards and all I got back was a bad copy.

We continue to have fatalities and injuries on the fireline, taking the pack test and, of course, during our normal day doing project work and dealing with the public. But no one wants to step up and provide us, the firefighter, with direction, assistance or leadership.

Yeah it will take time, I have been working on it for over 10 years, but why does it have to take so long? Why is everything in this agency such an uphill struggle? I fear that I will be long gone from the Forest Service before much progress is made, and in the meantime, firefighters will continue to receive sub standard medical care, and supervisors will continue to rely on EMTs without giving them the tools to do their jobs effectively and safely. I can only hope that the people who utilize this forum will start to ask questions and instead of relying on contractors who can be expensive and equally confused, give the tools and training to our own people who are so much better qualified and in the public eye.


1/22 Re: The CA Good Samaritan Law Amendment

It is pretty interesting how just a few wording changes in existing (well intended and proven) state and federal laws can change things when the Courts wrongly misinterpret the intent of the legislation.

For example, the CA Good Samaritan Law in existence since 1980, but ruled against by a technicality in language by the CA State Supreme Court (2008), could be simply amended..... by changing:

..... "emergency medical care" ..... to simply "emergency medical and nonmedical care". (SB 39, CA, 2009). The intent was to protect the layperson who is often the first person to render care or assistance.

It seems like it should be a non-issue with a simple two word clarifying amendment to clarify the original intent and application of CA Good Samaritan Legislation that has worked for nearly 30 years.

Hopefully it will be supported by the CPF leadership and CDF Firefighters Local 2881 even though they opposed the original author (Benoit) in his election to the State Senate.

1/22 Ted Yarbrough's services: (Ab Note: please make sure the family home is protected from thieves with this info available on the internet.)

From the CDF Firefighters website and e-mails:

The services for Retired Fire Captain Ted Yarbrough will be held this Friday, 01/23/09. Graveside services will be 10:00 at Hillside Cemetery 1540 Alessandro Rd Redlands, CA 92373. Church service and reception will follow 12:00 at Fellowship in the Pass Church 650 Oak Valley Parkway Beaumont, CA 92223 The family has requested the administrative uniform be worn for department members attending, and that donations, instead of flowers, be made to:

Wildland Firefighter Foundation 2049 Airport Way Boise, ID 83705 ph 877-336-2950

Cards may be sent to Francie Yarbrough & Family at:
10081 Avenida Mira Villa
Cherry Valley, CA 92223

Francie (Wife), Becky (Daughter), and Andy (Son) have all been employed with the Forest Service at one time or other as a seasonal firefighter, AD logistics support person, or as an expanded dispatcher. Firefighting for the Yarbrough Family was a part of their life.

Ted worked on three districts of the San Bernardino National Forest in his career (Cajon, San Jacinto, and San Gorgonio) before accepting a position with the City of Banning Fire Department as Fire Marshal. In 1998, Ted became a CDF Fire Captain Specialist when the City of Banning entered into a Schedule A Contract with the state.

Early in his career, Ted was severely injured (broken back) while serving as a firefighter while on the Del Rosa Hotshots. Even through the accident that resulted in the loss of life of a friend and fellow crewmember, Ted recovered and led forward, and touched the lives of hundreds, if not more, of others as he continued to be a leader, a friend, and just an all around inspirational firefighter to others.

A few years back, Ted attended the 60th Year Anniversary of the Del Rosa Hotshots. He recounted experiences of the tragic accident to some close friends and fellow firefighters, and had a chance to share his experiences with folks that served on the crew before him and after him. It was appreciated by many, even though it was obviously not a memory of his career he wanted to remember.

Ted excelled and was a leader everywhere he went and participated, both within the fire service as well as in his community. He was a Forest Ranger by all intents and purposes. A leader in his community.

He will be missed by many, and even more by his loving family.


Our condolences on Ted's passing. Ab.

1/22 Regarding the impacts of the Travel ceiling, here are a few things from the Quadrennial Fire review:

The workforce cannot simply be stretched to accomplish increasing workloads to essentially "do more with less." The nature of fire and fuel management work will still require high levels of reliability, and concerns for safety are always paramount. The reality of current and future budget levels entails improving existing workforce skills, shifting to multi-purpose roles, and ensuring that better decisions are made and are consistent with the cost management goals pursued by fire management at all levels. Investments in training will be needed to improve workforce capability so that the flexibility and modularity envisioned in strategic management response can be realized.

The skill set for emergency response requires increased training skills to improve knowledge and experience levels of non-fire and National Response Framework response agencies outside of the incident environment. Skills in mentoring external personnel during incidents will need to be enhanced and broadened.

Educational programs must be enhanced to support the professional development of current and future • employees in planning, decision-making, leadership and public education.

Cadres must be provided to support and train non-fire agencies entering the field of incident management • through the National Response Framework, which would reduce overall response demand and provide additional resources for fire incidents.

Anyone see a theme here? Training is , and will be essential in being an effective and safe workforce, and also help with cost containment. The current Travel ceiling is limiting training opportunities to the point in R-5 where some folks can NOT have any developmental training, and will barely be able to maintain CURRENT quals, much less gain new ones.

Cadres and Instructors can not be provided to instruct classes due to the Travel ceiling, and some wide-spread Forests will even have their LOCAL level training impacted by Instructors not being able to travel there to instruct.

We have regional training centers in R-5 to centralize and make training, and the travel involved, cost-effective and safe for the employee. How will the training centers. like Mc Clellan in Sacramento, be able to be cost-efficient and productive when the numbers of students and instructors drops due to travel restraints?

Someone needs to see the light, think outside the box here, to help with this. The Forests have the money allocated for the travel this Fiscal year. They just are not allowed to spend it on that.

And what about FireHire travel for SME folks, selecting Officials, etc. ? Or other regional level workshops and classes that made the R-5 FS Fire Org what it is today?

As long as the Region has chosen to "let things fail to show them' about the travel ceiling, we are not even starting to implement, or even truly understand, what the quad review is trying to tell us here....

oh, well, we always have money for another Firefighter memorial, don't we? ...that'll show 'em we saved money on travel for training.....


1/21 Re Need Image of Historical Engine Decals/ Info on Light Bars:


I would like to obtain a good color photo of the door decals that were on Forest Service engines in the 1970s. I also need information on a source for the three cab lights that were on the front edge of the "platter" emergency light unit. I am gathering this to restore a 1977 IH Model 60.

Thank you,

Mark V. Thornton

P.S. Thanks for this website, I have gained tremendous insight into many wildland fire issues over the years I've been reading the postings.

You're welcome. Ab.

1/21 Whoooo hooooooo! The Hotlist is up and running again. Please let us know if you have any problems. The Hotlist Contact Us button at the bottom of the hotlist page works.


1/21 Re: Need 1960's Fireman's Handbook:

Many thanks to all who have responded. Those who have contacted me have the
goods I'm looking for and if you haven't heard from me yet, you will shortly.

Appreciate very much all the help. Those old Handbooks are full of good memories.


1/21 Re: The CA Good Samaritan Law Amendment


You asked "This was forwarded here by a retired Chief. Can anyone put this in layperson's language? Please. Ab."

About this link:

That's from my blog about legal issues and I'd be glad to summarize it in layperson's language.

Several property owners whose property was damaged or destroyed in the fire sued the US Government, claiming that they were owed compensation. Under the US Constitution's Fifth Amendment, if the federal government "takes" property, it must pay "just compensation." This includes situations where the government condemns property for a road, school, or post office for example, but also includes situations where the government takes some action that results in the destruction of someone's property. The classic example of the latter is when the federal government builds dams and floods someone's property, it must pay compensation to the owner whose property is flooded.

A Washington DC federal court threw out the case saying that even if everything the property owners alleged was true, they could not win, and they appealed to the Federal Circuit, a court in DC that hears claims against the federal government involving money. That court affirmed the dismissal, finding that although the USFS's policies may have contributed to the damage to the property, the property owners did not and could not allege that the damage to their property was the likely result of the policies. In other words, too many other things such as the guy who started the fire, etc., were the more foreseeable causes.

Bottom line: the government is not liable (at least on this one legal theory) for the damages caused by the fire to private property.

Let me know if this is or isn't helpful.


Thanks Robert. Ab.

1/21 Here's a photo from the Jarbidge Fire, Nevada, 2008. Photo compliments of Bill.

Thanks, Bill. I put it on the Equipment 13 photo page. Nice photo. Ab.

1/21 This was forwarded here by a retired Chief. Can anyone put this in layperson's language? Please. Ab.

Federal Circuit: No Taking For Forest Fire

1/21 Cal Fire's position on private firefighters and fed agency actions:

Ab, FYI,

Letter (1/13) from CalFire Chief laying out Cal Fire's position on private
firefighters and fed agency actions. This also applies to private lands that
the FS protects under agreements with CalFire:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/calfire/calfire-private-resources.pdf (26 K pdf file)

Noname Fed

1/21 Polar Dip fundraiser in MN:

Ab, Friends and supporters of Wildland Fire Fighters,

This story is a year old.

I did not post the Polar Plunge last year due to my lack of computer abilities and other reasons.

The Eighth Annual Polar Fest and Polar Plunge was again held February 2008 on Big Detroit Lake in North Western Minnesota. The weekly event including the Polar Plunge raised over $35,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.

Last year everyone called me crazy when I took the plunge with dry bulb temperatures hovering around 0 degrees F. This year 2 of those same nay-sayers joined myself as we all three plunged under the name of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Polar Dip 1 and Polar Dip 2 (ice block photo)

Pictured by the Ice Blocks from Left to Right are.

Lindy McNeilus as the Deer
Terry Snetsinger sporting his Fish and Wildlife Fire Shirt.
Cory Henry with his old Kings River Hot Shot crew shirt.
All three work for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Detroit Lakes, MN

I did not win a prize dressed as a Deer.
Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ won instead.

This year-2009, the Polar Plunge will be held on Valentines Day, unfortunately I will not be able to Plunge, since I will be forced to leave the Balmy weather we have been having in Northern MN (-39 Ambient Temp), in exchange for a month of Fire in Florida at the (Prescribed Fire Training Center.)

Lindy McNeilus

Lindy, thanks for the email, the photos and the WFF benefit effort last year. Sometimes it's hard to coordinate fundraisers between WFF and theysaid, depending on how busy or exhausted we all (2 Abs and 3 WFF people) are after a busy fire season. Often midwinter is when we Abs recharge batteries or modify the website... and the WFF members are working, but also trying to catch up with their families. Have fun with Rx burning. Maybe you'll try the polar dipping fundraiser again some winter. Ab.

1/21 Ab, the new whitehouse.gov site is up. www.whitehouse.gov/

Tahoe Terrie

1/21 CA Good Samaritan Law Amendment:


Benoit Special Alert:

Good Samaritan Protection Act

On December 19, the California Supreme Court handed down a ruling that created a significant shortfall in legal protections for Good Samaritans. In the 4-3 decision, the Court decided that the state's Good Samaritan Law, written in 1980, only shields people from liability if they are giving medical, not general, care in an emergency.

I am concerned that the threat of lawsuits may deter a passerby from stopping at the scene of an accident to help. Over the course of my 31-year law enforcement career, I've encountered many of these Good Samaritans whose urgency has made the difference where every second counts. If not corrected, I fear this ruling will cost lives.

I have introduced SB 39, the Good Samaritan Protection Act, to make a technical amendment to the original Good Samaritan legislation, correcting the Supreme Court's interpretation and overturning this dangerous decision. My legislation already has 21 legislators signing on as co-authors, as well as many newspaper editorial endorsements. The Ventura County Star recently concluded "it's now time for the Legislature to step up and protect Good Samaritans in their time of need."

If you are a member of an organization interested in supporting the Good Samaritan Protection Act, please contact my Capitol office at (916) 651-4037, or fax your letter of support to (916) 327-2187.

Read - Time Magazine : "The Perils of Being a Good Samaritan in California"

Read - Benoit Introduces Good Samaritan Protection Act

Read - The Desert Sun : "Benoit proposes bill to protect good Samaritans"

Read - Ventura County Star : "Protect doers of good deeds"

Read - San Bernardino Sun : "Those who give aid deserve protection"

1/20 Readers,

The Hotlist is down. We'll notify you when it's back up.

The Abs.

1/20 1984-2008 fire severity data for R5 (and circulating behind the scenes):

For those of you that were not aware, I have been creating a fire severity atlas for R5. The goal is to map all fires over 1000 acres from 1984 through present. The source of most of the imagery are the MTBS and RAVG programs and therefore the fires that are currently included in the atlas are limited by the schedules and requirements of those two programs. <snip>

Jay Miller
Remote Sensing Specialist
Fire and Aviation Mgmt
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Region - FAMSAC

If anyone believes they have info, please contact Jay.

1/20 Re: National Park Service (EMS) and Structural Fire

"The National Park Service has several sources of detailed written guidance to help managers make day-to-day decisions. The primary source of guidance is the 2006 edition of Management Policies, which is also the foremost element of the Service's directives system. Other elements include Director's Orders, Handbooks and Reference Manuals. (See Policy Development for information on how these documents relate to one another.) The listing below shows the status of Director's Orders, Handbooks and Reference Manuals. It also shows related memoranda, directives and guidelines that remain in effect until superseded."

NPS Directors Orders and Related Documents: http://home.nps.gov/applications/npspolicy/DOrders.cfm

Specific Reference Manuals (ie. RM-51) are also available on this website, usually as subscript.


1/20 Don Will has bit the bullet and.....
(Retired) !!!!!!!!!!!!

Come join us in sending him off into the real world...............

Saturday, March 28th, at Gold Country Casino in Oroville....

4pm till 8, 9, 10, or????? No host bar at 4, dinner at 5:30, roast at 6:30ish.......

$35.00 per person.... includes dinner (Tri-Tip or Chicken Marsala), tax, tip, and gift.

Block of rooms available at casino hotel -– call (530) 538-4560 and mention the
Don Will retirement party..... cost is $89.00 (standard) – $119.00 (Deluxe).

RSVP and Payment due by March 7th
(Very strict Casino cancellation policy requires payment in full prior to event, and cannot be refunded.)

Dennis Stevens @ (530) 478-6253 or
Beth Lopez @ (530) 478-6253
For further info.

Want to make a presentation at the roast?
Contact Jeanne Pincha-Tulley

Make checks payable to Dennis Stevens, and mail to 15924 HWY. 49, Camptonville, CA 95922, attn: D. Stevens.
1/20 Fire Captain Specialist Ted Yarbrough
Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:39PM

May God Bless his family and the Brothers and Sisters of RRU with strength during this difficult time. Ted will be missed.

It is with a heavy heart that I must report the passing of retired Fire Captain Specialist Ted Yarbrough. Ted was rushed to Loma Linda University Hospital late this afternoon where he passed away.

Ted worked many years with the United States Forest Service before joining the Banning Fire Department. Ted became part of the CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department family in 1998 when Banning part of our cooperative fire protection program. Ted had just recently retired from his position as Banning Fire Marshal - Emergency Services Coordinator in November of 2008.

Battalion Chief Jeff Stowells will be the Unit liaison to the Yarbrough family, and will forward information on his pending funeral service.

Please keep the Yarbrough family in your thoughts during this difficult time.

Dale A. Hutchinson


Ted was my Explorer Post Adviser when I was a young teenager in the Forest Service... My first mentor, and someone I often communicated with for current duties, as well as the past fun on fires. Ted was my first employment reference for both a Volunteer Firefighter position with the RCoFD... and an eventual position with the Del Rosa Hotshots, a place where he started his career. He was an awesome man and leader.

You will be dearly missed Ted. I know I will miss you. It has been great to know you as a leader for 27 years!!!

Keep the family, friends, and co-workers in your prayers.


1/20 Re: Federal EMS Programs and the Future

"Just an EMT",

Great synopsis of what can be done proactively for ever changing missions that evolve over time. The NPS is a leader in public safety on federal lands. Other land management agencies could learn from them. They listened to the public and their employees as how to best manage the resources (natural, cultural, and historical), as well as how to best protect their employees and communities from harm.

The NPS is also leader in the structural fire program on NPS administered lands. A visionary colleague from the past was instrumental in getting it there. He initially came from a small place known as Yosemite National Park, then went to the deepest places of Region 4 (Ely, NV), then to GGNRA, before heading to NIFC.

If folks in BLM and the USFS think that changes can't be made from below...... THINK AGAIN. One very effective communicator by the name of <Hal Spencer> was instrumental in positive change and made those changes happen from the bottom to the top. He caught alot of crap along the way (above him and below him), but he was doing things right and making sure the folks above him knew what needed to be done to modernize their services.

Don't let frustration at the field level ever make you feel your voices and concerns aren't being heard.... They are being heard. Good folks are working on the issues..... one Agency road-block at a time.... and often, one local area at a time.

1/20 0300 PDT:

American citizens are gathering at the National Mall in Washington to be present for the Inauguration at noon (0900 hrs Pacific time). Listen to it and watch if you get a chance. It always amazes me that a country this large can have a peaceful transition of power. Other parts of the world are not so lucky. You wildland firefighters who are there, send us a picture. Ab.

1/19 Re BLS and ALS Standing Orders "Protocols":

I find it funny that a little organization such as the National Park Service has BLS and ALS Standing Orders "Protocols", a medical advisor and EMS identification cards (White Cards) and the Forest Service doesn't. NPS Directors Manual 51 and NPS Reference Manual 51 lays everything out pretty well (details, mutual assistance and out of region response, etc).

The Park Service has two field guides with patient care standing orders for First Responders and Basic EMT/Parkmedic. Both have been updated in 2007 and 2008.

Maybe the Forest Service could slap a tree over the arrowhead and adopt them.

Just an EMT

1/19 East Slide Rock Ridge Fire:


ELKO — The last embers of this past summer’s East Slide Rock Ridge Fire in Jarbidge have long since burned out, but a recent report from agency professionals has reignited discussion on the fire techniques and strategies used to fight it.

Conducted by a team of U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Nevada Division of Forestry professionals, the report was ordered by Harv Forsgren, regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service’s Intermountain Region. It found several areas of concern in the way the fire was fought — and included criticism of the way a new strategy, dubbed Wildland Fire Use, was conducted with this fire. The strategy uses fire to burn out areas of dead and decaying trees and vegetation. (more at the link)

Besides the strategy used to fight this fire, no mention is made of the lack of planning
to take care of Firefighters spiked out on this fire..... Never have seen a fire like this
one before, and I'm not talking about the flames!!!


Hi wilnd.
Hmmmmm. You'd think the reporter would have discovered that Wildland Fire Use has been around for some years... It's not "
a new strategy" although perhaps they mean this old strategy was used in a new way this season...
Please wilnd, if you have personal knowledge of problems with spike out, submit an anonymous Safenet or provide more details here and I'll make sure the info gets to the right people, while maintaining your anonymity. Lessons Learned are important. Ab.

Hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=29008
Inciweb site: www.inciweb.org/incident/1501/

1/19 USFS Fireman's Handbook from the late '60s, early '70s

Barbara -

I have a copy of the 1986 Firefighter's Guide published by NWCG.
It has a chapter on presuppression, which includes detection and lookouts.
If this is what you are looking for, Ab can send you my email.


1/19 USFS Fireman's Handbook from the late '60s, early '70s


I'm wondering if anyone has a link or access to an old USFS Fireman's Handbook
from the late '60s, early '70s. I'm specifically looking for the Detection Chapter,
which mostly deals with lookouts.

Any help much appreciated.

1/19 Abs and all,

Have you folks seen this site? It is a national news media front page interactive
Museum. Just place your pointer over any yellow dot and you will see the day's
front page for that paper. I am a news junky so this is just another source for
a thrill for me. lol



Thanks, Hunter. Would be especially useful during fire season, but tomorrow is also a historic day. Ab.

1/19 Lobotomy,

The last published meeting minutes of the committee you mention is in June of 2007.

Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS)
Meeting Minutes: June 2007 (161K pdf file)

The participants/committee might not even be around any longer.

1/19 Adapx digital pen:

Morning Ab,

Saw a post on “They Said” on that digital pen. Wanted to say that I have used it and it is really simple. I am a fire captain for local government and I wrote an article on technology that mentions the pen. Here’s the link:


Here’s an excerpt from that article

"One of the latest developments comes from Adapx. A custom pen recognizes a pattern embedded in maps, such as an IAP map, and makes updates with just a stroke. The days of manual digitizing may — and with this tool, should — be near an end. This leads to a quicker workflow either at an incident or while preplanning. Users can touch a structure on the map and immediately color-code it defensible or place a proposed dozer line where they want it. They also can add staging areas, safety zones, helispots and more. The software updates the geodatabase, or the user can reject the changes with the click of a mouse.

It took me about 30 minutes to get up and running to create a map. And since most everyone can write with a pen, it is easy to learn. The photo at the right shows a map after symbols were added. It took only one minute to write on the map, upload to ArcGIS and accept. Symbols just need the names assigned."

1/18 PTP-Ordered Standby for R5:


Permit me to respond to your post to Ken. All of your questions are great... for Mr. Moore to answer. Unfortunately, neither the firefighters in R5, the FWFSA or even Sen. Feinstein's office are getting any answers from the RO.

First things first. It is a major change in direction for anyone in the FS at the Regional Forester level or above to even mention PTP. Just a couple of years ago PTP was a "4 letter word" for the FS. There has been such an increase in the education of Congress about PTP, the inequities on the fire line, archaic pay & personnel policies etc., that I would like to think our efforts in educating Congress, the Agency, and more specifically Mr. Moore had something to do with proposing a "variation" of PTP.

We have of course informed Mr. Moore and the Agency that in our opinion, PTP either is, or it isn't. There is not "variation" of PTP. Despite this movement towards progress, there is still an antiquated belief among the Agency leadership (again most with not a lick of fire experience of expertise) that compensating employees for eating & sleeping time in absurd. This is likely because few in Agency leadership are aware of how modern fire agencies are managed.

Ironically, the 24 hour staffing that was used during the 2nd fire siege in SoCal in 2007, i.e. 24 hours of pay less 3-half hour meal breaks was even a better deal financially than our original PTP proposal. Mr. Moore refers to the PTP issue as something that will take time to address. I believe that might be the WO's take on it because I sense that the WO still would prefer to not do a darn thing for firefighters. Unfortunately for them, Congress has given them $25 million and a mandate to come up with a plan.

I can't address NFFE's agreement on ordered standby, but I can say that I'm delighted and honored to have worked closely with Dan Duefrene, Mark Davis and others from NFFE on a variety of issues over the last few years. I think we pretty much have the same goals. However their responsibility is to their bargaining unit members... up to Captain I think, while our membership spans the full spectrum of positions from entry level to fire chief. Further, they are both protected and limited by title 5 USC, while we are not.

So I think you might be better served emailing Randy and asking him straight up what his plans are.


1/18 PTP-Ordered Standby for R5:


It took leadership to address that question with an answer that is unpopular with some. I respect that.

Why did noone on the committee or elsewhere listen to you about your concerns with PTO Ordered Stand-by?

What do you believe Moore is thinking when he proposed it with his December letter. Did he know this would never get approved (pixie dust) and offered it only to appease the masses? Did he receive bad advice?

Reading the OIG report on the FBI OT, it appears the So Cal Ordered Stand-by during wind and large fire events seem to have much in common. Although I cannot find a reference in the report about union agreement(s). I don't know if the Bureau has a union or labor agreement, however as you know, the Forest Service does. Although not all Wildland Firefighters are in the bargaining unit, our NFFE agreement addresses ordered stand-by. Did this agreement provide the cover Moore used to introduce his ordered stand-by PTP and the cover for which he will use to implement it?


Outside of the proposed FWFSA legislation, where do we go from here? Where does Moore go from here? How do you think PTP ordered standby and his proposed pay increases play out? What are they trying to accomplish and any ideas on how he plans to fulfill what he offered in his letter?


1/18 Basic Life Support (BLS) and EMT Protocols:


Thanks for the info on the DOT EMT Protocols. However, I think you are missing the point. If you randomly polled a dozen EMTs in the Forest Service at the crew level, I believe that you would get 12 different (and likely incorrect) answers on Protocols, medical direction, and certification. Even at the BLS level, without some form of information available to EMTs and the time, equipment and training to maintain their certification, you are likely only going to make a bad situation worse. How many Forests and regions actually 'legally operate under state, regional, or local protocols, medical direction, and certification'? What happens when you change jurisdiction or cross state lines? How often does that information make it down to the EMT at the crew level? Individual crews and districts are adapting and coping with the lack of direction, but as crews and experience level change, so changes their ability to provide adequate emergency care. How often does the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS) or the NWCG EMS committee put out information that reaches the line EMT? In my 10+ year career in the USFS and EMS, I have never seen anything that was either timely or accurate. I believe that change will have to start at the National or Regional Level first, as those of us at the bottom are just making up s#!t as we go along.

'I hope the folks in Boise are in contact' with someone and that something is being done too, but I haven't seen it.


1/17 PTP-Ordered Standby for R5:


The simple answer is yes, I did. Long answer is that "ordered standby" is not portal-to-portal, and I presented items both in writing (hard copy and e-mail) and orally during the conference calls describing the reasoning behind the facts. In this capacity, I was acting under official duties as a federal employee and invited participant of the committee, and not as a member or director of the FWFSA.

In my position as a Director of the FWFSA, I in no way represent the Agency(ies) or pretend to do so. To do so otherwise would be a violation of the USDA Code of Ethics. The efforts of the FWFSA Board of Directors, as well as active members and supporters, are entirely voluntary and non-compensated, and accomplished while off-duty.

Any other questions?

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

1/17 FWFSA Legislative Proposal:

Dear Ab & All:

The FWFSA's final draft of our legislative proposal is complete. It has been sent to our web master for inclusion into our web site's Member's Area for review. Undoubtedly it will make its way onto TheySaid in a few days, I'm sure.

The elements of the proposal are:

1. Equal protection under the law-providing firefighters from the five federal land management agencies with the same protections from outsourcing/contracting out as federal firefighters employed by the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.
2. Proper classification of wildland firefighters with the option for those currently in 401 to remain in 401 or convert to a new wildland firefighter series. Hazardous duty differential would not be affected.
3. True portal to portal compensation.
4. Hazardous duty differential included as base pay for retirement calculations.
5. Hazardous duty differential for prescribed/RX burns
6. FEGLI eligibility for temporary firefighters
7. FEHB eligibility for temporary firefighters
8. Buy back of civilian time for all time after 1989
9. Mandatory retirement. Changes law from 57 to 65 unless employee is certified before then by a doctor that he/she cannot successfully complete applicable physical standards testing.
10. Firefighter liability. Expands PL 107-203 to include investigations of deaths involving DOI employees as well.
Further requires that procedures and protocols for establishing fatality investigators be published by each OIG and requires that anyone assigned as a fire fatality investigator be appropriately trained, qualified etc., to perform such investigations.
Also spells out which committees in Congress should receive the investigatory reports and requires the reports to be submitted to Congress within 30 days of completion rather than the current language of "as soon as possible."
Further, states categorically that such investigations and reports are to be used for lessons learned and not the intent of Congress for such reports to be used to find fault or place blame but rather to recognize the inherent dangers of wildland firefighting.

NOTE: We thought about increasing the PLI reimbursement from 50% to 75% but if we can eliminate the nexus between the investigations and overzealous prosecutors, that's a start.

In all the bill is about 15 pages in length with a great deal of "findings" so as to make it clear why we are in a position to need such a comprehensive bill. I have also sent a courtesy email to the IAFF Dist. VP who represents many DoD and other federal firefighters to let him know the bill stands to positively impact those he represents as well. We have spelled out that the costs for PTP and other benefits would come from existing budget authority, primarily through the systematic reduction of non-federal suppression resource costs over a 3 year period starting at 10% of the average '07-'08 non-federal suppression costs and ending the 3rd year at a 35% reduction in such costs.

There will likely be debate and negotiation with this bill but I believe the FWFSA and NFFE have clearly educated the Hill to the point where many understand the need. We did not spell out mandates from Congress to the Agencies about line officer involvement in the fire programs but our language does mandate the use of preparedness funds and fuels funds for those purposes only.

More to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

1/17 CCC --message to Sbrrymom et al

Hola amigas/amigos---

I have worked with the California Conservation Corp for
many years. We call them the Cees (Sees phonetically).

I have worked with them building deer fence, constructing
pallets, opening roadways, disposing of brush, and
harvesting seedlings for Salmon Restoration projects.
They have also assisted us at fire camps. They deal with
the garbage, they build lunches for the line crews, they
hustle the water, ice and that awful gator aid for the camp
and line. And many other tasks.

The key to the Cees is their supervision (Supes). If they
have a supe that is out there with the people, the crew will
perform well. If the supe sits in the crummy or buggy and
does nada, then the crew will underperform.

I hope that Arnold will not cut the program.

Faithfully yours


1/17 Re CCC:


Years ago, it was pretty common to see Type 2 CCC Fire Crews on the fireline or being delivered by helicopters. I haven't seen them recently, but that is not why I'm replying.

The CCCs are critical in the support of both federal and state fires in California.

The CCCs usually provide a large majority of the support functions within the logistics section of fire camps. Without them, the feeding (Food Unit), the facilities (Facilities Unit), and supply (Supply Unit) on fires, among others would be severely compromised.

The CCCs are invaluable and should be fully funded. Don't let the state make the same mistakes the Forest Service did in the 1980's when the FS cut funding to the YACC (Young Adult Conservation Corps), YCC (Youth Conservation Corps), and AmeriCorps (1990's)..... all support critical mission needs as well as being future sources of recruitment as wildland firefighters.


1/17 PTP-Ordered Standby for R5:

Lobotomy/Acting VP, prior to and since the release of Moore's December letter, have you communicated, emailed or corresponded with anyone in an SO, RO or WO cautioning them not to implement PTP-ordered stand-by for R-5 employees?



1/17 Non-R5 IMTs in CA

GIS Girl -- it wasn't all that long before. Joe Carvello's team came to the Sequoia NF for the Highway Fire in fall 2001. My team was on the fire, but we were third team up and could only roster 17 people, so they sent Carvello to replace us.

There's an interesting and sad story about that fire. The fire was in Fresno County, so the Fresno County SO was assisting with traffic control. We had been working closely with a couple of deputies on roadblocks. One of those deputies was called away to investigate a residential burglary within the closed area. He was shot and killed by the suspect. So now we had a SO fatality and SWAT standoff within the fire closure area... at shift change time. Imagine all the engines and crews trying to get on and off the hill with around 100 SO cars rolling code.


John Fisher

1/17 I'm getting this from many posters this morning. It originated with Normbc9. Pretty interesting and nice front page map-fire-art... Thanks Normbc9. Ab.

Causes of fires, costs of firefighting and destruction of resources from 436 CA fires over an 18 day period in 1955

California A-Flame, 1955 (600 K pdf file)

1/17 Fed FF Legislation

Snake River Sparky:

I agree with many of your assessments. I've been working Capitol Hill for 15 years and, given the changes in DC, members of Congress and significant staff turnover there, it has taken that long to establish personal and organizational relationships with many. One thing I learned long ago is that expecting things from Congress just because you are firefighters and heroes simply doesn't work anymore. Some still try to use that ploy but I don't. The FWFSA takes the time to educate folks on the issues and markets those issues based on a variety of factors.

Our current legislation spells out specifically how increased pay & benefits for federal wildland firefighters would be paid for and how it would benefit the American taxpayer. We've made it very clear that fiscal management, not more money, is the key element to strengthening the federal fire programs. Our strategy has always been to offer a stronger federal fire program which is more cost effective and efficient for the American taxpayer. That angle goes much farther than the "we're firefighters give us this" angle.

In order to do this we have had to get into budget details and other issues in order to establish the foundation of our credibility without using the firefighter angle. In fact we have lost a few members because we diverted from our purely legislative actions and delved into addressing things like where preparedness & fuels money actually goes and how much of it is spent by line officers on non-fire costs etc.

Part of the escalating costs of wildfire suppression in CA and the West is because of those high costs of non-federal resources you mention. Thus not only do we educate Congress on the need for pay & benefit reform, we also explain to them that part of the solution is reforming the organizational structure of the federal land management agency fire programs with respect to how they do business and spend money.

Very simply, you strengthen the federal side of the house through updated pay & personnel policies; You pay for this by reducing your reliance on higher-priced non-federal resources which won't be needed so much once you commit to retaining the firefighters you already have on the federal side. You stop using FIRE money for non-fire stuff and before you know it, you don't need all the non-federal Type I team members or all the contractors and non-federal resources that cause the agencies to go back to Congress every Fall for a supplemental appropriation of a half billion bucks!

Of course I offer the standard disclaimer that we are not advocating the wholesale elimination of contractors and cooperators from the federal wildfire landscape. But if we are to improve things for our federal firefighters, federal dollars ought to go to them first. Doing so will then benefit the overall political constituency base...taxpayers.

So I haven't hooked my wagon to anything. I've learned what works and what doesn't work. In fact we are putting together this comprehensive bill on the advice of congressional staff rather than piece-mealing the issues. We simply keep pushing. The alternative is to do nothing...and that is not an alternative.


1/17 Moore's Strategic priority letter, and Travel Management:

Reality Check,

Dittos to your post on 1/15/09. It's about time someone paid attention to the real truth!

Super P

1/17 Fed FF Legislation:


You requested of Casey and the FWFSA leadership,

"I ask you/us to keep our eye on another issue. Proper classification will not immediately help
get the children and family members of our Firefighters off food stamps and the SCHIPS
program. Proper pay and PTP will."

Letterman, you hit the nail on the head. As long as our federal wildland firefighters are classified as Forestry/Range Aids or Technicians (or in the nearly 20 other series that somehow qualify for firefighter 6C retirement), they will be deemed as simply "general labor workers" and not afforded proper better pay, benefits, or working conditions within the federal land management agencies. If you expect more without proper classification of actual duties, you should seek employment with In-N-Out Burger.

How do you propose a different course of action than proper classification?... and subsequent changes? I'd like to hear your immediate fixes to proper pay or portal-to-portal that do not rely on proper classification of wildland fire duties as a grass root deciding factor. How is there an immediate fix to "Proper pay and PTP" as you propose?.

We are a membership driven employee association, but can only act upon active membership direction and facts that can be factually supported as we provide information to Congress or submit legislation to improve the pay, benefits, and working conditions of federal wildland firefighters.

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

1/17 IMT History prior to 2002:


We worked on the Fouts Spring Complex on the Mendocino National Forest, I think in 1987. We ended up with a group from North Carolina! After the culture shock and language barrier, things really were good. The only difficulty came when they were told it wasn't dozer country, they wanted some tractors and discs to cut line (Oops).

Old Times

1/17 Fed FF Legislation and Basic Life Support (BLS):

Snake River Sparky,

I appreciate your bringing up the case of the FBI Agents in Iraq who attempted to use Ordered Standby wrongly and were caught. Besides being reprimanded, additional actions could be pending.

Hopefully, folks within R-5 attempting to support Randy Moore's idea of "portal-to-portal without the sleep time" (aka ordered standby) see the reason that the FWFSA has to focus on the USC, CFR, and Comptroller General rulings.


P.S. - Aardvark, the overarching BLS authorizing legislation is found here. It describes the basics of EMS programs and when/where medical control is needed (Typically ALS and above). Protocols, medical direction, and certification are provided through either state, regional, or local programs. Don't confuse the terminology. There are thousands of BLS provider agencies (ie. federal land management agencies, small fire departments, VFDs, rescue squads, etc) throughout the country that do not have medical control for their BLS programs, but do legally operate under state, regional, or local protocols, medical direction, and certification. Hope that helps.

They also have a group that I hope the folks in Boise are in contact with:

Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS)
. FICEMS was established in 2005 to ensure coordination among Federal agencies involved with State, local, tribal, and regional emergency medical services and 9-1-1 systems.

1/16 Casey,

Tylenol??....listen guy...if you need a good bottle of Scotch, just say so...
I'll send one ASAP....Seriously.


P.S. That go's for you too OA...

1/16 Hey Ab;

In answer to GISgirl's question here are a few examples of non-R5 IMTs doing
an assignment in R5. At least one's I was involved with!

The first one I worked with was also one of my mentors from many years ago…
Don Webb, off the Gila NF, brought his R-3 IMT to an assignment on the Indian
Fire on the Cleveland in 1980. Interesting situation; Southern California had
adopted ICS and R-3 had not. It was also the first year that Orange County
was a Contract County! So we had a 3-way Unified Command, FS, Orange County
and CDF-Riverside RU. I was assigned as a local guide and ICS interpreter!

The next non-R-5 team I was involved with was also from R-3 on the Vail Fire
on the Palomar District of the Cleveland in 1989. This was a complex
situation, fire burning in ancient fuel on the north end of the district in
both Riverside and San Diego Counties.

While I was on the Angeles in 1996 Steve Frye’s Northern Rockies IMT came down
to the Saugus District and managed the Marple Fire. They did an outstanding
job on a very difficult fire.

In 1999 Joe Carvello’s Rocky Basin Team also responded to the Angeles and
handled the Bridge Fire up San Gabriel Canyon. I was really impressed with
how quickly they responded (one of their OSCs was off the Las Vegas RD and
was there interfacing with the forest early the second day of the incident).

And also in 1999 my incident management team (CIIMT #3) transitioned with Bill
Waterberry’s PNW Type I Team on the Kirk Fire on the LP. Bill had a wonderful
team who was easy to transition with.

I know there were many more examples throughout the region but I always
enjoyed working with our out-of-region teams!

Hope this helps!


1/16 Nice job Casey. We've chosen our battles through the years. The firefighter series has
been long in coming. Glad it's included in the overall bill. One reason I did not rank it
high on the survey at the time was because so many issues seemed more critical for

Keep up the great work!


1/16 CCC going down; we hope not!


As we all know California is in a $$ crisis and cutting funding to many programs. One is the California Conservation Corps.
My Fire Pup was in the Corps for 3.5 years and it was a great program for him as it is for many young men and women. He made great friends, learned a lot about himself and it was there he made the decision to make the Fire Service his career.

He has taken on the role of CCC supporter and has arranged for a TV interview on Channel 10 in Sacramento next Friday 1/23 at his CCC center in Auburn . I am assisting him in his search for positive input about the C’s. What roles they fill emergency response, fire camp etc and the impact losing them would have.

He is also looking for CCC Alumni that would like to write a letter about how being in the C’s has affected their life and impact of losing the C’s. You get the drift.

I have set up an email account for responses and need to get any info, comments, etc by next Wednesday so he can put together his presentation. Please send to savetheccc09@gmail.com

Thanks for the Great Site and all you do for the Wildland Community!

Hoping all the Retention issues etc get resolved in 2009 too!

Sbrrymom (aka A C's Mom)

1/16 Retention:

Thanks to all fed firefighters that continue to "fight the good fight" for retention.
Please keep educating Congress and doing the important work. FWFSA's
efforts are important. How else would they know what we do?

Let us know if we should write our congress men/women in support of the bills.

It feels like a big change to see so many of the original FWFSA members retiring
or nearing retirement. It's just as good to see new members stepping up.

Thanks Casey for your efforts. I for one really appreciate what you do on our

It's clear from the Quadrennial Review that the FS would be happy to have
firefighting go away or at least not be enough of a priority to even have adequate
training. I wish they would come out and say it instead of cutting out training by
limiting travel.


1/16 Taken from the Quadrennial Fire Review Doc Page 30:

"Over the next few years, as federal and state agencies cope with mounting budget deficit pressures to contain and, in many instances, reduce expenditure levels in all programs, fire management¢s force structure and ability will be challenged. Reliance on retirees to fill some incident management team positions will continue in the short term. Fire management will at best be expected to maintain fire fighting capacity at zero growth levels and absorb higher inflationary costs. At the other budget end, annual appropriated costs for fire management may actually be cut with the expectation that suppression costs would be covered by reserve funds or supplemental. Either way, fire management will be challenged to just to hold level its preparedness force structure numbers as they deal with larger program cost pressures, financial adjustments, and other budget issues."

Just something you don't get warm fuzzies reading.


still thinking

1/16 GIS and digital pen stuff:

Hi Abs,

On 1/9 there were a couple of posts about the Adapx Digital Pen. I was wondering if you had any more information about it you could send to me (like the webcast registration info/link. or whatever else you might have).

I would like to look into learning more about ARCGis, and since ESRI HQ is right down the street from me, why not? I really think we can make this applicable for making and monitoring fireline changes.

Playing with Fire

Hi Playing with Fire, I forwarded it. Ab.

1/16 FWFSA, FF Series, PTP etc.:


I laud your efforts to get firefighters classified as just that: firefighters. Additionally, there has been little direction for the “boots on the ground” as far as respect, institutional stability, pay equity and direction. I truly hope your organization, its members and the federal agencies can establish a productive, working relationship and create a culture of respect and efficiency and a clear institutional direction. I certainly wish you the best under the new administration.

However, the present economic situation in the US, Wall Street and especially California demonstrates that an adult needs to be in charge of the public checkbook. Pandering politicians or short-sighted public employees will one sad day realize that there is a depth to a taxpayer’s pocket and public good will. That “one day” is now in California and the public pain will be broad and deep. So begins the first of a series of problems: It was announced today that California will suspend tax refunds because they are out of money. Of course, no “one” individual is responsible…Sure, we can let the unions demand a firefighter in Vallejo receive a base salary of 120k. But at what point does the well go dry and it all unravels?

Recently, a group of FBI agents were reprimanded from submitting individual overtime pay vouchers for 15k for a month’s work in Iraq . They used an arcane federal accounting method to compute the amount. Public watchdog groups roundly criticized the agency for such “egregious” use of public money. Hell, these clowns are pikers! I worked side by side with a California battalion chief who racked up nearly 40k overtime in a few weeks on a federal incident. Not to mention backfill costs and his eye-popping comp time…And he wasn’t even ashamed to announce his booty.

Just because California adopted PTP to try to buy labor peace by adopting standing municipal fire labor agreements to Wildland firefighting labor needs doesn’t mean it was a great idea. California has the highest firefighter salaries and generous pensions in the world. The state’s now broke and my co-worker—a retired LA county fire officer--thinks of little else than if his modest firefighter pension payments from a more rational time will continue to be paid.

Some senior line workers at the Big Three in Detroit are making six figures. Detroit ’s broken and many thousands will probably lose their jobs. See a pattern?

Casey, don’t hook your wagon to a failed premise that won’t stand the light of Public scrutiny. At the end of the day, I believe PTP (political pixie dust, as I’ve heard it called) will not. I’ve been a firefighter, both Wildland and municipal, since 1976. I’ve paid my dues and served many years because it was the right thing to do. I believe the cloak of public hero worship we firefighters are often wrapped in is earned by our service. But it’s fragile and will quickly fade if we are perceived as crass, selfish money grubbers.

Choose your battles, Casey. Perhaps it’s not the best time to have your hand out.

Snake River Sparky

1/16 Fed FF Legislation:

Letterman & All;

No one issue is more important than another which is why our legislative proposal is so comprehensive. The legalese and knowing what to write and how to write it is a stunning task. Even with help from congressional staff the end language can read rather mundane and less than complex, but the research into the Code of Federal Regulations, United States Codes and other bureaucratic documents is the real headache. People get paid huge sums to do this kind of research and write legislation... I'm not one of them :)

I posted the document about classification just to let folks know how long the Agency(s) have not only been aware of the issues but how long they've been aware of recommendations and solutions. I have already provided Congress with documents back to the late '80s about the need for portal to portal; 16 year old documents which claim the Agencies & OPM were going to seriously look at benefits for temporary firefighters etc. That's why "it's time."

Our legislative proposal is close to being done... perhaps another bottle of Tylenol will do. There are complexities with making sure the language for buying back temp time past 1990 will pass muster with both congressional offices and the Legislative Counsel's office as well as language providing temps access to FEGLI, health care etc.

Once the language is done it'll be posted on our web site in our member's area for a while and likely show up here a few days after.

I do have to share one email I got from a senate staffer yesterday in reference to the 1991 document. After I sent it to him his reply was: " wow...I'm speechless."

That should send a clear signal to folks just how labor intensive it is to educate Congress as he was unaware of the long standing history of these issues. Fortunately for all of you, the Forest Service and other agencies have created enough documentation prior to the advent of the personal computer that has been stored like a squirrel by the FWFSA only to be brought out to validate our position on the issues. Gotta love scanners and flash drives!!

Casey Judd
Business Manager

1/16 IMT History prior to 2002 and Retention issues:


I know we have had non-R5 teams in Ca prior to 2002, however I can't think of a single time. I would check with someone in the Southern Area (or website) to see if you can find a mob history for the Red and Blue Teams. Something tells me the Red or Blue Team came to the LP during the Logan or Hooper Complexes or one of those LP fires. I would also see if someone in the Intel shops for R-6 and R-3 can help with some mob history.

If all else fails, call someone on the LP, maybe the Planner and see if they have can do a quick records check for you.


We really appreciate the "it's time" post and other FWFSA Leaderships continuous push for proper classification. I gotta hand it to you and the original FWFSA leadership for the consistency when it comes to classification. I know proper classification can open up many new doors for us, but as a member of FWFSA I ask you/us to keep our eye on another issue. Proper classification will not immediately help get the children and family members of our Firefighters off food stamps and the SCHIPS program. Proper pay and PTP will.

Theysaid poll 12/9/07

Rated as Less Important in the decision to leave by the group that is interviewing
11 Firefighter Job Series
14 Advanced Education Opportunities
15 Benefits-Holidays/Leave
16 Social/Culture/Entertainment Options
17 Spousal/Significant Other Employment Options
17 24 Hour Staffing
18 Health Care/Education/Shopping Availability (self and/or family)
19 Duty days/hours
21 Professional Liability Insurance
22 Station/Duty Location
23 Benefits-Health/Dental/Vision
24 Living/Housing Availability
25 Portal to Portal Pay
29 Job Security/Stability
30 Promotion potential/Apprentice advancement
31 Wages/Salary
32 Area Cost of Living
Rated as More Important

If it's truly "time" then "it's time" for a deadline! A deadline that demands results. I can't take another Pena or Moore update.


1/16 Re GISgirl / IMT history:

In 1987 several out of state Type 1 teams came to Calif. Two or 3 were on the
Klamath NF at Happy Camp or around there over a period of time. On the
Stanislaus NF, Hamm Fire a Northern Rockies Type 1 team was assigned.
Curtis was the IC. A Great Basin Type 1, Dale Jarrell was just north of the
Hamm fire on another fire. Another Great Basin Type 1 team, John Russell
was on the Coffee Case fire, Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park.

In 1990 Yosemite National Park, A-Rock fire a Great Basin Type 1, Bill
Williams was assigned.

BLM Engines

1/16 Re: Medical Direction and Protocols / professional negligence

to 'In need of Clarification',

I am not sure that the BLM has any sort of standing medical orders or protocols for EMTs. As it is highly unlikely that your job description contains anything like 'serves as a working Emergency Medical Technician on the Crew', I would strongly recommend that you ask your supervisors if there is anything in place. DOI organizations seem to have a better grasp of the importance of EMTs that does the USFS.

As for where to reference this information, I have no idea and I have spent the last five years looking for someone or something to tell me what I can or cannot do as an EMT on the line, back at the station or anywhere in between. Many will tell you that working Basic Life Support (BLS) skill sets require no medical direction and you can use local doctrine. This is incorrect. Assuming that you even know what local doctrine is, or have even spoken to the local authority, they still have to give you approval. While the national working group is working on this, I have not seen anything yet.

Any lawyer can make it sound as though putting on a bandaid is an Advanced Life Support function and that you (the EMT) overstepped your authority, training and ability when you applied said band aid without first taking a full personal history, cross checking all records, consulting with the Mayo Clinic and then using a special antibiotic coated, breathable, gore-tex, antiseptic teenage mutant ninja turtles bandaid in a full and sterile environment.

As for payment for maintaining your medical qualifications and taking on the added responsibility, well there is none. The federal government does not even call us firefighters, but range or forestry techs. Calling us what we are would require them to treat us as such and we'd get better training and better pay.

Recent postings have talked about professional negligence and this is a prime example. Operating as an EMT carries its own risks and responsibilities and the expectation by supervisors is that you (the EMT) will 'take care of everything'. But they (The supervisor or agency) won't give you the time or training to maintain your qualifications or give you any sort of guidance, protocols or standards. It changes from crew to crew, forest to forest, region to region. Progress in this arena is painfully slow and even with the tragic fatalities we have experienced over the years, there has been little change.

Good Luck and I wish you well,


1/16 Out-of-region T 1 fire teams managing CA fires prior to '02:

I recall working with one of the northern rockies teams on the San
Bernardino around '94. I'm sure there were other that don't come to
mind. It did not seem to me to be that unusual.

Still Out There ...

1/16 Ab & Old Sawyer

That was an outstanding response to MAS's comments on Professional Negligence. The article that explains your perspective was excellent as well. It was a teachable moment, at least for me. Thanks for that opportunity. Ab thanks for posting that and the many other articles that educate us all.

One of the issues at 30 mile was whether there was a failure to act by the IC, and the accusation of lying was tied to that. Meaning, what would have been argued is that the lying was used to cover up the failure to act. Which less precisely is tied to this failure to redeem leadership. Which after reading the attached article is in my estimation associated with the issue of poor implementation, and not poor decision making. Which it appears that poor implementation is more problematic from a liability aspect.

As you stated with Backfire 2000, which I was close enough to provide a couple of statements for was, as you might say a decision that was made in the "heat of battle" and was not poor implementation. Interesting enough one the points that was being pursued was if LCES was properly implemented, which at the time gave me pause. It does make more sense now with a little insight it can be seen that poor implementation was the angle that was being pursued. The folks under my command that day had LCES in place.

Sorry, to bring up 30 mile once again, but that is what would have been argued by the prosecution from my understanding.


LCES, good point.

In my opinion, the 30-mile IC did the best he was capable of under the circumstances once all were entrapped and the fire was about to blow up. As far as lying, it is not uncommon for people trying to recall sequences of events experienced under stress to mis-remember; it's not lying but a human factors effect. When there are gaps in memory I'm told we often fill in with the "schema" or logical sequences we think we could have or most likely followed. We can believe it's true, even if not. I don't know what was the case in the 30mile tragedy.

For more on the psychological phenomena at work in decision making, read Mike Johns' good summary paper: What Was He Thinking? Decision Making and Judging. In my opinion, the human factors patterns discussed also have implications for what we remember or think we remember when perceptions are overwhelmed. Mike is an Assistant US Attorney and Senior Litigation Counsel and former wildland firefighter. He's contributed several powerpoints and papers here. A permanent link to it is located on the Documents worth Reading/ Archives page. If Mike is lurking out there, thanks for that, Mike.

Let me also say that not all people are equally capable of leadership and especially some are not capable of action or leadership under stress, which often requires split second judgment. A professional leadership program should identify those that are not, using simulation and/or sand table options, similar to live fire exercises in the military. Ab.

1/15 Hi NorCal Fuels,

Yep, we had lots of out-of-region T 1 fire teams managing norcal fires last summer. It was great to have help from all the firefighters. GISgirl was specifically asking about prior to 2002.

These are the non-CA Type 1 teams I remember from last summer:

Broyles Great Basin Team in June/July did some nice work on the Iron Complex that burned around our place. Great to meet Guy Pence; his heli-rappelling daughter helps out at the WFF on the phone when not leaping out of perfectly good helicopters.

Quesinberry's Southern Area Blue Team managed Hells Half on the Six Rivers in July and Aug. We got lots of smoke from that. Hells Half (right) and Cedar (left)

Also had Pendleton's PNW Team 3 managing the Canyon Complex on the Plumas in July. (I remember Jeff P as night Denny DIVS on the Big Bar Complex. Coming in, he took a wrong turn uphill at DP 48 on that fire [called DP 2 on the Iron Cplx-Ziegler Fire at the "1 Road"]; Jeff ended up in the middle of active fire in 1999 and was sure it had jumped the line. Entertaining commo. Easy to get turned around in the dark in our country...)

Hoff's PNW Team 2 managed the Rich on the Plumas NF in Aug [rough canyon country] and the Piute on the SQF and KRN in July.

Summerfelt's Rocky Mt IMT managed the American River Complex on the Tahoe NF in June/July. More rough country!

Hughes SW Area IMT was in charge of the Lime Complex on the Mendo and Shasta Trinity NFs in July/Aug. We also got smoke from that one.

Ruggiero's Southern Area Red Team managed the Cub Complex on the Lassen NF in July. We didn't get smoke from that. Idaho did...

And those are the Type 1 Teams...

There were lots of visiting Type 2 teams as well. My personal T-2 favorite was our very own Swarztlander's NorCal I. They did a great job of hitting the ground running after the June lightning busts around our place. They organized chaos and worked early on to save the Denny Road. That road was built over a number of large-diameter felled firs, I think built in the '40s. When fire gets into those road support firs they smolder over the winter (under the road) and can take out the whole road, as one tree did in 1999. Kent and NorCal I did nice work to make sure that didn't happen this time.

Thanks also to the Black Mountain IHC, Lone Peak IHC and others that worked on containment lines, burnout, and spiked out at our place. On other crews, it was great to meet Tom Craven's "little" brother and talk with Thom Taylor. Amazing who you run into on the fireline in norcal. Some great Division Supts, Branch Directors and Ops Chiefs from CA, MT, NV, etc. Enjoyed the engine crews that left their engines, crossed the river, patrolled fireline and acted as lookout across the river too. (I need to size some of the photos and send them in here. There are so many great ones.)

I wish you all the best.


1/15 Hi Ab and Greg,

When I was on the old Tujunga Ranger District (now LARRD) of the Angeles NF, I had the WO folks on a property review of the District's facilities. When we got to the Don Beidebach Training Center, they had some concerns. There is a formal process within the agency to have a memorial set up, through property management at that time. Apparently, the Regional Forester has to recommend to the Chief we do a memorial. They wanted us to remove Don's name on the Center and move the El Cariso Memorial Rock back to the El Cariso Park. We got things fixed so that everything was legal by FS standards.

On a personal note, I met Rob when he was at training at Beidebach before South Canyon. Hutch and Spike had him attend the Engine Academy. He was a very upbeat and positive person. I hope things go well for your plans.


1/15 Mellie,

The Southern area Blue T1 team was assigned to the Hells Half Acre Fire in norcal this past summer. You might find more at the IMT website - imtcenter.net

NorCal Fuels

1/15 Moore's Strategic priority letter, and Travel Management:

Not to be disrespectful to Mr. Moore, he has "stuck it out" in the Region for a respectable amount of time. , I just had some questions and comments on his Strategic priority letter,

The five strategic priorities being:

Climate change,
Ecological restoration
Travel Management
Nepa and forest plan revision
Healthy workforce and workplace

  • I'm glad to see that Healthy workforce and workplace is in.
  • As far as climate change, Its a good thing that we didn't make the mistake and go with the old "Global Warming" term seeing that we are experiencing near record breaking cold in some of the Central and North East.states and probably other parts of the world. I'm a bit dismayed that we jumped right on the "climate change" bandwagon just cause AlGore said it was true, although a growing number of leading scientists say its not. But I guess if the Chief can manipulate the budget in our favor using this most recent unproven crisis I guess its OK. (remember when the spotted owl scam literally shut down timber harvesting and then they found out that Spotted owls hunt better in clear cuts?)
  • I'm hoping fire suppression fits in there somewhere, it used to be a priority back in the day.

Travel Management HMMM, I know... that would be a great point of discussion after traveling to the Chiefs workshop this year.

Reality check

1/15 Ab,

I know it's not fire, but I am very thankful that all passengers survived and have been rescued from the Airbus (La Guardia NY to Charlotte NC) flight that emergency landed in the Hudson River following an apparent goose strike on at least one engine. Training of pilots, crew, ferry, coast guard and other rescue personnel pay off at these times when there are high risk/ high consequence and low frequency events as Gordon Graham characterized them.

My friends that do this work in fire, thank all of you for your dedication, service and professionalism. Nice job NY and NJ rescuers.


1/15 Ab: Sorry this is so long, you can send it directly to MAS the Student rather than posting it if you wish. You might find the linked paper interesting.

MAS: Your comments are designated Comment and are in italics. My responses are designated Reply below, Old Sawyer:

Professional Negligence (from 1/14):

Just a thought

Comment: I don't mean to upset anyone with this subject it's just a thought for discussion.

I am a current student at a university with 8 years experience working as a firefighter (seasonal and career) for a federal agency. My professor talked about professional negligent today and it got me thinking about how does that apply to federal firefighters.

Reply: Legally, Federal fighters enjoy absolute immunity from personal liability by statute. This does not eliminate the issue of whether a professional firefighter commits a negligent act or omission.

Comment: I know there has been going on since the Thirty Mile Fire.

Reply: The issue precedes Thirty Mile.

Comment: Just a side note here, I just got finished with the book The Thirty Mile Fire by John Maclean. I thought it was very well written just like his other books. Also I spend countless number of hours researching fatality fire and close call fires.

Reply: That book makes some causal attributions which are highly suspect in my opinion.

Comment: My professor kind of put it like this, when you finish college your degree represents that you have knowledge in that field and when you start a career you then can apply that knowledge. Well some people can get a degree but not have the knowledge to back it up. (I don't know how he said it word for word, to busy taking notes but that was the base of it)

Reply: Education, college or otherwise, contributes to the expertise which is then applied to a decision or behavior, distinguishing a “professional” or expert from a lay person. Experience of course improves the professional’s decision-making abilities. Newly licensed lawyers, for example, typically lack much experience but are “qualified” to practice law.

Comment: This reminded me of Red Cards. A red card in a sense is like a degree, it shows you have had the classes and training to be qualified for a certain position. BUT if you do not have the knowledge and wisdom to use that knowledge then are you really qualified? For example I have seen folks being pushed through the system and getting qualified with out the proper training (training assignments, classes ect.) There was one person who was signed off on FFT2, FFT1, ENOP, ENGB and started a firing boss task book in less then two seasons (total of 10 months WOW).

Reply: Red cards, like medical or legal licenses are sometimes called “second-order-precautions” in the sense that the system is designed and intended to ensure the professional is qualified to make the decisions and engage in the behaviors required of the profession. These second-order precautions never guaranty a good outcome because humans can always err regardless of their qualifications, but the better the second-order precautions are, fewer bad outcomes should result. On the other hand, the amount of “capital” society can dedicate to second-order precautions is not infinite, so a reasonableness standard should apply.

Comment: So lets say this person I just mentioned got one of there crew members killed on a fire. would someone be held Professionally Negligent and if so who? Would it be the Engine Captain because he did not have the proper training, experience, knowledge and wisdom to be in that position or would it be the supervisors that pushed them through the system, which put him in that situation?

Reply: This question is a tautology insofar as the question dictates the answer, because it assumes both acted negligently and both acts or omissions caused the fatality. We tend to attribute causation, responsibility or blame to the person closest to the event but everyone in a causal chain can be attributed causation, responsibility and blame.

Comment: Now I will be the first one to say that things can go wrong on fires. You can follow all the policies and procedures, 10 & 18 and LCES and still things can go wrong. On the other hand lets say I was a IC of a fire and I disregarded policies & procedures, 10 & 18 and LCES. The fire went from a manageable fire (where suppression cost would be low) to a major fire (suppression cost was in the millions). Wouldn't that be considered professionally Negligent? I just cost my agency millions just because I didn't follow policies & procedures. It makes me wonder how often something like this actually happens every fire season?

Reply: This is another tautology and it is extremely unlikely that disregarding any of the 10, 18 or LCES would cause a manageable fire to become unmanageable. The Backfire 2000 and similar litigation establishes that the 10 & 18 are guidelines within which professionals exercise judgment which is susceptible to policy analysis. Therefore, alleged failures to comply with them cannot subject the United States to legal liability. This does not dispose of the issue of negligence, however, because the discretionary function exception to liability applies even if discretion is abused, even if there is negligence. Whether disciplinary action, for example, could result is also subject to the same arguments about misconduct versus decision-making errors. An example which would result in discipline would be clear violations of policy like not wearing a seat belt when required, and if supervisors create a culture in which this is tolerated they also could properly be considered negligent, at the second-order level.

Comment: Should firefighters, supervisors be held negligent when something happens? I don't know?? If so who??? It's like dominos, you point the finger at one person then you say well it's the supervisor fault and so on and so on.

Reply: Whether to conclude that either a firefighter or a supervisor was negligent when there is a bad outcome presents a difficult issue for many reasons including the fact that it is not appropriate to infer negligence merely from a bad outcome - hindsight bias, outcome bias, and the representativeness heuristic-inverse fallacy tend to lead most people (typically more than 70% in actual tests) to the wrong conclusion that negligence probably caused the bad outcome, simply based on the existence of the bad outcome. In medical malpractice actions and cases involving investment/corporate ventures this became such a huge problem that the law requires far more proof than a bad outcome to infer negligence. Legal standards are adopted to require proof, often expert, of failure to meet some recognized standard of care which proximately caused the outcome - second guessing the professional decision made within acceptable decision-space is not adequate for establishing either negligence or liability.

Comment: To close this out maybe we just need to stop cutting corners and follow the rules.

Reply: Another thing we can do is ensure that second-order precautions are adequate to prove that professional firefighters have the qualifications - education, training and experience or knowledge, skills and abilities - to make professional decisions which should not be second guessed by lay persons as to the quality of the decision, as in medical malpractice litigation, at least in theory (which is to say that second guessing still occurs). Here is a link to a Law School paper freely downloadable which documents the fact that judges of bad outcomes are less likely to second guess professional decision quality than they are to find liability for simple negligent execution errors. The paper recommends formal adoption of a legal standard in which reasonable second-order precautions are a defense in a bad outcome, even if the professional made a “wrong” decision, in hindsight, at least for activities with positive socio-economic externalities like practicing medicine or fighting fires. Even if the law does not move further in that direction, the better we do in generating professional firefighters in a system with strong second-order precautions, the less likely others will be inclined to, or in a position to, second-guess their decisions.

https://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/LE435.pdf (424 K pdf file)

Thanks, Old Sawyer, I was hoping that someone knowledgeable would reply. Ab.

1/15 IIMT History


I wouldn't be surprised if the last time a non-R5 Type I IMT worked a CA wildfire
prior to the 2002 McNally Fire was in 1999. That was the year of the Big Bar
Complex and I mapped the Willow Fire for Joe Stutler's Pacific Northwest Team 3.

Fire Geek

1/15 IIMT History


I know almost all IMTs (if not all) in the country came to the Big Bar Complex
(and many came to the Kirk Complex down at Big Sur) in 1999. Hutch's CIIMT
Team 4 was the last team on that. Stutler's PNW Team 3 (that was at Willow
Camp in Willow Creek) left 2 weeks before Pookie Camp in Hoopa was shut
down (where Hutchison's team was). Perhaps that PNW team was the last.

Kirk was wrapped up before the Big Bar, if I remember correctly.

Anybody got any non-R5 team assignments that were later than that, 2000, 2001?
2000 was a big fire year and CA teams went to Idaho and Montana...


1/15 IIMT History

I need some help... I'm working on a project and I need to find a verifiable fact...

In 2002 I was on the McNally fire on the Sequoia NF working with Humphrey's Type 1 team (who I loved working with) and there was some discussion on when was the last time a Type 1 team had been in CA... I heard at the time it had been years but since it was prior to my time, I can't verify. CA has 5 Type 1 IMTs so it used to happen less often but since then there have been lots of teams visiting on some major fires and I acknowledge all of your capable help... but my question is:

Prior to August 2002 when and who was the previous Type 1 IMT (not Type 2 or ORCA or the hybrid eastern sierra team) that came into CA and managed a wildfire incident (not staging or all risk or a MAC or GACC assignment)?

no more access to fire databases...
Thanks in advance,

1/15 Interior Sec confirmations hearings wants to clean up DOI

1/15 Professional Negligence:


I think it has been discussed on this site before that it is just about impossible to fight fire and follow the 10 and 18 to the letter.

As to the rest of your your "Red Card Diploma" observation....My point exactly!! Credible field experience to back up the S and I courses is what is going to keep a firefighter out of harm's way more times than the actual course itself. You can take a person who has been going to college and is conditioned to taking classroom notes, studying, taking tests etc. and drop them into an engine academy where there is a lot of classroom activity and of course they will ace the course. Put them into the driver's seat of an engine that has a seat 6 feet off the ground without even as much as driving a pickup on mountainous roads under varied environments ( mud, snow, narrow, loose dirt etc ) and they will have an accident. I am sure one could come up with a few exceptions but for the most part actual experience living in the woods whether it is cutting firewood, hunting, working for surveyors, spinning brodies ( in your personal vehicle ) or whatever, will all make a person more safe....

A person with good Situational Awareness is not even aware that they have it, they live it. Personally I would like to see contracted fuels treatment programs scaled back and the reintroduction of the agency BD Crews ( brush disposal ) Use these crews as the training ground for the basic firefighter, much as the jumpers cast a favorable eye to the hotshot crews for their rookies. Four - five full months on a BD crew and then you can apply to a firefighter position, CalFire hires Federal firefighters.

Not a Vegetarian

Bottom line: Will they KNOW RISK when they see it? Ab.

1/15 Regarding California CICCS:

RV & FC180

Regarding California CICCS, yes DIVS, STL and Line Safety are ICS 300 level certification, but they are approved at the Operational Area (County) level, ICS 400 certification require regional review.

I urge everyone to resist believing perception “good old boy network or rubber stamp” without specific information. The Operational Area Peer Review Committee consists of Cal Fire, OES, Federal Fire Agency, Federal Military Fire Agency, Fire District, City Fire Dept, Volunteer Fire Dept or District and ICS Training Specialist. These folks have to put their name on any certifications approved and they take it very seriously.

As with any system, it isn’t perfect, a few folks may have slipped through the “Historical Recognition” which ended in 2005, but you can rest assured no 300 or 400 certifications are being handed out in California unless the letter and intent of 310-1 are satisfied.

No Bay FC

1/15 Rob Browning Memorial:

We are in the process of designing a memorial to Rob Browning who died in the South Canyon Fire in '94. Our District Office is built on property his family owned here in Nebo, NC and they still live nearby. This process was begun about five years ago. I have taken over accomplishing this memorial. I've looked through your website and am very impressed with what is going on in the nation. Are there any resources, or is there any guidance you could give us as we navigate this process? We have grant money to be spent by May '09 for an interpretive trail in the side yard of our office and we're going to combine the two projects.

Thanks for your time and your work, Greg

Greg Philipp
Grandfather Ranger District
Pisgah National Forest

1/15 wikipedia & ICS:

While doing research tonight I noticed that the wikipedia ICS entry said they NEED more SME input...

so it's at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incident_Command_System and I hope some ff that is at home, since the slopes of Tahoe are mush, will take the time to update this for the good of the order


1/15 Re FS Strategic Priorities

The Healthy workforce/workplace is not currently funded.
That item on the R5 priority list is only for show.


1/15 Re FS Strategic Priorities

Maybe I'm reading too much into this and should probably be glad that Randy Moore even has "Healthy workforce/workplace" on his priority list, but I find it interesting with all that has been going and said in 2008, it came in last place on his list. Well, I guess I know how we (Wildland Firefighters) rate.

(To quote on of our hardest supporters: "It's Time! Thanks Casey!!)

1/15 Regarding Budgets and B.S. :

Did any other Forest Service employees watch last year's mandatory video-mercial on climate change?
The Chief pronounced that Climate Change will bring longer fire seasons, more fires, and more frequent catastrophic fires.

Why would 'The Chief' request a static fire budget under those predictions?
Is Climate Change really at the forefront of the Forest Service issues?
Shouldn't the Forest Service be increasing its firefighting capability... or at the very least retaining its Firefighters?

After all, these Climate Change related fire predictions came from the top of the agency and it was mandatory for ALL employees to watch the video, and then to talk about impacts and solutions. Then, a month later, the Chief requested a static fire budget...Hmmm,

Maybe with all the savings on salaries it will work out... Oh yeah, we still need firefighters to put our fires out, and cooperators are more expensive...Hmmm.

I guess it is easier to face the ambiguous challenges of Climate Change n'stuff rather than keeping a budget straight and a workforce happy.

What Tha---
1/15 Hello,

I saw your wildfire links

Here is another resource -

Chris Chubb, cccarto
1/15 Link to R5 Strategic Priorities page:



1/15 Professional Negligence:

MAS, Nicely written comment.

Closely associated with Professional Negligence concept, is from what I understand has precedence in structural fire fighting, is Redemption of Leadership. What that generally means, as can be surmised, that when you assume a leadership position that you have an understood requirement to act in a nature that is consistent with the responsibilities of the position.

Measured against that standard you may be disappointed when looking at some of the fatality fires of the past. The key is that a level of immunity exists for those redeeming their responsibilities, and when one does not it can become a question both legally and morally.

Keep your liability insurance, but think how that works for you.


1/14 Ab & All:

One of my many character flaws is that I tend to keep every document I've ever received (poorly organized however). One of them, attached, is a 1991 twenty page document from the Forest Service, outlining the recommendations of a task force on developing solutions pertaining to the development of a wildland firefighter series.

For the young folks that think classification and some of these other issues are new and we can simply saunter into DC and fix things overnight, the attached will show that the issues we are working on now have been identified, and solutions recommended by the Agency for perhaps over 20 years now, yet the Agency has failed to adopt any of the recommendations.

Thus as I told Mr. Moore, Mr. Harbour and staff from Congress today as I sent this out to them, with the overwhelming chant of "change" accompanying the new Administration, our position can be clearly articulated in two words..."It's time."

Casey Judd
Business Manager

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/fed/1991-ff-series.pdf (large 10,290 K pdf file; need broadband to download, not dialup)

1/14 Re FS Strategic Priorities

From: Randy Moore, Regional Forester, R5
Date: 01/14/2009 02:45 PM
To: r5_ro@FSNOTES, pdl r5 unit mailrooms@FSNOTES
Subject: Strategic Priorities
Unit Mailrooms: Please forward to all Region 5 employees.

As we begin 2009, I would like to wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year and invite you to work as informed partners on the exciting changes and challenges ahead this year.

The Regional Leadership Team has identified five strategic priorities that will guide the Region through FY 2009 and beyond. I believe these priorities reflect who we are as a Region and where we intend to go in the future.

The priorities are:

Climate Change
Ecological Restoration
Travel Management
NEPA and Forest Plan Revision
Healthy Workforce and Workplace

These priorities are forward looking, and by focusing our efforts in these key areas, we will be prepared for the land management challenges that lie ahead.

We have produced a video and web site that will provide you with greater detail and to help answer any questions you may have about these priorities. Our web site will be your source for current information. I encourage each of you to view the video and familiarize yourself with the Region’s priorities.

To visit the website and view the video, please click here.


1/14 Well, the final Quadrennial Fire Review is out....................


1/14 Professional Negligent:

Just a thought

I don't mean to upset anyone with this subject it's just a thought for discussion.

I am a current student at a university with 8 years experience working as a firefighter (seasonal and career) for a federal agency. My professor talked about professional negligent today and it got me thinking about how does that apply to federal firefighters.

I know there has been going on since the Thirty Mile Fire.

Just a side note here, I just got finished with the book The Thirty Mile Fire by John Maclean. I thought it was very well written just like his other books. Also I spend countless number of hours researching fatality fire and close call fires.

My professor kind of put it like this, when you finish college your degree represents that you have knowledge in that field and when you start a career you then can apply that knowledge. Well some people can get a degree but not have the knowledge to back it up. (I don't know how he said it word for word, to busy taking notes but that was the base of it)

This reminded me of Red Cards. A red card in a sense is like a degree, it shows you have had the classes and training to be qualified for a certain position. BUT if you do not have the knowledge and wisdom to use that knowledge then are you really qualified? For example I have seen folks being pushed through the system and getting qualified with out the proper training (training assignments, classes ect.) There was one person who was signed off on FFT2, FFT1, ENOP, ENGB and started a firing boss task book in less then two seasons (total of 10 months WOW).

So lets say this person I just mentioned got one of there crew members killed on a fire. would someone be held Professionally Negligent and if so who? Would it be the Engine Captain because he did not have the proper training, experience, knowledge and wisdom to be in that position or would it be the supervisors that pushed them through the system, which put him in that situation?

Now I will be the first one to say that things can go wrong on fires. You can follow all the policies and procedures, 10 & 18 and LCES and still things can go wrong. On the other hand lets say I was a IC of a fire and I disregarded policies & procedures, 10 & 18 and LCES. The fire went from a manageable fire (where suppression cost would be low) to a major fire (suppression cost was in the millions). Wouldn't that be considered professionally Negligent? I just cost my agency millions just because I didn't follow policies & procedures. It makes me wonder how often something like this actually happens every fire season?

Should firefighters, supervisors be held negligent when something happens? I don't know?? If so who??? It's like dominos, you point the finger at one person then you say well it's the supervisor fault and so on and so on.

To close this out maybe we just need to stop cutting corners and follow the rules.


1/14 Scholarship for current or retired federal employee, spouse or dependant living in NorCal (see map on application):

The North Valley Federal Women’s Program Council (NVFWPC) is offering three scholarships (part-time students) in the amount of $200 and nine scholarships (full time students) in the amount of $600 each to current or retired federal employees, their spouse, or dependant within the Council area. Scholarship certificate will be mailed to the recipients. Funds will be deposited to the student’s account at the college of his/her choice.

Application Deadline: Postmarked by: MARCH 20, 2009


1/14 Re AD travel:

P asked: "Has there been any decision or protocol on how the AD bunch
will submit travel? My understanding is that a travel card is needed to do
employee travel."

I can only answer for my unit, but suspect that others will have similar
protocols. Our dispatch center and each ranger district will have "travel
arrangers" identified in GovTrip. These employees will be able to request
travel authorizations, make travel reservations, and process travel
vouchers for ADs and any seasonal employees that do not have an agency
travel card. It will require a bit more work for the "travel arrangers",
but it should be fairly simple for the AD that is traveling unless your
hiring unit decides to use a different process than I have identified


1/14 Hey All,

The Red Book has been posted at www.nifc.gov/policies/red_book.php

Current NWCG course revision information: training.nwcg.gov/twt/sect_training_curriculum.php

National Wildland Fire Training Link: www.nationalfiretraining.net/ca/index.phpl

Last year's fire Wx summary: Fire Weather Summary 2008


1/14 From Firescribe:

Sentencing in Lake County CA Arsons (specifically burning down Bartlett Springs)


1/14 Re: AD Travel

P, you said

"My understanding is that a travel card is needed to do employee travel. Set me
straight, please."

P, you are partially (mostly) correct.

The "new" federal travel program was developed by Northrop-Grumman, an aerospace engineering company..... rocket scientists not familiar with federal wildland fire missions, or the complexities involved. They developed a "great" system for travel management that doesn't work in many applications within the federal government.

Folks who ARE NOT rocket scientists ARE working on the mess they created and are trying to create workable solutions in both the short-term and long-term.

Much like the Apollo 13 debacle of the past, the "work around" comes from the non-scientists who actually do the work and provide the factual fixes from their actual knowledge, skills, and abilities they learned through decades of experience.... in this case, experience gained as wildland firefighters.

1/13 Re Retention:

OOPS, Looks like the BDF just lost another Captain to Redlands Fire Dept.
From Captain to Firefighter....Good thing we don't have a retention problem.
Think of the big 10 percent he will be missing out on. Best on his endeavors
and future career with a department that cares.

No Name...Just sick

1/13 RE: CICCS

Division Supervisor is a 300 level position as is Strike Team Leader,
Line Safety Officer in CICCS requiring regional committee approval.


1/13 Dear Sir,

My name is david and i live in houston, texas; i am interested in becoming
a wildland firefighter in or near boise, id. i was wondering what the minimum
age requirement for becoming a wildland firefighter, i am 17 turning 18 in july.


The minimum age is 18. Ab.

1/13 Re: Stay and Defend in SoCal


This is from the Ojai Rotary West website www.rotaryojaiwest.org/NewsNotes/express010609.php. Click on the link at the bottom of the page to hear Chief Ropers talk to Rotary Club members. (link to wav file, will download) I thought it was very good. I went through the Wheeler Fire in Ojai and have been through several fires in Santa Barbara County. It's very important for people to know what they can handle mentally and physically.


1/13 Re AD travel

Has there been any decision or protocol on how the AD bunch will submit travel?
My understanding is that a travel card is needed to do employee travel. Set me
straight, please.



1/13 I have been out as an AD a lot but never seen a team that is mostly AD;
maybe Tahoe Terry should start one as it is hard to get individuals from
various Forests as the offices are understaffed.

Just another AD

1/13 IMT composition

I think the GB2 Team has about a third ADs.


Last season's lists:
Type I Teams page
Type 2 Teams page

1/13 Incident Management Team composition varies from region to region.
SoCal Teams have lots of cooperators. Does anyone know if any
team anywhere is made up mostly of ADs?

Tahoe Terrie, just curious...

1/13 For Casey Judd,

CSRS redeposit facts are at : www.opm.gov/forms/pdfimage/RI83-3.pdf

FERS redeposit facts are at www.opm.gov/retire/pre/fers/servicecredit.asp

The FERS one says that you can not buy back any time after January 1, 1989....

Hope this all helps, i'd LOVE to buy back more time.

1/13 AB, here is the complete fire hire timeframe that was received via lotus notes.

Here is the schedule for activities around the next centralized fire hire.
Cut off date for Applications Monday, March 9th.

Referral Lists Generated Tuesday, March 10th
HR Quals, printing applications, Veteran adjudication will take place after Referral Lists are generated

Apps to Fire for SME's Monday, March 30th (Start date)

Selections made Monday, April 13th (Easter is Sunday the 12th) (Start date)
HR - plan to travel on Monday and start work at Sacramento on Tuesday, 4/12/2009

Soonest effective dates PP 11 - MAY 24, 2009
1/12 Re: Fed fire hire

Here is the schedule for activities around the next centralized fire hire.

Cut off date for Applications Monday, March 9th.
Referral Lists Generated Tuesday, March 10th


Thanks. Ab.

1/12 Re: Time buy-back for legislative proposal:


You might take a look at 5 CFR 831.303 or Title 5 Chapter 83
Sub Chapter III sec 8332 of the US Code and see if there is
anything useful.


1/12 Re Apprentice Conversion and mobility:


I may be wrong, so someone correct if so. I believe the "Mobility
Contract" went away when we started hiring Apprentices under the GS-0462
series. The Mobility Contract was in force when they got hired as GS-0499
student series. By going to the GS-0462 series, we helped to end the
Hispanic Consent Decree but started another issue. By being a GS-0462,
it is more difficult to move that apprentice around since now when they
are hired, they are assigned to their duty station vs. converting into
them as the GS-499 did and was also the need for the Mobility Contract.
Can someone clarify what I said? I know the basics but not the legal
mumbo jumbo.


1/12 Time buy-back for legislative proposal:


Hi AB and all:

My eyes are crossed after reading dozens of pages of CFRs etc., as we put the final touches of our legislative proposal together. One of the provisions we want to add is to allow folks to buy back more of their temporary employment time for retirement purposes.

Seems to be some conflicting info but I've been advised that temporary time after 1990 cannot be bought back. If so, that is what we want to change & amend. So if any of my information gurus can find the applicable CFR etc with the current law language, I would be forever indebted...:)


Casey Judd
Business Manager

1/12 "Apprentice conversion: What if the sending forest does not want to let an apprentice go off-forest?"

Well, they Do have to sign a MOBILITY agreement when hired as apprentices, agreeing to be placed anywhere the Agency needs them. (Not to be confused with the repayment agreement that went away last year).

So, If a sending Forest for some reason did not want them to go, they would be stuck there, legally, since they signed the agreement. Most places would allow someone to go if they had a good reason. The FS has decided in the past, however, that just being away from your family does not constitute a hardship under normal circumstances.

They are told this at the orientation before they go to their basic Academies most places, so they have time to change their minds. Just like the military, once you sign the forms, you're in....


1/12 weather Link

Give www.weatherlink.com a try, then go to the "Weather Link Station Map" at top right of the
screen. It is good quick coverage of a large area you can zoom in on. I did not see it in the
Links list; might have missed it.

With weather like Big Sur has at this time, just above the beach the rest of the MRD (Monterey
Ranger District
) could go up in smoke in January!

Have a good day

1/11 AB,

Just saw this post on new legislation. Here is part of the story on yahoo.news from 1/11/09

WASHINGTON: “ In a rare Sunday session, the Senate advanced legislation that would set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as wilderness. Majority Democrats assembled more than enough votes to overcome GOP stalling tactics in an early showdown for the new Congress.

Republicans complained that Democrats did not allow amendments on the massive bill, which calls for the largest expansion of wilderness protection in 25 years. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other Democrats said the bill — a holdover from last year — was carefully written and included measures sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats.

By a 66-12 vote, with only 59 needed to limit debate, lawmakers agreed to clear away procedural hurdles despite partisan wrangling that had threatened pledges by leaders to work cooperatively as the new Obama administration takes office. Senate approval is expected later this week. Supporters hope the House will follow suit.

"Today is a great day for America's public lands," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. "This big, bipartisan package of bills represents years of work by senators from many states, and both parties, in cooperation with local communities, to enhance places that make America so special."

The measure, ”actually a collection of about 160 bills”, would confer the government's highest level of protection on land ranging from California's Sierra Nevada mountain range to Oregon's Mount Hood, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia. Land in Idaho's Owyhee canyons, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan and Zion National Park in Utah also would be designated as wilderness. (for the rest, click the link)


Fair Use Disclaimer

1/11 Thanks donkey for catching that - total spaceout at the time.
Also announcement numbers for handcrews are


and smokejumpers


1/11 Ab,

In reference to Lori's post on AVUE announcement numbers:

I believe the hotshot crews have a separate announcement number this year
to separate out the crew hiring. Prospective applicants should apply to
be considered for IHC jobs.

1/11 Abs,

Happy New Year to you all! I wanted to start this new year out letting you know
how much I appreciate your one stop fire information website!

Being able to gather information from one organized site and spring to so many
important fire related sites is simply phenomenal!

Kudos to you all for the vision and the hard work keeping it all current and fresh!!



Thanks for the thanks, yactac. The firefighting community makes it worthwhile. Ab.

1/11 Re: Technology


Thanks for providing the link to the Adapx Digital Pen concept/application.
Folks should watch it.

Looks like a potential great tool for the future for us GIS challenged folks.

It integrates technology with field applications such as the IC on IA/EA could
use, or others such as Planning Sections on teams, or for pre-fire planning of
communities or potential fires/emergencies.

1/11 hi Ab,

Wondering if someone could tell me when the next round of fire hire is,
deadline for apps and ball park time frame when they will be making
selections. Thanks for any info.

1/11 Apprentice conversion:

What if the sending forest does not want to let an apprentice go off-forest?


1/10 re: Medical Direction and protocols

Reading all the posts about medical direction and skills I have a few questions I’m hoping some of you can answer:

1) As a BLM firefighter (Range Tech) who is a current EMT-B, nationally certified, but without a state certification (lapsed) who do I get my “medical control” from or do I even need it working for the BLM? I.E. does the BLM have a standing protocol that covers the nationally certified basic EMT when working on official duty? And where can I find/contact this information.

2) It is my understanding that as a nationally certified EMT working for the BLM we are authorized to respond and work on any FEDERAL employee on an official fire assignment regardless of what state or area we are in at the time. Is this true? Where can I reference this information?

3) If, as an EMT, we are expected to be available for pack-tests, emergencies on fires and other government work, why isn’t there some sort of bonus for putting our necks on the line helping our co-workers? Has there been any talk of this?


In Need of Some Clarification

1/10 RE CICCS:

Division Supervisor is a 200 level position? I thought Division Sup was S-339?
In my opinion this is the most critical position in the organization. It should
probably not be left up to local authority. Although it seems that the local
government peer review is mostly either a rubber stamp or an "old boy network".


1/10 Re Temp announcement numbers

Here are the temp announcement numbers:




Please note that the FUEL announcement will be for both Hot Shot crews and
Fuels Use crews. I hope this helps....


1/10 Ab,

The Tilt table is at the USFS Equipment Center at San Dimas.
Their help is always appreciated too.


1/10 re: Medical Direction and protocols

Aardvark -

You are EXACTLY correct... I've been making waves about that in my
realm of influence, limited as it is. If someone responds representing a fire
department or agency with their own medical control, they may be covered when
out of their area, but most ALS folks on national assignment have no legal
authority to do what they are asked to do, and it needs to be addressed at the
national level. A basic set of authorized protocols of line and base camp
oriented stuff would be plenty, and would provide the legal authority to act.
Without it, we're hanging in the wind.

Keep pushing...maybe someone will hear. I've heard that it's being addressed at
the national level, but have seen nothing yet.


1/10 re: Medical Direction and protocols plus Retention:


National medical standards would certainly help all us feds. It seems people are travelling to other states more frequently (at least more so than when I was in R5). In my last position I covered units in three different states. The local helitack covered a response area in those three states, and responded across a state line on a weekly basis. My current job is 21 miles as the pheasant flies to the state line. I'm glad I don't have any medical quals to worry about.

MJ -

For retention and other things, I believe you have to sign a three year agreement to stay with the federal government rather than a specific agency or location. And if you leave before those three years are up, you will be getting a bill. I've been present when it happened.

bia fmo

1/10 Ab, Attached are photos of the new HME (Wyoming, MI.) produced Cal Fire
Model 34 Type 3 engine. 32 additional will be delivered shortly.


Thanks, I put the side-view tilt-table photo on the Engines 22 photo page. Ab.

1/10 New Zealand:

Hi Abs,

I follow the Wildland Fire web site with great interest and gather quite a bit of useful info
from the postings. It has all been quite a bit more meaningful (with respect to some of the
discussion “issues”) since I spent 5 weeks heading up the team of NZ fire fighters who
flew to California in July – August. We (the Kiwis) were assigned to the battle at Butte,
Rich and Iron in our time in Northern California.

I note that in your “Links” page you have the NZ Fire Service website link (www.fire.org.nz)
listed as our rural service. The NZ Fire Service is our national urban fire service (structures
in cities and towns).

NZ’s rural fire service (Wildfires outside the urban areas) is the responsibility of the National
Rural Fire Authority. Strictly speaking then, the website for rural fire in NZ is therefore

Note, there are links on both sites to each other!



Thanks, Alan, I corrected that. Good to hear from you again. Glad you're reading and we appreciate good questions and info.
Readers, the Links page is the next page I need to update. Mostly I'm not adding links, simply making sure the links are up to date and don't need deleting. Cheers! Ab.

1/9 KSENGB, No Name, Former Green Soldier

re: Medical Direction and protocols

I shall keep beating the drum until the drum breaks.

Being that the US Forest Service is a Federal Agency and spread across these 50 United States, I believe that it is important to establish and define both BLS and ALS protocols for federal employees and ADs that are operating as Emergency Medical Technicians whether on fires, project work or other assignments.

As we are often deployed across the country, from looking for space shuttle parts, to killing chickens to hurricane relief, and the occasional fire, having protocols and standards will help us operate in an effective and professional manner.

Yes, BLS and ALS protocols are defined by the local state, county or municipality. However, it would be impossible to expect to get a 'Pre-season letter of delegation' from every possible location where one might be assigned. Having a set standardized protocol and procedures at the regional level at least would help protect the EMT and provide them guidelines on what they are allowed to do as medical care providers. I believe that the working group is or has developed a letter to state EMS directors allowing EMTs to operate throughout the US, though I have not yet seen it.

By having these same set standards and procedures, training and documentation could be kept the same. On many occasions, EMTs certified in one state, work in another. National Registry is not accepted everywhere and everyone's training and background are not the same. By establishing a set BLS and ALS protocol, everyone would essentially be operating from the same playbook. In this way recertification and training could be maintained and allow for EMTs to work together in the field.

The Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Academy has had its curriculum watered down to the point that the first aid training has more or less been removed. Many instructors feel compelled to concentrate on other areas and give short shift to any EMS training.

As for the medical director that is 'supposed' to be operating at the national level, I believe that it is a myth. Luckily I have a winter job that allows me to keep my certification current and training up to date.

A friend of mine wrote a series of protocols many years ago and submitted them to anyone who would listen. These protocols were based on the DOT national curriculum and watered down as much as possible. Nothing happened. He has since written other protocols and is about to give up and leave federal service.

Paramedics, EMTs and First Responders beware. Uncle Sam does NOT have your back.


"Before receiving a retention incentive, an employee must sign a
written agreement to complete a specified period of service with
the agency."

Yeah, that's one of the things I was referring to, I thought the people working
on the bonus would have known this stuff....

I hope it all works out for those getting the bonus,

I'm hopeful but jaded.


No, they do not HAVE to, we've had a lot of apprentices ask to convert to
another Forest when nearing conversion. Both the sending and receiving
Forests have to agree, but other than that, since most apprentices are now
in the 462 series, it's a simple lateral transfer. Cut a 52, give a start date,
negotiate TOS, etc...


(p.s. ab, I think some of my posts from yesterday and this am might be caught
in your spam filter, either that or theyre just not good enough to post...lol)

Got both of them. Thanks for persisting. Good info. Ab.

1/9 Is anyone havening any luck finding Announcement Numbers for Temp 2/3/4/5
Forestry Aid/ Forestry Tech jobs for Region 5, I have talked to my admin. people
and all they have seen is the National announcements.

1/9 Do apprentices HAVE TO convert to their so called "home unit"
when they've completed the 4-yr Internship and had their quals go
through their FQRC for approval?


1/9 Re: Shift of FUELS shop on LPF to non-fire management (again); Santa Maria Tanker Base; FF Homes and Gov Trip Travel:

Fire, Fuels and Aviation Management (FFAM)? Not any more on the Los Padres National Forest. A recent reorganization that was announced today moves all Fuels employees from under the direction of the Fire Chief over to the Resource/Vegetation Management Staff Officer (a non-fire person). This was tried before and failed and like everything else in the Forest Service, here we go again. Signs are going to be posted around the Los Padres telling people to call 1-8DRIPTORCH if you need us to put some fire on the ground. Until then, cheers.

Additionally, full time staffing at the Santa Maria Air Tanker Base was eliminated after decades of full time staffing. A resource order, probably delayed by several hours will be placed for call-when-needed personnel if a fire occurs and the base needs to be staffed.

But fear not my friends. A GS-11 Admin Officer was added to the organization that will be predominately funded by Fire Management and supervised by the Forest Supervisor. And some people thought Casey was just exaggerating when he talks about the fleecing of fire funds.

Yes, once again from the people who gave us the slogan: "Let us take your home away from you and your family with our new housing policy" are back with more good cheer for Firefighters.

Finally, anyone try and get a travel authorization for yourself or one of your employees lately in this new GovTrip travel process? Good luck.

Centralize Fire Today, Tomorrow and Forever

1/9 Interesting discussion on the HOTLIST thread:

Spending to fight California wildfires tops $1 billion / Australian methods may be adopted


1/9 Ab, fyi:

Re: Group Retention Incentives in R-5

>From: www.opm.gov/oca/pay/html/RETALLFS.asp
5 CFR 575.310(f)
Service Agreement

Before receiving a retention incentive, an employee must sign a written agreement to complete a specified period of service with the agency. The service period must begin on the first day of a pay period and end on the last day of a pay period. The service agreement must specify the retention incentive percentage rate established for the employee, the method and timing of incentive payments, the conditions under which an agreement will be terminated by the agency, any agency obligations if a service agreement is terminated (including the conditions under which the agency must make an additional payment for partially completed service), and any other terms and conditions for receiving and retaining retention incentives. A written service agreement is not required if the agency pays the retention incentive in biweekly installments and sets the biweekly installment payment at the full retention incentive percentage rate established for the employee. (See 5 CFR 575.310(f).)


Invitation to Emergency Response webcast

www.adapx.com/Product-Demonstrations (short video of how it works and what it does)

Photo of Yosemite SAR Ranger/GIS Specialist Paul D using Adapx digital pen at SAR City.
(I posted it on the Equipment 13 photo page as well.) Ab.

from Tom, ESRI Wildland Fire Specialist who sent in the invite:

After attending this webcast I think you’ll agree that the Adapx digital pen is one of the best tools for field data collection during emergency operations since the GPS receiver! It is well suited for non-GIS savvy individuals. Examples from the November Tea Fire in Santa Barbara County and the search for Dean Christy in the San Bernardino National Forest will be used. Please forward to anyone you think would be interested.

If anyone wants the webcast registration info/link, email Ab.

1/8 Northnight:

You are referring to CICCS, (California Incident Command Certification System) and it
is hopefully implemented by all Fire Agencies in California. This link has all the details:

North Bay FC
1/8 Northnight,

California has a program known as CICCS (California Incident Command Qualification System) which incorporates 310-1 standards. There are 4 levels of qualification, 100 and 200 series jobs which can be certified at the local level, and 300 and 400 series jobs which are subject to a regional committee review prior to certification. Division Supervisor is the highest 200 series position and all Command and General staff and Branch Director positions must be approved at the 300-400 level. Position Task Books are required for all positions, and experience and training requirements are the same as they are for those qualifying under 310-1. The review that occurs at the 300-400 level is very tough. It involves a committee of interagency (local/federal/state) types which review your application and task book with a fine toothed comb. If you haven't got either specific training and depth of (multiple) experience, your application is rejected, or at least returned with requests for additional documentation. Having inter-agency review has all but eliminated "good ol boy" grants of qualification. The process is pretty picky, and not much gets past them that shouldn't.

The process was born out of the Calabasas Fire several years ago where where Agencies recognized that unqualified (untrained or under-experienced) people were finding their way to the line and making some questionable decisions. I know from the Contract County perspective that there has been an incredible re-emphasis on the process with good results.

Hope this answers your questions.

Contract County Guy

1/8 Re: USFS computers running Windows 2000 and WildWeb

Over the last month we've had several inquiries regarding the failure of some USFS computers being unable to display WildWeb pages in Internet Explorer. Last week I received an email from the help desk in Albuquerque asking about the issue. After communicating back and forth with Bighorn Information Systems and the help desk, we weren't able to arrive at a definitive solution. Following is what we do know:
  • Only some of the computers have the issue, to see if yours does, try this link to the Pueblo, CO dispatch center: www.wildcad.net/?WildWeb=COPBC
  • Bighorn and the USFS IT Group have worked on the issue in the past to "allow" federal pc's to access the Bighorn IP address. The IT Group says those issues have been resolved.
  • Microsoft isn't supporting Internet Explorer beyond version 6 for Windows 2000, though not sure if this is an issue.
The problem as explained to me is when clicking one of the WildWeb links in Internet Explorer that instead of displaying the page, it tries to download and save it to the local hard drive. I suspect the confusion may be caused by a security setting in Internet Explorer where a switch is set that disallows a necessary script to run. Since I don't have access to a W2K computer, I can't check that part out. If we can hookup someone who is having the problem with someone who is, they could probably figure it out by comparing the browser settings over the phone.

If we can help, we're happy to do so. The WildWeb info is a great resource to find out what's going on in various areas. Clicking around this morning on the Colorado centers, I saw the Pueblo has an open resource order for fire support. Anyone with advice or info can email me direct at:
wildlan_admin@nospam wildlandfire.com. Take out the nospam and the space before sending.

See our WildWeb map link on the News Page.

Thanks, OA

PS: Yes, we know there are a few links on the map that are no longer valid. Since we aren't notified when dispatch centers stop providing the content, we usually only know when a reader emails us. We'll be working on updating the map asap.

1/8 Retention Bonus:

Hi AB:

The FWFSA finally has its internet back...

While the FWFSA and others are continuing to try and extract additional details on the R5 retention bonus issue, I have been advised (and those R5 RO readers of TheySaid please let me know if I'm wrong) that one [emphasis added] HR person has been tasked with personally cutting each "52" for those who would be getting the bonus and that he is "learning as he goes."

His predicted completion time is 60-90 days before anything starts to show up. Again the briefing paper that came out has created more questions than it answers and the FWFSA, NFFE and Sen. Feinstein's office are all trying to obtain additional details.

As for previous posts on the "bonus" there are no requirements for service agreements to be signed with a retention bonus and such bonuses can be offered annually. As I understood Mr. Moore's paper, the bonus is an interim measure.

Regardless of the retention actions of the FS in R5, we are prepared to submit our legislation and I will be in DC the entire first week of March pursuing introduction. If we get any further details on the implementation of the R5 plan and details of it, we'll certainly let folks know although it would be delightful if the RO would do that.


1/8 Re Wildland Firefighting Quals:

So I have a question for the California folks. What is current
California State and Federal for cooperators to be at Federal incidents?
I'm looking for specific information on Municipal departments and how their
wildland quals work. Last time I remember was that they were required to do
PTBs now. Has this changed? Never implemented? What was the
grandfathered in date if PTBs are required?


1/8 Where did they come from?

I was recently asked by a young firefighter, "Were there ever folks who promoted
from entry level Hotshot to the WO Fire Directors position during their career"?

Actually, there was one that I know of.

Jose "Joe" Cruz started on the Del Rosa Hotshots and retired as the National
Director of Fire and Aviation Management.

Were there others?

It would be interesting to hear the Bio of Tom Harbour on the next "Directors Corner"
as he enjoys the sunsets. I was really disappointed by his actions over the last two
years, but know him to be a better man than that.


1/8 Wildfires in Colorado:


Several fires for 1,400 acres today in Boulder, Colorado. Evacuations in effect
and at least one home burned. Check out the Denver Post online, which will
have better and more accurate information than I do...

bia fmo

Hotlist thread

1/7 From Terry Monroe IAFC. . .

We welcome the Wildlandfire.com community to join us at WUI 2009, March 22-26 in Reno, Nev. Earn CEU credits, plus NWCG and NIMS certification. This year's conference program offers a wide range of multi-day training seminars, including:

    * Safety Officer (3-day) – Topics include safety-officer effectiveness, analysis techniques, safety messages, briefings and reports, and high-hazard operations.

    * Task-Force/Strike-Team Leader (3-day) – Meets the training requirements outlined in the Wildland Fire Qualification System Guide and the Position Task Books developed for the positions of task-force leader and strike-team leader.

    * Division/Group Supervisor (3-day) – Topics include division/group management, organizational interaction, division operations, all-hazard operations and tactical decision games (optional).

Kicking off the conference will be a speech by Dr. Faith Ann Heinsch at the University of Montana. Dr. Heinsch will discuss the effects of global climate change on wildland fire and how it might affect human populations.  For the complete schedule, visit www.iafc.org/wui.

WUI is presented by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), in collaboration with the US Forest Service, US Department of the Interior and National Association of State Foresters.
1/7 Arroyo Grande Hotshot Logo.

I posted it on the Logos 15 photo page. Ab.

1/7 IMT meetings '09:


Would you ask the folks that participate on They Said if anyone knows if there
is going to be Calif Team Meetings this year and if so when and where, so
people can make plans. They are normally held in Mar. or Apr.



1/7 Supervision and Job Description:

Ab, Mr. Kemper, Quick Connect, Strider, SoCal AFEO, and anyone else that
posted regarding my first message, Thank you.

Not again…

Thanks to the person who shared contact info behind the scenes. Ab.

1/7 As someone else has already pointed out the paper was simply a “issue paper” for the campaign in its effort to generate votes.

Because experience has shown us all that campaign promises are usually just that, promises, it might be best not to burn up too many brain cells in analysis of the new administration’s position or its intended actions until either a new position paper surfaces or the administration actually proposes something after January 20th.

. The positions of President-Elect Obama have changed drastically on substantive issues like the war(s), economy, tax cuts, need for additional stimulus, cabinet appointments (who would have guessed that he’d have kept Mr. Gates at Defense?) since the campaign. Smart money says this will change too.


Hi MKG, and welcome,

I pointed that out, but in my opinion it isn't about generating votes per se, but about doing the best you can as a candidate to address an issue on which you likely have incomplete information.

Last night I was speaking with a person that had been a "staffer" and attended a number of the Congressional Committee Meetings on NR. He said the thing that had been most evident to him was the lack of in-depth information congressmen and women had. They often knew only what the Fed Agency leaders provided (following the agenda of the current President, "their boss") and often had so little info that they didn't even know what critical questions to ask to get to the bottom of issues. That's why educating Congress on issues and likely outcomes is important. (Thanks FWFSA. Thanks theysaiders.)

Once elected President, it's a foolish person that maintains an unchanging position, even when they begin to have a greater depth of knowledge to inform their decision making and in spite of any prior "position paper". Remember, however, that our govt has 1) Administrative, 2) Legislative and 3) Judicial branches acting as checks-and-balances on each other, so Fed Agency people technically "work for the President" or Administration, while being answerable to the Congress (Legislative) and Judicial... and there's only one President at a time learning all he (or she in the future) can, even while in transition to assuming the administrative reins of government.

1/7 FWFSA & comments on Pres-Elect's position on wildland firefighting:


I appreciate your comment to me, "Thanks for all the hard work the FWFSA does,
I DO appreciate you guys, it's the Agency I don't trust..."

Give us some time, as chaos and dissent often make our voluntary "jobs" much harder
to achieve goals when folks get frustrated and become militant, and potentially derail
forward progress by forcing folks up against walls. It is better to have good
communication than a deposition of an offending party.

There have been some great strides forward over the last ten years, but
institutional/organizational change doesn't happen overnight to improve the pay, benefits,
and working conditions for federal wildland firefighters.

There are folks in the Agency we trust and are working with, others that are just a
barrier. In addition to that, we have fostered years of contacts in the House of
Representatives and the Senate regarding wildland fire issues. Hopefully, you trust
us to represent your voice.... the FWFSA.

The FWFSA has been the Voice of the Federal Wildland Firefighter since 1991.....
it's your voice, it's your future.

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

1/7 Widespread and Ever Growing WUI:


There are places on every National Forest nationwide that qualify as Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).

In the examples you gave ("Shasta-T, Lassen, Six Rivers, Mendo"), there are many significant WUI areas. Why do you keep pointing to it being a Southern California problem and suggesting that folks are focusing only on that area?

Also, in most places throughout the United States, where National Forests exist, folks live either within or on the boundary of federal lands. Look at other areas such as the Carson Front, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Spokane, Tucson, Payson, Phoenix, Los Vegas, Asheville, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Green Bay, Long Island, etc.. West coast to east coast....it is a real problem in many areas, and an emerging problem in others.


1/6 Re pres-elect paper on wildfire,

MJ, Yep it concerns me too, there is a lot of naïveté in the statements made. The things proposed already exist, kind of like then Arnold's Blue Ribbon Panel suggested the Tahoe put together a Prevention Program.. dah Arnold! But realistically and unfortunately, the tools/programs we already do have are usually the first to be cut due to lack of funding, understanding or managerial support. Truth is we don't seem to be putting nearly enough emphasis on the real problem, stupid construction in the woods and human caused fires. (Is it Idaho or Colorado that doesn't do structure protection?) And since I don't see the feds having any immediate authority to impact the way people build their houses then how about, besides cleaning up our land, PREVENT the damn fires from happening in the first place!!! One fire costs how many million/billion $$ these days? compare that to how much do we spend on real fire prevention/education? In each one of our careers we've hauled tons of hose, cut miles of line, etc but how much money did that save the taxpayers? Not much when you compare it to when a single multi-million $ fire is prevented in the first place. And how many people have been injured/killed on preventable fires?

Is Fire Prevention doing the job? Do we have the right people in the job? Do they have the support they need? Are there enough of them? Are they at a high enough level to have the experience, knowledge and maturity required to do the job we need done? Is management's head in the right place as far as a smart and balanced program?

signed BG

1/6 FS morale booster:

Hey, Ab.

I just heard that the Forest Service was switching to Microsoft Vista.
That should solve the morale problems.

vfd cap'n
1/6 Retention and pay:

4. Pay

"The Regional Forester will implement a for all employees GS-05 through GS-08 who are covered by firefighter retirement. This interim measure is intended to improve retention in this group that is most statistically vulnerable to attrition. " Retention Briefing Paper: FS_081209_RetentionCover.doc and FS_081209_RetentionBrief.doc

Mr. Kempter,

This is where I was getting some of my info on the 10% only being a one-time payment. Right out of the retention briefing paper.

A "10% group retention incentive for FY 2009" sure does not seem like a permanent raise to me.

It sounds like a one-time payment, during FY09, to those who sign a retention agreement, just like relocation bonuses. This concept has also been echoed to me by a person in a high place who shall be left unnamed. Most group payments are one-shot deals. Can you name one that has not been?

This is eyewash to get the "perceived Morale problem" to go away, not a long-term solution to the issues that caused the morale problem in the first place. And the briefing paper makes it clear that any more pay items ( Like the 20% raise proposed) have to go to Washington for more decisions and studying.

Thanks for all the hard work the FWFSA does, I DO appreciate you guys, it's the Agency I don't trust...


1/6 Dangers of Aging Tires that "Look Young":

Important 10 minute ABC 20/20 video clip on the dangers of aging tires,
a result of corporate neglect and government inaction. Many places selling
them have employees that do not know.

They appear new with lots of tread and are sold to you as new (never used).
They are in fact never used but could have been on the shelf for years more
than the 6 year safety zone. Video gives the details showing aging tires can
have their tread delaminate under normal use and fail, causing fatal vehicle

For those without ability to view the video, you can tell when a tire was
manufactured by following the cryptic DOT code to the end. Until last year that
number was stamped on the inside of the tire and not easily visible. The following
numbers will give the pattern: 2 week number followed by 2 year number (except
for the 1990s and before that had 3 numbers)...

414 = 41st week of 1994 (14 years old and looks brand new)
4302 = 43nd week of 2002 (6 yr old when sold!)
231 = 23rd week of 1991 (17 years old!)
2304 = 23rd week of 2004
3101 = 31st week of 2001
459 = 45th week of 1999
4696 = 46th week of 1996 (12 years old)

The Fire Service has lots of vehicles on the road each season. Is anyone
checking tire age and guarding against delamination accidents?

Aged Tires: A Driving Hazard
http://abcnewks.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=48268 (10 min video)

Always be sure to buckle up! Simple automatic habits save lives.


1/6 Supervision, Leadership and Job Description:

SoCal AFEO, please read my PS to my last post. Not Again, thanks for your
good reply. It lets me know what kind of a leader and person you are.

SoCal AFEO, if someone came to me in person I would know them and their
KSAs. I would also have watched them perform. I wouldn't be speaking to
them in a vacuum like here. (Sorry Ab, but it is kind of a vacuum.) You can bet
that now I would be doing my responsible best to evaluate their performance
and give valid feedback that was truthful. If not good leader material, I'd be
documenting that over time.

That's not always been the case. Sometimes there are Agency pressures to "look
the other way". Sometimes it's easier to encourage the person to move on so they're
someone else's problem -- yours, not mine. That promotion away process leads to
people not recognizing their own limitations and the risk they pose for others. There
are lots of great fire jobs to be done. Not everyone has to be on the fire supervisor
or IC track.

We need to look at the issue squarely. Some regions, forests and districts do,
some don't.

I got off on a tangent with Not Again's post. I apologize for not making that clear.


1/6 budget analysis and line officers:

Dear R1 FMO:

One of the problems we face is that even the FS Budget Analyst at OMB is hard-pressed to believe me when I try to explain how fire $$ is tapped by line officers for whatever purpose other than fire. If you'd be willing to share your insight with him please let me know. You can email me at FWFSAlobby@aol.com or phone me at 208-775-4577.

By the way to all:

The FWFSA should have its regular internet back by Thursday. Also I've received some updated info on the R5 retention bonus implementation but doing this on my phone isn't fun, so I'll try get the info to AB from another source tomorrow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

1/6 Pres-Elect's position on wildland firefighting:

"Resources will be focused where they will do the most good: in the wildland-urban
interface, and not in fighting fires or on logging projects in remote, backcountry areas. "

Right out of the new Presidents briefing paper on Wildland fire. Less money for remote
Forests, more money for So. Cal. and other urban-interface Forests....Sorry, Shasta-T,
Lassen, Six rivers, Mendo....etc....

Is it just me, or does this statement worry others, too?....


It was one of many position papers that came out before the election. Ab.

1/6 Supervision and Job Description:

Not Again,

Seeking help from a lawyer is a great idea, but can get pricey. If your HR department is telling you that you are not a supervisor, then you should have Bargaining Unit Rights. If that is the case, and you work on a union Forest, I would seek out your local union steward and present your case to them. Another avenue would be a desk audit.

Last year on our forest, we had a representative from AVUE give a presentation at our SO. One of the things he mentioned,,, which sounded strange to me, was that if an employee supervises 25% of the time, then they are to be considered a supervisor.

Quick Connect

1/6 Supervision and Job Description:


I agree 110%, actually you bring up a valid point in my dilemma. My direct supervisor’s boss had to go thru two, not one but two, probationary periods. At neither time did his performance evaluations come to "successful". And at the end of the second probationary period, one of the Agency line officers (that had a total of 6 years in the GOV) decided, and I quote, “I didn’t think there was all the paperwork to do to separate with an employee,” and after asking me behind closed doors, “if we fire him, will you apply for his job?”, I turned her down of course. I felt that if I were to become the staff officer to head a department, with fire being one of the disciplines, that I should 1) earn it and 2) know that I have the support of my home unit line. After that, I went thru with promotion to the full performance level.

Most of the problems I have faced since transferring from another GOV agency (and I have worked in all but one management agency over the past 14 yrs) and coming to this one would be the outright lack of leaders; we have managers, but no leaders as well as no mission statement, no goal. The managers that we do have have less supervisory experience than most GS5 Senior Firefighters and are GS12 – GS14. I myself turned down a SCEP back in the 90’s, in which I would have been a 9 in three years. I decided to stay a GS5 in fire so that I could in fact learn what I needed to learn in order to become a very competent leader in the fire service. To this day I am still learning. If or when the day comes that I think “I know it all,” it will be that I leave and no longer serve this country as I will be a liability to myself and, most importantly, to many others.

However, thank you for your post…

Not again…

1/6 Supervision and Job Description:


In regards to your response about "not agains" post, I find your comments to be highly out of place and seemingly very offensive. I'm assuming given your knowledge of leadership deficiencies that your are in a leadership position, and I ask you this. If a subordinate of yours came to you in confidence and posed the same question or problem, would you give them that same reply face to face? I would think it's not likely, and the same applies on this forum. "not again" informed us of his situation being in a position in which his management does not allow him to do the job that his PD apparently outlines and he believes to be responsible for, and you responded with a rather lengthy list of reasons why people make bad leaders, often fail to see their own short comings, and need to be removed from responsibility. Whats' worse is the way your comment is displayed strongly suggests that you believe "not again" to have all of the negative attributes in which you so clearly just defined. Your only hint at suggesting otherwise is that you briefly state "this may not be the case in your situation". Also in your list you mention "firefighter close calls, injury, or deaths"... it seems incredibly off the topic raised, and to me and sounds like wild accusations. I do not know "no name" and I'm guessing that you don't either, but even if you did, if someone is asking for insight onto how to resolve a workplace issue, a detailed list of things that makes you a bad leader or fire line commander does not seem nearly close as an appropriate answer in my opinion. This may not be the message that you intended to put across, but I think that "not again" deserved a legitimate answer or if their criticisms have them be relevant to the question, and not to be badgered on his leadership abilities.

And to "not again", I wish I had an answer for you, but your situation is far beyond my level, although I would believe to agree with you that your position description should be a general outline of the responsibilities that you should be entrusted with. I know if my superiors told me I could not perform the leadership functions of my job that I have worked very hard for, I would be highly offended. I could understand if there was a "breaking in" period, but that does not seem to be the case. Perhaps there are people in similar positions in outside units or regions that can give some advice? Best of luck to you...


1/6 Health Requirements:

This article was sent to you by ken:

Firefighters face stricter health requirements: kob.com/article/stories/S730306.shtml

The Trigo Fire burned over 13,000 acres in the Cibola National Forest. (photo)

Some New Mexico firefighters may not make the grade this upcoming fire season because of stricter health requirements.

Before heading out to battle wildfires this year, firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service will now have to pass tougher physicals.

Richard Bustamante of the Sandia Ranger District says the state's 1,000 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service will have to adhere to stricter health guidelines put in place by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The more in-depth health screenings will check firefighters for things like cholesterol levels, past injuries, lung capacity, and hearing loss.

"If certain firefighters don't pass these physicals, they'd be deemed unavailable for the fire season," Bustamante said.

In fact, two out of the 20 firefighters with the Sandia District do not meet the new health requirements right now. They fall short in the hearing category and may have to get hearing aides in order to work the front lines. (Click the link for the rest.)

1/6 Supervision and Job Description:

Re: Not Again's Comments

I fully understand your concerns.

First, you should immediately request a Classification Desk Audit of your position from your agency that includes your full duties, both official and inferred. Don't leave any duty out.

If the Classification Desk Audit doesn't change your position description or classification standard, you should then request a Classification Appeal through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

After the Agency classification audit and OPM classification appeal are done, things will get better one way or the other...... I promise. Facts will be on record.

When folks are forced to follow the rules... they will. It often takes people willing to point out the rules (USC and CFR) to keep folks on track and insist upon their employee rights.

This is the process that was used in R-5 to upgrade HS Supts to GS-9..... Engine and HS Capts to GS-8.... and Fire Engine Operators (Engineers) to GS-7. While initially an "R-5 Thing" as many thought, it was finally institutionalized nationally after two additional failed "classification desk audits" that were initiated by the Agency (Forest Service) Washington Office to lower grades in R5 and/or confine upgrades only to R5.

Fallout from the "classification problem" (as the WO perceived it) rippled outwards into the smokejumper, helitack, prevention, and support functions, who all saw increases in GS Grade based upon the duties they were actually performing.

At some point, there will be a Wildland Firefighter Classification series from GS-2 through GS-15..... and eventually SES members to accurately reflect our duties and responsibilities.

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

P.S. - MJ, where are you getting your info on the R-5 Retention Incentive as being a one time event?..... We'd like to know, because it isn't what we are hearing or participating in regarding retention proposals. Thanks. The FWFSA has members and leaders from GS-2 through GS-14 in our ranks.... but the RO and WO don't share much with us on issues until either "their" plans are released or they were directed to their decisions.

Much like the Quadrennial Fire Review where little input was requested or allowed from the field. Told one thing from a participant in the group (They Said, 2008), then a complete different story from Tom Harbour (They Said, 2008) as to what the Quadrennial Fire Review was/is.

1/5 CO-Oak Mesa Fire Final Report... Lessons Learned (1,275 K pdf file)

Chainsaw accident

Hotlist Thread


1/5 An Oklahoma firefighter John C Myers died in a vehicle crash on Saturday. Hotlist Thread

Condolences to friends and family. Ab.


The new president's outlook on Wildfires...

NorCal FC

The official document is a large (1663 K) pdf file. Here's the text below... (Added note: this was one of many position papers that came out before the election.) Ab.


Barack Obama and Joe Biden salute the heroic efforts of America's local, state and federal wildland firefighters who risk their lives to battle the massive wildfires that have endangered communities throughout much of the county. The risk of fire to firefighters and communities could be significantly reduced by working hand-in-hand with states and localities and investing in effective fire prevention, mitigation, and land and forest management measures. As President, Barack Obama will aggressively pursue an effective fire prevention, mitigation and land and forest management plan that decreases the fire risks that many communities are now facing.

When wildfire threatens lives and property, an Obama-Biden Administration will increase the federal government's commitment to field the most professional, well-trained, and well-coordinated wildfire fighting force in the world. Unlike the Bush Administration, they will not finance these efforts by raiding the budgets relied upon by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to provide public access to, and manage, the more than 430 million acres of public lands that they oversee. Barack Obama will work with Governors, Congress and local officials on a bipartisan basis to develop and enact reliable, dedicated funding sources to fight the most catastrophic fires so that public lands may continue to be managed for public access, fish, wildlife, recreation, forestry and other multiple uses.

As President, Barack Obama Will Aggressively Pursue An Effective Fire Prevention Plan That Decreases The Fire Risks to Communities.

Decades of fire suppression, urban sprawl, and past timber management have altered historic fire cycles. In many forests today, wildfires burn with uncharacteristic intensity because of unnaturally high levels of small diameter trees and brush and endanger large numbers of rural and suburban communities across America. This situation is exacerbated by dry conditions, the spread of insects and disease, and prolonged drought associated with climate change.

  • Barack Obama recognizes the need to invest in forest and rangeland health in order to reduce the risk that fires pose to communities. He will place a high priority on implementing cooperative projects to remove brush, small trees and other overgrown vegetation that serve as fuel for wildfires. Barack Obama will focus the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management's efforts on working with local communities on hazardous fuels projects to make communities safer and forests healthier.
  • An Obama-Biden Administration will use controlled burns and prescribed natural fire to reduce such fuels in close coordination with those communities that are most at risk. Thousands of jobs will be created by working with communities to thin unnaturally crowded forests close to homes. And by coordinating fuel reduction efforts with biomass energy projects, communities will have the potential to generate new sources of low cost energy. Resources will be focused where they will do the most good: in the wildland-urban interface, and not in fighting fires or on logging projects in remote, backcountry
  • Reducing the dangers of wildfires cannot be addressed through federal action alone. Under an Obama-Biden Administration, the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies will work with local and state governments and insurance companies to pursue effective wildland urban interface planning, develop building codes and other "best practices" to prevent and mitigate fire impacts in high risk areas. By using fire-resistant building materials, removing fuels from around homes, and curtailing invasive species, the risk of fire can be reduced. Many communities and citizens are already stepping up to the plate and an Obama administration will be a partner in that initiative.

Barack Obama will work with Governors, local officials, and Congress on a bipartisan basis to develop and enact a reliable, dedicated budget to meet the needs of firefighters, at-risk communities, and public lands.

The U.S. Forest Service firefighting budget is based on a ten year average of firefighting costs that is out of step with the increased frequency, size and intensity of wildfires. Over the last decade, fires have burned an average of more than 7 million acres a year - twice the average of the 1990s.

The Bush Administration has failed to address this problem relying instead on a pass-the-buck strategy of raiding the budgets of popular programs that manage access for sportsmen, protect fish and wildlife habitat, and manage recreation usage. When those programs were drained, they sought emergency appropriations from Congress. In 2007, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management "spent nearly $1 billion more than was budgeted for firefighting, forcing both agencies to shift money from other programs to pay for firefighting."

  • Barack Obama will work with the Congress on a bipartisan basis to ensure agencies have the funds needed to suppress and manage wildfires without taking money from other important programs within the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Although Congress provided supplemental funding for fire operations over the Bush Administration's objection earlier this year, the agencies have once again run out of wildfire funds, forcing them to redirect funds from other land management activities. Barack Obama and Joe Biden support a plan to provide the necessary funding to fight truly catastrophic and expensive wildfires.
1/5 Supervision and Job Description:

Not again….

This may not be the case in your situation but sometimes people who advance to a
"supervisory position" should not be supervising. They may not be leaders that focus
on safety or that are able to lead. They may not remain situationally aware or think
well under stress. Not all can become leaders and much rides on their leadership.

We have a cumbersome process of removing poor supervisors from positions of
responsibility and leadership, but removed they must be if we are to use Commanders
Intent, Doctrine and Foster a Just Culture.

Often people that are not competent do not recognize their incompetence. Here's
something from the Archives Worth Reading about research on the subject:
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2005/competence.php Thanks to SteveM.

When poor decisions are made by a "supervisor" that lead to firefighter close-call,
injury or death, we have only ourselves to blame if we did not "call incompetence"
when we should have in an evaluation. People that are not the best and the brightest
should not move up, and it doesn't have to do with book smarts but with demonstrated
ability to think clearly in a crisis and lead.


1/6/AM: Ab, please add that I do not mean this personally against Not again, it's just something I've needed to say for quite a while in connection with fatality fires, near misses, etc. WE MUST BE HONEST IN WEEDING OUT people that are not and can not be trained to be leaders. We need professionals leading and a professional level system to distinguish leaders from "managers" or other "financial supervisors". My best to you in seeking fairness Not again. S

1/5 RE: Retention

Along with the pay increase / one time payment (or whatever it is)....I'm more
interested in the other parts of the retention memo, specifically the part that says
we will be given the opportunity to change tours to 26/0. Has anyone heard
anything about that? Will it be permanent, or just for the year?


1/5 Supervision and Job Description:

I have a question for anyone out there… I am at present trying to have supervision added to my daily duties and have been told that I am not a supervisor. I am in an exempt, 401 series PFT appointment as a GS-9, Wildland Operations Specialist / AFMO with two GOV employee’s under me (lower grades that at present are supervised by my boss) and a large AD workforce that I must supervise.

In my Job Announcement it states over and over that I will “supervise subordinate personnel during wildland fire operations and prescribed fire,” and will “provide direct supervision of all initial attack commanders (ie- Engine Captains, etc etc). Also in an Agency specific PD it is stated over and over again… supervision and “coordinates and directly supervises subordinate fire management staff,” and this is the “approved” PD that was signed at the home unit and sent to HR.

Now I am being told by superiors and HR that those do not matter that the initial 50, that I received after I arrived, says that this is not a supervisory position and I will have to deal with it.

Can they do that?

I was under the impression that the Job Announcement and the PD when posted contained the duties that you where required to do upon acceptance of the job. Isn’t that the job I applied for? Isn’t that a binding agreement between myself and the US GOV? Basically I am not being allowed to do the job that I accepted and have been told that if I dig to far that they might bump me down a grade level or two because I’m not performing those same supervisory duties that I am asking to do.

If this is in fact in non-compliance to GOV policy or practices could someone give me some info for a Law Firm that can help me with this as I will receive no help from my Agency for different reasons (either they don’t know or don’t care, this is the same Agency that told me I had to take TFM or I would lose my job and that I needed time as a primary FF to keep my secondary FF position, I have a B.A.S. in an approved ‘ology and at the time had held a primary fire position(s) for over 11 years.).


Not again….

1/5 "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"

THERE IS NO PAY INCREASE!!! Just a one time payment, with taxes taken out. This they MIGHT spread over 26 pay periods, it is unknown at this time. If they did that, it would be 10% of your base, minus taxes, spread out over 26 pay periods...

NO PAY INCREASE... I wish people would open their eyes and see what this really is....


I haven't heard anything official. Anyone, a memo? Ab.

1/5 NFPA wildland respirator standard:

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Technical Committee on Respiratory Protection Equipment has developed a draft wildland respirator standard. The draft standard is being circulated to solicit input from the public. As potential end-users of such devices, you are encouraged to review the draft and submit proposals by using the form and instructions on pages 2 and 3.


Thank you,

Dave Haston
USDA Forest Service
San Dimas Technology and Development Center

(If you want contact info, look it up or email Ab.)

1/5 Brief message from Casey Judd of FWFSA:

He's had heavy snowfall in Idaho and his internet has been out and will continue to be for a time. He can read email sent to him at FWFSAlobby@aol.com on his cell phone, so if you need to reach him, email him there. If you need to speak with him, drop an email to me and I'll give you his phone number.

A bit of Casey trivia: The largest herd of moose in ID beds down a mountain away from Casey's log home. A few of the large males with huge racks wander through his acres from time to time, like last week... to the delight of all.

I hope all are having a fine new year! Ab.

1/5 FS morale:

I couldn't agree more with the article by Paskus, but I only have 25 years in and
am still at the District level. The way the SOs and ROs fund themselves first then
tell us at the districts that we have no money for seasonals or extensions of
personnel for work, I can see why some in our Agency still have high morale...


1/5 Former Green Soldier,

It was probably before your time. Mid 1980's. There were equipped and certified Forest Service paramedics at these two locations (Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe) whether the Agency wants to admit it or not. Mirrored the NPS Park Medic Program in terms of visitor protection.


For BLS services (ie. EMT-B or Medical First Responder) local protocols are followed and do not require medical direction beyond that is provided by DOT, state, and local EMSA standards. A simple "Pre-Season Letter of Delegation" from the local or state EMS authority is all that would be needed authorizing folks practicing as Fireline EMTs or EMT-B on federal wildfires.

In terms of "standing orders/protocols" for ALS, you answered your own question. If you need medical direction to perform these tasks, they are neither standing orders nor protocols. If you need base station contact to perform procedures, these are allowed procedures not covered by standing orders or protocols.

As far as I know, no local unit within the Forest Service has sought or gotten approval as an ALS or Paramedic provider program recently, nor do I know of any that are pursuing this.

Likewise, numerous Forest Service Units (forests and districts) have gotten their BLS programs approved through local EMS authorities based upon mission needs and have been fully equipped and meet ALL local EMSA requirements including QA/QI..


From: FS Chief Abigail Kimbell
Date: 01/05/2009 06:51
Subject: New Year Transition

I hope your holidays were filled with family, friends and cheer and that the variable weather around the country didn’t spoil your travels. And I hope 2009 is off to a good start for you.

There were tremendous things accomplished in 2008 in the face of serious challenges from fire, budget, retirements, workforce capacity and election year politics. Still you continue to prove your credibility in sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands for present and future generations. And you have positioned the Forest Service well to face the challenges coming at us in this transition of administrations. This includes addressing difficult economic challenges. I recognize that given all those old challenges, there is some angst about taking on new work. And there are others of you very excited about the opportunity for the Forest Service to be an important player in some of the things being discussed. Thank you for the feedback and comments on what you’re reading and hearing. And please help us all to be forward thinking and realistic all at the same time. We can’t be afraid to dream about what’s possible and then again, we can’t take on the entire world.

We ended 2008 with the announcement that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint Sally Collins to lead a new agency within the department. She will oversee the development of standards for ecosystem services markets. Many of you have been active in local or state wide discussions and in market development and you recognize how tremendous this is to have Sally lead this effort for the US government. The appointment is well deserved and an exciting opportunity for her and for the Forest Service.

And with the start of 2009, I have a few announcements of my own about changes within the Executive Leadership Team. Hank Kashdan has accepted the position of Associate Chief. Hank brings 35 years of operations and natural resource management experience to the position from all levels of the agency and I look forward to him taking on these new responsibilities. He has been a key figure in our efforts to address a new safety culture, reinvigoration of our Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers, managerial discipline, centralized services, reporting systems, work planning systems, etc. and has been critical to many of our communications with, Congress, USDA, and other government entities here in Washington. Hank will be an exceptional Associate Chief.

Chuck Myers has accepted the position of Deputy Chief for Operations behind Hank. Chuck’s experiences at all levels of the agency make him an excellent choice for leading our operations work. He knows how the choices we make in operations affects the work we do in accomplishing our mission. And he knows well enough the workings of government to work effectively with Congress, OMB and USDA. He will lead an excellent staff including an Associate Deputy Chief and Directors in Operations. I look forward to having Chuck’s excellent leadership skills applied to our support operations.

These announcements come amidst much speculation as to what the new administration might do or might have in mind for the US Forest Service. We can’t help it. We love to speculate. But please keep in your hearts and minds the knowledge that we are well prepared and well aligned to take on the vision that President Elect Obama espouses. I am excited about the possibilities in 2009. Congratulations to Sally, Hank and Chuck.


Ab's bold and underlining.

1/5 LA NINA is BACK! (circulating on the FS web)
Snow Survey Results

Quick update today. The Climate Prediction Center now says La Nina conditions are in place over the Pacific. The central and eastern Pacific temperatures have dropped considerably over recent weeks, and are now about as cool as a year ago. This server does not allow pictures, so please see the slide imagery (specifically page 10):

www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf (pdf file)

If the link gets cut off (its automatically truncated if too long), please go to www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov and seek out the La Nina Expert Discussion pdf. At any rate, the graph looks like the stock market; dropping temps.

A possible concern is that Northern California will have a winter like it did last year when we were in a La Nina. Briefly, the spring last year was a dry one. We had nothing come down in March or April, which for the Sierra make up about 20% of the season. La Nina's can do that "second half shutdown" of precip, although they are capable of wet winters, too. Earlier on, when we went out of the La Nina this summer, it was hoped we'd be able to cobble together an entire season. But now with its return, if the winter ends abruptly, we'd have a 3rd dry year in the State.

La Ninas and El Ninos can occur back to back, and/or you can go without either for long periods of time. But La Nina conditions are now projected to continue through early 2009.

Last year's La Nina was atypically kind to Southern California, however. The southwestern U.S., which can often have a dry winter during La Nina, fared very well. Arizona had one of its wettest La Nina's on record, and the snowpack over the Colorado River basin was quite good last season. So, we'll see what this year's La Nina does.

Next update is on today's Snow Survey. This first of the winter field measurement involves only a limited number of sites. These course readings are more accurate than automated sensor data, but are coming pretty close in line with expectations from the storms that we saw over Christmas. Today, at Phillips Station, along highway 50, the reading showed 83% of long term average; 41" snow depth, and 10" water content. Its the snow water equivalence that is key to supply. The year so far has been about at that level; 80-90% or so, statewide, and for the Sierra precipitation.

For more information on today's survey, see the DWR Press release, which should be out shortly: www.water.ca.gov/news/

Additional surveys will be conducted on or near the first of the month from February to May, for over 200 sites. They provide important information for forecasting California's water supply.



1/5 Thank-you for this site!

To all you fine people,

I am a middle-aged women living in western NJ, writing to thank the Abs and all of you fine people for this wonderful website. Before I do so, please allow me to tell you a little bit about myself because I suspect that I may not a typical user/lurker on your website.

In early July I began reporting on the Basin Complex Fire on my blog for no other reason than I have some friends in the Big Sur area. With the exception of reading about wildfires in NJ from local media, this was my introduction to the world of wildland fires. What I was doing was providing links to various sites (incaweb, CALFIRE, some blogs and other media accounts of the fire). Wanting to learn more about what is involved in fighting wildfires and to understand some of the terminology, I took my blog readers (many of whom are friends from the northeast) I along with me on my journey of learning about wildfires.

By profession, I have graduate degrees in planning and policy development with an interest in the environment. Up until four years ago, I spent several years as research staff in a couple of academic think tanks. I mention this because my training if you will, is to find out about all sides of an issue when I am researching/learning about something (e.g. wildfires).

At present my "writing" about wildfires takes the form of posts to my blog with lots of links. In regards to this site, the most I have done in my blog is to refer people (by links) to some hotlist posts and perhaps to your acronyms page. In addition, I am interested in planning issues in the wildland/urban interface, firewise. org, and wildfires in NJ. I hope one day to take this writing beyond my blog, perhaps in planning related magazines.

I can never know what is like to be a wildland fire fighter, nor can I ever know what it is like to live on the wildland/urban interface out west, nor can I know what is like to live in a remote area of the western wildlands.

Enough of me. This is a wonderful site and I am learning a lot from all of you fine people. Where else can a middle-aged women living in NJ get a brief glimpse into the world of wildland fire fighters? I have used your links, I have bookmarked your acronym page. I frequently search you site for issues that I am interested in or fires that I am reading about. I read books. I read investigative reports of fires. I look at incaweb and other websites (NIFC, BLM, Forest Service) too numerous to mention here.

Here is an example of how you have helped me. At the suggestion of one of grad school mentors (rural planner and undergrad forestry major) I read Norman Macleans book as well as a couple books by his son, John Maclean. His idea was that reading these books would give me important background about the world of wildland fire fighting. At the same time, I read or skimmed (in the case of longer reports) investigative reports and other materials about these fires. Then I searched your website, including book reviews, to find out what you had to say. So, thank-you!!

I make occasional posts to the hotlist forums. Other than that, I mostly lurk. I expect to continue to spend most of time lurking and learning from you. If I can not find an answer to a question that I am interested from researching this site or elsewhere on the internet, I may post a question to theysaid or the hotlist forums from time to time.

I include my moniker here, the one that I have used on the hotlist forum. If for example, any of you might be interested in what I do on my blog, you can send me a private message and I'll send you the url.

Wannabe Firewriter

1/4 C-SPAN Discussion On DOI Secretary Appointee Ken Salazar


Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin took calls and discussed Ken Salazar and DOI
issues on Washington Journal last week. Not much on the firefighting, but still interesting.


So far, Washington Journal has had similar discussions on 9 Obama Cabinet appointees
the last couple of weeks. I hope they give the same time to USDA and Tom Vilsack soon.
I have emailed journal@c-span.org and asked them to address of USFS morale and
wildland firefighting issues.


1/4 Article on Forest Service morale.

Moore's decisions on PTP and pay increases = We need to stand together and
keep the pressure on early and often in 2009. When do we start?

1/4 Hi Ab, could you please post this for us.

Inquiring minds want to know!!! Also I have attached the logo for the LCP logo if you could post with the message.

The Life Challenge Program (LCP) is hosted by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF) in Boise, ID. People looking to make donations for the program can send the donation to the WFF and specify that it is for the LCP. The Life Challenge Program along with the WFF sponsored three presentations in 2008. For more information regarding the LCP, and its upcoming events and fundraisers, please go to www.lifechallengeprogram.org

Thanks you for you help and support!!!

Laura McConnell
Public Relations
Life Challenge Program

Good idea. I added the logo to the Logos 15 photo page. Ab.

1/4 Medical Director for ALS

Noname -

Who is this USFS medical director you refer to? I've heard there is one, but have yet to find anyone who can tell me who he/she actually is. To be a medical director for ALS personnel, they need to provide protocols/standing orders, they need to review care provided in order to maintain QA/QI, and they or a designee need to be available for orders that fall outside of the standing orders. How do I reach him/her when I need orders? Where do I send my recert paperwork for him/her to sign and attest to my continuing competence? And how would they know if in fact I am competent? Where do I find a set of standing orders from this person? Where do I get the written authority from them to purchase pharmaceuticals and ALS equipment? I keep hearing vague references ranging from "the surgeon general is our medical director" to "the USFS has a medical director" to "just do the right thing and it'll be okay". No, it won't. Without a REAL medical director that provides the above, an ALS provider - especially one outside their normal jurisdiction, i.e. on a national assignment, has no authority whatsoever to act beyond basic first aid, and risks civil and criminal legal action of they act in an ALS capacity in most states. I'd love to find a set of national protocols to follow, but so far no one can produce any. There may be a physician involved at some level within the USFS, but I've found no evidence anywhere that he or she would by any stretch qualify as a medical director that can provide legal authority for anyone to provide ALS care on fire assignments (outside of those areas where their normal FD's or agency's medical direction and protocols apply). If there really is one, it's the best kept secret around.



1/4 Just wondering if anybody out there may know of any FEO or squad boss
jobs that may be open or may be coming open on the Monterey District
of the Los Padres National Forest. thanks.

looking 2 move

Will pass info on. Ab.



On the ANF, Saugus RD., the only providers of ALS treatment at Pyramid Lake
were/are by LA County Fire and occasional LASO medics on Air Rescue 5.
HOWEVER, ANF E-34 and 36, when it was opened at Los Alamos, were/are
ALWAYS dispatched for BLS support to any incidents at the lake and on the

Former Green Soldier..

1/3 "The FS has no medical direction, procedures or protocols and it is very unlikely that they will ever have this in my lifetime."


Both the USDA (parent agency) and the USFS have medical directors assigned. They provide medical direction when programs are required to have it (ALS and above).

In regards to procedures (agency specific), Basic BLS was at one time taught at the National Apprenticeship Academy (WFAP) and followed national DOT standards and met CA EMSA specifications. Now, once again, these procedures have been minimalized after the direction to remove Medical First Responder from the WFAP curriculum.

In terms of protocols, they are established locally and not by the provider agencies. Medical direction of protocols is provided by county, state, or local area EMS boards.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the National Park Service started the Park Medic Program in the 1970's?..... and then started doing all risk in the 1980's?..... and actually started hiring some 0081 series firefighters in the 1990's? Is there not a GS-0081-12/13 position open with the NPS even today? Is there not GS-0025 Protection Rangers serving as Park Medics?

During this same period, if I'm not mistaken, paramedics were hired and equipped at Pyramid Lake on the ANF and at Lake Tahoe on the TNF/TMU to provide unique visitor protection services for their area? These services have ended over time, but their significance hasn't been forgotten.

1/3 CAL FIRE (wmv file) promo/educational video on what their firefighters do to
protect our communities, the public, and our natural resources.

If the federal wildland fire program was led, managed, and administered as a
wildland fire agency....... rather than a supporting technical position..... imagine
the future costs vs. benefit analysis for the taxpayer.


Nice video. Ab.

1/3 CA Hotshot crew page is back up. Ab.
1/2 As I sit here ready to walk out the door for the last time before I retire, I figured I would send a quick note to all my friends here at theysaid.

I know there are alot of issues before the fire community, but there have always been issues that needed to be worked on during my fire career. When I started as a lowly GS-2 ground pounder in 74 most of the people in fire were temps except FMOs and AFMOs. Slowly through the years we saw the Agencies convert people to PSEs and PFTs and we even started seeing our GS levels go up. Things happen slowly with our Agencies so please don't get frustrated, just keep working to address the issues and over time you will see a positive result.

I have been truly blessed to have worked for the USFS, and I have traveled all over this great country and seen places that most people would pay to see. I have made so many great friends on the firelines over the years, as the bond that one makes on the fireline is truly something special. It is with mixed emotions that I walk out the door today, but I am ready to start a new chapter in my life.. like have the first summer vacation since 1974 ! I will probably still do a little AD work, so I will see some of you in the future.

Take care, be safe, and keep working towards making this the place you wish to work.

Rod Altig soon to be ex- Gorge FMO

Our best to you Rod. Whatever you do, you're still welcome here. Thanks for your fine contributions to this community and to the public through the years. Ab.

1/2 Dear Health and Peace to all in 2009,

THANK YOU for your post. It was a wonderful encouragement to keep pressing on for our FFs in the New Year. And no, we do NOT want the occasional "email update" from fire management that's basically just been copied and pasted from another stale email of the past, that was also copied and pasted from another. That is SO weak. It's incomprehensible that our brave and outstanding wildland firefighters, who are in a league of their own, do not have the strong leadership that they deserve. Leadership that, dare I say, would even appear PROUD of them. What a concept. It's a championship team with NO coaching staff.

I have my keyboard ready, my phone in hand, many concerned family members and friends (ie taxpayers) alerted, (not to mention numerous other FF's wives), and PLENTY of time. Just let all of us know who to contact, and it's DONE. I'll be watching TheySaid for my marching orders!

Smoldering FF Wife
1/2 Happy New Year!

Here is an interesting article with comments at the end by Mark Rey that are telling.



1/1 Happy New Year!

What's up with the CA Hotshots website? I tried to look at it tonight and got a message that
it's suspended due to non-payment....

This isn't a good time for the site to be down, when people might actually be looking at it for
employment info. Come on you guys!


You can find it here on the Way Back Machine: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.californiahotshotcrews.org/ February 3, '07 is the old site. If the hotshots need donations to keep the site active, we all could take up a collection. Ab.

1/1 Ab,

Read the note from Marty Alexander about the flying driptorch inventor. I believe Ernie Johnson, Shelton Ranger District, Olympic NF may have been one of the first in the USFS to use one of them. Back in the late 70's, the Shelton district burned alot of acres. I was with the Sanderson Field YACC near the ranger station and watched him hook up a flying driptorch to a car battery, mount the whole thing to a forklift, then lay a strip of flame across the parking lot behind the warehouse. Think it was 1978? I seem to remember he had an idea about lighting units with a laser and some sort of exploding devices. Some of the old timers from the Shelton district might be able to fill in the details much better than I.

Sidenote: Iron 44 holds the #1 story in the local paper for '08. "We are truly a Band of Brothers"

1/1 Happy New Year, Abs and All!

May we all have a safe and sane 2009 and may all our wishes for a change for
the better come to my Brothers and sisters in the Federal wildfire world.

Here’s to ya, one and all, may you be recognized for the outstanding job you
all do year after year.

Here’s to implementation of 24 hour pay, portal to portal and a more than living
wage to those who would go in harms way.

Here’s to being upheld as what you are, world class firefighters.

Capt. Emmett



May we bring our dreams to reality.

In Trust of Vision. Ab.

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